Ensuring Diversity in the Student Body
"I give to Anderson because I want to see more people like me in the school," says Kimberly Freeman, UCLA Anderson FEMBA class of 2002.
Because of the underrepresentation of certain minorities in the nation's MBA programs, top private schools often have funds to promote minority diversity. Freeman, an African-American and the first person in her family to go to college, points out, "Other schools have the means to throw more money at the students, so if their options allow underrepresented minorities to go to those other schools, chances are UCLA Anderson won't be able to win."
As a result, her personal mission is to help UCLA Anderson raise enough money to find and attract the nation's top African-American students. This is a great challenge, especially now, because UCLA Anderson is moving away from state aid to become more self-supporting. Now more than ever, increasing the program's donations is the alumni's responsibility. Freeman knows this first-hand. She served as president of the school's African-American Alumni Association for two years and helped establish the Alfred E. Osborne Jr. Fellowship for African-American Students. She believes that donations, no matter how small, could fund grants, fellowships and build an endowment that will place the school on financial par with private MBA institutions.
"The biggest myth about philanthropy is that you have to be a wealthy industrialist to make a difference," says Freeman. "But a little bit goes a long way and if multiple people give a little, that is just as effective as one person writing a big check."
She knows from experience. As the director of community relations at Sempra Energy, she acts on her belief that "business can exist to promote the greater good and do things to give back to society." At Sempra, Freeman utilizes $4.7 million of the Southern California based company's funds to donate to charities. All told, she has seen philanthropy help battered women shelters remain open, fund organizations for Los Angeles' inner-city youth, and through her personal endeavors, attract talented executives of color to UCLA Anderson's MBA program.
Why is the MBA degree so important? Kimberly Freeman's own track record is proof-positive. Since receiving her degree from UCLA Anderson, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa appointed her to the Los Angeles Housing Authority. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed her to the California African American Museum board. Plus, Freeman serves on Los Angeles' Quality and Productivity Commission and sits on the board of the Women's Foundation of California, all in addition to being promoted at Sempra. She feels all of this was made possible because UCLA Anderson helped her develop her leadership skills.
"I have the tools now to understand and motivate people. Anderson made me a leader."