|59th Mayor of New Orleans|
May 2, 1994 – May 6, 2002
|Preceded by||Sidney Barthelemy|
|Succeeded by||Ray Nagin|
|Member of the Louisiana Senate|
from the 4th district
|Preceded by||Ben Bagert|
|Succeeded by||Paulette Irons|
Marc Haydel Morial
January 3, 1958
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania (BA)|
Georgetown University (JD)
|Profession||President & CEO,|
National Urban League
Marc Haydel Morial // (born January 3, 1958) is an American political and civic leader and the current president of the National Urban League. Morial served as Mayor of New Orleans, from 1994 to 2002, President of the United States Conference of Mayors in 2001 and Louisiana State Senator from 1991-1994.
Morial was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. After completing his undergraduate degree at University of Pennsylvania in 1980 and receiving his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in 1983, he began his career as a lawyer in New Orleans and in 1985 he established a private law practice there. In 1991, Morial was elected to the Louisiana State Senate where he served until 1994.
Morial was elected New Orleans Mayor in 1994 as the youngest mayor in 50 years and one of the youngest mayors ever of a major American city.
As President of the National Urban League since 2003 he has been the primary catalyst for an era of change -- a transformation for the 110-year-old historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization.
His leadership has focused on elevating the healthy and economic disparities revealed by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Under his leadership, the National Urban League has launched the initiative, the Urban League Fights For You, which provides support for communities in the areas of economics.
Under his stewardship, the League had completed several initiatives in 2005 he launched a successful $250M fundraising campaign to rebrand and retool the NUL programs advocacy volunteers and affiliate relationships. As the recessions drove unemployment levels in urban communities into the double digits, the NUL under his leadership launched a historic $100 million, five year, “Jobs Rebuild America: Educate, Employ, Empower” initiative in 2011 – a solutions-based, comprehensive approach to the nation’s employment and education crisis that brings together federal government, business, and nonprofit resources to create economic opportunity in 50 cities across the country through the Urban League affiliate network.
His creativity has led to initiatives such as the Urban Youth Empowerment Program to assist young adults in securing sustainable jobs, and Entrepreneurship Centers in 12 cities to help the growth of small businesses. Also, Morial created the National Urban League Empowerment Fund, which has pumped almost $200 million into urban impact businesses including minority business through both debt and equity investments.
Early life and education
Marc Morial was born January 3, 1958 to Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial, a lawyer, legislator, jurist and later the first Black mayor of New Orleans, and Sybil (Haydel) Morial, an elementary school teacher, Xavier University of New Orleans Dean and civic activist. He is the second of five children. He was raised in Pontchartrain Park, a subdivision of New Orleans built in the waning years of segregation to provide homeownership opportunities for African Americans while thwarting the integration of the adjoining neighborhood of Gentilly Woods. 'The Park' was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places
Marc Morial was the first black to serve as a Page in the Louisiana Legislature – State Senator William Guste (1970)
As a 13-year-old little league football player, he kicked a 47-yard field goal, a national record at that time (1971). He was also selected as a member of both New Orleans Recreation Department “NORD Saints” Citywide All-Star Football team, as well as NORD Biddy Basketball Citywide All Stars. Both teams won national championships.
When he was 15, he began his first business with two childhood friends. The Mercury Janitorial Service provided window washing, car washing, and grass cutting services to homes in the Pontchartrain Park neighborhood in New Orleans.
Morial was among the first two African American students admitted to the city's Christian Brothers School in 1968. He was a youth champion orator at ages 12 and 13, winning first place twice in Christian Brothers Middle School “Speech Contest”, and was also a winner of the Citywide Essay Contest on the subject of, “What Good Government Means to Me.”
Morial went on to graduate Jesuit High School in New Orleans as a National Honor Society member, National Achievement Scholar, varsity football and basketball letterman, as well as advanced public speaking honoree. As one of only 14 Black students of 1,000 at Jesuit High School, he founded the Student Association for Black Achievement, and organized the school's first Black History Month celebration.
