Charles Lowery, ’79, has remained steadfast in his commitment to public service and changing the status quo during his long and varied career. Most recently, this lifelong drive to effect positive change has led Lowery to the role of president-elect of the District of Columbia Bar.
As director of legislative policy and external affairs at New American Funding, an independent mortgage bank, Lowery works to increase minority homeownership, particularly among Black and Latino populations. He previously worked for a diverse array of organizations, including the NAACP and the Center for Responsible Lending, where he has been able to utilize both his legal background and his economics undergraduate degree from Stanford University. A consistent throughline in his work is increasing access to resources and services for underserved populations.
Lowery is the first to acknowledge that it took him some time to find his niche in the legal field, but he sees that as one of his assets: “When I look at the 50 years of the DC Bar and its previous presidents, many of them worked solely with law firms. My background includes working in the federal government, the public sector, legal aid, and government relations.”
When he decided to run for president of the Bar, “I knew it would be a good opportunity and I could bring a different viewpoint, drawing from the different areas of law that I've practiced in and the journey that I've been on,” Lowery said.
Having previously served as treasurer, a Board of Governors member, and on several committees, Lowery has been involved with the DC Bar for decades. In this new leadership role, he hopes to energize and activate a younger generation of lawyers, including his son Jelani Lowery, who attended Howard University School of Law.
He plans to ensure that dues-paying members of the DC Bar are aware of the learning opportunities and services offered. Lowery also plans to expand the Bar’s work in diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, while partnering with minority bar associations in the region.
Lowery is proud that he is the first in his family to attend law school, but he is just as proud that he comes from, as he puts it, a “family of workers”: His dad was a custodian with Cleveland Public Schools, and his mom was a licensed practical nurse. This blue-collar background has influenced much of Lowery’s personal and professional outlook and his drive to help others.
“I've worked at the steel mills and as a garbage collector. I'm just a different kind of working lawyer, which I think sets me apart,” said Lowery. “I went to law school to change things. I'm just trying to follow my interests, which in turn fuels my passion and desire to leave my mark on the world.”
Recognizing the importance of building relationships and creating community, Lowery plans to emphasize the DC Bar’s role as a convener during his leadership tenure. Fostering connections is another constant in his volunteer commitments, as he also serves on the participation committee for Michigan Law’s Black Alumni Reunion, which he says allows him to connect with people he considers “like family.”
As inspiration, Lowery keeps a printout of a quote from American journalist Norman Cousins in his office: “The only safe assumption for human beings is that the world will be what we make it.”
Through his newly appointed post, Lowery is ready to keep making strides towards social change.