Skip to content

Michael A. Lawson to retire as head of LA Urban League

Michael A. Lawson, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, will step down from the post at the end of the year.


Helped fight for Black economic empowerment

Michael A. Lawson,  president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, will step down from the post at the end of the year.

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. He was called to serve once more, this time as the president and 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 Mr. 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, board chair of the Los Angeles Urban League. “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.”

Upon Lawson’s arrival at the LA Urban League, the organization was facing escalating deficits, decreasing revenues, and a shortage of talent. Lawson engineered a turnaround that prioritized the needs of underserved communities and provided funders with an enhanced vision for making a difference in the lives and communities of African-Americans throughout Los Angeles.

Under Lawson’s leadership the Los Angeles Urban League 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; he 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.”