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Diversity and Belonging

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The Pepperdine School of Public Policy (SPP) and SPP Diversity 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 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 one full time faculty member will serve as chair and one full time staff member will serve as vice chair.

The 2021-2022 committee chair is Dr. Luisa Blanco, professor of public policy, and the vice chair is Melissa Espinoza, assistant director of engagement and programs 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 and vice chair. The alumni member will be outreached by the chair or vice chair at the beginning of each academic year.


The meeting will be held via Zoom, for the 2021-2022 academic year. The chair or vice-chair will make a determination if in-person meetings will take place for the Spring 2022 term at the conclusion of the Fall 2021 semester. The committee will host 1 - 2 meetings per semester.

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

2021-2022 Committee Members

  • Leslie Amaya-Yanez, MPP 2nd Year Student 
  • Jamil Barnett (MPP '17)
  • Luisa Blanco, Professor of Public Policy, Chair
  • Jacob DePeralta, MPP 2nd Year Student 
  • Melissa Espinoza, Assistant Director of Engagement and Programs
  • Christopher Jones, Director of Program Services and Admissions
  • Jaimie Park, MPP 1st Year Student 
  • Kirill Strakhov, MPP 1st Year Student 


Date Title Speakers
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