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Past Award Recipients

Past George Awards recipients pose with their award

Graziadio School George Awards

Dean van Rensburg, the Board of Visitors and faculty of the Graziadio School congratulate past recipients of the George Awards. We continue to learn from their challenges and are inspired by their example.

School benefactor and Imperial Bancorp founder George L. Graziadio's legacy looms large by any standard. He will be remembered as a business innovator and leader, as well as a dedicated family man and generous philanthropist. His life and good works stand as a testament to what can be achieved when vision and compassion are fueled by enthusiasm and hard work. This testament lives on through the graduates of the school that bears his name.

Read more about past awardees here:

2017 Award Recipients

Student Recipients


Anne Guillebeaux

Anne Guillebeaux

Fully Employed Master of Business Administration

Anne Guillebeaux leads the marketing efforts, the design and implementation of public landscape projects on behalf of Mia Lehrer+Associates, a leading landscape architecture firm based in Los Angeles. She applies her leadership, management and design skills in collaboration with expert multi-disciplinary consultant teams to craft proposals for high-profile public landscape projects as well as design public landscapes that deliver value for project owners and stakeholders, engender community, and restore the urban landscape. Anne aims to lead the delivery of projects in a manner that is efficient and profitable while fulfilling and enjoyable for all team members. She has led the design of public landscape projects with construction budgets as large as $56 million and has contributed to infrastructure initiatives as large as $1 billion. Anne holds a BA in Environmental Planning and Design from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Virginia. As part of the Graziadio School of Business MBA degree, Anne is earning a certificate in Socially, Environmentally and Ethically Responsible (SEER) Business Strategy.


Tamarra Allen

Tamarra Allen

Master of Science in Management and Leadership

Tamarra is committed to her son, her faith, and her family. It is with inspiration from these three that she ultimately returned to Pepperdine University to pursue a Master of Science in Management and Leadership degree. She will graduate in April 2017. Having already completed her Fully Employed Bachelor of Science in Management, it was important to continue her quest for greater knowledge. Tamarra believes that a true leader not only inspires but mentors. With the great education she acquired at Pepperdine University, backed by the unwavering support of the faculty, her family, and the relationships she built with her fellow classmates, Tamarra will continue to lead, inspire, and change the world around her.


Jen Oh

Jen Oh

Full-Time Master of Business Administration

Jen Oh is a full-time MBA candidate with a dual concentration in Organizational Change and Dispute Resolution through Pepperdine's Straus Institute. Jen is the proud President of the Graziadio Veterans Business Society and did her summer MBA internship at Southwest Airlines on their Change Leadership team. Prior to business school, Jen was an Air Force Intelligence Officer for seven years specializing in drone warfare. She served overseas in Germany, Afghanistan, Qatar, and was last stationed at Central Command Headquarters in Tampa. Jen graduated from Boston University in 2008 with a Bachelor's in International Relations and has her Master's in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma.


Maegan Scott

Maegan Scott

Master of Science in Organization and Development

Maegan Scott is a program officer at the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation in Washington, DC, where she specializes in Organizational Effectiveness and manages the Foundation's capacity-building portfolio. In this role, Maegan supports the Foundation's nonprofit partners in achieving greater community impact and implements strategies to build an equitable Greater Washington, DC community.

An avid volunteer throughout her community and abroad, Maegan has fifteen years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and NGOs. Her service and community leadership typify her presence in the MSOD program, where she is able to strike a unique balance between a strategic mind and a compassionate heart. Maegan's master's thesis on racial equity is an example of her conviction for justice and empathy for self-development and healing. She co-presented her research -- "Adopting a Racial Equity Stance: Leveraging Cultural Competence for Deeper Impact and Lasting Social Change" -- at a peer-reviewed international conference to an outstanding reception. She holds a bachelor's degree from American University and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University.


Shea O'Reilly

Shea O'Reilly

Master of Science in Human Resources

Shea is a Human Resources Master's candidate within Pepperdine's Graziadio Business School. She enjoys serving as president and founder of the inaugural Pepperdine Human Resources Club, as well as analyzing executive compensation as a graduate research assistant for an MSHR professor.

Previously, Shea graduated from Pepperdine Seaver College as a magna cum laude major in Psychology, minor in Industrial Organizational Psychology, and certificate holder in Conflict Resolution from the Pepperdine Law School. Among her professional and academic roles as an undergraduate, Shea served as Professional Chair for Alpha Kappa Psi Business Fraternity, Pepperdine Professional Development Intern, Seaver Public Speaking Tutor, 49th Congressional District Intern, and HR Intern for Datron World Communications. She hopes to integrate these scholastic and professional experiences as a future human resources professional and servant leader.


Michelle Konstantarakis

Michelle Konstantarakis

Executive Master of Business Administration 

Michelle is the VP and Chief Compliance Officer of The Investment Counsel Company in Las Vegas. In addition to overseeing the daily operations and firm compliance for more than 13 years, Michelle has been assisting high-net-worth families, corporations, foundations, and endowments with establishing investment goals and risk parameters, structuring and implementing investment plans to match individualized needs, and monitoring investment performance in relation to clients' stated objectives.

Michelle received her Bachelor's degree in Business and Finance and continued her education by earning the Certified Investment Management Analyst, Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst and Certified Financial Planning designations. As a lifelong learner, Michelle prioritized pursuing her graduate studies and joined the EMBA Pepperdine program in the Fall of 2015. 

Corporate Partner Award


Adam Buffum

Adam Buffum

IBM

IBM is a top MBA employer with the name recognition and the ability to consistently hire our graduates for internships and full-time positions. The Graziadio School has had a recruiting relationship with IBM for three years which means IBM sends representatives to the Malibu campus for information sessions and interviews. We have a track record of success the past three years and have already added one more hire during this past Fall recruiting cycle with the hopes of a few more who are still currently being considered for jobs and internships within IBM's Summit Program. Adam Buffum, our full-time alumnus who will accept the award for IBM, is the key reason we now have the campus recruiting relationship and he has a role along with IBM recruiters in the process. With Adam's support and participation, five other FT MBA grads who are now with IBM and this year.

