Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville, Kentucky
What you should know about my city:
We are working diligently to ensure that ALL citizens share in our successes. Our focus around black male achievement, for example, is ahead of many cities, as we started in May 2012 with work that culminated in creation of our Office for Safe and Healthy Neighborhoods. Many cities have just started focusing on this in the past year, as part of President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative. We're also involved in MBK, but had already begun mentoring programs like ReImage and Right Turn, which focus on providing resources to young men and boys of color in challenged neighborhoods so they can be productive brothers, sons, fathers and citizens. I'm also proud of our SummerWorks program, which helps young people between the ages of 16 and 21 learn the value and dignity of work while creating a pipeline of young talent for local businesses. It's already among the strongest in the country, and we're pushing this year to grow it more.
The greatest benefit I receive from the National League of Cities:
The ability to partner in seeking solutions on some of the challenges facing so many communities, like initiatives to improve access to education, create jobs, strengthen families and reduce violence. We are grateful for our relationship with NLC and its learning network as we continue the journey toward creating environments where all our citizens - immigrants, men and boys of color, everyone - can succeed.
My three goals for this year:
• To grow Louisville's economy in a way that ALL citizens participate in wealth building, in part by creating a city of lifelong learning
• To make Louisville a healthier city - physically, mentally and environmentally
• To make Louisville an even more compassionate city; a city where the potential of all citizens flourishes
What the future of my city looks like:
We want to be recognized as one of the great cities in the world, and to get there, we will continue to innovate and leverage our authenticity and our competitive advantages - that's how we grow jobs, boost our economy and create a healthier city of lifelong learning and increased compassion. Advances in lifelong learning, guided by our Cradle to Career mission, will lead to advances in our other two guiding city values - health (physical, mental, environmental), and compassion (respect for all of our citizens so that their human potential is flourishing). We also will continue working to increase our international presence and attract more skilled immigrants. For Louisville to prosper and maximize opportunities for all citizens, we must do more than keep up with global change - we need to leap ahead. And foreign-born citizens will help make that leap. The Louisville of the future is one where we continue leading the way on effectively addressing disparities, investing in black male achievement, and finding innovative ways to increase opportunity while reducing the harmful impacts of violence, disparity and disconnectedness.
If I weren't doing this, I would be:
An entrepreneur, which is my background. Whether in business or in a nonprofit or civic role, I have a passion for helping people strive toward their potential and for building high-performance teams.
The best advice I ever got was:
From my mother: If you can help someone, do it. Don't even think what's in it for you, just do it.
The one piece of advice I would communicate to local government leaders is:
Build a high-performance team around you that has the heart and intellect for public service. Create an ambitious, citizen-centered plan that has high, measureable goals based on solid data that is transparent to all citizens. Constantly improve your efforts.
On my desk right now:
I try to keep a clean desk, but the book "The Half Has Never Been Told" by Cornell historian Edward E. Baptist is currently on my desk. It focuses on the violence and injustice of slavery and details how expansion of slavery in the first eight decades after American independence drove the evolution and modernization of the United States, with slave labor providing the fuel.
Who I'm following on Twitter:
Fellow mayors around the country, President Obama, news folks from local to global - and every bourbon distiller. (Ninety-five percent of the world's bourbon comes from the Louisville region. The other 5 percent is counterfeit!)