Mike Steed (’71): The need for Steed | centenary


Mike Steed (LMU ’71, LLS ’74) has condensed the experiences of many lifetimes into one remarkable journey, and his transition from journalist to politician to principal investor proves it. Over the span of 50 years, Steed led the Los Angeles Loyolan when students were randomly drafted into the Vietnam War, excelled as executive director of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and has since created 60,000 jobs as co-founder and managing partner of Paladin Capital Group.

With such a rich history, it’s hard to know where to begin – Steed’s incredible college years seem like as good a place as any. He recalled a Loyolan newsroom with great editorial autonomy at a time when communication between students and administration was strained to say the least.

“If you view communication and journalism as both a responsibility and an opportunity, it comes down to the power of the written word to inform and move student populations,” Steed said. “It was different back then, but it was the main student voice on campus, and that’s where I wanted to be.”

Steed’s time as an undergraduate student, from 1967 to 1971, was a time of great transition for the American people and the wider LMU community. The Vietnam War brought significant controversy and protest the Bluff, and protests were common both on and off campus. On the one hand, the administration of US President Lyndon B. Johnson abolished recruitment deferrals, which meant that male students could be recruited at random. The decision follows numerous complaints about the preferential treatment given to students over those who could not afford admission or who did not continue their studies. Steed has observed all of this and helped provide consistent reporting over the years.

“If you’re a journalist, you’re lucky to live in a time worth reporting,” Steed said. “It was clearly a period of time that needed to be reported, considering all the tumult and all the chaos…There was a lot of commotion. It permeated all the rooms of the University. We reported that when they removed student deferrals, it meant everyone on campus could be recruited the next day.

The draft was announced by a series of draws organized by the Selective Service System. A glass bowl containing 366 dates; any student born on the date which had been drawn by lot was immediately put into service. More than 2 million men were selected from 1970 to 1972.

“Literally within a week you got your notice to go on active duty,” Steed recalled. “Do you mean agitation? You haven’t seen anything at Loyola Marymount since, it’s something like that. A third of [male] the students had left. In my fraternity, we lost 20 out of 100 guys. They were gone in a week or two.

Steed was also early editor of Loyola University and Marymount College. merger – gradually, the student population extended and Loyola Marymount University was born. The physical newspaper, which was distributed every Wednesday, was an important means of communication between students when a cohesive voice was required to unite the university population, the administration and the Jesuit community.

“It was also a time when the University was at odds with the Cardinal. They turned over the altars… In the past, they spoke Latin during the ceremonies and faced the altar. [Then] they turned over the altars and began to speak English. It caused a lot of controversy, so there were stories about it,” Steed said.

The revolutionary nature of Steed’s reign as editor was palpable, and the negative reaction Loyolan absorbed by conservative alumni and Catholic readership was all too evident. In addition to the extreme changes taking place in the Catholic Church nationwide, buildings were taken over by students in solidarity with the Black Student Union and seismic shifts on the other side of the world suddenly caused strife on campus, where male students were ripped from the Bluff and drafted straight into military service.

“[The Black Student Union] was talking about the nature of the studies going on,” Steed said. “Were there any studies at the time that took into consideration the treatment of black people in our society? There have been confrontations around hiring practices at the University and confrontations over compensation.

Although the period was characterized by political change and turmoil, Steed relished the opportunity to deliver meaningful stories about serious social events.

“It was a great transition period,” Steed explained. “There were buildings stormed by students, and they occupied them. So it wasn’t a, ‘Let’s go out and demonstrate for five minutes and then you’re done.’ It was serious, to the point that buildings were taken over by students. And in this case, not just black students, but a large group of activists who were on campus at the time.

Steed also pointed out that while the atmosphere on campus was precarious, the editorial latitude he helped instill in the Loyolan leads to meaningful and hard work.

“It was the perfect time to write articles in the newspaper. These were serious stories about serious, life-changing things happening in our society and on campus itself,” Steed said. “We had great editorial latitude. You could be against the administration of the University, you could be against the government, you could be against the Cardinal, but you had to do it with respect. You could sit there and say, ‘That’s crazy,’ but you couldn’t use the four-letter word in front of Christ, and that’s the way it should be.

Asked about his struggles after graduation, Steed changed the language used in the original question before sharing his experiences. “I wouldn’t call them struggles so much as uncertainties,” he said. “I have always loved politics. I have always been very involved in politics… At each stage, there is a challenge. You fall back to your roots whenever there is a change or there is a challenge. And the roots were clearly inside Loyola Marymount, [they were] clearly within the education I received and it was clearly within the traditions of the Jesuits.

Steed turned these uncertainties into rich and rewarding contributions. After graduating from Loyola Law School, he began writing policy for California Governor Jerry Brown, who ran for president against Jimmy Carter in the 1976 Democratic primary. After that, he became one of four vice chairs of the Democratic National Platform Committee and eventually became the executive director of the DNC. Steed then moved from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. out of necessity, opening up an extensive network of policy makers.

“That’s why I was in politics, why I did a lot of politics. If I could push good policy, if I could make a difference by persuading voters to support one candidate or another… I mean, you literally run the Democratic Party of the United States of America. This has national implications, but [also] international implications,” Steed said.

Steed summed up his choice to pursue political change by echoing LMU’s Jesuit tradition. “Everything I’ve done since I left hasn’t just been to make sure I would have a meaningful career, but that I could do good for people in society. If your whole life is taken care of by making money, i guess that’s ok, but it’s not satisfying, what’s rewarding is that you’re making money, but you’re also doing something good. And isn’t that the essence of the Jesuit tradition?

Although Steed enjoyed personal success as executive director of the DNC, he wanted to invest in an area that had a significant impact on job creation, which led him to venture capital. Leaving politics allowed Steed to prioritize the practical application of LMU’s mission.

Venture capital involves investing in a project involving a substantial degree of risk, often an emerging product, technology or service. Steed co-founded Paladin Capital Group in April 2001, focusing on investment in advanced technologies and critical infrastructure.

“I wanted to be able to say, ‘There’s so much more to our society.’ A job for one person creates a family. It creates a town, a village, it creates a county, a state… the ripple effect of job creation is enormous. That’s the path I’ve chosen…to invest money in such a way as to see the perceived returns,” Steed explained. “I’ve created 60,000 jobs in my lifetime.”

Just as Steed was launching Paladin, he was visited by three-star General Ken. minihanthe 14the director of the National Security Agency (NSA). minihan brought with him R. James Woolsey, director of the CIA under former President Bill Clinton.

“They spoke of the urgent need to create technologies, products and services, new innovations to protect our critical infrastructure, that the government could no longer do,” recalled Steed. “The government had cut spending on research and development, and the investment community had to stand up to protect critical infrastructure.”

minihan and Woolsey eventually convinced Steed to focus on an area of ​​immense value to the Department of Homeland Security. The rendezvous took place just two weeks after 9/11.

“Now I was in a great position,” Steed said. “If we could build an investment thesis and we could find investors to support it, we would be investing in an area that absolutely needs it. The technologies we invest in today protect the critical infrastructure of America and our allies.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Paladin committed more than $1 billion to cybersecurity startups, online security industries, and innovative technologies that protect networks against ransomware. They also invest globally in solutions that enable and defend critical infrastructure that depends on cyberspace.

Suffice it to say, Steed has excelled in his lifetime, from editor to executive director of the DNC to lead investor in America’s critical infrastructure. But these are only spheres of influence, and do little to exemplify Steed’s intent to touch the lives of many.

His legacy is best summed up in the capacity for positive change. The need for character leaders. The need for critical thinkers. Steed’s need.

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