Breakout Cities

Meet the Mayors of our Breakout Cities

Read up on the Mayors who will be speaking at our first event in the new series,

Breakout Cities, on October 19th


Hillary Schieve, Mayor,  Reno, NV

CityAge: What was the last project, event, or initiative you worked on, that you were really excited about?

HS: My 1000 homes in 120 days initiative, and the current project of getting the Crisis Now model here in our region.

CityAge: What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

HS: I was a competitive figure skater - competing for the Olympics until I became ill, which required a kidney transplant. 

CityAge: Was there a distinct moment when you first decided to run for Mayor, what was it?

HS: Originally, I was motivated by the City requiring me to pay five thousand dollars to move my business sign by 2 feet. Instead of complaining, I decided to do something about it, and ran for City Council. I was elected as Council At Large and quickly set my sights on becoming Mayor.  

Karen Freeman-Wilson, Former Mayor, Gary, Indiana


CityAge: What was the last project, event, or initiative you worked on, that you were really excited about?

KFW: Legislative change that facilitated the movement of the casino from an industrial area to a more traveled area off a cross country interstate.  This has led to more complete development of the area where the casino is located and laid the groundwork for development of an intermodal that would combine air, rail, trucking and water transportation.

CityAge: What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

KFW: I’m a point guard who still enjoys hitting the court.

CityAge: Was there a distinct moment when you first decided to run for Mayor, what was it?

KFW: I was 7 and had the opportunity to hear our first Black Mayor, Richard Gordon Hatcher, campaign in my parents’ basement.  He talked about his desire to help residents in our city and I was inspired to be like him when I grew up.

CityAge: If you didn’t have your current career, what would you be doing instead?  

KFW: I’d be a member of the judiciary at the municipal or trial level, or an Uber driver.

Sarah McLean, Mayor, Boise ID

CityAge:  What was the last project, event, or initiative you worked on, that you were really excited about? 

 SM: The Climate Action Roadmap, our city’s plan for climate action. It will inform our community's journey to being carbon neutral by 2050. This roadmap will help us enhance both our resilience and our ability to adapt to the changes our region will experience from climate change. 

CityAge: What’s one thing about you that would surprise people? 

 SM: I seek out any chance to eat french fries I can find. Or tots. Or here in Idaho, some of them are called gems. 

CityAge: If you didn’t have your current career, what would you be doing instead?   

 SM: I might be a fighter pilot. I took a ride in an F15e with the Air Force stationed just down the road. I’m told it can be a scary experience for some, but I found it exciting and exhilarating while terrifying. I’d do it every day if I could. 

Christopher Cabaldon, Former Mayor, West Sacramento, CA

 CityAge: What was the last project, event, or initiative you worked on, that you were really excited about?

CC: We were the first city in the nation to send a letter of college admission and scholarship to every graduating high school senior, an initiative we launched as COVID took away the pomp and circumstance of graduation ceremonies.

CityAge: What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

CC: I played Oboe in the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic Orchestra as a teen, which turns out to be excellent city preparation for understanding how individuals work in concert to achieve something transcendent.

CityAge: Was there a distinct moment when you first decided to run for Mayor, what was it?

CC: I had ideas and visions, but what pushed me over the edge to run for city council first was much more mundane and typical: a city staff proposal to block off the collector street from my house to my office, and create a cul-de-sac that would wreck my daily commute.

Van R. Johnson, Mayor, Savannah GA

CityAge: What was the last project, event, or initiative you worked on, that you were really excited about?

VJ: ​​I am really excited about the work of the City’s Tasks Forces that I have created and appointed since taking office in January 2020.  The 11 Task Forces to date were created to intentionally bring people to Savannah’s table and ensure that the many voices of Savannah were being heard. From the faith community, to the business community, from LGBTQ+ to Latinx, to those returning home from jails and prisons to those who need better access through visual, auditory, physical, accommodations from our labor community, to our business community. We are committed to being more equitable and more inclusive.

 CityAge: What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

 VJ: People would be surprised that in essence, I am actually somewhat introverted, and a loner.

CityAge: Was there a distinct moment when you first decided to run for Mayor, what was it?

 VJ: I distinctly remember late in 2018, after some very contentious discussions about a regressive fire fee and some economic decisions that were adversely affecting our citizens, I made the decision that I was the most qualified and most prepared to serve our City at this critical time.

 CityAge: If you didn’t have your current career, what would you be doing instead?   

 VJ: If I did not have my current career, I think I would be a high school government teacher and revert back to being a law enforcement officer.

Madeline Rogero, Former Mayor, Knoxville TN:

CityAge: What was the last project, event, or initiative you worked on, that you were really excited about?


MR: As Mayor, we had many exciting projects, so here are a few examples:  aggressively expanded our affordable housing stock, exceeded our sustainability goals (and then set new, even more ambitious goals), supported multiple youth-serving initiatives such as building the Change Center (a multi-use facility, job center, and skating rink) to create opportunities and decrease violence affecting our kids, and stopped a state road-project in order to preserve and properly develop a 1,000 acre “Urban Wilderness” for the community to enjoy.

CityAge: What’s one thing about you that would surprise people?

MR: I’m a beekeeper.  My family has been beekeeping for some 17 years.

CityAge: Was there a distinct moment when you first decided to run for Mayor, what was it?

MR: There was no distinct moment. It was a gradual decision-making process after many years of community/civic involvement, a master’s degree in city planning, and eight years as an elected Knox County Commissioner.


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