April 16, 2015

Tonight's 2015 Global Leadership Awards Gala given by Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) will honor three figures who exemplify the important connection between the study and practice of policymaking.

This year’s honorees are Citi and Edward Skyler, executive vice president for global public affairs at Citi; Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles (and a 1995 MIA graduate of SIPA); and Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Now in its 15th year, SIPA’s Global Leadership Awards Gala honors individuals who, through their work in public policy and administration, have made innovative or otherwise extraordinary contributions to the global public good. This year’s event recognizes contributions, in particular, in the area of city governance and development. Honorees exemplify the values and qualities that SIPA strives to instill in its students.

Proceeds raised via the annual awards ceremony also provide critical fellowship support for the next generation of global citizens and public policy leaders. Half of the School’s 1,200 students hail from outside the United States.

The ceremony will be held at the Waldorf Astoria, located at 301 Park Avenue in New York City.

About the honorees:

Edward Skyler is the executive vice president for global public affairs at Citi, a position he has held since joining the company in May 2010. Reporting directly to the CEO, Skyler oversees communications, government affairs, branding, sponsorships, corporate citizenship, sustainability, and the Citi Foundation. He also shares leadership of Investor Relations.

Under Skyler’s guidance, Citi has introduced a series of initiatives designed to support the growth of cities around the world. In 2014, the Citi Foundation launched Pathways to Progress, a three-year, $50 million campaign to provide the skills, experience, and education needed for low-income youth in ten U.S. cities to compete in the 21st-century job market, as well as the City Accelerator, an initiative that helps cities catalyze promising innovations and share successful ideas. Citi became the proud sponsor of Citi Bike in New York City and Miami, innovative transportation programs which promote sustainability and quality of life. Skyler serves on the Steering Committee of Citi for Cities, a firm-wide initiative to identify and implement innovative solutions that help cities thrive during a period of unprecedented urban transformation.

Prior to joining Citi, Skyler served as a member of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration from 2002 to 2010, rising to the position of deputy mayor for operations for the City of New York. In that capacity, he oversaw the performance of the city’s main operational agencies and served as a top budget, legislative, and labor negotiator. Skyler oversaw four consecutive balanced and on-time city budgets; negotiated legislation to reform lobbying and “pay-to-play” practices; and spearheaded critical initiatives such as the city’s sustainability agenda.

Before joining the Bloomberg administration, he worked in the corporate communications group of Bloomberg LP. He also served as deputy press secretary to Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and public information director at the Department of Parks & Recreation.

Skyler has stayed involved in civic life and now serves as chairman of the Citizens Budget Commission. He is also an executive committee member of the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund and is a trustee of the Paley Center for Media.

Skyler graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Fordham University’s School of Law.

Eric Garcetti MIA ’95 is the 42nd mayor of Los Angeles. His “back to basics” agenda is focused on job creation and solving everyday problems for L.A. residents.

Garcetti was elected four times by his peers to serve as president of the Los Angeles city council from 2006 to 2012. From 2001 until taking office as mayor, he served as the council member representing the 13th District, which includes Hollywood, Echo Park, Silver Lake, and Atwater Village—all of which were dramatically revitalized under Garcetti's leadership.

Garcetti was raised in the San Fernando Valley and earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Columbia University. He studied as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford and the London School of Economics and taught at Occidental College and USC. A fourth generation Angeleno, he and his wife, Amy Elaine Wakeland, have a young daughter. He is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy reserve and is an avid jazz pianist and photographer.

Eduardo Paes is the mayor of Rio de Janeiro. Having graduated in law, Paes has dedicated most of his professional life to the city of Rio de Janeiro. In the early 1990s he was the head of Rio de Janeiro’s borough of the West Zone and went on to represent Rio as a congressman in Brasilia for eight years. In 2008, Paes was elected mayor of Rio de Janeiro, a city that is experiencing a positive new era of social and economic development, something that was confirmed when it won the right to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Paes’s mission as mayor is to ensure that the current renaissance creates a positive legacy of improved quality of life for all Rio’s citizens. In order to do so, he has built a comprehensive strategy that contains programs such as Porto Maravilha (revitalisation of the entire port area, including the creation of a Light Rail Vehicle system), Morar Carioca (urbanization of all favelas in Rio), the Rio Operations Centre (a nerve center that monitors all municipal logistics), the establishment of the BRT system (four express corridors for articulated buses that will connect the whole city), and Fábrica de Escolas (aimed to increase full-time education for Rio’s students). Some of these efforts have already been internationally recognized when the city of Rio won the 2013 World Smart City Award in Barcelona and the 2015 Sustainable Transport Award in Washington, among other prizes. His administration was also approved by Rio’s residents in 2012, when Paes was re-elected mayor with 64 percent of the votes.

At the end of 2013, he was announced as the new chair of the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40). C40 is an entity that gathers the major global cities of the world to exchange solutions for a sustainable future. Paes took office in February 2014 at the Mayor’s Summit in Johannesburg.

Two students who exemplify the qualities and achievements that SIPA seeks to embody will also speak: Rina Lila MIA ’15 and Angel Vazquez MPA ’15.

For more information contact Marcus Tonti at 212-851-1818 or mat2120@columbia.edu.