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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

Careers for Women in Policy & Politics

This conference on Women Leading in Policy & Politics was held on Monday, October 23, 2017, in partnership with Center for Women in Leadership and the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University.

Of the many areas of our public life where women have advanced as leaders, the gains made in politics and policy are the most prominent. Around the world, and here in the United States – from Margaret Thatcher in the UK to Hillary Clinton here in the US--current generations of women in political leadership have paved the way for even greater strides in the future. This engaging, fast-moving half-day event, highlighted the challenges and opportunities for women in public policy and political leadership through exploring the subject in three parts: Nonprofit, government, and elected leadership. 

Symposium Keynote Highlight Video: 


Speaker Information

 Keynote Conversation (Julia Ormond and Charity Wallce)

Julia Ormond
Actress, President and Founder of the ASSET Campaign


Charity Wallace headshot - Pepperdine University

Charity Wallace
Founder & Principal, Wallace Global Impact

Charity Wallace is the founder and principal of Wallace Global Impact, a consulting firm that combines policy expertise with extensive experience to drive innovative and effective solutions to improve the lives of people around the world, particularly women and girls. During the Bush Administration, Wallace served all eight years in the White House in various positions, most notably as the deputy chief of protocol for the United States and director of advance for First Lady Laura Bush. Following her tenure in the Administration, Wallace served as Laura Bush's chief of staff and founded and led the Global Women's Initiatives at the Bush Institute in Dallas, Texas. Wallace graduated magna cum laude in political science from Pepperdine University, and received her master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


 Panel 1: Women in Nonprofit Policy Leadership


Montse Alvarado headshot - Pepperdine University

Montse Alvarado
Executive Director, Becket Fund

Montse Alvardo joined the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in 2009, and currently serves as its executive director. She has been a spokesperson for Becket on Univision, CNN en Español, Telemundo, Fox Business, EWTN, and other networks; and was recently profiled in the Wall Street Journal's Weekend Edition. She holds a master's degree from George Washington University and completed her bachelor's degree at Florida International University.  


Sally Pipes headshot - Pepperdine University

Sally Pipes
President and Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Research Institute

Sally Pipes is president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Research Institute, a San Francisco-based think tank founded in 1979. Pipes addresses national and international audiences on health care issues and has been featured extensively in print and media, including such outlets as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times along with ABC's 20/20, CNN, Fox News, NBC Nightly News, "The Today Show," and "Dateline." She has a regular column in Forbes.com called "Piping Up," and has been invited to testify before the US Congress, most recently in front of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging.


Kathleen Schafer headshot - Pepperdine University

Kathleen Schafer
Leadership Guide, Educator, and Author

Kathleen Schafer is a trailblazer in leadership development, particularly for those wanting to impact the public good. She has nearly 30 years of experience as a leadership coach, published author, and in-demand public speaker; guiding people to lead at the intersection of organizational excellence and public change. Grounded in the rough and tumble world of politics, seasoned in business, honed in academia and broadened by her own journey to create a balanced life, Shafer insightfully and poignantly guides clients to recognize their leadership potential and to offer it to the world in a way that benefits everyone.


Michelle Sisqueiros headshot - Pepperdine University

Michelle Sisquerios
President, The Campaign for College Opportunity

Michele Siqueiros is president of The Campaign for College Opportunity, with the mission to increase college going and completion rates. Through a network of over 12,000 coalition supporters, the Campaign has engaged over 50,000 young people, awarded well over half a million dollars in scholarships, and passed legislation improving remedial education, student support services and established a community college student success scorecard. Under her leadership in 2010, the Campaign led the effort for historic transfer reform that makes it easier for students to transfer from any California community college to the California State University system. Sisquerios graduated from Pitzer College with a bachelor's degree in political studies with honors in Chicano/a studies. She received her master's degree in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.



