BONNIE REISS was born in New York City and grew up in Forrest Hills attending public schools until her graduation from Forrest Hills High School and admission to the University of Miami. Bonnie comes from a close knit family and even as a young child she believed in family, community and the importance of service. The Reiss family placed a high priority on education and after Bonnie’s academic performance resulted in her skipping two grades she graduated top in her class in college and in law school. Growing up Bonnie was strongly influenced by President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Ghandi and Mother Teresa who inspired her to believe that one person can make a difference with a life well lived.
BONNIE REISS ATTENDS THE UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI AND DISTINGUISHES HERSELF IN ACADEMICS AND SERVICE
Bonnie graduated Magna Cum Laude and the highest ranked female in the School of Business, majoring in accounting and finance. Bonnie was elected to the Student Senate in her sophomore year, wrote a weekly column in the school newspaper, and hosted a radio show at the school radio station. In recognition of her service and leadership Bonnie was awarded the Key to the City by the Mayor in her senior year.
BONNIE REISS GETS RECRUITED TO PEAT, MARWICK AND MITCHELL, “BIG 8” CPA FIRM AS CORPORATE AUDITOR
It was always Bonnie’s dream to be the first lawyer in her family but prior to enrolling in law school she spent one year putting her accounting and business degree to use and to gain valuable private sector experience. Working for one of the nation’s largest public accounting firms Bonnie audited Fortune 500 companies and performed system analysis.
BONNIE REISS ATTENDS ANTIOCH LAW SCHOOL IN WASHINGTON D.C. AND GRADUATES TOP IN HER CLASS
Bonnie combined her love of law, politics and community organizing when she accepted admission to the heralded new progressive Antioch Law School in Washington D.C. Students offered admission had to meet high academic standards as well as having demonstrated a commitment to public service. This unique law program required students to work 20 hours/week in various areas of the law under the guidance of a supervising attorney in addition to their academic studies.
BONNIE REISS CLERKS FOR SENATOR EDWARD KENNEDY
As part of Bonnie’s work requirement for law school she obtained a position on the staff of US Senator Edward Kennedy. Her responsibilities included drafting legislation, setting up Senate hearings, and writing speeches for the Senator on various issues. When the Senator ran for President in 1980, Bonnie took a one year leave of absence from law school to accept a position on the Kennedy Presidential campaign staff. Bonnie traveled the country as a field organizer in Iowa, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania and California. After serving as a floor manager at the Democratic National Convention in NYC in 1980 Bonnie took the valuable lessons learned and went back to Washington DC to complete her law degree.
BONNIE REISS MOVES TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AND BUILDS A SUCCESSFUL ENTERTAINMENT LAW PRACTICE
After completing law school with honors Bonnie moved to Los Angeles,
California attracted by the State's natural beauty and her desire to
practice entertainment law. After Bonnie got admitted to the California Bar she formed a law partnership with Theodore Lytle (Lytle & Reiss) who she worked with in Senator Kennedy’s office. Mr. Lytle served as General Counsel to the Senator with primary focus on the Antitrust Committee which the Senator chaired. Mr. Lytle’s focus at Lytle & Reiss was corporate and antitrust law, and Bonnie’s primary focus was entertainment law. Bonnie represented actors, writers, and producers in film and television. As her law career flourished she was featured on several television shows and news stories.
BONNIE REISS HELPS CREATE THE HOLLYWOOD WOMENS’ POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (HWPC)
While practicing entertainment law Bonnie joined forces with other powerful women in the entertainment industry to form a PAC and influence political races by funding and supporting candidates for US Congress who were committed to protecting the environment, education, civil rights, women and children. Bonnie served as the PAC’S treasurer and on their Board, as well as helping produce high impact Hollywood fundraisers.
BONNIE REISS CREATES THE EARTH COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE (ECO) AND SERVES AS CEO
1988 marked a significant turning point for Bonnie, deciding to give up her lucrative law practice and board memberships to dedicate all her time and energy to global environmental issues. Using her expertise and contacts in Hollywood, politics , use of media and community organizing, Bonnie forms ECO as a non profit organization. Supported by and housed at Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, ECO became the “media component” of the global environmental movement. Bonnie believed the “earth” could benefit from having a communications office using the skills of media leaders to conduct large public awareness campaigns using television, movie theaters, music and the power of celebrities. Creating an Advisory Board of the most respected scientists and ceo’s of the largest environmental organizations gave ECO credibility and access to the most accurate fact based information to utilize in their media campaigns.
