Seth M. Siegel '74
B.S. Cornell University ILR School ’74
J.D. Cornell Law School ’78
Business executive, community activist, writer, author (“Let There Be Water”)
Seth Siegel, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., describes himself as an accidental ILRie. As a child, Siegel pursued a general interest in international affairs and, when it was time for college, applied to what he thought was the International and Labor Relations School. Despite confusion upon finding out what the “I” actually stood for, he decided to continue his application.
Over four decades later, Siegel says ILR shaped his world-view. He remembers great professors such as Milton Konvitz, John Windmuller, George Brooks and David Lipsky, who exemplified the theoretical and practical duality of the school. It was at ILR that he also formed lifelong friendships.
After graduation, Siegel attended Cornell Law School and went on to practice law as an assistant district attorney with New York City and then as an attorney with Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein and Selz. That was just the beginning for Siegel who, after practicing law, has co-founded companies including Beanstalk, Sixpoint Partners, and Vringo, and has produced on Broadway and television. He also took what he learned at ILR to heart, pursuing his childhood interest in global affairs as a community activist.
Siegel received ILR’s Jerome Alpern Award in 2010 for his outstanding support of the school and his professional accomplishments outside the field of industrial and labor relations. He described the impact ILR has had on him, “By always wondering how an act or a policy would touch people in their everyday lives, my ILR education helped me to rise above an antiseptic view of policy and, no doubt, helped as a prod to serve my community and other communities evermore.”
Middle East affairs and water scarcity are among Siegel’s many passions. In his recent book, “Let There Be Water,” he explains how climate change, population growth, pollution and failing infrastructure all contribute to the global water crisis and explores Israel as a model for water resource management.
This accidental ILRie is now one of the school’s strongest supporters. Siegel’s inspiration for giving back to ILR as a volunteer and donor comes from what he describes as a deep sense of appreciation for his ILR education. He says, “I would like others to have that same opportunity.”