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Commencement 2013 Speakers

Booker is presently serving in his second term as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city. Elected with a clear mandate for change, Booker began work on realizing a bold vision for the city. Newark’s mission is to set a national standard for urban transformation by marshalling its resources to achieve security, economic abundance and an environment that is nurturing and empowering for individuals and families.

Booker and his administration, together with the city’s residents, have made meaningful strides towards achieving the city’s mission by tackling significant challenges with innovation, new coalitions, creative public private partnerships and building on the already existing great foundation in New Jersey’s most historic city.

Booker and his team have more than doubled the rate of affordable housing production; created Newark’s largest expansion of parks and recreation spaces in more than a century with nearly 50 acres of new or refurbished parks; and brought more than $1 billion of new economic development into the city (including the first new hotels under construction in Newark’s downtown in 40 years and the first new office tower under construction in 20 years). Business attraction has also been a focus for Booker and his team – they have attracted new large businesses (including Panasonic, Manishewitz, and audible.com) to relocate their national and international headquarters to Newark and, through the city’s economic development corporation, created a small and midsize business loan fund that has helped more than 50 businesses start or expand. Booker has also attracted national attention for his education reform efforts – already succeeding in significantly expanding high quality public education options for families and leading in the creation of new, strong educational and career development opportunities for Newark’s disaffected youth.

Recognizing the dignity, worth and limitless potential of all people, Booker has led in the creation of an innovative network of resources and programs for men and women returning home from incarceration, dramatically driving down recidivism rates for those involved. He and his team have established other initiatives for youth and families including New Jersey’s first youth and community courts and a consortium of grassroots financial and family empowerment centers, known as Family Success Centers, in 14 neighborhoods throughout the city. Family Success Centers connect families to a variety of services and resources such as health care enrollment assistance, drug and alcohol treatment programs, parenting workshops, and food pantry facilities.

Booker has also gained wide attention for his implementation and usage of new technologies ranging from creating New Jersey’s largest wireless network of crime fighting technology (including cameras and gunshot detection) to raising the bar on customer service using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

Under Booker’s leadership, Newark is becoming recognized as one of America’s rising cities of hope and promise. Booker’s accomplishments have been recognized by numerous magazines and other media outlets, including being named to the 2011 TIME 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Booker received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford University, a bachelor of art in modern history at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and completed his law degree at Yale University. He has often been known to say that he got his B.A. from Stanford but thanks to a great city, he received his best education from the people of Newark, New Jersey.

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