Building One America News

Brookings Presents Findings at Building One America Summit July 18-19

Photo of Alan Berube

Alan Berube, Senior Fellow and Deputy Director at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program and co-author of Confronting Suburban Poverty presented these findings at the summit, which will involved local leaders and federal policy makers seeking bipartisan approaches to the common challenges facing America’s metropolitan regions and diverse middle-class suburbs.

Click here to see a summary of the Brookings report, which is attracting a great deal of media attention around the country.

Here is a list of articles reporting on the Brookings report:


BOA Policy Committee meets with the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Domestic Policy Council to seek more support for diverse middle class suburbs

Mayor Deluca at White House

In, July 2011, Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca was invited to the White House to participate in a panel discussion “Forum on First Suburbs, Inclusion, Sustainability and Economic Growth.” (Maplewood Patch story here, BOA story here).

The panel discussion was a part of efforts by Building One America, a national network of statewide and metropolitan organizations seeking to "stabilize and revitalize communities" — namely, first suburbs. First suburbs are older, developed suburbs like Maplewood which are close to metropolitan areas and which are dealing with a different set of concerns than newer, exurban suburbs.

Through his work with Building One America, DeLuca was invited back to the White House on March 13, 2012 to meet with the Chief of Staff of the President's Domestic Policy Council and the Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Also at the meeting were staffers from the Departments of Transportation, Energy and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

DeLuca was one of ten elected officials from across the country representing Building One America to discuss the needs of First Suburbs. Others were from Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

DeLuca had the chance to speak about Maplewood and the efforts the town is taking to keep the town a diverse, welcoming and green community. "I said that towns like ours are doing the right thing and government policies should be designed to recognize and reward these efforts," DeLuca said in an email message.

"We agreed to work with the White House Intergovernmental Affairs Office on a few short-term goals and focus on larger policy issues over the next year or two. It was a successful meeting and very cool to be in the White House."

Source: Maplewood Patch, article link here.

White House Event Report and Follow-up

Photo of participant asking question at White House event.

Congratulations to all those who attended the historic White House Forum on First Suburbs, Inclusion, Sustainability and Economic Growth on Monday, July 18, 2011.

The day was a tremendous success. 170 local elected officials, business, labor and civic leaders from 22 metropolitan regions from across the United States crowded into the White House South Court Auditorium to discuss the strengths and assets as well as the fiscal, social and environmental issues facing America’s first suburbs.

We were joined by some of the Obama Administration’s most important and influential officials, some of the nation's most respected policy experts and an exceptional group of inspired local leaders who served as our panel experts.

The White House leadership committed to continue the conversation about the unique but common challenges facing our communities, to join us back in our regions where we will continue to organize and build support, and we secured support from some of the Administration's most senior policy advisors to the President to hear our proposals for reform.

You can see three of the PowerPoint presentations delivered by clicking here.

The day was co-chaired by Georgine Welo, Mayor of South Euclid, Ohio and a leader of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium, along with Rev. Nathaniel Goodson, Councilman from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania and a leader of the Southeastern Pennsylvania First Suburbs Project.

Mayor Welo's impressions are reported in an online article: click here to read it.

Presentations describing the unique challenges and opportunities of the first suburbs were given by the Kirwan Institute’s john powell and by Myron Orfield of the University of Minnesota.

Skillfully moderated by Michael Griffin, Clerk Treasurer of Highland, Indiana, a panel of local elected leaders provided context and feedback on the presentations by powell and Orfield. Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers of Avondale, Arizona (and Second Vice President of the National League of Cities), Assemblywoman Mila Jasey of the New Jersey General Assembly, Michael Summers, Mayor of Lakewood, Ohio (and local businessman), Mayor Jacob Smith, of Golden, Colorado (and Director of the PlaceMatters Institute) and John Durso, President of the Labor Federation of Long Island provided stories and examples that helped us better understand the social, environmental and economic implications of the challenges our communities are facing.

David Rusk presented the Building ONE America agenda for inclusion, sustainability and economic growth and a slew of powerful administration officials addressed the gathering, answered questions and even challenged us to organize and take action. Administration officials included: Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President; Cabinet member Raymond LaHood, Secretary, United States Department of Transportation; Cecilia Munoz, the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs; Pete Rouse, Senior Advisor to the President; and Jon Carson, White House Director of Public Engagement.

And if that wasn’t enough, after the forum, Building ONE America’s founding Executive Director Mike Kruglik was summoned (in the midst of intense debt ceiling talks) to the West Wing to meet with President Obama in the Oval Office.  The two community organizers discussed the Building ONE America event and Mike listed for the President all the states and metropolitan areas that were represented.

This is the first time a conversation like this has occurred at the White House. It's a powerful beginning and a very important conversation about issues vital not only for our communities but for the future of our country, our economy and our environment.

Now it's up to us to follow up and follow through.

Local leaders will be gathering in their regions over the next 4 to 6 weeks to reflect on what they got out of Monday's forum and to begin to plan to advance a similar program in their region with Building ONE America. For example, Georgine Welo, Mayor of South Euclid, Ohio, and Mayor Ted Andrzejewski of Eastlake (Ohio) organized a meeting with David Agnew, deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs with numerous local leaders, as one of dozens of BOA meetings around the country with White House and congressional officials to press case for suburbs, espeically increasingly diverse middle class suburbs. Read the story by clicking here.

From August 14 – 19, Building ONE America will hold its national leadership training, which will provide some of the tools needed to the build on the momentum started on July 18. Each of the metropolitan regions is encouraged to send at least one leader to this training.

If you are interested in participating in the next steps with Building ONE America and the White House, send an email to

Local Elected Leaders Participate in Historic Forum at White House

The issues confronting first suburbs were front and center at a forum held at the White House on July 18 on "First Suburbs, Sustainability, Inclusion and Economic Development."

At this event, organized by Building One America, local leaders joined with prominent members of the administration – including Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Counselor to the President Pete Rouse – as well as national experts, local elected officials and other leaders from 22 metropolitan regions in the United States. Click here to read more details of the historic White House event.

The meeting was co-chaired by Mayor Georgine Welo of South Euclid, Ohio, and Councilman Nathaniel Goodson, Upper Darby Township, Pennsylvania. 

Here is some of the press coverage:

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