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Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Biographies

Distinguished Alumni Award Winner Biographies

2013 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Rebecca Mieliwocki 2001 Secondary English Education Credential

Alumna Rebecca Mieliwocki ’01 is the 2012 National Teacher of the Year. The daughter of two 30-year-veteran public school teachers, Rebecca did not intend to follow in her parent’s footsteps. After experimenting with several career paths—publishing, event planning and high-profile floral design, which included assignments for the Emmy Awards and celebrity weddings—she made a list of what she wanted in a job. The results were clear, and she finally conceded to the inevitable: being a teacher matched her purpose exactly. Rebecca went on to pursue general education coursework at Napa Valley Junior College from 1986 to 1987 then attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo from 1987 to 1990, where she received a bachelor’s in speech communication. In 2001, she earned a single-subject credential in English in secondary education from California State University, Northridge. A seventh grade teacher of English at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank for the past nine years and a teacher for the past 16, Rebecca has received much recognition for her innovative approach to teaching. She was recognized last year by President Barack Obama as the 62nd National Teacher of the Year in a ceremony at the White House along with all 2012 state Teachers of the Year. Rebecca is a member of the California Teachers Association, National Education Association, California Association of Teachers of English, Burbank Teacher’s Association and Burbank and Glendale Parent/Teacher/Student Association. She has received many awards and accolades in her career, including Burbank Unified School District Teacher of the Year in 2011; California League of Middle School’s Educator of the Year, Region 8, in 2005; and the CSUN Student Teacher of the Year in English in 1996. In 2005, she received certificates of recognition for excellence in teaching from Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, California State Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer and state Sen. Jack Scott. An inspiration to her students, she is known to bring enormous energy, enthusiasm and optimism to teaching and creativity into her classroom. Employing engaging teaching techniques, such as team-based learning experiences where students design and sell products or partake in knowledge-based scavenger hunts, Rebecca fully engages her students—bringing a creative approach to teaching the subject matter and encouraging each student to explore, create and learn while doing. As part of her duties as teacher of the year, Rebecca embarked on a yearlong speaking tour, sharing with educators and others her passion for the classroom. Notably, she presented her first public address as National Teacher of the Year at the Michael D. Eisner College of Education’s graduation ceremony in May 2012. Most recently, in March, she was keynote speaker at the college’s Center for Teaching and Learning Education Conference. Rebecca has noted that students learn best when they have the most enthusiastic, engaged teachers possible and that teachers must be held accountable for their students’ success, from helping them meet personal or school-wide goals to achieving on district- and state-level assessments. Passionate about and committed to being an educator, she is a reminder of the crucial role teachers play in preparing youth for future success and well-being and fully embodies the values of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education: being a caring professional who values collaborative partnerships, academic excellence, diversity, creativity and reflective thinking and practice.

Ravi Sawhney 1979 Bachelor of Arts, Art Three Dimension

Ravi Sawhney ’79, a Canadian-born designer of Indian descent, was raised in Los Angeles. As a young man, his passion was art, so he attended California State University, Northridge and majored in art three dimension. He began his professional career as part of Xerox’s design and human factor’s team and ended his stint there as the sole industrial designer, working with a team of 20 cognitive and social scientists. There, he helped develop the world’s first touch-screen interface. With his eye on creating innovative design principles, Ravi then founded the consulting firm RKS in 1980, assembling a high-caliber team of colleagues, developing solutions for clientele in diverse industries, incubating companies and creating licensed products—accumulating numerous accolades in the process. During the late ’80s, he also became an instructor in industrial design at CSUN. Ravi has been recognized with nearly every major industrial design award and has helped RKS’s elite clients generate more than 200 patents. He invented the Psycho-Aesthetics design strategy presented in his book “Predictable Magic,” an approach that was profiled as a Harvard Business School case study and that leverages the works of Abraham Maslow into a design-thinking methodology. Recently, he has been leading the firm’s efforts to deliver innovation consulting solutions on a wide variety of programs impacting business and society, such as the Ion Proton that performs DNA sequencing in only a few hours, or HydroPacks that transform any bad water into clean hydration, saving lives and strengthening commu-nities in water crisis situations. Very passionate about sharing his experience, Ravi regularly speaks at eminent conferences worldwide and gives lectures where he addresses topics such as the creation of emotional connections between consumers and designs while always underlining innovation’s ability to make the world a better place. Last fall, Ravi was featured as a presenter at CSUN’s Commerce of Creativity Distinguished Lecture Speaker Series. His belief that “it’s not how you feel about the design or experience, but rather how it makes you feel about yourself” helps RKS consistently develop human-focused solutions with impact. The firm’s clients include Intel, Amgen, Discus Dental, Sharp Televisions, LG Electronics, Unilever, and S.C. Johnson & Sons, Inc. Ravi initiated the “Designed in USA” label to enhance and broaden the current “Made in USA” labeling, raising awareness of American design domestically and abroad. Companies often approach him with newly developed technology in-hand and a need for a comprehensive design language across products, services and brands. He is passionate about helping these startups through design strategy, user-centered design and holistic creation of brand identity. Ravi also co-founded RKS Guitars with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason for which they both received honorary doctorates from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The company designs and manufactures unique open-architecture guitars played by Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones, among other great artists. In 2005, one of those guitars graced the cover of Businessweek, one of only two products ever to be put on the magazine’s cover. The other was an iPod. In 2012, looking for ways to give back to the university and the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication, Ravi and his wife, Amalia, established an annual award to recognize the important role the arts play in society. The Ravi K. and Amalia Sawhney Creative Excellence Award bestows a student with $10,000 to start his or her journey toward the realization of a lifetime dream in the creative arts.

George Leis 1981 Bachelor of Science, Geography

Distinguished Alumnus George S. Leis ’81 became president and chief executive officer of Union Bank’s Central Coast region after Union acquired Santa Barbara Bank and Trust (SBB&T). He previously was president and CEO of Pacific Capital Bancorp (PCBC), a $7 billion in assets community bank holding company that included SBB&T. PCBC had over 1,000 employees and 47 branches. Before becoming chief executive at PCBC, George was the executive vice president for two divisions, Wealth Management and Information Technology, and was the chief information officer. He was responsible for 500 staff and a $78 million budget. Prior to 2006, George was managing director, U.S. head, products and national practice leader for investments at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. He also served as senior vice president and director of private client services centers at Wells Fargo, and as senior vice president and manager for Bank of America Private Bank. After earning his bachelor’s degree in geography at California State University, Northridge, George began his banking career with Security Pacific National Bank in Retail and Commercial Banking. George’s pride in his Santa Barbara community is exemplified through his passionate involvements in community-focused organizations. His sense of duty and service extends to universities and charities throughout Southern California. His notable leadership involvements include the Santa Barbara YMCA, the Santa Barbara Zoo and the city’s Symphony board of directors. As a member of the board of directors at United Way of Santa Barbara County he supported initiatives such as Unity Shoppe, the largest direct distributor of food, clothing and basic necessities to the county’s low income residents. He also helped to establish a relief fund to address the community’s recovery from the devastating 2008 Tea Fire. He was instrumental in garnering a $15,000 grant from Union Bank to help provide educational materials and enrichment activities for hundreds of financially and academically at-risk children. In support of the Police Activities League, he helped develop programs to foster positive relationships between the police and the community. A highly involved student at CSUN, George has continued his involvement in his alma mater and his support of higher education. He serves as chair of the CSU Channel Islands Foundation board of directors and as a member and committee chair for the Cal State Northridge Foundation board of directors. He has participated on numerous other CSUN boards including the College of Business and Economics advisory board and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Ambassadors. While at Wells Fargo, Leis was a key leader in ensuring a $1 million gift to CSUN and its colleges of education and business. He has served on several CSU and university committees, including the advisory committee that recommended the appointment of Dianne F. Harrison as CSUN’s president, the Ad Hoc Committee on Athletics Engagement and the Valley Performing Arts Center Gala committee. He is a university donor, Valley Performing Arts Center corporate sponsor and lifetime member of the Alumni Association. 

2012 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Joan Chen, 1992 B.A. Radio/Television/Film

Acclaimed actress and filmmaker Joan Chen became a fixture in Chinese cinema long before achieving fame in the United States. Born in Shanghai as Chen Chong, she was discovered at age 14 in school by the wife of Chairman Mao Zedong and was selected for the state run acting school in 1975. Joan’s first starring role was in the movie “Youth” directed by the famous veteran Xie Jin. Her second film, “Little Flower,” won her the Best Actress Award in China in 1980. By the time she was 17, Chen was a movie star and became the cinematic darling of her native country. She was dubbed the “Elizabeth Taylor of China” by Time magazine. In the late 1970s, when China was beginning to come out of the Cultural Revolution, Chen’s parents, both medical doctors in Shanghai, won a fellowship to do research in New York and made plans to bring Chen, a student at the Shanghai Foreign Language Institute, to the United States. Because she was a “national treasure” in China, it took a year for her to receive a passport from the Chinese government. In 1981, at the age of 19, Chen arrived in New York to a world and society far removed from anything she had known. Joan was in her first semester at the State University of New York at New Paltz when she received a call from Paul Chow, a professor at California State University, Northridge, inviting her to a Chinese film festival on campus, where two of her film would be showcased. As a featured guest, Chen was able to meet with many Chinese who were students or local community members, and Chen became determined to transfer to CSUN. With the assistance of Chow and then-President James Cleary, Chen settled into her new life as a Matador and freshman in the Radio/TV/Film Department. In China, Chen was a movie star—but in America, she was an unknown. A classmate who was a stuntwoman heard Chen’s story and advised her to find an agent. Auditioning was an alien process to Chen and made her uncomfortable. She left one such audition without trying out, and as she walked to her car famed movie producer Dino De Laurentiis stopped her and gave her his card. This meeting led to Chen being cast in a lead role in the film “Tai-Pan.” Following this, she gave a vivid portrayal of the tragic life of Empress Wan Jung in Bernardo Bertolucci’s Oscar-winning saga “The Last Emperor”—finally achieving widespread international critical recognition and solidifying her place among the world’s top actors. Chen went on to play leading roles in such films as “Blood of Heroes,” “Turtle Beach,” “Golden Gate” and Oliver Stone’s “Heaven and Earth.” She also starred as the enigmatic Josie Packard in the highly regarded David Lynch television series “Twin Peaks.” During her career spanning more than 30 years, Chen has also gained solid recognition as a film director, screenwriter and film producer, focusing on directing in the late 1990s. She not only directed “Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl” but was also its executive producer, producer and co-writer. The film won seven Golden Horse awards (the Chinese-language Oscars) for Best Film, Best Director, Best Script, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Music and Best Production Design. Chen’s second effort behind the camera was MGM’s “Autumn in New York” starring Richard Gere and Winona Ryder. Currently focusing on directing and writing films, Joan has not abandoned acting. Most recently she appeared in independent film including Alice Wu’s “Saving Face” and Quentin Lee’s “White Frog,” which were screened last month at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, where Chen was honored with the festival’s Showcase Award. Chen lives in San Francisco with her husband, Dr. Peter Hui, and their two daughters.

