Mayors' Institute on City Design

Every session is full of stories.

Explore the experiences of mayors and design leaders who have been part of MICD.

Featured Testimonials


MICD was a pivotal experience for my early tenure as mayor. While I focused on one specific project, it will continue to shape my ability to create a beautifully connected community.

Mayor Kerry Thomson
Bloomington — IN
MICD New York City 2024

Working with mayors in closed-door sessions is a very special privilege. The open, honest conversations spark important realizations among the mayors and resource team. It is especially rewarding to see when a mayor is offered a strategy that they were not expecting and they see everything transform. Seeing their expression at that moment is priceless.

Susannah Drake
Principal, Architect & Landscape Architect, Sasaki
New York — NY
MICD New York City 2024

A thoughtful and collaborative experience in seeking innovative solutions to the challenges of equitable and sustainable growth. The mayors were gracious and forthcoming, sharing important details regarding governance and the capacity of design in each of their unique cases.

Shawn Rickenbacker
Director, J. Max Bond Center for Urban Futures
New York — NY
MICD New York City 2024

MICD has allowed me to step back and view challenges as opportunities. The design lens that MICD provides is a much more productive way to view the work that we do for our communities.

Mayor Kahlil Seren (2022 - Present)
Cleveland Heights — OH
MICD New York City 2024
MICD allowed me the opportunity to get expert advice and to think big about the future of my city. The experience was invaluable not just for my case study but also in providing new perspectives and ideas I will use to help my entire city succeed and grow.
Mayor Melanie Kebler (2022 - Present)
Bend — OR
MICD Tampa 2023

I am grateful to have been invited to participate in this program. The real-time expert feedback about complex community design problems and challenges over the course of two days was invaluable.

Mayor Sharetta Smith (2021 - Present)
Lima — OH
MICD Tampa 2023

As resource team members we are able to share our experiences and provide our expertise to benefit the larger public good, but it is also a tremendous learning opportunity. Being exposed to the very tangible and pressing challenges facing communities all over the country and the leaders who are wrestling with those issues adds depth and dimension to our own work.

Rodrigo Abela
Principal, GGN
Washington — DC
MICD Alumni Advising 2023

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.

Mayor Tim Keller (2017 - Present)
Albuquerque — NM
2023 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship
Mayors are doers – they are very action-oriented. A thoughtful and thorough approach to solving our cities’ complex challenges requires space and time; MICD provides that space, and these mayors are committed to finding solutions.
Gerardo Garcia
Founder, The Urbanism Bureau
Chicago — IL
2023 MICD 78 Boston
I’ve been trying to find something to help me as a mayor in moving my city forward, and this program did it. The resource team had amazing insights and expertise and sparked a lot of great ideas. This program was mind-blowing.
Mayor Helen Tran (2022 - Present)
San Bernardino — CA
2024 MICD 78 Boston

It is so rewarding to be able to brainstorm implementation strategies with Mayors and their staff despite the short amount of time we had together. The MICD team sets up an environment that makes it comfortable for everyone to be candid right off the bat, which is so critical for these projects.

Connie Chung
Managing Partner, HR&A Advisors
Los Angeles — CA
MICD 78 Boston — MICD Alumni Advising 2023

The MICD Alumni Advising process was helpful in providing outside perspective and expertise to our project. The advisors did their research, asked the right questions, and brought to the table relevant examples from around the nation. This was a great resource to the City of Albuquerque and our project.

Terry Brunner
Director, Metropolitan Redevelopment Agency
Albuquerque — NM
2023 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship — Alumni Advising 2023
Mayors take away valuable strategic insights from the classic MICD experience. It’s every mayor’s responsibility to be constantly walking in two worlds — the aspirational and the concrete. The Alumni Advising Program acknowledges that, and enables Resource Teams to support MICD mayors in connecting the dots between those worlds.
Kjersti Duval
Duval Companies
Minneapolis — MN
MICD Alumni Advising 2023

MICD offers a unique opportunity to present your city’s most pressing design projects and get instant feedback and expertise from design professionals and fellow mayors. MICD is an opportunity that mayors should seek to attend.

Mayor Malik Evans (2021 - Present)
Rochester — NY
2023 MICD 77 Kansas City

Powerful. Inspiring. Engaging. It was an honor to be part of the discussions and contribute to the dialogue. The energy is infectious and renewing.

Cindy Zerger
Urban Design Director, Toole Design Group
Oakland — CA
2023 MICD 77 Kansas City

MICD has given me the tools I need to transform an underutilized, valuable, historic space. To be with creative minds in such an intimate and focused setting gave me the courage to speak my mind which resulted in so many more bold ideas.

Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson (2020 - Present)
Riverside — CA
2023 MICD 77 Kansas City

MICD provided an amazing platform for substantive & impactful collaboration. The case studies, the mayors, and the subject matter experts were clearly very carefully curated in order to facilitate the most productive working sessions possible. We are very excited to keep our eyes on these sites & cities to bear witness to their inevitable success, under the careful & measured leadership of this group of elected officials.

Carlos Augusto Garcia
Senior Architect, Brooks + Scarpa
Hawthorne — CA
2023 MICD 77 Kansas City

MICD served as an eye opener, providing me with creative insights and reaffirmed vision.

Mayor Jerry Dyer (2020 - Present)
Fresno — CA
2023 MICD 77 Kansas City

I came ready to learn what I could do in my city from the resource team. I did not expect to come away with even more ideas from the other mayors for projects to work on in my city. The peer sharing and building up of one another is my greatest takeaway.

Mayor Barbara Buffaloe (2022 - Present)
Columbia — MO
2023 MICD 77 Kansas City

The experience felt like a respite from the daily grind of bureaucratic work where the urgency of getting keeping the train on the tracks often sidelines creativity. All aspects of the session felt special – the food, the setting, the MICD staff, the quality of the expert panels and most especially, the commitment of the elected officials to making their communities better and more equitable places.

Alexandra Ladd
Director, Office of Affordable Housing
Santa Fe — NM
2023 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship — Alumni Advising 2023

I appreciated the chance to be in a room with mayors who are dedicated to solving the biggest challenges in their communities. The MICD Just City Mayoral 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.

Mayor Emily Larson (2016 - Present)
Duluth — MN
2022 MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship

This provided a great opportunity to focus on the impact we can have in our communities when thinking about design, parks, arts, culture, and mobility. The chance to share my love for cities with mayors and renowned experts has been awesome – stimulating and motivating.

Mayor Lauren McLean (2020 - Present)
Boise — ID
2022 MICD 76 Chicago

The combination of mayors (without staff) and the broad range of design professionals yields wide-ranging, applicable, and scalable ideas for the transformation of cities; large, medium, and small. MICD has developed an extremely effective format that allows creative problem-solving to flourish and participants leave with an abundance of information, ideas, and energy.

Mary Margaret Jones, RLA, FASLA, FAAR
President & CEO, Hargreaves Jones
New York — NY
Landscape Architecture — 2022 MICD 76 Chicago

I have had the privilege of participating in MICD since its early days. In that time it is exceedingly clear that the program has had manifold national impacts. As the country and world urbanize, the education this program provides is essential, helping our mayors and their communities create cities with jobs, justice, and joy.

Vishaan Chakrabarti, FAIA, FRAIC
Founder and Creative Director, PAU
New York — NY
Architecture — 2022 MICD 76 Chicago

I’ve never been in a space where ideas, passion, and vulnerability flow so freely. I got to feel like an expert and student all at once. I learned, grew, and have been changed by this experience. I so appreciate MICD, our host city, and the rest of the participants for sharing and creating this space of empathy and service.

Tamika Butler
Founder and Principal, Tamika L. Butler Consulting
Los Angeles — CA
Transportation — 2022 MICD Honolulu

MICD revolutionized the way I envisioned my project. Tapping so many experts and gaining their invaluable input will transform our vision of our study site and enhance the results of our design.

Mayor Lynne Robinson (2020 - Present)
Bellevue — WA
2022 MICD Honolulu

“Disproportionate impact” is a good way of describing the work of the Mayors’ Institute: a small group of committed people, in a very short period of time, brainstorming alternative futures with significant positive impact potential for the lives of many.

Luis Rico-Gutierrez
Dean, Iowa State University College of Design
Ames — IA
Architecture — 2022 MICD Des Moines

This session was an incredible space for creative collaboration and the generation of innovative ideas that aimed to transform ways of thinking, doing, and operating in the realm of city design. I found new thought partners in my future work and professional development.

Ifeoma Ebo
Founding Director, Creative Urban Alchemy
Brooklyn — NY
Architecture — 2022 MICD 75 Charleston

I learned more at MICD than I have in any prior conference. MICD should be required orientation for every mayor – no matter the city size.

Mayor Quinton Lucas (2019 - Present)
Kansas City — MO
2022 MICD 75 Charleston

MICD was an incredible experience that I would recommend to all mayors. It forced me to think about design in the deepest of ways and all its implications on the physical, cultural, and spiritual fabric of my city.

