Mayors' Institute on City Design

MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship

In-depth training on achieving justice in the built environment.

Hear from the 2024 Fellows

Watch Recording: Mayors Imagining the Just City, Volume 4


The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship is a unique, highly interactive, semester-long program that brings together a small group of mayors and their staff to directly tackle injustices in each of their cities through planning and design interventions.


The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship is a program of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design in partnership with the Just City Lab at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Over a semester-long program, the Lab’s Just City Index frames dynamic presentations and dialogues with experts in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, art activism, housing, and public policy. Throughout the Fellowship, mayors and their staff identify how injustices manifest in the social, economic, and physical infrastructures of their cities and develop manifestos of action for their communities, applying the language and tactics of racial justice to the neighborhood’s future. The curriculum is adjusted for each cohort in response to the most pressing issues of the time.

The 2024 Fellowship will follow a hybrid in-person and virtual format between February and April of 2024. This year’s Fellowship will introduce mayors and their staff to the concepts of social impact and justice-centered design, equity framework measurement tools, and innovative design practices that increase just and equitable outcomes. Each mayor will also explore conditions of injustice in their own community, culminating in a manifesto of action.

The 2024 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellows are: Allentown, PA Mayor Matthew Tuerk; Dearborn, MI Mayor Abdullah H. Hammoud; Lima, OH Mayor Sharetta Smith; Long Beach, CA Mayor Rex Richardson; McMinnville, OR Mayor Remy Drabkin; Racine, WI Mayor Cory Mason; and San Rafael, CA Mayor Kate Colin.

The 2023 Fellowship helped mayors develop and strengthen approaches to embedding justice and equity goals within government policy and practices, as well as design strategies for achieving more just and equitable outcomes within the communities of each city. The 2022 Fellowship helped mayors navigate a just and equitable recovery from the pandemic, providing actionable ideas for city leaders rising to meet a key moment of change and exploring ways to create lasting, transformational impacts from new federal funding streams. The inaugural 2020 Fellowship took place as COVID-19 brought disproportionate harm to the health and economic well-being of Black residents and national protests around policing, public safety, and race continued. This virtual program focused on planning and design solutions for the neighborhoods where these injustices played out, culminating in the creation of a manifesto of action for a historically under-invested neighborhood in each mayor’s city.

Time Commitment

The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship is an intensive, semester-long program with a significant time commitment required. 

  • 1.5-day kickoff event (in-person, mayors)
  • Biweekly 90-minute meetings (virtual)
  • Readings and homework (self-paced)
  • 2.5-day closing workshop (in-person, mayors + staff)


MICD Just City Mayoral Fellows are selected based on an open call for expressions of interest in the months before the Fellowship begins. All U.S. mayors are eligible to express interest. Each cohort is curated with different themes, commonalities, and city sizes in mind.

Selected mayors identify two key staff members to take part in the weekly classes and all virtual components of the Fellowship.

How it Works

  • 01

    Express Interest

    Join our email list to be notified when MICD is seeking candidates for the next Fellowship cohort.

  • 02

    Virtual Lectures & Discussions

    Throughout the semester, design leaders guide thought-provoking discussions about justice and the built environment.

  • 03

    Select Your Project

    With help from the course curators, choose a project in your city that could benefit from a justice-oriented design focus.

  • 04

    Present Your Manifesto

    At the closing session, present your manifesto of action for your chosen project for guidance on implementation, funding, and maintaining a focus on justice.

  • 05

    Gain New Ideas

    Get expert advice on your project from the nation’s top design leaders and learn from the other mayors’ projects.

  • 06

    Stay in Touch

    Receive a summary report after the session and stay tuned for more MICD alumni opportunities.


What is the cost of this program?

There is no cost to participating mayors or cities; there are no registration fees and MICD covers all travel expenses. Resource Team members receive a modest honorarium for their participation from MICD.

What does the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship experience look like?

The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship is much like a graduate school course, with a small group of mayors doing a deep dive into the history and practice of justice and the built environment. Over the course of a semester, design leaders from around the country lead weekly lectures and discussions on a variety of curated topics. The Fellowship concludes with each mayor presenting a capstone project (manifesto) from their city and receiving expert feedback from a select group of design leaders, much like at traditional MICD sessions.

How is the Just City Mayoral Fellowship different from typical MICD sessions?

Typical MICD Institute Sessions are 2.5-day intensive 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, through the exploration of specific projects.

The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship instead brings together a small cohort of mayors and key staff members for both virtual and in-person gatherings over a semester-long program. Fellowship participants can expect a similarly engaging, candid, collaborative atmosphere in which to gain new frameworks for solving their cities’ challenges. The Fellowship curriculum and case studies are all explicitly focused on justice and the built environment, taking participants through a series of lectures and workshops which culminate in a manifesto of actionable, context-specific strategies for each mayor’s area of focus.

What do past Fellows have to say about the program?
“The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship was a powerful experience for our city and the leaders who joined.  It sparked new core principles for our project, innovative workarounds, and helped flag important challenges to consider.” — Albuquerque, NM Mayor Tim Keller (2023 Fellow)

“Mayors take the responsibility of their office very seriously. I appreciated the chance to be in a room with mayors who are dedicated to solving the biggest challenges in their communities. The Fellowship provided a comfortable space to work through thorny issues, and to return to the vision that propelled us all to run in the first place.” — Duluth, MN Mayor Emily Larson (2022 Fellow)

“This was a great experience. It was really valuable to interact with the Resource Team, and inspiring to learn about their work and what’s possible. The feedback I got on Madison’s project was really helpful in that it expanded my thinking about the site and the scope of the work. But it was also really interesting to hear about the work other cities are doing. I highly recommend this experience to mayors who want to think more deeply about equitable development.” — Madison, WI Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway (2022 Fellow)

How can I express interest?

MICD Just City Mayoral Fellows are selected based on an open call for expressions of interest in the months before the Fellowship begins. Please note that participation is extremely limited (up to 8 participants per year) and may be geared towards different city challenges and themes each year. Priority may be given to mayors who have previously attended an MICD Institute Session, though it is not required.

We also encourage you to fill out our general interest form or contact MICD staff directly to discuss the program in more detail.

Can I bring staff?

Each mayor selects two key staff members to participate in the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship. Participation at in-person events may be limited to mayors.

What types of projects are well-suited for the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship?

During the first few weeks of the Fellowship, the course curators will assist you with selecting an appropriate project for the current cohort.

How do I prepare for the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship?

The MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship involves a semester-long commitment to weekly classes and ongoing project work. MICD will provide detailed information about preparing for your cohort.

Before the Fellowship, you will select two staff members who will join the virtual classes and collaborate on your project. During the Fellowship, each week’s class has associated readings and may have short homework assignments as you select and work on your project. Before the closing session, you and your staff will prepare a presentation about your project. At the closing session, you will participate in the roundtable discussion and receive recommendations for moving your project forward.

How can I get involved as a design leader?

While participation is extremely limited, MICD is always looking for new design leaders to fit various programs throughout the year, including the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship. Ideal candidates have a deep commitment to using the allied design fields to promote justice in the built environment, through architecture, arts & culture, city planning, community engagement, economic development, housing, landscape architecture, real estate development, transportation, and/or urban design. Design leaders may be invited to serve as a lecturer during the weekly classes and/or as a Resource Team member providing project recommendations at the closing session. Learn more about getting involved in MICD as a design leader.

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