When deciding on the Businessperson of the Year, Pacific Palisades Rotary Club members require that this person must hold a senior-level management position in his/her company; has to live or work in Pacific Palisades; and must have demonstrated leadership within the Palisades and the nominee’s own industry, while also demonstrating a character of “Service Above Self.”
Hands down, the Rotarians felt that nominee Matt Rodman not only met the requirements but exceeded them.
The first question that Rotary members addressed was, “How has the nominee demonstrated leadership in the community and shown Service Above Self?”
One Rotarian wrote that Rodman had received the Pacific Palisades Golden Sparkplug Award in 2017 for his volunteer work with the transportation committee at Paul Revere Middle School.
Rodman was able to find various ways to reduce the number of car trips to and from the school daily. Although some of the 450 students in Revere’s Magnet Program were eligible for LAUSD school buses at the time he started working with the school, there was only one parent-sponsored bus, which originated at Warner Elementary in Holmby Hills.
Rodman helped to expand this program and in 2017, almost 400 students were riding seven parent-sponsored chartered buses to and from school, saving nearly 800 daily round trips by car.
He also worked with the Big Blue Bus to create a bus stop directly in front of the school. BBB route #14, which used to end at San Vicente and Allenford, now extends to the Revere campus, and a new line, #43, comes up to the school from the Expo light-rail stop at Bergamot Station. MTA buses continue to pick up students directly in front of school in the afternoons.
At the time Rodman received the Sparkplug award, 200 students had switched to public transportation. With the 400 on private buses, it meant that nearly a third of the student body was no longer transported by cars.
Rodman started this transportation transformation when his kids, Spencer and Max, were entering Revere. They are now at Palisades High School.
“I still volunteer/operate the bus program at Revere that serves almost 500 students every school day,” Rodman said. “This great program has significantly and permanently reduced traffic in the surrounding area associated with Revere.”
Rodman has also expanded his focus: “I help with public transportation at PaliHi.”
He and his wife, Rene, co-chaired the annual fundraising gala at Palisades Elementary for six years, and then also at Paul Revere. “I’m an unwavering supporter of our local Palisades public schools,” said Rodman, whose belief in public schools is so strong that he ran for LAUSD School Board in 2001.
The second question Rotarians answered when nominating Rodman was, “How has the nominee demonstrated a vision for his/her organization and community?”
One Rotary member wrote: “Rodman as president of the Pacific Palisades Americanism Parade Association was successful in organizing and leading community volunteers and acquiring resources to produce the 4thof July Parade and Fireworks – all during the Covid pandemic.
“Rodman has combined the websites for the Will Rogers Run, parade and concert so that everyone can seamlessly enjoy the event of choice. He believes if every member of the community goes to the website, palisades4th.com, and makes a small contribution, it would make a huge difference.”
In 2018, after working on logistics and operations for the parade, Rodman agreed to become president of PAPA. Meetings start in January in a typical year, and he oversees the volunteers who organize the parade, the concert and the fireworks.
Rodman, who grew up in Brentwood, remembers watching the Palisades parade. “We sat on the curb, usually by the Bay Theater or the Hot Dog Show,” he said.
He attended Kenter Canyon Elementary, Windward and then USC, where he majored in political science.
Rodman worked at the L.A. County District Attorney’s office to pay for school, but after his grandmother suddenly passed away, he moved into managing the family’s real estate business, a commercial real estate development company with a focus on underserved communities.
When he took over as PAPA president, he had a full-time job and other volunteer responsibilities. So why would he take on such a massive new undertaking.
“After many years of helping on the operations side, it was my pleasure to lead this great group of dedicated volunteers, many of whom have been working on the parade and fireworks for decades,” he said.
The third question Rotarians had to answer about a possible Business Person of the Year was, “How has the nominee expressed a sense of commitment to his/her community?”
Rodman, who has lived here with his family for more than 20 years, is deeply entrenched in the Palisades. He served as an alternate representative on the Pacific Palisades Community Council in 2016, and the family belongs to Kehillat Israel. “I’m impressed with the great work the clergy does every day in our community,” he said.
The Rodmans also supported the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association, including mixing up pancake batter one year for the annual Pancake Breakfast at the Recreation Center.
Earlier, Rodman served as president of the West L.A. Area Planning Commission from 2000 to 2006, and he now serves as president of Police and Community Together, a nonprofit that supports the West L.A. Police Station. (Visit: ladpdact.com.)
“This is a great organization that exclusively supports the WLA Police Station,” Rodman said. “I’ve been involved since 1994 and have led the board for the past decade.”
As part of his award, he will receive a $500 donation to the charity of his choice and a one-year honorary membership to the Pacific Palisades Rotary Club.
About the honor, Rodman said, “I am very surprised and pleased to be recognized for the good work that others and I do on July 4th.”