Recent Hall Speakers and Friends of RL Nominated Among Biden’s Top Advisors
Roxbury Latin is honored each year to host an impressive range of guest speakers—expert and accomplished leaders, thinkers, researchers, artists, and public servants—who present to the boys and faculty on a broad range of topics. Three recent Hall speakers and friends of Roxbury Latin—Gina McCarthy, Lisa Monaco, and Marty Walsh—have been tapped for close advisor roles and cabinet positions in President Joe Biden’s administration.
The Honorable Gina McCarthy—former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under President Obama—spoke to students and faculty in Hall on November 13, 2017, delivering the keynote address in the year’s Smith Scholar series focused on global climate change. On campus, she discussed her work in the Obama administration, offering her assessment of their accomplishments, the importance of the Paris Climate Accords, and the changes that could come with the Trump Presidency. She was generous with her time, spending another hour speaking to and inspiring seniors who were taking the Environmental Science course that year.
“Climate change isn’t just a threat to public health—it’s not about polar bears. It’s about you, your health, the health of your children,” said Ms. McCarthy, identifying the economic threat as well: The stronger and more frequent storms in the Caribbean and the fires in the west call for billions of off-budget dollars that aren’t allocated. “The reason people are accepting the science of climate change is because they are feeling it,” she asserted. Ms. McCarthy currently leads the National Resources Defense Council. In her new role she will serve as a senior adviser to Biden, coordinating climate change policy throughout the government. She will be the stateside counterpart to John Kerry, who will serve as the administration’s international climate envoy.
Lisa Monaco—who was serving as Homeland Security Advisor to President Obama at the time—delivered Roxbury Latin’s Jarvis International Lecture on October 17, 2016. Ms. Monaco is an alumna of our neighboring Winsor School, and she has recently been nominated as Deputy Attorney General to the Biden administration.
In Hall, Ms. Monaco described not only her role as President Obama’s advisor—working with the President and the rest of the National Security Team to help keep the country safe—but also her own public service journey, which began soon after college when she worked in the Senate on the Judiciary Committee under then-chairman, Joe Biden. “I got bitten by the public service bug,” she explained. In closing, she implored RL students to pursue a career in public service. “Public service needs you,” she said. “Yes, RL was founded under the reign of King Charles and is the oldest school in the United States, and it is steeped in wonderful traditions, but it’s also preparing you for 21st-century challenges. In the coming years, our government, our nation, and our world will need people who can understand and operate in a fast-paced and wired world while remaining grounded in our enduring values… What John Eliot called ‘godly citizenship’ three and one-half centuries ago, is needed now, more than ever. And when I look around this room, when I think about the skills and smarts in this hall, I am confident that whatever challenges come in the decades ahead, your generation will rise to meet them.”
Finally, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh delivered RL’s Founder’s Day keynote address in 2014, when he spoke to students about persisting through struggles, and focusing on opportunities, by way of his own, personal story. “As a young person, I took a lot of lefts and rights where I should have gone straight,” he said. By his late 20s he acknowledged his trouble with alcohol and went into rehab. “Everyone in this room knows someone who is struggling. Sometimes life is not a straight line. I had loving friends and family to help me take the right path.” Mr. Walsh reminded students that they will encounter challenges and be faced with choices. He admonished the boys to follow their dreams, and listen to that inner voice, and especially to recognize the tremendous opportunities before them. On January 20, 2017, Mayor Walsh also led the ceremonial puck drop, commemorating the grand opening of RL’s Indoor Athletic Facility and inaugural home game hosted in Hennessy Rink. He spoke from center ice prior to the game, to the hundreds of RL fans in attendance, congratulating Headmaster Brennan and the school’s leadership for building a beautiful facility that would be used by Roxbury Latin athletes and neighborhood youth groups alike. Mayor Walsh has been nominated to become the President’s Labor Secretary.