2008 New Frontier Award recipient Cory Booker, November 24, 2008.

Background

When Cory A. Booker, 39, took the oath of office as mayor of New Jersey’s largest city on July 1, 2006, he assumed the leadership of a city plagued by crime and economic blight. Booker immediately launched a “100-Day Plan” to improve public safety, develop the economy, and reform city government. Among his early reforms were a reorganization of the police department, a commitment to a “zero-tolerance” policy with respect to petty crime, and the implementation of programs focused on at-risk youth and fatherhood. In July 2008, two years after taking office, Booker and his administration reported a 40% decrease in the number of shootings and murders in Newark – the largest reduction in violent crime among major U.S. cities. Booker has also led an innovative public-private partnership to create and refurbish 20 city parks, a $40 million commitment scheduled for completion by the end of his first term, and has secured multimillion dollar commitments from several national philanthropies, including the Gates Foundation, for the creation of new charter schools in Newark.

Booker began his political career in 1998, after serving as staff attorney for the Urban Justice Center in Newark. He rose to political prominence as Newark’s Central Ward councilman, drawing attention to the plight of young people in the city, which had the highest infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and high school dropout rates in the country. After losing his first mayoral race in 2002, Booker founded Newark Now, a nonprofit aimed at improving safety, economic independence and civic participation in Newark.

Cory Booker received his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University, a B.A. in Modern History from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and a law degree from Yale University.