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Alumna Mara Taylor at the 2014 Waves of Service award ceremony - Pepperdine University

The Waves of Service Awards are given annually to Waves of Service leaders for outstanding acts of sacrificial giving.  Photo of "Coach" Mara Leigh Taylor, 2014 Waves of Service Award winner.

Award Winners


Waves of Service Chapter Award

Presented in February 2010 at the Chapter Leadership Conference

The Portland Waves alumni chapter produced three service events in their first full year of operation, including service projects for the Letty Owings

Center, the Friends of the Children, and the Doernbecher Foundation.

Inaugural Pepperdine University Waves of Service Award

Presented in March 2010 at the Pepperdine Associates Dinner

Peter Fretheim ('86), founder of Go Nigeria, has dedicated his life to helping orphans and widows in Nigeria.  The nonprofit organization helps provide food, clothing, medical treatment, and jobs to children living on the streets, victims of leprosy, impoverished, and other people of need in the African nation. 

Inaugural Graziadio School of Business and Management Waves of Service Award

Presented in May 2010 at the George Awards

Rodney E. Boone (MBA '04) serves as Chairman and Founder of Mesesso Foundation, an organization that provides scholarships to vulnerable children in Ethiopia.  Mr. Boone has been building and operating healthcare companies for more than 20 years.  He worked as Operating Partner at DW Healthcare Partners (DWHP), a company for which he was Chairman and Founder.  Prior to DWHP, Mr. Boone was President and CEO of Royce Medical Holdings, an orthopedics manufacturer. 


Inaugural Graduate School of Education and Psychology Waves of Service Award

Presented in October 2010 at the Celebration of Excellence 

Dr. Steven Long (EdD '08), a graduate of the organizational leadership program, received the honor for his exceptional service work.   Dr. Long inspired change in the educational training of students in Asia through the Champions Education Association (CEA) in Taiwan (R.O.C.), Hong Kong, and China. The nonprofit provides leadership and career training for students in elementary school through the university level.  The program has graduated two million students from classroom programs in public schools and universities, guided by over 5,500 trained volunteer teachers. 

Inaugural Seaver College Waves of Service Award

Presented in 2010

Julie Davis ('87), founder of Global Treads, received recognition for her outstanding career in service.  The nonprofit provides shoes for men, women, and children locally and around the world.  Ms. Davis donated the $2,000 award to this organization.

Waves of Service Pilot Chapter Award (Orange County)

Presented in October 2010 at the Orange County Waves "Freely Give for the Holiday"
The award, given in honor of John Hall of the Orange County Waves, benefited three Orange County students.  These students each received scholarships of $333. 

Waves of Service Pilot Chapter Award (Dallas Waves)

Presented in December 2010 at The Place at Perry's in Dallas, TX

The award to the Dallas Waves honored alumnus Bill Minick (JD '85) for his work with Texoma Youth Camp.  This organization promotes values and character building experiences in children.

Waves of Service Chapter Award

Presented in February 2011 at the Chapter Leadership Conference

The Orange County Waves received this honor for its exceptional service-related endeavours.  The chapter supported multiple Step Forward Day events, established new protocols for offering Waves of Service scholarships, and awarded a Waves of Service speaker.

Graziadio School of Business and Management Waves of Service Award

Presented in May 2011 at the George Awards

Cassandra Loch (MBA '06) serves as CEO of Prototypes, an organization rebuilding the lives of women, children, and communities affected by substance abuse, mental illness, homelessness, disease, and domestic violence.   Ms. Loch donated the $2,000 award to this nonprofit, which has provided innovative health, mental health and social services to more than 15,000 women and children.


Pepperdine University Waves of Service Award

Presented October 2011 at Waves Weekend

David Brinkman (MBA '02), CEO of Desert AIDS Project, works to improve the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.  Desert AIDS Project provides social and medical services to patients, as well as education and outreach to prevent new infections.  Mr. Brinkman donated the $5,000 award to the nonprofit organization. 

