The Art of the Mindful Leadership
A conversation with Michael A. Nutter
David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Affairs, SIPA
Former Mayor of the City of Philadelphia
Host: A’Lelia Bundles
AB Harvard, ’76JRN, Columbia University Trustee and Vice Chair
Four years ago, when Prof. Nutter pleaded for action with those words in response to the protests for the Black men killed by the Police and the subsequent revenge killing of 5 Dallas Police officers, he had just finished his successful eight-year tenure as the ninety-eighth mayor of his hometown of Philadelphia. Under his watch, homicides were at an almost fifty-year low and Philadelphia’s population grew every year, including the largest percentage of millennial population growth in the nation.
But Nutter had the premonition that America was "experiencing trauma, despair and social disengagement in many communities, whether because of the effects of violence, a broken criminal justice system, deteriorating racial/social relationships and a fraying of the fragile fragments of relationships that determine “chaos or community”, and that the lasting change requires long-term commitment and collaboration across organizations from municipal to federal jurisdictions. Since then, in the absence of coherent guidance from the federal side, the role of municipal leaders has become even more critical.
A’Lelia Bundles, author and former network news executive will host Prof. Nutter and discuss his mayoral tenure and approach to leadership. Nutter's anecdotes and insights will surely inspire anyone curious about how to promote Law and Order bottom-up, and with the will to positively change the lives of the people with a mindful leadership.
Among the topics will be the Cities United initiative Mayor Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu launched in affiliation with the National League of Cities, aimed at creating partnerships between cities, non-profits, and other stakeholders to combat violence and crime among African-American men and boys. Mayor Nutter also served on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Advisory Council. As President of the United States Conference of Mayors, Mayor Nutter represented the Conference by strengthening federal-city relationships and promoting the development of effective national urban policy. In June 2015, Mayor Nutter completed his year of service as President of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, which brought together municipal government officials from across the Commonwealth to advance policy initiatives state-wide.
- Columbia Alumni Association
Michael A. Nutter was elected the 98th Mayor of his hometown in November 2007 and took office in January 2008, after spending 15 years as a member of the Philadelphia City Council. At his inaugural address, Mayor Nutter pledged to lower crime, improve educational attainment rates, make Philadelphia the greenest city in America and attract new businesses and residents to the city. He also promised to lead an ethical and transparent government focused on providing high quality, efficient and effective customer service.
With the support of an experienced, professional staff, Mayor Nutter made significant progress on every pledge: homicides were at an almost 50-year low at the end of his tenure; high school graduation and college degree attainment rates increased significantly; Philadelphia added hundreds of miles in bike lanes and trails and launched the first low-income friendly bike share system in America, called Indego; and Philadelphia’s population grew every year since 2008, including the largest percentage of millennial population growth in the nation. He actively recruited businesses to set up shop in Philadelphia, both domestically and internationally with tax reforms, better business services and international trade missions. And, despite the damaging impact of the Great Recession, Philadelphia’s economy demonstrated significant growth—since January 2014, more than $11.5 billion of economic development projects have been completed, are under construction or announced. As a result of Mayor Nutter's commitment to strong financial stewardship, Philadelphia’s credit rating was upgraded to the “A” category by the three major credit rating agencies for the first time since the 1970s.
In 2013, Philadelphia City Council passed his Actual Value Initiative, the City’s first-ever property assessment system overhaul, transforming a broken and corrupt system into a fair, accurate and understandable system. In the same year, Mayor Nutter concluded his tenure as President of the United States Conference of Mayors, which is the official non-partisan organization of almost 1,300 U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more.
In 2011, Esquire magazine named Mayor Nutter to its Americans of the Year list and in 2014, he was named Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. During his tenure, Philadelphia City government received more than 150 awards for innovative programs, good government practices and excellence.
After his mayoral tenure, in January 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Mayor Nutter accepted an appointment to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) announced his appointment as Professor of Professional Practice. In February, CNN news media organization announced that Mayor Nutter became a political commentator for the network and in March, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced his appointment as a Senior Fellow and national spokesperson for the What Works Cities program, working with mayors all across the United States. Mayor Nutter maintains active involvement in political campaigns, the corporate community, and academic institutions across the country.
Mayor Nutter is a life-long Philadelphian, born and raised in West Philadelphia and educated at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been dedicated to public service since his youth. Mayor Nutter is happily married to his wife Lisa, and a proud parent to Christian and Olivia.
A’Lelia Bundles is a vice chair of Columbia University’s Board of Trustees and chair emerita of the board of the National Archives Foundation. She also is a member of the advisory boards of the March on Washington Film Festival, the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and the Smithsonian’s American Women’s History Initiative. She founded the Madam Walker Family Archives – the largest private collection of Walker photographs and memorabilia.
A’Lelia was a network television news executive and producer for thirty years at NBC News and then at ABC News, where she was Washington, DC deputy bureau chief and director of talent development. Her articles and essays have been published in the New York Times Book Review, Variety, TheUndefeated.com, Al Jazeera, Parade, Ms., O Magazine, Essence, several encyclopedias and books, and on her blog at www.aleliabundles.com. As a speaker and emcee, she has appeared at universities, corporations and book festivals, as well as on ABC, CBS, MSNBC, NBC, NPR, PBS and BBC. She has served as an advisor for numerous documentaries, museum exhibits, biographies, scholarly papers and history texts. A recipient of an Emmy and a du Pont Gold Baton, she has participated in writing residencies at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony.
She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College and received a master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.