News and Events
Robert Chapman: Committed to Service through Public Policy
Robert Chapman worked in the graphic design industry for more than a decade until the events of September 11, 2001 changed everything. "I wanted to do something that felt more meaningful to me," Rob reflects. Encouraged by his interest in international policy and his skill with quantitative analysis, Rob left his career as an art director for computer magazines and enrolled in the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.
Born in Oregon and raised in Chicago, Rob graduated from Seaver College in 1990. A liberal arts major and scratch player on the Pepperdine golf team, he fondly remembers his undergraduate experience and "the focus on morality and ethics" maintained by the University. Rob also values Pepperdine as the place he met classmate and future wife, Charity, a songwriter and performer. The Chapmans have been married for 15 years now, and recently welcomed a new member to the family: Cole, their 16 month-old son.
Rob, who pursued his master's degree in public policy as a Forstmann Scholar and the recipient of a Board of Visitors' Scholarship, was invited to address his classmates, their guests, and the Pepperdine community as the student speaker at the May 2006 School of Public Policy graduation. During his speech, Rob commended his classmates for investing in their education, and encouraged them to apply their knowledge in the service of others.
"At the beginning of our journey together," he said, "we were asked to explain our motivation for pursuing a career in public policy. I was impressed with the answers given by many of my classmates…We all had one thing in common—a commitment to a life of service—trying to affect change for the benefit of others."
Rob's career trajectory has indeed been guided by his commitment to service. Participation in mission trips to South Africa and Uganda, where he helped build an orphanage, demonstrated to him how "a little work can make a huge difference in people's lives. Even small changes in public policy can make a huge difference in a whole country," Rob observes.
The commitment to service extends to Rob's work at home to improve agriculture through technology. He and Charity founded a company called Chappy's Power Organics that manufactures plant inoculants, which enable roots to take water and fertilizer more efficiently. Particularly useful for improving growth rates in the sandy, alkaline soils of the Middle East and northern Africa, the Chapmans hope to distribute their product to needy growers overseas.
While studying at the School of Public Policy, Rob also gained firsthand experience of the public policy world, which he describes as "all about making differences on the margins," when he participated in the Young Professionals Program sponsored by the Aspen Institute Berlin. As one of ten individuals selected from the United States, Rob joined ten colleagues from Germany at four international conferences that focused on such issues as development in Africa and accord in the Middle East. He also contributed to policy reports on the discussions. Rob cites the experience as a tremendous learning opportunity as well as a chance to serve as an ambassador for Pepperdine, promoting the School of Public Policy through his participation in the program.
Rob now works for a Defense Department contractor, based in Los Angeles and engaged in media campaigns to promote unity in Iraq and undermine support for terrorists. He plans to see the contract through to its conclusion, and hopes his family will eventually move to Uganda. "We're interested in improving agriculture so countries can better feed themselves, rather than relying on outside aid so much."
Ultimately, Rob plans to follow his own words of wisdom: "If we can liberate some of the oppressed, feed some of the hungry and reduce some of the evil in this world, we will be able to look back with a sense of accomplishment, and look forward to the next challenge."
by Megan Huard