The Preeminent Conference for Urban Decision-Makers

How do the greatest cities succeed? On July 10–11, The New York Times will convene the world’s foremost industry experts, policymakers, developers, creative visionaries, entrepreneurs and others at Cities for Tomorrow, the must-attend event for leaders who are shaping the urban environments of the future.

Together, this powerful group will identify and assess the formulas that lead to flourishing cities — and explore new challenges that are rapidly emerging. Topics will range from the new power of private money to the future of bricks-and-mortar retail, from cities’ impact on the national climate agenda to the realities of leading during a time of partisan politics, from the promises and pitfalls of smart technology to fresh approaches to entrepreneurship — and much more on what makes a good city great.

This is a critical year for urban leaders. Cities for Tomorrow will feature the high-level analysis that only The New York Times can deliver through discussions with the newsmakers driving pivotal urban change.


Mary T. Bassett
New York City
Commissioner of Health
Mary T. Bassett, M.D., M.P.H., was appointed Commissioner of Health of New York City in January 2014. Her focus is on ensuring that every New York City neighborhood supports the health of its residents, with the goal of closing gaps in population health across the diverse city. Originally from New York City, Dr. Bassett lived in Zimbabwe for nearly 20 years. Previously, she was a Program Director for the African Health Initiative and the Child Well-being Program at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. She completed her medical residency at Harlem Hospital Center, her medical degree at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, a master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Washington and her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University.

Barry Jenkins
Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins was born and raised in Miami, Fla. A Florida State University graduate, Jenkins’s feature film debut, “Medicine for Melancholy,” was hailed as one of the best films of 2009 by The New York Times and received several Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations. Jenkins, along with playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, received an Academy Award for best adapted screenplay for his second feature, “Moonlight,” which won best picture at both the Oscars and the Golden Globes (drama). As well as earning eight Academy Award nominations, ten Broadcast Critics’ Choice Awards nominations, six Golden Globe nominations and four BAFTA nominations, “Moonlight” won best picture and director at the Gotham Awards and best international film by the British Independent Film Awards. In addition to NYFCC and NBR awarding Jenkins best director and LAFCA naming him best director and the film best picture, Jenkins is the recipient of a DGA best director nomination and the winner of the WGA Award for best original screenplay. Most recently, Jenkins directed an episode of the Netflix original series “Dear White People.” Upcoming projects include an adaptation of National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead’s “The Underground Railroad” for television, which he will pen and direct. He’s also writing a script for a coming-of-age drama based on the life of the first American female Olympic boxing champ, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields. Jenkins, who currently resides in Los Angeles, is a curator at the Telluride Film Festival and a United States Artists Smith Fellow.

Tarell Alvin McCraney
Tarell Alvin McCraney is best known for his acclaimed trilogy, “The Brother/Sister Plays.” Other plays include “Head of Passes,” “Choir Boy” and “Wig Out!” Tarell’s script “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue” is the basis for the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight” directed by Barry Jenkins, for which McCraney and Jenkins also won an Oscar for best adapted screenplay. Among its many other honors, the film has won a Golden Globe for best drama, Gotham Award for best feature, the NAACP Image Award for best independent film, WGA Award for best original screenplay, the Human Rights Campaign Visionary Arts Award and six Independent Spirit Awards including best picture and best screenplay. Tarell has also worked on TV and film projects with Playtone, HBO and Disney. Tarell is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Grant, the Whiting Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Evening Standard Theatre Award, The New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award, the Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize and a Doris Duke Artist Award. He was international writer in residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company from 2008 to 2010, and a former resident playwright at New Dramatists. He is an ensemble member at Steppenwolf Theatre Company and a member of Teo Castellanos D-Projects in Miami. Tarell is a graduate of the New World School of the Arts, The Theatre School at DePaul University, and the Yale School of Drama. He was recently named the new chairman of the playwriting department at the Yale School of Drama, as well as playwright in residence at Yale Repertory Theatre.