John Harris, 1972 B.A. Political Science

Alumnus John J. Harris, executive vice president of Nestlé S.A. and chairman and CEO of Nestlé Waters, Continually exemplifies the ideal qualities sought in a 21st century leader. To his colleagues within the Nestlé Group of companies, he is a trusted friend, mentor and role model who epitomizes the stated values and principles that guide the company’s employees in their day-to-day interactions and collaborations. A graduate of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles, Harris was one of the first students in San Fernando Valley State’s newly founded Black Studies Program, created in 1969 and now known as Pan African Studies. It was among the first ethnic studies programs in the country. Harris has earned not only an exemplary reputation as a market strategist but also respect for his leadership in creating and managing high-performance product supply chains that positively impact the people in the countries where the company is present. Harris was named Chairman of Nestlé Waters in December 2007 and one year later was also appointed CEO. Harris is responsible for overseeing more than 30,000 employees and a portfolio of 67 unique brands; he has been associated with Nestlé and its subsidiaries for nearly 38 years. Nestlé is the world’s largest bottler of water, with approximately 100 products in nearly 40 countries and annual sales in excess of $8.2 billion. Brands include Nestlé Pure Life, Arrowhead, Perrier and San Pellegrino. Nestlé Pure Life has become the largest bottled water brand sold in the world. Prior to serving in his current post, from 2002 to 2007 he held the position of CEO of Nestlé Purina Europe. In 2005, he became additionally responsible for Nestlé Purina’s operations in Asia, Oceania and Africa. Harris first joined the company as a senior vice president at the Worldwide Petcare Strategic Business Unit and had held the position of president of the Friskies Petcare Company. He also held various positions with the Carnation Company in Los Angeles prior to its acquisition by Nestlé in 1984. In interviews and keynote speeches at world forums, Harris, noting Nestlé Waters’ tremendous global market share, recognizes the company’s great responsibility as a corporate citizen. Nestlé Waters leads the industry in addressing global and region-specific environmental concerns and other societal issues relating to water management and hydration. Harris has ensured that a large part of the company’s research and development has focused on systems to enhance agricultural and industrial efficiencies and water management capabilities in emerging countries. Under his leadership, the company has also developed solutions to reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions and methodologies to improve product packaging - and has been committed to worldwide emergency relief and education. Harris serves on UCLA’s Anderson School of Management advisory board and has served as chairman of the Pet Food Institute’s board of directors. He is a participant in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, an international conference that brings corporate leaders together with governmental officials of countries committed to democracy to address solutions leading to sustainable economic growth. In 2008 Harris was profiled as one of the world’s “Twenty Rising Stars” of black leadership in Ebony magazine, and in 2009 he was named to Black Enterprise magazine’s “100 Most Powerful in Corporate America.” In 2010 Black Health Magazine named Harris as one of the “Top 25 Most Influential African-Americans” in the nutritional food industries. His alma mater proudly presents him with its Distinguished Alumni Award.

Richard Kaufman, 1977 B.A. Music

Richard Kaufman is an internationally renowned Conductor, an accomplished violinist, a respected film music supervisor and according to his friends at Orange County’s Pacific Symphony – a “walking encyclopedia of popular music.” To those who care about Cal State Northridge, he is also a composer extraordinaire who at the age of 20 brilliantly captured the university’s intangible spirit in the anthem “Hail to the Matadors.” Kaufman’s road to success began early on when parents Walter and Margye noticed his musical talents. Eager to get Richard musically involved, they presented the 7-yearold with a violin and arranged for lessons. Soon he was performing in school orchestras, as well as in the Peter Meremblum California Junior Symphony and the Young Musicians Foundation Debut Orchestra. Kaufman eventually enrolled at San Fernando Valley State College. In September 1967, the junior music major quickly composed what would be adopted as the college’s alma mater. Six weeks later, before a record home crowd of 13,000 gathered for a gridiron matchup against top-ranked San Diego State, Kaufman conducted 300 musicians in premiering “Hail to the Matadors,” an anthem that is now one of the University’s cherished traditions. One day after completing his fifth year at Valley State, Kaufman began working for Burt Bacharach at the Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. At the age of 23 he was engaged to conduct the National Tour of “Sweet Charity” starring Juliet Prowse. Kaufman went on to conduct musicals both on tour and in Los Angeles, including “Company,” “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” “Wonderful Town,” “Guys and Dolls” and “The Sound of Music.” As a studio violinist, he played violin on numerous film scores including “Jaws,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Saturday Night Fever” and as he has said, “in a moment of desperation” - “Animal House.” In 1981, Kaufman joined MGM’s music department and for the next 18 years supervised music for all of the studio’s television projects, receiving Emmy nominations for the animated series “The Pink Panther” and “All Dogs Go to Heaven.” Kaufman has devoted much of his musical life to conducting. 2012 marks his 21st season as Principal Pops Conductor of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and he is in his seventh season conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra movie series. He holds the permanent title of Pops Conductor Laureate with the Dallas Symphony. Richard Kaufman regularly appears as a guest conductor with symphony orchestras throughout both the United States and around the world including Cleveland; St. Louis; Atlanta; The National Symphony in Washington D.C.; Calgary; Edmonton; Rotterdam; Hong Kong; The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic; RTE Concert Orchestra in Dublin; and The Malaysian Philharmonic. He recently conducted the London Symphony Orchestra in concert and for a CD that will soon be released. Kaufman has also recorded with the Brandenburg Philharmonic in Berlin and the New Zealand Symphony. In 1993, he received the Grammy Award for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance” for a recording he conducted with the Nuremberg Symphony. In addition to Burt Bacharach, he has performed in concert and on recordings with artists including John Denver, Andy Williams, Nanette Fabray, Ray Charles, Mary Martin and The Beach Boys. Kaufman also has had the privilege of conducting several concerts with his daughter Whitney, a singer/actress, as principal soloist. As a unique part of his career in film, Kaufman has coached various actors in musical roles including Jack Nicholson, Dudley Moore and Tom Hanks. Kaufman and his wife, Gayle (an accomplished professional dancer), live in the San Fernando Valley, allowing Richard to remain close to his alma mater. In 2008, Kaufman and the Alumni Association collaborated with the Department of Music to score, produce and digitally record both the spirit and alma mater versions of “Hail to the Matadors.” That same year, he presented the Honors Convocation address to students and in 2011 was the Music Director and Conductor for the Valley Performing Arts Center opening gala. For Kaufman, the spirit of the red and white has brightened many dawns.

2011 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Don Hahn, 1975 B.A. Music


Alumnus Don Hahn is universally recognized as one of the most successful animation producers of all time. His films have received numerous awards and recognitions and have grossed over $2 billion at the worldwide box office. At an early age Hahn developed an interest in the creative arts, music, animation and the newly coined (by Walt Disney) field of Imagineering. He was a talented young musician. By his teenage years he was excelling as a percussionist and was a member of the Los Angeles Junior Philharmonic. At North Hollywood High School he was drum major for the marching band, a role that he reprised at Los Angeles Valley College. Entertaining the notion of becoming a professional orchestral percussionist, he enrolled at CSUN where he majored in Music and played in the Jazz “A” Band. Prior to his senior year at Northridge he landed a job at Disney’s famed animation “morgue” where he continued to be seduced by the animation process. It was there that he began to discover that animation was one of those places where one could blend art and music together in the same craft. Within months he was working as an assistant on “Pete’s Dragon” and the rest is history. By the early 1990s Don Hahn had produced the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast,” the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. “Beauty and the Beast” won a Golden Globe for Best Picture that same year. His next film, “The Lion King,” broke box office records all over the world to become the top-grossing traditionally animated film in Disney history. Hahn also served as associate producer on the landmark motion picture “Who Framed Roger Rabbit.” His other films include “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Atlantis:The Lost Empire” and the 2006 animated short, “The Little Matchgirl,” which earned Hahn his second Oscar nomination. Also in 2006, Hahn served as interim head of Disney’s animation division. Don made his directorial debut with the award-winning “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” a documentary that chronicles the perfect storm of people and circumstances that led to Disney’s animation renaissance in the 1980s and ‘90s. In 2010 Don completed the documentary, “Hand Held” which brought attention to pediatric AIDS and forgotten children in the former Soviet block. Don also serves as Executive Producer of the Disneynature films including “Earth,” and last year’s “Oceans.” He is currently developing the stop-motion animated feature “Frankenweenie” with director Tim Burton. In addition to his enormous accomplishments as a filmmaker, Hahn is the author of several books including, “The Alchemy of Animation, Disney’s Animation Magic,” “Drawn to Life: 20 Golden Years of Disney Master Classes” and “Dancing Corndogs in the Night.” His newest book, “Brain Storm – Unleashing Your Creative Self,” will be released this summer. Don continues to stay close to his alma mater. He was the first guest lecturer of the new Animation program in 1997 and two years later was a featured commencement speaker. In 2001 he served as honorary host of the Alumni Association’s pre-theater gathering of 550 alumni who convened to enjoy the stage production of “The Lion King.” In 2007 he reviewed and critiqued student reels and portfolios and presented a lecture to over 200 students. Having easily reached the pinnacle of success in his field, his alma mater presented him with its Distinguished Alumni Award.

Carol Vaness, 1976 M.A. Music, 1998 Honorary Doctorate Fine Art

Renowned opera diva Carol Vaness’ exceptional vocal talent and musicianship have enabled her to rise through the ranks of her contemporaries to become one of the preeminent sopranos of her generation. She has sung on the most notable stages, performing with international opera stars, collaborating with today’s foremost conductors, appearing on numerous television broadcasts and compiling a distinguished catalog of recordings. Growing up in Pomona, Carol studied piano in her teens and continued her keyboard training at Cal Poly Pomona where she began to show an interest in voice, receiving a bachelors degree in Music. While attending graduate school at Cal State Northridge, she began her professional relationship and life-long friendship with Music Professor David Scott. At the time she did not want an operatic career but under his tutelage she became one of six students to win the prestigious Western Region Metropolitan Opera Auditions. During an apprenticeship at the San Francisco Opera, the incomparable Beverly Sills was attracted by the voice of the young soprano singing a small role. Sills made arrangements for Vaness to audition for the New York City Opera. Impressed, the director selected Vaness for the role of Vitellia in a production of “La Clemenza di Tito.” That winter, Vaness made her European debut in Bordeaux as Vitellia. In 1984, Vaness began a long association with the Metropolitan Opera. She has sung extensively throughout Europe, making her La Scala debut as Elettra in 1990. Her repertory has steadily broadened and her interpretations of Mozart’s dramatic heroines, including Fiordiligi in “Così fan tutte,” Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni,” and Elettra in “Idomeneo,” have been hailed as definitive. She has become especially identifiable with the role of Floria Tosca and performed the title role of Puccini’s opera at the Met in 2004 opposite Luciano Pavarotti in the legendary tenor’s final operatic performance. Vaness has an affinity for this role, “Tosca is absolutely me, 100%: an opera singer playing an opera singer,” says Vaness, referring to the Puccini heroine, “I’m very much like her personality.” The role of Tosca is special to her because it was her first opera role and she performed it at CSUN. Carol survived a horrific car accident in 2005, injuring her knees and vocal chords, screaming as she kicked open a crumpled car door to escape her burning vehicle. After a recovery that included surgery and physical therapy, she was able to return to the stage the next year. In 2006, Carol joined the faculty of Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music teaching master classes as part of their “Commitment to Excellence” program. According to U.S. News Online, the voice department is currently ranked number one among graduate schools. Vaness was overjoyed about this unique opportunity which enables her to continue her international career while simultaneously nurturing and fueling the energies and visions of the future operatic stars of tomorrow. Vaness recently returned to her alma mater to perform for the new Valley Performing Arts Center Opening Gala. She will be returning to the Met for a reprisal of “Macbeth” in 2012. In addition, she was in residence at the Met as a main teacher preparing the Mozart opera for an opening concert. She will return to the LA Opera as principal voice coach in Mozart style and technique in general as well as returning to the Canadian Opera Center as a primary vocal coach. Vaness said, “I think I’ve been unbelievably lucky in my career. I think to be truly lucky, you have to be prepared. You can’t just be talented.”

