The Dolphin Award winners for 2021 received their awards on Sunday by the Malibu Dolphin Charitable Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by the former owners of The Malibu Times, Arnold and Karen York.
Among those who attended the ceremony were the recipients, community members, some who were also former Dolphin winners, and the Malibu City Council members, including Mayor Paul Grisanti.
“You all have done things, not because you were hoping to get a dolphin award, but because it was something you thought it would make the city and life better for your neighbors,” Grisanti said. “It’s wonderful to recognize that and it’s wonderful that we have the community that we have as a result of that and I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated over the years and the City of Malibu has benefited from it and I hope that it goes on for many many more years.”
The Yorks recognized the sponsors of the event which included Pepperdine University Vice Chancellor of Engagement and Mass Appeal and Ambassador Advisor David Johnson, Malibu Association of Realtors, Executive Director Susie Manners, The Malibu Times Publishers Hayley and Nic Mattson and West Basin Municipal Water District, represented by Scott Houston Division IV director and vice president of the board.
Thanks were also given to Dolphin board members Gail Wilburn, Scott Tallal, Craig Foster, Heidi Bernard, Terry Adamson, and Hayley and Nic Mattson.
The first award was the Harvey Baskin Award for business, which was given to local attorney Ian Roven. Roven was nominated for assisting many nonprofits, residents, and groups pro bono during the pandemic. He served as past chair and current board member of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce.
“I became a lawyer for many reasons, but the main reason was because I was taught knowledge is a gateway,” Roven said. “My law degree showed me that I can learn the rules of anyone’s game; not only did my license open doors, but showed me doors I never knew existed before. Thank you awardees for making Malibu so valuable.”
This year’s Town and Gown was awarded to the Pepperdine Ambassadors Council (PAC), which exists to serve as a link between the student body of Pepperdine University and the Malibu community, and between the administration and students.
The two students that accepted the award were Sahej Bhasin and Ryan Brinkman.
“It really means so much to us that we can make an impact and the greatest thing that I find satisfaction from is when someone says, ‘Thank you, your work has been an impact,’” Bhasin said.
Councilmember and 2012 Dolphin winner Karen Farrer presented the Education Heroes award to Malibu Middle School Principal Melisa Andino and Malibu High School Principal Patrick Miller.
“Principal Andino has gone above and beyond year in and year out,” Farrer said. “Supported and enriched students lives through her interests in them and improving all aspects for students and for her fellow teachers.”
Andino moved from Texas to Malibu in 2007 and has been a part of the Malibu School district for 15 years.
“People ask me all the time, what kept me here and it’s this community,” Andino said. “The Malibu community accepted me from day one, no matter what I did, the community has always had my back and people have really believed in me, because it’s the schools that have really become my family.”
“Thank you to the Yorks and thank you to the Malibu Dolphin Foundation for being recognized and included in the list of people here today but also the people in the last 32 years, is really, really humbling,” Miller said.
Two Malibu realtors Susan Monus and Meril May received the Malibu Business Leaders awards. Monus has been a top Malibu real estate agent for 32 years, has donated 675 smiles to Operation Smile over the years and received the John Connor Humanitarian Award in 2017.
“I’m honored to be swimming amongst the amazing pod of dolphins in this room. The excitement that we feel when we see a school of dolphins is the excitement that I feel standing here today,” Monus said. “Whenever I see a pool of dolphins, they make me smile. I hope they do the same for you because smiles are infectious.”
May was nominated for advocating on various issues to improve quality and safety in Malibu for almost two decades. He served as president of the Malibu Association of Realtors in 2014, was on the board for 13 years, and served as a volunteer leader at the MLS and California Association of Realtors. May was also a public safety commissioner from 2012-16 and participates in the Adopt-A-Highway program.
“I appreciate this; I’m so honored to be part of the dolphins because I’ve been to so many of these and the stories I’ve learned and what people have done, it’s just tremendous. I’m very much honored,” May said.
The Lifetime Service award was given to Sister Mary Pendergast, a native of Ireland with the Sisters of St. Louis order, who spent many years serving at Our Lady of Malibu. Former Principal of OLM Michael Smith accepted the award on behalf of Sister Mary Prendergast.