He held various summer jobs over his youth including construction laborer, gas station attendant, laborer for moving company, copy boy for daily newspaper and mailroom clerk.
Morial was included in Who’s Who Among High School Students and Who’s Who in America and Outstanding Young Men of America in high school.
In 1980 Morial earned a bachelor's degree in Economics and African American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and co-director of Stepping Stones, which assisted Black students with resume preparation, interview tips and arranging interviews with recruiters. Morial was also a founding member of the United Minorities Council, and member of the Black Student League (BSL), Freshman Football Team, Onyx Senior Honor Society and the “CHIC '' Intramural Basketball Team where he also served as coach and captain of the two-year intramural championship team.
Morial earned a Juris Doctor degree in 1983 from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. At Georgetown, he was elected first-year Delegate to the Student Bar Association and served as a member and head of fundraising for the National Black Law Students Association. During his time at Georgetown, he also served as a student member of the American Bar Association’s (ABA), Standing Committee on World Order Under Law.
While in college Morial was a founding partner in MorFran Enterprises, Inc. A small business that he started with childhood friend Tim Francis who would later become a successful lawyer, real estate developer and President of The Stevie Wonder Foundation. MorFran Enterprises produced special events such as marketing receptions, political outreach activities and other entertainment events.
After working during his third year in law school for the late U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland, United States Representative, 18th District of Texas, he returned to New Orleans to join the firm Barham and Churchill. He was the youngest lawyer to argue and win a major case before the Louisiana Supreme Court, State v. Shropshire, 471 So.2d 707 (LA 1985), a landmark 1985 Louisiana Supreme Court case which established police reports as public records.
In 1985, Morial established a private law practice in New Orleans. His practice areas included tort, construction, estate, corporate, civil rights and criminal defense. He was also General Counsel and Auctioneer, Office of the Civil Sheriff for Orleans Parish. Morial was named plaintiff and Chair of the Plaintiff’s Committee in case of Chishom v. Edwards, 501 U.S. 380, 111 S. Ct. 2354 (1991). This case applied the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to judicial elections and led to the election of Louisiana's first Black Supreme Court Justice.
He also advised South African political activists Selby Semela and Lindelo Dzana. Morial also served as a leader of the New Orleans Anti-Apartheid committee which successfully advocated an ordinance divestment of New Orleans of its holding in companies that continues to do business in South Africa.
Morial became actively involved in electoral politics both on the local and national levels. During the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s bid for the 1984 and 1988 Democratic Party presidential nomination, Morial was a key player in Jackson’s New Orleans support organization. Morial ended up serving as a delegate for the convention five times; 1984 and 1988 for Jesse Jackson, 1992 and 1996 for Bill Clinton, 2000 for Al Gore.
After a narrow defeat in his first race for public office for Louisiana second congressional district, Morial was overwhelmingly elected as Louisiana State senator in 1991 where he served until 1994 before being elected Mayor of New Orleans.
State Senator, District 4, State Of Louisiana
As a Louisiana State Senator (1992 - 1994), Morial was named Legislative Rookie of the Year, Education Senator of the Year, and Environmental Senator of the Year, while authoring laws on a wide range of important subjects. He was also named Education Senator of the Year and Conservationist Senator of the Year.
Senator Morial co-authored over 50 bills in a variety of public policy areas including renewal by mail of State Drivers’ Licenses; and the bills authorizing the construction of Phase III of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and the New Orleans Sports Arena. He was Chairman of the Educational Institution Subcommittee; and member of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus.
Mayor of New Orleans
Marc Morial was elected Mayor of New Orleans, LA in 1994 by defeating Donald Mintz with 54% of the vote. He’s the youngest person elected Mayor of New Orleans in 50 years and at the time, one of the youngest mayors of a major American city. He campaigned with the promise to "clean out City Hall with a shovel not a broom." He is the only elected mayor of the city to hold his inauguration in the evening making it accessible to the public which resulted in over 6,000 in attendance and the Morial Convention Center. He also hosted a children’s inauguration that had 30,000 in attendance at the Louisiana Superdome.
