Public Engagement

  • Alumni

    Thomas DiNapoli

    IMG - Thomas DiNapoli

    “When you’re young, you don’t really know where you’re going to end up in life, but the knowledge I gained while getting my master’s at The New School has proved to be of immense practical value. The New School puts its focus on people, which is why I chose it over other schools.”

    One day in May 1986, Tom DiNapoli was perched over a typewriter pounding out a final paper for a class at the Graduate School of Management and Urban Professions (now the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy) when a letter arrived in the mail. It was from New York State Assemblywoman May Newburger, announcing her retirement.

    “I was on a business track at AT&T at the time and getting my master’s in management at The New School at night,” says DiNapoli, “but as soon as I read that letter I knew I would run. It threw me into a frenzy of phone calls to rally support, but I still turned that paper in on time the next day.”

    DiNapoli was elected to the State Assembly and spent the next 20 years representing northwestern Nassau County, building a reputation as an expert in education and the environment. He made a successful bid to become New York State comptroller, the state’s fiscal overseer, in 2007, when the incumbent resigned abruptly. DiNapoli pointed out to the appointment committee that he had a master’s degree in management from the Milano School, an achievement he believes helped him secure the position.

    “I learned how to manage people from practitioners in the field,” says DiNapoli. He remembers in particular a course in negotiation in which students hammered out a contract for a manufacturing firm, role-playing labor and management teams. “Getting a team to buy into a particular position, advocating strongly for that position, and finding a compromise is the kind of work I do every day.”

    In 2010, DiNapoli was elected to a full four-year term as state comptroller. “My heart is in public service,” he says, gesturing to his office wall, which is covered with photos of his heroes Martin Luther King, Jr., Pope John XXIII, and John F. and Robert Kennedy. “Fighting for changes that help people is what matters to me.”