Class Notes

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Gregory Kondos ‘51, MA ‘57 (Art), received an honorary doctor of fine arts degree during the Sacramento State College of Arts and Letters Commencement ceremony in May. He is considered one of America’s leading contemporary landscape painters. He has also been a generous supporter of the campus, donating his painting “River Life” to the University Library and has spoken at the Alumni Association’s artist lecture series.

Wayne Thiebaud ’51, MA ’53 (Art), was honored as the inaugural recipient of the UC Davis Chancellor’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Innovation. The award is given to those whose career accomplishments have led to a long-term positive impact on others’ lives. Thiebaud is recognized for his contributions to creative expression, popular culture and artistic form.


David Lucchetti ‘67 (Physical Education), ’68 CRED, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during the College of Health and Human Services Commencement ceremony in May. The president and CEO of Pacific Coast Building Products led the family-owned company to become one of the nation’s largest privately held firms. He has been honored as both Businessman of the Year and Sacramentan of the Year.


Carol Burger ’70 (Pre-Physical Therapy) has been honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s 17 Women Who Mean Business for 2016. This distinction is given to influential women who have made invaluable contributions to their companies, professions and communities. Burger founded Burger Rehabilitation Systems Inc. in 1978. Since then, her one-person office has grown to more than 400 employees with a statewide presence.

Michael Carter ’70 (Business Administration) was announced as one of Verizon’s President’s Cabinet winners. This honor is reserved for those who perform in the top 1 percent in sales nationally. Carter currently serves as a retail solutions manager in the Pacific market. Carter has worked for Verizon for eight years.

Lane Lawson ’70 (Business Administration) has been appointed chief financial officer of Lighthouse Bank. Lawson served as executive vice president and chief credit officer since the bank was founded in 2007 and has more than 40 years of banking experience in executive level positions.

Michael Aimola ’71 (Criminal Justice) has been named as one of the new board directors for American Family Housing, a nonprofit organization that provides housing and related services to low income and/or homeless families and adults. Aimola is also the principal at MSA Property Consulting Group in Irvine, Calif.

Mary Tinker ’71 (Nursing) has been recognized as Professor of the Year for 2016 by Strathmore’s Who’s Who Worldwide Edition. She received this honor for her outstanding contributions and achievements in the field of health care. Tinker is a self-employed nurse educator and writer with more than 47 years of experience in the health care field.

Judy Kjelstrom ’72 (Biological Sciences) has been honored as one of Sacramento Business Journal’s 17 Women Who Mean Business for 2016. This distinction is given to influential women who have made invaluable contributions to their companies, professions and community. Kjelstrom is the director of the UC Davis Biotechnology Program. The program introduces students to biotechnology, venture capital and startups.

Patrick Godwin ’74 (Education) has retired as the superintendent of the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. Before Godwin’s five-year role as superintendent, he spent 28 years as an educator in the Roseville Joint Union School District. He has also been very involved with the Association of California School Administrators, serving as a regional president and as part of the state human resources committee.

Bruce Hohenhaus ’76 (Business Administration) took the helm as president of the Sacramento State Alumni Association Board of Directors on July 1. He has served six years on the Board including the role of vice president of finance. Hohenhaus works in commercial real estate as the executive director at Cushman and Wakefield.

Joseph Gutheinz Jr ’78 (Criminal Justice) appeared in five episodes of “NASA’s Unexplained Files” on the Science Channel in which he spoke about the old Soviet Union space program and NASA. Gutheinz is a retired NASA Office of the Inspector General senior special agent and an expert on space law.

Karl Silberstein ’78 (Accountancy) has been announced as a board director for both Redding Commerce Bank and its parent company, Bank of Commerce Holdings. Silberstein has 38 years of experience in public accounting and financial executive leadership and is currently serving as the senior vice president for financial operation at Dignity Health. He has also served on numerous other corporate and non-profit boards and is a graduate of Leadership Sacramento.


Darius Engles ’81 (Criminal Justice) has been selected as interim police captain in the King City Police Department. Engles was a police chief in Pacific Grove for six years before retiring in 2012. Since his retirement, he has also been an adjunct professor at Monterey Peninsula College as well as an investigator performing background and internal affairs investigations.

