2006 - 13th Distinguished Alumni

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William Thomas, Jr.

College of Agriculture
BS Agronomy, Class of 1968

William (Bill) J. Thomas, Jr., earned a BS in agronomy, with a minor in botany (1968), from the California State University, Chico, where he was student body president. Bill earned his JD (1975) from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law after serving as a LT, j.g. in the United States Navy. Bill has served agricultural interests for more than 30 years in private practice. Bill represents agricultural and agricultural business interests before California governmental agencies, such as the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, State and Regional Water Boards, the Departments of Food and Agriculture, Fish & Game, and Pesticide Regulation. He also lobbies the California Legislature and works with federal agencies, such as the United States Departments of Agriculture (Forest Service) and Interior (Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management). Bill currently is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and serves as a member of its legal defense fund (The CATL Fund). He also serves on the Board of Directors of the California Cattlemen’s Association, as well as its legal defense fund (P.O.S.S.E.E.), and is chair of its Water and Environmental Water Quality Committee. Currently, he is a cattleman and agricultural attorney for Thomas Cattle and Best Best & Krieger LLP respectively.

View the entire biography here

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Karen Seccombe Meenan

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BS Business Administration, Class of 1974

Karen Seccombe is a professor in the School of Community Health at Portland State University, located in Portland, Oregon. She received her B.A. in Sociology at California State University, Chico, her M.S.W. in Health and Social Welfare policy from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University.

Her research focuses on poverty, welfare, access to healthcare, and the effects of social inequality on families. She is the author of “So You Think I Drive A Cadillac?”: Welfare Recipients’ Perspectives on the System and its Reform (Pearson); Families and Their Social Worlds (Pearson); Just Don’t Get Sick: Access to Healthcare in the Aftermath of Welfare Reform, with Kim A. Hoffman (Rutgers University Press); and Families in Poverty (Pearson).

She is a fellow in the National Council on Family Relations, and a member of the American Sociological Association and the Pacific Sociological Association, where she has held elective offices. Karen lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Richard, a health economist, her ten-year-old daughter, Natalie Rose, and her eight-year-old daughter, Olivia Lin. In her spare time she enjoys hiking with her family near their cabin in the Oregon Cascades, kayaking and cycling in the San Juan Islands, and exploring the kid-friendly attractions in Portland, of which there are many.

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John A. DiMichele

College of Business
BS Business Administration, Class of 1976

John A. DiMichele has over 30 years of banking experience, including over 15 years as a President, Chief Executive Officer and Director. DiMichele has a graduate MBA degree from Golden Gate University and was an undergraduate in Finance at California State University, Chico. He also attended the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School Community Bank Program and the Pacific Coast Banking School. He had previously served as President and CEO of Surety Bank in Vallejo from 1994-1997, and Suisun Valley Bank in Fairfield from 1983-1994. In 1998, he was a founding member, organizer, and served as President and CEO of Yolo Community Bank in Woodland until February of 2005. In November of 2005, DiMichele opened Community Business Bank in West Sacremento and has served as its President and CEO since then.

DiMichele has a long history of involvement in community affairs including serving as chairman of the Sutter/Solano Medical Center, board member of the Sutter/Solano Regional Medical Foundation, board member of the Vacaville Education Foundation and California Statewide CDC which provides funding to businesses throughout California. He and his wife Bonnie live in Fairfield. They have two sons and a daughter. His daughter and eldest son are also graduates of Chico State.

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Donald E. Young

College of Communication & Education
Conditionally Classified Credential, Class of 1959

Young was born in Meridian, CA, in Sutter County. He earned an Associate's degree in Education from Yuba College in 1952, served in the Army from 1955 to 1957, and earned a Bachelor's degree from Chico State College in 1958. Young moved to Alaska in 1959, not long after it became a state. He eventually settled in Fort Yukon, a 700-person city on the Yukon River, seven miles (11 km) above the Arctic Circle in Alaska’s central interior region. Young began his political career in 1964 when he was elected mayor of Fort Yukon. After only one term, he was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives and served two terms before being elected to the Alaska Senate in 1970. Young is the fifth longest-serving House member, and the second most senior Republican (behind Rep. Bill Young of Florida). He is often called "Alaska's third senator." Young chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2001 to 2007. He also chaired the Resources Committee from the 1995 Republican takeover of the House until 2001. He is currently the second-highest ranking Republican on both committees.

For more information, please refer to Donald E. Young's Wikipedia article.

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Farhang (Frank) Zamani

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management
BS Computer Science, Class of 1994

In 1986, Farhang (Frank) Zamani hired a smuggler to help him escape from Iran (his birthplace) to Pakistan, where he lived for two years. He then ended up with his brother in San Francisco with $70 between them. Zamani would go on to CSU, Chico and earn a BS in Computer Science. Following graduation, Zamani founded Autoweb, a company which went public in 1999. Zamani left Autoweb to found Caspio, Inc. in 2000, which empowers end-users to quickly create online databases, Web applications and Web forms—all without writing code. Some of Caspio's clients include Capital One, ESPN, UPS, Deloitte and Century 21. Caspio earned a place in the top 1,000 companies on the 2010 Inc.com 5,000 list at No. 779, thanks to an extraordinary three-year growth rate of over 388 percent. Caspio is a self-funded company owned by its employees and is a certified green business.

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Johnny Lancaster

College of Humanities & Fine Arts
BA English, Class of 1994

Johnny Lancaster is a professional voice over artist represented by Don Buchwald and Associates, a talent organization for the entertaining and advertising world. Lancaster’s voice has been heard in commercials for Pepsi, Pringles, Volkswagen, Hershey’s, and Folgers. He does the promos for Nickelodeon, MTV and Discovery Health. He has also hosted the ESPN show The Life, and produced an off-off Broadway show, Cinema, that used many CSU, Chico actors to recreate scenes from critically acclaimed movies. Lancaster received his masters in Fine Arts from the Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University, and spends his free time playing and coaching softball. He also plays in a band and remains a die-hard fan of both the San Diego Chargers and Padres, which he credits "with teaching me how to suffer, a worthwhile attribute for an actor."

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James E. Millerd

College of Natural Sciences
BS Physics, Class of 1987

James E. Millerd launched 4D Vision Technology, Inc. in 2000 to commercialize patented technology. As the chief technology officer for the 4D Technology Corporation of Tucson, Arizona, Millerd leads a team of engineers to develop state-of-the-art optical instrumentation. Author of more than 30 publications, Millerd has been granted four U.S. patents, and has four more U.S. patents and one foreign patent pending. He has also received several awards for his work with interferometers and a NASA Certificate for Recognition for his development of a Novel Laser Doppler Vibrometer. Millerd serves on the CSU, Chico Physics Advisory Board. Millerd has B.S. degrees in Physics and in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering, Quantum Electronics and Optics from the University of Southern California.

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Leonard A. Whitegon

Distinguished Alumni Service Award
BA Elementary Education, Class of 1951
MA Elementary School Education, Class of 1955

Len Whitegon may have served as a teacher and elementary school principal for more than 33 years, but it is his volunteer service for which he is best known. Whitegon is credited with saving the school fight song from total extinction. When Royce Tevis, the director of bands and a music professor, came to campus he found the music to the school fight song, but no lyrics. Whitegon was able to recite the words from memory. For the past two years, he has taken on the task of getting Wildcat fans to stand when the fight song is played at basketball games. Whitegon has received numerous volunteer service awards including the 1996 Chamber of Commerce Volunteer of the Year Award and the 2005 Jackie Faris-Rees Community Leadership Award.

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