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Non-Profit Leaders to Address CBA’s Notable Speakers Series

Published: March 1, 2010

From helping incarcerated youngsters and those at the end of life, to a multifaceted crusade for children, animals and the planet, three diverse Long Beach non-profit leaders will share their insights Tuesday, March 2, from 7-9 p.m. during the Notable Speakers Series at CSULB.

Addressing the topic “Nonprofit Leadership: Making a Difference by Serving Others,” this second installment of the Notable Speakers Series will feature Melanie Washington, founder of Mentoring A Touch From Above (MATFA); Cindy Skovgard, executive director of Pathways Volunteer Hospice, and Justin Rudd, founder of Community Action Team (CAT).

CSULB’s College of Business Administration’s (CBA) Notable Speaker Series was established to add relevance to current students’ learning experiences and to offer opportunities for professional development and intellectual engagement to students, alumni, staff, faculty and the community.

“My words [during the Notable Speakers Series] will focus on giving back after you have gone through the trials and tribulations of life,” said Washington. “In life I would go through the worst of times, then get up and take the hand of someone else who may have been going through what I just came out of. This is leading by example, working with others who may not feel like working with me.”

Washington has experienced more than her share of violence. When she was very young, she saw gangs, domestic violence and prejudice tear her family and community apart. Her mother, sister and husband were all murdered. Then, in December 1995, her 19-year-old son was killed by a young gang member he had befriended, taken into his home and tried to help.

MATFA serves youths aged 10-25 who are incarcerated in the juvenile detention centers and California Youth Authority. Many young lives have been turned around through MATFA with program graduates working at stable jobs and attending college, enabling them to become as asset rather than a threat to their communities.

“MATFA is all about my life and the struggles. We teach those less fortunate in life and those who have been or are incarcerated to get up and take hold of life in a positive way, and then turn around and help someone else,” said Washington.

Rudd is the founder and director of a nonprofit organization the Community Action Team. Its mission is to promote social well-being within the general public and to produce quality events within the community that benefit children, animals and the environment.

Rudd has received numerous awards for his community activism, including the 2004 Outstanding Young Californian Award presented by the California Jaycees Foundation.


“During my speech I’ll share how my upbringing in small-town Alabama prepared me for big-city life and service here in Long Beach, as well as how I’ve created my nonprofit to do the things I love,” said Rudd. “I will also cover the past, present and future of CAT and how I have focused my more than 30 annual events and projects in three areas: environment, animals and youth. In addition, I’ll explain how my non-profit works in relations to my diverse portfolio, since I am also a photographer, fitness trainer and pageant interview coach.”

Pathways is a community-based volunteer hospice. It began as a community outreach program in 1985 that was developed by Lakewood Regional Medical Center. Skovgard’s 28 years of experience in community relations, fundraising and nonprofit management has helped Pathways gain its reputation in the Long Beach/Lakewood community as the organization people turn to for hospice, volunteer care-giving and bereavement support.

For the past 14 years, Skovgard has coordinated Pathways’ programs and services, in addition to community outreach efforts that include volunteer training, grant writing, a speaker’s bureau, and a number of community collaborations. Her professional affiliations include the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, National Association of Home Care and Hospice, Volunteer Hospice Network, Los Angeles County Commission on Aging, Women’s Business Council of Long Beach and Soroptimist International of Lakewood/Long Beach.

About the Notable Speakers Series
The Notable Speakers Series will take place on select Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. in the CBA building Room 140A during the 2010 spring semester and feature renowned professionals from a variety of fields who will share their expertise on leading-edge business issues.

There is no cost to attend, but reservations are required. Visitors to the campus must purchase a $4 parking permit at the yellow kiosk in Lot 15. To register or learn more about the Notable Speaker Series and its speakers”>visit its Web site..

–Paul Browning