Editor's Note: Who are the movers and shakers in Los Gatos? Those who lead by example, change things around and make us better by challenging the status quo and having integrity? This is the sixth installment in our Names in the News Q&A feature.
Longtime Los Gatos resident Thomas O'Donnell was born in St Louis, MO in 1938.
He moved to Benicia, CA during World War II and graduated from St Vincent's in Vallejo in 1956.
He then attended Saint Mary's College, graduating in 1960 and then pursuing his law degree at the University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) graduating in 1963.
He married the late Anne Ruffo and has four grown children and six grandsons. Ruffo died in 2001 and he subsequently married Nickie Kovac.
He began to practice law as a deputy district attorney for Santa Clara County.
After substantial jury trial experience, he practiced civil law in San Jose focusing on trial work, real estate law and environmental law. He retired in 2010.
O'Donnell, however, has been an active community advocate and volunteer for more than three decades.
He served on the Board of Education for 22 years and the agency's administrative building on Roberts Road is named after him.
When he retired from the LGUSD, he was appointed to the Los Gatos Planning Commission where he's currently serving a third four-year term.
He also serves on advisory board where he's been helping plan its
He's also a Los Gatos Rotarian and has served two three-year terms on the board of trustees of his alma mater, Saint Mary's College.
Los Gatos Patch: What is your biggest contribution to the Town of Los Gatos?
Thomas O'Donnell: My biggest contribution to the town is more than 30 years of service on the LGUSD Board of Education and Los Gatos Planning Commission.
Patch: What is the area of most influence in your profession?
O'Donnell: Law is a rapidly changing profession. I was able to be part of the starting of three law firms in San Jose, including the opening of the San Jose office of a large international law firm. This allowed me to mentor many young lawyers.
Patch: How do you challenge those who work with you to become better?
O'Donnell: In law, the challenge was set by responding to clients' needs and the requirements of the law, the Courts and various Governmental Agencies, I simply saw to it that I and those lawyers assisting me met those needs and requirements.
Patch: How do you inspire them?
O'Donnell: I would like to think that my devotion to my family, community and law practice may have inspired some who worked with me.
Patch: How are you a “transformative leader”?
O'Donnell: To the extent that I have been transformative, it would have come from being rooted in values that one could call "old fashioned." Unfortunately, sometimes those values would have to be called transformative in a modern setting.