40 Over 40

See how extraordinary Pepperdine alumni are making a difference in their communities and careers

November 2, 2017  | 20 min read

Long after they have left the hallowed halls of their alma mater, Pepperdine graduates continue to pioneer groundbreaking advancements in their careers, promote goodwill and fellowship within their communities, and inspire the ever-growing global community of alumni to follow these same traditions while creating new ones of their own. Selected from hundreds of nominations, these 40 alumni over the age of 40 are distinctly and successfully demonstrating the University’s mission of purpose, service, and leadership through their personal passions and professional accomplishments. 

The following excerpts have been edited for length and clarity.

See each honoree’s full responses: pepperdine.edu/40over40


1. Marisa Ala (95, JD 98) 

Owner, The Ala Firm 

Highlands Ranch, CO

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I had the opportunity to argue a residential construction case before the Colorado Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of my client—a significant victory for builders and developers in the state of Colorado that may stimulate the growth of new residential multi-family home construction.

Who or what inspires you?

My 12-year-old daughter, Ariel, who entered the foster care system at only two months old. She fights her history every day. She gets up and tries again, tries to be good, tries to do the right thing and still has empathy for others.

What’s next for you?

I plan to grow my estate planning practice. After living through my own family’s struggles with the passing of my grandparents, I have developed a passion to help people protect the wealth they have worked so hard to build.


2. Tiffany Baker (MBA 09)

Senior Product Marketing Manager, Oracle 

Denver, CO

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I traveled around the world to market Oracle Cloud to top business leaders and IT influencers at events including Oracle OpenWorld—the premier annual event attracting over 50,000 attendees in the IT industry from over 123 countries.

Are you where you thought you would be in life when you were in college?

Beyond my marketing career at different Fortune 500 companies, I am also an entrepreneur, which is something I fantasized about in the Entrepreneur 101 class. I own and operate a medical service business on the side that generates a six-figure revenue annually.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

The Girl with Gumption. As a teenager, I interned for a local county judge in Montgomery, Alabama, and had to own up to a mistake. Instead of firing me, the judge said, “You’ve got a lot of gumption. Don’t screw up again.” From that moment on, I’ve never been afraid to admit when I’ve made a mistake.


3. James J. Balla (BSM 84, MBA 94) 

President/CEO, Pacific Clinics

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I have had the opportunity to both share and lead in the development of Pacific Clinics—a behavioral healthcare nonprofit organization that provides life-changing services to approximately 25,000 clients annually. This has been accomplished through implementing critical business strategies, adapting to a healthcare delivery system in transformation, and ensuring access to quality care for underserved populations.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

My service in the US Marine Corps was profoundly meaningful. I would have enjoyed a continuing role in the military. The character and spirit of my fellow Marines was uplifting, and the purpose of defending our country and its principles is awe-inspiring.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

Making a Difference Takes Responsibility


4. Tamalani Barnett (99, JD 02) 

Founder/Executive Director, RaisingHOPE, Inc.

Thousand Oaks, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

As a lawyer, I had the opportunity to advocate for children who were vulnerable to continued abuse and bring to light the abuse that nobody else noticed. Helping children feel less alone and afraid is one of the greatest privileges I have ever had.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine set a standard for the person I wanted to be and helped me move toward being that person. I was inspired to serve others and show the love of Christ to others through my career.

Who or what inspires you?

Teamwork. Any time I see a group of people, especially unlikely allies, working together for a common good, I am completely moved. There is so much division in our world that seeing people put their differences aside to help others stands out as a beacon of light.


5. Alan Beard (94, MPP 99) 

Chief Marketing Officer, Fullscreen

Thousand Oaks, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I founded social media agency McBeard along with fellow alumnus Alec McNayr (‘00) and hired dozens of amazing Pepperdine alumni.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine has brought great people into my life—at home, at work, and at church. Every day my life is made better by my fellow alumni, especially my wife, Sharon. Everything I’ve accomplished has been in partnership with her. Meeting her was the best moment of my Pepperdine experience.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I would have enjoyed being a banjo musician.


