About Next City - Solutions for Just and Equitable Cities

About Next City

Solutions for Just and Equitable Cities

Next City’s journalism centers marginalized voices while amplifying solutions to the problems that oppress people in cities. At a time when cities face rampant inequality and urgent challenges, Next City’s work as a nonprofit is critical: by spreading real stories and workable ideas from one city to the next, we connect people, places and solutions that move our society toward justice and equity.

Next City’s readers are the city-builders who share our vision for the transformation of cities. Our core audience consists of individuals working in city planning, finance, architecture, media, academia, transportation, the arts — or within any sector that must collaborate to make cities run more equitably. These are the thinkers and doers who often wear many hats in their communities. This dynamic group uses Next City as a trusted resource for professional education and exploration. The extended audience consists of the people who are part of the change process in cities: grassroots organizers, activists, advocates, elected officials, local business and nonprofit leaders, and voters.

Next City's service to a movement for racial equity and justice is evident in every facet of our work. Any news outlet, though, is only as impactful as its readers. The 2020 reader survey found that 75% rely on Next City for their jobs. When asked whether their job brings about greater racial equity, almost 90% say yes. Even so, as civic leaders of color look around their professions, they might feel like one voice among the many. Next City adds our bullhorn to theirs every day.

Our Mission

Our mission is to unleash the transformative power of solutions-based journalism to equip communities and their leaders with the knowledge and connections to reimagine cities as liberated places of economic, environmental and racial justice. We accomplish this by uplifting diverse perspectives and marginalized narratives.

Our Vision

Our vision is a world in which people in cities build flourishing societies that liberate all of us from systems and cultures of oppression.

What We Do

Next City publishes hundreds of stories on solutions to urban issues each year, leading ultimately to a narrative shift about what’s possible. Research has found that when news stories discuss potential answers to problems, readers leave feeling more knowledgeable and empowered to solve them. Readers are statistically more likely to act, to donate to support an organization, and to evolve their opinion. Where solutions journalism is healthy, America has more informed and engaged communities.

We also compile our best reporting into ebooks, host webinars with practitioners who share lessons from their work, and convene live events such as our annual Vanguard Conference for rising urban leaders. More than 500 Vanguard alumni are working today around the globe.

We are a continual source of innovation and inspiration, elevating marginalized voices for diverse perspectives, and giving readers the knowledge and support they need to lead and influence change. We are journalists first and foremost, taking a critical eye to solutions, understanding what is working or not working, why and why not. 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.

Originally named The Next American City, the organization began publishing a quarterly magazine in 2003. What started as a black-and-white printed publication founded by three college students and 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 roughly 2 million influential doers and changemakers via Next City's website annually. Another 170,000 follow coverage on social media, and 40,000 subscribe to newsletters. All are in search of ways that cities can be reimagined as truly equitable and just.

Our Core Values

  • Justice

    We hold ourselves accountable for our role in advancing a fully equitable democracy that works to overturn systems of oppression and lead to liberation.

  • Honesty

    We acknowledge hard truths and always uphold journalistic principles of transparency, fairness and accuracy. 

  • Openness

    We value imagination that finds different and better solutions to problems, grounded within affected communities.

  • Humanity

    We recognize the voices and experiences of marginalized communities by centering their dignity in how we work, what stories we tell, who we publish.

  • Connection

    We believe collaboration is a superpower that inspires and fuels change, and we offer space for new ideas to flourish and diverse partners to connect with each other.

Theory of How We Change Cities

  • 1

    As the world is increasingly urbanized, with ultimately 70% of the future population living in cities, the need is urgent for solutions that counter systemic inequity and injustice.

  • 2

    Next City believes people of cities can create just change in our communities, if we can connect with each other and spread knowledge about solutions.

  • 3

    Next City uses transparent, fair, accurate journalism to amplify groundbreaking and overlooked solutions that uplift the perspectives of people who have been excluded by systems of power.

  • 4

    Next City amplifies these narratives by engaging journalists, stories and sources that are not part of traditional media. Next City strengthens a movement that promises workable ideas can spread from one city to the next city.

  • 5

    Next City leverages the power of our platform to host events that connect these changemakers and uplift their ideas, cultivating grassroots leadership across sectors and inspiring community action in cities.

  • 6

    Democracy is strengthened. People liberate cities from systems and cultures of oppression, and everyone flourishes on their own terms.

