Stephen Friedman is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning creator of social impact campaigns who helps lead the Societal Impact practice at SYPartners. Using the power of storytelling and SYP’s experience in large-scale transformation, he partners with CEOs and philanthropists to tackle some of the biggest social challenges we face.
This spring, Friedman was the Koeppel Fellow at Wesleyan where he taught the class “Storytelling and Social Change.” Friedman is on the advisory boards of Mic.com, the media company focused on millennials, and journalist Ron Suskind’s AI social impact business, Sidekicks. Additionally, he is producing multiple media projects for MTV.
Previously, Stephen was the President of MTV for seven years. He spearheaded MTV’s transformation into the cultural home of the millennial generation with more top-rated series for young viewers than any other network – including “Catfish,” “Teen Mom,” “Jersey Shore” and “Awkward.” During his 18 years there, he created MTV’s social impact department, launched mtvU and led MTV2, MTV.com and LOGO to record highs.
Friedman developed the “Choose or Lose” in partnership with Rock The Vote, and campaigns that addressed genocide in Darfur, stigma around mental health, bias and the “It’s Your (Sex) Life” campaign - which increased STD testing nationally. Friedman partnered with the National Campaign to End Teen pregnancy to ensure the shows “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom” were cautionary tales. The National Bureau of Economic Research credited both series with driving one-third of the recent steep decline in the teen birth rate, which now stands at a record low.
Before joining MTV, Friedman served as a Director for the PEN American Center (the writers’ human rights organization). He currently serves on the the Board of Directors for the Genocide Survivors Foundation and True North Media. He holds a B.A. with Honors from Wesleyan University.