Catalysts for Economic Growth: How Leaders Prepare Today’s Cities for Tomorrow’s Challenges

Economic development is thriving in many cities across America. These cities are fresh with new ideas, new initiatives, new opportunities that bring together policymakers, technologists, investors, academics and forward-thinking leaders of business. Who’s driving this change and how can this be replicated elsewhere? What can we as business leaders do to effect change in our own communities?

In this panel discussion, we will analyze success stories from different cities to identify critical success factors that stimulate economic development, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for residents. We will assess the impact of public-private partnerships, and how they serve to mobilize private sector resources that lead to robust business activity. We’ll hear from those in positions of influence about the driving forces that attract capital investment, and what role technological innovation plays in economic progress. Can these factors be replicated in your city? Join us for a dynamic discussion on these topics, and bring your own questions for the panelists!

Virtual Event Registration:
RSVP at the event website found on:

 Harvard Club of Detroit members and friends may use promo code CATALYST to RSVP for free!

Hosted by: Michele Lutz, MBA'00



Maria G. Gotsch, MBA '89
President and CEO, Partnership Fund for New York City

Maria G. Gotsch is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Partnership Fund for New York City, the $180 million investment arm of the Partnership for New York City, New York’s leading business organization. The Fund has built a network of top venture capital and corporate experts to identify and support the city’s most promising entrepreneurs to create jobs, spur new business and expand opportunities for New Yorkers.

In addition to leading the Fund’s investments and operations, Maria has spearheaded the creation of the Fund’s strategic initiatives, helping grow the city’s innovation sectors, including fintech and commercial life sciences. Maria has been featured in Crain’s “Most Powerful Women in New York,” “Notable Women in Tech,” and “Notable Women on Wall Street”; City & State’s “The Life Sciences Power 50”; and Institutional Investor’s The FinTech Finance 40. Maria has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. from Wellesley College, and was a Fulbright Scholar.

David Gilford, Yale School of Management '07
Head of Policy, Sidewalk In
frastructure Partners

David leads policy and strategic partnerships for Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners (SIP). Backed by Alphabet, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, and StepStone, SIP applies innovative technology to urban infrastructure systems.

Over two decades at the intersection of the public and private sectors, David has built cross-sector programs to support innovation. As a Principal at HR&A Advisors and co-founder of the Broadband Equity Partnership, David designed digital and social infrastructure to close the digital divide. Previously, he co-founded the Connected Communities practice at Intersection, developing technology strategies for neighborhood-scale real estate developments.

David previously held multiple leadership positions with the City of New York, including Vice President for Urban Innovation & Sustainability at the New York City Economic Development Corporation. David holds a BA in Economics from Williams College and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Peter D. Cummings OPM 13, ‘88
Executive Chairman and CEO, The Platform

Peter Cummings has been active in real estate development and management in Florida, Michigan, Texas and North Carolina since 1975.

In 1978 he founded RAM, a leader in real estate investment, management and development, based in Palm Beach County and active throughout the Southeast. In 2016, and recently retired, Peter created The Platform. A new Detroit-based venture dedicated to helping rebuild the city creating quality housing, commercial and mixed-use developments.

Mr. Cummings was educated at Yale University (B.A. 1968) and the University of Toronto, (M.A. in English Literature -1969), and Harvard Business School, Owner & President Management Program – 1988.

He currently serves on the Boards of Henry Ford Health System Foundation, Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Downtown Detroit Partnership, and is Chairman Emeritus of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Michele Lutz, MBA '00
Senior Public Relations and Communications Specialist, Caron Treatment Centers

Michele is a marketing communications strategist with Caron Treatment Centers, and supports the PA-based firm's expansion in South Florida. She began her career in advertising agency account management, working for New York-based firms Saatchi & Saatchi and Young and Rubicam. She focused on building brands for clients including Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, PepsiCo, Citigroup, and Northwest Airlines. She developed broad experience in marketing strategy, branding, and digital marketing through business development positions with The Wall Street Journal.

Michele has served as Treasurer of the Harvard Business School of NYC, and on the Board of Directors of the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in the organization’s Ordway Circle of Stars – a unique division that specializes in arts education. An avid writer, Michele’s work has been published in The New York Times Book Review and by Harvard Business School Publishing. Michele received her BA from Rutgers University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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