Chico State Alumni Association

Distinguished Alumni

It is important for California State University, Chico to recognize its outstanding alumni for a variety of reasons. Our outstanding alumni are among the leaders in their chosen vocations and professions and are those to whom we turn for assistance in ensuring the integrity of our academic programs.

Our distinguished alumni are fondly remembered by the faculty as inquisitive students and often as personal friends, both of which make teaching such a rewarding career. Recognizing our most talented and successful alumni reaffirms that they, like those many before them and thousands to follow, give life and reality to the legacy and contributions of California State University, Chico. Our most accomplished alumni, then, represent what it is we do well when we do our best, and for them we are grateful.

—Gayle E. Hutchinson, President

Browse all previous Distinguished Alumni honorees here
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2022 Distinguished Alumni Honorees

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

roy beckRoy Beck

College of Agriculture

BS, Agriculture, '75

Roy Beck began his childhood working on his family’s Santa Rosa dairy farm. Little did he know that when he slipped on that blue corduroy jacket as an FFA member himself, he would one day influence the lives of so many students. Beck taught for 42 years in the agriculture education profession spanning from the Superior Region to the Central Region. His home was Bret Harte High School and his passion was his students. He served on the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association (CATA), as a sectional officer three times, twice in the Superior Region and once in the Central Region, then as a regional CATA officer in the Superior and Central Regions. Knowing that his impact could be more, he was then elected to State CATA office. His service did not end there, he led the CATA as a presenter at Master Teacher Conclaves, Roadshows, Summer Conference Workshops, and Lake Sequoia. Up until his retirement, Roy served as a representative on the California FFA Advisory Committee, coordinated Milk Quality CDE contests, and served as the National Chair for CDE’s. Roy was also a member of the taskforce that moved the National FFA Convention to Kentucky. Roy's passion and fun loving demeanor left an impact on our profession and thousands of FFA members across the country. Beck has been recognized with multiple awards, including; Teacher of Excellence, Honorary American FFA Degree, and Teacher Mentor. In 2021, Beck was inducted to the California Agricultural Teachers’ Association Hall of Fame.

Kathleen GraveKathleen Grave

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

BA, Social Science, '82

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

Kathleen Grave graduated from Chico State in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in social science. She currently serves in multiple leadership roles, including as CEO of Lassen Labs, managing partner and board member of Enterprise Ireland (EI) Group and practitioner/professor of Strategy, Business Management, and Analytics at Pepperdine University. Grave’s 25 years of experience in international business spans across multiple industries, with her most recent focus in the technology sector. Her leadership and senior management competencies include engineering, sales, business development, M&A, joint ventures, sales, and general management. Her early career began in Silicon Valley's high-energy startup environment and she remains an active member of the local VC/Angel investor community today. Grave has applied her expertise to advancing business opportunities, defining strategies, and executing complex implementations. As a strategic change leader, she brings positive growth and improvements to new organizations with a proven track record of success metrics through strong leadership and applying her unique approach to affect change leadership in emerging business arena. Kathleen earned her doctorate in business administration at University of Liverpool, UK with a scholarly focus on strategic, integrative, sustainable smart cities.

Bill DoddWilliam Dodd

College of Business

BS, Business, '78

Current Position: Former State Representative, 3rd Senate District

William Dodd received his bachelor’s in business administration with an option in management from Chico State in 1978. After leaving Chico State, Dodd went on to own and operate one of the largest full-service Culligan Water operations in California. During this time, he served as president of the national and state trade associations: the Water Quality Association and the Pacific Water Quality Association. Dodd was elected in November 2016 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 to the State Senate, Dodd represented the 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 including 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. Other boards and commission service included the Chair of the Local Agency Formation Commission of Napa County, Chair of the Napa County League of Governments, Chair of the Napa County Transportation Planning Agency, and Chair of the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. Through the years, he has been a member of the Justin-Siena High School Board of Trustees, Queen of the Valley Hospital Foundation, the American Canyon Chamber of Commerce, the Napa Rotary Club, and the Queen of the Valley Health Care for the Poor Committee. The Napa Valley Chamber of Commerce recognized his philanthropic efforts and awarded Dodd the 2014 “Citizen of the Year” for his efforts in raising over $3 million for local charities.