The issue of endemic corruption in the city's Police Department and rampant murder was addressed immediately after Morial took office in May of 1994. He immediately transferred 200 officers from desk jobs to the streets, instituted new policing programming and instituted a juvenile curfew. He also launched the largest youth initiative in the city’s history by opening over 40 summer camps and creating thousands of summer jobs for teens. Morial later hired Richard Pennington as Police Superintendent. On Pennington's first day of work, Morial introduced the new superintendent to investigators from the FBI. Together they worked to rout out corruption in the New Orleans Police Department. He reduced violent crime by 60%, and cut unemployment by 50% and instituted one of the toughest juvenile curfews in the nation. During the first seven years of his time as mayor, Morial's approval rating stayed at or near 70%, and near 100% at all times among black residents.
The growth of the city's tourist and convention sector accelerated appreciably during Morial's mayoralty, boosted in part by the general economic growth of the United States in the late 1990s. Morial also spearheaded continued growth of tourism through the construction of the Phase 3 and Phase 4 expansion of the Morial Convention Center. Tourism boomed during Marc Morial's mayoralty; the city's downtown core saw the construction of 14 new hotels during his tenure. Of particular significance was the 60% reduction achieved in the city's violent crime rate. These real gains enabled a resurgence of interest and investment in the city's older historic neighborhoods. New Orleans benefited from an increase in downtown population. The number of households within the city limits stabilized for the first time since beginning their decline in the 1960s, a significant accomplishment. Morial also secured bond issues for street improvements, the Canal Street streetcar line, and an expansion of the city's convention center.
Morial worked to institute fairness into the city's contracting policies. He established a new executive order setting firm goals for the participation of businesses owned by African Americans and other people of color and the results were dramatic as African American businesses began participation in all aspects of New Orleans City Businesses. He also enforced the city's residency rule for police officers and other city workers, which had previously been unevenly enforced.
Mayor Morial was integral in increasing the number of homeowners by 15,000 through innovative partnerships with banks, churches, community organizations, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In addition he significantly increased the City’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean, through International Trade and the Port of New Orleans.
Morial dramatically expanded youth recreation and summer jobs for youth and initiated the largest capital improvements program in city history – over $2 billion in improvements to parks, playgrounds, streets, and the Louis Armstrong International Airport. He also initiated the return of the historic Canal Street and Desire Street rail cars.
He led an effort to adopt comprehensive revisions to New Orleans’ city charter and continued to help tourism in many ways including, construction of Six Flags New Orleans Amusement Park and the Entergy IMAX Theater. He led an effort to adopt a new City Charter, the first in forty years.
As Mayor, Marc Morial was Instrumental in creation of the Essence Music Festival, the largest African-American cultural festival in the U.S. He also led the effort to develop several new museums including the National D-Day Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Louisiana Artworks and the African American Museum of History, Art, and Culture. Another contribution of his time as Mayor included the renaming of the New Orleans International Airport, after Jazz legend Louis Armstrong.
Two accomplishments of his administration dealt with professional sports: NBA basketball returned to the city after Morial orchestrated negotiations for the league's Charlotte Hornets to relocate there. Secondly, following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Morial persuaded the organizers of a large automotive exposition to change its date so that Super Bowl XXXVI (held at the Louisiana Superdome) could be played one week later than originally scheduled, enabling the NFL to keep its post-season tournament fully intact. The week of regular-season games slated to be played on the weekend following the attacks had to be postponed and was transferred to the end of the regular season. He served as co-chair of the Host Committee of Super Bowls XXXI and XXXVI.
Based on his achievements in reducing crime and reforming the police department, Morial easily won re-election to a second term in 1998 New Orleans Mayoral Election. In the 1998 Mayoral Election, Morial received 80% of the votes, winning the largest first primary margin in more than eighty years.
New Orleans won several prestigious awards during his tenure – National Night Out Against Crime – 1st place 2xs; United States Conference of Mayors City Livability Award in 2000; All American City Award in 1996.
