The Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership

The Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership leverages the intellectual capital of Columbia Business School and Columbia Law School to design courses and programs that teach the leadership skills and strategies necessary to create an optimal organizational culture. The Initiative was established through a generous gift from Reuben Mark, former chairman and chief executive officer at the Colgate-Palmolive Company.

Centralized within The Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Center for Leadership and Ethics at the Business School, the Initiative integrates organizational culture into the School’s leadership development curriculum, programming, and research. Complementing this effort, the Law School is building new curriculum, including the creation of a Leader-in-Residence program and the establishment of the In-House Counsel Lab, which focuses on research and experiential learning opportunities.

Jointly, the Business and Law Schools work on cross-listed curriculum and unique programming that bring together students, alumni, and the greater Columbia community focused on highlighting real-world examples of exemplary leadership and the principles of organizational culture. 

The Mark Initiative is committed to bringing together business and law students, alumni, and the greater Columbia University community for novel programs, such as: 

The Reuben Mark Organizational Leadership Series
The series hosts preeminent business and legal executives from various industries to highlight their effective leadership styles in congruence with their companies’ strong organizational cultures.

CEO and General Counsel Conversation Series
A conversation series that highlights the strategic relationship between in-house lawyers and their business partners, and the competitive advantage that flows from those strong relationships. This series explores how this partnership can be leveraged to build companies with outstanding organizational culture. 

Reuben Mark Roundtable Working Group
An invitation-only roundtable working group of dedicated and passionate practitioner leaders and academics who discuss timely and relevant research, share best practices, and engage outside perspectives relevant to the work of the Initiative. The composition of the Roundtable includes professionals and academics from various points in their careers and from a range of industries and backgrounds, in order to ensure that a variety of perspectives are represented. Particular attention paid to generational diversity, as current challenges surrounding corporate culture begin with differing generational work/life expectations, which are especially germane to the Initiative and its goals around teaching great organizational culture.

As a part of the Mark Initiative, Columbia Law School has established a Leader-in-Residence program, which brings an experienced in-house lawyer or c-suite executive to the Law School to teach a seminar, provide career advice to students, and participate in Initiative activities and the activities of the broader Columbia University community. The goal of the program is to bring leaders to campus who have first-hand experience with the challenges of building organizational policies and practices premised on ethical values and optimal work environments.



James Comey
Leader-in-Residence, Spring 2021

Mr. Comey teaches a course titled "Lawyers and Leaders


Colin Stretch
Leader-in-Residence Spring 2020 & Spring 2021

Mr. Stretch teaches a course titled "The Role of the General Counsel in the Modern Economy"


Hilary Krane
Leader-in-Residence, Fall 2019

Ms. Krane taught a course titled "Becoming a Trusted Advisor: The Role of the General Counsel in the Modern Multi-National Corporation" 

Bruce Sewell
Inaugural Leader-in-Residence, Spring 2019

Mr. Sewell taught a cross-listed course titled "Leadership and Organizational Character: The Role of Inside Counsel"

Columbia Business School

The Leadership Co-Curricular Series features a set of workshops offered throughout the year which builds upon our students' leadership skillset by teaching them the particular strategies or ‘how-tos’ of leadership on a variety of topics. This series will allow for more opportunities for our students to put theory from the classroom into practice.

Fall 2021 Workshops:

  • Managing Difficult Conversations
  • Transform Your Leadership Practice with Reflective Feedback
  • Managing Stress to Enhance Performance as a Leader

Spring 2021 Workshops:

  • Managing Difficult Conversations
  • Managing Stress to Enhance Performance as a Leader
  • Exerting Influence Without Authority in the Workplace  

Fall 2020 Workshops:

  • Thinking Critically About Race and Racism in Business
  • Transform Your Leadership Practice with Reflective Feedback
  • Unpacking Diversity Dynamics in Organization: Learning Together 

Past Workshops:

  • Leading a High-Performing, Flexible Work Team in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond
  • Active Listening Workshop: The Superpower of Leadership 
  • Building Your Personal Brand
  • Learn to Leverage Your Network 
  • Finding Your Purpose Through Work

Columbia Law School

The Mark Initiative has led to the development of new curriculum focused on the goal of teaching law students how to be more effective leaders and business partners, including through experiential learning opportunities. Examples of those courses are listed below.

  • In-House Counsel Externship and Seminar
  • Professional Responsibility Issues in the Representation of Business Organizations
  • Advising Complex Corporations: An Inside Perspective
  • Organizational Misconduct
  • Leadership and Organizational Character: The Role of Inside Counsel
  • Becoming a Trusted Advisor: The Role of the General Counsel in the Modern Multi-National Corporation
  • Ethics on the Edge: Business, Non-Profit and Government

The Reuben Mark Initiative for Organizational Character and Leadership is pleased to award following the faculty members and doctoral students with research grants for projects pertaining to the topics of values-based leadership, intergenerational leadership, the future of work, and workplace culture. In line with the mission of the Initiative, the research will further develop new tools and frameworks for thinking about leadership and organizational culture in order to better prepare future leaders in business at Columbia. The Initiative will present the research findings at colloquiums to be hosted during the next academic year. 

2021-2022 Faculty Grant Recipients:

Wei Cai, Assistant Professor of Business, Accounting Department
Research Project: “Inclusive Leaders”

2021-2022 Doctoral Grant Recipients:

James T. Carter, Management Division, with Mabel Abraham, Assistant Professor, Management Department
Research Project:  “The Ricky Business of Organizational Claims: Effects of (In)consistency between Organizational Claims and Outcomes”

Brandon Freiberg, Management Division, with Sandra Matz, David W. Zalaznick Associate Professor of Business, Management Department
Research Project: “Spillover Effects of Diversity Initiatives"  

Jean Joohyun Oh, Management Division, with Jorge Guzman, Assistant Professor, Management Department
Research Project: “Working Class Founder: The Effects of Social Class Origins on Entrepreneurship”