Class Notes

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George Goto MA ’60 (Physical Education) Annual Member was inducted into the Placer High Athletic Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Placer High School’s Earl Crabbe Gym. Goto is being honored for his athletic excellence as a player and coach in local arenas.

Ronald Russo ’65 (Recreation Administration) has two new insect species named after him: a honeysuckle bud gall midge named Lonicerae russoi and a boxthorn stem gall moth named S. russoi. Plant galls are plant tumors induced by invading organisms that serve as nurseries for insects and mites or reproductive organs for fungi. Before his retirement in 2003, Russo spent more than 40 years as a naturalist at the East Bay Regional Park District.

John Graffigna ’66 (Accountancy) has been inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame. This award is given to those that have contributed to agriculture and their community in significant ways. Graffigna, who is a second generation Lodi area winegrape grower, formed R&J Packing Company in 1971, one of the largest cherry-shippers in the state as well as the Lodi district’s largest Tokay grape growers. Graffigna has also served as president of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association in 1971 and 1972 and is currently the director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission.

Maria Herndon MA ’67 (Education) Annual Member has retired after 48 years of teaching. She also recently published her first novel, A Man in Love.

Robert Collins ’69 (Government) joined Haight Brown and Bonesteel’s Sacramento based full service law firm, CVM Law Group, as a partner.

William Stewart ’69 (Communication Studies) recently published his debut novel Dark South. This novel features 56 somber tales with a Southern flair. Stewart has also authored two reference books.

Sac State alumni were well represented in the Sacramento Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.”



Robert Brill ’73 (English) Life Member has been researching Edgar Allen Poe’s connections to Scotland. His research explores Poe’s childhood in Great Britain. He has presented his work to international audiences including the STAR Project at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece in 2004 as well as the Technical University Tblisi, Georgia in 2016.

Dorian Aiello ’76 (Accountancy)is a board member for Scott Valley Bank and the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. Aiello is also a member, past president and regional district past treasurer of the Weed Rotary Club and chair of the finance committee for Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church.

Richard Russell ’76 (Criminal Justice) Lifetime Member was recognized with a “Master Pilot” Wright Brothers award by FAA Inspector James Lamb in October. He started his aviation career as a flagman for Lochman Ag Service. Russell was a Civil Air Patrol cadet for six years until he joined the Air Force and became a Loadmaster. As Russell’s aviation career evolved, he obtained a commercial certificate in 1970 and eventually became a police helicopter pilot in Sacramento. Russell has accumulated more than 22,500 hours of accident-free flying in airplanes, helicopters, gliders, seaplanes and jet airplanes

Mark Schaeffer ’76 (Mechanical Engineering) recently received the International Council on Systems Engineering’s (INCLOSE) Founders Award. This honor is awarded to those who have made outstanding contributions to the organization. Schaeffer was recognized for advocating for INCLOSE in both the government and private sectors.

June Gillam ’78, MA ’83 (English) Annual Member has published her third novel in the Hillary Bloome series.

Rod Harmon ’78 (Criminal Justice) Lifetime Member is an investigator at Harmon Investigations. He also serves as the president of the Criminal Justice Alumni Chapter and the chairman of the Northern California Peace Officers Association’s (NCPOA) scholarship committee. NCPOA awards six-10 scholarships to juniors and seniors in the criminal justice program.

Vicki Di Francesco’79 (Biological Sciences) was named the chief strategy officer for XIFIN Inc., a healthcare information technology company. Di Francesco has more than 25 years of experience in executive leadership positions. She most recently served as the president and CEO of Pathology Inc. Di Francesco also currently serves on the Board of Directors of PWNHealth, LLC.

Carlos Gutierrez ’79 (Criminal Justice) has been named as Solano County’s newest superior court judge. Gutierrez has been an attorney in private practice at Bernheim, Gutierrez and McCready since 1994.

William Gaines ’79 (Sociology) Annual Member wrote Communications Class 101/Correctional Communications and Survival Skills. In this book, Gaines describes the importance of understanding the significance of offender population language, which is spoken both by prison staff and offenders.

The annual Harper Alumni Center Open House kicked of April’s Alumni Month activities.



Karen Colonias ’81 (Civil Engineering) was appointed to serve on Reliance Steel and Aluminum’s board of directors on both their audit and compensation committees. Colonias is also currently the president and chief executive officer of Simpson Manufacturing Co., Inc. and serves on its board of directors.

Robert Renard MSW ’81 recently published his first book of poems, Because of a Great Longing.

