At its 25th birthday celebration, the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC) honored Chairman Henry Rivera and his quarter century of service to the organization.
As one of the original founders, the Honorable Henry Rivera was certainly due for some sort of celebration. And last week, he got it.
Held at the law firm of Wiley Rein LLP (of which Mr. Rivera is a partner), Monday’s early-evening surprise party celebrated MMTC’s 25th birthday and Rivera’s 25 years of remarkable service to the organization.
On January 1st, former FCC Commissioner Rivera will relinquish his position as MMTC Chair, taking the title of Chair Emeritus for the year 2012. MMTC has elected Hon. Julia Johnson, former chair of the Florida Public Service Commission, to succeed him.
Although Rivera will become less involved in the operations of MMTC, another former FCC Commissioner will remain close to the chairmanship, as Deborah Taylor Tate has been named a vice chair of MMTC.
Rivera will vacate his post with much fanfare and well-earned admiration. But his quarter-century of dedicated service as Chair of MMTC is only part of the story.
Rivera became the first Hispanic FCC Commissioner after being nominated by President Reagan in 1981. He has served as the President of the Federal Communications Bar Association (FCBA) and he continues to hold a seat on the FCBA Foundation Board of Trustees. In 2008, Rivera co-chaired President Obama’s FCC Science Transition team.
Art Brodsky, the Communications Director at public interest group Public Knowledge, has described Rivera as “one of the best FCC commissioners ever.”
Last week’s festivities, which included speeches from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, FCC Robert Commissioner McDowell, and a host of former commissioners, paid tribute to MMTC’s twenty-five years of championing diversity and equal opportunity in the telecommunications industry—an effort that wouldn’t have been possible without the superb volunteer undertaking of Henry Rivera.
Rivera’s accomplishments as a lawyer are many: he has served, advised, and represented clients in a variety of telecommunications transactions and proceedings for over 38 years. But his impressive successes in the private sector pale in comparison to his charitable achievements.
Rivera has led or served on the boards of numerous charitable organizations, including the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, the National Archives Foundation, the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, the Emma Bowen Foundation for Minority Interests in Media, and the FCBA Foundation. Rivera’s ability to summon the kind of energy he’s given MMTC for 25 years is nothing short of extraordinary.
Among all the speakers at Monday’s event, one theme stood out: their admiration for Rivera’s hard work, sacrifice, and selfless public service. Never once did Rivera rest on his laurels. “He spent twenty five years in this space, contributing, advocating, working for diversity, and working for all of us in this community,” said Commissioner Clyburn.
MMTC shared the billing with Rivera on its 25th birthday, and there is no doubt that the organization has plenty to be proud of in its own right: The end of 2011 marks another year of progress in the fight to bridge the digital divide. 2012 will offer MMTC the opportunity to overcome many more obstacles.
No one understands this better than David Honig, who will remain MMTC’s president. “Although we’ve accomplished so much, we all understand that there is still much to be done,” he said.
Rivera also knows that more work always awaits. Nearly forty years of public service allows that knowledge. But he thanked the MMTC staff for the great strides that have been made. “Thank you for the hard work pushing a rock up a hill,” he said, “but we’ve got to keep on doing that.”