Category Archives: Roosevelt House Introductions

Robert K. Steel, “Perspectives in the City’s Economy: Today and Tomorrow”

On December 3, 2013 the Roosevelt House welcomed New York City’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, Robert K. Steel. Jonathan provided introductory remarks and then sat down with the Deputy Mayor for a discussion about his years of public service and the challenges facing the new Mayor.  Video of the event can be viewed here.

Robert K. Steel

December 3, 2013

I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to tonight’s program with Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert Steel.  He will reflect on his three years working with Mayor Bloomberg, accomplishments, disappointments, and challenges that lie ahead for the next Mayor.

I am especially pleased Bob Steel is here tonight because I have been privileged to work with him and Business Services Commissioner Rob Walsh in selecting the winners of the Neighborhood Achievement Awards and the BID Challenge grants.   Bob Steel, like Franklin Roosevelt, understood that local innovation is essential to economic development.

Hear President Roosevelt’s words in a 1933 Fireside Chat. Our program “will succeed if our people understand it—in the big industries, in the little shops, in the great cities and…small villages. There is nothing complicated about it and there is nothing particularly new in the principle. It goes back to the basic idea of society and of the nation itself that people acting in a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could even hope to bring about.”

I think Franklin Roosevelt would be very pleased we are gathered in his home to talk about a city he loved.

This has been a good period for economic development in New York. Job growth is steady, tourism continues to rise, and crime rates are at historic lows. An influx of nearly 500 new start-ups between 2009-2012 made New York the second largest center in the US for tech companies. And New York leads the nation with the largest bioscience engineering workforce in the country in 120 bio-tech companies. And the media sector is booming with media companies contributing more than $400 million in annual tax revenues to the city.

No wonder that a recent study found that New York holds a competitive edge on the world’s cities that is not likely to disappear any time soon. And Bob Steel’s portfolio has been at the heart of this success.  It includes the New York City Economic Development Corporation, The Department of Small Business Services, the City Planning Department, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

A few weeks ago Brookings Scholar Bruce Katz spoke here about his new book The Metropolitan Revolution which argues that cities and their larger metropolitan regions are the “engines of economic prosperity and social transformation in the United States.” He devotes a chapter to the New York story in which Bob Steel is a central player.

Bob Steel has done an extraordinary job.  He has led Mayor Bloomberg’s major redevelopment projects in Lower Manhattan, the South Bronx, Hudson Yards, Willets Point among others.  The accomplishment that I most admire is the new Technology Campus that Cornell and Technion are building on Roosevelt Island.  But that’s not all.  Also coming are The NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress in downtown Brooklyn, Columbia’s new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering, and Carnegie Mellon University’s new Integrative Media Program at the Brooklyn Naval Yard.   Bob Steel has played a key role in the realization of major projects such as the 7 Train extension, the redevelopment of Seward Park, the Big Wheel in Staten Island, a large retail complex and ice rink for the Kingsbridge Armory in Willets Point, and the redevelopment and expansion of Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Bob Steel was well prepared for his leadership role in our city.  He was at Goldman Sachs for nearly 30 years, rising to head its U.S. Equities Division.  He was Under Secretary for Domestic Finance in the U.S. Department of the Treasury and later President and CEO of Wachovia.  He has balanced his business career and public service with an active civic life, chairing the Board of his alma mater Duke University, as well as the Aspen Institute, the Hospital for Special Surgery and the After-School Corporation.

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 speaks, he and I will have a conversation for a few minutes, and then invite your questions.  We will end by a little after 7.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Deputy Mayor Robert Steel.


David Dinkins, “A Mayor’s Life: Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic”

On October 21, 2013, Jonathan provided introductory remarks for former New York City Mayor David Dinkins who spoke about his life and his new autobiography.  The two then sat down for a discussion about the book and about the future of New York City politics. Video of the event can be viewed here.

