In Graduation Speech, Apple Exec Stresses These 3 Things Joe Biden Told Her

Policy Expert Cynthia Hogan ’84 Was Counsel to Vice President Before Corporate Career
Cynthia Hogan

Cynthia Hogan, Apple Inc.’s vice president for public policy for the Americas, previously worked as counsel to Vice President Joe Biden.

May 20, 2018

Cynthia Hogan, Apple Inc.’s vice president for public policy for the Americas, delivered the commencement address to the University of Virginia School of Law Class of 2018 on Sunday.

The 1984 Law School graduate didn’t mention the multinational consumer electronics company for which she works, however. In fact, she didn’t speak a word about commerce.

But she did try to solicit her audience.

“While it may be somewhat unconventional to use a commencement address to make a sales pitch —here it is: Your country needs you. Your government needs you. We need lawyers in public service today more than ever,” Hogan said.

Before working in policy roles for Apple and, immediately prior, the NFL, Hogan was counsel to Vice President Joe Biden from 2009-13.

She said Biden taught her three main lessons in how to approach governing in a democracy: know your facts, look to build consensus and, despite philosophical disagreements, don’t question an opponent’s integrity.

“What these lessons taught me is that democracy requires its leaders and its citizens to broaden our gaze,” she said. “To recognize that what we have in common is so vastly more important than what separates us.”

Hogan said lawyers, because they are trained to fully understand the opposing side’s arguments, are uniquely positioned to be effective public servants.

“Here at the University of Virginia Law School, you have learned to ‘think like a lawyer,’ right?” she said. “That means you know you don’t win by misrepresenting, mischaracterizing or denigrating your opponent’s arguments.”

She went on to add some personal advice that has served her well during her career.

One recommendation was to build on the assumption that a UVA Law graduate is smart enough for any task by “investing in your reputation for hard work, more importantly for teamwork, for integrity, for thoughtfulness and good judgment.”

In that respect, Hogan said, she was able to land her first public service job as counsel for constitutional law at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. She had sufficiently impressed Tom Donilon ’85 — who went on to serve as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser — when she was notes editor on the Virginia Law Review.

“You never know who will help you make a move or land your dream job,” she said. “But you can be sure it will be because of what you were like as a colleague.”

UVA Law Dean Risa Goluboff provided welcoming remarks and announced student awards, which were followed by the hooding ceremony and ceremonial scroll presentation. In total, 298 J.D., 39 LL.M. and four S.J.D. candidates were to receive degrees.

“You have excelled, you have served, you have led, and you have embraced the highest ideals of this profession,” Goluboff said. “And you have done it all with characteristic collegiality and generosity.”

Steven Glendon, outgoing Student Bar Association president, announced the class gift and introduced Hogan.

Awards Presented at Graduation

Margaret G. Hyde Award
To the graduate whose scholarship, character, personality, activities in the affairs of the school, and promise of efficiency have entitled him or her to special recognition.

Jay Swanson

James C. Slaughter Honor Award
To an outstanding member of the graduating class.

Laura Allison Herzog

Thomas Marshall Miller Prize
To an outstanding and deserving member or members of the graduating class.

Megan C. Keenan, Robert Michael Smith

Z Society Shannon Award
To the graduate with the highest academic record after five semesters.

Daniel J. Richardson

LL.M. Graduation Award
To an outstanding member of the graduating LL.M. class.

Maria Cecilia Dieuzeide

Robert E. Goldsten Award for Distinction in the Classroom
To the graduate who has contributed the most to classroom education by his or her outstanding recitation and discussion.

Jeremy M. Bennie

Roger and Madeleine Traynor Prize
To the graduate or graduates who have produced outstanding written work.

Daniel J. Richardson, James A. Tomberlin

Herbert Kramer/Herbert Bangel Community Service Award
To the graduate who has contributed the most to the community.

Margaret Maryanna Birkel

Mortimer Caplin Public Service Award
To a graduate entering a career in the public service sector who demonstrates the qualities of leadership, integrity and service to others.

Cory K. Sagduyu

Edwin S. Cohen Tax Prize
To the graduate who has demonstrated superior scholarship in the tax area.

Brandon J. Dubov

Earle K. Shawe Labor Relations Award
To the graduate who shows the greatest promise in the field of labor relations.

Deitra S. Jones

John M. Olin Prize in Law and Economics
To a graduate or graduates who have produced outstanding written work in the field of law and economics.

Mauricio Guim Alfago

Eppa Hunton IV Memorial Book Award
To a graduate who demonstrates unusual aptitude in courses in the field of litigation, and who shows a keen awareness and understanding of the lawyer's ethical and professional responsibility.

Shanthi Rajagopalan

Virginia Trial Lawyers Trial Advocacy Award
To a graduate who shows particular promise in the field of trial advocacy.

Shalin Nohria

Virginia State Bar Family Law Book Award
To the graduate who has demonstrated the most promise and potential for the practice of family law.

Jennifer Y. Lee

Media Contact

Eric Williamson
Associate Director of Communications and Senior Writer

News Highlights