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Washington Post publisher Frederick Ryan joins USC Board of Trustees

The distinguished political adviser and public servant is admired for redefining the role of media

Fred Ryan
Fred Ryan was selected to lead The Washington Post in 2014. (Photo/Philip Birmingham Photography)

Frederick J. Ryan Jr. ’77, JD ’80, publisher and CEO of The Washington Post, was elected to the USC Board of Trustees on Feb. 1.

“Fred Ryan is an extraordinary media entrepreneur, political adviser and public servant, having distinguished himself in both the White House and in the communications world,” said President C. L. Max Nikias. “In recent decades, Mr. Ryan has drawn tremendous admiration for boldly redefining the role of media and for reimagining political journalism. His vast experience and exceptional vision will certainly benefit our board in profound ways.”

In 2014, Ryan was selected to lead The Washington Post by its new owner, Jeff Bezos. Ryan’s appointment was a signal of the news organization’s growth strategy and digital focus, in light of his role in the founding of Politico, a Washington-based publication covering policy and politics.

Ryan has spent more than a decade at the intersection of communications and politics, putting to good use the double major in political science and speech communication he earned as a USC undergraduate. He credits USC faculty — leaders in their fields who combined academics with their experiences in the political arena — for inspiring his career path.

In a recent interview with USC Dornsife Magazine, Ryan said that his professors gave him the “substance and theories of politics as well as real insight into the day-to-day engagement of what political campaigns or political process were all about.”

Working with Ronald Reagan

Prior to joining The Washington Post, Ryan was president and COO of Allbritton Communications Co., overseeing its broadcast and cable television stations. Ryan was founding CEO of Politico in 2007. Under his leadership as CEO, Politico won multiple awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, and was named by Fast Company magazine for excellence as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies.”

Ryan spent several years as a top aide to President Ronald Reagan before working in the media. He was one of the youngest people to serve as a senior staff member in the White House from 1982-89. He later served as chief of staff to Reagan during his post-presidential years in California, acting as his personal representative during meetings with heads of state and international business leaders.

In his role with Reagan, Ryan oversaw the construction and opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He continues to serve as chairman of the Ronald Reagan Foundation & Presidential Library board of trustees. He is also the author of two books: Ronald Reagan: The Great Communicator and Ronald Reagan: The Wisdom and Humor of the Great Communicator.

Advisory roles

Ryan serves as chairman of the White House Historical Association and co-chair of the National Archives Advisory Committee on Presidential Libraries. He serves on the boards of several other nonprofit organizations, including Ford’s Theatre and the National Museum of American History as well as the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

In 2005, Ryan was recognized with the USC Alumni Association’s Alumni Merit Award, which is given in recognition of achievements and contributions to the university.

As an alumnus who has remained connected to his alma mater over the years, Ryan has enjoyed watching USC’s reputation grow.

“When I first came to D.C., USC was certainly known and respected, but in the last few years, its presence here and the appreciation and admiration for what the university does has grown enormously,” Ryan said. “As a proud Trojan, that’s been great to see.”

Ryan and his wife Genevieve, who live in Potomac, Md., have three daughters.

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