Waves of Service Leader of the Year Award

Presented October 2011 at the Waves Weekend Waves of Service Leader Mixer

Ryan Allen ('02), Manager at Tree People, showed outstanding leadership and involvement with Pepperdine University as a Waves of Service Leader.  He provided service activities for alumni and the Pepperdine community through Tree People, an environmental nonprofit that unites trees, people, and technology to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles.  Mr. Allen also volunteered as Vice President of Volunteer Services at his local chapter and facilitated several alumni events through his organization.

Inaugural Faculty/Staff Waves of Service Award

Presented October 2011 at Pepperdine Honors

Daphne Green, laboratory manager for the Natural Science Division at Pepperdine University, was honored for her service to the school.  Ms. Green began working at Pepperdine in 1986 and remained serving the University with passion and enthusiasm even when she faced a battle with cancer.   Throughout six surgeries and a year of chemotherapy, she supervised the move of the Natural Science Division into the Rockwell Academic Center, oversaw completion of hundreds of projects related to this move, and trained three different associate lab managers.  She performed all of this in addition to a multitude of other tasks.  Her dedication earned her the $1,000 award. 

Graduate School of Education and Psychology Waves of Service Award

Presented November 2011 at the GSEP Celebration of Excellence

Dr. Earnestine Thomas-Robertson (GPC '69, EDD '03), honored for her extensive career in service, served as President of the Los Angeles-Lusaka Sister City Committee.  Her work with this organization for the past 20 years has helped create programs to provide business development, medical, and educational aid to Zambia.  Dr. Thomas-Robertson is Dean Emeritus of Los Angeles Southwest College and Vice President of Business Relations for Born Ready Industries, Inc.  Dr. Thomas-Robertson donated the $2,000 award to the Micro Fi Clean Water Project serving Zambia.

Waves of Service Pilot Chapter Award (San Diego)

Presented in February 2012 at the San Diego Chapter Celebration Party

The Kasselmann Family of the San Diego Waves received the award in honor of their remarkable involvement with the Chapter's Waves of Appreciation event.  Jim and Maureen Kasselmann, parents of Pepperdine student Andrew Kasselmann, donated the $1,000 award to the charity of their choice, Wounded Warrior Project.  This nonprofit organization provides aid and raises awareness and public support for the needs of injured service members. 

Seaver College Waves of Service Award

Presented March 2012 at Waves of Success Graduation Luncheon

Kelly Gonzales ('94), Executive Director of The Mulligan Project, received this honor for her exceptional service career.  Her organization helps disabled children in Vietnam through special education, speech and physical therapies, and other services.   The $2,000 award was designated to this nonprofit.

Inaugural School of Law Waves of Service Award

Presented March 2012 at the Colonel John L. and Maria Moriarity First Year Moot Court Competition

Justice Betty Ann Richli (JD '77) received the award for her distinguished career in public service.  Justice Richli is an associate justice to the Fourth District Court of Appeal for the State of California, Division Two.   Prior to this appointment, she served for nine years as a trial judge in the municipal and superior courts.  Before law school, Justice Richli taught high school English and American History in Maryland and California.

Waves of Service Chapter Award

Presented in March 2012 at the Pepperdine Associates Dinner

The San Diego Waves received the award for their extraordinary service project, Waves of Appreciation, which gathered the community to pack and distribute appreciation bags to troops traveling during the holidays.  The project garnered thousands of dollars in corporate and private support.   About 450 volunteers gave 1,300 hours to distribute 2,500 bags of food items, thank you cards, and other gifts of appreciation.  Watch more...

Graziadio School of Business and Management Waves of Service Award

Presented April 2012 at the George Awards

Betty LaMarr (MBA '79), CEO of EmpowHer Institute, received this award for her incredible work serving disadvantaged women.  Her nonprofit organization assists low-income females and creates opportunities that can improve their economic status and living conditions. The $2,000 award was designated to this nonprofit organization.  Ms. LaMarr has also served as a mentor to the Graziadio School's partner organization, the MBA Women International (formerly NAWMBA).  

