As COVID-19 continues to spread across the globe, cities are faced with unprecedented challenges. The ACG will host a series of conversations with ACG program alumni and other experts, who work at the local level, on how local communities are confronting the myriad challenges posed by the pandemic.
Join us for the first conversation on Friday, April 24, at 10:00 am ET with representatives from Cleveland, Heidelberg, Knoxville, and Leipzig on the impact of COVID-19 on cities in Germany and the United States. Speakers include Tobias David, Chief of Staff for the Lord Mayor, City of Leipzig; Blaine Griffin, City Council Member, City of Cleveland; Irmintraud Jost, Head of Science and Communication Division of the Office of Economic Development, City of Heidelberg; and Stephanie Welch, Deputy to the Mayor and Chief of Economic and Community Development, City of Knoxville.
To register for this discussion, please click here.
Tobias David grew up in Leipzig (in the former GDR/East Germany) and spent most of his school years under the conditions of the GDR dictatorship. Even as a teenager he was involved in opposition groups under the protection of the Catholic Church and became politically active early on. The Peaceful Revolution of 1989, driven by the peace and civil rights movement, had a lasting impact on his life. After studying political science and communications, he worked for many years as Managing Director of a communications agency. In 2004, he moved to the Saxon State Parliament as Advisor to the Vice-President. Since 2008, Mr. David has been the closest strategic advisor to the Mayor of the City of Leipzig. He was a participant in the ACG’s McCloy Leadership Mission on Urban Affairs and Sustainability in 2016. The Peaceful Revolution of 1989 — which ultimately led to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany — began in Leipzig. Today Leipzig is not only one of the largest cities in Germany but also the fastest-growing German city.
Blaine A. Griffin is a Cleveland City Council Member for the racially and economically diverse Ward 6 area of the City of Cleveland. He serves as the Majority Whip on the Council Leadership Team and he is the Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. He serves on the Finance, Safety, Operations and Workforce and Community Benefits Agreement Committees. Mr. Griffin is the former Executive Director of the Community Relations Board for the City of Cleveland, a cabinet role for the Mayor of the City of Cleveland. He serves on many boards and committees including the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Association (NOACA) focused on roads and infrastructure, Doan Brook Watershed Committee and the United Way of Greater Cleveland Equity and Inclusion Committee. Mr. Griffin received a B.A. in Communications from Malone College in Canton, Ohio.
Irmintraud Jost is the Head of Science and Communication Division of the Office of Economic Development for the City of Heidelberg. Prior to joining the city administration in September 2019, Ms. Jost worked in the field of international higher education and research for more than a decade. After studying at the Free University of Berlin and holding journalistic and editorial positions in Hamburg, Berlin and London, Jost moved to New York City and served as the New York Bureau Chief and U.S. Correspondent for Axel Springer Foreign News Service. The founding of her own communications firm and her consulting work for companies and organizations in the U.S. and Europe led to joint projects with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and many other academic and cultural institutions. In order to strengthen the cooperation and exchange between German universities and colleges with partners in the United States, Ms. Jost established several foreign offices of German institutions. From 2008 until 2019, she headed the New York liaison office of the University of Heidelberg.
Stephanie Welch serves as the Deputy to the Mayor and Chief of Economic and Community Development for the City of Knoxville. For more than two decades, Ms. Welch has worked to build strong, healthy and educated communities in Knoxville and East Tennessee. Her career began in public health, with a focus on community engagement and strategic planning to promote healthy eating, active living and health equity. From 2013 to 2019, she worked as a VP and then President of Great Schools Partnership, a non-profit that works closely in support of Knox County Schools. Ms. Welch has served in the U.S. Army Reserves for 19 years and holds the rank of Major and is the Executive Officer for a medical unit in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 2017, she was elected to serve Knoxville’s First District for a term of four years on city council. As a first-time elected official, she worked to continue the positive momentum underway in Knoxville to ensure strong neighborhoods, healthy investment and value for diversity. In February 2020, she assumed her current role. Originally from New Hampshire, Ms. Welch moved to Knoxville in 1995 to attend the University of Tennessee to earn a dual master’s degree in Public Health and Nutrition.