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Angela Vallot

Lawyer and corporate executive Angela Vallot was born on November 8, 1956 in Abbeville, Louisiana, to Irene Porche, a homemaker, and Peter Vallot, a teacher and entrepreneur. Vallot attended Mills College in Oakland, California, earning her B.A. degree in government in 1977. She went on to study at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington D.C., where she obtained her J.D. degree in 1980, after interning for E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, as well as for U.S. Representative Pete Stark, Jr.

In 1985, Vallot joined the law firm of Jones Day in Washington, D.C. as an associate attorney. She was hired as counsel to the law firm of Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn in 1990, where she served until 1997. During that time, Vallot also served on President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential transition team, as acting director of the Office of White House Liaison. After serving as director of stakeholder relations, Vallot was hired in 1997 by Texaco, Inc. to serve as the company’s first chief diversity officer, following the settlement of a $176 million racial discrimination lawsuit. During her tenure, she created and managed Texaco’s Office of Corporate Diversity Initiatives, chaired its Corporate Diversity Council, and managed the work of six regional Diversity Councils. Vallot also worked closely with the 7 member court-appointed Task Force on Equality and Fairness, and developed the company’s partnerships with civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and National Urban League. From 2001 to 2003, Vallot served in the position of chief diversity officer at Colgate-Palmolive, before leaving to found her own management consulting company, Vallot Consultants. The firm was renamed VallotKarp Consulting with the addition of her business partner, Mitchell Karp. Vallot has toured frequently as a public speaker and panelist on topics related to diversity and inclusion, women’s issues and career development.

In 2010, Vallot joined the steering board of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where she served as chair of the development committee and the annual National Equal Justice Award Dinner. She was a trustee of the Dance Theater of Harlem and served on the board of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. She also served on the board of trustees of the Sentinel Group Mutual Funds.

Vallot and her husband, James Basker, have two daughters, Anne and Katherine.

Angela Vallot was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 15, 2016.

Accession Number

A2016.096

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/15/2016

Last Name

Vallot

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Elizabeth

Schools

Our Lady of Lourdes School

Mount Carmel Elementary School

Vermilion Catholic High School

Abbeville High School

Mills College

Georgetown University Law Center

First Name

Angela

Birth City, State, Country

Abbeville

HM ID

VAL02

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Louisiana

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/8/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Fish, Pasta, Gumbo, Boudin

Short Description

Lawyer and corporate executive Angela Vallot (1956 - ) served on President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential transition team, as the first chief diversity officer at Texaco, Inc., and as chief diversity officer for Colgate-Palmolive. She founded VallotKarp Consulting in 2003.

Employment

Linowes and Blocher LLP

Jones Day

Arent Fox

D.C. Retirement Board

Sentil Group Funds

Texaco, Inc,

Colgate Palmolive Company

VallotKarp Consulting LLC

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Angela Vallot's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Angela Vallot lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Angela Vallot remembers her mother's death

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Angela Vallot talks about her mother's accomplishments

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Angela Vallot describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Angela Vallot talks about her Creole heritage, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Angela Vallot talks about her Creole heritage, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Angela Vallot describes her father's education and occupation

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Angela Vallot describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Angela Vallot talks about her early experiences of discrimination within the African American community

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Angela Vallot describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Angela Vallot describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Angela Vallot remembers integrating the Mount Carmel School in Abbeville, Louisiana, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Angela Vallot talks about her white stepmother

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Angela Vallot remembers integrating the Mount Carmel School in Abbeville, Louisiana, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Angela Vallot describes segregation in Abbeville, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Angela Vallot talks about her father's entrepreneurship

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Angela Vallot recalls transferring to Abbeville High School in Abbeville, Louisiana

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Angela Vallot remembers the race riot at Abbeville High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Angela Vallot remembers Mills College in Oakland, California

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Angela Vallot recalls her decision to become a lawyer

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Angela Vallot remembers her internship with U.S. Congressman Pete Stark

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Angela Vallot recalls helping her father lobby for minority businesses

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Angela Vallot remembers Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Angela Vallot recalls her classmates at the Georgetown University Law Center

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Angela Vallot talks about the African American community in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Angela Vallot recalls her internships during law school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Angela Vallot recalls her aspirations during law school

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Angela Vallot remembers practicing real estate law

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Angela Vallot recalls her transition to government relations at Arent Fox LLP

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Angela Vallot recalls the racial tensions in the real estate industry of Washington, D.C., pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Angela Vallot recalls the racial tensions in the real estate industry of Washington, D.C., pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Angela Vallot describes her governmental relations practice at Arent Fox LLP