Waves of Service Award


Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D. Graziadio alumna

Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D.

Outstanding Service Award

Elizabeth Vilardo, M.D. graduated from the Graziadio School PKE Program in 1999. She has been President and CEO of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), since September 2015. Dr. Vilardo is only the fourth CEO in the history of PAMF. She is a practicing internal medicine physician. She received her M.D. degree from UC San Francisco and completed her residency at UCLA. She is married and has two daughters.

Alumni Award


Darren Pitts

Darren Pitts

Outstanding Alumnus

Darren D. Pitts graduated from the Graziadio School MBA Program in 1995. He is the Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Arizona-based Velocity Retail Group and Accelerated Development. Darren was involved in starting the Phoenix-area Pepperdine Alumni Chapter in 2005 and joined Pepperdine's Alumni Leadership Council (ALC) in 2007 and later served as the group's President from 2012 to 2014. His ALC committee was instrumental in the creation of Pepperdine's Family Camp in Malibu and he is regularly involved in Pepperdine activities and events in California and Arizona.

Faculty Member Award


Nelson Granados

Nelson Granados

Outstanding Faculty Member

Nelson Granados applies his award-winning research on the economic impact of digital technologies to advise and consult companies in the tech, travel, media, and entertainment sectors. His work has appeared in the top academic journals and media outlets. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, where he has published more than 80 articles with more than half-million views. He currently serves as the Co-director of the Pepperdine Institute for Entertainment, Media, and Culture.

2016 Award Recipients

Student Recipients


Christina Balcita

Christina Balcita

Fully Employed Bachelor of Science in Management 

This summer Christina Balcita will receive her Bachelor of Science in Management degree. Her path has not been easy. Through faith she has learned to turn obstacles into challenges and challenges into successes. Christina credits growing up in a small country town for keeping her humble, honest, and valuing her integrity. She is driven by her talents and enjoys investigating the “how’s” and “whys” of a given situation. Next month, she will study abroad in China. She hopes to find opportunity and inspiration that will help her achieve her goal of becoming a successful entrepreneur. She expects challenges and knows she can overcome them.


James Berneking

James Berneking

Fully Employed Master of Business Administration (MBA)

James Berneking is a knowledgeable higher education professional and certified project manager. He currently serves as the associate director of accreditation and assessment for the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University. Utilizing a project- oriented approach, he manages a variety of functions including curriculum and accreditation approvals, assessment activities, and faculty data management to create systems and processes that foster innovations and efficiencies while maintaining strong alignment with accreditation standards. He is an MBA candidate at the Graziadio School and holds a BA in politics, philosophy, and economics from The King’s College.


Peter Hsiung

Peter Hsiung

Master of Science in Applied Finance (MSAF)

Peter Hsiung was born in Taiwan and moved to New Zealand where he spent the majority of his childhood. He graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Maryland and interned for the Chair of the Maryland Ways and Means Committee during his senior year. After he graduated, he worked in insurance asset management and for a startup while learning Mandarin. Peter has a passion for the equity markets and is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Applied Finance at Pepperdine Graziadio. His team, Tsunami Capital, is a finalist in the National Investment Banking Competition (NIBC). Peter is also an active member of the Graziadio community, serving as an officer for the Finance Club where he helps coordinate Wall Street Prep activities.


Kyle Kichner

Kyle Kichner

Fully Employed Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML) 

Kyle J. Kichner is the Operations Coordinator for the Western Region of Chevron Shipping LLC.  He is responsible for vessel operations at Chevron’s offshore marine terminals at the West Coast’s largest refinery located in El Segundo, California. Kyle is a certified coach to Chevron employees in the company’s Leadership Roles and Behaviors program. Kyle is a 2008 graduate of the United States Coast Guard Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Marine and Environmental Sciences concentrating in Chemistry and Biology. He is also a graduate of the United States Air Force Special Operations School. Kyle holds a Master of Science degree in Biotechnology concentrating in Biodefense and Biosecurity and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland.  He is currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Management and Leadership from Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business. Kyle has a tested and proven track of leading diverse teams in a multitude of unique environments ranging from the battlefield to the boardroom.


Whitney Merritt

Whitney Merritt

Full-Time Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Before attending Pepperdine, Whitney received a BFA in Theatre at the University of Mississippi and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in entertainment. She spent several years working in commercial production and for a digital start-up. While at Graziadio, Whitney has served as President of Emerging Leaders, Vice President of the Entertainment Society, and as a champion for two years in the Microenterprise Program. After graduating this April with a concentration in Marketing and the SEER certificate, Whitney will join AT&T as part of the coveted Leadership Development Program. She feels grateful for all the opportunities while at Graziadio and looks forward to staying a part of the community.


Michael Sprague

Michael Sprague

Master of Science in Organization and Development (MSOD) 

Michael is a 2004 Seaver graduate and currently Director of Alumni Relations at Pepperdine University. Michael is completing his thesis, Fear Awareness and Effective Teams, that explores individual fear at work. He was motivated to tackle this study to support people in their vulnerability and as a result help them become more resilient and courageous. Michael’s designed intervention helps bring the very human experience that many of us bury and deny, to the surface, to be examined and shared amongst others at work. As a classmate, Michael is a leader in setting the tone for a culture of care and compassion. He is the one constantly organizing weekend trips, ventures to sporting events and other smaller social gatherings for his MSOD cohort to continue fostering connection and support between class meetings.


