Driving Innovation in US Cities
with Bloomberg Philanthropies
More than half the world’s population lives in urban areas – a number expected to climb to 70 percent in just a few decades.
Cities serve as hubs for invention, cultural exchange, education, and the arts, but city governments also face the challenges of efficiently delivering services to millions of residents as part of ensuring their safety, health and prosperity.
In a cutting-edge approach to major urban challenges, Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched Innovation Delivery Teams in five US cities – Atlanta, Chicago, Louisville, Memphis, and New Orleans.
The Teams are helping mayors develop and deliver high-impact solutions to cities’ most pressing needs – from dramatically scaling energy efficiency efforts to reducing gun violence.
Situated in a mayor's office, these teams of top performers bring rigorous focus and best-in-class practice to identifying powerful solutions, developing implementation plans and then managing for results - effectively engaging all necessary stakeholders to support success throughout the process.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has invested $24 million over three years to enable the five selected cities to recruit and hire top tier talent to staff their teams (see attached press release and news coverage). Over the next three years, each city will receive extensive technical assistance and support through the initiative to get the teams up and running and to identify best practices and lessons as each team customizes the model to meet local needs.
NYU Wagner and RCLA are serving as the knowledge partners for the three-year, $24-million initiative. As part of our commitment to building a talent pipeline for public service, we are designing and managing the Bloomberg Innovation Delivery Fellowship, through which outstanding early-career professionals document each Team’s progress and gather data to help elevate best practices for cities across the nation, while preparing themselves for leadership careers in the public sector.
Together we are discovering what it takes to lead innovation in local government.
Contact us for more information:
Bloomberg Innovation Delivery Fellows
Fellows were chosen through a rigorous and competitive application and selection process. They include:
- Emily Lieb, Atlanta
Prior to moving to Atlanta, Emily spent several years in Portland, Ore., where she worked for Portland State University as an associate planner and project manager on efforts spanning a downtown eco-district, a university climate action plan, a sustainable drinking water task force, and a $169 million urban renewal area. She also worked for three City of Portland bureaus (Planning & Sustainability, Transportation, and Parks & Recreation), including serving on the planning teams for the Portland Plan and the Portland Streetcar System Concept Plan. As a graduate student, she developed policy recommendations for unimproved streets that have recently been adopted by the City of Portland.
As a member of Atlanta’s Innovation Delivery Team, Emily is leading a multi-agency effort to streamline the placement of homeless veterans into permanent supportive housing, as well as the creation of a rapid re-housing pilot program. She oversaw the launch of a Customer Service Bill of Rights and citywide employee training program, and she’s spearheaded a content strategy and communications staff training program to improve the quality of information on the City’s website.
Emily has a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Denison University. She’s originally from southern Ohio and grew up in an “off-the-grid” community in a small town outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys drawing, cooking, and writing.
- Daniel Makela, LouisvilleBio
Daniel is fascinated by cities and what makes them tick. He has worked in several capacities for Louisville Metro government. Most recently, Daniel worked in the Economic Development Department, where he was a member of the Commercial and Industrial Redevelopment Division. His projects included the implementation of an area-wide revitalization plan for a 1,400-acre region of West Louisville, and the administration of an EPA community-wide Brownfields grant.
Daniel earned a BS in Economics from Centre College and a Master of Community Planning from the University of Cincinnati, where he received the American Institute of Certified Planners Award for high performance throughout his graduate studies. Attracted to the multidisciplinary nature of the planning field, Daniel has explored various issues in economic development, environmental planning and urban design. Through the completion of an in-depth master's thesis, Daniel also has a strong understanding of the role of art, culture and authenticity on the transformation of urban neighborhoods in the 21st century city.
- Abby Miller, MemphisBio
Abby is a dedicated and passionate public service professional with more than eight years of experience in program design and management, monitoring and evaluation, communications, and resource mobilization. Abby most recently worked in Port-au-Prince, Haiti with Habitat for Humanity as part of the emergency earthquake response and early recovery program providing shelter, water and sanitation, capacity building and basic services to over 25,000 disaster-affected families in Haiti. In her role as design, planning, monitoring and evaluation specialist, Abby led the Community Engagement team in designing participatory and community-based approaches to shelter programs; conducted field site visits to monitor progress against targeted outputs; and designed data collection, monitoring and reporting tools.
Prior to that, she worked with Americans for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and HealthRight International in New York on public education, fundraising and advocacy projects. Abby also conducted evaluation research with the Inter-American Development Bank on water and sanitation projects in Cuenca, Ecuador. She holds a Master of Public Administration from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and carried out her undergraduate studies in Mass Media and Sociology at Boston University.
- Whitney Soensken, New OrleansBio
Whitney Soenksen is a committed public service professional with a specific focus on partner relations, communications, program design and management, and youth development. Most recently, Soenksen acted as communications director for a national nonprofit, the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation.
Soenksen has worked at both the local and national level building alliances, programs and communications systems and managing new initiatives. She worked for over two years with AmeriCorps Alums (a business unit of Points of Light Institute) as external relations manager. During her time with AmeriCorps Alums, Soenksen established chapters of national service alumni in over 50 locations, directed all communications and press, launched all social media outreach, and managed all national and local partner relations.
Originally from Iowa, Soenksen (pronounced 'Sank-sen') worked as a broadcast journalist and for the Iowa Citizen Action Network. Soenksen has served as an AmeriCorps member with the Massachusetts Promise Fellowship at Boston Cares and also completed her MS in Leadership and Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University. She has led trips to New Orleans as a disaster relief volunteer and acted as a mentor to numerous young people and later worked as the membership and communications coordinator for MassCOSH, a regional nonprofit focused on worker safety and health.
Prior to joining the Bloomberg Innovation Delivery team, Soenksen led the re-launch of the Metro DC Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums. She was also a founding member and leader of the Boston Chapter of AmeriCorps Alums and graduated in 2003 from the University of Iowa with degrees in American Studies and Journalism.
- Kate Yager, ChicagoBio
Kate Yager most recently served as associate consultant of the Consulting and Technical Assistance unit at Seedco, a national workforce development nonprofit organization in New York City. Kate provided project management in the areas of workforce and economic development, partnership network development, and green jobs training programs.
Previously, Kate served as project manager with the New York City Workforce Investment Board, where she served as the Boardâ€™s liaison for the Cityâ€™s green workforce development initiatives, analyzed local, state and federal workforce policy, and managed stakeholder relationships to support competitive grant opportunities. Prior to joining the workforce arena in New York City, Kate served as director of economic research for the Tennessee Technology Development Corporation in Nashville, TN, a state-funded nonprofit organization that leads the technology-based economic development agenda for the State of Tennessee. Additionally, she served as economic research analyst for the State of Tennessee with the Technology Development Division of the Department of Economic and Community Development. Kate received her Master of Arts in Economics from the University of Missouri â€“ Kansas City and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Binghamton University.
Selected Cities, Mayors and Priority Areas
Atlanta: Mayor Kasim Reed
- Introduce 311 and other initiatives to improve customer service
- Dramatically reduce street homelessness
Chicago: Mayor Rahm Emanuel
- Reduce waiting and processing times for key city services
- Dramatically scale energy efficiency efforts
Louisville - Mayor Greg Fischer
- Partner with Lexington to implement a new regional export strategy
- Improve agency performance and public accountability
Memphis: Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.
- Increase business growth in target neighborhoods
- Reduce handgun violence
New Orleans: Mayor Mitch Landrieu
- Cut waiting and processing times for key city services
- Reduce homicides