Class Notes

Corrie Moreau standing in Museum

“There are more ants than all the birds and mammals added together. There's a lot of diversity out there to study.”

— Corrie Saux Moreau


A Big Booster for Ants — and Female Scientists

You’ve probably known kids who are obsessed with dinosaurs or trains or trucks or fire engines. But when Corrie Saux Moreau (B.S. ’00; M.A. ’03) was a little girl in New Orleans, something a lot smaller caught her eye — and captured her heart.

“I just fell in love with ants,” Moreau says. “I think because you could observe them doing things and showing behavior. Also, when you found one, you knew you were going to find more.”

Today, Moreau is one of the country’s top myrmecologists, with a title as big as her specialty is small: She’s the Robert A. Pritzker director of the Integrative Research Center and curator of insects at Chicago’s prestigious Field Museum. Myrmecology is the study of ants, by the way, and Moreau’s devotion to it has taken her around the world via research trips across the United States, Central and South America, Australia and Africa.

“I get to run off to the jungle and collect ants and then bring them back to study the DNA in their cells and ask questions,” Moreau says. “Why are there so many? Why are they found where they are? And how do their interactions with other organisms influence their shorter-term ecology but also their longer-term evolutionary history?”

Moreau initially thought that “liking bugs” might someday mean she’d teach high school biology — or possibly work for an extermination company. It was during her undergraduate days studying evolutionary biology and entomology at SF State that she got a sense of the opportunities that might be open to her. Biology Professor Greg Spicer took note of Moreau’s early promise. “She’s really enthusiastic,” he recalls. “She was doing DNA sequencing and DNA extraction after being in the lab for just a couple of months.”

When Moreau opted to remain at SF State for graduate school, Spicer served as one of her thesis advisors, along with Brian Fisher from the California Academy of the Sciences. (Moreau later received her Ph.D. from Harvard and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at UC Berkeley.) Spicer and Fisher’s guidance made a profound impression on Moreau, who makes helping up-and-coming scientists a priority today.

Committed to helping diversify STEM fields, Moreau co-founded Field Museum Women in Science in 2011. The group hosts monthly meetings and a speaker series and has offered 45 paid summer internships to date to young women from a variety of backgrounds. Moreau is poised to continue her mentoring efforts at Cornell University, where she will begin a new job as a professor of entomology and ecology and evolutionary biology in January. “[I’ve been] thinking about my experiences and how I can draw from them … to continue that pipeline of bringing young girls in to meet with scientists and have opportunities to engage with the work,” she says.

She’ll continue her research, too. To date, scientists have identified more than 14,000 species of ants, but there are count­less more that have yet to even receive their own names.

“Right now, there are more ants than all the birds and mammals added together,” Moreau says. “There’s a lot of diversity out there to study.”

 

Jake Sloan

Taking the Mystery Out of History

In 1961, Jake Sloan (B.A. ’73; M.A. ’80) and a group of other black workers at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo put their jobs on the line to sign a complaint with the federal government protesting discriminatory conditions. More than 1,000 black men and women worked on Mare Island at the time, but just two were supervisors, and black employees earned less than their white colleagues. The complaint signed by the “21ers” (as the workers who risked their livelihoods came to be known) led to slow but measurable improvement. Yet four decades later, while researching a book he was writing on the subject, Sloan was surprised to find that, because of the secrecy needed at the time, even the workers’ families knew nothing of the gamble the “21ers” took.

“The experience of the 21ers was more important than anything I’ve done because it showed me what can be accomplished if a few men and women have the nerve to stand up for what’s right,” says Sloan, who studied history at SF State. “It wasn’t my destiny to be a leader in the movement, but it was my destiny to tell the story.”

And tell it he did: His book, Standing Tall: Willie Long and the Mare Island Original 21ers, came out late last year. He gives SF State credit for the skills he needed to make it a reality.

“If I hadn’t gone to San Francisco State, there’s no way I could have written a book. I wouldn’t have known how,” says Sloan, who today runs a labor management consulting business. “I have a deep appreciation for the history department. It gave me the foundation I needed.”

