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Patrick Gaspard - Public Policy and Presidential Politics in America
With 20 months to go until the 2024 presidential election, both parties are staking out policy positions on a number of issues hoping to connect with American voters. To discuss the intricacies of the coming policy debates, join Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress in conversation with Dr. Basil A. Smikle Jr., Public Policy Program Director at Roosevelt House.
Patrick Gaspard is the president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, a leading public policy think tank working to build an inclusive and just nation. He has been a leader in government, philanthropy, labor and global diplomacy, with an insistent focus on equity. Gaspard most recently served as the president of the Open Society Foundations (OSF), one of the largest private philanthropies in the world, where he confronted significant global threats to democracy and rights. He shaped the foundation’s $220 million commitment to civil rights groups in the wake of the national reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd, and refashioned investments in global health infrastructure in the context of the Covid 19 pandemic. He is proud to have launched the Foundation’s work in Culture and Arts as intrinsically tied to human rights practice. During his tenure as U.S. ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, Gaspard renewed the critical bilateral cooperation on security, health outcomes, and fair trade. He led the effort to redesign US HIV/AIDS funding in the region and integrate it effectively into the South African health care system. He also successfully led trade negotiations that resulted in the unprecedented 10-year renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Gaspard served as the National Political Director for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 campaign, and went on to lead in the President’s Administration as the Associate Director of Personnel for the Obama/Biden Transition, and Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Political Affairs. Gaspard has had a long career in labor and workers’ rights movements, which peaked during his service to healthcare workers as Executive Vice President for the Service Employees International Union / Local 1199. Gaspard attended Columbia University and is the recipient of honorary doctorates from Columbia University and Bard College. He has also been awarded the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP.
Dr. Basil A. Smikle Jr. (Moderator), Ph.D., is a Distinguished Lecturer and Director of the Public Policy Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. He was appointed by former Governor David Paterson to serve as the Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Party during the 2016 presidential cycle where he was the “second highest ranking Democrat” in the State. He holds a PhD in Politics and Education and an MPA from Columbia University and received a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University.