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The Manhattan Institute Honors outstanding urban leaders who have improved the quality of life in their cities with its annual Urban Innovator Award.

Christopher Cerf
Robert Doar
Gina M. Raimondo
Michelle Rhee
Renee Glover
Mitch Daniels
Jeb Bush
Paul Vallas
Raymond Kelly
Manuel Diaz
Martin O'Malley
Anthony Williams
Norm Coleman
Jerry Brown
Richard Daley


As part of its effort to promote effective approaches to improving life in America’s cities, the Manhattan Institute annually presents its Urban Innovator Award. This nonpartisan prize was inaugurated in 2000 by the Institute’s Center for Civic Innovation (CCI). In 2010, CCI was rechristened the Center for State and Local Leadership. The Urban Innovator Award is given to a policymaker whose work epitomizes the Institute’s view that effective government is key to the safety and prosperity of our cities, historically the engines of the U.S. economy and the vehicles for upward mobility for their residents. The award has gone to Indiana governor Mitch Daniels for his use of private financing to improve public infrastructure; Miami mayor Manuel Diaz for securing the city's finances and for crime reduction; to Philadelphia (and subsequently New Orleans) school superintendent Paul Vallas, to Chicago mayor Richard Daley, and to D.C. Public Schools chancellor Michelle Rhee for the dramatic improvement in the performance of their respective cities' public schools; to Florida governor Jeb Bush for initiatives ranging from disaster preparedness to the use of vouchers for special education services. The Urban Innovator Award is not meant to reward those whose approach fits some preconceived notion. Instead, we look for "what works"—and try to spread the good news.

Urban Innovator Award Winners

Christopher Cerf.2013
Christopher Cerf, Commissioner, New Jersey Department of Education

On January 31, 2014, the Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership presented its annual Urban Innovator Award to New Jersey's state commissioner of education Christopher Cerf.

New Jersey evolved from a laggard to a leader in education reform under Cerf's leadership. The Garden State implemented numerous efforts: tenure reform, Newark's historic teachers' contract, support for effective charters, renaissance schools in Camden, Newark, and Trenton, and inter-district choice. These changes foster choice, competition, accountability, and improve student achievement.


Robert Doar.2012
Robert Doar, Commissioner, NYC Human Resources Administration

On January 10, 2013, the Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership presented its annual Urban Innovator Award to New York City Human Resources Administration commissioner Robert Doar. One of the pillars of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's tenure has been the continuation and enhancement of work-focused welfare reform policies aimed at discouraging dependency and encouraging upward mobility. Robert Doar, the 30th commissioner of New York City's Human Resources Administration, has played the central role in preserving and protecting "work first."


More on the 2012 Event >>

Gina M. Raimondo.2011
Gina M. Raimondo, General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island

On January 5, 2012, The Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership awarded Gina M. Raimondo, General Treasurer, State of Rhode Island, as its 2011 Urban Innovator Award winner. Raimondo's work to define long-term retirement security through extensive public-pension reforms stabilized a financial crisis and garnered national attention for her unique approach to overhauling the state-administered public-employee pension system.

More on the 2011 Event >>

 Michelle Rhee.2010
Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

On December 15, 2010, The Manhattan Institute's Center for State and Local Leadership selected Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of the District of Columbia public schools and Founder and CEO of Students First, as its 2010 Urban Innovator Award winner. Rhee's work in linking teacher tenure to student learning has blazed a new path for local school leaders.

More on the 2010 Event >>

 Renee Glover.2009
Renee Glover, President and CEO, Atlanta (GA) Housing Authority

On December 8, 2009, The Manhattan Institute Center for Civic Innovation selected Renee Glover, President and CEO of the Atlanta (GA) Housing Authority, as its 2009 Urban Innovator Award winner. The award recognizes public officials whose program initiatives efficiently and effectively improve the quality of life in America's urban areas.

More on the 2009 Event >>

 Mitch Daniels.2008
Mitch Daniels, Governor, State of Indiana

On October 8, 2008, the Manhattan Institute presented Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels with our Urban Innovator Award, in recognition of his innovative policy initiatives which have led to improved services for Indiana's citizens. CCI Chairman Emeritus and former Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith delivered opening remarks and presented Governor Daniels with the award.

