Each year, the Malibu Dolphin Charitable Foundation Board members review and make their selection of honorees from a multitude of nominations submitted by the community. And although each nominee is worthy of Dolphin Award consideration, the process and decision are made with great care and deliberation.
The Malibu Dolphin Charitable Foundation was founded by the former owners of The Malibu Times, Arnold and Karen York. Current board members are Karen and Arnold York, Scott Tallal, Terry Adamson, Gail Wilburn, Heidi Bernard, Craig Foster, Kasey Earnest, and Hayley and Nic Mattson.
“The Dolphin Award recipients for 2021 represent a diverse group of individuals and organizations who have provided invaluable services to Malibu in almost every area imaginable,” Karen York stated. ”We are so very fortunate to enjoy the contributions and dedication of so many. This is the magic that makes our community so very special!”
Over the years, an average of 10 people or organizations have been recognized with an in-person ceremony to receive their Dolphin Award. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the 2020 award ceremony was postponed and jointly recognized in an outdoor ceremony last year. This year an in-person ceremony will be held at the Malibu West Beach Club on Sunday, May 1.
Along with the awards ceremonies, the Malibu Dolphin Foundation also gives a stipend to its Malibu Youth Dolphin winners for scholarships when funds are available.
As a special to The Malibu Times, the following awardees are the 2021 Dolphin Award Recipients.
The Harvey Baskin Award for Business
Local attorney Ian Roven and his business, The Malibu Lawyer, 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, and has given his time to emcee and chair the Malibu Chamber Women’s Leadership Awards, the Conversations with Council Member events and others.
Community Service Award
Stacy 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. She’s also on the Malibu Facilities District Advisory Committee, which has the final say on how millions of dollars in Malibu bond money is spent; and served as PTA president at Webster Elementary.
Stacey is now considered to be one of the most “senior” and experienced schools leadership people in Malibu.
Community Service Award
Marie Zweig is retiring at the end of this school year after a lifetime of service to youth and high school athletics. As a Malibu High School athletic trainer since 2001, she “has been a constant presence for all boys’ and girls’ sports at all levels of play for MHS. In this role, she has cared for thousands of our young people and has been a reassuring presence for parents,” the nomination stated.
Dolphin Youth Awardee
Sharlene Diaz, while only a sophomore at MHS, is a leader and active athlete, 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. At Boys & Girls Club of Malibu (BGCM), she’s a leader in Brent’s Club and Leaders-in-Training, helping to promote healthy lifestyles and leadership skills among her peers. She regularly participates in community service activities and programs, and is a kind person with a great attitude, known to always set the right example for those around her.
Town and Gown Award
Pepperdine Ambassadors Council (PAC)
The Pepperdine Ambassadors Council (PAC) exists to serve as a link between the student body of Pepperdine University and the Malibu community; and also a link between the administration and students. They represent all Pepperdine students at official university events. Pepperdine Ambassadors are students with full academic, service and social obligations that have unselfishly, graciously, competently, and consistently made themselves available to assist in multiple community activities and nonprofit organizations in Malibu whenever called upon.
Animal Welfare Dolphin
Jimy spent 20 years doing volunteer work with local wildlife. She spent 10 years as a volunteer shift supervisor at a local wildlife facility, with frequent call-outs from home in the early days to investigate reports of sick or injured marine mammals and birds on local beaches. She participated in the rescue, rehabilitation and release of many local species — everything from sea lions to bobcats to red-tailed hawks to pelicans and songbirds. The next 10 years were spent raising orphaned wild baby mammals on her own property, including tree squirrels, raccoons, rabbits and opossums (operating under state license of other local wildlife rehabilitators). She is still on hiatus after the Woolsey Fire burnt the property.
Malibu Business Leaders Award
Susan Monus has been a top Malibu real estate agent for 32 years; and shows her appreciation for what she has achieved by generously giving back to charities. In 2010, she was honored by “A Place Called Home” nonprofit, which delivers programs and services to youth and families in South Central LA, for making a large donation. She was also honored by Operation Smile with their John Connor Humanitarian Award in 2017 for donating 675 smiles (surgeries for cleft lips and palates) over the years. She also supports a number of nonprofits right here in Malibu: The Special Education Foundation, Malibu Urgent Care, Malibu Community Labor Exchange, Children’s Lifesaving Foundation, Malibu Elementary School, the Shark Fund, Hand-in-Hand, and the Emily Shane Foundation.
