Alpha Rho Chapter Alumni Association's Spring 2022 Digest

Liberty B&T's Brother Todd O. McDonald (Spring 2001) Succeeds Father As President At Nation's Largest Black-owned Bank

NEW ORLEANS — The board of directors of Liberty Bank and Trust Company have announced that Todd O. McDonald has been named the bank’s president effective May 2. Current Liberty President and CEO Alden J. McDonald Jr., Todd’s father, will continue to lead the Liberty Financial Holding Company.

The younger McDonald, who is 41 years old, takes the reins of an iconic financial institution with more than $1 billion in assets. He joined Liberty in 2003 after earning an undergraduate degree from Morehouse College. He received an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 2013.

📸 Pictured at left: The Legacy Continues! On April 26, 2022 the Board of Directors of Liberty Bank and Trust Company and CEO Alden J. McDonald, Jr. announced that Todd O. McDonald has been named the Bank’s President effective May 1, 2022.

McDonald has held numerous executive positions at Liberty Bank and was selected to serve on the bank’s board of directors in 2017. Most recently, he served as executive vice president of corporate strategy. The board said his accomplishments include forging national partnerships that have produced several new revenue streams, helping raise $30 million in “tier 1” capital, and refining existing initiatives around the bank and within the Liberty Financial Holding Company.

“I am excited about the opportunity to continue to serve Liberty’s community focused mission and the legacy of helping people build generational wealth,” Todd McDonald said in a press release. “I’ve been singularly driven to build solid stakeholder partnerships and evolve financial products which meet the financial needs of an ever-changing world. This next 50 years will be extraordinary as we reshape our culture, talent and organizational capabilities which will make us more agile, more competitive, and more effective in our efforts to close the wealth gap in underserved communities across the country.”

📸 Pictured above: Alden McDonald, (left) outgoing President and CEO of Liberty Bank, walks the perimeter of a branch under construction in New Orleans' Gentilly neighborhood, with his son Todd McDonald.

“Todd has the leadership skills, vision, and drive that the Bank needs in these unprecedented times,” said Alden McDonald. “I’m excited to see him continue to build a culture and team committed to pushing the bank to new levels. I know that our amazing staff, friends, and family will allow him to enjoy the same levels of support and dedication to which I have been privileged for the last fifty years.”


Shook's Houston Office Starts 2022 With New Leader,

Texas Lawyer Reports (John Lewis, Jr. — Spring 1985)

Savoy magazine has selected Shook Houston Managing Partner John Lewis, Jr. in its bi-annual list of “Most Influential Black Lawyers.Savoy’s list features African-American partners from top law firms and general counsel from Fortune 1000 companies who have demonstrated exceptional achievement, legal skills and community outreach. He told the Texas Lawyer one of his goals is to “grow the business litigationmuscle in Houston.”

Texas Lawyer and reported on Shook’s selection of John Lewis, Jr to lead its Houston office, “Shook Hardy’s Houston Office Starts 2022 With New Leader.” Lewis joined the firm in 2019. He told the Texas Lawyer his number one goal is to expand the firm’s business litigation practice in Houston. “The first thing is to market it internally within the firm, to grow that litigation muscle in the city,” said Lewis. Lewis also chairs Shook’s Diversity and Inclusion Strategy and Initiatives. He told Texas Lawyer he wants to “position the Houston office as a laboratory for initiatives at the firm.”

John has more than 25 years of broad-based experience as a trial lawyer in private practice and as in-house litigation and compliance counsel. He focuses his practice on internal and government investigations, including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations, corporate compliance, business litigation, class action and complex litigation, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, receiverships, workplace fairness and inclusion consulting. He has practiced as chief litigation counsel, global anti-bribery counsel and global head of diversity and workplace fairness.

