Spring/Summer 2017: Alumni Updates


Michael Dean, ’64 Social Science, a real estate attorney with Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean, was listed in the 2016 edition of Northern California Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters rating service and publication. Approximately five percent of the members of the Northern California Bar received the distinction.

Ron Malone, ’68 Political Science, co-owner of Petaluma’s Circle Oak Equine, a rehab and treatment center for performance horses, is past president of Sonoma County Horse Council and a retired lawyer who served as a Justice Department prosecutor during the Watergate hearings. Diagnosed with ALS last year, the horseman, who learned to love ranching on his grandfather’s farm in Missouri, told the Argus-Courier: “I’m wheelchair bound, but I still ride with the support of family and staff, who help me mount up.”

Robert Straccia, ’63 Business Management, retired as executive vice president, co-owner and board chairman of Insulectro, a manufacturer of high tech electronic materials. The company is headquartered in Mountain View.

Luis Valdez, ’64 English, ’88 Honorary Doctorate, co-wrote (with son Kinan) Corridos the Remix: The New American Musical, the first play showcased at the newly reopened Hammer Theatre. The playwright, actor, writer and director received the prestigious National Medal of Arts in 2015. “To have the president of the United States, particularly the first African-American president of the U.S., give this award to me is a fulfillment of my wildest dreams,” he said at the time.


Terry Eberhardt’72 Recreation and Leisure Services, and Rich Goldsberry, ’73 Business, ’78 MBA, were elected to the board of directors of the Lake of the Pines Association, a gated community in Auburn. Both will serve three-year terms.

Wendy Hiller Gee, ’77 Fine Arts, director of medical illustration at StayWell in San Francisco, is also president of the Association of Medical Illustrators, a network of more than 800 interdisciplinary professionals using visual media to advance life sciences, medicine, and health care.

Mike Gustavson, ’78 MFA Art, who specializes in raku ceramics, recently exhibited his work at the Hovey Tasting Room and Gardens in Murphys. Among the collectors of his sculptures: Apple, Kaiser Permanente, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Jeff Mapes, ’76 Journalism, who covered state and national politics for The Oregonian for more than 30 years, is currently a senior political reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. An “avid bike commuter,” he is also the author of Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists Are Changing American Cities (Oregon State University Press, 2009).

Paul Nachtigall, ’70 MA Psychology, directs the Marine Mammal Research Program at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

Penny Peck, ’77 MLS, was reelected to the governing board of the San Lorenzo Unified School District and serves as the board’s president. She teaches part time in SJSU’s School of Information.

Neil Rutman, ’76 Music, published Stories, Images and Magic from the Piano Literature (Light Messages, 2016), a “fascinating tapestry of tales, letters and comments from the composers themselves” reports Leon Fleisher, Andrew W. Mellon chair in piano at Johns Hopkins University.

Rolinda Schmidt, ’78 Social Work, current secretary of the Kerrville (Texas) Independent School Board, was reelected to the Texas Association of School Boards, representing Region 20, Position A.

Rose Pierro Simmons, ’71 Social Work, was honored for her work as a nurse and social worker by San José’s Notre Dame High School at its 2016 “Women of Impact” luncheon. Simmons worked 35 of her 41-year career in nonprofits at the American Cancer Society. She retired as COO of the organization’s California Division last year.


Karen Becker, ’84 Accounting, who previously lead Immersion Corporation’s marketing efforts, is the new vice president of marketing at Benchmark Communities, based in San José. The company designs and builds single-family houses for a range of lifestyles and budgets in California, Washington, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Dave Caron, ’87 Accounting, is corporate controller/chief accounting officer at Marvell Technology, a semiconductor manufacturer, headquartered in Bermuda. He was previously corporate controller/principal accounting officer at Maxim Integrated.

Matt Casebolt, ’89 Mechanical Engineering, formerly a senior director at Apple, joined Tesla Motors Inc. as senior director of Engineering, Closures and Mechanisms. At Apple since 2007, he worked on the first-generation designs of MacBook Air.

Maureen Christensen, ’86 Psychology, is principal of Stratford Elementary School in Pleasanton.

Sal Cobar, ’80 Systems Engineering, former senior vice president/chief marketing and sales officer at Sigma Designs, was promoted to COO of the company in September. Sigma Designs specializes in Smart TV platforms and IoT devices.

Jill Cody, ’83 MPA, a political activist involved in Information Literacy initiatives in Washington, D.C., Prague and Egypt, published her first book in October, America Abandoned: The Secret Velvet Coup That Cost Us Our Democracy (Writing Endeavors, 2016).

