Commencement marks the completion of a degree, but it is also the beginning of life as an alumnus of the University.
In 2016, the Cal State LA Alumni Association organized two reunions and other special events to bring alumni together to reconnect, reflect, and share the many ways that the University has influenced their lives.
On Oct. 7, the Alumni Association hosted reunions for the Class of 1966 and Class of 1991.
Nearly 100 alumni and their guests gathered at Cal State LA to rekindle friendships and sustain their relationship with their alma mater. The event was a testament to the bonds of community and the lasting impact that a university experience can provide.
“Welcoming alumni back to the University inspired new connections and networking opportunities to support student success and foster university pride,” says Maria Ubago (’98, ’06 M.S.), executive director for Alumni Relations.
To kick off the celebration, alumni from the 1960s joined their former classmates at the Golden Eagle patio for a social gathering. Guests reminisced about the music, fashions and automobiles of the time while perusing Cal State LA yearbooks, photographs and memorabilia from the 1960s. For many, it was the first time back on campus since their graduation ceremony 50 or more years ago.
James Oaks and Nida Alex recalled taking engineering classes together in the late 1950s, when the University was comprised of just a few buildings scattered across the hillside terrain. They marveled at how the University had changed.
“Cal State LA was a real special time in all of our lives.” Félix Gutiérrez (’65),
As the guests entered the Golden Eagle Ballroom for lunch, they were welcomed with popular tunes from the 1960s performed live by a student band. Throughout the program, alumni mingled with their classmates and shared their fondest campus memories.
“Cal State LA was a real special time in all of our lives,” said Félix Gutiérrez (’65), who was the keynote speaker for the 50th Reunion. Gutiérrez, emeritus professor for journalism and communication at USC, credited Cal State LA with providing an affordable and quality education that prepared him for future success.
The 50th Reunion continued with the celebration of an important milestone. Alumni from the Class of 1966 were inducted into the University’s Half-Century Club, which honors alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago. Inductees proudly accepted the Half-Century Club lapel pin, symbolizing the history and legacy of Cal State LA.
“It was wonderful reminiscing with classmates and seeing others reconnect at this year’s reunions,” said Sylvia Martinez (’82, ’87 M.A.), president of the Cal State LA Alumni Association Board of Directors. “The alumni participation displays the lasting impression that a student’s experience at Cal State LA can make.”
The keynote speaker was Capri Maddox (’91, ’95 M.S.), who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in public administration. Maddox is a special assistant city attorney and senior advisor to Los Angeles City Attorney Michael N. Feuer.
“Thank you for building lives at Cal State LA,” Maddox said. “My life was built here.”
In September, alumni and their guests enjoyed an exciting night of dance performances accompanied by Conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Classical Thursdays at the Hollywood Bowl.
In August, they met at Dodger Stadium to cheer on the home team as they played the Chicago Cubs. Alumni enjoyed shaded seating, peanuts and Cracker Jack as they sported new Cal State LA baseball caps.
In March, the Alumni Association held a special reception in the City Hall rotunda, where they networked and learned about Cal State LA’s vision for the region.
The Alumni Association is committed to preserving the University’s traditions and building community among Cal State LA alumni.
“Cal State LA alumni strongly influence our University’s future. I encourage you to get involved with the Alumni Association and your alma mater so you can be part of these special events,” says Ubago.
Cal State LA congratulates the recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Awards
This year, we honored eight alumni whose accomplishments reflect the priorities of the University. We are welcoming and inclusive, we foster student success, we are committed to academic distinction and we promote engagement, service, and the public good.
Dr. Margaret Salazar-Porzio (’05)
Curator of Latina/o History and Culture, Smithsonian National Museum of American History
Distinguished Alumna, College of Arts and Letters
Dr. Margaret Salazar-Porzio is a curator of Latina/o history and culture in the Division of Home and Community Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Her areas of expertise include 20th century visual and material culture of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, race, citizenship and national identity in U.S. urban history and K-20 education.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Salazar-Porzio received a B.A. in liberal studies from Cal State LA in 2005, graduating summa cum laude. While at Cal State LA, Salazar-Porzio received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for her research on gender and Ballet Folklórico. She earned her master’s in 2008 and doctorate in 2010 in American studies and ethnicity at USC, and helped launch the USC Center for Diversity and Democracy while mentoring students within the School of Religion, the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán) and the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund. As chair of the Graduate Students of Color Network, she established a graduate studies forum aimed at undergraduates from Cal State Universities, including Cal State LA. The forum sought to cultivate leadership, civic engagement and advocacy skills, and encouraged race and class diversity in graduate and professional programs.