Irv Zackheim, 1972 B.S. Kinesiology

Alumnus Irv Zakheim, President and CEO of Zak! Designs of Spokane, Washington, founded the company that would become Zak! Designs in 1976, but it was in 1985 that he took the company to new levels of success by coming up with the concept that no one else had thought of – featuring popular animated characters on durable children’s dinnerware. Zakheim has been importing goods from other countries and distributing them to consumers around the world for more than 35 years, but as a child growing up in Los Angeles, his dreams were focused on more traditional ambitions. As an outstanding athlete at Beverly Hills High School, Irv lettered in three sports and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. He held the school record in basketball for scoring 50 points in a game and held baseball records for batting and stolen bases. He played both sports at Los Angeles Community College before transferring to San Fernando Valley State College. Majoring in physical education, Irv played second base on the 1970 NCAA championship baseball team. “I wanted to play professional baseball, then become a teacher and a coach,” Zakheim recalls. With that strong focus, Zakheim worked toward accomplishing his goal. After receiving his bachelors degree, he then realized his dream of playing professionally when he joined the Chicago White Sox where he played for two seasons. Irv, along with the 1970 team, was inducted into the Matador Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. The focus he had carried for so long also made him realize that this determination could help him accomplish another dream, one that took shape in 1976 when he found a supplier of puka shells in the Philippines and began selling the trendy necklaces in Hawaii. That was Zakheim’s introduction into the import business. Zak! Designs has grown into today’s global leader in children’s dinnerware, and now the company has offices in Taiwan, the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico, China, Canada, France and Switzerland. As the primary driving force behind both the daily operations of Zak! and its vision for the future, Zakheim’s determination was rewarded in 2006 when the U.S. Small Business Association named him the Washington State Small Business Person of the Year. Zakheim’s achievements expand beyond the business he created and into community service. The most noticeable example is the Zak!Charity Open, a golf tournament and auction which has become one of the premier charity tournaments in the Inland Northwest with proceeds going to the Rypien Foundation and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Spokane County. Since its inception, the tournament has raised approximately $2.5 million. As a member of the Board of Regents of Gonzaga University, Zakheim’s fundraising efforts were instrumental in the completion of their new state-of-the-art Patterson Baseball Complex. In recognition of the many charitable activities in which the company and its employees participate, Zak! Designs was recognized in 2010 with the prestigious Hasbro Community Hero Award. Continuing to pursue his passion for sports, in 2007 Zakheim became owner of the Spokane RiverHawks, a summer collegiate baseball team which he set up as a non-profit organization as a means to help improve baseball in the area and give more children the opportunity to participate in the sport that means so much to him. Zakheim continues to support his alma mater as a member of the CSUN Task Force on Engagement and as a Lifetime Member of the Alumni Association.

2010 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Lauren Leichtman, 1972 B.S. Psychology

Alumna Lauren Leichtman is CEO and Founding Principal of Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) a Beverly Hills-based private investment firm she co-founded with her husband, Arthur Levine, in 1984. Respected by her peers, she is recognized as one of the first women to have managed in excess of $5 billion in investment capital. LLCP manages billions of dollars in institutional investment capital through private equity partner ships on behalf of state and corporate pension funds, high net worth individuals, and family foundations and endowments. Over the last twenty years, Levine Leichtman has achieved top quartile investment returns for its partners. In addition to planning the strategic direction of the Firm, her activities include deal origination, negotiation of transactions and institutional fund raising. Additionally, Lauren is chair of LLCP’s Investment Committee. Lauren earned a BA degree in Psychology from California State University, Northridge in 1972. She went on to graduate from Southwestern University School of Law and has been a member of the California Bar since 1977. She received an LLM from Columbia University Law School specializing in securities law. Prior to founding LLCP, Lauren practiced law for almost 10 years, including three years with the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Continuing their family’s multi-generational involvement with the Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Lauren and Arthur are co-chairs of the Temple’s Capital Improvement Project. Lauren was involved in the initial project feasibility study and served on the Temple’s Board of Trustees and as member of the Executive Committee. Lauren is also a tireless community leader in Los Angeles and has served as chair or member of the boards of the Los Angeles Opera, the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women’s Health Center, Aviva Family and Children’s Services, Legal Momentum and the Wallis Annenberg Cultural Center, among other entities. She is also a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Music Center. Leichtman has remained close to, and supportive of, Southwestern School of Law throughout her career. A long-time member of the Dean’s Circle, she is a member of Southwestern’s Board of Trustees and provided a leadership gift to the Campaign for Southwestern, naming the former Cactus Lounge of the Bullocks Wilshire building. She was honored by the Southwestern Alumni Association as Alumna of the Year in 2006. At California State University, Northridge, Lauren has taken a great interest in and has been dedicated to the programs and opportunities provided by the CSUN Center on Disabilities. In 2007, Lauren and Arthur received the prestigious Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors Humanitarian Award. At the Awards gala, their sons Alexander and Zachary and daughter Sabrina had the honor of presenting the award to their parents.

Robert M. Myman, 1967 B.S. Political Science

Alumnus Robert M. Myman is a founding partner of Myman Abell Fineman Fox Greenspan Light LLP, one of the nation’s leading entertainment law firms. The firm, located in Brentwood, has earned a stellar reputation representing television and theatrical writers, producers, directors, actors, playwrights, authors, recording artists, songwriters and game manufacturers. In 1963, Bob enrolled at San Fernando Valley State College and began to demonstrate a competitive spirit and an adept ability to take on multiple projects. A student athlete, he earned varsity letters as a member of Matador swimming and water polo teams. He joined Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity and worked as the drummer for a surf band and ran a summer camp. After earning his bachelor’s degree from CSUN and his J.D. from USC School of Law, Bob began practicing law in the L.A. County Public Defender’s Office, then as a civil litigator at Rose, Klein & Marias before shifting his focus to entertainment law. Bob particularly valued a close personal friendship and professional partnership with the late John Ritter. The two collaborated on dozens of projects and together created Adam Productions, which John named in honor of Bob’s son. He served as Executive Producer on four broadcast network television series and numerous television movies and specials, including the Emmy and Golden Globe nominated “Unnatural Causes” and Christopher Award winner “Dreamer of Oz.” Bob was recruited to serve as the Managing Director of the Talent Division for the 1993 and 1997 Presidential Inaugural Committee in Washington D.C., overseeing the creative and business aspects for all performing talent. He also worked on the Democratic National Conventions in Chicago (1996) and Los Angeles (2000). In 2010 he was again included in The New York Times/Los Angeles Magazine’s “Super Lawyer” lists, a recognition that he has received every year since the beginning of the listings. He has been honored by the Century City Bar Association as “Entertainment Attorney of the Year” and has been included in The Hollywood Reporter’s “Power List”. Bob’s interest in and support of higher education includes participation as an Ambassador to CSUN’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the advisory board for The Chapman University Dodge Film School. He has been a frequent guest lecturer at several universities, including Pepperdine Law School and Southwestern Law School, where he teaches “The Business of Television” as an adjunct professor. He is a founder of the Carthay Circle Explorers Club, has served on the Board of “Women in Film”, and supports various charities, including The Koegel Center, The Epilepsy Foundation of America and The USC School of Theatre. Currently, he is helping The Lenny Krazelberg Foundation with a program to teach swimming proficiency in underserved Los Angeles communities. As a founder and member of a master’s water polo team, he has played in Italy, Morocco, Hungary and Germany, taking second in the World Masters Games in Australia and has won the U. S. Masters. In 2000, he was elected into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame for his achievements in water polo, which include a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Maccabiah team in Israel.

Diane Warren, 1978 Music

Alumna Diane Warren is considered to be the most prolific and successful contemporary songwriter of our time. Warren has had 31 songs peak in Billboard’s top 10 and well over 100 of Diane’s songs have been featured or have appeared in film and television productions. Diane’s songs have been nominated for 4 Golden Globes, 6 Academy Awards, and 9 Grammy Awards, winning a Grammy and Critics Choice Award. Diane expressed interest in music and songwriting at an early age, tuning in to “Top 40” radio and listening to her older sisters’ records at their home in Van Nuys. Her father recognized her ability and offered encouragement and support. He bought Diane her first guitar when she was only ten years old; by her early teens, he was taking her to meetings with music publishers. But, it would be nearly a decade—with a stop at California State University, Northridge along the way— before the Valley, Los Angeles and the world would hear Diane's music. In 1983, on one of her first assignments for producer Jack White, she submitted “Solitaire,” which became a Top 10 hit for Laura Branigan. Two years later, Warren penned “Rhythm of the Night” which hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart and #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Chart. The rest is history. Warren has written for artists such as: Aerosmith, Elton John, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Eric Clapton, Roberta Flack, Celine Dion, Cher, Whitney Houston, Britney Spears, Carrie Underwood, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Faith Hill, Her recently released compilation (Warner Bros.) was an international top seller. Her #1 hits, “Don’t Turn Around”, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “If You Asked Me To,” and “How Do I Live” are among many others that have been successfully recorded by multiple artists. “How Do I Live,” was recorded by LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood and the Rimes version carries the distinction of being the longest-running chart song in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 and Country Singles Sales Charts. That song and “Un-Break My Heart” (Toni Braxton) were recognized by Billboard as two of the top 10 songs of all time. Warren and Rimes collaborated on other #1 hits often teaming with Curb Records and Cal State Northridge alumnus Mike Curb. Warren is also one of the most successful business owners in the industry as founder of her own publishing company, Realsongs, and the Diane Warren Foundation, a nonprofit that supports animal rights and rescue groups and human interest organizations. Her music has a positive influence at home and abroad. In honor of her late father, Diane created the David S. Warren Weekly Entertainment Series at the Jewish Home for the Aging. In Israel, she has supported the Shimon Peres Peace Center and wrote a special “anthem for peace” that was performed as a tribute to the Center’s values. Diane was the recipient of The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard’s inaugural Career Achievement Award. She has been named ASCAP’s Songwriter of the Year six times and Billboard’s Songwriter of the Year four times, is an honored inductee into the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame and has received a coveted star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

2009 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Harvey Bookstein, 1970 B.S. Business Administration

One of California's most respected Accountants.

