GW alumnus and Mayor-elect Vincent Gray tapped former University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg last week to chair an economic development transition team.
Gray – who won the general election Tuesday – created the economic development task force to craft a long-term development plan, focusing on job creation and growth, businesses and positioning the District as an economic engine in the region.
Trachtenberg said Gray’s campaign approached him the day of the election about joining the transition team, and the University professor agreed on the spot.
“I think I was chosen for my good looks and my dance moves,” Trachtenberg said jokingly.
Trachtenberg and Barbara Lang, president and chief executive of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce, will co-chair the committee.
Doxie McCoy, Gray’s transition spokeswoman, said Trachtenberg’s track record was key in the decision to bring him on board.
“The chairman believes [Trachtenberg] has the touch, the outreach to the citizens of Washington [and] can help guide a path to bringing jobs to D.C. residents, helping businesses grow and workforce development,” McCoy said.
Aside from serving as University president for 19 years, Trachtenberg was chairman of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Washington Board of Trade. He said he has carried out assignments for District mayors since 1998.
“There’s a rumor around town that I’ve been in Washington for 20-plus years and have managed to make some small contributions, and the hope is that whatever skills have contributed to that will be helpful to the transition team,” Trachtenberg said.
The task force is still in its primary phases, Trachtenberg said, but has to generate a report for the Mayor-elect before Gray takes office in January.
Trachtenberg said he does not expect the job to interfere with his GW duties, as he is not slated to teach any courses until the spring semester. When asked if he would consider joining the Gray administration, Trachtenberg said the question was “too theoretical.”
“I have no visions or plans at this point to do anything but be a professor at George Washington University,” Trachtenberg said, adding that he already has speaking engagements lined up abroad in the spring.