David Dinkins

October 21, 2013

Good evening.  I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of The Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.  It is my pleasure to welcome you to an evening with Mayor David Dinkins, who will talk about his just- published memoir, A Mayor’s Life:  Governing New York’s Gorgeous Mosaic.  We are grateful to Peter Osnos, a member of our Board and publisher of A Mayor’s Life for making this evening possible.

Roosevelt House is sponsoring a series of programs on New York City as we prepare to elect a new Mayor.  This Wednesday, Brookings Scholar Bruce Katz will talk about his new book The Metropolitan Revolution which features New York City as an example of how cities will lead economic growth. And in December, we will hear from Bob Steel, New York City’s deputy mayor for economic development, about the state of the city’s economy and its fiscal future.

Tonight is a special pleasure for me because I have known David Dinkins for thirty years through The New School, where in the 1980s he taught courses such as “Black Leadership in New York City” and “The City Politic: An Inside View.”  He now teaches at Columbia School of Public Affairs, Chairs the Earth Institute New York City Sustainable Development Initiative and hosts the annual Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum.

After service in The Marine Corps he earned his B.S. in Math from Howard University and his law degree from Brooklyn Law School.  He practiced law for twenty years as he entered political life in 1966 as a member of the New York State Assembly, he then served as President of New York City’s Board of Elections and was City Clerk for a decade before his election as President of the Borough of Manhattan in 1985 and Mayor in 1989.  Somehow he finds time to serve on non-profit boards like The Association to Benefit Children, The Children’s Health Fund, and the Coalition for the Homeless, to name just a few.

A Mayor’s Life is a memoir that chronicles the journey of an extraordinary life from modest beginnings to national leadership that has opened opportunity by example and good works for people of all backgrounds.  It is one of the best memoirs I have read:  honest, humane, humble, but forceful and inspiring.  David Dinkins brilliantly analyzes the complex reality a leader faces, describes the larger context of historical forces, challenges and opportunities that shape our destiny, and draws us into the story with a deeply personal narrative that includes New York personalities we all grew up with.

Enough time has passed so we can put David Dinkins’ enormous contribution to our city in perspective. We became a more just and humane place with his leadership, with better social services for the poor, attention to the challenges faced by the disabled and people with AIDS, more affordable housing opportunities, more programs for children and safer streets. I saw these improvements first-hand in the Union Square neighborhood when I was President of the New School and co-chair of the Union Square Local Development Corporation. A Mayor’s Life is a must read for the next Mayor, indeed for anyone aspiring to leadership of our city.

It is appropriate that we gather in the home of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and Franklin’s mother Sara.  Both Sara and Eleanor were champions of racial justice and opportunity.

When you walk around after the program, go into the second floor parlor and look at the photo on the mantel of Sara with Mary McLeod(McCLOUD) Bethune(BethOON). A frequent visitor to this house, Mary Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt became close friends when Franklin appointed her to serve as director of the National Youth Administration. Eleanor counted Mary among her closest friends and said she was “proud that our country could produce a Mrs. Bethune,” that her work for social justice and civil rights was “a tribute to our nation.”

FDR would have approved of the phrase “gorgeous mosaic” to describe the people of New York City.  Listen to the similarities, first, David Dinkins:

“New York is not a melting pot, but a gorgeous mosaic.  We have almost as many separate ethnic identities in the city as the United Nations has member nations.   Our religious and cultural institutions are multitudinous.  I did not feel the need to scrub the unique qualities from each.  I celebrated the beautiful work of economic, political, and social art, created by the millions of daily interactions that came to define the look, feel, taste, and sense of the city.”

And now hear FDR describe the nation in 1940:

“Men and women of courage,” he said, “of enterprise, of vision… form a new human reservoir, and into it has poured the blood, the culture, the traditions of all the races of peoples of the earth. [Here] they came—the “masses yearning to be free”—…cherishing common aspirations, not for economic betterment alone, but for the personal freedoms and liberties which had been denied to them[.]”

Eleanor and Franklin and Sara would be proud to host David Dinkins in their home.   And they would be proud of the life he has led.

