Wave Staff report
LOS ANGELES — Michael A. Lawson, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League since 2018, has announced that he intends to step down from that position by the end of this year.
A former partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom with a law degree from Harvard Law, Lawson was heading into retirement after serving as an ambassador in the Obama administration when he was called to serve as head of the local Urban League where he led the organization through a series of historic challenges from which it emerged as a stronger institution with a solid financial foundation and an ambitious programmatic vision.
“Leading the Los Angeles Urban League has been an extraordinary honor,” Lawson said. “I have had the pleasure of working with an exceptional team of dedicated individuals who have consistently outperformed expectations. As our impact grows and having just sold out our annual Whitney M. Young Jr. Awards Dinner with a record setting amount of funds raised, I am confident that this organization is on a path to a strong future.”
“We have been incredibly blessed with Michael Lawson’s leadership and the confidence he has inspired in everyone who deals with him,” said Elliot Hinds, board chair of the Los Angeles Urban League. “He has filled the room with integrity and clarity on the L.A. Urban League‘s place in Los Angeles. His accomplishments have been brightly visible to anyone paying attention but for those of us who have been on the inside, what he has done for the League is masterful.”
When Lawson arrived at the L. A. Urban League, the organization was facing escalating deficits, decreasing revenues, and a shortage of talent. Lawson engineered a turnaround that prioritized the needs of underserved communities and provided funders with a trustworthy steward and a bold vision for making a difference in the lives and communities of African Americans throughout Los Angeles.
The budget was balanced within three years and the organization became, once again, a driver of change, a community connection for jobs and resources, and a powerful voice against injustice and economic inequity.
“Michael Lawson has been a tremendous leader for the Los Angeles Urban League,” said L.A. Urban League Chairman Emeritus Noel Massie. “During his five–year term, he navigated the organization through the pandemic as well as some of the toughest social justice issues of our time.
“The Urban League has thrived as a result of his steady hand. More importantly Michael’s leadership and grace has left a mark on the city that will be long remembered. We wish him and his family the very best in his well-earned retirement.”
Lawson will continue to serve as president and CEO while a search for his replacement is conducted by the Board of Directors.