Student Spotlight

News of our alumni

January 08, 2019 by Brandman University


Mel Dauster (Ed.D., 2017) is the new vice president of talent and culture for the Center for Social Dynamics. "I am so excited to make a greater impact on the company and use all my skills I learned in the doctorate program to better the experience of employees and clients in the autism world." Dauster was a scheduling coordinator when she enrolled in the Ed.D. program in 2013 and promoted to director of recruiting and staff by the time she finished her dissertation.

Kristina ZaragozaKristina Zaragoza (Ed.D., 2018) is being recognized by the International Association of Women as a 2019-2020 influencer. The global in-person and online networking platform connects nearly a million women interested in growing a business or advancing their careers. In making the announcement, the organization cited her knowledge and experience in training, coaching and mentoring other public service employees, particularly peace officers. Zaragoza is the founder of Professional Employee and Administration Resource


Chip Monaco (MPA, 2010) was sworn into office as a new member of the Orange City Council on Dec. 11. He was elected on Nov. 6 with 15,080 votes, besting six other candidates.  Monaco was featured in a story for Brandman in March 2017 (Alumni spotlight: Chip Monaco understands the business of government and garbage).

Heather Harper (Credential, 2011) was featured in a "Meet the Principal" article in the The Press, serving the communities of Brentwood, Discover Bay, Oakley and Antioch in Norther California. Harper is halfway through her second year as principal at Liberty High School. She earned her teaching credential after serving in the Air Force.

Sean Elo, (B.A. in Social Science, 2010) was sworn in as a trustee for the San Diego Community College District on Dec. 14. Elo completed his degree at the Irvine campus. He won election to the seat with 140,895 votes and represents District E. More information about his campaign is available here.

Charles BrownCharles A. Brown Jr. (Ed.D., 2018) was among the honorees at the eighth annual Educators’ Prayer Breakfast hosted by the National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, Delta Rho Chapter, at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. Brown is the director of Equity and Targeted Student Achievement for the San Bernardino City Unified School District. 

Allie Oberoi

Allie Oberoi (M.S. in Human Resources, 2014; Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership, 2014) is the new assistant director for global safety and risk management in the Global Education Office at Virginia Tech. She will be in charge of assessing and mitigating risk for universities activities that involve overseas travel. She also plays a key role in coordinating communication regarding global safety and will direct emergency response for university-supported activities abroad, which she explains in this video.

Oberoi earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Virginia Tech and did her Brandman graduate work at the Fort Lewis campus in Washington. In her previous role as executive officer for the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, Oberoi provided both recruiting and organizational support.

As an officer in the Virginia Army National Guard, Oberoi commands 128 soldiers in the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team based in Staunton, Virginia.


George Piro FBIGeorge Piro (B.A. Criminal Justice, 1995) is the new FBI special agent in charge of the Miami Field Office. FBI Director Christopher Wray named him to the post earlier in November and he reported to the field office on Nov. 8.

Piro, who attended the Modesto campus when it was known as a Chapman University Academic Center, most recently served as assistant director of the International Operations Division at FBI Headquarters. He was special agent in charge of the Miami Field Office from 2014 to 2017 and said he was honored to be selected for this duty again.

Piro was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, and is fluent in Arabic and Assyrian. He has a master’s in security studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a master’s certificate in Arab studies. Prior to joining the FBI, he served 10 years as a California police officer. 

Among his many notable assignments with the FBI was serving as team leader and interrogator responsible for the interrogation of Saddam Hussein and other key figures within the former Iraqi regime.

Herb Callahan (Ed.D. Organizational Leadership, 2016) is now a vice president of human resources for Golden State Foods, working with both international domestic food processing groups. He was previously a senior director in human resources. In addition, Callahan is an adjunct faculty member at Brandman, teaching course for the Master of Science in Human Resources program. He was previously featured here: Brandmans EdD program meets the needs of business leaders, too

Robin IlacRobin Ilac (M.A. Educational Leadership, 2016) was honored on Nov. 3 at A Salute to Teachers, presented by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara County Education Office. The AVID district director and Kermit McKenzie Intermediate School social studies teacher in the Guadalupe School District near Santa Maria is featured in a profile. She's being honored for her role as a mentor. Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara County Education Office.

