For Immediate Release
April 5, 2010

New York, NY –Assistant Secretary for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) at the U.S. Department of Labor, Ray Jefferson, will address graduates of the Columbia University School of Social Work (CUSSW) at their commencement ceremony on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. 
The ceremony will be held in Levien Gymnasium at 3:00pm.

“We are honored to have Assistant Secretary Jefferson as our commencement speaker for this year’s ceremony,” said Dean Jeanette Takamura. “Our nation has become increasingly aware of the heroic contributions of our veterans toward ensuring that our security is assured.  At the same time, we know that many members of our Armed Forces return home injured, disabled, and disconnected from the lives they once lead in their home and adopted communities. Social workers serve veterans and are striving to help our nation honor our commitment to them. This commitment has been passionately articulated by First Lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of the Veterans Administration Eric Shinseki. Assistant Secretary Jefferson recognizes the critical role that social workers play in the lives of veterans. We are pleased that he will join us on May 18th.”

Mr. Jefferson has extensive experience and expertise in the fields of leadership development and labor. In his position at VETS, he works to provide veterans and members of the service with the resources and services to succeed in the 21st century workforce by maximizing their employment opportunities, protecting their employment rights, and meeting labor-market demands with qualified veterans. Prior to being appointed as Assistant Secretary for the VETS by President Barack Obama, he served as a leadership consultant with McKinsey & Company in Singapore where he created and delivered leadership training and development programs for clients and offices throughout Asia.  His focal areas were organizational change, inspirational leadership, top team development and peak performance. 

Mr. Jefferson graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a major in leadership.  He served as an Army Officer with the Infantry, Rangers and Special Forces, with leadership positions in the U.S. Presidential Honor Guard, 3rd Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group.  After serving in the Army, Mr. Jefferson earned an MPA in strategic management from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and later an MBA from Harvard Business School. Upon graduation, he was selected as a White House Fellow and worked as a Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and then served as a Fulbright Fellow in Singapore, where he studied leadership within Asian contexts.  Later, he served as the Deputy Director for the State of Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), where he co-led its organizational transformation.

Mr. Jefferson was selected by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell as one of the two inaugural recipients of the Harrison H. Schmitt Fulbright Alumni Leadership Award for dedication to public service.  He is a member of the Asia Society, the Fulbright Association, the NAACP and the Special Forces Association.

The CUSSW commencement ceremony will be held at 3:00pm in Levien Gymnasium. The Columbia University commencement exercises will be held from 10:30am to 12:00pm in front of Low Memorial Library on Tuesday, May 18, 2010. For more information, please visit http://www.commencement.columbia.edu or contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or jy2223@columbia.edu.

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