Meet the 2019 Vanguard Class That Will Convene in Newark

Meet the 2019 Vanguard Class That Will Convene in Newark

Next City and the Newark Alliance today announce the class of 2019 Vanguards who will convene in Newark for the first-ever regional Vanguard conference, June 26-29, 2019. Vanguard is an annual experiential gathering of rising urban leaders, working to improve cities across sectors.

“I’m pleased that Next City has chosen Newark for its gathering of future leaders in urban planning, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation, sustainability, design, art and media,” says Mayor Ras Baraka. “We will have an opportunity here to learn from their wide-ranging expertise and creative ideas.”

This year our Vanguard co-host is the Newark Alliance, a leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the ongoing economic revitalization of Newark, striving to transform the city into a better and safer place to work, live, learn, play and do business. Supported by corporate and community partners, the Alliance has successfully leveraged Newark’s competitive assets to generate economic growth for the city, state, region and beyond.

“The Newark Alliance is excited to co-host leading-edge urban thinkers from the region through the Next City Vanguard conference,” says Aisha Glover, president and CEO of the Newark Alliance. “This exchange of information and ideas will help us think of our city in different ways while showcasing some of the exciting opportunities and activities happening in Newark.”

The 2019 Vanguard fellows include philanthropic changemakers, academics, policymakers and planners working for influential organizations such as Bloomberg Associates, PolicyLink and Yale. From Newark itself, Vanguards work with Audible, the City of Newark, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, and more.

Among this cohort of impressive and dedicated leaders are: a Department of Education manager who has implemented a zero-waste program across New York City’s 1,800 public schools; a city planner forging partnerships for Philadelphia’s ambitious Green City, Clean Waters stormwater plan; and a Newark-based Ecuadorean artist whose murals and projects celebrate cross-cultural identity while interrogating racism, xenophobia, and injustice. From New Haven to Philadelphia, this class of innovators demonstrates ingenuity and resilience to tackle the regional challenges of our delicate urban landscape. View the entire Vanguard group here.

The Vanguard initiative was launched by Next City, a journalism nonprofit with a mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through reporting and events around the world. For this regional conference, we chose 42 Vanguards from a highly competitive pool of applicants that came from the greater New York City Metropolitan Area.

Next City’s Executive Director Lucas Grindley is energized at the thought of connecting emerging leaders at the regional level. “Next City has hosted Vanguard conferences for 10 years, so we know alumni support each other long after the conference ends,” Grindley says. “This is our first-ever regional conference, and Newark is pioneering the idea of forging a network of change-makers who are literally closer together. I can’t wait to see what they do.”

In addition to the Newark Alliance, several local partners have committed support to this leadership gathering, including Prudential Financial, Rising Tide Capital, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark Community Economic Development Corporation and the Rutgers Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.

The conference will unfold as a three-day series of presentations, workshops and neighborhood tours tied to the theme “Collaboration for Equitable Prosperity.” Initially, the Vanguards will immerse themselves in the history of Newark. Guest speakers will provide a firsthand cultural, economic, and social-equity perspective on the city. Interactive panel discussions will address topics such as affordable housing and creative placemaking, showcasing the leaders who are shaping the future of the city. Neighborhood walking tours will put our cohort on the streets (and on the riverfront) to see up close the innovations that have spurred Newark’s renaissance as a cultural powerhouse and tech hub.

The conference culminates in the “Next City Big Idea Challenge,” a design-focused collaboration with community members, where teams of Vanguards use their own expertise and the knowledge gained through neighborhood explorations to address a challenge facing the city as it works toward a vision of a downtown sector activated by an inclusive green space that serves as a true community commons.

This workshop is an opportunity to create a long-term bond between and among the Vanguard network and the Newark community. It ends with local experts reviewing the proposed projects with an eye toward taking concrete steps to amplify the thought leadership already powering this kinetic city.

For questions about sponsorship or press inquiries, please contact Sara Schuenemann by email at or phone at 267-239-0762.

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