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Michael Posner

Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics & Finance, Director of the Center for Business & Human Rights

NYU Stern School of Business

New York, NY, USA

Michael Posner


Michael Posner is the Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics and Finance at NYU’s Stern School of Business and the Director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the School, the first-ever human rights center at a business school.

Previously, Michael served in the Obama Administration as Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor and prior to that he was President of Human Rights First. Earlier in his career, Michael was a lawyer with Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal. He is recognized as a leader and expert in advancing a rights-based approach to national security, challenging the practice of torture, combating discrimination and refugee protection. He is a frequent public commentator on these issues and has testified dozens of times before U.S. Congress.

His philanthropic work includes serving as a Board Member of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and throughout his career he has been a prominent voice in support of human rights protections, in global business operations in the manufacturing supply chain, the extractives industry and the information and communications technology sector. He helped found the Fair Labor Association, was a Founding Member of the Global Network Initiative and has spoken widely on the issue of internet freedom. Michael spearheaded the U.S. Government's efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights and played a key role in proposing and campaigning for the first U.S. law providing for political asylum, as well as the Torture Victim Protection Act.

Michael lectured at Yale Law School, at one time teaching with former Dean Harold Koh. He was a visiting lecturer at Columbia University Law School, and is a Member of the California Bar and the Illinois Bar.

Michael Posner’s Newsfeed

How to Move Bangladesh Factory Safety Forward

In this article, Michael Posner, noting the Rana Plaza disaster seven years ago, writes about recent discussions in the European Parliament on the current state of Bangladesh’s massive ready-made garment (RMG) industry. He also stressed the need for a new oversight body, the Ready Made Garment Industry’s Sustainability Council (RSC), while also pointing out the progress made by The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

How Business Leaders Can Help Rescue Dying Local News

In this article, Michael Posner builds upon ideas collected in the Edelman Trust Barometer, an annual public opinion poll that tracks citizens’ attitudes towards government, corporations, civil society, and the media in more than 20 countries. Notably, Posner discusses the intense difficulties faced by local journalists, largely financial, and the unfortunate rise of “news deserts”. Posner also discusses the pressing need for corporate leaders to take a more central role in addressing key societal issues, such as global warming and rising inequality, while also supporting local news.

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Michael Posner’s Background

Jerome Kohlberg Professor of Ethics & Finance, Director of the Center for Business & Human Rights
New York, NY, USA
New York University's Leonard N. Stern School of Business is one America's premier management education schools and research centers. NYU Stern offers a broad portfolio of academic programs at graduate and undergraduate levels.
Founding Executive Director & President
New York, NY, USA
Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. that works on a range of domestic and international human rights issues.
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Other Business Interests

Founding Member
Washington, DC, USA
Global Network Initiative, was launched in 2008 to address how technology companies can best respect the rights of their users. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at promoting free expression and privacy rights on the Internet.


Board Member
New York, NY, USA
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, founded in 1968, is led by human rights activist and lawyer Kerry Kennedy and advocates for a more just and peaceful world. Working alongside local activists to ensure lasting positive change in governments and corporations, the RFK team includes leading attorneys, advocates, entrepreneurs and writers united by a commitment to social justice.
Washington, DC, USA
As a member of the White House Apparel Industry Partnership Task Force, Michael helped found the Fair Labor Association (FLA), an organization that brings together corporations, local leaders, universities, and NGOs to promote corporate accountability for working conditions in the apparel industry.


The State Bar of California logo The State Bar of California logo
The State Bar of California
San Francisco, CA, USA
The State Bar of California’s mission is to protect the public. It includes the primary functions of licensing, regulation & discipline of attorneys, the advancement of the ethical and competent practice of law and support for greater access to and inclusion in the legal system.
Illinois City, IL, USA
The Illinois State Bar Association was founded in 1877 and is the premier legal association in the state. As a voluntary organization, the Association's primary focus is to assist Illinois lawyers in the practice of law & to promote improvements in the administration of justice.


Opinion Piece
Mar 2020
New York, NY, USA
Michael Posner outlines three things the federal government needs to do in order to fight the spread of Covid-19: Implement greater coordination and burden-sharing among the states; the President needs to invoke the Defense Production Act to mobilize the private sector to produce essential items; provide the financial resources necessary to pay for the production and delivery of essential items.
Feb 2020
New York, NY, USA
Michael Posner discusses developments at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, and looks at changing attitudes toward Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) and Sustainable Development Goals. He focuses on the need for the WEF task force to “develop new metrics for “social” goals that recognize shifts in the modern workforce and help to define good management practices.

Michael Posner’s Education

BA History (Distinction & Honors)