Class Notes: Notable Sac State grads and their accomplishments
June 15, 2023
RON LOCICERO '64 (RECREATION ADMINISTRATION) recently became the co-founder of a new playground in Morgan Hill, California, called Magical Bridge, estimated to have cost $6.3 million. He also was recognized by the city as Morgan Hill Man of the Year in 2020.
ROGER SMITH '69 (SPEECH COMMUNICATION) recently hosted an exhibit of his experimental artwork as part of the "People, Places, and Things" art show in Modesto, California.
TIA GEMMELL '76 (ART) recently received the Food Angel Award from California Legislature Assemblyman Kevin McCarty. The award was to recognize her efforts creating dishes, sharing with those in need, shopping, and doing other important tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
SANDRA GIVENS '75 (ENGLISH) recently published her sixth novel called Night Flight to Paris. Prior to this she was awarded the prestigious International Associate of Business Communicators Award of Excellence.
CHERIE LARKIN '79 (BUSINESS) accepted the position as senior minister of Unity of Auburn. She was ordained by Unity Worldwide Ministries in 2000 and spent 14 years as senior minister at Unity of Nashville in Tennessee.
THERESA CLAIBORNE '81 (COMMUNICATIONS) serves as a captain for United Airlines, as well as the co-founder and president emeritus of Sisters of the Sky (SOS). The goal of SOS is to improve the number of Black female pilots. Theresa became the first African American female pilot in the U.S. Air Force in 1982.
STEVE IKEDA '88 (BUSINESS) is a second-generation family business owner of Ikeda's California Country Market.
MELISSA KISTLER '85 (BUSINESS), along with DINA GENTRY '06 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) helped launch El Dorado County Sac State Alumni Network. The goal of the Network is to provide a space for intentional networking, mentorship, scholarship, and engagement with the Sacramento State community.
ANN RANLETT '85 (BIOLOGY) is an award-winning scratchboard artist. She recently served as a judge for the 2022 Rocklin Fine Arts Juried Show. Ranlett is a Master Member of the International Society of Scratchboard Artists, a Signature Member of the Society of Animal Artists, and an Associate Member with Distinction of American Women Artists.
ALESIA (HIMLEY) SOLTANPANAH '85 (POLITICAL SCIENCE) is the chief development officer of the Center for Reproductive Rights overseeing all fundraising efforts for the nonprofit, working to expand the organization's donor base in support of its global mission to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights through game-changing litigation and advocacy work. She previously served as executive director at World Animal Protection US, where she doubled the organization's revenue, and has held leadership positions at Ms. Foundation for Women, Save the Children, and Safe Horizon.
SONIA SUSAC '89 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) serves as the president and owner of the Sacramento-based aerospace business TECMA, which provides components and parts to NASA, the Department of Defense, and Blue Origin.
KRISTA BERNASCONI '99 (LIBERAL STUDIES) is currently serving as the vice mayor of Roseville, helping lead a government workforce of about 1,000 employees and a city of nearly 150,000 residents. Prior to this she spent two years as mayor, eight years on the Roseville City School District board of education, and another eight years on the city's planning commission.
ELIZABETH BRYANT '93 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) has been promoted to senior vice president of People, Learning and Development at Southwest Airlines. Since joining Southwest Airlines in 1997, Bryant has served in various leadership roles, including manager of Leadership Development, director of Leadership Development, and senior director of Talent Development.
DWAYNE CRENSHAW, MA '99 (GOVERNMENT) recently became the new president and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Urban League. The GSUL is a civil rights and engagement organization committed to empowering communities and changing lives in the Sacramento region.
HAROLD DAVIS '94 (BIOLOGY) was recently named the new board president of the North American Veterinary Community. A practicing veterinary technician for more than 45 years, he works as a veterinary practice educational consultant/lecturer providing in-hospital continuing education opportunities.
MIKE GLOVER '94 (RECREATION ADMINISTRATION) recently became chief executive officer for the Tahoe Chamber of Commerce. He was previously president/CEO of the Hood River Chamber of Commerce as well as the chief executive at VisitBend, the destination marketing organization serving the Bend region in Oregon.
NIKO KING '99 (FIRE SERVICE MANAGEMENT) was recently selected to serve as the chief of the Laguna Beach Fire Department after accumulating three decades of experience with the Sacramento Fire Department as the deputy fire chief for six years.
TRISHA MALONE '95 (ACCOUNTANCY) recently joined WNC's Board of Advisors. WNC is a leading provider of investment, asset management and development services for the affordable housing industry. She is president and chief investment officer at Anton Development Company, a developer, builder, owner and operator of market rate and affordable housing.
VIELKA MONTOUT '93 (GEOGRAPHY) recently published her book Shayla Boo and You and has spent her career as a hearing specialist with the Sonoma County Office of Education. The book is about a child with hearing loss, and Montout hopes the kids she works with can see themselves in its pages and that it can serve as a teaching tool about life with hearing aids.
IAN SCHMUTZLER '97 (CRIMINAL JUSTICE) recently became the new Vacaville chief of police after an extensive nationwide search. Ian has been with the Vacaville Police Department for nearly 22 years, following a three-year period with the Oakland Police Department, where he began his career in 1997.
