The Center for an Urban Future is a NYC-based think tank dedicated to highlighting the critical opportunities and challenges facing New York and other cities, and providing fresh ideas and workable solutions to policymakers. The Center’s primary focus is on growing and diversifying the local economy, expanding economic opportunity and targeting problems facing low-income and working-class neighborhoods. We consistently elevate important, but long overlooked, issues onto the radar of public officials—and we push policymakers to think differently about economic and workforce development.

The Center does this through publishing fact-based research reports that are accessible to a wide audience and holding high-profile policy forums.

Center for an Urban Future’s parent organization is City Futures, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3). EIN: 13-3185114.


Jonathan Bowles  |  Executive Director  |  212.479.3347 |  jbowles@nycfuture.org

Jonathan Bowles is the Executive Director of the Center for an Urban Future, a Manhattan-based think tank dedicated to independent research about key policy issues facing New York and other cities. During his 12 years at the Center, he has been the architect of the policy agenda for the Center and is responsible for making it one of New York's most innovative and influential organizations and one in which its policy ideas are well-respected and widely used by policymakers, business leaders, and nonprofit practitioners.

At the Center, Jonathan has authored more than two-dozen reports, including a widely acclaimed 2007 study about the significant impact immigrant entrepreneurs are having on cities' economies, an influential study about New York City's innovation economy and a report about how to retain and grow New York's middle class. He has been asked to be a guest contributor for the New York Times, the Daily News and The Council on Foreign Relations on a range of urban issues including New York City's need to diversify its economy and immigrant entrepreneurs. His research about key economic trends facing New York and its five boroughs, the value of small businesses to cities, and the economic impact of industries ranging from air cargo to biotechnology has been covered in publications ranging from the New York Times and USA Today to The Economist. Jonathan is a frequent moderator and speaker at conferences and panel discussions on urban policy in New York and nationally.

In November 2008, the New York Times' City Room blog featured him in their "Ask the Expert" column, in which he fielded questions from readers for one week about the challenges facing immigrant entrepreneurs. He served on Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's Small Business Task Force in 2008 to examine the threats facing mom and pop retailers in the borough. In 2006, City Hall News named him one of 35 "Rising Stars Under 40" and in 2005, Time Out New York named him "New York's Finest Troublemaker."

Before joining the Center, he worked as research director for former New York State Senator Franz Leichter and spent time as a freelance journalist.



Ahmad Dowla  |  Deputy Director  |  212.479.3319 |  adowla@nycfuture.org

Ahmad Dowla has been with the Center for an Urban Future since 2006 and now serves as its Deputy Director. In this role, he manages the Center's various projects and oversees development, communications and implementation of organizational strategies, policies and practices. He is also the developer behind the Center's website and the designer behind Center publications and materials. He attended the Bronx High School of Science and CUNY Hunter. Ahmad currently lives in Queens.



Jeanette Estima  |  Research Associate  |  212.479.3351 |  jestima@nycfuture.org

Jeanette Estima is a Research Associate for the Center for an Urban Future. She comes to the Center with a diverse background that is tied together by her love of analysis and interest in social justice. She previously worked as the Morgan Stanley/ANHD Community Development Fellow based at WHEDco in the South Bronx, where she did research and pre-development planning on affordable housing for elder musicians as well as research on the Bronx Music Heritage Center and access to healthy food. While completing her MS in Urban Policy Analysis and Management at The New School, she directed her studies with client-based projects in community and economic development and social policy. Prior to that, she wrote proposals and managed grants at Amnesty International USA, and managed membership for Lambda Legal. Before joining the non-profit sector, Jeanette completed graduate work in Philosophy at the University of Virginia, where she researched and taught in the areas of consciousness and ethics. Jeanette received her BA in Philosophy from Bard College. She lives in Brooklyn, where there is usually something growing on the fire escape and something cooking in the kitchen.



