Throughout her life, Bonnie Reiss has been a force for good, directing her considerable energy, passion and intelligence to advocate for children, education, the environment and political reform. During her time as the Global Director of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute at the Price School of Public Policy, Bonnie’s work and spirit have left an indelible imprint not just on the Institute and School, but on every student, staff and faculty member she has worked with.
To honor her and to inspire Price students to follow her example as a visionary leader, we have established the Bonnie Reiss Scholarship, which will be awarded every year to a deserving student who is committed to pursuing a life of public service.
Growing up, Bonnie was strongly influenced by President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa. They inspired her to believe that one person can make a difference with a life well lived. Now, through this scholarship, Bonnie’s abiding commitment to do good in the world will inspire others to continue the legacy she has built here at USC Price and throughout her life.
While Bonnie’s career reflects a variety of professional accomplishments, there has been a remarkably consistent focus that attests to her innate sense of justice and fairness. As a young lawyer in Los Angeles, Bonnie helped create the Hollywood Women’s Political Action Committee, which supported candidates who were committed to protecting the environment, education, civil rights, women and children.
Recognizing a desire to do more, Bonnie closed her successful entertainment law practice to devote herself fully to nonprofit work. In 1988, with support from her clients and Hollywood contacts, Bonnie launched the Earth Communications Office, which became the de facto public relations firm for the global environmental movement.
Four years later, at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s request, Bonnie became the founding President and CEO of the Inner City Games Foundation. This organization, later renamed After-School All-Stars, has grown into largest school-based after-school provider in the United States. In 2003, Bonnie became one of the first advisors to Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign. From 2003-2007, Bonnie served as Senior Advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, playing a significant role in shaping California’s landmark Global Climate Solutions Act. She also served as California’s Secretary of Education, and was appointed to the University of the California Board of Regents in 2007.
As we seek candidates for the Bonnie Reiss Scholarship Fund now and into the future, we will look for young men and women who embody Bonnie’s fierce commitment to social justice, her extraordinary leadership ability, and the deep spirit of generosity and warmth that has made her one of the most beloved figures in our School.