Bruce KatzBruce Katz receives the Heinz Award in Public Policy for re-imagining the function and value of cities and metropolitan areas and profoundly influencing their economic vitality, livability and sustainability.
An innovative leader in the field of progressive urban policy, Mr. Katz's vision and impassioned insights are helping reshape and revitalize many of our nation's cities. He is the founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, an initiative that over the past decade has helped cities grow in more inclusive and sustainable ways.
After graduating from Yale University Law School and serving as an associate at a Washington, D.C. law firm where he specialized in housing and urban development, Mr. Katz took a more active role in shaping public policy from inside government. He served as counsel and eventually staff director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Housing and Urban Affairs and, later, as the chief of staff and senior policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Recognizing that there was an enormous void in the public policy arena concerning America's cities and their future, Mr. Katz went to the Brookings Institution in 1996 where he founded the Metropolitan Policy Program, formerly the Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy. In addition to providing research and policy analysis on issues related to the nation's urban core, the Metropolitan Policy Program builds partnerships with planners, economists, environmentalists, political scientists and demographers-all with the goal of improving the vitality and livability of America's cities.
From these alliances emerge teams of experts who analyze the latest market and demographic trends in a particular region using five key strategies: fixing the basics, building on competitive assets, creating healthy neighborhoods, investing in working families and promoting balanced metropolitan growth patterns. Policy recommendations are turned into practical solutions, focusing on green space revitalization, property tax reforms, transportation efficiency, earned income tax credits and job creation. Using this approach, the program has begun to transform the urban landscape in Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine and elsewhere throughout the nation.
Last year, the Metropolitan Policy Program released a study on the nation's "first suburbs," those areas that bloomed after World War II. Up next, Mr. Katz and his colleagues will present a "transformative agenda for U.S. cities," which will set forth how to put cities on a healthier course by reclaiming underused waterfront, channeling land use with transit and developing green infrastructure.
Working tirelessly in and out of government over the past 15 years, Bruce Katz has fostered new perspectives, created new collaborations and brought new life into America's cities. Through his effective leadership, metropolitan areas are re-emerging as vibrant centers of commerce, housing and culture.
Note: This profile is excerpted from the commemorative brochure published at the time of the awards' presentation.
Speech11/14/2006 - Acceptance Speech
Good evening everyone. It's a real pleasure to be back in Pittsburgh and first and foremost thanks to Teresa for your generosity but more importantly for your leadership and vision in this country and in the world.
I've been joined on this special occasion by my mom. And 43 years ago my parents decided to purchase a home in Brooklyn, New York and decided to raise a family in the city and bucked the trend and didn't move to the suburbs. So they passed on to me a love of cities that was really passionate and infectious and completely influenced my intellectual interest and professional pursuits.
When I started my career 20 years ago, I think this love of cities was really more nostalgic than prescient. As America suburbanized, the attributes of cityness - density, and complexity and quality design - seemed to be relics of an earlier era and a different economy. And I think today dynamic forces in our country a demographic change and economic restructuring are really revaluing the assets of cities like Pittsburgh and are positioning cities and suburbs together as the engines of national prosperity.
A diverse population means we need greater choices where people live. An economy based on knowledge bestows new importance on institutions of knowledge like Carnegie Mellon most of which are located in cities. An innovative economy values the density of places, because that is how ideas are still shared person to person. A world undergoing global warming demands new sustainable approaches to human settlement.
I believe we can build a very different America than the one that took root in the aftermath of the Second World War, one that is competitive and prosperous, but also sustainable and inconclusive. Now great changes are going to be needed to accomplish that - in politics, in policy, and in practice. But I think in an American Urban Age is within our grasp if we only imagine and will it.
Thank you very much.