TONY SHAH '96 (PSYCHOLOGY AND EDUCATION) was recently named the principal of Golden West High School. He brings over 20 years of experience as an educator, 16 of which were spent as an administrator.
TRACI SHEESLEY '98 (NURSING) has been named the new chief nurse executive at Sutter Davis Hospital. This is the latest milestone in a nursing career spanning over 20 years, including the role of administrative director of hospital operations in 2016.
SCOTT TAYLOR '92 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) has been appointed as general counsel to the California State Library.
AMY TONG '94 (BUSINESS) was recently appointed by Gov. Newsom as secretary of the California Government Operations Agency. Prior to this, she was the director at the California Department of Technology from 2016 to 2021.
LIZBETH WEST '94 (SOCIOLOGY) has been elected president of the Board of Directors for TLCS, Inc. dba Hope Cooperative. She is a regular speaker and trainer on employment law issues for various organizations in California, has been named to the Northern California Super Lawyer list each year since 2012, and has regularly been selected to the Top 25 Sacramento Super Lawyers list, the Top 50 Women Northern California Super Lawyers list, and Sacramento Magazine's Top Lawyers list.
RACHAEL BROWN '02 (URBAN LAND DEVELOPMENT) has been appointed as the executive director of the Power Inn Alliance, an organization representing businesses in the Power Inn area of South Sacramento. She has served more than 15 years total in commercial development.
LUZ "NINA" BUELNA '04 (CIVIL ENGINEERING) has been appointed as the assistant director of Public Works for the city of Goleta. Prior to this, she was a supervising engineer and construction manager for the Roseville Department of Public Works.
BRANDON DARNELL '07 (JOURNALISM) is the director of Content at Visit Sacramento where he helps to shape the brand, edits the Visitors Guide, and hosts a podcast.
LIISA DAVILA '06 (MUSIC) performed as a part of the Vallejo Festival Orchestra in "From Vienna With Love" at the historic Empress Theatre in Vallejo. She was a regional finalist at the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and a winner of the Maria and Ben Holt Scholarship.
KIMBERLY DOW '01 (BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AND LIBERAL STUDIES) is the new Carson City district manager for the Bureau of Land Management. She has previously held numerous positions at the Nevada State Office, including management and program analyst, Natural Resource specialist, Fisheries Program lead, Renewable Energy coordinator, and branch chief for Renewable Resources.
TONY ESCOBEDO '08 (HISTORY) achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. After years of working as a paraprofessional and after-school tutor at Beamer Elementary School, he was recently hired to teach second- and third-grade students through the online Flex Academy program at Cache Creek High School.
LUCAS FRERICHS '06 (GOVERNMENT) was elected to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. He has served on the Davis City Council since 2012 and has also served as Davis mayor prior to his new elected position.
DARIN GALE '04 (ECONOMICS) recently became the assistant city manager for the city of Brentwood. Prior to this, he worked in Sacramento, as part of the city's Inclusive Business Retention and Expansion programs.
KATHY LESTER '00 (GOVERNMENT/INT'L RELATIONS) became the Sacramento chief of police in 2022. She is the first woman to hold the position and is a 27-year veteran of the department.
PERRY MARTIN '00 (BUSINESS) has written a memoir concerning the first horse he ever bred, California Chrome, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2014. The book is titled California Chrome, Our Story.
EMILY LO '04 (FIRE SERVICE MANAGEMENT) was promoted to the rank of battalion chief by the Davis Fire Department. She is a 31-year veteran of the department and is now the first Asian American woman to reach this rank. Over her career she has held positions as a co-chair and commissioner with the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee's (CFFJAC) Commission to Recruit Women for the Fire Service.
LUCIA LUCAS '05 (MUSIC) is making history as the first openly trans opera singer to perform at the Met. A baritone, he plays Angelotti in Puccini's "Tosca" at the Met Opera.
SARAH POLLO MOO '06 (GOVERNMENT/JOURNALISM) is the president and CEO of Pollo Communications. She was recently recognized for her communications-based work with nonprofit organizations including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Sierra and California Women Lead.
LORI D. WILSON '02 (BUSINESS) was recently elected as the chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus for the 2023-24 legislative session. She is the former mayor of Suisun City, and the first black female mayor in Solano County history.
MICHAEL YOURIL '08 (GOVERNMENT) was selected to the 2022 Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Stars list for his work on behalf of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore's clients and his overall dedication to the practice of law.
LORA ANGUAY '13 (BUSINESS) serves as the chief carbon officer with SMUD. As the utility company's inaugural chief zero carbon officer, she leads the team's efforts to address climate change by achieving zero carbon emissions in its power supply by 2030 by relying more on clean, renewable energy sources.
OWEN ANSTESS '19 (CRIMINAL JUSTICE) was recently sworn in as a Folsom police officer. He previously worked for the Sacramento Police Department for approximately four years as a student trainee, community service officer, and a police officer stationed in the South Sacramento area.
