A Magazine from California State University, ChicoSpring 2014 Issue

Class Notes

Class Notes

We want to hear from you—what you loved about Chico State, what you do for a living, for a hobby, for fun.

Send Us an Update

Wildcats on the Move Coordinator
Public Affairs and Publications
California State University, Chico
Chico, CA 95929-0040
E-mail wotm@csuchico.edu
Phone (530) 898-4143
Note: Only cities outside California will have the state name included.

1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | Marriages/Anniversaries

[Back to top]



(BA, Philosophy, ’63) recently received the University of Northern Iowa College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award. His book, The Teachers of the Cherokee Nation Public Schools: 1870s–1907, was published in 2012.


(BS, Business Administration, ’68) moved to South Carolina in summer 2013 after retiring in 2009 as Butte County’s internal audit chief, a position he held for 29 years. He continued to work special projects for the county part time until he and his wife, Cheryl, a lifetime Butte County resident, moved. They are settling into their new home and hope to travel, visit the East Coast, and spend time with their four children and 13 grandchildren.


(BA, Business Education, ’69) is a researcher of aviation history and co-author and publisher of Amelia, My Courageous Sister. For the past 30 years, she has conducted oral histories of aviation pioneers. She resides in Santa Clara. At Chico State, she was a member of Delta Zeta sorority.

[Back to top]



(BA, Biological Sciences, ’78) retired as Napa County agricultural commissioner in December after 33 years with the department, 20 as agricultural commissioner. During his tenure, he was involved in programs that battled vineyard pests and other challenges to America’s most prestigious grape-growing area. He has also been a leader in encouraging other agriculture including small farms and food gardens at restaurants and elsewhere, removing bureaucratic impediments to their success. The Napa Valley Grapegrowers awarded Whitmer the first Ed Weber Award in recognition of his service.


(BA, Physical Education, ’70) retired as superintendent of Martinez Unified School District in 2009. He previously served as superintendent for Groveland Unified and Lone Pine Unified, principal of Channel Islands High School and Yucca Valley High School, vice principal of Vista High School in San Diego, head counselor of Oxnard High School, and teacher at Durham High School. Triolo now resides in Polson, Montana, where he leads the local school board and is president of the Rotary Club.


(BA, Information and Communication Studies, ’72) is now a “highly qualified” social studies teacher at Casa Grande Union High School in Casa Grande, Arizona. He currently teaches world history, American history, geography, government, and economics. He is also a published author, with his most recent article “Not Your Great-Grandpa’s Santa Fe” published in the March 2013 issue of Trains magazine. He resides in San Tan Valley, Arizona, with his wife of 21 years, Laury; their 18-year-old son, Liam; and three cats.


(BA, Biological Sciences, ’74) researched, wrote, and in 1994 published the only commercially available book on the history of inflight refueling, titled Passing Gas: The History of Inflight Refueling, based on his experiences as an instructor navigator in the Air Force. After retiring, he wrote another book about his experiences, titled Dream Achieved: Traveling the Alaska Highway. He resides in Chico and enjoys fishing.

photo of Nancy and Rex Cline


(BS, Home Economics, ’75) retired in November after working for Modesto City Schools for 25 years. In 2001, she was elected to the Modesto City Schools Board of Education. When she retired, she had served for three terms for the district and twice as school board president in 2005 and 2013. While serving as a trustee, Cline was appointed to the Delegate Assembly of the California School Boards Association and served in that capacity for more than two years. She and her husband, Rex, live in Modesto, where he works for the police department. They teach premarital classes to engaged couples through their church as well as travel, volunteer, and spend time with their six grandchildren.


(BS, Agricultural Business, ’77) is the sales manager for the Insurance Division of American AgCredit (AAC). He has served in various management positions over the past 34 years with AAC, which provides federal crop insurance to about 3,000 customers in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and California. He and his wife of 38 years, Marilyn, reside in Patterson, where they are active in the community.


(BS, Agricultural Business, ’79) is celebrating his two-year anniversary with Grimmway Farms where he is farm manager. He produces organic and conventional vegetable crops in the Antelope Valley and Tehachapi area and lives in Lancaster.

[Back to top]



(BA, Information and Communication Studies, ’80) is celebrating his 31st anniversary working with the Community Housing Improvement Program, the last 20 years as its executive director. Over that time, the program has helped more than 1,700 families build their own homes in the North Valley. Ferrier says he learned a lot about communication at Chico State and is grateful for his time in Chico, where he still resides.


