Power for Puerto Rico

When Hurricane Maria unleashed her wrath on Puerto Rico in September 2017, she left catastrophic loss of life and infrastructure in her wake.

“For those of us who call it home, it’s devastating,” said Chris Friedland (Political Science, ’99), who moved to the territory three years ago.

As the government scrambled to restore access to fuel, food, and clean water, the power grid was devastated. Within days, the founder and former CEO of Build.com and his wife, Melissa, had established Power for Puerto Rico, aiming to buy low-cost, high-quality generators to provide power to those most desperately in need. To date, they have raised more than $200,000 and donated an additional $100,000 of their own funds to buy and deliver 290 generators for free.

The generators meet more than basic needs such as lighting and refrigeration. They support wells to provide potable water, fuel kitchens to feed the hungry, and power medical devices for those with severe health conditions. They have helped vulnerable populations from children to the elderly in remote areas of the island, including a couple that cooks meals for 300 families.

Eight months after the initial devastation, people continue to live without power with no estimate of restoration. The bright light of Power for Puerto Rico was “the right thing to do,” Friedland said.


HOWARD KIRKPATRICK (Business Administration, ’61), retired owner of Northern California Insurance Services in Redding, wrote his first book Coming Home. Published in 2013, this story of international intrigue draws on his memories of his own military experience and his brother’s Air Force flying exploits. It takes place primarily in Russia during the Cold War and follows a Navy pilot who ejects from his aircraft over Siberia. Kirkpatrick enjoyed writing this book in his retirement. His wife, JACQUELINE (HENDRIX) KIRKPATRICK (Education, ’56; Credential, ’56), died June 4, 2016. She is survived by Howard, four daughters, nine grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. They miss her greatly.

DON CARLSEN (Accounting, ’69)

DON CARLSEN (Accounting, ’69)

DON CARLSEN (Accounting, ’69) retired after 31 years of working in education and 24 years as a well-regarded NFL official. Carlsen, a former Wildcats running back and 1998 Chico State Hall of Fame inductee, enjoys being a driving force to reconnect athletes from long-gone sports. He said, “We hope to see many ex-football players and ruggers” at two upcoming reunions in Chico: 2018 Chico State Football Reunion on JULY 20–21, events include golf, happy hours, and a banquet. For more information, visit Chico State Football Reunion on Facebook or contact Carlos Jacobo at 707-888-4894; 50-year Rugby Reunion on October 6, festivities include men’s and women’s alumni games, happy hour, and barbeque at Chico Elks Lodge. For more information, visit 50 Years of Chico Rugby on Facebook or contact Charles Cadet at 530-228-3438.

STEVE SCHILLING (Business Administration, ’69) opened Clinica Sierra Vista out of a trailer near a field of plums southeast of Bakersfield in 1971 with the then-radical belief that everyone is entitled to quality health care. Today it is the fourth-largest community health center system in the United States, serving a patient population of more than 200,000 at 75 locations in Fresno, Kern, and Inyo counties. Schilling—Clinica’s CEO, a former Peace Corps volunteer, and self-admitted idealist—has served for more than 20 years on advisory boards for master’s degree programs at CSU Bakersfield, and is a frequent guest speaker. In June 2016, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the CSU Board of Trustees.


JUDITH RIVAS DAL PORTO (Child Development, ’74) obtained an MA in early childhood education from Chapman University while working at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria. She was a professor and coordinator in the Department of Early Childhood Studies and the pre-K teacher in the campus children’s center lab school for 37 years before retiring. She is also a Make-A-Wish grant interviewer and court-appointed special advocate, which she will continue in retirement. With her new free time, she plans to travel, hike in state and national parks, and spend time with her husband, two sons, granddaughter, and two godsons.

GARY SCHRECK (Special Major, ’77) retired from the St. Lucie County School District in Florida in 2015 to pursue helping children beyond the constraints of public school support. Schreck is the founder and managing director of Haven Street—A Place for Kids and Teens in Okeechobee, Florida. He and his staff of volunteer mentors seek to meet the social, emotional, and educational needs of children, as well as provide support for parents. He is also active in church, where he teaches children during special services and plays the keyboard in the band. He enjoys returning to Chico to visit his sister and nieces.

