Haub Alumni of the Month: Ryan Naples


Ryan Naples is a 2008 graduate of the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. He is currently Deputy Director at Tech:NYC, as well as an adjunct professor at Haub Law.

Why did you decide to go to law school?

I knew from a young age that I wanted a career in government and on campaigns so after graduating from college, I interned on Capitol Hill for Chuck Schumer. In 2004 when Democrats lost seats in the House and the Senate and failed to win the White House, entry-level jobs were few and so I moved home to New York to reevaluate my next steps. I decided that law school would be the best preparation for an eventual career in public policy. Pace gave me a merit-based scholarship, for which I am extremely grateful, and I decided to attend.

What was your law school experience like overall?

I loved law school. It was hard work balanced with extracurricular fun with great people. I think my most valuable academic experience was participating in the Environmental Litigation Clinic. It was challenging but great practical experience. I also appreciated the community engagement responsibilities that my case required. Law school taught me so many important skills that I still use today - chief among them is how to break down complex concepts into plain language and easy to understand ideas.

Currently, you are the Deputy Director at Tech:NYC – can you talk more about the association and what you do there?

Tech:NYC is a nonprofit coalition of approximately 800 technology companies in New York. Our members include large, international tech companies that are household names, as well as small startups. Tech:NYC works every day to foster a dynamic ecosystem, to ensure that New York is the best place to start and grow a technology company, and that all New Yorkers benefit from innovation.

In my current role as Deputy Director, I’m responsible for developing and implementing public policy strategies on issues related to cloud computing, internet access, privacy, the gig economy, antitrust, and several others. I work closely with our member companies to align on priorities and engagement plans and then directly lobby legislators and senior policy staff. I simultaneously invest a good deal of time coalition building with a diverse array of non-tech industry partners in furtherance of Tech:NYC’s public policy agenda. When I’m not actively lobbying, I spend the bulk of my time maintaining and building new relationships with New York’s members of Congress, state legislators, the New York City Mayor’s Office, and New York City Council Members. Finally, I’m also responsible for tracking all legislation and regulatory proposals that would affect tech.

Before working at Tech:NYC I worked at Lyft as a Senior Public Policy Manager. In that role I helped develop and execute Lyft’s legislative, regulatory, and political strategy in New York State and the northeast region.

You were previously Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs in the Governor’s office – what was that like?

In 2018 and 2019, my job was to help promote the Governor’s legislative agenda with the state legislature and simultaneously assist legislators to help them get their bills signed. My main goal was to make people’s lives better in New York State. The process of creating change is hard, especially in New York, a place with fiercely held opinions. On an average day, I would have calls with legislators and internally in the Governor’s Office and with state agencies to go over priorities. If the legislature was in session then I spent the bulk of my time quickly reading every single bill that was moving and trying to learn which ones had a real chance of passing both houses, talking to state agencies to double check on a bill’s existing law, and if there were problems with a proposed statutory change in a bill, trying to address those legal and technical problems before it passed. I had to ask and answer questions, such as: Is the bill going to violate a federal law or the NYS or US Constitution? If so, how can we achieve the goal of the bill, but without these conflicts? Will the bill add new responsibilities to a state agency currently without the proper expertise to implement the law as required? Is the bill solving a real problem or a perceived one? In order to work through questions like these, I had to quickly learn new policy areas on an almost daily basis, I had more than 20 state agency legislative counsels reporting to me and working through bills with me, and I loved every minute of it.

How did this position allow you to transition to your position at Lyft, where you were a Senior Public Policy Manager before moving on to Tech:NYC?

While in the Governor’s Office I helped pass the nation’s first Congestion Pricing law. During this lobbying I learned a great deal about transportation issues in New York. I also developed good working relationships with the legislature by helping many of them with their priority bills. For these reasons I was uniquely qualified for a public policy position at Lyft. Before the Governor’s Office, I also worked at the New York State Department of Labor where I spent years researching future of work proposals which would directly impact the workers at a ride share company like Lyft. For these reasons, I was well-positioned for such an exciting role at Lyft.     

How did law school and Pace impact your career?

Without the legal education I received at Pace, I could not do the legislative and regulatory work that I’ve done for the past +10 years. Just as importantly though, the networking I first started while in law school jumpstarted my career. The law school’s location in Westchester helped me stand out because we are the only law school in the area. For this reason, I was usually the only law student at networking events and this helped me get noticed and build valuable relationships that are still extremely important today.

You are also an adjunct professor at Haub Law – how has that experience been?

I absolutely love it. It’s a real privilege to get to teach. I value the students and they help me keep my knowledge of state law and constitutional principles top of mind and up to date. It is a lot of work and time, however, and I never fully appreciated the efforts my law professors put into teaching when I was at Pace. So if any of them are reading this – thank you!

Do you keep in touch with any other alumni?

Yes – so many. I had a great group of friends while I was attending law school. Many of my closest friends are the ones I made while at Pace. Our group texts during the pandemic have been lifesaving!

Had you not become a lawyer, what do you think you would be doing?

I probably would have become a reporter. I love other people’s business.

What are some of your passions aside from the law?

I am the father of two young children, so fatherhood is definitely a passion. I also love to read and am never without a book.