Class Notes


MAELEY TOM (B.A., ’62) has written a memoir about her decades of work in the California legislature. “I’m Not Who You Think I Am: An Asian Woman’s Political Journey” covers Tom’s 20 years as the chief administrative officer of the California Assembly under Speaker WILLIE BROWN JR. (B.A, ’55), her stint as chief of staff to California Senate President Pro Tem David Roberti and other career highlights.

RITA ELLEN STONE CREANE (B.A., ’63; GENERAL SECONDARY CREDENTIAL, ’65) has joined the board of directors of “Kid Scoop News,” a nonprofit publisher that creates and distributes a monthly news magazine to low-income children. Creane also writes marketing communications for “Kid Scoop,” a weekly children’s feature syndicated to more than 300 newspapers. After graduating and teaching high school journalism in California, Creane held marketing positions at the Daily Breeze newspaper in Torrance, California; Random House Publishing Company; and The New York Times. She’s published freelance articles in a variety of newspapers and co-authored the book “Musical Women Marines — The United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve Band in World War II.” For the past 14 years, she has taught English as a Second Language in Connecticut.

DONALD MCPHAIL (B.A., ’66) has added to his Duff Malone travel adventure series with his antiwar, antiracism novel “The Guest from Johannesburg” (Plain Style Press). McPhail graduated in International Relations and says his experience as a travel executive contributed to his depictions of Japanese-American internment after Pearl Harbor and apartheid in South Africa, both of which are woven into the novel. A memorable ’70s campus protest in the book is situated on the SF State campus.

EDWARD LARIOS (B.A., ’69) was named Assistant Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association. Larios has been an assistant football coach at Sacred Heart Prep in San Francisco for the last seven seasons. He played as a professional for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in the late 1960s.


WILL LIGHTBOURNE (B.A., ’71) is the new director of the California Department of Health Care Services.

ALBERT LORD (B.A., ’75) is an Emmy-winning sound editor who has curated and produced African American Heritage Month exhibits for the city of Los Angeles since 2006. This year’s exhibit, “Stand Up: The Art and Politics of Comedy,” focused on the huge cultural impact of Black comedians.

MARY LEA CARROLL (B.A., ’77) has written a sequel to her award-winning 2019 book “Saint Everywhere: Travels in Search of the Lady Saints” (Prospect Park Books). “Somehow Saints: More Travels in Search of the Saintly” (Prospect Park Books) once again documents Carroll’s experiences as she jets around the world visiting the hometowns and shrines of women and men whose faith changed the world.

SUSAN E. GREISEN (B.S.N., ’78) has published a memoir, “In Search of Pink Flamingos: A Woman’s Quest for Forgiveness and Unconditional Love” (Sidekick Press), which explores how she went from being a Nebraska farm girl to serving with the Peace Corps in Liberia. Greisen is a published poet and author whose photographs have been featured on BBC News online. Learn more about her and her memoir at

JOAN GELFAND (B.A., ’78) is an award-winning poet who just published her first novel, the Silicon Valley thriller “Extreme” (Blue Light Press). The former president of the Women’s National Book Association, Gelfand is also the author of the how-to book “You Can Be a Winning Writer” (Mango).

VINCE RIOS (M.A., ’79) lost both legs and his right arm to a concealed landmine explosion during the Vietnam War. With medical assistance from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) he recovered from his wounds, underwent physical and occupational therapy, and was fitted with prosthetic devices. With grants from the VA he purchased and modified an automobile, built a wheelchair-accessible home and completed a master’s program at SF State. That SF State degree led to a lifetime career as a federal representative covering the Western United States, American Samoa and Micronesia (Trust Territories). He retired in 2001.


JOHN CASTALDI (MBA, ’85) just completed three years as general manager of the Reno office of the firm Lee Hecht Harrison, which specializes in outplacement services and talent development. Castaldi and his wife live in southwest Reno, where he volunteers as a mentor with Big Brothers/Big Sisters and as a board member of his homeowners association.

