Bill Samuels is chairman of the board of EffectiveNY and the EffectiveNY Howard Samuels Policy Center.
Bill has a lifetime of experience as a successful businessman, socially-responsible entrepreneur and CEO. At the same time, he has a rich history as an innovative political thinker, progressive leader and activist.
Bill started in politics as an aide to his father, Howard, a beloved statesman, industrialist and U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the Small Business Administration under President Johnson, who sought the governorship of New York State on a few occasions in the 1960s and 1970s. Always a passionate policy advocate, Bill became active in the anti-war movement, raising money to finance the historic Vietnam Veterans Against the War March on Washington in 1971.
On the business side, Bill was one of the founders of the Council on Economic Priorities (CEP), which for over 30 years was the premiere public interest organization focused on companies’ policies on the environment, women & minority advancement, corporate disclosure of information, labor relations, family benefits, and worker rights.
After Harvard Law School, Bill started an innovative education company that focused on training workers 16 years and older the basic skills needed to get and keep a job. He built that company into a worldwide enterprise with operations in Brazil, Europe, Mexico and Asia, and took it public before moving on to other entrepreneurial ventures. Later, he founded ACTV, a cutting-edge interactive education and media company. Working with investors such as The Washington Post, the company developed some of the core intellectual property for interactive television and the World Wide Web, including two fundamental patents issued for the Internet, before being sold to an affiliate of Liberty Media in 2002.
At the same time, Bill remained deeply involved in progressive politics, fundraising for Democratic candidates and speaking out on issues of both local and national importance. In 2000, he helped finance the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of New York’s notoriously gerrymandered redistricting plan.
During the 2004 Presidential campaign, in response to the “swiftboating” of Democratic nominee John Kerry, Bill produced the documentary Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry to set the record straight about Kerry’s heroism.
After the 2004 election, Bill turned his attention back to state politics, working Eliot Spitzer to raise money to help the Democratic Party regain the State Senate. He also founded the Blue Tiger Democrats, an innovative grassroots organization designed to reconnect the party to its core communities.
In the 2008 election cycle, Bill served as Finance Chairman for the New York Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, playing a key role in the Democrats gaining control of the State Senate for the first time in decades. In this position, Bill developed a deep understanding of the state Legislature’s structural problems that prevent better candidates from running for office, and ultimately corrupt so many of the people who do choose to run.
Despite his high hopes for the new majority, Bill was deeply disheartened when the Senate Democratic Conference failed to make the dramatic reforms necessary to allow Albany to function effectively. His disappointment turned to outrage when the Democrats, led by John Sampson and Malcolm Smith, desperate to hold on to the perks of the majority at any cost, cynically accepted Senators Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate back into the conference in the aftermath of their failed June 2009 coup.
Bill resigned as Finance Chair and launched the New Roosevelt Initiative, a political action committee with the mission of ousting Espada from office. Cultivating Gustavo Rivera as a challenger, Bill built a sophisticated campaign and field operation and shocked the political establishment by ousting Espada. With this success, Bill shuttered New Roosevelt.
Today, Bill continues his work in policy and government reform as Chairman of EffectiveNY. As he has done throughout his career, he balances his political and nonprofit activities with his business enterprises.
Bill is currently chairman of the Hills Treatment Center in Los Angeles, a facility dedicated to helping people overcome addiction. He is also managing member of the Carlyle Capital Group.
His philanthropic work includes serving on the boards of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Fund to Advance New York City, Public Advocate Letitia James’ Fund for Public Advocacy, and Amani Global Works, an organization which provides healthcare in Idjwi, one of the most impoverished and forgotten areas in Africa.
A graduate of MIT with a Bachelor’s of Science in Engineering, Political Science and Economics, Bill also holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Marie, and daughter, Kitty.