Before returning to private practice, John held roles of increasing responsibility for 14 years with The Coca-Cola Company at its global headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. For five years, he was head of global litigation. As chief litigation counsel, he defended company directors and officers in shareholder derivative cases and advised senior management on all aspects of legal-risk management strategy. He led interviews, defended depositions and managed alternative dispute resolution in class actions, multidistrict litigation and related proceedings. In addition, he led the single largest potential litigation exposure in the history of the company: a putative securities class action lawsuit that touched four continents resolved on terms favorable to the company.

📸 Pictured above: Brother Lewis delivers keynote address at the 2015 Black Tech Week event in Miami, Florida.

John led internal and governmental investigations into some of the earliest Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower claims. He was tapped to serve as Coca-Cola’s first global anti-bribery counsel responsible for the company’s compliance with FCPA, the UK Bribery Act and similar anti-corruption laws worldwide. He led in-person training, audits and investigations in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, including compliance-related due diligence in international M&A transactions. He also personally advised and updated the board audit committee on such matters.

Following a decade in Coca-Cola’s legal function, John joined the company's global human resources team as the company’s global chief diversity officer, where he had board-level accountability for all aspects of workplace fairness, including responses to EEOC charges and OFCCP inquiries, as well as related media and reputational concerns. John served as the voice and face of diversity and inclusion at Coca-Cola, interacting with external constituents, community leaders, insurance carriers, institutional investors and the landscape of workplace, marketplace, customers and partners. Because of the breadth and depth of his experience, John brings a unique perspective to confidential litigation assessments, corporate diversity compliance reviews, internal legal vulnerability assessments, and helping clients develop best-practice benchmarking.

John currently serves as a Panel Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, and also served as a Panel Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustee in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri for eight years. He has also served as a court-appointed receiver in complex business disputes.

John’s background enables him to bring solutions-based perspectives to his clients, drawing on a range of legal disciplines and a proven track record of success working not just with lawyers but with business leaders in public affairs, communications, government relations, regulatory affairs and community stakeholders.


Ralph Lauren’s Revised American Dream:

His New Collaboration with Morehouse and Spelman Recognizes How Black Students Have Always Been a Part of Fashion History (Bro. James M. Jeter Fall 2011)

By Robin Givhan, Senior critic-at-large

It’s not a new story. It’s a more complicated, more nuanced version of an old one. So ultimately, it’s a better story.

The clothes debuting Tuesday in a Polo Ralph Lauren advertising campaign — the tweed soft-shoulder blazers, the Fair Isle sweaters, the pretty white eyelet dresses and one perfectly aged cotton canvas stadium coat — are familiar to anyone who has been schooled in the narrative of the American Dream, which is to say, most everyone. They aren’t the sort of clothes that nudge fashion trends into uncharted territory and they aren’t flashy exemplars of financial success. Like all garments, they’re an expression of identity. But these are, most importantly, an enduring declaration of belonging.

This country doesn’t have anything that might be called a national costume, but certain garments help folks visualize what it means to be that self-invented notion: an American. It’s a challenging persona to fathom. Despite popular culture equating it with blond and blue-eyed, Americans aren’t defined by race or ethnicity. They aren’t defined by their family tree. But still, we stubbornly try to cast an American ideal in human form — an embodiment of all our conceptions about our national character, which include the glories of bootstrap advancement, the power of clear-eyed optimism and a soft-focus romanticization of our rebellious past.

No other designer has been more central to helping us paint a picture of those yearnings and aspirations than Ralph Lauren. Since he founded his company in 1967 based on a single product that encompassed both tradition and possibility — a tie that was slightly wider than the norm — he has been creating clothes that are deeply rooted in the idea of heritage even as they aim to put a bright, shiny polish on contemporary times. He has been inspired by the beautifully dilapidated country cottages of the Atlantic Coast and the wide-open spaces of the West, as well as Wall Street gods, country club scions and big men on campus.

📸 Pictured above: Brother Dimone G. Long II (Spring 2019) shown on bottom row, at far left, is featured prominently throughout the new campaign and in the accompanying "yearbook."

For more than 50 years, Lauren has been writing a tale about what it means to be American. And now he’s made a significant edit. It isn’t so much a correction as it is a clarification.