Andrea Tampellini

Andrea Tampellini

Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) 

Andrea is the Vice President of Sales for ST Microelectronics, a worldwide leader in the manufacture and distribution of microchips. He holds significant revenue and P&L accountabilities while leading his worldwide sales force. Throughout his EMBA 106 journey, Andrea has served as a role model for his classmates. Andrea is viewed as an informal leader known for his executive experience and thoughtful insights he offers in group discussions. Moreover, he willingly shares his own experiences to help build the context and understanding of his fellow classmates. In addition to his top notch performance in the EMBA program, Andrea successfully balances a high profile career and a growing family. 

Corporate Partner Award


Scott Yamamoto

Scott Yamamoto, MBA '12

Bank of America

As one of the largest financial institutions in the world, Bank of America’s purpose globally, is to help customers and clients realize their financial goals, and locally, through its philanthropy and corporate social responsibility, to support the communities where their employees live and work. B of A forged a recruitment partnership with The Graziadio School over seven years ago for the rigorous, competitive MBA Leadership Development Program.

This program emphasizes the development and retention of the company’s future leaders who can drive business forward, operate in a global marketplace, and serve the needs of clients, associates, and shareholders. Our partnership with B of A has grown each year and for the 2015-2016 MBA recruiting cycle includes three full-time hires and five summer interns alone! The ongoing success is due in large part to the efforts of our valued alumni who paved the way for the recruiting relationship and remain actively involved with positioning our students to land these coveted leadership jobs and internships.

Because B of A’s focus on leadership and service resonates well with the mission of the Graziadio School and because of the company’s ongoing involvement with recruiting Graziadio talent we are grateful and honored to present The 2016 Corporate George Award to Bank of America. Accepting the award on behalf of B of A is Scott Yamamoto, Full-Time MBA 2012 graduate, who completed the Consumer Banking LDP and is now Vice President, Business Support at the bank. Scott has been helping students land spots within the LDP since 2012 and has spearheaded the involvement of other Graziadio alumni throughout the recruiting process, particularly this past year after EMBA Alumnus and senior executive Jim Emerick retired and handed the reins over to Scott. We thank them both for their efforts, support, and leadership.

Waves of Service Award


Caroline MacDonald

Caroline MacDonald, EMBA '13

Outstanding Service Award

As Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Rosewood Hotels, Caroline MacDonald is responsible for directing and implementing Marketing & Brand Strategy of the group within the Americas | Europe division and providing synergy and consistency between the corporate office and the individual hotels. Prior to joining Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, Caroline MacDonald held the position as Chief Marketing Officer for Auberge Resorts and was instrumental in the opening and branding of the Auberge properties as well as the brand’s expanding real estate portfolio. During her tenure, the brand garnered some of the top accolades in the hospitality industry from the Green Spa Network, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and U.S. News & World Report.

Prior to her hospitality career, Caroline was a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force, working in Systems Management while stationed in Europe. During peacetime, she wrote computer programs and managed personnel data. During wartime, her position was NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) Cell Plotter. A graduate of the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business, MacDonald received her Masters in Business Administration. MacDonald serves on the Board of Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals. She was recently recognized as a Los Angeles Woman of Influence by American City Business Journals and Bizwomen for 2016.

Alumni Award


Don Goodwin

Don Goodwin, BS ’01, EMBA ‘08

Outstanding Alumnus

Don Goodwin is the executive vice president of The Goodwin Company. The Goodwin Company is a fifth generation family business established in 1922 with an expertise in the production, packaging, and distribution of liquid products including: general household cleaners, automotive appearance products, industrial cleaning products, and engine additives. The Goodwin Company currently manufactures and distributes 60MM gallons of product worldwide from its facilities in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Don serves as Chairman on the board of directors for a non-profit organization in Orange County, CA named Art and Creativity for Healing. The organization facilitates art projects at healing workshops for children and adults suffering from abuse, illness, grief, and stress. It works with various non-profit agencies such as Human Options, Choc Hospital, and Camp Pendleton. Don is also the President-Elect of the Pepperdine Alumni Leadership Council. Don received his bachelor's degree in business administration and MBA from Pepperdine University. His wife Raquel also attended Pepperdine University and received her MA in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy. He resides in Orange County, CA with his wife and his two sons Shane and Santiago.

Faculty Member Award


Bernice Ledbetter

Dr. Bernice Ledbetter

Outstanding Faculty Member

Bernice has been active in the corporate and business world through her academic work on women in leadership. She has been an invited speaker and panel member for Rotary, Expedia, Los Angeles Business Journal, AEG, Southern California Edison, Women in Sports and Entertainment, Google, Mattel, Clorox, Lockheed  Martin, and more than two dozen other organizations. She has always had a passion for women’s leadership and won Pepperdine’s prestigious Waves of Innovation Award in 2015 with her proposal to address Women in Leadership issues and networking.

An excellent teacher, Bernice won the Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence in 2014. She receives outstanding appreciation from her students and teaches courses such as organizational theory and practice and organizational dynamics and managing change.  Dr. Ledbetter has been quoted extensively in the media including an LA Times feature in the weekly column How I Made It “Getting Women to Lead.” (May 3, 2015).  In 2015, she was quoted by the LA Times four separate times on such women’s issues as “Bias Case May Yet Spur Change” (March 29, 2015), and “Ellen Pao Resigns as Interim CEO of Reddit after Week of Intense Criticism” (July 10, 2015).  In addition to her external connections, Dr. Ledbetter has served Pepperdine as a speaker for Pepperdine’s High Potentials Mentoring Program, the Pepperdine Leadership Conference, Graziadio Board of Visitors, and Seaver Academic Leadership Initiative.

