Frazier, Chenault discuss corporate America’s role in democracy in ABA Presidential Speaker Series

In an era of vigorous national dialogue on democracy, affirmative action and diversity, the American Bar Association’s Presidential Speaker Series offers an in-depth exploration of these vital issues with a special Black History Month program. Renowned leaders in business and social justice Kenneth Frazier, former CEO of Merck, and Kenneth Chenault, former CEO of American Express, come together for a thought-provoking session titled “The Business of Democracy,” marking a highlight of the influential series.

Frazier and Chenault, esteemed figures with deep roots in the corporate and legal communities and special advisers to the ABA Task Force for American Democracy, will be interviewed by Paulette Brown, past ABA president (2015-2016) and advocate for diversity and equity in the legal profession. The program can be viewed at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 29 online. No advance registration is required.

Their candid conversation will delve into the dynamic challenges and opportunities at the intersection of corporate America and democracy, including the significant impact of affirmative action within the business community following the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling. Frazier and Chenault will reflect on their leadership in advocating for diversity, inclusion and equitable justice, particularly their proactive response to the George Floyd tragedy and their collaborative efforts to unite the business sector against restrictive voting legislation in 2021. Their discussion and contributions to the ABA Task Force for American Democracy emphasize the essential role of the legal and corporate sectors in championing democratic principles.

Frazier is chairman of General Catalyst’s Health Assurance initiatives and is the former chairman and CEO of Merck. Frazier, with more than three decades at Merck, including a decade as CEO, has long been a formidable advocate for social justice and equality, both within and beyond the corporate sphere. As co-founder and co-chair of OneTen, he spearheaded efforts to secure family-sustaining jobs for 1 million Black Americans. Additionally, Frazier serves as co-chair of the Legal Services Corporation’s Leaders Council.

Chenault is the chairman and a managing director of the venture capital firm General Catalyst. Chenault, recognized for his transformative leadership at American Express, where he spent three decades and served as chairman and CEO for nearly two, has equally leveraged his corporate platform to advocate for social justice and equality. He is a co-founder of OneTen and co-chair of Concordance’s First Chance campaign to break the cycle of reincarceration.

Brown, the first woman of color to serve as ABA president, lends her extensive legal expertise and advocacy to the dialogue. After a notable career as a partner at Locke Lord, she founded MindSetPower LLC, dedicated to fostering environments of equal opportunity. With four decades’ expertise spanning labor and employment law, including a tenure as a judge, Brown has been recognized with prestigious awards such as the Margaret Brent Woman of Achieve­ment Award from the ABA.

The ABA Presidential Speaker Series, an initiative of ABA President Mary Smith, is a collection of diverse virtual conversations with globally recognized figures, spotlighting trailblazers and thinkers shaping our collective future. Under the theme “Lifting Our Voices, Charting the Future,” these fireside chats promote dialogue, civility and exposure to diverse viewpoints, innovative ideas and career insights.