Category: News

Going Local: A Transatlantic Perspective

New Urban Progress is working on making the cities of the future work. 100 experts will meet in Washington DC on March 10th to discuss inclusive innovation, networked governance, and social mobility in cities and metropolitan areas. Using these three themes as a framework, they will focus on identifying the current challenges US cities are facing.

The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) and two German think tanks, Das Progressive Zentrum and Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft, have joined forces on a three-year, comparative study of metro innovation. Please join us March 10, 2020 at the Line Hotel in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. launch of the project, New Urban Progress.


Tuesday, March 10th, 2020
Banneker Room at The LINE Hotel DC
1770 Euclid St NW, Washington, D.C. 20009
8:00 AM to 2:00 PM


The launch will feature conversations with prominent urban leaders and mayors, including:

  • Mayor Bill Peduto, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Mayor Levar Stoney, Richmond, VA
  • Former Mayor Sly James, Kansas City, MO

The program will also include a growing list of top metro analysts and practitioners

  • Bruce Katz – The New Localism
  • Amy Liu – Brookings Institution Metro Center
  • Steven Bosaker – GMF Cities
  • Joda Thongnopnua – Metro Ideas Project, Chattanooga
  • Sonya R. Porter – Census Bureau

The aim of New Urban Progress is to study and compare notes on creative metro problem-solving in three U.S. cities and three German cities. The March 10 forum will focus on the project’s three main organizing themes:

  1. How cities can promote inclusive innovation and growth (including digital transformation and energy transition)
  2. How cities are pioneering networked governance that taps a broad array of civic actors to get things done
  3. How cities deal with the challenges of social mobility (including education, skill acquisition and affordable housing)
At a time when Washington seems politically and financially incapacitated, we advocate for a “flexible federalism” that shifts more decisions and resources to Mayors and other local leaders. PPI is a strong proponent of “going local”, and together with our German partners, we’ll spend the next three years highlighting metro innovations with the aim of sparking a cross-fertilization of ideas for local initiative and ground-up problem-solving.


The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).

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New Urban Progress in the United States and Germany

New Urban Progress has entered its exploration stage. By embarking on a transatlantic exchange on metro innovations dealing with the future of work, democracy, and well-being, we want to explore how German and U.S. cities are preparing themselves to be metropolitan areas of the future. We want to first define the challenges facing cities and urban areas in three thematic fields – inclusive growth and innovation, networked governance, social mobility – and then identify policy approaches and citizen initiatives aiming to overcome these.

To do so, we are inviting researchers, activists, members of local governments and other stakeholders involved in metropolitan affairs from Germany and the U.S. to help us sketch country-oriented landscapes of the most common and urgent challenges that cities and metro areas face, as well as the approaches applied in each country to tackle them. Understanding the context of urban policies and the current innovations will lay the groundwork for further project activities. The outcomes from Germany and the U.S. will be compared and complemented by desk research and literature reviews to find a common framework to launch a hands-on, future-oriented transatlantic dialogue on an urban agenda.

The State of Urban America

The first kick-off event took place in Washington DC, on March 10th, 2020. Mayors, metro and urban policy experts, and a delegation from Germany met to discuss the pressing issues that urban areas in the United States face. Learn more about the conference and read the report, below. 

Digital Urban Forum on German Cities

In light of the coronavirus, the kick-off in Germany will take place online over the span of three days. This digital Urban Forum will comprise of three sessions, which each will include a keynote speaker, moderated discussions, breakout sessions and a closing talk.

About New Urban Progress

New Urban Progress is the joint metro initiative of Das Progressive ZentrumAlfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft and the Progressive Policy Institute.

The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).

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New Urban Progress Announces Sounding Board

New Urban Progress is pleased to announce its Sounding Board! The team is made up of seven transatlantic and metropolitan policy professionals, who will guide the project with their expertise. New Urban Progress supports transatlantic conversations on the future of cities while rethinking transatlantic relations.

The transatlantic sounding board is comprised of seven professionals from Germany and the United States. The group of experts includes a state level German politician, researchers working at the Harvard Kennedy School, John Hopkins University and the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University, as well as leaders in the private sector, and other transnational actors. Together, this diverse team will act as an anchor for the entire project with their transatlantic and metropolitan policy expertise.  

The New Urban Progress team is happy to have the support of such a well-rounded sounding board. Their two main objectives will be to circulate the project’s content through their professional networks and assist the project with selecting its twenty fellows. Their collective expertise and direction will help mold the work and results into impactful conclusions. Additionally, their diverse networks will ensure that there is sufficient collaboration and conversation between the fellows, the project and other leading actors in working on transatlantic and metropolitan policy issues to produce meaningful transatlantic and metropolitan policy.

Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook is a member of the New Urban Progress Sounding Board.

Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook is the founding Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and, since January 2018, the Executive Director of The Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). She is a German and US-American national with expert knowledge of  EU-US relations and digital public policy in urban and national contexts. She holds a B.A. from Brown University in International Relations, M.A. from London School of Economics in European Studies and a M.A. from Harvard Kennedy School in Public Administration. As an academic, amongst other honors, she was named a Truman National Security Fellow in 2011, a Munich Young Leader for the Munich Security Council in 2014, and a 2017 Eisenhower Fellow for her leadership on urban issues in international relations. [She has also served on the Board of the European Committee on Leadership in Science, Innovation and Cultural Diplomacy (EL-CSID), as well as the HKS Alumni Board of Directors.] Besides this outstanding academic track-record, Clüver Ashbrook has had a long-standing career as a journalist and a civil servant, advising foreign ministries and international organizations across the globe on questions of digital strategy and institutional reform. Next to providing expert commentary for news outlets such as CNN-international, NPR, the BBC, Frankfurter Allgemeine, ARD, Deutschlandfunk, and the Wall Street Journal, she has frequently been invited as an expert panelist by numerous organisations including the Aspen Institute, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

Daniel S. Hamilton is a member of the New Urban Progress Sounding Board.

Daniel S. Hamilton is currently the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Professor at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he co-leads the Program on “The United States, Europe and World Order” at the SAIS Foreign Policy Institute, working in partnership with the SAIS Kissinger Center for Global Affairs. He also serves as Director of the Atlantic Basin Initiative, which explores how globalization is affecting the four Atlantic continents. Hamilton has served as Founding Director of the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations, Executive Director of the American Consortium on EU Studies, and as a senior diplomat in the U.S. Department of State. For 40+ summers he has been Dean of Waldsee, the oldest and largest residential immersion program of German language and culture in North America, sponsored by Concordia Language Villages.

The picture portrays Bruce Katz, founder of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab and member of the New Urban Progress Sounding Board.

Bruce J. Katz is the Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Katz regularly advises global, national, state, regional and municipal leaders on public reforms and private innovations that advance the well-being of metropolitan areas and their countries. He graduated from Brown University, where he received his Bachelor’s Degree in 1981, and continued his education by earning his J.D. from Yale Law School. Prior to his current position, he served as inaugural Centennial Scholar at The Brookings Institution and as vice president and director of Brooking’s Metropolitan Policy Program for 20 years. He is a member of the RSA City Growth Commission in the United Kingdom and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Katz previously served as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and staff director of the Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs. Katz co-led the Obama administration’s housing and urban transition team. He is co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution and The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism, editor or co-editor of several books on urban and metropolitan issues, and a frequent media commentator. 

Amy Liu is a member of the New Urban Progress Sounding Board

Amy Liu is vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair in Urban and Metropolitan Policy. She is a national expert on cities and metropolitan areas adept at translating research and insights into action on the ground. As director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, which Liu co-founded in 1996, she pioneered the program’s signature approach to state and local engagements, which uses rigorous research to inform strategies for economic growth and opportunity. Liu has worked directly on such strategies with scores of public, private, and philanthropic sector leaders in regions around the country, including Chicago, Detroit, Louisville, San Diego, and Birmingham. Liu also has extensive experience working with states and the federal government to develop policies and strategies to support cities and metropolitan areas. In 2013, Liu served as a special advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, guiding policy priorities related to trade, innovation, and data. Prior to her work at Brookings, Liu was Special Assistant to HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and staffed the U.S. Senate Banking Committee’s subcommittee on housing and urban affairs.

Almut Möller is a member fo the New Urban Progress Sounding Board.

Almut Möller currently holds the position of the State Secretary and Plenipotentiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation, the European Union, and for foreign affairs. She studied Political Science, Constitutional Law, and Modern and Contemporary History at the Universities of Münster, Aix-en-Provence (France) and Munich, and graduated with a Master of Arts in 2002. Between 2002 and 2008 Möller was a research associate at the Centre for Applied Policy Research (CAP) at the LMU University of Munich which included research stays at the Renmin University of China (Peking), the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (Cairo), and the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies (AICGS) at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C. She subsequently worked two years in London as an independent publicist and analyst. In 2010 Möller was appointed the Head of the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP e.V.) in Berlin. From 2015 to 2019 she was Head of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Bret Perkins is a member of the New Urban Progress Sounding Board.

Bret Perkins serves as Vice President of External and Government Affairs for Comcast Corporation. He is a Business Administration graduate from Temple University and currently responsible for local government affairs, strategic partnerships with state and local intergovernmental associations, and national policy advocacy organizations. Perkins  joined Comcast in 2001 and has managed local government affairs while the Company grew from operating in 2,500 communities to 6,000 communities. Prior to joining Comcast, he served as Vice President of System Services and Assistant to the President at Mercy Health System in Pennsylvania and worked in legislative affairs at Keystone Mercy/AmeriHealth Mercy Health Plan and with the North Philadelphia Health System. In 2008, Perkins received the National Cable & Telecommunications Association’s Vanguard Award for Young Leadership, one of the cable industry’s highest honors for its next generation of leaders. Bret is a Trustee of Temple University and serves on the board of Temple University Health System.  He is a past Chair and a member of the Board of The Committee of Seventy, and a member of the boards of Visit Philadelphia, PIDC, New Deal Leaders, and the New Leaders Council.

Wolfgang Teubner is a member of the NUP Sounding Board.

Wolfgang Teubner is the ICLEI Regional Director for Europe and also the Managing Director (CEO) of the ICLEI European Secretariat. He is responsible for the strategic and economic development of the ICLEI in Europe. He has more than 25 years of professional experience working with local governments on sustainable urban development, climate adaptation and mitigation, Local Agenda21, waste management, as well as sustainable urban transport policies. During his career he has been involved in more than 150 European and international projects, including several research activities. In the period between 1994 and 1999 he coordinated the ICLEI‘s European Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and ICLEI‘s European Local Agenda 21 Guidance and Training Programme. From the start in 1994 he has been involved in the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign and has participated in the drafting of the Aalborg Charta as well as the Aalborg Commitments and the 2016 Basque Declaration. Between 1999 and 2004 he has represented the Local Government sector on the European Environment and Health Committee and has been a speaker at many high-level international events including the European Council of Ministers.

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New Urban Progress Steering Committee

The Steering Committee gathers representatives of all three Project Partners and ensures a timely and effective implementation of the initiative.

Dominic Schwickert has been the Executive Director of Das Progressive Zentrum since 2012. He has proven expertise in the field of political and strategic consulting. Dominic worked i.a. for Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Bertelsmann Stiftung, IFOK GmbH, Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, German Bundestag as well as for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. He was John F. Kennedy Memorial Policy Fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University in fall 2017.

Dr. Maria Skóra is Head of Programme International Relations at Das Progressive Zentrum. She is also actively involved in the Progressive Governance (#PGS) event series. She holds a master’s degree in Sociology and a PhD in economics. 2018 Alumna of Young Leaders Program of the Aspen Institute Central Europe in Prague. 2019 Visiting Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and AICGS, John Hopkins University in Washington DC. She formerly worked for the Humboldt-Viadrina Governance Platform, Berlin and supported the All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions as an expert. Earlier, she was also involved in the activities of the United Nations Development Programme Project Office in Warsaw.

Elisabeth Mansfeld has been responsible for the project area Cities since 2017. Prior to this, she spent nine years as project manager in the Chief Operating Office of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division. And as an expert for microfinancing, she has supervised projects in China and Mexico.

Dr. Claudia Kristine Huber has been in charge of the project area Europe since 2018. Prior to this, she was responsible for the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft’s former project area International Relations. The mediatisation of European politics has long been a key interest, both as a master’s student at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and while studying for her doctorate at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (HU Berlin) and Hamburg University. Previously, Claudia Huber held positions at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at Google Germany.

Neel Brown is the Director of External Affairs at The Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) in Washington, DC. Neel engages stakeholders and decision makers to facilitate policy discussions on federal, state, and local issues. Before joining PPI, Neel was the President of Legis Media, an advocacy communications firm that he founded in 2004. He has extensive experience in advocacy advertising, grassroots organization, and coalition building. He spent over seven years working on Capitol Hill and political campaigns. Neel lives in Arlington, VA with his wife and daughter and spends his spare time teaching music and performing in a local bluegrass band.

Dane Stangler joined the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI) as Director of Policy Innovation. He is the Head of Policy for Startup Genome, a global leader in ecosystem research and evidence-based policy making which uses a holistic model to assess and grow the economic success of startup ecosystems around the world. Formerly the Vice President for Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation, he has written and published in the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Washington Monthly, and more, and is a trusted expert in the United States Senate on the topics of entrepreneurship and economic growth. At Startup Genome, Mr. Stangler is working to enhance their Lifecycle Model which aims to develop entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world, inform policies to strengthen them, and overall improve the policy environment for startups and entrepreneurship.

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Rejuvenating Transatlantic Dialogue from the Bottom-Up

The project “New Urban Progress: Transatlantic Dialogue on the Future of Work, Democracy, and Well-being” has launched. Two countries, two road trips, four conferences, ten cities, and 20 program fellows: all to reimagine transatlantic relations and collaboratively work on policies that will positively impact cities on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The New Urban Progress project will compare metropolitan regions that have emerged as hubs of public innovation and collaborative problem-solving, and use the results as frameworks to build inclusive, innovative, digital, and diverse cities. This work will be dialogue-based: we want to engage young Germans and U.S.-Americans in a conversation on contemporary social, cultural and economic phenomena present in all post-industrial multicultural societies.

The task at hand cannot be any more urgent. Both the United States and Europe are confronting a rising tide of illiberal populism that needs a bold, creative and collaborative response. We believe that cities are rising actors of global policies that are capable of delivering the necessary answers and thus can serve as a great vehicle for both relaunching transatlantic dialogue and building cities that work for all. 

Three organizations have joined forces to achieve this goal: Das Progressive Zentrum and the Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft in Germany as well as the Progressive Policy Institute in the United States. The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).

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