6. Stiphan Beher (84)

Advisor on FDI, President’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic

Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

As advisor to the president of the Kyrgyz Republic, I have secured projects supporting the sustainable economic development of the country totaling $170 million USD in the past year and a half. As CEO of a new space start-up, SpaceTek, I have also successfully entered into key partnerships in the spheres of space manufacturing, microgravity research, and space tourism.

Who or what inspires you?

Elon Musk and Jeffrey Manber have faced failure yet continue to open space to commercial enterprise.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill

How do you unplug?

Being in central Asia, going to the regional provinces helps me appreciate what we take for granted. I enjoy the isolation from lack of technology.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I always envisioned a career as a diplomat, bridging cultures and societies.


7. Dain Blanton (94) 

Broadcaster/Speaker/Coach

Santa Monica, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Olympicgoldmedalist,beachvolleyball(2000)

First African American to win a major beach volleyball title (1997)

First US male two-time beach volleyball Olympian (2000, 2004)

NCAA champion, men’s volleyball (1992)

Three-time National Championship assistant

Coach (beach volleyball) at USC (2015, 2016, 2017)

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

While at Pepperdine, I won a national championship in volleyball, earned my teaching credential, and received my degree in communications. Men’s volleyball head coach Marv Dunphy (‘74) was the biggest inspiration, as he helped me develop the character and skills that I have used throughout my life.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

Getting to Gold: the Life and Times of Dain Blanton

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

Help one person each day get closer to realizing their goals.


8. Kim Carlton Bonner (JD 90) 

Circuit Court Judge

Sarasota, FL

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I have taught new judges at their mandatory training for many years and served as dean for an intensive education program focusing on DUI and traffic court cases. Helping new judges learn the ropes and navigate difficult situations while offering support and advice has been the most rewarding way to pay it forward in my career.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

I always do my best to uphold the values of integrity and professionalism that Pepperdine instilled in me as a law student. I am so grateful to the faculty and staff for their support and outreach, especially as a struggling first-year student who needed some guidance and very nearly quit.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

“If you can’t laugh at yourself, someone else will just do it for you.”

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

Books and Naps: A Love Story


9. Scott Bowling (MA 90)

President/CEO, Exceptional Children’s Foundation 

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

My biggest accomplishment thus far has been expanding the Exceptional Children’s Foundation’s mission impact and creating a unique service continuum with the statutory merger of the Kayne Eras Center into the Exceptional Children’s Foundation in 2007/2008.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine’s education, as well as its values, reputation, and influence, helped to strengthen my commitment to service while preparing me for exceptional professional opportunities.

Who or what inspires you?

Leaders who make decisions and take action based on solid values.


10. Lorraine Hill Brinton (60)

Semi-Retired Volunteer

Palm Desert, CA, and Glenbrook, NV

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I was president of the Pepperdine Alumni Board for two years and spent 18 years producing a flag-raising ceremony to teach patriotism to our Glenbrook community.

Who or what inspires you?

My mother; a softball coach who taught me to be a good third baseman for our church team; the man who gave me my first job at age 15; Clara Marble, our Zeta Kappa mentor; and Helen Young, who was at Pepperdine for three of my years.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I would have enjoyed being an event planner. I’ve had the pleasure of planning many special events for the organizations I’ve been associated with.


11. Dechele M. Byrd (MS 01)

Principal, George Washington Preparatory High School

Gardena, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

One of the most significant outcomes of my career is the growth in the number of my students (24 percent) accepted to UCLA in 2016. Having any student accepted into the colleges and careers of their choice each year upon graduation is the ultimate goal.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

“Excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.” —Barack Obama

What’s next?

Upon the completion of my doctoral degree, I would like to become a consultant to school districts with at-risk youth or youth who reside in crime-infested communities.