“Sister Mary was a magnificent addition to OLM,” Smith said. “She would automatically pop up and do something to help everyone.”
The Animal Welfare Dolphin was awarded to Jimy Tallal for her 20 years of volunteer work with local wildlife. She has participated in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of many local species, everything from sea lions to bobcats to red-tailed hawks to pelicans.
Presenting and accepting her award on behalf is Homeless Task Force member Terry Davis.
“Here is someone who opened her home and created a safe haven and lost it in the Woolsey Fire, so here’s hoping that Jimy and Scott move back home soon, so that they can again open up their home,” Davis said. “I know Jimy [Tallal] especially because she’s a writer for The Malibu Times, but she’s a person of truth and honesty and communication, and I’m very honored to be her friend and honored to receive this award for her.”
Community Service Awards were given to Marie Zweig and Stacey Rouse.
Zweig is retiring after this school year after a lifetime of service to youth and high school athletics.
Farrer presented the award to Zweig and Rouse.
“I get to work at Malibu High; it’s fun, I love what I do,” Zweig said. “I put off retiring for many years, but it’s not easy retiring, I have such a beautiful support system at Malibu High. I couldn’t do any of this without my support system.”
Rouse is head of Malibu Schools Leadership Council (MSC), which brings all the groups that support Malibu public schools together for coordination, support, advice, and joint action.
“Thank you very much, appreciate all of you. You have helped me be who I am and I’m excited to help other people be who they are,” Rouse said. “We all stand on each other’s shoulders and we all lift people up.”
The Woolsey Fire heroes were awarded to Kristin Crowley and Hollyn Bullock. The pair originally drove out to Malibu on their own time on the morning of the fire in November 2018 to assist Joyce, but ended up helping the entire neighborhood.
Now with 22 years of service at LAFD, Crowley was just sworn in as the Los Angeles’s first female fire chief. Prior to that, she had been LA’s first female fire marshal. Her wife, Bullock, is retired LAFD and also a female trailblazer in the department.
“Malibu to us is very special. It’s one of those things where the right people, the right training, the right time, that we were there to be able to protect all these homes in that neighborhood, so we feel very, very blessed that we could give back to the community that’s very, very special to our family,” Crowley said. “Any opportunity we have in the future we gladly provide our services because we care about this community. And when I think about Malibu, we think of a strong, prepared and resilient community so I want to thank all of you for doing what you’re doing in the community and every awardee today has something special which is that opportunity to give back and have that influence and impact on the community.”
The last and the most anticipated category was the Dolphin Youth Awardees. This year’s recipients are Emily Pablo, Sharlene Diaz, and Irina Columbeanu — all members of the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu — were nominated by the nonprofit organization.
Malibu SMMUSD representative Craig Foster presented the award.
“I think it’s perfect that our three youth dolphin winners are coming at the end of it because they are the beginning,” Foster said.
Pablo, a Boys & Girls Club of Malibu member for years, will be the next president of the Education Foundation Club — a club on campus that gets school supplies to youth in third-world countries.
“Being a part of the Malibu community has taught me so much about myself and has shaped me to who I am today,” Pablo said. “I would also like to thank the BGCM, who have been keeping me on the path to success and have been a second home to me. Joining the Boys & Girls Club has provided me with immense opportunities that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Columbeanu, while only a freshman at MHS, is a multi-sport athlete, competing in basketball, tennis, and track and field. Columbeanu is also a member of the Associated Student Body at Malibu High School.
“I would like to sincerely thank Karen and Arnold York as well as the Dolphin Foundation for giving me the privilege of being Dolphin of the Year,” Columbeanu said. “I could not have done this without your support and I will forever use this as a reminder to find success in my life by helping others find it in theirs.”
Diaz, while only a sophomore at Malibu High School, is setting an example for her peers by competing in multiple events for the MHS varsity track and field team while also maintaining her grades as a star student.
“I want to give thanks to the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, because through the five years that I have been attending the Boys & Girls Club, they have supported me educationally and emotionally,” Diaz said.
Karen York ended the ceremony with, “It doesn’t end here, it only starts here.”