Rob Simpson, '01 MPA

President & CEO, CenterState CEO
Executive Director, Central Upstate Regional Alliance
President, The Tech Garden

Rob Simpson

Rob Simpson serves as president & chief executive officer of CenterState CEO, as the executive director of the Central Upstate Regional Alliance, and president of Syracuse's business incubator, The Tech Garden. He previously served as president and CEO of the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and Central New York (MDA). A native of Upstate New York, Rob earned his MPA from the Maxwell School in 2001. He earned his bachelor's degree from Colgate University in 1997.

Rob was recently named as co-chair of the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council by Governor Andrew Cuomo, tasked with developing a five year business plan for Central New York. Rob not only saw it as an honor, but also a great opportunity for the region to rethink how it grows and builds communities. "I've always been really passionate about Upstate New York, having grown up here. This region can and must do better. Economies are global, and this region, like any region, needs to innovate, needs to train its workforce, and provide a compelling experience for its residents. I take great pride in helping the region collaborate and drive change that improves people's lives."

For Rob, Maxwell wasn't only close to home, but also was an opportunity that couldn't be passed up: "Having grown up in Upstate New York it was a nice opportunity to come home from Washington, D.C. It certainly helped that it had the best reputation out of any in the country, and for someone who is really interested in public policy there is no better place to be. Maxwell prepares you for quality leadership positions in the public sector."

Though Quantitative Analysis wasn't Rob's favorite class, he uses the skills learned from the course on a daily basis in his work to think through complex policy challenges: "Really understanding how to evaluate policies and their effects on the community is integral. We are constantly trying to justify our methods to potential funding partners as well as trying to demonstrate how the work that we are doing is actually driving the New York State economy toward success."

His advice for those considering Maxwell? "Sign on the dotted line. For people who are prepared to go back to school, there is no better place. It works best for those who understand what they want out of graduate education. You get what you give."

Rob can be contacted at