Alumni Corner Archive
Patryk Perkowski graduated as valedictorian from Queens College in 2014. A student of the Macaulay Honors College, he doubled majored in math and economics. While at Queens College, he conducted international health policy research under the Urban Studies department, conducted educational policy research abroad in Ghana, and wrote a senior thesis that examined the effectiveness of policy provisions in reducing drunk driving. Upon graduation, Patryk joined the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as a research associate, where he supported staff economists with producing academic research and high-level briefings on monetary policy. He now works at Columbia University, assisting Professor Chris Blattman with projects related to poverty and violence in fragile states. His current projects include evaluating a hotspots policing intervention in Colombia, an anti-vote buying campaign in Uganda, and a group cognitive behavioral therapy program for ex-combatants in Liberia. He plans to pursue a PhD in economics in the future to focus on labor economics and the economics of race.
Jonathan Taryan is an analyst in the Long Island and Manhattan market for J.P. Morgan Private Bank. In his role, Jonathan provides strategic and customized investment, credit, and wealth advisory solutions for JPMorgan’s high net worth clients.
After holding three internships with J.P. Morgan Private Bank during the spring, summer and fall of 2014, Jonathan was offered a full-time position on the same team. He began his career in July 2015.
Prior to joining J.P. Morgan, he held a market strategy internship at National Securities Corporation where he supported the firm’s Chief Market Strategist publishing economic commentary and analysis across equities, fixed income, currencies, and commodities.
Jonathan graduated magna cum laude from Queens College of the City University of New York with a dual degree in Economics and Corporate Finance.
Jonathan holds his Series 7 and 63 licenses. He resides in Manhattan.
Youssouf Diallo works as a junior financial analyst specifically for The Eastern District of New York at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In his current position, Youssouf provides an objective evaluation of financial soundness, determine compliance with applicable laws and regulations, and appraises the performance and abilities of management and directorate. This position requires him to travel 40 to 60 per cent of his working time, on average, from large banks to community banks within his district. Before graduating from Queens College, Youssouf interned for two renowned financial firms and believes both internships were made possible largely from the connections he made with faculty and others in the Department of Economics at Queens College. Youssouf interned at Barrington Capital as a Mergers and Acquisitions analyst and at Schutzman Associates as an Investment Banking intern.
While at Queens College, Youssouf was involved in many leadership activities, as well as, a number of volunteering opportunities. His mentorship at Project Excel, a Queens College program that helps minority students excel in stem programs, was particularly beneficial. Youssouf was also a Student Ambassador for the Center of Ethnic, Race and Religious understanding.
Youssouf holds a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Pure Mathematics and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, both from Queens College. Youssouf also has a Business Administration Associate of Science degree from Queensborough Community College. Youssouf plans to pursue a master degree in Financial Engineering at New York University beginning in the Fall 2017 semester.
He is a native of Mali and has lived in New York City since moving to the United States in 2008.
Associate Professor of Economics
Deputy Chairperson of the BBA
BA, QC, 1979
PhD, NYU, 1989
ER: Joan, the Department of Economics is thrilled that you have recently won the 2013 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. It goes without saying (but I will say it) that it is more than well-deserved. We are doubly proud of you-as a colleague and also as a graduate of the QC economics department. So let’s go back to the beginning of your QC career. What led you here as an undergraduate?
JN: First of all, I grew up in Queens, in Elmhurst, and I attended Newtown High School. My decision was really based on my mother’s recommendation. She always spoke about Queens as the “college on a hill.” She said many times that it was a place to get a great education.
ER: What are your fondest memories about being an undergraduate?
JN: I did indeed receive an excellent education. I benefited from taking classes with professors who were engaged with the material, as well as with the students. Many classes had only 20 or 25 students. I received a very broad-based education.
ER: Do you still have any close friends from your undergraduate years?
JN: My husband, Bruce. We have now been married for 30 years. He also majored in economics.
ER: What were your favorite courses?
JN: Ray Franklin’s course on the economics of race, class, and gender. A political science seminar with Andrew Hacker. I was actually a double major-econ and poli sci-and I had a minor in philosophy. Professor Hacker sent letters to students who did well in his intro class and invited them into his seminar. I still remember some of our discussions.
ER: At what point did you decide to major in economics?
JN: First, I declared a political science major; then, in my junior year, I added the econ major, and I continued to take philosophy classes through all four years. We were told poli sci was a good major if you were interested in becoming a lawyer. But economics looked good for providing more career opportunities. And Professor Hacker told his political science students that economics was a must, so I took my first econ class in the spring of my sophomore year. I have to admit that I didn’t love the first year, but when I took Ray’s class, I saw how interesting economics could be and that it really complemented philosophy and political science. Ray also hired me as a research assistant to work on a project that examined how CUNY’s student body changed over time. (Ray won an Excellence in Teaching award in 1993, and it is gratifying to follow in his footsteps.)
ER: In addition to Ray Franklin, which other economics faculty members played an important role in your undergraduate education?
JN: Michael Edelstein’s intermediate macro class was great; he brings in a lot of different material. He is really an excellent teacher. He should be getting one of these teaching awards! Also, Peter Eilbott hired me as a research assistant and encouraged me to attend graduate school.
ER: When did you develop your interest in finance? It is not exactly what one would have predicted given what you have said about your undergraduate interests.
JN: In grad school at NYU, Linda Allen, who was then also an NYU grad student (also a QC undergrad a few years before me), recommended a finance course taught in the business school. (I was in the econ department in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and at that time it did not offer a finance course.) The business school course was taught by a number of different outstanding professors over two semesters. That’s what got me started in finance.
