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New Foundation Director Always Drawn to Fund Raising
Bill Lambert will focus on a donor interest-centered approach.

photo of Bill LambertSomehow new Foundation Executive Director Bill Lambert must have known all along—even as a law school student—that he would eventually wind up in a career in fund raising.

“I’ve been fund raising most of my adult life, even going back as far as high school,” says Bill, a New England native who now makes his home in Diamond Bar.

In high school, Bill helped coordinate donations for food baskets for the needy. And later as a student at Northern Illinois University College of Law, he helped pay his way through school by making fund-raising calls on behalf of the college. He would go on to graduate with his Juris Doctorate, but the strong lure of fund raising pulled him away from hanging his attorney shingle.

“The training I received in law school was actually good training for fund raising and learning how to support a case,” says Bill, whose original plan was to become a criminal defense attorney.

Instead, Bill went to work as the Director of Annual Giving at Northern Illinois and then went on to similar fund-raising posts at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Wisconsin, and UC Berkeley. His most recent position was Director of Development and Reunions at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont. But wherever he’s been, Bill has used what he calls a “donor-centered” approach to fundraising, which seeks to align a potential donor’s true interests with your specific needs.

For example, if an alumnus were a music major, he or she might be interested in supporting a choral program production, or a former nursing student might be interested in giving towards nursing scholarships. The key, he said, is being committed to building relationships with internal and external communities to better determine their areas of interest.

Although he’s been on campus for only four months, Bill already has a handle on the type of institution and culture Mt. SAC is.

Mt. SAC is more like “small-big” institution—“small in that you can receive individualized attention—as you would at a small private college—yet large in terms of the huge student population it serves,” he said. “It’s big and small at the same time.”

And it is those unique characteristics that Bill plans to capitalize on for his ambitious alumni outreach program.

“We want to reach out to 100,000 Mt. SAC alumni,” he says, noting that he recently launched a massive direct mail alumni solicitation campaign. “As far as I know, that’s never been done here before on that scale.”

Mt. SAC, he knows, is a special place.

“It’s clear that there’s something remarkable going on here at Mt. SAC,” Bill says. “Everyone I’ve talked to has been here 15, 20, 30 years, and I think that says something good about the college and how at home people feel here.” —Mike Taylor (Posted 12-18-12)

Kelly Ford Leaves Mt. SAC with a Winning Legacy

photo of Kelly Ford at Mt. SAC.After 11 years and more than 400 wins, Head Softball Coach Kelly Ford recently left Mt. SAC to fill the head coaching slot at Cal State Fullerton. But she leaves behind a legacy of much more than a lot of wins on the softball fields.

“I’m just so blessed, so lucky to have worked with so many amazing people here at Mt. SAC,” she says.

During her tenure, Kelly turned the Mt. SAC softball program around. The Mounties won four state championships, eight regional titles, and seven South Coast Conference Championships on her watch. With a Mt. SAC career record of 455-102-1, she was named “Conference Coach of the Year” five times.

But what is equally impressive is the difference she has made in the lives of her students off the field.

“It’s not all about softball. It’s about teaching life skills,” Kelly says. “The one thing I hope my students come away with is self-confidence—not just in sports, but in life.”

The proof is in the results. Greater than 90% of her softball players have continued their education and earned scholarships to universities.

Kelly, herself, was a product of a community college. She played for Central Arizona and went on to play and coach for the University of Oklahoma. She later went on to coaching stints at Cal State Fullerton and Cal State Northridge, and part of what she tries to create for her students is that “Division I atmosphere” here at Mt. SAC.

“There is a distinct championship culture here—from the top down,” notes Kelly. “Our athletic programs are legendary, and they receive the support they need to achieve excellence.”