Mayor Adrian Perkins (2018 - 2022)
Shreveport — LA
2022 MICD 75 Charleston

MICD is a transformational opportunity for elected officials to break away, focus, and truly ideate on specific urban challenges. This is an incredible program that serves as a model for how to pair expert professional counsel with driven & passionate public leaders.

Antoine Bryant
Director of Planning, City of Detroit
Detroit — MI
Urban Planning — 2022 MICD New Orleans

This institute would be beneficial for every mayor in America. It helps you recognize the importance of design in developing city and town projects.

Mayor Shirley Washington (2017 - Present)
Pine Bluff — AR
2022 MICD New Orleans

It was amazing to see the mayors’ preconceptions about design completely transform over the course of two days. The conversations and presentations also solidified for me how we talk about our work as landscape architects. MICD’s emphasis on design brought it all into focus.

Nina Chase, PLA, ASLA
Principal, Merritt Chase
Pittsburgh — PA
Landscape Architecture — 2019 MICD 74 Richmond

My experience at MICD was more valuable than any other exercise or conference as a mayor. I strongly encourage every mayor to take advantage of the expertise and experience of the MICD Resource Team and fellow mayors.

Mayor Michael Taylor (2014 - Present)
2019 MICD 74 Richmond

My MICD experience far surpassed my expectations. I appreciated the variety and depth of the experience of the experts. I plan to share many ideas that I garnered from the experts and my fellow mayors that will certainly help us have a successful downtown development.

Mayor Scott J. Brook (2019 - Present)
2019 MICD 74 Richmond

This was an incredible opportunity. It is nothing like a typical conference, but rather much more like a grad school cohort. It was all-day learning, very engaging with tactical takeaways from every session. I appreciate the relationships I gained and look forward to implementing as much as possible.

Mayor Cassie Franklin (2018 - Present)
2019 MICD 74 Richmond

An opportunity to spend just 20 hours with professionals who build communities and mayors who temper public plans to accommodate the wishes and hopes of their hometowns is time well spent. Honest and valuable feedback with people who do not have an agenda is a valuable commodity that mayors require whether they realize it or not.

Mayor John Gettys (2017 - Present)
2019 MICD Oklahoma City

I loved learning about the diversity — and commonalities — of these cities. No matter how different the challenges, this gathering showed how much we can learn from others’ experiences. It’s great to spent time in a room with so many who care so much.

Allison Arieff
Former Editorial Director, SPUR
San Francisco — CA
Urban Policy — 2019 MICD New York

The Mayors’ Institute isn’t a 3-day retreat from the bustle of your city. Instead, it is a reset — a moment to return to the imaginative first days of your term. I filled notebooks with ideas, inspirations, contacts and precedents to address deep issues in my city. Every mayor needs to go through the Mayors’ Institute.

Mayor Jacob Day (2015 - 2023)
2019 MICD Columbus

This is absolutely one of the best opportunities I’ve had the privilege to participate in as a mayor. The expertise of the dynamic individuals on the resource team was beyond impressive. They were amazingly engaged and earnest and offered feedback and ideas for all of the mayors which far exceeded my expectations.

Mayor Paige Brown (2014 - Present)
2019 MICD Columbus

I love being part of the collective transformation that happens when you bring a diverse set of mayors together to tackle complex social, environmental, and economic urban design issues within their cities. It’s a powerful experience for all.

Shane Coen, FASLA
Founder, Coen+Partners
Minneapolis — MN
Landscape Architecture — 2019 MICD 72 Charleston

Design thinking and peer-to-peer learning have the power to elevate all we do. MICD sets the table better than any other organization to capture the full benefits they offer.

Seleta Reynolds
Chief Innovation Officer, LA Metro
Los Angeles — CA
Transportation — 2019 MICD 72 Charleston

Best planning charrette experience of my career. The tough problems embraced and openness of leadership created inspiring and thoughtful conversation.

Beatrice Sibblies
Principal, BOS Development
New York — NY
Development — 2019 MICD 72 Charleston

MICD puts committed professionals and mayors together. These three days of learning together reminded me why I became a planner in the first place.

Jeff Fugate
Program Director, Urban & Environmental Design, University of Kentucky College of Design
Lexington — KY
Urban Planning — 2019 MICD 72 Charleston

I am encouraged by my experience with MICD. By sharing my case study with other mayors and the resource team of professionals, and by listening to other presentations, my convictions were strengthened, my assumptions challenged, and I am emboldened to expect the best of those who bring development to our city.

