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Moore’s law

Rodney Moore. Photo: Charles Barry
Rodney Moore J.D. '85
Photo: Charles Barry
As president of the National Bar Association, Rodney Moore J.D. '85 puts priority on hammering at the bricks built up around the legal profession.

Put just about any question to Rodney Moore, and he has a ready answer. An adroit litigator known for jumping at daunting cases, Moore is well accustomed to thinking on his feet.

One question, though, stumps him: What do you do for fun?

A wide, slow grin spreads across his face. He hedges.

“Well, obviously, you attend your children’s events—football games and school things,” he says. “Although I do like to travel. I’m partial to the Caribbean.”

The truth is, Moore hasn’t relaxed on a beach in a while. As an attorney with the Atlanta office of Adorno and Yoss, his specialties include constitutional litigation, labor and employment, corporate governance, and media and entertainment law. He recently moved from the Atlanta firm Greenberg Traurig, where clients ranged from the sprawling Atlanta Public Schools system to a handful of frustrated Clayton County School Board members recently removed by Georgia’s governor. Moore also is married and has three children, ages 24, 12, and 11.

For the past year, there have been even bigger demands on his time: Moore just completed a term as president of the National Bar Association (NBA), the oldest and largest professional organization of African American lawyers and judges in the country. Founded in 1925, before black lawyers could join the American Bar Association, the group now represents some 45,000 members.

The organization may be more than 80 years old, but, Moore says, the need for it is stronger than ever. “I started off believing years ago that if you produced high-quality applicants for large firms, they would embrace them and say, ‘We’ve been waiting for you.’ But time has taught me that there is resistance to diversity. The mindset of many lawyers is that they have created a legacy profession. They want to have the ability to pass it down to their children and their children’s children, and they view any intrusion as a threat to that.”

Born in Birmingham, Ala., Moore knows something about resistance to change. His father served in the Navy—one of the few black Naval officers, since most African Americans serving in the armed forces at the time were in the Army. “In today’s world, my father would have been a Ph.D., or a lawyer, or other professional,” Moore says. Coming out of Alabama in the 1940s, those opportunities weren’t there.

Navy life meant Moore’s family—mother, father, and four siblings—moved often, though not always, by choice. When Moore’s father was in charge of human resources at the Naval air base at the Bay Area’s Moffett Field, he discovered a discrepancy in pay between white officers and black, and tried to right the imbalance.

“Of course,” Moore adds dryly, “they transferred him.”

“What are we capable of?”

Despite his Alabama roots, Moore considers himself a Californian; his family settled in the Golden State when his dad retired in the early 1970s. When Moore finished the eighth grade, he participated in a summer program hosted by Santa Clara that was designed to encourage high school students to go to college. “Because of that, it was always a dream of mine to go to Santa Clara,” he says.

Moore earned his undergraduate degree in political science at the University of Washington, where he was president of the Black Student Union and served as executive director of the statewide chapter. He figures that his natural inquisitiveness and a desire to find fair solutions to problems made law a natural fit. And Santa Clara’s curriculum impressed on him an emphasis on ethics in all areas. “Regardless of what area of law you choose, you have to make ethical decisions,” Moore says.

Moore spent six years in San Jose practicing personal injury law, but he didn’t feel he was having the broader impact he had imagined as a law student. He went on to serve as general counsel to the East Side Union High School District in San Jose and then general counsel to Atlanta Public Schools before joining Greenberg Traurig in 2005. Moore recently was recognized as one of the 50 Most Influential Minority Lawyers in America by the National Law Journal and has been listed in Best Lawyers in America since 2007.

Randy Jones, assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California and a member of the NBA, has known Moore since they met at a California Association of Black Lawyers meeting in 1989. Jones says, “Rodney truly believes that lawyers, particularly African American lawyers, have a unique responsibility to not only be better and do better within the profession, but also to be strong advocates and a voice for civil rights and justice for all Americans.”

In the mid-1990s, Moore was part of an NBA delegation that traveled to Arusha, Tanzania, to engage with leaders in the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. During their visit, the NBA group had a remarkable opportunity to sit around a table with the judges and have an open, candid exchange about the legal and historical issues surrounding the genocide in Rwanda.

“People don’t understand that the warring factions in Rwanda were not natural enemies, they were basically the same family,” Moore says. “Through imperialism, wedges had been driven between them. They were like a tool in the cold war.”

The NBA group helped connect the court with West, a legal information source, to provide the judges access to a vast database of legal research.

The trip was rewarding but also unsettling, Moore says.

“Everybody was armed,” he recalls. “A person who looked 13 or 14 years old had an automatic weapon strapped to their back.”

The court proceedings, too, were chilling. “You want to think a person who could kill a hundred people would look different from you or me, but the reality is, he's just like any person walking down the street,” Moore says. “You begin to wonder, 'What are we capable of?'”

Fixing diversity lite

One of the NBA’s central initiatives involves taking what Moore calls the commercialization out of diversity: shifting focus away from minority quotas and cheaply won awards in favor of a deeper, more meaningful definition for law firms. The NBA also is advocating for African American representation on the federal bench, working on voters’ rights, and evaluating the diversity of major law firms in big cities.