Kelly may have left Mt. SAC to go back to Fullerton, but the impression she’s made on the Mounties and on the softball program here will last a lifetime. (Posted 11-01-12)

Psych Prof. Uses Comedy Skills to Connect with Students

photo of Dr. John Pellitteri at Mt. SAC.Through his foray into the world of comedy clubs, Mt. SAC’s Dr. John Pellitteri has discovered a way to use the skills he developed in stand-up comedy to connect with students in the classroom. There are certain skills and techniques, he said, that seem to translate well to both the stage and in the classroom.

“The idea of creating a space and controlling the room is critical, because in stand-up if you lose control of the room, you’re doomed,” said the ESL counselor and psychology professor, who holds two bachelor’s, two master’s, a doctorate in neuropsychology as well as a fifth-degree black belt in karate.

John, who has taught at Mt. SAC since 1994, began moonlighting as a comedian about five years ago when he started taking a class at the Ontario Improv Comedy Club. That was basically about “learning what the rules are and getting feedback,” he said.

From there, he went on to perform at bars until he got booked at the Ice House in Pasadena. After that, he went back to the Ontario Improv, where he competed in a Comedy Idol contest and won runner-up as one of the top three comedians. His brand of comedy is based more on situational storytelling rather than jokes and one-liners.

“The essence of comedy,” he said, “is exaggeration.” And for source material for his stand-up act, he doesn’t have to look any further than home and his 9-year-old twins, Ally and Owen, and 11-year-old son Chase. “I have a lot of personal anecdotes of my kids that I used in comedy and continue to use in the classroom,” he said.

For example: “My 9-year-old son called from his room one night, ‘Daddy, Daddy, come quick! There’s a monster in my room, and he’s going to eat me up!’ I said, ‘Son, calm down. There’s no reason to get excited. There are no monsters in my room. Now, why would I come in your room to get eaten up?’”

At Mt. SAC, those comedic skills normally used to capture an audience in a nightclub are what John employs to reach his students.

“A lot has to do with controlling the room and making it an interesting, entertaining, and safe environment,” he said.

John teaches the career skills and guidance courses in the ESL Program and a wide range of classes for the Psychology Department.

“The challenge in stand-up is you start from nothing and you’re expected to make people laugh, whereas in the classroom you deal with content and try to present that in an interesting and entertaining way.”

It’s the use of those techniques that enables John to create a unique bond with his students.

“Almost all of my students think this is a professor that gets me, that we’re on the same team,” John said. “I really want to make my classroom so interesting and useful that students want to come to class.”

When he isn’t helping ESL students or teaching psychology, he works as a psychologist at his private practice in Claremont, conducting psychotherapy and neuropsychological assessments.

And as if that isn’t enough, he has also served as a soccer coach. He makes his home in Alta Loma with his three children and wife, Samantha, who is also a psychologist.

For the immediate future, John Pellitteri has no plans to resume his career in stand-up. But then again, he’s not ruling out the laughs entirely. —Mike Taylor (Posted 9-20-12)

Linda Baldwin Leaves Behind a Legacy
of Accomplishment in Fiscal Services

rosa royce, LINDA BALDWIN,


After 11 years at Mt. SAC and 36 years in public education, Associate Vice President of Fiscal Services Linda Baldwin has retired and leaves behind a legacy of accomplishment and service at the college she has called home since 2001.

“One of the things I will miss the most is the Fiscal Services staff,” says Linda. “They are simply the best. They’ve taken on a huge amount of work in the last 11 years and have never complained.”

With Linda at the helm, Fiscal Services has seen many changes and innovations, ranging from new computer software implementation to increased responsibilities and new duties.

In 2003, the department implemented the PeopleSoft system and converted an estimated 12,000 accounts. Fiscal Services also implemented the Banner Finance system, which covers such functions as accounts payable, purchase orders, and online requisitions, as well as the Banner student accounts function.

The department coordinated processing for $65 million in Bond Anticipation Notes for the college. Fiscal Services also assumed responsibility of the Purchasing Department and the Bursar’s Office.

