American Cities Rebuilding Conversation Series

October 14, 2021

A collage of many people's portraits with text overlay about American Cities Rebuilding conversation series dates, October 18 to 22, 2021Cities represent much of this nation’s heart and soul, the nerve centers of culture, innovation and economic growth, the homes to immigrants new and old, as well as the communities that write much of America’s storylines, past and future. Since March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and amplified the social, economic and political challenges cities face.

Now, The WNET Group, operator of the NJ PBS network, has set out to examine these challenges and explore solutions for recovery and growth with a five-day virtual conversation series, American Cities Rebuilding 2021. Panel discussions will take place daily, October 18-22, 12-3pm ET, with several featuring prominent New Jerseyans. For an overview of each day’s schedule of panels and guest speakers, please visit the official page for American Cities Rebuilding 2021.

Register today for the free series.

Thought leaders from around the country will share ideas about ways our cities can address issues of economics, healthcare, technology, education, criminal and social justice, arts and culture, housing, immigration, and climate change to emerge as sustainable, more livable, and economically sound. Among the moderators are Christiane Amanpour, Chief International Correspondent for CNN and host of PBS’s Amanpour and Company; Hari Sreenivasan, anchor of PBS NewsHour Weekend and contributor to PBS’ Amanpour and Company; and Neal Shapiro, President and CEO, The WNET Group.

“We are proud to present conversations about the most pressing issues facing our cities and our country today,” said Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of The WNET Group. “The in-depth and solutions-oriented approach to American Cities Rebuilding 2021 is a hallmark of public media journalism. These events will enable our audiences to hear from diverse and dynamic voices and to think critically about the future of our nation.”

New Jersey Participants and Panels

Head shot portraits of two Black men and one white woman. All wear business attire.

L to R: Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, US Senator Cory Booker, and broadcast journalist Mary Alice Williams.

Monday, Oct. 18 at 12:30 p.m. ET

Fireside Chat: Public and Private: A Mayor and His Largest Employer: The Hon. Ras Baraka & United Airlines President Brett Hart interviewed by Walter Isaacson (Amanpour and Co.)

Tuesday, Oct. 19 at 1:51 p.m. ET

Fireside Chat: Newark’s Turnaround Strategy: The Street Team and its Benefactor: Lata N. Reddy, Senior Vice President, Inclusive Solutions, Prudential Financial and Chair, The Prudential Foundation, and Aqeela Sherrills, Director, Newark Community Street Team

Wednesday, Oct. 20 at 12:55 p.m. ET

Fireside Chat: Farming, Nutrition and Food Deserts in the Cities: Cory Booker, US Senator, New Jersey, and David Rosenberg, CEO and Co-Founder, AeroFarms, moderated by Rafael Pi Roman (MetroFocus)

Fireside Chat: Ralph Izzo, Chairman, President and CEO, Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated (PSEG)

Friday, Oct. 22 at 2:35 p.m. ET

Fireside Chat: Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, with Mary Alice Williams (former NJ PBS news anchor)


American Cities Rebuilding 2021 is an extension of the successful American Cities Rebuilding three-day conference in 2020, which was launched by NJ PBS’ news division, NJ Spotlight News, and focused on the New Jersey and New York region. The 2021 events will include expanded coverage to cities in the Midwest, the southwest and the west coast and will feature partnerships with public media stations WTTW/Chicago, Houston Public Media and KCTS 9/Seattle.

American Cities Rebuilding 2021 is a production of The WNET Group.

Major funding for American Cities Rebuilding 2021 is provided by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and United Airlines. Additional support is provided by PSEG and PwC.