Class Notes


Notable Sac State grads and their accomplishments


Gilbert Woody ’55, MA ’57 (Music) performed with the Sacramento Symphony, and at Music Circus, the State Fair Orchestra, Paul Weston in Hollywood, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison, and many others.  After completing his master’s degree Woody taught music history at Sac City until retirement.  Since that time, he has been composing classical pieces for the trombone and the cello.


Ron Stone ’68 (Physical Education) played 11 years of professional baseball and had a major league career of 5 years with the Kansas City A’s and Philadelphia Phillies.  

Nanci Woody ’69 (Business Administration) since retirement, wrote a novel based on her husband and fellow alumnus Gil Woody’s life. 
Sac State is featured prominently in the novel,
as is the Sacramento area and Symphony. 
The novel, Tears and Trombones, won an IPPY (Independent Publishers) medal when it when it
was published, and just recently, won a Readers’ Favorite Silver medal.  


Michael Gualco ’73 (Economics)  was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. He is a partner at Trainor Fairbrook practicing real estate transactions.

Charles Trainor ’73 (Business Administration) 
was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. Trainor is the shareholder and president of Trainor Fairbrook where he specializes in real estate transactions.

Steven Green ’76 (Psychology), MBA ’79 has
been elected to the Farmers & Merchants Bancorp board of directors. Green served as senior vice president and market manager of the Sacramento area for Farmers & Merchants Bank before his retirement in 2012. 

Stephen McGowan ’78 (English) opened McGowan’s Hops and Grapes in Bradfordville, Florida in January 2017 with his wife Robin. The pub serves more than 40 kinds for a variety of craft beers while also serving local wine. To honor heroes in their local community McGowan’s donates a portion of their proceeds from certain beers each month to help children of law enforcement officers, firefighters, and veterans attend college.  


Rona Dee Commins ’81 (Music)  won the Mary Alice Cox Award from MuPhi Epsilon International Music Fraternity for aid in publishing Forever Florence, True Tales of Italian Intrigue. The book is the result of 24 summers teaching for Sac State in Florence, Italy and consists of unknown stories of artists, writers and musicians of Renaissance Florence in the form of a guide book with accompanying photos and map. 

Michael McCarron ’82 (Communication Studies) was named Executive Director of the USS Hornet Sea, Air, and Space Museum in Alameda, California.  

Tom Sumner ’83 (Communication Studies) has been named president of Yamaha Corporation of America.  This is the first time that Yamaha Corporation has named an American executive to the top position in the United States. Sumner has worked for Yamaha in varying capacities since 1988.  

James Dyer ’84 (Business Administration) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. Dyer is a shareholder at Buchalter, where he specializes in corporate banking. 

Patricia Hughes Kreis ’84 (Psychology) released her fourth book to help caregivers, 365 Caregiving Tips: Hospitals, Care Facilities and Hospice, Practical Tips from Everyday Caregivers.  She teamed up with 4 other care givers to offer practical, easy to read advice to fellow caregivers. 

William Warne ’84 (Business Administration and English) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. He was also recognized as one of Best Lawyers in America 2018. Warne is a trial lawyer for Downey Brand LLP, specializing in commercial and complex litigation. 

Gregg Fishman ’85 (Journalism) has been selected to serve as board president of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Fishman currently serves as communications coordinator for the California State Association.  

Tod Bannister ’86 (Government) was announced as UC San Diego’s associate athletics director for corporate partnerships and development. He joined UC San Diego from UNLV, where he helped generate $3.2 in annual contributions for the university as an associate athletics director. 

Marisa Kelly ’86 (Government) has been elected as Suffolk University’s 11th president. Kelly previously served as acting president and provost at the Boston area university.

Roxanne Middleton Burns ’87, MPPA ’96 has joined California Bank of Commerce as an executive vice president.  Burns will lead the bank’s new Emerging Business Division.  She has more than 25 years of experience in the field.  John Phillips ’87 (Computer Science) was inducted into the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Hall of Fame. This honor recognizes exceptional contributions to NIFA’s mission at local, regional, national, or international level that have made a positive impact on humans. Phillips is the executive director of First Americans Land Grant Consortium and land grant director at the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.  