ER: In what way do you see your interest in finance related to your interests in philosophy and political science?
JN: As the recent financial crisis illustrates very painfully, human decision-making is not something that is easily modeled with accuracy and precision. The desire to move up the ladder makes the human factor all too real in understanding why it is hard to stand away from the crowd and state that something your superior believes does not make sense. Anyone who studied either political science or philosophy would understand that math only takes us so far in capturing the underlying reality of decision-making.
ER: Tell me about your doctoral thesis.
JN: It was entitled “Fair Competition in the Market for Corporate Control.” My thesis advisor was on the law school faculty-Lewis Kornhauser. He also had a PhD in economics. I used game theory to investigate how different types of tender offers shape battles for corporate control. My results identified conditions when specific types of tender offers, such as a two-tier front-loaded tender offer, effectively coerce shareholders into tendering even though shareholder wealth is not maximized.
ER: How was the grad school experience?
JN: Very different from my undergraduate experience. Undergrad changed my thinking about a whole range of issues, while my graduate school experience was very narrowly focused. Game theory appealed to me because there is definitely a philosophical aspect to it, in particular, with respect to the idea of rationality.
ER: Can you give me an example of how your thinking changed during your undergraduate years?
JN: My father was an old-fashioned liberal, and I grew up thinking only one political party had it right. But college taught me that getting things right was far easier to talk about than accomplish.
ER: How did you decide to return to QC as a faculty member?
JN: I started teaching at Queens as an adjunct while I was finishing my dissertation. When I received my PhD and it was time to look for a full-time job, I limited my search to the New York area because Bruce, by then my husband, was working at AT&T in New Jersey. A position in finance had opened up when Linda Allen, then a QC faculty member, moved from Queens to Hofstra. (She is now at Baruch.) So in 1988 I became an assistant professor.
ER: What was it like coming back and being on the faculty with people who had been your professors?
JN: I guess, because I taught as an adjunct, the transition from student to faculty member was ongoing. I felt very comfortable, and the faculty was welcoming. So it was an easy transition.
ER: As I noted at the start, you recently received the Queens College 2013 President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. So what is the secret to being an excellent teacher?
JN: I don’t know if there is a secret in the sense that there is one right way to teach effectively. I think it is the social environment in the classroom-developing a community of learners. There are lots of ways to do this. The object is to make students comfortable enough to share their ideas and thoughts with you and the class, and to come to see you during office hours. Then you will have a successful classroom environment.
ER: The citation announcing your President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching notes, among the many ways in which you have inspired your students, “your use of ‘cutting edge technology’ to ensure ‘maximum engagement with the class.'” Tell me about some of these initiatives.
JN: I started breaking the class up into teams over 20 years ago, way before this was popular.
Students would get to know each other, and I would get to know them. More recently I turned to technology, introducing a virtual platform called “Second Life.” Through a grant from the president to promote the use of innovative teaching techniques, I hired a computer science major to put the QC campus into a virtual platform called Powdermaker Island. The students would choose an avatar, a virtual representation of themselves. Students would sign on with their avatars and engage in activities that, for example, helped them understand the benefits of a diversified portfolio. (I also discovered that some of the teams chose to play paintball on the island in the middle of the night!) One of the things the students particularly enjoyed was sort of a treasure hunt. I created some very challenging multiple choice questions, but my computer science assistant and I buried hints somewhere on the virtual campus. Students could then hunt for the hints to help them determine the correct answer.
I also use clickers: During class, I put up multiple choice questions. Each student uses a clicker to register what he or she believes to be the correct answer. If too many students miss a question, I break the class up into teams, let them talk about it, and then answer the question as a team. The percentage of correct answers goes up significantly.
ER: Students also comment on the way you bring the real world into the classroom. Can you elaborate on this?
JN: It’s really related to what I said earlier about the limitations of considering only mathematics when trying to understand financial market behavior. When I teach finance, I don’t just assume that the answer from an equation is the answer in an organization. For instance, within an organization, there are pressures to meet the expectations of the boss. Strategies of employees may involve silence or holding back information-or simply going along with what your boss or client expects. I may talk about SAC next semester. In the past I have talked about Long-Term Capital Management, where bets on Russia created havoc with portfolio returns. A highly leveraged bet went wrong, and they faced a loss of $1.9 billion in one month. The interesting issue is how much confidence was placed on trading according to models that seemed to offer good reasons why the trades would continue to produce outsized returns. Just because the models used advanced quantitative techniques did not imply that there was a firewall around losses. As the most recent financial crisis illustrates, models are far from foolproof.
Another way I bring in the real world: I also pose the following in class: “Suppose you were asked question x in a job market interview. How would you answer?” This helps students learn from one another.
ER: Tell me what’s going on with your own research.
JN: I’m working on a number of different things.
First, I am exploring the debate between the efficacy of the virtual (online) classroom and the physical classroom. Why do we need a physical classroom? I’m using a dual-self model and setting up a simple game of prisoners’ dilemma between what I call the classroom self and the homework self. I use the classroom as a coordinating mechanism and discover precise conditions when it matters. For example, when the relatedness parameter that reflects the connection between the two selves is low, the classroom as a focal point of attention matters more than when the two selves are highly connected.
