MALIBU, Calif. — Bonnie Reiss, a regent for the University of California who was one of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s top advisers and a longtime family friend, has died near Los Angeles, officials said Tuesday.
Reiss died Monday in Malibu at age 62 after battling cancer, according to the Schwarzenegger Institute at the University of Southern California, where she was director.
In a statement, Schwarzenegger praised Reiss’ devotion to helping others and improving the world around her.
“Bonnie never accepted things as they are,” Schwarzenegger said. “She was born to shake the status quo to its core and shape the world.”
Reiss, a liberal Democrat, played a key role in crafting education and environmental policy during her friend’s Republican administration. She was a senior adviser to Schwarzenegger from 2003 to 2007 and later served as California’s education secretary.
Born in New York City, Reiss attended law school in Washington, D.C., where she worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy in the early 1980s. She befriended Kennedy’s niece, Maria Shriver, who went on to marry Schwarzenegger.
University of California President Janet Napolitano lauded Reiss’ work as a regent on policy regarding sexual harassment investigations on its campuses, and on efforts to make the school system carbon neutral by 2025. She said the university will move next month to rename an environmental fellowship program in Reiss’ honor.
While practicing entertainment law in Los Angeles, Reiss helped found the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, which raised money for liberal causes.
She also worked as operating adviser to Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private equity firm.