 

1960s


John Charlesworth (B.A., ’63; M.A., ’65) recently retired after teaching science courses at Napa Valley College for 53 years.

Don Skiles (B.A., ’65; M.A., ’67) is the author of several books. The latest, Rain After Midnight (Pelekinesis), was released last year.

Richard Theodor Kusiolek (B.S., ’69; MBA, ’74) is the founder and managing editor of GMCStream Magazine (GMCStream.com), a Silicon Valley streaming digital publication that tracks the trends, drivers and technology that fuel the global military satellite communications and aviation and defense sectors. A retired University of Phoenix faculty member, he is also president of Ukranian American Venture Fund (www.uaventurefund.org) and the author of several books.

 

1970s


Gary Gach (B.A., ’70), author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buddhism, has a new book out. Pause, Breathe, Smile: Awakening Mindfulness When Meditation Is Not Enough (Sounds True) was released in September.

Gary Westford (B.A., ’70) went on from SF State (where he competed on the wrestling team) to earn an M.A. from UC Berkeley. In 2013, he retired after a 32-year career as a college-level instructor in art history and studio practice. Today he remains active as an artist and curator of art exhibitions.

Emily Strauss (M.A., ’74), a retired teacher living in Oregon, recently saw her 450th poem published in an online journal. Her work has appeared in dozens of journals, anthologies and websites.

Nanette Morgan (B.A., ’75; Secondary Teaching Credentials, ’77) runs her own dog behavior consultation company, Pawsitive Pals Dog Training (www.pawsitivepals.net). A certified professional dog trainer, Morgan has also worked with wolves, coyotes, foxes and bison.

Gregory Yasinitsky (B.M., ’76; M.A., ’78), director of the School of Music at Washington State University, was a winner of the 2017-18 American Prize in Composition. Yasinitsky won in the pops/light music division with his work “Jazz Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.” The American Prize is an annual series of nonprofit national competitions in the performing arts providing cash awards for the best recorded performances by ensembles and individuals.

Kyczy Hawk (formerly Martha L. MontagueB.A., ’79) is a yoga teacher specializing in healing techniques for the recovery population. She’s written several books on the topic, including Yogic Tools for Recovery: A Guide to Working the Twelve Steps (Central Recovery Press, ’17).

Mark Osten (B.M., ’77; M.A., ’79) is piano accompanist at Napa Valley College and teaches fundamentals of music and four sections of music theory.

Craig Baldwin (B.A., ’78; M.A., ’86) was guest of honor at this year’s Chicago Underground Film Festival. Through experimental films like Tribulation 99: Alien Anomalies Under America, Stolen Movie and Wild Gunman, Baldwin pioneered the use of found footage to create new, subversive narratives.

 

1980s


Robert Dawson (M.A., ’80), a lecturer in Stanford’s Department of Art and Art History, was awarded a Fulbright Global Scholar Award to photograph libraries and refugees in Italy, Greece and Israel.

Book Cover - Black man holding one finger up

Alan Venable (M.A., ’80) is the author of Hope's Kids: A Voting Rights Summer (One Monkey Books, ’17), an account of his civil rights work with Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference in urban and rural South Carolina during the summer of 1965.

Michael Delucchi (B.A., ’80; M.S., ’82) is a tenured professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii – West Oahu. He is the author of Student Satisfaction with Higher Education During the 1970s: A Decade of Social Change (Mellen, ’03).

Vinnie Hansen (M.A., ’80; Teaching Credential, ’83) contributed short stories to the recent anthologies Santa Cruz Noir (Akashic Books) and Santa Cruz Weird (Good Read Publishers). Another story will appear in the forthcoming anthology Fishy Business (Wildside Press).

Mary Egan (MPA, ’88) was one of the winners of Sacramento Business Journal’s 2018 “Women Who Mean Business” Award. The CEO and majority owner of Municipal Resource Group, a consulting firm for government agencies, Egan is also a certified executive coach and licensed private investigator.

