Rica Rodman, Wasserman Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Education, arts, environmental responsibility, health

CONTACT: rica@wfdn.org, (310) 407 0200

IP TAKE: Rodman is an expert in media relations, having previously worked in U.S. government at the highest levels. Wasserman's staff is very small, but Rodman's varied experience qualifies her to make grantmaking decisions in education, health, and the arts.

PROFILE: Rica Rodman has worked with everyone from the United Nations, Walt Disney staff, and the President of the United States. Today, Rodman serves as the Executive Director of the Wasserman Foundation and advises Casey Wasserman on grantmaking in education, healthcare, and arts & culture. When she joined forces with Wasserman in 2000, she brought with her two decades of experience in strategic philanthropy, government relations, media relations, and event management.

Rodman graduated from Granada Hills High School and then from the University of California in Los Angeles with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and Media Studies. In the 1990s, she worked in the White House Press Office as a radio director and producer of President Bill Clinton's Saturday morning radio addresses and scheduled press interviews. She also worked as a TV booker for the 2004 Kerry-Edwards Presidential campaign. After some time in DC, she moved back to Los Angeles to work for the Walt Disney Company as the manager of government relations. In the mid-2000s, Rodman worked as a self-employed media consultant, and her client base included the United Nations, CNN, the Sundance Channel, the Global Campaign for Education, and the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Program.

Rodman first became involved with philanthropic foundations at the Norman Lear Foundation, where she served as president. At Lear, Rodman managed philanthropic giving, political giving, and press relations. She's stayed active with the Clintons and is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. She expressed her admiration for the former President in an interview about The West Wing television show, saying, “He worked "until the last hour of his last day in office," and his work ethic and long hours led to a strong sense of camaraderie among his staff.” She's also on the executive committee and boards of the Human Rights Watch California Committee, the USC Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and the Getty House Foundation. She's actually the president of the Getty House Foundation as well.

Personally, she is an avid traveler, visiting over 35 countries in the last few years and the learning Mandarin language. Guatemala, Jaipur, Maldives, Zanzibar, Argentina, and Tanzania have topped the list lately. She became Rica Rodman Orszag in 2000, when she married her White House colleague, Jonathan Orszag, who was an economic policy advisor to the National Economic Council from 1995 to 1999. She openly supports LGBT causes, human rights activism, and education initiatives.

In fact, education has been one of the most important issues for Rodman and the Wasserman Foundation lately. After aiding school supply efforts in Los Angeles Unified classrooms, she commented, “The thing that was most interesting to us was the opportunity for Angelenos to have a tangible impact, for them to find a way to donate to local schools or help teachers. We realize this isn't going to solve all of the problems in education, but it's a tool to help."

Former President Clinton is one of the most outspoken advocates for healthcare causes, and Rodman applies what she learned from him in her health grantmaking. Since the arts are such a big part of Los Angeles culture, Wasserman regularly funds local arts & culture causes as well. To learn more about Wasserman's grantmaking programs and strategies, check out the foundation's Giving Section, guiding principles, and focus areas.