Chico State Alumni Association

2018 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

California State University, Chico will honor these distinguished alumni at the 25th annual Distinguished Alumni Recognition Dinner on March 9, 2018. 

Stephen JonesStephen Jones

College of Agriculture

BS, Agriculture, '80

Current Position: Director, The Bread Lab at Washington State University

Stephen Jones is one of the nation’s premier wheat breeders and director of the Bread Lab at Washington State University (WSU). The Bread Lab has been recognized both nationally and internationally and is helping create jobs and businesses in agriculture and craft brewing in the Skagit Valley north of Seattle. In January 2018, Jones was awarded the Clif Bar & King Arthur Flour Endowed Chair in Organic Grain Breeding and Innovation, a $1.5 million endowment designed to help the Bread Lab continue its research. Jones’ research has been published in multiple journals in the crops and soil science field and his wheat currently grows in the governor’s garden in Washington State. His first wheat crop was on five acres at the University Farm at Chico State in 1977, where he completed his BS in agriculture in 1980. Jones went on to receive his MS in agronomy in 1985 and PhD in genetics in 1991, both at the University of California, Davis. In 2008, Jones was awarded Research Faculty Mentor of the Year at WSU’s Women and Leadership Forum, and in 2009 was recipient of the Excellence in Research award from WSU’s College of Agriculture. Jones currently lives in Mount Vernon, Washington.

Sheryl Luzzadder BeachSheryl Luzzadder Beach

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

BA, Geography, '82

Current Position: Professor and Chair, Department of Geography and the Environment at University of Texas at Austin; Fellow of the C.B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair in U.S.-Mexico Relations

Sheryl Luzzadder Beach is professor and chair of the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas, Austin, and Fellow of the C.B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair in U.S.-Mexico Relations. Prior to her work at UT Austin, Luzzadder-Beach was professor of geography and associate provost at George Mason University, where she was a faculty member for more than 20 years. After graduating from Chico State in 1982 with a BA in geography, Luzzadder-Beach completed both her MA and PhD in geography from the University of Minnesota. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and she has published more than 60 peer-reviewed book chapters and articles. In 2010, she was the recipient of the Grove Karl Gilbert Outstanding Research Award in geomorphology, and received the College of Science Outstanding Publication Award at George Mason University in 2012.  She also serves as a member of multiple boards and associations, including the American Association of Geographers, the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration Grants Advisory Board, and the Science and Human Rights Coalition Council, American Association for the Advancement of Science. Luzzadder-Beach and her husband, Tim, live in Austin, Texas.

Timothy BeachTimothy Beach

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

BA, Geography, '82

Current Position: Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment, University of Texas at Austin; C.B. Smith, Sr. Centennial Chair

Timothy Beach completed his BA in geography at Chico State in 1982. After graduation, he went on to the University of Minnesota where he received his MA in geography in 1984 and PhD in 1989. Beach is currently a professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout his distinguished career, Beach has received multiple honors and awards including the Carl O. Sauer Distinguished Scholarship Award by the Conference of Latin Americanists Geographers (CLAG); the C.B. Smith, Sr., Centennial Chair, UT Austin; the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, Guggenheim Foundation, New York; and the Georgetown University Distinguished Research Award. Beach was elected Professor of the Year in 2014 by Georgetown School of Foreign Service’s Teaching Award and was awarded the Vicennial Medal at Georgetown University. Beach has been an invited lecturer and keynote speaker at hundreds of conferences all over the world, and recently was a presenter at the Vatican Conference on Biological Extinctions in Vatican City. Beach and his wife, Sheryl, live in Austin, Texas.

Tom TognoliTom Tognoli

College of Business

BA, Business, '88

Current Position: Founder, President, and CEO of Intero Real Estate Services

Tom Tognoli is the founder, president, and chief executive officer of Intero Real Estate Services, recognized as one of the top 10 real estate companies in the country. With more than 25 years of real estate experience, Tognoli has been honored as one of the 100 most powerful people in real estate by the Swanepoel Power 200, a ranking of residential real estate’s top industry leaders. Through his work as chair of the Intero Foundation, he has helped raised more than $4.5 million and distributed more than 200 grants to local nonprofit organizations that support low-income and disadvantaged children. He also publishes a weekly blog, Monday Morning Mojo, where he writes inspiring stories and offers advice to encourage readers to practice F5, which is faith, family, friends, fitness, and finances. Tognoli graduated from Chico State in 1988 with a BS in business. He currently lives in Sunnyvale, California with his wife, Lynn.