12. Ray Chips (EdD 99)

Program Specialist, Irvine Police Department 

Irvine, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Having a positive impact on the academic success, social maturation, and citizenship responsibility of thousands of students as a high school administrator. In my law enforcement career, providing violent intruder response skills to hundreds of community members.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by teachers and administrators who give so much of themselves daily for the benefit of their students. I am equally inspired by similar sacrifices made by police officers who sacrifice their personal safety and well-being for the benefit of our community daily.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” —Publilius Syrus

How do you unplug?

Fussing over two classic cars, reading historical nonfiction, and working crossword puzzles.


13. Morgan Christen (MBA 06) 

CEO/CIO Spinnaker Investment Group, LLC 

Mission Viejo, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

My greatest accomplishment has been launching Spinnaker Investment Group in May 2016. We started with no assets under management and now have over $200 million.

How has Pepperdine impacted your personal/ professional success?

The education from my professors and interaction with my classmates has helped me with managing a firm and personnel. I learned to take a much more global approach to planning and problem solving.

In five words or fewer, what career or life advice would you give a new college graduate?

Learn to pivot.


14. Lance Christensen (MPP 04)

Chief of Staff, California State Senator John Moorlach 

Sacramento, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

It’s an honor of a lifetime to work as chief of staff to state senator John Moorlach, the man who saved Orange County from the largest bankruptcy in the nation’s history (until that point). I have been blessed to be a trusted confidant, manager, and leader at the forefront in the many debates on the state’s $265 billion budget, transportation issues, pension reform, and religious liberty.

How do you unplug?

I mow the lawn.

What three things could you not live without?

My wife, Oreo cookies, and Brian Wilson’s music.

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

I’ve rediscovered the prescient aphorism that, in a time of serious need, we need to light a candle rather than simply shout in the dark. At a minimum, light drives out darkness and leads to clarity and understanding.


15. Stephanie Frahme Cupp (94)

Program Coordinator, Pepperdine Center for Faith and Learning

Malibu, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

January 2018 will mark my 15th anniversary working for Pepperdine. It has been my privilege to help welcome new faculty into the Pepperdine culture and encourage them to bring their life experiences and faith into the classroom to benefit our students.

How has Pepperdine impacted your personal/ professional success?

From my undergraduate years to being a faculty spouse to working at Pepperdine and now being a Pepperdine parent, Pepperdine has shaped who I am in each of my roles and how I have chosen to live out my story.

Who or what inspires you? Tell us why.

I take daily encouragement from Mother Teresa, who taught deep lessons about being faithful in the small things, treating each person I meet as if they were Jesus, and learning first to love those closest to me before trying to tackle the world.

Are you where you thought you would be in life when you were in college?

Definitely not! I thought I’d be a nurse out in the jungle somewhere in South America.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

The Goat Girl: From Ranch to University, Lessons I’ve Learned About Community


16. Andy Dunbar (JD 99)

General Counsel/Chief Compliance Officer, Bel Air Investment Advisors LLC

La Cañada Flintridge, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

One of the very first investigations I led as an enforcement lawyer at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) turned out to be one of the largest Ponzi schemes in US history at that time. Heading up that case opened the door to more high-profile cases while at the SEC and ultimately gave me the experience that helped me succeed as a partner at a big firm.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

I try to live simply, be grateful, practice mindfulness, and be present.

Are you where you thought you would be in life when you were in college?

I graduated college without any clue of a career. I was a blackjack dealer in Lake Tahoe for a while, and I knew it wasn’t a long-term career option. My oldest brother is a lawyer, and I figured having a law background would open additional career options and provide a bit more job security.


17. Marv Dunphy (74)

Retired Men's Volleyball Coach Teacher, Pepperdine University 

Malibu, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Helping the Pepperdine men’s volleyball program develop good players and good people.

Who or what inspires you?

