Robert K. Steel Introduction

On October 18, 2011, Jonathan Fanton introduced Robert K. Steel, New York City Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, who spoke about the need for pension reform in New York. 

Robert K. Steel Introduction

Roosevelt House October 18, 2011

Roosevelt House has quickly become a place where major issues are talked about from a fresh perspective. To my mind, there is no more important question than  how we think about the tension between current economic and political realities and long term sensible public policy. Our country is at an inflection point: unless we change course our relative standing will continue to decline. Of course it is important to work our way out of this recession but we should not think that an economic upturn will solve our long-term challenges.

Our speaker tonight, Deputy Mayor Robert Steel, will give us a first-hand insight into how a leader can keep our long term interests front and center. He will use the urgent need for public pension reform in New York City as a case in point.

As Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Bob Steel has a huge responsibility. The Department of Housing, City Planning, Small Business Services and the New York City Economic Development Corporation all report to him. He leads major redevelopment projects from Lower Manhattan to the South Bronx to Coney Island and points in between. And he has made a point to get out and see the good work taking place in our communities — from housing being built in the South Bronx to meeting with merchants and small business owners in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

Deputy Mayor Steel is conducting the search for a university to start a science and engineering research campus. I hope he will talk with us about that initiative which aims to strengthen New York’s research and development capacity and its leading position as a source of innovation and creative talent. Bob Steel is advancing New York’s ambition to be an incubator of ideas that will make our city, state and country more competitive in the global economy.

He may well be the best prepared Deputy Mayor for Economic Development the city has ever had. He spent 30 years at Goldman Sachs, ultimately becoming Vice Chairman of the firm and co-head of the U.S. Equities Division. He served as Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance. And he became CEO of Wachovia and put its affairs in order so it could be sold to Wells Fargo making it the second largest retail broker in the U.S.

And somehow with all these demanding leadership responsibilities, Bob Steel has had an active life of civic engagement. He chaired the Aspen Institute which partners with Roosevelt House to bring thoughtful public programs here. He has served on the Board of The After School Corporation, and he chaired the Board of his alma mater, Duke University, to mention a few.

New York is fortunate to have a person of such deep and broad experience serve as the intellectual engine shaping our future. And New York higher education is blessed to have a person with his passion for the life of the mind in a key leadership position.

After the Deputy Mayor’s talk, we will have a discussion period.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Robert Steel.