L.E.K. Consulting proudly celebrates Juneteenth, a significant day in American history that commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans and the pursuit of true freedom for all. Senior Life Sciences Specialist Daniel Schwarz tells us about his experience as a biracial Black man in the U.S. and what Juneteenth means to him. 

What is your career background and how did you come to be at L.E.K.?
I went to graduate school at University of California San Francisco and received a Ph.D. in chemical biology. During my time there I got to work on a translational project that connected me with the team at UCSF Innovation Ventures, which is where I got exposed to the consulting world. The breadth of work and types of cases that L.E.K. engages in attracted me to the role. Working here is a way for me to stay engaged with the biomedical space without having to funnel into a specific niche, which is exciting for me. 

Can you tell us about your experience as a biracial Black man in the U.S. and in the consulting world?
I grew up as a transracial adoptee in a white family so my experience as a Black man is a bit different than others. I grew up in a predominately white town and went to a predominately white college and currently work in a predominately white industry. It has been challenging, but an outlet that has been extremely helpful is finding a community within the sparseness of Black people, both within L.E.K. and outside of work. For instance, Black@LEK creates a space where I regularly get to gather with other Black employees at L.E.K., which makes us feel more connected. I live in Oakland, a far more culturally and racially diverse part of the Bay Area, which provides a social balance to my life outside of work. 

What does Juneteenth mean to you and why do you feel it’s important the United States observes this important day?
It’s twofold. On one side, it’s an important day for reflection, especially when you think of corporate observances. It’s important for us to understand the impact slavery and Black Americans and immigrants have had on our country and economy. The U.S. would not be the country it is today without this. Juneteenth is also a really beautiful day to celebrate Black culture in America. It’s a day for community, celebration and enjoyment of everything beautiful that the Black community has created in the United States. 

Do you have plans to celebrate?
I will be hosting friends at my place. We are going to hang out, grill and enjoy each other’s company, and I think that’s an important part of the day. Just welcoming the people you love into a space where you can celebrate the power and joy that comes with community. 

How is L.E.K. celebrating Juneteenth?
Mosaic@LEK, our affinity group that supports the L.E.K. community who identify as racial and ethnic minorities, is holding events across all our offices to observe and celebrate Juneteenth. My San Francisco office is holding a coffee and red velvet cupcake event and discussion. For Juneteenth celebrations, red food is generally served to represent the struggle and bloodshed of the enslaved as well as the ultimate resilience and power of the people. I think these events will a great time to celebrate while also thinking about and discussing important issues.