In her five years as President of ECO Bonnie involved thousands of actors, directors, producers, writers, musicians, advertising creative directors and other leaders in the communications industry in environmental causes. Bonnie produced award winning ECO film spots seen in movie theaters nationwide, worked with top television shows and screenwriters to incorporate environmental themes, and published a newsletter for the industry. Bonnie also spearheaded the campaign to a “dolphin safe” practice by Starkist and other tuna companies.
NOVEMBER 1992-JANUARY 1993
BONNIE REISS PRODUCES OPENING CEREMONY FOR PRESIDENT CLINTON INAUGURAL
Bonnie’s reputation as one of the best policy related live event producers got her invited by Inaugural Chairman Harry Thomason to produce the opening ceremony of the 52nd Presidential Inaugural. Bonnie proudly accepted the invitation and went to Washington D.C. to put her team together and produce the event. The 52nd Inaugural began with a concert produced by Quincy Jones at the Lincoln Memorial and was followed by the “Bells for Hope” event, an idea conceived by Hillary Clinton and produced by Bonnie. The “Bells for Hope” involved a parade from the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington Circle where a live satellite event was staged on Sunday, January 17, 1993. The event connected thousands of community bell ringing ceremonies across the United States, with some featured in the live satellite hookup with the President and Vice President. The event culminated with a military fly over and a fireworks show. The “Bells for Hope” event was unprecedented in our Nation’s history and part of an HBO television special.
Bonnie passed on the opportunity to stay in D.C. and work in the Clinton Administration to return to Malibu, California and continue her high impact non profit work.
BONNIE REISS TEAMS UP WITH ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER TO START NATIONAL AFTER SCHOOL FOUNDATION
As a close family friend of Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bonnie is inspired by Arnold’s vision to start a national foundation to create programs to help at risk kids. Bonnie agrees to serve as the founding President and CEO of the Inner City Games Foundation (ICGF). Bonnie grew the organization in the first five years to a 15 city, 10 state organization. Over the years the organization which started as a summer and event focused sports program for kids expanded to a comprehensive 5 day/week, 3-6 pm after school program. Partnering with school districts and cities, these comprehensive programs offered academic support as well as sports, cultural, life skills and other engaging curriculum. The transition in programming led to the renaming of the organization to After School All-Stars.
BONNIE REISS WORKS WITH ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER TO PASS CALIFORNIA BALLOT INITIATIVE FOR AFTER SCHOOL FUNDING
Bonnie joins Arnold and Proposition 49 campaign team to draft the “After School Education and Safety Act” and to run the statewide campaign. When the voters passed this by an overwhelming margin, it made California the only state to provide funds (over 500 million dollars) in grants to elementary and middle schools to run after school programs for their students.
BONNIE REISS PRODUCES NATIONAL AFTER SCHOOL SUMMIT AT U.S DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Co-Chaired by U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bonnie teamed up with Secretary Paige’s chief of staff John Danielson to co-produce the Department of Education’s first ever after school summit. The Summit brought the best education leaders and after school providers together to share best practices and create guidelines for effective after school programs.
BONNIE REISS SERVES AS SENIOR ADVISOR TO SCHWARZENEGGER FOR RECALL ELECTION AND CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR
Asked by Arnold and Maria to serve as Senior Advisor to the campaign, Bonnie accepts the position and participates in all strategic planning. When the Recall was successful and the people elected Arnold as the 38th Governor of California, Bonnie helped the Governor recruit and interview the best people to join the administration in all senior positions and Cabinet positions.
BONNIE REISS SERVES AS THE SENIOR ADVISOR TO GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER
Bonnie moved to Sacramento to serve as the Senior Advisor to the Governor. As the Governor’s Senior Advisor Bonnie was involved in all major policy and political strategy. Bonnie also focused on the Governor’s priority initiatives including education reform, serving on the State Board of Education, and environmental policy, where she was instrumental in the passage of California’s landmark climate change laws, and produced the Governor’s three Global Climate Summits for world leaders.
