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Diversity Council Past Events

Since 2004, GSEP has proudly hosted numerous distinguished representatives as part of the Diversity Council Speaker Series. Please take a moment review the archive of past events.

 Focus on Latino Heritage

William Perez - Pepperdine GSEPWhile many aspects of the Latino culture were celebrated in September, during Latino Heritage month, the issues of immigration and undocumented students remain at the forefront for Latino communities.

The Urban Institute estimates that approximately 3.4 million children and young adults under the age of 24 living in the United States are undocumented. The academic and emotional fate of undocumented youth has gained much attention of late. The debate in California's gubernatorial race includes some candidates favoring an end to a 2001 state law that allows undocumented California high school graduates to attend public universities. Currently, they must pay the in-state tuition and do not qualify for financial aid.

In response to the academic future of undocumented students, the Diversity Council at the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology invited William Perez, PhD, author of We Are Americans: Undocumented Students Pursuing the American Dream, as the speaker for the fall 2010 Diversity Council Speaker Series event on Wednesday, September 29, at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus. 

Dr. Perez’s presentation is titled, Exceptional Students, Marginal Lives: Achievement and Civic Engagement Among Undocumented Latino Youths. In his book, We Are Americans, Dr. Perez notes that, “despite public investment in their education, high levels of achievement, community service, leadership experience, and a deep sense of commitment to American society, undocumented students remain without legal status, are not considered American and thus are not eligible for any type of assistance to attend college, even though over 90% of the students surveyed aspire to obtain a Masters degree or higher.”

William Perez, PhD
Born in San Salvador, El Salvador, Dr. Perez came to the United States in the early1980s at the age of 10 to escape the civil war that began in 1979. He spent his remaining childhood in Pomona, California, attended Pomona College, and later earned a PhD in child and adolescent development from Stanford University.

A professor at Claremont Graduate University, he is an emerging leader on research that examines the social and psychological development of immigrant and Latino students. He strives to bring a depth of research experience to the complex problems of academic achievement and higher education access.

 Inspirational Journeys: Preparing Women for Lives of Purpose, Service, and Leadership

Illustrated female symbol - Pepperdine GSEP

The June 9 event brought together three prominent women in education. The program focused on how the “glass ceiling” is no longer an accurate metaphor for the limits women face. A better descriptor is a labyrinth – several paths leading to varied destinations. Women continue to find obstacles within the labyrinth and often do not reach their end goals at all. Three female panelists discussed their perspective on the labyrinth journey, as well as anecdotes from their own personal journey.

Panelists included Dr. Margaret Weber, dean of GSEP; Tabatha Jones Jolivet, the associate dean of student affairs at Pepperdine University Seaver College; and Mónica García, president of the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the nation. Dr. Thema Bryant, associate professor of psychology, served as moderator.

Mónica García

Mónica García was elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education in June 2006, becoming the third Latina to serve on the Board in its 155-year history.

As a board member, she gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of children and families that rely on education for access to good jobs, healthcare and a sustainable quality of life. In affirming her commitment to a quality and equitable educational system, García supports initiatives that provide all students access to a college preparatory curriculum and to career and technology pathways. She has earned a reputation as a bold, optimistic, and aggressive leader in education reform.

García was born and raised in East Los Angeles. She attended local schools and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Chicano Studies and Political Science. She later earned her Master's in Social Work from the University of Southern California.

Tabatha Jones Jolivet

Tabatha Jones Jolivet is the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Pepperdine University, Seaver College, where her applied work is college student administration. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities and a Master’s degree in Religious Thought from Pepperdine University, where she teaches part-time, co-chairs the University Diversity Council, and chairs the Access and Equity Sub-committee of the Seaver College Diversity Council. She is doctoral student in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University, where she recently completed coursework for a PhD in the subfield of higher education.

