Viewers guide: American Cities Rebuilding conference preview

John Mooney, Education writer | October 14, 2020 | Social
By harnessing partnerships and power, can cities be rebuilt and reimagined?

Just one day to go before the start of “American Cities Rebuilding,” the two-day virtual conference hosted by NJ Spotlight News and WNET on the challenges and opportunities facing cities in New Jersey and nationwide amid the struggles of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent months of social unrest.

PBS’ Christiane Amanpour will launch the event Wednesday night with a broadcast interview with Marc Morial, the former mayor of New Orleans and now head of the National Urban League. (Check local listings.)

Then the conference will start in earnest on Thursday at 8:45 a.m., when registered attendees will begin to hear from a host of experts, speakers and difference-makers on a range of issues facing cities, from health care to education to transportation.

The day kicks off with an hour on the “new urban economy,” including a fireside chat with Ford Foundation president Darren Walker and Chase Consumer Banking CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett, led by Hari Sreenivasan, PBS NewsHour Weekend anchor.

The hour will also include a talk with Don Katz, founder and executive chairman of Audible; a panel of investors and strategists on serving businesses in urban communities; and a conversation with a venture capital executive focused on women and people of color.

The day will proceed to the political, where the conference will feature a conversation between Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Mayor Jorge Elorza of Providence, Rhode Island on the challenges of leading a city during crisis.

The leadership hour will also delve into the role of corporations and public-private partnerships, and will feature a mini-profile of a community leader on the street level — Ironbound Community Corp. organizer Maria Lopez- Nuñez.

The day will continue with conversations around city spaces, from the challenges of housing redevelopment to a tour of the oldest urban botanical garden in the country.

And it will end with an hour on education, including an interview with Rutgers University’s new president, Jonathan Holloway; a panel discussion among national experts on the digital divide in schools; and a visit to a classroom of Newark 10th graders, this one online.

Join us on this first day of a conference that should provide compelling conversation and insights for cities in New Jersey and nationwide as they seek to move forward.

For more information on the full schedule and to register, follow this link.