SF State News {University Communications}

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Noted alumni inducted into Hall of Fame

May 26, 2010 -- Six new members were inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame at a reception on May 21, which also paid special tribute to Japanese American alumnae who were interned during World War II.

Randall Hayes, who earned a master's degree in environmental studies in 1980, was named Alumnus of the Year and inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Described by the Wall Street Journal as an "environmental pit bull," Hayes founded the Rainforest Action Network and dedicated his career to protecting the environment and exposing environmentally destructive practices. He is currently the U.S. Director of the World Future Council, a multinational group based in Germany, which promotes sustainable living and a clean environment. Hayes' graduate thesis, a documentary film about strip mining on Native American land, won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for Best Student Documentary in 1983. "That film really launched my career," Hayes said. "So, I owe a lot to SF State and all that I learned here."

Five additional alumni were welcomed into the Alumni Hall of Fame: George Duke, John Gumas, Kathleen Martinez, Janice Mirikitani and Don Nasser.

A photo of all the new inductees with President and Mrs. Corrigan

From left: President Robert A. Corrigan, Randy Hayes, Mrs. Corrigan, Don Nasser, John Gumas, Janice Mirikitani, Kathleen Martinez and George Duke.

Piano legend George Duke, who earned a master's degree in music in 1975, is a Grammy Award-winning pioneer of West Coast jazz-fusion. He has collaborated with leading artists representing many styles of music including Frank Zappa, Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis. Beginning with his first album, "From Me to You" recorded for Epic in 1976, Duke has recorded or produced more than 30 albums, including 16 gold or platinum records. Nominated nine times for the coveted Grammy Award, Duke has won five. His career took off at the same time he enrolled for graduate studies. "So, it turns out, I was on the road a lot and hardly here," Duke acknowledged.  "I will be forever grateful because my SF State instructors mailed me lesson plans and tests, which I completed in hotel rooms."

John Gumas, who earned a bachelor's degree in marketing in 1984, is the founder and president of Gumas Advertising, the marketing and advertising agency that he started within months of graduating from SF State. Today, it is an award-winning firm that uses innovative approaches to help smaller clients stand up to large competitors with bigger advertising budgets. Gumas has been an adjunct professor of marketing and sits on numerous boards, including the San Francisco Giants Community Fund. "What a wonderful thing it is to look back and see how my journey at SF State shaped my life," he said. "The turning point came with my first advertising class. For the first time in my life, I had a passion for something."

Kathleen Martinez, who earned a bachelor's degree in speech communication in 1992, is the assistant secretary for disability employment policy at the U.S. Department of Labor. Blind since birth, Martinez began employment as a punch press operator in a lock factory. Today she leads U.S. policy regarding the employment of people with disabilities and is an internationally recognized disability rights leader. She previously served on the National Council on Disability, the State Department's Advisory Committee on Disability and Foreign Policy, and the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace. "A career provides purpose and meaning to our lives, but the disabled are often underestimated," Martinez said. "However, my professors here always had high expectations. This was one of the best things that ever happened to me."

Janice Mirikitani, who attended SF State as a graduate student in 1966 and '67, is the founding president of the Glide Foundation at San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church, as well as the author of four books of poetry and editor of nine poetry anthologies. At Glide, she developed more than 87 programs to serve the poor and homeless of San Francisco. Named one of the "100 Most Influential Women in Business" by the San Francisco Business Times for three consecutive years, she is also a Poet Laureate of San Francisco. Having spent part of her childhood in a Japanese internment camp during World War II, Mirikitani said SF State provided the opportunities to deal with the painful experience. "Here, artists and activists of color, discovered one another, discovered our own voices and created our own pages of history and legacy and pride of ancestry," she said.

Don Nasser, who earned a bachelor's degree in business in 1963, is president and CEO of the Castro Theatre. He has used his creative business acumen to ensure the iconic theatre's continued success in the face of competition from big multiplexes. The theatre has been owned by his family for decades, but when Nasser took over management in 2006, he revived the theatre with physical refurbishments, updated projection equipment and programming that turned it into a go-to venue for film series and festivals. Nasser worked in banking for two decades before starting his commercial real estate company, Bay Properties, which he still runs. He credited his success with the Castro Theatre to things he learned at SF State. "I have an emotional tie to and passion for this University," he said. "Here I learned the value of thinking differently and taking chances and I will be forever grateful for that beginning."

A photo of the three Japanese American honorees with President Corrigan

Sitting from left: Hatsune Fukuchi, Helen Hori and Kaya Ruth Sugiyama. Standing: President Corrigan

Also honored were three Japanese American alumnae who were attending SF State at the start of World War II and denied their higher education when forced to move to internment camps. Hatsune (Arita) Fukuchi, Helen (Nitta) Hori and Kaya Ruth (Kitagawa) Sugiyama were each awarded honorary baccalaureate degrees.President Corrigan awarded the diplomas.
"It is a privilege to honor these students and to recognize the sacrifices made by Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II," said President Corrigan. "Tonight we make some small recompense for an act that stands as a mark of shame in our nation's history."

The San Francisco State University Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes alumni who have earned the respect of their peers through professional, cultural and civic achievements. Previous inductees include documentary filmmaker Steven Okazaki, football legend Bill Baird, Retired U.S. Navy Commander Darlene Iskra and actor Jeffrey Tambor.

-- Denize Springer


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