After Mayor Dinkins speaks, he and I will converse for a few minutes and then open to your questions.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Mayor David Dinkins.

In Conversation with Judith Rodin

On October 9, 2013, Jonathan sat down with Rockefeller Foundation President and former President of Penn University, Judith Rodin, to talk about her life and career. Judith began by speaking at length on the Rockefeller Foundation’s current “100 Resilient Cities” initiative. The video can be viewed here.

Judith Rodin

October 9, 2013

Good evening.  I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.  It is my special pleasure to welcome you to a conversation with Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin.

I say ‘special pleasure’ because Judy Rodin and I have known each other for forty years.  When I was running an experimental summer term at Yale I recruited the best faculty to teach and Judy was my choice from psychology.  With a psychology degree from Penn and a Ph.D. from Columbia, she was one of Yale’s most popular teachers and productive scholars.   After serving as Dean of the Graduate School and Provost she then became President of the University of Pennsylvania where she did an extraordinary job, lifting Penn from 16th to 4th in the U.S. News and World Report rankings, doubling the research funding, tripling the endowment, making Penn a leader in adopting new technology in teaching and research, transforming the physical campus and whole sections of West Philadelphia.

And then on to the Rockefeller Foundation which brought us back together as colleagues when I was President of the MacArthur Foundation.  Judy had chaired one of MacArthur’s major international research networks looking at health-promoting and health-damaging behavior and also contributed to MacArthur’s work on healthy aging.

She is one of the very best foundation presidents I know leading Rockefeller’s in innovative solutions to critical problems with a special focus on secure food, water, housing, global health, sustainable growth and climate change resilience.  I am particularly interested in Rockefeller’s attention to the challenge of fast-growing cities and its concern for Africa.

Judy Rodin has phenomenal energy.  She has authored more than 200 academic articles, written or co-written twelve books, speaks around the world at leadership fora, serves on several corporate boards as well as boards like Carnegie Hall.  And she was a member of President Clinton’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.

For all her fame and accomplishment, Judith Rodin has her feet on the ground, is approachable, cares deeply about people, and is a steadfast and loyal friend.

So we have a lot to talk about tonight.  President Rodin will start with opening remarks, then she and I will have a conversation, and then open the floor to your questions.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Judith Rodin.

Jeffrey Sachs, “To Move The World”

On June 13, 2013, Jonathan provided introductory remarks for a presentation by world renowned economist and scholar, Jeffrey Sachs, on his newly published book entitled, To Move The World, which chronicles JFK’s quest for peace during his last two years in office. The video can be viewed here.

Jeffrey Sachs

June 13, 2013

Good evening. I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of Roosevelt House and it is my pleasure to welcome you to a presentation by Professor Jeffrey Sachs of his just published book To Move the World: JFK’s Quest for Peace. It is an absorbing narrative of Kennedy’s own profile in courage, rich with lessons for our own time, skillfully analyzed by Professor Sachs.

We gather in the historic homes of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin’s mother, Sara. Eleanor and Franklin lived here from 1908 until they moved to the White House in 1933.

I think they would welcome the conversation we are going to have about John F. Kennedy’s last great campaign in his final years of life:  to reset relations with the Soviet Union on a more peaceful course, pushing back against the Cold War virus. Central to this narrative is President Kennedy’s June 10, 1963 speech at American University a half century ago this week.

While conceding that Communism was repugnant, Kennedy said, “But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements in science and space, in economic and individual growth, in culture, in acts of courage … So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we can not end now our differences, at least we can make this world safe for diversity.”

 I believe FDR would have applauded JFK’s initiative and the achievement of the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Behind me is a picture of Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at Yalta, an appropriate backdrop for tonight’s program. As we know, Churchill was a role model for John Kennedy. And in his personal relationship with Khrushchev, he might have learned from FDR. Some have argued had Roosevelt lived, relations with the Soviet Union might have been better.

Indeed Stalin is reported to have said after Yalta, “Let’s hope nothing happens to Roosevelt. We shall never do business again with anyone like him.” Well, not until John F. Kennedy.

