Panel 4
The Challenges Ahead: a conversation with New York City’s Deputy Mayor, Moody’s Chief Economist, and Bryant University’s President
Dec 02, 2020, by Staff Writer
Contact: Cecilia Cooper, Director, Public Relations | 401-441-7502

SMITHFIELD, RI – On Wednesday, Dec. 9 at 10 a.m., Bryant University President Ross Gittell will join New York City Deputy Mayor J. Phillip Thompson and Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi for a virtual panel discussion about “The Challenges Ahead after a Historic Election.”

The President-elect faces many complex challenges as he prepares to take office in January—including a politically divided country, a shattered economy, high unemployment, dysfunctional multinational organizations, and a global pandemic that, even with the hope of a vaccine, continues to have a disruptive and damaging impact on individuals and businesses. Our distinguished panelists will provide expert perspective on these issues, what to expect, and what we can do moving forward. 

This panel series is free and open to the public.


Bryant Provost and Chief Academic Officer Glenn Sulmasy, JD, LL.M, will host the event. Margie O'Brien Reed, Broadcast Journalist and Director, RI Capitol TV, will serve as moderator. 

Introducing the panelists (in order of appearance):

  • As Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives in New York City, J. Phillip Thompson, Ph.D., is responsible for spearheading a diverse collection of priority initiatives. This expansive portfolio includes Democracy NYC, the Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises Program, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, the Office of the Census, and the Young Men’s Initiative. Prior to joining the de Blasio administration, Thompson was an Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of “Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy” published in 2006 by Oxford University Press. Thompson previously served in Mayor David Dinkins’ Administration as the Deputy General Manager for Operations and Development. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Harvard University, a Master’s in Urban Planning from Hunter College, and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York Graduate Center.

  • Mark M. Zandi, Ph.D., is Chief Economist of Moody’s Analytics, a leading provider of economic research, data, and analytical tools, where he directs economic research. He is on the board of directors of MGIC, the nation’s largest private mortgage insurance company, and is the Lead Director of Reinvestment Fund, one of the nation’s largest community development financial institutions. Zandi is a cofounder of, which Moody’s purchased in 2005. He is an adviser to policymakers and is an influential source of economic analysis for businesses, journalists, and the public. Zandi is the author of “Paying the Price: Ending the Great Recession and Beginning a New American Century" and “Financial Shock: A 360º Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis.” Zandi earned his Bachelor of Science from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Ross Gittell, Ph.D., began his term as Bryant University President in July 2020. Highly regarded in economic and policy circles for his economic analysis and forecasting, he has frequently served as an expert resource for government, non-profit, and business leaders regionally and nationally on such issues as economic policy, workforce development, and the business climate. He previously was the James R. Carter Professor in the Department of Management at the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. He also has taught at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, and in the School of Education, Economics Department and Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He holds a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University, an M.B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Chicago.

This panel series is presented by Bryant University and the Rhode Island Foundation and sponsored by Citizens Bank and Fidelity Investments. More information about the "Paths to Recovery" fall panel series and videos of previous panels are available here

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