Bloomberg announces Tel Aviv University program to upskill Israeli municipal leaders

The Bloomberg-Sagol Center For City Leadership will train up to 20 mayors a year, with the goal of improving Israeli municipal services

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and philanthropist. (Courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies)
Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and philanthropist. (Courtesy Bloomberg Philanthropies)

Michael R. Bloomberg, philanthropist and former New York City mayor, was in Israel Sunday to announce the launch of the Bloomberg-Sagol Center for City Leadership at Tel Aviv University, a new program to develop the leadership skills of Israeli mayors, in the hopes of delivering better municipal services to citizens across the geographic and demographic spectrum.

The Center will run an annual cohort-based program for up to 20 mayors and their key municipal aids, with a first group expected to be announced in fall 2022.

Municipal employees’ participation expenses will be covered by the program, which is funded by both Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Sagol Family Foundation.

According to a statement from Bloomberg Philanthropies, the center aims to develop participants’ leadership and management skills and improve city hall operations by building “critical capabilities” in the areas of “fostering collaboration, using data in decision making, negotiation, crisis management and response, resident engagement, and generating and implementing innovative ideas.”

Specifically, the program has five components: executive education provided by TAU and capped off by a visit to New York and Boston for additional training by Harvard faculty; selection and support for a city-specific innovation project; receiving TAU student fellows in participating city halls for a 10-week summer internship; creating a local government alumni network; and convening scholars for applied research on topics related to city management and effective leadership.

The program is modeled on a similar program sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies at Harvard University, which has trained 196 mayors and 318 leaders from 25 countries in the past five years, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The Israeli sibling program has been in development since 2018, with help from Yossi Sagol, whose family used to own Israeli manufacturer Keter Plastic and whose family foundation is helping underwrite the new program’s costs.

Israel has about 260 cities and towns headed by a mayor eligible for the program, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, and participants are expected to be selected from municipalities across the geographic and socioeconomic spectrums, including both Jewish and Arab mayors.

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