Richard (Dick) Riordan is the former Secretary for Education of California and Mayor of Los Angeles. He was appointed Secretary for Education in 2003, marking Governor Schwarzenegger’s first cabinet appointment.
Riordan’s appointment to Secretary for Education was a natural extension of his civic activism that began well before his entry into public service. In 1981, he 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 23,400 computers to 2,110 schools in 40 states and enabled the purchase of 145,000 books for elementary classroom libraries. For children with limited access to books, Riordan created the “Recreational Reading Mini-Grant Program” that awards $1,000 grants to teachers to help them create a library inside their classrooms. Since 1993, this program has donated $1.5 million in book grants serving more than 30,000 children in grades K-5. Riordan also launched “Read to Me,” a citywide reading program that encourages parents and caregivers to begin reading to their children at an early age.
In addition to his education work for young students, the former Mayor 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 Fellow 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.
A well-established and highly respected lawyer, entrepreneur and philanthropist before entering public service, Riordan was elected Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993 and reelected by an overwhelming margin four years later, with more than 60 percent of the voters supporting his efforts to improve public safety, create quality jobs and reform Los Angeles’ public schools. Believing that government fails when communities fail to take their own initiative, he 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.
The focus of Riordan’s first mayoral term was improving public safety, creating quality jobs, making government more common-sense and efficient, rebuilding the city’s neighborhoods and bringing overdue reform to the city’s public school system. He 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), an innovative and nationally recognized after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles’ disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Riordan was also Co-Founder of the premier private-equity boutique firm Riordan, Caps & Carbone, which later became known as Riordan & McKinzie and merged with Bingham in July 2003. He is Of Counsel with Bingham.