Neal Peirce

Chairman, The Citistates Group

Neal Peirce is a foremost writer, among American journalists, on metropolitan regions — their political and economic dynamics, their emerging national and global roles. With Curtis Johnson, he has co-authored the Peirce Reports (now called Citistates Reports) on compelling issues of metropolitan futures for leading media in 25 regions across the nation. Reports of recent years include Boston Unbound, released in May 2004, a series for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier, published serially in September and October 2007, and a series on the Charlotte Citistate for the Charlotte Observer and other papers of that region (a reprise of the authors’ 1995 Charlotte region report, published in autumn 2008).Peirce is also a principal author of a major report and forward look at global urban challenges, Century of the City: No Time To Lose, based on the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2007 Global Urban Summit in Bellagio, Italy.  He is currently working on creation of Citiscope– a global news website focused on innovations and experiments underway in world cities, on topic areas ranging from climate change to slum upgrading, water and food security to advance steps to protect against natural disasters.  The Citiscope project, developed in close cooperation with UN-Habitat and the World Urban Campaign, is designed to to tap the skills of local journalists in telling the stories of their cities’ breakthrough efforts, both successes and roadblocks, combined with commentary by experts in the fields covered.  The Citiscope web site was debuted at the concluding plenary session of the World Urban Forum in Rio de Janeiro in March 2010.

In 2004-2006, Peirce took the lead role in conceptualizing and launching the New England Futures Project, starting with a six-part monthly Peirce-Johnson series — printed by 27 newspapers — focused on how that that historic six-state region deals with its 21st century energy, transportation, growth, higher education, broadband and health challenges.

In 1975, Peirce began — and continues today — the United States’ first national column focused on state and local government themes. Syndication is by the Washington Post Writers Group. In a step to enhance journalism focused on major changes in cities and regions, Peirce and his Citistates Group colleagues in 2008 initiated, a weekly bulletin (and e-mail release) which includes the regular Peirce column for the week as well as an opinion piece by another Associate of the Group.

Peirce’s 10-book series on America’s states and regions culminated in The Book of America: Inside 50 States Today (W.W. Norton, 1983). His more recent books were Citistates: How Urban America Can Prosper in a Competitive World, Boundary Crossers: Community Leadership for a Global Age, and Breakthroughs: Recreating The American City.

Peirce was one of the founders and then a contributing editor of National Journal, and was active in the ’60s as political editor of Congressional Quarterly. He was a member of the National Civic League’s executive committee from the early 1970s to 1995 and for several years a member of the board of directors of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S.

Known widely as a lecturer on regional, urban, federal system and community development issues, Peirce has been a familiar figure before civic, business, academic and professional groups nationally. He has appeared on Meet the Press, the Today Show, National Public Radio and local media across the country.

Speech Topics

The Citistate Era and age of globalization demands that regions learn to take command of our own social, economic and environmental fortunes. How do they do that? How’s a new regional vision forged? If big government isn’t the answer, how can civic forces and business be mobilized to forge new directions for regions? And is the time ripe to expand the regional vision of the multi-city “mega-regions” of the 21st century world?

Climate Change and Green Energy — Girating energy prices and global warming present cities and regions with unprecedented challenges. What are the critical steps toward energy-efficient, lower climate footprint neighborhoods, cities and regions? Of turning “green” on every front from energy-efficient buildings to transit-oriented development, less polluting stormwater systems to distributed energy systems and promoting greater regional food self-sufficiency?

The Obama Administration and the Cities. America has its first truly “urban” president in decades.   A new White House Office of Urban Affairs has been created, with a goal of coordinating policy among disparate federal departments.  How will all this work?  What real difference will it mean for cities and regions?

The State-Region Nexis — Smart states will support the growth of strong, mutually supportive regions — not just for the sake of the regions, but because it makes smart politics and economic sense.

Century of the City – What are the common challenges, opportunities of cities worldwide – those of the Global North that need to recover from 20th century scatterization, those of the Global South faced with incredibly rapid population growth?  If there need for clear focus on such shared issues as the global urban footprint in a carbon-challenged age, more local food self-sufficiency, urban health and roadway safety, how do the cities communicate, learn from each other?

Selected Recent Speeches

  • November 3, 2010 – California Chapter, American Planning Association – Annual meeting, luncheon speaker, San Diego
  • April 15, 2010 – Philadelphia – Center City District – Annual Meeting – keynote speaker
  • September 16, 2009 — Florida Chapter, American Planning Association, annual conference luncheon speaker, Jacksonville, Florida
  • June 9, 2009 – Transportation Challenge: Connecting the Dots for a Stronger Region – Thrive/Collaboration Council Meeting, Madison, Wisconsin
  • June 2, 2009 — “Meeting of the Minds” conference, New York City
  • May 14, 2009 –Keynote for 2009 SCUPAD Conference (Salzburg Congress on Urban Planning and Development), Salzburg, Austria
  • March 27, 2009 — “Green” Agendas for America’s Communities, for the Academy for Sustainable Communities, Kansas City, Missouri
  • February 7, 2009 – Sustainability and the Environment: Achieve We Must  – University of Notre Dame Architecture Department, South Bend
  • January 14, 2009 — Large Community Foundations conference, San Diego, California
  • November 20, 2008 — Global Urbanism in the “Century of the City” — James E. Webb Lecture for the National Academy of Public Administration, Washington
  • September 25, 2008 — Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission – Board Members and Partners Retreat, Philadelphia – keynote
  • September 10, 2008 — Downtown Fort Worth luncheon address
  • May 7, 2008 — Annual Great Valley Center Conference, Sacramento – “Green Momentum: Prospering in a New Economy” – keynote
  • March 13-14, 2008 — Portland (Ore.) Parks and Recreation – Great Parks/Great Cities Series keynote, and address for Portland City Club
  • October 22, 2007 – High Speed Rail for America, Conference in Raleigh, N.C. – keynote speaker

Last updated December 1, 2010