Rena Miwako Wheaton
Class of 2011
Ms. Wheaton is founder and principal of The Wheaton Group, a business consulting and law firm that advises Epson America, Inc. and other clients on business strategies and complex business and finance transactions. During her career of more than 25 years, Ms. Wheaton has honed her ability to resolve business and ethical issues by crafting and implementing solutions that are both strategic and operationally practical. Ms. Wheaton has held executive leadership positions with private and public sector companies, including a major defense contractor, a technology commercialization company and a community development bank funded by the federal government.
At Titan Corporation, which specializes in providing information and communications products, solutions and services for the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security and developing nations with 12,000 employees worldwide and $2 Billion in annual revenue, Ms. Wheaton initiated Titan’s technology commercialization division. Under her leadership Titan was awarded a contract to provide eight electron beam irradiation systems and services to the United States Postal Service to sanitize mail feared to be contaminated with anthrax. Recognized for her leadership of that division, Ms. Wheaton was appointed Senior Vice President and chief legal officer of Titan’s telecommunications subsidiary, Titan Wireless, which designed and built wireless telecommunications networks in developing nations in West Africa and Latin America. Ms. Wheaton guided Titan’s successful efforts to renegotiate and settle its agreement with the Republic of Benin to design, build and transfer a multi-million dollar GSM telecommunications network. The negotiations required her to lead the Titan team in diplomatically sensitive discussions with the President of Benin and its Prime Minister, telecommunications agency and trade unions and to work closely with the United States Ambassador to Benin. Titan’s chief executive officer and executive management team also relied upon Ms. Wheaton’s to lead Titan’s internal investigation of its African business practices in response to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation. She also advised Titan’s chief executive officer in the negotiated settlements of DOJ and SEC enforcement actions. In addition, Ms. Wheaton handled Titan’s corporate policies and procedures reviews, financing transactions and acquisition and divestiture of various businesses and managed complex litigation matters, both domestically and abroad.
Prior to joining Titan, Ms. Wheaton served as Vice President and General Counsel of Zone Reactor, a market driven technology commercialization company that bridged the gap between marketplace problems and developers of disruptive technology by working with commercial companies, R&D organizations and the investor community. As a member of the senior management team, Ms. Wheaton played a pivotal role in the development of the company’s paradigm for reviewing and vetting technologies, developing viable business models and business plans for new technology companies and identifying funding sources. Ms. Wheaton also guided the negotiation and closing of joint venture and technology transfer agreements with R&D organizations at Rockwell International and Lockheed Martin, among others. In her role as General Counsel, Ms. Wheaton provided advice and counsel to the company’s board of directors on legal and corporate governance issues.
Mr. Peter Ueberroth selected Ms. Wheaton to lead the Rebuild LA Finance Task Force charged with identifying and marshaling financial resources to assist businesses in building a vibrant commercial sector and creating jobs in the urban areas of Los Angeles designated as federal Empowerment Zones. When the $435 Million federally capitalized Los Angeles Community Development Bank (LACDB) was formed shortly thereafter, Ms. Wheaton was tapped to serve as its Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary. While at the LACDB Ms. Wheaton managed its business loan team and venture capital fund which made loans to and equity investments in Empowerment Zone companies. Ms. Wheaton also worked closely with the LACDB Board of Directors on governance matters, board-management and community relations and public policy and compliance issues regarding deployment of federal funds.
Ms. Wheaton has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Japanese American National Museum and its Finance Committee for the past six years, and presently serves on its Executive Committee. The Museum, a recipient of the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, is dedicated to promoting understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. In addition, Ms. Wheaton serves on the Board of Directors of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), a diversity education and e-learning company.
A champion of diversity in the workplace, Ms. Wheaton served as the founding Chair of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Minority Representation in the Legal Profession Committee and as the founding Chair of the Steering Committee of the California Minority Counsel Program (CMCP). Ms. Wheaton skillfully guided the efforts of the CMCP Steering Committee to create a dynamic and sustainable program that enlists the active participation of Fortune 500 corporations and majority and minority owned law firms to expand opportunities for minority lawyers to advise America’s top companies.
Ms. Wheaton began her career as a corporate lawyer with O’Melveny & Myers LLP and Shearman & Sterling. She received a JD from Columbia University School of Law and a BA in Political Science from Barnard College. Ms. Wheaton is a member of the New York and California Bar.