As Kennedy emerged from the Cuban Missile Crisis determined to chart a safer, less confrontational course, he might have recalled Franklin Roosevelt’s October 5, 1944 radio address from the White House:

“[We have a] firm and friendly relationship…with the people of the Soviet Union… The American people are glad and proud to be allied with the gallant people of Russia, not only in winning this war but in laying the foundations for the world peace which I hope will follow this war – and in keeping that peace. We have seen our civilization in deadly peril. Successfully we have met the challenge… What is now being won in battle must not be lost by lack of vision, or lack of knowledge, or by lack of faith… We owe it to our posterity, we owe it to our heritage of freedom, we owe it to our God, to devote the rest of our lives and all of our capabilities to the building of a solid, durable structure of world peace …”

John F. Kennedy made good on FDR’s promise to posterity.

Who better to tell the story of how human kind can push back the forces of pessimism, cynicism and despair by sustained purposeful actions than Jeffrey Sachs? His life is a celebration of how we can achieve a more just, peaceful and humane world.

Trained at Harvard in economics he became a tenured full professor there at age 28. Over the years he has written on the relationship of trade and economic growth, public health and economic development, strategies for economic reform and transition to market economies, climate change, the battle to end global poverty and more. He has written three NY Times bestsellers in the past seven years. The End of Poverty, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet and The Price of Civilization.

Jeff Sachs translates research and theory into practice with the best of them. Here is a sample: In the 1980s he helped Bolivia fight hyperinflation and reform its economy. In 1989, he helped Poland chart its transition from central planning to a market economy, followed by similar advisory roles for Slovenia and Estonia. Then he took on an even  greater challenge advising first Mikhail Gorbachev and then Boris Yeltsin on Russia’s transition toward a market economy.

As important as that work was, I venture to say his real passion is fighting poverty, especially in Africa. In 2002 he came to Columbia to direct the Earth Institute and work with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to shape the Millennium Development Goals. He chaired the WHO Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, worked with Kofi Annan to design the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, and now directs the U.N. Sustainable Development Solutions Network to connect the best knowledge of what works to real life challenges on the ground.

I first met Jeff Sachs when MacArthur supported his Millennium Village Project working in 10 countries directly helping over 500,000 people. This project aims to show that modest investments can empower rural villages to seize hold of their destiny and lift themselves out of poverty. The theory is to work on an interrelated set of issues at the same time: agricultural productivity, improved drinking water, health clinics, bed nets to ward off malaria, job training, new schools and more.

I had the privilege of visiting one of the project villages, Pampaida in Nigeria, and was impressed by the progress. Ten new schools raised school attendance by 20%,  90% of the children now receive meals in school, chronic malnutrition of kids under 2 is down 45%, malaria prevalence cut in half, 70% of the population has access to improved water, crop yields per hectare up four-fold.


I recall vividly visiting a new health clinic in Pampaida – well staffed and equipped. 90% of the population has access to a health clinic, up from 10% when Jeff Sachs started. I was particularly interested in the reduction of maternal mortality, a key issue for the MacArthur Foundation, and was impressed with the progress made.

We should invite Jeff  back another night to talk about this important work because he surely knows How to Move The World. But tonight is JFK’s night. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Professor Jeffrey Sachs.

Michael Fullilove, “Rendezvous with Destiny”

On July 8, 2013, Jonathan gave introductory remarks for a discussion between Lowy Institute Executive Director, Michael Fullilove, and Hunter College professor of Political Science, Andrew Polsky, on Fullilove’s newly published book Rendezvous with Destiny. The video can be viewed here.

Michael Fullilove

July 8, 2013

Good evening. I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of Roosevelt House, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to the home of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and Franklin’s mother, Sara, who built these twin townhouses in 1908 and gave number 49 to Eleanor and Franklin as a wedding gift. It was here Franklin and Eleanor raised their family, Franklin recovered from polio and re-entered politics, launched his presidential campaign and put together his administration. Francis Perkins tells the story of her recruitment to the Cabinet in a conversation in FDR’s second floor study where he made a commitment to create a Social Security program. Sara Roosevelt was never far from Eleanor and Franklin since she had connected the houses on several floors.

