Michael (Mike) Hood (1966, B.S., Marketing) won the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Composites Manufacturing Association. Hood is owner of Hood Manufacturing Inc., The Chandler Company and Thermobile. He also served on the board of the Santa Ana Workforce Investment from 2004-2010 and as chairman from 2008-2010.
Bob Gentry (1972, B.A., Recreation and Leisure Studies) had his first book, “Desert Beach”, published in 2014, an idea he conceived 25 years ago while working as a counselor. He has since had seven other books published. He and his wife, Teri, moved to Atascadero, California, in 1980, where he still resides.
William Whiteley (1979, B.A., English Literature) served as an administrator of English instruction and varsity baseball coach for the Huntington Beach Union High School District for 28 years. He was honored as Golden West League’s baseball coach of the year in 2001. Whiteley also was nominated for Westminster Teacher of the Year on three different occasions. He was inducted into Westminster High’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a student (1973).
Joan de Bruin (1971, M.A. Art) has written two transforming fantasy books, featuring a hero’s and heroine’s journey that focuses on school crisis and bereavement, bullying and victimization. Both books received top reviews. “Rosebud, the Cat Who Lost Her Nine Lives” has 42 illustrations and recently received an excellent review from Kirkus Publishing.
Andrea Taylor (1983, B.A., Psychology) served as vice president of University Relations & Development for 12 years before retiring last June, but her influence on the campus will last far longer. A graduate of Long Beach State, Taylor managed an advancement operation that raised more than $30 million annually and oversaw the university’s first major fundraising campaign, DECLARE: The Campaign for Long Beach State in 2015. The campaign raised $238 million, surpassing its goal by $13 million. She also headed the alumni affairs department that serves more than 300,000 graduates, and public affairs and publications programs that handle a wide range of advocacy, media and communications projects. In 2012, Taylor launched the CSULB 49er Foundation, an entity dedicated to promoting philanthropy and managing the university’s donated resources and growing endowment. She also was a member of the Alumni Association, President’s Associates, and Women and Philanthropy.
Kevin Plummer (1982, B.S., Business Administration) has joined NationaLease as a national account executive/west region. He will be responsible for growing the organization’s full-service lease, contract maintenance and dedicated logistics business solutions. Plummer attended Long Beach State on a football scholarship.
Lisa Edone (1985, B.S., Business Administration) was named regional sales manager at VIVASCOPE, a confocal microscopy for non-invasive cellular-level imaging. Edone will be responsible for implementing and executing the company’s commercial strategy in the western U.S. She previously held positions at Restoration Robotics, Syneron/Candela, Merz, Lumenis, Medtronic Neurological and B. Braun Medical, Inc.
Elinor Torda (1981, B.A. Spanish, 2007 M.A., Spanish) lived and worked abroad in El Salvador (teaching) and Italy (United Nations). She was awarded honoree recognition at the 2012 Outstanding Women’s luncheon by the Office of Student Life at UC Merced and served on Boren and Fulbright scholarship committees. Torda enjoys teaching Spanish at UC Merced and Italian at Modesto College.
John A. Newell (1988, B.A. Recreation and Leisure Studies) was inducted into the Harvey Milk Equality Plaza Memorial wall last year. Honorees were chosen for their commitment ability to inspire and create change in their own lives and community. Newell has served on the board of directors of the AIDS Food Store for the past eight years and as president of the organization since 2013. He was the recipient of the 2017 Molina Community Champion award and served as King of Hearts in 2017.
Lawrence Welsh (1987, B.A. Journalism) will have his 12th book published this year. Titled “Cutting the Wire: Photographs and Poetry from the U.S. Mexico Border,” (University of New Mexico Press) the book is a collaboration with photographer Bruce Berman and Ray Gonzalez, the poet and memoirist.
Billy Wang (2002, B.S., Business Administration, MBA) was appointed Senior Vice President of MaxGen Energy Services. He will focus on technical and operational services for the renewable energy company. He also served as vice president of operations at Schneider Electric and positions at Coca-Cola and Fedex in the areas of service innovation and operational excellence.
