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NJ Spotlight On Cities: An Ongoing Conversation with Our Readers

Our day-long conference brought together hundreds of New Jerseyans passionate about the state’s cities. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

NJ Spotlight On Cities

There were students and teachers alongside authors and CEOs. A “new generation” of New Jersey mayors discussed how they manage their cities’ daily challenges, while a host of planners and developers talked about those same cities’ futures.

The first NJ Spotlight on Cities was held on Friday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, bringing together more than 200 voices to talk about the opportunities and obstacles facing New Jersey’s urban centers.

It was a day of great conversations, and NJ Spotlight wants to keep them going.

Over the course of the next few weeks, NJ Spotlight will be posting stories about those conversations and about next steps -- news stories, videos, and podcasts.

There is certainly lots to follow up on.

More than 60 speakers -- from a former governor to two Newark high-school seniors -- had their say during 20 programs touching on facets of city life in New Jersey.

They included keynote speeches by visionary urban planners to a series of panels about the state’s pioneering place in the national debate over urban education.

A morning panel brought together for the first time two of the top CEOs in the state -- PSEG’s Ralph Izzo and Panasonic’s Joseph Taylor. In another U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman and former Gov. Jim McGreevey discussed the best ways to ease prisoner reentry into their communities.

There was also “a conversation with Father Ed,” a session with St. Benedict Prep Academy headmaster Father Edwin Leahy and his take on serving inner-city boys in Newark.

The Camden County police chief J. Scott Thomson talked about community policing with Udi Ofer, the head of New Jersey’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Whatever the perspective, the event provided a chance for those in public education to hear what’s happening in economic development, for those in healthcare to mix with community organizers. That’s an invaluable opportunity in itself.

In addition to posting stories and other content, we want to hear from readers about the urban issues that most affect them. And with a presidential election in 2016 and gubernatorial election in 2017, we’ll be paving the way for more conversations.

Feel free to comment on this and subsequent posts about “NJ Spotlight on Cities,” or email us at

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