Richard J. Riordan

The inaugural Leading from the West guest is Richard J. Riordan.


Born in Flushing, New York, Richard J. Riordan, a partner at Bingham McCutchen law firm, graduated from Princeton University and Michigan Law School. After his service in the Korean War Riordan moved to California. A well-established and highly respected attorney, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Riordan first entered public service as Mayor of Los Angeles from 1993 to 2001 and then California’s Secretary for Education until 2005. His appointment as California Secretary for Education in 2003 marked Governor Schwarzenegger’s first cabinet appointment.

Riordan was also a founding member of the nationally-acclaimed LEARN school reform effort, and a founding board member for L.A.’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), a nationally recognized after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles’ underserved neighborhoods.

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 21,700 computers to 2,100 schools in 40 states and enabled the purchase of 128,000 books for elementary classroom libraries.

Currently Riordan is Chairman of the Board of the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a consortium of Los Angeles Public Charter Schools.

In addition to Riordan’s education work for young students, he co-founded The Riordan Programs at The Anderson School at UCLA with Professor William Ouchi. 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.