Our Strategic Plan

"Let’s get back to normal. You’ve probably heard that more than a few times as we continue navigating life in an evolving pandemic. But the normal in The Before Times wasn’t so great for far too many people and communities. A return to that normality means embracing deep inequity and injustice as tolerable features of city life and city-building practice. That is unacceptable. It’s not a return to normal that we should desire or work toward. Instead — especially as community changemakers — we should chart a course for a future that is equitable, just, and humane. Our team at Next City — board and staff — have spent the last several months thinking about that future and articulating our role in helping to shape it. Today we’re sharing a new strategic plan that boldly affirms our commitment to the diverse changemakers, like you, who are working to liberate our cities from oppression and to the high-quality solutions journalism essential for informing that work."
—Lynn M. Ross, board member

Download a Summary of the Strategic Plan

Our Supporters

As a news organization with a nonprofit structure, we leverage donations, grants and sponsorships to provide knowledge and connections to city-builders, leaders, and residents in the form of news, events and experiential learning. Find more information on how to advertise with us in our media kit. All underwritten or sponsored content is clearly and obviously labeled. We do not accept sponsorships, underwriting or ads from organizations that we believe could undermine our mission or integrity. 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 in an annual summary shared online in our Solutions of the Year magazine.

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

Contact Us

The newest information about what's happening at Next City can be found on our Press page. If you are interested in inviting Next City to join your next event or in booking a reporter as a guest, please reach out through info@nextcity.org.

Our Staff

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    Executive Director

    Lucas 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 both 2016 and 2018, NLGJA honored Grindley as “LGBT Journalist of the Year” with its Sarah Pettit Memorial Award. From 2008 through 2011, he was managing editor for online at National Journal magazine, covering politics and policymaking in Washington, D.C. He now lives in Philadelphia with his husband and twin daughters. Follow him on Twitter @lucasgrindley.

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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. Follow her on Twitter @kellyaregan.

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    Senior Editor

    Rachel became Senior Editor after years of contributing to Next City. Before joining Next City full-time, she 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 is a member of the Greater Greater Washington Editorial Board. She secretly likes riding dockless scooters. Follow her on Twitter @rkaufman.

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    Events Director

    Sara is a marketing and events mastermind with more than 10 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. At Next City, she has organized several years of the Vanguard Conference for rising urban leaders.

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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 advertisers and underwriters for Next City.

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    Audience Engagement Editor

    Melissa 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. Follow her on Twitter @melsimpson215.

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    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. Oscar holds a B.A. in Economics from Villanova University. Follow him on Twitter @oscarthinks.

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    Housing Correspondent

    Roshan Abraham is a journalist whose reporting on criminal justice, housing and health has appeared in VICE, The Verge, Pacific Standard, The Village Voice, and more. A graduate of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, Roshan was an Open City Fellow and a Witness Fellow at the Asian American Writers Workshop.

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    INN/Columbia Journalism School Intern

    Hayley Zhao is Next City's fall INN/Columbia Journalism School intern. Zhao graduated from Columbia Journalism School in May 2021 with a focus on education and environmental reporting.

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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.

Board of Directors

  • Eric Shaw, Chair

    San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development

    Eric Shaw is an urban planning professional with extensive experience in establishing and leading cross sector, cross discipline and cross jurisdictional partnerships in the areas of community and economic development. He has been recognized for his work establishing strategic initiatives that support inclusive development and resilience in communities throughout the nation. He has held positions in the public and philanthropic sectors in Washington, D.C., Salt Lake City, Louisiana, Silicon Valley, and Miami. He is currently Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development for the City and County of San Francisco.

    Eric serves on the Harvard Graduate School of Design Alumni Council, is a board member of the UCLA Alumni Association and serves on the National Trust for Historic Preservation board of advisors. In 2017 and 2018, he was recognized in the OUTstanding Leading LGBT+ Public Sector Executives List, presented by the Financial Times. 

  • Casius Pealer, Vice Chair

    Tulane University

    Casius Pealer is the Henry Shane Professor of Practice in Real Estate at Tulane University, and Director of Tulane’s Real Estate Development programs. These interdisciplinary graduate and undergraduate degree programs are housed in the School of Architecture and emphasize the connections between real estate development and social justice and environmental impact.

    Trained as an architect and a real estate attorney, Casius has over 20 years of community development experience, including four years as legal counsel for public housing authorities across the country implementing mixed-finance redevelopment projects. Casius has also worked in the nonprofit sector as the first Director of Affordable Housing at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and in the public sector as Assistant General Counsel for Real Estate at the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA). He is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Eastern Caribbean) and a former taxi cab driver, and started his teaching career at Howard University.

