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J. Veronica Biggins

Corporate executive and presidential appointee J. Veronica Biggins was born on October 19, 1946 in Belmont, North Carolina to Jacqueline McDonald and university professor Andrew Williams. Her father, also a tennis professional, and a family friend funded several of the early tennis ventures of tennis legend, Arthur Ashe. Biggins and her two brothers attended Catholic schools during their formative years. They also spent two years of elementary school in Indonesia. Biggins went on to receive her B.S. degree from Spelman College and her M.A. degree from Georgia State University.

Biggins entered the business world as a management trainee at NationsBank, formerly The Citizens Southern Bank and now Bank of America. She received several promotions and was one of the highest-ranking females in banking in the country when she left the industry as Executive Vice President for Corporate Community Relations. In 1994, Biggins became Assistant to the President of the United States and Director of Presidential Personnel under William Jefferson Clinton. Her responsibilities included the placement of agency heads, ambassadors and members of the presidential boards and commissions. During the fourth world conference on women of the United Nations in 1995, Biggins served as Vice Chairman of the United States Delegation in Beijing, China. She later served as a Senior Partner at Heidrick & Struggles, an international executive consulting firm, and then as Managing Partner of Diversified Search in Atlanta, Georgia.

Biggins has served on the boards of AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines, Avnet, NDC Health, the Georgia Research Alliance, the Woodruff Arts Center, the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Downtown Atlanta Rotary and the International Aids Fund. She was also a fellow of Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative, and has served as Chairman of the Czech Slovak American Enterprise Fund and the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Global Board of Visitors. Biggins received a Points of Light award from President George Walker Bush and has been named to the Georgia State University Business Hall of Fame.

J. Veronica Biggins was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 14, 2006 and June 19, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.016

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/14/2006 |and| 6/19/2006

Last Name

Biggins

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Veronica

Schools

Our Lady Of The Miraculous Medal School

Notre Dame High School

Dudley High School

Spelman College

First Name

J.

Birth City, State, Country

Belmont

HM ID

BIG01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Beaches

Favorite Quote

Be Clear.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

10/19/1946

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Popcorn, Peanuts

Short Description

Corporate executive and presidential appointee J. Veronica Biggins (1946 - ) worked for Bank of America and was one of the highest-ranking women in banking when she left the industry. She also served as Director of Presidential Personnel for President Bill Clinton.

Employment

The Citizens and Southern National Bank

The Citizens and Southern Corporation

Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc.

President Bill Clinton's Administration

Favorite Color

Black, Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of J. Veronica Biggins' interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her father, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her father, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her father's passion for tennis

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her mother's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her mother's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her mother's family background, pt. 3

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her maternal family background, pt. 4

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her paternal grandparents, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her paternal grandparents, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers the house her father built for his parents

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her earliest childhood memories, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her earliest childhood memories, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins describes community gatherings in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers her early educational experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins describes the segregated community of Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her growing consciousness of civil rights

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about her older brother's law career

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal School

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her childhood personality

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls what she learned from living in Indonesia

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her time in Jakarta, Indonesia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about her transition to a public high school

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls moving to Benbow Park in Greensboro, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers Greensboro's James B. Dudley High School, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers Greensboro's James B. Dudley High School, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls her cotillion debut

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls placing second in the Jabba Walk

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers her piano lessons

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers her decision to attend Spelman College

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers Spelman College, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins remembers Spelman College, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about Dr. Michael Lomax

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - J. Veronic Biggins recalls her graduate studies at Atlanta's Georgia State University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her time in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls living in Washington, D.C. during the Watergate scandal

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls moving from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her foray into banking in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Slating of J. Veronica Biggins' interview, session 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls beginning her career with The Citizens and Southern National Bank

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls working as a branch manager at The Citizens and Southern National Bank of Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her experience of discrimination at The Citizens and Southern National Bank of Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins explains how studying psychology prepared her for banking

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her community in Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her career at The Citizens and Southern National Bank of Georgia

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls working in human resources for The Citizens and Southern Corporation

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about the banking industry in the late 20th century

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls The Citizens and Southern National Bank of Georgia's commitment to fairness

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins recounts The Citizens and Southern National Bank of Georgia's real estate debacle

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about change management

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls instituting a non-smoking policy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins describes The Citizens and Southern National Bank of Georgia's maternity policy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls programs that she implemented at The Citizens and Southern Corporation

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls her organizational involvement in the banking industry

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her career as head of human resources

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her role as executive vice president of human resources

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls the impact of the NationsBank Corporation merger

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins describes NationsBank Corporation's community involvement

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about Atlanta, Georgia

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls meeting the Clintons on Hilton Head Island

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls her appointment to President Bill Clinton's administration

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her work as director of presidential personnel, pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her time in Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her work as director of presidential personnel, pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her time in Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls meeting Nelson Mandela and her White House protocol training

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls being recruited to Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins recalls being recruited to Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her early career at Heidrick & Struggles International Inc.

