Richard Robbins is the founder and CEO of Upper West Strategies. He has extensive experience in strategy, marketing, policy and tech. Robbins has conducted a number of high-level strategy consulting and program development/execution efforts including for the National Society of Black Engineers, New York City’s Department of Education, New York City’s Economic Development Corporation, and other leading mission-driven, governmental, and corporate clients. He worked for nearly 10 years at AT&T in a range of positions including serving as Director, Social Innovation, where he played an instrumental role in developing the company’s overall social media strategy. He initiated and led AT&T’s groundbreaking partnership with Rock the Vote that engaged 250,000 young Americans via text messaging, and created AT&T’s pledge not to text and drive that has been signed by over 14 million people. Prior to getting his MBA at Columbia Business School, he ran the American Express Gold Card Events program at Festival Marketing, where he implemented strategies to dramatically grow the program’s impact, including through pioneering use of online media. He has deep connections with senior leaders in government, corporations, start-ups, nonprofits and advocacy organizations and especially in the tech startup community in New York City, and has a long history of developing innovative strategies for leveraging technology to reach target audiences. He lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and two daughters and serves on Manhattan Community Board 7.
Anita Kishore, Consultant, specializes in supporting students to find healthcare, consulting, and nonprofit careers. She works closely with dual degree business / MPA / MPH / STEM students and career switchers. She is thrilled to combine all her interests to grow the Life Sciences talent pipeline in New York City through the NYCEDC LifeSci College Internship Program. Prior to her work as a career advisor, Anita worked in positions of increasing seniority in the healthcare industry. Anita followed her passion to increase access to affordable medicines for patients around the world by serving clients in both the private and public sectors. Anita’s interest in healthcare led her to work at Bain & Company, Sandoz (a Division of Novartis), and Pfizer, in strategy and operations in the US and internationally. Anita’s work in nonprofit access to health includes Doctors Without Borders and the Clinton Health Access Initiative, leading global vaccines supply chain logistics. Anita currently coaches MBA students with Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), serving high-potential underrepresented minorities. Anita holds a BS in chemistry from Yale University, an MSc (with Honors) in chemistry from the University of Melbourne (supported by a Rotary scholarship), PhD in chemistry from the University of Georgia, and an MPA from the Robert Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Scott Mendelsohn, Consultant, recently left the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Readiness, at which he served as Senior Director of Workforce Readiness. In this role, he managed city-wide internship programs that he helped grow from serving 1,200 students in 2012 to 2,100 students per year in 2016. He oversaw a budget of $3.9 million (excluding salaries) and led a team of seven, while hiring an additional twenty-one project staff for summer programs. Scott developed and managed the CTE Summer Scholars program and the curriculum for the Scholars at Work program.
Sharon Albert Kaplan, Program Manager. Sharon comes to Upper West Strategies from NYC Autism Charter Schools, where she served as Fundraising Manager for 10 years, generating individual, foundation and government support. She was instrumental in obtaining start-up funding for NYCACS’s second school, which opened its doors in 2017. Sharon has a broad spectrum of knowledge on education issues, particularly in New York City, as well as past experience serving the youth development field. She is enthusiastic about transferring her skills to the higher education sphere, especially as it relates to building pathways for students to obtain career experience, and for the life science industry to benefit from increased access to diverse young talent. Sharon earned a BA in History from Williams College, following which she worked in arts administration and philanthropy. A mother of two, she grew up in Vermont, but has called New York City home since 1990.
Ken Blacklow, Consultant. Most recently, Ken worked in strategy consulting for mission-driven clients at the Cue Group, focusing on strategy, training, program design, and organizational development. Prior to joining the Cue Group, Ken was the Chief Operating Officer and 4XL Program Director for Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the presence of minorities in leading entry-level business careers and major graduate business schools as preparation for leadership position in corporations, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurial ventures. At MLT, Ken was responsible for growing the organization tenfold over 4 years. Ken has experience in the launch, management, and replication of innovative K-12 schools, and leadership program design and management. Prior to joining MLT, Ken worked in the private, public and nonprofit sectors both domestically and internationally. Ken remains civically engaged through board service where he served on a number of non-profit boards nationally and in New York City. He received his Master of Public Administration degree from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and his undergraduate degree from Harvard University. Ken loves sports, travel, wine tasting, photography and spending time with his family.