Lauren A. Merkel

Vice President, International Affairs, Empire State Development

Lauren Merkel is Vice President, International Affairs at Empire State Development (ESD), the economic development arm of New York State. Lauren joined ESD in April 2019 and has since managed the Governor’s trade mission to Israel in June 2019, the “New Day at the MTA” conference at the end of September 2019, and a foreign direct investment mission to India in March 2020. She also helped to spearhead ESD’s COVID manufacturing retooling grant program and assist with the State’s rapid testing initiatives. Her role at ESD is comprised of attracting foreign direct investment, managing economic development international gubernatorial trade missions, and promoting Global NY export programs for New York State businesses–working in conjunction with NYS’s seven foreign offices. Lauren also works closely with domestic and international government partners and consulates.

Prior to joining ESD, Lauren was a management consultant who led transformational projects for corporations, governments and non-profit organizations, including the arts and culture plan for Bermuda and the business plan for the Sing Sing Prison Museum in Ossining, NY. Lauren held management positions at Roundabout Theatre Company and Lincoln Center Global (LCG), the consulting division of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. While at LCG, Lauren advised domestic and international clients on planning, building, and running arts and entertainment facilities, including programming, audience development initiatives, and business model optimization. She conducted market research and analysis for client engagements ranging from cultural districts to opera houses to convening centers, all with the end to build community and catalyze economic growth. She also spearheaded business development efforts, including the development of marketing materials and content for LCG and Lincoln Center University, an international arts management training program.

She holds a Master of Business Administration from McGill University in Montréal, Canada and a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Richmond in Virginia. Lauren speaks French, and is learning Hebrew and Arabic.