The great young people who have allowed me to coach them over the years.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

“Individuals never lose the desire to be treated as individuals.” —John Wooden

What three things could you not live without?

Family, good health, and great friends—and, of course, great players!

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

Take care of your own front porch.


18. Jim Freitas (MBA 14, PKE 132)

Managing Director, Product Marketing and Analysis, Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Snohomish, WA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I have been fortunate to be in leadership roles developing, testing, and supporting some of Boeing’s most successful airplanes. My most significant accomplishment is seeing the career growth of young people that I have been able to mentor. Knowing they will mentor others makes it almost eternal.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

My great-great-grandfather immigrated to California from the Azores Islands in the 1860s. He bought land in central California and raised cows, sheep, and chickens. Every now and then I wonder what it would be like to be a rancher.

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

Hydroponic biofuels (algae grown in salt water that consumes carbon dioxide and releases oxygen while growing) providing a nearly carbon-neutral energy source for cars, trucks, and airplanes.


19. Seth Gamradt (96)

Director of Orthopaedic Athletic Medicine, Gamradt Orthopaedics

Associate Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery, USC Keck School of Medicine

Los Angeles, CA

 

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Professors within the Natural Science Division provided a scholastic foundation to continue my education at an Ivy League medical school and fostered my confidence to succeed in a highly competitive field.

Who or what inspires you?

It seems like our students and trainees are smarter and more impressive every year, which challenges me to be the best surgeon, mentor, and educator I can be.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

“Your opponent is still training.” It motivated me in high school, and it still motivates me to never rest on past accomplishments.


20. Stacey A. Gordon (MBA 07)

Founder/CEO, Rework Work

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

One of the most significant accomplishments of my career is having had the opportunity to impact people’s lives by creating strategies to overcome unconscious bias. I receive messages every day from people who have taken my course and hear stories of how they have changed their behaviors.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine has been instrumental in helping me make the impact I have had the opportunity to make. I have contributed as a speaker to Pepperdine’s women’s events, diversity events, and career-related events—all of which align directly to my work as a career strategist and diversity educator.

In five words or fewer, what career or life advice would you give a new college graduate?

Be humble enough to learn.


21. George Goubran (MBA 16, PKE 135)

Cofounder/Chief Technology Officer, Built On Vision 

Ladera Ranch, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Owning my own companies, being an involved father of five, and trying to be there for my wife, friends, and family while maintaining the workload of an MBA was a challenge, to say the least. When graduation day came, all those challenges simply faded into a proud moment as we all walked that Pepperdine stage together.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

The PKE program gave me a greater understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. Being in a class with highly successful yet extremely different personalities and strengths gifted me the ability to realize that one way of doing something didn’t mean it was the only way.

Which quote, mantra, or philosophy motivates you?

One that I always say to the soccer teams I coach is, “You’ll win plays with your muscles, you’ll win games with your mind, but if you play with your heart, you’ll win championships.”


22. Peggy Grande (89)

Author/Keynote Speaker/Specialty Project Consultant 

La Cañada Flintridge, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Working for President Ronald Reagan was the honor and opportunity of a lifetime. To sit right outside the office door of this iconic man for over a decade and serve as his executive assistant left a lasting impact on me. The timeless leadership principles and political civility that he embodied changed my life forever and has the power and potential
to change other lives for the better still today.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I may have missed my true calling as a trauma doctor. As the mother of four, I have seen many injuries and situations requiring quick analysis, a calm demeanor, and a swift course of action.

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

Live as if your legacy depends on it because it does. Your legacy is not something that is written after you are gone, but is written with every day of your life.


