© Brent Durkin, courtesy Columbus Crew Communications
The latest news and successes of Toro alumni.
Notes by Decade
JOE BANFIELD (BA ’75) was named a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction. He received the honor for his work at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach, where he serves as both a teacher and academic counselor.
BARBARA CLARKE (BA ’74) released her memoir The Red Kitchen, in which she chronicles the lives of a mother and daughter who both surrendered to society’s expectations for years, before realizing there’s more to life than just being a wife, mother, and dutiful daughter.
REYNALDO SANTA CRUZ, JR (CRDT ’73) published his first book, Pulido del Barrio Libre. The book is about his father, who was born and raised in Tucson, Ariz, served in the U.S. Army during World War II, and was an amateur baseball player in the sandlot leagues during the 1930s.
LEO TERRELL (BA ’77) signed with Fox News as a contributor to provide legal and political commentary and analysis across FOX platforms. A civil rights attorney and radio host, Terrell has provided expert commentary to ABC’s Nightline, CNN’s Larry King Live, and NBC’s Today.
RON THOM (BS ’71) was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the association’s highest honor, for his nearly five decades of research on coastal and estuarine ecosystem research. Now retired, Thom worked as a research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory in Washington.
BRIAN GIBBS (BS ’85) was recently appointed the vice president and chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer at UMass Memorial Health Care. Previously, Gibbs led equity and inclusion efforts at Oregon Health & Science University, where he was responsible for diversity initiatives within the university’s clinical, educational, and research missions.
MARIA VILLA (BS ’82) participated in a panel for Loyola Law School’s Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series featuring Women Trailblazers. Although the speakers shared the commonality of being co-founders of bar associations, Villa was the only CSU graduate, representing as a proud Toro!
MAHABUB ALAM (BS ’92) retired from CSUDH in November 2021 after 28 years of dedicated service to the Toro community. Alam worked his way up from student assistant to network analyst, and his leadership and knowledge will be missed in the Division of Information Technology.
WINIFRED CARTER (BA ’97) celebrated her 102nd birthday in April 2021. Still going strong, she is the oldest living CSUDH alumna. Carter also worked as a reserve police officer with the Long Beach Police Department until 2005. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter volunteered every day at her local senior center.
DIONNE FAULK (BA ’94) became the first Black woman elected as a city council member in Inglewood, District 4. Her priorities include community safety, support for small businesses, and maintaining city services during the pandemic. She previously served over four years on the Inglewood Unified School District board.
LESLIE IRVING (BA ’98) was part of a historic election in the city of Victorville, becoming the city’s first elected Black woman. She will be part of Victorville’s first all-female city council, and will also serve as mayor pro tem.
PETE MENJARES (MA ’92) was named interim president at Seattle Pacific University. Menjares most recently served as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Vanguard University, where he was also the founding senior director of the Institute for Faculty Development. He has over 27 years of leadership experience in higher education, including serving as president of Fresno Pacific University.
ERICA REIMER SNELL (MA ’99) was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom as the deputy director of the community services division at the California Department of Developmental Services. Reimer Snell previously served as interim director of adult services at the Harbor Regional Center, where she held several positions, including director of community services.
NANETTE (ANTONIO) VERGARA (BS ’98) was appointed chief operations officer at Kaiser Permanente Moreno Valley Medical Center. Vergara recently served as chief nurse executive for Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center. Previously, she worked in Kaiser Permanente’s Regional Home Care Services, before becoming the continuing care leader at Downey Medical Center.
DARNISE WILLIAMS (MA ’98) took the helm as superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District. Williams brings extensive educational leadership experience to the role, having previously been a literacy coordinator, assistant principal, principal, principal supervisor, administrator of instruction, and senior-level administrator.
HARMONY FREDERICK (BA ’07) was hired at CSUDH as executive assistant to the vice president for student affairs and manager of strategic initiatives. She most recently served as the director of the Office of Alumnx and Family Engagement at the California Institute of the Arts.
JENNIFER GONZALES (MA ’02) was named the chief of the City of Napa Police Department. Gonzales has served in a number of roles within the department since 2015, overseeing the operations division, and acting as training manager, among other positions. Gonzales previously worked for the Chico Police Department for 20 years.
JOVAN JACOBS (MA ’05) is the new executive director of special education at Pasadena Unified School District. Jacobs previously served as the executive director of special education/Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) for Stockton Unified District; as SELPA director for Compton Unified; and as director of special education and support services with the Alliance of College-Ready Public Schools.