“People don’t realize we do all these tasks, but they represent a huge amount of work,” she says.

The one accomplishment Linda is particularly proud of is Fiscal Service’s assuming payroll responsibilities, which was previously done by the county. The transfer of duties meant that Mt. SAC would now issue its own pay warrants. In conjunction with those responsibilities, Mt. SAC was later granted fiscal accountability and fiscal independence status, which now enables the college to oversee the audit function for commercial and payroll warrants and handle all banking transactions.

“Fiscal Services has really been busy since 2001 and has accomplished a lot,” she said.

Currently, Fiscal Services is busy taking on the duties of Auxiliary Services, and Linda is staying on for a while after her June 30 retirement to help the transition run smoothly.

Linda came to Mt. SAC after serving as the Director of Human Resources and Coordinator of Fiscal Affairs at the North Orange County Community College District for 17 years. But the last few fiscally challenging years for community colleges have meant increased duties and responsibilities for fiscal services departments everywhere.

“When you have bad budget years, you have more work for Fiscal Services,” she notes. “I don’t think our staff has gotten the full credit they deserve for all their hard work.”

Linda Baldwin and family.

When she does actually leave Mt. SAC, Linda has a long list of priorities to keep her busy. Priority 1 is related to her personal relationship—she just got engaged! Another high priority is travel. Linda recently returned from a Caribbean cruise and plans to do much more traveling. She will also spend a lot of time with her grandchildren, work in her garden, and spend time on her absolute favorite hobby—quilt making.

Linda Baldwin with quilt presented to her staff upon her retirement.Linda began making quilts after her daughter asked her to make one for her graduation from the police academy. Since then, she has made quilts for her children, grandchild, and even former Mt. SAC President John Nixon. But there are other quilts that have yet to see the light of day.

“I have a lot of quilts that I’ve started, but haven’t finished,” she concedes. “That’s one of my goals in retirement.”

Given all this, it wasn’t at all surprising that one of Linda’s farewell gifts from her staff was a handmade quilt— with each patch depicting a customized message from her colleagues, wishing her well. — Mike Taylor (Posted 7-26-12)


Music Professor Plays for the Queen
Irene Shiao uses music to tell stories

Dan Smith

When Music Professor Irene Shiao first picked up a violin at age 10, she probably couldn’t imagine performing for the Queen of England. But that’s just what she did at Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in England as part of the Musique Sur la Mer Orchestra of Orange County on June 2.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to perform at an historic event,” said Shiao, who teaches violin and viola as an adjunct professor at Mt. SAC and directs the string section. “It was phenomenal, and I am just really grateful that I was invited by the conductor.”

Musique Sur la Mer, comprising some of the finest musicians from throughout the United States, performs a variety of musical styles. Irene and the orchestra performed selections for the queen from Aaron Copland, Louie Prima, Edward Elgar, and other American and British composers at the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall event. It was an evening Irene will never forget, and while as a child she might not have imagined performing for the Queen Elizabeth, she definitely was headed on the right track all along.

“From a young age I knew I wanted to be musician, be on stage, and always wanted to share this passion for music,” she said.

Irene grew up listening to Beethoven as a child in Taiwan as did both her sister and brother, who also play.

“My parents always wanted their children to be able to play music,” she said.

But it was her brother, Dr. Simon Shiao, now a music professor at North Florida University, who inspired her all those years ago.

“That energy that I saw in him on stage and his ability to touch people is what made me want to play the violin,” she said.

Once her family immigrated to Washington state, she competed in numerous youth music festivals and competitions in the Seattle area, winning the Olmea Solo and Ensemble Contest in 1991 and the Washington Music Educators Solo and Ensemble Contest in 1992.

Her violin mastery led to a four-year music scholarship to Azusa Pacific University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree. She went on to receive her master’s degree from Cal State Fullerton.

Today, Irene tries to instill that same passion for the violin and music in her students.

“My hope is that they love and understand music, and are able to express themselves through their music,” she said.

