2012 Award – Richard Riordan ’52

Richard Riordan ’52 was the recipient of the Princeton Club of Orange County’s sixth annual “In The Nation’s Service” award, presented at the club’s annual dinner on November 1, 2012 at the Newport Harbor Yacht Club. This year’s dinner was attended by more than 50 Princetonians and guests.

After graduating from Princeton in 1952 with a B.A. in Philosophy, Riordan served in Korea as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He graduated from the University of Michigan law school in 1956 and joined the law firm of O’Melveny & Meyers in Los Angeles.

In 1975, he co-founded the law firm of Riordan & McKinzie, which grew to a firm of more than 90 attorneys with offices in Los Angeles, Westlake Village and Orange County. In 2003, Riordan & McKinzie merged with Bingham McCutchen, one of the 25 largest law firms in the nation.

In 1981, he created the Riordan Foundation to teach children to read and write at an early age. Through its “Rx for Reading” programs, the Foundation has distributed more than 23,000 computers to schools, as well as books for elementary classroom libraries.

In 1982, he co-founded the private equity capital firm of Riordan, Lewis & Haden. Of its current portfolio of eight companies, five are in Southern California, three are based in Orange County and two more have offices here. A notable former RLH Orange County company was Data Processing Resources Corp (DPRC), which was acquired in June 1999 by Compuware Corp.

In 1993, Riordan won a decisive victory, 54%-46%, becoming the first Republican mayor of Los Angeles in more than thirty years. A Republican in a predominately Democrat city, he made education reform a priority and succeeded in changing the face of the Board of Education. He termed out after eight years in 2001, and in 2002 ran for Governor of California. He was appointed California Secretary for Education from 2003–2005.

Riordan was 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. Currently, Riordan is a board member of the Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, the largest nonprofit charter organization in Los Angeles.

In his spare time, Riordan is also a restaurateur. Prior to becoming Mayor, he purchased the Original Pantry Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles and owns Riordan’s Tavern next door to The Pantry. In Pacific Palisades, he owns Gladstones and The Village Pantry.