Robert Walsh is Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He brings hands-on experience in economic development and revitalizing communities throughout New York City.
Rob previously served as Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) from January 2002 to December 2013. During his twelve-year tenure, he reshaped SBS to become one of the city’s most innovative agencies in serving the needs of its 200,000 small businesses. He re-energized the city’s 69 business improvement districts and created an award-winning commercial revitalization and neighbourhood leadership program in partnership with the Coro Foundation. He also built a new business-focused approach to the workforce system that secured job placement for nearly 200,000 people through 17 workforce centres.
Walsh also led the Union Square Partnership from 1989 to 1997, where he played an instrumental role in the neighbourhood’s revitalization. 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 program he later directed.
Before returning to New York, Walsh served as President of Charlotte Center City Partners in North Carolina, an organization dedicated to improving and growing Charlotte’s central business district. In Charlotte, he led the Center City 2010 Master Plan that laid the groundwork for significant private and public investments, including additional housing, retail development, an NBA basketball arena, a minor league baseball stadium, and other public facilities and infrastructure.
Walsh holds a Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Affairs from Fordham University. He also participated in the Senior Executive Program in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School. Rob also hosts a weekly radio segment, “The Bottom Line for Small Business,” which can be heard on 1010 WINS every Monday and Friday during drive time.
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”.