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Michael A. Lawson

I currently serve as the President & CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL), one of the oldest and most respected civil rights organizations in the United States dedicated to providing economic empowerment, educational opportunities, and the guarantee of civil rights for underserved communities in the Los Angeles area.


I began my service as Interim President & CEO in November 2017 and was appointed to be the President & CEO of the LAUL in February 2018. In September 2013, I was nominated by President Obama to serve as the United States Ambassador to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a UN specialized agency, a position that I held from July 2014 to January 2017. The 36-members of the ICAO Council set the standards and recommended practices and policies in support of the international civil aviation sector worldwide. 


Before serving as the US Ambassador to ICAO, I served on the Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) for Los Angeles World Airports from 2005 through 2011and as President of the BOAC from 2008 – 2011. During my tenure, the Board was responsible for the overall management of the system of airports under its control, including Los Angeles International Airport, LA/Ontario International Airport, and Van Nuys Airport. From 1980 to 2011. I practiced law at the prestigious international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in their New York, and Los Angeles offices until my retirement in 2011. Skadden is one of the largest law firms in the world with 1,700 attorneys in 22 offices around the world. The firm specializes in mergers and acquisitions, litigation, and other practice areas. The M&A Journal named Skadden "Law Firm of the Year" in its April 2010 issue. Skadden also received the magazine's top recognition in 2009. I led the Executive Compensation and Benefits Group in the Los Angeles office; worked in all facets of executive compensation and benefits matters, including stock options and other equity-based compensation arrangements, tax-qualified and non-qualified pension plans, fiduciary responsibility, structured finance transactions, bankruptcy proceedings, and proxy contests.


Chambers USA consistently recognized me as one of America's Leading Lawyers for Business. I received my Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1978 and my BA in Political Science and Economics from Loyola Marymount University in 1975. I am admitted to and continue to be a member in good standing of the following bar associations: New York; District of Columbia; and California. During my professional career, I have also held positions of significant responsibility on several charitable, educational and administrative boards, and committees including: 

• The Board of Trustees of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (the second largest public pension fund in the United States with assets totaling $192.9 Billion (as of 1/30/2016); appointed by the Governor of California from 2011 – 2014); 

• Chair of the Oversight Board for the Community Redevelopment Agency for the City of Los Angeles, which was responsible for overseeing the dissolution of the Community Redevelopment Activities of the Successor Governing Board of Community Redevelopment Agency for the City of Los Angeles (2012 – 2014);
• The Board of Trustees, Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA (2010 – 2014);

• The Board of Trustees, Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA (2009 – 2014);
• Chair/Member, Constitutional Rights Foundation (2003 – 2010);
• Vice Chair/Member, Board of Directors, Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County/The Music Center (2004 – 2014);
• Member, Board of Directors, Music Center Foundation (2010 – 2014);
• Member, Western Regional Selection Panel for the White House Fellows Program (2010 – 2011);
• and Member, Board of Directors, The Advancement Project (2002 – 2014).

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