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Trump’s Pick to Head National Economic Council Openly Talks About His Dyslexia

Gary Cohn headshot in a suit
Gary Cohn

Washington, Dec. 9 – News outlets are reporting that President-elect Donald Trump will name Goldman Sachs veteran, Gary Cohn, to head the National Economic Council, where he would have significant influence over the administration’s economic policy, including corporate taxes and U.S. trade policy.

Cohn, who has dyslexia, credits this disability with leading to many of his successes.  As a child growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, he was called an “idiot” by teachers and classmates. Yet Cohn graduated from both high school and college, something the majority of students with disabilities do not do. After graduation, he found a job in sales for U.S. Steel and later took a chance that led him to Wall Street.

“The one trait in a lot of dyslexic people I know is that by the time we got out of college, our ability to deal with failure was very highly developed,” Cohn told Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote about the businessman’s experiences in the book David and Goliath. “And so we look at most situations and see much more of the upside than the downside. It doesn’t faze us.”

While visiting New York, Cohn devised a plan to meet a broker and initiated the sharing of a cab with him to LaGuardia Airport, using the time to network. Cohn left the cab with the man’s number and had a job on Wall Street with his firm the next week.

“I’ve thought about it many times, I really have, because it defined who I am,” Cohn told Gladwell. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my dyslexia. I never would have taken that first chance.”

Trump’s proposed Cabinet is missing disability representation. Cohn’s openness regarding disability is a welcomed occurrence in a Trump administration, as fully one-in-five Americans has a disability and the majority of Americans have a loved one with a disability.

“It is vital for the Trump administration to reflect America, including talented people with disabilities,”RespectAbility President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, who has dyslexia herself, said. “The administration needs people who have real, proven experience in enabling people with disabilities to receive the education and training they need to succeed in gaining jobs and independence. There are 56 million Americans with disabilities, and only 30 percent currently are employed, while 70 percent have expressed a desire to be. Without ensuring that the needs of people with disabilities, specifically relating to employment and education, a Trump administration would be leaving too many Americans behind.”

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