Jacob WestJacob West (Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, 2016) was honored Nov. 3 as a Distinguished New Educator in Santa Barbara County as part of the annual Salute to Teachers program presented by Cox Communications and the Santa Barbara Education Office. West, a sixth-grade teacher at Leonora Fillmore Elementary School in the Lompoc Unified School District became a teacher after jobs in city sports planning, hotels and tourism. He’s featured in a article. Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara County Education Office.


Ava Anvari (MBA, 2016) has been promoted to director of compliance at MemorialCare, Orange County.

Kimberly Allain (M.A. Organizational Leadership, 2015) is the new associate vice president for employee and organizational development and advancement for the division of administrative affairs at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She most recently served as director of employment and organizational development at the University of California.

Nikki Salas (Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, 2018) is the new director of Human Resources for Napa county.


Gamma alumniBarbara Bartels, Antionette Gutierrez, Setphanie Herrara and Rose Nicole Villanueva (each Ed.D., 2017) reunited at the Women in School Leadership Forum held Sept. 26-28 in Newport Beach, California. All were members of the Gamma class of Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership program.

Melissa Fisher (MBA OL, 2015) is the new vice president of commercial lending for First Columbia Bank in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Paul Page, the First Columbia Bank chief lending officer, said in a press release "We look forward to the combination of education and skills that Melissa offers and believe she will be an asset both to the bank and the community." Her community activities include volunteering with various civic organizations in Briar Creek Township and Berwick, Pennsylvania.

Erica Salz (B.A. Social Science, 2016) was recently promoted to chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy.

Evelyn Nazario (M.A. Organizational Leadership, 2013) begins her new role as California State University vice chancellor for human resources on October 1. She will serve as the university system's chief human resources officer. She joined CSU in 2008.

Scott Jaeggi (B.A. Applied Studies, 2014, and M.A. in Education, 2017) is the new battalion chief for the Morongo Valley Fire Deparatment in Morongo Valley, California. The fire department covers about 30 square miles in San Bernardino County.

Jennifer Labounty (Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, 2018) is now the dean of Counseling and Student Development at Fullerton College. Labounty was a member of an Irvine-based cohort. Her dissertation topic was "Community College Presidents and the Role of Coversational Leadership." Fullerton College is the oldest community college in continuous operation in California. 

Amy Besler (Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, 2018) is the new director of secondary education for the Elk Grove Unified School District. She joins fellow Brandman alumna Melanie Walzberg Dopson (Ed.D, 2016) who is also a director in the Elk Grove school district.

Thomas A. Sharon (DNP, 2015) had an article published in the Clinical Journal of Nursing. The article, "Behavioral transformation through inner conflict resolution: A new nursing theory," explores the practical application of the Hassidic concepts in advance practice nursing as a new nursing theory for primary care. He is a clinical nurse practitioner at Touro University Nevada in Henderson, Nevada.


Naphtali LeBlanc (BBA, 2018, Irvine campus) opened Crooked River Coffee & Cream this month in Alanson, Michigan. Her new business venture is featured in the Petoskey, Michigan, News and Review. The shop features products from Northern Michigan, including maple syrup, jams and honey, along with coffee and ice cream and pastries.

Lee-Volker Cox (Ed.D., 2015) is the new president of the Allan Hancock College Foundation board of directors. He began serving on the board in 2016 with the goal of expanding the college's positive impact on the region and setting students on a path to success. The foundation raises funds to support education and scholarship programs for the public community college with five campuses in northern Santa Barbara County.

Jesse Oswald (MAOL, 2013) is the new chief building official for the city of Santa Rosa. The city conducted a nationwide recruitment before turning to Oswald, who was serving as the acting chief building official previously. Oswald brings over 13 years of city government experience to the role, including serving as permit intake manager for the City of Santa Rosa. He previously worked as acting chief building official and held various fire and building inspector roles for the city of Merced prior to joining Santa Rosa in 2013.


Tony Garcia podcast and bookTony Garcia (B.A. Psychology, 2017, Santa Maria and Online campuses) has a podcast and self-help book, both called "Spreading Hope Like Fire," that grew out of the passion for psychology he developed at Brandman. He's currently enrolled in the psychology master's program emphasizing marriage and family therapy (MFT). His podcast, available on iTunes and and 14 other platforms currently reaches about 1,000 listeners. His book is available through Amazon.

