President, Societal Impact Practice
Stephen, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning creator of social impact campaigns, leads the Societal Impact Practice at SYPartners. Using the power of storytelling and SYPartners’ two decades of experience in large-scale transformation with global businesses and organizations, he and his team partner with CEOs and philanthropists to tackle some of the biggest social challenges we face.
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 at the network, he created MTV’s social impact department, launched mtvU, and led MTV2, MTV.com, and LOGO to record highs.
Friedman developed multiple Peabody and Emmy award-winning campaigns including “Choose or Lose” in partnership with Rock The Vote, “Fight For Your Rights” addressing youth violence, and campaigns that addressed the genocide in Darfur and stigma around mental health. Recent initiatives have included “Look Different,” which tackles bias across gender, race, and sexual orientation, and the “It’s Your (Sex) Life” campaign—which has been credited with helping to increase STD testing nationally. As part of the campaign, Friedman partnered with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy to ensure that 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 international writers’ human rights organization. Friedman recently joined the advisory board of Mic (mic.com), the fast-growing digital media company focused on millennials. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Genocide Survivors Foundation. Friedman holds a B.A. with Honors from Wesleyan University.