2023 Commencement Speaker

Friday, June 16, 2023
4:00 p.m. Wilson Plaza

Karen Bass 

Mayor of Los Angeles

Karen Bass is the 43rd Mayor of Los Angeles and the first woman and second African American to be elected as the city's chief executive. With an agenda focused on bringing urgency, accountability, and a new direction to Los Angeles, she will start her term with a focus on housing people immediately and increasing safety and opportunity in every part of Los Angeles.

A daughter of our city, Mayor Bass was raised with her three brothers in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood and is a proud graduate of Hamilton High School. After serving as a front-line healthcare provider as a nurse and as a Physician Assistant, Mayor Bass founded the Community Coalition to organize the predominantly Black and Latino residents of South L.A. against substance abuse, poverty and crime, and to pioneer strategies to address the root causes behind the challenges faced by underserved neighborhoods.

She then went on to represent Los Angeles in the State Assembly and was elected by her peers to serve as Speaker, making her the first African American woman to ever lead a state legislative body in the history of the United States. Her time in leadership intersected with the Great Recession, and she was honored with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for reaching across party lines and making tough decisions to keep the state from bankruptcy while protecting vital services.

While representing Los Angeles and Culver City in Congress, Mayor Bass helped protect small businesses during the pandemic, created policy to drive local jobs from federal infrastructure funding, and led the passage of what the Los Angeles Times called “the most significant child welfare policy reform in decades.”

Mayor Bass earned her bachelor's degree in health sciences from CSU Dominguez Hills before graduating from the USC Keck School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program and earning her masters degree in social work from USC.

Mayor Bass’s oldest daughter Emilia planned to follow in her mother’s footsteps working for social change. The Mayor continues to be inspired by Emilia and her son-in-law Michael’s passion for life. She has three other children, Scythia, Omar and Yvette, and two grandchildren, Michael and Henry, who live in the Los Angeles area.

MBA, FEMBA, EMBA & Ph.D. Commencement
Friday, June 16, 2023
Angela F. Williams
President and CEO, United Way Worldwide

Named to the 2021 Forbes 50 Over 50: Impact list of women creating social change at scale and honored with a 2021 CEO Today Healthcare Award, Angela F. Williams is president and CEO of United Way Worldwide, the world’s largest privately funded nonprofit. 

With more than 30 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit and corporate sectors, Williams brings a long history of purpose-driven work to her role at United Way. Most recently, she was president and CEO of Easterseals. Before joining Easterseals, she spent 11 years as EVP, general counsel and chief administration officer at YMCA of the USA.

Williams was raised in a military family, which influenced her decision to serve on active duty in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps for more than six years following her graduation from the University of Texas School of Law. This experience, which occurred during a time when few Black women served in the JAG Corps, was foundational to her commitment to service.

Williams’ other leadership roles in government include serving on Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s Senate Judiciary Committee as special counsel on criminal law, serving as a prosecutor on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s National Church Arson Task Force and serving as an assistant U.S. attorney.

In the corporate world, Williams was vice president and deputy general counsel for Sears Holdings Corporation, as well as chief compliance and ethics officer, after working at the law firm Bryan Cave.

In 2006, immediately before joining the YMCA, Williams was interfaith liaison for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund, a nonprofit organization formed to provide critically needed donations to assist the survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

A native of Anderson, South Carolina, Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in American government from the University of Virginia, a juris doctor from the University of Texas School of Law and a master of divinity, cum laude, from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.

Williams resides in Chicago with her husband, Rev. Roderick Williams. She is a volunteer pastor at the Chicago Apostolic Center.