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Advisory Council

The Obama Scholars Advisory Council provides ongoing support and counsel for students while at Occidental and in their pursuant careers:


Hector De La Torre

Hector De La Torre

Hector De La TorreOccidental College Class of 1989
Public Policy Leader

Hector De La Torre is Chair of the board of directors at L.A. Care, the largest public health plan in America. He was executive director of the Transamerica Center for Health Studies, a national...

Sara El-Amine

Sara El-Amine

Sara El-AmineOccidental College Class of 2007
Political Strategist

Sara El-Amine PhD (hc) is a progressive senior strategist who was one of the architects of the Obama grassroots movement, playing key roles outside the US White House to pass and implement healthcare...

Obama Administration/Foundation Officials

Denise Campbell Bauer

Denise Campbell Bauer

Denise Campbell BauerOccidental College Class of 1986
Former Ambassador

Denise Bauer served as the United States ambassador to Belgium from August 2013 until January 2017, where she focused on transatlantic security partnerships and international trade while leading one...

Jeh Johnson

Jeh Johnson

Jeh JohnsonParent of 2017 Occidental College graduate
Former Secretary of Homeland Security

Jeh Johnson is a partner in the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, who in public life was Secretary of Homeland Security (2013-2017), General Counsel of the Department of...

Ted Mitchell

Ted Mitchell

Ted MitchellPresident EmeritusOccidental College
President, American Council on Education

Ted Mitchell became president of the American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities, on Sept. 1, 2017. He came to ACE from the U.S. Department of...

David Plouffe Headshot

David Plouffe

David PlouffeFriend of Occidental College
Campaign and Policy Advisor

David Plouffe leads the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s policy and advocacy team. For more than 25 years, David has developed strategies to bring people together around common causes. He has held senior...

Speaker Ben Rhodes

Ben Rhodes

Ben RhodesFriend of Occidental College
Writer and political commentator

Ben Rhodes served as deputy national security advisor to President Barack Obama for eight years, overseeing the administration’s national security communications, public diplomacy, global engagement...

Maya Soetoro-Ng

Maya Soetoro-Ng

Maya Soetoro-NgFriend of Occidental College
Matsunaga Institute for Peace, University of Hawaii

Maya is the Director of the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where, in addition to leading outreach and development initiatives and running...

Vinai K Thummalapally

Vinai Kumar Thummalapally

Vinai Kumar ThummalapallyFriend of Occidental College
Former Ambassador

Vinai Kumar Thummalapally is the former executive director of SelectUSA, what Forbes Magazine calls “America’s chief marketing officer,” from 2013 to 2016. Based in the U.S. Department of Commerce...

Distinguished Community Leaders

David H. Anderson

David H. Anderson

David H. AndersonOccidental College Class of 1963
Environmental Attorney

Dave Anderson ’63 has spent a lifetime working to safeguard cherished western landscapes as a pioneer in environmental and land conservation law. Anderson is the co-founder, past president and...

Bruce and Ann Blume

Ann and Bruce Blume

Ann and Bruce BlumeParents of 2014 Occidental College graduate
Community Leaders

Bruce Blume is founder, owner, and CEO of The Blume Co., a real estate development firm that has helped transform Seattle’s South Lake Union, University, Eastlake and Fremont neighborhoods. Prior to...

John Branca

John Branca

John BrancaOccidental College Class of 1972
Entertainment Attorney

As one of the top country’s top entertainment attorneys, John Branca ’72 has represented more than 30 members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including Carlos Santana, Aerosmith, the Beach Boys...

Bill Davis

Bill Davis

Bill DavisOccidental College Class of 1980
Public Radio Executive

Bill Davis is the founding president of Southern California Public Radio, a subsidiary of the American Public Media Group. Before joining SCPR in 2001, he was senior vice president for programming at...

Laurent Delanney

Laurent Delanney

Laurent DelanneyOccidental College Class of 1982
Global Sports Marketing Executive

Laurent Delanney ’82’s role as assistant director of global sponsorship and partnership at Rolex is the latest chapter in his distinguished career as an international sports marketing executive. Prior...

Dr. Susan DiMarco

Dr. Susan DiMarco

Dr. Susan DiMarcoParent of 2017 Occidental College graduate
Civic Leader

Susan DiMarco is an active volunteer in civics and arts-related activities in New York and New Jersey. She recently served on the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the Kennedy Center in...

Fred DuVal

Fred DuVal

Fred DuValOccidental College Class of 1976
Policy Consultant

Fred DuVal ‘76 is president of the consulting firm of DuVal & Associates and senior adviser to Denton’s, the world’s largest law firm. Beginning his career under Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, DuVal...

Mark Fabiani

Mark Fabiani

Mark FabianiParent of Occidental College Student
Political Strategist

Mark Fabiani is a crisis management expert, political strategist and lawyer. He was former deputy mayor of Los Angeles and chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bradley, managing political strategy, media...

