About Us

Vital City seeks to improve civic life by finding great ideas and innovative research and making them available — and understandable — to those who shape urban policy. We also seek to make relevant data accessible to anyone who wants to get a better understanding of how cities work, because we believe an informed citizenry is a crucial pillar of a healthy democracy.

Our starting point is durable safety, which we believe comes from civic well-being — decent schools, housing and jobs, inviting public spaces and vibrant local culture. A well-regulated police force has an important role to play, but it should not dominate to the exclusion of other approaches. 

Through a policy journal, special reports, data analysis, public convenings and more, Vital City creates space for a broad range of political perspectives to engage in civil conversation — and to share new ideas and enlightening data about how to promote thriving cities. Our work is motivated by our love for New York City, our belief in the power of evidence and our optimism about the future of cities.

Vital City is underwritten by Arnold Ventures, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, the Charles Revson Foundation and contributions from dozens of individual donors and readers. We are housed at Columbia Law School and the Fund for the City of New York serves as our fiscal sponsor. 

Want to contribute? Here are our guidelines.

Press inquiries: Anna Durrett, adurrett@vitalcitynyc.org

Our team


Vital City’s contributors include leading scholars, activists and practitioners.

What People Are Saying About Vital City


Richard R. Buery, Jr.

CEO, Robin Hood Foundation

“I know from my experience as Deputy Mayor how hard it is for government decision makers in New York to identify new ideas that are grounded in evidence and that can be easily translated into policy. That’s why the launch of Vital City is such good news. It promises to be a valuable source of new thinking that is both practical and actionable.”


Alicia Glen

Founder and Managing Principal at MSquared and former New York City Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development

“Now in our time of intense partisan battles around public safety issues, we need data-driven solutions that acknowledge the crucial roles that affordable housing, economic development and stable communities play. That is what Vital City will bring and why I am so excited they are entering this debate.”


Zachary W. Carter

Former US Attorney, former Corp Counsel and former Judge, Criminal Court

“Vital City knows that sound criminal policy has always been grounded in data — data which disabuses us of firmly held but erroneous beliefs — data that points us toward new solutions — data that provides common ground for constructive working relationships. Vital City creates a forum for the presentation of criminal policy prescriptions grounded in serious research. What a great public service.”


Gillian Lester

Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law at Columbia Law School

“Achieving meaningful and lasting change within our communities requires innovative thinking, rigorous analysis, and the participation of a broad range of stakeholders. Columbia Law School is deeply committed to training leaders equipped with the skills necessary to bring about this change — in the law itself, and in the institutions that administer justice. I am excited that our students and faculty will have the opportunity to enrich and learn from Elizabeth Glazer and the experts at Vital City, which begins a residency at Columbia Law School this spring.”


Hon. Jonathan Lippman

Former Chief Judge, New York State

“The political debate about public safety in New York City could use more light and less heat these days. That’s precisely what Vital City aims to bring. With their experience both inside and outside of government, Greg Berman and Elizabeth Glazer, along with their team of contributors, are uniquely positioned to advance sensible solutions to the crime problems that continue to bedevil us.”


Stanley Richards

Deputy CEO, Fortune Society

“We need all hands on deck in New York City so we don’t slip back into the bad old days with the loudest voices on the fringes driving criminal justice policy and we return to mass incarceration. We’ve learned that NYC can have safe communities and reduce mass incarceration without sacrificing communities most impacted by crime and mass incarceration. That’s why I welcome the launch of Vital City, which promises to be a welcome voice based on best practices, research and data, and provider and stakeholder input.”


Anthony E. Shorris

Former First Deputy Mayor, City of New York

“The cure for the violence that plagues our society will come about only with real change in how we value each other through our politics, economics, and culture, but along the way, we can surely make the world safer for each other by listening to the best ideas of those who care deeply about these issues, starting with Elizabeth Glazer and Greg Berman.”


Cyrus Vance Jr.

Former Manhattan District Attorney

“I know from my experience as Manhattan DA that government needs to open its doors to new thinking and new ways of doing business if it going to succeed in building stronger and safer communities. By providing fresh ideas and rigorous analysis, Vital City can be a powerful force for good, not just here in New York City, but around the world.”


Carl Weisbrod

Senior Advisor at HR&A Advisors and former Chair, New York City Planning Commission

“Vital City recognizes that the twin goals of safety and justice are not a zero sum game. Its founder, Elizabeth Glazer, is one of our most intelligent and thoughtful experts regarding our complex criminal justice system. Together with their team of contributors, they can provide rational and comprehensive answers to some of our city’s most pressing problems.”


Daniel F. Wilhelm

President, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation

“The Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation creates and disseminates knowledge against violence. The inaugural issue of Vital City does the same thing, making it an important effort in which to invest. By convening and making the work of leading scholars accessible to decision makers and an engaged public, Vital City is poised to make an important contribution to the effort to reduce gun violence in New York and other cities.”


Kathryn Wylde

President & CEO, Partnership for New York City

“Vital City intends to build consensus in support of practical solutions to front burner criminal justice and public safety issues, starting with gun violence. This is an effort that is both important and timely.”

Website branding and creative by Design for Progress. Website and interactive development by Thought Driven Development. Contributor portraits by Arthur Mount. Sonic ID by Jeff Brodsky.