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Judith Samuelson
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Judith Samuelson is the Executive Director of the Aspen Institute's Business and Society Program

In 1998, Judy created the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program, which employs research and dialogue among business leaders to build a sustainable global society. Aspen BSP targets innovators and works with business managers at all levels, from MBA students to Fortune 500 CEOs. Judy recently helped spearhead the creation of the Aspen Principles, a set of guidelines for long-term value creation for companies and institutional investors.

From 1989 to 1996, Judy led the Ford Foundation’s office of Program Related-Investments. From 1982-1989, Judy managed a sales and lending team at Bankers Trust Company. From 1974-1980, she worked in Sacramento as a lobbyist and legislative aid on California state health and education issues and in the Governor’s office of Planning and Research.

Judy holds a B.A. from UCLA and Masters Degree from the Yale School of Management. She was a member of the Advisory Board to ACCION-New York and is Chair Emeritus of Net Impact, a network of business students.

Entries by Judith Samuelson

McDonald's and Walmart Raise the Floor on Wages: Six More Moves for Business on Inequality

(2) Comments | Posted April 2, 2015 | 4:41 PM

Inside of a few weeks, business has shifted the national dialogue about what constitutes a fair wage. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini made headlines in January when he announced the company's decision to establish an internal minimum wage of $16 an hour. A few weeks later, General Motors surprised factory workers...

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Making Purpose Work

(0) Comments | Posted March 6, 2015 | 2:05 PM

"The country needs and, unless I mistake its temper, the country demands bold, persistent experimentation. It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something." - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

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The Inspiration of John C. Whitehead

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2015 | 1:36 PM

The country lost a remarkable leader last week. The tributes for John C. Whitehead -- business man and civic leader -- are ringing in from all quarters. Whitehead served at Omaha Beach as well as in the State Department, and he made his mark on New York City on occasions...

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To the CEO of Aetna: Three More Ideas to Reduce Inequality

(0) Comments | Posted January 17, 2015 | 1:36 PM

Last week, the CEO of Aetna, Mark Bertolini, announced the company's plan to boost wages of their lowest paid workers to a minimum of $16/hour, jumping way above the federal minimum wage. The company falls in line with other market leaders-especially retailers-like The Gap, Whole Foods, The Container Store and...

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2015: 'Let's Ask the Right Questions About Corporate Compensation'

(1) Comments | Posted January 6, 2015 | 12:22 PM

This post originally appeared in the Guardian.


Fresh winds are blowing through both boardrooms and MBA programs these days, stirring up debate about the fundamentals of doing business. Some of the key questions on the minds of executives weren't even on the syllabus when I attended...

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What Sony and the NFL Have in Common

(0) Comments | Posted December 30, 2014 | 10:40 AM

One of the things I am looking forward to in the new year is the movie version of "Sony Gets Hacked." It has all the elements of a blockbuster: intrigue and international espionage; dark techie powers and rogue states; plenty of human drama and celebrities; and, of course, tension in...

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A Rough Week for Capitalism and a Time for New Leaders

(0) Comments | Posted September 23, 2014 | 12:02 PM

Hundreds of business executives and heads of state, including President Obama, have accepted UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's invitation to the UN Climate Summit, which starts today. Heads of state are critical actors, but his focus on the business sector is a smart strategy. Real business executives are...

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Yale University Ducks on Fossil Fuel Divest Decision--and Fails Leadership 101

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 5:00 PM

As Yale students returned to classes before Labor Day, they were informed by President Peter Salovey that the University had rejected student demands to divest the endowment of stocks that are among the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Many of us working behind the scenes had hoped Yale would...

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Why B-Schools Should be Teaching Market Basket

(5) Comments | Posted August 15, 2014 | 1:10 PM

New England is home to scores of world class business schools, and Boston is teeming with management theorists who make their living teaching the next generation of business leaders while seeking in their own research to unlock the secrets to what makes businesses and other enterprises successful.

Let's hope that...

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3 Points of Hope on Climate Change: Back to the Future 2014 to 2024

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 5:35 PM

Let's start with the most profound change needed now: By 2024 we will have a price on carbon.

The tense and complex negotiations to get there will require no less than the UN Secretary General, the US president and the Premier of China, bolstered by mounting pressure from the generation...

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Google, Capitalist Dilemmas and Corporate Purpose: What We Want From Business?

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 6:43 PM

The first quarter of 2011 at Google was, in the words of CEO Larry Page, "tremendous." Revenues rose 27 percent and income was up 17 percent. Google earned $7.04 per share for the quarter, up from $6.06 a year earlier. However, in after-hours trading following the announcement, Google's...

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Three Reasons Stanford's Decision to Dump Coal Is a Game Changer

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2014 | 12:31 PM

Stanford University's recent decision to unload coal from its endowment and Harvard's decision to take more tepid steps a few weeks earlier means that the student campaigns that forced the hands of both institutions are coming soon to a campus near you.

These campaigns go by many...

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Do American Firms Need an Asian Sense of Honor, With Resignations at the Top?

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2014 | 2:02 PM

Last week I participated in a small conference of executives and scholars at NYU on the interplay of law and voluntary initiative in setting the tone in business.

The panelists all hailed from large professional services firms, and there wasn't much disagreement in the group about the...

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Reinventing Residential Business Education -- Before It's Too Late

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 12:35 PM

This year's cohort of aspiring MBA students are receiving acceptance letters, soon to be followed by hefty tuition bills. The overall class will be smaller than last year's, continuing an enrollment decline that began in 2008 and prompting the usual worries whether such declines are cyclical...

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Business Leadership, Governance, and a Victory for Adam Smith

(0) Comments | Posted March 11, 2014 | 2:28 PM

It's been a big travel month, speaking in Phoenix at GreenBiz--where oxymoronic ideas like "Sustainable Beef" took the stage; in Evanston, IL to drill down on who's really in charge here? --a provocative exchange of views at the Kellogg School of Management, and in Minneapolis for Law and...

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SOTU: Obama and the Business of Climate Change

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2014 | 3:57 PM

I have become a single-issue voter. It may not be best for democracy, but I have come to measure all actions through the lens of whether we are doing everything possible to address climate change. For the record, I used to be a two-issue voter -- but that was before...

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A Big Brand With the Opportunity to Lead on an Increasingly Complex Problem: Climate

(1) Comments | Posted January 16, 2014 | 4:04 PM

Last weekend I enjoyed the opening festivities for a spectacular new building on the Yale campus, designed by Norman Foster to house the Yale School of Management.

YSOM is the "different" business school. From its founding in 1976, it has attracted individuals drawn to complex...

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Seeking Quiet but Effective Business Leaders for 2014

(0) Comments | Posted December 27, 2013 | 1:01 PM

With holiday cards still trickling in, I especially appreciate a well-written Christmas letter with an idea or image that stays with me after the letter joins the pile. It might be the bright eyes of a new baby or an original artwork. This year, the award goes to my friend...

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NGOs Need to Keep Pressing Business to Be Transparent Taxpaying Global Citizens

(0) Comments | Posted November 4, 2013 | 1:32 PM

Many global corporations seek to minimize the taxes they pay by lavishly paying lawyers and accountants to concoct elaborate tax avoidance schemes. And evidence mounts they also are trying mask the political contributions they make to lubricate the wheels of commerce and maximize their profits.

One thing...

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Business Leaders as our Missing Middle?

(0) Comments | Posted October 10, 2013 | 4:55 PM

Last week, when I woke up to the news about the shutting down of the federal government, I began searching for answers. Like many, I feared that the pundits who predicted the shutdown would last only a couple days would be proven wrong. After all, the coalition of tea party...

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