2015 Award Recipients

Student Recipients


Alina Grecu

Alina Grecu

Fully Employed Bachelor of Science in Management 

Alina Grecu is the Project Manager at ColorNet Press. Throughout both her professional and scholastic career, Ms. Grecu has established a solid reputation among her peers for being highly organized with a keen eye for detail, a natural public speaker and has demonstrated strong work ethics, leadership and enthusiasm to help others. Just shy of ten years working in the visual communications industry, her thirst for learning and desire to meet challenges head-on have never stopped and she continues to successfully lead complex print-related projects. As project manager for high-end award winning boutique printer (ColorNet Press in West Los Angeles) she is inspired daily to learn the ropes of running a business, sharpen her sales skills and aspires to become a motivational leader. Since entering the Bachelor of Science in Management (BSM) program at Graziadio School, Alina has maintained a perfect class attendance record and has held a 3.8 grade point average throughout the entire program. Upon completing BSM program in April 2015, she is pursuing to earn a project management certificate, win a Benny award (Oscar equivalent in the printing industry), and join the MBAJ program with a concentration in leadership and management. Alina's motto "Set goals, but don't just reach them...crush them!".


Jeffrey Shapiro

Jeffrey Shapiro

Fully Employed Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Jeffrey Shapiro is a highly skilled finance manager in the entertainment industry. Over the last seven years, Jeffrey built integrated production accounting systems at some of the industries most cutting edge visual effects and animation studios. Jeffrey is a second year Fully-Employed MBA student who completed every course in the program in the Flex format. Last year, Jeffrey became the Manager of Finance at Sony Pictures Animation by directly applying the values-centered leadership skills obtained from the Graziadio curriculum. In addition to attending Pepperdine and working full time at Sony Pictures, Jeffrey manages his own independent film production company that released its first feature length film. Jeffrey holds a bachelor of science in business administration at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He expects to graduate from the FEMBA program in August 2015.


Yury Adamov

Yury Adamov

Full-Time Master of Business Administration (MBA) 

Yury Adamov completed a BS in Accounting at Loyola Marymount University. While there he studied abroad at Oxford and was involved in a business immersion program in Asia. Afterwards he joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as assurance associate and worked on clients such as Avery Dennison, Screen Actors Guild and Mattel. While at PwC, he was also nominated for a Chairman Award. He was also involved as a mentor and volunteer with the Riordan Programs at UCLA, moving eventually to a board position on the Alumni Board. Afterwards Yury worked for Union Bank as a business strategy analyst followed by a position in the M&A group. Currently Yury attends Graziadio School of Business and Management and is the Vice President of Net Impact.


Suzan Nascimento

Suzan Nascimento

Fully Employed Master of Science in Management and Leadership (MSML)

Suzan Nascimento is an innovative, avant-garde problem-solver with high-standards. She constantly envisions ways to improve and upgrade. As a result, she has a BS in Information Technology and is a 2015 MS in Management and Leadership candidate. While at Pepperdine, Ms. Nascimento identified her purpose to be a passionate leader that empowers people to be confident, trusting and purposeful.

By day, Ms. Nascimento is a global application security manager at Experian. In other words, she helps protect customer information from identity theft and helps companies stay off the front-page news due to a data breach. She does this by engaging thousands of software development staff to understand, commit to and advocate for application security. By night, she works for SURE Consulting, which stands for Strategic Understanding, Reliable Expertise. SURE Consulting performs pro bono management and leadership consulting for non-profit organizations. Ms. Nascimento is also expanding the service offering to include self-awareness and holistic productivity consulting. In addition, Ms. Nascimento is preparing a podcast and blog launch in 2015 called "Heart Work."


Tian Tan

Tian Tan

Full-Time Master of Science in Applied Finance (MSAF)

Tian Tan is a student in the Master of Science in Applied Finance and will graduate in August 2015. She completed her undergraduate degree at Shanghai Jiaotong University with a major in finance and a minor in news and broadcasting. Tian continues to pursue academic goals in the field of finance and is a CFA level I candidate. Faculty and fellow students speak highly of Tian for her high degree of professionalism, integrity, courage and leadership. In addition, Tian actively participates in school-wide activities and is a senator of Alumni Affairs, Malibu Graduate Business Society, Pepperdine University. Tian expects to be the bridge between alumni and Pepperdine. Her future plans include pursuing a career in finance in the areas of fixed income and equity investments.


Ruth Weller

Ruth Ann Weller

Master of Science in Organization and Development (MSOD) 

Ruthie holds a bachelor's of science in human development and family studies from Texas Tech University. Early in her career she worked for the State of Texas - Child Protective Services as a caseworker specializing in conservatorship. She also did social work through a private non-profit residential program at Methodist Children's Home. She lived in North Africa for six years where she taught English and technology classes at a private Women's university and high school. In 2007, she returned to the United States and took a position with Antioch
Community Church in Waco, Texas as Director of Team Training.

In her current position as Director of Staff Development at Antioch, Ruthie utilizes her international experience and expertise in team dynamics to develop leaders and teams both locally and abroad. She works with domestic teams throughout the United States and international teams stationed across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Ruthie is an International Coach Federation Associate Certified Coach. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in organization development from Pepperdine University. Her extracurricular interests include investing quality time in family and friends along with kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and being outside to enjoy nature as much as possible.


Harriet Ells

Harriet Ells

Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) 

Harriet Ells has been an outstanding student throughout her EMBA program. She is a proven leader in her cohort, setting an example of leadership and commitment for her fellow students. Ms. Ells is consistently prepared for class and often leads the subject matter discussions. During her studies, she transitioned from a public radio station to the NFL Network, where she has excelled in a male dominated industry. She consistently exhibits the highest standards of character, and her academic work has always been outstanding. Ms. Ells has participated in many Pepperdine events outside of class and often goes out of her way to help her fellow students.