Waves of Service Pilot Chapter Award (Ventura County)

Presented in May 2012 at the Pepperdine University Eddy D. Field Stadium

Meredith Benton ('01) of the Ventura County Waves received the honor for her outstanding service work.  Ms. Benton serves as Acting Executive Director for the Ventura County Leadership Academy, an initiative of United Way of Ventura County that creates opportunities to develop leaders who will enhance the quality of life in Ventura County.  She has also worked with several other nonprofit organizations; she serves on the boards of Kids & Families Together, Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, and United Way's Young Leaders Society.  Ms. Benton elected to donate the $1,000 award to the Ventura County Leadership Academy.


Seaver College Waves of Service Award

Presented April 2013 at the Waves of Success Luncheon

Ray Meltvedt ('82) serves as the President of Club Dust  and founder of Feeding Somalia. Club Dust is a Christian organization that builds homes for impoverished families living near the Mexican-American border.  He has led the organization for more than 30 years.  Mr. Meltvedt founded Feeding Somalia in 2011 to provide food to the countless starving individuals in the poverty-stricken region.  He used his $2,000 award funds to help provide about 20,000 meals to a refugee camp in Kenya. 

Graziadio School of Business and Management Waves of Service Award

Presented April 2013 at the George Awards

Janis Spire (MBA '87), serves as President and CEO of the Alliance for Children's Rights.  Ms. Spire has worked for nearly two decades to improve the lives of society's most vulnerable children.  Her work at the Alliance helps impoverished, abused, and disabled children.  Prior to her tenure at this organization, Ms. Spire served eight years as the Chief Operating Officer of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Graduate School of Education and Psychology Waves of Service Award

Presented October 2012 at the GSEP Celebration of Excellence

Jessica Boro (MS '09) is the Director of Instruction at Valor Academy, a charter school in Arleta providing exceptional education and professional development to children in an underserved community.  Ms. Boro has also partnered with Waves of Service for several events over the past few years.

Pepperdine University Waves of Service Award

Presented October 2012 at Waves Weekend

Linda ('84) and Dharan Mandrayar ('83, MBA '86) founded The White Rainbow Project, a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping the widows of Vrindavan, India ("The City of Widows").  Their work provides medical and social services to exploited women in India who are shunned from society because of a tradition in some regions that widows bring bad luck. Their organization is based on a movie produced by the couple's company, Dharlin Entertainment, which creates educational and inspirational films.  The White Rainbow Project was one of the first organizations to be part of Waves for Service. Through this partnership, the organization has taken several groups of Pepperdine students to work with the widows in Vrindavan.  The Mandrayars were selected from a group of about 300 alumni involved in service.  The Seaver Sweethearts have also been involved in local nonprofit work.  They were founding members of The Fallbrook Film Factory, which promotes independent filmmaking and the arts.  Moreover, they helped start the International Fallbrook Film Festival.  The $5,000 award was dedicated to The White Rainbow Project.

Waves of Service Leader of the Year Award

Presented October 2012 at the Waves of Service Leader Mixer

Alison Tolladay (MPP '10), Community Relations Coordinator for the Los Angeles Lakers earned the Leader of the Year title by bringing service to Pepperdine in a variety of ways.  She hosted numerous Pepperdine volunteers on several occasions, spoke at Pepperdine events, and assisted other alumni in service with in-kind donations and events. 


Graziadio Business School Waves of Service Award

Presented April 2014 at the George Awards

Molly Moen (MIB '01) is Chief Operating Officer of the Downtown Women's Center (DWC), a nationally recognized nonprofit organization offering housing and supportive services to more than 4000 homeless women on Los Angeles' Skid Row each year. In this role, she is responsible for guiding the day-to-day business operations of the organization and providing strategic leadership to DWC's planning, financial analysis, fundraising, communications, human resources, volunteer, and facilities management efforts. During her tenure, Molly 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 1500 to 4000; she also spearheaded two capital campaigns, which raised a total of $40 million and enabled the development of 119 units of permanent supportive housing. Prior to joining the Downtown Women's Center, Molly worked with Phoenix Houses of California and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. She holds a Master's in International Business from Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management; has nearly thirteen years of experience working in the fields of housing and public health – including over eight at DWC; and has examined issues of strategic and fiscal planning, marketing/communications, and organizational development in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Derek (also a Graziadio graduate), and their son, Wyatt.