I am also doing research with Bruce. When you don’t have an investment time horizon, how do you capture the relevant risk of an investment? Based on wavelet analysis, we find that there are precisely identified circumstances when the plain vanilla beta that measures the correlation between a stock’s return and the returns on the broader market does not perform adequately as a measure of risk. We present evidence as to why investors should be concerned that the CAPM (capital asset pricing model) beta ignores significant differences in correlation that occur in shorter time intervals than the average time period of sixty months generally used to calculate beta.
In addition to these research projects, I’m also working on an app with a team that includes QC students (both former and present) that we hope will help the unbanked and under-banked find ways to save. Our goal is to pitch the idea and gain funding that will enable us to hire people who will help us with the design and marketing of the app.
ER: That new app sounds terrific!
I was going to ask you what you and Bruce do with your spare time now that your twin daughters are off to college. So now I know. Are there any more budding economists in the family?
JN: Well, first of all, what spare time? As for budding economists, one of the twins plans to major in economics; the other is pre-law.
ER: As for our undergraduates, do you have any advice about how they should shape their econ or BBA majors?
JN: Take advantage of the liberal arts; do not be afraid go outside business-oriented topics. Learn to write well, to communicate effectively, and to think critically. I remember in Andrew Hacker’s classes, every time you thought you knew the answer, he would throw something new at you, and you would have to rethink it. I hope I do this in my own classroom.
ER: And any advice about going on to grad school?
JN: Top grad programs are crowded. If that is your goal, you must be good in math. Take graduate level courses in economics and math to signal your ability; and be sure to do undergraduate research.
ER: Any advice about going for an MBA?
JN: First of all, most business schools require three to five years of work experience before you will be admitted. While I wish I didn’t have to say this, it is important to attend a brand-name school. While there are some very good business schools at public universities, do not rule out a private university education. True, they are more expensive, but it is likely to be a good investment-and they actually do offer some funding.
ER: Thanks for this interview, Joan. We have been colleagues for many years, but I learned more about you today!
Professor and Co-Director, MA in Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver
BA, Economics, Queens College, 1984
PhD, Economics, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, 1992
ER: It’s probably been a while since you thought about this: What made you decide to attend Queens College?
IG: To be honest, I really didn’t give much thought to this decision. My family was not particularly focused on the world of higher education, although I was always interested in going to college and was quite studious. My high school advisers recommended Queens as the “Harvard of CUNY.” I just took their recommendation. It worked out perfectly; I was very well-served educationally and enjoyed my time at Queens College immensely.
ER: Do you have any particularly fond memories of your QC days?
IG: Yes, I formed close relationships and was mentored by many faculty members: Ray Franklin, Carl Riskin, and Bill Tabb in Economics; Matt and Kim Edel in Urban Studies. I was deeply saddened by Matt’s death quite a while ago and by Kim’s more recent death. During my time at QC I particularly enjoyed participating in a study group on Central America organized by Matt Edel and in the Monday lunches with presentations on important topics, especially involving social justice. The attendees included a diverse group of students and faculty from many disciplines concerned with issues of equity, power and alternative economic and social models.
ER: What induced you to become an economics major?
IG: From high school on I was interested in economics, social justice, and political economy. An economics major was a natural for me. I didn’t consider any other major. In my first year I took courses with Ray Franklin (macroeconomics) and Kim Edel (on the urban economy). After that, I really knew that economics was the right major for me.
ER: When did you decide you wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in economics?
IG: I became interested in my junior year. I admired my professors. They were all helpful in researching graduate schools. I visited various schools and met with faculty. I had a number of choices, but decided on UMass – Amherst because of its broad focus and because I wanted to study heterodox (non-mainstream) political economy. Fellowships made it financially possible.
ER: What did your parents think about your going for a Ph.D.?
IG: They were concerned that I was going to be far away from home. It was rather a puzzle to them what it all meant. They’d never known anyone who became a professor, so I think they were a bit unclear as to why I was going to be in school for so long. Over time, of course, they came to understand, and I believe were and are proud of what I have done with my career.
ER: What was the topic of your dissertation?
IG: It was on financial liberalization (i.e., financial deregulation) in the developing world. Specifically I focused on trying to explain why so many developing countries that liberalized their financial systems in the 1970s and 1980s experienced severe financial crises shortly thereafter. In addition, I tried to explain why financial liberalization also failed to produce other expected outcomes (e.g., an increase in savings and investment, a reduction in capital flight and corruption).
ER: Had you been interested in finance as an undergraduate?
IG: I really didn’t focus on finance as an undergrad. I was interested in Latin American political economy, poverty, economic development, labor markets, and political economy theory. I was in grad school just as financial markets were beginning to explode. At UMass, Jim Crotty and Gerald Epstein were focusing on financial issues and the political economy of financial markets, and this really galvanized my interest.
ER: How was the academic job market when you finished your Ph.D.?
IG: It was really good. I had quite a few interviews and good job options. I finished my PhD in the summer of 1992, and there was great interest at the time in financial crises and international issues (perhaps much as is the case at the present time). I had taken a one-year teaching appointment at Smith College while I was finishing my dissertation. I decided I wanted to be at a research university rather than a liberal arts college, and here at the University of Denver (DU) I am at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, a place particularly well-suited to pursuing my interests in international finance and economic development in a way that crosses academic disciplines. I am also lucky to have a group of colleagues from many disciplines, such as economics, political science, anthropology and history, who share my interests. Right now there are about 25 full-time faculty and about an equal number of part-time and/or clinical faculty. The school was recently named in memory of Josef Korbel, the founding dean of the school. It is interesting to note that he was Madeleine Albright’s father.