PETER GAMEZ (B.A., ’89) is a hospitality consultant and one of the world’s top experts on boutique lifestyle hotels. He recently served as chair of the group San Francisco Travel, working with other industry leaders to help the city’s hospitality and tourism trades weather the COVID-19 crisis.


CAL OREY (M.A., ’90) has a new addition to her long-running series of Healing Powers books for Kensington. The newest entry, “The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices: A Complete Guide to Nature’s Timeless Treasures,” comes out Dec. 29.

SHIMON ATTIE (MFA, ’91) is one of 10 artists in a large virtual exhibition, “Dis/placements: Revisitations of Home,” presented by the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. “Dis/placements” features artists whose works deal with issues of displacement from their ancestral homeland in various capacities. The exhibition can be viewed on the Halsey Institute website through Dec. 12.

DEBÓRAH ELIEZER (B.A., ’92) is the new artistic director for the foolsFURY Theater Company in San Francisco.

ARNALDO LOPEZ (B.S., ’93) has joined computer security provider McAfee as VP, global pre-sales and sales engineering.

JULIE SHAYNE (B.A., ’93; M.A., ’95) gives a shout-out to SF State’s Department of Women and Gender Studies in her newest book, “Persistence is Resistance: Celebrating 50 Years of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies.” A teaching professor at the University of Washington Bothell and faculty coordinator of the Gender, Women & Sexuality program there, Shayne says that SF State’s gender studies program “raised the bar for the whole field.”

BARBARA MCVEIGH (B.A., ’94) is the producer of the documentary “The Man Behind the Guitar,” which looks at the life and legacy of Brazilian guitarist José Neto. The film was named best biopic at the Alwar International Film Festival in India. Two other former SF State students were instrumental in the production of the film: MARGOT VAN RIPER served as a writer and media relations and production manager, while KIMBERLY BLUM (B.A., ’15) assisted with fundraising and location filming. Learn more at

DAVID PENDERY (B.A., ’95) is an associate professor at National Taipei University of Business. His book “Taiwan — A Light in the East: A Personal and Analytical Taiwan Study” (Palgrave Macmillan) was released in October. The book looks at the history, politics and culture of Taiwan, including its response to the current pandemic crisis.


MINJUNG SEO (M.A., ’01) went on to complete a dual Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Gerontology at Purdue University after leaving SF State. Today she is an associate professor in the Health Promotion and Wellness Department at State University of New York at Oswego and serves as the university’s Health Science minor coordinator.

FRANCISCO DURÁN (M.A., ’02) is the new superintendent for Arlington County Public Schools in Virginia.

CAREN ANN APPEL-SLINGBAUM (M.A., ’03) is the author of the cozy mystery “To Kill a Mocking Girl (Crooked Lane Books). Published under the pen name Harper Kincaid, the novel was called “a winner” by Publishers Weekly. A sequel, “A Midsummer Night’s Scheme,” will come out in May.

BRANDON LEE (ATTENDED ’03-’08) is still recovering from gunshot wounds he received in the Philippines last year. At the time of the shooting, Lee was in the country working as a journalist and advocate for indigenous rights and the environment, leading to suspicion that the shooting was politically motivated.  Lee’s assailants remain at large, and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has passed a resolution calling for the suspension of aid to the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte until the perpetrators are brought to justice. Lee, who’s paralyzed from the chest down due to his injuries, has returned to the U.S. but has had difficulty finding suitable housing for himself and his family. A GoFundMe campaign on his behalf can be found at

RYAN ACETO (B.A., ’05) was recently included on Billboard Magazine’s 2020 Pride List, which recognizes the top LGBTQ executives in the music industry. The company Aceto founded, AMMO Management, has helped build the careers of many independent recording artists. In 2019, it merged with a larger management company, Producer Entertainment Group. Aceto has also been selected for membership in the Recording Academy, the music industry organization that gives out the Grammy Awards.

