Hobart and William Smith Colleges will welcome Margarita Ramos ’85, Global Head of Human Resource Compliance for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, as the keynote speaker for the 2018 Convocation ceremony.
A member of the William Smith Alumnae Council and a former HWS Trustee, Ramos has spent nearly 30 years as a labor and employment lawyer, both in the public and private sectors.
“Margarita Ramos has led a life of consequence, fostering environments in which all people are valued, respected and given equal opportunities to thrive,” says Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. ’12. “The Hobart and William Smith community is proud and excited to welcome such an accomplished leader and alumna to kick off the academic year.”
Convocation, which marks the start of the new academic year, will begin at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 27, on Stern Lawn. The ceremony will be streamed live online beginning at 4:45 p.m. that afternoon.
Ramos traces her interest in law to the sense of justice she developed as a child, translating for her mother, who spoke only Spanish. “It struck me as I got older that it was clear that people treated her as less-than because she could not speak English, because she needed help, because she was seeking public assistance, which led me to become very protective of her but also helped me develop a strong sense of justice and a desire to do the right thing for people who were disenfranchised.”
After earning her J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Ramos began her career in law with the National Labor Relations Board, which is responsible for protecting workers’ rights and enforcing labor laws by addressing unfair employment practices. She then moved into the private sector, focusing on employment law. She was director of labor relations at the Metropolitan Hospital Center, a New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation facility in Spanish Harlem, where she grew up. She later joined Merrill Lynch’s employment law group, where as part of a small team of employment lawyers, she traveled throughout the U.S. and sometimes internationally, mediating and investigating employee complaints. She has since held senior HR roles at JP Morgan Chase and Smith Barney.
Now at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Ramos manages a global team responsible for maintaining an inventory of HR laws and regulations, executing monitoring and testing, and conducting HR risk assessments; she partners closely with audit, legal and HR leaders to assess HR risks and controls.
As the world changes, so do the laws impacting the workplace, which Ramos sees as a constant opportunity to grow. ”I’m always growing and learning, so I’m able to be a stronger expert and partner in what I do, ” she says. “I’m passionate about this area of the law and how it can be used to drive change that helps people and organizations thrive.”
As a student at HWS, Ramos majored in sociology and education, was a member of Hai Timiai and Koshare, and served as president of the Latin American Organization. Since graduating, she has served as a member of the HWS Board of Trustees and a volunteer for the Office of Admissions and the Salisbury Center for Career, Professional and Experiential Education. In 2016, she participated in the Multicultural Career and Networking Conference and previously was the alumnae speaker at William Smith Founder’s Day.