ER: What do you like about being an academic?
IG: I love working with students–teaching and mentoring students, as I was mentored. I teach international monetary relations at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. And because the world is always changing, there is always something new to cover. At the graduate level, I teach a seminar in finance and economic development, and I also teach political economy of finance. I find teaching both undergraduates and graduate students equally rewarding. It is particularly gratifying helping undergraduates who are trying to “find themselves.” And graduate students, too, are often trying to figure out their careers. Both groups of students, I find, are keenly interested in understanding and improving the world in really concrete ways, which I enjoy. And, of course, I find research very engaging. Right now I’m working on how the global financial crisis has affected global financial governance. I’ve just completed a background paper for the UNDP (the United Nations Development Programme) on how the crisis has helped to give life to regional and bilateral financial initiatives among developing countries, such as creating institutions and mechanisms for pooling official reserves, providing lender-of-last-resort support for one another rather than relying on the IMF, and even providing sources of long-term, low-cost development finance to countries in the global South. I am looking into the possibility of developing a global financial architecture that is more development-friendly.
ER: Can you elaborate briefly on what you mean by “more development-friendly”?
IG: I am particularly interested in thinking about ways to enhance the ability of global, regional, bi-lateral and national financial institutions to promote financial stability, reduce inequality, enhance the development of productive capacities, and increase the ability of policymakers in developing countries to pursue policies of their own design. In the UNDP work that I reference above I examine the ways in which the current financial crisis has promoted institutional innovations in the global South (i.e., developing countries) that help Southern financial institutions to achieve these aims by, for example, providing long-term, low-cost capital to entrepreneurs in the developing world.
ER: You have mentioned your work with the UNDP. Can you tell us about your other work outside of academia?
IG: I’ve long enjoyed the opportunity to work with non-governmental organizations (such as ActionAid and “New Rules for Global Finance”) and multilateral organizations such as the United Nations G-24, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Economic Development (UNCTAD), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). What I find most rewarding about this work is that it gives me the chance to test my ideas in very practical contexts, forces me to communicate clearly, and certainly affords me the opportunity to learn from those engaged in the real world of policy advocacy and policy debate. Above all, it allows me to be useful, which is very important to me.
ER: When I searched for you on the DU website last semester, I was delighted to see you right there on the homepage with an announcement that you had been selected as DU’s University Lecturer for 2011-2012. (See photo below.) What does this entail?
IG: It is an honor given each year in recognition of scholarly achievement. The University Lecturer is announced at the University Convocation in the fall. I gave my lecture on May 3, 2012.
ER: And what did you speak about?
IG: I presented my thoughts on how the financial crisis has influenced thinking about policies in developing countries and also how it is changing the landscape of Southern financial architecture. One of the most important consequences of the current financial crisis is that it has re- legitimized capital controls. Capital controls are policies designed to manage international flows of finance. These policies had fallen out of favor prior to the crisis. During the crisis, many developing countries have started to utilize capital controls. IMF staff and IMF research have moved importantly to accept the idea that these controls are an acceptable part of the policy toolkit, which is a very big change for the institution as it had formerly pre-conditioned assistance on the removal of such controls. I also talked about the results of some of my recent research for the UNDP, specifically focusing on the ways in which national, bilateral, and regional financial arrangements and institutions have been given new force by the financial crisis.
ER: Do you have any advice for current economics students who might be contemplating doing graduate work in economics?
IG: If students are interested in economics, they should study the subject on the graduate level. One route is through a school of international affairs. These programs are more focused on policy and area studies than are MA programs in economics. This is an especially good route for someone seeking a master’s degree, and who is seeking employment in the policy world. For students thinking about a PhD, then an economics program is a good way to go, but there are differences across programs in their emphasis, so it is important to carefully research programs.
ER: Have you stayed in contact with any of your former QC professors?
IG: Yes, I see Bill Tabb from time to time at conferences. I used to see the Edels. Unfortunately, I have lost touch with Ray Franklin-and need to rectify that. I have gotten to know Leanne Ussher, who joined the QC faculty quite a while after I had graduated. I first read some of Leanne’s work in a journal. We both contribute to a blog called TripleCrisis (triplecrisis.com), which focuses on the crises in the financial system, the environmental crisis, and the crises in the developing world. Leanne and I finally met in March 2010 at the Eastern Economic Association meetings when they were held in New York City.
ER: How do you like Denver?
IG: I really enjoy living here. Initially, I was skeptical about location, having spent all my time on the East Coast. I’ve come to enjoy the outdoors a lot, and I especially like to hike and snowshoe. I most certainly wasn’t an “outdoorsy” person when I lived in New York, but things change . . . . I also have a very nice group of colleagues at DU-including my husband, economist George DeMartino. We met in grad school, and we are extremely lucky to have positions on the same faculty. One of his key interests is economics and ethics. He is also a flyfisherman, so Colorado really suits him.
ER: Thanks for taking the time to let those of us at QC know what you have been up to. Perhaps you will come back for a visit and present a seminar in the near future.
IG: It would be a great honor to do so!
Ilene Grabel can be reached at Ilene.Grabel@du.edu.
Unfortunately, there is no video of Professor Grabel’s May 3rd University Lecture. She will soon be publishing an article that is similar to her presentation. We will add a link when this is available.
