Rossier News

Mary Atwater James named chair of USC Rossier's Board of Councilors

Austin Beutner and Lynn Jacobson join Board of Councilors

By Katrina Nash Published on

Reveta Franklin Bowers BA ’70 has led the USC Rossier Board of Councilors as chair since 2018, overseeing the transition to Dean Pedro Noguera in 2020 and the launch of the Educational Equity Initiative in 2022. Throughout her life, Bowers has been a leader in her community and in the field of education. In addition to her time as chair of USC Rossier Board of Councilors, Bowers was the head of school at The Center for Early Education for over 40 years; among many other positions, Bowers has served as board chair of the California Community Foundation, an outside director of the Walt Disney Company, as past president of the Fulfillment Fund’s Board of Governors, and as a board member of the National Association of Independent Schools.

“I am incredibly grateful to Reveta for her guidance and steadfast leadership,” said Dean Noguera. “Reveta welcomed me to USC Rossier during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when children were falling further behind in a broken school system. Reveta’s insight and deep-rooted knowledge of the education system helped shape the Educational Equity Initiative, ensuring we create long-overdue changes for learners.”

Mary Atwater James, who has been a Board of Councilors member since 2015 and more recently vice chair, is stepping into the role of chair. “As Reveta steps away from USC Rossier as chair, I want to thank her for her service to USC Rossier and emphasize how blessed we feel by her insights, wisdom and leadership,” James said. “I look forward to continuing on her tradition as chair, following her lead as a listener and collaborator.” As a life-long supporter of education, James has served on boards for Brentwood School, L.A. Leadership Charter School, and the Heart of Los Angeles After School Programs. James was one of the earliest supporters of USC Hybrid High School, the charter school established by USC Rossier in downtown Los Angeles. USC Rossier welcomes James as chair and looks forward to her leadership in advancing educational equity. “We have an exciting year ahead of us, and together, we can better support Dean Noguera’s compelling vision for USC Rossier and its role in shaping the future of education,” James said.

“I am extremely pleased to welcome Mary as chair,” Dean Noguera said. “Mary brings a wealth of strategic knowledge and leadership to the Board of Councilors as we continue to advance educational equity. I also look forward to working with Austin Beutner and Lynn Jacobson; I’m confident that they both will bring innovative ideas to the board as we work to create a world in which schools are responsive to the unique needs of every learner.”

Austin Beutner, former superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), has joined the Board of Councilors. Under Beutner’s leadership, LAUSD led the nation in responding to the crisis in public schools created by COVID-19. Los Angeles is the only major school district in the country where students showed gains in both fourth and eighth grade literacy and math during this time. Beutner is also the founder and chairman of Vision To Learn, which provides vision screenings, eye exams and glasses to children in low-income communities across the country. The organization has provided almost 2.4 million children with vision screenings and 400,000 with glasses, all at no cost to the child or their family.

“A good education is the path out of poverty for many students and the promise of opportunity for all of them,” said Beutner. “It’s a privilege to be part of the USC Rossier community, which is dedicated to the mission of improving public education across the country.”

Lynn Jacobson, USC Annenberg alumna and appointee to the National Leadership Council for Teach for America, has joined the Board of Councilors. Jacobson currently serves on the Board of Directors of Step Up Tutoring, a nonprofit startup that provides free, one-on-one tutoring online to students in third to sixth grade, in under-resourced communities that experienced learning loss during the pandemic. For 10 years, Jacobson served on the Advisory Board of Teach for America Los Angeles and was board chair for three years.

“I am thrilled to be joining the USC Rossier Board of Councilors; a true leader in innovation, inclusivity and diversity in education,” Jacobson said. “I chose to join the Board of Councilors to help foster improved learning opportunities with measurable outcomes to address the needs of all learners. It is exciting to be part of the evolution of education practices to best suit the needs of all students in an ever-expanding, 20st-century landscape.”

Long-term board member, activist philanthropist and fearless voice for educational equity, Melanie Lundquist PhD ’73, has become an ex-officio member. Ira Krinsky, who remains committed to improving education for students in Los Angeles, is stepping down from the board. USC Rossier thanks Krinsky for all he has done to support the school’s mission.

Recently named Faculty Council chair, Artineh Samkian, professor of clinical education, will replace Darnell Cole as an ex-officio member on the Board of Councilors. Samkian’s professional research experience has spanned both pre-K–12 and higher education contexts, and her professional focus and interest has been in utilizing rigorous methods and research evidence to inform and improve educational practice.

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