Debra Farar, 1975 B.A. English, 1987 M.A. Education

Past Chair and Member of the Board of Trustees of The California State University

James Otero, 1973 B.A. Political Science

Judge, United States District Court (Central California Division)

2008 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Teri Garr, 1964 Theatre

Teri Garr is one of the most successful entertainers of our time. With hundreds of motion picture, television and stage credits and an Academy Award nomination, Garr has consistently charmed audiences in many memorable roles in such films as “Tootsie,” “Mr. Mom,” “Oh God!,” “The Black Stallion,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “Young Frankenstein.”
Early in her career and simultaneous to her enrollment at San Fernando Valley State, Teri became associated with some of the most popular musicians of the time… and of any time. After appearing as an extra in the 1963 film “A Swingin’ Affair,” in 1964 she danced with Annette Funicello in “Pajama Party” and with Elvis in three 1964 films, “Kissin’ Cousins,” “Viva Las Vegas,” and “Roustabout.” In the same year, she was a dancer and cast member for the musical variety show “Shindig.” “Shindig” was filmed in London for American audiences and was the first television program that introduced the Beatles to the American airwaves. Teri also had a cameo appearance in the Monkees’ 1968 film “Head” and was even a contestant on “The Dating Game.” A three-time host of “Saturday Night Live,” Garr became well established in television with appearances that ranged from variety shows—“Sonny and Cher,” “The Ken Berry ‘Wow’ Show” and “The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour,” to drama (McCloud and Star Trek) to sitcoms (Friends). A notable early appearance was in the “Star Trek” episode “Assignment: Earth” (1968). She played recurring characters in McCloud and Friends. She has always been a popular guest of the late night talk shows, from Johnny Carson to David Letterman to Jimmy Kimmel. As a recurring guest on “Late Night with David Letterman,” she was renowned for her unscripted banter with personal friend Letterman. Teri’s motion picture career soared after her memorable and noted role as Inga in Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” (1974). In 1977, Garr was presented the Saturn Award for Best Actress in her role as Bobbie Landers in “Oh God!” That same year she co-starred with Northridge alumnus Richard Dreyfus in the Blockbuster “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Although starring in 20 films during the mid 1980’s (including her Oscar nominated performance in “Tootsie”) Teri took time to return to Cal State Northridge on May 10, 1985 for “An Evening with Teri Garr” in support of Department of Theatre Scholarships. She interacted with students and screened the 1982 motion picture “One from the Heart.” She played the role of Frannie in the Francis Ford Coppola film. Also in 1985, she starred with CSUN Distinguished Alumnus Cheech Marin in Martin Scorsese’s comedy thriller “After Hours.” Although undiagnosed until 1999, Garr has suffered from multiple sclerosis since 1983. In 2002 she shared her diagnosis with the public. Since then, she has been actively involved with the National MS Society and the MS community, and travels across the United States speaking about her experiences. Her inspiring speeches as well as her 2005 autobiography “Speed bumps: Flooring it through Hollywood,” have empowered thousands of others with MS to educate themselves about the disease and to seek early treatment. In recognition of her efforts to raise awareness for MS, the National MS Society presented her with its Shining Star Award in 2002. This was only the second time in the Society’s 59-year history that the award has been given; interestingly, the previous recipient was Annette Funicello.

Bill Handel, 1973 B.A. Political Science

Alumnus Bill Handel occupies the top berth of America’s morning drive-time radio market, beaming his daily blend of information, opinion, news and humor to over 2 million daily southland devotees of KFI Am 640’s “Bill Handel Show”. As the host of the nation’s number one local radio talk show, he has helped KFI to become the first AM station since 1987 to earn the top rating in Los Angeles’ competitive market. In addition to his weekday morning show, the Whittier Law School graduate can be heard on nationally syndicated “Handel on the Law” on weekends. “Handel on the Law”, also played live on XM Radio, has more than 1 million weekly listeners. Before beginning his talk radio career, he successfully tried some of the ground breaking cases establishing the bounds of the field of surrogate parenting, including the drafting and completion of one of the earliest successful surrogate parenting contracts. Handel is the founding director of the Center for Surrogate Parenting and continues to provide legal counseling for third party reproduction cases all over the world. Handel was born in Brazil to survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, a topic he occasionally brings up on his show where he has also been known to refer to himself as a “Latino Jew.” Handel has also used his radio show as a public platform to express his support for civil liberties, scientific research, and opposition to wasteful government spending. His popular “Handel on the News” segments including interesting new summaries with commentaries from all of the members of his “morning crew” including CSUN alumnus and award winning sportscaster Rich Marotta ’71. A graduate of Cal State Northridge’s political science program, Handel’s ties to the university actually pre-date his years as an undergraduate. His father was one of the electricians, who, under a subcontractor, worked to build the university’s control systems and electrical infrastructure of the new San Fernando Valley State College. In recent years, Bill has returned to campus, serving as the inaugural speaker for the College of Business and Economics Partners Speaker Series in 2006 and the 2007 “Speak Your Mind” lecture series sponsored by the University Student Union and the Associated Students.On September 23, 2005, Bill Handel was named Major Market Personality of the Year at the 1005 National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards. Recently, on March 15, 2008, he was honored as “Local News/Talk/Sports Personality of the Year” by the industry trade publication Radio and Records for the third time, his second being in 2007, and the first in 2005.

Adrianna Ocampo Uria, 1997 M.S. Geology

As a science program manager in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, Adriana Ocampo Uria is responsible for the New Frontier Exploration program and the $1 billion Juno Mission to Jupiter. Adriana also serves as Venus program Scientist. In that role, she is defining the architecture of Venus in preparation for the planet’s exploration. From the time she was a young girl, the sky over Buenos Aires held infinite possibilities for Adriana. Standing on the rooftop of her family home, she launched countless imaginary missions to the moon and stars. At 14, her family left Argentine for Los Angeles. On arrival, she recalled, her first words were, roughly, “Where’s NASA?” Luckily, she eventually found it. When she could tear her eyes away from the sky, however, Adriana’s gaze was decidedly earthbound; subterranean, in fact. Her fascination with the Crater of Doom, a massive impact crater caused some 65 million years ago by a comet or asteroid, ignited a lifelong passion for geology. Right out of high school, Ocampo Uria landed a job at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL), where she worked while earning a geology degree—with an emphasis in planetary science—at Cal State Los Angeles. It was down to earth again at CSUN, where in 1997 Adriana received her master’s degree in geology. Her thesis on Chicxulub crater was related to a ring of sinkholes or “cenotes” cause by impact craters. She is recognized as the first person to identify that impact craters at the end of the Cretaceous period caused the extinction of dinosaurs and more than half of earth’s species. Adriana has led three geological expeditions to explore the crater sites. Ms. Ocampo was a principle organizer of the “Space Conference for the Americas: Prospects in Cooperation,” which was held March 12-16, 1990, in Costa Rica. She has served on the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) National Board of Directors. She has also served as Chair of SHPE’s International Affairs Committee, which establishes technical programs of cooperation and university student exchange programs between the US and Mexico. She is a member of The Planetary Society Advisory Council, which aims to disseminate the latest scientific results and excitement for planetary exploration to the generate public. She is also a member of the Association of Women in Geosciences, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Society of Women Engineers where she is a strong supporter of the “shadow program”—which is a mentoring program for young girls—and many other professional organizations. She is a student pilot and has applied to become a Space Shuttle mission specialist. Noting her many significant achievements, Discovery magazine named Adriana Ocampo Uria as one of “the 50 most important women in science.”

2007 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

James Berk, 1981 B.A. Music

James is chief executive officer of Participant Productions. In 2005, the company’s first full year in business, Participant Productions was honored with a remarkable eleven Academy Award nominations for the dramas, “Good Night and Good Luck,” “Syriana,” and “North Country,” and the feature documentary, “Murderball.”  This year Participant garnered two Academy Awards for “An Inconvenient Truth,” capping off a remarkable year in which one film has sparked global conversation and actions around global warming. Berk’s appointment to his current position at Participant was a reflection of the company’s growth and success since it’s founding in January, 2004. Currently, Berk is responsible for the day-to-day executive leadership and management of Participant, as well as for the operation of the company’s related divisions. He is also actively involved in the company’s successful expansion into other forms of media and has solidified the organization’s brand identity in the current marketplace. Berk is an accomplished entrepreneur and executive in the fields of entertainment and media with a rich and varied background in business, and public service. Berk was Chairman and CEO of Gryphon Colleges Corporation, a private equity company operating for-profit post secondary education schools, and as President and CEO of Fairfield Communities, Inc., a NYSE public company which was the largest independent vacation ownership company in the world. As President and CEO of Hard Rock Café International, he was responsible for the restaurant and retail chain’s worldwide operations in 29 countries. Berk led the company’s expansion into live concerts through the creation of Hard Rock Productions, and the broadcast television series Hard Rock Live on VH1. He also helped launch Hard Rock Records and was instrumental in the growth of Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos. Berk led the Save the Planet Foundation, Hard Rock’s humanitarian arm which raised millions of dollars in donations and encouraged significant volunteerism among its employees.  As the founding Executive Director of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) Foundation, he led the creation of Grammy Records, Grammy Showcase, Grammy National Concert Series for Children and specialized professional development programs for Academy members including the Grammy Professional Forum Series.
A native of Los Angeles, Berk began his illustrious career as a high school music teacher in South Los Angeles and went on to found the Academy of Music, which grew into one of the city’s largest public school magnets. In 1990, he became the youngest principal in the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District, assuming the helm of Hamilton High School. At Hamilton, Berk was responsible for streamlining operating systems and initiating an aggressive approach to government funding, private grants and corporate sponsorships.
He currently serves as co-chairman of the Hamilton Academy of Music Advisory Board, is a member of the Diversity Circle at Film Independent and on the board of the Broad Institute of Urban Superintendents. (Updated 05/07)

Brad A. Bowlus, 1978 B.S. Accounting

Brad is president and chief executive officer at PacifiCare Health Plan Division. Recently, PacifiCare was acquired by United HealthCare. PacifiCare Health Systems serves more than 3 million health plan members and approximately 10 million specialty plan members nationwide. Bowlus joined PacifiCare in 1994 when the company was $1 billion in annual revenue and has helped grow the company to more than $15 billion in annual revenue. As president and CEO of the health plan, he oversees all aspects of health plan performance in 37 states including health services, network contracting, sales and marketing and underwriting for both commercial and senior business. Bowlus received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Cal State Northridge in 1978 and holds a master of business administration degree from Pepperdine. During his tenure with PacifiCare, Bowlus served as president and CEO of PacifiCare of California, president and CEO of PacifiCare Washington and president and CEO of PacifiCare Dental and Vision. Prior to joining PacifiCare in 1994, Bowlus spent 14 years with WellPoint Health Networks, Inc., the managed care subsidiary of Blue Cross of California, where he performed a variety of financial, contracting and operational roles overseeing Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. In the healthcare industry, he has been responsible for the design and implementation of provider payment mechanisms, including capitation and preferred provider organization programs. As a result of the recent acquisition of PacifiCare, Bowlus will be leaving the healthcare arena to form Bowlus Development with operations in California and Utah. Excellence at swimming and water sports is a Bowlus family tradition. In 1975, Bowlus was a member of Cal State Northridge’s NCAA Division II title-winning swim and dive team finishing second in the 50-meter freestyle and setting an NCAA record in the 400-freestyle relay. At Northridge, he developed a passion for water polo and participated in the first campus “club” team. He met his wife, Leslie, also a Northridge alum and member of the swim team, at the university pool. They have two children, both of whom have played water polo for UCLA. Bowlus is active on the board of USA Water Polo, Inc., a non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of serving as the national governing body for the sport under the auspices of the U.S. Olympic Committee. Bowlus is a board member of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County and the West Coast HealthCare Executive Roundtable and has been continually involved in the YPO- Young Presidents Organization. Brad has remained close to his alma mater through the College of Business and Economics and to the San Fernando Valley where his family had distinguished themselves as pioneers in the region’s development as a center for aviation and aeronautics. Beginning in 1911, “the big barn” on the Bowlus Ranch in San Fernando was the site where Brad’s ancestors earned the reputation as some of the foremost designers and builders of gliders, sail lanes and aircraft. His family predecessors would certainly be proud to note that their legacy of achievement has continued in Brad. (Updated 05/07)