In 2011, she became an associate research scholar and lecturer at Columbia University Law School’s Center for Institutional and Social Change. During her time at Columbia, she guided a diverse group of students to completion of their degrees and mentored formerly incarcerated students who desired to finish their educations.
John M. Gerro (’74)
Real Estate Attorney, Law Offices of John M. Gerro
Distinguished Alumnus, College of Business and Economics
John M. Gerro is an attorney specializing in real property law. He owns and his company manages numerous commercial and residential properties. He has been an expert witness in real estate cases, acts as a mediator and arbitrator and has presented at real estate seminars to attorneys, brokers and real estate professionals. Gerro has also published several articles in such publications as Los Angeles Lawyer magazine, Real Property News, the State Bar Journal and Business Life. He has served in leadership roles for a number of organizations and boards, including the Association of Real Estate Attorneys, Themis Society, the Burbank Bar Association and the Lawyers Association of Los Angeles. He is the former chairperson for the Real Property Section, Finance Subsection, Los Angeles County Bar Association and for the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, Development Committee.
Gerro and his siblings are proud alumni of Cal State LA’s College of Business and Economics, where John received a B.S. in finance and real estate in 1974. While at Cal State LA, he served as president of the Finance Association. He went on to earn his J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law in 1977. Through Gerro’s leadership and generous support, the College of Business and Economics held its first Real Estate Symposium at Cal State LA in January 2017.
Gerro is married to Marsha, a pediatric medical doctor. They have two sons who are also licensed realtors. In his free time, Gerro enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music and playing the guitar.
Jorge Ramirez (’04)
President and Chief Executive Officer, Heateflex Corporation
Distinguished Alumnus, College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology
The eldest of four siblings, Jorge Ramirez was the first in his immediate family to graduate from high school and attend college. He came to Cal State LA to study electrical engineering, and in 1988 he found a job at Integrated Circuit Development Corporation through the University’s Career Development Center. In 1998, Ramirez bought the company with a group of investors, changed the name to Heateflex Corporation and is now president and CEO. Under his leadership, Heateflex Corporation has been included on the 2016 Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of Top Minority-Owned Companies and has made multiple appearances on the Hispanic Business 500 and the Inc. 5000 lists.
Ramirez completed a marketing certificate from Cal State LA, and went on to the University of Redlands to earn both his B.S. in business and management and his M.B.A. In 2004, he returned to Cal State LA to complete his B.S. in electrical engineering. Ramirez is a lifetime member and past president of the Cal State LA Alumni Association, and has served as an alumni mentor to students, a President’s Associates benefactor and a member of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology industrial advisory board. He is a board member of the Cal State LA Foundation, and in June 2010, he was invited to serve as commencement speaker.
Ramirez is married to Catherine McAfee, and they have two daughters. Together, they established the endowed Ramirez McAfee Scholarship at Cal State LA to support engineering students.
Pamela S. Duffy (’70)
Partner Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP
Distinguished Alumna, College of Natural and Social Sciences
Pamela S. Duffy is a senior real estate partner at Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP. She practices in the areas of commercial real estate, land use and development, with a special expertise in large public and private entity transactions. Duffy has acted as lead counsel for numerous major development projects, including the California Pacific Medical Center and the new San Francisco 49ers NFL stadium in Santa Clara. For over 20 years, she has been ranked as one of the best lawyers in America by Best Lawyers, and has been annually listed as a super lawyer in Northern California.
Duffy has served as a visiting lecturer at Yale, Harvard, UCLA, MIT, Stanford, the Practicing Law Institute, UC Berkeley, the University of Oregon, Southern Methodist University, the Urban Land Institute, the California Building Industry Foundation and other professional organizations. Currently, she teaches an undergraduate political science seminar at UC Berkeley.
Duffy serves on the board of the National Advisory Council of the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and has previously served on the boards of various institutions such as the International Museum of Women Advisory Committee, United Cerebral Palsy Association of San Francisco, and KQED, Inc.
In 1970, she graduated with honors from Cal State LA. During her time as a student, Duffy acted as senior class president and president of the School of Letters and Science, and was active with Educational Participation in Communities Program (EPIC). She earned her J.D., cum laude, in 1978 from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles.
