Michael Ponto (’89) Chosen for Diversity in Business Award
JULY 16, 2012—Faegre Baker Daniels partner Michael A. Ponto (’89) was among the honorees when the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal presented its Diversity in Business Award to top corporate leaders at a ceremony at the Westin Galleria, Edina, Minn., on July 12, 2012. The award celebrates the breadth of the Twin Cities business community and promotes diversity of race, sexual orientation, disability, and military service. Recipients are selected for contributions to their company, industry, and community.
Ponto's history of diversity leadership at Faegre has ranged "from voicing support for a more inclusive working environment to serving on firm committees to offering lawyer training and mentoring on the issue," says the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal's profile of Ponto.
In July 2011 Ponto led a team, in collaboration with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, in filing action in federal court on behalf of five students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District who were targets of harassment. On March 6, 2012, a settlement was announced that included a consent decree requiring implementation of new protections from harassment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and gender non-conforming students. This groundbreaking settlement provides a national model for advocacy on behalf of LGBT students.
Ponto serves on Faegre's new Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group, which oversees diversity policies and strategies. As a member of the firm's Diversity Committee (2000-08), he helped write Faegre's Strategic Diversity Plan, and during his tenure as chair of the committee, the firm received the Thomas L. Sager Award from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association for sustained commitment to improving hiring, retention, and promotion of minority attorneys. In 2009, as an officer of the Faegre Baker Daniels Foundation, Ponto supervised endowment of a scholarship fund in the firm's name to enhance the Law School's ability to recruit a student population that reflects the diversity of the greater population.