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Sac State honors six distinguished alumni for campus, community contributions

President Robert S. Nelsen (top row, second from left), honored this year's Distinguished Alumni Award winners at a ceremony on Oct. 13. Pictured are: (top row, from left) Liku T. Amadi, Nelsen, Don Nottoli, Whitney Yamamura, (bottom row, from left) Lisa Wrightsman, Lois Harper Mattice, and Franceska Halbakken. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Each year, Sacramento State recognizes alumni who represent the University’s educational values with exceptional contributions to the campus, community, and society.

Since 1972, the Sacramento State Alumni Association has honored these individuals’ accomplishments with the Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Six people were selected by the Alumni Association to receive awards this year, including four Distinguished Service Awards, which recognize professional achievements and community service. In addition, a Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the exceptional achievements in an alum’s career, community, and personal and professional life. Finally, the Rising Star Award was presented to an up-and-coming recent graduate.

A ceremony recognizing this year’s honorees was held Thursday, Oct. 13, at the Harper Alumni Center.

Distinguished Service Awards

Francesca Halbakken ’79 (Civil Engineering)

Retired Assistant City Manager, City of Sacramento

A longtime civil servant, Francesca Halbakken leveraged her bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Sac State and a passion for helping people into a career with the city of Sacramento that spanned more than 35 years. As a project manager, she oversaw the development of the downtown Sacramento Railyards and north Natomas, and most recently, the SAFE Credit Union Convention and Performing Arts centers.

Lois Harper Mattice ’87, MS ’94 (Physical Education)

Emeritus Faculty and Retired Associate Athletics Director and Senior Woman Administrator, Sacramento State

Though she never considered herself an athlete, longtime Athletics trainer and administrator Lois Harper Mattice parlayed an interest in sports and the people who play them into a stellar career at Sac State. Mattice helped student-athletes succeed in sports and academics over her nearly four-decade career by overseeing their health and wellness, offering emotional support, and helping them prevent and care for injuries. Though she retired in 2020, she recently returned to campus part time in the Athletics Department.

Lisa Wrightsman ’05 (Communication Studies)

Managing Director, Street Soccer USA

A former Hornet soccer star, Lisa Wrightsman is the co-founder of Street Soccer Sacramento, an organization serving individuals struggling with homelessness, at-risk youth, and other underrepresented populations. The organization serves people of all ages, and runs youth programs as well as monthly camps for young and teen girls that often feature Sac State players as coaches. A record 1,000 kids participated in programs this summer.

Whitney Yamamura ’84 (Business Administration), MA ’91 (Economics)

Chancellor, Coast Community College District

Whitney Yamamura, who has deep roots in Sacramento, spent much of his career in higher education in the Los Rios Community College District before recently being named chancellor of Coast Community College District in Costa Mesa. He says he owes his career to Sac State. He began working in higher education at American River College in 1989 and continually advanced, serving at all four Los Rios campuses including five years as president of Folsom Lake College.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Don Nottoli ’78 (Government/Journalism)

District 5 Supervisor, Sacramento County

A lifelong Sacramento County resident, Don Nottoli will retire from the Board of Supervisors after more than 40 years of public service – and plenty of accomplishments. Since 1994, Nottoli has represented District 5, a region stretching south from Rancho Cordova through Elk Grove and Galt to the Delta. During his seven terms, he has worked to build parks and libraries, redevelop former military bases, improve roads, and improve and expand Sacramento International Airport.

Rising Star Award

Liku T. Amadi ’13 (Communication Studies)

Founder, Anasa Law Firm PC

In the nine years since earning a bachelor’s degree from Sac State, Liku T. Amadi graduated magna cum laude from law school; founded Anasa Law Firm, a non-traditional practice that helps small business owners navigate the legal system; created Tryb, a community group that brings young Black female entrepreneurs and business owners together to network; and taught legal services online and spoken in the community on motherhood and entrepreneurship.


For more information about this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards ceremony, visit the Sacramento State Alumni Association web page.

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About Daniel Wilson

Daniel Wilson joined the Sac State communications team in 2022 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at the Sacramento Bee as an audience engagement producer and reporter. He graduated from Sac State with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism in 2018. He plays video games, watches pro wrestling, and loves spending time with his wife and cat.

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