LAURA (NUNNENKAMP) LOPEZ (Information and Communication Studies, ’79) moved to Bonn, Germany, in February 2017. She works as director of conference affairs services for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

JOHN MCKALIP (Social Science, ’79; MA, Social Science, ’92) retired in June 2017 after teaching social science for 37 years at Paradise and Colusa High Schools. He lives in Chico and looks forward to more time for running, camping, backpacking, reading, and genealogy.


STEVE DRESLER (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, ’80)

STEVE DRESLER (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, ’80)

STEVE DRESLER (Biological Sciences, Chemistry, ’80) retired after 34 hoppin’ years overseeing the development and production of almost every new beer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company on June 1, 2017. In August, he was honored with a knighthood in the International Order of the Hop, established all the way back in 1371, making him the first American brewmaster to receive the award—an honor he defined as “easily one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of my career.”

ROBERT GRINDY (English, ’82) wrote the book Iced, published in December by Livingston Press. The comic murder-mystery features a writing teacher who steals a dead student’s story. Grindy works as an English professor at Richland Community College in Decatur, Illinois, where he lives with his wife, Rosemarie King, and raised two children.

MATTHEW DEAN (Business Administration, Computer Science, ’85; MS, Computer Science, ’95) served eight years on Campbell City Council from 1996–2004 with stints as vice mayor in 1999 and mayor in 2000. Since 2006, he has been a member of the Campbell Union High School District School Board, including three years as board president. He lives in Campbell, with wife JAYNA DEAN (Nursing, ’83), a charge nurse for Kaiser Permanente, and they have five kids, all grown and doing well.

TODD BENSON (Recreation Administration, ’86) is the northwest director of fleet and family readiness programs for the US Navy Federal Service, and previously served as department head director for the US Navy’s morale, welfare, and recreation and fleet and family support programs. He has traveled the world and supported the dedicated US military personnel and families in the state of Washington, Scotland, Spain, and Italy for the past 32 years. His duties include oversight of recreation, hospitality, lodging, clinical counseling, and Wounded Warrior Safe Harbor. He also manages all support services, from human resources to communications.

TODD FURMAN (Philosophy, ’86) is a professor of philosophy at McNeese State University in Louisiana and holds the Murphy/Leaton Professorship in Teaching Excellence. His winning hand includes recent publications: The Ethics of Poker, published by McFarland in August 2017; “Honor Among Thieves: Ethics in Poker,” published in The Philosophers’ Magazine, Vol. 80; and “Applied Behavior Analysis: Definitional Difficulties,” published in the journal The Psychological Record. Furman and his wife have three children.

CHRISTOPHER HALL (Chemistry, ’88)

CHRISTOPHER HALL (Chemistry, ’88)

CHRISTOPHER HALL (Chemistry, ’88) wrote the book Ward of the Court, published by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform in March. The memoir details his efforts to “pull himself up from his bootstraps from the blue-collar streets of Watts and Compton, California, to the threshold of an immensely promising medical career.”


LAURA SALTER (Child Development, ’91) works as the director for Signal Peak Early Learning Center. As a seasoned child development professional, she was recently highlighted in the article “Anti-Bias Early Education and Holiday Celebrations: Staying Neutral,” published by the Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children.

NORA “STERRIN” BIRD (Journalism, ’94) has had a robust career in philanthropy spanning more than 25 years. She recently accepted the position of chief development officer for United Way Bay Area, working to combat the region’s growing poverty. She also works closely with colleagues at United Way Worldwide and with its innovation partner, Salesforce, to launch the Philanthropy Cloud, which will create a marketplace for people to connect to causes they care about.

DAN MICHIE (Business Administration, ’94) spent 18 years in the tractor business with Caterpillar dealers before he made the move to software. He is now senior vice president for the business consulting firm ClearPath Business Advisors in Pleasanton. He chuckles while remembering the “old saying about Chico graduates being well-rounded” because it’s “so true!” and credits his current job opportunity to his diverse experiences and skill set. He looks forward to hiring fellow Wildcats as consultants. Michie is part of Active Charity, a nonprofit that was founded in 2005 by four Chico State alums who have since raised over $4 million for worthy causes!