Waves of Service Award


Robert Price

Robert Price, MBA '96

Outstanding Service Award

Robert Price is the executive director of the Global Entrepreneurship Institute. He is a world renown expert in the field of entrepreneurial capitalism. He is a strategist, innovative thought leader, public speaker, creative educator, and prolific author. He has written or edited more than a dozen books on entrepreneurship. His books are required reading at Harvard, Stanford, Babson, UCLA, USC, Caltech, DePaul, and many more leading universities and colleges around the world.

Founded in 1996, the Global Entrepreneurship Institute is a non-profit that educates and supports entrepreneurs around the world. Its mission is to spread wealth creation by encouraging entrepreneurship and sharing knowledge to those who educate and support entrepreneurs. It also facilitates introductions to investors, professional service providers, and other entrepreneurs. Using his exclusive Roadmap to Entrepreneurial Success he has helped entrepreneurs raise over $100 million. Robert earned his MBA from Pepperdine in 1996.

Alumni Service Award


Lore Heffelfinger

Lori Heffelfinger, MSOD '97

Outstanding Alumnus

Lori Heffelfinger has held a passion for developing leaders since 2004. She is fortunate to have learned from the some of the best leaders (and developers of leaders) having spent over 20 years working in the Aerospace and Chemical industries for companies such as Honeywell, Raytheon, Ashland Oil, and Monsanto Company where she herself was a also a leader and accountable for leadership and organizational development in those organizations. While Ms. Heffelfinger was fortunate to have worked for many amazing organizations early in her career and relies on that real world education in her practice, she credits the Pepperdine MSOD program with having transformed her career and her passion for the work she does today.

She graduated with her MSOD degree in 1997 while living in the Midwest. When she moved to southern California in late 2001, her relationship with Pepperdine was rekindled when she re-connected with MSOD faculty and former classmates who introduced her to alumni from other classes in Los Angeles. She is an alumna of the MSOD Program has been an adjunct faculty member and speaker in the Women's Leadership Program. She served on the MSOD Alumni Council for six years, and was Co-Chair for four of those. She has volunteers her time to design and facilitate the last three Graziadio Alumni Network (GAN) Leadership Retreats. She had been a Pepperdine Associate since 2009 and is currently a member of the University Alumni Leadership Council. She consistently mentors and hires Graziadio students and alumni and is a consummate volunteer who is passionate about Pepperdine.

Faculty Member Award


John Buckingham

John Buckingham

Outstanding Faculty Member

Mr. Buckingham has been a successful corporate and entrepreneurial executive during his 30 year career starting with his development of a new division for Colgate Palmolive while still a MBA student in Boston. He has always had a passion for education and has taught marketing, marketing strategy, communications and marketing consulting as an Adjunct Professor with many well known Universities wherever his career took him. He began teaching as an adjunct professor of marketing at the Graziadio School in June, 2004 and became a full-time member of the marketing faculty in 2007 when he sold his latest startup company to a private equity firm in 2007.

Throughout his career, Mr. Buckingham has served as chief executive officer / chief marketing officer for private and public companies including West Chemical of Princeton, New Jersey and Intoximeters of St. Louis, Missouri. Mr. Buckingham was a member of the Young Presidents Organization for 20 years and a member of four different chapters. In May 2008, Mr. Buckingham received the prestigious Significant Sig Award from the International Sigma Chi Fraternity for outstanding business leadership and career success. Mr. Buckingham earned a bachelor of science in Pharmacy with distinction from Purdue University and a master's in business administration from Harvard Business School.

Staff Member Award

Dave Smith

David Smith, PhD

Outstanding Staff Member

David M. Smith has served as interim dean of the Graziadio Business School since August 1, 2014. Dr. Smith earned his BA from Wheaton College and both his MS and PhD degrees from Michigan State University. Prior to assuming this new position, Dr. Smith has served as associate dean for eight years at the business school, most recently as senior associate dean. In this role, he had primary oversight for the faculty at the Graziadio School, and he was instrumental in launching two new Centers, the Center for Applied Research and the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence. Dr. Smith also spearheaded the launch of our new online MBA program in 2013.

An economist by training, his expertise includes the areas of labor pay and productivity, data loss, and analysis of specific labor markets. He has published in numerous academic and practitioner outlets. His research on credit unions has been used in arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court as well as in state legislative hearings. David Smith has been a commentator on economic issues for various news media, such as CNN, the London Times, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today, the New York Times, and the Investor's Business Daily.

Keynote Speaker

Morgan Rector

Morgan Rector

President, Comerica Entertainment Group

Morgan Rector, President of the Comerica Entertainment Group, is a veteran of the entertainment industry and one of the most respected names in independent film financing. During the past two decades, he has arranged the financing for more than 1200 independent feature films. Morgan began his career at City National Bank, where he was responsible for managing the portfolio of commercial clients within the bank's Entertainment Lending Division. In 1989, Morgan was hired as a vice president by Imperial Bank to create an Entertainment Finance Group for the bank. He became the Entertainment Group President three years later. Under his leadership, the group became the most prolific financier of movies and television in the world. In 2001, Detroit-based Comerica Bank acquired Imperial Bank and named Morgan president of the combined Entertainment Banking groups. Comerica Entertainment Group is a leader in global entertainment finance, with clients ranging from independent film producers to film/television production and distribution companies.

Recent notable films financed by the group include all of the "Twilight" series, all of the "Hunger Games" series, and all of the "Expendables" series. Other recent notable films financed by Comerica include "Zero Dark Thirty", "Crash", and "American Hustle". In 2004, Morgan was named Regional Manager for Comerica's Los Angeles and Ventura County Wealth Management groups, assuming responsibility for the Comerica's largest private banking, brokerage, trust and investment group.

Born and raised in Carson, California, Morgan graduated from Harvard University cum laude with a degree in Economics, and received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1990.

2014 Award Recipients

Student Recipients

Jerome Novack, Jr.