In Moore’s work as an attorney, he has rarely experienced overt discrimination. Subtle bias is another matter.

“It’s fair to say that people believe, whatever your accomplishments, somehow you got them because you’re black—when almost the opposite is true,” Moore says. “You spend your career breaking through walls, trying to run faster than the other folks, because if you run just as fast you won’t get there.”

Then the strategizer in him notes, “There are some advantages, though—oftentimes people may take you for granted and assume you don’t know what you’re doing, and may not prepare as well for you. After you clean them off the floor and shake their hand, they might change their mind.”

—Paige Parvin


Its own reward

Their impact is global: from the Mission campus to Zimbabwe, from Los Angeles to the Dominican Republic. For excellence in service to others, these six were honored at the fourth annual Alumni Anniversary Awards on May 15. Here are their stories.

Ignatian Award Winners: With President Engh at center, they are, from left, Vicky and Brad Mattson, Cathy Cobb, and Don Odermann. Photo: Charles Barry
Ignatian Award Winners: With President Engh at center, they are, from left, Vicky and Brad Mattson, Cathy Cobb, and Don Odermann.
Photo: Adam Hayes
DON ODERMANN ’69

A Santa Clara outfielder with a hot bat but a bum arm, Don Odermann learned how steep the climb was to the major leagues. As a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia 1962–65, he learned that escaping poverty was no easier.

So while vacationing in the Dominican Republic in the early 1980s, Odermann saw the baseball-mad kids all around him as few could. Many, he knew, would be snapped up for dirt cheap contracts then cast out when they faltered. So Odermann formed the Latin Athletes Education Fund, designed to bring poor but promising players to American colleges where they might still prosper as athletes—and where they could definitely get an education.

A generation later, Odermann has helped send more than 120 men to college, including Juan Parra, a senior outfielder at Santa Clara this past season. Fifty have graduated from four-year schools; most have at least two years of college. Eleven have made the majors with its bonanza paydays. Odermann, though, gets no repayment, and not even much attention.

Last year the New York Times dubbed him a “virtually unknown stockbroker from San Jose.” But to insiders, Odermann is a beacon of integrity in a murky world.

“My family took me as far as I could go in the Dominican Republic,” Rafael Pérez, director of international player development for the New York Mets, told the Times. “Don took me as far as I could go in the world.”

For the Alumni Awards, Odermann had his own cheering section in the house—the “Rodents,” a raucous pack of classmates from the mid-1960s. When Alumni Association President Steve Philpott ’97 presented the award, he noted, “Your efforts to provide higher education for the Latino community are remarkable.” Then he added, “Your time and dedication to the world of baseball reminds us all that we are all of one world, one human race, even including ‘rodents.’”

 

CATHY COBB ’70
IGNATIAN AWARD

Early retirement wasn’t on Cathy Cobb’s mind. A senior vice president at Citibank, she was being a good employee when she visited the financial advisors who changed her life. Citibank was expanding into investment advising and Cobb’s job as a “secret shopper” was to see how other firms were doing it. But after each advisor told her she could already afford to retire, Cobb’s priorities shifted.

For more than 25 years, Cobb had dedicated herself to work in banking, including overseeing a global network of ATMs. It was time for something else. A week after retiring, she was already involved as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)—a judge-appointed volunteer assisting foster children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned.

“Changing kids’ lives versus letting people in Belgium have a drive-up ATM instead of a walk-up ATM … there is no comparison,” Cobb said. During the past 12 years, Cobb has worked with 22 kids, helping 15 get adopted and reuniting one with his family. Her longest case was with her from age 8 to 19.

 

VICKY MATTSON ’84 AND BRAD MATTSON MBA ’89
IGNATIAN AWARD

Brad Mattson has lived the life of Silicon Valley dreams, twice taking tech companies public. His success also led him to question the value of the endless push for bigger, faster, and more powerful technology. The result, he said, mainly rewards those who are already big, fast, and powerful, leaving behind the less fortunate.

So for the past half-dozen years, Mattson and wife Vicky, herself a former corporate high-flier, have focused on spreading technology’s benefits further and wider. The two have become mainstays of SCU’s Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI), a business boot camp that helps social entrepreneurs from around the world.

As lead mentors, the couple has spent thousands of hours training other volunteers, designing the curriculum, and looking at possible expansions. The work has been its own reward, they say.

“These people are smart, energetic, capable, and awesome,” Brad Mattson says. “We have loved every minute of it.” Alumni of GSBI include Matt Flannery, founder of Kiva Microfunds, a website that allows participants to make small loans, now totaling in the tens of millions of dollars, to people in developing countries. Other GSBI alumni include entrepreneurs bringing clean water to Zimbabwe, renewable energy to Nicaragua, and low-cost, locally produced sanitary pads to rural Kenya.


 

JEANETTE GARRETTY ’74
BANNAN AWARD
Historian and economist: George Giacomini and Jeannette Garretty Photo: Charles Barry
Historian and economist: George Giacomini and Jeannette Garretty
Photo: Adam Hayes

Jeanette Garretty may have whizzed through Santa Clara in just three years, but her time on the Mission campus was only beginning with graduation. Three weeks later, she was back in the classroom, teaching former classmates while she pursued her doctorate in economics at Stanford.

