State and Local Leadership Challenges in the Age of COVID-19

The Volcker Alliance and Penn IUR



Thursday, March 11, 2021
10:45 a.m. ET - 12:15 p.m. ET

The Volcker Alliance and Penn Institute for Urban Research hosted a virtual panel with state and local leaders discussing the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and offering strategies for effective governance. The keynote address was delivered by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. The event also featured Thomas M. Davis, former member, US House of Representatives and Volcker Alliance director; Elizabeth Kellar, director of public policy and deputy executive director, International City/County Management Association; Michael A. Nutter, former mayor, City of Philadelphia; Wendell Pritchett provost and James S. Riepe Presidential Professor of Law and Education, University of Pennsylvania; Richard Ravitch, former lieutenant governor, New York State, and Volcker Alliance director; and Michael Useem, William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

William Glasgall, Volcker Alliance senior vice president and director of state and local initiatives, and Penn IUR co-director Susan Wachter served as moderators.

Governor Phil Murphy, as he says, “grew up in a family that was middle class on a good day,” the youngest of four children with only one parent who graduated high school. His upbringing shaped his values, his priorities, and the leader he is today. Since taking office, he has focused on building a stronger and fairer New Jersey that works for every family. He has signed legislation putting New Jersey on the path to a $15-an-hour minimum wage, enacted the nation’s strongest equal pay law to combat gender wage discrimination, ensured all workers have access to paid sick days, and expanded the state's Paid Family Leave provisions. Prior to taking office, Governor Murphy led and supported charities to lift up troubled teens and domestic abuse survivors. Nationally, he served proudly as New Jersey’s sole representative on the board of the NAACP. In 2009, he answered President Obama’s call to service and, following his confirmation by the United States Senate, became the U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, where he served until 2013.

Thomas M. Davis was first elected to office in 1979, winning a hard-fought campaign to represent Mason District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. This would be the first of twelve straight victories spanning three decades. In 1994, Mr. Davis defeated an incumbent to win a seat in the US House of Representatives from the 11th Congressional District of Virginia. He was the first freshman in fifty years to be named a subcommittee chairman, taking the gavel of the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia. Mr. Davis earned national recognition as chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2000 and 2002, as he helped to maintain his party’s majority in the House of Representatives. Mr. Davis is known for his encyclopedic knowledge of political minutia, often instructing members of Congress on the electoral history of their own districts.

Elizabeth Kellar is Senior Fellow with the Center for State and Local Government Excellence, having served as President/CEO from its inception in 2006 through 2016. Currently she conducts research and writing about the future state and local government workforce for SLGE. Ms. Kellar is a Fellow in the National Academy of Public Administration and has served as chair for NAPA’s Standing Panel on the Federal System. She also served on the American University School of Public Affairs Advisory Council from 2001-2014. Ms. Kellar is Director of Public Policy for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) where she also has served as Deputy Executive Director and Ethics Advisor.  She led the expansion of ICMA’s funded programs to strengthen management in local governments throughout the world and launched a monthly ethics column, was editor of Ethical Insight, Ethical Action, and developed ethics training programs.

Michael A. Nutter was elected the 98th Mayor of his hometown in November 2007 and took office in January 2008, after serving almost 15 years in the Philadelphia City Council. Since leaving public service on January 4, 2016, Mayor Nutter has remained active in public policy, government, and civic life.  In January 2016 Columbia University/SlPA announced his appointment as a Professor, and in March, the Board of Trustees voted to appoint him as the Inaugural David N. Dinkins Professor of Professional Practice in Urban and Public Policy. In February, CNN news media organization announced that Mayor Nutter became a political commentator for the network, where he served for three years. Mayor Nutter maintains active involvement in critical areas of education, media, public policy, political campaigns, the corporate community and academic institutions across the country. 

Provost Wendell Pritchett, James S. Riepe Presidential Professor in the Law School and the Graduate School of Education, began his tenure on July 1, 2017. An award-winning scholar, author, lawyer, professor, and civic and academic leader, he served from 2009-14 as Chancellor of Rutgers University-Camden, leading unprecedented growth that included graduating classes of record sizes, the first campus doctoral programs, and new health education and science facilities. In the City of Philadelphia, he has been Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy for Mayor Michael Nutter, Chair of the Redevelopment Authority, member of the School Reform Commission, President of the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, Board Chair of the Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and Executive Director of the district offices of Congressman Thomas Foglietta, among many other board and leadership positions. He has served as President of the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, a board member of the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, Co-Chair of Mayor Nutter’s Transition Committee, and Co-Chair of Barack Obama’s Urban Policy Task Force. He first joined the Penn Law faculty in 2002, serving as Interim Dean from 2014-15 and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 2006-07. Before coming to Penn, he was an assistant professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York and an attorney in housing, real estate, and employment law. His scholarly work focuses on urban history, especially housing, race relations, and economic development.. 

Richard Ravitch is an attorney, businessman, and public official, engaged in both private and public enterprise for more than fifty years. In 1975, he was appointed chairman of the New York State Urban Development Corporation by Governor Hugh Carey. From 1975 to 1976, Mr. Ravitch assisted New York City and State officials in resolving the city’s defaults. In 1979, he was appointed chairman and chief executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where he developed a long-term capital plan, budget, and financing for a system-wide upgrade of operating equipment, roadbed, and signal capabilities. He more recently served as lieutenant governor of the State of New York and was co-chair of the State Budget Crisis Task Force with former chairman of the Federal Reserve Paul A. Volcker. Mr. Ravitch is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Columbia College and received his bachelor of laws from Yale University School of Law.

Michael Useem is the William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management and director of the Center for Leadership and Change Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He works on leadership development with many companies and organizations in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. He is the author of The Leader’s Checklist; The Leadership Moment; Executive Defense, Investor Capitalism, Leading Up, and The Go Point. He is also co-author and co-editor of Learning from Catastrophes; co-author of The India Way and Leadership Dispatches; co-author of Go Long: Why Long-Term Thinking Is Your Best Short-Term Strategy and co-author of the forthcoming Catastrophic Risk: How Corporate America Copes with Disruption. Mike is also co-anchor of the weekly program “Leadership in Action” on SiriusXM Business Radio.

William Glasgall is Senior Vice President and Director of State and Local Initiatives at the Volcker Alliance, a New York-based nonprofit organization where he has supervised the publication of numerous working papers and studies, including four Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting reports. He is also the creator of the Special Briefing webcast series co-produced with the University of Pennsylvania Institute for Urban Research, where is a Fellow and co-lead of the Initiative for State and Local Fiscal Stability. Previously, he was Managing Editor for states and municipalities at Bloomberg News and Senior Editor at BusinessWeek Magazine. He is also a member of the National Federation of Municipal Analysts and a Governor of the Overseas Press Club Foundation. A Boston University graduate, he was a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University and a DAAD Fellow at the University of Bonn, Germany.

Susan Wachter is Sussman Professor and professor of real estate and finance at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. At The Wharton School, she was chairperson of the real estate department and professor of real estate and finance from July 1997 until her 1998 appointment to HUD. At Penn, she co-founded and currently is co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research. She also founded and currently serves as director of Wharton’s Geographical Information Systems Lab. Wachter was the editor of Real Estate Economics from 1997 to 1999 and currently serves on the editorial boards of several real estate journals. She is the author of more than two hundred scholarly publications and the recipient of several awards for teaching excellence at The Wharton School. She frequently comments on national media and testifies to Congress on US housing policy.