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Pepperdine University

Kielle Horton

Seaver College | 2002
Graduate School of Education and Psychology | 2005
Vice President, Lindsey Communications and The Lindsey Foundation

What does being an honoree of this campaign mean to you?

Thank you, Pepperdine, for a campaign specifically recognizing women in leadership. I'm honored to be acknowledged in this way, particularly because the leadership development of women is a prioritized goal in both my for-profit and nonprofit work. Women truly do it all, yet are not always the first to be highlighted for their professional achievements. We have the ability to be tremendously impactful in bringing other women forward, as mentors to offer guidance to continue the chain of progressing influence and as the most effective support system to encourage professional and personal growth. It is an honor to dedicate time to these efforts, and I'm grateful that Pepperdine understands the value of showcasing the work of its alumnae.

Describe your success story.

I was offered unique opportunities by other women in leadership, which I credit to the successes I've had in my career. Working in the family business is a remarkable opportunity for achievement, expansion, and creative growth, but it's also a constant proving ground, which pushes me to continually do better. The work I get to do each day through Lindsey Communications and the Lindsey Foundation to affect media content, product and messaging, as well as our work that impacts policy is extremely challenging and thrilling at the same time. In the Santa Barbara community, there have been women in significant positions of leadership who have given their time and talents to help me explore ways to bring change about locally. I have to credit the Junior League for the amazing ways they offer training to women who want to identify and help to solve needs in their community. The decade of wide-ranging training prepared me and gave me the skill sets and confidence needed to work on bringing survivor shelter to Santa Barbara County when none existed. I have been remarkably blessed with a number of strong, female mentors throughout my career who have individually brought me forward and challenged me to stay persistent, forge through the constant barriers, and enjoy the rewards of realizing so many goals.

How has Pepperdine played a role in your success?

I always tell people: Pepperdine was so nice, I went twice! My undergraduate and graduate school years differed significantly, but both molded and matured me in exactly the ways I was needing. My experience at Seaver encouraged me to apply for a master's in education at GSEP, which I can confidently say was one of the best experiences of my life. The curriculum and dedicated, interested professors emboldened me for the continued acquisition of knowledge, while helping me to look inward and understand my own unique abilities and ambitions for the future. I can credit these two wonderful, educational experiences with a deep desire to pursue a PhD next.

Describe a lesson you've learned from a challenging time in your career or life.

Opening our county's first shelter for survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation was one of the most difficult things I've ever attempted, and I can say emphatically that it was one of the most stressful times in my life, as well. I was being humbled on a daily basis, while simultaneously navigating an insanely complex learning curve. On the other side of this effort, we looked back and called it a miracle, and it really was. Accomplishing shelter in one of the nation's most expensive housing markets, working with the state of California under brand-new legislation (being the "guinea pig"), fundraising for a project that may or may not have come to fruition, during the exact time the Santa Barbara community was in absolute crisis from the Thomas Fire and Montecito Mudslide disasters—it was unlike anything we could have imagined. But the silver linings were plentiful. I learned lesson after lesson in that year about the complete difference support can make. We weren't alone. We certainly didn't accomplish that project without so many others stepping up in a thousand different ways. I now understand that even a small gesture of support can make a profound impact on a seemingly impossible project, and I remain in awe of and so thankful to our entire community for the ways they lifted our arms and came through for us during that time.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I'm passionate about working with, mentoring, supporting, and leading women. This past year as the Junior League of Santa Barbara president, I took a members-first approach to our work, highlighting members as amazing, accomplished individuals. It's my joy to know those I get to work alongside and help them in their personal and professional journeys. Women can do anything, but it's sure a whole lot easier for them when they have the support of other women. One of my favorite quotes is, "Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back." Having two young girls is a constant inspiration and motivates me to give my best always, never give up, and be a strong role model for them.

"We have the ability to be tremendously impactful in bringing other women forward, as mentors to offer guidance to continue the chain of progressing influence and as the most effective support system to encourage professional and personal growth."

Kielle Horton ('02, MA '05)

Who has helped you achieve success in your career?

My amazingly supportive husband, my mother, my mentors, friends and family, but really it's also everyone I've ever known. There are so many people who have helped and supported me, offered me a way forward, encouraged me—and that is what's given me opportunities to be successful. But it's those people on the other side of the spectrum, those who have tried to hold me back, take from me, shown disrespect in the forms of ageism and sexism; those are the people who have poured fuel on this fire. I recognize that God has put every person in my life for a specific reason, and I'm grateful for the amazingly wonderful influences as well as the negative and painful ones. They have all made me who I am and led me down a path toward a phenomenal career, meaningful nonprofit and community work, and the most wonderful family and friends.

What's next for you?

It is my hope to continue the work of Lindsey Communications and the Lindsey Foundation. I'm passionate about affecting change in Hollywood and DC, as well as combating trafficking and exploitation in my community. I count myself extremely blessed to have a dream career at this point in my life, and I'm more excited than ever to see where I can take things from here.

What was your first job?

There was that Writing Center job at Pepperdine, but my first real job out of college was managing a bridal salon. It was complete insanity, let's just leave it at that.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I have always wanted to teach at the higher education level, hence the PhD.

What historical or modern-day leader do you admire and why?

Ivanka Trump; she owns her bold identity and is making the most of her current position and opportunities. I'm impressed by the ways she has consistently spoken out against the epidemic of human trafficking in the United States and shed light on the great need for legislation, awareness, and action to combat one of the fastest growing crimes in our nation. She has also made important strides in bringing greater and more available economic opportunities for women to the US and third-world countries. The Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative is a home run.

What is your mantra or favorite quote?

"She was unstoppable. Not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them." ―Beau Taplin

How do you prepare for a busy day?

Prayer, copious amounts of coffee, and a well-updated iCal.

What is one of your favorite hobbies?

Does eating chocolate count? I am obsessed with reading mystery and thriller genres of fiction.