Jess Zimbabwe serves as Director of Urban Development at the National League of Cities (NLC) and founding Executive Director of the Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership—a partnership of NLC and the Urban Land Institute. The Center’s flagship program is the Daniel Rose Fellowship for public leaders, which brings the mayors and senior leadership teams of 4 cities together for a year-long program of learning from land use experts, technical assistance, study tours, leadership development, and peer-to-peer exchange. The Rose Center also convenes thought leaders, conducts research, and delivers educational programs on topics of public/private interest in real estate development, design, planning, economic development, and land use strategy.

Previously, Jess was the Director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design. During her time at the Mayors’ Institute, she also served as Vice President for Programs at the American Architectural Foundation, overseeing that organization’s Great Schools by Design program and developing the Sustainable Cities Design Academy. Prior to that, Jess served as the Community Design Director at Urban Ecology, providing pro bono community planning and design assistance to low-income neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jess is a member of the urban planning faculty at Georgetown University. She earned a Master of Architecture and Master of City Planning from UC Berkeley and a B.A. in Architecture from Columbia University. Jess was an Urban and Regional Policy Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, and a Fellow of the Women’s Policy Institute of the Women’s Foundation of California. She served from 2012 to 2017 as Chair of the Board of Directors of Next City, and she holds a mayoral appointment to the Washington, DC Green Building Advisory Council. She is a licensed architect, a certified city planner, and a LEED-Accredited professional.

Recent News