Healthcare Champion of the Year ~ 2014
Richard J. Riordan
39th Mayor, City of Los Angeles
Richard J. Riordan is a cutting-edge venture capitalist, lawyer, and philanthropist. In 1993, he was elected Mayor of Los Angeles at a time when the city was facing severe socioeconomic adversity after the Los Angeles riots, and was then overwhelmingly reelected four years later to continue his agenda. Through innovative and courageous leadership and policies, Riordan turned Los Angeles around and set it on the right track for a prosperous future. Today, the former mayor continues to be one of the most popular figures in Los Angeles and continues to dedicate his life to helping poor families by helping to shape policy that creates access to a quality education and healthcare for every child.
Riordan currently serves as the Chairman of the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, a successful charter management organization that operates thirteen middle and high schools in Los Angeles. He previously served as Secretary for Education, under Governor Schwarzenegger.
In 1981, Riordan created the charitable foundation that bears his name with one goal in mind: to teach children how to read and write. Through its signature” Rx for Reading” program, The Riordan Foundation has distributed some 25,520 computers to 2,140 schools in 40 states and enabled the purchase of over 172,000 books for elementary classroom libraries. He is also co-founded The Riordan Programs at The Anderson School at UCLA. The Riordan Programs consist of The Riordan Scholars Program and The Riordan Fellows Program, serving high school students and college students/recent college alumni, respectively. Program participants are taught by Anderson School faculty and mentored by Anderson MBA students.
Believing that government fails when communities fail to take their own initiative, Riordan empowered residents to take responsibility for the well being of their neighborhoods and called for the creation of a citywide system of neighborhood councils that give community organizations a greater voice in city government.
Riordan’s reform agenda extended far beyond city government into Los Angeles’ classrooms. He challenged the Los Angeles Unified School District to provide a better quality education by leading the effort to elect seven reform candidates to the LAUSD School Board. Today, high school graduation rates are higher, and all elementary schools and middle schools and numerous high schools provide on-site healthcare services through mobile clinics or campus clinics that enable students and their families to access healthcare at neighborhood schools.
Riordan was also a founding member of the nationally-acclaimed LEARN school reform effort, and founding board member for L.A.’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), an innovative and nationally recognized after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles’ disadvantaged neighborhoods. Riordan is an ardent reader and an avid bicyclist.