Michael Klausman, 1974 B.A. Biology

Hollywood legend contains numerous stories of individuals who started as pages or ushers in a film or TV studio and worked their way to the top. Michael Klausman started his career with CBS Studios as an usher in 1971. He worked on such shows as “All in the Family” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Klausman is now senior vice president, CBS Corporation West Coast Operations and Engineering and president of the CBS Studio Center. Klausman has been an active alumnus of Cal State Northridge since receiving a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1974. At the CBS Studio Center and CBS Television City facilities, Klausman is in charge of marketing and operations. The two sites encompass over 228,000 square feet of production, office, and support space on 65 acres of land, including 26 sound stages. He is also responsible for negotiating contracts with production companies for use of the facilities. After joining the CBS Television City staff in 1972 as a videotape librarian Klausman moved through the organization to becme director of program production services. In 1991, he became vice president and general manager of CBS/MTM Studios at the CBS Studio Center. A year later, he became president of CBS Studio Center. Klausman has been instrumental in helping Cal State Northridge students in the Department of Cinema and Television Arts (CTVA) gain real-world experience in the entertainment industry. Since 1999, numerous CTVA classes have been taught at the CBS Studio Center. Klausman has also assisted in fundraising on behalf of the department under the auspices of the Entertainment Industry Institute which acts as a liaison between the campus and the industry. Through his professional contacts, he has provided a critical link between students and entertainment industry professionals who generously share their unique knowledge and skills with CTVA students. In addition to his many responsibilities at CBS, Klausman is the immediate past president of the Studio City Chamber of Commerce and is treasurer of the Studio City Neighborhood Council. His Christian faith is most important to him. He is a member of Calvary Chapel and has served as a host and keynote speaker at several Christian leadership conferences including the National Media Prayer Breakfast.He is also involved with such organizations as Child S.H.A.R.E. and the Hunger Homeless Committee of the Entertainment Industry Foundation. He received the Olive Crest Leadership Award for his dedication to Olive Crest Homes and Services for Abused Children. Klausman and his wife Beckie were honored with the Guardian Angel Award from Child S.H.A.R.E. for their work with foster children. A California native, Klausman has been married for 36 years and has five children and two grandchildren. He is an avid fisherman and has a black-belt in Tae Kwon Do. (Updated 05/07)

2006 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Grant Ashley, 1978 B.S. Accounting

As former executive assistant director of law enforcement services for the FBI, alumnus Grant D. Ashley oversaw state and municipal law enforcement training, agent training, the FBI Lab, investigate technologies and criminal justice information services for the bureau. He became second in charge of the FBI in 2004. Ashley joined the FBI in 1976 in a support position while still a student at Cal State Northridge. Once he earned his accounting degree in 1978, he left the bureau briefly to work in private industry as a certified public accountant before returning to the FBI in 1980 as a special agent.  In 2002, he was appointed Assistant Director for the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) becoming responsible for devising and implementing strategies for incorporating intelligence into the FBI’s criminal investigations. During his service as Assistant Director of the CID, Ashley also oversaw the creation and implementation of the FBI’s Corporate Fraud Initiative. This initiative became the backbone for the government-wide response to the threat of corporate fraud, which incorporated efforts by the Internal Revenue System, Securities and Exchange Commission and other government agencies. As the highest-ranking CPA in the FBI, Ashley used his education in accounting to effect change within the Bureau and implemented significant changes in how the FBI conducts field financial transactions. These innovative techniques have been adopted throughout the FBI, resulting in enhanced bureau operations.  In 2003, Ashley was awarded a presidential rank award by the U.S. government for his contribution of reallocating resources for the counterterrorism initiatives. He retired earlier this year and is now vice president for security at Harrah’s Entertainment Corp. (Updated 05/06)

Mory Ejabat, 1976 B.S. Engineering, 1979 M.S. Engineering

Mory holds a bachelor’s of science in industrial engineering and a master’s in systems engineering from Cal State Northridge, is co-founder of Oakland-based Zhone Technologies, Inc., which is the first company dedicated to the building total-delivery solutions for voice, data and video services to access the local network.  Ejabat was born in Tehran, Iran. He immigrated to the United States in 1970 and enrolled at Cal State Northridge shortly there after. He has served as chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Zhone Technologies since its inception in 1999. Prior to co-founding Zhone, Ejabat held various senior management positions with Ascend Communications, Inc., which in 1999, during his tenure as president and chief executive officer, was successfully sold to Lucent Technologies, Inc. Last year, Ejabat pledged $1 million to Cal State Northridge’s College of Engineering and Computer Science for the creation of the college’s first endowed chair. The Mory Ejabat Chair will be awarded to a tenured full professor with an outstanding record in both scholarship and teaching in the college. Ejabat was the 2004 Commencement speaker for the college. In his speech, he illustrated how foresight, innovation and commitment to success guided his career and he encouraged that year’s graduates “to learn from your mistakes and take advantage of your opportunities. Focus on what it is you are trying to accomplish, innovate and move forward with new ideas. Let mistakes be the platform of your next success.” Reflecting recently on his education from Northridge, Ejabat said, “My degrees from Northridge in Industrial and Systems Engineering have been the foundation of my success as an engineer, CEO and entrepreneur. I could not have done it without CSUN.” (Updated 05/06)

Mike Curb, Music 1963

Presiding over an independent record label in Nashville, Tennessee, with a stable of artists that includes LeAnn Rimes, Tim McGraw, Wynnona Judd, Lyle Lovett and Hank Williams, Jr., former California Lt. Governor Mike Curb is one of the most prominent figures in the entertainment and music industries. As a teenager, Mike Curb formed his own musical group, the Mike Curb Congregation, which had worldwide success with such albums as “Burning Bridges,” “Put Your Hand in the Hand” and “Softly Whispering I Love You” and was featured weekly on the Glen Campbell show on CBS. When he was 19 and a student at what was then San Fernando Valley State College, Curb launched his own record company and began releasing the soundtrack albums he composed for motion pictures including title songs for movies starring Frank Sinatra and Clint Eastwood. In 1969, Curb merged his company with MGM Records and became president of the MGM Company. At the age of 25, Curb turned MGM’s fortunes around with such hits as “One Bad Apple” by the Osmond’s, “Natural Man” by Lou Rawls and “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr. After MGM was sold in 1974, Curb went on to build Curb Records and the Curb/Warner label, which released numerous high-charting singles from the mid-to-late 1970’s.  It was during the 1970s that Curb began to apply his experience as a businessman to public service. In 1976, he served as chairman of the Ronald Reagan California Campaign for President and later was co-chair of President Gerald Ford’s campaign. In 1978, Curb was elected Lt. Governor of California. He served for only one term before returning to Curb Records, of which he is chairman. He is also chairman of Word Entertainment. Both companies are located in Nashville, where he and his family reside Curb Records has been honored by Billboard Magazine as the 2001 Billboard Country Label of the Year. Curb is also a noted philanthropist who has supported several universities and other institutions in the Nashville area. (Updated 05/06)

2005 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Barbara Fairchild, 1972 B.A. Journalism

Considered an expert in all matters tasteful and topics epicurean, alumna Barbara Fairchild has worked at Bon Appetite since 1978 becoming editor-in-chief in 2000. Last year, Barbara celebrated her 25th anniversary at the magazine. Under Fairchild’s discerning leadership, Bon Appetite has been honored with three James Beard Awards, the Bedford Pace Memorial Travel Writing Awards, the Bedford Place Memorial Travel Writing Award from the British Tourist Authority and the Society of American Travel Writer’s Lowell Thomas Award for Outstanding Travel Writing. She currently oversees a staff of more than 50 editors, researchers, and designers in Los Angeles and New York. With more than 6 million readers, Bon Appetite is the most widely read magazine of its kind. It was founded locally and is the only national food, restaurant, and lifestyle monthly with editorial offices located in Los Angeles. In 2000, Fairchild was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.” A member of over a dozen organizations including the American Society of Magazine Editors, Fairchild serves on the Boards of several national culinary organizations, among them the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the National Advisory Board of the James Beard Foundation. She appears as a frequent guest on NBC’s Today Show, the Food Network, Fine Living Network and A & E Biography. Fairchild also devotes a great deal of her time to several charitable organizations such as UCLA’s Jonson Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
As Arthur Schwartz, the food maven has observed, “Barbara Fairchild makes sure that the magazine helps people live more fulfilling lives… the restaurant features are conceived and written for the readers, not to impress or service the industry of food, wine, entertaining and restaurant-going. There is a personal detail about Barbara Fairchild that I think is very telling about her and her attitudes: she still lives in her old neighborhood in the Valley.” (Updated 05/05)

Larry Feldman, 1966, B.S. Business

Alumnus Larry Feldman is recognized as one of the most outstanding trial lawyers in the United States. He specializes in civil litigation, with primary emphasis in high stakes entertainment, business, insurance, legal malpractice, real estate and personal injury tort litigation. After earning his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business from San Fernando Valley State in 1966, Feldman earned his Juries Doctorate at Loyola Law School where he graduated first in his class. He was admitted to the California Bar in 1970 and has been practicing law ever since. Feldman earned a reputation as an expert in high-profile litigation after successfully handling a wide variety of cases. He has represented numerous clients against lawyers who have committed malpractice, as well as defended major law firms who have been charged with malpractice. Feldman has handled all types of labor litigation, aircraft litigation and products liability litigation, prosecuting on behalf of businesses as well as defending businesses in wrongful termination and contract litigation. He has tried over 100 civil jury trials and obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for his clients. In addition to being a prominent civil lawyer, Feldman served as the President of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and the Los Angeles Trial Lawyers Association. A special counsel in the firm of Kaye Scholar, Feldman received the ACLU Public Service Award for his continued fight on behalf of civil rights. After having won a multi-million dollar verdict, one client stat that “Having Larry as a lawyer is like having an older brother and protector who fights for you. He’s wonderful to see in court. He has a strong sense of fairness and justice. He takes it personally. And, of course, he’s extremely smart and always totally prepared.” (Updated 05/05)

Scott Horowitz, 1978 B.S. Engineering, 1997 Honorary Doctor of Science

One of our nation’s most decorated pilots, is one of only dozens of individuals who can call themselves an American Astronaut. Today, in his role as Director of Space Exploration and Transportation at ATK Thiokol, Scott is on the leading edge of making space transportation a reality for citizens of all walks of life. Scott earned his B.S. in Engineering at Northridge and four years later left Georgia Tech with a Masters degree and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering.  Following graduation from Georgia Tech in 1982, Scott worked as an associate scientist for Lockheed-Georgia and performed research and later successfully completed pilot training in Arizona at Williams Air Force Base.  After having been stationed in Germany as an operational F-15 Fighter Pilot, Scott returned to the U.S. to attend the United States Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base.  He was assigned as a test pilot flying A-7s and T-38s and subsequently has logged more than 5,000 hours in over 50 different aircraft.  In the mid to late 1980 s, Scott served as an adjunct professor at Embry Riddle University where he conducted graduate level courses in aircraft design, aircraft propulsion and rocket propulsion. In 1991, as a professor for California State University, Fresno, he conducted graduate level courses in mechanical engineering including advanced stability and control. Selected as a pilot by NASA in March 1992, Scott reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. He successfully completed a year of initial training and held assignments Astronaut Operations, Shuttle launches and landings and Shuttle Communications.  Scott has logged over 1,138 hours and traveled more than 16 million miles in space on four Shuttle missions, leading activities in science, satellite maintenance and Space Station assembly as a commander and pilot. He served as pilot on Shuttle mission STS-75, a mission that performed microgravity and tethered satellite science in 1996. He next flew as pilot of STS-82, a maintenance mission to the Hubble Space Telescope in 1997. His third flight was as pilot on STS-101 in 2000, an International Space Station assembly mission. In August 2001, Horowitz commanded STS-105, a Station crew exchange and assembly mission. Horowitz is the recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross; NASA Exceptional Service and Flight Medals, Defense Meritorious Service and Superior Service Medals and many other accommodations from the United States Air Force for both service and pilot training.  At Northridge he was a member of Tao Beta Pi and earned first place in the ASME Design Competition. At Georgia Tech he was a member of several scientific societies and was the recipient of the Outstanding Doctoral Research Award. Upon his retirement from NASA last October, Ken Bowers’s ox, Director of Flight Crew Operations, stated that “Scott has made a huge contribution to NASA’s exploration effort”. In addition to his four shuttle missions, Bowers ox noted that Horowitz led the Astronaut Office’s Advanced Projects Branch, which provided key technical input to NASA’s plan for exploration to the Moon and Mars. “Doc” continues his work as Director of Space Transportation and Exploration at ATK Thiokol.  ATK is the world's leading provider of hypersonic scramjet engines, solid propulsion systems for spacecraft launch and orbit transfer, and advanced lightweight, high-strength composite materials — technologies that are critical to reaching new frontiers in space. (Updated 05/05)