To see a video interview with Ilene Grabel on “The IMF’s Mid-Life Crisis,” use this link:
To read some of Ilene’s posts on the TripleCrisis blog, use this link:
To read Ilene’s recent paper commissioned by the UNDP, use this link:
Adjunct Professor of Economics, Queens College
Director of Research, Wealthstream Advisors
BA, Queens College, 1972
PhD, CUNY, 1980
My solid academic training at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center created the foundation for every chapter of my professional experience. The son of a factory worker and homemaker, I grew up only six blocks from the Queens College campus. Each day as I walked to John Bowne High School, I stared at the QC campus and knew that the free (as it was back then) education it offered was my only chance for a college education. As it turned out, money could not have purchased a better education anywhere.
I enrolled at Queens College in September 1968 intending to become a high school social studies teacher. Though I never did teach in a high school, the training I got from the Secondary Education Department helped me immeasurably in my career to give presentations, appear on radio and television, write speeches, lead or participate in meetings and, eventually, become a successful college professor.
Directionless after my sophomore year, I “settled” on economics as my major mainly because I loved to debate economic policy. As it turned out, knowledge and understanding of economics became the common thread that bound together every piece of what became my diverse and satisfying career.
A key aspect of that career development was the completion of my PhD in economics at the CUNY Graduate Center. After reaching the status of ABD (all but dissertation) in 1975 at age 23, I had no intention of completing my degree; I was pursuing an MBA at NYU while working full-time. However, when one of my former professors convinced me that I should go ahead, I did so and defended my dissertation in October 1979 on the connection between advertising and business cycles.
As a 21-year old second-year graduate student, I began teaching economics at Lehman College. With only brief breaks since then, I have taught economics as an adjunct ever since. In 1979, I was offered an adjunct position at QC, which I enjoyed through the 1990s and, again, this past fall. Meanwhile, I either taught or served as a guest lecturer at nine other colleges and universities, including Barnard College, NYU, National Defense University, Pepperdine University, and the University of Puerto Rico.
My career in industry began at CBS, where I was part of an internal consulting group. It was thrilling answering questions and doing research, from time to time, for Walter Cronkite and having an office fifty feet from CBS Sports. I became friendly with many of the announcers, directors and producers, including a former Miss America, whose names and faces I got to know by watching football games and golf tournaments.
Two years later, The Conference Board, a non-profit business-sponsored research organization, recruited me. There, I worked with some of the most respected economists of the era on various research projects, specializing mainly in business cycle and fiscal and monetary policy analyses. After a decade, I launched a hugely successful profit center in regional economics for the firm and built a thriving consulting practice of my own, helping fifteen Fortune 500 companies and several state governors on regional economic and economic policy issues.
The non-partisan platform offered by The Conference Board set me up for an invitation to work directly with the Southern Growth Policies Board (SGPB), an organization of fourteen Southern governors intended to promote the economic development of the South. One project, coordinated by Governor Bill Clinton, led directly to improved reading and math scores throughout the South.
My Regional Economics Center captured the attention of several notable political leaders. Governor Dukakis invited me to meet with him in Springfield, MA, to discuss education policy. President Carter, in the audience for one of my speeches in Atlanta, invited me to take part in a national commission on US competitiveness that also included Larry Summers and Paul Volcker, among others. Later, I joined a second commission, endorsed by the White House, that focused on what Japan and the United States can do better to promote economic cooperation.
After leaving The Conference Board, I spent sixteen tremendously fulfilling years at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the Public Information office (now called the Communications Group). The Bank hired me mainly to build economic and financial literacy programs for the public and to serve as the junior member of the media relations team. My functions and responsibilities expanded over my years at the Bank, taking broader advantage of my skill set.
One hallmark of my service to the New York Fed was the development of the largest economic and financial literacy program within any US public-sector institution. We constantly broke new ground, introducing economic education to Puerto Rican schools, developing educational competitions emulated by at least five other countries, forming a coalition to save the mandated high school economics course in New York State, and collaborating with the National Bank of Poland to organize the first-ever international conference on public-sector economic education initiatives. This work was meaningful: We changed education policy and practice in several nations and states and, with them, the career choices of countless teachers and students.
Yet my most memorable and, perhaps, most heart-thumping work came while serving senior Federal Reserve officials for about a dozen years as one of only three official spokespersons for the Bank. Never was that more true than during the week following 9/11, when, as the Bank’s only spokesperson on site, I had to respond to some 486 queries from reporters and 80 more from government officials.
Recruited by one of my former students, I went next to Wall Street to join AllianceBernstein, an investment management firm, as a senior portfolio manager. I was assigned to Value Equities, where I met with a diverse group of institutional clients all over North America to discuss investment philosophy, performance, practice and risk. Eventually, the head of Blend Strategies asked me to join his team in the hope that I could improve client retention in his business unit. Over the next year and half, I met with more than a hundred corporate, government, foundation, pension plan, union and private clients to discuss their investments.
Taking advantage of my economics background, I also held several non-client-facing responsibilities, like the construction of currency overlays applied to portfolios with global and international equities exposure. I also collaborated on the writing of a quarterly Capital Markets Outlook. In 2009, senior management offered me the chance to serve as the first product manager for the firm’s new Dynamic Asset Allocation service, which became become a gigantic business.
Presently, I am director of research for Wealthstream Advisors, a New York-based private wealth management and financial planning firm.
In my personal life, I am most proud of the character and ethics of my wife, Robin, and two children, Stacy, 29, and Jesse, 25, both of whom are in transitional phases of their careers. Stacy left a successful seven-year career in banking in 2011 to pursue a career in education; Jesse, an aspiring entrepreneur, currently works for the Tampa Lightning NHL team. My wife, Robin, is a brilliant and successful attorney with the Federal Trade Commission, fighting against consumer and advertising fraud.