Carl Torgersen ’82 (Mechanical Engineering) retired retired from his position as chief deputy director for the California Department of Water Resources. Prior to that, Torgersen had served as deputy director of the State Water Project since 2012.

Timothy Downs ’83 (Communication Studies) was inaugurated as the 17th president of Northern State University. With more than 29 years of experience in higher education, he previously served as the provost and chief academic officer of New York’s Niagara University.

Greg Salyer ’83 (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) was appointed as Modesto Irrigation District’s general manger. He previously served as the interim general manager and before that he served as the assistant general manager of electrical resources.

Michelle Myers ’85 (Physical Education) is the head of the physical education department at Sacramento Country Day School, where she has worked for more than 30 years. Myers was also honored by the Country Day Alumni with the Francie Tidey Award for Excellence in Education. In addition to teaching, she’s coached both women’s and boys’ volleyball and served as the Big Sky observer for Sac State’s women’s volleyball team. She is also a member of Sacramento State’s Legacy Circle.

Cort O’Haver ’85 (English) is the new chief executive officer of Umpqua Holdings and CEO of Pivotus Ventures, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corp. O’Haver has been at several different banks before joining Umpqua Bank as executive vice president of commercial banking in 2010 and was later promoted to president.

Caroline Winn ’85 (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) has been announced as the chief operating officer of San Diego Gas & Electric. She previously served as the as the chief energy delivery officer. She also serves on the board of directors of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Western Energy Institute and the Classroom of the Future Foundation.

Alejandro Terrazas ’86 (Government, Journalism) has taken on the position of city manager for Los Banos, Calif.

Lisa Winstead ’87, MA (Government) was named the Spanish bilingual authorization coordinator and associate professor in the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education at California State University, Fullerton. She recently co-authored Handbook of Research on Foreign Language Education in the Digital Age. Her research interests include heritage and bilingual education, migrant education, second language acquisition and technological approaches that provide access to language learners globally in socially just and responsive ways.

Michael Catelani ’88 (Accountancy) was announced as ITUS Corporation’s chief financial officer. ITUS funds, develops and licenses emerging technologies in the biotech field. Catelani brings more than 25 years of experience in finance, auditing and operations. He is also the co-founder of Tacere Therapeutics, Inc. Prior to that, he served as vice president and chief financial officer at Axon Instruments.

Darren Arbet ’89 (Criminal Justice) was named head coach of Cabrillo College’s football program. Arbet previously served as assistant head coach at NCAA Division II Humboldt State University last season, coaching linebackers and special teams. He was also a former defensive end at Edison High in Stockton and at Sacramento State.

The Hornet Policy and Politics Alumni Chapter and Herky celebrated Alumni Month with a “Swarm” photo at the Capitol.



Jessie Catacutan ’91 (Accountancy) is the executive assistant to the dean of the College of Engineering at UC Davis.

Stacey Desideri ’91 (English) will be the new principal for Windsor High School, starting in the 2017-18 school year.  The 2017-18 school year will mark Desideri’s 25th year working in k-12 education. Desideri is currently the principal at Emerson Junior High School in Davis.

Jamillah Moore ’92, MA ’95 (Communication Studies) Annual Member was named the 11th president of Cañada College in Redwood City. She previously served as the interim vice chancellor of educational services and planning for the San Mateo County Community College District.

Richard Rogers ’92 (History) was announced as the new deputy superintendent for the Sacramento County Office of Education. Prior to this appointment, Rogers was the chief strategy officer for the Sacramento City Unified School District, overseeing the district’s strategy and innovations office.

David Stone ’92, MBA ’02 recently released The Power of a Plan. In it, Stone presents an overview of the elements embodied in a comprehensive financial plan. Stone has more than 20 years’ experience as a certified financial planner and is the founder of Stone Consulting Group.

Christine Vuletich ’92 (Finance) has joined Washoe County as its new assistant county manager of administration and finance. Vuletich has more than 20 years’ experience in public finance and management and most recently served as the assistant county manager and chief financial officer for Douglas County.

Sam Attisha ’94 (Business Administration) has been appointed as the senior vice president and California region manager of Cox Communications. He previously held this position in an interim capacity. He started with Cox Communications in 2007 as the vice president of business development and public affairs for San Diego, becoming the vice president of business development and public affairs for all of California in 2011. Attisha is also the vice chairman of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce as well as a member of the California Cable and Telecommunications Association’s board of directors and executive committee.

