• Anthony Hayes: Founder and President of The Hayes Initiative

  • Anthony Hayes Profile Image
    "The diversity of opinion (at The New School) was incredible, and I think it really does prepare people for the real world.”

    Anthony Hayes (BA Liberal Arts '10) always knew he'd go back to school; he just didn't know when. He began his college journey in his home state of Oklahoma, but two years in, after finding out he was no longer eligible for the financial aid needed to complete his degree, he made the tough decision to put his education on hold.

    Ten years and a cross-country move to New York City later, Hayes found The New School’s Bachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students and decided it was time to finish what he started.

    "I was in my late 20s and really didn't want to hit a ceiling [in my career] simply because I didn’t have a bachelor’s degree," Hayes explained. After leaving Oklahoma, he worked in retail, took a position in events and public relations with Ralph Lauren, and spent time volunteering with the Human Rights Campaign. "I was trying to figure it out, and a friend recommended The New School because they had a lot of returning students and offered a lot of flexibility. They were very understanding towards people who were working and going to school, and I don’t think you can really understate how important that is."

    Today Hayes serves as the founder and president of The Hayes Initiative, a full-service public affairs firm that provides organizations and individuals with strategic counsel and support in communications, media outreach, government and community relations, and event planning. Founded in late 2016, The Hayes Initiative works with numerous organizations including the Clinton Foundation, the City of New York, Time’s Up, New York City Football Club, Bloomberg L.P., and Airbnb, among others.

    Following his work on Secretary Hillary Clinton’s historic 2016 presidential campaign, Hayes began looking into jobs with major communications firms. Clients and colleagues from the past continued to approach him with opportunities. It was then that a friend suggested he start his own venture. A few weeks later, The Hayes Initiative was born.

    "I think a lot of people have the idea that you have to have just enough money or just enough this or that to launch a business," Hayes said, "but there’s never a perfect time, just like there was never a perfect time to go back to school."

    Before launching The Hayes Initiative and working with Hillary For America, Hayes spent two years as vice president of Public Affairs and Policy at GMHC, the nation’s leading and first HIV and AIDS service organization. From 2011 to 2014, he worked as an appointed official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where he managed media and communications for the agency’s five airports, six bi-state crossings, PATH commuter rail, two high-traffic bus terminals, the largest East Coast seaport operation, the 16-acre World Trade Center site, and a 1,600-member police force.

    Hayes has brought his passion for advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community into everything he does and, through his work at The Hayes Initiative and beyond, is dedicated to building inclusivity into the structures of the organizations with which he works. 

    “It’s one thing to talk about inclusivity and diversity, but it’s another thing to actually do it and implement it — not only on an organizational level, but on a personal level,” Hayes said.

    As he looks back over his career, Hayes said he’s grateful to The New School for the opportunity it provided him to not only build a strong community with his professors and fellow students but learn from people of all walks of life.

    "I loved the diversity," Hayes explained. "The New School is a unique place because you have people in a classroom that are 18, 25, 30, 40; there were some classes where I had people who were in their 70s. So, when you have conversations about complicated subjects, you're surrounded by different generations, races, sexual orientations — you get so many different opinions. I think that diversity of opinion was incredible, and I think it really does prepare people for the real world.”

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