In my spare time, I coach baseball, as I have most of my life, currently with the college team of the Long Island Astros organization. I also enjoy working to promote financial literacy among young people and plan to complete certification as a financial planner.
Reflecting back on my career, it occurs to me that no simple formula exists for “success,” however defined. There’s great truth to the adage that “people plan and God laughs.” In that context, I often tell my students that they absolutely must develop a deep and, later, a broad skill set from which to draw. Learn the tools of your trade: Learn how to manipulate databases. Learn how to do quantitative analysis. Learn how to give memorable presentations. Learn how to write with conviction, passion and accuracy. Become the very best at the one thing you’re most passionate about. Then, make sure others know how terrific you are. Network every single day.
If you would like to get in touch with me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would enjoy hearing from you.
Kaysian Roberts Gordon
Dear fellow alums and current QC students:
Here is an update on my career and life since graduating QC in 2001. I hope it will be of some help for those of you soon going into the job market.
Queens College was the stepping stone to where I am today. I was an accounting major and minored in Economics and BALA (Business and Liberal Arts Program). I enjoyed my days at QC and was a very active member of the community. I volunteered for the Queens College Ambassadors and the BALA Entrepreneurs. In addition to these organizations, I was a Queens Scholar for my four years at the college.
Through BALA, I started an internship in my junior year at PaineWebber, now UBS Financial Services. I interned for a year and a half part-time during school and after I graduated. While waiting for my first “real” job, I interned full-time for another year. At that time, I had been the longest-running intern for our group. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my internship was not to take “no” for an answer. I have carried that idea with me.
My internship evidently made me an interesting candidate for my next position. While still a student at Queens College, my auditing professor told me about a great networking dinner. At that dinner, sponsored by the New York State Society of CPAs, (NYSSCPAs), I went dressed for an interview even though I did not expect one. I happened to sit at the table with a managing director of a mid-sized CPA firm. We started talking, and he asked me what I now know to be a very common interview question: “Where do you expect to see yourself in five years?” Little did I know, I was telling him that I wanted his job in five years! He never failed to remind me of this after, following a more formal interview with the human resources director, I was hired by his firm, where I remained for two and a half years.
Shortly after graduating QC, I had begun reviewing for, and eventually took, the CPA exam. By the time I left the accounting firm, I had a CPA license in hand. While I was at the accounting firm, I had kept in touch with the financial advisor with whom I had interned. He was very much interested in offering me a position. Although I was not sure that I was ready, I thought of the fact that I had someone who was willing to mentor me. I accepted the position and have no regrets.
I have currently been back at UBS for almost six years, recently celebrating a total of eight years with the firm. As an investment associate, I do client reviews and prep for client meetings. I am one of four analysts in our group, on a total team of fifteen. I attend the meetings with the clients and the financial advisors. I ensure that anything trade/investment-related is executed based on our discussions. Because of my CPA background, I am the liaison between our clients and the hedge fund managers when tax-related issues arise.
I recently got married to a wonderful man, changing my name from Roberts to Gordon. As I am writing this, I have another reason to celebrate. I just officially received my MBA in finance, accounting and taxation from Fordham University, a step that also prepares me to take my CFP (Certified Financial Planner) exam.
I can’t emphasize enough how Queens College has prepared me for the road that I am on. A few lessons that I have learned over the years: Get involved; you never know where it will take you. Don’t ever burn your bridges, Anything you do, do it whole-heartedly. You never know who is watching. Always keep a positive attitude. My first full-time job was not just on smarts, but also on attitude and personality.
Looking forward to hearing from any of my QC class-mates or any current students.
Kaysian Roberts Gordon, CPA, MBA
Class of December 2001
As a recent graduate of Queens College (2009), having majored in economics and corporate finance, as well as someone who is currently working in the field of finance, I’d like to offer some humble advice as to the best ways students can leverage their QC experience into a potential job.
Upon graduation, I started my professional career on the high yield trading desk of Jesup & Lamont Securities, where I worked on developing programs to provide credit analysis for high yield bond securities. However, after passing my FINRA Series 7 and 63 licensing exams, I moved to Emerson Equity, a boutique investment bank, where I have been an investment banking associate since April 2010. At Emerson, I have had the opportunity to assist clients in both short-term bridge needs as well as long-term capital fundraising. I have typically focused on raising capital for commercial real estate opportunities and providing growth capital for middle market and small cap publicly traded companies. As we continue to face one of the worst job markets for college graduates in history, the question is, how did I manage to find a job? My Queens College course work provided a strong foundation, but there is more to it than a solid academic record.
If you have a resume, or have begun to work on one, you should know that there are three primary aspects involved in getting a job, and all three are made available to every QC student.
Academic work: If school doesn’t come easy to you, as is the case for most students, seek out your professors for extra help. I can’t tell you how many times I stayed after class with a professor to either go through the material again, make sure I wasn’t completely lost or to just chat about life. QC professors are down-to-earth. Some of them have been in the business world themselves and can really help guide you both in your current studies as well as in your post-college planning. Always remember, they are there to help you and can be one of your most valuable resources.
Work experience: Students in the Department of Economics are blessed with a great career planner in Linda Korkes, who works in the college’s Career Development Center. Linda is there to work with students majoring in economics or finance to polish their resumes, hone their interview skills, and use her relationships to assist students in obtaining an internship or a full-time job. Not only did she help me write and fix my resume, but she also played an integral role in the application/interviewing process for my internships at both Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch. No matter where you are in the process, I strongly urge anyone looking for a job to visit the Career Development Center.
Extracurricular activities: Having had the opportunity to serve as president of both the Economics Honor Society and the Economics and Business Club, I truly saw the benefits of actively participating in an extracurricular club. In my time at the EHS we were fortunate to bring in speakers from some of the country’s largest financial firms (Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, Met-Life), government entities (Federal Reserve Bank of New York) and QC’s very own Career Development Center. This gave students the chance to sit in an intimate setting with the very people who will be hiring, looking through their resumes and possessing the knowledge and ability to answer any and all questions regarding what they are looking for in potential job candidates.
To wrap up, I’d like to share the best piece of advice I received from one of my mentors. He told me that the competition is fierce, and one can never get lazy. If you are excelling academically, you must remember that there are people who are doing well in school AND holding down a job or an internship. If you are doing well in school and working, why aren’t you part of a club. And if you are part of a club, why aren’t you on the board? The point is that there is always something MORE you can be doing. Don’t let yourself become complacent. Those of us that may not excel in one of these areas shouldn’t get discouraged but rather should look to become stronger in another.
Unfortunately, many students in the finance and economics world believe that the best jobs are not available to them unless they graduate from an Ivy League school. I have had a number of potential employers tell me that they specifically target Queens College students because of their work ethic. Many QC students work part-time to pay for their schooling. This shows employers that QC students work hard, multi-task and will do what it takes to accomplish what they believe in.
I ask you again to please use the resources that are made available to you by Queens College. Feel free to e-mail me any time at AMOrlofsky@gmail.com if you would like to discuss anything I’ve touched on, if you want another set of eyes looking over your resume, or if you just want to chat about the trends I’m seeing in the job market today.
I’m Jerry Katzoff, and I graduated from Queens College with a major in economics (and a minor in math) in 1967. After a year of graduate work at the State University of New York at Buffalo, I transferred to the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, where I completed my economics doctoral level course work in 1970. Like Ken Heyer, our Spring 2009 QC economic alumni profilist, I have spent a lifetime career in the federal government- I’m now in my 40th year and still going strong!
I’m currently a branch chief in the Bureau of Health Professions, part of the Health Resources and Services Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). I work in our agency’s central office, located in the city of Rockville, a Maryland suburb in the greater Washington DC metro area. My branch is responsible for developing policy strategies and implementing programs that support training for several health professions, including physicians , dentists , and psychologists.
In my position, one of the true highlights of my career has been working as the Executive Secretary (chief staffer) for the Federal Council on Graduate Medical Education. This council is an advisory body charged with providing recommendations to Congress and our Health and Human Services Secretary on physician workforce policy. It’s a good time to be a federal civil servant, and given the push for health care reform, it’s an especially good time to be a health policy analyst within the federal government!
In 1998 I was honored to receive the DHHS Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service-the highest award in the department- for my long term contributions in the field of physician policy analysis and planning. Two years later, as part of a year-long executive development program, I was privileged to work with-and shadow-Dr. David Satcher, who was then both the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Surgeon General of the United States.
A word of advice to our students: Try to keep a good relationship with your professors if you can!
In 1970, my last year as a doctoral student at CUNY, I was taking a one-on-one research tutorial with Professor Walter Eisenberg, the chair of the Hunter College Department of Economics. As the term was about to end, he and I engaged in discussions concerning my career plans, and he asked me whether I would be interested in the federal government. He indicated that he had a professional relationship with the New York Regional Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The commissioner, the late Herbert Bienstock, many years later retired from government and became Professor and first Chair of the Center for Urban Policy Studies at QC). If I were interested, he said, while he could not guarantee me a job offer, he could at least be instrumental in getting me an interview. The rest for me is history� I spent my first seven years in the federal government as an economist in the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics before accepting a promotional transfer to the Department of Health and Human Services.
I have great memories of QC and its economics department. It imbued me with a love of the field, and its professors showed me how rigorous a field it could be! I give tribute to among my favorite professors Dr. Babette Solon, who first introduced me to the exciting field of applied microeconomics. (I have not spoken to her since graduation in 1967. I trust that she is doing well – and that she will see this profile!)
I can be reached at email@example.com in case any students or alumni are interested in getting in touch!
Inas Rashad Kelly
Although I’m one of the new faculty members in the Department of Economics here at Queens College, I know the campus well. Things were a little different when I walked on campus in 1996. As a scholar-athlete I knew the track well, but it was made of dirt – not the brilliant surface we have today. I was here long enough to have seen the New Science Building open and then become just the Science Building. Finally, I was known as Inas Rashad–until this last July 15th when I married Don Kelly.
I have many fond memories of my years as an undergraduate at Queens College, what with being an economics major, a Business and Liberal Arts (BALA) minor, a math minor, and a pre-med student. Moreover, I enjoyed being on the track team for my four years as an undergraduate. After graduating, I returned to Queens as an adjunct professor while working on my PhD. In many ways it feels as if I never left.
It’s wonderful to have my former professors – Professors Hendrey, Nix, Dohan, Devereux, Edelstein, Feliciano, Gram, Riskin, Roistacher, and Thurston – as colleagues now. My foundation in economics was formed at Queens, and I couldn’t ask for a better place or a better set of faculty to teach me the core principles I needed to go to graduate school and then subsequently join the faculty of the Department of Economics at Georgia State University.
