Selection Committee Member
Senior Vice President, University Relations, University of Southern California
Thomas Sayles is the Senior Vice President for University Relations at the University of Southern California. In this capacity, he provides strategic direction and leadership for USC’s public relations, outreach, and reputation. Sayles also oversees the university’s civic engagement and government relations work. Prior to this role, he served as the university’s Vice President for Government and Civic Engagement.
Before joining USC, Sayles was Senior Vice President for Government Affairs and Corporate Communications at Renetech Inc., an alternative fuels company headquartered in Los Angeles. Previously, Sayles served as California’s Commissioner of Corporations and later as Secretary of Business, Transportation, and Housing. He also worked for many years for Sempra Energy as Vice President of Government and Community Affairs and as Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing. In 2009, Sayles was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to serve on the governing board of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. He has been appointed by three different California governors to serve on boards and commissions, including the University of California Board of Regents and the California Community Colleges Board of Trustees.
Sayles currently is a member of the board of directors of Unified Grocers, the largest buying cooperative for independent grocers in the western United States. He previously served on the boards of directors of Golden State Bancorp (California Federal Bank) and Glendale Federal Bank. Sayles was born and raised in South Los Angeles. He received a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree "with distinction" from Stanford University.