REBECCA BERNER, ED.D '12 (EDUCATION) has been appointed dean of Student Success at Butte Community College. Her previous role was as a grants manager and interim dean of Student Success.
AARON BEVERLY '17 (PSYCHOLOGY) recently made his PGA Tour debut as the recipient of the Charlie Sifford exemption into the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, a tournament hosted by Tiger Woods. He regularly works as the assistant pro at Valley Hi Country Club in Elk Grove and as assistant coach at Sacramento State.
SUSAN BOEGER '14 (BUSINESS) and her husband Greg recently celebrated the 50-year anniversary of opening Boeger Winery, which they run together in El Dorado County.
CLAYTON CASERZA '19 (PSYCHOLOGY) recently became an officer for the Woodland Police Department. After graduating from Sacramento State, Clayton attended the Sacramento Police Academy.
ANDY GARCIA CAZARES '19 (EDUCATION) is serving as lead mentor for the nonprofit Improve Your Tomorrow, where he provides mentorship, youth development, and college advising to young men of color at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento.
AUSTIN CLARK '17 (KINESIOLOGY AND BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION) is a successful entrepreneur through his leadership role at the D1 Training brand. After initially being hired as a general manager of the company, he rose through the ranks and was offered a partnership venture by the CEO.
ASHTON "LAVISH" COLLINS '15 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) is the co-owner of The Clique UP Pop-Up shop in South Sacramento, which is the first cashless clothing store in Sacramento. Customers pay for their purchases through credit or debit card, payment apps, or Bitcoin.
BUDDY HALE '17 (BUSINESS) is the founder and executive director of MusicLandria, a business that loans musical instruments to people, operating as a musical lending library. MusicLandria also provides practice space and an all-ages venue where local musicians can perform.
SAEEDA ISLAM'14 (HISTORY) has started studies at Yale University, where she is pursuing a doctorate in American Studies.
JAMIL JAN KOCHAI '14 (ENGLISH) has attained considerable success writing novels such as 99 Nights in Logar, which was shortlisted for a PEN/Hemingway Award.
MITCHELL MARTINEZ '15 (ENGLISH) recently became a published author upon completion of his comic book series WANNABES.
ALYSSA NAKKEN '12 (PSYCHOLOGY) is the first woman to ever manage on field in a regular season MLB game as a result of an ejection of the San Francisco Giants manager. She made history in 2019 as the first female assistant coach in MLB history. She is a former Sac State softball player.
RYAN PISTOCHINI '15 (PUBLIC POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION) was recently appointed as the director of the Yolo Country General Services Department. He previously served as the manager of procurement for Yolo County, providing oversight to more than 850 contracts in the county.
ERIK RAMIREZ '16 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) was appointed as the director of Equity and Affinity Centers for the unit of Strategic Student Support Programs at Sacramento State. He most recently served as lead coordinator for Strategic Student Support Programs and Dreamer Resource Center coordinator.
VICTOR RODARTE '19 (CIVIL ENGINEERING) joined The Christman Company as a project engineer for the construction management and real estate development firm's Knoxville, Tennessee, office. He previously served as associate project engineer for Performance Contracting Inc.
LEMA SAFI '16 (HEALTH SCIENCE AND HEALTHCARE ADMINISTRATION) joined Adventist Health Clinic in Yuba City. Her role will ensure general and bariatric surgical patients receive quality care throughout all stages of the surgical process at the multi-specialty clinic.
BRENT TRAYCE SANDS '10 (COMMUNICATION STUDIES) successfully launched his first comic book series during the pandemic. Impound Comics revolves around an original superhero based in Sacramento. He has now opened a storefront where he sells his comic books, figurines, T-shirts and other memorabilia.
JOE STEPHENSHAW '13 (BUSINESS) has been appointed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom as the director of Finance. He serves as the chief fiscal policy advisor, and the highest-ranking Black DOF official in the last 30 years.
ANDREW STURMFELS '12 (PUBLIC POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION) serves as the Assistant City Manager for the city of Healdsburg. Prior to this position, he was the city's Administrative Services director.
DANIELLE TRUITT '05 (THEATER), a successful Law and Order star, returned to Sacramento as part of a one-woman play called "3: Black Girls Blues" in 2022.
JASON VU '14 (BUSINESS) is the creative director and founder of "SWISH" a clothing line made in collaboration with the Sacramento Kings. He hopes to continue the path of success he's been on by pivoting outside the sportswear box.
MELISSA WHITE '11 (CRIMINAL JUSTICE) joined the Folsom Police Department as an officer coming from the Stockton Police Department where she was a detective. She also served in Stockton as a field training officer and mounted unit officer.
RAHUL LAL '21 (JOURNALISM) was hired as a photography intern at Cal Matters. His freelance work has been featured by Comstock's Magazine, Sacramento News & Review, Elk Grove Citizen, and the State Hornet.
AMIR A. NAVAI '21 (COMPUTER SCIENCE) was hired as a programmer/analyst by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) in the Information Technology and Security Directorate located at IDA's Alexandria, Virgina, headquarters.