LESLYE TINSON (B.A., ’05; M.S., ’11) was reappointed by Governor Newsom to the California Private Security Disciplinary Review Committee, North. She had previously served a four-year term under Governor Brown.

KIM MUNSON (B.A., ’06; M.A., ’08) is the editor of the anthology “Comic Art in Museums” (University Press of Mississippi), the first academic book to explore the evolution of thought about comic art as manifested in art exhibitions. With Trina Robbins, Munson co-curated “Women in Comics: Looking Forward and Back,” an exhibition of over 200 pieces of original artwork by women cartoonists in all genres from 1910 to the present at New York’s Society of Illustrators Museum of Illustration this fall.

JARED LEDESMA, (B.A., ’07; M.A., ’09) has been promoted from assistant curator to associate curator at the Des Moines Art Center in Iowa.

HECTOR SOTO (M.A., ’08) is the new principal of Cali Calmécac Language Academy in Windsor, California.

PHILIP (CHI CHUNG) PUN (B.S.,’09) recently moved back to the Bay Area and joined the winery Penrose Hill as controller, using algorithms to match wines to customer’s tastes. Before joining Penrose Hill he spent a year as assistant controller at specialty chocolate maker Kiva Confections.


MICHAEL GALLAGHER (EDD, ’11) has been appointed superintendent of the Sunnyvale School District.

SKYE MCLENNAN (B.A., ’11) is the new director of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

YUNO IMAI (B.A., ’12) has self-published two children’s books, “Trevor and Me” and “The Last Meal.” Both explore a difficult topic: coping with death. A Kickstarter campaign launched by Imai was recently selected by the crowdfunder to be spotlighted as a “Project We Love,” resulting in 101 backers and more than $6,800 in donations to cover the books’ publishing costs.

LEA GABAY (M.A., ’15) will serve as a Fulbright English teaching assistant in Turkey in the 2020-21 academic year. Gabay received her M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from SF State, maintaining a 4.0 GPA and receiving a Graduate Distinguished Achievement Award. She has worked as an English as Second Language instructor with SF State’s American Language Institute and served as a Fulbright English Language Fellow in Senegal. She plans to implement an innovative drama-based curriculum in her English classroom in Turkey and to research her roots among the Sephardic Jewish community there.

ALICIA R. MAYO (B.A., ’17) started a YouTube video show, “The Bay Area Mental Health Hour,” to help spread COVID-19 education in the African American community. Mayo is the program’s executive producer as well as the founder of her own company, ClariT Media.

Comic book cover, titled 'Titan'

Courtesy Simon & Schuster

A Giant Talent

Former SF State student FRANÇOIS VIGNEAULT says he’s drawn to science fiction for two reasons. First: Artists and writers can use the genre to create powerful metaphors that critique the world we live in. Second: ray guns and aliens!!!

“I talk about it in an intellectual way,” Vigneault says, “but I’m also a sucker for cool spaceships, laser swords and bizarre aliens.”

That mixture of big ideas and big fun can be found in “TITAN,” the science fiction web comic Vigneault published from 2013 to 2017. Recently republished in an updated print edition by Oni Press, “TITAN” tackles issues like class conflict, racism and revolution through a story about towering, genetically enhanced miners on one of Saturn’s moons.

“‘TITAN’ started with the simple, even silly idea ‘What if there were giant humans?’ but quickly turned into a way to explore some more complicated historical ideas,” says Vigneault, who studied English literature at SF State from 2008 to 2010. “For me that is the real power and attraction of science fiction as a genre — that it allows us to explore how our history affects our modern world.”

Vigneault left SF State to relocate to Portland with his then-partner. Later he moved again to Montreal, where today he is a busy freelance illustrator and designer. His other works include the French-language comic book series “13e Avenue,” and he’s been nominated for several prestigious awards, including the Joe Shuster Award for Best Cartoonist. That bodes well for his future in the field. Yet like just about everyone else these days, Vigneault still finds the future a bit daunting.