Manuel Portela ’81 (Geography) a Chinook pilot and command chief warrant officer of the 1st Aviation Brigade, retired after 42 years of service in the U.S. Army and National Guard. He logged four years’ worth of deployments and 6,300 flight hours. Portela was also the recipient of the Order of the St. Michaels Silver Award upon his retirement.

Sigfredo Flores ’82 (Public Policy And Administration) was honored as one of the 200 veterans from the 65th Infantry awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their duty and valor as part of the Borinqueneers. Flores served more than 27 years in the Army from 1951-78. He retired as a sergeant major and was in the reserve for 11 years.

Lori Aldrete ’83 (Business Administration) has been elected chairman of First Northern Community Bancorp. Aldrete joined Northern’s board of directors in 1995, chairing the director’s nominating and corporate governance committee. She has more than 35 years of experience working in the business and communications fields. In the last 20 years she has worked with and served on numerous boards, including the United Way California Capital Region.

Laurie MacIntosh ’83 (Communication Studies), MSW ’98 was recently appointed as the executive director of the newly formed StemExpress Foundation.

Pilar Montoya ’83 (Communication Studies) has dedicated her life to the Caminos Foundation she started in 2014 to help Hispanics living abroad. Since her foundation’s debut, she has provided support to more than 2,000 low-income Hispanic residents. She is also a motivational speaker and businesswoman who has earned national and international awards.

Jack Fusco ’84 (Mechanical Engineering) was announced as president and chief executive officer of Cheniere Energy, Inc. Fusco has spent more than 30 years in the energy industry and most recently served as the chief executive officer and member of the board of directors of Calpine.

Rodney Wiessner ’84 (Accountancy) has been named senior vice president and chief financial officer of First Federal Savings and Loan of San Rafael. He has worked for more than 25 years in the financial service industry. Prior to joining First Federal, Wiessner served as CFO of JAC Financial Inc.

Kristine L. Blair ’85 (Journalism), MA ’88 (English), professor and former chairwoman of the English department of Bowling Green State University, has been selected dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Youngstown State University.

Josef Dunham ’85 (Business Administration) has been appointed to executive director of Brookdale Vacaville, an assisted-living and dementia care community. Dunham’s 12-year senior living career includes serving as the senior marketing liaison for SDA Elderly Care and as an administrator of Empire Ranch Alzheimer’s Special Care Center.

Gary Noy ’85 (History) won the 2016 Regional Non-Fiction Award for his Sierra Stories: Tales of Dreamers, Schemers, Bigots, and Rogues from the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. This award was established to annually recognize and honor the most exceptional independently published books in more than 70 categories.

Shawn Cunningham ’87 (Civil Engineering) was named director of public works for the City of Vacaville. Cunningham has worked for the city since 1990 and has been involved in the design and construction of much of the infrastructure that has accommodated Vacaville’s growth since 1990.

Cathilea Robinett ’87 (Communication Studies) was promoted to president of e.Republic, a media and research company focused on government and technology. Robinett started at the company in 1992, serving as the director of marketing and eventually as the chief operating officer and executive vice president. She played a key role in the company’s success, launching two of their research centers as well as their digital state survey, which helps governors modernize governmental operations. Robinett has also launched a Women in Government Leadership program which focuses on training leaders to mentor and foster the next generation of women in public service.

Cynthia Thein-Pederson ’87 (Marketing) has been selected as one of the Top-Rated Real Estate Agents in Valley Springs to be featured on “TV Top Real Estate.” Thein-Pederson has 30 years of experience in sales and administration.

Edward Padilla ’88 (Economics) writes action thrillers and suspense, political and government conspiracy novels. Many of his writings reference his hometown of Red Bluff, Calif. Padilla published his first novel Rule One Twenty in September of 2015 and his most recent work Michaso (Korean for crazy) in March. He has a third novel in the works entitled Tunnels.

Sandra Blair ’89 (Business Administration) was appointed as the director of retirement readiness for the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS). Blair has worked for CalSTRS since 2009 and most recently served as director of CALSTRS Defined Contribution Solutions.