His new advertising campaign, which includes photographs, picture books and a 30-minute film, announces a partnership with Morehouse College and Spelman College, two institutions rich in both tradition and prestige. They are two of the historically Black colleges and universities that educated Black students during segregation and continue to do so today as predominantly White institutions typically treat Black history as a niche subject to be discussed in the safety of a singular department rather than a discipline intrinsic to the American story. The story of Blackness is a part of our collective history that can cause discomfort and because of that is especially under assault these days.

The clothes in this licensing agreement with the two schools were mostly photographed on students, graduates and faculty — against the backdrop of the two campuses, which neighbor each other in Atlanta. The collection was inspired by images from the schools’ archives of students dating back to the 1920s as they gathered on the yard, in a classroom or on the playing field. Composed of some 100 items, the collection includes the crested jackets favored by Morehouse men, the signature Spelman white cotton attire — which remains a tradition, along with pearls — and the varsity jackets and crew neck sweaters that are staples of the broad college vernacular.

It would be tempting to call these looks Ivy League style. But that’s only because those who had the power to codify elements of American achievement didn’t account for Black students. Princeton and Harvard preceded Morehouse in existence, but what was worn on the campuses up North in the 1950s, when they became defined by sack suits, Oxford shirts and rep-stripe ties, was also worn on the campus of Morehouse, which was founded in 1867.

Lauren has shifted his gaze to take in a new vista that has been there all along but one that he simply didn’t see. Until, one day in 2020, he suddenly did. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, in the midst of racial justice protests sweeping across the country, at a time when the populace was profoundly divided, the company’s 23,000 employees gathered in groups virtually for conversations that were intended to be open and honest about the tumult around them and the questions that it raised. In one, the founder asked James Jeter a simple question: “How are you doing?”

“He said, ‘Great. But you know, I’m not sure that this is going to be my future,’ ” Lauren recalled during an interview last week. “I said, ‘What do you mean by that?’ And he said, ‘Well, you know, I just don’t know if this is the path. Is this a company that’s going to be all White? … What’s the story with this company?’ ”

Essentially, Jeter wanted to know: “Who are we?”

“When he said that to me, I was sort of surprised and I said, ‘James, there is a future here for you,’ ” Lauren said. This collaboration with Morehouse and Spelman may well be proof of that.

Jeter is one of the New York-based company’s design directors and he’s spent the entirety of his professional career at the brand, starting when he was a stylish, Black teenager obsessed with the company’s aesthetic and working on the sales floor at a Rugby Ralph Lauren shop in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington. Jeter climbed the corporate ladder from intern to design associate to a lead designer. He is also a Morehouse man from the Class of 2013. And he educated his boss on what that meant.

📸 Pictured above: Morehouse College students in Sale Hall in 1925. (Morehouse College).

“I knew nothing about it,” said Lauren, including the aesthetics of HBCUs, the “Divine Nine” Black fraternities and sororities, and the Black collegiate experience. “James told me,” Lauren said. “He brought in these books, because he went to Morehouse, and said, ‘This exists.’ He felt that the world has always thought Ivy League [style] was only White people. This exists; the college exists; the taste levels existed. And we looked through some books and he showed me the school and I said, ‘This is beautiful. I love it.’ ”

“There was something missing” from the company’s point of view, Lauren said. “We’re catching up. We’re catching up with [the country’s] changes. And I want to be part of that change. I believe in it, and I believe in it for our company.” “I’m not a pioneer. I’m not trying to take something I don’t [own], but I’ve always been very honest about what I believe,” Lauren said, “and I always try to do the right thing.”

Personal presentation has always been part of the story at Morehouse and Spelman, which has focused on classic liberal arts education rather than vocational training. The students dressed to express personal dignity, as a statement of academic intent and as an ode to respectability before that word implied a certain political surrender. The collaboration with Ralph Lauren “centers Morehouse in the American story. You look at those pictures and you can see the connection to the same fashion sensibilities that have defined Ralph Lauren.

