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Christine Ault ’92 (Communication Studies) & Michael Ault ’92 (Communication Studies)

There is a movement afoot throughout Sacramento that's been in the works for more than 20 years. Some call it a revitalization, others, a renaissance. For Michael and Christine Ault, both ’92 (Communication Studies), it's the couple's vocation—a combined effort to reshape the economic development, identity and reputation of the capital city.

Michael is executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, a nonprofit that has been transforming the downtown district since 1995. Christine is an independent communications consultant and advisor for the economic development group Valley Vision where she has led numerous job growth and marketing initiatives.

Recipients of the Distinguished Service Award from the Sacramento State Alumni Association, the Aults' story dates back to their last year as students at Sac State.

"Sac State made it really easy to become engaged in this community through internships and connections locally," says Michael. "It really helped connect us not just to get job training, but to get community training to engage and plug into locals who were making a difference."

They praise communication studies professor Gerri Smith and the late Joe Serna for influencing the couple's career path.

"Joe recognized the importance of a healthy downtown. He was from an era when the downtown was very prominent in the economic landscape and in the region," Christine says.

"We really shared his vision for realizing the potential of a downtown core."

In the past decade, Sacramento has seen more than $1 billion in public and private investments and $400 million in downtown property sales, Michael says. In addition, more than half a million people attend downtown events, including Concerts in the Park, Dine Downtown, the Pacific Rim Street Festival and farmers markets. And more are expected to flock to the new $477 million Golden 1 Center for entertainment and sporting events.

"I think we have built a real vision that has helped shape this community's passion for creating a strong identity for the central city," Michael says. "It's more than a place where people work. It's a place people can be proud of."

"All of these puzzle pieces are connected in some way," Christine adds. "And in the end if today looks a lot better than 20 years ago, and our names are brought up in the conversation, that makes me really proud."