Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award Celebration

Over 185 community leaders gathered at the Terrace Theater in downtown Long Beach this fall to celebrate presentation of the annual Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award. Hosted by the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership, the 2022 award event honored Taryn Williams, a CSULB College of Business alumna currently earning a Ph.D. in organizations and management at UC Irvine. As a former foster youth and formerly incarcerated woman, Taryn’s leadership journey demonstrates the importance of education, inclusion, respect, gratitude, and second chances.

The Ukleja Center’s annual $10,000 award is given to a person or organization whose contribution to a community – local, national, or global – is built on ethical behavior and visionary leadership. It is designed to promote ethics in leadership and to honor the Woodens, whose lives epitomized the Ukleja Center’s mission, vision, and values.

The evening’s festivities began with a sunset reception on the Terrace plaza before moving onto the beautifully-lit theater’s stage. Many corporate sponsors hosted a student and/or CSULB faculty member with their other guests, making for stimulating table conversations. The dinner program began with Janey Roeder, director, and Jane Close Conoley, CSULB president, warmly welcoming everyone on behalf of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership and the University. They shared the center’s vision of having an ethics module in every CSULB course through its Ethics Across the Curriculum program, which awards $3,000 stipends to faculty who integrate ethics modules into their curriculum. Since 2005, the Ukleja Center has awarded $400,000 to over 150 faculty.

Board chair Mark Guillen greeted attendees and encouraged them to join him in embracing the center’s mission of equipping people with the transformational power of ethical leadership. Gerontology professor Maria Claver shared a faculty member’s perspective on teaching ethics and the difference it is making in her students’ lives. Myles Williams, a program graduate, shared the impact of the center’s Student Leadership Institute and how it helped shape his core values and build a strong foundation for ethical decision-making. President Conoley championed the center’s vision before introducing Taryn Williams, who shared her powerful and moving story of turning trauma into triumph.

The inspirational evening culminated with presentation of the Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award to Taryn Williams by Mark Guillen and Greg Wooden, Nell and John’s grandson. Greg remarked that Taryn’s focus on the importance of education and being a positive role model for her children reminded him of his grandparents, who would have been so pleased to see Taryn receiving this award.
The evening concluded with Janey Roeder expressing her gratitude to everyone for their support of the event, which raised over $60,000 for Ethics Across the Curriculum as well as many new friends of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership.