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NYU Stern’s New Executive MBA program in Washington, DC – In Conversation with Student Michael Woody

Today we are in conversation with Michael Woody, who is a member of inaugural class of the new NYU Stern EMBA program at NYU Washington, DC. Michael provides federal advocacy, policy development, and public affairs services to biopharmaceutical, medical device, and other health care companies. Over the course of his career, he has developed and managed large-scale advocacy plans for major trade associations as well as brand-specific legislative strategies for companies within the biotechnology sector. He has policy expertise in pharmaceutical and medical device issues, including FDA user fee programs, drug development, Medicare and Medicaid, the 340B program, and biodefense.

1.    You already have an established and successful career. When did you start to consider that an MBA might be a useful credential and what do you hope to gain?

I considered an MBA at least since my first round of graduate school in the late 1990s, but I was focused more on building a career in Washington. About nine years ago, I started a small policy and advocacy consulting firm that focuses on pharmaceuticals and medical devices with three partners. Our clients include both large-pharma and small bio-techs. My basic dilemma was that I understood the political and policy context of our clients’ issues, but I really didn’t understand their businesses – how do they really operate? How do they define risk? Am I providing them with useful advice? Am I asking them the right questions? I think this problem is endemic in government affairs – we don’t understand business and business doesn’t understand us. I thought an MBA would be useful to try and solve this problem.

2.    How did you hear about the Stern Executive MBA program in Washington, DC and what about the program did you find appealing? Why did you elect to enroll in this program?

I read NYU Stern was extending their Executive MBA Program to DC, and I knew it by reputation. I enjoyed the people I met through the process and decided to take the plunge. One of the biggest factors for me was the schedule – one weekend a month. While that weekend is very intense – it’s a lot – and the work in between doesn’t really ever stop, it was manageable with a job and a family with young children. I have three weekends with them, and one spent on school every month. I can work around their schedule much better than other program formats. I think my kindergarten-age son gets a kick out of me being in school, too. To him, we are both learning to count.

3.    Do you have any priorities for or personal goals that you would like to realize during the program?

I wanted to enhance my quantitative skills and take risks with classes that would have scared me off as an undergraduate or as a graduate student in a different stage of life. There is no real penalty for trying something hard you may not be good at. I like that idea at this point in life. Beyond understanding my clients’ businesses better, I know I have an entrepreneurial bend, and this experience may push me in a different direction entirely which would be interesting, too.

4.    How has the experience been thus far? Can you describe what you have found in terms of your fellow students, the professors, the courses?

I have been energized by the class weekends, which is a little bit of a surprise. It is so different from my day-to-day job that it’s almost a mental break to think about a completely different set of issues and problems. Stern did a good job building our class. Everyone has a different set of professional and personal experiences. If you have a question about a business, a market or an academic topic, someone, somewhere in the class knows something about it. In my study group alone, we have a museum executive, someone who works for the World Bank, an engineer who owns a robotics company, and an IT professional. There are former military officers, a physician, a movie producer, someone who worked for the NBA, finance people, etc. Many of our classmates have advanced degrees already and most have well over a decade of experience. For that reason the discussions in and out of class can be even more important than class itself.

I have enjoyed the professors – all of them have been great teachers with no exceptions. Our ethics professor, Bruce Buchanan, may have been the best teacher I have ever had – bar none. He used economics, law, politics and philosophy to create a framework to think through ethical problems. His last class was a tour de force performance and it left a mark. 

5.    Has anything been quite different from what you expected? What have you found most surprising, rewarding, or challenging?

 Yes. I’m better at certain things than I thought I would be. The opposite is probably also true. I knew the core courses would be a challenge, but I enjoyed some things I didn’t expect – like accounting, which we had at the beginning of the program. I spent two weeks on and off trying to figure out one single problem. I didn’t get it right, but I learned a ton in the process. I’m never going to be an accountant, but that’s not the point. The point is to gain familiarity and fluency in the language and application of business concepts.

In Firms and Markets, we did a big project on Trader Joe’s, which I loved. I’m never going to be in the grocery business, but I know a lot about what it takes to run a grocery chain, and there are things I learned that are broadly applicable to companies I work with everyday. 

The Global Study Tour course is a big highlight. We went to Shanghai. It’s hard to describe the scale of it without seeing it in person. The companies we toured all had something to say about China’s past, present and future. We will all be influenced by China over the course of our careers, whether we realize it or not. Most of us already have been.

6.    Do you see any particular advantages to pursuing an executive MBA in Washington, DC?

Washington, DC is a big and growing market that has less and less to do with government with each passing day, and our class reflects that. While we have a few people with past government or NGO experience, the vast majority of people do other things. In other words, there is more variation of experience than you would expect.

7.    Would you recommend the program to prospective executive MBA students? If so, why? What about the Stern program in DC do you find especially compelling? 

I would recommend Stern’s Executive MBA Program to prospective students. I’ve been happy with the content, the workload and my classmates. As a new program, Stern is trying to make an impression here, and it’s only going to get better over time. One point I would make to anyone considering it – the professors and the administration know you have jobs and a life. They are trying to teach you what you need to know, but the work is reasonable and relevant. You won’t be able to do everything well 100% of the time. They know that. But if you put in the time, you will get a lot out of it.

 8.    Have you already found the coursework relevant to your work or do you have a sense of how the degree will be helpful to you in the future?

Absolutely. There is almost never a class weekend that I don’t come back with a concept I can apply. I think my partners got tired of me drawing schematics on the whiteboard. Like anything, what you learn and apply is up to you. The material is there, you have to do the work and apply it for yourself.


NYU Washington, D.C. Salon Series: A Conversation with Author Ann Mei Chang

On Wednesday April 17, NYU Washington, DC and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) will co-sponsor an evening Salon Series conversation featuring Ann Mei Chang, Author of, LEAN IMPACT: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good. Ann Mei also serves as Executive Director of LEAN IMPACT.

Ann Mei Chang is a leading advocate for social innovation. As Chief Innovation Officer at USAID, Ann Mei served as the first Executive Director of the US Global Development Lab, engaging the best practices for innovation from Silicon Valley to accelerate the impact and scale of solutions to the world’s most intractable challenges. She was previously the Chief Innovation Officer at Mercy Corps and served the US Department of State as Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues.

Around the world, a new generation is looking beyond greater profits, for meaningful purpose. But, unlike business, few social interventions have achieved significant impact at scale. Inspired by the modern innovation practices popularized by bestseller The Lean Startup that have fueled technology breakthroughs touching every aspect of life, LEAN IMPACT turns one’s attention to a new goal–achieving radically greater social good. Social change is far more complicated than building a new app. It requires more listening, more care, and more stakeholders. To make a lasting difference, solutions must be embraced by beneficiaries, address root causes, and include an engine that can accelerate growth to reach the scale of the needs. LEAN IMPACT offers bold ideas to reach audacious goals through customer insight, rapid experimentation and iteration, and a relentless pursuit of impact.

Prior to her pivot to the public and social sector, Ann Mei was a seasoned technology executive, with more than 20 years’ experience at such leading companies as Google, Apple, and Intuit, as well as at a range of startups. As Senior Engineering Director at Google, she led worldwide engineering for mobile applications and services, delivering 20x growth to $1 billion in annual revenues in just three years.

Ann Mei currently serves on the boards of BRAC USA and IREX, is a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution, and is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University, is a member of the Aspen Institute’s Henry Crown Fellows’ class of 2011, and was recognized as one of the “Women In the World: 125 Women of Impact” by Newsweek/The Daily Beast in 2013.

NYU Washington, DC Mounts Exhibit in Lobby to Commemorate Gilbert Baker

The Stonewall 50 commemoration at NYU Washington, DC, as part of New York University’s larger Stonewall 50 celebration, is displaying a protest banner created by flag designer Gilbert Baker. The banner has been used in rallies in New York City where it was carried by activists advocating for LGBTQ rights. 

In 1978, Gilbert was tasked with creating a flag at the request of Harvey Milk for a gay pride event. His creation of the rainbow flag would become a worldwide symbol, forever cementing his place and importance in helping to define the modern LGBTQ movement.
STOP THE HATE is a protest banner measuring fifty feet wide (the approximate measure of the width of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue), and has been used in Pride Marches and protest demonstrations in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. Over the years, Gilbert created several such banners on the same scale, including ones emblazoned with DIGNITY (for the LGBTQ Catholic organization), GAYS AGAINST GUNS (for the New York City group of the same name that was formed in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida in 2016), RISE AND RESIST, and DON’T BUY PUTIN’S LIES (which Gilbert and members of the activist group Queer Nation arranged to be secretly shipped to Moscow and displayed in the wake of Russian ‘ anti-gay propaganda’ laws at events leading up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics).STOP THE HATE and many of these other banners were proudly carried in a march from New York’s Stonewall Inn to the Christopher Street Piers after  Gilbert’s wake after his untimely death on March 31, 2017.

