Catherine smiling at the camera
Catherine Neill, PLC Alumna 2021

Catherine Neill has been interested in city systems and how people relate to their environment for practically her entire life.

 “Growing up in Ireland, my family moved around quite a bit. So from a very young age, I realized how much where you live affects your opportunities, everything  from where you work to where you send your kids to school. ”

Today, Catherine is as an urban planner in Vancouver, working on that city’s first comprehensive plan for transformative growth. And while she has always had a deep appreciation for the importance of equitable housing, it was Harvard’s Public Leadership Credential (PLC) that really inspired Catherine to take action and help make that happen.

 “The opportunity the PLC gave me to engage with changemakers from all over the world who were impacting areas like public education, health, and safety encouraged me to step up and co-found an organization called Peer City Convening: an online forum of urban planning practitioners who meet to generate new approaches to improving affordable housing access for vulnerable communities across North America.”

Of course, Catherine didn’t enroll in her first PLC course with that goal in mind. She found the convenient, self-paced format of each course and the opportunity to learn online at the renowned Harvard Kennedy School of Government too good to pass up.

“The great thing about the program is that you don’t have to apply or take the GMAT. You can just register, try out one course, decide if you like it, and keep going from there.”

Harvard’s Public Leadership Credential consists of six (6) six-week courses in three curricular areas, plus the Capstone, with tuition just $995 per course. Since it was first introduced in 2018, the program has welcomed nearly 2,500 learners from over 121 countries.

“I’m always looking for ways to improve myself, be more effective and help government operate more effectively, too. The policy analysis, group facilitation and leadership skills I acquired in the program had an immediate impact on my ability to scale the Peer City Convening organization from three cities to 14 and move the dial on affordable housing policies. Because of the PLC, I’m not just building cities. I’m building movements.”