William Gardner was recently re-elected to the New Canaan (Connecticut) Republican Town Committee, in which he serves as Vice Chairman. Before retiring in 2014 from the federal government, he was a staff attorney with the Social Security Administration. The majority of his career has been in corporate management. He is licensed to practice law in New York and Connecticut.
William graduated from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School Fully Employed MBA program in 1983.
Los Angeles native Lauren Gibbs is a former sales executive and a competitive athlete. She was recently chosen to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, representing the United States on the women’s bobsled team.
Following completion of the EMBA program in 2014, Lauren served as Regional Sales Director for Trumaker, a San Francisco-based made to measure men’s apparel company. A lifelong athlete, she was introduced to the sport of bobsledding by a member of the USA National Rugby team (Jill Potter).
Lauren has spent the last several years competing professionally in bobsledding and training for the Olympics. She earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University, where she also played volleyball.
Aaron Young serves as the head of HR for MSC Software leading talent acquisition & management, people operations, learning & development, and organizational development. In October, MSC Software was awarded Best Tech Culture Company in Orange County by Tech in Motion. Aaron joined MSC Software in 2013 leading the talent acquisition group and grew his role to include being a senior business partner. His current responsibilities include oversight of MSC HR operations as well as the divisional representation with MSC’s parent company.
Aaron is a dual graduate of Pepperdine University having completed his doctorate in Organizational Leadership from GSEP and his MBA in Dispute Resolution from GSBM. For his doctoral dissertation, Aaron’s study of cultures of innovation helped MSC Software to be recognized as a Best Tech Culture Company in Orange County by Tech in Motion.
Currently, Aaron is working in Orange County while commuting from North County San Diego where he currently resides with his wife & family.
John Miller has been appointed President of Swisher International, effective January 1, 2018. John joined Swisher in 2012 as its Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing after working within the Tobacco and CPG industries for more than 25 years. John worked for the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company where he rose to the position of Regional Vice President, was interim President of Goldwater’s Foods of Scottsdale and a principal in two consulting firms. During his tenure with Swisher, John positioned the sales and marketing teams for record growth by expanding the National Accounts team, developing the Trade Marketing, Business Analytics and Consumer Engagement functions and overseeing more than 150 promotions in the field sales force.
John received his Bachelor of Science degree from UNLV and his Master of Business Administration degree from Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management.
Taj Eldridge accepted a position of Senior Director of Investment at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), after serving as the Accelerator Director at the University of California with the Highland Venture Fund. In this role, he directs investment in the premier companies focused on sustainability solutions. LACI is a private non-profit organization helping to accelerate the commercialization of clean technologies and ensuring an inclusive green economy by unlocking innovation, transforming markets and enhancing community. Founded as a cluster-driven economic development initiative by the City of Los Angeles and its Department of Water & Power (LADWP), LACI is recognized as one of the most innovative business incubators in the world by UBI.
Taj was awarded the Innovation Honoree for 2017 for the City of Riverside from Mayor William Bailey. This award recognizes people or groups in the City of Riverside that exemplify the city’s motto as “a City of Arts and Innovation.” Mayor William Bailey has chosen Eldridge because of his passion for innovation and for his ability to evangelize the city’s commitment to entrepreneurship – a movement that has strengthened the technological ecosystem. Eldridge has been a mentor, adviser, and leader for young start-up companies in the region.
Taj earned his MBA from the Graziadio Business School in 2003.
Jack recently co-authored a book titled “Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond” along with Chris Burniske. Jack is a Bitcoin expert, and an angel investor who advises startups on cryptoassets. He has authored several books about retirement and finance, and is the co-author of one of the earliest books on Bitcoin, “What’s the Deal with Bitcoins?”
Jack also owns and runs GEM Research Solutions, and has worked extensively with startups. His company is a market research firm focusing on financial services and provides market research to businesses in many different industries.
Jack received his MBA from the Graziadio school in 1990 as part of the Presidents and Key Executives program. He has a B.A. in English and Economics from Stony Brook University.
Alumni Mary Cochran and partner Alison Werning announced they are joining forces to form Launching Labs Marketing, a digital and traditional marketing agency combined with project and sales management services.
Mary and Alison are coming together to offer small to medium businesses an effective array of marketing services. Cochran’s background is in public relations, marketing, and digital media with along with strategic operational skills. Werning spent years in logo development and editing branding for promotional materials. Her keen graphical eye and social savvy developed into digital advertising and marketing. Brought together on a long-term project they found their skills married perfectly for affecting growth in small to medium businesses.
Offering a view from the outside to provide clear communications direction is Launching Lab’s goal.
Kristin Glushon has been appointed Executive Vice President of client development at Branded Entertainment Network (BEN), which connects global brands to consumers through the power of popular entertainment.
In this newly created role, Kristin is responsible for driving BEN’s growth, with a specific focus on developing relationships with major domestic and global brands and media agencies. She will apply her more than 10 years of experience in sales and client services to drive global brand integration campaigns into premium content across TV, streaming, film and influencer programming.
Prior to joining BEN, Kristin held numerous roles at Orion Worldwide including Senior Vice President of Sales and Senior Vice President of New Business. She has also worked in sales and client services for Thomson Reuters. Glushon currently serves on the board for the Los Angeles Chapter of the IPG Women’s Leadership Network.
Kristin has a BA in English from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and graduated from the Graziadio fully-employed MBA program in 2009.
Vahid Khorsand was elected Vice President of the Los Angeles Citywide Planning Commission on July 26, 2018, after being appointed to the citywide commission by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in September of 2017.
Vahid is an equities analyst with BWS Financial providing analysis on global economic trends and impacts on equity markets. His focus is on public companies with market capitalizations between $250 million and $10 billion in the specialty retail, multi-family residential real estate, and infrastructure sectors.
He was named by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal in 2017 as one of 200 influential people in the San Fernando Valley. Vahid has served as a member of the Encino Chamber of Commerce, the United Chambers of the San Fernando Valley, the LAPD Valley Traffic Advisory Council, ONEgeneration, The Los Angeles Metro San Fernando Valley Service Council, and the West Valley Democrats. He received his MBA from Pepperdine University.
Vahid earned his Executive MBA from the Graziadio School in 2013.
Devon Beste recently accepted a position as a Commodities Trader at Cargill, the U.S.’s largest privately held corporation providing food, agriculture, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Prior to this role, he was an Operations Consultant at Pine River Capital Management where he worked in conjunction with directors and other analysts to assist in ongoing production and workflow improvement efforts, as well as with prime brokers and counter parties to ensure the proper and timely execution of various financial instrument movements.
Devon earned his MBA in 2014 from Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management and currently lives in the greater Minneapolis- St. Paul area. He served four years in the United States Marine Corps stationed in Twentynine Palms, California, and was deployed to Iraq twice.
Devon says that he chose Pepperdine Graziadio for the convenience of the MBAJ and the Yellow Ribbon Program for military veterans. He says that Pepperdine Graziadio instilled in him an entrepreneurial mindset that he now brings to his job every day, and that the personal growth he achieved during his program was immeasurable.