Steve Poizner, a successful technology entrepreneur who recently finished a four-year term as state insurance commissioner of California, has joined the boards of councilors of two schools at USC.
His experience in engineering technology and advocacy of education reform make him an ideal contributor to their boards, according to the schools’ deans, Karen Symms Gallagher of the USC Rossier School of Education and Yannis C. Yortsos of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
“I chose both engineering and education because I have a passion for the intersection between technology and education,” Poizner said. “USC Rossier’s work with high-quality online education, for example, is a bold and creative program that best illustrates the possibilities when technology is applied to education.”
Regarding engineering: “As a former engineering student and tech entrepreneur, I believe it is critical that we encourage and support engineering programs so that our state and nation will keep its competitive edge in the new global economy.”
Poizner founded two successful technology companies in Silicon Valley. SnapTrack pioneered the technology that put GPS receivers into 700 million cell phones around the world, and Strategic Mapping Inc. assists police departments and utilities and transportation companies with strategic planning and logistics.
Poizner served as a White House fellow in the National Security Council’s Office of Cyberspace Security. As director of critical infrastructure protection, Poizner was responsible for issues such as emergency communications planning for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and protecting the nation’s banking system and power grids from cyber-attacks. In 2006, he was elected as a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations after being nominated by former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz.
Following his time with the National Security Council, Poizner spent a year as a volunteer teacher at Mount Pleasant High School in San Jose, Calif., where he taught 12th grade American government, and wrote Mount Pleasant, a New York Times bestselling book about his teaching experience.
After seeing the crisis conditions facing public schools, Poizner co-founded EdVoice, a statewide organization that advocates education reform and promotes issues such as charter schools, accountability and local control, and the California Charter Schools Association, the state’s leading charter school organization. He also served on the boards of several organizations committed to assisting disadvantaged children in K-12 public schools.
His membership on the board of councilors for USC Rossier reflects his commitment to improving K-12 education, which is integral to the mission of the school.
In 2006, he was elected into statewide office as insurance commissioner, where he oversaw the California Department of Insurance, the largest consumer protection agency in the state. Poizner was a candidate for California governor in the 2010 primary.
A Texas native, Poizner moved to California in 1978 to attend Stanford University, where he earned a master’s degree with honors in business administration. He and his wife, Carol, live in Los Gatos, Calif., with their daughter, Rebecca, a USC freshman.
“I’m honored to be a part of such a dynamic and distinguished institution, and look forward to sharing my passion and experiences with technology and education with the USC family,” Poizner said.