William Dolphin (M.A., ’89) co-wrote the recently released book The Medicalization of Marijuana: Legitimacy, Stigma, and the Patient Experience (Routledge). 

Michael Golden (B.S., ’89; M.A., ’92), a biology professor at Grossmount College in El Cajon, California, was a recent recipient of the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award, which honors innovative teaching at community colleges. Last year, Golden’s peers at Grossmount College awarded him the Distinguished Faculty Award for his excellence as an educator and service to the college.

 

1990s


Cal Orey (M.A., ’90) will be touring in December to promote the release of her newest book, The Healing Powers of Superfoods (Citadel Press, ’18). An updated third edition of her bestselling book The Healing Powers of Vinegar (Kensington) will also come out in December. Earlier editions of The Healing Powers of Vinegar have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Sharlise Shulterbrandt (B.A., ’90) is the author of The Spanish Verb Search Manual, available on Amazon.

Halifu Osumare (B.A., ’91; M.A., ’93) is the author of Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir (University Press of Florida, ’18), which includes sections on her time at SF State as an undergraduate and graduate student. In its review of the book, Library Journal called Osumare, who has been active as a performer and teacher across the country and around the world, “a tenacious advocate for black dance.” She is a professor emerita of African American and African Studies at UC Davis.

Hernan Bucheli (B.A., ’91) was appointed provost and senior vice president at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. Bucheli previously served as vice provost for enrollment and communications at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Camelia Mahmoudi (B.A., ’91; M.A., ’93) is a sole practitioner attorney in San Jose. She is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law and has a master of laws (LLM) degree in taxation.

Scott Kelly (MBA, ’92) is the CEO of Black Dog Venture Partners, which recently acquired a 10 percent stake in 6 Days Productions, maker of the hangover prevention drink Hangnever. The Hangnever brand is the brainchild of another SF State alumnus, Mario Mare (B.S., ’17). Kelly and Mare met at an SF State networking event last fall.

Wes Kenney (M.M., ’92) recently completed his 15th season as music director of the Fort Collins Symphony in Colorado. The symphony marked the occasion with a special “Season of Diversity” featuring composers from around the world. Kenney is also a music professor at Colorado State University, where he serves as director of orchestras and head of conducting studies.

César Braga-Pinto (M.A., ’93) was promoted to full professor at Northwestern University. He is currently serving as chair of Northwestern’s Department of Spanish and Portugese.

Paul T. Miller (B.A., ’93) is the author of The Postwar Struggle for Civil Rights: African Americans in San Francisco, 1945-1975 (Routledge, ’14).

Kelly Connole (MFA, ’96) has been promoted to the rank of full professor of art at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. 

Dawn Lundy Martin (M.A., ’96) is one of the editors of Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing (Kore Press, ’18). The book collects poems, essays and visual works by nearly 40 black women writers and artists. A poet and activist, Martin is co-director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

Paloma Lopez (MSBA, ’98) was recently included on the Forbes list “46 Sustainability Leaders Who Are Also Women.” Lopez is the Kellogg’s Company’s global strategy lead, Kellogg’s masterbrand.

Ronnie Schell and cast of Good Morning World

Funny Guy

RONNIE SCHELL (B.A., ’58) HAS SOME ADVICE FOR ASPIRING COME­DIANS: Don’t quit your day job. “Get an avocation or something to fall back on because it’s really tough today,” says the actor/funny­man (pictured at left cheek to cheek with Goldie Hawn, his co-star on the sitcom Good Morning, World). “There are thousands of comedians who are funny, but they didn’t get a break. I didn’t get the big break, but I got many little breaks.”

Those “little breaks” made Schell a familiar face to TV viewers in the ’60s and ’70s. He appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., That Girl and many other series. He also popped up in commercials, voiced Hanna-Barbera cartoons and had a long career in stand-up comedy.

But before all that, Schell was a drama student at SF State. Once an aspiring semi-pro baseball player, Schell maintained his appreciation for the sport while at the University and long after. From 1998 to 2010 he hosted a series of comedy nights benefit­ing SF State’s Athletic Scholarship Program, and he was recently honored for his dedication to Gator athletics with the installation of a plaque inside the University gym.