The houses came to Hunter when Sara died in 1942, used as a student center until closing in disrepair in 1992. Thanks to the vision and determination of Hunter President Jennifer Raab, who is here this evening, the houses were renovated in 2008 when she created the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute.

Tonight we have a very special program, a conversation between Hunter Professor of Political Science, Andrew Polsky, and Michael Fullilove, author of Rendezvous with Destiny. It is a study of how FDR used five special emissaries to pave the way for America’s entry into World War II and move toward global leadership.

Dr. Fullilove is Director of the Lowy Institute, Australia’s top think tank, with a special interest in understanding foreign policy challenges facing Australia within the Asia Pacific region and the global implications of developments in the region.

We hope tonight is the beginning of a relationship between Lowy and Roosevelt House. Only three years old, the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute has built two strong undergraduate programs, one in public policy, the other in human rights. It brings faculty together from across Hunter and supports their research, including conferences like ‘Ike Reconsidered,’ a forum organized by Professor Andrew Polsky that examined the importance of President Eisenhower’s legacy for the 21st century. And it offers a robust set of public programs. Most recently UNDP Director Helen Clark discussing the Millennium Development Goals, Robert Morgenthau on Justice for Immigrants, and former International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo this past March, reflecting on his term as the Court’s first prosecutor.

While the topics for our programs range widely, it is always especially meaningful to focus on the Roosevelts in the home where they lived from 1908 until they went to the White House. World views were shaped, values honed, temperments sharpened in this place.

Michael Fullilove quotes an observation from Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Roosevelt’s biographer, that Roosevelt “lived in a household of unresolved jurisdictions, and it had never occurred to him to try to settle lines in between mother and wife.” And later, perhaps, between formal lines of authority in the State Department and his personal representatives.

Tonight we will gain fresh insight about FDR’s skillful use of special envoys to gain information, send signals, shape policies and public opinion. [He strongly believed in personal diplomacy, direct conversations between leaders. He was confident in his capacity to persuade through charm and guile. But he couldn’t be everywhere. As he recounts to Stalin in July 1941: “I ask you to treat Mr. Hopkins with the identical confidence you would feel if you were talking directly to me. He will communicate directly to me the views that you express to him and will tell me what you consider are the most pressing individual problems on which we could be of aid.”]

To introduce our program I am pleased to call on Rita Eleanor Hauser, a graduate of Hunter College and a valued member of the Roosevelt House Board. She has been a member of the International Advisory Council of the Lowy Institute. Rita implored me not to give a long introduction. So I say simply she is a talented lawyer, with her husband, Gus, a generous philanthropist, and a civic leader serving on Boards like the International Peace Academy, the International Crisis Group, Lincoln Center and more. And she knows something about tonight’s topic, the role of special envoys and peace initiatives. She was part of a group from the Center for Peace in the Middle East, invited by the Swedish foreign minister, that orchestrated discussions which led Yasser Arafat in 1988 to recognize the State of Israel and to renounce terrorism. These negotiations helped pave the way for the historic 1993 Oslo Accords.

Hedrick Smith, “Who Stole The American Dream?”

On June 24, Jonathan provided introductory remarks for a presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, Hedrick Smith, on his new book about the erosion of the American Dream entitled, Who Stole The American Dream? The video can be viewed here.   


Hedrick Smith Introduction

June 24, 2013

Good evening. I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. It is my pleasure to welcome you to a discussion of Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith, one of America’s most distinguished journalists. Roosevelt House Board member, William vanden Heuvel, will introduce him in a moment.