(BS, Agriculture, ’81) received her master’s degree in nursing from Duke University in December 2013. She is currently working as a medical provider at the Western Nebraska Community Clinic in Gering, Nebraska. She resides in Bayard, Nebraska.


(BS, Business Administration, ’82) was hired as vice president for branch services at Columbia Credit Union. In this role, he leads the strategic development and management of the credit union’s 12 retail branches to drive maximum productivity, sales, service, and growth. Stednitz has more than 20 years of banking experience. He most recently served as vice president of retail banking for a Seattle area bank. He has a master’s degree from Golden Gate University and is a graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School.


(BA, Speech Pathology and Audiology, ’82) has been the third district Sonoma County supervisor for five years. As an elected official, she oversees a $1.3 billion budget and more than 4,000 employees. She is also director of the Sonoma County Water Agency, Regional Parks, and Agricultural and Open Space District, and a board member for the Bay Area Quality Management District, the Sonoma Marin Area Regional Transit Authority, and Sonoma Clean Power Energy Utility. She recently joined the board for the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare in Washington, D.C., serves on the health care policy committee for the National Association of Counties, and is the vice chair for the Long-Term Care Committee. She was Sonoma State’s 2009 Distinguished Alumna for her advocacy in mental health services.



(BA, Political Science, ’84) was awarded the 2013 Sustained Leader in Commercial Real Estate ECHO Award by East Bay Commercial Real Estate Women. She is a partner at Wendel, Rosen, Black & Dean. She also serves as planning commissioner for the city of Lafayette, is a founding member and secretary of the California Association of Geological Hazard Abatement District, and is a member of the League of California Cities and the American Planning Association. Curtin is also a founding member of the Special Education Enrichment Development Network in Lafayette and current board member of the Dreamcatchers Empowerment Network, a nonprofit providing support for recovering mental health and physically disabled clients.


(BS, Business Administration, ’84) was appointed executive vice president of wealth management for Mechanics Bank. She has more than 20 years’ experience as a financial executive and is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, and accredited estate planner. A Sonoma County resident, she serves on the board of directors of both Community Foundation Sonoma County and the United Way of the Wine Country. She has a master’s degree in taxation from Golden Gate University and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School.


(BS, Business Administration, ’85) has served as the director of business development for IREX Contracting Group for the last 24 years. IREX is a nationwide specialty contractor with 37 offices and revenues of more than $225 million. He credits his time at Chico State for his critical-thinking and relationship-building skills, which he says have been key in his success.


(MA, Geography, ’85) has been selected as a 2014 Jefferson Science Fellow. In this position, she will serve as a science advisor for foreign policy to the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development. She will begin her two-year term in August 2014 and will work on water-related policy issues that include the University WASH Consortium, water data integration efforts, and gender issues related to access to water. Laituri is a professor at Colorado State University.

[Back to top]



(BS, Business Administration, ’92) recently became the administrative services director for the Moraga-Orinda Fire Protection District. She has been a Certified Public Accountant since 1995 and obtained a master’s degree in public administration from CSU, East Bay in 2006. At Chico State, she was a member of the nationally ranked water ski team. She now resides in Walnut Creek with her husband and two children.


(BS, Business Administration, ’93) was named chief financial officer and a member of the board of directors at AmeraMex International Inc., a provider of heavy equipment for logistics companies, infrastructure construction, commercial farming, and mining companies. He has been working with AmeraMex International as a financial consultant since September 2013. Atkin will be responsible for all financial aspects of the company including accounting oversight, financial reporting and analysis, and budgeting. He resides in Chico.


(BS, Recreation Administration, ’93) was elected president and chairman of the board of directors for Travel Alliance Partners LLC, a professional partnership of 30 U.S. and Canadian tour operators. He will fill a two-year term and has served on the board of directors since 2011. He is currently the general manager of Sports Leisure Vacations in Sacramento and resides in Carmichael.


(BA, English, ’93; MA, English, ’96) was appointed correspondent for The Associated Press in Fresno. He has spent the past decade at The Record of Stockton, reporting on City Hall, crime, courts, and prisons. Smith’s work earned him second-place awards for breaking news and investigative reporting in the annual California Newspaper Publishers Association contest. He previously has worked at the Tri-Valley Herald in Pleasanton and the Turlock Journal. Smith has been an adjunct professor of journalism at San Joaquin Delta College and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan, where he also ran a nonprofit that trained Uzbek journalists.


(BA, Geography, ’94) is a client representative for WineDirect. He started working in the Napa Valley wine industry in early 2013 after working in aviation for 18 years. He also does cave tours on weekends at Del Dotto Vineyards in Napa, where he resides with his wife and daughter.