2004 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Ron Insana, 1984, B.A. Radio Television-Broadcasting

Ron is anchor of CNBC's program "Street Signs” which is broadcast each day from the New York Stock Exchange.  Previously Insane had co-anchored “Business Center” with CSUN alumna Sue Herrera.  Insana came to the network in the 1991 merger with the Financial News Network. He is a regular contributor to NBC's "Today," NBC's "The Nightly News with Tom Brokaw," "Imus in the Morning" and other MSNBC programs.  In December he joined USA Today, as a part of Gannett’s overhauling of its Money section.  His monthly column, called Talking Business with Ron Insana, will run the first Monday of each month. He has often served on media panels for the 2004 Democratic Debates. Insana began his career in 1984 as an FNN production assistant, rising to managing editor and chief of FNN's Los Angeles bureau at the time the two networks were combined. While at FNN, he was nominated for a Golden ACE award for his role in covering the 1987 stock market crash. Insana's third book, "Trend Watching: How to Spot and Profit from Wall Street's Latest Fads, Manias, Bubbles and Busts," was published in 2002 by Harpers Business. His first book, "Traders' Tales," published in 1996 by John Wiley, is a compendium of anecdotes about Wall Street. His second book, "The Message of the Markets," was published by Harpers Business in October 2000. He has served as a keynote speaker for several conferences and conventions and in September of 2002 was selected to interview President Bush on the economic impact of 9/11.  He is generally regarded as the premier economic expert on the war on Terrorism.  In 1999 Ron was named one of the 20th century's top 100 business news journalists by TJFR Group.  Ron joins CSUN alumni and CNBC anchors Sue Herera and Bill Griffeth as Distinguished Alumni of the University. Ron Insana does an interview with a former Federal Reserve governor about a rate cut, and a slipping market begins a rebound--the actual cut happens a week later.
Mr. Insana's rising star often seems hitched to both smart reporting and a bit of luck. While still green at 24 and functioning as a one-man news department in the Los Angeles bureau of the Financial News Network, both of FNN's regular anchors called in sick. Mr. Insana found himself delivering the news before a nationwide audience. "I was ad-libbing about stuff I knew nothing about," he says. Two years later, vacationing in Chicago in October 1987, he got himself to the floor of the Chicago Board of Options to anchor FNN's live coverage of the stock market crash & emdash; earning a nomination for a Golden Ace award. With the acquisition of FNN by CNBC in 1991, Mr. Insana suddenly had a larger cable audience.  Today, besides appearances on "NBC Nightly News," the "Today Show," MSNBC and Don Imus' syndicated radio show, he co-anchors CNBC's "Business Center" and hosts "Street Signs," which focuses on the New York Stock Exchange and commodities trading. All of which provides a mother lode for more of the juicy tidbits of the type he collected for his 1996 book, "Trader's Tales: A Chronicle of Wall Street Myths, Legends and Outright Lies." (Updated 05/04)

Linda Lingle, 1975 B.A. Journalism

Linda is the sixth elected Governor of Hawaii and the first woman to lead the Aloha State since it achieved statehood in 1959. She also is the first Cal State Northridge alum to be elected as a state’s chief executive.  She was sworn into office on December 2, 2002, following a campaign in which she pledged to bring about a “New Beginning” for Hawaii by restoring trust and integrity in government, strengthening the economy, fulfilling commitments to Native Hawaiians and reforming public education. The Governor first served the people of Hawaii as a member of the Maui County Council beginning in 1980. She went on to serve five two-year terms, three representing the island of Molokai. Linda was elected Mayor of Maui County in 1990. At age 37, she was the youngest person and the first woman to hold that office. In 1994, she won a second mayoral term. Under her leadership, job growth was faster in Maui County than anywhere else in the state. In 1998, Linda Lingle made her first bid for the Governor’s Office, losing by just one percent of the vote. She was later singled out as the most respected woman in Hawaii in an independent poll commissioned by Honolulu Magazine. After being elected Hawaii Republican Party chair in 1999, she crafted a platform reflecting the majority views of the state electorate. On November 5, 2002, Linda Lingle was elected Governor.  Since assuming office, Governor Lingle continues to make good on her promise of a “New Beginning” for all of Hawaii’s people. Accomplishments include: bringing transparency and fairness to the state contracting process, erasing a multi-million dollar budget deficit, fostering a business-friendly climate to attract more diverse and better-paying jobs, bolstering the tourism industry, updating animal quarantine regulations, protecting native flora and fauna from invasive species, fighting crime and drug abuse, and raising the quality and accessibility of health care. In addition, she continues to share her populist message with the people at community “Talk Story” sessions throughout the state. Through her close ties with the federal government, the military and the National Governors Association, Governor Lingle is helping Hawaii gain greater prominence on the national and international scenes. This includes working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to elevate Hawaii’s role in promoting peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. To improve the performance of Hawaii’s public schools, Governor Lingle formed the CARE (Citizens Achieving Reform in Education) advisory group to produce an action plan for raising student achievement and reforming the statewide education system. After graduating cum laude with a journalism degree from California State University, Northridge in 1995 she relocated to Hawaii where she founded and began serving as publisher of the Molokai Free Press. The rest is history. (Updated 05/04)

Richard A. “Cheech” Marin, 1968 English

First known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical duo  'Cheech and Chong,' the multi gifted Cheech Marin has not only earned a reputation as a highly respected actor, director comedian and musician but has earned a reputation as one of our nation’s most respected art collectors and humanitarians.  He is universally recognized as a trailblazer for Latinos in the Entertainment Industry. The son of a policeman he grew up in the San Fernando Valley attending San Fernando High school before enrolling at California State University, Northridge. At the University, the English major enjoyed witnessing the creation of the nation’s first Chicano Studies Department and he took a special interest in Anthropology.  He embraced campus life as a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. A consciences objector to the war in Southeast Asia, Marin moved to Vancouver and began to work as an improvisational comedian with Vancouver’s City Work Troupe.  There, he teamed with Tommy Chong and the duo created hilarious and unforgettable “zoned out” characters that helped launch a successful film and recording career.  As their popularity grew, they released a series of comedy albums which became best-sellers, with further affirmation as they received a Grammy Award. On the strength of their bestselling and Grammy winning album, Cheech and Chong were signed for the comedy film Up in Smoke, which became the highest grossing comedy of 1978, topping $100 million at the box office.  For a period of 15 years the duo teamed on eight feature films including Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, Cheech and Chong's Nice Dreams, Things are Tough All over, Cheech and Chong: Still Smoking and Cheech and Chong: The Corsican Brothers. They continued to work the comedy circuit and made other guest appearances before the team determined that each would work on individual ventures. Marin wrote, directed and starred in the highly acclaimed Born in East L.A. Other film and television credits include Cisco Kid, Rude Awakening, Fatal Beauty, Tin Cup and Shrimp on the Barbie.  He began doing animated voice-overs and other children's projects like the hyena 'Banzai' in The Lion King and as the streetwise chihuahua in Oliver and Company. He also had phenomenal success with his first bilingual children's album My Name is Cheech, the School Bus Driver. A sequel to that is forthcoming.  In the 90's, he hooked up with director Robert Rodriguez and appeared in both of his recent trilogies, the Desperado series and Spy Kids.  Through the turn of the century he continued to co-star in the TV series Nash Bridges, which now lives on in syndication.  Current projects (2003-2004) include work on a sitcom “The Ortega’s” for voiceovers for the movies “Good Boy!”, “Lion King 1 ½ “ and “Sian Ka’an”.  Marin has indicated that he desires to become more involved in animation projects. "I love animation because it is such a pure form of acting, created just by the voice," he says.  Other recent projects include “Silver City” and “The Underclassman” and an appearance on the CBS program “Judging Amy”.) Besides acting, Marin is an avid art-collector, specializing in Chicano artists. Marin's own personal Chicano art collection, one of the largest in the world, helped bring to life a blockbuster museum exhibit, which opened at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC and is scheduled to visit 13 cities over the next five years. In September of 2003, Bulfinch Press published a coffee table book featuring highlights of Cheech's art collection and the exhibition entitled Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge.  He has also co-authored several other books on the subject. Cheech was the recipient of the 2000 Creative Achievement Award from the Imagen Foundation. In addition, he received the 1999 National Council of La Raza/Kraft Foods ALMA Community Service Award for his work on behalf of the Latino community. When he is not working, Cheech devotes a great deal of time to such organizations as the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, El Rescate and the Inner City Arts Council.  And as if all that isn’t enough, Marin has branched out into the food industry with a line of hot sauces. (Updated 05/04)

2003 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Vincent P. Barabba, 1962, B.S. Marketing

In 1960, Vince was elected by the students of San Fernando Valley State College to follow Bob Hilburn as the fifth Associated Students President.  He was tasked to lead a campus that was expected to welcome more than 8,000 students by 1963.  Just a few years earlier, the campus hosted more orange trees than students.  Now, Barabba knew that his success as a leader related to understanding and meeting the needs of an increasingly mobile, post-war baby boom generation of students. He was correct.  At the end of his term, his efforts were rewarded with the presentation of the Outstanding Senior Award the honor of being named to Who’s Who among American Colleges and Universities.  His keen understanding of his audience paved the way for a career path that has taken him from the West Coast to the White House, to our nation’s most prestigious universities, and to some of our world’s largest and most influential corporations.  With a career spanning five decades, he has earned the reputation as one of the nation's most sought after and respected experts and administrators in the field of strategic knowledge development. In 2003, before taking on his next challenge to advance the home technology market as Chairman of Internet Home Alliance, Barabba retired from the General Motors Corporation after he helped change corporate thinking in his two-decade role of managing the automobile giant’s Corporate Strategy and Knowledge Development division.  His GM responsibilities included overseeing the Business Decision Support Center, Knowledge Network Development & Integration, and Corporate Strategic Planning. He is currently Chairman of the market Insight Corporation and Kings COunty Ventures. In the early 1990’s Barabba and GM’s new chairman, launched a major initiative aimed at strengthening leadership competencies, ensuring that decisions are market led, and creating an environment where people learn from their own and each others' mistakes. GM's aim was to make local knowledge global and create a "knowledge friendly" culture.  Utilizing cross-functional teams, GM was able to create and then value innovative features such as the highly regarded On-Star system to present to the public. Prior to his work at GM, Barabba had been the director of market intelligence and research for Eastman Kodak and later Xerox. He twice served as director of the Bureau of the Census (1973-1976; 1979-1980) and is the only person to serve in that position under the administration of different political parties (Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter). He was appointed as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Population Commission by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush. Mr. Barabba is the co-founder of what is now the Wirthlin Group (recently acquired by Harris Interactive). Sought after as a keynote speaker and lecturer at some of the nation’s most prestigious universities including Harvard, Penn, M.I.T. and Stanford, he has authored Surviving Transformation, Meeting of the Minds, Hearing the Voice of the Market and The 1980 Census: Policy Making Amid Turbulence.   He was elected as president and a fellow of the American Statistical Association, a board member of the National Opinion Research Center, and chairman of the National Research Council Panel to review the statistical program of the National Center for Education Statistics. In recognition of his performance in the private and public sectors he was recently inducted into the Market Research Hall of Fame in recognition of contributions of outstanding and lasting value to the practice of market research. He also received the American Marketing Association's Parlin Award for leadership in the application of science to the discipline of marketing research, the MIT/GM Henry Grady Weaver Award for individuals who have contributed the most to the advancement of theory and practice in Marketing science, and the Certificate of Distinguished Service for Contribution to the Federal Statistical System for the Office of Management and Budget. Vince has been no stranger to the University.  After graduation from Northridge and during the time he was completing his M.B.A. at U.C.L.A, he was one of the founding organizers of the Alumni Association.  In the autumn of 1962 he helped create the University’s first external communication effort, Spectrum, “a publication designed for persons interested in Valley State College and Higher Education.”  He later served on the College of Business and Economics Dean’s advisory board and in 1992 presented the commencement address for the College of Business and in 2003 delivered the keynote for the University Honors Convocation. He now serves on the University's Foundation Board of Directors. (Updated 7/07)