Paul West ’94 (Marketing) has joined UniCarriers Americas Corporation (UCA) as their regional sales manager for the northwest, responsible for increasing UCA market share. Prior to UCA, West was the regional sales manager for the KION Group.

Elizabeth Fouts ’95 (Criminal Justice) was promoted to second vice president and associate counsel for retirement plans and individual annuities for the Standard Insurance Company. Fouts has more than 15 years of experience in the legal field. She previously served as in-house counsel for ALL Student Loan, a non-profit student lender.

Amir Rahnamay-Azar ’95, MBA’96 has been appointed as Syracuse University’s chief financial officer. He will direct the university’s finance and administrative functions. Rahnamay-Azar previously served as the chief financial officer at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to that he was the senior vice president for administration and finance at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Matthew Reid ’97 (Marketing) has joined Velocity, a sales acceleration platform, as their new vice president of marketing. Reid has more than 15 years of experience in executive marketing for technology companies. He previously served as the chief marketing officer for Procore Technologies.

Jeff Dern ’98 (Accountancy) has been promoted to chief financial officer of PRIDE Industries. Dern has more than 18 years of experience in accounting, finance and audit roles. He started at PRIDE Industries in 2008 as the controller and was promoted to vice president of finance in 2014. Dern also serves on the board of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce as well as a volunteer on the Sac State Placer County Advisory Committee.

David Shorey ’98 (Government) was recently hired as a development associate for the Diversionary Theatre in San Diego.

Placer County alumni welcomed new provost Ching-Hua Wang (center).



Edward Guanill ’00 (Communication Studies) joined Springer Financial Advisors, a Sacramento wealth management firm.

Leslie Heller ’00 (Education) has taken the helm of Hart Middle School in Pleasanton. With more than two decades of experience in the education field, this marks Heller’s first time as a principal having previously served as a vice principal for the last four years.

Gerrad Newton ’00 (Criminal Justice) has joined EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants as a producer in the CNCDA Auto Dealer Specialty Program Team. Newton brings 16 years of insurance industry experience to his role at EPIC. He previously served as an account executive with Zurich Financial.

Andrew Kotko ’01 (Physics) has been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, the country’s highest recognition for math and science teachers. Kotko was twice a finalist for the award.

Melinda McClain ’03 (Government) has been appointed as the deputy legislative secretary in the Office of the Governor. McClain previously served as the deputy director of legislative and regulatory review at the California Department of Consumer Affairs. She is also a member of Leadership California.

Hector Rico ’03 CREDENTIAL is the superintendent of the Alisal Union School District in Salinas Calif. Rico has previously served as a bilingual teacher, academic coach, principal and consultant with the California Department of Education.

Christina Salerno ’05 (Journalism) was nominated for her second regional Emmy, after winning one in 2015. She’s nominated for her work on “Wolves in Washington” for TVW, a public affairs station in the state of Washington.

Nathan Schmidt ’05 (Humanities) was recently named the 2017 Marketing Professional of the Year by the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council. This award recognizes an individual who exemplifies excellence in credit union marketing. Schmidt’s passion for credit unions paired with his leadership, creativity and successful marketing initiatives set him apart from other nominees. Schmidt currently serves as the executive vice president for San Diego County Credit Union, San Diego’s largest locally-owned financial institution.

J. Luke Wood, MA ’05 (Higher Education Leadership) has become a bestselling author in education. A prolific writer, Wood has authored more than 100 publications including 60 peer-reviewed journal articles.

Lora Simmons ’06 (Journalism) has been hired as HB Software Solution’s new senior technical proposal writer. Simmons will be responsible for leading the company’s proposal production department expansion. She previously served as the senior proposal writer for Dallas-based MV Transportation, Inc.

Michael Kynett ’07 (Civil Engineering) is the new chair of the DFI Seepage Control Working Group (SCWG). Kynett is the levee safety program manager for the engineering division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has also authored and co-authored several published technical papers on levee evaluations and seepage cutoff wall design and construction.

Elaine Welteroth ’07 (Public Relations) was recently named Teen Vogue’s editor-in-chief. She is the youngest editor-in-chief in Condé Nast—Teen Vogue’s publisher—history.

Kristin Wright ’07 (Sociology), MA ’12 (Special Education) was appointed as the new special education division director at the California Department of Education. Wright has worked more than a decade in education, focusing on special education. Before her current appointment, she worked for the California State Board of Education as an education policy consultant and liaison.

