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Lunch with a Leader

Lunch with a Leader provides students, faculty, and members of the public the opportunity to hear ideas from local, state, and national leaders, share their own ideas, and gain inspiration for effective governance in a more intimate and informal setting.

We have several levels of sponsorship, including a naming opportunity, available for this program series. Additional information on sponsorship levels is available. Please contact Aubrey Hicks at 213.821.2550 or [email protected] to discuss sponsorship opportunities.

2018-2019 Series
Emerald Archer

April 11, 2019

Emerald Archeris the inaugural director of Center for the Advancement of Women at Mount St. Mary’s University. Through the Center, Archer’s primary goal is to promote and increase gender equity in California and our region. She leads the Center’s efforts related to gender equity applied research, education and policy analysis.

Gary Segura
March 7, 2019

Gary SeguraDean, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs is also a Professor of Public Policy, Political Science, and Chicano and Chicana Studies.  Gary’s work focuses on issues of political representation and social cleavages, the domestic politics of wartime public opinion, and the politics of America’s growing Latino minority.

Kim Simon
February 17, 2019

Kim SimonManaging Director, Shoah Foundation Institute. Established in 1994 by Steven Spielberg, Shoah Foundation joined USC in 2006 to form the USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education. The Institute is committed to leading change–locally and globally–through witness and testimonies thereby making a compelling voice for education and action with a profound impact.

Laura Mosqueda

January 22, 2019

Laura Mosqueda, MD, Dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, is a widely respected authority on geriatric and family medicine, elder abuse, and care of the underserved. She is also an expert on medical education curricula design, development and implementation. With responsibility for a teaching staff of 4000+ who educate over 1800 students and train more than 900 resident physicians in over 50 specialties or sub-specialties, Mosqueda said she is eager to tackle the challenges facing USC head-on. “Honesty and humility are the two elements that make a good doctor, and that’s what is needed to heal the university and move beyond its current troubles.”

Mina Chow
October 4, 2018

Mina Chow‘s documentary FACE OF A NATION was able to reach the right audience: Legislators. Mina artfully mastered a film to explain and expose the intersection where architecture, cultural diplomacy, civic action, combine to be greater than the sum of the parts. What can policy students learn from this experience? What lessons has Chow learned making a documentary … making sure folks in governance hear?

Jack Knott
September 13, 2018

Under the leadership of Jack H. Knott, Dean and the C. Erwin and Ione L. Piper Chair and Professor of the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, the Price School has experienced significant growth and has strengthened its position as leader in public affairs research and education. This year, USC Price is ranked 2nd nationally among public affairs schools, and No. 1 in the Urban Policy category!

2017-2018 Series
Robert McKenrick
April 17, 2018

Robert McKenrick is the Veteran Administration’s Executive Director, Clinical Care (SES) of greater Los Angeles.  McKenrick spoke about his leadership philosophy, the educational and career path to his current position, and challenges he faced along the way.

Joanelle Romero
March 21, 2018

As an actress, singer, songwriter, entrepreneur, producer and filmmaker of American Indian performing arts including programming on her Red Nation Television Network, Joanelle Romero has entertained, inspired, moderated, enlightened the general public for nearly 40+ years.  Joanelle Romero is founder & CEO of Red Nation Celebration Institute, Film Festival and The American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles. She is a member of The Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Using media as a primary tool, Romero has created a connection within Indian Country including the film, television and music industries to people around the world.

Marqueece Harris Dawson
January 25, 2018

Marqueece Harris-Dawson spoke of the importance of civic engagement at the local level and good policy.  He is a member of the Los Angeles City Council, representing District 8 since 2015. This 18 square-mile district geographically ranges from Baldwin Hills to Watts and all the middle-class neighborhoods in-between. From the greatest concentration of African American wealth to the least. Beautiful well-maintained homes to areas of blight.

As a long-time community organizer in South LA, Harris-Dawson relies on his deep roots and relationships to promote good policy and civic engagement.