Jeremy Dirks (MA-ELA, 2015) becomes the principal for Christopher High School in the Gilroy Unified School District in August. He previously served as the vice principal at schools in Gilroy and Hollister. Dirks attended Gilroy schools as a student, graduated from San Jose State and became a social studies teacher and basketball coach before earning his Brandman degree, according to a story posted to the Gilroy Patch.

Summer Avila (Ed.D., 2016) is the new provost and vice president of Curriculum and Instruction at San Joaquin Valley College in Clovis, California. As provost, she is responsible for maintaining the integrity of the private junior college's educational programs. She started at the college in 2010 as a director of instruction.

Sue Singh (Ed.D., 2015) is now the executive director of the Orange Unified School District's Special Education Department/SELPA. Her department provides services for students with disabilities from infant through age 22, including adult transition and workability programs.


Desiree Hitch (Education Specialist teaching credential, 2016, Santa Maria) is the Distinguished New Educator for Santa Barbara County. She teaches at Righetti High School in Santa Maria and coaches the varsity girls basketball team. Her achievement was highlighted on Noozhawk and YouTube.

Jennifer (Schaffner) Nolan (B.A. Legal Studies, 2014, Roseville) is a paralegal at Trainor Fairbrook, a law firm specializing in commercial real estate transactions in Sacramento. She worked full time at a title company while attending Brandman and reports that her career has "been soaring upwards" ever since graduation. 

Thomas Sharon, DNP, MPH, ARNP-BC, (Doctor of Nursing Practice, 2016) is a clincial nurse practitioner at Touro University Nevada in Henderson, Nevada.

Daryl Stitt (MBA in Organizational Leadership, 2016, Irvine campus) is the new director of client experience for RapidScale, a managed cloud services provider based in Irvine. His team is responsible for building and maintaining relationships with existing and prospective clients. Before joining RapidScale, Stitt was national technology director for Advantage Solutions. 


Yvette Seymour (M.A. Organizational Leadership, 2014, Irvine campus) has new development responsibilities at Southern California Edison in her role as a principal manager in the Innovation and Modernization department. "It is an opportunity to 'fill the shoes' of a higher position and experience new technologies at Southern California Edison. It's all very new, and I'm able to learn on my MAOL degree and leadership skills to help me through this transition."


Kimberly McGeeResearch by Kimberly (Chapman) McGee (M.A., Organizational Leadership, 2012) on the influence of gender and race/ethnicity in IT was published in the international peer-reviewed journal, Information and Organization. The study investigated women who advance from technical to senior executive IT roles. McGee earned a Bachelor of Science in computer science from Chapman University in 1992 and a Ph.D. from Fielding Graduate University in 2017. Her article can be read online through Science Direct.

Dawn Harrison (BA, Applied Studies, 2013, Victorville campus) was honored for her volunteer work with the Community Emergency Response Team, a joint program between the town of Apple Valley, California, and the Apple Valley Fire Protection District. Harrison participated in 10 CERT activations, including fires and floods. As the town's emergency services assistant, she was directly responsible for disaster service workers in Apple Valley. She's also served on the Community Development Block Grant Advisory Committee and the board of Apple Valley Christian School, where she was a volunteer and a teacher, according to a story in the Victorville Daily Press. Read more here.


Eric GarciaEric Garcia (BA, Applied Studies, 2016) formally accepted the command of the Burbank, California, Fire Department on Dec. 28. He's in the process of earning his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) at Brandman. Garcia joined the Burbank Fire Department in 1994 and rose through the rakes from paramedic to engineer to captain to battalion chief, according to a fire department press release.

Erin Frasier (Ed.D., 2016), is running for the Washington State House of Representatives. She's seeking to represent the 19th District and to unseat the Republican incumbent.. According to an article in the Longview, Washington, Daily News, Frasier said her deep local roots and experience partnering with business and industry make her an ideal representative for the region. Frasier develops policy for workforce education for the Washington Community and Technical Colleges state board. 