President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors
Morial was elected President of the United States Conference of Mayors by membership and served as chief spokesperson for America’s Cities (2001-2002). After the September 11 Attacks, he led the effort to create a National Safety and Security Plan for American Cities, including the recommendation for a United States Department of Homeland Security and the federalization of airport security screens.
In addition to his time as President, he also served as the organization’s Vice President, Advisory Board, Chairman, Committee on Arts, Chair, Federal Budget Task Force, Chair, Task Force on Hunger and Homelessness, Chair, and Task Force on Professional Sports Franchise Relocation, Co-Chair.
President and CEO, National Urban League
In 2003, Morial was selected to head the National Urban League, one of the nation's largest and most influential historic civil rights organizations. NUL has a network of 88 affiliates in 35 states and the District of Columbia and provides direct services to over 2 million people annually in the areas of education and youth after school, job training and workforce development, housing and entrepreneurship, as well as civic engagement, leadership development, and civil rights.
Morial immediately established a five-point Empowerment Agenda focused on Education and Youth, Economic Empowerment, Health and Quality of Life, Civic Engagement, and Civil Rights and Racial Justice. In addition, Morial helped create the Urban Empowerment Fund, which lends to urban impact businesses, and helped create the League’s New Markets Tax Credits initiative, which has resulted in $1 billion in community investments via urban impact businesses, including minority business, through both debt and equity investments.
In 2004, Morial added a new metric, the Equality Index, to the League's annual State of Black America. Based upon the Three-Fifths Compromise counting African Americans as three-fifths of a person for purposes of taxation and representation in Congress, the Equality Index measures the economic and social status of Black Americans relative to whites.
To celebrate 100 years of service in 2010, NUL launched the I AM EMPOWERED campaign spearheaded by Morial, to instill a message of hope and individual empowerment to make a lasting difference. The campaign focuses on five promises to America in the areas of education, jobs, housing, health and justice. I AM EMPOWERED strives to mobilize millions of people to take a pledge to commit to help achieve the goals by 2025.
During his time with the National Urban League, Morial and the organization were integral in the conversations with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and President George W. Bush along with other civil rights leaders in renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 2006. He also made major pushes for the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act which replaces the ‘No Child Left Behind’, version of the ESEA. The Every Student Succeeds Act retained some of the testing requirements established by the NCLB, but shifted accountability provisions to the states. NUL’s agenda was focused on the idea that the new bill holds accountability in place but also focuses on equality in terms of funding as well as requirements that states are more accountable to educate children of color. In addition, the National Urban League, under the guidance of Morial, led the effort for over 8 years to reform and pass the new workforce bill called Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2013. The new bill reflected more benefit to young and disadvantaged workers to a greater extent.
Morial has testified in front of the House and Senate over the last 25 years on numerous occasions including Census testimonies on the undercounting of African American communities and against the nomination of William Barr for Attorney General of the United States.
Signature education programs birthed under Morial include the Equity & Excellence Project launched in 2010 which centers around filling gaps in resources for students and educators; Project Ready Mentor which connects students with a trained mentor. In 2006, Morial launched Project Ready, an after-school program providing enhanced academic support to high school students in preparation for post-secondary education.
Morial has overseen the development of numerous jobs initiatives such as the Digital Career Success Series hosting live online events with leading experts in job seeking and professional growth presentations; the Jobs Network is dedicated to helping job seekers; the Urban Reentry Jobs Program to help those recently incarcerated find a job, among countless other job programs and initiatives.
Housing initiatives from Morial’s tenure include Home Is Where The Wealth Is aiding first-time homebuyers; Comprehensive Housing Counseling provides services that make housing options more accessible; Restore Our Homes: Foreclosure Prevention works to increase financial stability and property values within minority communities.
Under his stewardship, the League launched a historic $100 million, five year “Jobs Rebuild America: Educate, Employ, Empower” initiative in 2013 – a solutions-based, comprehensive approach to the nation’s employment and education crisis that brings together federal government, business, and nonprofit resources to create economic opportunity in 50 cities across the country through the Urban League affiliate network.
