Who Is Maya Wiley's Husband, Harlan Mandel?

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Who is Maya Wiley's Husband, Harlan Mandel?
Entertainment And News

MSNBC contributor Maya Wiley has stepped aside from her television job recently and the rumor is she's considering a run for Mayor of New York City. The 57-year-old civil rights attorney has a long history of dealing with the New York City government, where she worked as an advisor to Mayor Bill DiBlasio and was the board chair of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). She is also a law professor at The New School.

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Behind the scenes of her successful career, Wiley has a family, with whom she lives In Brooklyn. She and her husband Harlan Mandel have been married for decades and they have teenage kids together. Like Wiley, Mandel is a highly successful professional in his field and is considered an expert in media and freedom of the press.

Who is Maya Wiley's husband, Harlan Mandel?

Mandel and Wiley met in law school.

Both Wiley and Mandel attended the Columbia University School of Law from 1968-1989. It seems they met and fell in love while they were there. Though they both got law degrees, they used the knowledge in different ways after they finished school. Wiley went into civil rights law and has spent her career working on issues of equity and justice. Mandel, for his part, has focused on free speech issues. Not only does he deal with first amendment issues and the free press, where that is a guaranteed, but he also has an interest in ensuring press freedoms in countries where that has historically been less certain. 

Mandel started out in private practice.

In the early part of his career, Mandel worked in a law firm in Los Angeles and New York. He spent seven years as an associate at Morrison & Foerster where he started on the path to a career defending free speech. His specialties at the firm were intellectual property and new media law. His tenure there began right after his graduation from Columbia in 1989 so that would have put him at the forefront of the Internet. At that time, courts were just beginning to work out the ways free expression could and should play out online, so Mandel would have been in on the ground floor of the new decisions related to online communications and media. 

One of Mandel's jobs could prove to be a political stumbling block for Maya Wiley.

After leaving private practice, Mandel went to work for one of the biggest names in conspiracy theories: George Soros. For two years, he served as Deputy General Counsel of the Open Society Institute/Soros Foundations Network. Soros, a billionaire investor who funds initiatives to improve education, free speech, and justice around the world, is an often-invoked boogeyman of the far right.

Just by googling his name you can find dozens of conspiracy theories about Soros trying to take over everything and impose some kind of liberal world order. While there's no evidence that Mandel was actually working on a scheme to bring any of the conspiracies attributed to Soros to fruition, there will no doubt be people who try to say that the Wiley-Mandel family is part of a global plot to remake society. 

Mandel now works in media financing.

These days, Mandel is dealing with money in media, not the laws governing it. Since 2011, he has been the CEO of the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF). The MDIF has a stated mission of "MDIF is a mission-driven investment fund providing debt and equity financing to independent news and information companies. MDIF operates in countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America where a free and independent media is under threat." The fund provides finding to media entities trying to grow their impact in areas where free press is needed the most. The fund has invested more than $240 million dollars across 42 countries so far.

Mandel is passionate about global press freedom.

Mandel and Wiley have two daughters.

Wiley and Mandel have two daughters together. Naja is 19 and Kai is 16. The girls don't have a lot of public information available. We assume that just means parents have done a good job of protecting their privacy. 

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What would Mandel do as First Gentleman of New York City?

We can't really say what a Wiley-Mandel team would be like if they move into Gracie Mansion as the Mayor and First Gentleman. We can speculate, however, that Mandel wouldn't give up his work with MDIF and he would use his platform in NYC as a way to promote press freedoms at home and abroad as well as making sure digital media is available to everyone. As he said in an interview, "It’s very easy to get caught up in the fear of the future. But the future is here. There is digital media. We have to acknowledge that and deal with it now "

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.