Earlier this month, Haute Living San Francisco interviewed Karen V. Clopton ’83 about her advocacy and equity work in corporate and public organizations. Clopton is a Human Rights Commissioner in San Francisco and served as the commission’s chair in 2021.
In the piece, Clopton talks about how her cultural identity as African American, Latin American and European helped her develop empathy and serves as a backdrop to her passion for advocacy, equity and fairness. “All of us suffer from violence, income inequality, racism and racial disparities,” Clopton said in the interview. “Our segregated society and stereotypical thinking hamper our ability as a nation to excel.” She then outlines strategies to facilitate change, from learning about history to reducing negative impacts on the planet and society to stepping in and standing up to injustice.
Clopton is a trailblazer in human and civil rights and works to eliminate bias in corporate and public environments. In many cases, she has been a “first” – first woman, first African American or first African American woman – to hold high level positions with California Public Utilities Commission, California Department of Corporations, San Francisco State University Foundation, Inc.; League of Women Voters of San Francisco, San Francisco Civil Service Commission Port of San Francisco. Clopton was inspired by another first, Jean Camper Cahn, to come to UDC’s predecessor, Antioch School of Law. She wrote, “Along with Professor Emeritus Edgar Cahn, [Jean Camper Cahn] created a true teaching law firm that addressed the failure of traditional legal education to prepare attorneys for the profession. It was the Cahns’ “amazing and pioneering vision of what law school and a legal education could be” that led her to Antioch. “I cemented my professional values of accountability, excellence, integrity, open communication and empathy from my clinical experiences at Antioch,” Clopton said. “These values have carried me through all my work and influenced my advocacy for clinical education requirements for admission to the California state bar. I am equally proud that my law school, founded by a fierce and brilliant Black woman lawyer is now part of UDC, an HBCU.”