Crestina Marez (MAOL, 2012) is the driving force being “What’s in Your Closet?”, a clothing drive done each year in Tacoma, Washington. Sponsored by the National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide (NA2EVS), the program will accept gently used clothing in all sizes for men and women at the Krispie Kreme Donut Store Dec. 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. New T-shirts, socks and underwear can also be donated. The group recently served an early Christmas dinner at the American Lake VA Hospital. Marez is the community resource director for NA2EVS.

Dustin Walker (MAOL, 2016; BAOL, 2013; AA, 2012 ), aviation ordnance man first class, was named Sea Sailor of the Year by the Navy League and Rotary Club of Oak Harbor, Washington. The Shore, Sea and Reserve Sailors of the Year awards were presented Dec. 8 at a recognition luncheon. Walker was unable to attend because he was on detachment in Florida.

According to an article in the Whidbey News Times, Walker joined electronic attack squadron 140 at NAS Whidbey Island in 2015.  The Oak Harbor resident has five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medals, four Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Meritorious Unit Commendation, three Sea Service Deployment Ribbons and Marksman 9mm Pistol and M16/M4 Rifle.


Jennifer Ellis-Juncaj (BBA, human resources emphasis, 2013) and her daughter recently appeared on ABC's “The Toy Box Show” to pitch the game they invented called Giggle Chips. The game teaches youngster about science and technology (STEM) concepts through memory games. Watch one judge’s reaction here.


Gregg Elliott (Master of Arts in Education {MAE} in Curriculum and Instruction, 2017) is the new principal of Ripona Elementary School in the Ripon Unified School District in Ripon, California. "Ripona is a fantastic community," he told the Manteca Bulletin.

Jack Dudley

Jack Dudley

Jack Dudley (M.A.O.L. 2017) credits his organizational leadership classes at Brandman University for helping him lead the Los Angeles Military Entrance Processing Station to becoming the "Large Military Processing Station of the Year." It was the first time in 30 years that a California station has received the award. "The leadership practices that I learned not only make me a better leader but also a better communicator."

Janine Lombardi (M.A.O.L. 1998), a founding member of the Brandman Alumni Association, is the new chair for Orange County and Inland Empire chapter of Make-A-Wish. Massiel Pérez-Calhoon (Ed.D. 2017) also serves on the board.


Kelly Huffman (MBA, Organizational Leadership, 2016) has joined Freed Associates, a California-based health care consultancy. Prior to joining Freed Associates, Huffman worked for Molina Healthcare where she led customer and employee satisfaction projects and public relations efforts. Her new role will draw on her expertise in project management for new implementations and information technology systems, organizational design, communications and public relations and program development, according to Freed Associates.


Alida Stanowicz (Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership, 2017) starts her new position in August as vice president of Leadership, Learning and Development for CIT Bank, the parent company of OneWest Bank where she's currently the Relationship Center manager. "I know that I would not be here if it had not been for Brandman, earning my Ed.D. and having such amazing people in my corner."

Richard Mayorga

Richard Mayorga

Richard Mayorga (B.A. in Applied Studies, 2017) finished his deployment in May to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he was promoted to sergeant in the U.S. Army while serving as a military police officer. He's currently seeking a job with the Long Beach Police Department. He noted that if it wasn't for the guidance and support of Miguel Aranda and Amy Myrick of the Menifee campus, he doubts he would have been able to finish his bachelor's degree as planned. "I want to give them a huge thanks for constantly motivating and encouraging me through a tough time of getting ready to deploy. From the moment I met them in summer 2015, I told them I was deploying in summer 2015 and they quickly worked to help me get all the documentation in time to continue. If it wasn't for them caring for me and checking on me ...  I wouldn't have completed my bachelor's." 


Terry Tate, who earned his MBA from Brandman in 2014, is the new assistant vice president of Rail Operations for RailPros Field Services, a provider of railroad engineering and field support.

Francisco Vazquez, who earned his B.A. in social science in 2015 from Brandman University and a master's degree from Hult International Business School in London in 2016, is now working at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.


