Entertainment lawyer Robert Myman ’67 (Political Science), investment management executive Lauren Leichtman ’72 (Psychology) and songwriter Diane Warren ’78 (Music) in April became Cal State Northridge’s newest Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, during the 12th annual ceremony, held this year at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village.
Before an audience of 440 guests, CNBC commentator and master of ceremonies Bill Griffeth ’80 took note of the display of ties guests had been encouraged to wear: in shades of white, black and red. “This is the first red tie event I’ve ever been to,” he quipped.
But not the first alumni award ceremony. In fact, Griffeth and President Jolene Koester were celebrating their tenth year of honoring CSUN’s outstanding alumni at the event, the first featured live on Facebook. It also was “tweeted,” including in the university’s social media network those alumni unable to honor their peers in person.
Alumni Association Vice President Kurt Rayners ’95, MBA ‘00 assisted President Koester in congratulating each awardee:
Robert Myman is a founding partner of Myman Abell Fineman Fox Greenspan Light LLP, one of the nation’s leading entertainment law firms. In 1963, he enrolled at San Fernando Valley State College, where he earned varsity letters on the Matador swimming and water polo teams and joined Zeta Beta Tau fraternity. After earning his bachelor’s degree from CSUN and his J.D. from the USC School of Law, Myman began practicing law in the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office.
With the late actor John Ritter, he collaborated on dozens of projects. “When I began my firm 30 years ago,” Myman said, “my partner was one of my CSUN fraternity brothers who had a script for the movie ‘Airplane.’ I had one client, John Ritter. I’m amazed by the scope of opportunities that have come my way. Mundane choices often lead to life’s great adventures, so when someone invites you some place, my advice is to go.”
Myman served as executive producer on four broadcast network television series as well as on numerous television movies and specials. He has been honored by the Century City Bar Association as “Entertainment Attorney of the Year.”
Lauren Leichtman is recognized as one of the first women to have managed more than $5 billion in investment capital. Through Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP), she and her husband Arthur oversee billions of dollars in institutional investment capital in private equity partnerships on behalf of state and corporate pension funds, high net worth individuals, and family foundations and endowments.
After earning a B.A. degree in psychology from Northridge, Leichtman graduated from Southwestern University of Law and received an LLM from Columbia University Law School, specializing in securities law. Prior to founding LLCP, Leichtman practiced law for three years with the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. A tireless community leader in Los Angeles, she has been dedicated to the programs and opportunities provided by the CSUN Center on Disabilities.
“CSUN was where I stood on my own for the first time,” said Leichtman. “The ‘70s were a great decade for women. Doors were opening everywhere and all I needed was determination, perseverance and a little imagination to make my dreams possible. CSUN allowed me to try new things while I grew strong enough to take the next step.”
Diane Warren, described in a tribute taped by Curb Records Chairman and former California Lt. Gov. Mike Curb ’63 as “the Irving Berlin of our time,” is one of the most prolific and successful of contemporary songwriters. Her work has brought her a Golden Globe, six Academy Award nominations, a Grammy Award and a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. No fewer than 31 of Warren’s songs have peaked in Billboard’s top 10 and well over 100 have enhanced film and television productions. Founder of her own publishing company, Realsongs, she is also one of the most successful business owners in the industry, and The Diane Warren Foundation supports animal rights and rescue groups and human interest organizations.
As a student at CSUN, Warren was known for breaking into the piano practice rooms, where she composed and practiced “after hours.” At the awards ceremony, a smiling President Koester presented Warren with her own official key to the practice rooms and the invitation to use them whenever she liked.
“I took a lot of film classes because I thought they would be easy,” Warren told the audience of alumni, friends and faculty, “never realizing that I was learning how to write songs for the movies.”