Thousands may have heard Hal Mickelson as the "voice" of Stanford University's marching band when he was the group's stadium announcer in the 1970s and '80s, but his involvement in the Palo Alto community has spanned more than six decades.
Mickelson, who graduated from Stanford in 1971, worked for more than three decades as an attorney at Hewlett-Packard Company, serves on the board of the Palo Alto Museum, is a former president of the Rotary Club of Palo Alto and has held leadership positions in the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber of Commerce and Palo Alto Weekly are honoring Mickelson with an outstanding citizen volunteer Tall Tree award at an awards ceremony slated for April 21. Mickelson himself has previously served as an emcee for the Tall Tree awards.
Asked what winning a Tall Tree award means to him, Mickelson focused on the impact made by others who have won the award.
"The business people, professionals and volunteers who have won this award in the past are examples for all of us of how much we can accomplish through teamwork in this community," Mickelson told this news organization.
Originally from southern California, Mickelson came to Palo Alto to earn his undergraduate degree in history from Stanford, according to a biography on the city of Palo Alto's website. Mickelson then headed to Harvard Law School, where he graduated in 1974 before returning to the Bay Area.
From 1979 until his retirement in 2012, Mickelson worked as an attorney at Hewlett-Packard, focusing on an array of legal issues. Near the beginning of his career, he worked on antitrust and commercial law issues, later shifting to labor and employment law, including mergers, acquisitions and intellectual property issues, including trademark licensing. When he retired in 2012, he was senior corporate counsel for HP.
Starting in 1987, Mickelson got involved with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce and then joined the Rotary Club 10 years later. He served as the Rotary's president from 2012 to 2013 and is currently on multiple committees. Mickelson also chairs the city of Palo Alto's Stormwater Management Oversight Committee and serves on the governing board of Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Beginning in 2018, Mickelson became a supporter of the Palo Alto History Museum, which is still in the process of being created. The plan is to rehabilitate the Roth Building at 300 Homer Ave. to house the museum.
"After years of controversy and a bit of struggle, we're just a few weeks away from having a successfully negotiated lease from the city for the historic Roth Building as the home for a Palo Alto Museum," Mickelson said. "It will be the perfect venue (for) exhibits and events that celebrate the diversity and creativity behind our city's traditions.
"People from all over the world want to know what made Palo Alto happen, why this one small town has had so much influence on technology and business. ... We ought to provide the answers to those questions."
Former museum Executive Director Laura Bajuk is among those who nominated Mickelson for the Tall Tree award, writing that he is "master strategist and wordsmith" who brings a unique perspective to the groups he works with and helps to focus attention on the most important issues. "Hal Mickelson has the best smile — and the sharpest mind — I've ever known in my 30-plus year career," Bajuk wrote. "And he uses them both for good — lots of good."
Mickelson continues to remain involved with his alma mater, including serving on the Stanford Band Alumni Board, of which he is a founding member.
Read more stories on the 2020 and 2022 Tall Tree Award honorees:
• Dr. Sara Cody: Making the tough decisions
• Dr. Yvonne "Bonnie" Maldonado: 'Constantly adapting'
• Cammie Vail: Paying it forward
• Pastor Paul Bains: 'Hope' for the unhoused
• Roger Smith: Finding justice for murder victims' families
• Palo Alto Players: The art of lifting a community's spirit
• Peninsula Open Space Trust: Committed to conservation
• Premier Properties: Taking care of businesses
• Homewood Suites: Opening it doors to nonprofits, people in need