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  • Distinguished Alum: For Choulos, relationships matter

    Saori Choulos has long been an important facilitator in the service of community engagement and inclusion. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

    By Cynthia Hubert 

    Saori Choulos BS '92 (Business Administration), '12 (EMBA) once envisioned becoming a diplomat, traveling abroad to help manage delicate government negotiations on sensitive topics.

    She ultimately chose to study business, earning two degrees from Sacramento State. But her passion for bringing people together and fostering progress never waned.

    With her business background and certification as a leadership and career coach, Choulos helps build and manage relationships among people in the corporate, education and nonprofit worlds as they seek to achieve common goals. She is director of outreach and business engagement at Align Capital Region, where she helps synchronize people, programs and resources with an eye toward improving student success and work readiness, among other areas.

    Align serves eight counties, working with businesses, elementary and secondary school districts, community colleges and universities, and nonprofit organizations across the greater Sacramento area.

    “We know that community inclusion and engagement makes for richer and more sustainable results, and working together we can do so much more than working alone,” Choulos said.

    The primary initiative for Align Capital Region is ProjectAttain!, which is spearheaded by Jenni Murphy, dean of Sacramento State's College of Continuing Education. The initiative is bringing together educational institutions, employers and others to help adults ages 25 to 64 attain college degrees, certificates and other credentials.

    The Sacramento region has 340,000 working-age adults who have started but not completed college, Choulos said. Of those, 86,000 are fewer than 15 units from attaining an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. ProjectAttain! is set up to determine why so many have fallen short of the finish line and is developing strategies to give those individuals the support and education they need to complete their degrees.

    “We need to remove the barriers for people to complete their education and help drive the economic mobility of the greater Sacramento region,” Choulos said.

    Choulos said she is humbled to have been selected as a Distinguished Alumnus.

    “Sacramento State has produced so many talented, giving people, and it’s such a privilege to be recognized for work that is the culmination of so many,” she said.

    Choulos earned her bachelor of science degree in Business Administration in 1992, and spent nearly 20 years in leadership and management roles in commercial banking and at VSP Global before earning her Executive Master’s in Business Administration in 2012.

    Sac State’s EMBA program allowed her to take classes on Fridays and Saturdays while managing business and family obligations, she said.

    The University’s diverse campus “opened the world to me” by exposing her to people of various backgrounds, cultures and experiences, Choulos said. Her classes, professors and fellow students “allowed me to see various perspectives and appreciate the world that is delivered through talented people across so many different organizations,” she said. Those skills have proved invaluable in her business endeavors.

    Sac State plays a crucial role as it engages in partnerships with people and organizations across the region, Choulos said, and the University will continue to be a key player as the region grows and matures.

    “I hope to see Sacramento continue to grow to meet the needs of jobs, housing and culture in the big ways that we aspire to do,” she said, and “engage even more employers who are committed to investing in the education, talent, development, and hiring of students from Sacramento State.”

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