New trustee Blair Taylor ’86 is president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League.
By Emanuel Costache ’09
Over the years, Blair H. Taylor ’86, the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Urban League, has worked for IBM, brought retail businesses to low-income areas and even run for Congress. In July, he began a six-year term on the college’s Board of Trustees; he was elected by the alumni body.
After graduating from Amherst with a degree in economics, Taylor spent nine years at PepsiCo and IBM in brand marketing, strategy and executive sales. Along the way, he earned his M.B.A. from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. In 1994, he became president and CEO of COI/ICD, a retail franchising company that serves low-income communities in the United States and the Caribbean. He then served for a year as a senior staff member for the 8th Council District of Los Angeles, and in 2001 made an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Congress. The following year, Taylor became executive vice president of College Summit, a national college access initiative for low-income students. Under his leadership, College Summit increased its outreach four-fold and in 2005 reached more than 6,000 students.
At the Urban League, which he joined in 2005, Taylor works to devise creative solutions to the nation’s most challenging social and educational problems.
Taylor serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Forum Board and the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Charter Academy of Opportunity in Los Angeles. He is also on the advisory boards of State Farm Bank and the Los Angeles City Police Department, and is a member of the Bond Steering Committee for Inglewood Unified Schools. A former executive committee member of the Anderson School at UCLA, he is also a former member of the Los Angeles Mayor’s Business Growth Team and the boards of the Vision Theater Project and the Los Angeles Sports Academy. He is a former Big Brothers of America volunteer and a UCLA Riordan Scholarship Program Mentor.
In 2006, Taylor was named the Los Angeles NAACP Man of Valor. Earlier this year he received the Mayor Tom Bradley Award from the UCLA Black Alumni Association and the Community Service Award from the California African American Chamber of Commerce. Taylor has written widely and lectures frequently on urban development and community empowerment.
An active volunteer for Amherst, Taylor has served as class president and secretary. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Bridgette, an attorney. They have four children: Dominique, Jared, Danielle and Jacob.