Christine Harada
November 13, 2017

Christine Harada most recently served as the US Chief Sustainability Officer for the Obama Administration. In this role, she provided oversight for all sustainability-related initiatives across the Federal government in energy, fleet, and acquisitions by overseeing game-changing improvements that added to our nation’s clean energy future.  She also served as the acting Chief of Staff for the U.S. General Services Administration, and also as the Chief Acquisition Officer.

Christine is developing a prize with the XPRIZE Foundation for Clean Air.  She also serves as a Senior Advisor with the Los Angeles CleanTech Incubator, where she is helping build out the clean tech economy in LA (

John Bedrosian
October 26, 2017

A first-generation Armenian-American whose parents emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century, John Bedrosian credits his success to living and working in an open and democratic society.

Mr. Bedrosian is the former co-founder and chairman of the board of Auto-by-Tel Corporation, the largest Internet-based car marketing referral service covering the United States and Canada. Previously, he was senior executive vice president, director and co-founder of National Medical Enterprises (now known as Tenet Healthcare). In that capacity, he was a prominent industry spokesman on healthcare issues.

In 2005, Bedrosian and his wife Judith endowed the USC School of Policy, Planning and Development’s Judith and John Bedrosian Center on Governance and Public Enterprise. Bedrosian Center faculty and staff examine the nature of democratic governance and how to improve it at every societal level, a field with great personal and professional importance to Bedrosian.

Miry Whitehill
September 19, 2017

Miry Whitehill Ben-Atar spoke on the importance of community involvement and its role in the resettlement of refugee families.  She founded Miry’s List – a community of volunteers that uses crowdsourcing and social media to connect people like you who want to help new refugee families with urgent needs to help them start their new lives as our neighbors in Southern California. It all started in 2016 with a request from a friend who was helping a newly-arrived refugee family find basic items to set up a home. Today, a year later, Miry’s List has grown to 30 volunteers who are assisting over 120 families with basic items and services.

Miry was recognized by Los Angeles Magazine as a woman who is making a difference in LA.  Click on the link and read this great article!

Dr. David Harilela
September 8, 2017

Dr. David Harilela joined USC Price Board of Councilors Vice Chair, Cara Esposito, for an in-depth conversation surrounding venture philanthropy’s ability to transcend boundaries and transform lives.

In a discussion facilitated by Cara Esposito, Dr. Harilela  shared in detail his work and involvement with THE ONE, an International humanitarian award which seeks to acknowledge unsung heroes of the world by means of a handsome monetary prize to further the winner’s selfless work to help others. Since its inception, THE ONE has honored and awarded over US$ 1,300,000 to more than 21 heroes, whose deeds would have otherwise remained unknown except to those who directly benefited from them.

Dr. Harilela’s philosophy towards life is “To never do less than your best” and he lives his life based on the principle that “In the end ,the love you take is equal to the love you give.”

2016-2017 Series

Paul Haaga
April 11, 2017

Paul G. Haaga Jr. is retired Chairman of the Board of Capital Research and Management Company.

Prior to joining Capital in 1985, Paul was a Partner in the law firm of Dechert Price & Rhoads in Washington, D.C.  From 1974 to 1977, he was a Senior Attorney for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

He recently served as acting President and CEO of National Public Radio from September 2013-July 2014. He has served on the NPR Board of Directors since 2011, previously as Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of its Finance Committee.  He also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, and Trustee of the Huntington Library, Museum and Gardens in San Marino.

In addition, Paul is a Trustee for Princeton University, a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania Law School (Chairman 2007-2013), a Trustee of Georgetown Preparatory School, a member of the National Council of the American Enterprise Institute, a member of the Board of Overseers of Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and a member of the Policy Circle at Pardee-Rand Graduate School.

Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Princeton University, an M.B.A. from the Wharton School, and a J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Brissa Sotelo-Vargas
March 7, 2017

Brissa Sotelo-Vargas, manager, Public Affairs & Government Affairs at Tesoro Refining & Marketing, manages and coordinates the full range of communication and stakeholder management activities for the company’s Los Angeles Refinery including government relations, community relations, media relations and crisis communications. She monitors and analyzes the business, political, and regulatory environment to assess current or potential issues that could affect the company’s reputation and license to operate. Sotelo-Vargas then develops strategies and implements tactics in response to these factors.

