Story Alumni

U.S. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff: CSU Education Foundational to his Professional Success

Hazel Kelly

Husband of Vice President Kamala Harris and CSUN alumnus reflects on his Cal State experience during virtual alumni event.


​With a network of four million​ California State University alumni across the world, there are almost 50,000 CSU alumni living in the New York tri-state and DC Metro areas alone. On April 28, alumni from the region joined university leadership for an evening of virtual networking, hosted by the CSU Chancellor's Office and CSU campus alumni associations.

The event kicked off with California State University, Northridge's President Erika Beck introducing a distinguished surprise alumni guest: Mr. Douglas Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States (CSUN '87, Communication Studies).

Mr. Emhoff reflected on his experience attending a CSU and how a degree from the nation's largest four-year public university influenced his life and contributed to his professional success.

“If I did not have the opportunity to go to CSUN, I don't think I could have gone to college. And if I had not gone to college, I wouldn't have been able to go to law school and build the career that I built," Emhoff said. “So thank God for the Cal State system and CSUN and all the millions of students who are able to have access to higher education in our great state."

Emhoff is the proud husband of Vice President Kamala Harris and a devoted father. He was a prominent entertainment lawyer for nearly 30 years, building off his undergrad degree in communication studies from CSUN in 1987. As the first Second Gentleman of the United States, Emhoff has devoted his time to the causes of justice, equality, human rights and promoting interreligious understanding. “CSUN is exceptionally proud of our Matador and his enduring support in matters of common cause," said President Beck.


​Emhoff remarked that the lessons he learned while at CSUN instilled in him a work ethic and a passion for entertainment, media and communications, which then led to his career as an entertainment lawyer, and now as a part-time entertainment professor of law at Georgetown University.

During a Q&A session with attendees, Emhoff emphasized the importance of alumni and students to stay engaged with the university and their communities.

“Some of the major issues that we have—climate, voting—will impact younger people and they need to get and stay engaged right now. And I do everything I can to encourage that," he said. “I would encourage everyone to be involved, stay involved, mentor and give back."

In closing, Emhoff said, “My world has changed, but I'm just still a kid from the Valley who went to CSUN."

President Beck responded: “You are such a powerful example of the transformative nature of a CSU education."

CSU alumni make up a global network that is over four million strong. As ambassadors to the nation and world, our alumni demonstrate the power of possibility that comes with a CSU degree. Learn more about the impact of the remarkable alumni of the CSU's 23 campuses.

CSU Leaders Panel: Alumni Engagement is Key


CSU leaders shared remarks on the importance of alumni engagement in student success during a virtual event for CSU alumni in the New York tri-state and DC Metro areas on April 28.

Dia S. Poole, past president of the CSU Alumni Council and Cal State San Bernardino alumna ('90), served as moderator for the three panelists: Cal State Student Association (CSSA) President Isaac Alferos, Academic Senate CSU Chair Robert Keith Collins, Ph.D., and CSU Alumni Council President Jeremy Addis-Mills (CSU San Marcos '07).

Alferos, Dr. Collins and Addis Mills all emphasized that some of the most important things CSU alumni can do to support the success of current students is to connect with faculty in the classroom, serve as student mentors and engage with their campus alumni associations to build community.

“What makes the system great is the community that we build here," Alferos said. “And so continuing that community makes a huge difference for students like myself, who may have struggled to go through college and are dealing with issues for the first time, not just for themselves, but many for their community."

Alferos, who will graduate from Cal State Fullerton with his bachelor's degree this May, called on CSU alumni to “collectively go and shout from the rooftops that we're proud of where we come from."

“We are four million people doing incredible work coming from an incredible institution. And if that were to be even louder and even more present, to be proud of where we come from, it one hundred percent changes how our students perceive their degrees."

We are four million people doing incredible work coming from an incredible institution.”
—Isaac Alferos, CSSA President​