The Sanford School of Public Policy’s Innovator-in-Residence program kicked off Monday night with a lecture by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu about what it took to “put Humpty Dumpty back together” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Landrieu, who took office in 2010, was recently named the nation’s top “turnaround” mayor for the improvements his city has experienced during his tenure. During the event, he talked about the difficult decisions and reformative attitude it took to achieve the progress. He noted, however, that the term “turnaround” may not be entirely applicable considering the situation that he inherited.

“First of all, it’s not fair to say it was a turnaround—there was nothing there,” he said.

Reform in New Orleans was much-needed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which caused more than 1800 people deaths, Landrieu noted. After taking three to four years to “figure out that fighting wasn’t going to help us,” the city was looking for a new leader.

Landrieu ran unsuccessfully for the city’s top position in 1994 and 2006, but won in 2010 and then easily won reelection in 2014.

When he took office, his first order of business was to put together a “competent government” and create a foundation for the city to rebuild on, he said. He noted that in the 1960s, New Orleans had been larger than Atlanta or Houston, but that in August 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, that historical greatness was lost.

“We had to actually look in the mirror at ourselves and get rid of this notion that we were somehow this romantic place that was better than everybody else that never had any problems,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu urged those in attendance to not be afraid to “break a lot of eggs" and to not back away from the tough challenges.

One of the most difficult things he sought to change during his tenure was the city’s 300-year-old culture.

Landrieu recognized the challenges of creating a political culture that would accept outside help in a city steeped in pride and independence. He confronted citizens’ fears that “alien people” were there to steal their culture.

“I said, ‘Baby, listen to me, the chances of that person changing you before you got them to eat your gumbo is slim to none,’” Landrieu said. “You’ve got no chance of changing the culture of New Orleans if you come, but the people of New Orleans were scared of that.”

One of the ongoing challenges that Landrieu and his city faces now is gun violence—a problem they were reminded of early Sunday morning with a deadly shooting in one of the most populous parts of the city.

“I’ve got way too many kids killing kids in my city,” Landrieu said.

Landrieu said that he keeps large red books with pictures of the victims, and that he has attended more funerals than he wanted to. He called the issue a "national catastrophe and embarrassment."

“I thought that if I showed the world these pictures, we would demand that it stop,” Landrieu said. “But we haven’t. Either this isn’t a priority or they are expendable. I’m going to keep trying to find a solution for it.”

He also commented on the recent presidential election, particularly Trump’s tweeting habits. Landrieu said that the president-elect “should stop doing that” and added that he does not appreciate Trump’s temperament, use of rhetoric or overall vision for America.

"Whatever he does, the republic will survive him," Landrieu said. "I hope."