Rejuvenating transatlantic dialogue: Das Progressive Zentrum and Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft as well as the Progressive Policy Institute in the United States are launching the project “New Urban Progress: Metro Innovation and Democratic Renewal – A Transatlantic Dialogue”. The project compares metropolitan regions on both sides of the Atlantic that have emerged as hubs of public innovation and collaborative problem-solving. The results will be used as frameworks to build inclusive, innovative, digital, and diverse cities. New Urban Progress is dialogue-based: we engage young Germans and Americans in a conversation on contemporary social, cultural and economic phenomena present in all post-industrial multicultural societies.


The task at hand could not be any more urgent. Both the United States and Europe are confronting a rising tide of illiberal movements and populism that call for a bold, creative and collaborative response. In the New Urban Progress project, cities serve as a vehicle to revive the German-American dialogue. The aim is to develop solutions that help to make cities livable for all citizens.


Two countries, two road trips, four conferences, ten cities, and 20 project fellows: New Urban Progress will use various events and work-processes with the aim of intensifying transatlantic relations and collaboratively developing policies that will positively impact cities on both sides of the Atlantic. The fellows are focusing on three main topics in their work: inclusive growth and innovation; networked governance and democracy; sustainability and social mobility.

The project was launched in spring 2020 with two kick-off conferences in the USA and Germany, discussing topics like inclusive growth and networked policy-making. In November 2020 the project partners have published a working paper on common urban challenges and opportunities and facilitated a transatlantic debate on the role of cities in a panel on multilateralism from the bottom up. 

In the meantime, some publications of the New Urban Progress Fellows are already available, for example a working paper on „Social Mobility and Climate Action“. A mini podcast series will also provide insights into the thoughts and ideas of the participants, starting with "Empowering Cities - The American Rescue Plan" and "Towards the Zero Carbon City: Financing Urban Transformation".  

Other events in 2021 included a discussion on "100 Days of Joe Biden", followed by a transatlantic discussion on the federal election, a panel discussion on Metro Diplomacy, and several fireside chats with Bruce Katz, Cathryn Clüver, Michael Werz, and Elisabeth Niejahr as guests, to name a few.

The first delegation trip to Germany took place at the end of October 2021. Our transatlantic tour lead us to Berlin, Leipzig, Wuppertal, Duisburg and Essen. Our project fellows reflected the experiences of the week here. In April 2022, our fellows will reunite for the US delegation trip to Chicago, Denver and Austin.

Further information on the programme is available on our project website.

The project is supported by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany and funded by the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi).

For further information please contact Alexandra Hunger.


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Victoria Boeck


Victoria Boeck is a research associate for open data at the Technologiestiftung Berlin. There she leads the project “Open Data Informationsstelle” (“Open Data InfoPoint”), which offers employees of Berlin’s city administration direct support with the publishing and usage of open data. Victoria has a Master of Public Policy from the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin and Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, USA.

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Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook

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Cathryn Clüver Ashbrook is the founding Executive Director of the Future of Diplomacy Project and, since January 2018, the Executive Director of The Project on Europe and the Transatlantic Relationship at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).

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Alexander Czeh


Alexander Czeh is a research assistant and consultant at the Institute of Transport Research of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Here, he works on different aspects of the traffic transformation towards sustainable and therefore inclusive and green mobility. Alexander studied at the Technical Universities of Dresden, Delft and Berlin, holds an MBA in Sustainable Mobility Management, and an M.Sc. in Transport Economics.

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Julia Diringer


Julia Diringer is a researcher and project lead at the German Institute of Urban Affairs (Difu). She is particularly interested in the ways cultural facilities and offers shape urban development. Julia Diringer studied at the Technical University in Berlin and KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm) and holds a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning.

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Jamaal Glenn


Jamaal Glenn is a Director at Schmidt Futures, a social impact investment firm backed by former Google Chairman & CEO Eric Schmidt. He is also an adjunct professor at New York University and founder of Glenn Media Group. Jamaal received an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and bachelors degrees in finance and journalism from the University of Missouri. 

