In July 2018, Rob Walsh was appointed as senior advisor to Manhattan College president Brennan O’Donnell, Ph.D. Working with O’Donnell and his leadership team, Walsh is charged with forging strategic partnerships with key New York organizations and institutions including foundations, cultural institutions, non-profits, government agencies, major corporations, and start-up companies.
Walsh’s radio segment, The Bottom Line for Small Business airs on 1010 WINS Radio where he is also the moderator of the Small Business Challenge which recognizes the work of entrepreneurs in the New York metropolitan area.
From 2014-18, he served on the faculty at Baruch College’s School of Public and International Affairs, where he has also served as the faculty director of the executive master’s degree in public administration program.
In January 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Walsh the commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services (SBS). During his 12 years there, SBS became one of the city’s most innovative agencies in serving the needs of its 200,000 small businesses. Walsh re-energized the city’s business improvement districts and created an award-winning neighbourhood leadership programme in partnership with the Coro Foundation.
Under his leadership, seven NYC Business Solutions Centers were established that secured more than $200 million for small businesses in the last six years of his tenure. He created a wide array of entrepreneurial courses and forged new partnerships with groups, including the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, Interise, and the Kauffman Foundation.
Prior to serving in the Bloomberg administration, Walsh served as president of Charlotte (N.C.) Center City Partners. He led the Center City master plan initiative that led to significant private and public investments. He also attracted Johnson & Wales University to the Center City.
From 1989 to April 1997, he played an instrumental role in the revitalization of one of New York’s great neighbourhoods, as executive director of the Union Square Partnership. During the 1980s, he worked in the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch. He began his career in public service as a New York City Urban Fellow, a programme he later directed.
Walsh holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and master’s degree in public affairs from Fordham University. He also participated in the senior executives in state and local government programme at the Harvard Kennedy School.
What, for you, is the importance of our global diaspora and how do you contribute to its success?
Over the years, Belfast leaders have worked tirelessly in building bridges of business, community and culture between Belfast and cities around the globe. Manhattan College has long and deep ties with the Irish and Belfast. We look to build upon the foundation of that relationship.
Tell us how you connect to Belfast:
I am a descendant of Belfast emigrants. My great, great grandparents were Belfast born – D. Desmond Walsh (1837) and Kate Walsh (1836). I participated and presented at the 2011 Belfast One City Conference and have been over to visit a couple of times with my father, wife and children to explore the city. Over the last decade, I have actively participated in the New York/New Belfast Conference.
You know you’ve got Belfast heritage when…:
You live by the motto of Belfast: “For all we have received, what shall we give back in return”.