Essraa Nawar, a 2013 M.A. in Organizational Leadership graduate of Brandman University, recently graduated with a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University and is the recipient of the Ken Haycock Award for Professional Promise. Nawar was also the student speaker for the program's commencement program, which was held virtually on May 20. Nawar is head of development at the Leatherby Libraries, which serve both Chapman and Brandman universities. She was previously featured in a Brandman Speaks: Career Talk podcast.

Jennifer Cline, a 2007 M.A. in teaching graduate of Chapman University College/Brandman University, is the Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year. A fifth-grade teacher at Oak Valley Elementary School in Buellton, Cline will be in the running for California's teachers of the year who are named in October. Cline will be recognized May 25 at the Education Celebration event in Buellton and at the county's Salute to Teachers on Nov. 4. A story about here appeared in the Santa Maria Times.


Combs and Juarez

Gen. Jim Combs and Christina Juarez

Christine M. Juarez, a 2017 MBA graduate, received the California Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Award for Excellence for her work with the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, the California Army National Guard's largest combat brigade. Her work as California vice chairman of Volunteer Management for Region 6 (San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties) also played a part in her earning the award. She has presented more than 200 awards during 2016-17 to patriotic employers who employ and support the National Guard and Reserve components throughout San Diego County. She received the award from Gen. Jim Combs, the state chairman for ESGR.

Dan Llorens,  who earned his Doctorate of Education (Ed.D.) in Organizational Leadership from Brandman University in May 2015, is leaving his post as chief of the Fountain Valley Police Department to take a position as assistant police chief at Los Angeles World Airports. Llorens has been the Fountain Valley since 2011. In his new position, he will oversee the office of operations and be responsible for officers' daily work at both LAX and Van Nuys Airport, according to a report in the Orange County Register. His Brandman dissertation was "The Impact of Realignment on Property Crime: Perspectives of Chiefs of Police."

Carlos Rojas, who earned a master's in criminal justice from Chapman University College (now Brandman University) in 2002, is the new chief of police for Bay Area Rapid Transit. He was previously with the Santa Ana Police Department. He will focus on police recruitment, according to a report on the RT&S website.


Michael Goodnow, a 2005 Brandman University - Chapman University College alumnus, is hosting a regional event for alumni in Bremerton, Washington from 6-8 p.m., March 30. The free mixer will feature appetizers and a whiskey tasting at the Toro Lounge. Goodnow is the manager of Corporate and Community Relations at the Brandman's Bangor campus. For more information and to RSVP, register here.

Eric Raszewski, who received his B.A., Organizational Leadership, from Brandman's San Diego in 2014  joined HempMeds as sales manager. The company is the first-ever publicly traded cannabis company in the United States, according to the company's press release. The former Marine will be responsible for management and development of the inside sales team at the company. He's also working on his MBA at Brandman with a 2017 graduation anticipated.


Lisa Long, deputy controller for the Central Coast Water Authority, was featured in a "Women in Business" profile in the Santa Maria Times on Feb. 26. She completed her bachelor's degree at Brandman's Santa Maria campus and is just a few units away from complete her master's degree. She's also the immediate past president of the Santa Maria Noontime Rotary Club.

Jaspreet Singh, who earned his MBA from the Walnut Creek campus in 2015, opened Teriyaki Madness at 251 Pittman Road, Suite B in Fairfield, California. The 1,327-square-foot restaurant seats 34 people and created 15 jobs for the community. Denver-based Teriyaki Madness is known for big bowls of rice or noodles topped with fresh-cut vegetables, all natural, fresh chicken, beef or tofu and flavorful sauces made in-house daily. The opening was featured on the Suisun City Patch website.

Alexandro Vasquez, a nurse practitioner who earned his Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from Brandman University in 2015, recently joined the emergency medicine department at Mayo Clinic Health System in Barron and Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Vasquez earned a master’s degree in nursing science from the University of California-Irvine. He completed his bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston. He completed his fellowship in emergency medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Tami Frankenfield, president of the Alumni Association board, and board members Allison Colerick, Maria Torre, Monica Shukla and Janine Lombardi in Irvine and Aretha Southwell and Angelo Clements via teleconferencing attended the Feb. 3, Alumni Association meeting to discuss plans for 2017. Representing the university were Shannon Feightner, alumni manager; Matt Venegas, assistant vice chancellor for Corporate and Community Relations and Sarah Catz, external affairs consultant.

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