10 Questions: Family and friends inspire Tom Murphy to community service in La Jolla


Tom Murphy was born at Scripps Hospital on Prospect Street, the youngest of six children. He attended Gillispie Cottage, Stella Maris Academy, Muirlands Junior High and La Jolla High. After graduating from UC Berkeley, he followed his political interests in Washington D.C. with Senator Pete Wilson. He was appointed Deputy White House Liaison at the Department of Commerce in the Reagan Administration, where he developed a passion for recruiting and executive search. Today he is the Senior Vice President and Life Science Practice Leader for Solomon Page Group, a global executive search firm.

Since returning to La Jolla in 1991 with his wife, Elaine, Tom has been engaged in civic and community organizations. He serves on the boards of the La Jolla High Foundation, San Diego Junior Lifeguard Foundation and La Jolla Youth Baseball. Prior board service includes Voices for Children, San Diego Venture Group, San Diego Social Venture Partners, La Jolla Playhouse Associates and a graduate of LEAD San Diego.

Tom and Elaine are the proud parents of three fun-loving boys.

What brought you to La Jolla?

My dad was a tank commander in the 1st Marine Division based in Camp Pendleton during WW II. They were from Springfield and Longmeadow, Massachusetts and moved to La Jolla in 1942 where he was promptly shipped off to the Pacific Theater. After the war, why would anyone leave La Jolla? Six kids later, here I am.

What might you add, subtract or improve in the area?

La Jolla is at the center of the most vibrant innovation ecosystem in the country. Our schools need to not only resemble that innovation community, we need to prepare our students for opportunities to learn and lead as entrepreneurs and innovators. For starters, we need to raise funds for La Jolla High to build the Bioscience Center that is on the drawing board. I’d also like to eliminate street parking on Pearl Street. It’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and there are too many accidents and dangerous situations.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by busy people who give their time, talent and treasure to make La Jolla and San Diego a better place. My parents were incredible role models. They were always on boards, chairing committees, volunteering in the community, coaching teams — they did it all at a high level, yet they were always there for us. I don’t know how they did it, but I learned at a young age that giving back was important and they inspired me to step up when it was my time.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom would you invite?

Elaine and I are a great team so she’s at the head of the table. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Thomas Jefferson have to be there. Joe Namath and Arthur Ashe are my sports idols. Tina Fey and Seth McFarlane will make sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Mick Jagger and Tina Turner will provide energy and some tunes. And my mom and dad, because they’re good glue. We may need a bigger table.

What is it that you most dislike?

People who don’t vote and complain about all that is wrong with society.

What is your most-prized possession?

Although not a possession, my family is the most important thing in the world. I treasure my marriage certificate and three children’s birth certificates.

What do you do for fun?

For the past 12 years, I’ve attended thousands of youth sporting events with our boys. I love their baseball and water polo games, and making friends through their activities. For the past six years, I’ve enjoyed writing some 75 articles about La Jolla Youth Baseball ( for the La Jolla Light. I enjoy board service and helping non-profit organizations improve by recruiting talent to their team — I’m a matchmaker at heart. Last but not least, nothing beats watching a green flash with our friends at a picnic at the Beach Club. We are so lucky to live here!

What is your motto?

DWYSYWD — Do what you say you will do. I learned that during LEAD training and we had a license plate made for the executive director.

What would be your dream vacation?

Charter a yacht with extended family and friends and cruise the Mediterranean for a few months.

What are your favorite comfort foods?

Carnitas Special Cheese Crisp with a Negra Modelo at El Ranchero. There are several other favorites on their menu, but this one is the bomb.