Audible announced Monday morning that it is creating the Global Center for Urban Development — a center devoted to expanding the company’s community and economic initiatives. And it’s bringing in Aisha Glover, one of the most respected economic impact executives and urban development leaders in the country, to help implement the program.
The center will bring together all equitable community aspirations at Audible under a single organization, from existing community projects in Newark to new efforts around urban innovation, to work to improve the lives of those in the cities and countries in which Audible operates. One of the goals of the center is to launch new and measurable models focused on advancing equality, racial justice and economic empowerment, Audible officials said.
While based in and focused in Newark, the center’s mission will encompass Audible locations in 14 cities around the world and include programs and policy initiatives that can be adopted in cities globally.
Glover, who will join the company as vice president of urban innovation Oct. 5, will help establish the strategic direction of the center and will lead a team dedicated to advancing equitable economic development solutions in cities worldwide.
Audible founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz said the center exemplifies corporate responsibility, one of the core corporate principles of the company, which relocated to Newark in 2007.
Katz said such a philosophy has never been more important.
“At a time of unprecedented crisis, Newark’s historic comeback is dependent on continued support from companies, philanthropies and governments working together,” he said. “We believe all members of society — with strong companies like Audible and other scaled corporations leading the way — must commit to meaningful support for innovation and investment, focused on civic and social change that addresses the underlying causes of structural inequality.
“With the Global Center for Urban Development, Audible aims to draw upon global best practices, cutting-edge analysis and elite talent to amplify its impact in Newark and beyond by establishing new paradigms that advance equitable development in cities everywhere. The center has been specifically designed to partner more deeply with government, community organizations and corporate partners to coalesce around new and legacy programs that work at scale.”
Glover comes to Audible after serving as CEO of the Newark Alliance, where she has served as CEO since October 2018. Prior to that, she served as CEO of the Newark Community Economic Development Corp. for three years, where — among other things — she led the city’s efforts to land Amazon’s HQ2 project. Audible is a subsidiary of Amazon.
Glover also served as the vice president of external affairs at the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., where she led strategic partnership development, community engagement, public affairs and fundraising to help establish Navy Yard as a global model for urban industrial development. Overall, she has more than 15 years of experience as an agent for economic empowerment and social justice through equitable economic development programs.
Glover will report to Abhinav Mathur, senior vice president, Center for Urban Development.
Katz feels Mathur and Glover are the perfect leaders for the initiative.
“Aisha Glover’s commitment to and success in improving the lives of the people of Newark makes her uniquely suited to help carry out the vision of our Global Center for Urban Development,” Katz said. “Aisha’s experience bringing together public, private and community-based organizations to create and sustain equitable economic development will be critical as we double down on our efforts on behalf of the city we call home, and other communities in which Audible operates.
“Aisha’s leadership of this new Global Center, along with Abhinav Mathur — a truly visionary executive who has led some of our most important efforts to be an inventive company that pursues meaning and purpose — is very exciting indeed.”
At the Newark Alliance, Glover worked closely with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka to push for inclusive economic growth, helping to align dozens of corporations and private institutions with Newark’s needs, attracting billions of dollars in real estate development, and advancing citywide economic empowerment initiatives, including workforce training and women entrepreneurship programs.
Baraka applauded the creating of the center and the hiring of Glover.
“I commend Audible for embracing its role in Newark, advancing its economic and social impact and investing in and launching initiatives that are aligned with my vision for an inclusive and equitable city,” he said. “Aisha is the perfect leader to continue this work from within Audible on behalf of the city’s residents and small businesses. We need all corporations to take an active role in helping to accelerate our recovery.”
Glover said the center can fill a vital need in Newark — and around the country.
“We are at a critical juncture in Newark and in many cities around the world,” she said. “We’ve seen how corporations are beginning to step in to fill the gaps to help drive equity, and with Audible’s leadership and backing, the Global Center for Urban Development will be at the forefront to create a new type of urbanism.
“My commitment to developing deep community, corporate and government partnerships have generated strong results for Newark, and I am energized to bring similar innovative and inclusive solutions to bear in Newark that not only help the city recover, but ensure that it thrives.”
Audible is the world’s largest producer and provider of spoken-word entertainment and audiobooks. Its content includes more than 550,000 audio programs from leading audiobook publishers, broadcasters, entertainers, magazine and newspaper publishers, and business information providers.
Katz, however, has made racial and social equity a core corporate principle of Audible.
“We work to improve the lives of those in the cities and countries in which we operate, because Audible seeks to exemplify what a company can mean beyond what it does,” he said. “We believe in giving people a chance, and we work to make this so, particularly in the urban core. Our focus on education innovation and urban economic and social renaissance is about advancing equality, and this mission should inform and inspire our days.”
In pursuit of this defining principle, the company founded and launched the social impact early-stage investment fund Newark Venture Partners; introduced the “Live Local” program that incentivizes Audible employees to live in Newark with after-tax subsidies and created the Audible Interns and Scholars programs alongside the Cornerstone program focused on creative Newark resident employee development.
Audible also offered corporate support for local small restaurant businesses, which, during the crises of 2020, has become Newark Working Kitchens. In just 23 weeks since launch, Newark Working Kitchens has reopened 25 local restaurants and delivered more than 440,000 meals to underserved residents of Newark.