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A leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors


What is the Mayors’ Institute?

The Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors. Since 1986, the Mayors’ Institute has helped transform communities through design by preparing mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.

MICD achieves its mission by organizing technical assistance workshops where mayors engage leading design and development experts to find solutions to the most critical planning and design challenges facing their cities. Sessions are organized around case study projects. Each mayor presents a project from his or her city and receives feedback from other mayors and design professionals.

Every year, MICD plans and manages six sessions held throughout the country. Participation in each two-and-one-half-day session is limited to eight mayors, eight preeminent design and development professionals, and MICD partners. Many complex design topics have been addressed in recent years include downtown and neighborhood revitalization, transportation planning, creative placemaking, district visioning and branding, main street and commercial corridor redevelopment, affordable housing, historic preservation, and sustainable development. Following each presentation, mayors and design professionals identify important issues, offer suggestions, and discuss potential solutions. The interchange sparks lively debates, generates new ideas, and inspires creative thinking.


Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. is one of the most visionary leaders in the country. First elected mayor of Charleston, SC in 1975, Mayor Riley retired in 2015 after serving an unprecedented ten, four-year terms in office. Under his leadership, Charleston has developed nationally acclaimed affordable housing and has experienced remarkable revitalization of its waterfront and historic downtown business district. As a founding father and champion of MICD, Mayor Riley helps provide critical urban design support to mayors.

MICD Partners

The Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors.

National Endowment for the Arts
Established by Congress in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America.

The United States Conference of Mayors
The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are nearly 1,400 such cities in the country today, and each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

Alumni Participants

MICD brings together a Resource Team of multidisciplinary design and development professionals along with eight mayors at each session. The Resource Team consists of distinguished professionals from across the country in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, city and regional planning, transportation planning, economic and real estate development, public art, historic preservation, and public policy. When combined with participating mayors, MICD provides in-depth discussion and dialogue among those that help shape the built environment of American cities.

Alumni Mayors

Alumni Resource Team


The MICD National Advisory Council, led by MICD Founder and former Charleston, SC Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. consists of an impressive group of 25 nationally-known leaders on urban design issues. The members were selected because of their demonstrated commitment to improving urban design and their belief in its ability to transform cities. They are helping to increase the impact of the program by helping boost visibility and support for MICD.

Joan Abrahamson
President, Jefferson Institute
Los Angeles, CA

Eugenie Birch
Professor & Former Chair, University of Pennsylvania Department of City and Regional Planning
Philadelphia, PA

Fred Carl
Founder, President & CEO, Viking Range Corporation
Greenwood, MS

Adele Chatfield-Taylor
President, American Academy in Rome
New York, NY

The Honorable David Cicilline
U.S. House of Representatives, 1st District of Rhode Island
Washington, DC

Manuel Diaz
Former Mayor, City of Miami
Miami, FL

Mark Falcone
Managing Director, Continuum Partners
Denver, CO

Reese Fayde
President, RFA Investments
New York, NY

Richard Florida
Author, The Rise of the Creative Class
Washington, DC

Robert Forbes
Founder & Director, Studio Forbes
San Francisco, CA

Shirley Franklin
Former Mayor, City of Atlanta
Atlanta, GA

Harvey Gantt
Founder & Partner, Gantt Huberman Architects
Charlotte, NC

Alexander Garvin
President & CEO, AGA Public Realm Strategies
New York, NY

The Honorable Kay Granger
U.S. House of Representatives, 12th District of Texas
Washington, DC

Mary Margaret Jones
President, Hargreaves Associates
New York, NY

Robert Larson
Managing Director & Chairman, Lazard Freres Real Estate Investors
Bloomfield Hills, MI

Richard Moe
Past President, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Washington, DC

Robert A. Peck
Principal, Gensler
Washington, DC

Daniel Pink
Author, Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind
Washington, DC

The Honorable Joseph P. Riley, Jr.
Mayor, City of Charleston (1975-2015)
Charleston, SC

Craig Robbins
Founder, Dacra
Miami Beach, FL

Jaquelin Robertson
Partner, Cooper Robertson
New York, NY

Peter Rummel
CEO, Nicklaus Companies
Jacksonville, FL

Stacey Davis Stewart
President, United Way
Washington, DC

Marilyn Jordan Taylor
Dean, University of Pennsylvania School of Design
Philadelphia, PA

Home Page Main Image: Photo by MICD