CAP en Español
Small CAP Banner

Alan Bersin

Affiliated Scholar

Alan Bersin

Expertise: Education

Alan Bersin was appointed to the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders on December 4, 2006; confirmed by the San Diego City Council, and elected Board Chairman by his colleagues. Previously, Bersin served as California’s Secretary of Education between July 2005 and December 2006 in the Administration of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Governor Schwarzenegger also appointed Bersin to the State Board of Education where he continues to serve as a member confirmed by the California State Senate. Between 1998 and 2005, he served as Superintendent of Public Education in San Diego where he launched a major reorganization of the district to focus its resources strategically on instruction and to modernize its business infrastructure in order to support teaching and learning in the classroom. In a related capacity statewide, Bersin served between 2000 and 2003 as a member of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and for which he was selected by his colleagues as chairman in December 2000 for a two-year term. Prior to becoming the leader of the nation’s eighth largest urban school district, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California and confirmed in that capacity by the U.S. Senate. Bersin served as U.S. Attorney for nearly five years and as the Attorney General’s Southwest Border Representative responsible for coordinating federal law enforcement on the border from South Texas to Southern California.

Bersin was a senior partner in the Los Angeles law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson, where he served on the firm’s policy and compensation committees and was principally responsible for developing the firm’s innovative paralegal program. He also chaired the committee overseeing the firm’s extensive program of pro bono legal services, which is widely acknowledged as a model for major law firms. At Munger, Tolles & Olson, Bersin specialized in complex RICO, securities, commercial and insurance litigation before state and federal trial and appellate courts. He is a member of the California and Alaska bars.

Other professional experience includes employment as Special Counsel to the Los Angeles Police Commission, as visiting professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law, as an adjunct professor of law at Boalt Hall, University of California, Berkeley and at the University of Southern California Law Center, and as a Lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education.

Bersin serves as a member of the Board of Overseers for Harvard University and as Chair of the Visiting Committee for the Harvard Graduate School of Education; as President/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Education Sector; as an Affiliated Scholar for American Progress; and as a Trustee of The Neurosciences Institute. He has served as a member of the Policy Board of EdVoice, as the Chair of the Combined Federal Campaign, United Way in San Diego; as a member of the Board of Directors of the San Diego County YMCA; as a member of the Steering Committee of San Diego Dialogue; as a member of the Advisory Board, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies (UCSD); as a member of the Council of Visitors, California Western School of Law; on the Board of Directors of Public Counsel, and the San Diego Volunteer Lawyers Program; and as a Master in the Enright Inn of Court. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy.

In 1968, Bersin received his A.B. in government from Harvard University (magna cum laude). He was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society and awarded post-graduate scholarships by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the National Football Hall of Fame. While at Harvard, Bersin was selected as a member of the All-Ivy, All-New England and All-East Football Teams and was inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame in 1995. From 1969 to 1971, Bersin attended Balliol College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. In 1974, he received his J.D. degree from the Yale Law School. Bersin was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws (Honorary) by the University of San Diego in 1994, by California Western School of Law in 1996, and by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2000. He is fluent in Spanish.

Bersin was born in Brooklyn, New York, and attended public schools in New York City. He is married to Judge Lisa Foster and is the father of three daughters: Alissa, Madeleine and Amalia Rose.