Sue Herera, 1980, B.A. Journalism

Sue has become synonymous with business news. Throughout her journey as a lecturer, author, communicator and host she has become one of the nation’s most recognized and respected business journalists. Herera co-anchors CNBC’s "Business Center" each evening with fellow Northridge alum Ron Insana. She also serves as a credit and futures market reporter and covers the stock market, foreign exchanges and options markets for the network. Herera has been with CNBC since its inception in 1989 and has been instrumental in the network’s growth.  Today CNBC provides information to more than 175 million homes worldwide, including more than 86 million households in the United States and Canada Previously, Sue spent eight years as an anchor and reporter with Financial News Network, where she served as a co-anchor with Insana and Northridge alumnus Bill Griffeth, a 2000 recipient of this same award.  Ms. Herera left for newcomer CNBC in January 1989. She knew she would miss her alumni co-anchors, but decided to move across the country with the new network. "I remember (Ron and Bill) were standing in the lobby on my last day going, ‘You're nuts.’ And three years later, I was standing in the lobby over here saying, 'Hello.' "The friends became colleagues again when FNN merged with CNBC in 1991. In CNBC's early days, Ms. Herera was involved in nearly every aspect of operations, from hiring production assistants and writers to figuring out what computers to use for market quotes. "It was such a great opportunity to learn how everything worked," she says. When CNBC bought FNN, Ms. Herera was pleased to be reunited her friends. "When you don't have a crazy news day, you talk to each other and the viewer gets to see the relationship we get to have with each other, and I think that creates a valuable bond with viewers," she says.   The bond is evident.  In a January 2000 article, Dean Rotbart stated that Herera and Insana “have established themselves as the most influential duo in business television” and acknowledged that “more senior business reporters and editors monitor CNBC” than any other business television offering.  A few years earlier, in 1997, Herera had her first book published, the critically acclaimed "Women of the Street: Making It on Wall Street — The World's Toughest Business". In a glowing review, Publishers Weekly  stated that “Herera smartly keeps the focus on the personal factors that enabled [these women] to enter a male preserve and thrive….Through Herera’s diligent presentation, they…provide inspiring role models for those who would enter the field.”   Bill Wolman, Chief Economist of Business Week said that Women of the Street are “a to success for any woman who wants to succeed in what has become the world’s most exciting business. Herera’s stories of the tough, savvy women who have made it on the Street are an inspiration.” She has co-anchored “Market Wrap” and has anchored “The Edge”.  Ms. Herera also hosted or moderated CNBC specials including but not limited to “Tomorrow’s Technology Gorillas”, "The Great Game: The Story of Wall Street" (March, 2000) and “CNBC: Inside China” an in-depth report on specific topics including the Shanghai stock market, China’s education system, U.S. companies represented in the nation, real estate development in Beijing, as well as manufacturing, agriculture and culture in China. (Updated 5/03)

2002 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Lynne Doll, 1983, B.A. Journalism

Lynne is a role model to many as she successfully leads one of the largest independent public relations firms based on the West Coast and commits an extraordinary amount of time to charities and causes in support of the community. Whether it is anti-drug or safe sex campaigns, smoking education programs or children’s health issues, Lynne, along with her firm, Rogers and Associates, has been in the forefront of informing and educating the public on important issues. Lynne began her ability to communicate messages as a student at Cal State Northridge. As a member of the Forensics Club, she represented Northridge at national debate programs, winning several of those competitions. She worked as an intern in the Office of Public Relations, which led to another internship sponsored by the Advertising Club of Los Angeles. With her degree in journalism and a minor in speed communications, she began working for Rogers and Associates in 1983. Today, she serves as a senior partner and president of the company. Throughout her tenure at Rogers and Associates, Lynne has developed and led the implementation of strategic communications programs involving a vast array of issues- from selling products and services for major consumer marketers, to managing crisis communications for some of the nation’s top corporations, to directing the aforementioned education and issue-oriented campaigns.  She has compiled a proven record of delivering results for dozens of consumer brand marketers, including American Honda Motor Company, Washington Mutual, L.A. Cellular Telephone Company (now AT&T Wireless), and the Los Angeles Dodgers, among many others. For Honda, Doll provides strategic corporate counsel on environmental, diversity and philanthropic issues. She led the team responsible for introducing Washington Mutual into the California marketplace. Committed to the public relations and communications profession, Ms. Doll is past chair of the Advertising Club of Los Angeles. She has won client awards from the Public Relations Society, the International Association of Business Communicators and “Inside P.R.” magazine. She has been a presenter and speaker at symposiums sponsored by “Ad week” magazine and the Los Angeles County Bar Association, and has been a featured speaker at national PR conferences in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York. Lynne has been highly recognized by her peers. In 1998 she was named “Outstanding PR Professional” by the Los Angeles Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She also has been singled out by “Inside P.R.” magazine as one of the West Coast’s most talented professionals and “PR Week” has included her in the list of female CEO’s of PR’s top 100 agencies. Recently, the same magazine named her to their list of “Forty PR Stars under 40.” (Updated 05/02)

Patsy Flanigan, 1979, B.S. Food Science

Patsy is a testimony to hard work, entrepreneurship and perseverance. As president and co-founder (with her late husband Owen) of Flanigan Farms, she has helped transform and develop what we witness today as a vast and growing industry in natural foods.  Now in its 32nd year, Flanigan Farms distributes its products to more than 900 outlets, mostly in California. The business continues to grow. Major grocery store chains such as Ralph’s, Von’s, Gelson’s and Albertson’s feature Flanigan Farms Natural Foods. Internet sales have expanded the company’s market across the United States and beyond. Ever since she could remember, Flanigan has been interested in natural foods and good nutrition. She said that she actually entered the Food Sciences program at Northridge so that she would be better equipped to run a business dedicated to nutritious food. Even after the passing of her co-founder husband in 1992, she kept the business in the family by involving two of her daughters, Cathie and Monica. As the economic success of the business was continually affirmed, she expanded the company’s community outreach by promoting nutritious and healthy lifestyles from school children to the elderly and disabled. In addition to her volunteer service to the Marilyn Magaram Center on campus, she devotes much time and energy to the American Heart Association and the Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center. She is an ardent supporter of the City of Hope. She was honored by Culver City in 1999 for her volunteer service to those who can’t fully help themselves. Her peers from behind the desk and in the boardroom have looked to her and honored her for her leadership as well. In April 1998, she was honored by the California Chamber of Commerce as the “Small Business Advocate of the Year” and in 2000 she was presented the “Entrepreneur Award” from the Roundtable for Women in Food Service. Prior to those accolades, she was elected to the White House Conference on Small Business where she actively helped formulate the Small Business Agenda that was presented to Congress and the Administration. She continues to be involved with and has held leadership positions in the chambers of commerce in Culver City and Los Angeles. In a 1995 interview in the Los Angeles Times, she described her involvement in the Chamber by declaring, “It’s something I like to do and it’s good for business as well…When you’re the owner of a business, you tend to become isolated if you don’t get out into the community.” (Updated 05/02)

Charles Noski, 1973, B.S. Business Administration, 1995, M.S. Accountancy

Charles became the senior executive vice president and chief financial officer of AT&T in 1999. In late February 2002, he was named vice chairman, chief financial officer and member of the board. The AT&T chapter is just part of the story of Chuck Noski. Prior to his tenure with the telecommunications giant, he served as president and chief operating officer of Hughes Electronics, a unit of General Motors located in El Segundo. He came to Hughes in 1990 as corporate vice president and controller, serving as the company’s chief accounting officer. He previously has been associated with the firm of Deloitte & Touche where he had been a partner since 1983. Eventually, he became Deloitte & Touche’s national industry director for services to the aerospace and defense industry and was the supervising partner for the firm’s services to Hughes. By 1992 Hughes named Noski vice chairman and chief financial officer. With those responsibilities, he served on the company’s board and executive committee. During this time, he returned to his alma mater to further his education and in 1995 received the Master of Science degree in Accounting. Noski temporarily escaped from Southern California in 1997. But, after moving to Connecticut and serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer for United Technologies for less than two months, Hughes Electronics asked him to return to the Southland and serve as its president. In 1999, AT&T came calling and Noski was reunited with his former Hughes colleague and AT&T CEO Michael Armstrong stated, “I’ve known and worked with Chuck for a long time. I believe his financial and management talents, combined with solid strategic thinking, make him ideally suited to be CFO as we execute our growth strategy.” With his expertise in complex companies, Chuck Noski is helping position a company with nearly 75 million business and residential long distance customers, 10 million cable subscribers, 15 million wireless customers and a growing Internet presence. Even with the time demands of being a corporate executive, he has served on other corporate boards including Raytheon. He served as a trustee for the Southern California Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society and has been a member of the California Society and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He is affiliated with the Financial Executives Institute and is a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Defense Preparedness Association. (Updated 05/02)

2001 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Dan Chernow, 1967, B.A. History, 1989, M.A. Education

In the noblest sense of the word, is a teacher. A teacher’s teacher to be exact, Dan is the Executive Director of UCLA’s School of Management Program. The work he is doing at UCLA serves to activate and accelerate the evolution of the American educational universe. In the past, Dan has brought his vast talents to bear upon youthful minds as an elementary school teacher- teaching seventh, eighth and nine-graders History, Government, Geography, and Multi-Cultural Studies, not to mention his volunteer coaching efforts ranging from youth basketball to youth soccer. Even in private industry Dan was a mentor and source of inspiration to others. While vice president and general manager of Pacific Theatres, Incorporated, he co-founded and directed Hooked on Reading, an award-winning corporate program to revitalize libraries and bring new learning materials to elementary schools. In addition to his management duties for Pacific Theatres, he counseled employees, negotiated national contracts between the industry and the youth dominated labor force with outcomes advantageous to both parties. Today, in addition to his full-time job as executive director of UCLA’s School Management Program, he continues to inspire young minds by instructing and lecturing teaching students at Northridge on how to spark fire in the minds of the students they will one day teach. He and his wife, Cindy, a CSUN alumna and educator, have dedicated a reading room in the College of Education and have endowed a scholarship at the university that encourages teachers to earn full credentials. Some of his civic and community activities include: vice chair at Los Angeles Public School Coalition; member of CTA Task Force on School Accreditation; vice-chair, Mayor Tom Bradley’s Educational Advisory Committee; member, board of directors for the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; and member, board of directors, Shelter Partnership, Incorporated. (Updated 05/01)

