Don Graves: This is America (Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium)

January 17, 2022 0:45:15
Kaltura Video

University of Michigan Ford School Dean Michael Barr and United States Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves on working to revive the economy while combating the racist systems embedded within it. January 17, 2022.



0:00:26.8 Celeste Watkins-Hayes: Good afternoon. I am Celeste Watkins-Hayes, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and Founding Director of the Center for Racial Justice. Housed at the Ford School, the Center for Racial Justice is a cross-disciplinary space that aims to foster deep relationships between research and advocacy to uncover the voices of the unjustly silenced, challenge us to live up to our democratic ideals and offer sound policy prescriptions for a more equitable and just society.

0:01:02.1 CW: It is my great pleasure to welcome all of you to the Ford School's annual event in honor of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., featuring today US Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves. Mr. Graves' efforts as a champion for inclusive economic development are especially fitting with our goals here at the Center for Racial Justice, to harness public policy as a tool of racial equity and to spotlight the voices of the changemakers who are doing this critical work.

0:01:32.5 CW: Deputy Secretary has decades of experience in the private sector, government and non-profits, through which he has been dedicated to ensuring that economic opportunity is inclusive and broad-based. He has a demonstrated history as a champion for community development, including leadership in the federal government's efforts in the economic recovery of the city of Detroit under President Obama. Don Graves also has a rich family history connected to the Commerce Department. His four times great-grandparents built a successful horse and buggy taxi business in Washington that once stood at the site of the Department's headquarters, and their son went on to own a premier hotel just blocks away. And become one of our nation's first Black patent-holders. We'll hear more about that later.

0:02:20.7 CW: Today's event reflects the theme for the University of Michigan's 2022 MLK Jr symposium, This Is America, which explores the many images of America as defined and interpreted through history, popular culture and present-day events, juxtaposing an idealized version, vision of America with some of the harsh realities using the teachings and observations of Dr. King as a lens. In doing so, This Is America challenges all of us to do our part to transform this country into a community that we want it to be and purport it to be.

0:03:00.7 CW: This conversation will be moderated by my colleague, Michael Barr, Dean of the Ford School and Faculty Director of one of the event's co-sponsors, the U of M Center for Finance Law and Policy. We encourage you to ask questions in the YouTube chatbox or tweet your questions to #policytalks. There will be time at the end of the live event for these audience questions, including those received in advance. With that, I ask you to join me in welcoming the 19th Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves, and my colleague and our Dean at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Michael Barr.

0:03:42.7 Michael Barr: Thanks so much, Celeste, for that great introduction. Secretary Graves, my friend, it is just wonderful to have you here at the Ford School for Martin Luther King Day.

0:03:52.1 Don Graves: Dean Barr, it is so good to be with you on this day of celebration, reflection and service, and to have this conversation about equity and inclusion, which was at the core of everything that Dr. King fought for his entire life.

0:04:13.9 MB: That's just so true. I was thinking this morning that you and I started working together about a quarter of a century ago. You started out your professional career as a community organizer when we first met, and I wonder if you could reflect on that. You share that background with President Obama. That's not a bad way of starting out your career to share with Barack Obama the origin story. How do you think that shaped your subsequent career in the Treasury, in the White House, in the private sector, and now running this vast organization?

0:04:56.4 DG: Well, at the core, what it's helped me to do is better understand people and communities. If you don't have that knowledge, that touch point, if you can't see how people are living the challenges that they face every day, the opportunities that we have in those communities, how are you going to develop a good and effective public policy, how can you ensure that your non-profit organization is actually serving the needs of the community, how can you make sure that your business is tailored to the needs of your consumers, that it's a responsive public, excuse me, corporate citizen. So for me, it's allowed me to better understand what I'm driving at, the ways that we can be better stewards of the American tax dollar and effectuate good public policy.

0:06:00.7 MB: So it must be hard. How do you integrate the voices of communities, of community activists into the work you do at the Commerce Department? You're the number two official at this vast organization, you're sitting in Washington, it's very easy to get removed from that, so how do you think about bringing those voices into the work that you do now?

0:06:24.8 DG: That's a really great question. One of the things that a lot of people, they think about the Commerce Department, and if they don't know all the different... The 13 different bureaus that we have here, they may think, oh, it's the Department of Business or the Department of Industry, they focus on CEOs, and frankly, nothing could be further from the truth in a lot of ways. Yes, we work with businesses, we work with corporations to make sure that the economy is growing and works for all Americans, but we're really the department of people and communities. We have some of the... We have the largest number of scientists or close to it in the entire federal government, we have the best data in the federal government with the Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis. We have National Institutes of Standards and Technologies, the Patent and Trademark Office.