John Young ’89 (Business Administration) Yolo County’s agricultural commissioner and sealer of weights and measures, was named Agriculturalist of the Year by the Yolo County Farm Bureau. It honors fairness and collaborative skills in finding equitable solutions to shared problems within the industry.

Notes from Beyond the Hive



Tanya Vegvary ’91 (Humanities) ’97 (Piano Performance) is hitting a high note in her career as a professional pianist and music teacher.

An accomplished performer, composer and teacher for more than 30 years, Vegvary’s extensive experience includes national and local performances during Sac State’s Festival of New American Music, at the Crocker Art Museum and Mondavi Center, and at the National Gallery of Art and Hungarian National Embassy in Washington, D.C.

However, her greatest source of pride is the Sacramento Piano Conservatory School of Music she opened in 2012, the realization, she says, of a lifelong dream.

“My education at Sac State prepared me excellently for my career in music,” says Vegvary. “The music department maintains very high standards in a conservatory-like setting and the friendly musical competition with my fellow classmates ensured my healthy growth and superior musicianship.

“Classes in pedagogy and the ‘business of music’ also helped prepare me for the musical business world.”

And that Hornet vibe extends even further into Vegvary’s work. The Sacramento Piano Conservatory currently employs five Sacramento State alumni as private instrument and vocal instructors.


Joseph P. Montes ’90 (Communication Studies) is running for Congress. Montes is seeking to represent California’s 1st Congressional District.

Gina Curry ’91 (Business Administration), MBA ’97, is Sacramento State’s associate vice president for Financial Services. Curry has served in a variety of roles in the last 20 years including director of the Student Financial Services Center and with the First-Year Experience Program. She has spoken at numerous conferences and chaired the National Association of College and University Business Officers’ Student Financial Services Council.

Shari Kawelo ’91 (Psychology) returned to her alma mater this summer to serve as a director of development focused on priority projects for the University such as the new science building. She previously served in a similar role at UC Davis contributing to the success of their billion-dollar campaign.

William Waters ’91 (Accountancy) assumed the position of CEO for Swift Communications in April. Waters has been part of the Swift team for more than 36 years, during which he has been closely involved with the growth of the company.

Christine Ault ’92 (Communication Studies) has been honored as one of Sacramento Business Journal’s 17 Women Who Mean Business for 2016. This distinction is given to influential women who have made invaluable contributions to their companies, professions and communities. Ault was recognized as an independent communications consultant having worked in a variety of capacities shaping and marketing Sacramento’s economic identity.

Charles T. Meredith ’92 (Government) has been named as the new chief legal officer and corporate secretary for DEQ Systems Corp. Before joining DEQ, Meredith worked as an assistant general counsel for Sands China Limited, a subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Corporation.

Jamillah Moore ’92, MA ’95 (Communication Studies), will serve as the new president of Cañada College which is part of the San Mateo County Community College District. Moore will serve as the college’s 11th president, having previously served as the district’s chancellor of educational services and planning. Before joining the community college district, Moore worked in a variety of other communities across the state as a teacher and administrator, including Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Robert Pedersen ’92 (Communication Studies) has been hired as Plaza Bank’s new vice president of SBA and Commercial Real Estate Lending. In this role, Pedersen will focus on assisting small business customers in securing SBA and conventional lending for their commercial real estate. He has more than 20 years of experience in the banking industry, specializing in SBA, business development, portfolio management and loan servicing.

Lisa Wittke-Schaffner ’92 (Government) has been re-elected as one of Redwood Credit Union’s board directors. She also serves as the executive director of the John Jordan Foundation, which supports disadvantaged youth. Previously, Wittke-Schaffner was the CEO of Sonoma County Alliance, past president of the Healdsburg Soroptimist Club and has served in several local government offices, including two terms as the mayor of Healdsburg.

Anthony Beebe ’93 (Business Administration) took on the position of president and superintendent of Santa Barbara City College on July 1. He was one of the 42 candidates in a national search. He previously served as the president of San Diego City College.

Gary Carlson ’93 (Marketing) has been promoted to division chief of operations within the Turlock Fire Department. Carlson, a lifelong resident of Turlock, is a second-generation fire department employee. He joined the department in 1997 as an engineer and has served as a battalion chief since 2009.

