February 28, 2011 — Alumnus J. Brady Lum, president and chief operating officer of Special Olympics, will give the valedictory address to the University of Virginia graduating class during Finals Weekend.
The Class of 2011 Valedictory Exercises will be held May 21 at 11 a.m. on the Lawn.
In January 2008, Lum was a high-ranking executive at The Coca-Cola Company when Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent – a member of the Special Olympics board – called him into his office, told him of the opening at Special Olympics and suggested that he put his name forward for consideration.
"Before I had time to respond, Muhtar proceeded to speak passionately about his nearly 25 years of involvement with Special Olympics," Lum recalled later. "It was then that I realized that this was more than a corporate nicety – that Muhtar was not just fulfilling a board role to help, but really was interested in the best for Special Olympics and for me."
Four months later, Lum was introduced as Special Olympics' new president and COO.
A Houston native, Lum was a Jefferson Scholar at U.Va. and graduated in 1989 from the College of Arts & Sciences, with honors, with a degree in government and foreign affairs. He earned a Luce Scholarship to study in Asia, and was a research associate at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies in Kuala Lumpur (and remains conversationally fluent in both Spanish and Malay).
He later went on to earn a master's of business administration from the Harvard University School of Business. In the Jeffersonian tradition of lifelong learning, he is currently pursuing a master's degree in music from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
He had held a variety of senior management positions at Coca-Cola and led a global initiative to recast the company's mission, vision and capabilities. He also served in leadership roles in operations, marketing, strategic planning and organizational development, including vice president for North America strategic planning and integration, and vice president, and Northeast Region manager for Coca-Cola North America.
Lum has maintained his ties with the University, as well, serving on the Jefferson Scholars National Selection Committee and the Mead Endowment Advisory Board. He also has served as chairman of the board of the national Hands On Network, overseeing its merger with the Points of Light Foundation.
He spoke to the Jefferson Scholars in 2010, encouraging them to be open to volunteering opportunities, to pay attention to "fellow travelers" in life and to express gratitude often (and in writing) to those who help them along the way.
He lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with his wife, Jill Morehouse Lum, daughters Perry and Sandy, and son Wiley.
For information on Finals Weekend, visit the website. Additionally, contact Claire Montaigne, Class of 2011 Graduation Committee chair, at 914-320-2816 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or John Buttram, class president, at email@example.com.