Distinguished Alumni

Alisha Valavanis 2016 Distinguished Alum

Alisha Valavanis, 2016

BA, Communications, 2000; MA, Physical Education, 2004

President and General Manager of the Seattle Storm

Alisha Valavanis’ impressive coaching resume spans more than two decades. She got her start in 2002 as the first assistant coach of the women’s basketball team at Chico State. In her four years as assistant coach, the program made four straight NCAA tournament appearances, highlighted with a 2006 Final Four appearance. She moved on to the University of the Pacific in 2006, joining the women’s basketball program as an assistant coach and later elevated to associate head coach. At both University of the Pacific and Chico State, Valavanis also served as an advisor to academic courses. As a student at Chico State, Valavanis lettered in women’s basketball from 1995-99, and graduated as Chico’s all-time three-point leading scorer. Valavanis ended her playing career in 1999 with numerous conference and NCAA recognitions. Valavanis played alongside her twin sister, Alexa, while they were both students in Chico. Both were recognized with the award of Outstanding Contributions to the University in 2001. Valavanis was hired as chief operating officer of the Seattle Storm in June 2014, and was elevated to president on October 2014. Valavanis lives in Seattle and serves as a board member with the Greater Seattle Business Association and the American Cancer Society’s CEOs Against Cancer.

Natalie Kerris

Natalie Kerris, 2015

1989 BA Information and Communication Studies

Senior Director, Worldwide Corporate Communications, Apple

With more than 25 years of experience as one of Silicon Valley's top PR professionals, Natalie Kerris has spent the past 14 years introducing Apple’s most iconic products to the world, including the iPod, iTunes, iPad, iPhone, App Store, and most recently, Apple Pay and Apple Watch. As the senior director for worldwide corporate communications, Kerris has shaped Apple’s narrative from tech underdog to music-industry disrupter, through the meteoric rise of the iPhone to becoming the world’s most valuable company. An innovative team leader and creative problem solver, Kerris has managed crisis communications, strategic partnerships, and PR campaigns with iTunes artists in music, television, and film. Kerris resides in Los Gatos with her husband, Richard, and two daughters (Scarlett, 9, and Madeline, 8). She also volunteers for Girl Scouts and the Los Gatos Ballet.

Michael Shea

Michael Shea, 2014

1984 BA Design and Communication

Principal and Founder, School+Jackson, Inc.

Growing up in the midwest, Michael became interested in art and design at a very young age. In his teens, he moved to Palm Springs California, where he was inspired by the plethora of mid-century architecture. He chose to study at California State University, Chico and received a degree in Design and Communication, with a minor in Art and Industrial Technology in 1984. In 1993, Michael received his Masters in Design degree from North Carolina State University. His professional career has covered a wide variety of creative opportunities with both independent design firms and internal corporate Creative Director roles with several major brands. When not in the studio, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, making art, travel, and enjoying the outdoors in and around Portland, Oregon.

Lance Lew

Lance Lew, 2013

1979 BA Speech Pathology and Audiology

Director, Community Marketing, NBC Bay Area

As the community marketing director for NBC Bay Area, Lance Lew is responsible for all community outreach efforts, including development of promotional campaigns and event marketing. Lew has served on numerous boards, committees, and organizations serving the Bay Area, and he has received many awards, including Cine Awards for two documentaries he spearheaded while working for CBS5 in San Francisco. He received recognition for his leadership with a multi-year, 160-location food drive for Second Harvest. He co-founded the Growing Up Asian in America essay and art contest commemorating Asian Pacific American Heritage month. This program has distributed more than $250,000 in awards to more than 600 students in the past 18 years.

Lain I. Hensley

Lain I. Hensley, 2012

1993 BA Recreation Administration

Co-owner and COO, Odyssey Teams, Inc.

Lain Hensley joined Odyssey in 1992 as an equity partner and has since delivered a unique brand of training and motivational speaking to more than 500,000 people worldwide. He has traveled to 58 countries fitting prosthetic hands, and has a goal of donating 100,000 prosthetic hands before he dies. Hensley has been honored as a “Local Hero” by the Chico Noon Rotary Club and leads Rotary Camp Royal, a week-long youth leadership camp for high school seniors. He sits on the board of directors for the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation and the Advisory Board for the CSU, Chico Department of Recreation, Hospitality, and Parks Management. Hensley met his wife, Jean, while both were enrolled in the ballroom dancing class at CSU, Chico.

