Judith Hermanson


Smart City. Just City.

Ep. 47 - Judith Hermanson, President and CEO of IHC Global, brings a Smart City. Just City initiative to increase inclusiveness and equity in cities across the globe. The Smart City. Just City. Initiative will developand advance a policy framework that uses smart city techniques to attain a just city vision of an equitable, inclusive, and participatory urban reality.  Having worked in 50+ countries, she knows the challenges ahead but is convinced it can and must be done.

Top Takeaways:

    • The challenge of inequality which is a major destabilizing factor in the world today
    • The importance of systemic change- finding solutions to complex issues to make the world a better place
    • Understanding global development and the sustainable development goals (SDGs)
    • How to understand what Smart City- Just City means for the city overall
    • The importance of innovation and creativity as tools to move forward and implementing systemic change in governance

Learn what drives her to achieve her vision.

"Cities are becoming "smarter" every day. But in order to succeed and reach their full potential, they need to promote inclusiveness as well." - Judith Hermanson


Judith is the president and CEO of IHC Global, addressing the need for systemic change in governance and development across the globe today. It may sound easy but finding solutions to the already existing issues is complex and needs collaboration and goals definition. With Smart City. Just City. IHC Global strives to bring the rising tide of urban data, technology, and efficiency together with the movement to increase inclusiveness and equity in cities.

She has also served as Deputy Executive Director and COO of the Pan American Development Foundation and as a professor of public administration, Northern Illinois University and Inaugural Director of its degree-granting NGO Leadership and Development Center and as Senior Fellow, Urban Poverty, InterAction.  In her early career she worked at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Peace Corps.


Judith has worked in 50+ countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe as well as in the US, providing hands-on technical assistance and policy advice.  She publishes and lectures frequently on international urban issues. The work of IHC Global focuses on the challenges of adequate housing, property rights, and access to basic services such as water and sanitation. She leads IHC Global in linking local and global challenges, advocating for the urban poor in the US and internationally by creating knowledge through research, testing practical, innovative solutions to pressing issues and influencing policy and practice through convening and advocacy.


Among the positions she has held, Judith was the Executive Vice President of Cooperative Housing Foundation International (now Global Communities), where was honored by the National Association of Housing and Rehabilitation Officials (NAHRO) as the recipient of the John D. Lange International Award for work in Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Listen in to learn why there's a need for sustainable development goals to bring forth systemic change.

Key Moments:

She explains how she grew up experiencing differences in cultures and equities which made her want to improve people's lives [1:55]

How she was mentored and inspired by great wonderful people she's worked with which influenced her career choice [2:47]

Why she decided to remain in the United States for several years and experience it [4:17]

The many challenges in the world today with the main one being inequality [5:10]

Judith explains the needed leadership characteristics in the destabilized world situation today [6:00]

She explains why she's afraid of the failure of people, politicians, and programs to comprehend the complexity of systemic change [6:58]

Why urbanization in its own is a disadvantage and need other things like infrastructure to make it work positively economically and societally [9:28]

The importance of connecting data with urban development plans and involving the people [11:56]

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) what they include and other goals outside of them [14:53]

The meaning of Smart City- Just City, what the two initiatives focus on, and why coming together will be much better [16:26]

The importance of having policies ensuring that technology is used for safety especially for women in cities [18:26]

Why it isn't easy to adjust governance structures to coordinate different development silos [20:18]

The impact of the federal government in bringing the much-needed change as opposed to local governments [24:28]

The importance of leadership defining goals and finding effective ways to approach them [27:45]

She describes one of a corporative housing project in Poland she helped developed as her greatest success story [29:10]

She describes what she hopes for the United States in working collaboratively with the globe in the next ten years [31:49]

She encourages young people to acknowledge the complex process of seeking the needed change [33:50]


IHC Global Judith Hermanson

IHC Global Website

International Cooperative Research Group

LinkedIn Judith Hermanson

Twitter Judith Hermanson

iDE Global

OCDC Article

Philanthropy Forum

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Haiti Earthquake Part 2


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YouTube Video

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