National CEOs serving on two Trump administration business advisory panels resigned and President Donald Trump dissolved the councils in the wake of controversy over the president’s comments over violence in Charlottesville.
If you had been appointed to such a council, what would you do? We asked two dozen South Florida CEOs. Most declined to answer. The following shared their thoughts.
Ricky Arriola, CEO of Inktel, and Miami Beach City Commissioner:
"I would have resigned the same day President Trump doubled down on his defense of White Supremacy. In my case, it's not hypothetical: I stepped down from the President's Committee for the Arts and Humanities the week before Trump’s Inauguration because the incoming administration’s views were inconsistent with my own. Resigning is the minimum action these executives should be taking. Today’s CEOs are expected to create corporate cultures that embrace diversity and tolerance. They cannot serve an administration that does not hold those same values and then walk into their workplace and act differently.”
Carmen Castillo, president and CEO, SDI International Corp.:
“I would resign from the council immediately. We need to unite, not divide our country by salting old, painful wounds with more hatred.”
Alicia Cervera, managing partner and principal, Cervera Real Estate:
“I am very disappointed to see that the economic leaders in our country have stepped down from the President's Council. I think it is important to have strong people that are able to disagree and voice their disagreement loudly. However, to abandon our sitting President because you disagree with him is a total disservice to our country, and not the American way. We fight for what we believe, push through the pain and disagreements and continue to evolve as the greatest country in the world. To accomplish this, people need to serve, not walk away.”
Albert E. Dotson, Jr., partner and executive committee member at the law firm of Bilzin Sumberg:
“Leadership demands an adherence to core principles and the unwavering courage to make principled decisions even in the face of adversity. I would absolutely resign. While the First Amendment protects the right of the most heinous among us to spew hate, it equally protects my right to speak through my resignation that such hate and cosseting such hate are unequivocally unacceptable. In a community with a rich history of significant contributions from Native Americans, native Floridians, and non-native-born residents alike, we know and experience each day that our gender, sexual orientation, race, religious beliefs, or country of origin … at birth … convey superiority to no one. The President would know by my act of resignation that his response was wholly unacceptable. I would then reconvene with other members who recognize that innovation thrives on the exchange of different ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds to offer to this nation our best collective advice informed by our diversity.”
Randy Falco, president and CEO of Univision Communications:
“I am proud of the greatness of the multicultural America we live in and are making. And I am heartened to see so many CEOs speaking out and hope that they will continue to do so, not only this week but in the coming weeks and months, so that we can pass on to the next generation an America that embraces inclusion and equality for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, language, gender or orientation.” (Excerpt from a statement)
Andrew C. Hall, managing partner of the law firm Hall, Lamb, Hall and Leto, and a Holocaust survivor:
“I would have stepped down immediately following his response to what took place in Charlottesville — well before he chose to disband it. As attorneys, we spend an awful lot of time learning and defending the rule of law. If we don’t speak out ethically and publicly on issues that affect public safety and public welfare, who else will? We have a duty to do it.”
Victor Mendelson, co-CEO of Heico:
“I think that I would have advised him, ‘Seems we're forgetting we're Americans above all else and that we should make clear that hatred is unacceptable regardless of political affiliation, socio-economic standing or ethnicity, and try to unify people around an agenda that avoids hatred and encourages dialogue.’ ”