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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Advisory Board Member Ann Ravel Highlights Ethical Evolution

Ethics Center Advisory Board member Ann Ravel.

Ethics Center Advisory Board member Ann Ravel.

Ann M. Ravel is well acquainted with the role of ethics in governmental and legal spaces. A leading figure in Silicon Valley, the country, and abroad, Ravel has accumulated a large amount of knowledge over her career. Ravel first became connected with the Ethics Center through conversations with current Ethics Center Senior Fellow and Past Executive Director Kirk Hanson, and to this day, serve together on the Silicon Valley Ethics Roundtable. Shortly after Ravel and Hanson met, she was invited to an Ethics Center event and invited to be on the Advisory Board because of her experience in legal and government ethics. 

Ravel has worked in government ethics on a number of levels, but her early appointment as the Santa Clara County Counsel provided much of the foundation for her later work. Through her time in the legal field, Ravel has been able to see how awareness of ethics and the need for ethical standards have grown, saying that, “the understanding of what ethics should be is more significant today.” When Ravel ultimately moved to the federal level in 2013 with her appointment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by President Barack Obama, she saw clear differences between the local and federal understanding of ethics. In Ravel’s experience, the awareness of ethics is much greater on the local level, especially given the broad nature of the federal government and the difficulty of implementing specific ethical guidelines. That being said, the shift that Ravel identified has occurred across the country and is being aided by institutions like the Ethics Center.

“Ethical behavior is for everybody, no matter the party.” ~Ann Ravel

The Ethics Center has served as a source of pride and reassurance for Ravel. “Many of the programs put on by the Ethics Center have been meaningful to me.” As she tells it, her appointment on the FEC exposed many of the challenges with implementing transparency and accountability on the federal level. Seeing the work done by the Ethics Center has helped Ravel see the promise and possibility of positive outcomes in legal and technology ethics. “Ethics should evolve and have a higher place in our country,” says Ravel. She sees the Ethics Center as a resource, not only for Silicon Valley and California but also for the country as a whole, as we work towards this ethics-focused evolution. Despite the polarized political environment of today, Ravel emphasizes ethics as a bridge between differing beliefs. As she says, “ethical behavior is for everybody, no matter the party.” 

The work of the Ethics Center on the Santa Clara University campus is another highlight for Ravel. “Ethics is not always front and center at academic institutions,” says Ravel, and she is encouraged by the involvement of students in Ethics Center programs. While she would like to see the Ethics Center expand its offerings to include even more students and thinkers from beyond SCU, Ravel says the work done so far has been admirable. “The Ethics Center can and does play an active role in the community,” she says. Ravel encourages students to take advantage of the Ethics Center’s resources, both during their time at SCU and as they venture on into professional careers. Ravel emphasizes that the Ethics Center resources and programs are beneficial to just about everyone.

Lucas Bush ’23, political science and ethnic studies major and a marketing and communications intern with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, contributed to this story.

May 18, 2023


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