Lonnie Ali MBA ‘86

written by Sarah C. Rich
photography by Max Gerber


You are widely recognized as a leading advocate for children's rights and for research into Parkinson's disease. What do you think is the most important characteristic of an effective advocate?
Passion and energy.

What do you hope to achieve for medical research in the future?
Increased awareness and funding. Like other advocates for health related illnesses, our hope is to eradicate a disease or at the very least, stop progression.

You and your husband both hail from Louisville, Kentucky. What is one of your fondest memories of your home town?
I have many great memories of Louisville and since we still maintain a home there, those memories are constantly growing. Perhaps one that readers can relate to would be my first Kentucky Derby. It's a truly a global event that brings people together from all over the world for a single horse race that last a little more than two minutes. Not only are the thoroughbreds on parade that day, so are most of
the people in attendance.

Last year the New York Times published a wonderful photo, taken by Steve Schapiro, of the moment you met your husband back in 1963. Can you describe your memory of that first encounter, so beautifully memorialized in the photo?
The memory is as fresh in my mind as the day the photo was taken. I had come home from grade school to find my mother gazing out of the front door at someone across the street from our home. I remember her telling me he was Cassius Clay and he was a boxer. Eventually, my brother came home to take me to meet Cassius. I was a shy child and was reluctant to go. I remember being afraid of him but eventually I approached him. Steve Schapiro was there that day photographing 'Cassius' for a magazine article and snapped the picture.

In a few words, what comes to mind when you think of your time at UCLA Anderson?
I can only think back on my time at UCLA Anderson as the best two-year investment I ever made. Anderson provided me the opportunity to be where I am today. Anderson provided me the business and marketing training I needed to manage a global brand. It gave me the confidence to believe that I could be a successful entrepreneur.