The Senate Agriculture Committee has approved the President's choice for USDA Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights. Vernon Bernard Parker of Paradise Valley, Ariz., must now await confirmation by the full Senate.

Created with the signing of the 2002 farm bill, the job of Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Civil Rights is to insure compliance with all civil rights and related laws by all agencies, and under all programs, of the Department of Agriculture.

“My hope lies, in that, if confirmed, I will be able to make a difference in the lives of those who may have had their hopes and dreams put on hold or destroyed because of injustice,” Parker says. “As public servants, it is our duty to respect the dignity, and foster the promises to those who are touched by government programs; these are simple and basic American values.”

“The prevention of Civil Rights abuses at the USDA is an investment in our values, a decision of the Congress and the President to see that the resources of this government reach all those Congress intended to benefit,” he adds. “We must use the Legislative and Executive authorities to get the job done, rather than wait for courts to act as government administrators.”

Parker received his bachelor's degree in finance from California State University, and received his law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center.

His first job with the federal government was counselor to the director of the Office of Personnel Management, and he later served as General Counsel for that office. In 1992, Parker accepted an opportunity to serve in the White House as Special Assistant to the President. As such, he was responsible for the staffing and policy review of over 300 Presidential boards and commissions.

Since leaving the White House in 1993, he has continued his legal career with a firm representing domestic and international clients before the United States government on regulatory and compliance issues in the area of government contracts. He has also served as President and CEO of BelSante International LLC, an international nutritional supplement company.

In addition, he serves as Interim Senior Pastor of his church. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Salvation Army and the Christian Family Care Agency, and is a member of the Arizona State University's Board of Community Alliance for Black Student Support. He and his wife, Lisa, have a son, Ian.

e-mail: dmuzzi@primediabusiness.com