Audrey Comeaux, ’81 Chemistry, an environmental services representative and project manager at East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Pharmaceutical Take-Back Program, was elected to the West County Wastewater District Board of Directors.

Joe Consul, ’82 Business Administration, CFO of San José’s Xactly Corporation, was named 2016 CFO of the Year by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

James Earle, ’81 MA Education/Counseling, who received a law degree from Golden Gate University, joined the Los Angeles branch of Morris Polich & Purdy. His legal practice focuses on real estate and environmental issues.

Paula Ewanich, ’88 Finance, is vice president of human resources at Skybox Security, a security analytics firm, headquartered in San José. She has previously held senior HR positions at Imperva, InvenSense and NetLogic.

Steve Hinrichs, ’85 Accounting, is managing director of the Los Angeles office of Monroe Capital, a provider of debt and equity co-investments to companies in the U.S. and Canada. He formerly served as managing director at Capital One Business Credit.

James Lianides, ’84 MA Education, retired as superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District. He spent much of his almost 40 years as an educator on the Peninsula, serving as principal of Mountain View Elementary and Mountain View Middle School before accepting the position of assistant superintendent of the Sequoia District
in 2008.

Stephen Monarque, ’87 Mathematics, is a project engineer in the Japan Lessons Learned Division of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Sally Peters, ’83 MLS, with her husband, Howard, received the 2016 Helen M. Free Award for outstanding public outreach from the American Chemical Society. As a couple, they tour the country with a presentation called “Chocolate—Food of the Gods,” an exploration of the history and chemistry of one of America’s favorite treats. They have also lectured as scientist-authors on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2.

Craig Robertson, ’83 Industrial Technology, is head coach of the boys’ and girls’ varsity swim teams at Notre Dame Preparatory in Scottsdale, Ariz. A four-time All American in water polo and swimming at SJSU, he has coached for more than 25 years.

Jon Shult, ’88 MA Art, a landscape painter and owner of Oroville Broken Color Art Gallery, teaches at the Chico Art Center and for
the Oroville Feather River Recreation and Park District.

Jim Stanker, ’82 Aeronautics, joined the board of directors of GSE Systems, a Maryland provider of engineering solutions to the power and process industries. He recently retired from a 16-year career at Grant Thornton LLP, where his executive positions included audit partner, professional practice director for the Atlantic Coast and global head of audit quality.


April Augustine, ’99 Advertising, is the new director of marketing at Gaming Laboratories International, headquartered in Las Vegas. Previously she was director of marketing for DALLASWHITE Property Restoration, also located in Las Vegas.

Robert Bertini, ’91 MS Civil Engineering, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of South Florida at Tampa, was named director of the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR), a resource for policymakers, transportation professionals, educational institutions and the public. An American Society of Civil Engineers and Institute of Transportation Engineers fellow, he served as deputy administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, during the Obama Administration.

Angela Byars, ’92 Occupational Therapy, an occupational therapist certified in the Leduc method of lymphedema therapy, recently joined Olympic Medical Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation in Port Angeles, Wash.

Adam Clark, ’92 Sociology, previously Liberty Union High School District’s assistant superintendent of student services, accepted the position of associate superintendent of educational services, Antioch Union School District. Last year, he received his doctorate in educational leadership from Saint Mary’s College in Moraga.

Virginia Guleff, ’90 Linguistics, previously interim vice president for instruction at Solano College in Fairfield, is current vice president for student learning and economic development at Butte College in Oroville. She also co-chairs the California Community College Curriculum Committee.

Eda Herrera, ’92 Civil Engineering, is an associate engineer for the city of Salinas’s Department of Public Works.

Staci Krupinsky, ’97 MSW, is a sales executive at Lovitt & Touché in Tucson, Ariz., where she specializes in workers’ comp and business insurance.

Luke Kwan, ’94 Interior Design, formerly academic director of design at the Art Institute of California, Silicon Valley campus, joined Stantec’s San Francisco office as a project manager, focusing on retail bank innovation projects in the Northern California region. He is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and the Interior Design Educators Council (IDEC).

Joseph Lasaga, ’98 Molecular Biology, most recently a vice president at San Ramon’s Galena Biopharma, rejoined Rigel Pharmaceuticals as vice president of business development and alliance management. Earlier in his career, he
held research and business development posts at the company.

