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Bingham Hosts JFK50: Justice for All Event at Acclaimed Museum of Tolerance
Nov. 15, 2012 - Bingham recently presented the second in its series of JFK50: Justice for All events at the acclaimed Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The event was hosted by Caroline Kennedy, president of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and Jay Zimmerman, chairman of Bingham, while Eleanor Clift, noted journalist and author, moderated the evening’s discussion. The panel included Dr. Wanda M. Austin, Aerospace Corporation president and CEO; Kamala Devi Harris, attorney general of California; Thurgood Marshall Jr., Bingham partner; Hilda L. Solis, U.S. secretary of labor; William H. Swanson, chairman and CEO of Raytheon Company; and Antonio R. Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles. The event was well received, with more than 250 attendees from the Southern California business, legal, education, entertainment and political communities on hand to enjoy the panel discussion.
“Global business leaders are increasingly committing themselves and their organizations to the ongoing issues of diversity in the workplace, including the demand for talent and the challenges of leading across cultures in a global economy,” Zimmerman said. “Civic, government and business leaders see the value of diversity through different, but equally important lenses. This program’s goal, through its diverse panel, is to awaken new ways of approaching one of the greatest challenges our country and the world economy continues to face.”
In addition to the panel discussion, Bingham and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation presented a morning event with 100 Los Angeles-area high school students at the Museum of Tolerance. Kennedy, Marshall and Mendez led a tour of the museum for the students as part of a learning program administered by Bingham, the Museum of Tolerance and the Kennedy Library that immerses students in JFK history and ensures that a new generation understands the struggles and ongoing challenges of the civil rights movement. To view their work, click here and visit the JFK50: Justice for All section.
Mendez is a civil rights activist and 2011 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her father became one of the five plaintiffs in the 1946 case Mendez, et al. v. Westminster School District, which successfully challenged segregation in California schools. In that case, Marshall’s father — Thurgood Marshall Sr., at the time a lawyer for NAACP — crafted and filed an amicus brief, creating arguments that he later used in the famous Brown v. Board of Education case that ended school segregation nationwide.
“I remember when my father met Carey McWilliams, noted author and ACLU lawyer. He asked my father why he filed this lawsuit. My father said, ‘I don’t want my children to grow up feeling inferior,’” Mendez said. “My father fought not only for me, but for all the Latinos in California. My parents dedicated their lives to this cause, and I want every student in the United States to know how hard they fought to make sure education was open to everybody and that every student could have access to the best possible education. Today’s event with five high schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District reinforces President John F. Kennedy’s call for youth to be engaged in American society. The JFK Library program is the perfect platform to build upon my parents’ efforts.”
About the Panelists
“In engineering, the best way to solve tough problems is to engage the best and brightest talent available,” Austin said. “It is essential to the success of our nation that we create environments in the workplace and in the community that ensure that everyone can achieve their potential and that we leverage all available intellectual capital.”
During the evening’s panel discussion, Austin noted that one of the key ways to promote diversity in corporate environments was to “attract and retain the best talent and create an environment where individuals from all backgrounds have a chance to succeed.”
A career prosecutor, Harris is the first woman, the first African-American and the first South Asian individual to hold the office of attorney general in the history of California. Harris served two terms as district attorney of San Francisco. In 1998, she joined the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she led the Career Criminal Unit. She also led the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Children and Families.
“Diversity is no longer aspirational; it is essential to effective and successful performance in both the public and private sector,” Harris said. “Whether it’s core public services such as educating our children or protecting our communities, diversity is critical to building the trust and skills required to succeed.”
Harris offered additional insightful remarks during the evening’s panel discussion. “A child going without an education is tantamount to a crime,” she said.
Marshall is a partner in Bingham’s Washington, D.C., office and is a principal with Bingham’s subsidiary business, Bingham Consulting. Marshall is also a member of Bingham’s Diversity Executive Committee, which works closely with lawyers and staff throughout the firm to implement Bingham’s Diversity Action Plan.
