The Late Louis Zamperini Honored by CSULB's Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership


Left to right: Greg Wooden, Luke Zamperini, Louise Ukleja, Michael Solt, and Lindora CEO Cynthia Graff at presentation of Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award. Photo courtesy of Carlos Delgado.

The late Louis Zamperini, American prisoner of war survivor, Olympic distance runner and inspirational speaker, featured in the recent film “Unbroken,” was honored by Cal State University, Long Beach’s (CSULB) Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership with its 2015 Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award .

The award was presented during “Living Ethics Every Day,” a business ethics seminar offered by the Ukleja Center and Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. Zamperini’s son, Luke, accepted the $10,000 check on behalf of his family. Luke Zamperini delivered a presentation, “Embodying Resilience and Forgiveness in Leadership,” to nearly 500 people in attendance.

“Nell and John Wooden represent the highest standards of personal behavior. I am sure they would be pleased with this year’s award recipient, Louie Zamperini,” said Michael Solt, director of the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership and Dean of CSULB’s College of Business.

Administration, in a statement. “Louie’s story, as eloquently told by his son Luke, is about perseverance, redemption and forgiveness. Luke spoke from the heart about his father and everyone in the room was spellbound. This was truly a memorable event.”

The Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award was created in 2009 to honor an individual or organization whose contribution to society is based on ethical behavior and visionary leadership, according to the release. The late John Wooden’s legendary career as a college basketball coach and his ability to inspire confidence in his players on and off the court, represents the Ukleja Center’s core values of integrity, excellence, empowerment and servant leadership.

Zamperini, who passed away at the age of 97 in 2014, displayed a rare resilience in the face of major adversities throughout his entire life. The WWII war veteran and hero has inspired countless numbers by sharing his story about the life-changing power of forgiveness.

According to CSULB, past recipients of the Nell and John Wooden Ethics in Leadership Award include include Mohamed El-Erian, former CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO, a global investment management firm (2014); George Deukmejian, 35th governor of California (2013); USC Director of Athletics Pat Haden (2012); Ken Blanchard, chief spiritual officer of the Ken Blanchard Companies (2011); Special Olympics Southern California to honor the legacy and visionary leadership of its founder, Eunice Kennedy Shriver (2010); and John Wooden, who received the inaugural award in 2009. 

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