Skip to main content
Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88

Klein Being Honored for Professional Achievements, Commitment to ILR

As chief legal officer for two iconic organizations, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Time Inc., Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88 has found her work fascinating and challenging. And, at times, groundbreaking.

“At both, I’ve worked on organizational transformations, which I really enjoy,” she said.

Klein is this year’s recipient of the Jerome Alpern Award, which recognizes outstanding service and support to the ILR School and professional accomplishments outside the industrial and labor relations field.

“It’s especially fun for me to be getting the Alpern Award at the same time that my classmate Jim Miller ’88 is getting the Groat Award,” she said. The two will be honored April 18 at the Groat and Alpern Awards celebration at The Pierre in Manhattan.

Klein joined Lincoln Center, the world’s leading performing arts center, in 2018 as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. In making “the unusual transition from general counsel of a public company to general counsel of a large nonprofit,” she said, she faced “a host of new issues.”

Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88
Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88

She credits her ILR education with helping her deal with the center’s dozen-plus unions and navigate the pandemic, when the performing arts center closed its halls for 18 months.

“We used that time to accelerate the $500 million renovation of David Geffen Hall, home to the New York Philharmonic,” Klein said. During the construction, she signed her name on a concrete wall before it was covered over with custom beechwood panels sculpted to reverberate sound. “Now, I smile every day that I’m there because I know I’ve left a permanent mark on Lincoln Center,” she said.

At Time, where she served for 21 years, Klein was the first female general counsel in the company’s history. She was responsible for global legal and governance matters. She also led legal teams in acquisitions and divestitures of businesses. She played a lead role in the company’s spin-off from Time Warner, the establishment of Time Inc. as a new independent public company, and the $3 billion sale of the company.

“I had a front-row seat to changes in the media industry from the 1990s until we sold it in 2018 when we went from being a traditional media company to a digital content media company,” she said.

As a student, Klein was drawn to the ILR School by its interdisciplinary curriculum.

“I liked that I could study all of my areas of interest in one place and didn’t have to pick just one,” she said.

“I soaked up everything: law, history, economics, organizational behavior—and the workplace itself. And I learned to think critically about those things.”

It was ILR’s interdisciplinary nature, she said, that has helped her most throughout her career.

“ILR taught me to look at the bigger picture, to approach problem-solving with creativity, to take a multi-pronged approach to evaluation.”

Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88 and friends sitting around a dinner table
Lauren Ezrol Klein and 1988 classmates

After graduating from ILR, Klein earned a J.D., cum laude, at Harvard Law School. She then joined the corporate department of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in New York.

Klein maintains strong ties to both the ILR School and Cornell. She serves on the President’s Council of Cornell Women, the Cornell ILR Dean’s Advisory Council, the Cornell ILR Alumni Association Board Executive Committee and as co-chair of ILR’s capital campaign. One of her most rewarding Cornell experiences is mentoring ILR students.

Seven of her Cornell classmates remain close friends. “We all lived together our junior and senior years, and we’ve stayed close, even taking annual getaways,” a tradition of more than 25 years.

Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88 with daughter, Charlotte Klein ’26 outside of Day Hall at Cornell University
Lauren Ezrol Klein ’88 with daughter, Charlotte Klein ’26, an ILRie.

For Klein, Cornell is a family tradition, encompassing daughter Charlotte Klein ILR ’26; brother Jonathan Ezrol, CALS ’92; and late father-in-law Paul Klein, A&S ’55. “Family is a huge part of my life, and a huge part of my Cornell engagement,” she said.

In 2019, Klein and her husband, Alan, established the Ezrol Klein Family Scholarship Fund.

“We both believe that all talented ILR students should receive the support they need,” she said. “I also think this is an important time to support the ILR School. Since the pandemic, ILR professors have been leading voices on the day’s most pressing issues and have been giving students a relevant education in how to think about these issues.

“That’s why I’m proud to be co-chair of the campaign and to support financial aid and annual fund initiatives. I think the ILR School is doing a great job.”

Read more stories about ILR alumni.