More on the 2008 Event >>

Paul Vallas. 2007
Jeb Bush, Governor, State of Florida

On November 13, it was the Manhattan Institute's great pleasure to honor former Florida Governor Jeb Bush with the Urban Innovator Award for his state's comprehensive and influential education reform program.

Over his two terms in the statehouse, Governor Bush instituted an array of government reforms with a noticeable impact on the quality of life in Florida's urban communicates. Today, Florida cities lead the nation both in job growth and in improving the educational attainment of the disadvantaged.

More on the 2007 Event >>

Paul Vallas.2006
Paul Vallas, Chief Executive of the Philadelphia School District

On September 21, CCI hosted a luncheon at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia to celebrate the accomplishments of Paul Vallas, Chief Executive of the Philadelphia School District, and presented him with the center’s Urban Innovator Award. Mr. Vallas is the first education official to receive the award, which is given annually to an urban leader for improving the quality of life in their city. Stephen Goldsmith, founding chairman of CCI, introduced Mr. Vallas and presented him with the award.

More on the 2006 Event >>

Raymond Kelly.2005
Raymond Kelly, Police Department Commissioner, New York City

For driving crime down to historic lows and for creating the first urban counterterrorism operation designed specifically to prevent terrorism in New York City, the Manhattan Institute awarded New York City Police Department Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly with its annual Urban Innovator award at a luncheon held on Tuesday, October 24, 2005.

More on the 2005 Event >>

Manuel Diaz.2004
Manuel Diaz, Mayor, Miami, Florida

On October 26, the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) at the Manhattan Institute honored Miami Mayor Manuel A. Diaz with its fifth annual Urban Innovator Award.

CCI recognized Mayor Diaz for his unswerving dedication to transforming Miami's government into a service-oriented organization, focused on improving quality of life and economic development citywide, rather than in just a handful of central business districts.

Before Mayor Diaz came on the scene, Miami was considered a city in decline. It was blighted by crime, hobbled by mismanagement, and saddled with a poor credit rating.

More on the 2004 Event >>

Anthony Williams.2003
Anthony Williams, Mayor, Washington, D.C.

On July 8th the Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute honored Washington, D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams with its Urban Innovator Award for his support of school choice and for improving city administration in the District of Columbia. CCI Chairman and former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith served as the master of ceremonies at the event, held at the National Press Club. Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, a CCI Advisory Board member, presented Mayor Williams with the Urban Innovator Award.

More on the 2003 Event >>

Martin O'Malley.2002
Martin O'Malley, Mayor, Baltimore, Maryland

It was CCI's great pleasure to present Martin O'Malley, Mayor of Baltimore and a member of the CCI Board of Advisors, with our highest honor, the Urban Innovator Award. On July 16 th , in a luncheon ceremony at the Admiral Fell Inn, CCI Executive Director Henry Olsen presented Mayor O'Malley with the Award, in recognition of the tireless efforts to revitalize his city that have captured the imagination of the people of Baltimore, and earned plaudits from around the nation by those who care about the future of urban America.

More on the 2002 Event >>

Norm Coleman.2001
Norm Coleman, Mayor, St. Paul, Minnesota

On December 4, 2001, it was CCI's great pleasure to honor Norm Coleman, the former Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota and a member of the CCI Board of Advisors, whose efforts to enhance the economic development and improve the educational opportunities of his city garnered attention nationwide.

More on the 2001 Event >>

Jerry Brown.2001
Jerry Brown, Mayor, Oakland, California

On May 11, CCI bestowed on Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown our highest honor, the Urban Innovator Award. Former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith introduced Mayor Brown and presented him with the award in a ceremony at Oakland's Lake Merritt Hotel. The event was underwritten by the William H. Donner Foundation.

More on the 2001 Event >>

Richard Daley.2000
Richard Daley, Mayor, Chicago

The ongoing revival of America's great cities is one of the most compelling stories of the last decade. Just as there was no shortage of blame to go around when our urban centers were in decline, the leaders who have guided the resurgence of our cities deserve recognition.

More on the 2000 Event >>






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