BONNIE REISS SERVES ON BOARD OF MARIA SHRIVER’S CONFERENCE FOR WOMEN
In her role as First Lady, Maria Shriver expanded the annual California Conference for Women in size and scope. Over seven years the conference grew into the largest women’s conference on the planet and raised millions of dollars to support women’s health, shelters, and other significant programs.
BONNIE REISS JOINS PEGASUS CAPITAL ADVISORS
After serving as Senior Advisor to the Governor and his successful re-election campaign, Bonnie moved back to Malibu, California. Believing that the investment by capital markets in companies focused on sustainable business solutions is critical to the success of meeting climate and other environmental challenges, Bonnie becomes strategic advisor to Pegasus with her close friend Terry Tamminen. Terry served as California EPA Secretary from 2003-2007 and was instrumental in creating the California environmental action plan which helped California become a world leader. Terry is also a respected author and global environmental leader.
Pegasus is a US based private equity fund manager that provides creative capital and strategic solutions to middle market companies across a variety of industries.
BONNIE REISS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA BOARD OF REGENTS
Appointed by the Governor to the UC Board of Regents, Bonnie was confirmed by the State legislature in 2007 to a 12 year term. The UC Board of Regents meets every two months and oversees the internationally respected University System, including it’s ten campuses, medical schools, hospitals and national labs. Bonnie serves as Chair of the Education Policy Committee and on numerous other committees, including the task force on addressing sexual violence.
BONNIE REISS GETS APPOINTED BY GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER AS CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF EDUCATION
When the Governor’s Secretary of Education stepped down with one year remaining in his administration he turned to his trusted friend Bonnie to step into this important position. As Secretary of Education, Bonnie was responsible for education policy for over six million k-12 public school students as well as over one million students in higher education.
Within weeks of assuming the office of Secretary, Bonnie led California’s Race to the Top Phase 2 Federal Grant strategy and application. After finishing in the bottom of round one, Bonnie changed the strategy to a “bottom up” plan, bringing seven of the state’s most respected school district superintendents together in a working group to design the state’s plan. This innovative approach, supported by many foundations, earned California a place in the finals and attracted the attention of many national education leaders and the media. Galvanized by the process for RTTT, the seven district leaders representing over one million students, formed a non profit, California Office to Reform Education (CORE) to continue their collaboration. The CORE Board consists of the seven Superintendents and gave Bonnie the honor of being the only non superintendent to have a place on the board.
Another major initiative Secretary Reiss proudly led was the Governor’s Digital Textbook and Technology Executive Order. Recognizing that technology can play a major role in transforming the classroom and education delivery, and that California is the home of the world’s leading technology companies and innovators, Secretary Reiss formed a Education Technology working group, comprised of the CORE leaders, textbook publishers, technology companies and foundations. The efforts of the working group resulted in the creation of the California Guidelines for Digital Education, a set of guidelines that offers a common language and understanding of digital textbooks and information. It also led to various cutting edge pilot programs in various school districts using cutting edge technology in the classroom and exploring an approach that allows for the personalization of education to the individual student and the support needed by teachers to make this transition.
Perhaps the reform Secretary Reiss was most proud of was the California “Parent Trigger’ which was created by legislation passed that the grass roots “Parents Revolution” supported. This ground breaking legislation gives parents of kids who are in chronically failing schools the power to “fire” the school leaders and reconstitute their school, including finding a high performing charter organization to run it. This unprecedented reform gives parents who previously had no hope or options for their kids stuck in these failing schools the power to take back their school and turn it into a school that will give their children a quality education. A number of other states are copying this model.
2011 to Present
BONNIE REISS SERVES AS CEO OF BMR CONSULTING
When Secretary Reiss’ term of office ended in January 2011 she became CEO of BMR Consulting. Bonnie's focus is primarily in the areas of education, environment, health and wellness, civil rights and women’s and children’s issues. Bonnie serves on Boards that have focus on these areas.