David Yoskowitz, PhD

written by Emma Morrow

Photo by Larry McKinney

David Yoskowitz is the former Senior Executive Director at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and  Endowed Chair for the Socio-Economics Group (SEG). David graduated from Bentley College with his undergraduate degree in Economics and Finance. Originally from Northern California, he moved from the busy city of San Francisco to attend Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas, where he received his Masters and Ph.D. in Economics. After meeting his wife Carolyn, a native Texan, in graduate school, he relocated to Texas permanently.

As an economist, David came to Harte Research Institute (HRI) with interest and experience in the socio-economics field. As a child, he was always interested in natural science. HRI gave him the opportunity to make use of his “economics toolbox and skill sets” while allowing him to gain insight into the natural sciences through his colleagues. David has also had the opportunity to travel to numerous countries to work in partnership with other coastal research groups and present research to partners and policy makers. His travels have given him the chance to appreciate the diversity of different cultures, people, and societies around the world and within the U.S.

David advises those looking to follow a similar leadership career path to attend graduate school. While the education behind a graduate degree is crucial, he believes learning perseverance through graduate studies is the most important outcome. “You have to have the smarts, that’s given. But you also have to persevere, you have to push through.” And for undergraduate students, he highly recommends finding what you enjoy doing. “If all you’re about is chasing the dollars, you’re not going to be happy in the long run.” He also advises those that wish to attend graduate school not to wait too long. While a break for a couple of years can be beneficial to gain experience or positive head space, he believes the longer you wait the harder it is to go back. When asked what kind of experience he recommends before joining the working world he replied, “Do something you think you shouldn’t do… that’s legal and ethical [chuckle]. Get out of your comfort zone.” David believes everyone should challenge themselves to do something they would not normally do, which can give someone a whole new perspective in their career and possibly, life.

As a leader, David feels it is important to establish an ability to develop along with the ever- growing society. One kind of leadership won’t work for all people, and the leadership styles that worked in one time period won’t work forever. For example, the autocratic leadership style of the ‘40s and ‘50s has died out. This style of leadership pushes employees to feel like they are not considered equal, and their employer rules them rather than leads them. “For me personally there’s not just one leadership style. I think of myself as a service leader.” David likes to focus on offering employees the tools and training they need to do their job, but ultimately, he says understanding what your leadership style is and being comfortable with it is key in building leadership traits. Emotional intelligence is also critical in leadership. A leader must be able to show empathy. “You need to think of the people that you lead as… working with you rather than for you.” You have to be in the mindset to help others and work cohesively. It’s important to develop those traits to be a successful leader. Even if you aren’t currently in a leadership position, he says it’s important to apply these traits to group work that can help you develop such leadership abilities.

In his free time, David enjoys vegetable gardening, staying physically active through swimming, hiking, biking, and fishing. He has always had a passion for the outdoors and nature. Back in his ”younger years” he fought forest fires in California. His proudest accomplishment is raising his son, Max, with strong skill sets that will lead him to be successful in life. His second proudest would be the impressions he’s made on all the students he’s come into contact with. “We have the opportunity to train, teach, and work with [these students]. [They] will go out and take our HRI philosophy forward. That’s the biggest impact we can have.”