Want to learn how to make Pittsburgh a more innovative and inclusive city? Join Mayor Bill Peduto and a cross-section of city leaders who will host 240 community leaders from 30 cities at the CEOs for Cities Innovative + Inclusive City Workshop June 10-12 at the Senator John Heinz History Center. The interactive workshop will focus on developing inclusive economic strategies to catalyze talent and innovation, using unlikely partnerships.

Peter Sims, author of Little Bets, is the keynote speaker; other speakers include Toni Griffin, director of the J Max Bond Center on Design for the Just City, and Sarah Truehaft, director of equitable growth initiatives for Policy Link and many more. See the complete agenda here.

“Pittsburgh, in many ways, is the city that has one of the greatest potentials in the U.S. for going to an entirely new level of innovative, sustainable and equitable growth,” says Lee Fisher, president and CEO of CEOs for Cities. “We chose to have our national workshop in Pittsburgh because of the outstanding leadership of Mayor Peduto and the tremendous reputation that Pittsburgh has earned as one of the most innovative cities in the nation.”

At the workshop Peduto plans to highlight successes such as his administration’s ability to work with the city’s universities. “I can’t wait to tell our city’s story to other leaders around the nation, and more importantly, to learn theirs,” Peduto says.

“We’ve now opened the city to those that are creating new ways to deliver services and in the process have created an urban lab within the city,” he says. “The entire city and the partnership allow us to be able to do something that most governments can’t which is innovate while at the same time being able to help CMU create products that can be marketed worldwide.”

The mayor says he will also note achievements like the Talent City initiative, administered by the Pittsburgh Foundation in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute of Politics, that was created to support excellence in hiring by the new mayoral administration.

“(Talent City) was a way that we were able for the first time in American history, to find the best and most talented people to fill key positions in city governments,” he says.

In addition to partnerships with nonprofits and the corporate community, Peduto says he will communicate that for the first time there is a collaborative relationship between the city and county to work on a “shared agenda.”

“That’s what we want to be able to highlight at this conference – how unique partnerships beyond the models of the 1940s and ’50s can help a city and region to be able to get things done even when there are rocks in the river through federal government shutdowns and state government cuts. A city and region can find the resources it needs if it has the ability to work together,” he says.


CEOs for Cities is the only nonprofit organization in the country that provides a platform for a national network of cross-sector, cross-generation urban leaders – or “city clusters” – that is focused on making cities better.

“The reason we exist is every city has talent. None has a regular vehicle for connecting with others,” says Fisher.

Peduto says that he wants to hear about the ways in which other cities have fostered unique partnerships to face dilemmas and find new ways to solve old problems.

“In the 1970s and the ’80s and even in to the ’90s there were billions of dollars that were coming out of Washington. There were earmarks and there were grants that were specific to projects,” he says. “The state has always had its walking around money, and money flowed in until really the past five to 10 years.”

And the mayor says he will listen to what other cities have done about transportation issues, from the creation of light rail systems to improvements to bridges and roadways.

“I want to hear from other people in other cities how they’ve been able to get past road blocks in order to be able to create 21st-century transportation options,” he says.

The success of CEOs for Cities, Peduto notes, is that it not only looks for innovation by bringing together corporate, university, research and city government leaders but the model also challenges city leaders on a national scale to address issues such as education or transportation.

Initiatives such as The Talent Dividend from CEOs for Cities “can show directly in each of the cities what it would mean, on an economic scale for years to come, to have an increase of just two percent more college graduates, how your region will benefit by it,” Peduto says. Another report by the organization lets cities see how they would benefit by lessening commuter time by five to 10 minutes, he notes.

All Pittsburgh residents are eligible for a special discounted registration fee of $100 that allows them to participate in any or all of the workshop. Registration is available here.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.