Date: Oct 23, 2019Time: 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America: A Strategy for Reinvigorating our Democracy

Wed, 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM New York City Bar
Alumni OnlyOther


“The politics industry is different from virtually all other industries in the economy because the participants, themselves, control the rules of competition.” – Katherine Gehl & Michael Porter

Our political system has become increasingly polarized over the last few decades, causing gridlock in Washington that has made it more difficult to solve some of the nation’s pressing problems. Business executive and policy activist Katherine Gehl and Harvard University Professor Michael Porter will present their analysis of the extreme political dysfunction that exists today and the resulting negative impact on U.S. competitiveness.

Applying traditional business tools for analyzing competition to politics for the first time, the Gehl Porter Politics Industry Theory uncovered the root cause of the dysfunction—the failed political competition the parties have created. This duopoly creates high barriers to entry for new competition, no longer delivering results in the public interest. Therefore, Congress has a less than 15% approval rating, yet over 90% of all incumbents are re-elected. Election districts are gerrymandered, so there are few competitive elections. Elected moderates are disappearing, while Independents, the largest voting group, are disenfranchised. Major votes in Congress are along party lines. Dissatisfaction is demonstrated by the fact that the U.S. has among the lowest voter turnout in the developed world.

The Gehl-Porter presentation will include a discussion of root cause solutions to change the nature of competition—to promote healthy competition—starting with election innovations. After the presentation by Ms. Gehl and Professor Porter, NYU history professor Timothy Naftali will join a panel discussion to help put reform initiatives into a historical perspective, followed by a Q&A. This is a non-partisan initiative.

If you are concerned about the dysfunction that exists in Washington, you will not want to miss this event.

Please register early, as we expect to sell out.

Please note that no refunds will be issued.



Katherine M. Gehl

Former President & CEO of Gehl Foods, Inc.

Katherine M. Gehl is a business leader, author and speaker. Katherine was president and CEO of Gehl Foods, a $250 Million high-tech food manufacturing company in Wisconsin where she led a transformational growth strategy, receiving multiple awards, before selling the company in 2015—in part to dedicate more time to political reform. Her career includes roles in the private and public sectors including at Oracle Corporation, Bernstein Investment Research and Management, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Office at the City of Chicago, and Chicago Public Schools. In 2011, Katherine was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Over the past decade, Katherine has focused on the urgent need for non-partisan political innovation and reform on both state and national levels. In 2016, Katherine applied business competitiveness tools to the industry of politics for the first time, to uncover the root cause of the dysfunction—the failed political competition the parties have created. She invited Michael Porter to join her in this work. In 2018, Katherine co-founded Democracy Found, a Wisconsin-based initiative mobilizing a bi-partisan group of leaders to implement electoral innovations in Wisconsin.

Katherine graduated from the University of Notre Dame and holds an MA from Catholic University and an MBA from Kellogg.


Michael E. Porter

Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School

Michael E. Porter is an economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher. Throughout his lifetime career at Harvard Business School, he has brought economic theory and strategy concepts to bear on many of the most challenging problems facing corporations, economies and societies, including market competition and company strategy, economic development, the environment and health care. Michael’s approach is based on understanding the overall economics and structure of complex systems, in contrast to particular elements or parts. His extensive research is widely recognized in governments, corporations, NGOs, and academic circles around the globe and has received numerous awards. Michael is the author of nineteen books and over 130 articles is the most cited scholar today in economics and business.

Michael graduated from Princeton University and holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a Ph.D. from Harvard’s Department of Economics.


Timothy Naftali

Clinical Associate Professor of Public Service, NYU

Timothy Naftali, GSAS ’93, is a presidential historian who also writes on international affairs and the history of espionage and counterterrorism. Currently a clinical associate professor of public service and of history, Naftali directs New York University’s undergraduate public policy program. Before moving to New York, Naftali was the first federal director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, where he curated a nationally recognized nonpartisan permanent gallery on Watergate. He earlier served as an historical consultant to the 9/11 Commission. His books include “One Hell of a Gamble:” Khrushchev, Castro and Kennedy, 1958-1964, a study of the Cuban missile crisis with Aleksandr Fursenko, George H. W. Bush, and, most recently, Impeachment: An American History, with Jon Meacham, Peter Baker and Jeffrey A. Engel. Naftali has been a CNN presidential historian since June 2016 and also appears regularly in historical documentaries, such as The 2000s and American Dynasties: The Kennedys.


Sheryl WuDunn

Co-founder, FullSky Partners

Sheryl WuDunn is an American business executive, writer, lecturer, and Pulitzer Prize winner.

A senior banker focusing on growth companies in technology, new media and the emerging markets, WuDunn also works with double bottom line firms, alternative energy issues, and women entrepreneurs. She has also been a private wealth adviser with Goldman Sachs and was previously a journalist and business executive for The New York Times. She is now senior managing director at Mid-Market Securities ,[3] a boutique investment banking firm in New York serving small and medium companies.

At the Times, WuDunn ran coverage of global energy, global markets, foreign technology and foreign industry. She oversaw international business topics ranging from China’s economic growth to technology in Japan, from oil and gas in Russia to alternative energy in Brazil. She was also anchor of The New York Times Page One, a nightly program of the next day’s stories in the Times. She also worked in the Times’s Strategic Planning Department and in the Circulation Department, where she ran the effort to build the next generation of readers for the newspaper. She was one of the few people at the Times who went back and forth between the news and business sides of the organization.

She was the first Asian-American reporter hired at the Times and was a foreign correspondent in The New York Times Beijing and Tokyo bureaus. She speaks Chinese and some Japanese. While in Asia, she also reported from other areas, including North Korea, Australia, Burma and the Philippines. WuDunn, recipient of honorary doctorates from University of Pennsylvania and Middlebury College, was a senior lecturer at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs in the fall of 2011. She is a commentator on China and global affairs on television and radio shows, including Bloomberg TV, NPR, The Colbert Report and Charlie Rose, and has lectured at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations.


Date Time

Date: Oct 23, 2019Time: 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM


New York City Bar42 West 44th Street
New York, NY 10036
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  • 20 / Member/Member Guest (limit one)
  • 40 / Non-Member/Guest (limit four)



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Herb Kaplan MBA '65 and Michael Otten MBA '67

New York City Bar

42 West 44th Street, New York, NY, 10036