The Storied Life of Julie Ryan Green
In honor of Women’s History Month, Pepperdine remembers the life and legacy of Julie Ryan Green, former editor of the Los Angeles Times and the University’s first-ever journalism graduate
Pepperdine journalism majors develop a foundation in writing, editing, reporting, and research and are exposed to real-world journalism the moment they step on campus. Students are challenged with creating relevant and newsworthy content and equipped with the skills to present professional-grade news stories, leaving them well prepared for successful careers post-graduation. It’s no wonder that the first-ever graduate of Pepperdine’s journalism program, Julie Ryan Green (’67), went on to lead such an aspirational career as a journalist.
Born January 1946, the Pepperdine alumna and longtime editor at the Los Angeles Times spent her early childhood on a date garden in the Coachella Valley, where her father and uncle—true to their Midwestern roots—were pioneer ranchers. Her family, which included her parents, four brothers, and two sisters, later moved to Riverside, California, where Julie completed high school and attended Riverside City College while working at her first newspaper job at the Press-Enterprise. A gifted writer, Julie was offered a full scholarship to join Pepperdine University’s inaugural journalism program in 1966.
Julie established herself as an exemplary student, earning a spot as one of 21 Pepperdine seniors listed in the 1967 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, an honor bestowed on students who demonstrated outstanding leadership on and off campus, scholastic ability, and community service. She also worked on the Graphic student newspaper as managing editor, the first woman editor of the Graphic since 1959–60, before being named editor-in-chief in fall 1966. In 1967 Julie became Pepperdine’s first-ever graduate of the University’s journalism program. Shortly after graduation, she met her future husband, Tom, and began her whirlwind editorial career, working at several prominent publications and universities before becoming a long-standing fixture at the Los Angeles Times.
Following Julie’s departure from the Press-Enterprise, she spent several years working as a public information officer at the University of California, Riverside. Work later took her and Tom to upstate New York and eventually Ohio, where he wrote a column for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and she juggled freelance work and raising their two young children.
"She was enormously proud to be part of the L.A. Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news."
In 1979, Tom got a call from the Press-Enterprise asking if he wanted to write a column back in Riverside. They sold their house two weeks later and moved back to Southern California. The Greens eventually settled in Los Angeles in 1982 where Tom helped open the L.A. bureau of USA Today and wrote about film while Julie worked as an editor for the Herald Examiner and then a lifestyle editor for the Daily News. In 1990 Julie came to the Los Angeles Times as an assistant editor and three years later was named editor of the “Valley Life” section.
During her 18 years at the Los Angeles Times, Julie distinguished herself as a talented journalist and editor. In a remembrance piece published by the Los Angeles Times following her passing in February 2023, former colleagues John Arthur and Steve Padilla shared their admiration for Julie, with John describing her as the “rock of the ‘Valley’” edition” and “just a lovely person and a good editor.” Speaking of her time overseeing the “Valley 200,” a daily 200-part series that profiled people who had lived in or left a mark on the San Fernando Valley, Steve marveled at how Julie handled the series while managing contributions from more than 60 writers.
“It really spoke to her amazing organizational skills to be able to pull that off,” says Padilla. “It went off without a hitch. Readers loved it. Everyone on the staff had to write one; she corralled our editors, reporters, even our librarian in the ‘Valley’ edition.”
"She was a journalist through and through. She didn’t beat the drum about it. She just did it. It was what she loved."
—Margo Peck, as told to the Los Angeles Times
In 1997 Julie helped edit coverage of a bank robbery and subsequent police shootout in North Hollywood, which won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.
“She was enormously proud to be part of the L.A. Times team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news,” says her daughter, Megan Green. “She also loved being the letters editor, which was the last post she had at the L.A. Times before retiring in 2008.” Julie’s sister, Margo Peck, also remembers her as a dedicated professional, simply doing what she loved. “She was a journalist through and through,” said Margo in the Los Angeles Times article. “She didn’t beat the drum about it. She just did it. It was what she loved.”
Julie was also known for her sense of humor and, according to former colleagues, delighted in sharing an anecdote about what she called her biggest mistake as an editor. Early in her career while working at the Press-Enterprise, she found a recipe for a baked dessert that was typically made in large quantities in school cafeterias and wanted to share it with readers. The recipe had to be recalibrated for people to make on a smaller scale at home. However, Julie—a gifted baker herself—forgot to reduce the amount of baking soda listed in the printed recipe, and the newspaper was flooded with calls from readers whose baked goods exploded in their ovens.
Beyond journalism, Julie’s other passion in life was giving back to the community and was described by her daughter as “always busy, had boundless energy, and used that energy toward helping others.” Julie volunteered at the Guadalupe Community Center food pantry several times a week and won the volunteer service award in 2018. Megan remembers, “She valued education, giving back, and standing up for what is right.”
Julie lived her life fully and true to her passions. Her talents and work ethic were recognized early on by Pepperdine, earning her a full scholarship and forever stamping her place in the University’s history as an exceptional student and journalist. While Green spent her career telling others’ stories, she lived a storied life of her own and created a legacy that will live on in her work and family. Pepperdine is honored to recognize her contributions during Women’s History month.