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins describes the executive search process, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins describes the executive search process, pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her corporate board memberships

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins describes the impact of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - J. Veronica Biggins talks about the recruitment of minorities to corporate boards

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her life, pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her life, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her marriage and her daughters

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her life, pt. 3

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - J. Veronica Biggins describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - J. Veronica Biggins reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - J. Veronica Biggins narrates her photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - J. Veronica Biggins narrates her photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$8

DAStory

2$10

DATitle
J. Veronica Biggins describes her growing consciousness of civil rights
J. Veronica Biggins recalls meeting Nelson Mandela and her White House protocol training
Transcript
The schools were integrated when my younger brother [Warren Williams] was in high school. My younger brother was one of the first to go to an integrated high school in North Carolina. And, let me remember, my younger brother was born in '54 [1954].$$Okay.$$So, I mean, you think about (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Brown versus the Board of Education [Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 1954], right?$$--you know, Brown versus the Board of Education, you know, I remember the discussion that my parents [Jacqueline McDonald Williams and Andrew Williams] had about that. I remember, you know, driving to Gas--you know, voting, my parents voting in Greensboro, North Carolina, and then us driving to Gastonia, North Carolina to take my grandmother to the polls to vote. You know, that, you know, you had to get there early and then you had to get to Gastonia. It was a--it was quite a thing, I mean, you know, the back and forth conversations. And, for some reason I remember being, just you know, feeling, like, is something bad gonna happen because it was so much, you know, discussion about all of this. And, you know, having, you know, spent this two years out of the country in Indonesia. You know, where there all brown people and you know, everybody, you know, all, you know, brown folks were in charge. And, then, you know, to really--I think maybe before I left, I hadn't thought about in the way I thought about it when I came back. You know 'cause it was just a real, you know, I'm grown up, you know, I'm grown now, you know, not grown, but, you know, older and very conscious (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, refresh us. How old were you when you went to Indonesia again?$$I would have been--it would have been the fifth and sixth grade for me.$$Okay. So, that would've been early '50s [1950s]--$$Yeah.$$Fifty what, is it '51 [1951], '52 [1952] or somewhere around--?$$In that time frame.$$Frame, okay.$$Yeah. That's exactly right. So, I mean, yeah, I mean, you knew, but remember, you know, here you have this community that's up to, you know, all into protecting the children and providing this, this something, you didn't go downtown that often, you know. Didn't have any money, that's part of why you didn't go downtown, you didn't have any money. But, you didn't go to the movies downtown, you went to the college, you know, you went over to the college and, you know, saw movies on campus. And, then, I remember one night my brother was out, my father had come home from--they'd had a big rally on A&T's [Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina] campus, and my, you know, father was very much involved in that. My father came home and asked my mother, you know, where my brother--had he gotten there or something. So, she hadn't heard. And, then they got a call that he'd been arrested, you know, for the sit--you know, for, for marching. And, my brother and the Julian Street [Greensboro, North Carolina] crowd basically, you know, all went, they went to jail.$How did Heidrick & Struggles [Heidrick & Struggles International Inc.], did it come out of, out of, you know, coming back?$$Yeah. But, you know, Pat Pittard [Patrick S. Pittard], and I'll go back to that. But, you know I wanna mention one thing (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Pat Pittard?$$--that happened at the White House [Washington, D.C.]. I was the White House representative when--at the airport [Washington National Airport; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Washington, D.C.] when Nelson Mandela landed for the first time in Washington [D.C.]. That to me--now, talk about life experiences, I probably, I mean, I just, it was, I had the, it was just great. I mean, just to--I went to the, and I, even though I went to several state dinners, what do I remember the most? I remember the state dinner that they did for Nelson Mandela. Everybody's in black tie. He had on a suit because he didn't own black tie, and I thought, isn't this fabulous. He was--it was just a defining moment I think for everyone. People, people were in awe. I mean, and people have seen--had seen a lot of people; Nelson Mandela was the--he was a showstopper by far. Just his demeanor. His, you know, taking the moment to speak to the janitors, he come in the door, I mean, you know, it was just, I mean, now, this man, it was just, it was a--really truly defining moment to have him, without a doubt. So, I wanted to not, not miss that (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) So, you were in charge of per- you said--$$No, no. I was the--the White House would have different people for certain things and they would ask, you know, you know, they'd be a little contingency that would, you know, be there. And, I was, and I was the White House person when Nelson Mandela landed in Washington, D.C. to meet that plane and there with the folks from the state department [U.S. Department of State] and others, too, so, really phenomenal.$$So, did you learn a lot about protocol? You know, they--$$Oh, my good--yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I learned--I had a whole group--$$Do they have protocol training?$$Yeah. Yeah. But, I also had a group as part of the personnel group that--I had a group that reported to me that answered--I cannot tell you how many letters we got related to hired--being hired at the White House. And, we wrote the most, it was very good. The thoughtfulness of the letters that went back out to people about appreciation. And, you know, that showed great respect for the individual and, and you know, making sure just the correct, you know, how do you address individuals, all those kinds of things, really well done. Really well done.