We are pleased to co-sponsor this event with Common Cause which mobilizes citizens across America to fight to improve our democratic practices and curb the pernicious influence of money in politics. We celebrate a recent Common Cause victory in the Supreme Court. Last Monday the Court ruled 7-2 to uphold the National Voting Registration Act of 1993, striking down Arizona’s 2004 requirement that voters present evidence of citizenship—one that prevented many eligible citizens from practicing their right to vote.

Before going on we should have a moment of silence in remembrance of Common Cause’s President, Bob Edgar, who died recently.


We cherish the memory of his nearly 40 years of public service. Bob’s strong moral compass and his commitment to fairness are traits we can all admire. If you attended our conversation with Bob last year here at Roosevelt House, you got a taste of the vision, energy, compassion and commitment that animated his fight to make the American Dream a reality.

No doubt many of us share Bob Edgar’s concern about the current state of our democracy. As President Obama seeks to shape his legacy in a fiercely partisan Washington and our city struggles to select a new mayor equal to its challenges, it is useful for us to look at the context of both the national and local debate. In his introduction to Who Stole the American Dream?, Hedrick Smith proposes to “provide a reporter’s CAT scan of the two Americas today, examining the interplay of economics and politics to disclose how the shift of power and of wealth have led to the unraveling of the American Dream for the middle class.” He also offers a compelling narrative of “how we evolved into such an unequal democracy—how we lost the moderate political middle and how todays’ polarized politics reinforce economic inequality and a pervasive sense of economic insecurity.”

These are topics we very much need to understand, to discuss and debate and to do something about.

It is appropriate that we talk about Who Stole the American Dream? under the watchful gaze of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. In this house, FDR assembled his administration and crafted the New Deal that advanced the American Dream. Upstairs in his second floor study, he recruited Frances Perkins to be Secretary of Labor and made the commitment to Social Security. FDR was clear about who stole the American Dream in his time. Hear his words when he accepted renomination in 1936:

“…For too many of us, the political equality we once had won was meaningless in the face of economic inequality. A small group had concentrated into their own hands an almost complete control over other people’s property, other people’s money, other people’s labor—other people’s lives. For too many of us, life was no longer free; liberty no longer real; men could no longer follow the pursuit of happiness…”

He was determined to protect and advance the American Dream. And he knew eternal vigilance was required. He would have appreciated Hedrick Smith’s call to action.

To introduce our speaker tonight, I am pleased to present Ambassador William vanden Heuvel.

A lawyer by training, Ambassador vanden Heuvel has had a distinguished career in private practice and public service. As special assistant to Attorney General Robert Kennedy he played a key role in implementing the Brown vs. Board of Education decision desegregating schools in the South. He served as Special Counsel to Governor Averell Harriman, Vice President of the New York State Constitutional Convention, Chair of the New York City Board of Corrections. And then in 1977 he became Ambassador to the U.N.’s European Office and in 1979, U.S. deputy representative to the U.N.  His civic activities have included chairing the U.N. Association and the International Refugee Committee.

More than anyone I know he has helped all of us appreciate the legacy of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. He has been President of the Franklin and Eleanor Institute since its creation in 1987 and is the driving force behind the creation of the beautiful Roosevelt Memorial and Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island. It is one of the most moving, meaningful and beautiful public spaces in our city and country. When you are there you can feel the inspiration of Franklin and Eleanor. Bill, we will be forever grateful for your leadership in all places and institutions Roosevelt.

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome William vanden Heuvel.

In Conversation with Helen Clark

On June 11, 2013 Jonathan sat down with former New Zealand Prime Minister and current head of the United Nations Development Programme to discuss her career in international development and the challenges she faces ahead. To view the video, click here.

Helen Clark

June 11, 2013

Good evening. I am Jonathan Fanton, Interim Director at Roosevelt House, and it is my pleasure to welcome you to a conversation with Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Our program is made possible tonight by the generosity of Hunter alumna, Phyllis Kossof, who has been a major force in developing Hunter’s public programs. Previous speakers in the Kossoff series include Tom Brokaw, Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer, and historian David Kennedy.

Phyllis, we are grateful for your friendship and steadfast support. Please stand.