Audrey Pettengill, ’99 English, a senior analyst in vendor management at Fifth Third Bank in Cincinnati, Ohio, is also trustee/historian for the Rosie Reds, a nonprofit that supports juvenile and collegiate baseball programs in Cincinnati.

Marc Spears, ’95 Journalism, joined the ESPN team as NBA writer for The Undefeated, a website that explores the intersections of race, sports and culture. He previously worked as an NBA reporter for Yahoo Sports.


Ryan Baker, ’08 MLIS, is library and community services director for the city of Sierra Madre and chairs the Southern California Library Cooperative’s Administrative Council.

Paul Ellison, ’03 MA Musicology, joined SJSU’s School of Music faculty as a lecturer last fall and edits The Beethoven Journal. His dissertation, The Key to Beethoven: Connecting Tonality and Meaning in His Music, was published by Pendragon Press.

Jocelyn Hill, ’10 Child and Adolescent Development, of Worcester, Vt., is currently serving as a Peace Corps education volunteer in Tonga, a Polynesian sovereign state in the South Pacific. More than 1,650 Peace Corps volunteers have served in Tonga since the program’s inception in 1967.

Robert Meredith, ’03 Journalism, is a general news reporter at the Lake County Examiner in Lakeview, Ore.

Pelema Morrice, ’02 Psychology, is vice provost of enrollment management at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He previously served as chief enrollment officer at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

Amanda Powell, ’01 Finance, was promoted from senior manager to executive director at Ernst & Young LLP in San José. A member of the firm’s assurance practice, she serves technology clients, including multinational SEC registrants.

Carissa Purnell, ’09 MLIS, director of the Alisal Family Resource Center and CSU Monterey Bay lecturer, joined the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Board of Directors. She will serve a four-year term.

Beverly Rayner, ’09 MFA Art, exhibited her mixed media works and photographs in a show titled “Museum of Mesmerism and Psychic Art” at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Ark. She describes her work as exploring “the psychological quirks and everyday workings of human nature.” View her art at: beverlyrayner.com.


Matthew Chavez, ’13 Creative Arts, is the street artist (known as “Levee”) behind the “Subway Therapy” project. The day after the presidential election, Brooklyn-based Chavez took sticky notes and a pen into the Sixth Avenue station at 14th Street in New York and instructed passersby to write messages to display on the subway station’s walls. Thousands responded to the “Express Yourself” prompt by day’s end. One post read: “All women must be wonder women now.” Read more at: subwaytherapy.com.

Rachel Compton, ’16 Animation/Illustration, is a visual and story development artist at Brazen Animation in Dallas, Texas.

Christine Conwell, ’16 MLIS, is head librarian at Moorpark City Library.

Ashley Cunha, ’14 Broadcast Journalism, is host of “Concho Valley Live,” a weekday lifestyle and entertainment program that airs on Arizona’s KLST.

Alejandra Del Rello Peach, ’11 Civil Engineering, is a U.S. Army captain and human resources officer in the Adjutant Generals Corps at Fort Irwin.

César Gaytán, ’11 MA Education, is the new principal of Farallone View Elementary School in the Cabrillo Unified School District. He previously served as assistant principal/immersion coordinator at Hatch Elementary School in Half Moon Bay and assistant principal at Selma Olinder Elementary School in San José.

Ana Kieu, ’15 Speech Communication, based in Milpitas, is a freelance writer who writes for Inside Hockey and covered the 2016 Stanley Cup final.

Sarah Kuhs, ’16 Liberal Studies, is currently a graduate student in Santa Clara University’s School of Education.

James Lewis, ’15 Kinesiology, is an exercise physiologist at Dignity Health in Santa Cruz.

Sarah O’Donnell, ’16 Child Development, is the assistant director of Children’s Ministry at Hillside Church in San José.

Dana Harris Seeger, ’11 MFA Photography, one of KQED’s 2016 “Women to Watch in the Arts,” co-founded San José’s School of Visual Philosophy. Learn more at: schoolofvisualphilosophy.com.

Sarah Slawinski, ’15 Nursing, is a neonatal intensive care unit RN at Good Samaritan Hospital in San José. She landed her “dream job,” she reports, five months after graduation and two months after taking the board exams to become a Registered Nurse.

Ryan Tamares, ’12 MLIS, formerly Catalog Librarian at Robert Crown Law Library, Stanford Law School, assumed the title of Head Collection Services in September 2016, reflecting his management of all aspects of cataloging, processing and preservation of the law library’s collection.

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