Pair of Hornet journalists receive lifetime achievement awards

Two Sacramento State alums have received lifetime achievement awards for their work in the journalism industry.

Cheryl Dell ’82 (Communications), who retired last year as publisher of the Sacramento Bee after 30 years in the industry, on Sept. 11 received the Ralph D. Casey/Minnesota Award, a top accolade for newspaper and news media publishers. The award is the highest honor bestowed by the nonprofit Inland Press Association, and given to publishers who bring about positive change “while exemplifying the finest in journalism and community service.”

A native of Modesto, Dell served as publisher of the Tri-City Herald and The News-Tribune in Washington State before returning home in 2008 to oversee the Bee. Sacramento State awarded Dell an honorary doctorate in 2017.

High honors also are being bestowed upon Sacramento State alum and NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, who in December will be awarded the 2018 Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism. The award recognizes the “outstanding career achievements of journalists whose work has made a lasting impact serving citizens in our democracy.”

Holt began working at NBC news in 2000 following nearly 20 years in local television, in 2015 becoming the first African-American solo anchor of a weekday network nightly newscast. The Rancho Cordova native studied government at Sacramento State, received an honorary degree in 2015, and returned to Sacramento in early 2017 as the first stop in his “Across America” series.

Distinguished Alumni Award winner shares her Sac State story

Over the past decade, few individuals have had a greater impact on Sacramento’s economic future than Christine Ault. Now, in her own words, the dynamic communications leader shares the impact Sacramento State had on her:

“Of course I would express my gratitude for the quality education I received, for many wonderful teachers I had the chance to study with, and for the foundation that my Communication Studies degree laid for me. But looking back after 25 years since graduation, it’s really the unforeseen opportunities that came about — for both Michael and me — that simply can’t be measured.”

Christine and Michael Ault with professor Gerri Smith
Christine (left) and Michael Ault return to campus to visit with communications professor Gerri Smith. The Aults met in one of Smith’s classes, and the professor attended their wedding years later. (Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

Tonight in the Harper Alumni Center, Christine and her husband, Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, will accept Distinguished Alumni Awards for the staggering amount of work they have done to bring a new vision of Sacramento to life.

Over the years, Christine Ault has worn many hats and played myriad roles, most recently as a project manager for Valley Vision, a regional think tank. The organization is responsible for some of the region’s biggest collaborative initiatives, partnerships, programs, and events.

With Valley Vision, she has helped bring in millions of dollars in state grants as a result of her work on the landmark jobs initiative Next Economy, which laid out a roadmap for continued growth and cooperative efforts across Sacramento’s vast economic landscape through 2017.

Though more than two decades have passed, she still hearkens back to her time at Sac State, the professors who inspired her, the connections she made, and friendships that continue to this day.

“Fast forward 25 years, and Michael and I find ourselves working alongside Sac State leaders every day. President Nelsen, Phil Garcia, Robert Dugan. Our work also crosses paths with probably hundreds of fellow alumni as we each do our part to help the region meet its full potential. Tim Murphy, Keri Thomas, Bill Mueller, Pat Fong Kushida, and so many others. I have no doubt that the opportunities that Michael and I have been afforded started from our relationship with Sac State. Not just the institution, but the people.”

Read Christine’s blog in its entirety over at Valley Vision; check out the Aults’ Made at Sac State story and video for more on how the couple is shaping Sacramento’s future.