Former Sac State football player Lonie Paxton ’00 (Communication Studies) enjoyed a successful 12-year career in the NFL, winning three Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. Now, he’s forging a new career, working as a global entertainment marketer for GoPro.
Every year, the Sacramento Business Journal honors the “40 Under 40” – a group of young Sacramento professionals who are making their mark on the region. And every year, Sacramento State alumni make up a significant portion of the list.
This year is no exception: 11 Sacramento State alumni have been named to the 2019 “40 Under 40” list, a testament to the tremendous impact Hornet alums have throughout Sacramento and beyond. They and their fellow recipients will be honored formally at an event in November.
The full list was announced Sept. 30 on the Business Journal’s website. This year’s Hornets included on the “40 Under 40” roster are:
- Maggie Bender ’11 MBA, president, Bender Insurance Solutions.
- Tiffanie Berkhalter ’04 (Business Administration), VSP Ventures chief operating officer, VSP Global.
- Jita Buno ’13 MBA, director, Supply Chain Management, UC Davis Health.
- Matt Ceccato ’11 (Communication Studies), district director, Congressman Ami Bera.
- Sarah Correa ’03 (Criminal Justice), corporate sales and marketing manager, Westervelt Ecological Services.
- Jessica Cruz ’04 (Communication Studies – Media Communications), CEO, National Alliance on Mental Health in California.
- Lindsey Goodwin MA ’10 (Government), vice president of public affairs, Randle Communications.
- Joseph Hernandez ’16 MBA, director of client relations, Premier Healthcare Services.
- Lorena Martinez ’07 (Accountancy), owner, The Colour Bar.
- Chelsea Minor ’15 MBA, corporate director, Consumer and Public Affairs, Raley’s.
- Amber Rosen ’06 (Communication Studies – Public Relations), founder and program director, Breakroom Fitness.
A 12th individual, attorney Adrian Carpenter, is not an alum but participated in Sacramento State’s Capital Fellows Program.
“These young professionals, through their hard work, talent and leadership, are helping drive Sacramento’s economy forward. Moreover, they’re making the region a better place to live by supporting worthy causes,” the Business Journal writes. “By way of example, they’re leading the way for future generations of business leaders.”
The strong presence of Sacramento State alumni on the list continues a trend. Last year, 12 alumni were included in the “40 Under 40.” Nine alums were recognized in 2017 and in 2016, and a record 12 Hornets made the list in 2015.
The full list can be found on the Sacramento Business Journal website. (subscription required).
You can’t tell the story of Sacramento’s growth without telling the story of Maritza ’07 (Communication Studies) and Roshaun Davis ’08 (Journalism).
The couple’s award-winning events agency, Unseen Heroes, is responsible for some of the region’s biggest public events, including GATHER: Oak Park and the Midtown Farmers Market.
But change has come as the agency moves into its second decade. After 10 years with the company she founded with her husband, Maritza recently took on a new role as the vice president of experience and social responsibility for the Sacramento Kings. Her responsibilities will include managing the Kings’ events team, which puts on more than 350 events annually, and the community impact team, which runs programs such as the Junior Kings and supports and participates in a wide variety of community activities and initiatives.
We spoke with Maritza and Roshaun about Maritza’s new job, Sacramento State’s role in the community, and the next big thing for Unseen Heroes.
Why did you feel now was the time to move on from Unseen Heroes and take the role with the Kings?
Maritza: I felt like it’s a pivotal time for our city. Sacramento is like a teenager. We’re trying to get into the running with our cool older sister Los Angeles and older brother San Francisco. Teenagers are a little bit awkward. We are learning how we fit into California. The time is now for us to grow into adulthood. The Kings are the only major league team that we have in the city. The NBA is progressive and evolves at the rate in which a sports team should. My expertise in community development and event production are two unique worlds. I want to share that with the Kings organization and support the vision of our ownership and leaders. Ultimately we are one big family as a city and it is our time to shine.
Roshaun: I think it’s amazing. Sometimes when you develop a concept and kind of push it into reality, you get bogged down by that concept or that role. For her to be able to grow into another position and still have Unseen Heroes run is just a testament to the well-oiled machine that we’ve become. This business has become bigger than both of us.
Looking back on the past 10 years of running Unseen Heroes with Maritza, what are you proudest of?
Roshaun: I think the thing that I’m proudest of is actually being able to see things come to fruition now with such ease that weren’t attainable 10 years ago. I sit at different events and I see different things happening in the city that we aren’t producing but I know that the work we put in over the last 10 years indirectly or directly has attributed to that thing happening. That’s a cool space to be in because it makes me proud of all the hard work and determination we pushed. We believed in the city in a way not a lot of people did 10 years ago, and to see the city actually living up to the belief that we put in, that energy that we put in, that love that we put in, that’s amazing.
Why is being involved in your community so important to you?
Maritza: We all need each other, whether you recognize it or not. The connection to other people, the connection to how we all live, is monumental. It’s great to have resources like parks, but what makes the park come to life and be relevant are the people. To me community means everything, it’s what makes the world go ’round.
How do you view Sac State’s role in and impact on the community?
Maritza: Sac State, especially in recent years, has done such an amazing job of getting involved. It is not a university that is just watching from the sidelines, instead they get involved with what’s happening in our city. For a university like Sac State to get involved with existing students and alumni is strong evidence of the dedication they have to the growth of their student body both past and present.
Roshaun: Sac State produces a lot of graduates who are doing some cool things right now. A lot of the people who we work with are actually graduates of Sac State. That’s just a testament to being open, to educating the community here, and then developing them in a way that allows them to contribute back to the community. It’s a vital role and I think Sac State plays that perfectly.
What’s in the pipeline for Unseen Heroes?
Roshuan: Right now we just landed a big contract with Electrify America. Over the next 10 months, there will be an initiative called Sac-To-Zero introducing electric car sharing and electric charge stations to the Sacramento market. We’re producing a series of launch parties and signature events for them. It really changes the face of this green movement in our city, and is being used as a test market to see how it can be run in different cities as well. For that to be on our plate, have that opportunity to really grow that program, and see it being implemented nationally is really cool for us to have our hands in.
Read our 2015 Made at Sac State story about Maritza and Roshaun at csus.edu/made/davis.