0:07:25.4 DG: So many different parts of government that are focused on data and the impact on communities actually reside at the Department of Commerce, so when the Secretary and I think about our work, it has to be rooted in people, in communities, the effect that policies, not just from Commerce, but across government, have on those communities. And the only way that I know to really have that work that we're doing rooted in communities is to have that connection with communities and making sure that not only are we talking with communities and talking with those who help bring voice to the voiceless, as Dr. King would have said, which includes non-profits and advocacy organizations, but it's also making sure that the people who populate this Department represent the broad diversity of our country.

0:08:25.2 DG: It's something that the President has spent a lot of time focusing on, in fact, the very first set of Executive Orders he signed were to drive diversity and inclusion and broad-based equity. And the way that we do that is to make sure that people who sit in these positions like mine and others across the Department and across government, actually, as I said, reflect that diversity, but as importantly, also have the lived experiences of the folks we represent across this country. It's one thing to sort of get it from an academic perspective, as you know, but it's a whole different matter to actually spend time in a community understanding what people are going through, having relatives who are dealing with challenges. So part of the thing that we're doing, and I know you've done this throughout your career, Dean Barr, is to make sure that we are very connected with people, with communities, and that the perspectives that they had are reflected in the work that we're doing.

0:09:41.1 MB: That's really wonderful to see, again, somebody at the very top of the Commerce Department with that set of values and mission being so clearly articulated, I know it makes a big difference to the work the Department is doing. You mentioned Dr. King's approach of giving voice to the voiceless, and we have a lovely couple, Hal and Carol Kohn, who have just provided support to the Ford School to do precisely that through a new collaborative for social policy, and with that same ethos in mind.

0:10:14.2 MB: I wonder, Don, whether, if you don't mind, if you would talk a little bit about your family. The title of our activities today at the university for MLK Day is This Is America, and that's a phrase that is meant to explore all the contradictions inherent in the American story, the tug and pull of values, both upheld and dashed, and in many ways, your own personal family history going back now generations embodies that theme, as Celeste Watkins-Hayes said, former enslaved men and women who became owners of their own business on the site where the Commerce Department is now. Your family's relationship with Frederick Douglass. You and I were looking at his home on the Chesapeake Bay last summer.

0:11:09.0 MB: What does that journey of your family mean for you today? So maybe take some time really to tell the story to our audience, 'cause I think it's a powerful story about the complexity of the American experience.

0:11:25.4 DG: I think you're right that the American story is very complex, and I know it's easy for media and for the storybooks to try and portray things in one direction or another, but I use my family story as a touch point for the work that I do. It's sort of poignant for me every single day for me to come into the building and walk on the very land that my ancestors owned and operated a business and on which they lived and toiled and shed blood and tears. My four times great-grandparents were able, fortunate enough, to be freed slaves who ran that business, started a business, and were able to be successful with the business.

0:12:21.6 DG: And then their son, his name was James Wormley, was able to start his own business building off of the business of his own parents, just like so many in the American story that we've seen over the course of history, you pass on the opportunity, you pass on a business or some skills. And so he took that business and turned it into a set of essentially small bed and breakfast, if you will, boarding houses, eventually building up enough of a business that he was able to own and operate a hotel in the mid to late 1800s. And the storybooks don't usually tell you about these African-Americans who in those days were actually quite successful and I think would be considered millionaires today, based on... If you look at what they were worth back then.

0:13:35.1 DG: He built that hotel and he served the generals of the day in the Civil War, the senators and members of Congress and presidents, and it's not lost on me that the very agreement that ended Reconstruction in the South and ushered in decades of Jim Crow and the escalation of violence against African-Americans and other minorities, the systemic intimidation and eventual disenfranchisement of Black voters, that agreement was actually crafted in the hotel, in the parlor owned and operated by my three times great-grandfather, and it's actually called the Wormley Compromise or the Wormley Agreement.

0:14:25.6 DG: He was a man who was a confidante and caretaker to all of these leaders in the country, and by at least some accounts of the day, he was actually cradling Lincoln's head when he took his last breath. So for me, it's a touch point that there is huge possibility in this country, that there's the chance, it may be smaller than it should be, but there's a chance that you can do amazing things. The problem is that for too long, that chance has been too small, that the opportunity hasn't really been available for most Americans, certainly not for most African-Americans and other people of color.