Michael A. Anastasi (2001, B.A. Journalism), vice president/News of USA Today Network in Tennessee, recently took over the Florida region. He now overseas 12 news organizations over two states and continues to serve as vice president and editor of The Tennessean in Nashville, Tennessee. He and his wife, Julie, endow an annual scholarship in the Long Beach State Journalism department. Before moving to Nashville, Anastasi served as senior vice president and executive editor the Los Angeles News Group. He led a team that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting at the Daily Breeze in Torrance.
Christina Romero (2001, B.A., Speech Communications), executive director of the Santa Ana College Foundation and Office of College Advancement, has been named “Person of the Year” by the city’s Chamber of Commerce. She was honored as someone who makes a difference in the City of Santa Ana through the chamber’s “Difference Makers: Celebrating Extraordinary People” initiative.
Yiran Park (2017, BFA, Illustration) specializes in illustrations for magazine articles and book covers. She recently provided illustrations for cypto-currency, IT and medical organizations.
Cheryl Allen Hutcherson-Birge, who graduated cum laude with a Nursing degree, passed Oct. 30, 2017 at Lake Arrowhead, California. She was loved by her children, grandchildren and great granddaughter. Hutcherson-Birge traveled extensively with her family for nearly 18 years before succumbing to breast cancer. She was treated at the City of Hope. The family requests any donations be made to The Gideons International (Gideons.org), Mt. Calvary Lutheran (mclutheran.com) and The City of Hope (cityofhope.org).
Gina Maria Ladinsky passed May 26, 2018 after a long battle with cancer. She was a loving mother to her sons, Keith and Tyler, and a friend to all. She attended Hamilton High and went on to study zoology at Long Beach State. Ladinsky trained at Cedars-Sinai Hospital as a medical technologist and worked as a nurse for many years. She later earned her master’s in creative writing at USC and later became a writer and novelist. Ladinsky was an advocate for animal rights, equal rights and environmental stewardship. She is survived by her sons, and many friends and colleagues.
Robbie Lou Schoonover, who acted in or directed, more than 100 plays, died Jan. 27, 2018, at the age of 84. She graduated from Long Beach State in 1955 and went on to a career in theater. Besides acting and directing, Schoonover sewed costumes, danced and sang on stages throughout California and Oregon. She was voted top actress by the Orange County Theatrical Association, and Woman of the Year in 1984. Schoonover is survived by her husband of 65 years, George Schoonover, son Marc, daughters Kim, Jasmin, Thissell and Lynn Rea, as well as four grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Angela Bowen, a retired adjunct professor who was a passionate voice on lesbian, black and feminist issues, passed July 12, 2018 in Long Beach. She was 82 years old. After earning master’s and doctoral degrees at Clark University in Massachusetts, she joined the Long Beach State faculty, teaching English and women’s, gender and sexuality studies departments.
Don Reish, who founded the university’s marine biology department, passed July 29, 2018 at age 94. The respected professor also established the marine biology degree, taught at Long Beach State for 56 years before retiring. Although he wasn’t teaching any longer, Reish continued to research and publish papers. He is survived by his wife, Janice, and son Don Reish Jr. Both are Long Beach graduates.
Larry Banegas, Barona tribal leader and educator who help start the Native American studies program, died Aug. 10, 2018. He was 69 years old. Banegas graduated from Long Beach State University in 1974, one of the first from his tribe to get a degree, according to his family. He is survived by his sons, Brandon, Ethan and Zackary Banegas, all of Barona; his longtime partner, Denise Mahaffey, his brother Bobby Banegas of Barona, his sisters Beverly Means of Barona, Velma Schlater, Diane Bojorquez, Doris Magante, both of the La Jolla Indian Reservation, Linda Sanchez of Reno, Gwen Sevella of La Posta Reservation and nine grandchildren. He was predeceased by three siblings: Leon Banegas, Roberta Gitthens and Sylvia Banegas.