TOPEKA (KSNT) – The mayor of Topeka has been selected to participate in a year-long education and professional development program that aims to improve the city’s leadership capabilities.

Mayor Mike Padilla is one of 40 mayors from around the world chosen to participate in The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative. The initiative wants to help Padilla and the city of Topeka to foster professional growth, advance innovation and deliver results for residents.

The initiative is a collaboration between Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School and Bloomberg Philanthropies to equip mayors and senior city officials with the skills needed to tackle complex challenges and improve their residents’ quality of life.

The initiative aims to close the gap between the amount of money the public and private sectors spend on developing their leadership. According to the initiative, the public sector has no equivalent investment to the more than $42 billion that the private sector invests each year into such development.

Padilla makes up the sixth class of mayors to participate in the initiative which has worked with 428 mayors and 1400 senior city officials in 494 cities worldwide since it launched in 2017. The initiative kicked off Monday, July 18 with the first day of a four-day long meeting in New York City between all of the participating mayors.

“This class brings together a diverse and dynamic group of mayors from across the globe, and we’re glad to welcome them to New York City to kick off the sixth year of the program,” said Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City and founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “With all the urgent shared challenges facing cities, the opportunity for mayors to exchange ideas and learn from one another and experts is more important than ever.”

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative said they are able to help most of the cities they work with each year, with nearly 90 percent of mayors demonstrating measurable improvement in their leadership capabilities as a result of the program.

“Through its City Leadership Initiative, the Bloomberg Center for Cities draws on the expertise of our faculty to strengthen and expand the capabilities of mayors whose work shapes the lives of millions of people,” said Harvard President Larry Bacow. “We are pleased to welcome the sixth class of mayors to Harvard and this cornerstone program, which is generously supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. We look forward to everything they and their colleagues will accomplish together, both in the classroom and in their cities.”