Regan Schaffer headshot - Pepperdine University

Regan Harwell Schaffer
Director, Nonprofit Collaborative; Professor, Seaver College, Pepperdine University

Regan Harwell Schaffer is a professor of management and organizational behavior in the Business Administration division of Seaver College at Pepperdine University, where she also serves as director of the Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative. She is actively involved with numerous nonprofit organizations throughout Los Angeles and consults higher education institutions and nonprofit leaders on effective community-based partnerships.

 Panel 2: Women in Government Leadership




Ingrid Hardy headshot - Pepperdine University

Ingrid Hardy
Director of Cultural and Community Services, City of Oxnard, California

Ingrid Hardy has a deep passion and enthusiasm for public service, organizational leadership, and public administration. Her diverse background in the public sector includes work in administrative services, public works, cultural arts, and community services. During her 18 year career in public service, she has worked for three municipalities including the City of Los Angeles, the City of Santa Clarita, and the City of Oxnard where she currently serves as the director of cultural and community services. Hardy holds a bachelor's degree in sociology with an emphasis on education from the University of California, Berkeley, and an master of public administration with distinction from California State University, Northridge. Hardy is a former advisory council member of the Pepperdine University Davenport Institute for Public Engagement.



Jeannette PelayoJeannette Pelayo
Police Officer III, Lose Angeles Police Department, Office of Constitutional Policing and Policy, Rick Management Office







Sahar Shirazi headshot - Pepperdine University

Sahar Shirazi
Senior Planning Advisor, California Governor's Office of Planning and Research

Sahar Shirazi is a senior planning advisor for the California Governor's Office of Planning and Research. Prior to her appointment, she served as a policy analyst for the secretary of transportation, and as a policy lead for the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President under the Obama Administration in Washington, DC. Shirizi immigrated to the US with her family in 1985, and strives to serve her adopted home through her life, with a focus on equity and sustainability for all.


Lindsay Young headshot - Pepperdine University

Lindsay Young (MPP '10)
Developer, 18F 

Lindsay Young is a developer at 18F, a team of top-notch designers, developers, and product specialists inside the General Services Administration. She also serves as adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. Young is currently working with the Federal Election Commission to create a user-centered website powered by the FEC's first API. A strong advocate for open data, Young says she enjoys working with the FEC because the project "combines my love for making data-driven web apps with my passion for disclosure."



Ashley Trim headshot - Pepperdine University

Ashley Trim (MPP '09)
Executive Director, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership, Pepperdine University

Ashley Trim is the executive director for the Davenport Institute of Public Engagement and Civic Leadership at the Pepperdine School of Public Policy. She writes and speaks about public engagement and transparency issues for local and online news organizations and national conferences. Trim also coordinates Davenport's grant program and training seminars and spearheads collaborative partnerships with various organizations committed to improving engagement between citizens and government. Trim received a bachelor's degree in government from Patrick Henry College and an master of public policy from the Pepperdine School of Public Policy.

 Panel 3: Women in Elected Leadership


Kathryn Barger headshot - Pepperdine University

Kathryn Barger
Los Angeles County Supervisor

Kathryn began her career in public service as a college student intern in the office of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and rose to become his Chief Deputy Supervisor in 2001, where she served until her election to the Board in 2016. During the course of her County career as chief policy advisor on Health, Mental Health, Social Service and Children's issues, Kathryn provided leadership to deliver efficient and effective services and programs that have significantly improved the quality of life for foster children, seniors, veterans, the disabled and the mentally ill. Committed to keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe, she has worked with state and federal leaders along with our County District Attorney's office, Sheriff, and other law enforcement agencies to implement tough laws and vital public safety initiatives.

She is an advocate for the environment and efforts to preserve open space, enhance parks, trails, recreational programs and facilities; and strongly supports libraries and after-school programs to serve local communities. With a strong sense of fiscal responsibility and prudence, Kathryn is dedicated to providing vital county services while protecting financial resources as a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars.