Today Schell is an occasional (and hilariously raunchy) guest on Gilbert Gottfried’s Amazing Colossal Podcast!, but he’s not inter­ested in TV fame anymore…for the most part. “I was watching David Letterman with my wife and I saw a friend of mine do stand-up on the show. I said to my wife, ‘You know, I’d like to do that again,’” he says. “She turned to me and said, ‘Ronnie, you’ve had your turn.’ It hit home with me. I’ve had my turn and I don’t need it anymore.”

 

Len Haynes with Camera

LEN HAYNES (B.A., ’16; M.A., ’18) worked in the music indus­try in Los Angeles for more than two decades but figured he was leaving Tinseltown behind when he relocated to study video production at SF State. But earlier this year Hollywood called. A song he’d written in 2005 with his band the Anubian Lights, “Hot Sand,” had made it onto the soundtrack of the heist comedy Ocean’s 8. It was a wonderful surprise for Haynes, yet he maintains that his big­gest accomplishment of 2018 is getting his master’s degree and accepting a lecturer posi­tion at SF State. This fall, he began teaching a multi-camera video production course for the Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts.

 

 

Book Cover - Woman in dancing pose

 

HALIFU OSUMARE (B.A., ’91; M.A., ’93) is the author of Dancing in Blackness: A Memoir (University Press of Florida, ’18), which includes sections about her time at SF State as an undergraduate and graduate student. After leaving SF State, Osumare went on to become a prolific author, dancer and dance teacher in 23 countries, a scholar of dance and even­tually the director and chair of African American and African Studies at the University of California, Davis. “I started my training at SF State where black studies began,” Osumare said at an event on campus earlier this year. “My whole career has been about interro­gating what blackness is and what that means to the victims of racism in terms of enslave­ment and rampant segregation and continued Jim Crowism in this society. But I’m also look­ing at what it means in a cele­bratory way, of connecting with my ancestors — that cultural through-line that doesn’t allow us to give up as a people.”

2000s


Paul Hodges III (B.A., ’01), vice president of SF Giants Productions, was one of the producers of Estación de mi Gente, a profile of Giants legend Tito Fuentes that tied for first place in the Short Form Sports Video category of the Broadcast Education Association Festival of Media Arts. Hodges’ co-producer was fellow Gator Antonio A. Ayala (B.A., ’13), a lecturer in SF State’s Department of Broadcast and Communication Arts (BECA). The video was directed by BECA Assistant Professor Oscar Guerra.

Melissa M. Castro (B.A., ’03; MSW, ’07) is the new member-at-large, vice president for professional development for the National Association of Social Workers’ California chapter.

Marco Chavez (M.A., ’03) is the new principal of the Sherman Oaks dual language immersion school in San Jose.

Emily Cavanagh (M.A., ’05) is the author of the novel This Bright Beauty (Lake Union Publishing). Her first book, The Bloom Girls (Lake Union Publishing), came out last year. She lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband and two daughters.

Noah Kuchins (B.A., ’05), assistant director for study abroad in SF State’s Office of International Programs, was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (Order of Academic Palms) by the French Consulate in San Francisco. The award recognizes major contributions to French national education and culture. Kuchins was honored for his work to promote international exchange programs between France and the U.S.

Jeremy Clevenger (B.S., ’06) recently became the new head coach of the University of Idaho women’s soccer team.

Calvin Ma (B.A., ’07) was the subject of a lengthy profile in the April/May issue of American Craft magazine. The article focused on Ma’s whimsical, action figure-inspired work as a sculptor.

Jason Morris (MFA, ’07) is the author of the book of poems Levon Helm (Ugly Duckling Presse), which was released this summer.

Matthew Renoir (B.A., ’08) produced the supernatural-tinged crime film The Ascent, which has won awards at film festivals across the country.

