News and Events
Pepperdine Presents Third Annual American Spirit Awards
May 31, 2006 - Pepperdine University’s Third Annual American Spirit Awards Dinner and Scholarship Benefit will honor filmmaker, Moctesuma Esparza, environmental advocate, Erin Brockovich, and philanthropist, Jack Shaw. Pepperdine’s American Spirit Awards is in recognition of service to community, the nation, and the world. Sponsored by Pepperdine University’s Hispanic Council, the American Spirit Awards gala dinner celebration is scheduled to take place at the Universal Hilton on Saturday, June 10, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Table sponsorships and individual tickets are available by calling (310) 506-4302.
The dinner will feature a musical performance by Daniel Rodriguez, "America's beloved tenor," and his band. Proceeds from the dinner and silent auction will go toward scholarships for Hispanic students attending the University and for outreach efforts which encourage youth to pursue educational goals.
About the 2006 American Spirit Awards Honorees:
John C. (Jack) Shaw
A retired vice chairman of the major accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche, John C. (Jack) Shaw cites the book, Half Time by Bob Buford, as helping him make the transition “from success to significance.” Jack and his wife, Dr. Ellen Shockro, a longtime professor at Pasadena City College, are helping underprivileged, disadvantaged youth turn their own dreams into reality.
Mr. Shaw is chairman of the nonprofit organization El Viento, which when translated into English means “The Wind.” El Viento’s mission is to provide children and young adults with opportunities for success in life. Working with parents, teachers, family, and community members, the students’ successes are the result of long-term relationships. The cornerstones of success are mutual trust and respect, teamwork, learning, and skills and leadership development.
Initially concentrating its efforts in the Oak View Community of Huntington Beach, El Viento changes the perspectives, expectations, and well-being of the Oak View Community, impacting literally hundreds of young people who have had an opportunity to see the world through a different lens.
The Oak View Community is gradually being transformed from the downward spiral of underachievement and low expectations, crime, drugs, teen pregnancy and illiteracy, to a community of pride and promise.
Erin Brockovich is known to most of us for her relentless pursuit of the truth. Ms. Brockovich was born in Lawrence, Kansas. After earning her associate’s degree and working in several jobs, she was hired as a file clerk at a law firm where certain medical records caught her eye and after getting permission from one of the firm's principals, Ed Masry, she began to research the matter. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Her investigation eventually established that the health of countless people who lived in and around Hinkley, California, in the 1960s, 70s and 80s had been severely compromised by exposure to a toxic substance. In 1996, as a result of the largest direct action lawsuit of its kind, spearheaded by Ms. Brockovich and Ed Masry, a utility company paid the largest toxic tort injury settlement in U.S. history: $333 million to more than 600 Hinkley residents.
Following the release of her biographical movie, Ms. Brockovich has used her fame to encourage people to make a difference. Currently, she heads up the consulting firm, Brockovich Research and Consulting, where she is involved in numerous major environmental cases.
Filmmaker and actor Moctesuma Esparza is a multitalented, award-winning filmmaker, producer, and entertainment industry executive. He has received over 100 honors including an Academy Award nomination, an Emmy, a Clio Award, and a CINE Golden Eagle Award. His credits include such memorable films as The Milgro Beanfield War, Gettysburg, The Cisco Kid, and Selena.
Born in Los Angeles, Mr. Esparza received his B.A. and a M.F.A. in theatre arts-motion pictures, TV from UCLA. He is currently working on a project exploring the Latino experience through the work of several Latino filmmakers. An advocate for civil rights and opportunity, Mr. Esparza’s own experiences as a student protester in 1968 were recreated in the recent TV movie, titled, Walkout, directed by Edward James Olmos and on which Mr. Esparza served as executive producer.
Mr. Esparza is a board of trustee member of the California State University System. Additionally, he serves on the Board of Oversight, Claremont University Consortium; as a commissioner for the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System, and a board member of the Latino Coalition Against AIDS.