Located in Europe, Wagner is currently co-authoring the lead paper on Innovation Districts—urban enclaves that cluster leading-edge anchor institutions with startups and spin-off companies, business incubators, and accelerators in the relentless pursuit of cutting-edge discoveries for the market—a phenomenon found equally in Europe as in the United States. For Brookings, Wagner also designed and managed the initial five-prong strategy for the Global Cities Initiative, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase, shaping its global research and global forums, 2011-2013. Wagner has also designed and led numerous tours and events in European cities such as Munich, Stuttgart, Barcelona, Hamburg, and Berlin to demonstrate specific policy innovations to top U.S. policy makers. A city planner by training, Wagner also advises American and European city and metropolitan leaders on how to design short-, medium-, and long-range plans drawing on strong empirical analysis.
Her writings include op-eds on European and U.S. policies pertaining to shrinking cities, land use regeneration, and transportation issues such as freight planning and high speed rail. Her most recent Op-ed, written with Bruce Katz, was “What a City Needs to Foster Innovation: Cafes, Bikes Lanes, and 3-D Printers,” (Quartz, January 2014). She also co-wrote the keynote Brookings speech for the GCI Global Summit in Brazil, “The Metropolitan Future for Brazil and the United States” (November 30, 2012). Other notable writings include: Transformative Investments: Remaking the Physical Landscape” a speech article (Ethos Publication Series, Spring 2008); "An Urban Agenda for an Urban Age," The Endless City (Phaidon Press, March 2008); and “A Communication and Outreach Handbook for Grands Travaux Projects” (ANCI-Ideali and the European Commission’s Interreg IIIC, 2006) The handbook served as a guide for designing effective communication strategies for large scale public projects across Europe, which was subsequently translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Estonian and Greek.
Prior to Brookings, Wagner was the Deputy Planning Director, Long Range Planning for the Government of the District of Columbia, where she developed the City’s first Long Range Vision Framework, led the initiative to develop neighborhood plans for all 131 city neighborhoods, and managed all highly controversial land use disputes. For a year, she was appointed as the regional planning director for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, coordinating multijurisdictional planning efforts.
Wagner also served on the German Marshall Fund Trans-Atlantic Advisory Committee to help design Trans-Atlantic exchanges between U.S. and European cities.