Jerome Novak, Jr.
Outstanding Student – Fully Employed Bachelor of Science in Management Program

Jerome Novak, Jr. is the director of clinical engineering at Masimo Corporation, a medical devices company. He has been with the company for 18 years, and develops novel diagnostic and monitoring methods for the company. With a diverse clinical and technical background, he applies strengths from both disciplines in his work and has more than 40 patents issued or pending. He has been recognized as both an outstanding student and a leader in the best traditions of the school. Currently, Novak is working on a joint BSM/MBA degree at Pepperdine University.

Matthew Sheridan

Matthew Sheridan
Outstanding Student – Fully Employed MBA Program 

Matthew Sheridan, director of marketing for aerospace products at Meggitt Safety Systems, is responsible for new business development, relationship management, and negotiations with Boeing while managing the account. He brought extensive experience in the aerospace and aircraft industries to his current role with positions previously held at Parker Aerospace, Curtiss Wright Flight Systems, and McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company. Sheridan’s FEMBA professors believe he is one of our most outstanding MBA students and promises to be a stellar alumnus. Sheridan holds a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from Loyola Marymount University. He expects to graduate from the FEMBA Program in December 2014.

Manning Chen

Manning Chen
Outstanding Student – Full-time Master of Science in Global Business Program 

After receiving a degree in finance and banking from Zhejiang University in China, Manning Chen is now enrolled in the Master of Science in Global Business program. Chen enjoys the challenge of driving change and wants to be involved in creating the future of business. With the strong drive to exceed expectations, she has impressed faculty and fellow students for consistently using her creativity to improve the overall learning and researching experience. In addition, Chen has also actively taken part in business-related events, such as volunteering at the Los Angeles Venture Association, participating in the VCLL Case Competition and making her own private investments. Chen expects to graduate from the MSGB program in December 2014 and is currently pursuing a career in finance.

Brittany Takai

Brittany Takai
Outstanding Student – Full-time MBA Program

Brittany Takai is a JD/MBA student who obtained her undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA. While pursuing the joint degree, Takai has worked in Ecuador researching its human trafficking laws, at a small corporate securities law firm and at a real estate crowdfunding startup. As a fellow at the law school’s Palmer Center for Entrepreneurship and the Law, she has served as lead consultant within the Micro-Enterprise Program, which helps underprivileged residents of Los Angeles seek gainful employment and launch micro-businesses. Upon graduating from the Graziadio School this month, Takai plans to intern at Red Bull North America during the summer and finish the last year of her law curriculum. In the future, she hopes to work in the action sports or outdoor industry, start and run her own business, and stay active in the real estate industry.

Executive Programs Recipients

Juliet Irwin

Juliet Irwin
Outstanding Student – Master of Science in Organization Development Program

With over 17 years of professional experience, Juliet Irwin is a trusted strategic partner, seasoned organizational change management professional and lifetime learner. She has been a solutions-focused consultant for many years, working both independently and for international consulting firms. Today she owns a consulting business in Calgary, Canada. As a Master of Science in Organization Development candidate at the Graziadio School, she is recognized for her strengths in leadership, in particular she took on the leadership position for a major cohort project in China. Irwin is an experienced professional who exemplifies the Pepperdine mission, which prepares students for lives of purpose, service and leadership. She will be an exemplary graduate. Irwin volunteers her time at organizations such as the Calgary Outdoor Club and the Canadian Cancer Society. She earned her bachelor of science in psychology from the University of Alberta in Canada.

Nora Crivello

Nora Crivello
Outstanding Student – Executive MBA Program

Nora Crivello is a vice president of Westpak, Inc., a private testing laboratory in San Jose and San Diego. Since receiving her BS in biological sciences from California Lutheran University, Crivello has worked in various roles within engineering, quality and management leadership capacities at Westpak. Crivello came to the Pepperdine Executive MBA program in Northern California with the goal of further building her business acumen and obtaining the tools necessary to take Westpak to the next level of success. While in the program, Crivello has stood out as a collaborative leader with an unparalleled work ethic. Her peers enjoy her enthusiasm, friendly demeanor and appreciate her high personal and team academic standards, while professors commend her integrity, stewardship and compassion. She has an unwavering dedication to self-improvement and knowledge, which she continually shares with those around her. Crivello will graduate from the EMBA program with highest honors while maintaining her most important role as a wife and mother to two young children.

Waves of Service Award Recipient

Molly Moen

Molly Moen, MBA'01
Outstanding Service Award

Molly Moen is chief operating officer of the Downtown Women’s Center (DWC), a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization offering housing and supportive services to more than 4,000 homeless women on Los Angeles’ Skid Row each year. She is responsible for guiding the day-to-day business operations of the organization and providing strategic leadership for the organization. In her role, Moen has managed DWC through a period of unprecedented growth, taking the annual budget from $1 million to $5.5 million, the staff from 14 to 70, and the numbers served from 1,500 to 4,000. She also spearheaded two capital campaigns, which raised a total of $40 million and enabled the development of 119 units of permanent supportive housing. Moen is a graduate of the Graziadio School’s International MBA program. She met her husband Derek in the IMBA program and they have a son, Wyatt.

Alumni Recipient

Charles Franklin

Charles Franklin, MBA ‘02
Outstanding Alumnus 

Charles Franklin, manager of corporate services at American Honda Motor Co., Inc., oversees a multimillion-dollar annual operations budget and a staff of over 60 individuals. He has applied the skills and knowledge he gained from his Pepperdine MBA to reduce Honda’s operations costs by over $200 million dollars. Franklin has lent his service to a number of leadership roles, including as vice president of the National Business Travel Association, chief volunteer officer of Challengers Boys and Girls Club, and chairman of the Black Alumni Council. Franklin earned his MBA in 2002 from the Fully Employed MBA program. He is happily married to his wife of 26 years. They are the proud parents of a daughter, who is currently a senior at Spelman College.

