Theo Miller Talks About Unlocking the Doors of Opportunity

Theodore Miller

Theodore Miller

This month we are profiling Diversity Pipeline Programs Advisory Committee member Theodore Miller. As senior policy advisor for the City and County of San Francisco, Miller directs a cross-agency initiative to strengthen diversity and advance equity for disproportionately impacted communities of the city, with a particular focus on reversing the outmigration of African Americans from San Francisco. Read below for Miller’s thoughts on various subjects.

Advice to New Attorneys

Buddy up and seek out older attorneys. The wise ones. Compassionate ones. Ones comfortable in their skin. Ones that have failed and made mistakes, but are still here. Ones that laugh and smile at themselves in their older age. And ones that give a lot more than they take. If they’ve made it that far and done that much, they’d be interested in you too. Old and good mentors are diamonds that never fade.

Giving Back

With the privileges and options that I’ve had as an African American male in this social system of such persistent inequality and differential outcomes, how could I live my life otherwise? This is not a liberal or a conservative thing, either. I was raised on the backs of far too many who bled, sacrificed, and died, for me to not give back without any expectation of a return. I have little interest in folks with more narcissistic orientations, irrespective of their politics.

Why I Am Involved

BASF’s institutional strength and capacity for growth presents a significant opportunity for those of us interested in advancing diversity, equity and inclusion. Professionally, having a voice at this level of leadership in one of the very few well-funded and well positioned professional organizations is a no-brainer. Personally, I believe those with the capacity and voice have an obligation to sit at these leadership tables. The bigger the table, the better the possibilities. We can act and unlock doors of opportunity, or we can standby passively during these times where the profession appears decreasingly diverse, and so many folks of color throughout our region appear left and locked out of this “rising tide” of innovation, economic opportunity, and social and educational mobility. I’m hunting for allies.

Resources

The City and County of San Francisco, where I work, has a nearly $8 billion annual budget, and effectively will oversee an additional $20 billion in capital investments over the next 10 years. The scale of resources and opportunities in the pipeline is gargantuan, including with respect to legal services. My vision is to make sure that our professional services and our partners service disenfranchised communities and properly reflect our city’s historic values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Resources should go to those partners that maintain a commitment to diversity and are actually producing something the city can stand behind.

Learn more: To learn more about the Diversity Pipeline programs, or to get involved with the work of this advisary committee, email Jareem Gunter at jgunter@sfbar.org.