Sonja Traus
February 15, 2017

Sonja Trauss“I’m the principal at the SFBay Area Renters Federation. We agitate in favor of market rate development, because increasing supply is the only way out of SF’s housing problem.  I also make websites and merch for local scandals.” SFBARF is an unincorporated club of pro-building, pro-density renters. Housing shortage is bad for renters (and good for homeowners, incidentally). High prices are merely a symptom of the underlying shortage. Fixing prices won’t solve the shortage problem.

Anne Miskey & Brooke Lykins
November 8, 2016

At Downtown Women’s Center, homelessness is a societal problem that bears especially hard on women. It can be ended. Housing is key to a successful transition and, when combined with critical time intervention case management, women are empowered to achieve stability and independence. DWC has a 95% success rate – a major milestone towards ending homelessness.

Anne Miskey joined the Downtown Women’s Center following a five-year tenure as executive director of Funders Together to End Homelessness, during which she grew the organization into a thriving, nationally recognized organization with close to 200 foundation and United Way members in 36 states, and national affiliates in Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston, Florida, and Canada. As an in-demand speaker on philanthropy’s role in ending major social issues, she has traveled extensively, including on several occasions to the White House to speak on youth and veteran’s homelessness. In addition to working with the First Lady’s Joining Forces Campaign, she has worked closely with the federal administration and the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Labor to champion support for vulnerable families and individuals in the areas of housing, health, and employment.

Brooke Lykins returned to the DWC as Chief Development Officer in 2014, having held progressive Volunteer and Development Department positions at the organization from 2005 to 2011. Prior to her current post, Brooke was the Director of Development at UCP Wheels for Humanity, and from 2011-2012 she served as a Clinton-Orfalea Fellow, forging and managing corporate partnerships to foster small business development on behalf of the William J. Clinton Foundation. She received her Masters of Public Administration at USC’s Price School, and completed her undergraduate degree at UCLA.

Karina Macias
October 20, 2016

Karina Macias is working to make a difference in Huntington Park. Voted in as mayor in 2014, she has the distinction of being the youngest mayor in the long history of the city. With civic engagement as a top priority, Mayor Macias established the Huntington Park Youth Commission to develop the knowledge, skills, values and motivation of their young citizens to make community service meaningful throughout their lives. Her global perspective focuses on attracting future investment opportunities for Huntington Park to make it more competitive not just locally but internationally. Prior to becoming a city council member, Macias deepened her community outreach skills through her work with the Sisters of St. Joseph in their Social Justice Office, managed an emergency monetary assistance fund, and co-chaired the Southern California Partners for Global Justice. In addition to being a City Council member, Karina Macias serves as Huntington Park’s representative on the Eco Rapid Transit Board, 710 Project Committee and Sanitation District Board.

Jennifer Samson
September 20, 2016

Jennifer Samson handles all aspects of River LA’s real estate development and placemaking including deal sourcing, structuring financing, securing entitlements, and overseeing projects from construction through to completion. She most recently completed the first phase of three LA River pocket-parks, or Rio Vistas, in the Elysian Valley.


2015-2016 Series
Maria Klawe
March 8, 2016

Klawe is the President of Harvey Mudd College and has been a powerful force in closing the gender gap in science and engineering.“We are never perfect. We are an organization in transition, and we are trying very hard every step of the way. Persistence is the biggest cause of success in every discipline.”

Read about her visit.
View the photos!

Nick Griffin
January 26, 2016

Griffin said of the Downtown Center Business Improvement District, “All of the different areas that make a city really work, we are instrumental in helping bring those together.”

Read about his visit. 
View photos.