Faculty Member Recipient

Larry Cox

Larry Cox, PhD
Outstanding Faculty Member

Larry William Cox, PhD is an associate professor of entrepreneurship and lead faculty member for the Graziadio School's entrepreneurship programs. Dr. Cox directed the Entrepreneurship Centers at Ball State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was the director of research at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Cox attended the University of Nebraska on a basketball scholarship and went on to receive a master's degree in management information systems and a doctorate in strategic management. He came to Pepperdine and completely rewrote the entrepreneurship curriculum to reflect the creative processes of entrepreneurs. During his tenure at the Graziadio School, nearly 100 businesses have been started by his students/alumni, a remarkable number for any graduate business school. An award-winning educator, Cox especially enjoys helping young entrepreneurs and is an inspiring speaker and innovation seminar leader. He is married to Elly and they have four children.

Staff Member Recipient

Michael Sims

Michael Sims
Outstanding Staff Member 

Michael Sims has admirably served as the executive officer for Corporate and External Relations at the Graziadio School since 2001. His leadership of the Board of Visitors and Dean’s Executive Leadership Series, his deep engagement in developing relationships in the business community, and his significant commitment to the school’s entrepreneurship program have been instrumental in growing the school’s reputation and raising funds to support key programs.  Over the years at the Graziadio School, he has also managed alumni and career services, recruitment, marketing and communications. Prior to joining the Graziadio School, Mike had the privilege of working directly with George Graziadio at Imperial Bank. In his current role, he has been a great champion for advancing the Graziadio legacy in all that the school does. Mike and his wife Jeanne live in Malibu and have four children and four grandchildren.

Speaker

William Bone

William Bone
Founder and CEO, Sunrise Company

In 1963, William Bone founded Sunrise Company. Today, he serves as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the company. Sunrise is best-known as the developer of premier golf and luxury residential communities throughout Southern California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico. Bone is nationally-recognized as an expert in resort, residential, hotel and recreational development. To his credit, he has developed 16 country clubs, built more than 20 golf courses, constructed over 12,000 homes, built two resort hotels, and developed numerous office buildings, shopping centers and commercial hotels. He is very actively involved in his community and has received numerous honors for his work and contributions in the Palm Desert. Bone received a bachelor of arts in economics from Stanford University and an MBA from Harvard University.

2013 Award Recipients

Student Awards

Ryan Bradford

Ryan Bradford
Outstanding Student – Bachelor of Science Program

As a student in the Bachelor of Science in Management (BSM) program, Ryan Bradford has excelled in his coursework and shown a genuine enthusiasm for learning. Throughout his time as a student at the Graziadio School, Bradford has impressed faculty with his leadership skills in the classroom, as well as his ability to relate current economic and political events to discussions and coursework. He has successfully managed taking classes in the evenings while advancing in his role with Disney Worldwide Services where he is currently a senior sourcing specialist. Bradford expects to graduate from the BSM program in December 2013, after which he will enroll in the Graziadio School's joint MBA program.

Adam Buffum

Adam Buffum
Outstanding Student – Full-time MBA Program

Adam Buffum is a 20-month MBA candidate (2013) at the Graziadio Business School where he is focusing on sales and marketing. Upon graduation, he will also receive a Certificate in Socially, Environmentally, and Ethically Responsible (SEER) Business Strategy. Adam is the director of alumni affairs for the Malibu Graduate Business Society and sits on the Ethics Committee. In addition, he has been honored as an Emerging Leader mentor, and is a member of the Challenge 4 Charity, Marketing, and Finance Clubs. Last summer he was an intern with IBM which led to a post-graduate full-time role where he will be managing and expanding existing relationships with Amgen and Roche as a client representative. He received a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.

Garrett Gilbertson

Garrett Gilbertson
Outstanding Student – Master of Science in Entrepreneurship Program

A decorated lieutenant of the United States Air Force, Garrett Gilbertson brings a unique perspective to the classroom as a student currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Entrepreneurship program. Throughout his career with the Air Force, he leadership skills have led to greater efficiencies in operations and completion of contracts. He has received numerous awards and accolades for his work and service with the Air Force. Gilbertson has also actively volunteered with organizations throughout his professional career, lending his time to organizations such as the Special Olympics and the Nativity House homeless shelter in Tacoma, Washington. Gilbertson earned his bachelor of science degree from the United States Air Force Academy. 

Mercedes McBride-Walker

Mercedes McBride-Walker
Outstanding Student – Master of Science in Organization Development Program

With over 20 years of professional experience, Mercedes McBride-Walker is a trusted strategic partner, seasoned global Total Rewards professional, certified life coach, award-winning public speaker, gifted facilitator, and lifetime learner. The culmination of her experience and education allows her to bring value-added thought leadership to help organizations build the capacity for tackling their greatest challenges through their people, performance and rewards strategies. As a Master of Science in Organization Development program candidate at the Graziadio School, she is recognized for her servant leadership, integrity and professionalism. She is now focused on leveraging her experience helping organizations meet their greatest challenges through the alignment of strategy, performance and rewards.

Margaret Stonestreet

Margaret Stonestreet
Outstanding Student – Fully Employed MBA Program

Margaret Stonestreet is a student in the Fully Employed MBA program at the Graziadio School. As a student, Stonestreet is recognized for consistently finding ways to improve the overall classroom experience for her peers and herself. Faculty and fellow students note that her strong leadership in group projects has led to the delivery of superior quality results and reports. In her current work as a store manager of a Starbucks in Santa Barbara, she leads and manages a team of nearly 20 individuals. She ensures that customers receive the service and products that exceed the Starbucks standard. Prior to her work with Starbucks, she was a project manager and writer for Sanford Systems, Inc. She embodies the University's spirit with her compassion, humility, and generosity to others. Outside of school and work, she volunteers and lends her time to several Santa Barbara-area organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Santa Barbara Dance Institute, and the Special Olympics. Stonestreet earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara. 