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Andrea Gonzalez


Andrea Gonzalez is currently working at Collabo as an urban planner. Before that, she specialized in culturally and locally appropriate economic development strategies at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. Her master in city planning allows her to bolster clients’ and community assets towards growth.

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Steffen Haake


Steffen Haake works for the public consultancy firm PD. His research focuses on sustainability, digitalization, and innovation. With this background, most of his projects are with the Lower Saxony Ministry of European Affairs and Regional Development. He completed his Master in International Relations in Groningen in 2019 after having completed a Bachelor of Political Sciences (and law/economics) in Berlin and Paris. In 2010, Haake was in the US on a scholarship from the Bundestag and the United States Congress.

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Sinaida Hackmack


Sinaida Hackmack is a mobility and urban governance researcher and currently a PhD candidate at the Hertie School in Berlin. Her work is rooted in qualitative research and examines the political approaches of London and Berlin to move towards more sustainable, efficient, and inclusive mobility solutions. She holds a BA in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin, a MSc in Management from HEC Paris and a MA in Public Management from Freie Universität Berlin.

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Daniel S. Hamilton

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Daniel S. Hamilton is currently the Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Professor at John Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), where he co-leads the Program on “The United States, Europe and World Order”. He has served as Founding Director of the SAIS Center for Transatlantic Relations, Executive Director of the American Consortium on EU Studies, and as a senior diplomat in the U.S. Department of State.

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Victoria Herrmann


Victoria Herrmann is the Managing Director of The Arctic Institute, where her research and writing focus on climate change impacts and adaptation. As an Assistant Research Professor at Georgetown University, Victoria serves as the Principle Investigator of the National Science Foundation. Victoria holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Cambridge.

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Andrea Jonas


Andrea Jonas is project manager for international urban development at the German Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR). Her current work focusses on urban transformation processes, like digital transformation and the future of work in Cities. She holds a Diploma from Bonn University in Geography.

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Bruce Katz

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Bruce J. Katz is the Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University in Philadelphia. He regularly advises global, national, state, regional and municipal leaders on public reforms and private innovations that advance the well-being of metropolitan areas and their countries. He graduated from Brown University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1981, and continued his education by earning his J.D.from Yale Law School.

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Melanie Kryst


Melanie connects science and society at the Berlin University Alliance. In this role, she organizes transdisciplinary networks of science, politics, civil society and the private sector. Melanie holds a PhD in Political Science and has developed a strong focus on multi-actor urban development. She is an alumna of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation.

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Richard Lawrence Jr


Richard Lawrence Jr currently serves as Principal Planner for the City of Alexandria, Virginia. He is an expert in planning, policy development and research in the public and non-profit sectors. Richard earned a master’s degree in Community Planning from the University of Maryland, College Park and holds a dual Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design and Social Sciences Interdisciplinary – Urban Public Policy from SUNY University at Buffalo.

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Marc Lendermann


Marc Lendermann works as an Economic Counselor with the German Consulate General in San Francisco, covering economic issues in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He has studied law as well as European Governance and Administration in Berlin and in France and holds a Ph.D. from the University Paris 1 – Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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Grace Levin


Grace Levin is a Master candidate for urban planning at Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She received her BA in Sociology and Anthropology from Middlebury College. Grace has gained multiple experience on community engagement, outreach, and education programs as a Community Manager and at the Dougherty Arts Center, Austin’s oldest cultural arts venue.

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Amy Liu

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Amy Liu is vice president and director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair in Urban and Metropolitan Policy. She is a national expert on cities and metropolitan areas adept at translating research and insights into action on the ground. As director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, which Liu co-founded in 1996, she pioneered the program’s signature approach to state and local engagements.

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Ian Lundy


Ian Lundy works as a director of public private partnerships at the NYC Housing Authority. His previous interests include the broadening of the geography of NY’s economy and expanding access to jobs by incentivizing public and private investment adjacent to critical transportation infrastructure. Ian Lundy studied urban policy and investment at Georgetown University.

