Catholic University law school alumna S. Jenell Trigg, Class of 1997, (above left) was honored with the Donald H. McGannon Award on Sept. 25 “in recognition of her work to promote opportunities in telecommunications media for women and persons of color.”
The award was presented by The United Church of Christ’s Office of Communication Inc., as part of its 30th Annual Everett C. Parker Ethics in Telecommunications Lecture and Breakfast held in downtown Washington, D.C.
Trigg, chair of the Intellectual Property and New Media and Technology Practice Group of the law firm of Lerman Senter PLLC, is widely known for representing media and telecommunications companies owned and operated by minorities, helping them to succeed in the highly competitive telecommunications and media industries. For example, she was a principal in the legal team that successfully petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to vacate FCC rules that would have seriously hindered the ability of small and minority-owned and women-owned new entrants to successfully participate in FCC auctions for wireless spectrum.
"I am very honored but also humbled by this wonderful recognition because it verifies that women and minority ownership in the media and telecommunications industries remains an important objective for this country and that my dedication to fulfilling this objective has made a difference," says Trigg.
In her acceptance remarks, Trigg also recalled her nervousness about starting law school after pursuing a career in broadcasting. Her determination to forge ahead was clinched after hearing for the first time a story about her grandmother, Lucy Carrington Cooke. Cooke fought segregation by challenging policies that prevented the school bus from travelling an extra three miles to pick up young African-American children.
"The historical absence of diversity in communications was one of the reasons I transitioned from a successful sales and marketing career in broadcasting to a legal career in communications," Trigg explains.
(Rev. Jesse Jackson gives the 30th Annual Parker Lecture at First Congregational United Church of Christ. Photo credit: Liz Roll)
The event’s signature speech, the Parker Lecture, is the only lecture in the country that examines telecommunications in the digital age from an ethical perspective, according to organizers.
It was delivered by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., who decried the growing communications divide into digital "haves" and "have-nots," as well as the fact that broadcast ownership rates for women and minorities still lag well behind the share of the population those persons represent.
Trigg has spent most of her career battling the kinds of conditions that drew Jackson’s ire.
Before turning to private practice, she served as assistant chief counsel for telecommunications for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, where she directed the office’s involvement in telecommunications and Internet policy issues before the FCC, other federal and state agencies, the White House, and Congress.
She also served on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Interagency Task Force on Diversity and EEO. She has served as a consultant and subject matter expert to the FCC’s Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age since its inception, and also as a member of its Funding Acquisition Task Force.
Trigg served as the first executive director and chief operating officer for The Telecom Opportunity Institute, a non-profit corporation that promotes career and training opportunities in telecommunications for disadvantaged youths, minorities, and women. She is a former member of the board of directors of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, and currently serves on its board of advisors.
In presenting the award, The United Church of Christ noted that Trigg “has been a tireless, strong advocate, working to ensure that the traditional and digital media in the United States are as diverse as the country they serve.”
(L-R Honorees:Charles Benton, S. Jenell Trigg,
Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr., and Earl Williams, UCC OC Inc. Chair.
Photo credit: Liz Roll).