For her, music is about communicating with the audience and telling a story through
the strings of her violin.

“I don’t want students to just play the notes on a page, but I want them to feel the music,” she said.

Teaching music since 1995, Irene began at Mt. SAC in 2010 and has also taught at Concordia University and Hope International University.

“I am very impressed by students here at Mt. SAC because they show a lot of respect for their teachers and are easy to work with,” she said. “I am happy to work as a mentor with students to share my experience and knowledge.”

When she isn’t teaching, Irene is busy performing. Her music credentials include a long and varied list of orchestras, including the Burbank Philharmonic Orchestra, the La Miranda Symphony, the Mozart Classical Orchestra of Orange County, the Pacific Symphony Institute Orchestra, and the Taiwanese American Chamber Orchestra.

Currently, she is participating in the invitation-only Grand Teton Music Festival in Wyoming through July and August, where she will be joined by her brother who is also performing.

But whether Irene Shiao is teaching students at Mt. SAC or playing for the Queen of England, she has one focused goal in mind.

 “I want people to be happy about the story I tell them through my music,” she said. (Posted 7-10-12)

Spanish Professor Renée Andrade Says “Hola” to Retirement

photo of rene andrade with friendThey say when one door closes, another one opens.

That’s pretty much where Renée Andrade, Mt. SAC’s enthusiastic Spanish professor, is right now. After motivating two generations of students, she is ready to say adios to the Foreign Languages Department and hola to a brand new life in retirement.

But before she embarks on that journey, there is one more commencement Renee wants to attend, because commencement has always been one the highlights of her academic year and her academic life. In fact, she credits the first commencement she saw as a student at L.A. City College as the reason she became a teacher in the first place.

“The first time I saw commencement and the professors all dressed up walking by, I thought this is magic,” she said. “This is what I want to be.”

So fast forward and Renée ends up achieving that goal. She taught at UC Irvine, USC, Saddleback College, Orange Coast College, and Irvine Valley before taking a full-time position at Mt. SAC 28 years ago.

“Number one,” she said, “I’ve always been a teacher.”

Her time at Mt. SAC has been filled with activities punctuated with her characteristic enthusiasm. She served as department chair for six years, served on Academic Senate and Faculty Association for 20 years, and served on the Scholarship and Students of Distinction committees for over 20 years. She helped establish the Spanish for Teachers, Health Professionals, and Law Enforcement Personnel courses. She was also selected as Mt. SAC’s Outstanding Educator in 1993 and has been named an Educator of Distinction three times.

"Renée has always been one of the most loved and appreciated professors we've had in our department, and she's always contributed in a myriad of ways, such as announcing the names at graduation, attending and helping with the Students of Distinction event every year, and being our representative to the Academic Senate,” said Foreign Languages co-chair Kurt Kemp. “She will dearly be missed!’

Every year, she receives between 45-50 Christmas cards from former students and at least five invitations to graduation ceremonies.

“Students may move on in life,” she said, “but they continue to stay in touch with me— and that to me is success.”

Part of the secret of her success as a teacher is that Renée has always applied the concept of what she calls con ganas, which translates to “with energy” or “with spirit.”

“I always tell them that if you put your heart into things, there is nothing you cannot do,” she said.

When she retires after a total of 37 years in education, Renée will be looking forward to traveling in the off-seasons, doing more sailing, and spending more time with her three young grandchildren.

She also plans to continue teaching. But this time she will volunteer through her church in Irvine to teach English, not Spanish, to the parents of Hispanic parents so that they can communicate better with their children’s teachers. By doing so, she hopes to get parents more involved in their children’s education.

“The beauty of teaching language is your creativity never ends,” she said.

