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NYC Deputy Mayor inspires urban studies students

Photograph by Barnard College/Adrienne Hezghia.

NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith visited Urban Studies Prof. Thomas Kamber's class for a discussion on "social entrepreneurship." 

JungHee Hyun ’13 recounts the special event:

When Urban Studies Prof. Thomas Kamber announced that NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith would be visiting class, we were thrilled.  Having read his book The Power of Social Innovation, I admired his work in “social entrepreneurship” during his two successful terms as mayor of Indianapolis and now as NYC deputy mayor.

When Mr. Goldsmith met with our class, he was approachable yet professional and incredibly charismatic. He spoke about his accomplishments in Indianapolis where he revamped the delivery of city services and revitalized urban neighborhoods.  "Organizations that think most about their clients are the organizations that are most successful," he said.

Goldsmith has also been involved in implementing President Obama’s Social Innovation Fund as the Board Chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

As we have been learning and reading in class, most social entrepreneurs independently identify a social problem then find solutions.  Although social entrepreneurs request financial support from the government and push for policy changes, few actually run for office.  However, Mr. Goldsmith pursued public office because he enjoyed politics at the local level and knew he could make a direct impact.  He added, “As an elected government official, you push for policy innovation.  As a social entrepreneur, you focus on operational innovation.”

As he spoke to our class, the deputy mayor informally challenged college campuses to create more venues and support for young social entrepreneurs. 

In particular, schools should “provide more infrastructure for students to take ownership of their social enterprises," he said.  Mr. Goldsmith is not only leading by example but fighting for more opportunities for the members of my generation.