Local Men Making a Difference 7

Brett Bjornson

“It is what it is.”

Home: Pacific Palisades, 18 years.

Vocation: Estate attorney and Partner at Gorman & Miller.

Philanthropy: Beverly Hills Estate Planning Council; Santa Monica Bar Association; Los Angeles Bar Association; Past Chairman, Planned Giving Council at the Lucile Salter Packard’s Children’s Hospital at Stanford; Rotary Club of Pacific Palisades; Access Books.

Childhood Dream: A priest—until I realized there were certain (ahem) restrictions—I’d always wanted to help families navigate challenges.

Mentors: The most influential are my wife and children—they have taught me so much!

Rewards: “Service before self.” It is the greatest feeling to know I have made a difference in someone’s life. With Access Books, we have refurbished libraries and given books to Los Angeles inner-city schools. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the look on children’s faces when they receive a brand-new book for the first time!

Accomplishments: Completing law school in my 40s and passing the BAR. After years of working as a tax specialist, I finally made the decision to move into a “Double Black Belt.”

Future: To work less, retire and spend more time with my family. Continue working with Access Books to fill inner-city schools with books.

Fun: Surfing.

Community: When I walk the dog around the corner and look at that view over the Palisades Bluffs, it is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. It never, ever gets old. I’m filled with immense gratitude every single time!


Bill Bruns

“A lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots,” —Mark Twain. That’s the challenge we all face in this era of “fake news.”

Home: Pacific Palisades, since 1972.

Vocation: “Retired” editor of the Palisadian-Post; current editorial adviser for the Palisades News; Friends of the Palisades Library board member.

Philanthropy: I began coaching our kids, Alan and Allison, in soccer, baseball and softball; my wife became active in our local schools. Today we support journalism nonprofits and Human Rights Watch; Pam is director of the HRW Student Task Force in 15 high schools.

Childhood Dream: A journalist, especially a newspaper sports reporter.

Mentors: Howard Hurlbut, the challenging and inspiring adviser for the University of Redlands college newspaper.

Accomplishments: Working as a reporter/editor at Life Magazine for seven years, writing 16 nonfiction books, serving as editor of the Post for 20 years, raising civic-minded children and sharing 50 years of marriage with Pam.

Rewards: I have enjoyed working with other concerned residents on community campaigns, while striving to defend and improve our quality of life. We have enjoyed success, and I feel more connected to our town and its residents.

Future: Stay involved with family, including four grandkids; visit friends and relatives in far-off locations.

Fun: Reading, without worrying about any deadlines or jobs around the house; attending Alan Chapman’s classical music class in Brentwood.

Community: I appreciate our town’s coastal location, history of activism and friends we have made here.


Max Jaben

“If you accept failure as an opportunity to learn, it will change your whole perspective. Stay positive and search deep to find what you can learn from your failures and life challenges.”

Home: Oak Park.

Vocation: Malibu Seawolves Swimming Head Coach/Owner, Malibu Aquatics Foundation, Los Angeles Fire Department Ocean Lifeguard/Junior Lifeguard Instructor.

Philanthropy: Founded the nonprofit Malibu Aquatics Foundation in 2016 to promote and foster the development of aquatics programs, youth education and water safety. This year, the Foundation provided financial aid to children who cannot afford aquatics programs, developed an adult swimming program and fundraised for a score board in Malibu.

Childhood Dream: To be an Olympic swimmer like Matt Biondi and Pablo Morles or a rock star like Peter Frampton.

Mentors: My father and Steve Hotchkiss—my father is a pillar in my life and taught me the importance of working hard and sticking to your word. I consider Steve to be my Malibu dad—he has helped with my business, with becoming a lifeguard and the Foundation.

Rewards: Seeing young athletes develop confidence through years of dedication and commitment.

Accomplishments: Becoming an Ocean Lifeguard and coaching swimmers.

Future: Becoming a full-time lifeguard (Ocean Lifeguard Specialist), staying connected with youth development in Malibu.

Fun: Spending time with my 2-year-old son—going to the Santa Barbara Zoo, Zuma and the pool. I love surfing and am also a musician.


Ian Roven

“Do it now, stress is things on your plate…get all the small things done.”

Home: Malibu.

Vocation: Law Offices of Ian Roven, practicing in entrepreneurship, small business, blockchain, and new technologies law.

Philanthropy: Chair elect for the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, Junior Chamber, UCSB/California Western School of Law Alumni, Pepperdine Law, Boys and Girls Club: Malibu, Black Slon consulting.

Childhood Dream: To be a judge and mediator; as the youngest of 4, I had a knack for mediating the infighting among my siblings by advocating for understanding why the fighting happened.

Mentors: My wife, father and father-in-law. Each, pillars of hard-work, diligence, empathy and compassion.

Accomplishments: Starting my own practice.

Future: To grow by bringing in motivated, community-oriented associates.

Fun: Spending time as a newlywed. Playing video games with potential clients!

Community: I love this community. 13,000 people is small—integrity means a lot in Malibu.


Richard Wilken

“We’re all special, get to the back of the line…”

“Leave the world a little better than you found it.”

Home: Pacific Palisades, my entire life—71 years! (My parents went into escrow the day before Pearl Harbor!)

Vocation: Self-employed architect.

Philanthropy: Palisades Lutheran Church Council, Optimist’s Club (38 years), American Institute of Building Design board member, AIA, Assistant Scout Master Boy Scout Troop 223, Palisades Americanism Parade Association, Palisades Charter High School Budget & Finance Committee, Civic League, City Design Review Board, Little League coach.

Childhood Dream: To be an artist and surfboard shaper.

Mentors: My dad (a pastry chef for William Randolph Hearst) was independent, worked by himself, had his own little shop—he died when I was 15. I promised myself I would get married younger and spend time with my family. My mom had a coffee shop and was active in the community. I looked up to the local PAPAs guys who put on the parade.

Accomplishments: Designed several buildings: Mort’s Deli, Boy Scouts dining hall, Palisades Lutheran Church; International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame; dealing with city agencies/getting permits (“finding creative ways to be of service to clients without breaking rules!”); Wilkens Surfboards (at 19); photographer for Surfer Magazine.

Future: I’mstill designing buildings. My wife and I are enjoying being grandparents. Hoping to do more artwork—painting, sketching, watercolors and surfboard art. Passing on some of the traditions to the younger people in town, mentoring them.

Fun: Walking on the beach, going to the gym, the old Mort’s Deli, yoga, going to Starbucks and solving the world’s problems.

Community: I’m so lucky to have been born in the Palisades—it was the smartest thing I ever did! I grew up on a dead-end block overlooking Temescal Canyon, with 21 neighborhood kids.