Bruce J. Katz is the inaugural Centennial Scholar at the Brookings Institution, where he focuses on the challenges and opportunities of global urbanization. Katz assumed this cross-institution role in January 2016 after 20 years as the vice president and co-director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, which he founded in 1996. He is co-author of two books The Metropolitan Revolution, and The New Localism, which focuses on the shift of power from national governments and states to cities and metropolitan communities.
As Brookings’s only centennial scholar, Katz and his team collaborate with experts throughout Brookings and beyond to develop new models of finance, growth, and governance in cities and nations. He regularly advises cross-sector metropolitan, national, and global leaders on public reforms and private innovations that advance the well-being of metropolitan areas and their countries.
Katz heads the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking, a collaboration with the New York-based Project for Public Spaces focused on cross-disciplinary approaches to city building. He is also one of the leaders of the Brookings Project on 21st Century City Governance.
Before joining Brookings, Katz served as chief of staff to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros and was the senior counsel and then staff director for the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs. In 2008, he co-led the housing and urban issues transition team for the Obama Administration and served as a senior advisor to the new Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan for the first 100 days of the administration.
In 2006, he received the prestigious Heinz Award in Public Policy for his contributions to the understanding of the "function and values of cities and metropolitan areas and profoundly influencing their economic vitality, livability and sustainability."
Katz is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, and is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.
In 2006, he received the prestigious Heinz Award in Public Policy for his contributions to the understanding of the “function and values of cities and metropolitan areas and profoundly influencing their economic vitality, livability and sustainability.”
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In their recent book, “The New Localism,” Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak argue that cities and counties will be tested as never before in the coming years. They will need to innovate and reform—to pursue new strategies for growth and finance—in a fiscal environment dominated by rising health-care and pension costs. In these circumstances, the quality of metropolitan governance will matter more than ever.
“We’re at a stage of growth in our country and around the world where cities are the vanguard of problem solving,” said Katz. “The federal government, when it functions, is a health insurance company with an army.”
“The 21st century has revalued these small geographies. That’s what the 21st century demands,” Katz said, noting that these days, “[w]e aren’t innovating in isolated business parks” in the suburbs.
"Cities must solve their own problems with the resources at hand - local leaders, capital and assets, anchor institutions and brainpower."
Mayors must first recognize that we are in the midst of a paradigmatic shift in urban governance and problem solving that is catching up to an established fact on the ground: Cities are networks of public, private, and civic institutions that power the economy and shape critical aspects of urban life. This “new localism” is pragmatic and solution-oriented, and by design includes exemplary leadership across sectors and segments of society.
“I think the leadership of mayors is critically important,” said Reville. “I’m a believer in what Bruce Katz from Brookings calls and others call, the 'new localism.'” New localism dictates that in order to enact real change, the country is going to need to look toward influential urban and regional policies. Only then will the U.S. actually see a difference made in education, inequality, climate change and other essential issues.