Chico State Alumni Association

2022 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

California State University, Chico honored these distinguished alumni at the 27th annual Distinguished Alumni Recognition awards program on March 25, 2022.

Kathleen GraveKathleen Grave

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Social Science, '82

Current position: Co-founder and CEO at InBold Inc./Lassen Labs

After graduation from Chico State, Kathleen Grave earned her doctorate in business administration at the University of Liverpool in the United Kingdom, with a scholarly focus on strategic, integrative, and sustainable smart cities. She currently serves in multiple leadership roles, including CEO of Lassen Labs, managing partner and board member of Enterprise Ireland (EI), and practitioner/professor of strategy, business management, and analytics at Pepperdine University. Grave’s 25 years of experience in international business spans across several industries, with her most recent focus in health science. Her leadership and senior management talents include engineering, sales, business development, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and general management. Grave has applied her expertise to advancing business opportunities, defining strategies, and executing complex implementations. Grave’s early career began in Silicon Valley's high-energy startup environment, and she remains an active member of her local venture capitalist/angel investor community today. As a strategic change leader, Grave is focused on bringing positive growth and improvements to new organizations, and she finds success through strong leadership and by applying her unique approach to affect change leadership in emerging business arenas.

Bill DoddBill Dodd

College of Business

Business Administration, '78

Current Position: California State Senator, District 3

After graduation from Chico State, Bill Dodd went on to own and operate one of the largest full-service Culligan Water companies in California. In 2016, he was elected to represent California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all of Napa and Solano Counties, along with portions of Sonoma, Yolo, Contra Costa, and Sacramento Counties. Prior to his election, Dodd represented California’s 4th Assembly district and served on the Napa County Board of Supervisors for 14 years. He also represented the cities and county of Napa on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, notably serving a two-year term as chairman of this powerful regional body. In addition, Dodd served as an honorary commander for the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, and as chair on multiple boards and commissions in Napa County, including the county’s League of Governments Transportation and Planning Agency, and Flood Control and Water Conservation District. The Napa Chamber of Commerce recognized Dodd for his philanthropic efforts in 2014, awarding him “Citizen of the Year” for his efforts in raising over $3 million for local charities.

Rashell BrobstRashell Brobst

College of Communication and Education

Recreation Administration, '95 

Current Position: CEO, Boys and Girls Club of the North Valley

As a first-generation college graduate, Rashell Brobst is passionate about and understands the needs of underserved youth in her community, and she has committed herself to serving the North State area. Brobst is currently the CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the North Valley (BGCNV), having begun her career as a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club 25 years ago when the organization managed only one site. Today, 10 sites serve 700 children a day and 2,000 each year. Brobst originally volunteered as a student through Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE) at Chico State, and later for Ability First Youth Sports Camp. She spent her senior internship semester working in the area of pediatric and spinal cord injury at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles. In addition to her work at the BGCNV, Brobst is a board member for Healthy Rural California, which aims to meet the public health needs of California’s rural communities, is an advisory member for the Thrive CARE Team, which focuses on responding to youth suicides, and has been actively involved with the California Parks & Recreation Society (CPRS), the California School Age Consortium (CalSAC), and the Bidwell Park Caper Acres Nico Project. In 2018, she was named California Legislature Woman of the Year.

Dan WheelerDan Wheeler

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management

Construction Management, '93

Current Position: Vice President, Turner Construction Company

Dan Wheeler is the vice president and general manager of Turner Construction Company, covering Sacramento, northern Nevada, and the Central Valley, and he oversees Turner Northern California’s Self-Perform Operations. Wheeler is a Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA)-certified professional, regularly speaking on informational panels and teaching the Design-Build Done Right education course. During college, he supported himself as a crane operator, helping construct the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. In his senior year, Wheeler served as the president of the Construction Management Association, and he met his wife, Julie, at the Northwest Regional Engineering Competition at Boise State University. Wheeler’s education and experience have had a monumental impact on the success of Turner Construction Company, which oversees approximately $300 million of annual work in place, has exceeded trade partner outreach goals, recruited more than 140 full-time employees and 110 carpenters and laborers, and raised over $100 thousand annually in charitable donations. Wheeler’s journey has come full circle as he celebrates 20 years of Chico State construction and engineering recruitment, and three years as president of the Industrial Advisory Committee for the Construction Management Department. He is also the Design-Build executive leader supervising the Butte Hall replacement project at Chico State. Wheeler also volunteers with the Butte County Sheriff’s Posse and the Paradise Hope Plaza project.

Doug LeikerDouglas Leiker

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

Humanities, English, '75

Current Position: Founder and Owner, Warm Earth Pottery and Warm Earth Cosmetics

While earning his degrees at Chico State, Doug Leiker studied ceramics under the guidance of professor Jack Windsor, founder of the University ceramics program. After graduation, he went on to establish Warm Earth Pottery in 1980. While selling his pottery in downtown Chico, he noticed a large number of people purchasing makeup in the cosmetics store next door. After researching the ingredients of various products, he discovered that he recognized many of the raw materials being used in color cosmetics thanks to his chemistry background in ceramic clay and glazes. Leiker decided to create his own cosmetics line, Warm Earth Pottery & Cosmetics, and package them in his own ceramic vessels, using hand-thrown, hand-glazed, high-fired stoneware and porcelain. Warm Earth Cosmetics are sold across the United States, Central and South America, and to countries in Europe. While maintaining the core and wholesale business for established clients and retailers for the past 40 years, Leiker has also volunteered for Chico Country Day School, helping to raise over $130,000, and was a lead neighborhood activist in an effort to bring California Water Service to the Stanley Avenue area.

Monica SoderstromMonica Soderstrom

College of Natural Sciences

Nursing, '85

Current Position: Nursing Division Director, Butte County Public Health Department

Monica Soderstrom is a leader in public health in Butte County and beyond, having guided the community through several major crises including the Oroville Dam spillway failure, the Camp Fire, and the COVID-19 pandemic. A registered nurse, she heads the county’s community health division where she has overseen countywide nursing programs and coalitions since 2015. In addition to her current service on the Enloe Board of Trustees, she has held other leadership roles including director of the Children’s Health Center from 2010 to 2015, including overseeing the transition from Enloe to Northern Valley Indian Health in 2012. Soderstrom worked as a public health nurse for over 12 years, serving local high-risk mothers and infants, and she was employed at Enloe for 24 years. During her time at Enloe she was a registered nurse in pediatrics and maternal child home health, a nurse manager, a perinatal instructor, and a case manager. She has been an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 2004. In March 2021, Assemblyman James Gallagher presented Soderstrom with the California Legislature Woman of the Year award. In addition to Soderstrom’s professional duties, she also volunteers for the Chico State nursing program.