David Jason Fischer  |  Senior Fellow, Workforce Development  | dfischer@nycfuture.org

David Fischer is Senior Workforce Fellow at the Center for an Urban Future, returning to CUF after four years in city government. Most recently, he served three years with the NYC Department of Education, managing a portfolio of over 400 career and technical education programs preparing students for postsecondary education and employment in virtually every sector of the local economy. At DOE, he designed and implemented new program models blending education and work experience, strengthened linkages between classroom and workplace, and tied development of new CTE schools and programs to current and projected labor market demand. He previously served at the NYC Department of Small Business Services, where he led development of the “One System for One City” reports, helped design workforce collaboration projects including the CTE-focused “Scholars at Work” partnership between SBS and DOE, and co-led a strategic revamp of SBS training investments. From 2000 through 2010, David was CUF’s director of workforce development and social policy, authoring reports on the demographic transformation of the NYC workforce, ongoing reforms to city job training and placement initiatives, local and state policies that impact working poor New Yorkers, and the potential of CTE to prepare students for careers in high-demand sectors, among other subjects. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two large cats.



Adam Forman  |  Research & Communications Associate  |  212.479.3352 |  aforman@nycfuture.org

Adam Forman is a Research Associate for the Center for an Urban Future. He has interned at the Public Advocate’s Office and worked in tax and trade consulting and as a freelance writer. His work has been published in the New York Daily News, New York Post and an assortment of internet blogs. He received his BA from Colgate University in economics and an MA in political science from the University of Washington. He specializes in economic development and urban planning. Adam currently lives in Brooklyn.



David Giles  |  Research Director  |  212.479.3353 |  dgiles@nycfuture.org

David Giles is the Center for an Urban Future's Research Director. During his six years at the Center, Giles has authored over a dozen reports and managed and edited over a dozen others. His work has covered issues in economic development, workforce development, community development and transportation. His research on New York City's public libraries has helped set a citywide agenda for better leveraging these assets in today's information economy. His work on the city's growing and underappreciated applied arts sector led to the creation of New York's first citywide, multidisciplinary design festival as well as other programs that support entrepreneurship among designers. As the author of a widely covered report on transportation and the working poor, he has also written about the growing challenges many commuters are having accessing jobs outside of Manhattan. Giles has testified before New York City Council, the State Assembly and the MTA's Transportation Reinvention Commission and appeared as a panelist or moderator at a wide variety of policy events and conferences. His reports and op-eds have appeared in local and national media outlets including The New York Times, New York Daily News, National Public Radio and NY1. He lives in Queens with his wife and two children.



Christian González-Rivera  |  Research Associate  |  212.479.3341 |  cgr@nycfuture.org

Christian González-Rivera is a research associate at the Center for an Urban Future, where he primarily works on workforce development policy, and has authored a study on older immigrants in New York City. Before coming to CUF he worked at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at New York University, and spent four years as the research manager at the Greenlining Institute in Berkeley, California, where he authored and supported research on housing, philanthropy, diversity in the healthcare workforce, access to financial services, consumer protection, and the green economy. His work has been covered in both English- and Spanish-language media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Daily News, Next City, La Opinión, Univision, NY1, WNYC, KPFA, and others. He holds a BA in urban studies from Columbia University and a masters in urban planning from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He lives in Manhattan, and together with his partner Aleks he likes to go hiking and camping in America's most beautiful places.



Tom Hilliard  |  Senior Fellow   |   thilliard@nycfuture.org

Tom Hilliard is a Senior Fellow with the Center for an Urban Future. He has analyzed several critically important aspects of workforce policy for the Center, including the economic value of community college completion, barriers to foster youth success in the workforce, and declining support for English-language instruction. His reports have appeared in local and national media outlets, including the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, WNYC, NY1 and the New York Daily News. He previously served as Senior Policy Associate at the Albany-based Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, where he launched an initiative to expand postsecondary opportunities for low-income adults. Tom has also served as Director of Health Policy to New York City Public Advocate Mark Green and Assistant Director of Medicine at Gouverneur Healthcare Services, a freestanding clinic on the Lower East Side.



