Ode to Women!

We all know women who make life special, breaking barriers in business and helping so many in need while forging new ground and pursuing their goals with fearless fortitude. Here, we celebrate a few fabulous local ladies whose vision and commitment to community serve as a bright light to all.

Barbara Freund, PhD, President Allied Artists

“If you think you can do a thing or you think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” —Henry Ford  

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Barbara grew up on the East Coast, pursuing career goals, including a PhD. She lived in the Mid-Atlantic area with her husband and two children, working as a research scientist at the local medical school and “trying to find enough time to paint the local landscapes.” 

Barbara and her husband moved to Malibu when their children graduated college and pursued graduate programs. Having recently tired from her position as a college dean, Barbara now happily paints full time. She enjoys plein air painting with the Allied Artists, a nonprofit group of local painters dedicated to preservation and conservation of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Her paintings will be on exhibit at King Gillette Ranch in August, with a portion of her sales dedicated to support conservation efforts. As the artist of P22: The Park, a children's book about L.A.'s beloved mountain lion P22 and his life in Griffith Park, Barbara is donating all sales proceeds to support the Wallis Annenberg Wildlife Crossing. 

Greatest Accomplishment(s): Raising two children and instilling in them the virtues of hard work, discipline and, most importantly, being kind to others and making a difference.

I established an older driver research and assessment clinic where I developed an assessment algorithm that was awarded a U.S. Patent. The clinic received referrals from physicians throughout the area as well as from the state DMV Medical Review Board. I also developed a novel screening test for fitness to drive evaluations that led to interviews on CBS News “Eye on America,” “Good Morning America” and People Magazine. I am proud of the fact that the screening test is part of the American Medical Association’s Guide for Physicians.

Greatest Lesson: I’ve learned that when a good opportunity presents itself, I’ve always benefitted by acting on it. As Wayne Gretzky said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Words of Wisdom: Being kind is more important than being important.

Giving Back: Advisory Board, Men Educating Men About Health, 2010-present

I donate a portion of the sales from my paintings to local rescue groups. Donations are based on painting themes, for example, beach paintings target marine mammal rescue, western paintings target equine rescues, landscapes target conservation and preservation groups, etc.

Awards & Accolades:

  • Woman of the Year, Men Educating Men About Health, 2019
  • American Geriatrics Society New Investigator Award, 2002
  • Recent juried art awards:
    • July 2022: Plein Air Salon, July: Finalist, “Late Afternoon at Bluffs Park”
    • June 2022: Western Art Competition, Fusion Art Gallery, Award for Artistic Excellence, “Trail Talk”
    • June 2022: Art of Surf, Malibu City Hall, Malibu

Future Goals: Always improve my artwork.

Inspiration: I am inspired by the beautiful natural environment here. Painting causes me to notice more (even when I’m not painting), and each painting may start a conversation with a viewer about shared experiences and important memories.  

R&R: Painting, hiking with our dogs, mountain biking.

Bernice Ledbetter, EdD, Dean of Students, Director, Center for Women in Leadership, Faculty, Organizational Theory and Management, Pepperdine Graziadio Business School

"I'm convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they're stones that don't matter. As long as you're breathing, it's never too late to do some good.” —Maya Angelou

Dr. Ledbetter teaches graduate-level courses across a range of leadership topics. As Dean of Students, she addresses the needs of Pepperdine Graziadio Business School students and alumni. She founded the Center for Women in Leadership and conducts research authoring several articles and book chapters on women in leadership.

She is often quoted in news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the LA Business Journal and U.S. News and World Report. Dr. Ledbetter is a frequent keynote speaker on topics related to her research, sharing insights with international audiences, industry groups and large organizations including Fortune 500.

She encourages people to reach for their dreams.

“If you want something to change, change the narrative, whether that is the chatter inside an organization or inside your head. Infuse your organization and your mind with the best possible outcomes you can dream of.”