    Casius has served on the American Institute of Architects (AIA) national Housing Committee, the Association for Community Design (ACD) board, and as a Commissioner for the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO). He holds a J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, and a Master’s in Architecture from the Tulane School of Architecture. 

  • Diana Lind, Treasurer

    Arts + Business Council for Greater Philadelphia

    Diana Lind is the author of the book, Brave New Home: Our Future in Smarter, Simpler, Happier Housing. In addition to serving as Editor in Chief and Executive Director of Next City from 2008 to 2014, she has worked at Architectural Record magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Executive Director of the Arts + Business Council for Greater Philadelphia and the Housing Fellow at the global nonprofit, NewCities. She lives in Philadelphia.

  • Tamar Shapiro, Secretary

    Rail~Volution

    Tamar Shapiro is the CEO of Rail~Volution, a national non-profit that equips individuals, organizations and regions with the tools and information to integrate transit, land use and community development decisions with what’s important for each community. She has two decades of experience working on policies and programs related to land use, housing, transportation, and community development.

    Prior to joining Rail~Volution, Tamar was Senior Manager of Strategic Initiatives for the New Urban Mobility alliance, hosted by WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. From 2012 to 2017, Tamar was President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, a national non-profit focused on the prevention and reuse of vacant and abandoned properties. Previously, Tamar was Senior Director of Urban and Social Policy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as well as Director of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design at Smart Growth America. An attorney by training, Tamar Shapiro worked at Klein Hornig, LLP, a law firm specialized in affordable housing development.

    Tamar received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, an M.Phil. in European Studies from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. from Harvard College. She was the recipient of a McCloy Fellowship in Environmental Affairs to conduct a 2010 research project on vacant property policies in former East Germany. In 1999-2000, she was a Robert Bosch Foundation Fellow in Berlin and worked at the Berlin Administration on Urban Planning and Environment as well as the German Institute for Urban Affairs.

  • Jamie Alderslade

    Citi

    Jamie Alderslade is Director of Impact and Insights for Community Investing and Development at Citi. Prior to that role, Jamie served as Citi’s Director of U.S. Community Relations overseeing Citi’s key community development investments across the country.

    Before joining Citi, Jamie was Director of External Affairs at The Social Comact, Inc., a national coalition of business leaders committed to making the business case for greater investments in low-income neighborhoods and underserved communities of color. He has held positions focused on equitable economic development in both the U.S. and the U.K. He sits on the Business Council for the U.S. Conference of Mayors and serves on the advisory board of the Initiative on Cities at Boston University. He is also a proud Next City Vanguard fellow (Chattanooga 2014)!

    Jamie has an M.Sc in Society and Environmental Policy from Oxford University and a B.A. in Human Geography from the London School of Economics.

  • Efrem Bycer

    LinkedIn

    Efrem Bycer is a member of LinkedIn's Global Policy Partnerships team where he leads a set of partnerships with government agencies and civic organizations to help connect workers to economic opportunity, particularly through job training and reemployment services. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Efrem led Code for America's efforts to help governments better leverage agile software development and user-centered design to support their economic and workforce development efforts. Efrem has more than a decade of experience working on economic development, workforce development, and public sector innovation. 

    In his spare time, Efrem is an avid runner, snowboarder, and homebrewer. Efrem has a Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Master's in Public Administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

  • Kate Didech

    Symbium: The Computational Law Company

    Kate Didech is an attorney and urban planner from the San Francisco Bay Area. She analyzes complex statutory regimes with gusto and develops solutions to make zoning and land use regulations more comprehensible, navigable, and actionable. Kate is the Director of Public Sector Innovation at Symbium and a fellow at CodeX: The Stanford Center for Legal Informatics.

  • Adam Giuliano

    Kaplan Kirsch Rockwell

    Adam Giuliano has over 20-years’ experience working on infrastructure, transportation, energy, and related projects across the globe. He is currently a partner at a boutique law firm focused solely on U.S. infrastructure and related matters, most often in and around cities. As an attorney, he primarily advises state and local governments on the structuring, procurement, negotiation, financing, delivery, and management of complex and high-value projects, including on issues related to local community and workforce impacts and opportunities. His recent experience includes advising on transit and commuter rail system projects spanning new construction, system rehabilitation, and station accessibility, the potential deployment of autonomous vehicle technology by public transit agencies, an education, events, and mixed-use city district redevelopment effort, airport-related projects, and road and highway reconstruction projects.