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Almut Möller

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Almut Möller currently holds the position of the State Secretary and Plenipotentiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg to the Federation, the European Union, and for foreign affairs. Almut Möller studied Political Science, Constitutional Law, and Modern and Contemporary History at the Universities of Münster, Aix-en-Provence (France) and Munich, and graduated with a Master of Arts in 2002.

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Elisabeth Niejahr

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Elisabeth Niejahr has been Managing Director for the area “Strengthening Democracy” at the Hertie Stiftung since January 2020. As a renowned journalist, she has written several books on power tactics, demography and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, as well as being a regular in German political talk shows. Academic achievements include her time as a Bucerius Fellow at Harvard University in the fall of 2011 as well as the participation in several German-Chinese exchange programmes.

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Alison Noehrbass


Alison Noehrbass is a Business Development Executive at Commonplace, a London-based startup. She is particularly interested in how philanthropic giving can shape more liveable and inclusive cities. Alison Noehrbass holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy from Wellesley College, and a master’s degree from the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London.

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Friedrich Paulsen


Friedrich Paulsen is a political scientist and responsible for Governmental Affairs and Political Coordination at the German Savings Banks and Giro Association in Berlin. He holds a doctoral degree in political science from the University of Münster. Friedrich Paulsen worked on innovation in urban governance policy and researched the governance challenges of cities in Europe and the US.

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Bret Perkins

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Bret Perkins serves as Vice President of External and Government Affairs for the Comcast Corporation. He is a Business Administration graduate from Temple University and currently responsible for local government affairs, strategic partnerships with state and local intergovernmental associations, and national policy advocacy organizations.

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Sanjay Seth


Sanjay Seth has a background in climate policy, urban planning, and community organizing. He currently serves as the Climate Resilience Program Manager for the City of Boston. He is a graduate of the Master in Public Administration program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Master in Urban Planning program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

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Julian St. Patrick Clayton


Julian St. Patrick Clayton is Deputy Director for Policy and Research at the Center for NYC Neighborhoods. He has over a decade of experience with policy analysis, design, research, and advocacy across multiple sectors and policy disciplines. Julian holds a BA and an MS in Urban and Regional Planning from Florida State University.

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Wolfgang Teubner

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Wolfgang Teubner is the ICLEI Regional Director for Europe and also the Managing Director (CEO) of the ICLEI European Secretariat. He has more than 25 years of professional experience working with local governments on sustainable urban development, climate adaptation and mitigation, Local Agenda21, waste management, as well as sustainable urban transport policies. During his career he has been involved in more than 150 European and international projects, including several research activities.

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Francesca Weber-Newth


Francesca Weber-Newth is an urban sociologist. She is responsible for public participation in the redevelopment of Tempelhof Airport in Berlin. Her academic background includes a PhD on urban regeneration in Berlin and London, as well as research and teaching at the geography department of the Humboldt University Berlin.

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Maria Willett


Maria Willet is Chief Assistant to the Mayor of Rochester Hills, leading the mayor’s key initiatives, fundraising campaigns, special events, and communications. Most recently, she is also a founding member of Create Collective, a local arts council dedicated to proactively and intentionally bringing art into the community. Maria Willett earned both a BA in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration from Oakland University.


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Burkhard Jung

Burkhard Jung has been Mayor of the City of Leipzig since 2006. He is also President of the Deutscher Städtetag (Association of German Cities) and Member of the Executive Committee of EUROCITIES, a major network of European cities. At the beginning of his professional training, he received his teaching credential for the subjects German and Protestant theology and taught at schools in Münster and Siegen. After the German reunification, he founded and directed the Evangelisches Schulzentrum Leipzig (Leipzig Protestant Educational Centre). Burkhard Jung is member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

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Uwe Schneidewind

Uwe Schneidewind is Mayor of Wuppertal with a background in research. He served as President of the University of Oldenburg and, furthermore, he was the President of the Wuppertal Institute for the Environment, Climate, and Energy, a leading international think tank on sustainability research, from 2010 to 2020. Uwe Schneidewind is a member of the German Green Party and has been Mayor since 2020.