City Leaders as Disruptors

Monday, March 19, 2018 at 12:30pm to 2:00pm

Room 10-485

City Leaders as Disruptors: Finding Unexpected Allies and Getting Results 
City Design & Development Forum 
Trinity Simons, Mayors’ Institute for City Design


With the rapid expansion of new urban technologies and increased demands from citizens-all the while seeing budget and resource constraints-mayors are increasingly called upon to use their leadership to be visionaries for the creation of public space. The Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD) is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors that works to empower elected officials to provide leadership in city design and development. Among its 1100+ alumni mayors include current and/or past mayors of Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, and others.

This talk will consider the role of public sector leaders in the creation and promotion of solutions to the most critical planning and design challenges facing their cities, and the preparation required to turn mayors into their communities' chief urban designers. We will explore current pressures on cities and how local elected officials are stepping up, often where state and federal government lags behind.


Trinity Simons is the executive director of the Mayors' Institute on City Design (MICD). The MICD is a partnership program of the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Architectural Foundation, and the United States Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors' Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.

The MICD achieves its mission by organizing sessions where mayors engage leading design experts to find solutions to the most critical urban design challenges facing their cities. Sessions are organized around case-study problems. Each mayor presents a problem from his or her city for the other mayors and designers to discuss. Simons comes to MICD from the Enterprise Community, where she was a program officer for national design initiatives and director of the Rose Architectural Fellowship. Simons also worked with architecture students at her previous position as the national vice president of the American Institute of Architects Students (AIAS).

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