Ryan Ronco ’93 (Government) has been named as Placer County’s elections chief. He previously held the position of assistant recorder-registrar within the county.


Robert Hamud ’00 (Government) has joined MuniServices as a client services manager where he will be dedicated to helping local government in California with their revenue management needs. Hamud brings more than 13 years of experience from the public sector, most recently serving as the CFO of Cascade County, Mont. and principal financial analyst with the City of Santa Rosa.

Camron King ’00 (Government) was selected as the new president of the National Grape and Wine Initiative. Previously, King served as executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission which represents 750 growers farming more than 110,000 acres of wine grapes. Prior to the commission, King was vice president of state government relations for the California Association of Winegrape Growers and executive director of the Western Labor Coalition. He has also served on numerous wine and agriculture industry boards and committees.

Lindsay S. Callahan, MPPA ’03, was announced as the United Way’s CEO for Fresno and Madera counties. Most recently, Callahan was a consultant for the Fresno County Office of Education in the visual and performing arts department. Before working with the county, she founded an intermediary organization called the Central Valley Afterschool Foundation. Recently, she was also awarded the Adult Volunteer of the Year award from HandsOn Central California and was named one of Fresno’s 40 under 40.

Alexis Cala, CRED ’04, is the new principal for Bel Aire Elementary School in Tiburon, Calif., where she has been both a teacher and assistant principal since 2011. Cala’s career as an educator spans 18 years with experience teaching math and ballet as well as handling special projects, such as English language learning programs and helping the district meet state requirements.

Maria Parteidge, MA ’04 (Studio Art) has been teaching art at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nev. since 2002. She is also an artist advocate for Burning Man. In addition, Parteidge sits on the City of Reno’s Art and Culture Commission as well as the Public Art Committee. Parteidge has also participated in TEDx Reno, giving a talk focused on Burning Man art and Reno. Her work as an artist is represented in national and international private collections.

Michael Sharp ’04 (Criminal Justice) has been named president and chief operating officer of CourseCo, one of the nation’s largest golf course management companies. Sharp has been with the company in senior management roles for 11 years and has served as the chief operating officer for the previous two years. In addition, he is also a PGA professional and partner in CourseCo.

Travis M. Taylor ’04 (Public Relations) was promoted to executive vice president at Fineman PR. Before joining Fineman, he served as vice president of Communications Pacific, Hawaii’s premier public relations firm. That followed three years as senior communications advisor to Hawaii’s lieutenant governor. Taylor also serves on the marketing committee of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco and the public policy committee of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. In 2015, he received a Certificate of Honor for his involvement with Leadership San Francisco.

Christopher Alvarez ’05 (Health Science) joined Fisher & Phillips LLP as an associate in their Sacramento office. Alvarez is responsible for representing private companies in labor and employment law. He previously served as a legislative aide to Speaker Pro Tem Lori Saldana.

Lacey A. Bowen ’06 (Liberal Studies) has been named teacher of the year for Cleo Gordon Elementary School in Fairfield, Calif.

Keri Thomas, MPPA ’06, has been honored as one of Sacramento Business Journal’s 17 Women Who Mean Business for 2016. This distinction is given to influential women who have made invaluable contributions to their companies, professions and communities. Thomas serves as the regional director of community and government relations for Sutter Health, where she has been integral in engaging and instituting a number of community health programs aimed at helping underserved populations.

Patrick R. Reyes ’07 (History) has been appointed as director of strategic partnerships for doctoral initiatives at the Forum for Theological Exploration. In his new role, he is responsible for managing the fellowship program for doctoral students, relationship building and providing support to leaders of theological institutions developing future leaders for the church and academy.

Elaine Welteroth ’07 (Public Relations) has been named Teen Vogue’s new editor-in-chief. She is the youngest editor in Conde Nast’s 107-year history. She previously served as the publication’s first African American beauty director.

Michelle Villegas-Frazier ’07 (Higher Education Leadership) has been named as the first director of strategic Native American retention initiatives at UC Davis. She most recently served as a program coordinator in the office of Student and Resident Diversity at UC Davis’ School of Medicine.