Lori McAdamsLori McAdams

College of Communication and Education

BA, Information and Communication Studies, '83

Current Position: Vice President of Human Resources and Administration, Pixar Animation Studios

Lori McAdams joined Pixar Animation Studios in 2004 as director of human resources, and by June 2006 was promoted to vice president. As vice president of human resources and administration, McAdams oversees the traditional Human Resources functions, including recruiting and staffing, training and education, and compensation and benefits.  McAdams holds a credit on a number of Pixar’s films, including Cars, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, WALL•E, Up, Toy Story 3, and Monsters University. McAdams began her career in human resources at Lucasfilm Ltd., where she served as a leader. She then went on to Electronic Arts as a director of human resources, primarily for the Maxis Development Studio, and spent one year as an interim director of human resources at Tippett Studios before coming to Pixar. McAdams graduated from Chico State in 1983 and went on to complete her MA in human resources and organizational development from the University of San Francisco. McAdams lives in Lafayette, California with her husband of 32 years Danny McAdams. They have three adult children, Jonathan, Justin and Meghan, and a granddaughter Madison.

Gary Z. Watters

Gary Z. Watters

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management

BS, Civil Engineering, '57

Current Position: Retired Faculty

Gary Z. Watters received his BS in civil engineering from Chico State in 1957 and was a first-generation college student. He completed his MS in civil engineering in 1958 and his PhD in 1963 at Stanford, where he was awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and was the second person to receive the Ford Foundation Fellowship. Watters then worked at Utah State for 17 years and later served as the dean of applied science at Chico State until 1992. He retired from the civil engineering department in 1998. Watters’ accomplishments during his 40-year career in teaching and administration include being selected as the Outstanding Young Engineering Teacher of the Rocky Mountain section of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE); lifetime member of the American Society of Civil Engineers; and serving as a member and the chair of the ASEE Pacific Southwest Section in 1991–92. In 2001, he was recognized by the Chico State Department of Civil Engineering as an Outstanding Civil Engineering Alumnus for his exemplary career as an educator, administrator, and researcher. Watters lives in Chico and enjoys traveling with his wife, Lorrene, visiting their eight grandchildren.

Samia Yaqub

Samia Yaqub

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

MA, English, '89

Current Position: President, Butte-Glenn Community College District

Samia Yaqub was named president of the Butte-Glenn Community College District in 2016. Prior to being named president, Yaqub served as interim president, vice president of student learning and economic development, and dean of language arts and humanities. She also taught English as a second language and developmental reading and writing at Butte College. Early in her career, Yaqub spent time as a linguistics lecturer at Lanzhou University in China. Throughout her distinguished academic career, Yaqub presented at multiple seminars and forums on topics ranging from literacy to diversity in student learning. In 2000, she was named Faculty Member of the Year at Butte College, and in 2011 was recipient of the Excellence in Dissertation Award. Yaqub is currently a member of the Chico Chamber board of directors, the Chico State Advisory Board, California Writing Project Advisory Board, and the Linked Learning Council of Presidents. Yaqub completed her MA in English from Chico State in 1989 and currently lives in Chico with her husband, Jeffers Richardson. 

Valerie Lucero

Valerie Lucero

College of Natural Sciences

BS, Nursing, '83

Current Position: Executive Director, Tehama County Health Services Agency

Valerie Lucero started her career as a public health nurse and went on to become director of public health at the Tehama County Health Services Agency before being named executive director in 2003. After graduating from Chico State in 1983 with her BS in nursing, Lucero went on to receive her master's certificate in public health at the University of Washington. Lucero has dedicated nearly two decades to community service, serving on multiple community boards and organizations including the Chico State School of Nursing Advisory Board; Tehama County First Five Commission; Tehama County Interagency Coordination Council; County Medical Services Program Governing Board; Statewide organizations of California Public Health Nursing Directors; and County Health Executives Association of California. Lucero lives in Corning with her husband Dennis and their two dogs, Cheyenne and Daisy.

Christina Nichols

Christina Nichols

Distinguished Alumni Service Award

BS, History, '69; Credential, '70, '74, '90

Current Position: Retired Educator

Christina Nichols completed her BA in history at Chico State in 1969, standard secondary credential in 1970, learning handicapped credential in 1974, and pupil personnel services credential in 1990. Nichols has dedicated her entire career to helping students and supporting the community of Chico, working as a guidance counselor for 18 years and teaching history and special education for 15 years. Her life-long dedication to community service is evident through her membership and leadership in several local organizations, including Chico Meals on Wheels; the Affirmative Action Committee for the city of Chico; Rape Crisis Intervention; Chico Community Scholarship Association; founding member of the Chico State Alumni Association, Chico Chapter; and the Chico State Alumni Association. Nichols' involvement as a member of the Pleasant Valley High School Foundation has helped raise more than $120,000 for students during Viking Pride Night’s fundraising event. She most recently served as a member of the Wildcat statue committee and on the inaugural celebration committee for Chico State President Gayle E. Hutchinson. For the past 10 years, Nichols has been a proud supporter and season ticket holder for Chico State men’s and women’s basketball. Nichols currently lives in Chico and has two children, Tessa, and Correen.