Richard L. Rodriguez, Class of 1997
Civic leader and corporate executive
Richard Rodriguez is Vice President and Business Development Director at Lend Lease, one of the world’s leading fully integrated property and infrastructure solutions providers. He began his career as legal counsel in the Office of the Attorney General of Guam and later served as Deputy Director of the Disaster Recovery Office in the Guam Governor’s Office before joining the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Rodriguez has also held several leadership positions for the City of Chicago, including President of the Chicago Transit Authority, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation and Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Buildings. He also sits on multiple charitable, academic and industry-related boards and teaches Chicago Politics at Loyola University.
What were you like as a law student?
Having come to law school wasn’t something that was really planned for. I was the first in my family to go to college, and law school was above and beyond that. There weren’t any mentors for me to look up to to have a sense of what it would be like. It was a semester by semester adventure. My goals were in small pieces. Let me get through the first semester, and then this next one. Before I knew it I’d finished the year.
Describe your career path.
If I could describe my career path to anyone it would be a miracle. Let’s just say that I’m not a 10 or 5-year plan kind of person. I truly believe in being prepared for any opportunity that arises. I think if you look at my background and the different careers I’ve had over the past 15 years, it’s very indicative of the fact that to this day, I’ve yet to choose the path I should be on. I’m really enjoying the journey.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I don’t know if I’ve had the greatest challenge in my career of yet. I’ve had many challenges, but I think my biggest challenge so far has been amongst my own peers and colleagues who sometimes felt it couldn’t be done. There have been a lot of different challenging opportunities throughout my career, but many of them I think perception wise, I think people would wonder, “Why would you want that opportunity?” I would always reply, “No one else has the courage to do it.”
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
There was always a strong push to be your best. The requirement that you actually think through problems analytically, which Chicago-Kent stood up far and above what I think others have experienced in different law schools. The legal writing program greatly contributed to how I get my point across today. The teachers, who maybe by virtue of luck that I chose, really had a passion for their students. If you take a combination of all that, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without it.