Lucy JonesLucy Jones

November 30, 2015

Jones said policymakers need to be better prepared to read and interpret science papers and make their own judgments, rather than have to rely on scientists to “tell them what to think”. For example, with climate change “there is enough information that an educated person with no technical training should be able to figure out for themselves what to think about climate change.” However, Jones also acknowledged that academics need to do a better job of making the information more accessible to all, especially to decision makers that do not have technical training.

Read about her visit here.
View photos here.

Paula Daniels
November 17, 2015

Paula Daniels is Executive Director of California Central, a USC Villaraigosa Initiative.  She is the founder and chair emeritus of the LA Food Policy Council, a board member with the National Organic Standards Board, and a 2015 Pritzker Environment and Sustainability Education Fellow at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (where she has taught food and water policy since 2010). After a long career as an attorney in civil litigation, she served as a LA Public Works Commissioner and then Senior Advisor to Mayor Villaraigosa and was a Los Angeles Public Works Commissioner. She has also been a commissioner with the California Coastal Commission, and a gubernatorial appointee on the governing board of the California Bay-Delta Authority. She was recently appointed by Governor Brown to the California Water Commission, and serves in his Office of Planning and Research as Senior Fellow for Food Systems, Water and Climate.(Photo credit: KCET Departures)

View photos of the event here.
Read about her visit here.

Michael Maltzan
October 20, 2015

Michael Maltzan, FAIA, is the founder and principal of Michael Maltzan Architecture. His work fully engages our contemporary world through an architecture that is a catalyst for new experiences and an agent for change.

Through a deep belief in architecture’s role in our cities and landscapes, he has succeeded in creating new cultural and social connections across a range of scales and programs.

Read about his visit here.
View photos here.

(Photo credit: Laurie Avocado)

Gloria Molina
September 22, 2015

Gloria Molina was first elected to office in 1982 as State Assemblywoman. In 1987, she was elected to the LAs City Council where she served until 1991 when she was elected to the LA County Board of Supervisors.  Molina is the first Latina in history to be elected to the California State Legislature, the Los Angeles City Council, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.  She counts as one of her significant achievements, her involvement with the Mothers of East Los Angeles, a group formed to organize against a proposed plan to build a prison in East LA.

2014-2015 Series
Sherry Lansing
Founder of The Sherry Lansing Foundation and former CEO of Paramount Pictures

April 21, 2015

“It’s important to understand people from opposing points of view. [It is] better to get to know them and see if I can work with them, find common ground.”

Read about her visit here.
View photos here.

Bill Bogaard
Mayor of Pasadena

February 24, 2015

“We’re in a better position than many other cities to deal with trends that are important to young people as they grow up and get established. We offer that urban lifestyle with less reliance on cars that many young people want.”

Read about his visit here and here.
View photos here.

Bill Fujioka
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Los Angeles County

January 27, 2015

“There’s a practical consequence of implementation.  There’s a theoretical consequence.  You’ve got to understand both.  And you learn both by having a good degree of humility and respect, and talking to people.  If you don’t have that, you’ll never be successful.”

Read about his visit here.
View photos here.

Doane Liu
Deputy Mayor of Los Angeles

December 9, 2014

“For every dollar that the city receives, 70 cents goes to the police department and fire department. That’s where our money goes and it’s important. But with the rest of the thirty cents, we have to do everything else: pick up the trash, clean your water, operate your streetlights, take care of your streets, provide traffic officers, parks—the city operates 420 parks—and stuff like libraries.”

Read about his visit here.
View photos here.

Robert Garcia
Mayor of Long Beach, CA

November 11, 2014

“I was fortunate that I had a faculty that challenged me and that always told me, you know what, you can go to graduate school or you can get involved in leadership.”

Read about his visit here.
View photos here.

Steve Soboroff
Police Commissioner, LAPD

October 6, 2014

“What is most heartening to me is that community policing is part of the culture for every single cop,” he said. “If you go out with cops like I have more than 60 times, they know people in these communities. They know who people’s cousins are, who this person is and who that person is in the neighborhood. Community policing is practiced all the way through the system, which I think is remarkable.”