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Angela Vallot talks about her role in President Bill Clinton's campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Angela Vallot talks about her civic engagement in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Angela Vallot describes her position in President Bill Clinton's transition team

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Angela Vallot remembers the death of Ron Brown and Kathryn Hoffman

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Angela Vallot recalls the discrimination lawsuit against Texaco, Inc., pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Angela Vallot recalls her transition to Texaco, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Angela Vallot recalls the discrimination lawsuit against Texaco, Inc., pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Angela Vallot describes her role at Texaco, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Angela Vallot recalls her speaking engagements for Texaco, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Angela Vallot talks about her children

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Angela Vallot talks about her transition to the Colgate Palmolive Company

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Angela Vallot remembers her challenges at the Colgate Palmolive Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Angela Vallot describes her decision to leave the Colgate Palmolive Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Angela Vallot remembers founding VallotKarp Consulting LLC

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Angela Vallot reflects upon the changes in corporate diversity practices

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Angela Vallot talks about her board work for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Angela Vallot talks about her daughter, Katherine Vallot-Basker

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Angela Vallot talks about her daughter's racial identity, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Angela Vallot talks about her daughter's racial identity, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Angela Vallot talks about her husband, James G. Basker

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Angela Vallot describes her husband's role in the Oxbridge Academic Programs

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Angela Vallot describes her husband's work at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York City

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Angela Vallot reflects upon her career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Angela Vallot reflects upon her life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Angela Vallot shares her advice to future generations

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Angela Vallot shares her advice to mixed race families