Her research interests involve Critical and Sociocultural Issues in Postsecondary Education, which include: the study of access, equity, and social stratification in postsecondary education; intersectional analysis of race, gender, and class, Critical Race Theory, and Womanist perspectives in education research; social and cultural capital and forms of cultural logic; student and faculty engagement. She is committed to critical community engagement, advocacy, and ministry. She tutors children from undocumented and low-income families on a weekly basis at a local Title I elementary school; is an active member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of Black Women in Higher Education (ABWHE); and co-leads the women’s ministry at her local church.

Jones Jolivet speaks regularly on topics related to postsecondary education, and was recently the keynote speaker at the Fulfillment Fund’s Destination College 13, a community-based educational program for low-income students in the Los Angeles area. Currently, she is a Research Associate for a national study, The Project on the Future of the Academic Profession. Jones Jolivet is also part of a research team studying work-life issues for women. Ultimately, she is committed to a critical education agenda that promotes solidarity with local communities and the pursuit of social justice.

 Celebrating Black History Month: Social Justice, Faith and the Pepperdine Community

The Diversity Council organized a panel of speakers to discuss the intersection of faith and social justice challenges from a historical and contemporary perspective.

In honor of Black History Month, the event was held on February 17, 2010, at the West Los Angeles Graduate Campus.

The panel included GSEP distinguished alumnus Dr. Lou Jenkins, and former faculty member Dr. Erylene Piper Mandy, current president and CEO of the Center for Cross Cultural Competence, a consultant agency through which she and her colleagues train public and private agencies in a variety of issues related to ethnic diversity and community relations. Dr. Spring Cooke, visiting professor in the Education Division at GSEP, served as moderator.


 Erylene Piper Mandy, PhD
Dr. Erylene Piper Mandy, formerly an adjunct professor at GSEP, is president and CEO of the Center for Cross Cultural Competence, a consultancy that trains public and private agencies on issues related to ethnic diversity and community relations. Her work as a psychological anthropologist has allowed her a unique perspective to comment on both the theories and practices of mental health professionals, and she enjoys challenging students to explore the limits of psychology and education for effecting large-scale change amongst marginalized populations. Piper Mandy received a BA in African American Studies and a BS in Psychology from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She earned a master’s in Boston University’s African American Studies Program, and a master’s and Ph.D. in psycho-cultural anthropology from the University of California, Irvine. A recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Fellowship, Piper Mandy was afforded the opportunity to work and study in Senegal, West Africa. She is a highly sought-after public speaker, and participates in up to 150 engagements per year.



Louis Jenkins, PhD
Dr. Louis Jenkins is a professor of psychology at the School of Science and Technology at Loma Linda University. He received his PhD, in 1973, from Pennsylvania State University. Jenkins attended George Pepperdine College on Vermont Avenue in Los Angeles, and received his master’s in psychology in 1970. He returned to Pepperdine University in 1987 as a psychology faculty member, and taught through the 1996 academic year. He has been a tireless voice for change and justice within the field of psychology, having served on the Board of Psychology for the State of California and creating many culturally competent initiatives to improve how services were both conceptualized and delivered to African Americans and other minority populations. Jenkins’ research interests include diversity issues and psychology and religion.

  Bridging the Divide: Shifting Demographics in Los Angeles

The Diversity Council Speaker Series turned its attention to the evolving composition of Los Angeles' communities. On Wednesday, November 4 the speaker event, titled Bridging The Divide: Shifting Demographics In Los Angeles, covered the change that has taken place in Los Angeles from 1940 through the present, and how this has impacted relationships between populations and the city's social and economic development.

Dr. Anthony Collatos, assistant professor of education at GSEP, lead the panel discussion with maps and a historic overview of the population of Los Angeles beginning in the 1940s. Tracking the migration of different ethnic populations, Collatos brought the group to present day, where his fellow panel members, Mary Johnson, chair of the Los Angeles Unified School District Parent Collaborative; and psychologist Donald E. Grant, PsyD, shared their personal stories as firsthand witnesses of LA’s progress and shortcomings, and how the changes affect its residents.

An Interview with Dr. Anthony Collatos

GSEP: What inspired this event?