(BA, Journalism, ’97) is the founder and publisher of Spectrums Magazine, the only regional magazine in the Portland, Oregon, area for autism. She writes, edits, and designs the 40-page magazine, which, after launching one year ago, now prints quarterly and distributes to more than 250 locations. At Chico State, she was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and an editor of The Orion.


(BA, Social Science, ’99) was named senior vice president, relationship manager, for Community 1st Bank’s Loan Production Office in Sacramento. She has 11 years of experience in multiple roles with Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase, where she recently worked as a relationship manager for several years. Waldrop competed in track and field in college and remains a runner. Her goal for 2014 is completing a half-marathon. She is married to David Waldrop and has two children. She resides in El Dorado Hills.

[Back to top]



(BA, Political Science, ’00; deceased) was a subject of the 2014 film Lone Survivor, which chronicles his fatal SEAL special-ops mission in the mountains of Afghanistan. The movie is based on Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s 2007 best-selling account of the operation. Axelson enlisted in the Navy in 2000. He is played onscreen by actor Ben Foster. Mark Wahlberg also stars in the film. Axelson was the subject of a feature article in the spring 2008 Chico Statements, found at www.csuchico.edu/pub/cs/spring_08/features.html.



(BA, Journalism, ’00) published a book in 2013 titled Sipping Tea With Buddha and Christ. The book is about a young woman living in Northern California who is making plans to transform her life by entering a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia when an encounter with a stranger produces an invitation to a place on the other side of the world. Benson-Valavanis is president and chief executive officer of the North Valley Community Foundation, a Northern California-based nonprofit public charity, managing more than $13 million in assets. She resides in Chico.


(BA, Journalism, ’00) published her ninth novel, Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale, in November 2013. Set in 1561 Bohemia, the historical paranormal romance revolves around the werewolf Thal and his hunt for the men who tortured and executed his witch mother. Falbe is from Mount Pleasant, Michigan, and studied history at Central Michigan University. She currently resides in Battle Creek, Michigan, and has been publishing her two fantasy series, The Rys Chronicles and Rys Rising, since 2006.


(BA, Journalism, ’01) was named Napa Valley Marriott Hotel and Spa’s director of sales and marketing. He began his career in hospitality when he moved to the four-diamond Lodge at Vail ski resort in 2001 and accepted a position as a sales and marketing coordinator. The next summer, Kerstiens joined the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort as a sales manager. He moved up the ranks over the next 12 years, becoming senior sales manager, associate director of sales, director of group sales, and ultimately, director of sales and marketing. Outside of work he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, Heather, and son, Jackson.


(BA, Political Science, ’01) was named to Veritas Prep’s list of the 40 most influential teachers under 40. He teaches English and social studies at Da Vinci Charter Academy in Davis.

photo of Michael Brown


(BS, Business Administration, ’02) was elected to equity partner at Fenwick & West LLP in 2014. Four months after becoming a partner, he was recognized among the top technology attorneys in the United States under the age of 40 by Law360. He provides strategic counseling to technology and life sciences companies ranging from start-ups to mature publicly traded corporations in a wide variety of corporate transactions.

photo of ADAM HENIG


(BA, Political Science, ’02) published an ebook titled Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey. Based on four and a half years of research, this is the first in-depth biographical account of Haley’s life after the publication of his popular and influential book Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Henig is married and has two sons. Of his time at Chico State, Henig says, “I enrolled as an immature, suburban teenager and left as a selfless young man with a better understanding of how the world works and knowing that there are endless possibilities.”



(BA, Economics, ’03) is an assistant professor of economics at Colby College in Maine. He researches urban economics and American economic history and has a PhD in economics from UC Irvine. He resides in Maine with his wife, Julie (BA, Social Science, ’04), and daughter.

photo of AMY LANCE


(BA, Psychology, ’04) is the director of College of Business student advising and services at CSU, Chico. She is a nationally recognized advising administrator within her professional association and often consults with professionals across the country on best practices. She also has more than 16 years of experience as an adjunct professor in communication, business, and the First-Year Experience program. In 2010, she founded the organization Wondrous Women, a nonprofit organization that provides a network for women. She has co-authored several books and released her first individual publication in 2013, Wondrous Women: Your Wondrousness Is Within. In 2014, she launched an exclusive online membership website, called Poised and Polished Professionals, where she coaches college students and new professionals.



