Fall/Winter 2017: Alumni Updates


Michael Ellzey, ’78 Political Science, a U.S. Marine Corps and Vietnam War veteran, directs the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda. He holds a law degree from Lincoln University School of Law.

Jill Jepson, ’71 Anthropology, received the 2017 Denny Prize for Creative Writing, a faculty/staff award, from St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. A professor of linguistics and writing, she received her doctorate in anthropological linguistics from the University of Chicago and also holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Don LeCouteur, ’75 Special Major, ’76 MA Psychology, published Making Lemonade (CreateSpace, 2017), a memoir, using the pen name Anthony French. The collection of “31 anecdotal tales spans more than 60 years,” he reports.

Holly McCain, ’73 Art/Interior Design, exhibited her oil paintings in a show titled “Color Connection” in Cambria in July.

Michael Parra, ’79 Microbiology, hematologist and oncologist for Colorado’s Rocky Mountain Health and Benefits, was named a Pinnacle Lifetime Member last December in recognition of his contributions to the medical field. He previously served as Denver Cancer Care’s chief medical officer for 19 years.

Ryan Reinhold, ’72 Journalism, retired as Navajo County (Ariz.) Precinct 6 Constable in June. During his 22-year career as a judge, he adjudicated civil and criminal cases in 19 Arizona courts and four tribal courts. A former member of the faculty at the National Judicial College and Institute of Court Management, he has also served as district chairman of the Boy Scouts of America, assistant district governor of Rotary Club and president of the Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce.

Ann Richards, ’73 Music, retired after 40 years as 2nd/Assistant Principal Flute with the Nashville (Tenn.) Symphony Orchestra. The co-author of Bicycling Middle Tennessee (Pennywell Press, 2003) and Bicycling the Natchez Trace (Pennywell Press, 2002), she teaches at Belmont University in Nashville.

Thomas Vertin, ’77 Political Science, ’83 MPA, is current president/CEO of Pacific Mercantile Bancorp, headquartered in Costa Mesa. He previously served as president of the bank’s commercial banking division. Prior to his career in banking, he worked for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.


Brian Adams, ’80 Theatre Arts, ’94 MS Mass Communications, is vice president of Bellarmine College Preparatory and an entertainment reporter for KLIV and KRTY Radio.

H.O. “Bud” Biggs, ’80 Chemistry, retired as plant manager of Mitsubishi Cement Corporation in Lucerne Valley. He started his career in 1962 with Kaiser Cement Corporation in Cupertino.

Andrew Bodisco, ’89 Marketing, was recently promoted to regional market president, East Bay region, at Comerica Bank. He also serves on the board of directors at St. Martin de Porres Catholic School in Oakland.

Ronald Cortez, ’82 Business Administration, took up his new post as vice chancellor for administrative and business services at the University of California, Irvine in February. He was previously vice president of administration and finance/CFO at San Francisco State University. A U.S. Air Force veteran, he holds a law degree from Santa Barbara College of Law.

Diane Kuyoomjian, ’81 Advertising, is chief marketing officer at Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit supporting animal welfare. She previously worked in corporate marketing for brands including Expedia, DIRECTV and Nestle.

Vicki Lundy-Revels, ’82 Business, owns Antioch-based Carefree Travel and Entertainment, a firm that specializes in luxury travel to warm weather destinations. Earlier in her career, she managed Uniglobe and Carlson Wagonlit travel agencies, handling both the corporate and leisure sides of the business.

Jeff Marozick, ’87 Criminal Justice, a 25-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department, is Marin Community College District’s new police chief, overseeing the two College of Marin campuses. He was twice awarded Officer of the Year honors for his work with the San Jose Police Department.

Silvio Reggiardo III, ’84 Finance, who specializes in estate planning, probate and tax law at Downey Brand, was named a “Northern California Super Lawyer” and recognized by Sacramento Magazine as a “2017 Top Lawyer.”

Glenn Shephard, ’89 Civil Engineering, a U.S. Navy veteran, directs the Ventura County Watershed Protection District. He also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida.

Cordel Stillman, ’86 Civil Engineering, is Sonoma Clean Power Authority’s director of programs. He previously served as Sonoma County Water Agency’s deputy chief engineer.