Read about his visit here.
View photos here.

Raquel Beltran
Executive Director of the League of Women Voters, Los Angeles

September 8, 2014

“In Los Angeles two-thirds of the people who live in Los Angeles don’t own their own home—they rent,” she said. “If you take a look at voting population, two-thirds of that population are homeowners. If you want to engage [renters], you have to talk to them about what they care about. If two-thirds of a population is renting, what you do think there reality is? Is it water conservation? It might be transportation. To engage them, you have to talk to them about what’s important to them.”

Read about her visit here.
View the photos here.

2013-2014 Series

The 2013-2014 series was sponsored, in part, by USC Price Office of Career Services.

Michael Govan
March 5, 2014

“The museum needs to be flipped upside down,” Govan said. “There’s a lot that I think needs to be really reconsidered about these organizations, and Los Angeles was the only place you could do that. We live in a globalized society, multicultural society, and Los Angeles is probably the best representative of that. If you want people to understand each other and the world, you want a museum that would deal with the environment, the cultural questions, the points of view, the time we live in.”

Read about his visit here.
View photos of his visit here.


John Szabo
February 13, 2014

“We’re doing really great work with the Affordable Care Act and partnering with Covered California because we know that with the health exchange coming along, people are going to come to the public library because of our technology, because we’re the place to go for information and because we’re trusted,” Szabo said. “But we’re also doing a lot of work in the public health arena, looking at where health disparities are in L.A., and targeting specific health programming around that. So if there’s a health disparity in one neighborhood, say a cardiovascular diseases health disparity in this neighborhood, we’re looking at how we can provide target programming around that. Where are the food deserts? Are there things that we can do with urban gardening and that kind of work?”

Read about his visit here.
View photos of his visit here.

Jackie Lacey
January 28, 2013

“With rehabilitation and alternative sentencing programs, those recidivism rates have been shown to drop down to about 20 percent,” Lacey said. “We have not fully used rehabilitation programs to the extent we should have. But now we really are being forced to do that.”

Read about her visit here.
View photos of her visit here.


Tom Bakaly
November 13, 2013

12:00pm to 1:30pm

University Park Campus
Invitation Only

“You learn about engagement and strategic planning here at USC,” Bakaly said. “A lot of times it sits up on a shelf. This time it’s been pretty real, especially when people are yelling at you. We’re engaging the whole community and looking at their values. Rarely does a city have an opportunity to define itself, but that’s what we’re trying to do right now.”

Read about his visit here.

Karen Bass
November 4, 2013

2:00pm to 3:00pm

University Park Campus

“One of the things I’ve had the most fun with has been applying grass-roots community-based strategies in a legislative context,” Bass said. “That’s been great fun. You’re not supposed to do that. It’s not expected, very disruptive, and consequently, a lot of fun.”

Read about her visit here.
View the photos here.

Aja Brown
October 17, 2013

“I’ve always worked in community building and done volunteer work at the grass-roots level,” Brown said. “I had no intention of running for office until I worked [in Compton] for a couple years, and I realized that it doesn’t matter how many great programs you do at the staff level, you really need a change in leadership to provide a strategic plan, a gameplan, or a blueprint that the community can follow. When I worked in government, I really saw the need for good policy and planning, and that’s what motivated me to run. And we’re off to a great start so far.”

Read about her visit here.
View the photos here.

Jan Perry
September 18, 2013

“By having relationships with people, I get to see what kind of public policy I actually need to develop because I see it playing out right in front of me,” Perry said. “It also keeps me grounded because I know what people want outside the walls of City Hall … the time I spend outside in the community actually getting things built.”

Read about her visit here.
View the photos here.

2012-2013 Series

For the inaugural 2012/13 season, we featured the Bedrosian Advisory Board as their range of leadership experience exemplified the goals of the program.

The five board members were Austin Beutner (December 10, 2012), Greig Smith (January 29, 2013), Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (February 11, 2013), Ronald Sims (March 14, 2013), Peter Gravett (April 22, 2013).

Bedrosian Center