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Diversity and Belonging

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The Pepperdine School of Public Policy (SPP) and SPP Diversity and Belonging Committee provides a forum for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to engage in events, professional development, and mentorship opportunities that aim to build a diverse community founded on a set of core values that strive toward academic excellence and a shared sense of belonging with the understanding as noted in the Pepperdine University Diversity Statement.

School of Public Policy's Committee Members

The SPP Diversity and Belonging Committee consists of five members from the SPP community, which includes (at minimum):

  • 1-2 Full time faculty
  • 1 Alumnus
  • 1-2 Staff member
  • 1-4 Students 

All committee members serve a term of one academic year with an option to renew.  The 2023-2024 committee co-chairs are Dr. Luisa Blanco, professor of public poicy and Melissa Espinoza, director of strategic initiatives and student engagement at Pepperdine School of Public Policy. 

Students interested in becoming members of the SPP Diversity Committee will be asked to submit a statement of interest that will be reviewed by the chair. The alumni member will be outreached by the chair at the beginning of each academic year.


The committee will host 1 - 2 meetings per semester.
The committee chair will coordinate both in person and zoom meeting as needed. 

Committee Goals

The School of Public Policy diversity committee will:

  • focus on executing at least one (1) diversity event per semester
  • strive to create a forum for diversity related issues throughout the University
  • collaborate with the UDC on programming
  • develop a mentorship/ resource program

2023-2024 Committee Members

  • Luisa Blanco, Professor of Public Policy
  • Steven Chio, MPP 1st Year Student 
  • Melissa Espinoza, Director of Strategic Initiatives and Student Engagement
  • Noah Jackson, MPP 2nd Year Student
  • Christopher Jones, Senior Director of Student Services
  • Alaya McKinney, MPP 2nd Year Student 
  • Hattie Mitchelle (MPP '12) 


Date Title Speakers
Tuesday, November 28, 2023 Uplifting the Voices and Stories of Diverse Communities in Los Angeles to Influence Policy Change. ¡Si, se puede!

Evelyn G. Aleman (MPP '00), Founder at 
Our Voice: Communities for Quality Education

Tuesday, October 17, 2023 All Roads Lead to East LA: My Journey Empowering Latinos Through the Non-Profit Sector

Isaias Hernandez, Executive Director at
Eastmont Community Center

Thursday, March 30, 2023 Dress To Transgress

Justice Sabrina McKenna, Associate Justice, Hawai'i Supreme Court;
Rafael Langer-Osuna, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs;
Mia Yamamoto, Criminal Defense Attorney and Civil Rights Activist

Monday, March 13, 2023 Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking through the lens of Disability


Tuesday, August 30, 2022 SPP Diversity Welcome Event 

Jaimie Park, MPP 2nd Year Student;
Kirill Strakhov, MPP 2nd Year Student

Saturday, March 26, 2022, Art Therapy At Hope Gardens

Little Light Hope

February 17, 2022 Exploration of the Kinsey Collection

Weisman Museum of Art

February 7, 2022 POLICIES WITH IMPACT: A Conversation With Senator Henry Stern

Senator Henry Stern

April 12, 2021 Impact of Great Recession Bank Failures on the Use of Financial Services Among Racial/Ethnic and Income Groups

Dr. Salvador Contreras, Associate Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Border Economic Studies at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Dr. Luisa Blanco, Professor of Public Policy and Chair of SPP Diversity Committee

March 23, 2021 Workshop on the Impact of COVID-19 on Latinas in California and Policy Solutions

Vanessa Cruz, a first-year student
Deja Frederick, a second-year student
Susie Herrera, a second-year student

Dr. Luisa Blanco, Professor of Public Policy and chair of SPP Diversity Committee

February 22, 2021 Racially Diverse Leaders for Racially Diverse Cities

Angela Averiett, Interim Deputy Chief of Support Services Bureau at the BART Police Department
Troy Brown, City Manager of the City of Moorpark
Artie Fields, City Manager, City of Inglewood (Davenport Institute Advisory Board)
Ingrid Hardy, Assistant City Manager at City of Thousand Oaks

Pete Peterson, Dean of Pepperdine School of Public Policy

Weclome Speaker:
Dr. Luisa Blanco, Professor of Public Policy at Pepperdine School of Public Policy and SPP Diversity Committee Chair