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$4

DAStory

1$9

DATitle
Angela Vallot recalls the racial tensions in the real estate industry of Washington, D.C., pt. 1
Angela Vallot recalls her transition to Texaco, Inc.
Transcript
So I'd like for you to, to talk about the dynamic between the big law firm with the big real estate company and the community and, and what those dynamics could sometimes look like, what, what you may have participated in?$$Yeah, so, you know, the agencies that we had to go before to get these approvals were predominantly black, but they were mixed so it was the redevelopment land agency [District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency], the zoning commission [District of Columbia Zoning Commission], the board of zoning approval [sic. District of Columbia Board of Zoning Adjustment] and, you know, again, there was people under white developers and unfortunately at the time, they were all white developers. There was one black developer who had, who had just started and had come into the business while I was still practicing. And actually we represented him, his name was Conrad Motts [ph.]. But, I was representing a white developer who was competing for a piece of city owned land that the city wanted to have redeveloped. And, there were four or five different developers all competing to get this. And you have to come in with your proposals, your architects, you know, the whole works of what you were gonna do. And, we were appearing before the redevelopment land agency, and it was a very, very contested, very heated case and it really got into some very ugly politics. And it was in the black community, so we had another--our law firm competitor was representing another developer. That's right, it was down to two developers my guy and then another guy who was represented by a competitor firm. But, it had gotten very, very ugly because it was an article that appeared in a Washington [D.C.] magazine and a Jewish developer was being interviewed and he was, he was a real estate developer and he made a very foolish statement. And the statement was they were talking to him about his attitudes or about developing these buildings and going into the black community. And he had this horrible, horrible quote that he said, "You can't put whipped cream on shit." This was published in a magazine. That was the quote.$$Who said this?$$A developer. He was a Jewish developer, I won't name names. He was the developer that was trying to--that was competing against my developer guy. So, my guy was Jewish, this guy was Jewish. It so happened that he was being interviewed for this Washington magazine and unfortunately, he made this unfortunate quote. So, I got ahold of that article and my--the, the black community that I was dealing with, you know, was in support of my guy. So, the night before the hearing I made copies of this article 'cause it was hot off the press. It had just come and I thought, oh, well, yeah, this is gonna seal my deal right here. I mean, how could you make a statement like that? So, the, the person who was head of the ANC, the advisory neighborhood council [sic. Advisory Neighborhood Commission], you know, they were sort of elected officials, black guy, he was also a, a, a minister, and he was my guy. He would help me with all my projects, so I told him about this article. So, they didn't have like copy machines and all that stuff so he said, "Angela [HistoryMaker Angela Vallot], copy it for me. Make copies and here's what I want you to say--," type up a flyer 'cause, again, he didn't have like a typewriter and all that stuff so I typed this up. It's late at night, I'm in my law firm [Jones Day] late and it's a flyer that says something like, we can't let this kind of stuff come into our community. And, you know, the quote was highlighted. "You can't put whipped cream on shit," referring to the black community. So, I walk into the hearing, he'd met me outside the building and I had the box and he passed out the flyers in the hearing. Oh, my god, this caused such chaos, and it became clear that I had made the copies. Well, they had to suspend the hearing because people were going crazy in the hearing once they saw what he said. So, you know, they, they--he guy's tapping the gavel. "Order! Order! Calm down," you know, and the other side is looking at me and they're glaring. So, things were suspended for a while and the other side ended up talking to my client about, you know, look at what's happening. They're pitting us, these two Jewish developers, against each other. And, they called the head of my law firm and he was furious that I had made copies and I said, I didn't write the story, I didn't make the statement. All I did was make copies because this guy didn't have a computer, I mean, a Xerox machine. He asked me to make copies. But, it, it, it, it caused a lot of tension. And the head of the real estate practice said to me, you should never, ever do something like this, I mean, that's like crossing the line. I'm like, "Look, I'm advocating for my client. This was a horrible statement, I didn't make the statement." But it got into this very ugly thing of sort of the Jewish community against the black community and it was just ugly. It was really ugly (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Even though he said it.$$You can't put whipped cream on shit.$$He was not--$What does that have to do with me? I was on the District of Columbia Retirement Board still at the time. So, Bijur [Peter Bijur] got invited to speak to the Council of Institutional Investors, it's the big umbrella industry organization to which all the pension funds belong--CalPERS [California Public Employees' Retirement System], CalSTRS [California State Teachers' Retirement System], NYSTRS [New York State Teachers' Retirement System], all of those--the big money. And they own, you know, millions and millions of dollars of Texaco [Texaco, Inc.] stock. So, he gets invited to come and be the keynote speaker and he's trying to calm his, you know, shareholders down to say--and literally he said, I'm the guy, I'm in charge, things are gonna change. By this time he had already settled the lawsuit and he was trying to convince people that he was gonna make radical change at Texaco. I was there and the woman who ran the Council of Institutional Investors by this time had sort of become a friend, and she invited me to a small dinner party that night for the CEO of Texaco and the CEO of--all the oil CEOs were there. And it was, you know, like maybe twelve people. And I sat next to him and I thought, okay, this is my big chance, I'm gonna get Texaco as a client, right? 'Cause I was always hustling, right. Everybody met, you know, it was like, you know, "I can help you." So, I said to him, you know, like, "Wow, I'm not surprised by any of this." I told him my, my dad's [Peter Vallot, Jr.] story of being in the oil industry and, you know, the nigger jokes at lunch and, we had a great conversation. I ended up flying back to New York [New York] with him that night on their company plane because by this time I had moved to New York. I had gotten married and my firm [Arent Fox LLP] transferred me to the New York office 'cause my husband [Vallot's second husband, James G. Basker] and I were commuting. So, we had agreed after the plane ride back, and he had some of his other staff people on the plane, that we would stay in touch and, you know, I'd come to see him about the possibility of doing some work for Texaco. So, he set up a meeting, I went in and met all of the top leadership of the company, and at a certain point he said to me, you know, "You have a really interesting background. Instead of representing us, you know, would you ever consider coming to work for us?" And, I said, "No, I, I wouldn't, I don't think I would." I said, "You know, Texaco's got a really bad reputation. Most of my friends have torn up their credit cards, like, you, you need serious help. But, I, I will represent you on the outside but I--no, I wouldn't wanna go to work for you." So, that was sort of the beginning of a conversation that, you know, took place over the next few months. Ultimately, I went to work for Texaco. And, Peter wanted me to head diversity and, you know, at first I said, "No, no way. Why? I'm the black woman, you're gonna hire me to run diversity because I'm a black woman," you know. I, I don't know anything about diversity. I had been my firm's co-chair of diversity and I said, you know, "Obviously, it's something I'm passionate about but I'm not an expert. Why don't you hire somebody who's an expert in the field?" And he said to me, "You know everything you need to know and you'll learn the rest. I want you to do this job." I remember being sort of startled by that and, and I, I took the job. So, I, I started and built the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and I had a team of I think four people. And we worked very closely with this court appointed taskforce, which at the time was headed by Deval Patrick [HistoryMaker Deval L. Patrick] and then later Deval was hired to become the general counsel of Texaco.$$So, was there a diversity department before you arrived?$$There was HR [human resources] and there was somebody--there was not an HR--a diversity department but there was a guy there who was focused on diversity. So, you know, to some extent Texaco felt very burned by what happened, because after--I think after the suit was filed I think they had started to really focus on--all right, we need to do something about this 'cause we do have this lawsuit pending. So, I think they felt very burned by this whole thing 'cause they felt like they were doing things. But they hadn't made it the priority that it became, obviously, after the settlement of the lawsuit. And it was, you know, it was unfortunate that these two idiotic people, you know, had that conversation and, you know, the fact that it was recorded.