NYU Washington, D.C.: Senator Tim Scott in Conversation with Theodore Johnson: Civility, Fairness, and Opportunity in America

On Wednesday, March 27, NYU Washington DC is hosting an event with Senator Tim Scott in conversation with Theodor Johnson. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina continues to forge a singular path in D.C. as the Senate’s only black Republican serving at a time marked by unprecedented levels of political polarization. Widely lauded for spearheading a cross-party effort to include a provision encouraging private investment in distressed communities into the sweeping 2018 tax overhaul, Scott joins Brennan Center’s Theodore Johnson to discuss his unique views on bipartisanship, racial justice, and advancing economic opportunity for all Americans. The John Brademas Center of New York University is proud to co-host this event with the Brennan Center for Justice.


As a leader on tax reform, education and job training, and innovative ideas to reinvest in our nation’s distressed communities, United States Senator Tim Scott brings a unique perspective to the United States Senate. Growing up mired in poverty in a single parent household, Tim says that he is living his mother’s American Dream, and through his Opportunity Agenda works every single day to ensure every American family has the opportunity to succeed.

Senator Scott has served the great state of South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since 2013, and brings with him a mission to positively affect the lives of a billion people with the message of hope and opportunity. Growing up poor in a single-parent household in North Charleston, South Carolina, Tim watched his single mother work 16-hour days as a nurse’s assistant to keep him and his brother afloat.

As a freshman in high school, Tim nearly failed out, flunking four classes.  However, the next year, he met his mentor named John Moniz who shared life-changing ideas and the basic principles of business with Tim. Through hard work, education, innovation, and with the discipline his mother gave him, he began the process of turning his life around.

The lessons gleaned from his mentor still guide Tim today: you can think your way out of poverty, and financial independence is a stepping-stone for success. Having a job is a good thing, but creating jobs is a great thing. 

An unbridled optimist, Tim believes that despite our current challenges, our nation’s brightest days are ahead of us. During his time in office, he has been a tireless advocate for creating more opportunities for families living paycheck-to-paycheck and helping children who are mired in poverty have access to quality education. He launched his Opportunity Agenda, a legislative package aimed at achieving these goals, as well as the Senate Opportunity Coalition, a group of Senators committed to helping those in need.

Tim also knows that in order for our nation to prosper, we must get our spending and national debt under control. He has sponsored balanced budget amendments throughout his time in Congress, and will continue working to restore fiscal sanity in Washington.

Prior to public service, Tim built a successful small business of his own. He was first elected to Charleston County Council, to the South Carolina State House, and the U.S. House of Representatives. In January 2013, Tim was sworn in as a United States Senator from South Carolina, and was re-elected in January 2017.

Theodore R. Johnson is a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Dr. Johnson was a national fellow at the New America Foundation, where he undertook projects on black voting behavior and the role of national solidarity in addressing racial inequality. Previously, he was a Commander in the United States Navy and, most recently, a research manager at Deloitte.

From 1994-2016 Johnson was a career military officer whose service included humanitarian assistance operations in Southeast Asia, as a military professor at the US Naval War College, and as a cyber operations and intelligence expert. He also acted as senior policy advisor in the Departments of Defense and Energy, and as speechwriter to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In recognition of his leadership in public service, Johnson was selected as a White House Fellow during the Obama administration.

Since 2013, Dr. Johnson’s research and writing has explored the interaction of policy and politics with race and racial disparities. In 2016, his examination of African American voting behavior won the Dean’s Medal for most outstanding doctoral work and serves as the basis for first book project on race and solidarity in the United States.

His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Wall Street Journal, POLITICO, WIRED, National Review, New Republic, and other national and niche publications. His academic lectures and media engagements include appearances at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, UCLA’s Hammer Museum, University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and TEDx.

Dr. Johnson holds a B.S. in mathematics from Hampton University, an A.L.M. with a concentration in International Relations from Harvard University, and a Doctorate of Law and Policy from Northeastern University.