Sue Choe, ’98 MS Accounting, was appointed the new CFO of Promethean, a global education technology company headquartered in Atlanta, Ga. Most recently she served as vice president of finance at Seattle’s RealNetworks, a publicly traded firm that specializes in digital media, software and games.

Ian Kalman, ’95 Advertising, started his own line of greeting cards, Bald Guy Greetings. Take a look at: baldguygreetings.com.

Lorraine McIntire, ’96 MA Taxation, recently joined the tax department of McGowan Guntermann, CPAs in Santa Barbara. Past president of the Silicon Valley branch of Tax Executives Institute, she has also served on the advisory committee of SJSU’s High Tech Tax Institute.

Chris Monahan, ’94 Business, a 27-year veteran of the San Jose Police Department, joined the Piedmont Police Department as captain. A native of San Jose, he began his association with the SJPD as a police cadet in 1980 and rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant. He also taught as adjunct faculty in San Jose City College’s Administration of Justice program.

John Presleigh, ’99 MS Civil Engineering, public works director of Santa Cruz County since 2009, was named president of the County Engineers Association of California. A longtime advocate for infrastructure improvements and local road funding, he has also served as director of the American Public Works Association and as manager of the Highway 1 Construction Authority.

Sudha Sundaresan, ’99 MS Computer Science, was promoted to vice president of cloud engineering at Santa Clara’s Ayla Networks, a global IoT platform for manufacturers. Prior to joining Ayla in 2012, she worked at Cisco as a software engineer, architect and technical lead. She received her undergraduate degree in electronics from the Government College of Engineering in Salem, India.

Lt. Col. Jacob Thornburg, U.S. Air Force, ’99 Aviation, is the 54th Airlift Squadron commander at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. The squadron flies four C-40C aircraft on Special Air Missions as directed by Air Force headquarters, transporting members of the Presidential Cabinet and Congress, foreign heads of state and other dignitaries. “After 17 years in the Air Force, I’m flying my fifth aircraft,” Thornburg said. “It’s been an amazing journey.”

Savita Vaidhyanathan, ’98 MBA, current mayor of the city of Cupertino, is the first Indian-American woman to hold the position. In a community hall address after her victory last fall, she said: “I’ve had several congratulatory messages saying that I’m the first woman mayor of Indian origin. I do take pride in that, but I (also) want to thank the residents of Cupertino who voted me in not looking at ethnicity at all.”

Shelly Viramontez, ’93 Marketing, ’00 MA Special Education, was named superintendent of the Campbell Union School District. She began her teaching career in 1996 as a special day class teacher at the district’s Rolling Hills Middle School. The Campbell district serves more than 7,500 preschool to eighth-grade students in six Santa Clara County cities.

Gary Walters, ’90 MBA, is vice president of customer success at TraceGains, a software company based in Westminster, Colo.

Mark Williams, ’99 MS Human-Computer Interaction, is co-founder of the San Francisco-based Firefly Vapor, a vaporization technology firm. He has previously directed design teams at several Silicon Valley companies, including, most recently, Apple.


Andie Apple, ’01 MLIS, previously assistant library director of the Kern County Library system, was promoted to interim library director. She brings to the job 19 years of county library experience.

Jammie Behrendt, ’01 MA Education, a veteran San Mateo County educator, is the new assistant superintendent of Menlo Park City School District. The previous director of educational services in the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District and architect of that district’s Local Control Accountability Plan, she has been an administrator for 10 years and began her career as a teacher in 1995.

Javier Cervantes, ’03 Business, ’11 MBA, received his law degree from San Francisco’s UC Hastings College of the Law in May.

Vanessa Cooper, ’03 MA French, is executive director of the city of Alameda’s Housing Authority and an adjunct faculty member in SJSU’s Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

Teri Faught, ’08 MA Education, is assistant principal of Mountain View High School. A member of the faculty since 2004, she initially taught science before transitioning to the district’s instructional support team, coaching teachers on educational technology and new science standards.

Jimmy Forbis, ’05 MPA, formerly Monterey’s finance director, is the current finance director of Gilroy. During his tenure as Monterey’s director, he was credited with managing the city’s finances during a $100 million construction boom and the passage, in 2014, of Measure P, a one percent local sales and use tax to repair city streets and the city’s storm drainage system.

