2013–2014 Awards

Graziadio School of Business and Management 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."