Neil Kleiman has spent 25 years building a career at the intersection of policy, philanthropy, government and academia. He founded an urban issues think tank, established new university degree programs, and developed innovative and practical policy solutions for dozens of cities across the United States. He has also written and edited over thirty policy reports, with his work featured in many media outlets, including the New York Times,Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Higher Education, PBS NewsHour and National Public Radio.
Kleiman has a joint appointment at the Wagner School of Public Service and the Center for Urban Science + Progress. He is a Senior Fellow at The GovLab and an Affiliated Scholar at the Marron Institute of Urban Management. He teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses on policy formation, urban innovation, and new approaches to managing technology and big data. In 2017, he published a book with Stephen Goldsmith on urban governance reform entitled A New City O/S: The Power of Open, Collaborative and Distributed Governance on Brookings Institution press.
Kleiman serves as the MS Program Director at CUSP. And, as Director of the NYU Wagner Innovation Labs, he supports the development of initiatives and programs to address pressing urban challenges, both nationally and globally. His work has been generously supported at New York University by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Citibank, Ford, Annie E. Casey, Robert Wood Johnson, MacArthur, Kauffman and Sloan Foundations.
He is also Director of Policy and Evaluation for the National Resource Network. Funded with $10 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Network is the nation’s first one-stop resource for cities seeking customized solutions to address pressing local challenges.
Before joining NYU, Kleiman was Director of Policy at Living Cities, a collaborative of the world’s largest foundations and corporate philanthropies, where he was responsible for developing and advancing the organization's policy agenda. In 2008, in partnership with the Kennedy School at Harvard University, he helped create the Project on Municipal Innovation, the only forum in the U.S. where mayoral advisors meet to learn about and design new policy ideas.
He began his career as the founding director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York-based policy think tank whose work is consistently cited in local media outlets. The group has been the source of numerous ideas for mayoral and gubernatorial administrations that were then fully implemented in New York City and New York State.
Kleiman holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. In addition to teaching at NYU, he has also taught urban policy at Barnard College, John Jay College-CUNY, Tulane, Universidad de los Andes (Bogota) and has been a visiting fellow at Williams College.
Kleiman is on the board of Next City and Civic Consulting USA.
At a time when trust is dropping precipitously and American government at the national level has fallen into a state of long-term, partisan-based gridlock, local government can still be effective—indeed more effective and even more responsive to the needs of its citizens. Based on decades of direct experience and years studying successful models around the world, the authors of this intriguing book propose a new operating system (O/S) for cities. Former mayor and Harvard professor Stephen Goldsmith and New York University professor Neil Kleiman suggest building on the giant leaps that have been made in technology, social engagement, and big data.
Calling their approach “distributed governance,” Goldsmith and Kleiman offer a model that allows public officials to mobilize new resources, surface ideas from unconventional sources, and arm employees with the information they need to become pre-emptive problem solvers. This book highlights lessons from the many innovations taking place in today’s cities to show how a new O/S can create systemic transformation.
For students of government, A New City O/S: The Power of Distributed Governance presents a groundbreaking strategy for rethinking the governance of cities, marking an important evolution of the current bureaucratic authority-based model dating from the 1920s. More important, the book is designed for practitioners, starting with public-sector executives, managers, and frontline workers. By weaving real-life examples into a coherent model, the authors have created a step-by-step guide for all those who would put the needs of citizens front and center. Nothing will do more to restore trust in government than solutions that work. A New City O/S: The Power of Distributed Governance puts those solutions within reach of those public officials responsible for their delivery.
In Striking a (Local) Grand Bargain, the National Resource Network, NYU Wagner, and the Urban Institute illustrate that while cities can benefit from relationships with local anchors – colleges, universities, and hospitals – the full potential of these partnerships has not been realized because of mistrust, half-starts and half-realized results.
But cities and anchor institutions need each other in order to thrive. The study found that:
Increasingly, anchor institutions are driving economic progress;
Partnership efforts are growing in number;
Small and struggling cities often have the most to gain; and
Leaders must speak the same language.
Each finding represents the hard work and core lessons from those on the ground across the country. Every day mayors, university presidents, and hospital CEOs are navigating issues big and small – sometimes together, other times in their own institutional silos. Working together makes sense for the short-term success of these institutions and the long-term prosperity of their cities.
The research team assessed twelve cities. Of those, anchor institutions were among the top three – if not the top – employer in eleven. It is more than the job numbers that represent reason for hope for stronger city -anchor institution relations. Eleven of the cities assessed said their relationships had improved over the last decade, with three noting great improvements.
Even smaller market cities like Wilkes-Barre, PA; Waco, TX; and Kansas City, KS; are demonstrating the value of anchor institutions. In fact, the economic impacts in these cities have been felt most immediately as acute economic distress was a prime impetus for closer collaboration.
From the days when being located near a navigable body of water was key to a city’s success, to the era of strong corporate ties to urban centers, to cities today that now look to strong anchor institutions with an eye toward the future, what it takes to be a successful city has shifted as the world around us has changed. A new approach, a new grand bargain with anchor institutions based on shared interests is the path forward for American cities in the 21st century.