Philip A. Berry, 2003 Graduation Commencement Speaker

May 1, 2003 @ 4:00 am

Mr. Philip A. Berry, a 1975 graduate of the Columbia School of Social Work, was welcomed back to his alma mater on Wednesday May 21st when he delivered the commencement address at the School’s 2003 graduationceremony. With over 25 years of experience in all areas of humanresources, Mr. Berry’s exemplary leadership in corporate human resourceshas won him industry-wide praise for creating a positive work environment.As Vice President of Global Workplace Initiatives at Colgate-Palmolive, Mr. Berry’s work has resulted inhis company being named one of the top places to work by Fortune, WorkingMothers and Latinas Style magazines. Berry, who has led global humanresources teams from Latin America to Europe, credits the Columbia Schoolof Social Work with giving him “the critical skills and valuesthat provided the foundation for my effectiveness with people issues.”

Berry, an African-American, was named one of the “100 Most Powerful Minority Business Leaders in New York” by Crain’s Business magazine inApril of this year. But Berry’s influence reaches far beyond thecorporate sector. He has also been singled out as a leader ineducation reform. In 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed Berry to the”New Board of Education” where he is helping shape the city’s educationpolicy of the future.

Berry believes that today’s social issue—from AIDS to infantmortality—are a call to action for the modern social worker. “The time isright for social workers to take a leading role in helping to developsolutions to these problems,” says Berry. He believes that socialworkers, with their “innate sensitivity,” their academic training, theirability to work on all levels, utilizing evidence, are uniquely qualifiedto battle what are “not just domestic issues, but global issues.”

“The Columbia School of Social Work is a world class organization with aglobal perspective,” says Berry. “It comes up with viable approaches todealing with global problems and cultivates the necessary skills andabilities in its students.”