Amy Parker  |  Communications and Operations Associate  |  212.479.3348 |  aparker@nycfuture.org

Amy Parker is the Communications and Operations Associate for the Center for an Urban Future, a position which brings together her interest in urban policy issues and her experience managing communications and media relations. Before coming to the Center, Amy worked for the East Village Community Coalition, where she assisted small business owners in forming a local merchants association. In New York, she also worked as the Communications Manager for The Blossom Avenue, an Italian architecture and development firm that recently expanded to New York City. In 2013, Amy graduated with distinction from the London School of Economics with a masters in City Design and Social Science. She received her BA in Political Science from the University of Texas in Austin. Amy loves exploring the city, and learning about its history, architecture, and communities.


Gifford Miller, Miller Strategies (Chairman)

Michael Connor, Open Mic (Vice-Chair)

Monisha Nariani, Citigroup (Treasurer)

Blake Foote (Secretary)

John H. Alschuler, HR&A Advisors

Margaret Anadu, Goldman Sachs

Jonathan Bowles, Center for an Urban Future

Jonathan Butler, Brooklyn Flea

Russell Dubner, Edelman US

Lisa Gomez, L+M Development Partners

Jalak Jobanputra, FuturePerfect Ventures

David Lebenstein, DTZ

Eric S. Lee, Bennett Midland, LLC

Max Neukirchen, JPMorgan Chase

Andrew Reicher, UHAB

John Siegal, Baker & Hostetler LLP

Stephen Sigmund, Global Gateway Alliance

Thomas Vecchione, Gensler

Robert Zimmerman, Zimmerman/Edelson Inc


Policy Research Internship

We hire interns for three cohorts: Spring (January to May), Summer (May to August), and Fall (August to December). We accept applications on a rolling basis, so in the subject line of your email please indicate the cohort(s) for which you would be interested in applying.

The Center for an Urban Future (CUF) is an independent nonprofit public policy research think-tank that produces innovative analysis on economic development and workforce development issues in New York City, with a focus on promoting economic diversity while creating opportunities for disadvantaged populations and lower-skill workers. 

Our work seeks to highlight issues within our fields of focus that tend to fly under the radar in mainstream policy discussions.  In recent years, CUF’s research has shined a spotlight on the role of immigrant entrepreneurs as economic engines for many outer-borough neighborhoods, the rise of the design and tech fields in the city, the role of public libraries as human capital institutions, and how community colleges are a crucial and underleveraged element in the city’s workforce development system.

The Center seeks interns with experience in journalism or public policy research to support our work.  Responsibilities can include extensive phone interviews, Web research, data analysis, and writing. Other duties include coordinating meetings with government officials and attending policy meetings.

Skills and attributes we seek are:

  • Strong writing and oral communications skills
  • Ability to synthesize ideas clearly and concisely
  • Ability to conduct effective interviews over the phone and in person
  • High level of competency in using Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • At least some experience with public data sources like the US Census and the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • An interest in economic development, urban planning, workforce development, and higher education issues

We prefer current graduate students or those with advanced degrees in public policy, urban planning, journalism, economics, government, social science, or related fields, though we will also consider accomplished undergraduate students. Our internship program is very competitive and attracts talented undergraduate and graduate students from across the country and around the world.

You must be able to commit to at least 20 hours a week.  This is an unpaid internship that can be used for college credit where applicable, but we provide a small stipend at the end of the internship to help offset travel expenses. Send resume with cover letter to intern@nycfuture.org.

We maintain a friendly and open working environment and encourage people of all backgrounds: age, race, ethnicity, gender, creed, and sexual orientation to apply.


The Center for an Urban Future gratefully acknowledges the support of the following foundations:

July 1, 2011 - June 30, 2012

ABNY Foundation
Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation
Charles H. Revson Foundation
Child Welfare Fund
F. B. Heron Foundation
Fund for the City of New York
IBM Foundation
Ira W. DeCamp Foundation
JPMorgan Chase Foundation
Kauffman Foundation
Pinkerton Foundation
UU Veatch Program
Working Poor Families Project

July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011

Child Welfare Fund
Ira W. DeCamp Foundation
Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
Fund for the City of New York
Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation
IBM Foundation
Pinkerton Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
Staten Island Economic Development Corp.
UU Veatch Program
Working Poor Families Project