 

Cara Black

Murder, She Writes

Nineteen years ago, Cara Black (B.A., ’80; Ed. Cred., ’80) transported mystery lovers to Paris with Murder in the Marais, her first novel about French detective Aimée Leduc. Since then Leduc has returned in 17 sequels that have become so popular Black doesn’t just take readers to Paris in her books anymore: She flies there to give them tours in person.

Black began organizing group trips to the City of Lights in 2013. This year’s outing was held in October and focused on the latest book in the series, Murder on the Left Bank (Soho Crime, ’18).

“We stay in a great Paris hotel, visit Aimée’s ‘office’ — which is based on the real Duluc Detective Agency — and visit ‘murder’ sites and scenes from the books,” Black says. “Every evening we congregate in the hotel’s library, have wine and cheese and discuss the day, a story or where we’ll have dinner.”

Literary-inspired travel goes way back for Black. When she was a junior in high school, she wrote a fan letter to French novelist Romain Gary. After he sent a reply, Black made her first pilgrimage to Paris, meeting with her hero for coffee and cigars.

Later, while taking part in a work-story program through SF State, Black had an experience that sparked her own literary career. Though she was working at the preschool in the Jewish Community Center on Brotherhood Way, she often found herself interacting with seniors at the center — several of whom were Holocaust survivors.

“I saw the tattoos on their arms, and it made a lasting impression on me,” Black recalls.

Years later, Aimée Leduc would investigate the murder of a Holocaust survivor in Murder in the Marais. Not every Leduc mystery since then has tackled such dark subject matter. But they’ve all included murder — and they’ve all had fans begging for more.

“The other night at an event, a reader came up and said my books got her through a very difficult time,” Black says. “This has happened several times. It’s an honor and a gift to hear that my books have touched and impacted people.”

2010s


Richard Hom (MPA , ’10) was awarded a Ph.D. at Salus University with his dissertation “Food Insecurity and Vision Impairment Among Adults in the United States.”

Paulina Villacreces (B.S., ’10) was a member of one of the winning teams of this year’s Biomimcry Challenges, an annual competition that encourages students and professionals to address global issues. Villacreces’ team, from Cornell University, created a solar-powered device for trapping mosquito larvae before they can mature and spread disease. Villacreces is pursuing her master’s degree through Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

Fiona McDougal (B.A., ’11) is a producer at OneWorld Communications, an advertising and digital agency she co-owns with her husband. One of the company’s employees is Khaboshi Imbukwa (B.A., ’11), who, as part of a OneWorld contract with the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, creates videos for the NPS website.

Kara O'Brien (B.A., ’11) received her juris doctor degree from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles in May.

Lance Ohnmeiss (B.M., ’11) is the artistic director of the Northern Appalachian Wind Symphony based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Sarah Garrett (B.A., ’12) has joined the Portland office of the law firm Markun Zusman Freniere Compton (MZCF) as an associate attorney. Her practice will focus on matters relating to investment adviser liability, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration claims, regulatory compliance and licensing issues encountered by financial professionals. Prior to joining MZCF, Garrett was an associate attorney at the largest Social Security disability firm in the Pacific Northwest.

May-lee Chai (MFA, ’13), an assistant professor in SF State’s Department of Creative Writing, recently published her 10th book, the short story collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants (Blair). In its review, Publishers Weekly praised the book as “compassionate, illuminating, and sometimes brilliant,” and the website The Millions declared it one of the most-anticipated releases of late 2018.

Ziyang “Jack” Li (Teaching Credential, ’13) was a winner of the 2017-18 Mayor’s Teacher of the Year Award for the San Francisco Unified School District. A third grade Mandarin immersion teacher at Starr King Elementary School, he grew up speaking both Mandarin and Cantonese in China. He’s currently finalizing his M.A. through SF State’s Department of Equity, Leadership Studies and Instructional Technologies.

Melinda McCrary (M.A., ’13) is the curator, collections manager and executive director of the Richmond Museum of History.

Jan-Henry Gray (B.A., ’14) is the winner of the 17th annual A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. Gray received a $1,000 honorarium, and the manuscript that won him the prize — the poetry collection Documents — will be published by BOA Editions in April.

