Neil Kleiman

Neil Kleiman
Neil Kleiman

Director  / NYU Wagner Innovation Labs


Neil Kleiman has spent nearly 20 years building a career at the intersection of many sectors—policy, media, philanthropy, government and academia. He has established new organizations and divisions within organizations focused on developing innovative and practical policy solutions. Neil has written and edited over thirty policy reports and his work has been featured in many media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week and National Public Radio.

Neil is a professor of practice and teaches graduate-level course on policy development, urban innovation and new approaches to technology and big data. As Director of the Labs he helps to create new vehicles focused on urban innovation nationally and globally. Neil has established the first set of initiatives including projects with Bloomberg Philanthropies, federal agencies in the Obama administration and the New Cities Foundation.

Beginning in 2013, Neil began serving as Deputy Executive Director of Policy, Research, and Evaluation for the National Resource Network. Funded with $10 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Network is a new program that leverages the expertise, partnerships, and resources of the public and private sectors to help cities comprehensively tackle their most pressing challenges. Neil manages the Network’s public policy, research, and evaluation activities. He also plays a key role in the Network’s R&D on new initiatives and outreach to strategic partners.

Neil was most recently the Director of Policy and Research at Living Cities, a collaborative of the nation's largest foundations and corporate philanthropies, where he was responsible for developing and advancing the organization's policy agenda. In this capacity he produced reports on environmental sustainability, home foreclosure and public/private partnerships. In 2008, in partnership with the Kennedy School at Harvard University, he helped to create the Project on Municipal Innovation, which is currently the only forum in the country where mayoral advisors meet to learn about and begin implementing innovative policy reforms.

Neil began his career as the founding director of the Center for an Urban Future, a New York City-based think tank whose work is consistently cited in local media outlets. The group has been the source of transition ideas for numerous mayoral and gubernatorial candidates and administrations, and is widely credited with providing the framework for new approaches to local governance including: a more comprehensive cultural strategy; the merger of workforce and economic development functions; and an enhanced tech-focused approach to job growth.

Neil has a particular interest in working directly with higher education; aiming to understand these complex institutions and how they can better support public sector goals. In a 2000 article published in the American Behavioral Scientist, he assessed the economic benefits of state higher education systems in Texas, North Carolina and California. At the Center for an Urban Future, he wrote a series of reports about the City University of New York’s economic development and K-12 partnership programs. These were credited by trustees, college presidents and the university chancellor with better framing these issues for the system and accelerating CUNY’s efforts.

In 2013, Neil was asked to be an evaluator for the Harvard University Innovations In Government program.

Neil holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He has taught urban politics at Barnard College and John Jay College-CUNY and been a visiting fellow at Williams College.

Neil is on the board of Next City and Civic Consulting USA.