“My parents taught me to honor the role played by so many dedicated individuals who successfully pursued the cause of civil rights and who serve as a reminder of the way in which we as a people can come together for the greater good,” Marshall said. “I am honored to participate in JFK50: Justice for All, and I hope that we can all reflect on the ways in which we can and do contribute to our society on behalf of our communities.”
While discussing diversity efforts during the panel discussion, Marshall commented, “Bingham provides support for retaining diverse talent, and our commitment starts at the top.”
Solis was appointed U.S. secretary of labor by President Obama on Jan. 20, 2009. Before becoming secretary of labor, Solis served as representative for California’s 32nd Congressional District from 2001 to 2009. A nationally recognized leader on the environment, Solis became the first woman to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in 2000 for her pioneering work on environmental justice issues.
“There is a bottom-line benefit to diversity: it fosters better decision-making, generates better solutions and delivers better outcomes,” Solis said. “Simply put, diversity is better for workers, employers and customers.”
Solis made additional comments on the importance of educating collaboratively during the evening’s panel discussion. “It is critical that students have mentoring and internships,” she said. “It’s in our best interests to have industry working with schools.”
As chairman and CEO of Raytheon, Swanson has helped strengthen the company’s commitment to diversity in moving it from awareness to action, with an emphasis on diversity of talent and thought. He was the company’s first executive Diversity Champion and has been recognized with a Diversity Best Practices CEO Diversity Leadership Award.
“Reflecting on President Kennedy’s legacy helps us appreciate how far we have come in the area of diversity during the last 50 years,” Swanson said. “While diversity is something we always need to work on, at Raytheon, we are seeing the benefits of diversity in an inclusive culture that encourages our employees to reach their fullest potential. This creates a better environment for developing innovative technologies and solutions for our customers.”
Reflecting on Raytheon’s diversity efforts during the panel discussion, Swanson stated, “If we create an environment of respect in our company, we can bring out the best in everyone.”
Villaraigosa is the 41st mayor of Los Angeles and the first Latino mayor of the city since 1872. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he has focused on transforming the city’s approach to education. In 2011, he served as president of the United States Conference of Mayors, where he advocated for innovative public policy reforms to create jobs, improve the country’s public schools and expand investment in America’s transportation infrastructure.
“I am honored to be part of the JFK50: Justice for All Forum, Leading With Diversity in a Global Economy,” Villaraigosa said. “We are the sum of all the events — good, bad and indifferent — that have occurred in this country. The civil rights movement sparked an awareness across the nation that diversity is key to progress and competitiveness. Over the course of my administration, I have taken a page from John F. Kennedy by working to incorporate equal access policies into services citywide.”
During the panel discussion, Villaraigosa stated that a commitment to good public education is an important part of diversity efforts. “School leaders are the key to success,” he said. “We believe strongly that all of our kids can learn.”
Bingham is proud to collaborate with the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy presidency as the sole sponsor of JFK50: Justice for All events. This three-year partnership will host a series of events in locations throughout the United States. The inaugural event in New York City in January 2012 was moderated by Tom Brokaw and brought a panel of leaders — including Jill Abramson, editor of the New York Times, and Kenneth Frazier, chairman and CEO of Merck — together at New York’s Lincoln Center.
“Fifty years ago, the struggle for civil rights defined my father’s presidency,” Kennedy said. “Today it remains the unfinished business of our society. Through programs such as these, we hope to motivate new generations to focus on the continuing challenges we face to keep America true to its ideals.”
Program on Diversity and Inclusion for Corporate Professionals
Featuring Jane Elliott
co-sponsored by the Museum of Teaching and Learning (MOTAL)
June 24, 2010
4:00pm – 8:30pm
or call us at (310) 772-7620
Seating Limited. Register Now.
With thanks to our co-sponsor the Museum of Teaching and Learning (MOTAL)