Director of Legislative Affairs
Mike Ford is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University, where his work applies the robust musicological understandings of improvisation to non-musical contexts, such as corporate management and agile startups. His prior research has been published on 3 continents and he regularly presents papers at national and international conferences. Mike teaches music in Columbia’s Core Curriculum and is a teaching assistant for a course at the Columbia Business School that trains future business leaders to communicate effectively. Aside from his academic activities, Mike is also involved in various student governments on campus, including as Vice President of External Affairs of the Arts & Sciences Graduate Council (2019–2020) and University Senator (2018–2020). In the University Senate, his work has focused on improving the campus’s sustainability practices. He is also a member of Columbia’s Sustainable Leaders Network and a part of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps. In 2018, Mike cofounded a cybersecurity startup that provides diagnostic software powered by machine learning to cyber insurance clients, as well as for US Air Force weapon systems. Before moving to the United States, he also started, conducted, and operated a mid-sized orchestra that produced acclaimed concerts in multiple cities across South Africa. He earned a B.Mus. in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Pretoria and an M.A. in Musicology at Rutgers University. In addition to a wide range of university fellowships and grants, his studies and research has also been supported generously by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust.