Oscar-winning producer Jonas Rivera to be SF State Commencement speaker


1996 graduate received Academy Award for Disney/Pixar’s “Inside Out,” nomination for “Up”

SAN FRANCISCO, April 18, 2016 — Oscar-winning film producer and San Francisco State University alum Jonas Rivera ('96) will address an audience of nearly 35,000 as the featured speaker at the University's 115th commencement ceremony May 27 at AT&T Park.

He has twice been honored as the Producer of the Year in Animated Features by the Producers Guild of America for his work on Disney/Pixar’s "Up" and "Inside Out." He was also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for "Up," making him the first Pixar Animation Studios producer ever to receive this honor.

Rivera earned a bachelor's degree in film production and joined Pixar while still a student in 1994 to work on "Toy Story" as the studio's first production intern. He held advanced roles in production on nearly every subsequent Pixar feature film until becoming producer of the studio's Oscar-winning 2009 film "Up." Most recently, Rivera partnered again with "Up" director Pete Docter for "Inside Out," which won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay.

"I came to SFSU loving animation and knowing that I wanted to be a part of making animated films. It was just such an amazing experience to walk in there and be surrounded by so many people with a similar passion," said Rivera. "I took the time to dig into every possible kind of film I could get my eyes on. It was an amazing experience that expanded my love of all kinds of films."

"When I began my tenure at San Francisco State, I spoke about the need for all of us on campus to nurture creativity, insight and self-direction," SF State President Les Wong said. "Jonas Rivera epitomizes all of these qualities. While still a student at SF State, he envisioned possibilities for his future and never stopped to look back. Through creativity, hard work, determination and insight, Jonas has brought joy to millions of people throughout the world and serves as an inspiration for the SF State family."

Rivera worked his way up from his 1994 internship to various roles at the studio, including art department coordinator for "A Bug's Life," marketing and creative resources coordinator on "Toy Story 2," art department manager on Oscar-nominated "Monsters, Inc." and production manager on the Golden Globe-winning feature "Cars."

A Bay Area native, Rivera grew up in Castro Valley. Inspired at a very young age, Rivera has always loved films, particularly animated ones. His first childhood memories consist of the Tiki Room at Disneyland and going to the theater to see films like "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Star Wars." Prior to Pixar, his diverse professional background included working in music and toy stores and playing in hard rock bands – which he jokingly refers to as "the perfect training for working at Pixar."

Approximately 8,000 degrees will be conferred during the ceremony, which begins at 5:30 p.m. Last year's event, the first-ever college or university commencement to take place at AT&T Park, was attended by more than 35,000 graduates and guests.

More details about this year's ceremony, including additional speakers and honorary degrees, will be announced in the coming weeks and available online at commencement.sfsu.edu.


San Francisco State University makes things happen. Founded in 1899, it is the only master's-level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. Its nationally acclaimed programs span a broad range of disciplines. Nearly 30,000 students enroll at the University each year, and its more than 236,000 graduates have contributed to the economic, cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond. Through them – and more than 1,600 world-class faculty members – SF State proudly embraces its legacy of academic excellence, community engagement and commitment to social justice. For more information, visit sfsu.edu.