ELGL & UrbanLeap announce the 2020 Innovation Cohort Participants 

Posted on February 19, 2020


ELGL’s Innovation Cohort programs provide cities with the opportunity to tap into the collective energy and intelligence of the ELGL network with the assistance of the UrbanLeap platform. Members form a virtual, across-the-country Innovation Cohort to learn about new solutions, test them and learn from the experiences, and then figure out how to put those solutions into action in their communities. They will also be partnered with a “mentor” from another city  who will assist them and act as a support unit when they hit roadblocks.  

ELGL and UrbanLeap are excited to announce the following participants for the second program cohort, focused on Community & Economic Development: 

Aurora, IL

Michael Pegues was appointed by Mayor Richard C. Irvin as Chief Information Officer for the City of Aurora, Illinois in June 2017.  Most recently Michael was nationally nominated IoT World Series Smart Cities Summit Leader of the Year 2019.  Michael is an Aurora native and graduate of West Aurora High School District 129.  Michael began 

his career working in various IT Support roles for AT&T and Pepsi-Co in the Greater Chicago Area. Michael has worked for the US Department of Defence as a civilian Automation Management Officer at US Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy.In addition, Michael has held various senior IT positions in Hewlett-Packard France, Vodafone Hungary and Morgan Stanley in Budapest, Hungary and New York, New York.  Michael holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from DeVry University and an Executive MBA in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management from Central European University Business School from Budapest, Hungary. Michael is a proud United States Army veteran.

Irving, TX

I’m a Management Analyst II with the City of Irving, where I assist with citywide project management, such as the city’s strategic plan, performance measurement program, and the city’s innovation project. I often facilitate and lead organizational data analytics projects and process reviews through the use of process improvement methodologies. A large part of my overall responsibility is to work with other staff to create and manage plans that help advance smart city initiatives across the organization.

Kansas City, MO


I am Rick Usher, Assistant City Manager for Small Business & Entrepreneurship.  I am a big fan of ELGL – I’ve been on the Traeger List and I am a Knope of the Week Award Winner.  Some of my best ELGL memories are of showing members how to do the Cookingham #CityHallSelfie which is hands free and requires a heavy winter overcoat and fedora.  I am excited to be part of the Urban Leap cohort and look forward to working with this group of cities.


Third City Coalition

Jasmine Leek (she/her/hers) is passionate about community development and civic leadership. Upon returning to her hometown of Stockton, California, in 2014, Jasmine leveraged her background in communications, sales, and customer relations to shift into a fulfilling career in local economic and community development.

In 2016, she founded the nonprofit organization Third City Coalition to improve civic engagement and pride in Stockton. She serves as Managing Director of the organization, heading up a portfolio of urban

 sustainability and civic innovation projects, including a youth leadership development program, a nonprofit resource collaborative, and as a key partner in the City of Stockton’s environmental equity initiative, Rise Stockton.

Together, these organizations will engage in a year-long effort to research potential approaches and solutions; plan and implement an innovation pilot focused on community and economic development; build a capacity plan for future work; and learn with national experts about topics as diverse as budgeting, grant writing, strategic planning, performance management, and more. 

Detailed information about program costs, benefits, deadlines, and more can be found online at https://elgl.org/innovation-cohort/. The third cohort is being developed and will launch in June 2020. Organizations & individuals interested in learning more about the existing and upcoming cohorts can contact Hallee Haygood, ELGL Innovation Projects Coordinator, at [email protected].  

ELGL is a membership organization focused on engaging and educating local government leaders around the world. We have members working in local government in 50 states and six countries, and provide timely, relevant content, education, and networking opportunities to our members.

UrbanLeap is a cloud-based innovation management platform that provides local and regional governments with the data, processes, and tools they need to discover and evaluate innovative solutions to their toughest urban challenges.  It empowers cities to solicit ideas directly from the public and industry, pilot and test out those solutions prior to full-scale adoption, and share results and lessons learned with other like-minded cities and municipalities. 

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