By Cristy Lytal
USC Price School of Public Policy alumna Lori Glasgow – the recently retired Executive Officer of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors – was first inspired to change the world through public service at her local supermarket.
“I’d go grocery shopping with my parents, and they’d get the meat home, and it would be brown, and all of the vegetables would be wilted. And I lived in a predominantly black neighborhood at the time,” she said. “And then if we ever went to another market in a white area, the meat was all pink and fresh. And I remember noting the difference, even when I was really young. So I knew that I wanted to be the one to stand up and say something about the unfairness of the disparity, and I thought the best way would be to work for government.”
Glasgow earned a bachelor’s degree in social ecology from UC Irvine, and while she was exploring her options for graduate school, she and her mother visited USC. They asked someone for directions to the international relations department — and that someone happened to be Ross Clayton, who was then the dean of the School of Public Administration (now known as the USC Price School of Public Policy).
Naturally, Clayton gave Glasgow a different set of directions, which guided her to pursue a master’s degree in intergovernmental management.
“That was the best program ever,” Glasgow said. “You don’t write a thesis, but you do an internship at the local level of government, the state level of government and the federal level of government. I can’t tell you how valuable that experience was.”
While in the program, Glasgow interned for the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C., for the Legislative Analyst’s Office in Sacramento, and for the Chief Administrative Office in Los Angeles County.
After graduation, she stayed in Sacramento for four years, working for state legislators including Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, Senate President Pro Temp David Roberti and, Assembly members Richard Floyd and Maxine Waters. She then returned to Southern California to work for the City of Santa Ana.
Inspired to further advance her education and career, she decided to pursue her Ph.D. at USC Price. While writing a dissertation about criminal recidivism, teaching public administration courses, and raising her daughter, Glasgow also began working full-time for Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.
For more than two decades, she continued to work for Antonovich while teaching at USC, CSU Long Beach, and several other institutions.
“I’m shameless. I just tell [my students], ‘We need brilliant people running our government, so I’m here to try to convince you to work for government, and I’m just not even going to hide it.’ So several of my students do work for government,” she said. “That feels so rewarding to me.”
Glasgow was still teaching at USC when she was appointed to be the Executive Officer of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in 2016. In this position, she worked with the five members of the board, providing administrative and operational support, helped prepare agendas and run meetings, and kept the official records for the County Board of Supervisors — which is the nation’s largest local government, serving more than 10 million residents.
“It was fascinating; it was challenging; it was rewarding,” she said. “I felt like I was really part of the engine that was making the county go, and that was very exciting. I think the most rewarding part was just seeing the fruits of your labor every Tuesday at the board meeting — and Wednesday through Monday as well.”
She recently retired from Los Angeles County, but she will continue to teach at the USC Price School while redirecting her energies into a faith-based movie production company, which she runs with her husband.
“No matter what Chapter Two of this life of mine brings me,” she said, “I always want to be in touch with young people, and to be a prophet of encouraging people to think about government and their role in society.”