Anthony Riley: Proud to call the desert his home
Anthony Riley, public information officer for the city of Barstow, was born in Norwalk and later moved to Yorba Linda, where he lived for over 20 years.
His biological father was an armed services veteran who died in 1976 when Riley was 5 years old. His mother later remarried after 10 years of being a single working mother. After high school, Riley traveled to Italy to study art, European politics and the Italian language.
He worked full time in television and film production to pay for college, culminating in a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Southern California. After working in the entertainment industry for 10 years, Riley shifted his focus to education and politics.
In 2001, he was appointed as an educational director for a performing arts school, and that same year, he became a single parent of a foster son. He later co-founded a nonprofit corporation which provided work force training and film production opportunities to children in San Bernardino County. During that time, he was appointed as museum commissioner for the county and sat on the various Boards of nonprofits that worked to advanced children’s causes.
During the last several years, he has worked in the public relations field with nonprofit groups, political clients and at-risk youth organizations.
“As director and co-founder of a non-profit The Performing Arts Educational Foundation, we sought to provide work force training and film production opportunities for foster care children and at-risk youth in San Bernardino County,” he said. “I was honored to have received the 'California On Locations Award,' from the Inland Empire Film Commission for the non-profit’s successful programs which I believed changed children’s lives through the power of the arts.”
In 2004, he went to work for the 4th District County Supervisor of San Bernardino as a communications director, analyst and eventually district director.
In 2008, he was appointed by the Board of Supervisors as economic development director for the County of San Bernardino Airports Division where he worked to expand regional job growth opportunities. In November of 2008, Riley was elected to the Board of the Hesperia Unified School District. In 2010 he ran for the 59th Assembly District. Although his state Assembly campaign was unsuccessful, he had the opportunity to start a public relations firm and worked on various statewide campaigns to help advance job growth in the state.
“I have been a resident and single parent of the High Desert for over 12 years,” Riley said, “and am very proud to call the desert my home.
Q: Describe a special memory you have in the High Desert.
A: It was the Fall of 2001 and I was teaching a social science class when
one of my students who was from a local group home for boys approached me
and asked if I would be his foster parent. I prayed very hard about the
decision, and now after 11 years, I can say I am thankful that he continues
to be a part of my life. It truly was a life changing experience for both of
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I enjoy coin collecting with my godson, playing tennis, collecting old
Hollywood memorabilia, and travelling. I have enjoyed my travels across this
great country as well as the orient, Europe and Central America. The more
you get to know people from different cultures, the more you realize the
world is a very small place.
Q: Tell us one thing that most people don?t know about you.
A: I had the opportunity to appear as a day player and principal in various
shows such as ?In living Color,? opposite Jim Carry and Fox television shows
such as Melrose Place and the X-Files.
Q: If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
A: I can only truly look to change something about me, and hope that that
change will somehow affect the daily world I live in. I always pray for
continued patience in all that I do and the continued discernment in my
ability to listen and not just hear when others are speaking.
Q: If you could change one thing about the High Desert, what would it be?
A: Jobs, jobs, jobs. I firmly believe that a way to a healthy economy and
quality of life is to increase regional job growth wherever possible.
Whether we can capitalize on our unique landscape for filming, the unique
position of being at the heart of areas under consideration for alternative
energy projects and future development or just investing in vocational
skills training for a ready labor force, all of these are exciting
possibilities that we as a community must invest in.
Q: What person, living or from history, would you most like to have dinner
with and why?
A: Walt Disney. He had incredible insights into the human soul. He desired
to entertain the world, strive to overcome challenges by saying anything
could be done as long as we had the determination to get it done. He cared
about children in a profound way, loved to hear the laughter of children and
sought to make a difference in their lives whenever and wherever possible.
His lasting legacy has changed the way we look at the world, and it all
started with a mouse.
Q: Who is someone who had a big influence on your life?
A: That would be my mother. She has been a pillar of strength for me from my
childhood to now. I consider her my closest friend, and couldn?t imagine how
life would have been without her guidance, her strength, her support, and
Q: What talent do you most wish you had?
A: I?m not certain this is a talent, but a photographic memory would come in
handy now and then.
Q: What is your favorite quotation?
A: I have two if you don?t mind? ?All our dreams can come true, if we
have the courage to pursue them,? and ?Crowded classrooms and half-day
sessions are a tragic waste of our greatest national resource - the minds of
our children.? ? Walt Disney
Q: What words of advice do you have for the next generation?
A: Try to live your life by knowing that each decision you make should be
for the good of others, and not always just for one?s self. The decisions we
make in life may not always be popular, but if they are conscience driven,
then we can strive to have peace of mind in knowing we did what we felt was
Q: Tell us about the charities or causes that are close to your heart and
A:For over 15 years I have worked with various charities and non-profits
that have helped runaways, teen parents, and abused children. My work with
the Olive Crest Foundation, Children of the Night, the Performing Arts
Foundation, and various foster care facilities have helped me to advance my
philosophy of using the power of the arts to help unlock the special gifts
and undiscovered talents that so many children have.
Q: What is something you are particularly proud of?
A: The day I received my foster care license and announced to my foster son
that he would be coming to live with me.
Q: What?s your favorite movie and why?
A: There are so many. But I would have to say, ?The Carpetbaggers? starring
the late George Peppard.
Q: Tell us about your favorite thing about living in the High Desert?
A: Our sense of Community and seeing people helping each other in the most
difficult of times. We have a lot to be proud of, and I am very thankful to
call the desert my home.
Q: What is the best thing about your job?
A: The amazing people I work with, and the wonderful people of this
community that I have been blessed to meet.
Q: What book had a significant impact on you?
A: The Bible.
Q: Of all the places you?ve been, what?s your favorite and why?
A: For the many places that I have travelled throughout the world, I would
say my home is one of the most favorite places I could be. I have a
wonderful family, neighbors, and friends that bring a sense of joy to my
life that could never be replaced. My home has become a place of solitude,
and I have worked to surround myself with my favorite novels, films, and
tokens of remembrance from family and friends who have made an impact in my
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
A: For so long I wanted to travel to India, and was able to do that with a
friend in both 2008 & 2009. I felt like the pages of an Indiana Jones novel
were coming to life as I ventured through canyons by elephant looking at
temples that were thousands of years old. It was truly an amazing journey!!!
Q: Tell us about one thing you want to accomplish in life.
A:I would love to say that whatever I have done or will do in life, it was
to make a positive difference in my community. I believe the American spirit
of giving and helping one?s neighbor is as alive today as ever. I want to
continue to give in whatever capacity I can, and make a genuine difference
in the lives of the people I have been and will be blessed to know on life?s
Q: What?s your favorite place to eat in the High Desert?
A: I would have to say Bob?s Big Boy in Lenwood. I have fond memories of my
grandmother taking me to a Bob?s Big Boy in her neighborhood as a child. I
would get the Big Boy comic, a hamburger and hot fudge cake before taking a
walk with her as she shared memories of her childhood.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
A: Hopefully surrounded by friends and loved ones.
Q: What?s your favorite guilty pleasure?
A: Mr. Pibb and Snickers candy bars loaded with all of those empty calories!
Q: Is there anything else you?d like to say?
A: I have looked to establish many goals for my position as PIO, but I
believe first and foremost in order for us to know which direction we want
to go, we must understand the vision and direction of our Community. I hope
over the next few months to increase the visibility of the wonderful
projects and community opportunities that exist for our residents. This City
is truly at the Crossroads of Opportunity, and I want to help in my capacity
to share that vision and effectively bring people together to truly make a