UCLA Anderson Alumni in New York Activate Their Chapter

UCLA Anderson Alumni in New York Activate Their Chapter


Volunteers at the Loeb Awards stay connected to their West Coast alma mater

November 29, 2o22

  • UCLA Anderson alumni in New York City volunteered to assist with the first in-person presentation of the annual Loeb Awards since 2019
  • The Loeb Awards, which recognize accomplishments in business and financial journalism, are named for Gerald Loeb, the face of Wall Street in his day
  • Anderson’s more tech-oriented curriculum prepared New York-based alumni to adapt to evolving demands within financial services careers

The venerable Capitale event space in lower Manhattan bustled with activity on a recent September evening as a dedicated group of New York City-based alumni of the UCLA Anderson School of Management gathered to assist with the presentation of the 2022 Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism.

An hour before host Tyler Mathisen, co-anchor of CNBC’s “Power Lunch,” welcomed guests to the first in-person Loeb Awards event in three years, attorney M. Linda Dragas (’90) was unpacking boxes, making sure that the winners’ names corresponded to those engraved on the awards, and arranging them in the correct sequence for the program operations.

Alex Moore (’19) was stationed on the banquet floor. His charge was to usher winners from the microphone to the award table. Meanwhile, Meghan Peters (’20) was assisting Anderson’s Drew Mandinach with social media duties, preparing to tweet out the names of the winners in every category and post video of the moving speech delivered by Michelle Singletary, the pioneering personal finance columnist with the Washington Post, who was honored with the Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award. (Singletary previously won the 2021 Loeb award for commentary for her series on race and money.)

In what once was the Bowery Savings Bank building, not too far from Wall Street and the beating heart of finance in the Big Apple, UCLA Anderson took center stage before an assemblage of the country’s most influential publishers, editors, producers, media personalities and reporters. “The Loeb Awards return to New York every year to honor the legacy that UCLA Anderson was asked to protect. Gerald Loeb was the face of Wall Street in his day. New York is the center of business and journalism. There’s no other place for the winners of the highest honors in business journalism to be announced and celebrated,” said Jonathan Daillak, executive director of the G and R Loeb Foundation.

Established in 1957 by a founding partner of E.F. Hutton, the Gerald Loeb Awards encourage and support business and finance reporting that informs and protects investors and the general public. Since 1973, UCLA Anderson has been the steward of the Loeb Foundation and has helped grow the Loeb Awards into business journalism’s most prestigious honor. The awards ceremony is the culmination of months of preparation and work. Preliminary judges choose the finalists in each of the 12 competition categories; another set of final judges selects the competition winners and career honorees.

As he planned the first in-person Loeb Awards ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Daillak knew that he could rely on a key core of New York City-based Anderson alumni to help coordinate the event. Alumni like Dragas, who has volunteered at the Loebs for the past 20 years: She got started on the recommendation of Sarah Hurst (’90), an Anderson classmate who knew that Dragas had kicked off her professional career as a journalist.

“I had been a business journalist before deciding to go to Anderson,” she said. She worked on a national syndicated TV program called “Strictly Business” for WNBC. “I was into business, so it was a logical segue to go to UCLA Anderson. I’m very glad I spent the time there.”

Dragas went on to earn her law degree at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is currently a staff attorney specializing in IP at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. “Even though I’m in law now, a lot of my cases involve knowledge of business and finance,” she said. “Believe me, my MBA hasn’t gone to waste.”

Hosting the Loebs in New York City is an important part of “elevating the UCLA Anderson profile and brand,” Dragas said, “at a time when there are relatively few options to have this kind of visibility. New York can be a very clique-ish place for business school graduates. People here tend to recognize schools like Harvard, Wharton and NYU because alumni at the big New York City banks and business entities attended those schools and tend to want to hire people from the schools they went to.”

Dragas applauded the decision to shift the date of the Loeb Awards banquet to September from June. “September is the perfect time for the ceremony in New York,” she said. “The weather in June can be hot and humid, and often people are on vacation or looking forward to summer.”

Peters also made the transition from journalism to business, moving from a web producer job at the Seattle Times right out of college to jobs at Facebook and then Dow Jones. She decided to pursue her MBA while working at Facebook in New York when she “started to realize that a lot of my colleagues had MBAs. So, for me, it was really about wanting to stay sharp and stay competitive for the long term. I thought I might fall behind if I didn’t go get it.”

