On Nov. 21, UCLA Anderson will honor Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company, with the annual John Wooden Global Leadership Award, which is given for exemplary leadership and service to the community. Proceeds from the award dinner will help fund two $25,000 John Wooden Leadership Fellowships for deserving UCLA Anderson students based on their exceptional principles-based leadership, academic merit and financial need.
One of this year’s fellowship recipients, Elliot Ling (’14), says Coach Wooden’s wisdom speaks to him daily during his early morning trips to the John Wooden Center gym. “There are some powerful quotations on the wall that really resonate with how I’ve tried to live my life,” Ling says. “One in particular, ‘Don’t let making a living get in the way of making a life,’ has resonated deeply.”
After graduating from Stanford, Ling moved to South Los Angeles with the intention of creating a purpose-filled life. “There was something that grew in me in college, that my life needed to have some purpose besides being comfortable,” he says. “My life felt like it had to be built on certain values, including making the opportunities I had as a kid available for all kids.”
Ling has spent the last eight years working on initiatives that benefit youth, particularly in low-income communities. Most recently, Elliot served as director of youth development for Servant Partners, a humanitarian organization dedicated to transforming disadvantaged urban communities. He began his career as a policy analyst for Advancement Project, researching and modeling best-practice youth development programs. Later at Green Dot Public Schools, Elliot took an operations role and led a team to improve the efficiency of teacher onboarding, enabling more resources to flow to the classroom.
But it was the simple, generous act of helping out a neighbor that has made the biggest change in Ling’s life. He and his wife welcomed Justin, a 16-year-old dropout, into their home after his family lost theirs following his step-father’s death. Over the course of a year, they helped the young man graduate from high school and build a new future. “I never thought about business school until Justin went to a school where he was receiving employment and completing high school at the same time,” Ling says. “The social enterprise that he was a part of and succeeded out of, that’s what I wrote my essay on and that’s why I came to business school in the first place.”
Ling’s MBA will serve as a launch pad to scaling his impact and extending his reach in his neighborhood and beyond.
The awards evening at The Beverly Hilton Hotel starts with a 6 p.m. cocktail reception, followed by dinner and the main program at 7 p.m. Business attire is appreciated.
Head to our Wooden Awards page for more on the event.