Beastly Ball Honoree: The Honorable Richard J. Riordan
Richard J. Riordan, born in Flushing, New York, graduated from Princeton University (with a degree in philosophy) and the University of Michigan Law School. After his service in the Korean War as a field artillery lieutenant for the U.S. Army, Riordan moved to California. A well-established and highly respected attorney, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, Riordan first entered service as Mayor of Los Angeles in 1993 and was re-elected by an overwhelming margin four years later, with more than 60% of voters supporting his efforts to improve public safety, create quality jobs, and reform Los Angeles’ public schools. A key component to the Mayor’s concerns with quality of life issues was having a strong Zoo that serves the community with an affordable form of family education and entertainment. He always felt that the Zoo park setting and exotic animals would teach our children about the world at large. Under his leadership as Mayor, he demonstrated his support through the oversight of the Zoo's transition to a separate City department which elevated the Zoo's importance and priority in the overall governance structure of the City of Los Angeles. Critical bond measures and bond-funded projects, Propositions A-2 (County - 1996), K (City - 1996), and CC (City - 1998), for the Zoo were approved by the voters of Los Angeles City and County during his tenure. With the first phase of the Zoo’s Master Plan renovations well underway, Mayor Riordan committed his personal funds to create “Riordan’s Kid’s Korner” in the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo. This area served our youngest visitors with interactive play and readings from books about animals.
Riordan served as California’s Secretary of Education from 2003 to 2005. He was a founding member of the nationally acclaimed LEARN school reform effort and a founding board member of LA’s BEST (Better Educated Students for Tomorrow), a nationally recognized after-school program serving thousands of children in Los Angeles’ underserved neighborhoods. In 1981, Riordan 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 2,100 schools in 40 states and has enabled the purchase of 145,000 books for elementary classroom libraries. For children with limited access to books, Riordan created the “Recreational Mini-Grant Program,” which has awarded $1.5 million in book grants since 1993. Currently Riordan is Chairman of the Board of the Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF), a consortium of Los Angeles Public Charter Schools. Riordan was co-founder of the premier private-equity boutique firm, Riordan, Caps and Carbone, which later became known as Riordan & McKinzie and merged with Bingham McCutchen in 2003. Riordan has three children and three grandchildren. He is an avid reader and ardent bicyclist and has an abiding love and respect for gorillas.
The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association is pleased to award the second Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award to Sarah Michelle Gellar. Gellar is best known for her iconic role as Buffy Summers inI. She wrapped her seventh and final season of the critically acclaimed drama in May of 2003. Gellar also originated the role of Kendall Hart on ABC's daytime soap opera All My Children, which earned her a Daytime Emmy Award in 1995 for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series. Gellar recently starred in The CW series Ringer, where she played a double role as beautiful twin sisters Bridget Kelly and Siobhan Martin. She has also starred in several notable film roles including Cruel Intentions, Scream 2, I Know What You Did Last Summer opposite husband Freddie Prinze, Jr., and the blockbuster hit The Grudge. No stranger to the world of voice over, Gellar has lent her voice in Liongate's Happily N'Ever After, opposite Sigourney Weaver and Freddie Prinze, Jr., and can be heard as the voice of April O'Neil in Warner Brothers' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In addition to her work in film and television, Gellar, a GLAZA Safari Club patron, is an active advocate for various charities, including Make-A-Wish Foundation, Project Angel Food, Habitat for Humanity, breast cancer research, and CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. She says, "I started because my mother taught me a long time ago that even when you have nothing, there's ways to give back. And what you get in return for that is tenfold." Most recently Gellar hosted an Operation Shower group baby shower for 40 expectant mothers with spouses that are deployed or seriously injured. Born in New York City, Gellar currently lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter.