California State University, Northridge alumnus Stuart Waldman ’95 (Political Science) has built a career on effecting change.
Waldman’s work in government and business — including being part of the team that brought the 2028 Olympics to L.A. and assisting in the passage of a 2016 ballot measure for multi-billion dollar public transportation funding known as Measure M — serve to establish his role in making not only the San Fernando Valley, but the City of Los Angeles, a better place to live and work.
Having lived in the Valley since 1978, Waldman maintains that connection to his hometown through his continual efforts in city and state government.
Waldman currently serves as president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA), a business association that aims to increase the economic prosperity of the greater San Fernando Valley by working at every level of government to create and maintain businesses.
“We are advocates for these businesses with the government, so we are trying to create jobs, we are trying to keep jobs, we’re just trying to make the Valley a great place to live and work,” said Waldman.
Waldman began his service as president of VICA in 2008, but the catalyst for his passion for creating change happened decades earlier.
In 1991, Waldman went on a cross-country road trip and was in Little Rock, Ark., where he saw former President Bill Clinton give a speech before launching his presidential campaign. That sparked Waldman’s interest in politics.
Being enrolled at Los Angeles Valley College at the time, Waldman began working politically within the California system of higher education as part of an effort against tuition increases and realized the potential he had.
“Between those two moments, I was smitten and I started working in politics, first working on campaigns, then working with the state legislature,” said Waldman. “I fell in love with the opportunity to effect change.”
Waldman carried that passion through trying times into his first weeks as a transfer student at CSUN. A couple of weeks after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake devastated the campus, Waldman was taking 8 a.m. classes in bungalows without any heat. He recalls being amazed by the efforts made by the campus community to make sure that students were still going to be able to go to school.
The value of the connections made through CSUN is what Waldman still carries well into his current career.
“The people I met at CSUN became close and lifelong friends,” said Waldman. “I worked in politics with a lot of those folks. I was the founder of The San Fernando Valley Young Democrats with a lot of people that I met at CSUN and got involved working on campaigns in the Valley and for the state.”
Among those he started the club with are current Secretary of State of California Alex Padilla and Congressman Tony Cardenas. Waldman’s classmate Nury Martinez, who is now an LA City Councilwoman, later joined the club.
Waldman later earned the position of chief of staff for the California State Assembly where he worked with state legislators to make a greater investment in infrastructure, create the Metro Orange Line and implement the first witness-protection program in the state.
He was also on the LA 2024/28 Olympics bid committee board and is one of 30 people on the board for LA 2028, the committee that will organize the Olympics in Los Angeles.
Waldman and VICA helped in the advocacy and coalition-building efforts that led to funding approvals for the major public-transportation project Measure M. Measure M is a $150-billion multi-faceted voter-approved sales tax which aims to fund numerous transportation projects throughout Los Angeles County, including the building of a train through the Sepulveda Pass into the Valley, as well as converting the Orange Line into a train, potentially connecting CSUN to other transit systems and putting a train down the center of Van Nuys Boulevard in an effort to connect more people in the Valley.
Waldman has also connected with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to influence business tax reform and lower rates in an effort to stimulate business and job growth in the city.
Aside from a successful career in government, Waldman has a bit of a past wild side in the form of a short-lived music career. Waldman performed with several glam-rock bands in the 1980s including Dream Suite and 22 Skiddo.
“I played the Sunset Strip and The Troubadour, but I had zero talent whatsoever, and I was fortunate because I realized that,” said Waldman. “I realized that to get ahead in life I had to go to college, and no one was paying for me.”
Waldman joined the Army for the benefits of the GI Bill, which led him to CSUN and then onto a dynamic professional career. Waldman earned his Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School and is a lawyer.
Waldman has had an impactful career.
“I get to help businesses, I get to keep jobs going, I get to help the city, obviously the big things like the Olympics and Measure M are going to be awesome,” he said. “And that’s so rewarding, but sometimes I’ll have a business that’s a member that has called me and are having a small problem with a local department, and I’ll be able to work with the government to help them. There’s little things like that. The big things are great, but there are a lot of little things that we’re helping businesses with every day.”
Waldman aims to make the Valley a great place for its citizens, businesses and his family. He and his wife, Nicole Kuklok-Waldman, have been married for 15 years and are raising their two children here as well.
“When I got out of the Army I could have gone anywhere in the country and I chose to come back here to the Valley, and I’ve been here ever since,” said Waldman. “I love the valley and it’s the place where I’m raising my children and most likely the place we’ll be for the rest of our lives.”