Eastpointe mayor participating in COVID-19 economic recovery program

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 17, 2020

 Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens will be participating in a program aimed at educating community leaders on economic recovery.

Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens will be participating in a program aimed at educating community leaders on economic recovery.

File photo by Sarah Purlee

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EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe Mayor Monique Owens will be among 40 mayors from across the country taking part in a program sponsored by the Bloomberg Harvard Leadership Initiative to help communities recover from the impact of the COVID-19 quarantine.

These mayors will discuss ways to handle the ongoing health concerns related to the pandemic, how to react socially to COVID-19 and how to recover economically.

“There will be instructors from all over the country and they will be providing lessons and resources, which you might never get by staying local,” Owens said. “I’m very excited to be able to get all of this information. … This is the second opportunity I’ve had to (work with) Harvard to learn things through a program like this. It will mean bringing all of this knowledge back here to Eastpointe.”

The first opportunity Owens had to work with Harvard was being selected to take part in the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. However, the program was delayed until the summer of 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Owens said she has been invited to take part in the program then.

As part of the Bloomberg Harvard Leadership Initiative program, Owens said, she will be able to involve other Eastpointe officials, including Mayor Pro Tem Sarah Lucido, Public Safety Director George Rouhib and Economic Manager Kim Homan.

“They pick a certain amount of mayors each year,” Owens said. “They have different programs and classes to help cities economically recover. You also can select three others to share some of these resources. I added our mayor pro tem, public safety director and economic manager.”

David Margalit, the executive director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, said the organization is hosting the program because of the pivotal impact local leaders can have on curbing the virus and recovering from its impact.

“Mayors are playing a central role in addressing social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” he wrote in an email. “The challenges cities face heighten the need for effective city leadership. By strengthening their leadership and organizational capabilities, the program aims to help mayors respond to emerging challenges and prepare for a socially, racially, and economically equitable recovery.”

Mayors selected to join the program are part of a cohort that participates in bimonthly virtual classes facilitated by Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School faculty. They engage in case discussions, exercises, peer-to-peer working sessions, and reflection on their own practices.

“This year’s program is virtual, with bimonthly sessions held over Zoom,” wrote Margalit. “There will be a combination of classroom instruction, lectures, workshops and time for peer-to-peer exchanges.”

Owens said she is looking forward to seeing what other local leaders are doing in response to the pandemic and its aftermath. She said there should be plenty to learn.

“A major area I want to address more is the economy,” she said. “I want to help take our businesses to a place where they can hire more residents and help support them so they can stay successful and stay in this community.”

Owens was one of hundreds of candidates who applied for the program. Those selected, as well as those providing information within the program, will come from communities both large and small from all over the United States.

“There are 40 mayors from across the U.S. who were selected to participate in this program,” Margalit wrote. “It was an application-based program, and we are thrilled about the composition of the class, which is made up of mayors who represent a broad geographic and demographic spectrum of U.S. cities.”

Leaders across the world are dealing with issues they have never had to confront before, and both Owens and Margalit said that working together and sharing strategies and information is key to helping people.

“It will help me be a better leader in certain areas I can improve in such as in how to recover from the pandemic and rebuild the community,” added Owens. “These are challenges we’ve never had to deal with before; no one has. It’s my first year as mayor, so anything I can do to strengthen these weaknesses or find new ways to improve the community is something I am interested in.”

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