Jonathan Karpel, ’01 Biochemistry, is an assistant professor of biology at Southern Utah University in Cedar City. He recently received tenure.

Geoff Mace, ’03 Finance, is winemaker and cellar operations manager at The Stomping Ground, a Central Coast custom crush facility. Earlier in his career, he worked as a winemaker for Constellation Brands.

Rachel Melick, ’05 Political Science, is recreation manager of the city of Calistoga. An intercollegiate swimmer at SJSU, she began her career in recreation as a seasonal open water lifeguard for Sonoma County Regional Parks and later worked as Tiburon Peninsula Club’s aquatics director.

Pierre Noujaim, ’07 Radio/Television/Film, is sports anchor and reporter for Sacramento’s ABC10. He tweets his own opinions about hockey and much else at: twitter.com/thenouj.

Rachel Romina, ’05 Music, a member of the Choraliers while at SJSU, currently directs the San Benito Oriana Chorale, a 38-member choir. She is also the accompanist at First Presbyterian Church in Hollister and teaches piano and voice lessons in San Jose and Hollister.

Valerie Royaltey-Quandt, ’05 MA Education, former director of student services, assessment and accountability at Campbell Union High School, is principal of Jordan Middle School in the Palo Alto Unified School District. She holds a doctorate in social justice education administration from San Francisco State.

Golareh Safarian, ’03 MA Communications, published Gogi & Mogi Go to the Garden (MindTripz, 2017), a children’s picture book. A native of Tehran, she started her professional career as a crime and political reporter in Canada and for 10 years worked at Fox Broadcasting Company in various posts, including director of content production. In 2016, she started MindTripz, a media and entertainment company.

Adam Tafralis, ’07 Kinesiology, was inducted into the Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame at ceremonies held in Millbrae last April. The starting quarterback for the Spartan team from 2004 to 2007, he received SJSU’s Most Valuable Player award in 2007. In 2008, he signed with the Indianapolis Colts and later played for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, a Canadian Football League team. He retired from football in 2012.


Carolyn Henley Ciesla, ’10 MLIS, is interim associate dean of learning resources and assessment at Prairie State College, a community college in Chicago Heights, Ill. She has worked at PSC since 2013 and earlier in her career served as assistant director for the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University.

Marianne Lettieri, ’13 MFA Spatial Arts, received a 2017 Silicon Valley Artist Laureate award for exceptional achievement in the arts and contributions to the cultural life of Silicon Valley. Her work has been exhibited in solo exhibitions at the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design, Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, the Peninsula Museum of Art and elsewhere. A Cubberley Artists Studio Program artist-in-residence, she also serves on the leadership team of Doing Good Well, a national initiative to empower next-generation female leaders in the arts.

Kate Parker, ’15 MLIS, was appointed member-at-large of the Santa Barbara Symphony Board of Directors. Library director at Cate School in Carpinteria, she also serves as adjunct librarian at Santa Barbara City College.

Jessica Quintero, ’11 Hospitality, owns and operates the recently opened Just Right Family Café on Winchester Boulevard in Campbell. She “hatched the café idea,” she told the press, as a stay-at-home mom yearning for somewhere that combined a play area for her kids and the opportunity for a bit of “adult conversation” for herself. To prepare for her new business venture, she attended the American Barista and Coffee School in Portland, Ore.

Afshan Rehman, ’15 Industrial and Systems Engineering, is a project manager at Kaiser.

Georgia Reitmire, ’12 MLIS, an employee of the Yakima Valley (Wash.) Libraries since 2014, was recently promoted to Zone I managing librarian.

Therren Wilburn, ’16 MA Sports Management, is athletic director of Palo Alto High School and calls his mother his “biggest inspiration. She instilled hard work and commitment in me, which has helped me get to this point in my career,” he told the press. While at SJSU, he taught a beginning basketball class for the Department of Kinesiology and volunteered at the YMCA of Silicon Valley.


Jody Ulate

Jody Ulate, '05 MA English, is editor of the Washington Square blog and printed alumni magazine.

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