Looking Back at 2013

by Jeremy Loudenback

It’s been a busy year at the Bedrosian Center.

From presenting cutting-edge research to hosting events with a vaunted line-up of local, state, and national leaders, the Bedrosian Center continued conversations around governance and policy implementation for a changing world. With a goal to promote effective governance, the Bedrosian Center seeks opportunities to foster public dialogue in public, private, and nonprofit sectors on governance, institutional reform, and the implementation of policy.

This year was enriched by dialogue with a host of prominent leaders, including mayors, legislators, city managers, researchers, and writers. Headlining the Bedrosian Center’s Leading from the West speaker series, California Assembly Speaker John Pérez shared the unique challenges of governing the California legislature in the era of a Democratic supermajority. Earlier in the year, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan  talked about the leadership qualities that have served him well from his time in City Hall to private-sector success. Aside from his usual role of host at Bedrosian Center events, Director Raphael Bostic also moderated the Housing for a Stronger Los Angeles Mayoral Candidates Forum on Affordable Housing  in January with then-candidates Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry, and Wendy Greuel during the Los Angeles mayoral campaign, drawing more than 500 participants and significant press coverage.

The popular Lunch with a Leader program enabled students and faculty a closer look at how the levers of power operate, from successfully implementation of policy to best practices for public leaders. Rising star and Compton Mayor Aja Brown inspired with her recent experience bringing change to Compton with a combination of fiscal responsibility and branding. U.S. Congresswoman Karen Bass (representing the 37th congressional district that includes USC) shared laughs and hard-earned insights from a career forging alliances and legislative successes, from South Los Angeles to Sacramento and Washington D.C. Former Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, former Los Angeles City Councilwoman and current Los Angeles economic development czar Jan Perry, Hermosa Beach City Manager Tom Bakaly, and Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs Peter Gravett were among the many highlights of a dynamic series that saw many of the city’s leaders share advice and insights with students in an intimate setting.

Politicians weren’t the only important players to weigh in on the challenges of good governance. Since 2012, the Bedrosian Center has hosted the Holt Lecture series, which is designed bring prominent practitioners, influential policy makers, and visiting scholars to discuss issues related to communication and public policy. In 2013, the Holt Lecture featured a pair of speakers that have played distinctive roles in shaping the way policy issues are communicated to the public. Acclaimed writer and statistician Nate Silver attracted a full house to USC’s Bovard Auditorium, where the man who successfully predicted the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections showed that statistics belong in politics as much as in the box score. And in February, Pulitzer Prize-winning political biographer Robert Caro visited campus to talk about his most recent work, an illustration of President Lyndon Johnson’s political acumen during his first 47 days in office following the assignation of President John F. Kennedy.

In collaboration with the METRANS research center, the Bedrosian Center also hosted an innovative research collaborative focused on innovative private-sector transportation approaches, featuring representatives of transportation companies that are changing the conversation around transportation and governance. The Bedrosian Center also sponsored governance-related research from Price faculty members and visiting scholars. Anthony Bertelli, Juliet Musso and Christopher Weare, and Hilda Blanco and visiting scholars Laura Evans (University of Washington), Scott Desposato (UCSD) and Dan Carpenter (Harvard) on topics ranging from cross-national perspectives on negative campaigning to governance in the age of climate change and the impact of deregulation in the pharmaceutical industry.

As the year draws to an end, we’ll take a breather as we prepare another exciting slate of speakers and discussions, but you can keep posted here for more information about upcoming events. With LACMA director Michael Govan, Los Angeles City Attorney Jackie Lacey, and Los Angeles City Librarian John Szabo on the docket, you can be sure that the governance conversation will continue in 2014.