NYU Washington, DC to Host The State of U.S. Immigration Policy Panel Discussion

On Tuesday, March 12, Washington Performing Arts and NYU Washington, DC will convene immigration policy experts and civic leaders to examine contemporary issues in U.S. immigration policy since the 1980s, including a discussion of the role of state and local government in supporting immigrants as federal policies shift over time. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, fiftheenth term as the Congresswoman for the District of Columbia and Chair of the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, will give the opening remarks.

The panel is comprised of Kathryn M. Doan, Esq., Executive Director, CAIR Coalition, David Grosso, Councilmember at-Large, Council of the District of Columbia, Lori Kaplan, Former President & CEO, Latin American Youth Center, Mary Ann Gomez Orta, President & CEO, Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, and Nicholas A. Brown, Director of Special Productions & Initiatives, Washington Performing Arts, who will serve as moderator for the evening.

This conversation is presented in conjunction with the premiere of Washington Performing Arts’ co-commission Dreamers, a new oratorio by composer Jimmy López and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz on March 17, 2019 at Sidney Harman Hall (via simulcast). Dreamers explores contemporary stories of Latinx so-called dreamers who are caught in the middle of the current national immigration policy debate.

For more information, visit DC Dialogues.

NYU Washington, DC Salon Series with Dr. Jennifer Natalya Fink

On February 12, NYU Washington, DC will host a Salon Series conversation with Dr. Jennifer Natalya Fink, author of the Catherine Doctorow Prize-winning novel, Bhopal Dance.

On the night of December 2, in the midst of the Reaganomic era, an explosion at an American-owned factory in Bhopal, India, released untold amounts of toxic gas on uncounted numbers of people, creating a human and environmental disaster of insurmountable proportions. Known as the Bhopal disaster, it once dominated international headlines, and is now barely remembered.

Yet Bhopal remains emblematic of all the many quickly forgotten disasters that followed, and of the permanent state of globalized disaster in which people now dwell. What does it mean when corporations instead of states control not only the means to create environmental disasters, but also the tools to bury them? How does one revolt against these unelected entities? How do the most private desires get shaped by this stateless horror? Jennifer Natalya Fink’s Bhopal Dance is an epic and epochal tale of such a horror and its buried consequences.

NYU DC faculty member, Victoria Kiechel, will serve as interlocutor for this evening of discussion.

NYU Washington, DC Considers how the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Can be Resolved

On January 24, NYU Washington, DC will host an event featuring a discussion between Speaker of the Fifteenth Knesset and NYU AD Visiting Professor, Avrum Burg, and President and Co-Founder of the Arab American Institute and NYU Visiting Scholar, James Zogby, who will delve into some of the conflict’s issues surrounding border settlements and security, refugees, and the place that started it all, Jerusalem.

Continued political divide, negotiation stagnation, and unwavering distrust are only some of the many obstacles in the festering conflict between Israel and Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have not reached a deal, nor does this seem to be likely in the near future.

In what some call the post-Oslo era, can this conflict be resolved without US intervention? Does the current administration’s neglect of new measures to continue propagating “land for peace” unveil the US’s future role? What is the best solution to this conflict?

NYU Washington, DC – Assessing the 2018 Election Results: Governance and Political Implications Assessing the 2018 Election Results: Governance and Political Implications

On November 29 at NYU Washington, DC, Sidley Austin LLP and NYU School of Law are proud to host the 3rd Annual Sidley Austin Forum. 

The program will examine the results of the 2018 congressional midterms and state and local contests around the country to assess their implications for governance and the political landscape.


The Sidley Austin Forum is held annually and co-hosted by Sidley Austin LLP and NYU School of Law’s Legislative and Regulatory Process Clinic. The Forum explores topics critical to American democracy, citizen engagement, and public service. Over Sidley’s 150-year history, the firm has been committed to honoring and supporting the rule of law in our democracy. Sidley has built a reputation as a premier legal adviser for global businesses and financial institutions with 1,900 lawyers in 20 offices worldwide.

This year’s Keynote speaker is Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.

He is the author of The Working Class Republican: Ronald Reagan and the Return of Blue-Collar Conservatism and The Four Faces of the Republican Party, co-authored with Dante Scala. Mr. Olsen is also an editor at UnHerd.com, where he writes about populism and politics around the world, and he is a regular contributor to American Greatness, City Journal, and World Magazine.

Mr. Olsen’s work has been featured in many prominent publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, The Guardian, and The Weekly Standard. His pre-election predictions of the 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 elections were particularly praised for their remarkable accuracy. In the 2016 campaign, he accurately identified the factors fueling the rise of Donald Trump early in the race, and his election eve predictions were more accurate than those of virtually any other major analyst or commentator.