Rashell Brobst

College of Communication and Education

BS, Recreation Administration, '95 

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

Rashell Brobst graduated from Chico State in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in recreation administration. Throughout her tenure at Chico State, and now as CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the North Valley, Brobst has been committed to serving the North State. She began as a volunteer for the Boys and Girls Club 25 years ago when the organization managed one site. Today, 10 sites serve 700 children a day and 2,000 each year. The staff and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Club help support the school day for children ages 6–18 by helping with homework and reading, making behavioral goals and providing snacks. Brobst originally volunteered as a student through Community Action Volunteers in Education (CAVE), at Chico State and later volunteered for Ability First Sports Camp via her major in recreation administration. She spent her senior internship semester working at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles, in the pediatric and spinal cord injury area. As a first-generation college graduate, Brobst is passionate about and understands the needs of underserved youth in the community. in 2018, Brobst was named Woman of the Year by the California State 3rd Assembly district.

Dan WheelerDan Wheeler

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management

BS, 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 Central Valley regions and he oversees Northern California’s Self-Perform Operations. He is a Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) certified professional, regularly speaking on informational panels, and teaching the Design-Build Done Right educational course. Since graduating from Chico State with a bachelor's degree in construction management in 1993, both construction and Chico have remained constants in Dan’s journey to today. During college, he supported himself as a crane operator, helping construct the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. In his senior year, Dan served as the president of the Construction Management Association and met his wife, Julie, at the Northwest Regional Engineering Competition at Boise State. His education and experiences have had a monumental impact on the success of Turner, overseeing approximately $300 million of annual work in place, exceeding trade partner outreach goals, growing more than 140 full-time employees and 110 carpenters and laborers, and raising over $100,000 annually in charitable donations. Dan’s journey comes full circle as he celebrates 20 years of Chico State construction and engineering recruitment, and the last three years as president of the Industrial Advisory Committee for the Construction Management Department. Dan is the Design-Build Executive Leader overseeing Chico’s new Behavioral & Social Sciences building. Dan and Julie also spend their time volunteering with the Butte County Sherriff’s Posse and the Paradise Hope Plaza, and have a son, Daniel, who is majoring in Construction Management at Boise State.

Doug LeikerDoug Leiker

College of Humanities & Fine Arts

BA, English, '75

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

Doug Leiker earned his bachelor’s degrees in English and Humanities from Chico State in 1975, and also studied ceramics under the guidance of Professor Jack Windsor, founder of the program. After graduation, Leiker established Warm Earth Pottery in 1980. While selling his pottery in downtown Chico, he noticed the large number of people purchasing makeup in the cosmetics store next door. After researching the ingredients of various products, he discovered that he knew 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, packaging 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, Doug has also volunteered for Chico Country Day School, helping to raise over $130,000, and was a lead neighborhood activist in the effort to bring California Water Service to the Stanley Park Area in Chico.

Monica SoderstromMonica Soderstrom

College of Natural Sciences

BS, Nursing, '85

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

Monica Soderstrom has been a leader in public health in Butte County and beyond, leading the community through several major crisis from the Oroville Dam, Camp Fire and COVID-19. Soderstrom is a registered nurse who leads the county’s community health division and serves on Enloe Medical Center’s board of trustees. In March 2021, Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) presented Soderstrom with the California Legislature Woman of the Year award at the Butte County Public Health office in Chico. Soderstrom was joined by roughly 40 friends and colleagues as Gallagher, Enloe Medical Center CEO Mike Wiltermood and Director of Butte County Public Health Dannette York all made speeches in support of Soderstrom’s award. In addition to Soderstrom’s duties as the Butte County Public Health Community Health Division director, she also serves as a member of the Enloe Medical Center’s board of trustees and is currently a volunteer for the Chico State nursing program.

Rick CallenderRick Callender

Distinguished Alumni Service Award

BS, 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.