Steven E. Tolleson

Steven E. Tolleson, 2011

1981 BA Communication Design, Graphic Design Emphasis

Principal, Tolleson Design

A former member of the Board of Directors of the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Steve Tolleson has lectured extensively at colleges, universities, and industry organizations. He has also served as a design juror for a number of significant competitions around the world. Tolleson Design has received numerous awards and enjoys consistent visibility from national and international media. In 1999, Princeton Architectural Press published a monograph on the Tolleson Studio titled SoakWashRinseSpin. The book has become an industry standard as it chronicles the studio’s unique problem-solving methodology as evidenced through examples of its exceptional creative work. Tolleson and wife Ruthie (1982, Nursing) reside in Novato, California, and have two children, Danielle (2009, Recreation) and Evan.

Timothy McClure

Timothy McClure, 2010

1982 MA Education, 1982 Credential

Director, Total School Solutions

In his role as director of professional development for Total School Solutions, Timothy McClure is responsible for developing a comprehensive, statewide professional development program designed to improve student academic performance. He received a 2008 Outstanding Achievement Award for his statewide efforts to help districts and schools improve academic achievement. McClure has organized a series of conferences highlighting schools serving high-poverty communities where African American, Latino, and English Learner students succeed at rates significantly higher than the average. Prior to his current role with Total School Solutions, McClure served in several roles for the Butte County Office of Education, including as the deputy superintendent, Educational Support Services.

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown, 2009

1982 B.A.Communication/Public Relations

Founder, Brown Investment Group

After a successful career in the radio business, Gordon Brown began selling income-producing properties in California and Nevada. Since 1988 he has successfully purchased, managed, and repositioned millions of dollars worth of properties for himself and his partners. Brown currently serves as president of the Inside Circle Foundation, which supports inmates in Folsom Prison in their efforts at accountability and self awareness. He is a former founding member of the Authentic Leadership Center and serves on the Waterkeeper Alliance Board of Trustees. The Waterkeeper Alliance is an international group dedicated to supporting communities in the protection of bodies of water and the provision of safe drinking water.

Jeff Dudum

Jeff Dudum, 2008

1995 B.S. Recreation Administration

Owner, Dudum Sports & Entertainment (DSE)
Jeff Dudum is revolutionizing the dining and hospitality industries with an award-winning combination of food, service, and entertainment. Jeff specializes in creating concept restaurants linked with a celebrity theme. He began with McCoveys in Walnut Creek and has since opened restaurants with Bing Crosby, Joe DiMaggio, and Carlos Stantana themes. He and his company also work with local organizations and schools to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit the community.  

Craig Frazier

Craig Frazier, 2007

1978 B.A. Information and Communication Systems

Owner, Frazier Design Studio

Craig Fraizer is an award-winning designer and illustrator. His work is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He has authored a series of children’s books and The Illustrated Voice, a collection of his work He is a regular contributor to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Time, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, and numerous other publications and corporate clients.

Congressman Donald E. Young

Congressman Donald E. Young, 2006

1959 B.A. Social Science, 1959 Teaching Credential

Current Position: U.S. Congress House of Representatives

The Honorable Don Young is the third ranking Republican member and ranks eighth overall in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has represented the State of Alaska in Congress since 1973, and was elected to a seventeenth term in 2004 with the highest number of votes ever cast for a single candidate in the state. Prior to attending Chico State College, Young served in the United States Army. Following graduation, he headed to Fort Yukon, Alaska where he taught elementary school and became the city's mayor. He is a member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, vice chairman of the House Resources Committee, and chairs the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

Carolyn Thompson

Carolyn Thompson, 2005

1968, Kinesiology

Carolyn Thompson is the 2005 Distinguished Alumni for the College of Communication and Education. Carolyn is a 1968 graduate of the Department of Kinesiology. Carolyn taught secondary physical education for 33 years, and is the 1994 recipient of the National Secondary School Physical Education Teacher of the Year award.

Scott Dalecio

Scott Dalecio, 2004

1986 B.A. Recreation Administration

Current Position: President, Resort Division,
KSL Recreation Corporation

Scott Dalecio serves as the Resort Division president for the KSL Recreation Corporation, owner of the prestigious La Costa Resort and Spa, La Quinta Resort, The Grand Wailea Resort on Maui, and their newest acquisition, the Hotel del Coronado. Dalecio started his career in the hospitality industry as a CSU, Chico intern for the Landmark Land Company in their La Quinta Resort & Club. He worked his way up the company, becoming vice president and residential manager of La Quinta Resort when it was purchased by KSL in 1994. Dalecio currently oversees acquisitions, operations, and development of the nine luxury KSL resorts and clubs, located in five states.

