Summer 2020 Alumni Updates

Painting by Michelle Frey.



Adm. Leopold Ortiz, ’51 Industrial Design, published Risen from Beyond (Xlibris), an autobiography that highlights his military experiences in the U.S. Navy and World War II. A Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus, he retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1986. He currently sits on the Lions Club’s Lions Sight Research Foundation Board of Directors.


Steve Perdue, ’69 History, president and CEO of Grand Traverse (Mich.) Industries, received the Distinguished Service Award from the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce in ceremonies held in January. A vocational rehabilitation advocate for persons with disabilities for nearly 40 years, he has also been honored by the Sara Hardy Humanitarian of the Year award.


Maria Jorgensen, ’75 Spanish, ’84 Liberal Studies, retired from the San José Unified School District after 37 years as an elementary school educator.

Ferris Merhish, ’74 Business Education, ’76 MA Educational Administration, published The Dating Game (AuthorHouse). According to a press release, the book assists “the senior gentleman who uses dating sites. Whether you’re divorced or a widower, dating as a senior man can be tricky.”

Jenny Ming, ’78 Home Economics, ’12 Honorary Doctorate, former CEO and president of Charlotte Russe, joined the board of directors of Poshmark, a social-commerce platform, “Poshmark has built an incredible community of empowered entrepreneurs, stylists and shoppers who represent a new era of online commerce,” Ming said. “I look forward to working with the entire team to support and foster the company’s vibrant community at scale.”

Harry Nakamoto, ’73 Biological Science, ’78 MA Art, a ceramic artist, had his work featured in a show titled “Artists in the Window” at the Aloft Art Gallery in Sonora.

Ann Stoltz, ’75 Nursing, director of the School of Nursing at Touro University California in Vallejo, retired after a 44-year career in the nursing field. She is a member of the Association of California Nurse Leaders, the Clinical Nurse Leader Association and the American Public Health Association.

David Willman, ’78 Journalism, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter previously employed by the Los Angeles Times, joined the staff of The Washington Post in January. During his career, Willman’s reporting resulted in the FDA’s recall of the diabetes drug Rezulin, the exposure of hundreds of NIH scientists receiving compensation from drug companies and the uncovering of major flaws in the Pentagon’s homeland missile defense network.

Gary Wortel, ’78 Public Relations, previous publisher of the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, is the new publisher and president of The Sacramento Bee. In addition, he oversees regional operations at nine other McClatchy-owned newspapers in California, Washington state and Idaho.


Laura Durr, ’89 Accounting, joined the board of San José’s Netgear, Inc., a provider of networking technology for small businesses, the smart home and online game play. Most recently CFO of Polycom, Inc., she is also a member of TiVo’s Board of Directors.

Libby Feyh, ’82 Marketing, based in Sacramento, is senior vice president/human resources director at First Northern Bank. She previously served as director of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s talent acquisition division in Sparks, Nev.

Jennifer Francis, ’88 Meteorology, previously a professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences in New Jersey, joined the Woods Hole (Mass.) Research Center, a climate change “think tank,” as senior scientist. She has published more than 40 scientific papers on her research specialty: Arctic ice and how its deterioration is affecting global warming and jet streams.

Fauneil Fremont, ’83 BA, ’85 MA, Music, published I Didn’t Really Know Him (Xulon Press), a memoir.

Christine Garcia-Sen, ’86 Political Science, is supervising deputy district attorney, Economic Crimes Unit, in Santa Clara County’s Office of the District Attorney.

Carl Guardino, ’89 Political Science, Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s president and CEO, announced plans to leave that post. “Twenty-three years in any CEO role is a very long run,” he told the press, adding that he considers this move a “transition,” not retirement.

Joe Krathwohl, ’89 Communication Studies, a licensed falconist by age 18, works with wildlife centers to rescue injured birds of all types and has assisted the California Department of Fish and Game with multiple bald and golden eagle rescues. His personal bird sanctuary is home to more than 1,000 birds and he currently travels the globe with the “largest portable bird show in the world.”

Stephen Monarque, ’87 Mathematics, was recently promoted to resident inspector at the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario, N.Y., by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He joined the NRC in 2000 as a project manager in the Office of Nuclear Reactors Regulation, Division of Operating Reactor Licensing.

Elias Nader, ’85 Accounting, is CFO of San José’s Pixelworks. Most recently he served as interim president and CEO of Sigma Designs, Inc.

Laura Palazzolo, ’89 Radio/TV/Film, is dean of Lincoln Law School in San José. Earlier in her career, she worked as a civil litigator at Berliner Cohen, also in San José.

Jeff Pederson, ’83 Business Management, chairman and CEO of CORT Business Services, headquartered in Chantilly, Va., joined the board of directors of Move for Hunger, a national nonprofit dedicated to creating a sustainable way to reduce food waste and fight hunger. Earlier in his career, he held executive management positions at Equity Residential Properties Trust and Globe Business Resources.


