Noah Wood III ’89 enjoys a fast paced life in Los Angeles—whether it’s in his job as operations manager for one of the world’s leading law firms, Mayer Brown, or getting involved after hours as a long-distance cyclist and community activist.
“I’m required to address a broad spectrum of job responsibilities at Mayer and sound relatively intelligent doing it,” said Wood, who has worked for the firm since 1996. His responsibilities include project management, including a large-scale renovation currently under way in the Los Angeles office; special events for high-level city, state and national figures; security readers; services for clients from around the globe; and all of the day-to-day operational challenges that come with working for a law firm with a presence on four continents. “I would say I am a great glue-that-holds-it-all-together person,” he said.
Despite his heavy workload, Wood is highly engaged in his community. He’s particularly passionate about LGBT rights and mentoring urban youth and at-risk kids, and he’s an avid cyclist who gears up for worthy causes.
For seven years, he’s worked with the Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth.
“Growing up in Central Virginia as an LGBT kid, it wasn’t easy to navigate through life,” Wood said. “It’s really rewarding that I’m able to translate that experience into something good and bring the very best of me to the Trevor Project and make a difference.”
Through his firm’s affiliation with the Constitutional Rights Foundation, Wood has worked with urban youth in the foundation’s Expanding Horizons program. The program places participants in professional work settings and creates opportunities for high-school students to get summer jobs at the likes of Mayer Brown, Walt Disney and Time Warner Studios.
Wood also helped connect an undocumented Armenian teen who identified as gay with Mayer Brown’s pro bono program. Ultimately the firm filed an asylum petition for him, and he won. He’s gone on to graduate from the University of Southern California and now works as a coder for Walt Disney. That was very gratifying,” he said.
Wood says that he found his voice when he was an undergraduate political science and modern languages major at Longwood. “I’d been a shy, withdrawn young person who didn’t feel safe. I was bullied a lot growing up. At Longwood, I got involved with the Longwood Ambassadors and became immersed in the school’s culture.”
It was as a Longwood Ambassador that he was first introduced to his beloved California while attending a leadership conference at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “When Mayer Brown’s Washington, D.C., office offered me a chance to transfer to California, I took it,” said Wood. “Mayer Brown has been a very welcoming professional environment to me. I need a fast-paced, challenging atmosphere. They’ve recognized that and provided it for me.”
In early June, Wood completed the AIDS/ LifeCycle, a seven-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic in Los Angeles. Wood’s team, “The Winona Riders” raised $100,000.
“I feel very fortunate—my life could have been very different. I think Longwood played a very positive part in that.”