William Mickelson

William Mickelson, 2003

1951 B.A. Education

Current Position: President, Mickelson Land Services, Inc.

William Mickelson began his post college career as a teacher. A friendship formed on the golf course led Mickelson into the oil exploration business.
He has served as the president and CEO of Mickelson Land Services, Inc. and the owner of Mickelson Oil and Gas Properties. Mickelson is past president and a director of the Los Angeles Association of Petroleum Landmen and was named “Landman of the Year” for 1986-1987. During his college days, Mickelson helped to form the first official Chico State College golf team. Golf remains a very important part of Mickelson’s life, and he has won the California Amateur title in the handicap division.

Dan M. Dutton

Dan M. Dutton, 2002

1972, Physical Education

Chief Executive Officer, Stimson Lumber Company

Dan Dutton joined Stimson Lumber Company as executive vice president and chief operating officer in 1988. Dutton was elected president of Stimson Lumber Company in 1989 and became chief executive officer in 1991.

Michael Jones

Michael J. Jones, 2001

1981, Psychology

1983, Instructional Technology, Information and Communication Studies (M.A.)

Vice-President, Human Resources and Information Services, Microchip Technology, Inc.

Michael Jones has been a member of the executive staff of Microchip Technology, Inc. since 1991. In 1993 the company went public and was the nation’s number one IPO for 1993

Enrique Rigsby

Enrique “Rick” Rigsby, 2000

1978, Mass Comminucation

1987, Public Communication (M.A.)

Enrique “Rick” Rigsby is considered to be among the most popular professors at Texas A&M University, where he is an assistant professor of Speech Communication. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Rigsby is also the Life Skills Development Coordinator for the Texas A&M football team, president of Rick Rigsby Communications World Group, and founder of Cornerstone Ministries.

Rigsby received two degrees from CSU, Chico—a B.A. in mass communication in 1978 and an M.A. in public communication in 1987. He also earned his Ph.D. in rhetoric and communication from the University of Oregon in 1990.

Jerry McGuire

Jerry McGuire, 1999

1964, Elementary Education

1973, Education Administration/Supervision

Jerry McGuire was the superintendent of Butte County Schools. In June of 1998, McGuire was elected to serve a third four-year term. Prior to serving as superintendent, McGuire was principal at three schools within the Chico Unified School District.

McGuire earned a B.A. in elementary education in 1964 from CSU, Chico and received his M.A. in education administration/ supervision in 1973. He also earned a credential in life-administrative services (elementary and general).

Kelly Craighead-Mullen

Kelly Craighead-Mullen, 1998

1989, Recreation Administration
Washington, DC

Kelly Craighead-Mullen was special assistant to US President Clinton and director of advance to the First Lady. Craighead graduated in 1989 with a B.S. in Recreation Administration and valuable experience as vice president of the Associated Students. Following graduation, Craighead left Chico for an internship position in Washington, D.C. with a fundraising firm.

Since 1992, Craighead has traveled throughout the United States and to over eighty countries across six continents.

Russ Woody

Russ Woody, 1997

1979, Broadcast Journalism
Studio City, CA

Russ Woody graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and a minor in speech and drama. He was a production assistant on the Benson and Bosom Buddies shows and he sold scripts to Benson and Barney Miller and wrote episodes for Fantasy Island and Webster. As part of Mary Tyler Moore’s production company, he wrote episodes for Newhart, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and Slap Maxwell. He was co-executive producer of Mad About You and consults on The Jeff Foxworthy Show. He won an Emmy in 1990 as writer/producer for Murphy Brown and a Golden Globe Award in 1997 as co-executive producer of Cybill.

Tamilee Webb

Tamilee Webb, 1996

1982 M.A.Physical Education

International Fitness Educator/Instructor—Webb International, Del Mar, CA

As a leader in the fitness industry, Webb develops, promotes, and produces innovative programs for the public and fitness instructors. Webb has received Self magazine’s 1994 “Best Abs Workout” and 1993’s “Fitness Instructor of the Year” by IDEA, the association of fitness professionals.

Mark Ulriksen, 1995

Originally a graphic designer, then a magazine art director, he is now illustrating and painting  pictures for a  living.

Ulriksen's work has graced the covers of  magazines like The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic  Monthly, Time, Newsweek Japan and has appeared in the pages of Rolling  Stone, Vibe, GQ, and Entertainment  Weekly.