Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Alumna finds her purpose in nonprofit work

Speaking as part of the 21st Century Leadership Series, Elsa Luna ’04 says her found her passion in her job as chief operating and financial officer for public radio station KPCC. (Photo by William Vasta)

Elsa Luna ’04, a U of R School of Business MBA who is chief operating and financial officer for public radio station KPCC, recently shared her inspiring journey as part of the 21st Century Leadership Speaker Series. The event, held in Pasadena, drew approximately 90 trustees, alumni, students, faculty, staff, and community members.

Tom Horan, Senecal Endowed Dean of the School of Business, opened the proceedings by describing how Luna’s “personal arc of leadership” embodied the values the School is committed to fostering, both in the classroom and in the broader community.

In her remarks, titled "My Journey: Finding My Purpose," Luna traced her path from her immigrant parents’ encouragement and emphasis on hard work to her “big break” when she was appointed finance director for an airline catering company.

Eventually, however, the human cost of the company’s focus on the bottom line began to weigh on her. It was at that point in her career a friend suggested she look into nonprofit work.

“The nonprofit sector has something called a double line return,” Luna said. “A double line return [means] not only do you have to manage the business responsibility—you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your bills—but, more importantly, you have to do it with purpose. You have to do it with mission.”

With that realization, Luna began to pursue opportunities with nonprofit organizations.

Building on her education and experience, Luna feels she has now finally found her passion at KPCC. She can learn about public media, fulfill the public good, and work with women, particularly "those of color like myself," to achieve their dreams in a socially meaningful way. 

“I have been fortunate along this journey,” she said. 

The July 11 event was hosted by University Trustee Becky Garnett ’69 and her husband, Bill; the U of R Office of Alumni and Community Relations; and the U of R School of Business.

The 21st Century Leadership Speaker Series is part of the School of Business’s Purposeful Leadership Initiative. With the support of the Banta Center for Ethical and Purposeful Leadership, the initiative has led to the creation of the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (M.S.O.L.), a new degree program at the University of Redlands designed to address the needs and challenges of 21st century organizational leaders.

For more information, see the Bulldog Blog article “The arc of purposeful leadership” and visit the University of Redlands School of Business web pages.