Greatest Accomplishment(s): Starting the Center for Women in Leadership at Pepperdine University in 2015. This was a dream of mine that became a reality.

Doing noble work every single day through teaching, conducting research and leading. I have the great and wonderful opportunity to work and lead from purpose and create a ripple effect by strengthening students who positively impact their communities, organizations, businesses and the world.

Greatest Lesson: One great lesson learned is the concept of impermanence: Bad times will come to an end and good times do not last forever. Therefore, it is good to make the best of every moment.

Words of Wisdom: “No” means not now—sometimes the conditions are insufficient for a dream to be realized. “No” is an invitation to continue preparing for your aspiration, don’t let “no” deter you from the quest to follow your passion.

Giving Back: My charitable activity consists of supporting public radio, sponsoring children in Africa and India and supporting women around the world.

Awards & Accolades:

  • Trailblazer Award, presented by Leadership California
  • “Above and Beyond” Faculty Award, Graziadio Alumni Network Leadership Council, Pepperdine University
  • George Award, named after George Graziadio, the benefactor at the Business School, Pepperdine University
  • Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence, Pepperdine University

Future Goals: To continue working with women to make a lasting and positive difference in the world.

Inspiration: I am inspired by women who inspire, especially Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown.

I am also inspired by sacred texts from multiple perspectives.

R&R: Hiking, reading, spending time with my two granddaughters, Rose and Goldie.

Ellen Shane, Executive Director, The Emily Shane Foundation, Wife & Mother!  

Never give up!

Born in Montreal, Canada, Ellen attended McGill University where she graduated from the faculty of management with a bachelor’s degree in management and a minor in organizational behavior and personnel. She started her career at Xerox Corp, and then turned to social services, where she facilitated programs to help university students find jobs. Following this, she returned to the business world, working in IT, until she opted to focus on her family and being a mom when her first child was born in 1989.

Relocating to L.A. in 1996 when her daughter Emily was born, Ellen was actively involved in her children’s schools, serving as room mother and on the PTSA. Her life tragically changed when Emily was murdered by a driver in April 2010. She and her husband went on to create The Emily Shane Foundation, a nonprofit geared to help underserved middle schoolers succeed.

“Helping young students at a critical time in their life and development is incredibly rewarding,” says Ellen, who works tirelessly as the executive director of the SEA (Successful Educational Achievement) Program to make a difference in students’ lives.

Greatest Accomplishment(s):

  • Having chosen the right man to marry! We have never been happier after 36 years.
  • Being an invested mom who did my best for our children to thrive. They are now adults, and I treasure the relationships we have today.
  • Creating the SEA Program and making it a reality; relishing every student’s success no matter how small.
  • Publishing the children’s book I wrote.
  • Fostering friendships and holding those who are dear to me close.

Greatest Lesson: After dealing with the worst loss a parent can face, the lesson I have learned is that life will always throw us challenges; we must learn to work through them and deal with them as best we can. Stay positive! We are here for a reason and should make the most of each day. Appreciate the blessings in life. I strive to be my best self.

Words of Wisdom: Believe in yourself and follow your passion; persevere even when facing challenges that seem insurmountable.

Giving Back: Ellen is devoted to educational equity to make it possible for all children to succeed and achieve their dreams and goals.

Awards & Accolades:

  • Lifetime Legacy Award, Malibu/Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce, Nov. 2022
  • KNX Helpful Honda Hero, Oct. 2018
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, The Office of the President of the United States, May 2016
  • 2013 Citizen of the Year, The Dolphin Award, The Malibu Times, March 2014
  • Mother of the Year, The Malibu Times, May 2013

Future Goals: Achieve a viable and sustainable future pathway for The Emily Shane Foundation. Stay active and healthy. Continue to pursue passions that give my life meaning.

Inspiration: Helen Keller, Sylvia Earle, Margaret Bourke-White, Elizabeth Kubler Ross

R&R: Fitness, JAM Malibu, reading, walking, spending time with friends and family

Related Businesses

Related Articles