Mayor David Alvey (2018 - 2021)
2019 MICD 72 Charleston

MICD is an incredible opportunity for a mayor to interact with other mayors and design professionals for applicable community solutions that would not be available outside of this experience. This is extremely valuable for a new mayor.

Grover C. Robinson, IV (2018 - 2022)
2019 MICD 72 Charleston

Growing a city is extremely important, and city design is focal to that effort. These two days with design experts and other mayors were absolutely invaluable for the development, accessibility, mobility, and growth of my city. This was well worth the time and effort and I recommend it to all mayors.

Mayor Andy Schor (2018 - Present)
2018 MICD East Austin

Participating in these conversations with the mayors and seeing that your input has the potential to help make a difference is extremely rewarding. Equally valuable is being among a diverse group of design leaders and professionals. Seeing the different viewpoints each brings to address the same issue left me feeling inspired and energized by what can be accomplished by dedicated people.

Rodrigo Abela, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP BD+C
Principal, GGN
Washington — DC
Architecture/Landscape Architecture/Development — 2018 MICD 71 Miami

These were two of the best and most thought-provoking days I’ve had in my public service career!

Mayor Scott Singer (2018 - Present)
2018 MICD 71 Miami

The event was exquisitely organized; the caliber of the Resource Team was second to none. I feel much better equipped to push the envelope and help my city dream and pursue excellent design.

Mayor Michelle De La Isla (2017 - 2022)
2018 MICD 71 Miami

The intimate experience of the MICD session is so unique and impactful. To have a room full of experts poring over my problem was incredibly powerful and something like no other conference can provide.

Mayor Paul TenHaken (2018 - Present)
2018 MICD 71 Miami

This MICD was both thrilling and challenging. A new generation of mayors is tackling the thorniest problems yet. MICD opens them up.

Victor Dover, FAICP
Founding Principal, Dover, Kohl & Partners
Coral Gables — FL
Transportation/Urban Planning — 2018 MICD 70 Portland

[This session] was inspiring, informative and engaging in all aspects. I appreciate the opportunity to work with the incredible mayors and members of the Resource Team and to learn more about the diverse range of issues in cities across the country. This is such an important program that fosters critical dialog and new perspectives about the challenges facing our cities and states.

Marsha Maytum, FAIA
Principal, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects
San Francisco — CA
Architecture — 2018 MICD 69 Charleston

Virtually every significant urban design project in the country has MICD’s fingerprints on it.

M. David Lee, FAIA, NOMA
President, Stull and Lee
Boston — MA
Architecture — 2018 MICD 69 Charleston

This workshop took me by surprise. Within the first hour, my thinking was both turned on its head and expanded. I have a completely new awareness, language and framework for thinking about the design challenges and opportunities in my community.

Mayor Lucy Vinis (2017 - Present)
2018 MICD 69 Charleston

MICD provided an opportunity out of the public eye to brainstorm with and learn from design professionals of unmatched ability. You can’t even imagine what you don’t know about the planning and design process, and I learned as much from listening to other mayors’ projects as I did from mine. It really helped me learn how to think like a planner. I left the session energized to work on city planning projects and to look at and think about our community in a different way.

Mayor Deborah Frank Feinen (2019 - Present)
Champaign — IL
2017 MICD West Indianapolis

Networking with fellow policymakers and design professionals in a “how can I help you?” setting — absolutely priceless, powerful and forever memorable.

Mayor Mike Seminary (2008 - 2018)
2017 MICD West Indianapolis

The decision to attend MICD was one of the best investments of my time, especially as a newly elected mayor. The experience caused me to see my city through a different lens. I have a heightened understanding of the significant role design plays in transforming the quality of life for the citizens of my community.

Mayor Sharon Weston Broome (2017-Present)
2017 MICD 67 Providence

The experts there were incredibly helpful in thinking about the issues from a hundred different directions, 360 degrees. Design isn’t just about gettin a project done and it isn’t just about aesthetics… it’s how you build your city long-term.

Mayor Betsy Hodges (2014 - 2018)
Minneapolis — MN
2014 MICD 59

The best way I can describe my experience is the experience of people who get glasses for the first time — you see things totally differently and clearly. As mayor, I wasn’t used to thinking about things from the design perspective at all, except for aesthetics. I feel like I have a new set of glasses on and it will help me translate projects in a way that will have better impact on the city.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (2010 - 2016)
Baltimore — MD
2013 MICD 55

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