Alice Wan

Rui "Alice" Wan
Outstanding Student – Full-time Master of Science in Applied Finance Program
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Rui 'Alice' Wan is a first-year student in the Master of Science in Applied Finance program at Pepperdine University's Graziadio Business School. She received a bachelor of business administration degree from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, where she was the recipient of numerous academic awards. As a student, Wan has been an active member of the Graziadio School student body, participating in the VCLL Case Competition and the ACG Cup. In addition, she is the recent winner of the first Values Driven Leadership Scholarship for students enrolled in a full-time master of science degree program. Wan is currently an intern at Claros Communications where she is building financial models. She expects to complete her degree in August 2013.

Jennifer Westpfahl

Jennifer Westpfahl
Outstanding Student – Executive MBA Program

Jennifer Westpfahl's tremendous career and industry perspective have made her an exemplary member of her Executive MBA cohort (EMBA 93). Westpfahl seamlessly navigates between the conceptual and the concrete thought process, all while demonstrating a superb level of self-awareness through applied learning. Westpfahl is an executive director at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, LLC, where her tremendous career and industry perspective have proven to be a great asset to her cohort, serving as both an informal leader and a supportive individual teammate. Westpfahl is an active volunteer and philanthropist currently serving the Los Angeles Food Bank and the Yosemite Conservancy. She earned a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Central Arkansas. She also holds numerous active securities licenses.

Alumni Award

Danni Sun

Danni Sun, PhD, MBA '99
Outstanding Alumni

Dr. Danni Sun has a vast background in business and philanthropic endeavors. Dr. Sun is the president of LJC Investments, and was previously was the director of business development at Riviera, Modern Luxury, a subsidiary of the second-largest media company in the country. She has started several businesses, ranging from health and wellness to computer software. Notably, she operated the first business to distribute Apple computers in California, and later, China. Dr. Sun graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1987, and went on to earn an MBA from the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University in 1999. She completed a doctorate program from Washington Tech University in 2010. Continuing what she hopes to be a lineage of Pepperdine University graduates, Dr. Sun's eldest daughter is a 2002 graduate of Seaver College; she expects to enroll her youngest daughter there next year. Dr. Sun is actively involved with the Pepperdine Alumni Association, serving on the board of the Orange County Waves. While enrolled as a student, she studied in Oxford, England. As an alum, she regularly organizes reunions with her former abroad classmates.

Faculty Award

Demos Vardiabasis

Demos Vardiabasis, PhD
Outstanding Faculty Member

Dr. Demos Vardiabasis is recognized for his outstanding business connections, leveraging his networks and contacts for the benefit of the Graziadio School. He has served as the economic commissioner as well as the chairman of the Entertainment and Tourism Industry Advisory Committee for the State of California. He is a member of the board of directors for the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and of the China-US Strategic Ventures. He has served in several organizations including, the Latin Business Association Corporate Advisory Council, the Business Advisory Council of NRCC, and the Arthritis Foundation. He has been an active consultant to companies and organizations, and an advisor to sovereign nations.

Staff Award

Gabriella Soroldoni

Gabriella Soroldoni, MBA '80
Outstanding Staff Member

Associate Dean Gabriella Soroldoni leads the admission, financial aid, student accounts, student systems, technology services and finance and budgeting efforts for the Graziadio Business School at Pepperdine University. Prior to joining the school in 1976, she served as vice president of a multi-branch travel agency where she oversaw the business operations of the retail, conference and specialized group businesses. Associate Dean Soroldoni earned her MBA from Pepperdine University in 1980.

Waves of Service Award

Janis Spire

Janis Spire, MBA
Outstanding Service Award

Janis Spire has been president and CEO of Alliance for Children's Rights (ACR) since 2002. As CEO, she strives to protect the rights of over 100,000 impoverished and abused children and youth.  Previously, Spire served as chief operating officer of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation for eight years. Prior to that, she worked for over a decade as a leader in healthcare and medical practice management. In 2012 Los Angeles Magazine named Spire to its "2012 Game Changers" list of women whose work had a profound impact on L.A. She was selected for her unending efforts "to protect L.A.'s most vulnerable residents–neglected and abused kids." Spire has been a Pepperdine University Waves of Service Leader since 2010 and is a 1987 graduate of the Graziadio School's Fully Employed MBA program. Spire has made significant contributions that have had a positive impact on both society at large, and the organizations and communities in which she works. Her accomplishments are in alignment with the University's mission to strengthen lives for "purpose, service and leadership."

Guest Speaker

Stevan Calvillo

Stevan Calvillo
Attorney at Law, Calvillo & Meyer, LLP

With more than 30 years experience as a trial attorney, Stevan Calvillo is now a full time neutral, mediating litigated disputes. He is a member of the Southern California Mediation Association and, in addition to his private practice, Calvillo & Meyer, LLP, he serves as a court appointed mediator for the Los Angeles Superior Court. A former partner of the firm of Ball, Hunt, Hart, Brown and Baerwitz, Calvillo has represented numerous real estate developers, banks, and title companies in litigation and transaction matters. He has litigated and defended franchise lawsuits nationwide, with the successful defense of several multi-million dollar claims. He has tried and arbitrated more than 200 cases, successfully argued cases on appeal, both in the California Appellate system and before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and has developed extensive experience in the arbitration of lawsuits. He also served as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge pro-tem for settlement in Long Beach and as an arbitrator for the Long Beach Bar Association Attorney-Client Fee Disputes. Calvillo earned bachelor's degrees in political science and history from San Diego State University and a law degree from Western State College of Law (now Thomas Jefferson School of Law).