Eleven Cal Poly Pomona graduates, ranging from a high-ranking aide to the Los Angeles mayor to a longtime aerospace executive to the head trainer of the legendary Lakers basketball franchise, were honored with the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2017.
The award is the highest honor given by the Alumni Association and recognizes individuals who demonstrate distinguished professional achievement, community involvement and service to the university. They were honored at a ceremony on April 28 at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to W.B. “Butch” Lindley. Ron Simons (’64, agronomy; ’68, food marketing), who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement in 1996, was on hand to lead the applause for Lindley. This is only the second time in 57 years that the Alumni Association has bestowed a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Videos of the Distinguished Alumni Award honorees can be seen by clicking on their name.
W.B. “Butch” Lindley (’67, agronomy): The recipient of the Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award has been involved in agriculture throughout his professional career. Lindley and his wife, Vivien, set up the Wilford B. and Vivien Lindley Endowment, which benefits the Don B. Huntley College of Agriculture. Lindley is a member of the university’s Founders’ Society and the Kellogg/Voorhis Heritage Society. In addition, he has been a member of the Alumni Association’s Rose Float Chapter for more than 40 years.
Jason Bernard (’00, history): Manager of Progressive Orthopedic Solutions in Santa Fe Springs, which distributes orthopedic products in California and several other states. Scholarships paved the way for him to excel in the classroom and on the soccer field. He started an endowment to help student-athletes and funded a scholarship for men’s soccer. “I am blessed to have had the opportunity to gain an education. Now, I feel an obligation to give opportunities back to those who need help.”
Sergio Chavez (’12, master’s in educational leadership): The principal at Fontana Middle School since 2012, he supervises the academic, behavioral, and emotional development and growth of almost 1,200 students, as well as the professional development of nearly 100 faculty and staff members. Growing up in San Diego, he envisioned himself as a game-changer. “I knew I wanted to make an impact on the lives of students as they pursued their education.”
Jeff Durham (’89, hotel and restaurant management) and Joey Wolosz (’92, hotel and restaurant management): Stalwarts and lifelong members of the hospitality industry, they founded The Passport Group, the premier full-service hospitality real estate brokerage firm in California; opened Gentleman Farmer Winery in the Napa Valley; founded The Redwood Riverwalk Hotel in Humboldt County; and started Haversack Hospitality, which manages properties ranging from full-service locales to classic American motels.
Richard Frencer (’67, agronomy): He spent 30 years working with agricultural consulting firms Union Carbide, Rhone Poulenc AG Co. and Bayer Ag, and as an independent food production professional. During a distinguished career, he was honored with numerous national awards for outstanding sales. Frencer is involved with the Boise Valley Fly Fishers Association and is a staunch supporter of Henry’s Fork Foundation in Ashton, Idaho, which seeks to protect the natural resources of the river ecosystem.
Linda Lopez (’92, political science): As chief of the Office of Immigrant Affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, she has a strong voice in the state and national discussion on immigration policy. She also has been an associate dean at USC; program officer with the National Science Foundation; director for education and professional development programs with the American Political Science Association; and assistant professor of political science and director of the Legal Studies Program at Chapman University.
Marco Nunez (’01, kinesiology): Head athletic trainer of the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the storied teams in the NBA. Nunez has been able to turn his love of sports into a career, working as a trainer in the Arena Football League, the WNBA, the NBA’s developmental league and the collegiate level. He also worked as an assistant trainer at the 2011 NBA All-Star game and was involved in the movie remake of “The Longest Yard.”
Clark Rucker (’83, engineering technology): Senior manager/director of Phantom Works Quality at The Boeing Company in Huntington Beach. His 37-year aerospace career includes high-ranking positions at General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and McDonnell Douglas/Boeing. For the past 14 years, Rucker also has given back to the next generation of scientists, working with high school students, mentoring robotics clubs, offering advice about college and internships, and assisting college students with resume-building and career advice.
Danielle Takata (’01, graphic design): Co-founder and creative director at Dreambox Creations, the leading digital marketing firm for the restaurant industry. Takata was a sophomore when she and six other students created the company. She cites her peers and professors in contributing to her personal development and success. “Cal Poly Pomona is full of creative minds and problem-solvers who really helped us steer the company in the right direction even at such a young age.”
Pawan Tomkoria (’84, master’s in business administration): Owner and managing director of Pnab Advisors, LLC, a national financial advisory firm. He finds time to stay connected with his alma mater as an adjunct professor, teaching finance and international management in the College of Business Administration. He praised Cal Poly Pomona’s polytechnic approach as the catalyst for his professional success. “On a broader level, the openness and accessibility of faculty when I was a student were very supportive.”