She also has been helping out with programs for the homeless and the elderly, and whatever else Renée does in retirement, you can be sure she will do it con ganas. —Mike Taylor (Posted 6-7-12)

Dan Smith Brings Reality TV into the Classroom

Dan SmithThe pace, production, and popularity of today’s crop of television reality shows may seem a bit unreal to some. But to Professor Dan Smith, it’s all part of the industry that is growing by leaps and bounds and is cause for the debut of Mt. SAC’s new, one-of-a-kind “Reality Show Production” class.

“As far as I can tell, there is no other educational institution in the state—perhaps the nation—that offers a reality show production course like this,” notes Dan, who chairs the Commercial & Entertainment Arts Department and has been teaching television production at Mt. SAC for 14 years.

While there are other colleges that offer reality show survey courses, Dan’s class is the one only that offers students hands-on production training and a taste of what it would be like to work on a reality TV program like Big Brother or Survivor. Offered for the first time this semester, the course affords students the opportunity to learn an array of skills that include camera work, lighting, and music editing. They also learn how to pitch a show, create “sizzle reels,” and produce an eight-minute reality show.

The course’s genesis came as the result of a recommendation by an advisory committee for the department. “It became obvious that these were unique skills that nobody was teaching,” Dan says.

Once students learn the skills they need, their prospects are fantastic. Very quickly, they moved from work behind the camera to producing segments. Already Dan’s had former students go on to work on reality programs such as Project Runway, The Bachelor, and Ice Road Truckers. And he has lost a student assistant and two part-time faculty members, who were hired to work on reality shows.

One former student, Chris Rehnke, advanced so quickly he might have wished he hadn’t. Working on a segment for Ice Road Truckers, he was dropped off in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean on a Coast Guard ship with three anvil cases in minus 40-degree weather and told to produce a segment.

Dan’s humble beginnings in television were far less adventurous. Originally a film school student, he started working on the sports segments for KDOC in Orange County. He also produced commercials and music videos, wrote screenplays, and served as a local television station manager before the teaching bug bit him when he began teaching through an area Regional Occupational Program.

He began teaching full time at Mt. SAC in 1998, and since then has been dedicated to providing an authentic, hands-on learning experience for his students.

“Once students finish the course, I want them to feel comfortable on the set and with the pace and expectations of the job,” he said.

In addition to chairing his department, Dan serves on the Academic Senate Executive Board. His wife, Heather, is also part of the Mt. SAC family. She teaches information technology through Community Education’s Older Adult Program.

Jesse Mezquita Unveils Interactive Photo Work of ‘60s

Jesse Angel Mezquita posing with cameraThe work of Photography Professor Jesse Angel Mezquita is being featured in a high-tech exhibition at the campus Art Gallery through April 12. Influenced by the smooth sounds of Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix, the photos of Ansel Adams, and the culture of East Los Angeles, Mezquita’s photographs depict many of the lost anti-war murals of Vietnam War-era Los Angeles.

The exhibit, titled “Reflections,” uses innovative quick-response, QR technology, meaning visitors can use their smart phones to guide them throughout the exhibit. Mezquita has been teaching since 1976, when there were only five photography classes on campus. Now, 36 years later, his exhibit is using technology to show his students the real meaning of being a photojournalist.

“This gallery is very interactive and I am very excited for everyone to see that,” Mezquita said. The exhibit showcases East L.A during the anti-war movement through a series of photographs. Much of Tierra, an East L.A. barrio, is showcased with landscape photography.

Born and reared in East L.A, Mezquita was a student at East Los Angeles College during the time of the Vietnam War. “There was always something about the culture and the music of East Los Angeles during that era that I always loved,” he said.

Mezquita was always drawn to the Latino culture. His work covers 40 years of photojournalism as he captured some of the most innovative and progressive images that emerged during a time of turmoil. “I photographed the murals in East L.A, a lot of which aren’t there anymore,” Mezquita said.