She underwrites the Malibu Board of Realtors scholarship for the Malibu High student that best exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit. Students write essays to apply for the award, which Susan loves to review each year.
For a number of years, Susan read to the first-graders at Point Dume every week, which was great fun for her. She was also a major sponsor of the mural in the Point Dume Library.
Lifetime Service Award
Sister Mary Pendergast
A native of Ireland with the Sisters of St. Louis order, Sister Mary Pendergast was a force for years at the Our Lady of Malibu (OLM) Church and School, offering spiritual guidance and volunteering at school and church-sponsored events with a “wonderful Irish greeting” for all. She is a Eucharistic minister, bringing Holy Communion to sick and homebound, and assisted in celebrating Holy Communion during the 5 p.m. Saturday Mass. She would cover for members who were sick, and attend all the Holiday Masses and funerals of church members. Sister Mary volunteered at every fundraiser: setting up the event, cooking, selling raffle tickets, and cleaning up. She packed backpacks with school supplies and Christmas gifts from the Magi for the Mexican mission that OLM supports, sang Christmas carols at the community manger scene, and meditated every year at the Pepperdine 9/11 flags. Sister Mary would feed the birds and animals, and never complained when hungry deer ate all her outdoor houseplants after the Woolsey Fire. “It is God’s Plan,” she told people.
“We miss her happy smile and all her hard work,” the nominator wrote.
Woolsey Fire Heroes
Kristin Crowley and Hollyn Bullock
After spending a grueling 16 hours of firefighting with nothing more than buckets, garden hoses, and old personal protective equipment, Kristin Crowley and Hollyn Bullock managed to save eight houses directly in the path of the Woolsey Fire, with no help whatsoever. The houses, all located on Avenida de la Encinal in Malibu, include the residence of Hollyn’s elderly mother, Joyce.
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. The residents followed their instructions for preparing their houses, and then all evacuated, leaving Hollyn and Kristin behind to defend the properties in horrendous conditions of black smoke and flames for hours and hours. At times, the two had to split up, with no way of communicating while fighting the fires apart. They were true heroes.
Now with 22 years of service at LAFD, Crowley was just sworn in as the City of LA’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.
Dolphin Youth Awardee
Irina Columbeanu, while only a freshman at MHS, is a multi-sport athlete, competing in basketball, tennis, and track and field.
As a member of the Associated Student Body (student activities) at Malibu High School, she advocates and promotes student involvement at school and in the community.
Her passion for communication, both written and spoken, has brought success in multiple clubs and disciplines, including Model UN, Mock Trial, and Positive Poets. She was recently the only ninth-grader to receive a nomination for the 2022 Youth of the Year event at BGCM, where she competed against upperclassmen by giving a prepared speech and submitting an extensive portfolio of her achievements.
Irina is active in Leaders-in-Training, where she volunteered for dozens of hours for service projects like building robotic mobility devices for children with disabilities.
During her freshman year, she helped found the Brent’s Club charter on the MHS campus (a club that advocates a drug-free lifestyle) which she currently serves as president.
Irina is an advocate for change, and a strong believer in creating equitable resources for all, and is always looking for ways to include others. In addition to her many extracurricular activities, Irina is a scholar who prides herself on academic excellence and hopes to one day become a lawyer, neurosurgeon, or writer.
Dolphin Youth Awardee
A Boys & Girls Club of Malibu (BGCM) member for years, Emily Pablo will be the next president of the Education Foundation Club — a club on campus that gets school supplies to youth in third-world countries.
“Emily will lead it in her way, examining situations through considerable lenses and encouraging her peers to be open to diverse ways of thinking,” the nomination said. She also participates in various other BGCM programs, school clubs, and extracurricular activities; including Empowered Voices, Brent’s Club, LIT, DEI programs, and Kollab.
“Emily’s tenacity is admirable; she constantly sets goals and diligently achieves them,” her nominator continued. “She’s very focused on creating a future with meaning and purpose; is an advocate for others, and utilizes her voice for change within the community.
“Emily is committed to a healthy lifestyle and encourages her peers to do the same. She never hesitates to facilitate conversations around the benefits of living a drug-free life. In addition, she’s a scholar student that’s always eager to learn and diversify her thinking. She’s on the fast track for graduation by taking college courses in the summer and being strategic with her class selections.