“I vacillate between feelings of hope and fear. I do think that in many ways the world is becoming a better place, and I have been amazed by the changes I have seen in my own lifetime,” he says. “For me, the thing to remember when I am worrying about the future is that the past was a scary place, too. The present is, as well. But I do have hope. It feels like people around the world are ready for a change.”

Illustration of the Earth and a barren landscape


Global Warning

The career of DEBRA FISCHER (M.S., ’92) tells a story of humanity looking outward to the stars. In her 20 years of searching, Fischer has discovered the existence of hundreds of far-flung planets, and as a professor at Yale University she now leads efforts to develop and refine the ever-more-precise tools necessary to look for distant worlds that might harbor life. Yet when asked to consider humanity’s future, her gaze turns toward a more familiar planet: our own.

“There’s no place like home,” she says. “Everything I’ve worked for for 20 years means nothing if we don’t save this planet.”

Fischer, along with SF State Professor of Astronomy Adrienne Cool, was among a group of concerned planetary scientists who last year formed the advocacy organization Astronomers for Planet Earth — A4E for short — to highlight the need to care for our own embattled planet. That message resonated with other astronomers, and the group now boasts more than 400 members, including three Nobel Laureates.

Fischer and the rest of A4E’s leadership are spreading their message by encouraging other astronomers to work climate change into their own lesson plans, collecting and distributing educational materials and urging the public to vote for political candidates who make tackling climate change a priority.

Though Fischer plans to continue her search for life-bearing planets elsewhere in the galaxy, her mission now includes another perspective. When Earth is viewed from space, she says, it impresses upon the viewer just how much humanity can influence our planet’s future — for better or for worse. “You just see this tiny layer of atmosphere around the planet, and it’s easy to understand how fragile it is,” Fischer explains. “That’s the perspective that we want to bring to this project.”


Two people sitting out of the back of a car, one with a guitar

Amira Maxwell Photography

A High Note During the Pandemic

Singer and alumna RACHEL GARCIA (B.A., ’08) says the idea for the Songmobile came to her in the middle of the night. The concept was simple: Get in a car, drive to the homes of fans and play short concerts from the car, all while observing physical distancing recommendations. Soon after Garcia’s brainstorm, she and THU TRAN (B.A., ’08), the other half of the musical duo The Singer and The Songwriter, made it a reality. In the first weeks of the Bay Area’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place order, they played 52 mini-concerts. It was the perfect cure for listeners’ stay-at-home blues, Garcia says.

“We’d pull up to someone’s house, and they’d be sitting in their lawn chairs or in their garage with popcorn,” says Garcia, who met Tran when they were both theatre arts students. “Some put up signs that their kids made. One family hung up a disco ball. The Songmobile ended up being a fun thing that families could get excited about together. It created a sense of occasion.”

The Petaluma band has since moved operations online for safety reasons. People can still book private concerts — paying with whatever donation they’re comfortable with — but the duo now performs via Zoom instead of from their car. It’s a small dose of solace, connection and joy during an uncertain time, Garcia says.

You can hear The Singer and The Songwriter’s new single, “Blues Run the Game,” or book your own private concert at

Woman in business attire

Art Trek

When CAMILLE EDEN transferred to SF State from Diablo Valley College in the late 1980s, she thought she was training to be an artist … though she didn’t know what that would actually mean after graduation. She just loved drawing. A career? A future? That she hadn’t figured out. Then one of Eden’s classes — a course that emphasized interdisciplinary arts — changed everything.

“It was in that class that I found out you could draw and make a living, because a [movie] art director sketches,” Eden recalls. “At that point I shifted from art to film.”

A few years later, Eden got in the door at renowned special effects house Industrial Light & Magic thanks to a fellow Gator. “BRIDGET GOODMAN (B.A., ’92), was a receptionist there, though later she became a phenomenal digital painter,” Eden says. “She kept telling me, ‘Keep applying.’ And when I got hired I started as a coordinator in their security department.”