Christopher Cavote ’88 (Engineering and Computer Science) was named refinery general manager at the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He previously held the same position at the Chevron refinery in British Columbia, Canada.  

Edward Padilla ’88 (Economics) recently published his third book, Tunnels. His writing is influenced by Tom Clancy and early Stephen King. 

Rick Finden ’89 (Government) retired after working 25 years as an administrator at Fresno State.  Prior to returning to college, Finden had a successful career in resort management in the Sierras. He will now be living the dream in Telluride with his wife of 30 years, Antonina. A loyal alum, Finden always wore green on Fresno State’s “Red Fridays” telling local Bulldog fans that, “Hornets Rule!  Bulldogs Drool!” 

Vida Thomas ’89 (Business Administration) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients She is of counsel at Weintraub Tobin, where she specializes in employment and workplace investigations. 


Bradford Bell ’90 (Business Administration) was appointed as chief information officer for Infoblox, Inc. a network control company. Bell has more than 25 years of experience leading organizations in the high tech industry.  

Joseph Montes ’90 (Communication Studies) has joined Expert Network, an invitation-only service for distinguished professionals. Montes, a real estate broker, has been chosen as a Distinguished Real Estate Professional based on peer reviews and ratings.

Richard Rupp, MA ’90 (Government), a professor of political science at Purdue University Northwest (PNW), has been named chief of staff in the office of the Chancellor. Rupp will be involved in the universities strategic planning and engagement, community relations, and participating in the day-to-day operations of the university. Having been with Purdue Northwest since 1998, Rupp is also involved with a variety of programs on campus including the university’s Freshman Year Experience program.   

Walter White ’91 (Fire Service Management) is retiring after 30 years of service with the Sacramento Fire Department. During his time, White served as captain, battalion chief, director of training, health and safety, and assistant chief of Metro Fire before entering his current role as the city’s fire chief. 

Gina Lera ’92 (English) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. Lera is a managing shareholder at Lera Tiberini PC, specializing in estate planning. 

Daniel Steinberg ’93 (Business Administration) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. Steinberg is a partner at Trainor Fairbrook where he practices construction and real estate law. 

Kim Bobby, MA ’94 (Education) has been appointed as chief of staff to the president of Prince George’s Community College. She previously served as director of the Inclusive Excellence Group at the American Council on Education. 

Jim Ortega ’94 (Criminal Justice)  began his career with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department where he retired at the rank of captain.  He is now the Chief of Police in Placerville.  

Reed McLaughlin ’95 (Education) was inducted into Fairfield High School’s Athletics Hall of Fame. He was honored for his support of Athletics during his time as principal at Fairfield High from 1981-1997. 

James McNairy ’95 (Environmental Studies) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. McNairy is a shareholder at Boutin Jones Inc, where he specializes in employment and intellectual property, unfair competition and business litigation. 

Kevin Nishioka ’96 (Business Administration) has been named by Alexander & Baldwin, a Hawaii Real Estate corporation, as Vice President of Tax. He will oversee A&B’s tax department with responsibility for their corporate tax strategy, compliance, planning and research programs. He brings more than 20 years of experience providing tax compliance to his new role.  

Nalesh Chandra ’97 (Marketing) received the distinction of Volunteer of the Year by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce.  Chandra is a marketing director for Cunningham Legal. Non-member

Matt Reid, MBA ’97 has been named as Billtrust’s new chief marketing officer.  Billtrust is the leader in payment cycle management. Reid will be responsible for leading the global marketing function. 

Jody Burgess ’98 (Criminal Justice) has been appointed as Shasta County’s newest superior court judge.  He was formerly a partner at Marie and Burgess. 

Heather Shortino ’99 (Recreation Administration) has been a recreation coordinator at Cosumnes Community Services District for more than 12 years.  There she is responsible for special events, leading several large-scale events. 