0:15:09.8 DG: So for me, the thing that I'm focused on is making sure that we open that aperture, that we're creating greater opportunity, that we're putting people in a position where they have the chance to take the ideas, the dreams that they have, and then if we can give them just that little bit of opportunity, that possibility, they can turn those dreams into reality and lives of dignity, because that's what everyone in this country really wants, is the opportunity to live a life of dignity. We just have to make sure that it's more broadly-based and that the systemic challenges. Like racism. That we're ushering those out the door, creating more opportunity for the folks that have not had opportunity in the past.

0:16:01.5 MB: You now, Secretary Graves, have this opportunity that's vast at the Commerce Department to try and write a new story, write a new American story of economic opportunity. What are some of the strategies or policies you've been pursuing to try and make that happen?

0:16:20.9 DG: Well, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about what the President has done in part, and we're working obviously closely all across the Administration to implement some of this work, but the American Rescue Plan, when we were dealing, well, we're still dealing with the pandemic, making sure that people had the resources and support that they needed to get by when they couldn't work, when our economy was really gasping at the time, so implementing the American rescue plan. But now, just last month, we were able to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and that's going to make long-term systemic changes to our communities.

0:17:09.8 DG: A lot of people hear about roads and bridges and things like that, but what people may not realize, it's things like the biggest single investment in public transit. We know that for people of color, and especially in low-income communities across the country, that public transit is a huge challenge for folks that are just trying to get to work or get to their doctor appointment or get to school. The biggest investment in clean water, making sure that... And I know folks in Michigan are very aware of this issue, making sure that we're replacing our pipes and our systems so that people can have this basic fundamental right of clean water.

0:17:56.0 DG: We at the Commerce Department are actually in the process of deploying more than $40 billion to make sure that we're able to do what the President has said all along, getting every household in America, every family, access to quality, high-speed broadband in an affordable way. And I stress the affordable way, because for so many folks who live in under-served communities, so many folks who are struggling for resources, the ability to pay for broadband, even if it's available in their community, is too big a challenge. So we want to make sure that we're delivering broadband that last mile in communities across the country, especially rural areas, so we can get the broadband to your home, but also making sure that it's affordable and that people have that chance to access it with quality equipment.

0:18:56.3 DG: But it goes well beyond that. As I was saying, we're... The Commerce Department is a data-heavy organization, and we've been really focused on making sure that we're using our data most effectively so that we can make better policy decisions across government and work with the state and local government, work with philanthropies, so that the dollars and the investments are actually being used most effectively at community. So some of the things that we're doing are the Census Bureau has its Open Innovation Lab to try and find ways to be more creative around the ways that we use our existing data sets or look at new data, our Data For Everyone summits, where we're finding ways to democratize data, the Opportunity Project, the Good Job Challenge effort, our Job Quality initiative.

0:19:52.9 DG: So there's a range of things that we're doing, all getting at the issue of reducing inequities across our system. I spend... And know I'm talking a lot here, but I get a little worked up. I've looked at these issues a lot, I go back to the Kellogg Foundation study that they did that showed that if we were able to eliminate the challenges of systemic racism across our country and across our economy, we could increase our GDP by $8 trillion. If you take an economy that's, I don't know, $22, $23 trillion, I think was the last number I saw, that takes us to a more than $30 trillion economy. So that would actually have a huge impact, not just on those communities that have been so disenfranchised and so disconnected from the economy, but it would have a broad-based economic impact that every American would feel.

0:21:01.0 DG: The other part of this, and then I'll hush up and turn it back to you, but the other part of this is re-balancing our economy, and we've seen this directly in the pandemic in ways that I think most Americans did not realize. We need to re-balance our economy where we can value labor a bit better, where our folks like our front-line workers, our caregivers, our teachers, those working in grocery stores, those driving our goods and products to market and to our ports, that we're valuing those jobs in ways that we haven't in the past. And I think that if we're creating better quality jobs, higher quality jobs, we're going to get to a place where the economy is going to work more effectively, where we won't have the types of supply chain challenges that we're having right now, and I think that our economy will grow significantly.

0:22:08.2 MB: It's just a wonderful array of activities that you're undertaking, just again, it expresses the vastness of what Commerce can do. I know in particular that, Secretary Graves, you've spent a lot of time in your career focused on supporting minority-owned businesses that have been shut out of the economy, and obviously the pandemic exacerbated those disparities even more. What kind of strategies have you guys been pursuing to try and address the needs of minority-owned businesses?

