Rachael Dantzler on Advocacy
Rachael Dantzler is a legal secretary in Scottsdale, Arizona, and until recently, the state didn’t recognize Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national holiday. Like many, Rachael was appalled but not surprised. What did surprise her, however, was that some Kutak Rock offices celebrated the holiday and some did not.
“I felt the importance of the holiday, but the history of it in Arizona was very contentious,” she says. “In Arizona, Martin Luther King Jr. Day wasn’t acknowledged as a federal holiday at all. It drove me even further to make sure that the view and purpose of the holiday would change in Arizona. And I think it has.”
President Reagan signed a bill in 1983 making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a national holiday, but after years of political wrangling and withdrawn sponsorships, Arizona citizens finally voted to acknowledge the holiday in 1993 after the NFL threatened to pull a promised Super Bowl.
This is something near and dear to my heart, too important to let pass.
Rachael worked with regional attorneys on a pipeline program, which included a celebration on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. “We had CEOs from all over the country come and talk about the importance of the holiday and what Martin Luther King Jr. Day meant to them and their corporations. Attorneys throughout the state enrolled in this program. Funds raised were then given to students to attend law school. One of the attorneys who spearheaded the event worked at Kutak Rock in Scottsdale.
It helped tremendously to have many law firms throughout the state participate. It helped to spread throughout the communities how important the holiday is, and the activities on that specific day. It was very well-attended, including the other attorneys in our Scottsdale office, but it was so puzzling to me that we didn’t have that day off to attend that program. Staff had to take it as a PTO day, so I started doing a little research and I thought, ‘Well, there are some Kutak Rock offices that are closed on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Why isn’t Scottsdale?
We have to change this because I know there are clients who have stated that if we were open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, they’d rethink giving us their business. This is crucial stuff. We have to change this.
Rachael took her concerns to the firm’s executive committee. “I gave my spiel to the committee and told them of the importance of having that day off, what it meant and the things people could actually do in place of working. It could be called a ‘day on’ of work where we committed our time to projects that were available throughout the community on that specific day and do some outreach.”
Her concerns were well-received by the executive committee and the following year, they made Martin Luther King Jr. Day a firmwide holiday.
I was just thrilled that they felt it was important to make a change in the culture of Kutak Rock. It was exciting.
Ever since, the firm has sent firmwide emails for Martin Luther King Jr. “Day On” so people in each office and area know what volunteer activities are available to them. “That’s also been well-received. It’s quite wonderful,” says Rachael.