Michael A. Lawson, president/CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League (LAUL) since 2018, announced that he intends to step down by the end of 2023.
A former partner with Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom with a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law, Lawson was heading into retirement after serving as an ambassador in the Obama administration. Then he was called to serve once more, this time as the president/CEO of the Los Angeles 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,” said Lawson.
“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, LAUL board chair.
“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 LAUL, the organization was facing escalating deficits, decreasing revenues, and a shortage of talent. He 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.
Under his leadership, LAUL rallied against police violence and called for those who violated the public trust to be held accountable; joined prison reform efforts and worked to create opportunities for formerly incarcerated individuals to get a job, support their families and give back to their communities; shined a light on the inequities of access to quality healthcare services for Black mothers; and championed the needs of foster youth by providing pathways to careers and job training.
“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/CEO while a search for his replacement is conducted by the LAUL board of directors.