Mr. Olsen has worked in senior executive positions at many center-right think tanks. He most recently served from 2006 to 2013 as Vice President and Director, National Research Initiative, at the American Enterprise Institute. He previously worked as Vice President of Programs at the Manhattan Institute and President of the Commonwealth Foundation.

Mr. Olsen started his career as a political consultant at the California firm of Hoffenblum-Mollrich. He then worked with the California State Assembly Republican Caucus before attending law school. He served as a law clerk to the Honorable Danny J. Boggs on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and as an associate at Dechert, Price & Rhoads. He has a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he served as Comment Editor for the University of Chicago Law Review.

This year’s panelists include David Axelrod, Bob Bauer, Emily Ekins, Ronald Klein, Megan McArdle, Sam Stein, Doug Thornell, and Ben Wittes. For more information, see here.

NYU Washington, DC Hosts a Conversation with Author Sayu Bhojwani

On November 13, NYU Washington, DC will host a conversation with author Sayu Bhojwani to discuss her book, People Like Us.

Sayu Bhojwani is the founder and president of New American Leaders, the only national organization focused on preparing immigrant leaders to run for public office. She served as New York City’s first Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs and lives in New York.

People Like Us
is an inspiring story of political newcomers (sometimes also newcomers to America) who are knocking down built-in barriers to creating better government. The system is rigged: America’s political leadership remains overwhelmingly white, male, moneyed, and Christian. Even at the local and state levels, elected office is inaccessible to the people it aims to represent. But in People Like Us, political scientist Sayu Bhojwani shares the stories of a diverse and persevering range of local and state politicians from across the country who are challenging the status quo, winning against all odds, and leaving a path for others to follow in their wake.

NYU DC faculty member Victoria Kiechel will serve as interlocutor for the discussion.

Sayu Bhojwani works to ensure that American democracy is more inclusive. As an advocate, speaker and writer, Sayu engages people in public debate and in the democratic process. She has a PhD in Politics and Education from Columbia University, where her research focused on immigrant political participation. Sayu is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University and a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges.


Victoria Kiechel has 20 years of professional experience in architecture, education, and sustainable design. A practicing architect, she works for the Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consultancy, and is a faculty member of the Global Environmental Politics Program, the School of International Service, American University (AU), in Washington, DC. In 2010, she was the inaugural recipient of AU’s Most Innovative Green Teacher of the Year award. At Cadmus, Vicky has worked for the US Green Building Council to develop and support the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating Systems; advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR commercial and industrial branch; leads consulting and review teams for buildings seeking LEED certification; and manages sustainability initiatives for clients as diverse as the Smithsonian Institution and state and local governments. Her architectural design work focuses on small-to-medium scale residential and institutional projects. For the Washington, DC Capitol Hill School Libraries Project, she designed the library for Maury Elementary School.

In Anaheim, California, a previously undocumented Mexican American challenges the high-powered interests of the Disney Corporation to win a city council seat. In the Midwest, a thirty-something Muslim Somali American unseats a forty-four-year incumbent in the Minnesota house of representatives. 

These are some of the foreign-born, lower-income, and of-color Americans who have successfully taken on leadership roles in elected office despite xenophobia, political gatekeeping, and personal financial concerns. In accessible prose, Bhojwani shines a light on the political, systemic, and cultural roadblocks that prevent government from effectively representing a rapidly changing America, and offers forward-thinking solutions on how to get rid of them.

People Like Us serves as a road map for the burgeoning democracy that has been a long time in the making: inclusive, multiracial, and unstoppable.

Madeline Albright Visits NYU Washington, DC for Event on Women in Politics

The Risk Element: Safeguarding Women in Politics
NYU Washington, DC and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) launched NDI’s Women’s Political Participation Risk Index, and a safety planning tool to help women who are or intend to become politically-active, to mitigate the threat of violence that they face.

As more women step forward and engage in political activity, there is a rising backlash against their equal participation. This is an abuse of human and civic rights, and the exclusion of women undermines the quality of democracy.

Speakers for the launch evening, 22 September at NYU Washington, DC, included Dr. Madeleine K. Albright, NDI Chairman and Former Secretary of State, Farida Bemba Nabourema, Executive Director at Togolese Civil League, and Sandra Pepera, Director for Gender, Women and Democracy at NDI.