23. Kimberly (Herman) Hassett (JD 94)

Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Alternative Sentencing Court programs are designed to reduce recidivism by assisting defendants with their underlying problems that can contribute to criminal conduct. As the alternative sentencing court coordinator for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, I am most proud of the people whose lives were changed and the paths that were altered because they were given a chance to participate in treatment rather than incarceration.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine gave me a strong foundation for a career in public service and instilled in me the ideals of serving my community and treating others as I would want to be treated.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

Friends and Chocolate


24. Zack Hicks (BSM 97)

CEO, Toyota Connected, and SVP, Toyota Motor North America

Dallas, TX

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I’m passionate about driving innovation and unleashing the talent that exists in our company. I’ve been given the opportunity to do so through technology, innovation fairs, and creating a culture of innovation creation. We’ve invented new big data mining capabilities that led to Toyota launching a new start-up.

What career or life advice would you give a new college graduate?

Learn as much IT as you can because it’s needed in every role in every industry. Make lateral moves and don’t always be focused on upward mobility.

What’s next?

I’m leading a new division called Connected Technologies that will build the next-generation in-vehicle connected experience that will help keep you safe and entertained while you’re in and out of our vehicles.


25. Adam Housley (94)

Senior Correspondent, Fox News 

Northern and Southern California

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I have met people from around the world and covered some of the most prolific news stories of our time, from the Chilean miners to war zones, tsunamis to the World Series. I am an Emmy, AP, and RTDNA award winner.

How do you unplug?

Working in my yards while listening to music. Traveling anywhere in the world with my family. Working at our winery in Northern California. Rebuilding homes. Watching sports.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I always wanted to be a professional baseball player and got that opportunity for a few years. Outside of that, an ambassador would be an amazing experience. I’ve also always wanted to develop new businesses and write articles and books.


26. Jacki Kelley (88)

Chief Operating Officer, Bloomberg Media 

New Canaan, CT

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I left USA TODAY after 18 years to jump into the deep end of digital. It required me to uproot my family, leave a team I loved, forfeit equity in a brand I helped build, and become a beginner again. It ended up changing the trajectory of my career, but I am glad I felt the fear and did it anyway.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine gave me both roots and wings. I gained confidence in my ability to lead and humility to know I can’t accomplish anything alone.

Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by people that demonstrate resilience. Anyone that demonstrates the faith to be still in times of adversity and rises up despite the ache is always an inspiration to me.

How do you unplug?

If I am really honest, a great TV drama or reality TV! After a long day, hanging out with my teenage daughter and watching Dancing with the Stars is a great way to unplug!


27. Geoffrey Koboldt (MBA 03)

Architectural Technical Sales Manager, Acuity Brands

Corona Hills, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I built a multimillion company from scratch along with two other business partners. Seeing a product that we created in a Fortune 500 mass retailer for the first time was an incredible feeling. We gave a percentage of our profits to several charities and made a positive impact on the skateboarding youth and the 125 college interns we mentored.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

I remember a professor saying to us MBA students, “If you aren’t moving laterally or up continuously in the company, get out! Don’t let a company hold you back from growing professionally.” Since then, I haven’t been afraid to leave environments that I felt were limiting my potential.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

The Rebellious Spiritual Warrior Who Fell Asleep While Meditating


28. Andy Kubitz (MBA 11, PKE 125)
Executive Vice President, Programming Strategy, ABC Television
Manhattan Beach, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Being a small part of the birth of reality television with a show called Survivor, helping to find a home for TV’s reinvention of the crime procedural with the CSI franchise, and making TV on Thursday night cool again with ABC’s #TGIT lineup.

Who or what inspires you?

My father, a man who worked in a factory his entire life and never complained, believed a hard day’s work builds character, and always provided for his wife and three children.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I have always loved computers and technology and would have liked to have become a computer engineer and designed video games.


29. Monica Mallet (EdD 17)

Education Specialist/Professor, Relativity Education 

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

My most significant project thus far is the annual Super Star Mothers Awards show, which honors mothers in the fields of health, education, philanthropy, and business who make a significant impact in the world. Our first ceremony will be at Smothers Theatre on May 6, 2018.

Are you where you thought you would be in life when you were in college?