Alan Freeman

Alan Freeman

Alan FreemanOccidental College Class of 1966
Theater Director and Writer

An award-winning director, writer, actor, producer and filmmaker, Alan Freeman ’66 M’67 has worked at such theaters as the Mark Taper Forum, San Diego’s Old Globe Theatre, Los Angeles Theater Center...

Maurine and Phil Halperin

Maurine and Philip Halperin

Maurine and Philip HalperinParents of 2016 Occidental graduate
Education Leaders

Maurine and Phil Halperin firmly believe that opportunity is a founding premise of our nation, and education should go hand in hand with that. The Halperins have long been committed to and both work...

Wahid Hamid

Wahid Hamid

Wahid Hamid Occidental College Class of 1982
International Investor

Wahid Hamid ’82 H’11 is the founder and CEO of Excilla International FZ, an advisory firm focused on strategy and shareholder value creation. He was recently the chief strategy and business...

Octavio Herrera

Octavio Herrera

Octavio HerreraOccidental College Class of 1998
Software Entrepreneur

Octavio Herrera ’98 is a tech entrepreneur with a proven track record starting and selling successful companies. The Oxy physics major is the cofounder of Lucid Sight, a Los Angeles-based software...

Glenn and Jane Hickerson

Jane and Glenn Hickerson

Jane and Glenn HickersonFriends of Occidental College
Marketing and Management Consultant

Glenn Hickerson is president of Hickerson Associates, a marketing and management consulting firm in San Francisco whose clients have included IBM, JP Morgan Chase and GATX Corp. In advising clients...

Bob Johnson headshot

Bob Johnson

Bob L. JohnsonAlumnus
Entertainment Attorney

Bob (“BJ”) Johnson is a Los Angeles-based entertainment attorney and civic activist. A former senior music executive with Atlantic Records, his law practice includes representation of prominent...

Chris Johnson headshot

Chris Johnson

Chris JohnsonOccidental College Class of 1983
Business Executive

Chris Johnson was hired by an on-campus recruiter and has subsequently spent his entire 37 year career with Nestlé, starting as a marketing trainee at Carnation Company. Chris is currently Executive...

Rob McKay

Rob McKay

Rob McKayOccidental College Class of 1986
President, McKay Family Foundation

Rob McKay ’86 has spent his career working in the fields of philanthropy, politics and early stage equity investing. In 1992 he established theMcKay Foundation that spent 20 years supporting social...

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Ian McKinnon

Mr. Ian McKinnonOccidental College Class of 1989
Investment Manager

Ian McKinnon is the Founding Partner of Sandia Holdings, LLC (“Sandia”). Located in Greenwich, Connecticut, Sandia is the primary investment vehicle for the McKinnon family and related entities. Prior...

Steve Olson

Steve Olson

Steve OlsonFriend of Occidental College

Steve Olson is a partner in the Los Angeles law firm of O’Melveny & Myers, where he serves as chairman of its white-collar defense and corporate investigations practice. A former federal prosecutor at...

Ryan Preston-Roedder

Dr. Ryan Preston-RoedderAssociate Professor of Philosophy
Faculty Mentor

Ryan Preston-Roedder (Ph.D. 2007, NYU) is the Obama Scholars Program faculty advisor and a professor of philosophy. Before joining the Oxy Philosophy Department in 2017, he taught at the University of...

Joel and Eve Riley

Joel & Eve Riley

Joel & Eve RileyParents of 2017 Occidental graduate

Joel is the director of the Division of Gastroenterology at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. A proud graduate of Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, Joel takes pride in helping...

Janette Sadik Khan

Janette Sadik-Khan

Janette Sadik-KhanOccidental College Class of 1982
Urban Transportation Planner

Janette Sadik-Khan is one of the world’s foremost authorities on transportation and urban transformation. She served as New York City’s transportation commissioner from 2007 to 2013 under Mayor...

Roger Guenveur Smith

Roger Guenveur Smith

Roger Guenveur Smith Occidental College Class of 1977
Actor, director and writer

Award-winning actor, playwright and director Roger Guenveur Smith ’77’s first play was his senior honors project in American Studies, titled An Evening With Frederick Douglass . His Obie-winning solo...

Joe Solomnese

Joe Solmonese

Joe SolmoneseFriend of Occidental College
Corporate Consultant

Joe Solmonese is managing director and founding partner of the corporate consulting firm of Gavin/Solmonese, where he heads the corporate engagement practice. Prior to forming Gavin/Solmonese in 2012...

Occidental President Jonathan Veitch

Jonathan Veitch

Jonathan Veitch
Professor of History

During his 11-year tenure (2009-2020) as Occidental College’s 15th president, Jonathan Veitch expanded and deepened the College’s ties to Los Angeles, helped foster a cosmopolitan campus culture, and...