As a Queens undergraduate I worked on a research project on workfare using data and econometric methods with Professor Anne Hill. Sadly, Professor Hill passed away. Though I had the privilege of speaking at her memorial gathering at Queens, she is sorely missed and I remember her very fondly.
After graduating from Queens College, I attended the City University of New York Graduate Center and was able to work with some of the very best health economists, including Michael Grossman. There I was also able to become a Research Analyst at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where I am now a Faculty Research Fellow.
In Atlanta, after completing grad school, I gained a lot of experience shaping the undergraduate curriculum, mentoring graduate students, and working on research projects in health economics, a field that very nicely combined my dual interests in health and economics. I had some wonderful colleagues at Georgia State and was exposed to groundbreaking research in various fields, such as public finance, experimental economics, and environmental economics.
There are so many resources and opportunities available at Queens College, and I would strongly encourage students to take advantage of what’s available here. Seek things out. They won’t automatically come to you. For example, my minor in BALA allowed me to do an internship at The New York Times Syndication Sales Corporation, an invaluable experience. I’m the product of a public school education, from elementary school in San Francisco to graduate school in New York, and I am glad not to have accrued the debt of a private university education. My experience here was invaluable. I strongly encourage all students to seriously consider graduate school.
I currently do research in demand-side health and labor economics, with a focus on our decisions surrounding nutrition and physical activity. I am now regularly at Queens College or the CUNY Graduate Center. I am more than happy to speak with students about academic life and my path from Queens to graduate school and after. You can reach me at Inas.Kelly@qc.cuny.edu.
Hi, fellow Queens College alumni and students. I’m Ken Heyer, and I attended Queens College during the mid-1970s. After graduating with a major in Economics, I headed west and attended graduate school at UCLA, where after many late hours in the library I eventually received my PhD in 1983. Since the early 1980s I have worked as an economist for the Antitrust Division of the United States Department of Justice, first as a staff economist, and since July 2001 as Economics Director, the highest position held by a career economist in the Division. In 1999 I was honored to receive from then Assistant Attorney General Joel Klein (a name that should sound familiar to fellow New Yorkers) the Antitrust Division’s first William F. Baxter award for outstanding contributions in the area of economic analysis.
Not too bad for a QC graduate.
I work with the Division’s Deputy for Economic Analysis to supervise the staff of the Division’s Economic Analysis Group (“EAG”), a collection of some 50 + PhD economists who specialize in the economics of industrial organization. I also provide independent economic analysis and case recommendations to the Division’s legal deputies and to the head of the Division, the Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust.
The Deputy for Economic Analysis is a political appointee, typically a renowned economist on leave from academia, who holds the position of chief economist at the Division for perhaps one to three years. The current Deputy is Carl Shapiro from UC Berkeley. I have had the extreme good fortune to be able to work over the years with and for a succession of the profession’s most illustrious economists, and I am proud to consider many of them now to be personal friends.
During my long career at DoJ I have worked on numerous interesting and challenging investigations implicating a wide variety of industries and covering virtually the entire range of economic issues implicated by competition policy. Categories include the analysis of proposed mergers, the investigation of monopolization claims, and competition advocacy to influence in a positive (i.e., efficient!) direction the regulatory policies of other federal agencies.
Among the more noteworthy matters I have had the opportunity to work on were the investigation of, and litigation against, the Microsoft Corporation for illegally maintaining its monopoly over PC operating systems, the (ultimately unsuccessful) litigation effort to block the acquisition of PeopleSoft by Oracle, the investigation of large mergers between Maytag and Whirlpool and XM and Sirius, and most recently our analysis of (and decision to challenge) a proposed joint venture between Yahoo and Google.
When not working on active investigations, I spend some of my time writing and publishing on issues relating to the economics of competition policy. I’ve published papers in both the Antitrust Law Journal and Competition Policy International on antitrust enforcement and policy issues, and regularly co-author an annual article in the Review of Industrial Organization on economic activities at the Antitrust Division. Most recently, I co-authored a Working Paper on merger analysis of firms in financial distress.
I have very fond memories of my time at Queens College, and was very pleased when I was invited back to speak several years ago at the Economics Honor Society’s annual dinner and awards ceremony. I give Queens College, and especially the professors who taught me economics there, credit for sparking my interest in the subject and with motivating me to pursue what has been a very rewarding and satisfying career in the field. I was particularly thrilled to see at the awards ceremony that many of my former professors, including at least Professors Edelstein, Gramm, and Roistacher and Tabb, are still actively teaching and motivating the current generation of students.
Queens College is a very special institution (a judgment I make not simply because it happens to be where I went to school). The college plays an extremely important role in training and providing opportunities for an amazingly diverse collection of students from a wide set of backgrounds. What a treat it was to spend my college years in such an environment. Personally, I wouldn’t have traded it for any of the Harvards or Stanfords that many of my DoJ colleagues claim as their alma maters.
Finally, if any of you are interested, I am happy to interact with current Queens College economics majors. I would encourage any who might have questions about graduate school, careers in economics, life at the Justice Department, or substantive economic issues (so long as they do NOT include “How in the world did we get into, and how do we easily and at low cost get out of, the current macroeconomic mess?”) to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, I am always open to invitations to come and give presentations to QC economics classes.
(Editor’s note: Professor Tabb has retired from teaching since Ken Heyer last visited campus, but Professor Tabb continues his extremely active professional life.)