Bob Miller, 1976, and Steve Howard, 1977, B.A. Theatre

Bob and Steve have become a staple of costume design in the worlds of cinema, television and stage since they met as students and collaborated while at Northridge. Their designs are renowned for their creativity and their comprehension of the finer nuances of aesthetic art has resulted in thrilling looks that have ignited sets and stages for two decades. Recently, team of Miller and Howard were honored with an Emmy nomination for outstanding costume design/styling for their project “Your Big Break” for Dick Clark Productions. Between them, they have individually and together won the Emmy for outstanding costume design for a drama series more often than anyone else.  Their television credits include: General Hospital; Port Charles; Dream On; ER and The Flash. In addition, their costuming credits include landmark television achievements ranging from the civil-war drama, Beulahland to the television adaptation of James Michener’s novel, Space, and the epic Universal production of Samson and Delilah. It has been a road full of achievements since one of their earliest jobs on the The Donnie and Marie Osmond Variety Hour, when Steve and Bob were still CSUN students. Bob and Steve have also worked on big-budget sci-fi films like Star Trek, The Motion Picture and Star Trek, The Wrath of Khan and The Last Starfighter. For the Star Trek films, they made armored jewelry and head-dresses for hundreds of aliens. Their careers, however, began on stage at Northridge in such plays, operas and musicals like The Crucible, L’il Abner, The Importance of Being Earnest, Falstaff and many, many others. They have assisted in various current CSUN productions to assist not only with costuming but with mentoring students. Bob and Steve are members of several professional and civic organizations, including the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; Motion Picture Consumers Local 705; the Getty Museum and the New York Metropolitan Museum. Steve is also an actor and a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. (Updated 05/01)

Lois Roberts, 1961, M.A. History

Lois went to Ecuador in 1949 where she saw bleak poverty with families suffering. Through learning and educating, Lois set out to conquer the biggest cause of human misery in post-war Latin America: ignorance. Dr. Roberts not only conquered ignorance in Latin America, which was the result of insufficient educational opportunities, but she also helped to eliminate much of the ignorance about the region and its people by academics and politicians in the United States. During her boundless career, Lois has crossed the globe and won the hearts, minds and souls of everyone from powerful politicians to humble villagers. By the twenty-first century, her special way of looking at the world has injected human spirit into institutions, helping to forever change the once-icy calculation of public policy. Her activities have ranged from advising federal agencies in national security issues to documenting the histories of people and institutions as far-ranging as Lebanese living in Ecuador and the Ford Motor Company in Long Beach, and innumerable others. Her expertise has been sought by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and she has written with authority on countless subjects including the Channel Islands; Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbors; municipalities; historic structures and Howard Hughes. It’s no surprise to those who know her that a former colleague once noted that Lois had written the only manuscript he had ever seen without any editorial corrections. As a founding student and faculty member of the University, Lois Roberts along with others had the vision to see what could grow from amidst a rural citrus grove flung many miles from what was then urban Los Angeles. (Updated 05/01)

2000 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Michael Day, 1988, B.S. Chemistry, 1990, M.S. Chemistry

Michael was 18 when he suffered a traumatic injury that nearly claimed his life and left him in a wheelchair with limited use of his hands. Twenty-one years later, Day made history as the only disabled student in the country to receive a master’s degree in chemistry. He continues to make history as a member of the faculty and Director of the Beckman Institute Crystallography Laboratory at one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, the California Institute of Technology. He is also a professor at The Kings College in Van Nuys and LIFE Bible College in San Dimas. He is recognized as one of the nation’s most respected and widely published experts in crystallography- the use of crystals to determine molecular geometry. For five years after his injury he was a recluse without vision for himself or how he would live a productive life. He came to the conclusion that “school was the only way” and enrolled in Valley College studying various subjects and tutoring math and science to disabled students. He transferred to CSUN and although the University historically has had a large number of disabled students, Mike was the only one who chose chemistry. At CSUN he studied closely with Dr. Kenneth Hardcastle and Dr. Edward Rosenberg, who were most impressed with his talent, intelligence and determination. Before completing his master’s he attended a research symposium sponsored by Sigma Psi, a national honor society. His presentation won a first prize in the graduate division. During his graduate work at CSUN and his post-graduate students at Caltech, the National Science Foundation took great interest in Day and honored him with scholarships which provided him with an incentive to overcome odds. He has published in excess 45 articles ranging from “Crystal Structures of The Clusters” to “Racemo-Meso Isomerization for Ansa-Scandocene and Ansa-Yttrocene Derivates.” (Updated 05/00)

William Griffeth, 1980, B.A. Journalism

Bill began his broadcasting and journalism career at CSUN writing for the Daily Sundial and producing and anchoring countless newscasts and documentaries for KCSN radio. An active and involved student, he held various offices for the campus chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, worked at the Matador Bookstore and co-hosted a weekly talk show for KCSN called “Straight Talk.” During his sophomore year he produced a series of three documentaries on the Viking Mission to Mars. The success of this series was recognized in 1976 as he won the “Golden Mike Award” for “Excellence in Broadcasting” presented by the Radio Television News Association of Los Angeles, the first Golden Mike award ever won by a CSUN production. Following graduation, Griffeth began his professional career with the start-up cable TV business channel Financial News Network (FNN) in Santa Monica. He anchored their first daily business oriented program and continued anchoring and producing various FNN programs for ten years. In 1988, he was nominated for a cable TV Golden ACE Award for coverage of the 1987 stock market crash, which he produced for FNN. Also during the 1980’s, Griffeth was a regular guest host for Tom Synder’s ABC Radio national talk show. FNN merged with CNBC in 1991 and Griffeth and family (wife Cynthia, son Chad and daughter, Carlee) moved to New Jersey where he continues to anchor various award-winning CNBC business programs including “The Money Club (92-97) and “Power Lunch.” “The Money Club won CNBC’s first cable ACE award for best business program in cable TV and “Power Lunch” has become one of the most watched and respected business programs on the airways. Griffeth shares CNBC anchor responsibilities with two other household names among Wall Street insiders, Ron Insana and Sue Herera, both CSUN alumni. Bill produces and anchors programs to benefit both the individual and business community. As director of CNBC’s Student Stock Tournament, he involves 6,000 student investment clubs from around the country with a total of 70,000 students in grades 4-12 participating. The program stresses teaching kids about money, investing and financial planning at formative ages. Griffeth has authored two highly successful business books, “Ten Steps to Financial Prosperity” (Warner Books) and “The Mutual Fund Masters” (McGraw-Hill), published in 1996 and 1995, respectively. Both were Fortune Book Club main selections. Since 1995, he has been recognized annually as one of the 100 most influential business journalists in the country by the industry trade publication TJFR. (Updated 05/00)

Irene Tovar, 1969, B.A. Sociology

Irene believes that “out of something bad, something good can happen.” Anyone who knows her would agree that this quote is emblematic of the woman, her career and her ever-growing legacy. When in the 1960’s it was noted that drop-out rates among Hispanics were disproportionately high, Irene took action to change that. Now, the organization that became the outcropping of her early efforts, the Latin American Civic Association (LACA), administers the largest Head Start program in the Valley as well as running several housing and social service programs. In classic Tovar fashion, Irene saw a problem, made it an opportunity, followed through with action and ultimately, helped affect meaningful change. Irene’s involvement in improving the lives of others did not stop with the founding of LACA. Her community service record includes: serving as vice president and president of the State Personnel Board (she was the first minority and first Latina to serve in both posts); serving as vice president and president of the Los Angeles City Civil Service Commission; she founded San Fernando Valley Neighborhood Legal Services; serving as chair of the Chicano/Hispanic Caucus of the Democratic State Central Committee and the Pacoima Coordinating Council. Irene has advised governors and served in advisory roles on many levels to the Los Angeles Police Department- not the least of which being the influential Christopher Commission Reform Task Force, which among other goals, sought to mend relations between the LAPD and minorities after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Radio stations have acknowledged Tovar as “Outstanding Latina of the Year” for 1999. Cal State Northridge’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has lauded her as “Alumna of the Year” for 1997; in 1997 she also received the “Dr. Ruth Temple Award:” in 1995 she was the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s “Woman of the Year.” She has also received awards from the Hispanic Women’s Council, the G.I. Forum and the Latin American Civic Association. Additionally, Irene leads the Latin American Civic Association as its executive director and serves in various volunteer capacities including her service as an officer on the Board of Directors of the Cal State Northridge Alumni Association. (Updated 05/00)

1999 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients

Frank Del Olmo, 1970, B.A. Journalism

Frank is an award winning journalist who has earned an international reputation as an expert in Latin American Affairs. Del Olmo began his 29 year career at the Los Angeles Times as a reporting intern for the Metro staff in 1970. By 1971, he became a staff writer specializing in the Latino community and is a recognized pioneer who helped paved the way for Latinos in the news media. Raised in Pacoima, Del Olmo was determined to continue his education near home (after two years at UCLA) and enrolled in San Fernando Valley State University. He began writing for the Sundial and became involved with many campus activities. Del Olmo was named “Outstanding Senior” and “Outstanding Senior in Journalism” and was named the University’s Wolfson Scholar, the highest award for a graduating senior demonstrating academic excellence. He graduated Magna Cum Laude. By 1972, Del Olmo founded the California Chicano News Media Association, serving as president from 1973 to 1976. He continues as a member of their Board of Directors. In addition, he wrote and edited programs and documentaries for radio and television and won an Emmy in 1976 for “Distinguished Achievement in Writing” for KNBC-TV documentary “The Unwanted.” Shortly thereafter, he was asked to serve as a visiting faculty member at UC Berkeley and by 1979 became a full-time faculty member of the Program for Minority Journalists. After a decade with the Times, he was promoted to Editorial Writer specializing in Latin American Affairs. In 1984 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Meritorious Public Service for his series “Southern California’s Latino Community.” A Harvard University Nieman Fellow (87-88), Del Olmo has received the Sigma Delta Chi Career Achievement Award (82). He has served as a member of the CSUN Board of Advancement, the College of Humanities Advisory Board and the Presidents Associates. He was the Keynote speaker at the Commencement Ceremonies in 1991 for the College of Humanities. (Updated 05/99)

Dirk Gates, 1983 B.S. Electrical Engineering

Dirk is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Xircom. Dirk arrived at CSUN in the late 70’s and maintained a 4.0 grade point average, graduating at the top of his class and serving as president of the national engineering honor society, Tau Beta Pi. He was also named the University’s Wolfson Scholar, the highest award for a graduating senior demonstrating academic excellence. Gates began taking consulting opportunities with small companies including Petron Controls and soon became a full time employee at Petron. In the evening, Dirk returned to CSUN to pursue a post graduate degree. By 1988 Petron had been bought out and Dirk would reunite with former mentor, Kirk Matthews to form Xircom. The two had continually brainstormed on product development. Legend tells us, while standing in the middle of a computer store in Santa Monica they saw a software package that said it could connect one PC to another and transfer data at a high speed. The idea of creating a small network adapter the size of a credit card, to connect personal computers to area computer networks was conceived and later developed. By 1990, revenues for Xircom exceeded $10 million and the Xircom Pocket Ethernet Adapter received the prestigious PC Magazine Technical Excellence Award. In 1992 Gates was named “High Technology Entrepreneur of the Year” for the Greater Los Angeles area and in 1994, the year before he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Xircom he was featured in Forbes Magazine’s “Whiz Kid” list of the five youngest CEO’s of the best small companies in America. With over 900 employees worldwide, Xircom has established itself as the market leader in the mobile computing industry. Graduating in 1998 from Pepperdine University with his MBA degree, Gates gives back to Northridge by serving as a member of the President’s Business Council, the President’s Associates and serves on the curriculum advisory committee as well as the College of Engineering and Computer Science Professional Advisory Council and Industrial Associates. In 1994, Gates established a $1 million charitable remainder trust to the College of Engineering and Computer Science. (Updated 05/99)