Mount Vernon Joins Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

Harvard Bloomberg Innovation Track

In October 2020 after a nationwide competitive application process, Mt. Vernon was among 12 cities chosen to participate in the Innovation Track of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. Mayor Patterson-Howard elected to apply the innovation process to the City’s budding “Love My City “campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and designed to address litter contributing to blight and rodent infestation in Mt. Vernon.

Throughout the 10-month program, which culminates in August 2021, a diverse 12-member cross-departmental team will participate in virtual classes led by a dedicated coach, Lesley-Ann Noel, Ph.D., Associate Director for Design Thinking for Social Impact and Professor of Practice at Tulane School of Architecture. The team, which has five specialized roles (Innovation Lead, Project Manager, Communications Manager, Learning Lead, and Technology Lead) has already begun learning cutting-edge innovation techniques to engage residents in testing, adapting, and scaling ideas to ensure a lasting impact on the cleanliness of Mt. Vernon.

In addition to the regular webinar & workshop model, Harvard Professor Mitch Weiss will lead three remote sessions designed to build skills, internalize lessons learned, and identify how to overcome barriers to building innovation in the City.

Implementation partners from the Centre for Public Impact (CPI), a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that works to reimagine government and “turn ideas into impact” has proven invaluable in scheduling and coordinating onboarding, team activities, weekly coaching sessions, and virtual classes in the project’s first attempt at remote instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since November, Dr. Noel has guided the team through “Understanding the Problem,” centered on those living the experience of the day-today impact of a problem to ensure that proposed solutions are not addressing symptoms of a larger issue. During the weekly synchronous sessions that range from 90 minutes to 4 hours, team members have collaborated with one another to frame the problem, and lay the groundwork for conducting in-depth research, and identifying community stakeholders that are affected by or have influence in remedying the litter issue.

After three months, the team has made significant progress in the “Love My City” campaign, recording data and planning the implementation of ideas on the “Miro” online collaborative whiteboard platform. You may hear from them as they begin the next phase of the project- community interviews, observations, and prototyping of solutions; and we will continue to share stories of their progress and lessons learned.

If you would like to know more about the project or would like to be interviewed, please contact lovemycity@cmvny.com. The City cannot fight this issue alone- even with Bloomberg and Harvard as partners! Remember “Proud People don’t Litter,” join us and LOVE OUR CITY.

1st African American Woman Elected Mayor for the great City of Mount Vernon, NY.