Alumnus and entertainment industry executive Jim Berk will explore how disruption can inspire creativity and new opportunities during the final installment of this academic year’s Commerce of Creativity Distinguished Speaker Series next week at California State University, Northridge.

Berk’s presentation, “Disruption and the Arts: Traversing a Career in an Ever-Changing Environment,” is scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, in the Great Hall of the Valley Performing Arts Center, located at the south end of the CSUN campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge.

Most recently, Berk served as chief executive officer of Participant Media, a multi Academy Award-winning global entertainment company involved in the production of more than 65 films, including “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Wating for ‘Superman,’” “The Help,” “Contagion,” “CitizenFour” and “Lincoln.”

“We are honored to have Jim, one of our most distinguished alumni, conclude this year’s Commerce of Creativity series,” said Jay Kvapil, dean of CSUN’s Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication. “His remarkable executive career spans three decades and includes education, entrepreneurship, philanthropy, music and business in the arts and entertainment industry. We couldn’t be more pleased that he is willing to share his wide range of experience with our students and guests.”

A native of Los Angeles, Berk began his career as a high school music teacher in South Los Angeles. His passion for the power of music to positively impact students’ lives led him to found the Academy of Music at Hamilton High School. The academy grew into one of the city’s largest public school magnets. In 1990, he became the youngest principal in the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District when he assumed the helm of Hamilton High School.

In 1992, Berk, who graduated from CSUN in 1981 with a degree in music, jumped from education to become founding executive of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Foundation. He later moved on to the private sector, where he led education, hospitality and media companies as president and CEO of Gryphon Colleges, Fairfield Communities, and was managing director for the Rank Group PLC. In 2006, he combined his talents as a teacher, business leader and entertainment executive to become chief executive officer of Participant Media.

In 2007, Berk was recognized with one of CSUN’s highest honors, a Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2011, he received an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the university.

Currently, he serves on the board of USC’s Rossier School of Education and is chairman of the board of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television.

The Commerce of Creativity Distinguished Speaker Series is free and open to the public. Reservations are required. To make a reservation, email Jennifer Badasci at or call (818) 677-7038.

The Commerce of Creativity series is organized by Curb College and the Valley Performing Arts Center to connect members of the campus, alumni and the community with compelling and creative storytellers who have made significant contributions to the art of creative communication and the art of business.

CSUN’s Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication is inspired by a shared belief that art is community, community is art and art and communication are essential pillars for building and maintaining community. Its programs, including those in art, music, theater, cinema and television arts, communication studies and journalism, have an international reputation for graduating professionals who succeed in their respective fields. CSUN’s music and film programs have ranked among the top 25 in the world by The Hollywood Reporter.