    Before pursuing his law degree, Adam served as a development officer for a nonprofit foundation concentrating on education reform, and economic and community development, in Newark, New Jersey.

  • Andre Perry

    Brookings Institution

    Andre M. Perry is a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, a scholar-in-residence at American University, and a columnist for the Hechinger Report. He is the author of the new book Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities. A nationally known and respected commentator on race, structural inequality, and education, Perry is a regular contributor to MSNBC and has been published by The New York Times, The Nation, The Washington Post, TheRoot.com and CNN.com. Perry has also made appearances on CNN, PBS, National Public Radio, NBC, and ABC. His research focuses on race and structural inequality, education, and economic inclusion. Perry’s recent scholarship at Brookings has analyzed Black-majority cities and institutions in America, focusing on valuable assets worthy of increased investment.

  • David Porter

    Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

    David Porter is the Executive Vice President for Strategy, People and Culture for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. Previously, he was chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He’s also the former CEO of The Walter Kaitz Foundation, which is committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the media and entertainment industries.

  • Lynn M. Ross

    Spirit for Change Consulting

    Lynn M. Ross is the founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC where she works nationally with organizations on a mission to create and sustain equitable policies, practices, and places.

    Dedicated to serving mission-driven organizations, Lynn has over 18 years of multi-sector experience including past senior leadership roles at the Knight Foundation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing. Her core expertise is in evidence-based policy making, housing affordability, equity planning, and organizational change. Lynn is also skilled in cultivating talent; building teams in complex organizations; transforming programs for greater impact; expanding funding sources and partnerships; and improving operational efficiency.

    Lynn holds a Masters of Regional Planning from Cornell University and a B.S. in community and regional planning from Iowa State University. She serves on the board of KaBOOM! and the national advisory committee for National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities. In 2019, she was named one of 50 “Women of Influence” by the Royal Town Planning Institute’s The Planner magazine.

  • Jason Schupbach

    Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University

    Jason Schupbach is the incoming Dean of the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University.  He was formerly the Director of the Design School at Arizona State University, the largest and most comprehensive design school in the United States. In this position, he started the ambitious ReDesign.School project to reinvent design education for the 21st century, and is a key advisor to ASU on diverse projects such as the Center for Creativity and place, Roden Crater, the Creative Futures Lab, and ASU's Los Angeles downtown home. 

    Previous to this position he was Director of Design and Creative Placemaking Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts, where he oversaw all design and creative placemaking grantmaking and partnerships, including Our Town and Design Art Works grants, the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, and the NEA's Federal agency collaborations. Previously, Jason served Governor Patrick of Massachusetts as the Creative Economy Director, tasked with growing creative and tech businesses in the state. He formerly was the Director of ArtistLink, a Ford Foundation funded initiative to stabilize and revitalize communities through the creation of affordable space and innovative environments for creatives. He has also worked for the Mayor of Chicago and New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. He has written extensively on the role of arts and design in making better communities, and his writing has been featured as a Best Idea of the Day by the Aspen Institute.

  • Jess Zimbabwe, Chair Emeritus

    Environmental Works

    Jess Zimbabwe is the Executive Director of Environmental Works Community Design Center, a 501(c)3 nonprofit community-based architectural firm, founded in 1970 to provide professional architectural, landscape architecture, and planning services to nonprofit organizations, municipal agencies, and otherwise under-represented communities throughout Washington State.

    Previously, she founded a consulting practice, Plot Strategies, and served for ten years as the founding Director of the Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership—a partnership of the National League of Cities and the Urban Land Institute. The Center’s flagship programs were the Daniel Rose Fellowship in Land Use and the Equitable Economic Development Fellowship. Before that, Jess was the Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and Vice President for Programs at the American Architectural Foundation. Prior to that, Jess served as the Community Design Director at Urban Ecology, providing pro bono community planning and design assistance to low-income neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area.

    Jess is a member of the urban planning faculties at Georgetown University and the University of Washington. She earned a Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley and a B.A. from Columbia University. Jess was an Urban and Regional Policy Fellow at the German Marshall Fund and a Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute. She serves on the boards of Next City, the National Main Street Center, and Colloqate, and she held a mayoral appointment to the DC Green Building Advisory Council. She is a licensed architect, a certified city planner, and a LEED-Accredited professional. 

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