Mayors Rebuild Puerto Rico

On September 20th, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico. Electricity was knocked out across the island and the accumulated damage was widespread and unprecedented. Already burdened with weak physical and economic infrastructure, the island is still struggling to restore basic services and recover from the staggering storm-related death toll, which is in excess of 4,600 lives.


To support those on the front lines of recovery, HR&A has partnered with the Open Society Foundations to design, manage, and execute the Mayor Exchange, a peer exchange and technical assistance program to improve the capacity of and resources available to Puerto Rico’s mayors. Through the exchange, we have matched 14 mayors from the US mainland with 14 Puerto Rican mayors to create a network of support through knowledge sharing and a series of reciprocal visits.


The Exchange also facilitated two day-long technical assistance workshops to build the capacity of Puerto Rico’s mayors and municipal staff on topics such as resiliency planning, fiscal health, and economic development.



HR&A’s is honored to be leading the charge on this work. “We are already making an impact,” says partner and lead of the Inclusive Cities practice, Andrea Batista Schlesinger, “influencing the ways Puerto Rican cities think about resilience, bringing mayors across party lines together for the first time to advocate for their interests, and offering technical assistance that would otherwise be unavailable. It’s work to be proud of, but the needs are so profound that we are but scratching the surface.”


The Exchange is co-chaired Mayor Pedro García Figueroa of Hormigueros, Mayor Javier Jiménez Pérez of San Sebastián, and former Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, whose deep understanding of the important role that mayors play in leading their cities through recoveries from disaster has been an invaluable resource to this program. See below for the list of mayors matched to date.



Puerto Rico Mainland US
José Santiago Rivera, Comerío Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, IL
Roberto Ramírez Kurtz, Cabo Rojo Gary McCarthy, Schenectady, NY
Nelson Torres Yordán, Guayanilla Jorge Elorza, Providence, RI
Ángel Pérez Otero, Guaynabo Tom Tait, Anaheim, CA
Pedro García Figueroa, Hormigueros Mike Duggan, Detroit, MI
Carlos Delgado Altieri, Isabela Stephen Hagerty, Evanston, IL
Julia Nazario, Loíza Rahm Emanuel, Chicago, IL
Jesús Márquez Rodríguez, Luquillo Chris Cabaldon, West Sacramento, CA
Jorge Márquez Pérez, Maunabo Catherine Pugh, Baltimore, MD
María Eloisa Meléndez Altieri, Ponce Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans, LA
Carmen Yulín Cruz, San Juan Jim Kenney, Philadelphia, PA
Javier D. Jiménez Pérez, San Sebastián Mark Stodola, Little Rock, AR
Bernardo Márquez García, Toa Baja Paul Soglin, Madison, WI
Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz, Villalba Ravinder Bhalla, Hoboken, NJ


Interested in learning more about the program? Contact Partner Andrea Batista Schlesinger.