The newly appointed superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Austin Beutner will deliver the keynote address to Woodbury’s Class of 2018 during graduation ceremonies on May 12. A civic leader, philanthropist, and former investment banker, as well as the former publisher of the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Union Tribune, Beutner also served as the city’s first deputy mayor.
Earlier in his career, Beutner worked at The Blackstone Group, and at age 29 became the firm’s youngest partner. He left Blackstone to serve in the State Department, where he led efforts to help Russia transition to a market economy after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1996 he co-founded Evercore Partners, where as president and co-CEO he helped build the company into one of the world’s leading independent investment banks.
In 2010, Beutner accepted a $1 annual salary to serve as first deputy mayor and “jobs czar” for the City of Los Angeles. In that role, he oversaw the policy and operations of 13 city departments ranging from the Los Angeles World Airports, the Port of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, to the Departments of Planning, Building and Safety, and Housing and Homeless.
“Austin Beutner has left his imprint on virtually every facet of public life in Los Angeles and well beyond,” said Dr. David Steele-Figueredo, Woodbury’s president. “From business to government, from education to philanthropy, from journalism to the broadest kind of civic and cultural engagement, he’s been there and done that, with distinction. He is animated by a spirit of social entrepreneurship that simply doesn’t quit, which is why we’re so delighted to welcome him as this year’s graduation speaker.”
“Woodbury University is a Los Angeles success story more than 130 years in the making, and I’m honored and excited to have the opportunity to address the Class of 2018 and the Woodbury community at large,” Beutner said. “Woodbury is a place of quiet excellence, where generations of students and faculty have made enormous contributions to the creative professions and the economic vibrancy of Southern California.”
In 2012, Beutner created Vision To Learn, a nonprofit that operates mobile clinics to provide free eye exams and glasses to children in low-income communities. Vision To Learn serves children in low-income communities in 114 school districts in 242 cities across the country and is the largest school-based effort of its kind in the nation.
Beutner co-chaired the LA 2020 Commission, which made a series of recommendations to improve the city’s budget position and overall climate for job creation. He also served as co-chair of the LA Unified Advisory Task Force, which is working with LAUSD to help the district improve in a number of areas, including student attendance and achievement.
Beutner currently serves on the Board of the National Park Foundation. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Beutner has taught courses on ethics, leadership and effective government at Harvard Business School, CSUN, USC’s Price School, and UCLA’s Andersen School of Business.
At the ceremony, Woodbury will award Beutner with an Honorary Doctor of Education degree for his dedicated leadership to civic duty.