Mary W. Rowe


Mary W. Rowe is a leading urban advocate and civil society trailblazer who has worked in cities and with communities across Canada and the United States. Mary was President of the Canadian platform Ideas That Matter, a convening and publishing program based on the work of renowned urbanist Jane Jacobs, when a mid-career fellowship with the US-based blue moon fund led her to New Orleans. There she worked with national philanthropy, governments and community activists to support rebuilding through micro-investments in neighbourhood projects for seven years in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Prior to joining CUI as President and Chief Executive Officer, Mary lived in New York City and served as Executive Vice President of the Municipal Art Society (MASNYC), one of America’s oldest civic advocacy organizations focused on the built environment.

Mary is a frequent contributor to national and international city-building programs, including UN Habitat, the Massey City Summit, The Art of City Building and the World Urban Forum. She is a frequent media commentator and writer. Under Mary’s leadership, CUI has expanded its work to include an international network from government, industry, community and city-building professions to advance research and collaborate on solutions to some of our greatest urban challenges. This includes Bring Back Main Street, COVID Signposts, CityWatch and CityShare, the engagement of several senior fellows to incubate ground-breaking projects in Canada, and the development of CUI x Local, a series of virtual residencies in cities across Canada, to learn from on-the-ground practitioners about what’s working and what’s not, and to share learnings and build opportunities for collaboration between cities. Mary is also the facilitator of BiCEP—an alliance of senior executives leading some of Canada’s most significant urban regions, for which CUI is the secretariat.

Mary is a Senior Fellow with Shorefast, a national charity focussed on building community economies, and the creator, executive producer and host of CityTalk, a regular virtual discussion featuring a diverse line-up of leading and emerging voices on the most pressing issues of the day.