Pamela Angerer Payne (’81, ’91, ’95, RN, NP)
Doctoral Student in Bioethics and Health Policy, Loyola University Chicago
Distinguished Alumna, College of Natural and Social SciencesDistinguished Alumna, Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services
Pamela Angerer Payne is a triple alumna of Cal State LA. She received a B.A. in history in 1981, a B.S. in nursing in 1991 and an M.S. in nursing in 1995. As a student she was president of the History Honors Society (Phi Alpha Theta), a member of the Nursing Students Association and a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. In 2016, she received her M.A. and is currently working towards her doctorate in bioethics and health policy at Loyola University, Chicago.
Upon completion of her B.S.N., Payne worked as a staff nurse in the Gynecologic Oncology unit at LAC-USC Medical Center, where she provided nursing care for women with gynecologic cancers. She was then made the nurse coordinator of the Breast Diagnostic Center at LAC-USC Women’s Hospital, and while in this position she co-authored two published medical research articles. Payne taught at the Cal State LA School of Nursing from 1996 to 2010, and recently retired after 20 years of practice as a board-certified women’s health nurse practitioner with HealthCare Partners Medical Group.
Payne maintains a strong connection to the University. In 2014, she and her husband John created the Pamela Angerer Payne Nursing Scholarship at Cal State LA to support registered nurses returning to complete their bachelor’s degrees. She and John share their home with several rescued cats and support a number of animal rescue and humane societies. When not busy with other work and church commitments, they enjoy reading, photography and attempting to play golf.
Paisley L. Kadison (’07)
Associate, Investment Funds Group, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Golden Eagle Award
Paisley L. Kadison graduated from Cal State LA in 2007 with a B.A. in English. While at the University, she was president of General Education Honors Club and served as a member of the Early Entrance Program, Phi Kappa Phi and Golden Key.
Kadison obtained a master’s in accounting and business taxation at USC. During her time at USC, Kadison served on the Leventhal School of Accounting Honor Council. She then matriculated at Stanford Law School, where she served in the Youth and Education Law Project of the Mills Legal Clinic. Kadison also acted as a site coordinator for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program and as treasurer of the Stanford Law Association. She graduated from Stanford Law School with pro bono distinction and received the Gerald Gunther Prize for Outstanding Performance in Venture Capital.
Kadison currently lives in Manhattan and works as an associate in the investment funds group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. She maintains an active pro bono practice and continues to advocate for the rights of disadvantaged youths. Since moving to New York, Kadison has served as a Young Fellow of the Morgan Library & Museum and is an active member of the Union League Club. Recreationally, Kadison harbors a passion for ski racing and trains with the Park City Masters Race Team. She grew up riding horses, and although she no longer rides competitively, she still takes every opportunity to ride for pleasure. She enjoys fly fishing, traveling and a continued interest in literature.
Gary J. Matus (’69)
Managing Director, RSR Partners
Alumnus of the Year
Gary J. Matus is a managing director with RSR Partners, a recruiting firm based in Greenwich, CT. He opened RSR’s California practice and conducts assignments for clients ranging from global Fortune 150 companies to start-ups and private equity-backed emerging companies.
Matus has served as a senior managing partner with Egon Zehnder International, as president, chief executive officer and member of the Board of Directors of Iwerks Entertainment, and as a partner with BeneVenture Capital Group. Prior to this, he was executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Bank of America, responsible for corporate marketing, product and brand management and the bank’s global entertainment and media portfolio. Matus began his career as a national brands product manager with Colgate Palmolive.
Matus received his B.A. in history and economics from Cal State LA in 1969, went on to earn an M.B.A. from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, and then completed the Director Education and Certification Program at UCLA. He served on the Governor’s Council on Information Technology, on the Advisory Board of Lasair Capital and as a trustee of Occidental College and Arizona State University. Matus is a former board member of the Cal State LA Alumni Association and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the College of Natural and Social Sciences in 2004. He remains active in the community and currently serves on the Cal State LA President’s Council and the Ketchum-Downtown YMCA Board of Managers. He resides in Pasadena, CA.
Photo 1: Alumni reminisce and look through a year book. Photo 2: Alumna Capri Maddox speaks at the 25th Reunion celebration. Photo 3: President William Covino welcomes alumni to a special reception in the City Hall.