Who is Gregory Heller?

I am a Senior Associate Director of MBA Career Management at the Foster School of Business and the Business Communication Advisor for the MBA Program where I work with MBA students on their career plans, interview, presentation and public speaking skills. I lectures on the fundamentals of good presentation design, story telling, public speaking and body language.

Outside of the University setting, I coach nonprofit executives and professionals on public speaking and presentation design as an independent consultant.

Before joining the Foster School of Business, I worked for Resource Media, a nonprofit strategic communications and public relations firm serving environmental and public health nonprofit organizations.

In 2010, I became involved with the Seattle Chapter of the Chefs Collaborative, later joining the board. After the board decided to shutter the Seattle Chapter of this organization, I joined the volunteer team that restarted Fields Oceans Ranches Kitchens Stewards (FORKS), the organization that preceded the chapter, and continue to serve on its board. During my time with these two organizations, I’ve been integrally involved in the production of the annual Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection, a one day conference for people working at the intersection of sustainability and the commercial food industry in the Pacific Northwest.

From 2005 to 2012, I was strategist at CivicActions, an internet strategy and web development consultancy dedicated to empowering social change organizations. During my tenure, I worked on a myriad of projects including DefectiveByDesign.org and the associated anti DRM campaign for the Free Software Foundation, web development projects for the New York & Montana Leagues of Conservation Voters, The Labor Community Strategy Center, YouthBuild USA, The Smithsonian Institute Museum of Natural History and many others.

During my Time at CivicActions, I was very involved in the Drupal user and developer community. I cofounded the Seattle Drupal User Group, and organized some of the very first DrupalCamps that took place in the world, in New York and Seattle. Later, I co-led the volunteer team that founded and produced the Pacific Northwest Drupal Summit. I also worked extensively with the CiviCRM team, running multiple training events for users of CiviCRM.

From 2003 through 2005, I worked for the Office of the Minority Leader of the New York State Senate, David A. Paterson. As an employee of the Democratic Conference, I was responsible for strategic technology planning, online communications strategy and data analysis. During the same period, I volunteered for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee where I performed electoral targeting and online communications strategy as well as grass roots technology strategy.

During the 2004 election cycle, I worked with CivicActions to develop AdvoKit, and open source, web based, voter data file management tool. This was at the dawn of such online voter files and, to the best of my knowledge, was the only open source, free software tool of its kind.

During the 2004 Presidential Election Cycle, I joined the John Edwards Campaign in early 2003, traveling to New Hampshire for the primary there and working in NY leading up to Super Tuesday. After John Edwards’ withdrawal from the campaign, I joined Downtown For Democracy a political action committee working in the arts community registering young voters and raising funds in an effort to elect John Kerry and John Edwards.

Before I went to work for The New York State Senate in February of 2002, I worked for NY ACORN as a grant writer and legislative advocate on poverty and welfare issues including coordinating the NYC Living Wage Coalition and working with the Coalition for Access to Training and Education (CATE). It was at ACORN that I really cut my teeth in activist technologies designing the Nation ACORN Database and working with New York State voter data to perform complex electoral targeting and narrowcasting for direct voter contact.

During my time at ACORN, I became involved in the nonprofit technology community, not only providing technology support to ACORN offices around the country, but also as a member of NTEN.

ACORN was not my first foray into electoral politics, or welfare and poverty issues. While studying at New York University I worked on the 1997 mayoral campaign of former City Councilman Sal Albanese.

In 1996, Gregory became involved in the anti-gentrification movement in the Lower East Side, working with community garden groups and squatters through the Lower East Side Collective (LESC). Later he joined the Coalition on a District Alternative (CODA) an activist political organizations. In 1998, Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields appointed Gregory to Community Board 3 where he served for 6 years on the Economic Development Committee (as chair for 4 years) and the State Liquor Authority Task Force, the Technology Task Force and the Executive Committee.

Gregory earned his BA with Honors in Metropolitan Studies with minor in Architecture and Urban Design from the College of Arts And Sciences in 1999 and his Masters of Public Administration (MPA) with a concentration in Public and Non-Profit Management from the Wagner School in 2000. His honors thesis, “Push Them to the River: The History of Gentrification and Social Control on New York City’s Lower East Side” was adapted and published in the NYU Wagner Review in 2000.

At NYU, Gregory was active in the Baird McCracken Scholars Group and the Dean’s Advisory Panel. He also founded the Metropolitan Studies Society, was a sporadic contributor to the Washington Square News and involved in social and environmental justice issues through Earth Matters and the Student Labor Action Coalition. Gregory earned many honors including a President’s Service Award and a Dean’s Award for participating in the NYU community as well as his service to the broader community through work with Food Not Bombs and Good People Good food, two organizations providing healthy vegetarian food to the homeless and hungry on the Lower East Side. He also volunteered at the University Settlement House teaching computer skills including web programming to neighborhood youth. Gregory also interned at the Urban Justice Center for two semesters working on the Homeless Outreach and Prevention Project and the Interfaith Coalition for Social Justice. Through his work in NYC in the last decade, Gregory has demonstrated a strong commitment to economic and social justice causes as well as political empowerment of previously disempowered constituencies. His work with technology and data systems is a natural outgrowth of the desire to see the political process opened up to the broadest range of participants.