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Michael Baraban (JD '90) Attends Ukraine Action Summit in Washington, DC

Pepperdine Caruso Law alumnus Michael E. Baraban (JD '90), a first-generation Ukrainian American living in Arizona, recently traveled to Washington, DC as part of a five-member delegation from the Arizona Ukrainian American Community to attend the Ukraine Action Summit. Baraban also represented the Ukrainian American Bar Association, a national organization of Ukrainian American attorneys.  In addition to his Ukrainian heritage, Baraban considers the lessons that he learned at Caruso Law, both in and outside the classroom, to give back to the community are what motivated him to become involved in the Ukrainian cause.

The summit was an event on Capitol Hill focused on communicating with members of Congress about how to bring peace to Ukraine as soon as possible and then to help rebuild Ukraine.  The summit was attended by nearly 300 individuals and 33 organizations from around the world within and beyond the Ukrainian community.  About 150 meetings were held with representatives across both the House and the Senate as well as the State Department.  The timing of the meeting was critical with millions of displaced Ukrainians and winter quickly approaching. Russia’s recent targeting of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure further highlighted the need for urgent advocacy.

The Arizona delegation completed meetings with 9 of 11 Arizona members of Congress or their representatives. Combat medics were flown in from the front line to brief members of Congress on the dire circumstances at the front lines.  “Hearing the stories of the brave Ukrainian soldiers only underscored the urgency of our delegation’s mission in Washington, DC, to seek the help Ukraine needs to achieve peace”, said Baraban. Another emotionally moving part of the summit was a slide from a playground in Irpin, Ukraine on display showing extensive shrapnel damage.  “As the father of a 12-year- old, I did not want to let my mind go to thinking about what would have happened had a child been on the slide when the shrapnel struck,” stated Baraban.

In addition to attending the summit, Baraban has been working closely with one of the lead local organizations in Arizona providing humanitarian aid to Ukraine since Russia’s unprovoked invasion, St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine. “It is truly amazing what one small church and its volunteers have been able to accomplish since February,” scommented Baraban. Church volunteers have sorted and packed seven truckloads of medical and humanitarian supplies donated by local hospitals, first responders, and other individuals and entities and then paid to ship those items to Ukraine with donated funds.  “The moral and financial support from the community has been amazing,” said church President Victor Szwez. Generous donors in 2022 included Caruso Law alumna Janet Medlin (JD '90) and her husband Ed.  

Baraban also teamed up with other Pepperdine alumni in Arizona to organize fundraisers for Ukraine. Caruso Law alumnus Kenneth Patricio Smith (JD '85), Arizona Honorary Consul of Chile, helped galvanize the Arizona Diplomatic Corp for a May 2022 fundraiser hosted by the German Consulate. “Consul Smith was instrumental in promoting our May fundraiser to the Arizona Diplomatic Corp and the fact that he is a fellow Wave was a bonus”, stated Baraban. In October, the Alliance Francaise of Greater Phoenix hosted a fundraiser for Ukraine. Graziado Business School alumnus Claude Bobin (MBA '88) and his wife Janine, who is the president of Alliance Francaise, were instrumental in the fundraiser. “When I met the Bobins at a Pepperdine send-off event in Arizona this past summer and told them I was part of the Arizona Ukrainian American Community, they immediately offered to help in any way they could," stated Baraban.  

Baraban asked that “the entire Pepperdine community please keep Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their prayers.”

To support St. Mary’s Protectress Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Ukraine's ongoing humanitarian efforts with a tax-deductible donation, please see Donate to Ukraine

Michael Baraban group photo in Washington DC