Collatos: Many communities in Los Angeles County have experienced dramatic demographic shifts over the past 20-30 years. These shifts are directly tied to social, cultural, and economic events within the communities. As many of our students participate in student teaching and practicum in these areas, and many more of our students will work in these settings following graduation, it is important to GSEP that we provide a context that can help the students and alumni have a successful experience.

As both educators and health care providers, our students should be aware that schools and clinics do not exist in a black box, and that demographic shifts have direct implications for these neighborhoods. If we can help students recognize these shifts, and create spaces for a dialogue to bridge the divide that occurs when communities experience a sudden transformation – especially across race and economic status – the students will feel more comfortable providing service in these settings and have a more positive impact on the families they touch. This event is directly in line with the goals of the GSEP Diversity Council and the GSEP Urban Initiative.

GSEP: Who will be sharing a personal story?

Collatos: I have given an abbreviated version of this presentation to master of arts in education with teaching credential (MAETC) students for many years. In order to broaden the scope of the presentation we decided to include some representatives from the communities we are discussing. People who have witnessed firsthand the changes we will be discussing. They can give their impressions of the shifts they have experienced, both as a local resident, and as an expert in the educational sphere.

Mary Johnson, president of nonprofit advocacy group Parent U-Turn and the chair of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Parent Collaborative representing almost 700,000 students, will be one of our panelists. A long-time resident of South Gate, Johnson will tell her story of navigating the divide of the “Alameda Corridor,” as well as her efforts to unite African American and Latino parents of LAUSD students.

GSEP: What is the relevance of this topic to the Pepperdine community?

Collatos: Without a doubt, educators and mental health professionals are important components of any community. They provide necessary services and directly influence how a community grows and prospers. But to truly be helpful, students must understand the history of the families living in the community. How did they arrive there? What are their trades and skills? Who are their allies and where are their tensions? What resources do they have, in terms of jobs, healthcare, industry, and even local leadership at the school or city level?

By best equipping our students with the tools to work with diverse cultures in a changing landscape, our students can best fulfill the Pepperdine mission of purpose, service, and leadership. And GSEP can bolster its Urban Initiative, by expanding our partnerships and providing more robust services for our partners.

GSEP: What do you hope that attendees will take away?

Collatos: Ultimately, our goal is to help attendees obtain a better understanding of how demographic shifts can impact schools and mental health agencies in a fundamental way, in terms of resources and in terms of culture. We hope that attendees will be inspired by the efforts of our University to reach out to these communities and bridge the divide by creating spaces for all stakeholders to have a voice.

 Promoting Social Justice: Confronting Racism and Homophobia

Black and white hands - Pepperdine GSEP


The Diversity Council Speaker Series welcomed a panel of speakers to discuss "Promoting Social Justice; Confronting Racism and Homophobia." The event took place on Tuesday, March 24, 2009 at the West Los Angeles graduate campus, and was broadcast to the Encino and Irvine campuses.


Panel members presented their views on promoting social justice - concentrating on groups that have traditionally been marginalized by society; including minority races and religions, as well as the lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual community.

Panel Members

Robert R. Cargill, PhD
Dr. Cargill received his PhD in Archaeology as well as Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and a Master of Arts in Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations from the University of California, Los Angeles. He also attended Pepperdine University, where he received a Master of Science in Ministry and a Master of Divinity. Cargill defines himself as an Academic Christian. He holds the view that Proposition 8 is not a judgment against homosexuality or homosexuals, but a referendum on the civil benefits of same-sex marriages, with no effect upon the doctrines of any religious group. Cargill is also the Chief Architect and Designer of the Qumran Visualization Project, a real-time virtual reconstruction of Khirbet Qumran, the site associated with the composition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Naveen Jonathan
Naveen Jonathan is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and current student in the Doctor of Philosophy in Marital and Family Therapy program at Loma Linda University. He teaches as an adjunct professor at Alliant International University, Pepperdine University, Chapman University, John F. Kennedy University and California State University, East Bay. Jonathan has written a chapter titled, Carrying Equal Weight: Relational Responsibility & Attunement Among Same-Sex Couples, for a book edited by Carmen Knudson-Martin, Ph.D., titled Transforming Power: How Couples Move From Gender Legacy to Gender Equality, (Springer, 2008). He is a member of the American Association for Marital and Family Therapy, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, and the National Council on Family Relations.