Angela Underwood-Jacobs headshot - Pepperdine University

Angela Underwood-Jacobs
Criminal Justice Commissioner, City of Lancaster

Angela Underwood-Jacobs has established herself as a highly valued, active leader in the Antelope Valley community. She currently serves as senior vice president of the Greater Southern California (GSC) North Region at California Bank and Trust. Prior to this, she served as consumer market executive at Bank of America for eighteen years. Underwood-Jacobs' passion for continued growth within the Antelope Valley has enabled her to spearhead new business opportunities for the community. Utilizing the invaluable leadership experience she has acquired throughout her professional career, Underwood-Jacobs has been instrumental in the development and success of multiple committees and outreach programs. The list of her key contributions includes serving as: Current Antelope Valley Transit Authority Board Director; Criminal Justice Commissioner for the City of Lancaster: Honorary Board Member for the Children's Center of The Antelope Valley: Vice Chair of the Antelope Valley Hospital Advisory Subcommittee on Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Prevention for Minors; and, Board Member of the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, wherein current and prior terms she has successfully collaborated with a number of local business leaders.


Shirley Weber headshot - Pepperdine University

Shirley Nash Weber
Member, California State Assembly from the 79th District

Assembly Member Shirley Nash Weber was elected in November of 2012, to represent California's 79th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Bonita, Chula Vista, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, National City, and San Diego. She received her bachelor's, master's, and PhD degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. Prior to serving in the Assembly, Weber taught at California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles City College, and San Diego State University. Weber chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety. She also serves as a member of the Assembly Standing Committees on Education, Higher Education, Elections, Budget, and Banking and Finance. Prior to being elected to the Assembly, she served as the mayor's appointee and Chair on the Citizens' Equal Opportunity Commission. Weber has also served on the Board of the NAACP, YWCA, YMCA Scholarship Committee, Battered Women Services, United Way, San Diego Consortium and Private Industry Council, and many more.


Alicia Weintraub headshot - Pepperdine University

Alicia Weintraub (MPP '02)
Councilwoman, City of Calabasas, California

Alicia Weintraub is a city councilmember for the City of Calabasas, California. She is vice president of the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments and serves as a representative for the Transportation Committee for the Southern California Association of Governments. Weintraub received her master of public policy from Pepperdine University in 2002, with a dual specialization in state and local and economic policy.




Pete Peterson headshot - Pepperdine University

Pete Peterson (MPP '07)
Dean, School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University; Senior Fellow, Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership

Pete Peterson is a leading national speaker and writer on issues related to civic participation, and the use of technology to make government more responsive and transparent. Prior to being named the dean of the Pepperdine School of Public Policy, he was the first executive director of the bi-partisan organization, Common Sense California, which in 2010 joined with the Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy to become the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership. He developed the organization's annual Public Engagement Grant Program, which has provided over $400,000.00 in grants over the last several years to dozens of municipal governments across California. Peterson has co-created and currently co-facilitates the training seminar, "Public Engagement: The Vital Leadership Skill in Difficult Times" a program that has been attended by over 1,000 municipal officials. Peterson has been a public affairs fellow at The Hoover Institution, and he serves on the Leadership Councils of the Public Policy Institute of California and California Forward, and on the steering committees of the University Network for Collaborative Governance, and the Institute for Local Government. Peterson was the Republican candidate for California Secretary of State in 2014.

Pepperdine Master of Public Policy Alumna

Hattie Mitchell - Pepperdine University

"I specifically chose Pepperdine because of the focus they put on taking what you learn in the program and applying it to improve society." 

— Dr. Hattie Mitchell (MPP '12), Founder, Crete Academy

Eryn Witcher Tillman - Pepperdine University

"In both my role as the former White House assistant press secretary and currently, as a Hoover Institution associate director overseeing media relations, public affairs, and Washington, DC programming, SPP's foundation prepared me to understand an appropriately communicate the ideas and research I disseminate to the public, policy-makers, and other policy influencers."

— Eryn Witcher Tillman ('97/MPP '99), Associate Director and the Bechtel Director of Public Affairs, Hoover Institution