Margarette Purvis
Food Bank for New York City
President and C.E.O.
Margarette Purvis leads Food Bank for New York City, one of the country’s most robust food banks having served over one billion pounds directly to New Yorkers in need. In this role, Purvis leads and oversees the strategic vision for all of Food Bank’s operations, philanthropy and programming, including the organization’s citywide food distribution system and member network of over 1,000 charities and schools. In addition, Purvis, who has more than 20 years of experience in services to our nation’s most vulnerable, was selected by Governor Andrew Cuomo to chair the New York State Anti-Hunger Task Force, where she led the development of recommendations for better coordination of hunger relief services and policy that have been endorsed by the governor in the 2016 State of the State policy proposals. Purvis has also been appointed by Mayor Bill de Blasio to advisory boards for the New York City Children’s Cabinet and Community Schools. She was recognized as a “Woman of Influence” by the New York Business Journal and named to NonProfit Times’s 2014 Power and Influence Top 50, a national list of leaders in the nonprofit sector. Purvis has more than 20 years of experience in services to our nation’s most vulnerable. Prior to becoming Food Bank president and C.E.O. in 2011, Purvis was C.E.O. and principal of PCG Services, an Atlanta-based firm. PCG developed and implemented social and philanthropic programming and branding strategies for businesses, notables, nonprofits and government agencies. Before her career as a social entrepreneur, Purvis was vice president of National Programming at Points of Light Foundation, leading the launch and implementation of its multimillion-dollar programs and civic engagement units while overseeing large-scale disaster initiatives in response to Hurricane Katrina. Prior to that, she served her first term at Food Bank as the organization’s vice president of programs and services, where for five years she developed national award-winning programs, including the Education Institute and Kids Cafés. Purvis’s leadership also includes director and management level positions with our country’s oldest H.I.V./AIDS program, Bailey’s House, and government programs including U.S.D.A.’s Women, Infants and Children (W.I.C.) and City of New York’s H.R.A. Purvis is an alumna of Dillard University where she studied urban studies and public policy. She also studied nonprofit management in the B.A./M.S. program at the Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at The New School. Purvis is a board member of the James Beard Foundation and a proud member of Links, Incorporated and Women’s Forum of New York.

Christine C. Quinn
President and C.E.O.
Christine C. Quinn is the president and chief executive officer of Win (formerly Women in Need), the largest provider of shelter, permanent supportive housing and services for homeless families and children in New York City. Under her leadership, Win is improving the lives of women and children, advocating for policies that benefit low-income New Yorkers and those living in poverty and also challenging prevailing perceptions of homelessness. A thought leader and expert, she often appears in the media on this issue. Quinn is vice chair of the New York State Democratic Party, and during the 2016 presidential election was a regular and occasionally fiery commentator on CNN in support of Hilary Clinton. A champion of women’s and L.G.B.T. rights, she previously served as special adviser to Governor Cuomo, where she focused on women’s issues across New York State, and led the effort to pass legislation to stop rape and sexual assaults on college campuses. A member of the New York City Council from 1999–2013, Quinn served for seven years as the elected speaker of the Council, making her the first woman and the first openly gay speaker, as well as the highest-ranking L.G.B.T. official in New York City history. She was instrumental in working to see marriage equality pass in the New York State Legislature and has been a national leader in the L.G.B.T. and reproductive rights movements. Prior to serving in elected office, she was the chief of staff to then-New York City Council Member Tom Duane, and executive director of the Anti-Violence Project, where she worked closely with the New York City Police Department to reduce hate crimes. Quinn currently serves on the Boards of Athlete Ally, an organization dedicated to ending homophobia and transphobia in sports, and the National Institute of Reproductive Health Action Fund (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice New York). She is a Grove Leader in the inaugural Grove Fellowship Program at the Public Policy Institute at Hunter College and a former Harvard University Institute of Politics Fellow. She and her wife, Kim Catullo, live in Chelsea with their rescue dog, Justin.

David Simon
Writer and Executive Producer
David Simon is a Baltimore-based journalist, author and television producer. A former crime reporter for The Baltimore Sun, he is the creator of the celebrated HBO series “The Wire,” which depicts the political and socioeconomic fissures in an American city. His other television credits include the NBC drama “Homicide: Life on the Street” and HBO’s “The Corner,” “Generation Kill” and “Treme.” His most recent project, “Show Me a Hero,” an HBO miniseries, depicts the 1987–93 housing desegregation battle that divided Yonkers, N.Y. He is currently in production on the upcoming HBO drama, “The Deuce,” which follows the legalization and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s. The author of two books of narrative nonfiction, “Homicide” and “The Corner,” Simon is a 2010 MacArthur Fellow.

