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Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris is CIPA’s Newest Executive in Residence

Seth Harris speaking to CIPA fellows during a roundtable discussion

By Lisa Jervey Lennox
Assistant Director for External Relations

Former Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris has joined CIPA as an Executive in Residence for the 2016-17 academic year.  In this capacity, he will be on campus twice per semester, guest lecturing in courses, participating in roundtables, and meeting with students during office hours to provide career management advice.  In addition, he will be developing a new course for CIPA students participating in the CIPA Washington Externship Semester during the fall of 2017. 

“As a Cornell alumnus, I have been looking for opportunities to help students advance their careers and connect more fully with public policy,” says Harris.  “CIPA generously offered me this opportunity, which has been a perfect platform for lecturing to groups of students and counseling students individually.  After one semester, I already know that it will be a fulfilling experience for me and, hopefully, a helpful one for the school and the students.”

The Executive in Residence Program allows CIPA to engage distinguished practitioners who are not able to commit extended periods of time working on campus.  “It’s another exciting way to bring practical experience into the program and give students the opportunity to interact with distinguished leaders in public affairs,” says CIPA Director Sharon Tennyson.  “Seth has been well received by our faculty and students and has had a big impact in a short period of time,” she added.  
Harris made his first visit to campus mid-September, when he presented a colloquium entitled, “Managing for Social Change: Improving Labor Department Performance in a Partisan Era.” He offered a case study of the
US Labor Department under his leadership, looking at how a large and complex federal agency overcame challenges to accountability and efficiency.

First-year CIPA Fellow Jonathon Cummings attended Harris’ colloquium and followed up with a one-on-one visit with him during office hours. “As a student concentrating in the area of government, politics, and policy studies, I couldn’t ask for a better mentor,” said Cummings.  “We discussed several topics, including the key role that intergovernmental relations plays in influencing and advancing policies.  He also recommended that I pursue an externship opportunity in Albany, NY or Washington, DC.”

When not sharing his time with CIPA students, Harris is a full-time member of the Public Policy and Regulation practice at Dentons, a global law firm.  A nationally recognized leader in his field, Harris counsels clients on matters relating to labor, employment and immigration law and policy, as well as government performance, regulatory policy and practice, public policy and national politics.

Prior to joining Dentons, Harris served as deputy secretary for the U.S. Department of Labor from May 2009 until January 2014, managing 19 agencies and four adjudicatory boards. He oversaw functions ranging from strategic planning and performance management to legislation and policy development and implementation.  He became the acting secretary on January 22, 2013, and served in President Obama’s Cabinet until late July 2013.

Harris is a graduate of the New York University School of Law. He received his Bachelor of Sciences degree from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University in 1983.