A conversation with Penn alum/Columbia Professor Michael Nutter
former Mayor of the City of Philadelphia
Interview conducted by Dr. Samir Meghelli, B.A. UPenn (C‘04) Sociology, M.A.,M.Phil.,Ph.D. Columbia University (GSAS ‘06/‘08/‘12) History
In 2007, after serving almost fifteen years on the Philadelphia City Council, Michael A. Nutter became the ninety-eighth mayor of his hometown of Philadelphia. By the end of Nutter's tenure, homicides were at an almost fifty-year low, high-school graduation and college-degree attainment rates increased significantly, many businesses opened up shop in Philadelphia, and Philadelphia's population had grown every year.
Join Penn Club of DC and ColumbiaDC, as Mayor/Professor Nutter discusses his run for mayor when he formed a coalition from a base of support that set the stage for a successful term. Nutter's anecdotes, advice, and insights will be sure to inspire anyone with a desire to understand municipal government and with the will to positively change the lives of the people.
Social: 6:00pm to 6:30pm (Cash bar, snacks)
Interview and Q&A: 6:30pm to 7:45pm
Post-Social: 7:45pm to 8:15pm
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 affiliation with the National League of Cities, Mayor Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu launched Cities United, an initiative aimed at creating partnerships between cities, non-profits, and other stake holders to combat violence and crime among African-American men and boys. He also serves on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Advisory Council. In June 2013, 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. As President, 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 brings together municipal government officials from across the Commonwealth to advance policy initiatives state-wide.
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.
Dr. Samir Meghelli is a historian, writer, educator, and serves as Chief Curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Community Museum, whose mission is to enhance understanding of contemporary urban experiences and strengthen community bonds by conserving the past, documenting the present, and serving as a catalyst for shaping the future. Dr. Meghelli’s research, teaching, and curatorial work have focused on urban history, cultural history, and social movement history. Prior to joining the Smithsonian Institution, he was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dr. Meghelli received his B.A. (magna cum laude) in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania (C‘04) and his M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. in History from Columbia University (GSAS ‘06/‘08/‘12). He is co-author of The Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness (2006), co-editor of New Perspectives on the History of Marcus Garvey, the U.N.I.A., and the African Diaspora (2011), and author of book chapters in The Global Sixties in Sound & Vision: Media, Counterculture, Revolt (2014) and Translating Hip-Hop (2012). His writings have also appeared in The New York Times, Black Arts Quarterly, and The Western Journal of Black Studies, among other places.