Tommi Laitio

Tommi Laitio


Bloomberg Center for
Public Innovation at Johns Hopkins

Tommi Laitio, an inaugural Bloomberg Public Innovation Fellow, brings more than a decade of public service and city hall expertise to his work and research focused on forging new paths for driving better results for residents worldwide through well-being.

Laitio joined Helsinki’s city government in 2012 as Director of Youth Affairs and was later elected as the first Executive Director of Culture and Leisure to merge seven departments and deliver 20 million resident experiences with a team of 1800 professionals and a budget of $270M USD. The department has won international and national awards for innovations in youth employment, public libraries, citizen engagement, cultural access, COVID-19 response and increasing physical activity.

Before joining the city, Laitio ran the media and youth program for the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam, worked on sustainable lifestyles and democratic innovation at the Demos Helsinki think tank and was a journalist for Finland’s leading daily newspaper. An alumnus of the University of Helsinki and Aalto University, Laitio holds a Master of Arts in Political Science and an Executive MBA. Laitio has served as a member of the board of the University of Helsinki, Finland’s UNESCO Commission, and as the Chair of the Board for the Finnish Institute in London.

Laitio is currently conducting research on the topic of Partnerships for Parks and Libraries, which includes case studies in the following cities: Amsterdam, Netherlands; Fortaleza, Brazil; Los Angeles, CA; Mecklenburg County, NC; and Philadelphia, PA. His research explores the idea of conviviality and seeks to identify institutional and relational practices that recognize friction as a natural state of affairs.

On the BCPI Blog

Innovation Conversations: How Shared Management in Public Spaces Promotes Equity

A Public Sector Innovation First at Johns Hopkins – New Course Shines a Light on Innovation for Baltimore-based Students

Learning Grounds for Conviviality

The Sense of the City

Listen & Watch

June 21, 2023

“From a Nobody to a Somebody: How Do You Create Truly Equitable Cities?”

Creative Bureaucracy Festival
Berlin, Germany

September 20, 2023

“A Place-based Approach to Creating Vibrant Downtowns”

Placemakers 14
Calgary, Canada

Recent Features

We Don’t Need Superhumans in Libraries (Finnish)

Finland Library Magazine | October 11, 2023

The library helps people understand who they are and how to get along with others but its role is not to tell people what to think, says Tommi Laitio.

Helsinki Executive Director Tommi Laitio Grew into a Man Who Did Not Fit Into the Role of a Boy Scout (Finnish)

Yle | July 8, 2023

Tommi Laitio realized at a young age that there were two sides to his world.

From Nobody to Somebody: Four Engagement Practices for Equitable Cities

Creative Bureaucracy | June 22, 2023

Feeling like a somebody is having a story of yourself that is different from others and having the capabilities to live that story out. Our stories are conditioned by the institutions and environments around us. Exchange with others helps us understand our story better.

We Need Institutions to Be Free

Medium | June 12, 2023

The government cannot and should not predict and dictate everything that happens in a city. However, societies need to build capacities for people, businesses, and civil society in a sufficiently predictable and reliable manner.

What Makes a City Solidary? (Podcast)

SALTO European Solidarity Corps | December 21, 2022

What does a solidary city look like? Which services, places and spaces make citizens feel at home?

On Universal Access to Life-Supporting Systems

RISE Cities | December 7, 2022

To make a city work, people must feel seen as complete persons and have many relationships and experiences across racial and class lines. The relational dimension is vital in designing public spaces and services.

Libraries Can Unite a Lonely, Divided Nation

Bloomberg | October 26, 2022

The time has come for a “Great Reknitting” across America. The country’s most egalitarian institutions — its public libraries — are a crucial place to start.

4 Lessons on Listening to Residents

Bloomberg Cities Network | February 9, 2022

Building understanding and trust first, rather than jumping straight to solutions, opens up room for more people to get involved, builds equity, and leads to better results.

Upcoming Opportunities

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