Over the last 45 years, Howard has successfully founded more than a dozen high-tech companies, built extensive collections of modern art and PEZ dispensers, written a play, co-founded a media arts school (Tribeca Flashpoint College), sat on at least a dozen nonprofit and civic boards, written hundreds of articles and blog posts—and all while consuming truly frightening quantities of Diet Coke.
A background in law (J.D., Northwestern, 1970) proved useful both in obvious practical ways, but also as a lens for critical thinking. In a recent article for the Chicago Tribune on the importance of teaching code to kids, Howard wrote that "...the real value of learning to code isn't in the mastery of the tools; it's in the internalization of the methods, the analysis, and the critical thought processes that are the foundational skills of all great programmers. I'm almost certain that the world doesn't need another scheduling service or sharing site. But we need all the critical thinkers and change agents we can create."
Education. Tech. Entrepreneurship. Art. Howard's multi-front career defined STEAM (that's STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with a dash of Art for alchemical magic) before STEAM itself had been defined.
In his first year as the CEO of Chicago's nearly three-year old tech incubator 1871, Howard oversaw 25,000 sq ft expansion to the Merchandise Mart space. It filled up almost immediately, so now plans are underway for a second expansion, taking space one floor up.
Howard is also General Managing Partner for Chicago High Tech Investment Partners, LLC and G2T3V, LLC, both Chicago-based venture capital funds, and the executive chairman of Music Dealers.
Howard is the former President of Kendall College in Chicago and the former Chairman/CEO of Experiencia, Inc. He is also the Chairman of the Endowment Committee of Anshe Emet Synagogue, a member of Mayor Emanuel's ChicagoNEXT and Cultural Affairs Councils, a member of Cook County Board President Preckwinkle’s New Media Council, an Advisory Board member of HighTower Associates, Built in Chicago, The Starter School, Imerman Angels and uBID.COM. Howard is an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School as well as a regular guest lecturer at the Northwestern University School of Law.
Howard also serves as a Director of Vehcon, SnapSheet, BCV Evolve, MarkITx and PackBack Books. He has served as a long-time Director and Board Chairman of The Cobalt Group, a Trustee of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the New York Academy of Art, the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University, and as the lead Director (and briefly Chairman) of The Princeton Review.
Howard was recently honored with the 2015 Public Humanities Award from the Illinois Humanities Council.