I was on track to work in entertainment for the rest of my life, but when my brother who majored in elementary education was shot and killed before starting his student teaching, I knew that I had to do something to make a change in the lives of the type of young people who were the perpetrators.

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

Forgiveness.


30. Shannon McAndrews (EdD 15)

Learning Programs, Products, and Services Team, AVID Center Headquarters

Carlsbad, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Through my intentional design, AVID Elementary (K-8) became the fastest growing program for AVID Center with quality instructional practices, realistic assessment parameters, and real-world applicability.

How has your Pepperdine experience impacted your personal/professional success?

The organizational leadership doctoral program influenced my perspective, skills, and abilities to foster, lead, and empower individuals and teams.

What profession other than your own would you have liked to attempt?

I would have liked to pursue a career as a lawyer striving for social justice for all.


31. Dwayne K. Moring (84, JD 91)

Judge, San Diego Superior Court 

Chula Vista, CA

 

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

The careers I chose had a strong service component emphasizing helping others and improving society. As a public defender, I represented indigent defendants charged with serious crimes. As a deputy district attorney, I prosecuted individuals accused of committing sex crimes against children and adults. Finally, as a judge I view my role as a leader in the criminal justice system.

Are you where you thought you would be in life when you were in college?

If I hadn’t attended law school, I would have applied to film school. I also still plan to put my journalism degree to use by pursuing a career as a writer of screenplays, graphic novels, or a website dedicated to legal analysis, entertainment, and politics after I retire from the bench.

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

A society-wide effort to improve civility and respect for differing opinions with the goal of eliminating the belief that “compromise” is a negative word.


32. Tara C. Morrow (94, MS 00)

Principal, Bethany Christian School 

Westlake Village, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Bethany Christian School has worked hard during the past five years to make sure our curriculum and programs are relevant to 21st-century learning while continuing to retain foundations of strong academics and Christian values.

Who or what inspires you?

Women in leadership inspire me—women who lead with integrity, love Jesus, show kindness, and are intelligent, efficient, and encouraging.

How do you unplug?

Nothing says “vacation” to me like getting in the car on the open road, where I have time to think, create, listen, learn, sing, and pray.

In five words or fewer, what career or life advice would you give a new college graduate?

Effort plus passion equals impact.


33. Jason H. Pates (95, MPP 99)

Senior Consultant, Cisco Systems, Inc. 

Wake Forest, NC

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

My professional experiences supporting public sector concerns, such as examining ways for the US Treasury Department to leverage free market signals to better measure bank risk-taking, are my most significant. Another key project was consulting with the US Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, to help develop and deploy humanitarian assistance training during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Who or what inspires you?

George Pepperdine, C. S. Lewis, and J. K. Rowling, to name a few. Watching God’s plan at work in the lives of others is both inspirational and motivational.

How do you unplug?

I enjoy screenwriting and find fun in exploring relationships and divining new takes on old stories. I also enjoy coaching my kids’ sports teams and watching them experience new things.


34. William Anthony Richardson (BSM 16)

Manager, Standard Development

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I cofounded Rundalay, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit running club that holds monthly charity drives for the local Downtown LA community, including Fred Jordan Mission, LA Mission, Toys For Tots, Midnight Mission, and many other local charities.

Who or what inspires you?

Giving to those in need is something that my mother drilled in me since I was a child. I especially enjoy volunteering at the VA hospital and helping the American Veterans organization (Amvets), which my mom was heavily involved in.

Is there a particular quote, mantra, or philosophy that motivates you?

I’ve always believed that God will bless me the more I bless others. I just want to be a funnel that God pours his blessings through to bless others.


35. Denise Roberson (MBA 14, PKE 131)

CEO, Jadi Communications

Laguna Beach, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I was fortunate enough to help launch the National Geographic Society’s Animal Jam online game worldwide. It brings me great joy to see a new generation of NatGeo kids who come from completely diverse backgrounds, don’t speak the same language, and don’t even live on the same continent, all coexisting beautifully in an online world where they can explore animals and nature with world-class experts, travel through foreign lands, and celebrate their amazing differences in total harmony.