“Emily Pablo is an avid reader and an exceptional writer — her ability to tell a story thoughtfully and magically is phenomenal. She aspires to be a journalist, utilizing her gifts for writing to change the world.”
Malibu Business Leaders Award
May was nominated for “tirelessly advocating” on various issues to improve quality and safety in Malibu for almost two decades; and always being engaged in improving the community for residents and visitors.
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 Multiple Listing Service and California Association of Realtors.
Outside of work, May was appointed Public Safety Commissioner from 2012 to 2016 and participates in the Adopt-A-Highway program. He became a member of a special Pacific Coast Highway Safety Task Force, and has worked with the city to reduce water consumption during the current drought and advocate a “Green Visitor Economy.”
“Safety on PCH, county and city roadways, is an intense concern of Meril’s,” the nomination stated. “While traveling the roads by car, bicycle, or by foot, Meril observes items which can improve safety and reduce hazards, and reports such items to Caltrans, the City of Malibu, and the County of LA. These include tree branches and debris in the roadway; damaged, blocked, or missing signs; fire hazards close to the roadways; and other unsafe conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.”
“Meril is unwilling to accept safety flaws in PCH and local roadways, as seen in his relentless appeals to all parties that could remedy the situation,” the nomination continued. “I’m certain Meril’s actions have averted fatalities, and this is a huge contribution. His caring and concern show no limit. We’re lucky to have him as a concerned member of the community.”
Principal Melisa Andino of Malibu Middle School
Principal Patrick Miller of Malibu High School
“Even under ’normal’ circumstances, each of these educators (Melisa Andino and Parick Miller) is worthy of this award,” the nomination read, “but the past few years have been anything but ’normal.’” They are nominated for being the “captains at the helm of their respective ships through multiple once-in-a-lifetime storms. First, there was the Woolsey Fire [in 2018] … with many students severely impacted by residential displacement and loss; not to mention weeks of school closures with the entire city evacuated. Then there was the COVID-19 pandemic with … the challenges of mastering, for a prolonged period, the ‘zoom classroom’ and the accompanying academic, social, psychological challenges and the efforts to return to onsite learning with its ever-changing series of mandates, requirements, rules and guidelines … Both of these top educational professionals provided the leadership to students, parents and the community which was so desperately needed during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
But neither of them ever complained — not even once. Each of them has been unwavering in their devotion, dedication, caring and love for the students of MMS and MHS. A community is many things, but certainly raising the community’s children is paramount, and the community’s schools are at the epicenter of that effort.
I have never attended a school concert, play or performance where at least one of them was not in attendance — and always wearing a beaming smile of pride. They each know every single student’s name, personality, strengths, weaknesses and family situation. I have seen Principals Andino and Miller ‘work the crowd’ at school functions with impeccable knowledge, insight and recall of everyone in the audience. And at graduation ceremonies, [it’s like their own] sons or daughters are graduating; [judging by] the love and pride they unabashedly projected as they presided over those ceremonies. How lucky are we, the residents of Malibu, to be able to entrust what is most dear to us — our children — to these extraordinary people.
A few years ago, Andino was prepping to begin a normal school year as an advanced algebra and mathematics teacher when the principal of MMS resigned, leaving a gigantic gap that the district needed to fill ASAP. Andino stepped right in and, while I’m confident she would argue otherwise, a seamless transition occurred. She rose to the occasion working crazy-long hours to get herself and the school up to speed for the stewardship of a new principal, in a brand new school building. And she did so with grace, poise, professionalism and always a smile on her face. She successfully morphed from classroom teacher to school administrator, never forgetting what it’s like to be a great teacher or what goes on in the classroom. She makes time each and every day to ‘pop her head in’ to classrooms just to keep tabs on what’s going on.
She is well respected by the students, teachers and staff, and always wears a smile on her face for everyone she interacts with.
If you’ve ever been on Morningview Drive around 3:30 p.m. on a weekday, the poor guy holding the stop sign and directing traffic is none other than Principal Miller. Now, that’s going above and beyond! If your kid has a problem, Principal Miller will be there to address it and, shockingly, he will not rush and will devote all the time in the world to MHS students to work through and resolve whatever problem they may have. If you, as a parent, need to discuss some something with Principal Miller on a Friday night – no problem. Your kid is his kid, so he’ll make time for you on a Friday night. He is that devoted. Principal Miller remembers what it was like to be a teacher, so he is well-regarded and respected by all of the students, teachers and staff.