April 2011 home page

  Leadership Lab For Local Lad 
Sam Borgese | 10th Street and Bud Emerson | Klish Way


Josh Groban age 11.
Courtesy the Groban family

A local lad of 11 emerged from the Del Mar surf one evening in the mid 1980s intent on calling his parents for a ride home. He found that the pay phone at the lifeguard tower had been removed. He managed to find his way home, but a week later he appeared at the City Council podium to alert them to this potential safety problem for young kids. Within the month that pay phone was re-installed.
Josh Groban, now Senior Advisor to California Governor Brown, says that incident and the role modeling of his civic activist parents taught him much about public service and political action. Groban excelled his way through local public schools, Stanford University, and Harvard Law School, winning numerous awards along the way, but never forgetting his roots in Del Mar, “a wonderful microcosm of public service democracy...a kind of political laboratory.”

Groban’s career path includes impressive work in white collar and first amendment litigation, civil rights, death penalty appeals, clerking for a district judge, and culminating in commercial litigation as an associate in two highly reputed Los Angeles law firms.

Asked by the Sandpiper about his current job, he is very modest, repeatedly saying “I am lucky...I landed in a dream job...feel blessed.” Governor Brown said “I want to lead from the top,” so he abolished many positions in his office. Those who were appointed have to be “generalists, wearing lots of hats...each day is different, having to learn new issues quickly. I often feel like I’m in trial, but this is more engaging, substantive, and consequential.”

Courtesy Josh Groban

Josh says he currently works in four main areas, (1)appointments to state positions including boards and commissions, (2)judicial appointments including the current opening on the state Supreme Court, (3) lawyering, and (4) policy advice on a variety of subjects. He interacts directly with Governor Brown regularly, knowing that in every conversation “you are challenged...he is the smartest boss I’ve ever had (think Harvard constitutional lawyers)...he is very intellectually curious with an air tight memory...nice thing to be able to say that about the Governor of california.”

Asked about his future political ambitions, he answers, “Being inside the campaign I saw first hand that the process of running as a candidate for office is a grueling experience, not so attractive. However, I did discover something about myself. Until now I was always looking beyond to the next position. Now I find that I am no longer looking. I have found a position that I want to stay in for as long as possible.”

With reference to California’s future, he comments, “Even though we are going through a difficult process, I am cautiously optimistic. If California were a country we would be in the top ten in the world, bigger than France, with incredible wealth and resources. We have a strong economic engine and a diversity of top industries such as bio-tech, high tech, and agriculture.”

We assume Josh’s parents are proud. So should all of Del Mar be.


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