The UCLA Alumni Association will pay tribute to policymakers, activists and other leaders for their lifelong dedication to bringing Bruin values into the world.
“This year, we celebrate six amazing UCLA alumni and one network who have catalyzed change and activated optimism for the greater good,” said Julie Sina, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for alumni affairs.
“After a virtual ceremony last year, this will be our first awards ceremony back together since the pandemic began,” Sina said. “Our campus partners and alumni leaders from all around the globe will connect to recognize their continued dedication to building a strong UCLA Alumni Association.”
Recipients of the UCLA Awards will be recognized during a ceremony that will be held May 21 at the UCLA Meyer and Renee Luskin Conference Center.
Sheila Kuehl — Edward A. Dickinson Alum of the Year
Kuehl earned her bachelor’s degree in English from UCLA in 1962. She has been a lifelong trailblazer for women’s rights and queer representation in politics. In 1994, Kuehl was the first openly gay or lesbian person elected to the California Legislature, and throughout her many tenures in public office, she has passed important bills advancing the rights of disenfranchised communities in Los Angeles County and California as a whole. She will retire from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors this year. Kuehl has been previously honored by UCLA in 1993 with the UCLA Award for Community Service and in 2000 with the UCLA Award for Public Service.
Kuehl attended UCLA at the same time as she was filming “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” playing the character of Zelda Gilroy. Upon graduation from UCLA, she became an associate dean of students. Kuehl became a Regents’ Professor in public policy at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where she received the Ruth Roemer Social Justice Leadership Award for her work in homelessness, and taught law at UCLA, USC and Loyola Law School.
UCLA Alumni Band — Network of the Year
Founded in 1976, the UCLA Alumni Band has been providing a space for alumni who play a band instrument to give back to the UCLA community and entertain Bruins. To continue their tradition of university and community support, the network has created the UCLA Band Alumni Memorial Scholarship, given annually to two seniors who have worked closely with the UCLA Marching Band. The alumni band brings its energy and school spirit to home games, the Rose Bowl Court of Champions and at women’s gymnastics meets.
Debra Duardo — UCLA Award for Public Service
Duardo is a triple Bruin who earned her bachelor’s degree in women’s studies and Chicana/o studies in 1994, her master’s in social work in 1996 and a doctorate in 2013 from what was then called the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. After having to drop out of high school to work full time and postponing higher education until her late 20s, Duardo has dedicated her career to ensuring a safe environment for underrepresented students. Duardo worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District for 20 years and in 2016 was appointed Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools by the county board of supervisors, where she continues to pursue equity for 2 million students. She was also named the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs’ Joseph A. Nunn Social Welfare Alumnus of the Year.
Monica Ebeltoft — Volunteer of the Year
Ebeltoft, who graduated with her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from UCLA in 1989, has been president of the Orange County Bruins. She created networking opportunities for alumni and Bruin hopefuls, finding ways to help alumni give back and connect with one another even during the pandemic. During her time leading the O.C. Bruins, Ebeltoft coordinated the Orange County golf tournament, which raised more than $10,000 for UCLA Alumni Scholarships. As current president emeritus of the O.C. Bruins, Ebeltoft founded the Women of UCLA committee, and she also serves as scholarship chair for UCLA.
Kristen Torres Pawling — Young Alumnus of the Year
Pawling completed her bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from UCLA in 2009 and her master’s in urban and regional planning in 2012. She served as an executive fellow in the office of the chair on California climate change policy in Sacramento, where she also joined the Sacramento Alumni Network and helped grow its young alumni program. Pawling brought her expertise to the climate crisis as an air pollution specialist for the California Air Resources Board Transportation Planning Branch and helped the Natural Resources Defense Council’s urban solutions department implement its strategic plan in Los Angeles. She is currently the sustainability program director for Los Angeles County.
Alberto Retana — UCLA Award for Community Service
Throughout his time at UCLA and into the professional world, Retana, who graduated in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, has pursued social, economic and racial justice through community building and engagement. He worked for the Obama administration as director of community outreach in the U.S. Department of Education and has helped mobilize Black and Latino voters for Community Coalition in South Los Angeles. Retana’s commitment to championing equity in Los Angeles was recognized with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Educational Equity Award and the Durfee Foundation Sabbatical Award, among others.
A. Wallace Tashima — UCLA Award for Professional Achievement
Tashima, whose long career in public service has served as an inspiration to Asian Americans in the legal profession, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA in 1958. He overcame countless barriers to attend Harvard Law School. Following his education, he became the deputy attorney general for California and would go on to serve as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was the first Japanese American jurist to be appointed to a U.S. Court of Appeals. Tashima, who assumed senior status in 2004, continues to hear cases.
Read more about the 2022 UCLA Award Recipients.