Valerie B. Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama, will serve as the principal speaker at Pomona College's 121st Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 18. During the ceremony, approximately 390 members of the Class of 2014 will receive their undergraduate degrees. The event will begin at 10 a.m., on Marston Quadrangle (located between 4th and 6th Streets in Claremont).
She joins Father Gregory Boyle, singer and conductor Plácido Domingo and Michael Starbird '70, professor of mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin, who will also speak and receive honorary degrees from the College.
Jarrett, who serves as one of the president's closest advisors, oversees the Offices of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and chairs the White House Council on Women and Girls. She previously served on Obama's campaign and co-chaired his presidential transition team.
Prior to joining the Obama administration, Jarrett practiced law; held posts in Chicago city government, including commissioner of the Planning and Development Department, chair of the Chicago Transit Board, and deputy chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley; and was CEO of The Habitat Company, a residential real estate development and management firm. She has served on numerous corporate and not-for-profit boards, including Chairman of the Board of the Chicago Stock Exchange, Chairman of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, Vice Chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the Joyce Foundation. Jarrett received her B.A. from Stanford University and her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.
Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the United States. He is the author of the award-winning and critically-acclaimed New York Times bestselling book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. He has served on the California State Commission for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the National Youth Gang Center Board and the Attorney General's Defending Childhood Task Force. Among the numerous honors he has received are the California Peace Prize and the Civic Medal of Honor.
Domingo, a world-renowned tenor and conductor, is currently the general director of the Los Angeles Opera. He began his opera career in 1959 with the Mexican National Opera and made his U.S. debut in 1961, in Dallas, as Arturo in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Through his long career, he has sung more than 144 different roles in more than 3,600 career performances. He has made more than 100 recordings and received 12 Grammy Awards. He has also conducted more than 500 opera performances and symphonic concerts. Domingo served as general director of the Washington National Opera from 2003 to 2011 and has served as general director of the Los Angeles Opera since 2003. Among the major awards he has received are the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle and being made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Starbird, a University Distinguished Teaching Professor at UT Austin, has received more than a dozen teaching awards, including the Mathematical Association of America's 2007 national teaching award. Highly regarded for making sophisticated mathematics accessible to the public, he is the co-author, with Edward B. Burger, of Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas (2005) and The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking, which won a 2001 Robert W. Hamilton Book Award. With David Marshall and Edward Odell, he co-authored Number Theory Through Inquiry. Starbird's mathematical research is in the field of topology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.