Eden eventually parlayed that access into a long career as a visual effects artist. In the early 2000s, she shifted from hands-on production to artist recruitment. After spending nine years as a talent acquisition and outreach manager at Walt Disney Animation Studios, she recently joined Nickelodeon as its VP of animation recruitment and development. Now she’s the one opening the door for young artists hoping to jump-start their careers by working on Nickelodeon shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and the upcoming animated “Star Trek” spinoff “Prodigy.”

“When I started, I didn’t see as many women or people of color or people with disabilities in the industry,” Eden says. “Doing something about that is a passion of mine. I want to keep moving the industry forward.”

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In Memoriam

Michael McClure


“We are the hurdles we leap to be ourselves.”

—Michael McClure

STEVE TOFANELLI studied theatre and makeup at SF State in the 1950s before achieving fame as one of Hollywood’s premier makeup artists under a slightly different name: Steve Tofanetti. Tofanelli/Tofanetti worked with some of the biggest stars in the film industry — Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Ingrid Bergman among them — but later gave up hands-on makeup work in favor of a career as a cosmetics marketing executive. He passed away in Sacramento at the age of 81.

MICHAEL MCCLURE (B.A., ’55) came to San Francisco to be a painter but shifted gears to study under poet Robert Duncan at SF State instead. Not long afterward, McClure was present at one of the seminal moments of modern poetry history: the famous 1955 San Francisco Six Gallery reading at which Allen Ginsberg debuted “Howl.” McClure performed that night, as well, and by the end of his career he’d penned 14 books of poetry, eight books of plays and four essay collections.

JERRY SLICK (B.A., ’65) founded the rock band the Great Society soon after graduating from SF State’s film program. Though the band never broke big, a song written for it by Slick’s then-wife Grace — “White Rabbit” — became an iconic hippie anthem after she began performing it with Jefferson Airplane. Jerry Slick founded a production company with his second wife, filmmaker Wendy Blair, and created promotional films and documentaries when not pursuing his other passion: amateur auto racing.

RON ZISKIN (B.A., ’73) got his start producing the local morning talk show “AM San Francisco,” hosted by Maury Povich. A move to Los Angeles to produce a version of the show with a different host — Regis Philbin — launched a long, successful career in Hollywood. He went on to develop and produce dozens of projects, including “American Gladiators” and the film “Stealing Sinatra.”

TERRY CANNON (B.A., ’74) founded the Baseball Reliquary, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering appreciation of American culture through exploration of the national pastime. Based in Southern California, the Reliquary sponsors exhibitions and honors individuals who work to preserve baseball history. Cannon did plenty to preserve it himself, and no bit of baseball ephemera was too strange for him: The Reliquary’s collection includes a hot dog partially eaten by Babe Ruth. A lover of experimental cinema, Cannon also founded Pasadena Filmforum, which continues today as the Los Angeles Filmforum.

SAEB EREKAT (B.A., ’77; M.A., ’79) died in Jerusalem in November from complications of COVID-19. The recipient of both undergraduate and graduate degrees in International Relations from SF State, Erekat served for decades as the chief Palestinian negotiator in talks with Israel and other nations. While at SF State he was a teaching assistant and president of the Arab Students Association.

CINDY SIEGEL SHEPLER (B.A., ’84) was an executive for the Cigna health insurance company before medical issues forced her into early retirement. A long battle with a variety of painful, incurable conditions followed. Earlier this year, Shepler traveled to Switzerland and ended her life. A lengthy article about her decision by CNN Associate Producer Ryan Prior can be found on the news network’s website.

RACHEAL KASULE (B.A., ’06) passed away March 2 in Atlanta. After receiving her degree in history from SF State, she went on to earn a Master of Education from Walden University. She loved travel and languages and spent several years teaching English to speakers of German.

NATASHA OTT (MSW, ’13) was serving the New Orleans HIV-positive community as a social worker when she passed away from complications related to COVID-19. Before moving to Louisiana, she worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Togo.