About Us – Next City

Inspiring Better Cities

Next City is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world.

Our vision is for a world in which cities are not in crisis and are instead, leading the way toward a more sustainable, equitable future.

Next City provides daily online coverage of the leaders, policies and innovations driving progress in metropolitan regions across the world. In an age when original, on-the-ground reporting is increasingly rare, we send our writers into urban communities around the world to produce our award-winning longform content. In addition to our online journalism, we produce events including an annual urban leadership conference, Vanguard. Next City is an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit that adheres to the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics. We are dedicated to producing journalism that is accurate, transparent, fair and impactful. 

Next City is supported by a diversified business model that includes major donations from foundation and individuals, membership, corporate sponsorships,underwriting, advertising and events. All underwritten and sponsored content is clearly and obviously distinguished from editorial content. We do not accept sponsorships, underwriting or ads from organizations that we believe could undermine our mission, integrity or brand. We accept gifts, grants and sponsorships from individuals and organizations for the general support of our activities and to support coverage of particular topics, but our organization maintains editorial control of the coverage. Past and present supporters, including sustaining members, major donors and corporate sponsors, can be found here.

Originally named The Next American City, the organization began publishing a quarterly magazine in 2003. What started as a black-and-white printed publication staffed by volunteers ultimately grew into a popular and influential magazine that reached 1 million people over the course of its 31 issues. Today, Next City is a trusted voice on urban policy, reaching more than 2.5 million readers through its website and influencing conversations across the media landscape. If you are interested in inviting Next City to join your next event, please reach out through our Meet the Experts page.

Next City deeply appreciates its current funders: Ford Foundation, Surdna Foundation and the William Penn Foundation, as well as our many other generous donors across the country. Support Next City’s work by making a 100% tax-deductible donation today.

Our Staff

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    Executive Director

    Lucas Grindley is executive director for Next City. He is the former President of Pride Media and led LGBTQ brands The Advocate, Out magazine, PRIDE.com, Out Traveler, Chill magazine, and Plus magazine. Grindley was also editor in chief of The Advocate, the longest running LGBTQ magazine in the country. In 2016, NLGJA named Grindley as “LGBT Journalist of the Year” with its Sarah Pettit Memorial Award. He came to Pride Media in 2011 from Washington, D.C., where he was managing editor for online at National Journal magazine, covering politics and policymaking. He now lives in Philadelphia with his husband and twin daughters. He also serves on the board of directors for Extraordinary Families, a nonprofit helping create more families like his through foster-adoption.

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    Editorial Director

    Before joining Next City, Kelly worked for two decades in magazines, books, and digital publishing. As an editorial manager at Google, she assembled and directed content teams that prototyped and launched the Destinations at Google travel channel, as well as the Explore recommendation engine on Google Maps. As editorial director of the Frommer's Travel Guides, she launched a color publishing program and managed a list of about 125 books per year. She is a longtime freelance editor and writer, specializing in science, travel, educational publishing, and dream interpretation. She holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University.

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    Senior Editor

    After years of contributing to Next City, Rachel Kaufman is thrilled to officially be Senior Editor. Before joining Next City full-time, Rachel freelanced as a writer and editor for The Washington Post, SmithsonianMag.com, National Geographic, DCist, and other outlets. In addition to her work on transit, housing, and the environment, she has written about mermaid conventions and edited work about exploding billiards balls, among many other stories. Rachel lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and a continually rotating cast of foster kittens. She secretly likes riding dockless scooters.

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    Events Director

    Sara is a marketing and events mastermind with more than ten years of experience supporting small businesses, artists and nonprofits. She has worked with artists to donate tooth-related artwork for a dental surgery fundraiser, planned a flash mob for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and raised money for children orphaned by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.

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    Development Manager

    Before joining Next City, Jeff was the Communications Director for Healthcare-NOW!, a carpenter, and a community member of Leavenhouse (a Catholic Worker community that provides food and housing for the homeless) in Camden, New Jersey. He has a B.A. in Urban Studies and Regional Planning from Rutgers University-Camden and a M.A. in Regional, Economic, and Social Development from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.

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    Integrated Sales and Marketing Coordinator

    Since graduating from Corcoran College of Art + Design in Washington, D.C., Eleanor has worked in administrative positions for a variety of organizations including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Old St. Joseph’s, Philadelphia’s first Catholic church. She continues to practice art in her studio, and uses her creative skill set to seek our advertisers and underwriters for Next City.

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    Audience Engagement Editor

    Melissa Simpson is a multimedia journalist, techie, and recent Temple University graduate. The Philly native began her freelance career in 2012 and has since written for a host of Philadelphia-based news outlets including XPN the Key, Technical.ly Philly, and Grid Magazine. In addition to her media work, she has over five years of experience in information technology. Currently, Melissa explores her creative side through photography, publication design, and writing creative non-fiction.

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    Senior Economics Correspondent

    As senior economics correspondent, Oscar covers policies, programs and businesses that seek to address historical disparities in access to jobs, capital and space for economic use in cities. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, equitable and inclusive economies, affordable housing, fair housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha, and Fast Company. Over the course of two and a half years of reporting for Next City, 372 out of 521 sources he interviewed were women and/or people of color. Oscar holds a B.A. in Economics from Villanova University. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram.

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    Housing Correspondent

    Jared Brey is Next City's housing correspondent, based in Philadelphia. He is a former staff writer at Philadelphia magazine and PlanPhilly, and his work has appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Landscape Architecture Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Philadelphia Weekly, and other publications.

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    Equitable Cities Fellow

    Valerie Vande Panne is a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow and a freelance writer. She travels extensively throughout the United States. Her work has appeared in Bloomberg, Columbia Journalism Review, In These Times, and Politico, among many other outlets. She is a former news editor of High Times magazine, and the former editor-in-chief of Detroit’s alt-weekly, the Metro Times.

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    Web Developer

    Derek has been building (and rebuilding) the Next City website since 2007 out of his humble abode in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where he designs and builds websites and custom code for publishers, artists, and nonprofits at home and abroad. Follow him on Twitter @mrherbivore.

How We Change Cities

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    Identify innovations in cities.

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    Tell the stories of people creating change and how it’s happening.

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    Connect those stories with communities online and on the ground.

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    Elevate leaders and share the best ideas at events around the world.

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    Foster the next generation of urban leaders, changemakers and dreamers.

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Who We Reach

Next City connects the people who make up the social, economic and cultural fabric of our cities.

  • Community leaders and advocates
  • Nonprofits
  • Academics and students
  • Local and federal government
  • Business and civic leaders

Board of Directors

  • Eric Shaw, Chair,
  • Casius Pealer, Vice Chair, Tulane University
  • Efrem Bycer, Treasurer, LinkedIn
  • Tamar Shapiro, Secretary, Urban Institute
  • Kate Didech, Symbium: The Computational Law Company
  • Adam Giuliano, Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell
  • Jason Schupbach, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, Arizona State University
  • Jess Zimbabwe, Chair Emeritus, Plot Strategies