0:22:41.9 DG: There's a lot of things that we've been doing and that we're going to continue to do. I know that the SBA is trying to make sure that they are more effective at providing capital through to... Especially to minority businesses. We saw the challenges at the beginning of the pandemic in getting access to those funds, particularly the programs that the SBA was implementing in the previous administration, that those programs were not as effective as they could have been. So SBA in particular is looking at capital constraints, making more dollars available in ways that are more equitable.

0:23:26.5 DG: Also, Michael, as you know well, we had this wonderful program, which at the Treasury Department, called the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which was, I think, more effective at getting to minority communities, getting to businesses owned by minorities and women, more so than maybe other federal programs, and we have the opportunity now to sort of super-charge that program thanks to funding from the American Rescue Plan. So Treasury is working on that.

0:24:03.0 DG: One of the things that came with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that the President had touted and we got passed last month, was making an agency that's part of the Commerce Department, the Minority Business Development Agency, giving it statutory authority. It had been created out of an Executive Order and was continued every year as a result of that, but now it has statutory authority, it has the weight of law, and it gives us the ability to work with every federal government, really the Congressional imprimatur, to push those agencies to do more around contracting, around procurement, not just from the federal lens, but also when we put out dollars investing in communities, making sure that those dollars are effectively going to communities and to businesses all across the country, not just those that have traditionally been successful at getting those contracts. So it's a range of work that we're doing, but there's a whole lot more that we can do.

0:25:15.1 MB: Thanks very much. I want to switch gears and ask just a fun question. You and I shared a boyhood love of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, that many people probably haven't heard of, but I love. Could you talk a little bit about what it's like now to be overseeing that agency and the work it's doing?

0:25:40.3 DG: It is, that's a fun question, yeah. You and I both have geeked out about NOAA for a long time. What I don't think everyone fully appreciates with NOAA, if they've even heard about it, is the full range, the vastness of this wonderful bureau here at the Department. NOAA, in addition to looking at our oceans and our atmosphere, it has the best, the highest quality data on climate and climate impact in the entire federal government. The research that they do, the men and women of NOAA, is replete with things that I don't think anyone would know is available to the American public.

0:26:29.3 DG: One particular part of NOAA that really everyone deals with on a daily basis, and I bet they didn't know it was part of NOAA, is the National Weather Service. So in addition to providing your local meteorologist at your local news channel with the data that helps drive your local forecast, it's helping businesses make better decisions on weather, how to make better decisions on investments around climate. It's our NOAA corps, which is the commissioned officers that fly our hurricane hunters into the eyes of storms, people, our ships that do research all across the globe to make sure that we have a better understanding of our oceans and our climate.

0:27:28.5 DG: One of the things that we've been really focused on with NOAA is making sure that we are looking at these issues and the data with an equity lens, making sure that as we think about environmental justice, that we are providing the type of data and then solutions to deal with climate change from an environmental justice lens, that we're looking at finance-ready planning, that we're looking at the impact that our investments have with that type of a lens. We've had a number of grants that are very focused on this issue, I think that NOAA has put out just this past fall, $60 million to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities on education in that area, but we're also holding round tables across the country to look at, to talk with our community partners and to look at these issues.

0:28:33.3 DG: So I could go on and on, but as you said, NOAA had... You and I have a deep love for NOAA, and at some point I'm hoping, and maybe you can come with me, to get to our research station in Antarctica, for one. There's research stations all across the globe, but that one would, I think, be a particularly fun one to visit.

0:28:58.1 MB: That sounds pretty amazing. Secretary Graves, we're starting to get a lot of questions in from the audience, so I'm going to switch gears and begin to ask the audience questions. One of them is from your old friend Bill Bynum, who is on the line listening, and Bill is, for those who don't know, is the CEO of Hope Credit Union and affiliated organizations. And Bill is currently teaching at the Ford School as a Towsley Policymaker in Residence, and is just a wonderful colleague. So Bill has a question: Can you speak to the role of CDFIs in collaboration with your efforts at Commerce in advancing economic justice?

0:29:37.5 DG: Well, Bill, I'm glad to hear that you're on. Bill Bynum is a national treasure, and thank you for the question. As Bill knows, and Dean Barr knows, I've spent a good portion of my life working on, working with CDFIs, community development financial institutions, and they are absolutely critical to our ability to ensure that economic development, community development is inclusive, that we're focused on finding pathways to deliver credit and capital to communities that are often left behind. And it's something that we at Commerce are also very focused on.

