Building a Future City for All

P4 Conference

Pittsburgh’s third annual p4 conference, hosted by The City of Pittsburgh and the Heinz Endowments, kicked off on the evening of April 25th and continued through April 26th with this year’s theme of “Future City.”

The importance of the conference was demonstrated by one of its first keynote speakers, Julián Castro, former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: “connect the dots,” he said. “policymaking has ramifications across sectors, and working in silos is antithetical to the bigger picture.” His words rung out to the government officials, nonprofit executives, educators, and civilians in the audience before him.

Julian Castro at P4 Conference

Julián’s words rang particularly true to The Global Switchboard as we reflect on our network, and our dedication to amplifying voices to find inclusive solutions to critical issues. The overall theme of the conference complements the ongoing work of The Global Switchboard.

In March 2018 The Global Switchboard kicked off a convening series with leaders within two global engagement focus areas — (1) global education and (2) immigrant and refugee inclusion — to help us understand the challenges in these focus areas that are going unaddressed and require cross-sector, collaborative solutions.

As an organization we are building up to having these conversations across other relevant areas of global engagement in the Pittsburgh region, including: Sustainable Development, Cultural Diversity & Exchange, and Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Together we believe Pittsburgh can work towards:

  1. Full inclusion of the region’s immigrant and refugee community in civic life.
  2. Equitable access to global education opportunities.
  3. Broad celebration of cultural diversity and exchange.
  4. Critical concern for world-wide health and well-being.
  5. Ethical, responsible, and inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship.


The conference was full of many more great takeaways, including Nikki Fortunato Bas, of Partnership for Working Families, who emphasized the importance of one-on-one conversations in community organizing, Andre Perry, of the Brookings Institute, who stressed the importance of investing in people, not places, and Bruce Katz, author of The New Localism, who explained that top-down decision making will never be able to keep up with on-the-ground change.

Did you attend p4? What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you!

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