First Responders

Spano-McKenna2

On Friday, May 5, city luminaries, Riordan alumni, and past and present leaders from police, fire, and sheriff departments gathered for Riordan’s second annual First Responders Luncheon at San Francisco’s iconic Sir Francis Drake Hotel.

At this year’s event, we were proud to present the Lt. Vincent Perez ’81 Award to Sergeant Joe McKenna, SFPD (Ret.) ’73 for his years service to San Francisco. With event emcee Sal Castaneda ’82 and special guest Joe Spano ’63 of NCIS fame, the three reflected, both honestly and with a healthy dose of humor, on the value of a Riordan education, their influential teachers and mentors, and the school’s continued focus on service to others.

Proceeds from the event will support the Rotea Gilford Scholarship, named in honor of an alumni parent, active volunteer and true advocate of Riordan who spent countless hours mentoring young men. Retired Police Chief Greg Suhr noted that Gilford was “a legend in the San Francisco Police Department,” and former Mayor Willie Brown shared that through the scholarship “you are remembering an incredible, great, joyful, wonderful, public servant that passed away much too soon.”

Thanks to a generous benefactor, all gifts of up to $12,500 will be matched for this scholarship. If you would like to donate, visit our giving page and select the Rotea Gilford Scholarship in the drop down menu. Thank you to Riordan Board of Trustee member Bill Best who helped secure a donor match of up to $12,500 for this scholarship.

View photos from the event

More About Rotea Gilford
Mr. Gilford was a highly decorated San Francisco Police Officer who rose through the ranks to become the first African American Homicide Inspector in the City. He went on to become the Executive Director of the Mayor’s Council on Criminal Justice under George Moscone before being named Deputy Mayor under Diane Feinstein. When he retired in 1988, Mr. Gilford devoted much of his time to coaching, counseling and fund raising at Riordan. Two of his sons (Michael ’70 and Chance ’98) graduated from the school. At the time of his passing in 1998, Diane Feinstein said that “the special thing about Rotea is he believed in a close family. He was a wonderful mentor to young people. His no-nonsense philosophy is what I appreciated. He didn’t go for that politically correct stuff. He was old school – hard work, discipline, family and loyalty – the basic virtues.”