Alumni Awardees 2014
Celebrate awardees during the all-alumni brunch on Saturday, Oct. 18
Alumna of the Year recognizes a graduate with a distinguished professional career, who models a life of the Christian principles and values learned at Westmont, and who has made significant contributions at work and in the community, bringing honor and distinction to Westmont.
Kristin Olsen ’96
Assembly Republican Leader-Elect Kristin Olsen was first elected to the California State Assembly in November 2010 and re-elected for a second term in November 2012. She represents the 12th Assembly District, which encompasses parts of San Joaquin and Stanislaus Counties in California’s Central Valley. When she becomes leader this fall, she will be the first mother of school-aged children to serve as leader of a Republican or Democratic caucus in the California Legislature.
Kristin is a committed and respected leader with a reputation for reform, problem-solving and hard work. Born, raised and now raising her own family in Modesto, she has a passion for the communities, businesses, and people of California’s Central Valley communities. She previously served on the Modesto City Council from 2005 to 2009, where she stood up for fiscal responsibility, public safety and economic development.
In 2012, she was selected by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation for its prestigious Emerging Leaders Program, which brought together rising leaders, both Republicans and Democrats, from all over the United States to participate in a conference at the University of Virginia.
During her time in the State Assembly, Kristin successfully passed reforms to environmental, education, and veteran’s policies in order to protect and grow jobs and facilitate educational excellence. She also has been a leader on introducing reforms to enhance government accountability and transparency, and has led by example as the first legislator to release her office budget to the public.
In support of working families and small businesses, Kristin has introduced and co-authored bills that would update California’s antiquated labor code to allow working parents and employers more flexible scheduling options.
After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Westmont in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies, Kristin was selected to participate in the prestigious Senate Fellowship Program, where she developed a passion for public service. She has spent her career in marketing in communications roles, including the assistant vice president for communications and public affairs at California State University, Stanislaus, where she directed the university’s marketing and communications programs.
Olsen and her husband, Rod, live in Modesto with their three children.
Young Alumni Award recognizes a graduate of the past 10 years with a distinguished professional career, who shows promise for the future, and who models a life of the Christian principles and values learned at Westmont.
Daniel Zia ’06
Daniel started his first business his junior year in high school, and the success of this endeavor allowed him to pay his way through Westmont, where he met his wife, Sarah Smith ’06. Intent on staying in Santa Barbara, he moved into residential real estate the summer before his senior year, just as the market started to decline.Thanks to the grace of God and the support of family and friends, he weathered the first years of building the business.
Nine years later, he owns the Zia Group, a boutique real estate firm, and serves as CEO. His seven-member team, which includes Kyle Gates ’06 and Jacob Biever ’12, sells more homes in the greater Santa Barbara area than any other.Readers’ polls in both the Santa Barbara Independent and Santa Barbara News-Press have voted him No. 1 realtor.
Daniel entered Santa Barbara real estate at 21, newly married and unknown in the area. His only contacts came from a few alumni he met at networking events held by the Westmont Business Society, which he founded. To set himself apart, Daniel focused on becoming a real estate adviser—someone always available to provide neutral advice but never hounding others for business or pushing his clients to sell. While this approach created slower growth, it built the type of business that gave him pride. Over time, these authentic relationships became the foundation for a culture that produced results professionally and personally.
Daniel has always had a pastoral heart and wrote a daily devotional to several hundred students while at Westmont. His desire to encourage people in their Christian faith merges with his analytical mind and entrepreneurial drive, creating a vocation he calls a real estate pastor. For Christian clients, he puts the focus on God from the beginning to the end, praying through issues that arise, encouraging spiritual growth and allowing God time and room to move and work.
Daniel and Sarah give back locally through their involvement with Young Life, the Unity Shoppe, the Santa Barbara Foundation, and the Westmont Young Alumni Council. They also participate in and fund economic development, microfinance and relief work abroad. Daniel mentors students and recent graduates struggling with the transition to the working world. He and have two children, 3 and 8 months.
The Global Service Awardhonors an alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated faithful service in furthering God’s kingdom in the international, missionary or non-profit world, and who embodies faith in a diverse, complex and quickly changing society as a citizen and servant of the world.
Byron ’82 and Lisa Repko ’84 Borden
Byron grew up in Kenya, where his parents served as missionaries, and he finished his last two years of high school in Colorado before enrolling at Westmont to play soccer. The spiritual and academic atmosphere at Westmont helped him deepen his faith, and following Christ became his true passion in life.
Lisa grew up in Sweden, England and Southern California, also the child of missionaries. She followed her older sister, Tanya Repko Randall ’80, to Westmont and discovered that her faith stands up to academic query. She loved the academic rigor and various expressions of faith in Christ at Westmont.
Byron and Lisa met when he was a junior and she was a freshman. They married in August 1982 after Byron graduated. They left for Kenya in1984, after Lisa graduated, arriving the week she turned 22. They have devoted their lives to full-time, cross-cultural service.
Byron and Lisa served in Kenya until 2000, when they moved to Europe to work closely with Marty ’81 and Carey Fanoe ’85 Uhler in church planting and discipleship. In 2007, they returned to East Africa, settling in Tanzania, where they focus on empowering local men and women through discipleship and helping them generate more income.
In 2013, they launched Wema Ventures, an organization dedicated to facilitating spiritual and economic transformation (http://www.wemaventures.org). The Bordens believe the best assistance comes through relationships that empower and nurture the whole person. Committed to and inspired by Christ, they seek to alleviate poverty while encouraging an active faith in a loving God.
Byron considers enterprise, the development of small to medium sized businesses, the best approach to the desperate poverty and broken economies on the continent he loves. Lisa nurtures new Christians and seeks to develop simple, authentic faith among those she meets.
Married 31 years, Byron and Lisa have four children, including two who graduated from Westmont and one who is a current student. Maybe the fourth, still in high school, will choose Westmont as well. They also have two daughters-in-law who also graduated from Westmont.