Ryan Eberle’ 08 (History) recently left active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a staff sergeant, where he worked as a military intelligence analyst.

Travis Aberle ’09 (International Relations) was named assistant regional director for business services at The Bureau of Reclamations Mid-Pacific Region. Reclamations is the largest wholesale water supplier in the United States. Aberle also serves as the Region’s senior representative on Reclamation’s Chief Financial Officer’s Council. Aberle was previously with the U.S. Air Force for eight years.

Ellen Chan’09 (Nursing) joined the International Nurses Association. Chan is a registered nurse with 28 years of experience in the field. She is currently a staff nurse at Kaiser Foundation Hospital and an adjunct professor at Yuba College in Marysville.

The College2Career program helped more than 20 students prepare for internships.



Bianca Bacy ’10 (Marketing) has joined the Premium Outlet Center in Vacaville as their new director of marketing and business development. Bacy brings seven years of experience in marketing and sales. She previously held leadership positions with senior living providers Emeritus and Frontier Management.

Jared Christensen, MS ’10 (Biological Sciences) has joined Sierra IP Law, PC in Fresno as an associate. Christensen is a patent attorney and is also a member of the intellectual property section of the California State Bar.

Jessica Allen ’13 (Finance) has joined Sutherland Asbill and Brennan LLP’s state and local tax (SALT) practice. Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan LLP is one of the nation’s largest such practices with 40 attorneys. Allen previously served as an intern for the California Franchise Tax Board.

Shaun Hansen ’13 (Criminal Justice) has completed the cadet training course at the California Highway Patrol Academy. He will serve as part of the Napa office. He previously served four years in the United State Marine Corps attaining the rank of sergeant.

Alex Peck ’13 (Communication Studies) joined Lee and Associates as a Walnut Creek associate. In this role he is responsible for sales and leasing of office properties. He previously worked at Marcus and Millichap Investment Brokerage in Oakland.

Mab Phan, Ed.D ’13 was appointed to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors by Governor Jerry Brown. Phan has been a professor of business and marketing at Consumes River College since 2012.

David Shabandarian ’13 (Criminal Justice) joined the Hayward California Highway Patrol after completing the 28-week cadet training course at the CHP Academy.

Erica Brown ’14 (Public Relations) recently helped coordinate the 2016 Sacramento Light the Night Walk for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society where she played a key role in securing public relations opportunities with local news stations, a first for the walk. With more than 3,000 people in attendance, the Walk raised more than $491,000 for blood cancer research and patient access services for the local community, surpassing their goal of $450,000.

Kirsten Romero ’15 (Mathematics) was promoted from student assistant to budget analyst in the budgeting and financial planning unit for the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA). CALPIA is a state agency that focuses on reducing recidivism by providing inmates across the state with paid jobs and certifications to help gain job experience to be used once they are released.

Keith Boyd ’16 (Criminal Justice)has been hired as the new deputy police chief in Woodburn, Ore. Boyd previously worked for the Marin County Sherriff’s Office. He has worked in a variety of areas including the patrol division, the coroner division, detention services and as a field training officer.

Kelsey Cardamone ’16 (Child Development) was crowned as Miss Sierra Nevada in the Miss California preliminary scholarship competition. Cardamone received $500 in scholarship winnings and will go on to compete for the Miss California title in June.

Debbie Morkikawa, MSN ’16 is a clinical nurse educator, teaching student nurses at Santa Rosa Junior College’s ADN program.

Brett Wait MBA’17 was announced as River City Bank’s new senior vice president and director of information services. He will oversee River City Bank’s team of information technology professionals and all information regarding security compliance. He will also manage the bank’s business continuity plan and disaster recovery program. Wait has more than 13 years of experience in the banking industry and previously served as the chief operating officer of Five Star Bank.

2017 Green & Gold Gala:


More than 600 guests were treated to an amazing presentation emceed by Good Day Sacramento co-host Courtney Dempsey ’97 and ASI President, Patrick Dorsey ’16. Performances by the Sac State Latin Jazz Band and the Sacramento Black Art of Dance group completed the evening’s stage entertainment.

Special thanks to our many sponsors, especially our Redefine the Possible and Gold level sponsors:University Enterprises, Inc. (UEI); Chevron; Speeding Edge; Western Health Advantage.

In Memoriam

Stephen Rooney ’50 (Business Administration) Life Member died in July 2016. He was a founding member and president of the Alumni Association from 1971-1973. He was a retired Air Force major serving in both World War II and Korea. He also worked as a school principal and a traffic reporter.