CHRISTINA KRAUS (BA ’99/MA ’05) was named the principal of Los Alamitos High School. Kraus has worked for 15 years in the Whittier Union High School District as an assistant principal, and had been serving as the principal of Paramount High School prior to landing the position in Los Alamitos.
CHAD MABERY (MA ’07) is the new Laguna Beach assistant superintendent of instructional services. Mabery has served as the director of assessment and accountability in Long Beach Unified School District since 2018. Mabery will serve as the chief instruction officer of the district in planning, organizing, and directing all elementary and secondary education programs, special education, and pupil services.
DANIEL RALPH (MA ’08) released The Scorpion’s Song, a work of philosophical fiction set in the days leading up to the beginning of the Gulf War. The book combines stories about life in a theater of operations with mini-Socratic dialogues.
WENDY RAMIREZ (BA ’04) was appointed vice president of human resources at GZ6G Technologies Corp., an enterprise smart solutions provider for large venues and cities. Ramirez will be responsible for managing all recruitment, sourcing, training, and organizational development.
AARON ROGERS (MBA ’05) joined the Valley Center-Pauma Unified School District as assistant superintendent of human resources. Rogers previously served as the director of human resources for the Val Verde Unified School District.
BELINDA SALAZAR (BA ’04) is the story producer for the second season of the series at Pantaya Wallin-Chamber Amazon Studio, an online streaming service focused on Spanish-language movies and shows.
CAROL VELAS (MS ’05) is the founding director of the new accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. A registered nurse for 35 years, Velas started welcoming students to the program in January 2022.
LESLIE MEZA ALTAMIRANO (BA ’14) was sworn into the Jurupa Valley City Council, representing District 4. Leslie is a mother of three, a small business owner, and an in-home care provider.
SANDRA BROWN (MA ’16) is part of a task force of experts, researchers, and incarcerated women convened by the Women’s Justice Institute to offer recommendations on how to better accommodate incarcerated women and decrease the female prison population in Illinois. Brown is an incarcerated alumna, having earned her master’s degree while serving in a correctional facility.
WENDI DUNLAP (MA ’10) released her debut album, Looking For Buildings, on Futureman Records in October 2021. The album was recorded remotely during the pandemic, with performers on multiple continents. Wendi wrote nine of the album’s 11 songs.
KENDRICK JONES (BA ’17, MA ’18) is district representative at the office of California State Senator Steven Bradford. Jones is also attending Pepperdine University, pursuing his doctorate in educational administration. His new role within the state senate will allow him to continue his pursuit of social justice on a wide scale.
VALENCIA MOTA (BS ’17) was named management assistant at the City of Torrance manager’s office. Mota joined the city in 2018, and has served as a community services leader and management aide in the city manager’s office and the Torrance Fire Department.
DESHAWN RADDEN (BS ’17) is a medical student who competed on the latest season of the CBS TV series Survivor. Radden made it all the way to the final, ending up in second place on the long-running reality show.
MAX RAHN (BA ’19) is a hip hop/R&B singer, songwriter, and producer whose new album, Your Mind Is A Weapon, was released in April 2021. His music can be heard on all streaming platforms. Rahn is also the owner of the clothing brand and independent music label ANYDAYNOW.
ELIJAH SIMS (MA ’11) was appointed as the interim director of the Long Beach College Promise, a program designed to provide local students with a seamless transition from high school, free community college tuition, and guaranteed transfer to a local university.
GYASI ZARDES (BS ’17) became a CONCACAF Gold Cup champion with the U.S. Men’s National Soccer team (USMNT), defeating Mexico in the 2021 tournament final. Gyasi has made 62 appearances for the USMNT, scoring 14 goals and providing 10 assists in his international career.
Photo of Gyasi Zardes, at top, credited to Brent Durkin, courtesy Columbus Crew Communications.
TRISTAN GARNETT (BA ’20) signed with the Philadelphia Phillies as an undrafted free agent. Garnett, a starting pitcher, began his professional career with the Phillies’ Low-A affiliate Clearwater Threshers this summer. He became the first Toro to sign as an undrafted free agent since 2016.
MARIA MANNING (BA ’21) made CSU history as one of the oldest graduates in the system’s history by earning bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts and Spanish at the age of 88. She attended CSUDH on and off since the 1990s, and also participated in music and choir classes during her educational journey.
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