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Empowering Female Business Leaders of Tomorrow with the Graziadio Women’s Business Association

GWBA LogoFrom generation to generation, women pass down characteristics that empower future leaders to stand with confidence and act with courage. It is through our women role models that we grow into the people we want to become – with many having the goal of changing the world for the better. At Pepperdine Graziadio, we are consistently living our mission of developing Best for the World Leaders by providing a values-based education and professional resources to prepare individuals in shaping the future of the business world. Designed with a unique set of values at the core, our educational centers such as the Center for Women in Leadership and industry-leading women faculty inspire students to create communities of their own – as for the Graziadio Women’s Business Association, they encourage female business leaders to become their best versions. 

As the largest club on campus with a total of 222 members, the Graziadio Women’s Business Association (GWBA) is an inclusive, student-led organization that stands as a resource for women as they develop their leadership skills and strategies. From professional development events to exclusive networking with prominent female executives, GWBA prepares female students for the real world with unique business opportunities, honing in on the value they desire to bring to future roles. GWBA partners with a variety of Pepperdine-affiliated clubs such as the Pepperdine Entertainment, Media, and Sports Society and Graziadio Emerging Technology Association to foster an inclusive community that builds upon collaborating with women leaders in diversified fields of expertise. 

In addition to events and networking opportunities, GWBA allows all students to challenge themselves and develop their business skills through taking numerous leadership roles, including a role for VP of Male Allies. As for Lauren Elsner, Kirstine Donato, Kaity Iwashita, and Rachel Russell Clark, their voluntary participation on the leadership committee as MBA students have substantially impacted their organization and society around them, continuing to grow the connections available to all women at Graziadio. These purpose-driven women are reputable leaders of the graduate atmosphere, showcasing what it looks like to become a Best for the World Leader. 


The Graziadio Women’s Business Association (GWBA) is a student-run, professional club that actively cultivates Best for the World Leaders by supporting, challenging, and empowering women to thrive in the business world. By engaging the community through innovative initiatives and thoughtful programming, the GWBA promotes meaningful connections, diversity, and gender equity.


  1. Recruit the next generation of female leaders into top executive business management positions
  2. Develop a community for women that is understanding of the unique female experience
  3. Promote a collaborative, not competitive, environment
  4. Encourage women to achieve their professional aspirations
  5. Stimulate conversations on and off campus about women in business
  6. Inspire Graziadio alumni graduates to invest in emerging female leaders


Lauren Elsner

“Through running this organization along with Kirstine Donato and my amazing board members, we are able to help empower women while creating a tight-knit community of future business leaders. We plan social, professional, and wellness events that promote networking while empowering women in business and beyond. Additionally, we work with other clubs such as the Pepperdine Entertainment Media & Sports Society and Emerging Tech Society to promote inclusivity of all students both in the full-time and part-time programs including men. 

Furthermore, we believe having male allies is important, as we have a VP of Male Allyship. Getting the opportunity to help run this organization alongside these inspiring women has been one of the best experiences I've had while at Pepperdine. The community of women at Graziadio including our faculty is filled with strong, intelligent, and ambitious women who inspire me daily and I will continue to have in my life for years to come. They remind me that we’re always stronger when we stand together. Lastly, none of this would have been possible without Katherine Harrison, an MBA 2021 Graziadio graduate and also my dear friend, mentor, and founder of this organization.” 

Lauren Elsner | MBA ‘22 | Co-President

Kirstine Donato

“I didn't want to look back [on my graduate school experience] and think ‘I wish I could have done more’ or ‘I wish I could have learned more’. I wanted to surround myself with men and women who inspire me to be a better person, personally and professionally. At the end of the day, all of my career goals revolve around opening more doors and smashing more glass ceilings for women. One day, I want a young girl to look at me and think, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’”

Kirstine Donato | MBA ‘22 | Co-President

Kaity Iwashita

“As a female striving to become a business leader, I always aim to surround myself with intelligent, ambitious, and strong women to continue to challenge myself and to grow both personally and professionally. After meeting with some of the ladies on the board for GWBA, I quickly realized that in this close-knit community within Pepperdine Graziadio, would do just that and help mold me into the business professional I strive to be.” 

Kaity Iwashita | MBA ‘23 | VP of Marketing and Communications

Rachel Russell Clark

"GWBA shifted my Pepperdine experience and brought me a community of students I would have never met otherwise! I’m grateful to have been able to network with so many amazing individuals and leave here with lifelong friendships. By contributing to planning events for people in our organization, we are able to enhance the experience for all. I hope to continue bringing this community together after graduation!"

Rachel Russell Clark | MBA ‘22 | VP of FEMBA/EMBA Relations

Engage with GWBA

Every day, GWBA fosters its mission of empowering women to grow into their best selves with the hope that every female who joins the organization continues to impact the greater society, preparing them for their post-graduation careers. GWBA is gaining momentum through its main social channels, Instagram and LinkedIn, engaging the community to join them for inspirational events and recognition of its influential members. It is through supportive, female-led organizations like GWBA that women feel inspired to reach their goals and become prominent leaders in the business world. For more information on getting involved with GWBA, visit their website and connect with the leadership team.