0:30:24.5 DG: In fact, one part of our Department that I have not yet touched on, which is just as important as anything, is the Economic Development Administration, and EDA, it works with state and local economic development organizations and puts out just a ton of grants to support economic development. One of the things that we had coming out of the American rescue plan, $3 billion worth of grants focused on local communities, and part of our focus is a $1 billion Build Back Better regional challenge, where we're asking regions to apply for this funding to transform their local economies. And equity has to be at the core of it, and we've asked these organizations to make sure that they include CDFIs, because we know that CDFIs deliver for communities in ways that, frankly, other financial institutions aren't able in those hardest-hit and least-served communities.

0:31:32.0 DG: So we spend a lot of time thinking about CDFIs and partnering with CDFIs. And Bill, you know where I am on this, we're going to find new ways to partner with CDFIs across the country.

0:31:46.5 MB: I next have a student question. Secretary Graves, how do international trade and international relations factor into discussions of rebuilding an equitable economy?

0:32:00.5 DG: Really great question. And the thing about the Commerce Department is, I think I dare say we are the only department in the federal government that touches everything. So you've heard about our work domestically on economic issues domestically, we're also... Our Department focuses on international issues, foreign policy and national security, particularly our bureaus, the Bureau of Industry and Security, and the International Trade Administration.

0:32:34.2 DG: So that question is particularly important as we've seen what's happened over the last few years, the challenges around our supply chain, the retrenchment that we saw over the previous four years. We're rebuilding our relationships because we know that it creates great opportunity for our businesses that when we are engaged bilaterally and multi-laterally across the globe, it means that our people have the opportunity to innovate to drive economic growth, and that it's, again, broadly-based. So we're actually... You may have heard that President Biden is very focused on his Build Back Better World effort that is building on top of our Build Back Better strategy here in the United States.

0:33:35.0 DG: And that's an effort to work with our partners, the G7 in particular, to drive investment in the developing world, in low and middle income countries all across the globe, it's finding ways that we can help them invest in their infrastructure, build their economies in partnership with us, creating linkages, the International Trade Administration is doing this on a daily basis, linkages between our businesses, particularly our small and mid-sized enterprises with businesses in those countries. And the ITA on a daily basis does this work, not just abroad, but we have our centers here in the United States that create those direct linkages, our US Export Assistance Centers, the work that we're doing with Select USA to bring in foreign direct investment in the US, so we can rebuild our relationships around the globe, strengthen our relationships, lead with our values and principles, and do it in a way that actually makes our economy stronger for the long run.

0:34:47.8 MB: We've got another question from the audience. Combating systemic racism will require significant collaboration with the private sector. While there are obviously win-win scenarios that reduce systemic racism, there may be other ones that require tough trade-offs. How do you discuss these topics with the private sector?

0:35:07.5 DG: Well, this is the good thing. We have conversations with the private sector every day, and I'm empowered by the President, as is the Secretary, to be very frank and open with companies. There are a lot of things that we can do together and we're going to... As I said to the previous question, we're going to lead with our values and our principles, and we think that in the long run, the ability to remove those barriers and eliminate systemic racism will work out for the companies just as much as it does for our workforce.

0:35:53.0 DG: We also want to highlight those companies that are doing a good job. In fact, we're working with the Malcolm Baldrige team that does the Baldrige Awards, that focus on the best practices around innovation, corporate practices, to highlight those companies that are driving diversity and equity internally and with the work that they're doing. Of course, there are times where some companies are perhaps not doing the things that they should do and are operating illegally or otherwise, and of course, we leave it to the regulators and to our partners at the Department of Justice to do the things that they need to do, but we're really going to make sure that we promote the values of diversity, equity and inclusion, and it's something that it's pushing on a very open door so far, folks want to do the things that they can do internally.

0:37:01.6 DG: We've been working with the SEC, we've been working with the FTC about ways that we, again, lift up best practices, that we identify standards that the private sector can use to measure and evaluate what they're doing in terms of inclusion and their internal hiring practices, etcetera, and investments in smaller businesses, in minority businesses, all these sorts of efforts, I think, are making a difference, but there's going to be a lot more work that needs to be done on that front.

0:37:40.8 MB: Secretary Graves, you have another friend who's listening in. Carrie Dugan writes: What lessons from your work under President Obama in Detroit inform your approach in your current role?