His creativity lead to the development of the Urban Youth Empowerment Program, to assist young adults in securing sustainable jobs and Entrepreneurship Centers in 12 cities to help the growth of small businesses.
During Morial's tenure, the National Urban League created numerous innovative job training, housing, youth, and entrepreneurship initiatives. NUL also achieved the largest Fundraising Campaign – $280 million – of any African American institution in US history. Morial led the effort to re-energized the National Urban League Washington Bureau to re-establish the National Urban League as a leading voice on urban public policy.
As President, Morial created “NUL on the Hill” – Annual Legislative Policy Conference in 2004. The legislative summer brings Urban Leaguers to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the community. The Legislative Policy conference will be doing its 17th year virtually in June 2020 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Morial also conceived and created 12 Entrepreneurship Centers across the country which enable minority entrepreneurs who are running their businesses as sole proprietors, to thrive by growing revenue above $750k annually and creating jobs.
Morial has been intricately involved with the United State Census. He was Chair of the National Census Advisory Council appointed by President Obama, and in 2020 he sat as the leader of the Black Census Roundtable. He was at the forefront of successfully pushing the period to conduct the Census through October 2020. Morial and the National Urban League remains a big advocate in making sure everyone is counted. Leading up to the 2020 Census, Morial has spearheaded NUL’s efforts to get the word out to the African-American population about completing the Census and spreading education about the under-representation of African Americans being counted in the Census through various events, conversations and speaking engagements.
Morial has been recognized as one of the Top 50 not-for-profit executives in America by the Non-Profit Times in both 2004, and 2005 and one of the 100 most influential African-American Leaders by Ebony Magazine from 1994-2010, and one of the most influential African Americans in the field of public service. He was also recognized as one of the top 100 Black Lawyers in the United States and inducted into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame.
ReMarcs is a weekly published newsletter by Morial from his NUL President’s desk. It serves as Morial’s communication and updates, insights and announcements to the National Urban League community.
Marc Morial is married to award winning CBS journalist Michelle Miller. They have two teenaged children, one in college and one in high school. He also has an adult daughter who is a corporate executive in the communications industry. Marc and his father, Ernest Dutch Morial were once a Jeopardy question on the hit show in 1997 - "Ernest Morial was the first black mayor of this Louisiana city; his son Marc became mayor in 1994."
Morial has written two non-fiction books, published speeches, weekly newspaper columns and a weekly newsletter, “ReMarcs” for the National Urban League.
His new book, The Gumbo Coalition: 10 Leadership Lessons That Help You Inspire, Unite, and Achieve was released on May 5, 2020. Morial explores leadership while pulling from his experiences over the years into the perfect gumbo of leadership qualities. Notable publications include:
- “A National Action Plan for America’s Cities,” The Urban Lawyer: The National Quarterly on State and Local Government Law, Volume 34 Number 3, Summer 2002.
- “Decisions of Courage,” a Book of Speeches by Mayor Marc H. Morial from his first term as Mayor of New Orleans. 1998
- “To Be Equal,” a weekly newspaper column carried in over 100 weekly newspapers across the nation. 2003 – Present
- Katrina “Bill of Rights” Policy Speech presented at Georgetown University Law Center. October 14, 2006
- “Home Buyers Bill of Rights Policy” speech presented at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. February, 2007
- “Katrina Our Next Great Challenge” policy speech presented at St. Maria Garetti Catholic Church, New Orleans. January, 2006
Morial made an impact on the federal level through key appointments. President Obama tapped him to serve as Chair of the Census Advisory Committee (2010), he was a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability(2012-2015), and on the Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission (2011-13). He was also appointed to the Twenty-First Century Workforce Commission by President Bill Clinton (1998-2000).
