Cities of Service Strengthens Citizen Engagement in Detroit, Miami, and Phoenix

August 17, 2016

NEW YORKAug. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Cities of Service creates the opportunity for government to better engage its citizens. Based on several years of testing approaches, Cities of Service has identified the greatest indicator of successful citizen engagement in a city to be the presence of a strong leader. Specifically, this strong leader – called the Chief Service Officer – is a senior level administration staff member who plans, directs, coordinates, and evaluates the implementation of comprehensive, citywide service plans that engage citizen volunteers in communities where they can have significant impact.

With $450,000 in support from JPMorgan Chase, Cities of Service is establishing a new cohort of Chief Service Officers in three major US cities. After a competitive application process, Cities of Service chose MiamiPhoenix, and Detroit to each receive up to $100,000 in grant funding along with consulting services and other support from Cities of Service. The selected Chief Service Officers for each city are: Michael Hammett in PhoenixVictoria Kovari in Detroit, and Raul Hernandez in Miami.

The Chief Service Officer role is a champion for citizen volunteers, a voice for the mayor, a partner to city agencies, and a conduit for businesses and community groups. It is instrumental in building the city’s capacity to address its most pressing challenges. This model has been proven in multiple cities, including in Orlando, Florida. With funding from a Cities of Service Leadership Grant in 2010, Orlando hired the city’s first Chief Service Officer, Marcia Hope Goodwin. Under Marcia’s leadership, the city completed a service plan and launched Orlando Cares, which features six volunteer programs developed with community input. After the Cities of Service Leadership Grant concluded, the city sustained Orlando Cares programs and staff – including Marcia Hope Goodwin as Chief Service Officer – through the city budget and sponsorship support. Since 2011, these programs have resulted in more than 6,310 youth served, over 2,200 volunteers engaged, and more than 35 community partnerships.

“Chief Service Officers are force multipliers, forging relationships and engaging partners across sectors to help local government address their city’s most pressing problems,” said Cities of Service Executive Director Myung J. Lee. “The support from JPMorgan Chase will enable us to help DetroitMiami, and Phoenix partner with residents to tackle some of their cities’ major challenges, including hunger, school success, and urban blight.”

Michael, Victoria, and Raul came together for the first time from June 6-8 at the Cities of Service 2016 Annual Convening in New York City to share ideas, learn from other Cities of Service coalition cities, and make plans to work with each other over the next year.

“I am honored to serve in this role and to be supported with resources, technical assistance, and people power from Cities of Service and my fellow Chief Service Officers,” said Phoenix Chief Service Officer Michael Hammett. “I can’t wait to get back to Phoenix and get to work!”

“Cities offer the greatest potential to drive economic growth and innovative solutions to large scale challenges,” said JPMorgan Chase Head of Global Philanthropy Karen Keogh. “Through Cities of Service, DetroitMiami, and Phoenix are providing strategies necessary to rally the community around ways to create greater economic opportunity. JPMorgan Chase is proud to provide Cities of Service with support that helps these cities create a meaningful and sustainable impact.”

In Detroit, Chief Service Officer Victoria Kovari will leverage the strength of the Department of Neighborhoods to coordinate all community engagement and volunteering activities in the city, aiming to reduce blight and prevent crime. She will lead the city’s efforts to further engage Detroit’s citizens, including partnering with neighborhood leaders, clergy, youth, educators, and small business owners to determine which volunteering initiatives will have the greatest positive impact on quality of life in the city.

In Miami, Chief Service Officer Raul Hernandez will coordinate local volunteer initiatives and synchronize these efforts with the city’s strategic plan. He will help enhance the volunteering structure and improve the social fabric of the city through issue areas including: public safety, clean and beautiful neighborhoods, growth and development, education and economic access, culture and recreation, and efficient and effective government.

In PhoenixChief Service Officer Michael Hammett will expand strategic volunteer engagement throughout city departments, in partnership with nonprofits, higher education, corporations, and foundations. He will identify resources across sectors to strengthen volunteering initiatives and support the mayor’s vision for a more resilient economy and urban core, better quality schools, and improved veteran engagement.

About Cities of Service

Founded in September 2009 in New York City by New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 16 other mayors from across the nation, Cities of Service is a national nonprofit organization that supports mayors and city chief executives in their efforts to engage local communities and residents, identify challenges, and solve problems together. Today, the Cities of Service coalition is comprised of over 215 cities in the US and UK, representing nearly 55 million people in 45 states, and more than 10 million people in the UK. Cities of Service works with cities to build city-led, citizen-powered initiatives that target specific needs, achieve long-term and measurable outcomes, improve the quality of life for residents, and build stronger cities. To find out more about Cities of Service, visit our website at, like us on Facebook at, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @CitiesofService.