Magazine Fall 2023 HOMECOMING Celebrates All Ages

Return of the Warriors Homecoming 2023

The Return of the Warriors, Homecoming 2023, welcomed nearly 400 alums back to Westmont October 13-15. Class years ending in 3 or 8 reunited throughout the weekend, with a special 25th reunion dinner honoring the class of 1998.

A wide range of activities engaged alums. They could revisit their student days by attending classes, hearing Greg Spencer, professor emeritus of communication studies, speak in chapel and viewing students’ projects at the Celebration of Summer Research.

Alums could cheer Warrior teams in their first season as members of the PacWest, a NCAA Division II conference. The women’s volleyball team defeated Dominican 3-0 and Academy of Arts 3-1. Men’s soccer won its game against Azusa Pacific 3-1, and women’s soccer tied APU 2-2. On Saturday afternoon, children enjoyed the Kid’s Fair, and alums from the past 10 years gathered on the observatory deck.

Returnees could delve into the past by perusing yearbooks from the 1950s through the 1980s in Hieronymus Lounge or connect with the present by joining students in a trivia contest. The Potter’s Clay core team invited past participants to hear about their plans for the spring.

Westmont’s theatrical production of “Godspell” overlapped with Homecoming, allowing alums to enjoy this popular musical. At special nighttime viewings, alums could gaze through the college’s powerful Keck Telescope at the Westmont Observatory. Saturday morning, they could also see the annular solar eclipse with special glasses.

At the festive Alumni Awards Celebration, Westmont recognized four outstanding individuals who’ve made contributions in a variety of endeavors locally and globally. They share common traits, including a strong faith and a desire to serve others.

Homecoming 2023 Alumni Award

Pictured (left to right): Jay Diallo, Carl LaBarbera, President Beebe, Gabriella Avila, Jenise Steverding

Jay (Ofori) Diallo ’08


Jay is CEO and founder of First Community Capital (FCC), a Community Development Financial Institution serving economically disadvantaged micro and rural businesses in Riverside County, Temecula and Gardena. FCC provides capital and technical assistance especially to people of color, including women, veterans, refugees, immigrants and those impacted by the justice system. A political refugee, Jay received support from his guardian, Tom Ghormley, and a scholarship from David ’63 and Anna Grotenhuis to earn a degree in political science at Westmont. Student body president and a resident assistant, he received the David K. Winter Servant Leadership Award. Jay also created and incorporated Global Children’s Fund, establishing orphanages and water wells in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo and providing school supplies and backpacks in Nigeria. The president of the Rotary Club of Temecula Valley New Generations, Jay earned SBA Microlender Lender of the Year in 2019 and received a 2018-2019 Service to Humanity award from the Rotary Club of Tucson Sunrise. Jay and Raina (Link) ’08 live in Temecula with their two children.

Carl LaBarbera ’76


Carl is the founder and president of Kingdomworks SDG Foundation, which serves nonprofit organizations by “maximizing capacity to complete their mission.” A Govern Fellow and governance systems professional with experience in board governance and organizational development, he has served as board chairman for World Impact Inc. since 2013, and he spent 17 years with Urban Youth Workers Institute. Previously chairman of the Executive Board of Elders of Grace Brethren Church Long Beach, he continues as an executive board elder and governance coach for the church. Carl has served as chairman for the Barnabas Group National and Kingdom Advisors. He drew on his liberal arts education at Westmont and Christian worldview as an owner/entrepreneur in the aerospace industry for 24 years. Carl and his wife, Robin, president of LaBarbera Learning Solutions LLC, live in Seal Beach, California. Their children, Ben ’04 and Rachel Vreeland ’06, both graduated from Westmont.

Jenise Steverding ’97


Jenise serves as the chief impact officer at Gifts for Good, which offers premium gifts made by nonprofit or social enterprise partners to support their mission. A sociology major and business and economics minor, she participated in Westmont’s Mayterm in Europe and spent a life-changing semester at the San Francisco Urban Program. She has forged a career blending a knack for logistics with addressing social needs worldwide. She worked in the private sector before attending business school in Milan, Italy, where she studied township renewal outside Johannesburg, South Africa. She then worked in relief and development for an NGO, Giving Children Hope. At TOMS Giving, she recruited, hired, trained and led the global account team and partnerships, scaling global shoe-giving from 1 million to 50 million pairs. The first woman on the management team at Pledgeling (social-enterprise in tech), she was an early member of Corporate Partnerships for the Special Olympics World Games 2015, bridging philanthropy and marketing. She also serves on the board of Water for Good.

Gabriella Pinheiro Chavez Avila ’14


Gabriella is a counselor in California’s largest school district: Los Angeles Unified. She meets regularly with her middle school students, helping them overcome chronic absenteeism, homelessness, food insecurity and transportation needs. With parents from Brazil and El Salvador, Gabriella seeks to use her multicultural and bilingual skills to serve diverse communities. At Westmont, she earned degrees in communication studies and Spanish, co-directed Potter’s Clay VBS, volunteered at a Guatemalan orphanage with Emmaus Road and received the David K. Winter Servant Leadership Award. After graduating, Gabriella worked for Olive Crest, which helps at-risk youth in Southern California. She advised families transitioning from fostering to adopting and offered post-adoption support, skills she now uses with her students. She earned a master’s degree in social work from Long Beach State and is working toward certification as a licensed clinical social worker, advocating for clients through the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice. She also serves on Westmont’s Hispanic Advisory Board.