Seaver College Waves of Service Award

Presented April 2014 at the Waves of Success Luncheon

Jeremy Black (B '96 SC) first became aware of an unknown Amazon superfruit called açaí in the late 1990's.   He and his brother Ryan and friend Ed Nichols are the founders Sambazon, or Sustainable Management of the Brazilian Amazon.

To Black, Sambazon's global brand manager, and its cofounders, "Açaí was always more than just a healthy and delicious fruit to create products to sell; it was a vehicle for creating positive social change in the Amazon and promoting a healthy active lifestyle here in the U.S."

Guided by the principles of market-driven conservation, Sambazon pioneered the first-of-its-kind fair trade and certified organic supply chain of açaí and helped create global awareness of the açaí berry. Upon opening the world's largest proprietary açaí manufacturing facility in the Amazon, Sambazon allowed the company to have total control and oversight of the manufacturing process. Black and his team thereby generated sustainable employment for thousands of small family farmers and helped protect biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest by making the forest more valuable standing than being cut down. "The triple bottom line," Black emphasizes, "is taking care of the planet, the people involved, and the business and its stakeholders."

Since its inception in 2000, Sambazon has maintained and continues to grow a loyal consumer base consisting mainly of professional athletes and active, health-conscious individuals. In November 2006, the business won the prestigious Secretary of State's Award for Corporate Excellence for a small- or medium-sized business, and was nominated by the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil for helping to create worldwide awareness and pioneer a sustainable industry around the açaí fruit. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice celebrated Sambazon's "outstanding example of the positive impact that a small company can make to the economy, the environment, and the society of its host country."

With a stellar reputation and triple bottom-line business philosophy, Black is proud to be part of an industry forecasted to continue to gain momentum and popularity for years to come. As part of the next generation of leaders in their industry, Black and his company believe "that a brand that stands for positive change and promoting a healthy way of life will inspire other businesses to follow." He is already meeting like-minded business entrepreneurs at trade shows and events who share his and Sambazon's vision, some following their business model as an example.

"I believe that it's part of our contribution to the world to help others and add to the equation," Black says, "making the world a better place for future generations."

Pepperdine University Waves of Service Award

Present April 2014 at the Alumni Leadership Council meeting

"Coach" Mara Leigh Taylor (MA '03, MA '06) is the founder of Going Out by Getting In (GOGI).  A nonprofit fully staffed by volunteers, GOGI helps rehabilitate prisoners through the teaching of 12 core positive decision-making tools in group workshops and self-teaching. Taylor and her team of formerly incarcerated coaches travel to prisons to teach actions like "Five Second Light Switch" (replace old, automatic thoughts with new, positive behavior) and "Positive Actions: The Three Ps" (Is it powerful? Is it productive? Is it positive?).

Taylor's idea of empowering prisoners with tools for positive decision making and then letting them create a positive prison culture seems to be working. Two recent studies in California and Utah indicate that GOGI participants have a significantly lower reoffending rate. In Los Angeles County, with one of the nation's highest overall re-offending rates at 85 percent, that figure dropped to 35 percent among GOGI participants. In Utah, the figures are even greater, falling from 80 to 11 percent one year after release among former female prisoners involved in GOGI.

Her volunteer work over the past decade has been so successful that the L.A. County Sheriff's Department recently created a paid position specifically for Taylor. She is now the educational development administrator for jail programming for nearly 20,000 men and women.

Grateful for the direction her life has taken, Taylor continues to credit Pepperdine for presenting her with the first opportunity that opened her eyes to a pervasive problem. "If I didn't take that class at Pepperdine, I never would have toured that prison," Taylor says. "I'm living the University mission."