Panel to explore why municipal governments seem more effective than national government

Local and regional municipalities across the nation can typically come to solutions more quickly and easily than do national governing bodies. Why is that? The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy will host a virtual discussion on Nov. 3 with three former and current municipal leaders to talk about how to employ effective local strategies at the national level.

The event will stream Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 12:30 p.m. CT.  The discussion is free and open to the public. Registration is required.


 The panel includes:

  • Bill Purcell is an adjunct professor of public policy at Vanderbilt. He served as the fifth mayor of Nashville and Davidson County, elected first in 1999 and reelected to a second term in 2003. In 2008 he was named director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. He was one of three co-chairs of the Harvard University Allston Work Team and is now in private practice of law in Nashville.
  • Mitch Weiss is the Richard L. Menschel professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, where he created and teaches the school’s course on public entrepreneurship. Weiss was chief of staff and a partner to Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino. Weiss helped shape New Urban Mechanics, Boston’s municipal innovation strategy, and make it a model for peer-produced government and change. He is the author of We the Possibility (HBR Press, 2021).
  • Mayor David Holt is Oklahoma City’s 36th mayor. He was elected Feb. 13, 2018, receiving the largest vote percentage achieved by a non-incumbent candidate for mayor since 1947. He also became the youngest mayor of Oklahoma City since 1923, the first Native American mayor of Oklahoma City and, at the time of his election, the youngest mayor of a U.S. city with more than 500,000 residents.

The event is co-sponsored by the Global Action Platform. 


The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy is a nonpartisan initiative that aims to elevate research and evidence-based reasoning into the national conversation. Drawing on original research, evidence-based papers and crucial conversations from Vanderbilt’s world-class faculty and visionary thought leaders of all political persuasions, the timely endeavor aims to give policymakers and the public the tools needed to combat conspiracy and unfounded ideology with evidence, data and respectful discourse. The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy can make a meaningful contribution to solving society’s most pressing challenges and bridging our deepest differences.

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