The First Cohort of Israeli Mayors Completes TAU’s Leadership Program

The pioneering Bloomberg-Sagol City Leadership initiative strengthens Israel from the local level up
30 July 2023
The first cohort of the Bloomberg-Sagol Initiative graduates
The first cohort of the Bloomberg-Sagol Initiative graduates (photo: Idan Canfi)

Inspired by the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, a vanguard, one-year program at Tel Aviv University’s Bloomberg-Sagol Center for City Leadership was launched last year to help mayors of cities across Israel – north and south, large and small – to deliver better and more equitable public services to residents, strengthen social bonds, and deepen ties to the global community of innovative city leaders. Significant thought was given to diversifying the program's participants so that all sectors are represented: Jews, Arabs, Druze, women and men, secular, religious, and ultra-Orthodox, from both rural and urban areas. 


Israel has 257 cities and towns with mayors. Each annual class of the City Leadership Program accommodates 20 participants, who in turn invite two key members of their municipal team to attend as well. The intensive executive education and training program equips them with the tools and skills needed to enhance residents’ quality of life.


Local Leadership at Its Best


Israel Gal, the mayor of Kiryat Ono, is known for his open-door policy and unwavering assistance in stepping in and helping wherever necessary. He was recently awarded the highest honor from Magen David Adom (Israel's national emergency services) for his ceaseless work to benefit the health of Israeli citizens during the pandemic. 



Gal is turning the once-sleepy town of Kiryat Ono into an economically independent and commercially vibrant city with much to offer. He wholeheartedly agrees that the program is exactly what mayors need to make a true impact. 



“Kiryat Ono has undergone a leap forward in recent years and the number of residents has increased significantly. TAU is the place where I can make sure that I have the appropriate tools and the most comprehensive knowledge to meet the needs of a large and progressive city,” he said. “For me, the program is designed to prepare cities for national and international development and stimulate the vision to provide better services …We have the power to influence governance in Israel with the help of peer learning and joint development.”


Oshrat Gani Gonen, Head of the South Sharon Regional Council, and Israel Gal, the Mayor of Kiryat Ono (photo: TAU Review)


Oshrat Gani Gonen, Head of the South Sharon Regional Council, feels the program has already had a positive influence on her capabilities and output and is thrilled to be able to initiate more innovation in local government. Gani Gonen has worked in the fields of community service, municipality management, and human resources for decades. 


“So far, the program has improved my managerial negotiations and ability to assess priorities and organizational processes,” she said. “The parallel course for senior city executives is very important in establishing a uniform language for connecting and synchronizing between the heads of local authorities and their top managers.”  



A Big First 

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who visited TAU to kick off the program, said: “The Bloomberg-Sagol Center builds on all the work Bloomberg Philanthropies is doing to help local leaders around the world innovate, lead effectively, and share ideas for tackling complex problems. 



Cofounder of the Bloomberg-Sagol Center and TAU Governor Yossi Sagol, who is Chairman of Sagol Holdings Corporation, began working with Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2018 to develop the Israel-based program in order to strengthen the country from the local level up. 



The Center was established at TAU’s Coller School of Management and is led by Prof. Moshe Zviran, former Dean of the School, who serves as the Head of the Center and the Academic Director of the Program. The mayors concluded the year with additional training and networking hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Harvard University in New York City and Boston.



The first class of the City Leadership Program included: Ran Konik, Mayor of Givatayim; Itzik Danino, Mayor of Ofakim;Samir Mahamid, Mayor of Umm al-Fahm; Rotem Yadlin, Head of the Gezer Regional Council; Liat Shochat, Mayor of Or Yehuda Municipality; Israel Gantz, Head of the Benjamin Regional Council; Israel Gal, Mayor of Kiryat Ono; Tzvika Brot, Mayor of Bat-Yam; Avraham Rubinstein, Mayor of Bnei Barak; Abed Elaziz Nasasara, Head of the Local Council of Kseifa; Israel Parosh, Mayor of Elad; Oshrat Gani Gonen, Head of the South Sharon Regional Council; Moshe Fadlon, Mayor of Herzliya;  Shoshi Kahlon Kidor, Mayor of Kfar Yona; Niv Wiesel, Head of the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council; Moshe Koninski, Mayor of Karmiel; Rafik Halabi, head of the Dalit El-Karmel Local Council; Nissan Ben Hamo, Mayor of Arad; Shay Hajaj, Head of the Merhavim Regional Council; and Yaala Maklis, Mayor of Yehud-Monoson.



-By Elianna Bar-El, TAU Review




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