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Savvy consultant hones his skills to serve politicians and corporate clients alike
Story by Mara McGinnis, BA ’97; photo by Douglas Levere, BA ’89
Major and minor at UB Political science and classics; UB family connections Dad, Timothy, graduated from UB School of Law in 1974 and sister, Megan, works at UB as director of government relations; Dream job To have worked on the Obama presidential campaign. “That campaign was a model of professionalism, aggressiveness and belief in the candidate”; Favorite trip abroad Argentina; Most recommended place to visit in NYC The High Line—the new elevated park on Manhattan’s West Side
Ryan Toohey, BA ’97, may be sitting in a beautifully designed loft office space in downtown Manhattan, but the “Buffalo, N.Y.” belt buckle that he’s wearing demonstrates his hometown pride.
Now one of fewer than a half–dozen partners at Global Strategy Group, one of the most prestigious and highpowered political and corporate consulting firms in New York, Toohey has already led a more exciting career at 34 years old than many experience in a lifetime.
After growing up in Buffalo and studying briefly at the University of Wisconsin, Toohey landed at UB’s North Campus in the early 1990s thinking it was temporary, but liked it so much that he stayed. “UB is a very academic and collegiate environment,” he says. “When I began studying law at Columbia, I felt better prepared than many of my classmates who went to big–name colleges.”
In law school, Toohey still didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do, but had always followed politics closely. So one day, at age 22, he picked up the phone and called Eliot Spitzer, who was running for New York State attorney general, and asked to work on his campaign. “I liked his ideology and thought I was well suited to help out,” says Toohey, who eventually became Spitzer’s closest traveling aide and notes that one of his career highlights so far was having a “courtside seat” to watch as the New York State Attorney General’s Office was completely remade under Spitzer.
Toohey went on to manage Spitzer’s campaign for governor and was one of his trusted advisers once he took office. In a 2008 New York Magazine article, Spitzer noted: “Ryan is unbeatable when it comes to reading the political pulse of the state.”
Toohey’s political savvy and well–honed analytical skills continue to serve him well at Global Strategy Group, where his work ranges from helping New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg retain control of the city’s massive school system to strategizing about how to redevelop Ground Zero while helping senators, mayors, and members of congress in New York and beyond get elected.
“Building a professional and personal life in New York City is fun and exciting, but very complicated. Only now after 12 years have I started to feel like I’m hitting my stride,” says Toohey, who was married this March. “I’d like to say I’m settling down. I hope it stays that way for a bit longer than I’m used to.”
An Academy Award-winning actor, a singer-songwriter and a Pulitzer Prize winner headline UB's Distinguished Speakers Series.
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UB's Makau Mutua says politicians want to not only demonize the West, but also demonize a sector of the society in Africa who are friendly to the West.