Chico State Alumni Association

Distinguished Alumni

2023 Distinguished Alumni
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2023 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

California State University, Chico will honor these distinguished alumni at the 28th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards program on March 3, 2023.

Roy BeckRoy Beck

College of Agriculture

Agriculture, ’75; Teaching Credential, ’77; MS Agriculture, ‘83

Current Position: Retired Educator

Roy Beck graduated from Chico State in 1975 and began a successful teaching career, teaching in both the Superior and Central regions of California. After 40 years of secondary instruction, Beck retired in 2016 having coached four state champion poultry teams, a national champion poultry team, multiple state champion dairy teams, and top five finished in both contests for decades. Beck served at all levels of the California Agricultural Teachers Association (CATA), including being elected to state CATA office, where he served for several years. Additional accomplishments include 288 state FFA degree recipients, 24 American Degree recipients, and two California State FFA Officers. Beck developed multiple successful cooperative projects for students, providing hands-on agrucultural experience for thousands of students. 

Read more about Roy Beck in Chico State Today.

Armando Ibarra Jr.

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Sociology, Spanish, '99; Public Administration, '02

Current position: Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Armando Ibarra Jr. is an associate professor in the Department of Labor Education at the University of Madison, Wisconsin, where he has taught since 2011 and where he is also director of Chicano and Latin Studies.  From his childhood as a farmworker to meeting Cesar Chavez as a college student, he has remained a staunch advocate for the rights of the workers. In 2018 he co-authored the Latino Question: Politics, Laboring Class, and the Next Left, which was named the Best Book in Latino Politics by the Latino Caucus of the American Political Science Association. Centro Hispano (CENTRO HISPANO - ABOUT US ( recognized Ibarra’s work in 2017 with the presentation of the Roberto G. Sanchez Award which honors an individual, group, or organization that has demonstrated leadership in advancing educational and career opportunities for Latinos.

Read more about Armando Ibarra in Chico State Today

Marti SuttonMarti Sutton

College of Business

Business Administration, '92

Current Position: Commissioner for the City of Livermore

After graduation from Chico State, Sutton worked at the White House in the Office of Management and Budget, working on First Lady Hilary Clinton's healthcare proposal. She currently works as a commissioner for the City of Livermore, Human Services commission, and is the newly appointed chairperson of the Las Positas College Foundation. Sutton also established and built the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (now Power to Decide) as a national 501c (3) organization, and worked with the Tri-Valley Nonprofit Alliance to raise funds to support six essential service organizations. Sutton is a current member of the College of Business Advisory Board at Chico State and a founding member of the Chico State Women's Philanthropy Council. 

Haley WillisHaley Willis

College of Communication and Education

Communication Sciences and Disorders, '14; MA, Communication Sciences and Disorders,'16

Current Position: CEO Advantage Therapy Services

Haley Willis is helping advance the field of speech-language pathology in Chico by bringing multiple services under one roof, offering services lacking in the city, and opening doors for aspiring therapists. She is the CEO and founder of Advantage Therapy Services in Chico. Her office specializes in neurogenic communication disorders—an area that before the opening of her business was not previously well supported by local practices—and has adopted a multidisciplinary approach to better serve patients. Willis and her husband, Rylan Willis, a physical therapist, opened Advantage Therapy Services in May 2021 with the mission to offer both speech therapy and physical therapy to clients of all ages.

Read more about Haley Willis in Chico State Today.

Kimate RichardsKimate Richards

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management

Mechatronic Engineering, '05

Current Position: Senior Strategic Architect, Strategic Accounts at Amazon

Kimate Richards is a strategic architect focused on Smart Factory automation and Industrial transformation utilizing robotics, Autonomous Mobile Robots and spatial data and simulations. Working with some of the largest companies in the world he has been instrumental in many critical operations for companies such as Apple, Gap, Mastercard and PG&E. He has 23 years of software development experience to provide team leading experience and CLR driven development and utilizes Swift/C#, Microsoft / .NET, Java and Oracle driven technologies for enterprise level architecture and mobile platforms. Richards is a volunteer with the Civil Air Patrol, a national program that is focused on aerospace education, cadet programs, and emergency services.  He is distinguished as one of only a few people who are Character Development Instructors for the Civil Air Patrol.  He also served as the Deputy Commander of the Tri-Valley Squadron, a group focused on finding missing persons in small aircraft throughout the U.S. and abroad. Richards also previously served in the U.S. Navy and Army Reserve, serving in both the Persian Gulf War and Operation Desert Shield, and received a Combat Battle “E” Excellence 4th award for his service.

Read more about Kimate Richards in Chico State Today.

Melanie Mello

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

German, English, '07

Current Position: Founder, Director and Teacher at Arizona German Language School

Originally from Pforzheim, Germany, Mello graduated summa cum laude from Chico State in August 2007 with a bachelor's degree in English and German.  She went on to complete her master's in secondary education in 2017 from Bethel College in Indiana.  Following graduation, Melanie taught English and German as a foreign language at the middle school, high school, and college level.  She is currently the founder, director and teacher at Arizona German Language School, located in Chandler. Mello was previously employed as a teacher of German at Chandler High School, a position she held from 2016 to 2022.  In this capacity, Melanie taught German 1, 2, 3-Dual Enrollment, and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate German courses and served as the faculty mentor for the German Club, the school chapter of Delta Epsilon Phi National Honor Society for students of German, and the IB Club.  Additionally, she is an associate faculty member for the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University. Mello has received multiple awards for her accomplishments. In 2022 Mello was recognized with the FL-A-CH Award for excellence in the teaching of the language and cultures of Austria, the German-speaking areas of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and South Tyrol.The award is sponsored by the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Embassy of Switzerland, and the Embassy of Liechtenstein.

Read more about Melanie Mello in Chico State Today

Thomas ButlerThomas Butler

College of Natural Sciences

Chemistry, '03

Current Position: Founder, Biomea Fusion

After graduating from Chico State in 2003, Butler went on to complete his MBA from the University of California, Los Angeles as well as his master's degree from University of California, Santa Barbara. Prior to founding Biomea Fusion in 2017, Butler built-up Point Sur Investors, a biotech investment fund focused solely on innovative therapies that significantly improves standard care, where he served as managing partner. Prior to forming Biomea, he also managed investor relations at Pharmacyclics Inc., where he helped grow the company and executed one of the largest biotech acquisitions to date. As a research scientist, Butler has been awarded numerous patents in the U.S. as well as internationally, and published in top academic journals, including the American Chemical Society Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and Angewandte Chemie.

Read more about Thomas Butler in Chico State Today

Rick CallenderRick Callender

Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Industrial Technology, '94

Current Position: CEO, Santa Clara Valley Water District

Rick Callender currently works as CEO of Santa Clara Valley Water District, where, since July 2020, he has overseen an integrated water resources system that includes the supply of clean and safe water, flood protection, and environmental stewardship of waterways for the district’s 1.9 million residents. In fall 2020, Rick Callender was named president of the California-Hawaii chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As the chapter’s first new president in 20 years, he’s working to build off the remarkable successes of his predecessor while also bringing new vision and embracing national momentum to confront racism and improve equity. Callender previously worked as a field campaign organizer for the California Democratic Party and is a two-time Congressional Fellow. He completed all coursework for his MPA from San Jose State University, earned his Juris Doctorate from Northwestern California University School of Law, and is a member of the California State Bar. He has also attended and graduated from eight executive leadership programs at different universities throughout the nation. Callender previously served as a member of the Chico State Alumni Association board and as president of the Chico State Parent Advisory Council.

Read more about Rick Callender in Chico State Today.