It was good practice for the early part of her career when she was often the youngest in the room and usually one of a handful of women. When she joined Bank of America in 1980, Garretty was one of three women in a department of 38 economists; she went on to become the bank’s chief domestic economist. She now serves as senior vice president at Wells Fargo, where she is renowned for advising high-wealth clients. In 2009, Barron’s magazine named her among the 100 top investment advisors in California (No. 14, to be exact), one of numerous such accolades on her résumé.

“If Santa Clara University had a national bank, we’d make her the CEO,” said Gerri Beasley, vice president of the Alumni Association, in presenting the award.

Despite the demands of career and motherhood, Garretty has been a steadfast supporter of the University, serving on the Board of Regents and the Board of Fellows.

 

GEORGE GIACOMINI ’56
LOCATELLI AWARD

When George Giacomini co-wrote a history of Santa Clara University for the school’s 150th anniversary in 2001, he was struck less by the changes during a century and a half than by the similarities. The themes of education and service made explicit in the 1990s motto “competence, conscience, and compassion” were "as true in the 1890s as they are now," he said.

“Yes, the buildings look better, the place has gotten a lot bigger, and there are a lot more faculty,” he said. “But the heart of the place is relatively unchanged.”

And Giacomini would know. Between four years as an undergraduate and five decades as a beloved professor, Giacomini has been around for a third of SCU history. That era draws to an end soon, though. The 75-year-old scholar and educator says 2009–10 will be his last one teaching, a conclusion he reached when he found himself recently pining for time off. It was a rare moment for someone who only ever wanted to teach.

His name will live on though, not least because of the scholarship endowed in his name by Bob LaMonte ’68, one of the country’s most successful sports agents. LaMonte credits Giacomini for opening his eyes as a student.

“Your good nature, passion for your subject, and ability to connect with others truly makes you a Santa Clara treasure,” said Chancellor Paul Locatelli, S.J. ’60, presenting the award to Giacomini, “a great teacher, a great teller of stories, a great person of faith, and a great friend.”

—Sam Scott ’96

 
Honoring Service

The Ignatian Award publicly recognizes alumni who live the ideals of competence, conscience, and compassion, through outstanding service to humanity.


The Louis I. Bannan, S.J. Award honors an alumnus or alumna who has given distinguished and outstanding service to the Alumni Association and University.


The Paul L. Locatelli, S.J. Award was established in 2008 to publicly and annually recognize a single SCU employee or affiliate who has given distinguished and outstanding service to the Alumni Association and University.

 

Honor your mother

A healing mission to Vietnam
Diane Le MBA '96. Photo by Charles Barry
Diane Le
Photo: Charles Barry

Diane Le MBA ’96 knows too well the helplessness of watching a loved one fight cancer. She still has vivid memories of being in the hospital room during her mother’s losing bout with the disease a decade ago. So after uterine cancer struck her sister-in-law, Frances Nguyen, in 2006, Le was quick to throw herself into Nguyen’s mission to make something good of her struggle—by organizing a foundation dedicated to battling gynecological cancer in the women’s native Vietnam.

“Frances would say, ‘Gosh, if I feel this bad, and I am in the best care in the Bay Area yet I still feel lonely and helpless, imagine how someone in a less-developed country would feel,’” Le says.

The women set their sights on sending American doctors to take part in a cancer conference at one of Ho Chi Minh City’s largest women’s hospitals in October 2008. For the months leading up to the conference, Le worked days as a manager at Hewlett-Packard and then went home to spend hours hammering out the logistics of bringing American oncologists and medical equipment to Vietnam. For a fundraising auction and gala at the conference, she also rounded up art from as far away as France.

The women’s greatest ally was Jeffrey Stern, a surgeon at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley who had revived Nguyen’s bleak prospects after one doctor had given her three to six months to live without treatment. Stern, who had taken a similar mission to China, recruited other Bay Area experts to participate.

Seven doctors, including Stern, made the trip to teach and lecture in Vietnam. Surgeons performed 10 televised surgeries in two days at Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City. The doctors also advised their Vietnamese peers on management and diagnosis of cancers. More than 700 doctors from all over Vietnam attended.

Televised surgery: Jeffrey Stern operates on a cancer patient at Tu Du Hospital. Photo: Courtesy Diane Le
Televised surgery: Jeffrey Stern operates on a cancer patient at Tu Du Hospital.
Photo: Courtesy Diane Le

The lessons were on more than just technical improvements. All the U.S. doctors turned down sightseeing tours so they could have follow-up visits with their patients—a postsurgery involvement that is normal for American doctors but rarer in Vietnam.

Le says she is seeing the fruits of her labors unfold. The Nguyen Foundation has been talking to Vietnamese officials about helping establish a modern cancer center in the country. And this fall, the women and Stern are returning for another conference with a new group of doctors. For Le, it’s a deeply personal satisfaction.

“I feel like I am honoring my mother,” she says.

—Sam Scott ’96

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