Higginbotham Gala Honored Stephen R. Howe, Jr., U.S. Chairman
and Americas Managing Partner and Ernst & Young LLP, with Hill Harper as Emcee
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s (Lawyers’ Committee) 2016 A. Leon Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award was held in New York City June 1-2, 2016. These events celebrated diversity and inclusion in the workplace and addressed barriers to reentry as a major criminal justice issue faced by minority communities, including African Americans and Latinos.
The Lawyers’ Committee honored Ernst & Young LLP (EY) U.S. Chairman and Americas Managing Partner Stephen R. Howe, Jr. with the 2016 A. Leon Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award, now in its 16th year. The award, which recognizes exemplary practices in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, was presented to Mr. Howe at a black-tie dinner gala in New York City on June 2. The Lawyers’ Committee recognized Mr. Howe’s outstanding leadership and Ernst & Young’s extraordinary achievements in promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Hill Harper, award-winning actor, bestselling author and Lawyers’ Committee national spokesperson, served as master of ceremonies.
“It is an honor and privilege to be this year’s recipient of the A. Leon Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award, given its history of acknowledging those who advance diversity and equal opportunity in the workplace,” said Howe. “EY strives to not only deliver the highest quality work for our clients, but to truly instill purpose, in who we are, how we do business and how we participate in our communities.”
“I urge each of you to be inclusive of all differences, and I would encourage you to sharply focus on generational inclusiveness as an important element,” Mr. Howe espoused during the gala. “At EY half of our people are under 30. Young people understand innovation, change, working across borders, leaping into new technologies. We need to leverage their perspectives in this high speed world.”
Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Kristen Clarke said, “We are pleased to recognize Ernst & Young and Mr. Howe for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Ernst &Young is the first professional services firm to be honored as the recipient of our A. Leon Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award, and we are honored to stand with them as we work to move America toward justice.”
The Lawyers’ Committee also honored the legacy of the late Jacqueline Ann Berrien, former chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), with the Pillar of Justice Legacy Award. Her husband, Peter Williams, accepted the award on her behalf, sharing gratitude for appreciation shown to his wife. “Jackie, a former attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee Voting Rights Project, was a remarkable woman and a brilliant legal strategist,” said Clarke. “She will be remembered as one of the finest civil rights lawyers of our generation.”
During the gala, Ms. Clarke, who joined the Lawyers’ Committee in January as president and executive director, discussed a key area of focus for the organization, barriers to re-entry for returning citizens, people with criminal histories seeking to reintegrate into their home communities. As described in a video presentation at the dinner, the Lawyers’ Committee is working to lift the barriers faced by people with criminal histories with respect to employment, housing, education and voting.
On June 1, the Lawyers’ Committee, in partnership with the New York City Bar Association and the Young Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, hosted a program, “Righting Wrongs: Creating a Better Criminal Justice System” at the New York City Bar Association. Nkechi Taifa, senior policy analyst and advocacy director for criminal justice at the Open Society Foundations, presented a keynote address, which was followed by a discussion among leading advocates on strategies for promoting criminal justice reform. Panelists included: Kristen Clarke, president and executive director, Lawyers’ Committee (moderator); Glenn Martin, founder and president, JustLeadershipUSA; JoAnne Page, president and CEO, Fortune Society; and Alan Rosenthal, co-director of Justice Strategies, Center for Community Alternatives.
Also on June 1, Donald J. Rosenberg, executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Qualcomm Incorporated, received the Lawyers’ Committee’s Beacon of Justice Award at the New York City Bar Association. In conferring this award, the Lawyers’ Committee recognizes an individual who has exhibited outstanding leadership and engaged in ongoing efforts to promote equal justice and equal opportunity for all.
“Don’s tremendous leadership and support of our Parental Readiness and Empowerment Program (PREP) has been remarkable,” said Clarke. “Since 2010, PREP has been working to improve K-12 student performance, reduce the achievement gap, and provide access to equal educational opportunities for low-income and minority children in targeted communities by increasing parental engagement in education and ensuring that parents become successful advocates for their children. The online national platform, which launched in September 2015, includes numerous resources including webinars, YouTube videos, and guides for parents regarding the rights of their children, critical advocacy skills, mobilization tips around their children’s education and action steps. Don’s support, along with the backing of Qualcomm, has been critical to advancing our efforts.”
The prestigious Higginbotham Corporate Leadership Award, named in honor of Judge A. Leon Higginbotham Jr., a pioneering civil rights advocate, author and federal appeals court judge, was established in 2000. Past honorees include: Toyota Motor Sales; DuPont; J.P. Morgan Chase Investment Bank; McDonald’s; Aetna Inc.; BellSouth Corporation; Citigroup Inc.; Colgate-Palmolive Company; Fannie Mae; General Electric Company; Microsoft Corporation; The New York Times Company; PepsiCo, Inc.; Qualcomm, Inc.; Time Warner, Inc. and United Parcel Service.