MICHELLE SCULLY (MS, Biological Sciences, ’95)

MICHELLE SCULLY (MS, Biological Sciences, ’95)

MICHELLE SCULLY (MS, Biological Sciences, ’95) wrote her first book, Broken: Tales of a Titanium Cowgirl, published in August 2017 by Spinning Sevens Press. The book shares the journey of her calamitous riding accident, devastating injury, and the journey that followed—an adventure of wreck, wonder, and recovery filled with tales of horses, brokenness, faith, dogs, nature, riding, and, most importantly, redemption.


DANIEL FERRERE (MBA, ’00) was promoted to plant controller for the restart of Huber Engineered Woods plant in Spring City, Tennessee. He and his wife, Jeanne, live in Soddy Daisy, Tennessee.

ELIZABYTH HISCOX (English, ’01) wrote the poetry collection Reassurance in Negative Space, published this year by Word Galaxy Press, an imprint of Able Muse. Her “tightly, urgently made” poetry drips with double meaning and wordplay that covers an array of unexpected subjects, such as “art, loss, and ecology, reindeer moss, and netsuke, and the precariousness of 1950s high-heeled bedroom slippers.” Hiscox, an assistant professor at Western State Colorado University, is also founding director of the Contemporary Writer Series and associate editor of Western Press Books.

ORLANDO JACOBO (Attended, 1997–2002) recently visited Chico State for the first time in more than a decade. Since his time as a student, he has become healthier and has focused on being a good citizen, “just like a Boy Scout.” He still admires the residents of Butte County and keeps good relations with the Chico community. He believes all Chico State students “deserve a big smile and sense of happiness.”

JEFF CLIFTON (Special Major, ’03) took an unpaid internship after nine months of applying for jobs after graduation. He later worked at several boutique animation studios, eventually finding himself at Ternion Pictures, a mini-major production studio. After starting an internship called Crab Cove for Chico State students, he supervised and mentored 56 Wildcats over eight semesters. Fifteen years later, Clifton scored a job at DreamWorks Television and “could not be happier” that his collective experience landed him where he feels he belongs. He wishes every graduate the best of luck and said his favorite fortune cookie quote is, “Dreams will always prevail over reality, when given the chance.” It inspired him during his interview process at DreamWorks, and he hopes it will do the same for others.

KRISTIN CAPRITTO (Political Science, Philosophy, ’04)

KRISTIN CAPRITTO (Political Science, Philosophy, ’04)

KRISTIN CAPRITTO (Political Science, Philosophy, ’04), an attorney, was recognized at the 2017 Night to Honor Service in November for her service on the Eastern District Pro Bono Panel, which comprises volunteer attorneys available for appointment in prisoner civil rights cases. In addition to assisting prisoners in preparations for settlement conferences and mediations, Capritto is an associate at Downey Brand LLP in Sacramento.

ALLISON MAUDLIN (Communication Design, ’04) runs the marketing department for Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit education organization CenterPoint Education Solutions, which promotes equity in education and success for all students. She lives in Louisiana with her husband, TJ MAUDLIN (Journalism, ’04), who works at a company that makes high-end reclaimed wood products. They are excited to visit Chico in October for the Alpha Chi 100-year anniversary.

JOSHUA AKIN (Biological Sciences, ’05) recently completed his master’s degree in clinical research from UC San Diego and works as a clinical laboratory scientist for its Health Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine. He presented his thesis on a topic related to the opioid epidemic.

LESLIE BANES (Liberal Studies, ’06; MA, Education, ’10) is a post-doctoral fellow at UC Davis researching assessment practices for English learners with learning disabilities and teaching classes for future teachers after receiving her PhD in education from UC Davis in 2017. She married LEWIS FELVER (Mathematics, ’07) in 2009. Felver received an MS in mathematics from Cal State East Bay and teaches at Woodland Community College. They live in Sacramento and have a young son.

ALYSSA GRASSO (Psychology, ’06) has been working in healthcare since graduation. She is learning how to develop and implement reimbursement and market access strategies for medical device, pharmaceutical, and molecular diagnostic companies. She recently started her own consulting business and it’s going “extremely well.” She is getting married in June and hopes to buy her first home in San Diego by next year.

