President Nelsen honors nine alums featured on annual ’40 Under 40′ list

When the Sacramento Business Journal announced the full list of its 2017 “40 Under 40” last fall, Hornets were very well-represented. Nine of the 40 individuals on the list were Sacramento State alums, and this week they were celebrated on campus during a luncheon hosted by President Robert S. Nelsen.

In the back row above, from left to right, are David Harmon ’05 (Journalism), senior vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch; David Heitstuman M.P.P.A. ’09, executive director of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center; Ryan Harrison Sr. M.S. ’11 (Criminal Justice), principal consultant for the California State Senate; President Nelsen; Jovan Agee ’04 (Government), Capitol director for Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas and CEO of Savvy Consulting; and Allen Archuleta Jr. ’14 (Economics), CEO of Archuleta & Co.

In the front row, from left, are Annie Amaral ’01 (Communication Studies), partner at Downey Brand LLP; Veronica Smith ’01 (Business Administration), senior development manager for the City of Sacramento and founder of Dress for Success Sacramento; and Megan Laurie M.S. ’10 (Recreation Administration), director of development for WEAVE Inc. Not pictured is Koi Rivers ’08 (Communication Studies), founder and principal strategist at The Koi Rivers Experience.

The full 2017 list can be found on the Sacramento Business Journal‘s website (subscription required). Full profiles are being published at


Alumnus Garry Maisel to receive President’s Medal at Commencement

Garry Maisel, seen above at an event held this month in his honor, will receive the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service.

When Garry Maisel ’80 (Business Administration) graduated from Sacramento State, he was named the most outstanding undergraduate in finance. It was the first in a long line of honors for Maisel, and at Commencement on Saturday, May 20, he’ll receive another: the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service.

Maisel is the president and CEO of Western Health Advantage, an organization dedicated to improving health care access and affordability, as well as a member of the University Foundation at Sacramento State’s board of directors and the co-chair of the Campaign Leadership Committee.

The President’s Medal for Distinguished Service is awarded at Spring Commencement ceremonies to recognize outstanding service to Sacramento State. The medal is not awarded every year and is reserved for individuals who have made the highest, and most positive, impact on the University.

Maisel also received a Distinguished Service Award from Sacramento State in 2013.

“One of the first lessons I learned at Sac State was, no matter which career field you’re in, it’s your interpersonal communication skills that can set you apart,” he told Sacramento State in 2014. “Occasionally I talk to students and I always stress that you need to be a good communicator in how you interact and deal with people.”

Founded in 1996 by Maisel, Western Health Advantage provides customer service to more than 135,000 members in Northern California and has a current annual revenue of $750 million. The company is regularly featured in the Sacramento Business Journal’s annual list of the top 50 fastest-growing companies.

Maisel personally and professionally supports a number of local organizations, including chairing the board of the B Street Theater and the Health Plan Alliance. He also currently serves or has prior service on several boards, including Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE), the California Association of Health Plans, the Mercy Foundation, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the American Heart Association, the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council, and Valley Vision.

His many honors include the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year Award from UCP Sacramento, the 2014 Executive Leadership Award from Community Link Capital Region, the 2011 Individual Arts Leadership Award from the Sacramento Arts and Business Council, and the 2010 Sacramento Metro Chamber Businessman of the Year.

At Sacramento State, Western Health Advantage has a room named at the University’s Center for Health Professions as a result of its contributions to the Campaign for Nursing.

For more information about Spring Commencement, visit

Ephraim Williams, most senior Sacramento-area pastor, to receive honorary degree

Ephraim Williams, center, stands with Jody and President Robert S. Nelsen during an event in his honor earlier this month.

Ephraim Williams, who leads the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and is the Sacramento region’s most senior pastor, will receive an honorary doctorate from the CSU at Sacramento State’s May 19 Commencement ceremony.

Williams has been at the helm of the Oak Park church since 1971, growing it from 133 members to more than 4,000 today, making it one of the region’s largest congregations. During that time, he has performed more than 900 marriages, 2,200 funerals, 2,100 baptisms, and 6,100 sermons while becoming, in the words of the Sacramento Bee during an article last year celebrating his 50th year as a pastor, “a major force in Sacramento civic and spiritual life.”

You don’t need to look farther than around Oak Park to see evidence of his impact. The Ephraim Williams Family Life Center – which promotes physical fitness, proper nutrition, recreation, health, and wellness – is adjacent to St. Paul church, and Ephraim Williams College Prep Middle School is close by as well.

Williams participates regularly in the CSU and Sacramento State’s “Super Sunday” effort to encourage college enrollment. He also spearheads the St. Paul and Oak Park Community Outreach Program, which provides recreational, educational and family support programs, including an after-school tutorial program, emergency assistance, health and wellness programs, a culinary program for at-risk youth, and summer programs for children and youth. He also has served in community organizations such as the Sacramento Baptist Ministers Conference, the Sacramento Urban League, the NAACP, and the Sacramento City Unified School District, and also was instrumental in changing the name of Sacramento Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Williams received the 2014 Peace Award from Sacramento State’s Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution in recognition of his “exemplary leadership in building bridges between religious and civic life in the Sacramento region.”

Williams will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. Honorary doctorates recognize excellence in areas that benefit humanity, CSU campuses, the state, nation, or world. They are conferred by the CSU Board of Trustees jointly in the name of the CSU and Sacramento State. For a full list of past winners, visit

For more information about Spring Commencement, visit