Sacramento Is the Host City for Next City’s National 2019 Vanguard Conference

Next City announces a fall 2019 Vanguard conference in Sacramento, California, open to all national and international applicants. A group of 40 rising urban leaders will tackle challenges in California’s capital city, from September 30 to October 3, 2019.

The Vanguard program will be run by Next City in partnership with the Sacramento Region Host Committee. Four sponsors have already signed on to catalyze engagement with the conference: The Center for Regional Change at the University of California, Davis, is the official host of Vanguard. Kaiser Permanente will be Vanguard’s title sponsor while Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Fulcrum Property will be lead sponsors.

“We look forward to seeing how Vanguard fellows can weave in their expertise and fresh insights into local knowledge to articulate a vision for a community that is healthy, equitable, prosperous, and sustainable,” says Jonathan London, faculty director for the Center for Regional Change. The Center for Regional Change serves as a catalyst for innovative, collaborative, and action-oriented research to advance social equity in community development, sustainability, the arts and other areas.

“The decision to convene this year’s Vanguard Conference in Sacramento is further evidence that our city has become one of the great up-and-coming cities in America,” says Sandy Sharon, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente, Vanguard presenting sponsor.

Sacramento, a city whose identity and economy has long been synonymous with state government, is enjoying a cultural and economic resurgence. Young Bay Area professionals and entrepreneurs flock to the city as an affordable alternative to San Francisco’s stratospheric cost of living. Longtime residents are newly engaged in community activism. And organizations such as the Vanguard lead sponsor, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), continue to innovate with sustainable solutions. SMUD has committed to providing 60 percent renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gases by more than 60 percent by 2030, with a goal of being net-zero greenhouse gases by 2040.

“SMUD is thrilled to serve as a lead sponsor of this year’s Next City Vanguard Conference, and we look forward to the innovative solutions that will be generated from some of the brightest minds in the country,” says Jim Alves, with SMUD’s Economic Development & Partnerships program and Host Committee member.

Sacramento is not without challenges that risk tempering its economic and cultural momentum. The number of people experiencing homelessness has grown, the specter of gentrification looms and the marginalization of historically black and minority neighborhoods have led some to question whether Sacramento will meet the needs of its economically disadvantaged residents. Vanguards will hear from those working to ensure that the city can rise up, leverage the region’s connectivity and diversity and create truly inclusive strategies and policies that offer a vision for other urban areas struggling with these issues.

“Recently Sacramento has formed a unique and compelling identity as it wrestles with urban challenges impacting most growing cities in California and across the country.  I am so eager to give 40 brilliant urban leaders the chance to work with our community to present bold initiatives for our city’s future that center equity, sustainability design,” says 2014 (Houston) and 2016 (Newcastle) Vanguard Alum Tre Borden, principal and CEO at Tre Borden /Co. The company will be Next City’s production partner for the conference.

Next City’s Vanguard program brings together 40 rising urban professionals working to improve cities. Solving urban problems means working across divides and breaking silos, so Vanguard convenes professionals across sectors, including architecture, art, civic technology, community development, entrepreneurship, government, transportation and urban planning. Each year, Next City selects applicants whose smart ideas for cities, experience in the field and ambition for the future all show great promise. The conference is free.

Past Vanguards have worked for the Obama administration, founded successful city-focused startups such as Ioby and Fundrise, held municipal office, and climbed the ranks of influential organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the Urban Institute, Citi Group, Code for America, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Transportation Alternatives, Smart Growth America and the University of Chicago. Many come back to participate in subsequent conferences. (To learn more about our Vanguard network, visit our interactive Vanguard map.)

With more than 400 Vanguards participating over the last ten years, Next City has created a program that advances the nonprofit’s mission to inspire social, economic and environmental change in cities through media and events around the world.

The four-day Sacramento conference will include workshops, tours and conversations about the newest innovations and most pressing questions in urban development, infrastructure and public policy. Vanguards will have the opportunity to work with organizations in the city to devise solutions to local challenges. The program will culminate in the annual Next City Big Idea Challenge.

Next City recently accepted applications for its first-ever regional Vanguard conference in Newark, New Jersey. That conference, from June 26 to 29, is open only to those living or working in the New York Metropolitan Area. The Vangaurds selected to attend the conference in Newark will be announced in late April.

“These places have two unique stories to tell. Both advance Next City’s mission to connect up-and-coming leaders across sectors while sharing solutions that can travel from one city to the next,” says Lucas Grindley, executive director of Next City. 

Applications for the 2019 Sacramento Vanguard conference will be open to national and international candidates. The application process will launch in May 2019; stay tuned for details.

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