ROBERT TAGGART (International Relations, ’07) and AMELIA GULLING (English, ’08) married in June 2010 and have two young daughters, Avery and Zoe, and a baby on the way that Robert predicts will be “another girl.” Robert earned his MBA from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and Amelia received an MPA with an emphasis in nonprofit management from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Robert has worked with Maxim Healthcare Services since December 2011, managing a home health and healthcare staffing business in Reno. Amelia serves students and educators around the country while working for the Desert Research Institute as the K–12 STEM education manager.

NIKKI CURRY (Journalism, ’09)

NIKKI CURRY (Journalism, ’09)

NIKKI CURRY (Journalism, ’09) started Grace and Zen, a children’s school of yoga and dance, in Orange County in 2015. Students learn focus, balance, and social skills through yoga, ballet, dress-up, and art. Curry, who is not only the owner but also a teacher, is focusing on expanding her business. Namaste.

LUKE HAM (Religious Studies, ’09) is a senior pastor for the Church of the Wayfarer in Carmel-by-the-Sea, appointed by Bishop Minerva Carcano on July 1, 2017. He is also an ordained elder with the United Methodist Church and received his Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion. He and his wife, STEPHANIE (RAMUS) HAM (Liberal Studies, ’09; Credential, ’09) live in Carmel.

STEVE SOLDATI (Civil Engineering, ’09) moved to Orlando, Florida, to work for HNTB, a national engineering consulting company. For the last three years, he has worked at the Florida Turnpike Enterprise as a project manager responsible for managing multimillion-dollar projects and various programs.


ALONDRA ANAYA (Communication Design, ’17) worked at KHSL/KNVN for two years before landing a new job at the No. 4 television market in the nation. The forecast looks bright and sunny for this Wildcat, as she recently made the move to Philadelphia as Telemundo62’s new morning weather anchor.

ELIZABETH ANDERSON (Biochemistry, ’17) is attending medical school in Antigua and Barbuda at American University of Antigua: College of Medicine.

SAMANTHA (OELSNER) BAEZ (Kinesiology, ’10; MA, Kinesiology, ’12) taught and coached basketball at Delta College in Stockton before becoming a fitness manager for 24-Hour Fitness. She and her husband welcomed their first child, a daughter named Maryn, in November. Samantha has since started a commercial refrigeration business with her father. Having played Chico State basketball from 2007–09, she sends a “Go Wildcats!” cheer to all her fellow student-athletes.

JUSTIN FODOR (Business Administration, ’16) moved to Santiago de Chile two weeks after graduation in pursuit of the entrepreneurial opportunity he discovered while studying abroad there in 2015. Upon arrival, he was overwhelmed and frustrated by the unyielding presence of the smartphone and its hindrance of interpersonal connections, but his entrepreneurial instinct was piqued. He soon created Atrapuntos (Beta), a productivity app that provides rewards for keeping your phone locked. Fodor and his team have 43 businesses participating in a demo and are working with universities in Providencia in search of endorsements.

BRANDON FUGITT (Business Administration, ’16) began to work for TTi, Inc., who recruited him during a Chico State career fair. Fugitt has had three roles in two years with the company, from event marketing and sales in the field in Atlanta, to his promotion as sourcing agent for the corporate location in Greenville, South Carolina.

AUSTIN HUDDLESON (Psychology, ’15) and MEREDITH HUDDLESON (Liberal Studies, ’11)

AUSTIN HUDDLESON (Psychology, ’15) and MEREDITH HUDDLESON (Liberal Studies, ’11)

MEREDITH HUDDLESON (Liberal Studies, ’11) works as the records lead in the Office of the Registrar at Chico State and is on her way to an MA in interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on religious studies and literature. Her husband, AUSTIN HUDDLESON (Psychology, ’15), is an academic advisor for the College of Business. The couple met at Chico State while working in the testing office and married November 11 at Butte Creek Country Club. They share a love for travel and were able to head across the pond to England for their honeymoon.