Sarah Heady (MFA, ’15) wrote the libretto for UNFINISHED: An Opera, which was performed at the National Opera Center in New York this fall. The opera explored the aftermath of the closing of a real-life women’s college.

April Martin Chartrand (M.S., ’17) curated an August art exhibition about black hairstyles at the offices of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission.

Jennifer Chan (B.S., ’18) was one of this year’s winners of the American Institute of CPAs’ Elijah Watt Sells Award, which recognizes outstanding performance on the CPA examination. Nearly 96,000 CPA candidates across the country took the exam and were eligible for the award, but only 58 individuals scored well enough to win.

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In Memoriam


Jeanne McElhatton (B.A., ’50; M.A., ’53) got her pilot’s license at 17 by saving up money from babysitting. She continued to fly for decades, eventually becoming a flight instructor and founding the Fear of Flying Clinic for those who didn’t love airplanes as much as she did.

Roland Edmund Loomis (M.A., ’56) worked for years as a Silicon Valley advertising executive but also had another side that brought him international fame: Under the name “Fakir Musafar” he was a pioneering body modification artist. The founder of Fakir Body Piercing and Branding Intensives, which offered trainings for body modification practitioners, he died of lung cancer on Aug. 1.

Ron Dellums (B.A., ’60) served 13 terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was the mayor of Oakland from 2007 to 2011. In the late 1960s, Dellums, then a Berkeley City Council member, was outspoken in his support of the SF State student strike and its organizers. Upon learning of Dellums’ passing, Bill Clinton said he “spoke truth to power and appealed to America’s conscience in championing those who were left out and left behind.” Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Dellums’ successor in the House, called him “a great public servant” whose contributions were “too innumerable to count.” He was inducted into the SF State Hall of Fame in 1995.

Ted Treu (B.A., ’61) played football for SF State and later had a stint on the field for the semi-pro Redwood City Ramblers. He served as a president of the Gator Gridiron Club and was an active fundraiser for scholarships and other SF State causes. He was inducted into the SF State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

Bernard Goldstein

Bernard “Bernie” Goldstein (B.A., ’62; M.A., ’64) was both a proud SF State graduate and a popular, pioneering faculty member. As a professor of biology with the University in 1970, he introduced a groundbreaking course on human sexuality that was available for years and drew students in droves. He was the University’s Alumnus of the Year in 1986 and received the President’s Medal in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Estelle Goldstein (B.A., ’62; Teaching Credential, ’63), whom he met at SF State in the 1950s.

Pat Medina (B.A., ’62) worked as a school teacher for many years before beginning a second career as a paralegal. Hired as a paralegal instructor for SF State’s College of Extended Learning, she went on to become director of the school’s Paralegal Studies Program.

Marcia Perlstein (M.A., ’69) was the founder of San Francisco’s Opportunity High School for troubled youths and the Alternative Family Project for gays and lesbians seeking to become parents. A psychotherapist and writer, she was also active as a volunteer and organizer with many other LGBTQ- and AIDS-related service groups. 

Doris Ward (M.A., ’74) was elected to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1979 and went on to become the first black member to serve as board president. After leaving the board in 1992 she became county assessor-recorder.

Jack Lucey (B.A., ’82) was an award-winning Marin Independent Journal illustrator and cartoonist, working at the newspaper from 1956 until his retirement in 1989.

Francesca Rosa (B.A., ’82; M.A., ’01) passed away in late 2016 from pancreatic cancer. A passionate activist for social justice, she was also the author of three books.

Barbara Joan Randolph (M.A., ’98) enrolled in creative writing classes at SF State after retiring from her job as a court clerk. When she received her diploma, she was the oldest student in the graduating class. She passed away in January at the age of 92.

Shane Colombo (B.A., ’16) was killed in early September when he was caught in the crossfire of a gun battle on the streets of Chicago. Colombo had just moved to the area so that he could begin his Ph.D. studies in psychology at nearby Northwestern University.