(BA, Journalism, ’07) has published her third book, Lights, Camera, Booze: Drinking Games for Your Favorite Movies. It was selected as a finalist for Foreword Reviews’ 2013 Book of the Year Award in the pop culture category. The book was also included in the “swag bags” for the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

photo of REMI LOHSE


(BA, Journalism, ’07) recently joined the specialty ag sales team at Certis USA as regional sales manager-Southwest. She is responsible for the sales and marketing of the company’s line of biopesticide products into the fruit and vegetable markets. Her territory covers Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. Lohse was previously a sales representative for AgraQuest/Bayer Crop Science of Davis covering a Southwest territory. She will work out of her office in Boerne, Texas.


(BA, Communication Studies, ’08) graduated from UC Davis Law School in 2011 but chose not to practice law. Since then, she has been pursuing a career as a novelist. After being offered representation from a literary agent, Taylor sold her young adult magical realism novel, Invincible Wind, to Egmont, a New York-based children’s book publisher. It is slated for release in fall 2015.



(BA, Psychology, ’09) was recently certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment. She uses this assessment in her work in the Human Resources department of Employee Training and Development/Recognition Programs for the company Electronics for Imaging.


(BS, Business Administration, ’09) was named assistant vice president of Heffernan Insurance Brokers’ North Bay office in Petaluma. His background includes consulting, sales, and marketing in the insurance and banking industries along with property and business ownership and management. Heffernan Insurance Brokers is one of the largest full-service, independent insurance brokerage firms in the United States. Prout also served in the Air Force for five years.

[Back to top]



(BS, Exercise Physiology, ’11) is the annual giving coordinator at CSU, East Bay. She is in charge of building and implementing the phone-a-thon program, which is newly in-sourced this year. While at Chico State, she was the senior supervisor at the Calling Center, an experience she says helped her land her current job. “There are not enough words to express my love, gratitude, and support for the Calling Center!” she says.



(BA, Sociology, ’12) is one of 58 volunteers with Sacramento’s City Year program. She is spending her dedicated 11 months of service at Rosa Parks K-8 School, volunteering in several classrooms. While at Chico State, she was involved with CAVE, where she helped start a homeless outreach program. After City Year, she hopes to study social work at graduate school in California.

photo of ADAM ROTH


(BA, Sociology, ’12) volunteered for two months with a local organization in Uganda that brings slum kids off the streets and provides them with educations. He is now teaching English at a school in Thailand.

[Back to top]



(BS, Agriculture, ’63) and NANCY LEMM (attended) celebrated 50 years of marriage on Aug. 31, 2013. They met as students at Chico State and were married in 1963. Ernie is a self-employed almond farmer in Durham. Nancy was a bookkeeper for the family excavating business and a homemaker. They have three children and four grandchildren.


(BA, Social Work, ’83) and Edward Wheeler celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Aug. 3, 2013. They were married Sept. 12, 1963, in Los Angeles. They moved to Chico in 1968. Janis worked at Far Northern Regional Center for three years before returning to being a homemaker. Edward retired emeritus from teaching/coordinating Butte College’s anthropology program in 2001. They have 10 grandchildren.


(BS, Business Administration, ’84) and Georgina Graham were married Nov. 12, 2013. He is the economic development director for the City of Hesperia, and she is a management analyst for the city. They reside in Apple Valley with their yellow Labrador, Penny.


(BA, Psychology, ’98; MA, Psychology, ’01) and Timothy Brown were married Aug. 25, 2012. She works with graduate students as a student affairs officer at UC Davis; he graduated from Saint Mary’s College and works as a tax manager for AT&T. They reside in Sacramento.


(BS, Mechanical Engineering, ’08) and ELISSA PETERSON (BA, Music Industry and Technology, ’11) were married Sept. 21, 2013. He works as project manager for Barry-Wehmiller Design Group in Roseville.


(BA, Child Development, ’09) and NATHAN DANNER (BS, Computer Information Systems, ’11) were married Sept. 14, 2013. She works for Valley Oak Children’s Services; he works for EXL Landa. They live in Chico.


(BS, Construction Management, ’11) and MALLORY SERRAO (BA, Geography, ’11) were married Oct. 12, 2013. He is an engineering technician for Butte County Public Works, and she works for Hanover Environmental Services Inc. They reside in Chico.

Kacey Gardner, Public Affairs and Publications

Interactive magazine

Check out the full interactive version of the complete magazine.

every page


Alum Notes



(’82) is third district Sonoma County supervisor.

Read more



(BA, Political Science, ’02) published an ebook titled Alex Haley’s Roots: An Author’s Odyssey.

Read more



(’12) is a volunteer with Sacramento’s City Year program.

Read more

yours now