Mezquita also said that music was a factor in his work during that time. “Music was huge in the sixties,” he recalls. “Marvin Gaye, Los Lobos—all of that was big during that time and a big inspiration to me.” Mezquita also said he is influenced by the photography of Ansel Adams, who he met briefly as a student. “When I was at ELAC, the school bought his portfolio. I talked to him for five minutes and he inspired me. I tried to emulate his approach.”

This exhibit is full of countless images that Mezquita shot throughout this era which is largely forgotten. “A lot of students and fellow employees don’t know what they missed in the sixties,” he said. “There was a lot of love during that time. And this exhibit will help you be able to see that.” (Posted 4-5-12, written by Mercedes Barba, A&E Editor, Mountaineer)

K.C. Kranz: Mt. SAC’s Fitness Guru

K. C. Kranz in Gym settings

With so many people resolving to get fit and lose weight in the new year, gym memberships and activity usually soar in January. But many of those resolutions last for only a few weeks.

“Unfortunately, those resolutions have an average lifespan of about six to eight weeks, and gym attendance tends to thin out around March or April,” notes Karyn Kranz (aka: KC), health fitness supervisor at Mt. SAC’s Exercise Science and Wellness Center, where membership rose, as usual, last month.

Well fret not! KC has a sustainable three-pronged success strategy that can’t be beat. Above all, she says, everyone needs specific, realistic goals, commitment, and options.

“I’m a firm believer in having many options available in your exercise toolbox,” KC says. Those options are, quite literally, different ways to work out—like the gym, or a dance class, an exercise DVD, or a walk with a colleague at lunch. The idea is that you will exercise more and more consistently with a greater number of occasions to exercise. The more options you have, the more consistently you will exercise and achieve your goals.”

“Above all, find an activity that you enjoy,” she suggests. “It’s easier to lose interest in an exercise program you don’t particularly enjoy.”

As an added incentive, everyone should consider the many benefits of regular exercise beyond just weight loss. People who exercise regularly have more energy. They sleep better, have more robust immune systems, and are more productive. Exercise even has a positive effect on one’s mood, KC notes.

On the other hand, the excuses for not maintaining an exercise routine are also plentiful with the No. 1 excuse being the “lack of time.”

“So if you’re someone who can’t manage to carve out a one-hour period during the day for exercise, you can break it up into several 10 or 15-minute sessions,” said K.C.

Living in the computer age is in itself yet another drawback to an exercise program. “Life makes it very convenient to become sedentary because of computers, television, games, text messaging, and so on,” she said.

To be successful in your routine, K.C. advises beginners to take it slow and to try to be consistent. “Anything that gets you moving is a start,” she says. “The idea is to move more and to drive and sit less.”

K.C. began working at the Wellness Center 14 years ago on a part-time basis. At the time, she was an aeronautics student at Mt. SAC, but got hooked on fitness after taking a cardio circuit lab. She went on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in kinesiology and earned certification as a strength and conditioning specialist. Then in 2003, she was hired full time as a health fitness supervisor at the Wellness Center. In addition to overseeing the center, K.C. teaches aerobics, techniques of fitness testing, and cardio circuit lab classes.

The Exercise Science & Wellness Center is open seven days a week, beginning at 5 a.m. on weekdays, and is open on weekends from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Membership is open to Mt. SAC employees, students, and the public, and everyone has access to all of the center’s equipment and aerobics classes. Employees can join for only $75 a year, which is substantially less than standard gym rates. Their membership also includes a free fitness baseline assessment.

“I love the variety of members we get at the center from college-aged students to older community members to fire department personnel,” she said.

The center also regularly provides fitness testing and an exercise lecture series for the Montclair Fire Department. But for K.C. Kranz, the bottom line about fitness and resolutions is simply to get started and to stop making excuses.

“The problem with fitness resolutions is that they are not just a one-month commitment,” she said. “Fitness is a lifestyle change and a lifelong process. If you don’t make time for exercise and healthy eating, you will eventually have to make time for illness . . . and who wants that?” (Posted 02-08-12)

Link to 2011 Spotlights