Bill Mueller is one of five people chosen to receive a 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from Sacramento State.


Bill Mueller ’90 (Communications Studies/Government) is dedicated to improving the Sacramento region’s economic and social prosperity. As chief executive officer of local nonprofit Valley Vision, Mueller and his team help inspire creative solutions to some of the region’s most difficult challenges.

From improving quality of life to increasing access to health care, education, workforce and technology, Muller said he has “the good fortune of working for an organization whose full-time job is bringing people together to solve problems.”

One of the biggest challenges the region faces, Mueller said, is helping people get mental health services.

“We were asked by Sutter Health, Kaiser, UC Davis and Dignity Health, along with area health care providers, to start a conversation with Sacramento County to expand services,” Mueller said.

“What resulted was that the county agreed to financially support the opening of more crisis centers for people to get the care they need. It’s still not a perfect solution, but things are getting better because the community found ways of talking together.”

This kind of collaborative problem solving is one of the skills Mueller says he gained as an undergraduate Sacramento Semester Program student working at the state Capitol with members of the Legislature.  

“I am really proud of my Sac State education because not only did I have the best in theory, I had professors and teachers like Joe Serna who also understood the use and practice of it,” he said.

“What was amazing for me is that I went from Joe Serna in the classroom to Mayor Joe Serna to working alongside him as the political director of the Metro Chamber and devising ways we could pass a school bond with the business community’s support.”

Mueller was raised in a working-class family with parents who believed that college was the ultimate path to success. With their support, he become the first in his family to attain a degree.

“Were it not for their encouragement to push me to go to college, I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “My father passed 15 years ago, and he always commented how amazed he was that I had access to and was working with these people who were so different from, who he interacted with as a transmission mechanic.

“And just this year I lost my mom. I wish they would have had the opportunity to sit with me for this (award).”

Mueller’s career in public policy and strategy spans 25 years, including positions with Intel Corporation, Sacramento Metro Chamber, and as a policy adviser in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

He is a graduate of several leadership programs and holds statewide volunteer positions with the California Asian Chamber of Commerce, California Stewardship Network, and California Economic Summit. He also serves on the board of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, and was honored with the 2011 Unity Award, the top recognition from the Sacramento Urban League. - Anita Fitzhugh