Julia Mates, MA ’02 (Public History) has been named to the Belmont City Council. Mates has worked for the City Planning Commission in addition to serving as a historian and cultural resource specialist consultant for more than 17 years.

Gabriella Lundqvist ’03 (Communication Studies) along with her husband Daniel Poppers ’03 (Communication Studies) have joined Golden State Wealth Management as their newest wealth managers under Lundqvist Wealth Strategies. They provide a variety of services including retirement, education and social security planning.  

Ramona Farrell, MBA ’07  has joined GreerWalker LLP, a South Carolina regional CPA and advisory firm, as the director of their Greenville office. She has more than 20 years of diversified financial consulting and forensic accounting experience. 

Leili Khalessi ’07 (Business Administration) has joined American Leadership Forum (ALF) as chief operations officer. ALFworks with a diverse network of leaders to improve the social, economic and political fabric of the Greater Sacramento region. Khalessi will oversee the organization’s day-to-day operations and help lead ALF’s strategic mission.  

Christina Lokke, MPPA’ 07  joined the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) as their new policy manager. Lokke will lead SACOG’s state and federal government affairs. She has more than a decade of California Legislative experience.  

Lorena Martinez ’07 (Accountancy) was awarded the 2017 Rising Estrella Award at the 3rd Annual Latina Estrella Awards held by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The award honors exceptional women who are leading the way in their professions, business, and community. Midori Aispuro ’08 (Social Science) has been appointed as chief executive officer of Ca’ Momi, a Napa Valley wine, spirits, food, and lifestyle company.  

Amanda Folendorf ’09 (Government) has been elected as Mayor by the Angels Camp City Council. As such, Folendorf is the first deaf female mayor in American history.  Folendorf has spent the last three years on the Angels Camp City Council. 


Luis Sanchez ’10 (Marketing) has joined The Western States Petroleum Association as a California Policy Advocate (WSPA). Before joining WSPA, Sanchez served as chief of staff in the California State Assembly. 

Jake Weaver ’10 (Business Administration) was honored as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Best of the Bar” recipients. Weaver is an associate at Downey Brand LLP, where he specializes in construction, real estate and general business litigation. 

James Kim, MBA ’11 has been named the new executive vice president and chief administrative officer for Central Valley Community Bank. 

Jaime Maxwell, MS ’11 (Counseling) has been chosen as Ceder Point Recovery’s 24-hour trauma therapist. Maxwell, a licensed marriage and family therapist, provides therapeutic services to the center’s Frontline Responders Services department. This an inpatient residential facility for first responders with PTSD. 

Bianca Yanuaria, MS ’12 (School Counseling) was honored recently during a ceremony with former First Lady Michelle Obama. Yanuaria was selected out of more than 600 public and private school counselors across Hawaii as the Hawaii School Counselor Association’s 2018 Counselor of the Year.  Yanuaria has been a school counselor for four years.  

Avery Davis ’13 (Criminal Justice) recently graduated the California Highway Patrol academy.  He is assigned to the Dublin Area CHP Office. 

Ariana Castillo ’14 (Civil Engineering) received the Outstanding Younger Civil Engineer award at the annual ASCE Sacramento Section awards dinner.  This distinction is given to those with outstanding achievements and leadership in the field of civil engineering. 

Michael Lynch, MPPA ’14 is the founder of Sacramento’s Improve Your Tomorrow.  A non-profit founded, that mentors young men starting in the seventh grade. They currently serve 700 young men of color across 10 schools and have a 96% college attendance rate. 

David Rashe ’14 (Criminal Justice) has joined Fisher Phillips, a national labor and employment law firm.  Rashe joined the Irvine office where he will represent employers in a variety of employment matters. 


News and Communications Staff

Sacramento State’s News and Communications team writes and shares stories about the University, its students, faculty, and alumni, revealing the accomplishments, achievements and milestones that characterize its standing as an educational leader and an important community center. The department’s writers, editors and public relations personnel look across the broad spectrum of the campus and the people who thrive here to support the University’s mission