William Arthur 'Bill' Burke is an accomplished business and political leader in Southern California. He is best known as the founder and former long-time president of the City of Los Angeles Marathon. As Chairman of the AQMD Governing Board, he has set in motion a decade-long series of precedent-setting policy initiatives, including: the District's evolving Environmental Justice program; Asthma and Outdoor Air Quality Consortium; Brain & Lung Tumor and Air Pollution Foundation; and in 2009 a 'Helping Hand Initiative' to protect both health and jobs during the current economic downturn.
Dr. Burke has a diverse blend of professional experience in several fields.
In 1972, Dr. Burke founded and for two years presided over the American Health Care Delivery Corporation. From the health care profession, Dr. Burke’s career interests turned to the gold mining industry. He accepted the Chairman of the Board at Genesis International, a Los Angeles-based real estate and mining development holding company. Then from 1981-84 he supervised the planning and construction of mining concessions in Liberia, West Africa for the World Mining Development.
Then in 1984, Dr. Burke was appointed Commissioner of Tennis for the Summer Olympic Games in the City of Los Angeles. It was the spirit of civic pride and unity demonstrated by the host city that first inspired Dr. Burke to think of ways to perpetuate this unique experience. The result was the first City of Los Angeles Marathon held in 1986. The Marathon, now in its twenty-seventh year, is one of the largest organized road races in the world.
The success of the Marathon, spurred Dr. Burke to try his hand at another kind of sporting event: car racing. In 1997, the Los Angeles Vintage Grand Prix debuted on the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. It was the largest vintage automobile street race ever held. It included the Ferrari Concours d’Elegance – a display of historical and unique Ferrari vehicles valued at fifty million dollars. However, in 1998 the street race captured the interest of NASCAR and soon evolved into the Ford L.A. Street Race. In its fourth year, the Street Race included multiple types of racing, including an electric truck race, Indy car race, NASCAR race, and Pro-Porsche division race.
In the political arena, Dr. Burke served as the Consul General to the Republic of Mali for over fifteen years. He has served two terms as the President of both the State of California Fish and Game Commission and the Wildlife Conservation Board. Since 1993, Dr. Burke has served on the Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) as the representative of the Speaker of the Assembly. AQMD is the government agency that regulates air quality for the four-county region of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside. Since his initial appointment to AQMD, Dr. Burke has been elected by his peers to serve as both Vice-Chairman and Chairman of the Board. In April 2000, Governor Gray Davis appointed Dr. Burke to serve as a Board Member for the State of California Air Resources Board. In October 2000, Mayor Richard J. Riordan appointed Dr. Burke to the Fire Commission of the City of Los Angeles.
Dr. Burke holds multiple degrees: a Bachelor of Science from Miami University, a Doctorate of Education from the University of Massachusetts, and two other Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Law from Lane College and Mount Ida College. Among the numerous other awards and distinctions Dr. Burke has received the Meritorious Service Award from the City of Los Angeles, the First Annual Living Legends Award, the Humanitarian Award from the Mid-City Chamber of Commerce, and the Green Power Foundation’s Man of the Year Award.
Dr. Burke is married to retired Los Angeles County Supervisor and former Congresswoman Yvonne Brathwaite Burke. They live in the Los Angeles area and have two daughters, Christine and Autumn.