0:37:52.2 DG: Well, that's a great question. Thanks for listening or watching, Carrie, another great graduate of the University of Michigan, go blue. The work that we did in Detroit, at least from the federal side, was ground-breaking, it was the culmination of what the Obama administration had been doing in smaller ways up until we got to Detroit, but you'll recall that... A lot of folks there I'm sure will recall, Detroit was going through the types of challenges that no American city had really seen before. There were a few other instances of bankruptcy, but for decades, it wasn't just the great recession, but for decades, Detroit had been having real challenges, losing 250,000 people over the course of a decade, the blighted homes, tens of thousands of blighted homes, I think it was 60-plus thousand blighted homes, the street lights, somewhere around 80,000 street lights were inoperative.

0:39:11.1 DG: Those are massive challenges for a city that had also lost a lot of its expertise. And what we were able to do in close partnership with the mayor, who's a dear friend, Mayor Duggan, and with leaders all across the city, was first off to listen. We learned that it was important not to come in with our prescription, but to understand what people wanted, what the community was saying, so we could address those challenges and find new solutions, but then to have a whole of government approach.

0:39:44.9 DG: And this is something that the President asked, then President Obama asked then Vice President Biden to lead these efforts. It was a whole of government approach, bringing all the different departments together to work collaboratively, and that's essentially what we're trying to do now. The President has done this with our infrastructure law, but in a range of different ways, we're taking a much more collaborative approach, because the American people don't think about necessarily the Census Bureau or the Minority Business Development Agency, or the Federal Highway Administration. They say, the federal government, what can you do for me? So we have to meet people where they are and deliver results to them with our expertise across all of government.

0:40:37.0 MB: Thanks very much. I know we're almost out of time. You've got a crazy busy schedule today. I thought I might ask one last question, really on behalf of our students, which is when you're thinking about where our students are when they're coming out of school, the perspective they might have, how can they navigate their own path towards advancing the public good?

0:41:02.0 DG: Well, I will try and give a brief answer, because this is something that's personal to me, because it's sort of driven my career. First off, I go back to that point of being connected to people and communities. You always have to... If you're doing a job in public service, public policy, you have to make sure that you're connected to people and communities you're purporting to serve. So that's at the core of this. The other thing is to remember that your career is going to take a lot of twists and turns. If you had told me even 15 years ago, 10 years ago, that I would be sitting here as the Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Commerce, I would tell you that you were smoking something.

0:41:56.5 DG: But you just never know which direction your life is going to go, and the key is making sure you hold on to your hopes and dreams and your principles. Don't ever give up your principles, even if you take a job that you think will not be directly affecting the things that you care the most about, remember that there are other ways to stay connected, you could serve on the board of an organization, you could volunteer in an area that really drives you, but you're going to find over the course of your career that opportunities will present themselves that you would never have imagined popping up, that will take you back to where you wanted to be at sort of at the center of who you are.

0:42:42.1 DG: And then something that a former boss of mine once said that has really driven me throughout my career, you have to have... And I should say this, it's a direct connection to the Commerce Department. My boss and I were friends with former Secretary Ron Brown, who unfortunately perished when his plane crashed in Europe almost 30 years ago now, and we were actually supposed to be on that trip, so it was sort of personal, and he was actually giving a speech to examiners at the Office of the Controller of the Currency that day, when we got the news. And he changed his entire speech around and he said to the examiners, he said, you have to have a sense of urgency about that which you are called to do, because life and times are tenuous.

0:43:39.6 DG: And it hit home, but over the course of my career, I didn't realize just how important that particular comment was, we never know how much time we're going to have on this earth, and so if you feel something, if you feel called to doing this work, make sure that you're finding ways to do it. Again, you don't have to have that as the core of whatever job you're doing, but make sure that you're finding other ways to do it, you're staying connected to those things that are most important to you, that drive who you are, that make up your core values, because you just never know if you're going to have from one day to another, you're going to have the chance to make any meaningful impact in that arena.

0:44:28.5 DG: So for me that's... If there's one takeaway, it's go get it, keep your values, your principles at the core of who you are, and remember that urgency.

0:44:42.2 MB: Thanks so much, Secretary Graves. Just a delightful conversation, a great way to end with personal and I think compelling advice. Thanks to all of us, all of you who are listening today to celebrate Martin Luther King Day with us here at the University of Michigan at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. And for everyone from the University of Michigan, go blue. Take care, Secretary Graves, thanks so much for being here today.

0:45:08.7 DG: Thank you, Dean Barr. Good to be here.