The photographs most certainly are advertising and marketing, but they’re also selling consumers on an idea — and Americans on their shared history. “We didn’t sort of design this collection through the lens of HBCUs to say this is sort of the Black way of dressing,” said Jeter, who oversaw the collaboration. “It’s really American style. We only changed the context and not really the clothing.”

Like a lot of companies, the Ralph Lauren Corp. has wrestled with diversity and inclusivity. In the 1990s, the company first addressed the issue head on after Black and Hispanic store employees raised the alarm about discrimination, about being sent to the stockroom when important executives visited the store. The brand also has a substantial history of diversity in its advertising dating back to that same time, when Black models Tyson Beckford and Karen Alexander served as de facto faces of the brand while many other fashion houses were nonchalantly showcasing all-White catwalk casts.

In the wake of racial justice protests nearly two years ago, the company signed on to the Black in Fashion Council, which aims to increase diversity on Seventh Avenue, and it independently pledged to build a leadership team that was 10 percent Black and 20 percent people of color by 2023. Still, around that same time, the company was taken to task for using the Greek letters of a historically Black fraternity to adorn a pair of trousers without the organization’s permission. The road toward equality and cultural sensitivity has a multitude of switchbacks.

Fashion’s Racial Reckoning

“The beauty of what Ralph Lauren did with us: They made us part of this project,” Morehouse’s Thomas said. “They didn’t come in and appropriate culturally inspiring images of Black people and then go off and do something with it.”

There are those who might look at this collection and see it as an anachronism at a time when track pants and leggings are as dressed up as many people want to be. There’s polish to these images that may feel stilted at a time when improvisation is valued. The entire project is a risk in an era when social media watchdogs are always on the prowl for missteps. Yet when Dara Douglas, who oversees the Ralph Lauren library and is a Spelman graduate, speaks about the collection, her voice shakes with emotion.

“I know how the other women who’ve graduated from Spelman, the other men who graduated

from Morehouse, all of the people who have attended an HBCU, there’s so much reverence and respect for the Ralph Lauren brand,” Douglas said. “For us to see this culture and see this community turn the gaze back to them and show them themselves — it’s going to be tremendous. It’s overwhelming.”

Spelman President Mary Schmidt Campbell agreed to this collaboration, in part, because the project drew on archival imagery from the school and was a kind of contemporary version of a series of photographs of Black men and women at home, at school and at work commissioned by W.E.B. Dubois at the beginning of the 20th century.

“I thought it evoked an aspect of our history and heritage that we don’t talk about and we don’t see very often on the public stage,” Campbell said. And it was no small thing in Campbell’s estimation that this was also a business deal that could benefit the school’s bottom line and that the project had a Black creative team that included Douglas, one of Spelman’s own.

Lauren, 82, noted that he was not keen to talk about this collection but was convinced to do so by his staff. Not because he isn’t proud of it and proud of the work that both Jeter and Douglas have done. But because these are treacherous times to stumble, to correct course, to try. Capitalism affords a man nearly everything but the benefit of the doubt.

📸 Pictured above: Brother Jeter (third from left) on the Morehouse College campus in 2013, seated (l-r) with his Line Brothers, Max Tyler, Scott Nearon and Jameson Miller -- all members of the Legendary 18 (Fall 2011).

“I’m not worried about my legacy. I have three children and grandchildren and I want them to be happy, do whatever they do and not worry about me,” he said. “I’m doing what I love to do. I have good days and bad days. On good days, you’re feeling good about yourself and on bad days you’re not feeling good about yourself.

“We all make mistakes and things,” he said. “But we correct it and learn about it and learn about what we didn’t know. That’s good.”


Black History Month Profile: Black Men in Law Leave a Legal Legacy (Bro. James A. Britton — Spring 2001)

By Megan Kirk,

Black History Month is a time to reflect on the accomplishments, advancements, and struggles of African Americans. Though Black populations have made progress throughout history, there is still much work to be done across every sector, particularly law. Several Black attorneys have paved the way for not only new legislation but for Black students who aspire to practice law, leading to a push for equality from the courtroom to the boardroom.