Greg Stanton
City of Phoenix
Since taking office in 2012, Mayor Greg Stanton has worked tirelessly to build a modern economy that works for every Phoenix family. By boosting trade with Mexico, investing in the biosciences and lifting up local small business, Stanton is leading the way to create an innovation-based, export economy built to last. Stanton is committed to making our community a more welcoming and open place. Under his leadership, Phoenix became the first U.S. city to end chronic homelessness among veterans. Phoenix also earned national recognition as a leader on L.G.B.T. issues and became the first Arizona city to earn a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s municipal equality index. Stanton attended Marquette University on the Harry S. Truman Scholarship and earned a law degree from the University of Michigan. Before he was elected to his first term as mayor in 2011, Stanton served nine years on the City Council and as Arizona’s deputy attorney general. In 2015, Stanton won reelection and also successfully led one of the most ambitious transportation initiatives in the country — a plan that will triple Phoenix’s light rail system over the next 35 years. In his second term, Stanton will continue to shape an economy that works for everyone — one rooted in innovation and focused on growing exports.

Joan Williams
Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Distinguished Professor of Law, Hastings Foundation Chair, and Founding Director
Described as having “something approaching rock star status” in her field by The New York Times Magazine, Joan C. Williams has played a central role in reshaping the conversation about work, gender and class over the past quarter century. Williams is a Distinguished Professor of Law, Hastings Foundation Chair and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Williams’s pathbreaking work helped create the field of work-family studies and modern workplace flexibility policies. Williams’s work on social class has influenced scholars, policy makers and the press. It includes her prize-winning “Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What to Do About It” (Oxford, 2000), “Reshaping the Work-Family Debate: Why Men and Class Matter” (Harvard, 2010) and widely read reports such as “The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict” (co-authored with Heather Boushey). Williams has played a central role in documenting how work-family conflict affects working-class families, through reports such as “One Sick Child Away From Being Fired” (2006) and “Improving Work-Life Fit in Hourly Jobs” (2011). Williams’s Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, “What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class,” has been read over three million times and is now the most read article in HBR’s 90-plus-year history. In addition, Williams uses the findings of social science to create stable schedules for hourly workers, and interrupt implicit bias, at major U.S. companies (see and Williams is the author of the forthcoming book “White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America.”


Ginia Bellafante
The New York Times
Big City Columnist
Ginia Bellafante has been with The New York Times for 15 years, having served as a reporter, critic and, since 2011, as the paper’s Big City columnist. She began her career at The Times as a fashion critic, examining the way that clothes and the art of making them reflected broader societal trends. For several years, before she joined the Metropolitan section, she was a television critic. Her work has appeared throughout the paper, including on A1 where, a decade ago, she wrote about how gay parents divide domestic labor; she has also written for the culture and styles pages as well as the magazine and the Book Review. Prior to joining The Times, Bellafante was a senior writer at Time magazine, for a while the youngest writer and only woman to hold the title. She is a native of Long Island and currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband, a professor at Brown University, and her five-year-old son.

Adam Bryant
The New York Times
Editorial Director of Live Journalism, Corner Office Columnist
Adam Bryant conducts interviews with chief executives for Corner Office, a weekly feature about leadership and management that he started in 2009. In 2016, Bryant was named editorial director of NYT Live, The Times’s global conference enterprise. Bryant is the author of “Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation.” His first book, “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” was a New York Times best seller. Bryant has had many roles at The Times, including deputy editor in the Science department, business reporter, deputy business editor, deputy national editor and senior editor for features. He is also a former senior writer and business editor at Newsweek magazine.


Agenda is subject to change

Monday, July 10, 2017
Registration 5:00 PM  
Welcome Remarks 6:00 PM  
Cities as Stars 6:10 PM - 7:30 PM
Cocktail Reception 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM  
Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Registration and Breakfast 8:00 AM  
The Showdown Over Immigration  
Urban Life, in a New Light  
Patching the Safety Net  
The Shape of Cities to Come  
The Path to Moving Up?  
The Rising Tide  
The Art of Compromise (or Not)  
The Race to Save Lives  
Build It and They Will Come  
How Smart Is Too Smart?  

Photos and Video

View photos and videos from past conferences.


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