Toward a More Perfect Union: Reckoning With the Past, Naming the Future
May 20 @ 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm
Moderated by Michele Minter, Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
- John Milton Cooper, Jr. ’61, Gordon Fox Professor of American Institutions, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emeritus
- Edmund H. Driggs ’71, City of Charlotte, NC Councilman, District 7 Representative
- Patricia Irvin ’76, President, Jenore Properties
- Lasagne “L” Wilhite ’96, Director, Office of Employee Advocacy, U.S. House of Representatives
- Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06, Associate Professor of Classics, Princeton University
About the Moderator
Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity
Michele Minter became Princeton University’s vice provost for institutional equity and diversity in 2011. In this role, she manages the University’s initiatives focused on diversity, inclusion and educational access for all campus populations and serves as chief compliance officer for Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act. From 2008 to 2011, Michele served as vice president for development at the College Board, where she led fundraising and strategic initiatives focused on educational policy and college access. Until 2008, she served as director of development and campaign director at Princeton University, where she managed the University’s annual fundraising efforts and comprehensive campaign. A Yale graduate, Minter earned an MFA from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. She serves on the board of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and has held leadership roles for Isles, Inc.; Indiana University’s Women’s Philanthropy Institute; and the Princeton Area Community Foundation’s Fund for Women and Girls.
About the Panelists
John Milton Cooper, Jr. ’61
Gordon Fox Professor of American Institutions, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emeritus
John Milton Cooper, Jr. ’61 spent 47 years teaching U.S. history, first at Wellesley and then at Wisconsin. He wrote six books in which Woodrow Wilson was featured prominently, including a comparative biography of him and Theodore Roosevelt and a full biography (Pulitzer Prize finalist). John also served on the Editorial Advisory Committee to the Papers of Woodrow Wilson, edited by Arthur Link, and was Chief Historian to the PBS-American Experience television biography of Wilson, which aired in 2002. He now splits his time between Maine, where he looks at the water, and Washington D.C., where he looks at the Cathedral (Wilson’s burial place).
Edmund H. Driggs ’71
City of Charlotte, NC Councilman, District 7 Representative
During his career at major financial institutions, Edmund H. Driggs ’71 specialized in arranging financings and securities offerings for corporate clients and advising them on strategic transactions. After retiring in 2001, he moved to South Charlotte with his wife Caroline and their two children, who are both CMS graduates. Since moving to Charlotte, Edmund’s community service has included service on the boards of WTVI and Communities in Schools, as well as on the President’s Council at Central Piedmont Community College. His volunteer activities have including tutoring students at EE Waddell High School, assisting at the Classroom Central distribution center, and giving classes in economics and personal finance at CMS schools and CPCC. He joined the Charlotte Rotary Club in 2004 and has been recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow for his donations to the Rotary International Foundation.
Patricia Irvin ’76
President, Jenore Properties
Pat Irvin ’76 is corporate lawyer who was a partner at the Wall Street law firm, Milbank, Tweed; served in a policy position at the Pentagon in the Clinton administration; was vice president of operations at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and held various other legal and executive positions in business and nonprofits. Currently, she is a real estate investor. Her civic activities have ranged from fundraising for democratic candidates to service on the boards of Princeton University, the Association of Black Princeton Alumni, the Legal Aid Society, U.S. Committee for Refugees, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Pat was also a member of the transition teams for President Clinton and New York Mayor Dinkins. Volunteer mentoring of young African American professionals, who find her by word of mouth, is now one of Pat’s most important activities. She lives in Manhattan and New Jersey with her husband, Wendell Lancaster, and rescue dogs, Molly and Layla. She obtained her law degree at Harvard Law School.
Lasagne (“L”) Wilhite ’96
Director, Office of Employee Advocacy, U.S. House of Representatives
Lasagne (“L”) Wilhite ’96 serves the U.S. House of Representatives as the director of the Office of Employee Advocacy, a legal office dedicated to assisting House employees with their civil and other statutory rights in the workplace. L is a proud public servant, having served in all three branches of federal government. Chosen by the House to build and oversee the first complainant-side legal office in Congress, L manages an in-house office for employees that may be the first of its kind in the country. She began her legal career with two judicial clerkships, followed by several years in national private law firms building her skills related to statutory and regulatory operations. L then served as litigation and administrative counsel, as well as supervisory attorney, in the Department of Justice (DEA) and the Department of the Interior. Her federal agency practices focused on employment, labor, and constitutional rights cases. With more than 20 years of legal experience addressing discrimination, harassment, retaliation and statutory rights matters, L understands the value that diverse experiences and ideals bring to every environment and platform. In addition to her professional endeavors, she supports social and political action to promote transformative change, including through her membership in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She is also an avid supporter of charities focused on issues of child health and hunger.
Dan-el Padilla Peralta ’06
Associate Professor of Classics, Princeton University
Dan-el Padilla Peralta is associate professor of classics at Princeton University, where he is affiliated with the Programs in Latino Studies and Latin American Studies and the University Center for Human Values. A Dominican by birth and New Yorker by upbringing, he holds degrees from Princeton, Oxford and Stanford. He is the author of “Undocumented: A Dominican Boy’s Odyssey from a Homeless Shelter to the Ivy League” (Penguin 2015) and “Divine Institutions: Religions and Community in the Middle Roman Republic” (PUP 2020); and he has co-edited “Rome, Empire of Plunder: The Dynamics of Cultural Appropriation” (CUP 2017). His current projects include a co-authored study of 338 BCE and the origins of Roman imperialism (under contract with HUP), “A People’s History of Rome” (under contract with PUP), a co-edited volume on new approaches to the Middle Roman Republic, and a co-authored book-length essay on race and racism in the disciplinary identity of Classics.