Aubrey Aquino, ’98 Broadcast Journalism, hosts “Your California Life” on ABC10 in Sacramento. She has previously worked as an entertainment and features reporter on Miami’s WSVN and ABC7 San Francisco, hosting and producing lifestyle content. She blogs about her adventures as a mom at:

Tom Ara, ’96 Justice Studies, co-chair of DLA Piper’s entertainment transactions and finance practices, was featured in Variety’s 12th annual “Dealmaker Impact Report” for orchestrating Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets. The magazine’s editors also highlighted his work for clients such as South Korea’s CJ Entertainment, eSports startup Vindex and the sale of Storybots to Netflix.

Michael Beller, ’99 MLIS, was recently promoted from interim manager of the Orinda (Calif.) Library to permanent manager.

Mark Bisbee, ’99 Creative Arts, a 35-year veteran of the fire service and retired fire chief of the city of Watsonville, stepped in to serve as Gilroy’s interim fire chief as the city searches for a permanent chief.

Mallorie Burak, ’92 Finance, ’96 MBA, CFO of Thin Film Electronics ASA, a Norwegian electronics firm, works out of the company’s San José office. Her previous posts include CFO of Sunnyvale’s Alta Devices and CFO of Campbell’s FriendFinder Networks.

Dan Burns, ’93 Economics, is CEO of Optiv Security, a global cybersecurity firm based in Colorado.

Kevin Cornelius, ’90 Theatre Arts, a recreation supervisor in the city of Santa Clara’s Department of Parks and Recreation, retired as director of the Roberta Jones Junior Theater. Over the past 19 years, he has directed and produced nearly 90 shows and worked with more than 4,500 students.

Eric Dorfman, ’90 MS Marine Science, previously director of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa., accepted the position of director at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh. Under his supervision, the Carnegie Museum broke annual visitation records, expanded staff and initiated an education scholarship program for underserved communities. Earlier in his career, he served as senior manager of science development at the Museum of New Zealand.

Dan Ervin, ’93 Marketing, cofounder of Envision Real Estate Software and former director of franchise sales for Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, is the current director of national accounts at Duro-Last, a manufacturer of commercial roofing headquartered in Saginaw, Mich.

Karen Garner, ’96 MUP, is the city of Gilroy’s new community development director.

Manoj Gujral, ’91 MBA, joined San Mateo’s SiFive, a provider of processor core IP solutions, as senior vice president and co-general manager. Previously, he held general manager positions at NVIDIA, Cavium and Cypress Semiconductor.

Greg Janda, ’94 Finance, who has served eight years on the Rocklin (Calif.) City Council, was elected mayor of the city of Rocklin in December.

Jeremy King, ’92 Information Technology, former Walmart CEO, is currently head of engineering at Pinterest, overseeing the “visual discovery engine” that offers 250 million viewers recommendations on food, beauty and lifestyle.

Weiming Li, ’92 MS Mechanical Engineering, was appointed president and CEO of Source Photonics, an optical communications technology firm headquartered in West Hills, Calif. His previous positions include general manager of Source Photonics China from 2007 to 2013 and vice president of operations at Auxora Networks.

John Marchant, ’99 Recreation, is the city of Mountain View’s new community services director. A 20-year city employee, he heads a department of 89 employees. Among his responsibilities are oversight of the Center for the Performing Arts, Rengstorff House, Shoreline Golf Links and a budget of approximately $24 million.

Michael Nazak, ’93 Business Administration, former vice president of finance at San José’s Ardis Pharmaceuticals, was promoted to CFO of the company in January.

Eric O’Grey, ’91 Finance, is the author of Walking with Peety (Grand Central Publishing), the story of how O’Grey, overweight and suffering Type 2 diabetes, adopted a shelter dog and, within a year, walked his way—with Peety— to a weight loss of 150 pounds and a healthier lifestyle. (Peety also lost 25 pounds.)

Neha Parikh, ’94 MBA, who has previously held managerial and consulting positions at GoDaddy, AT&T and other companies, is the new CFO of EFG Companies, headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

Todd Peters, ’92 Civil Engineering, previously chief engineer at San José’s California Water Service Company (Cal Water), was promoted to chief engineering officer in January. He joined the company in 1993.

Manuel Pineda, ’95 Civil Engineering, was appointed the chief electric utility officer of Silicon Valley Power, the city of Santa Clara’s municipal electric utility. Along with his new post, he continues to serve as the city’s assistant manager.

Anniqua Rana, ’93 MA English, published her debut novel, Wild Boar in the Cane Field (She Writes Press), which celebrates the “rural women of Pakistan whose indomitable spirit keeps them struggling despite all odds,” the publisher reports. Rana grew up in Pakistan and has worked as an educator in both the U.S. and Pakistan for more than 30 years. She received her doctorate in international and multicultural education from the University of San Francisco in 2009.

Pranab Sinha, ’97 MBA, is senior vice president and chief information officer at Genesys, headquartered in Daly City. Earlier in his career, he served as vice president, enterprise IT, at Seagate Technology in Cupertino.