At a time of heightened racial tension, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and social injustice, Black lawyers have become even more essential to African American communities and the legal progress of the country. Black legal trailblazers of the past have cleared the way for a new generation of Black lawyers, including newly-hired adjunct professor for Wayne State University Law School, James Britton.

📸 Pictured above: Chapter Brothers gather in Detroit to toast Brother Britton's 40th birthday (2022).

Thurgood Marshall was appointed by former President Lyndon B. Johnson to the Supreme Court in 1967. With an illustrious career, Marshall is one of history’s most notable Black attorneys and serves as a role model for many. James Britton has always chased a career in law thanks in part to Marshall.

“I’m one of those people who always wanted to be a lawyer. I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. At first, I wanted to be a Civil Rights lawyer like Johnnie Cochran or Thurgood Marshall. I consider that to be working in the public interest as a union side labor lawyer,” said Britton. “My belief is that labor rights are human rights.”

A legal career that spans several years, Britton’s passion for law and equality led him to a path of labor law. Now, in his new role as adjunct professor at Wayne State’s Law School, he intends to give students a tangible image of Black law professionals while guiding them through labor law. Combining his love for law and his knack for education, Britton will now lead the next class of Black attorneys.

“I’ve always wanted to teach just as a part of who I am and wanting to make a contribution,” said Britton.

Nationally, Black attorneys make up just five percent of all lawyers. Representing 13 percent of America’s population, African Americans account for 38 percent of prisoners and the number continues to grow. The presence of Black legal teams helps to shift the dynamics in court as well as the legal sector across the board. Through shared experiences, Black lawyers can help to navigate and defend other African Americans who fear they will not receive fair and equal treatment under the umbrella of law.

“Black lawyers bring a certain perspective depending on where you’re from and you can certainly help people with the perspective that you bring,” said Britton. “I think the same is true for prosecutors and defense attorneys.”

As the legacy continues, Black lawyers are hoping to spread the word to African American students on the importance of pursuing a career in law. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) reports African American students accounted for close to eight percent of incoming law students across schools, up from 7.6 percent in 2020. Marking 2021 as the largest incoming class in 10 years, as well as the most racially diverse class ever as per the LSAC, African Americans are chasing careers in law now more than ever.

“I think it starts as early as grade school. Just sort of talking about [it], more people like me going into schools; high schools, colleges, talking about what we do, why we do it and why it’s important,” said Britton.

📸 Pictured above: Brother Britton, at left, joined Michigan legal colleagues at The Wolverine Bar Association's 2022 Barristers' Ball in mid-April.

Voting rights for Black communities have been under attack. As legislation is passed making it more difficult for African Americans to get to the polls, positions are in place to oversee the process and ensure empowerment for the voices of all voters.

To help further the commitment to fairness and equality for African Americans, Britton was recently sworn into the Wayne County Board of Canvassers for the Democratic Party. Responsible for certifying elections for all local, countywide and district offices, Britton will also have a hand in the inspection of the county’s ballot containers every four years and conducting recounts, as needed, for every aspect of government within the county in which he is appointed.


Alpha Phi Alpha Shines Light on the River Parishes Omicron Psi Lambda Chapter Charter Ceremony Jan 2022 (Bro. Rahn K. Bailey — Spring 1984)

Pictured above: Alpha Phi Alpha District Director Rodney Welch, Southwestern Regional Vice President Jermaine Netherly and past Southwestern Regional Vice President Tarrynce Robinson are the following Omicron Psi Lambda chapter brothers: President Jorandal M. Watson, Vice President Trebor S. Smith, Alton Preston, Brian Carter, Joseph K. Byrd, Lance McCormick, Reginald Starks, Brooks Wallace, Charles Tyson Brown, Clossie Chaisson Jr., Greg Cooks, Jabar Rodney, Jerome Washington, Kernell Jupiter, Michael Bradley, Rahn Bailey and Wilford Jones.