2003 Miles W. Kirkpatrick Award
Honoring Jodie Z. Bernstein
Remarks by Chairman Timothy J. Muris
December 3, 2003
Welcome to the third annual Miles W. Kirkpatrick Lifetime FTC Achievement Award. Unlike the Academy Awards, the Emmys, or the Tonys, there is no suspense waiting for the winner to be announced. There is also no spotlight on expectant nominees who will not win. That is because the onerous requirements and qualifications to receive this award require that a person be a legend in their own time - an icon, preferably - and already an integral part of past FTC history.
Of those seated at this table, Bob Pitofsky has already received the award. Dr. Lionel Bernstein and I are not eligible, for different reasons. I am here learning the ropes. Dr. Bernstein has never been an FTC employee. He probably often thought he was working for the FTC, however, because of the life he has spent with Jodie Bernstein, this year's Kirkpatrick winner. Today, we will learn a great deal about Jodie and her many accomplishments, both inside and outside the FTC. After remarks from Bob and me, Jodie will have a chance to set the record straight.
I would like to welcome some special guests. From New York, Molly Bernstein, one of Jodie and Lionel's outstanding children. From Connecticut, Jack and Nancy Zeldes, Jodie's brother and sister-in-law, who have often asked what Jodie really did here. And from Missouri, Walter Metcalfe and Perry Johnson, from Jodie's law firm, Bryan Cave. I also see some former Commissioners. You are always welcome, as long as you don't claim your old parking spaces.
This award honors the late and very distinguished "Philadelphia lawyer," Miles W. Kirkpatrick, who served as FTC Chairman from 1970-73. Before that, Miles headed an American Bar Association Commission to study the FTC, requested by the President in 1969. Students of government reform regard the Kirkpatrick Commission report as a classic example of a thorough, independent study of an agency with constructive suggestions for change. As an encore, Miles headed another FTC Study Commission in 1988, on which Bob and I both served.
The Kirkpatrick Award itself has unique requirements. Many people have compiled records of distinguished service at the Commission. We recognize these contributions in our annual employee awards ceremony. The success of the agency, however, also owes much to those outside it whose support remains steadfast. A few rejoin our ranks - sometimes more than once. They "practice what they preach" by bringing their skills and ideas to set and maintain the highest standards of public policy. This process of support for the work of the agency from both within and without can span decades - and even characterize entire careers. This certainly has been true for our first three award winners - Basil J. Mezines, Robert Pitofsky, and Jodie Bernstein.
Now, let me tell you about the first time I met Jodie. I confess that I have pondered for months how to do this. The problem is that modern standards of political correctness prohibit me from providing the precise details. But, I can tell you this much.
It was the fall of 1974. As a newly minted attorney, I was fortunate to attend a meeting of staff bigwigs. It being the mid 1970's, Jodie was the only female present. She had recently stopped smoking, and some of her colleagues were blowing cigar smoke her way. Yes, for those Commission employees born since 1970 or so, you could actually smoke inside the building, even cigars.
Anyway, while puffing away they asked her how she could stand not to smoke. Jodie's reply contained only 10 words. I promise that you could repeat each word individually in polite conversation in any setting. But in the precise order she used them, they had a profound effect. One smoker - I am not making this up - nearly swallowed his cigar as he turned various shades of blue. The score: female 1, males 0.
Such stories are numerous and are the stuff of legend. Jodie once dealt with questions about care labeling of a designer gown by saying "If you have to ask how to clean it, you can't afford it." Years later, in an effort to answer a hostile press question about universally recognized visual symbols on care labels, she offered the reporter what our Office of Public Affairs immediately referred to as a "digital salute." All I can say is, "Wow!"
Jodie was also responsible for making sure that the FTC cafeteria was once again an outlet for "real food." When Jodie arrived, the cafeteria had fallen on hard times, and only pre-packaged food was available. After considerable pressure from Jodie, the agency arranged for Mr. Ming to be the concessionaire, and the cafeteria started serving cooked meals again for breakfast and lunch. Jodie has a life-long friend in Mr. Ming, who often asks "When is Jodie coming back?"
Most amazing is that Jodie's substantive accomplishments exceed her wonderful style. After her first tour at the Commission in the 1970s, Jodie was named Acting Administrator for Enforcement at the EPA, and then General Counsel of both the EPA and the Department of Health and Human Services. In 1981, while in private practice, she served as the presidentially-appointed Chair of the Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. In the corporate world, Jodie was Vice President for Environmental Relations and Ethics for the Waste Management Corporation until 1995. Bob Pitofsky, the then-newly appointed FTC Chairman, asked her to return as Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. She is now with the distinguished law firm of Bryan Cave, the home of a number of the FTC's most illustrious alums. Along the way, she somehow found time to serve as president of the Yale Law School Alumni Association, sit on the Environmental Management Advisory Board at the Department of Energy, and serve as a mentor to untold numbers of men and women.
It was in her most recent tenure as head of BCP that Jodie outdid herself. The consumer protection success the Commission has had in the last 30 months would have been impossible without Jodie's extraordinary leadership during the previous six years. She brought management techniques new to the bureau - e.g., strategic and operating planning. This careful process resulted in spectacular implementation - hundreds of sound cases, the flowering of consumer and business education, the creation of an Internet and phone-based system for consumer complaints, dozens of workshops on the myriad issues of the consumer protection world, unprecedented cooperation with other federal, state, and international agencies, and much, much more. She led the Commission to new initiatives involving cyber fraud, subprime lending, and privacy, to name just a few areas.
The collaborative efforts with other law enforcement agencies, or "sweeps," became a staple of FTC law enforcement under Jodie. Sweeps moved into FTC lore with such gusto that at one of the FTC Follies - our annual holiday party - former Commissioner Azcuenaga, invoking this theme, appeared with a broom and intoned "Sweep, Sweep, Sweep!" as part of her holiday skit.
One tradition of the Kirkpatrick Award is that the honoree chooses someone to present the award. Two years ago, it was Casper Weinberger; last year, it was Ira Milstein. Today, Jodie has requested that Bob Pitofsky perform that role. This is only in part because Jodie is used to telling Bob what to do. Mostly, it is because of their long friendship and Jodies's deep respect for Bob's extraordinary career, both at the FTC and elsewhere. Bob has served as a Bureau Director, Commissioner, and Chairman. He has returned to Georgetown in an endowed Chair and to Arnold & Porter as Of Counsel. Fortunately for all of us, he continues to provide leadership and insight on the proper role of antitrust and consumer protection law in maintaining open markets.
Bob is also the one person who, in one capacity or another, has shared this podium with me for all three of the Kirkpatrick Award presentations. After Bob speaks, Jodie will have time for rebuttal. And then, Bob and I will present the award.