Janice E. Perlman, Janice PerlmanFounder & President

January 2007

Dr. Perlman holds a B.A. from Cornell University in Anthropology and Latin American Studies, and a Ph.D. from MIT in Political Science, with a concentration in International Urban Studies. She is a recent Guggenheim Award-winner, using the grant to finish a book on the dynamics of urban poverty in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

The book's working title, Marginality from Myth to Reality: Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, 1969-2005 is based on original field research she has done over that period of time. This study is unique in that it documents what has happened to the original study participants of her 1969 research which became the classic book, The Myth of Marginality: Urban Politics and Poverty in Rio de Janeiro (UC Press, 1976). It won the C. Wright Mills Award for the best book of the year in social policy. Her current book explores the inter-generational transmission of poverty through interviews with the children and grandchildren of the original interviewees, and the evolution of community and the "space of place" in the urban fabric, as it traces the changes in the three favela communities.

Professor Perlman is the Founder and President of the Mega-Cities Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to shortening the lag time between ideas and implementation in urban problem-solving by sharing approaches that work among innovative leaders in the world’s largest cities. In this capacity she created trans-disciplinary teams of public, private, non-profit and academic leaders in 19 of the world’s largest cities to collaborate in joint problem-solving and policy-oriented research. The Mega-Cities network meetings have been hosted by local governments in ten of the member cities, resulting in the transfer and adaptation of hundreds of workable solutions across neighborhoods, cities, counties and regions. In 1996 UN- Habitat adopted the Mega-Cities approach, methodology and innovations database in creating it "Best Practices Awards."

In order to create the Mega-Cities Project, Perlman left her tenured position in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley and re-located to New York City where she was able to mobilize support from foundations, corporations, international agencies, and individuals. Prior to UCB she had taught at UC Santa Cruz and after starting Mega-Cities she continued to teach both in the United States (New York University, Hunter College, Trinity College and Columbia University) and in Brazil (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, the Getulio Vargas Foundation, The Brazilian Institute of Municipal Administration and the Federal University of Minas Gerais, She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and conversant in French and Italian.

Her numerous publications include "Grassrooting the System," (reprinted in over 80 volumes); "Misconceptions about the Urban Poor and the Dynamics of Housing Policy Evolution" (winner of the 1st Chester Rapkin Award by the American Collegiate Schools of Planning); "Marginality – From Myth to Reality, Rio’s Favelas 1969-2002" (in Urban Informality, 2004), and most recently "Fighting Poverty and Environmental Injustice", the concluding chapter of Worldwatch Institute’s 2007 State of the World: Our Urban Future. (Click here to see the full List of Publications)

In addition to her academic and non-profit work, Perlman served as Coordinator of President Carter's Neighborhood Task Force on National Urban Policy; Executive Director of Strategic Planning for the New York City Partnership; and Director of Science, Technology and Public Policy at the New York Academy of Sciences. She spent last year as a Visiting Scholar at the World Bank jointly sponsored by the Urban Unit of the Sustainable Development Division for Latin America and the Caribbean and the World Bank Institute.

Dr. Perlman has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations since 1989, was a founding Board Member of ICLEI, (the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives), and has served on the Boards of Science and Technology for International Development, the Committee on Infrastructure, and the Task Force on Mega-Cities of the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences). She was the host and moderator of the Mayor’s Summit at the Davos World Economic Forum and at Habitat II – the World Urban Summit in Istanbul where she also served as a non-profit representative on the US official Delegation.

She has consulted for numerous non-profit, governmental and international organizations, including UNDP, UN Fund for Population Activities, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Healthy Cities Project of the World Health Organization.


The Mega-Cities Project is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status.
Founder and President: Janice Perlman, PhD. Information: mail@mega-cities.net
Copyright 2000-2007 The Mega-Cities Project. All rights reserved.