Jessica Hudson ’08 (FINANCE) has been named county library director for Fairfax County in the Washington, D.C. area. Hudson will oversee the county’s 14 community libraries. Prior to this position, Hudson was the county librarian for the Nevada County Library.

Adam Ingalls ’08 (Business Administration) has joined Sacramento-based PakSource Inc. as an account executive. He will be responsible for customers in Napa and Sonoma counties as well as Bay Area and Santa Cruz Mountain wineries. He was most recently a sales manager with VinoVisit.

Gia Vang ’08 (Journalism) has been working as a reporter for the NBC 12 News team in Phoenix, Ariz. since October 2013. Previously, Vang was a reporter for news stations in both Missouri and Oregon. Her work has been nominated for an Emmy as well as “best breaking- news story” by the Associated Press.

Carmela Smith ’09 (Psychology), a member of the Greater Sacramento Urban League’s Young Professionals, just completed her term as the organization’s chief of staff. Smith participated in and planned many events for the National Urban League, including attending conferences in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Atlanta, Ga., with the Young Professionals.

Notes from Beyond the Hive

Miyamoto brings home national honor


Kit Miyamoto, MS ‘97 (Civil Engineering), CEO of Miyamoto International, a global earthquake structural engineering firm, received the President’s “E” Award for Exports. The “E” award is the highest recognition in the U.S. for contributing to the expansion of national exports.

The Sacramento State Distinguished Alumni Award recipient is an internationally recognized expert on earthquake structural engineering and disaster mitigation, response and reconstruction. Based in Sacramento with 20 offices worldwide, Miyamoto International provides global technical knowledge and expertise.

The company has responded to earthquake and hurricane events all over the world. It recently made news as part of a team to provide an earthquake-resistant foundation under Michelangelo Buonarroti’s unfinished Rondanini Pieta. The lifesize marble statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ was moved to a new site where it needed additional protection from subway vibrations, as well as possible earthquakes.


Krystal Moreno ’11 (Communication Studies) was named Chapter Leader of the Year by the Sacramento State Alumni Association based on nominations received from her peers. The honor comes as she wrapped up her tenure as president of the Hornets Policy & Politics Alumni Chapter. Moreno works for Assemblymember Tom Daly.

Amie L. Toepfer ’11 (History) has joined Colfax Library as its first professional librarian. Toepfer has worked for the county library system since 2008 and started as a library page in Colfax. She was previously the Penryn branch manager of the Placer County Library as well as the Rocklin branch library’s youth services director.

Andrew Sturmfels, MPPA’ 12, has been appointed as the deputy director of legislation at the California Department of General Services. Prior to this appointment, he served as a member of the City of West Sacramento Planning Commission as well as the deputy director of legislative and intergovernmental affairs for the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Cameron Rappleye ’13 (Marketing) has joined Edgewood Partners Insurance Center as a property and casualty insurance broker. He previously worked at, a national video production company, where he served as their regional marketing director.

Andres Ramos ’14 (Economics), a first-year student at the UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco has been awarded a 10-week summer fellowship by the Peggy Browning Fund. This fellowship is awarded to distinguished students who have excelled in both law school and their commitment to workers’ rights. Prior to entering law school, Ramos interned for the California State Assembly where he received an official resolution of the legislature for his exemplary work.

Tayler Wells ’14 (Environmental Studies) has joined Landau Associates as an assistant scientist in their Portland office. He will assist the environmental group with sampling, operations and maintenance at remediation sites.

Rachel Rosenbaum ’15 (Journalism) is one of the Appeal-Democrat’s newest reporters covering Yuba City and business. Prior to this position, Rosenbaum worked for The State Hornet as the copy and content managing editor.

Jacob Abbott ’16 (Journalism) is one of the Appeal-Democrat’s newest reporters covering Sutter County government and natural resources. Abbott previously worked for The State Hornet.

Ginger Hashimoto, MPPA ’16, was recognized with the Gloria Rummels Award for Best Use of Quantitative Data at the Social Science Research and Instructional Center’s 2016 symposium. Her research focused on analyzing factors that predict alumni giving at a public university in California.

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