AAP & Tocqueville Society Member Spotlight: Myra Bierria

AAP and Tocqueville Society Member Spotlight
Myra Bierria
Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Southern Company

Tell us about your role at Southern Company and how you impact the company’s strategic goals?
Myra: My role is Vice President and Corporate Secretary for the Southern Company. One of my core responsibilities is to provide legal and administrative support to the Board of Directors and executive management. My day-to-day activities can range from providing legal advice to the Board of Directors or executive management concerning corporate governance matters to planning logistics down to the last detail for a Board meeting. Southern Company is committed to provide clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities. Sound corporate governance policies and practices are an important part of Southern’s strategy, consistent with the increasing focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters as they relate to the energy industry.

What advice would you give to someone wanting a career in corporate law?
Myra: Earning a law degree is a significant investment of time and resources, but the education and development of analytical skills are well worth it. If you can take time off after undergrad and work in either a law office or corporate environment, it may be helpful in determining whether a law degree is something you really need or desire. As far as practicing corporate law specifically, I’d advise a person to get as much experience as possible at a law firm before moving in-house to a corporate law department. The diverse mix of clients one has the opportunity to advise in a law firm prepares potential in-house lawyers to handle the wide range of legal issues that may come up in a corporation.

If you were to choose another career path, what would it be?
Myra: If I could change my career, I would choose to be an American History professor. I enjoy teaching others and am fascinated with what we can learn from our country’s past and how lessons learned can and will impact our future.

What sparked your interest in philanthropy and why did you become a United Way Tocqueville Society member?
Myra: I was raised in a working-class family. Although an excess of resources was not the norm, my parents taught us to be charitable with our time and whatever financial contribution we could spare. The United Way is one of the first organizations I can recall providing small but, to our family, meaningful donations. Further, the 100 Black Men’s Young Black Scholars program as well as the Girl Scouts program would not have been available to me without the generosity of others. Each of these programs played a critical role in my college and career choices. Being a member of the United Way Tocqueville Society is a logical way for me to pay it forward. Fortunately for me, my company had a step-up program that allowed me to join the Tocqueville Society early in my career and increase my donations over time.

Who is your favorite American trailblazer that serves as a source of inspiration to you?
Myra: My favorite American trailblazer for the longest time has been Justice Thurgood Marshall. More recently, I’ve added First Lady Michelle Obama. Both Marshall and Obama overcame extreme adversity with success not just as individuals but as public figures as part of a larger organization with a significant positive impact on our society. In the legal field, Justice Marshall successfully litigated pivotal desegregation cases in front of our country’s highest court, which he would later serve on. He persevered despite the challenging racial tension of his times and in spite of threats to his personal safety. Similarly, First Lady Obama as part of the executive administration and as a high-profile educated career woman and mother of two served our country with dignity and grace despite unimaginable obstacles.  I’m inspired by her resolve and determination to have a positive impact on the health of children while serving as a role model for women.