In this episode of Capital for Good we speak with Kathryn Wylde, one of New York and the country’s preeminent leaders when it comes to robust, cross-sector partnerships. As president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, New York’s leading business organization, Wylde has been a key liaison between the city’s public and private sectors in the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery.

In this wide-ranging conversation, we begin with Wylde’s early career in community and economic development and revitalization in Brooklyn. We learn about the first days of the Partnership for New York City, founded in 1981 by David Rockefeller, as an effort to enlist the business community to help rebuild neighborhoods across New York. Wylde, who has lived and worked through numerous crises in the city’s history, notes that some of the challenges of the pandemic recall the 1970s fiscal crisis — in that in both eras, crises accelerated significant secular trends already underway. In the 1970s, it was a tumultuous shift from manufacturing to a service-based economy; in the last two years, we have seen a rapid acceleration in our transition to a technology-based and digital economy. Wylde explains that because the economic impacts of the pandemic, particularly job loss, have been highly concentrated in industries like tourism and hospitality, retail, restaurants, or other small businesses, we will need to ensure that New Yorkers have the digital economy skills demanded by today’s job market. “If we’re going to stay a global center of talent, which is what we have to do in order to keep headquarters, companies, and jobs and business here, we’re going to have to upskill our workforce, and that’s a big investment, it’s a top priority,” she tells us. We also discuss other areas of public-private collaboration, including health, education, transportation, and public safety. Wylde ends with a positive and hopeful outlook on the city: “I’m very enthusiastic about the future of New York,” she says. 

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