The Vanguard conference welcomes entrepreneurs, community developers, activists, artists, designers, urban planners and sustainability experts — anyone committed to improving cities. Vanguard is a unique opportunity to meet rising urban leaders working to improve cities across sectors.
Next City’s gathering of rising urban leaders from around the world will next meet in Richmond, VA, in September 19 - 22, 2023. Applications for the next cohort are now open. Apply Now! During Vanguard in Richmond, we plan to highlight the transformative leaders who are ensuring the city’s future is equitable — and who value truth and reconciliation as a way of achieving that future. With that in mind, we expect to have hard conversations about the complexities of life in Richmond and what it will take to ensure equity for all.
The conference is free to attend, but you must apply. The application process is competitive and Next City is only able to select 40 leaders to become Vanguards. We strongly encourage early and mid-career professionals to apply and there is no age limit. All participants must pay for their own travel and accommodations, however, a travel stipend may be available to some participants.
“If you want to be challenged and grow intellectually and professionally in an environment with like minded individuals ahead of their game and striving for urban change then you need to apply for Vanguard.”
Strategic Initiative Specialist, New York City Department of Design and Construction
“Vanguard has been an invaluable asset for my professional development by growing my network more than I ever thought possible and inspiring me to think about cities differently.”
Juan Sebastian Mendive
Principal/Owner, Urban Strategy Lab
“The immersive programming offered during the conference marks only the beginning of the Vanguard experience. If you care about the future of cities and want to collaborate with civic leaders and entrepreneurs from across the world, there's no better alumni network to join.”
Program Director, Mission Economic Development Corporation
“Vanguard Newcastle was a melting pot of different opinions and a great learning experience to draw from the energy and expertise of great young urban minds from all across the world.”
Urbanist, Ethos Urban
“Vanguard intersects arts, culture, tech, business, urban planning and sociology, which broadened my horizons and made me realize that partners are abound in the community development and civic engagement process. I was happy to bring back that mindset to my community and work.”
Director of Community Programs, FutureHeights Community Development Corporation
“Vanguard is more than a conference, more than just another experience. It is an opportunity for you to learn what it takes to change community and, ultimately, the world.”
David R. McGhee
Program Director, The Skillman Foundation
“Vanguard is unlike any other conference in that it curates an instant community among participants and creates opportunities for them to learn from each other, as well as the host city. You return home not just with new practices and perspectives, but also with deep connections to a network of committed colleagues working across the spectrum of urban issues.”
Performance Manager, Los Angeles Department of City Planning
“There's something truly special about colliding with a group of people who are not from the same place, but are united in their desire to learn from others and share the stories of our daily grind with the rest of the world.”
Founder and Executive Director, Center for Civic Innovation