Who or what inspires you?

I’m inspired by great innovators who are trying to create change through sustainability initiatives that impact diversity, poverty, planetary resources, and equality, and who believe corporate profits are not the only marker of business success.

What three things could you not live without?

Family, adventure, and purpose.


36. Michael S. Saddik (MBA 08, PKE 120)

CEO, Built On Vision/Cofounder, Myndsi.com 

Laguna Niguel, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Mentoring team members. I continue those relationships even after they or I leave the organization where we met. When I see their careers and personal lives develop, and they work on becoming the best version of themselves, I am honored to have played a small part in that.

What would your autobiography or memoir be called?

What Was I Thinking?

What’s one idea you think could change the world?

Changing how we as a society view problems. We spend too much time looking at problems and not enough time on solutions. If we tried to help people be the best versions of themselves, we can solve all the world’s problems collectively.


37. Terry A. Schroeder (81)

Head Water Polo Coach, Pepperdine University Chiropractor, Live in Alignment Chiropractic 

Lake Sherwood, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I have the opportunity to coach, teach, and inspire young athletes to do well in their sport, but more importantly to help prepare them to be successful husbands, fathers, and businessmen.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

Pepperdine was the perfect fit for me to grow up with faith at the center of my life. As a student, I developed skills that helped me become a six- time Olympian (four as an athlete and two as a coach). I am so blessed that Pepperdine has been a part of my life for the past 35-plus years.

In five words or fewer, what career or life advice would you give a new college graduate?

Make excellence a habit!

What’s next?

Continue coaching to help bring another NCAA title to Pepperdine and continue to work as a chiropractor in my practice to help people with their health every day.


38. Danone Simpson (MBA 12)

CEO, Montage Insurance Solutions 

Woodland Hills, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

My most significant accomplishment in my current career was opening Danone Simpson Insurance Services. Not having insurance at 18 and being in a life-threatening accident gave me the passion for the importance of insurance.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

The Graziadio School was a reach as I turned 56. I learned we can do anything we put our minds to with the help of brilliant teams.

How do you unplug?

Kay Ash said that you must have your “top three.” Hers were God first, family second, and career third. I have used these same values to help me prioritize my days, weeks, months, and years, and I set goals for each decade of my life.


39. Ryan Stankevich (97)

Senior Vice President, Global Publicity, The Walt Disney Studios

Los Angeles, CA

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

Overseeing the publicity campaign on Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 was one of the toughest but most rewarding experiences of my career. Building a global campaign for a film brand that hadn’t been on screen in more than a decade was exciting but pressure filled. It was thrilling to break box office records we hadn’t even thought were possible.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

The time I spent in Florence was one of the most valuable experiences of my college career. Now that my job entails international work and global responsibility, I am grateful that I have that background.

How do you unplug?

I’m a huge fan of cooking and sharing good meals with family and friends. It relaxes me and gives me a creative outlet.


40. Gregory E. Sterling (MA 80)

The Rev. Henry L. Slack Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale Divinity School 

New Haven, CT

 

Describe your most significant career accomplishment.

I led the effort to diversify Yale Divinity School in four areas: representation, curriculum, co- curriculum, and iconography.

How has Pepperdine impacted your success?

In the first class I took with Frank Pack, he offered an overview of the history of New Testament textual criticism without ever consulting a note. I remember thinking that this is what a professor should be able to do. He has mastered the material and can handle it at will. He was also a model of a believing scholar. He helped me realize that scholarship and faith were not polar opposites—an understanding that is common today but was not when I was a student.

Who or what inspires you?

My father was a minister in Churches of Christ for 46 years. Serving churches was my parents’ life. I never attended a church that did not grow because my parents served people unstintingly. They had deep compassion for the frailties of people but did not ignore human responsibility.