Carolyn A. O'Keefe, PsyD
Carolyn O'Keefe received a Psychology Doctoral degree from the Pepperdine University, Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP). Her dissertation is titled, Mentoring Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Minorities in a University Setting. She has presented at several conferences, including the Multicultural Research Conference at GSEP where her presentation title was, Gaining Competence in Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Clients. O'Keefe currently works as a staff psychologist at California State University, Long Beach. She also teaches as an adjunct faculty member in the psychology division at GSEP.

 Dr. Ronald Takaki: America in a Different Mirror

The speaker series hosted Dr. Ronald Takaki, the nation's foremost expert on multiculturalism. Takaki provided insight on diversity in America and the 2008 presidential election in a lecture entitled "America in a Different Mirror: A History for the 21st Century" on October 28, 2008 at the West Los Angeles graduate campus.

Takaki's lecture shared scholarship from his new, updated edition of A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America (Back Bay Books, December 8, 2008), acclaimed by President Bill Clinton: "In this timely update of A Different Mirror, Professor Ronald Takaki examines the challenges we face in reconciling our differences and forming a secure, sustainable future for our country. Now more than ever, it's essential that we understand and embrace our diversity if we are to grow together as a nation."

Takaki has been a lightning rod for the study of America's diversity. He is a professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Iron Cages: Race and Culture in 19th Century America and Strangers from a Different Shore: A History of Asian Americans, which was selected by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of the best 100 non-fiction books of the 20th century. A Different Mirror is read on college campuses across the country and has more than half a million copies in print.

 African Americans and Latinos: Empowering Communities Through Facilitative Dialogue

While most individuals have some idea of the racial tensions that exists between African Americans and Latinos, there is little discussion regarding the challenges and struggles between these two cultural groups. For this reason, the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology (GSEP) invited the Los Angeles community to participate in a discussion with a panel of African American and Latino high school students, parents, educators, and mental health professionals to further understand the issues between these two groups and generate strategies to resolve them.

On May 13, 2008 the panel and guests gathered at the West Los Angeles graduate campus for an honest dialogue. Panelists included Dr. Anthony Collatos, assistant professor of Education at GSEP; Dr. Donald Grant, site coordinator for CalWORKS Homeless Families projects; Mary Johnson, chair of the Los Angeles Unified School District Parent Collaborative; Valerie Munoz, Lynwood parent representative; Rogelio Serrano, a licensed marriage and family therapist; Francisco Torrero, Los Angeles parent representative; students from Gertz-Ressler High School, Krystal Johnson, Tiffany Mathis, and Matthew Young; and students from South Gate High School, Myra Peña and Brittney Ortiz.

  Dr. Molefi Kete Asante: African Consciousness

Dr. Molefi Kete Asante

Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, a graduate of Pepperdine College in 1965 and now professor in the Department of African American Studies at Temple University, presented to an enthusiastic crowd on February 13, 2008. His lecture, entitled "An Overview of African Consciousness: Classical Egypt to Yoruba Orishas," addressed the origin of humanity, the oral transmission of historical information, and the beginning of time and existence.

Considered by his peers to be one of the most distinguished contemporary scholars, Asante has published 61 books, including The History of Africa: The Quest for Eternal Harmony (Routledge, 2007). Asante has published more scholarly books than any contemporary African author and has been recognized as one of the ten most widely cited African Americans. In addition, Black Issues in Higher Education recognized him as one of the most influential leaders in the last 15 years. Asante completed his MA at Pepperdine and received his PhD from UCLA at the age of 26. He was appointed a full professor at the age of 30 at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He created the first PhD Program in African American Studies at Temple University in 1987.