SANDRA KAZANJIAN-GOSTANIAN (Credential, ’10) felt “honored to win” the Adapted Physical Education (APE) Teacher of the Year. She lives in Fresno, where she has been a full-time APE specialist for Madera County Office of Education since 2008. She also finds time to teach tennis lessons at Sunnyside Health and Tennis Club, volunteers as a wheelchair tennis instructor for Valley Children’s Hospital, and coaches multiple sports. Sandra’s greatest joy is spending time with her four children and grandchildren.

MARILYN SANDERS (Communications Studies, ’16) works as the senior executive assistant to the CEO for Wasatch Mental Health in Utah. She describes her decision to attend Chico State as one of her best and continues to use much of what she learned here in her job every day.

AUSTIN REDFERN (Public Relations, French, ’17)

AUSTIN REDFERN (Public Relations, French, ’17)

AUSTIN REDFERN (Public Relations, French, ’17) is the community manager for a French e-sports company based out of Station F—the largest startup campus in the world. Redfern works for BeatMe, which allows gamers to challenge others and earn rewards. He fell in love with Paris while studying abroad his junior year, sparking his dream to live there after graduation.

ELLEN SAMPSON (Biological Sciences, ’17) began an accelerated master’s program at Georgetown University in August 2017. In May, she will receive her master’s degree in physiology and biophysics and start medical school applications. There’s no stopping Sampson on her higher education quest, and she is “incredibly excited” to see where her degrees take her.


Where My ‘Cats At? Send a note and photo to classnotes@csuchico.edu showcasing your Wildcat spirit around the world or just a quick update on what you’ve been up to!

Fond Farewells

The University and Alumni Association note with sorrow the passing of our alumni, students, and colleagues.


Ellen (Martin) Boyer (Education, Credential, ’42)

Steven Dean Christensen (Liberal Studies, ’79, Credential, ’82)

Stacee (Rodrigues) Etcheber (Attended)

Elmo Franchi (Attended, 1957–59)

William “Bill” Grierson (Sociology, ’67)

Richard Hayden (Social Science, ’52; MA, Teaching Social Sciences, ’53; Credential, ’53)

Jacqueline (Hendrix) Kirkpatrick (Education, ’56; Credential, ’56)

Michael “Mike” McGrath (Business Administration, ’68)


Zachary Baggins, Computer Animation and Game Development

Brittni Frace, Exercise Physiology

Bryna “Brynn” Frace, Civil Engineering

Kyle LaForce, Mechanical Engineering

Tyler Van Rossen, Communication Studies

Faculty and Staff*

Estella “Jean” Denney (Health Science, ’72), Health and Community Services, 1972–2000

Charles “Chuck” Genthe, English, 1966–99

Ted Herrera, Nutrition and Food Science, 2013–18

Leo Kirchhoff, School of Education, 1968–2002

Donna Lewis, Meriam Library, 1969–94

Hede “Henry” Ma, Electrical and Computer Engineering, 2000–17

Ralph Morales, Nutrition and Food Science, 1986–92

James “Jim” Overholt, School of Education, 1970–2015

Ann Pierce, Art, 1964–89

Barbara Seawall, Meriam Library, 1970–85

William “Bill” Shrum, Speech and Hearing Clinic, 1977–94

Karen Sorsby, International Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, 1993–2016

Steve Stephens, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, 1963–94

Cecil Sumpter, Facilities Management and Services, 1968–87

* Years of service


Lynn Balmer (1907–2017)

Lynn Balmer (1907–2017)

Beulah “Lynn” Lemm Balmer (Credential, ’27) died December 9, 2017, at the age of 110. She was the oldest living Chico State alumna. After graduation from the Chico State Teacher’s College in 1927, she taught in Susanville for four years, leaving to earn a BA in mathematics and a secondary teaching credential from University of California, Berkeley. She went on to teach at Albany High School and served as head of its math department. In 1943, Balmer joined the US Coast Guard Women’s Reserve.

In 1945, she returned to teaching and finished her career in 1967 in Seattle, the city where she met her husband of 55 years, Charles. While in Seattle, a friend introduced her to ice skating, and it became a favorite hobby. She earned the US Figure Skating Association’s Bronze Award in ice dancing and qualified for the Olympics, but did not participate.