The Los Angeles Times invited Dean Ernest J. Wilson III to be one of nine local leaders to participate in a panel about the significance of President Barack Obama's inauguration, which Dean Wilson said marks the start of an important change for the United States.
"Our distinguished panel and audience of Southern California leaders engaged in lively dialogue that generated solid insight and inspiring perspective into what’s next for our region – and how we can be involved," said Dina Ruelas of the LA Times.
Dean Wilson, who served in various roles on Obama's transition teams, said there would be many differences because of the new administration, including major changes in public diplomacy.
"The previous administration essentially said, ‘We don’t want to have a reality-based foreign policy,’” Dean Wilson said. “This one will be different. An important element of foreign policy is to listen."
LA Times editorial page editor Jim Newton, who chaired the panel, asked Dean Wilson what Obama should do to regain respect for the country after its standing in the world has detiorated.
"The first thing he needed to do was to get elected," Dean Wilson said. "Fifty percent of what needed to happen is that he get elected.”
"What seems to be a challenge to LA is whether or not, in a time when Washington is ready for the message, whether or not Los Angeles will be able to create conversation between government agencies, private sector, universities and non-profits to articulate what we already do so well to make the city grow, to make the state grow, but then to then have an impact back in Washington. Because those folks there are waiting to hear the message of innovation and infrastructure that California is uniquely placed to make.
"So I think one of the very interesting stories is over the next four years will LA be able to have more of these kinds of sessions to pull itself out of the economic crisis but also to demonstrate to the right hand coast that these kinds of cooperative relationships ... really is a model for America. And I think that’s the challenge."
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made opening remarks at the discussion. Panelists included Nicole Avant, philanthropist and Vice President of Interior Music Publishing; Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary/Treasurer Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Russell Goldsmith, Chairman and CEO City National Bank and City National Corporation; George Kieffer, Partner with Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Sherry Lansing, CEO Sherry Lansing Foundation; Sandra Tsing Loh, writer, performer, pop-culture analyst and radio commentator; Matt Petersen, President & CEO of Global Green USA; businesswoman Lynda Resnick of POM Wonderful, FIJI Water and Teleflora.
The Los Angeles Times also interviewed Dean Wilson for a separate video featured on the Times home page about the inauguration.
The 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee’s official inauguration theme is “Renewing America’s Promise,” and Times video journalist Katy Newton asked Dean Wilson what that meant to him.
“I think that that means a variety of things,” Dean Wilson said. “That all men are created equal; that we are reminded that out of many come one.”