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Alumni in the News - February 2011


Ag Grad Named Acting Director of Nevada Agriculture

Jim Barbee (M.S., Agriculture, 2000) was named acting director of the Nevada Department of Agriculture by Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval. Barbee currently serves as an agriculture consultant to the Nevada Department of Education.
Read more about Barbee in the Las Vegas Sun

Food & Wine

Fruit Science Alum Produces Top Santa Barbara Pinot Noir

During his time at Cal Poly, James Ontiveros (Fruit Science, 1999) started out as an animal science major but switched to crop and fruit science. The move paid off, with Ontiveros now making top Santa Barbara Pinot Noir under the Native9 and Alta Maria labels.
Read more about Ontiveros in the San Francisco Chronicle

IT Grad Revamps Old Pizza Joint into Unique Sports Grill

Jason Luke (B.S., Industrial Technology, 2002, and M.S., Industrial and Technical Studies, 2003) opened 463 Sports Grill next to Paso Bowl in Paso Robles on New Year's Day. Luke transformed a once dilapidated pizza joint into a sports fan’s retreat that includes two 160-inch projection screens.
Read more about Luke in the New Times

Twins Take the Cal Poly Approach to Winemaking

Nick Davis (B.S., Wine & Viticulture, 2008) and Brian Davis (Agribusiness and Wine & Viticulture, 2008) built their business, Twin Pomegranates, on Cal Poly's learn by doing motto. The company’s wine is now in 70 locations across California, and the brothers serve as their own distributors and operate without a traditional tasting room.
Read more about the Davis' in the Fresno Famous

Career Moves

Urban Planning Grad Appointed to Interim City Administrator

Stephen Albright (B.S., City and Regional Planning, 1973) has been appointed interim city administrator of Clearlake City, Calif. Albright was recently the city manager in Trinidad, Calif.
Read more about Albright in the Lake County News

Ag Business Grad Added to Ippolito International Sales Team

Mark Roth (B.S., Agricultural Business, 1985) has hired on to Ippolito International's sales team. Roth will handle sales for existing customers and will develop new business and commodity management. Based in Salinas, Calif., Ippolito International is a supplier of fresh brussels sprouts and other vegetables to California, Arizona and Mexico. Roth has more than 25 years experience in the produce industry.
Read more about Roth in the Perishable News

Grad Appointed Interim Director of HSU's Sponsored Programs Foundation

Steve Karp (B.S., Economics, 1981) has been appointed interim director of the Sponsored Programs Foundation at Humboldt State University. He previously was associate director for the Northern California Lead Small Business Development Center at Humboldt State for five years.
Read more about Karp on

Grad Goes Outside the Norm of Kinesiology Path

John Cortese (B.S., Kinesiology, 2010) could have sought a teaching credential or moved on to grad school after receiving his Cal Poly degree. Instead, he opted to open a strength and conditioning business in Napa, working with middle school, high school and college athletes.
Read more about Cortese in the Napa Valley Register

Business Grad Promoted to Division Vice President of Internal Audit for Global Consumer Products Company

Sean Dyer (B.S., Business Administration, 1997) has been promoted to division vice president of internal audit at Spectrum Brands' global corporate headquarters in Madison, WI.
Read more about Dyer in the Wisconsin State Journal

Agribusiness Alum Looks to Get Younger Generation Involved in Ag

Frost Pauli (Agribusiness, 2008) chairs the California Farm Bureau Federation's Young Farmers and Ranchers group and has a major goal in mind: to get more people from his generation involved in agriculture, particularly in ag leadership. Pauli is trying to persuade young people who were raised on a farm to stay in agriculture.
Read more about Pauli in the Capitol Press

Alum Named Midwest Division Manager for Road Maintenance and Safety Solutions Company

Rob McPherson (B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1980) has joined EnviroTech Services, Inc., a Greeley, Colo.-based road maintenance and safety solutions company. McPherson has been named the company’s Midwest division manager and will be responsible for product and business development, new product introduction and operations management in his region.
Read more about McPherson in the Greeley Tribune

Ag Alum Elected President of Over 3000-Member Equestrian Organization

Dennis M. Serpa (B.S., Agricultural Business, 1968) was recently elected to president of Backcountry Horsemen of California. The organization works through volunteer service and education to keep public lands open for recreational stock use.
Read more about Serpa in the Oakdale Leader

Business Grad Named CFO of Online Marketing Company

Keith Taylor (B.S., Business Administration, 1979) will take on the responsibilities as CFO at Lyris, Inc, an online marketing company. Taylor's responsibilities will include all financial and accounting activities at Lyris.
Read about Taylor in the


Grad Has Passion for 'Cultural and Language Studies, Volunteering'

Justin Hitchcock (B.S., Civil Engineering, 2008) caught the travel bug after his time at Cal Poly and has lived in several countries in South America. Right now, he's learning what it feels like to live in a third world country, residing in a small agricultural community in the mountains of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
Read more about Hitchcock in The Friday Flyer (Canyon Lake, Calif.)

Art Grad Finishes Inspirational Year of Running 2,010 Miles

Kathy Schwartz (B.S., Applied Art and Design, 1991) recently finished running 2,010 miles in 2010. Three causes inspired her feat: her husband, Jeremy, a Lt. reservist in the Navy serving in Afghanistan; the cause for which her husband and other soliders are fighting; and a friend who died recently in a car crash.
Read more about Schwartz in the Contra Costa Times

Nutrition Grad Leads Santa Barbara Chapter of National Charity League

Erin Van Valkenburgh (B.S., Nutritional Science, 1986) has a passion for volunteering. She recently took over the presidential role for the Santa Barbara Chapter of National Charity League. The NCL is a philanthropic organization with a mission to foster the mother-daughter relationship through a commitment to community service, leadership development and cultural experiences.
Read more about Valkenburgh in the Noozhawk (Santa Barbara)

Honors & Awards

Ag Business Grad's Community Service to be Celebrated

Anthony De Rose (B.S., Agricultural Business, 1970) is Tulare “2010 Man of the Year.” The Greater Tulare Chamber of Commerce will showcase De Rose's contributions to Tulare and Kings counties and honor his community service contributions.
Read more about De Rose in the Tulare Voice


Catherine Marie Strasser-Roether

Catherine Marie Strasser-Roether (B.A., English, 1989; CRD, Special Education Credential, 2000) died Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011 after battling cancer.
Read more about Strasser-Roether in The Tribune

Ellen Colombo

Ellen Colombo (B.S., Nutritional Science, 1980) passed away Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 at Twin Cities Community Hospital.
Read more about Colombo in the Atascadero News