Mayor Pete Buttigieg to receive John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award at Harvard in November

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By: Krystal Vivian kvivian@953mnc.com

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will be honored during a ceremony next month when he will receive one of two John F. Kennedy New Frontier Awards.

Buttigieg will receive the New Frontier Fenn Award, which is named for the Kennedy Library’s first director and former JFK staffer Dan Fenn. The award recognizes an elected official whose work demonstrates how important elected service is to addressing challenges.

The other New Frontier Award will go to Kirsten Lodal, co-founder and CEO of LIFT, a non-profit group that provides services to people struggling with poverty.

“Enlisting talented young Americans to help solve our nation’s problems was central to President Kennedy’s vision of a New Frontier,” said Jack Schlossberg, grandson of John F. Kennedy and a member of the New Frontier Awards Committee. “Pete Buttigieg is an inspiring example both in his innovative leadership of South Bend and in his service to country as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve.”

The awards will be presented to Buttigieg and Lodal during a private ceremony at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Here’s what the awards committee wrote about Buttigieg:

In January 2012, at age 29, Pete Buttigieg became the youngest mayor to serve a U.S. city of more than 100,000 people, and he quickly established South Bend as a model for municipal innovation and smart government.

Buttigieg led the implementation of a landmark open data policy in South Bend, including a website that provides freely accessible, user-friendly and transparent data about the city. He also launched the “311” system, which allows residents to identify issues or concerns via smartphone and then track the city’s follow-up. The city, in turn, collects data from the system to analyze its own performance.

In 2013, Buttigieg proposed an ambitious project to address a surge in abandoned homes in the city: the Vacant and Abandoned Property Initiative called for the demolition or refurbishment of 1,000 homes in 1,000 days. Buttigieg launched a partnership with Code for America, a nonprofit that offers technological support to communities seeking to solve core public problems. Under the partnership, South Bend developed an innovative approach to data collection and property assessment, and met its goal of addressing 1,000 vacant homes before 1,000 days had passed.

Pete Buttigieg serves as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve; in 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan for a seven-month tour of duty. A graduate of Harvard University, he was born and raised in South Bend.