Distinctions, Honors, Awards
|2004 and 2005||Top 50 Non-Profit CEO’s||Non-Profit News Magazine|
|2004||The Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law||Sargent Shriver Award|
|2004||100 most Influential Blacks in America||Ebony magazine|
|2004||Man of the Year||Revelle Club|
|2004||Richard Daley Award||U. S. Conference of Mayors|
|2002||Political Leadership Award||Forum for Equality|
|2002||Leadership Award||Human Rights Campaign Fund|
|1994-2002||100 Most Influential Black Americans||Ebony Magazine|
|2002||President’s Award||Zeta Phi Beta|
|2000||City Livability Award||U.S. Conference of Mayors|
|2000||Alpha Award of Merit (highest honor)||Alpha Phi Alpha|
|1998||Congressional Black Caucus Chairman’s Award||“Inheritor of the Dream”|
|1996||All America City Award||National Civic League|
|1994||Torch of Liberty Award||Anti-Defamation League|
|1993 to present||U.S. Advisory Board||British American Project|
|1988||Publico Award||Louisiana State Bar Association Pro Bono|
|1987||Award for “Stopping Bork” - Chaired Louisiana’s effort against Supreme
Court confirmation of Robert Bork
|1983||Outstanding Young Men of America|
|“10 Most Influential New Orleanians”||New Orleans Magazine|
- Grambling State University, 2019
- Philadelphia Community College, 2017
- Louisiana State University Law School, 2016
- Bowie State University, 2015
- Clark Atlanta University 2015
- Claflin University, 2015
- Tuskegee University, Baccalaureate Commencement, 2013
- Alcorn A&M University, 2013
- Huston-Tillotson University, 2013
- Alabama A&M University, 2012
- Howard University, 2011
- Xavier University of Louisiana, 2010
- Clark Atlanta University Whitney M. Young School of Social Work 2007 Commencement Address
- Texas Southern University 2006 Commencement Address
- University of Pennsylvania, Baccalaureate address to 2006 graduates • University of South Carolina, Upstate, 2005
- North Carolina Central University, 2005 • Tennessee State, 2004
- Winston Salem State University, 2004
- Xavier University of Louisiana, 2002
- Baton Rouge Community College, 2002
- University of Pennsylvania, School of Arts and Sciences, 1999 • Delgado Community College, 1995
- Southern University Law School, 1994
- University of New Orleans, 1994
|Grambling State University||Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, 2019|
|Johnson C. Smith University||Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, 2018|
|Bowie State University||Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2016|
|Claflin University||Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2015|
|Clark Atlanta University||Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2015|
|Tuskegee University||Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2013|
|Alcorn A&M University||Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2013|
|Huston-Tillotson University||Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, 2013|
|Howard University||Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, 2011|
|Wilberforce University||Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, 2006|
|University of South Carolina, Upstate||Honorary Doctor of Public Service, 2005|
|Xavier University of Louisiana||Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2002|
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- "Launch Of "I Am Empowered" 2.0 - Empower Yourself And Your Community With The Mobile Application". www.newswire.com. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
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- nul.org https://nul.org/news/remarcs. Retrieved 2020-06-19. Missing or empty
- "The Gumbo Coalition - Marc Morial". HarperCollins Leadership. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
- "The President's Advisory Council on Financial Capability". www.treasury.gov. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
- "Marc H. Morial | Charter". corporate.charter.com. Retrieved 2020-06-22.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Marc Morial.|
- Official website
- National Urban League
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Marc Morial interview, Tavis Smiley show
- Campbell-Rock, C.C. "The Legacy of New Orleans’ African-American Mayors" The New Orleans Tribune, January 2004.
- Clanton, Brett. "Mayor measured on management, leadership skills." New Orleans CityBusiness, October 15, 2001.
- "Commentary" Gambit Weekly, October 30, 2001.
Bernard J. "Ben" Bagert, Jr. (D)
| Louisiana State Senator from District 4 (Orleans Parish)
Marc H. Morial (D)
Paulette Irons (D)
Sidney Barthelemy (D)
| Mayor of New Orleans
C. Ray Nagin (D)
H. Brent Coles
| President of the United States Conference of Mayors
| President of the National Urban League