Nine CSULB Alums Honored For Distinguished Service

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Nine California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) alumni were recently recognized with the Distinguished Alumni Award for their accomplishments in their respective fields.

“From breakthroughs in the medical field, to expanding society’s understanding of gender, Beach alumni inspire and influence our communities and our culture,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. “I’m proud of these individuals for their accomplishments. They are wonderful examples of the transformational power of our university.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award, CSULB’s highest alumni honor, is bestowed annually in each college by the CSULB Alumni Association. In addition to demonstrated pride and positive affinity for the university, awardees have achieved a record of distinction, recognition and accomplishment in their fields and a proven record of leadership and service to their communities and society at large.

Among those honored were:

Alexandra Billings, MFA in Theatre Arts, 2013
Billings co-stars as “Davina” in the Golden Globe-winning television series Transparent. An accomplished actor, teacher and cabaret performer, Billings made entertainment history by becoming the first transgender actress to portray a transgender character on television.

Anna W. Ngai, B.S. in Business and Finance, 1974
As a co-founder of two banks in Northern California and the co-founder, vice-president and treasurer of several companies that operate restaurant franchises throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon, Ngai helped created more than 2,000 jobs during her 30-year business career. In recognition of her transformational gifts to the campus, Ngai has been honored with the university’s prestigious Carillon Society Award and serves on the board of the CSULB 49er Foundation.

Phillip Pérez, B.A. in English Literature, 1976; M.A. in Educational Administration, 1981
As superintendent of the Little Lake City School District, Pérez has led the school district he attended as a child since 2001. In 1988, Pérez received the California Department of Education’s national Milken Educator Award, and in 1998, he was honored as one of the Inland Empire’s “Most Influential Latinos.” He is the recipient of the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Distinguished Service Award and was the ACSA Region XV Superintendent of the Year Nominee in 2014.

Hal D. Snyder, B.S. in Civil Engineering, 1983
Snyder serves as vice president, human resources, diversity and inclusion, at the Southern California Gas Co. where he oversees human resources, labor relations, diversity, organizational effectiveness, and employee health and safety for the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility. Snyder serves as a member of the board and of the executive committee of the California Science Center, as co-chair of the California State Science Fair, and as board member/treasurer for the Coalition for Clean Air. A member of College of Engineering’s Dean’s Advisory Council, Snyder assists his alma mater and the next generation of engineering professionals by connecting CSULB students with internship opportunities at SoCalGas and by helping CSULB secure company grants, sponsorships and speakers.

Pamela Macdonald Regnier, B.A. in Recreation, 1969
Macdonald Regnier has transformed the lives of countless CSULB students, faculty, and staff— and, of course, their children—through her visionary leadership of the Isabel Patterson Child Development Center. A longtime substitute teacher and the illustrator/co-author of the Prentice-Hall book Growing Up Equal: Activities and Resources for Parents and Teachers of Young Children, Macdonald Regnier joined the center in 1976 and served as its director from 1982-2001. She also formed the California Council of Children’s Center Directors Association, a highly effective CSU-wide advocacy group. Macdonald Regnier has been a generous supporter of many university initiatives including Women and Philanthropy, serving as chair from 2010-12, as well as the President’s Associates, Athletic Director’s Circle, Friends of the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, Peach Tree Fund, Recreation and Leisure Studies Department, future Alumni Center and more.

Naeema Aziz, M.S. in Health Care Administration, 2000
As chief operating officer of Apex Projects Development Co., Aziz is directing development of the $1 billion “International Medical City,” a new regional hub for transplant-based medical tourism in the Sultanate of Oman. Previously, Aziz served as senior director and as practice leader for health care for Ernst & Young in the Middle East and as senior consultant advisor to the Ministry of Health in Bahrain. Other career highlights include establishing and managing the cardiovascular physiology and molecular cardiology research labs for the VA Long Beach Healthcare System and serving as an assistant professor and a senior research scientist at the National Human Genome Center at UC Irvine. In addition, she is a virtual mentor to CSULB students interested in exploring international health issues in the Middle East.

Bill Shumard, B.A. in Journalism, 1972
Shumard has enjoyed a long and successful career in sports management at the professional, collegiate and amateur levels. Since 2005, he has served as president and CEO of Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC), now recognized as one of the movement’s premier Special Olympics programs. Under Shumard’s leadership, Southern California was awarded the bid for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games—the largest sporting and humanitarian event in the world—and the number of athletes served by SOSC dramatically increased. Prior to joining SOSC, Shumard was the second-longest tenured athletic director in CSULB history, raising more than $7 million for capital projects including the Walter Pyramid, and overseeing a program that won numerous championships and experienced extraordinary gains in student-athlete graduation rates. Shumard remains actively involved with CSULB, where he is the current chair of the Advisory Council for the Master of Sports Management program and a past chair of the Governing Council for the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership. College of Liberal Arts.

Michael Houlihan, B.A. in Political Science, 1968
A visionary entrepreneur and brand builder, Houlihan and his partner, Bonnie Harvey, used performance-based compensation, “Worthy Cause Marketing,” and an expanded view of customer service to beat the business odds, transforming Barefoot Wine from an obscure novelty product into an iconic brand that is now the world’s No. 1 wine brand. Now a sought-after speaker, author, consultant and workshop leader, Houlihan shares his entrepreneurial journey and philosophies with audiences and clients throughout the world. Houlihan has earned the wine industry’s top awards including “Trend Setter,” “Fast Track Growth Brand” and “Hot Brand.”

Jean-Bernard Durand, B.S. in Biology, 1984
Durand made medical history by revolutionizing our understanding of the relationship between cardiovascular disease and cancer. He is a faculty member and researcher at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he founded and directs Cardiomyopathy Services, the first program designed specifically to manage chemotherapy-induced cardiovascular complications. Durand also established the world’s largest database of DNA from patients with heart failure secondary to chemotherapy and performs genotyping to identify heart-failure susceptibility genes. He is a frequent contributor to leading medical journals, and his honors include being named “America’s Top Cardiologist,” MD Anderson’s “Best Teacher,” and one of “Houston’s Top Doctors.”

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