Josh Lipsky

Alumnus Profile

Josh L.

Josh Lipsky

Zuckerman Fellow
Harvard Kennedy School, MPA ’15; Georgetown Univ. Law Center, JD ’15
Speechwriter & Advisor to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund

What specific leadership lesson did you take away from any of the co-curricular sessions or activities at CPL?

Empathy. By this I mean the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see a problem from their perspective. The sessions brought together a diverse group of students from different fields and different backgrounds. I listened to their stories and focused on how each of them could impact their community through their chosen profession. I was inspired to learn more and branch out in my own studies. Every Wednesday night, as fellows shared their ambitions and struggles, I was exposed to new parts of the country and the world. So, in the end, the lesson learned was how to empathize, and, hopefully, become a better leader in the process.

Talk about the elements of the fellowship experience that were most meaningful within your specific cohort.

The most rewarding part of the fellowship is how we remain a part of each other’s lives. We may not talk as often as we would like, but we share updates – both professional and personal – and look to each other for advice when we face difficult decisions. Our cohort bonded in our ten months together – not just in our sessions at HKS, but through long conversations outside the classroom and all the other unscripted moments that defined our fellowship year. The fact we look out for one another and challenge each other to fulfill the promises we made is the most meaningful part of my experience.

In what ways do you think your experiences at CPL and HKS have helped you get better at what you do or hope to do?

CPL and HKS are innovation laboratories. They are incubators of public service. In my work after school I have served in the State Department working on counter-terrorism issues and at the IMF working on global economic problems. In both positions I brought my CPL experience with me by trying to look outside the narrow parameters of a particular field. My fellowship put a bunch of lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople in a room together on Wednesday nights and said, ‘let’s see what you can do.’ And that’s how I think about challenges today. I recognize that you can’t solve problems by only drawing on your own expertise. You need to look outside your comfort zone and see how someone else may think of the same issue. This cross-pollination of ideas is where problem solving exists, and that, for me, is a lasting gift of HKS and CPL.