Linda Smith, ’92 Public Relations, former assistant city manager of Dublin, was promoted to city manager and assumed the duties of her new post on January 1. She has spent more than 17 years working in local government and joined the city of Dublin staff in 2009. A member of the Dublin Rotary Club, she also serves as vice president of the Dublin Partners in Education Board of Directors.

John Sotoodeh, ’96 Finance, is president of community and business banking at Santa Ana’s Banc of California. He most recently served as Wells Fargo’s regional bank executive, Southwest region.


Mary Jane Black, ’03 MA Education, published She Rode a Harley: A Memoir of Love and Motorcycles (She Writes Press). Foreword Reviews described the book as a “vibrant memoir about love, loss and second chances.” Based in Austin, Black works as a literacy specialist for the state of Texas.

Corey Cabral, ’07 Marketing, was recently named a partner in the Sacramento office of Carothers DiSante and Freudenberger LLP, a law firm that specializes in employment, labor and business immigration issues. Cabral’s practice focuses on wage and hour litigation for clients in the retail, trucking and healthcare industries.

Rachel Dutra Crawford, ’05 English, who earned a diving scholarship to SJSU and competed in the NCAA championships her sophomore year, was recently inducted into the Vacaville High School Hall of Fame.

Lisa Falk, ’02 Art, cofounder of Infuse Glass Studio in San José, currently creates glass designs in her workspace in Atascadero, where she relocated last June. She also teaches workshops, most recently a class on fused glass ornaments.

Titus Kaphar, ’01 Art, a painter/sculptor who received a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, recently exhibited his work in a show titled “Knockout” at the Legacy Museum, Tuskegee University. A native of Kalamazoo, Mich., Kaphar’s work has been included in exhibitions at, among others, the Brooklyn Museum, the Seattle Art Museum and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. For its June 15, 2020, cover on the protests surrounding the death of George Floyd, Time turned to Kaphar. The cover features Analogous Colors (2020).

Sonia Maiello, ’00 Finance, ’02 MBA, previously business operations manager/assistant division chief at NASA Ames’s Space Technology Division, is currently a real estate agent with Intero Real Estate, working out of the company’s Los Altos office.

Roberta Zarea, ’05 MA Educational Leadership, former assistant superintendent of education services for Saratoga Unified School District, is the new superintendent of Portola Valley School District. A doctoral candidate in educational leadership at SJSU, she is writing a dissertation on elementary math education.


Marco Arguelles, ’16 MUP, is a project manager at the Denver, Colo., branch of Cushman and Wakefield, a global commercial and real estate services firm. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Van Trischelle Baysden, ’19 MS Transportation Management, directs Omnitrans’s passenger rail department as well as the Redlands Passenger Rail Project in San Bernardino.

Christine Capsuto-Shulman, ’17 Music Performance, appeared in the role of Peep-Bo in San Francisco’s 42nd Street Moon Theatre’s production of Hot Mikado, a musical comedy based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s 1939 musical The Mikado.

Jessica Lynn Clark, ’19 MLIS, works as a publishing and legal specialist at The Walt Disney Company in Burbank.

Jon Contezac, ’18 MS Meteorology, works for AgWeatherNet, an automated weather station network that provides Washington State farmers, gardeners, researchers and policy makers with weather data to improve agricultural production.

Megan Ginther, ’18 MLIS, who previously worked in the Edmonton Public Library System, now serves as library manager at Carstairs Public Library in Alberta, Canada.

Kathy Harrington, ’18 Marketing, is an accounts payable clerk at San José’s KMB-Hogue, a workspace planning and design firm. She is pursuing an MBA from CSU Monterey Bay.

Jordan Johnson, ’18 MA Education, works as an intervention specialist and counselor in the Salinas Union High School District.

Robin Lacey, ’19 MA Music Performance, a classical tenor saxophonist and the only female member of the Zelos Saxophone Quartet, has also performed as a soloist at Maryland’s National Music Festival, Mississippi’s Festival South, the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco and multiple other venues across the country.

Greg Lucas, ’17 MLIS, is California’s 25th state librarian, managing 135 employees at the Capitol branch of the state library in Sacramento. Previously, he was a political reporter who served as the San Francisco Chronicle’s Capitol bureau chief.

Gabriel Mata, ’15 Dance, performed the world premiere of his “This is Where/I Begin,” a solo work he choreographed, at sjDANCEco last October. The premiere was part of a program titled “Etched in Time.”

Ilkim Saracel, ’13 MBA, is treasury manager at Flex, a global supply chain and manufacturing company headquartered in Silicon Valley. She received her undergraduate degree in industrial engineering from Baskent University in Ankara, Turkey.

Jade Shojaee, ’10 English, starred as Gypsy in Bay Area Musicals’ production of the Tony Award-winning play Gypsy Rose Lee. The show ran November 9 through December 8, 2019 at San Francisco’s Alcazar Theatre.

Sabrina Word, ’18 MSW, is a clinician at Seneca Family of Agencies, a mental health nonprofit based in Oakland.


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1 Response

  1. Boris says:

    Love it!

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