Tonight’s program is of special interest to all of us who care about creating a more just and peaceful world.

Funded at the level of roughly 5 billion dollars in voluntary contributions, UNDP works in 177 countries to increase political transparency, build democratic institutions, oversee the disbursement of humanitarian aid, and help governments reduce poverty.  It is the lead agency on driving and monitoring the world’s progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals agreed to by world leaders in 2000.  Her vision for an integrated approach to development and poverty eradication is the theoretical basis of the U.N. High Level Panel report released last month that articulates the post-2015 development agenda.

In preparing for tonight’s session I had the pleasure of reading through a selection of Helen Clark’s recent speeches and papers. The titles tell us a lot: “Inclusion and equality: Why Women’s Leadership Matters,” “Human Development and International Justice,” “Meaningful Development, Sustainable Growth,” “Why Tackling Climate Change Matters for Development,” “Conflict and Development: Inclusive Governance, Resilient Societies.” She is eloquent in teaching us that political, social and economic development must go together. In her words:

“At UNDP we see many of the non-financial constraints on human development – war and conflict, armed violence, low social cohesion, poor governance, corruption, poor enabling environments for trade and investment, and a lack of capacity to drive the development and implementation of strategies which could bring about transformational change.”

Under Helen Clark’s leadership, UNDP has addressed those challenges at a breathtaking pace around the world.

Here is a small sample meant to give you a glimpse of the scope of her work. UNDP:

  • Assisted 29 countries in adopting official policies that promote small enterprises and women’s entrepreneurship.
  • Helped mobilize an unprecedented number of young people to vote in Tunisia’s first democratic election in October 2011.
  • Worked with the Global Fund in 32 countries to fight the spread of AIDS.
  • Utilized a Gender Assessment Tool in over 20 countries to increase their spending on health and educational services for women.
  • Conducted case studies on water provision systems in Kenya,Tanzania, and Uganda.
  • Helped remove 60% of the rubble created by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, with much of it being recycled to create new homes in the area.
  • Provided security advice to Libya and trained lawyers and judges in the lead up to the country’s first election since 1952.
  • Provided short-term employment to nearly 5,000 people and legal aide to over 7,000 people a one year period in Somalia.

Those individual accomplishments contribute to big picture progress. In the 13 years since the Millennium Development Goals were adopted there are a half billion fewer people living below the international poverty line, child death rates down 30%, malaria deaths down by one quarter. But we will hear in a moment how much more there is to do and how, despite this good progress, inequality grows. We are fortunate to have Helen Clark to lead us forward.

Appointed in 2009, Helen Clark was reappointed to a 4 year term in 2012 in recognition of her strong and compassionate leadership of all of the UN’s development programs.

She was well prepared for her important work on the world stage. She was trained as a political scientist at the University of Auckland where she taught before entering Parliament in 1981 when she chaired its Foreign Affairs Committee. She served as Minister of Housing, Minister of Health and Minister of Conservation before becoming Deputy Prime Minister. In 1994, Helen Clark was elected Prime Minister of New Zealand, serving three successive terms. As Prime Minister, she lowered unemployment, provided vital services for working families and students, raised wages for the working class, fostered economic growth, and reconciled with Samoa over abuses during New Zealand’s administration of the country.

Her deep experience in the political life of her home country prepared her well for her global responsibilities.

I think Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt would be pleased that we are gathered in their home tonight to talk about how wealthy nations can help improve the lives of the over 1 billion people who live in poverty, people who have energy and talent ready to be unleashed if given a chance.

Hear Eleanor’s words in Sydney, Australia in 1943:

“To help people to help themselves is perhaps the basis of an economic policy which has as its objective freedom from want throughout the world…the future will be safer and perhaps even more prosperous if for a time we devote ourselves to the task of helping people to help themselves…”

What better introduction could there be to Helen Clark whose life responds to Eleanor’s call?

Helen Clark and I will have a conversation for about 30 minutes and then invite you to join us.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Helen Clark.