New York City alumni chapter co-presidents Meghan Peters (’20) and Alex Moore (’19)

She admits that it “would’ve been easier to go to NYU or Columbia,” but she chose UCLA because “I work at the intersection of media and tech — and Anderson does have cachet in those industries,” she said. And, after interacting with the admission staff at Anderson, “I got a sense of community from everyone I met,” she said. “I could tell that it was the type of environment where everyone wins together. I aligned with that in terms of my own personal approach. It felt just right.”

While she was still commuting to L.A. for classes once a month, Peters began attending alumni chapter events in New York. “One of the first events that I attended was the Loeb Awards,” she said. “It was something that inspired me to get more involved with the Anderson alumni chapter, because I loved the event and thought that it was the perfect mix of both of my worlds: having a career interest in journalism but also wanting to feel connected to the Anderson community.”

Currently principal consultant at the Idea Integration Company, Saul Colt’s boutique marketing firm, Peters is now the co-president of Anderson’s New York City alumni chapter. Her experience thus far has reinforced her decision to attend Anderson. “I’ve reconnected with people who I worked with and didn’t even know they went to Anderson,” she said. “Probably the most valuable thing I’ve experienced is that sense of community that brought me to Anderson in the first place. That certainly lives on here in New York.”

Alex Moore originally hails from Ohio. He worked for the federal government, including a stint at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, before deciding to “make a complete 180 in my career” and go for his MBA at Anderson. It was “the right choice,” he said, “because it gave me the opportunity to stretch my mind and see what all the possibilities were.”

While he was earning his MBA at Anderson, Moore “found that many of my projects involved consumer financial services,” he said. He targeted banks in New York City for his career exploration and interned at JPMorgan Chase. He soon discovered that his background at UCLA Anderson prepared him differently after he and recruits from other business schools were tasked with using Finn, a mobile banking app that the global financial services firm had recently launched. Moore downloaded the app and used it to order food and make several purchases. His peers, meanwhile, were relying on reading user reviews online.

“I wanted to understand the technology,” he said, “and to use it with real-life scenarios. It was a great professional endeavor.”

For Moore, moving to New York was the optimal career path because he wanted to join the “center of the financial ecosystem.” Moore decided to stay with JPMorgan Chase after graduating from Anderson, and he is now a senior strategy associate with the firm’s consumer banking strategy unit. “I think I’m an anomaly,” he said. “There’s a feeling here that UCLA Anderson is more tech-oriented than the other MBA programs, and that motivates me and drives my actions.”

Left to right: Jerry de Guzman (’92), Loeb Award finalist Rob Kaplan of CBS News, Tom Williams (’95) and Linda Dragas (’90)

As the current co-president of Anderson’s New York City alumni chapter, Moore helped recruit two guest speakers for events held in Ivy League clubs. Adjunct Professor of Accounting Eric Sussman gave a talk at the Yale Club, followed by a talk by Terry Kramer, director of the Easton Technology Management Center at Anderson.

The speaker events were “very successful and offered up excellent networking opportunities,” Moore said. “Our longer-term goal is to work with alumni from the UCLA law school to pool our funds and co-host future events.”

As the world moves toward more in-person events, another goal of the New York City chapter is to arrange more casual networking opportunities. “Gathering at a local watering hole to watch the UCLA football team is a great example,” Moore said.

One date already circled on the calendar is the upcoming appearance featuring UCLA’s men’s basketball team at the Mecca: The Bruins will face off against the University of Kentucky at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, December 17, in a nationally televised game between the two national hoops powerhouses.

Another date fast approaching is the chapter’s annual holiday party, to be held on December 5, featuring an appearance by Dean Tony Bernardo. This year, Frank Roessler (’08), the co-founder and CEO at Ashcroft Capital real estate investment firm, has offered up his midtown Manhattan office space to host the party.

“The interest in the holiday party is giving us enthusiasm and momentum to think of ideas for things we can do next year,” Peters said. “We want to offer a good mix of more formal programming, like the professor speaker events, and more informal networking opportunities. We know that a lot of alumni are interested in informal get-togethers of small groups to make connections with people in the city and to feel connected to Anderson.”