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Volunteer Service Awards

2011 Dorthea "Granny" Heitz Award

Milt Valera

Milt Valera has led the National Notary Association (NNA) since 1982 when he became President of the largest and most respected organization serving United States Notaries. In nearly four decades, Valera has overseen all of the Association’s major programs that today define the arena of Notary education and support services. Among his greatest achievements are creation of two influential, landmark sets of standards for Notaries: The Model Notary Acts of 1984, 2002 and 2010 and their predecessor, The Uniform Notary Act of 1973, and The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility of 1998. Valera also serves as Editor and Publisher of the Association’s two flagship member publications — The National Notary magazine and the Notary Bulletin. Born and raised in Lihue, Hawaii, he relocated to the mainland after high school graduating in 1964 from Los Angeles City College. In 1968, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from San Fernando Valley State College. Before his career with the NNA, Valera worked as a newspaper editor, as well as in marketing and public relations. He is active in the nonprofit community, with board directorships at the National Notary Foundation, the Chase Foundation, and most recently Milt was elected by the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation (CCMF) to its distinguished Board of Trustees — the only representative on the board from the western United States. In addition he is a member of the Kauai High School Foundation Board of Directors. Giving back to CSUN and its students has been foremost for Milt. With his roots in journalism he held the office of president for the CSUN Journalism Alumni Association and currently serves as a Director at Large. His committee work was instrumental in the organization of successful Journalism/Sundial Reunions. His service to the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication includes the Dean’s Council Executive Board and the Journalism Advisory Board. Despite a busy schedule, Milt has found time to serve on the California State University Northridge Foundation since 2009. He is a prominent advocate for donor programs in education and is the national chair for the University’s distinguished President’s Associates. He has generously supported the Valley Performing Arts Center Campaign and was a member of its steering committee. His philanthropic support to the university includes the CSUN Rising Capital Campaign Committee, chairman of the Rawitch Scholarship Committee, and designated gifts to the college and the department of journalism, as well as an endowed scholarship in 2004 for CSUN Journalism students. Taking an active role with the CSUN Alumni Association since 2002, he has held several positions including First Vice President/President Elect and Vice President. He has been an alumni commencement representative and was involved in the successful university anniversary celebrations held in1996 and 2006. Additionally he has been a longtime sponsor of the university’s Distinguished Alumni Awards galas. Milt is a Lifetime Member of the association. For his service to the university community, Milt was the first university alumnus to be honored with two Volunteer Service Awards from two different groups, the Journalism Alumni Association in 2003 and University Advancement in 2005.


2010 Dorthea "Granny" Heitz Award

David S. Honda

Well known as a philanthropist, David Honda has been serving the community for nearly four decades. He is president and chief executive officer of D.S. Honda Construction, Inc. in Northridge, which specializes in high-rise tenant planning and construction. Cal State Northridge has been a beneficiary of Honda’s exemplary volunteerism and patronage. He has served the university in a range of responsibilities including as a member of the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors since 1998. Serving as chairman in 2000-02 Honda shaped the Foundations’ strategic direction and helped to drive the university’s philanthropic initiatives. As a member of the Board of Directors of the North Campus Development Corporation he is involved in the non-profit auxiliary’s mission for the prudent and integrated development of the sixty-five acres that constitute the university’s north campus. The College of Engineering and Computer Sciences is indebted to his instrumental participation in the creation of a Construction Management Technology degree program (CMT) at CSUN which received accreditation in July 2010. He is a member of the CMT advisory board. In addition, he has funded the David S. Honda Construction Management Technology Endowment to support the program through scholarships, faculty development and other activities to benefit the curriculum. Former college Dean S.T. Mau said of Honda, “His ideas served as an inspiration for its creation and this endowment serves as a legacy of his commitment to our students and faculty that it will continue to grow and play a vital role in the community.” Honda has been an advocate for change and improvements for the disadvantaged and disabled. As such other university departments have been recipients of Honda’s generosity. He contributed to the Center of Achievement (CoA) for the Physically Disabled in the Department of Kinesiology. The CoA and the Abbott and Linda Brown Western Center for Adaptive Aquatic Therapy serve the community through therapeutic exercise programs. The centers bring hope and restoration to people with chronic physical disabilities in a caring, motivating environment. In recognition of his devoted efforts, Honda was selected in 2009 to receive the esteemed Fernando Award which is supported by Valley Chambers of Commerce, civic and philanthropic organizations. The highest award for volunteerism in the San Fernando Valley, it is given annually to an individual who has displayed a lifetime of volunteering and civic accomplishment. He has been a member of the North Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce (NVRCC) since 1999 and currently serves on their board of directors. In 2009 he was honored by the NVRCC with the prestigious C.K. Tseng Leadership Award which is given annually for outstanding community service in the North Valley. A native of the San Fernando Valley, Honda has said that “the Valley’s cultural and industrial diversity has been its greatest strength…The Valley represents America like nowhere else.” In 2000, David served as president of The Asian Business Association of Los Angeles which represents Asian American business owners and creates business opportunities for its member as well as providing training and education. Earlier this year his company assisted the Japanese American National Museum with their project “The Heart Mountain Barracks” where fragments of the World War II internment camp were brought to Los Angeles from Wyoming and reassembled as an exhibit at the museum. He has held leadership positions and been active in numerous community organizations, including membership in the boards of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill Local Enforcement Agency, Northridge Hospital and as co-chair/founder of The Valley Economic Alliance. Many non-profit groups have benefited from Honda’s talents including Greater L.A. Council on Deafness (GLAD), City of Los Angeles Disabled Access Appeals and the Tierra del Sol Foundation which serves the community by enabling individuals with disabilities to establish meaningful and productive lives and to contribute to the economic, cultural and civic vitality of their communities.David and Jennifer are both 2004 graduates of CSUN.


2009 Dorothea "Granny" Heitz Award

Gene Detchemendy

Gene Detchemendy is recognized as one of CSUN’s most loyal and dedicated alumni leaders. A University donor and Alumni Association Lifetime Member, Gene’s volunteer commitments to the University have been most visibly noted through his nearly 15 years of service as a member of the Board of Directors of the California State University, Northridge Alumni Association. Gene was appointed to the Board in 1995 and after demonstrating leadership as a member of several committees, was named to the Executive Committee as a vice president in 2000, and served as the Association’s 24th president in 2004-06. Simultaneously, he served on the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors. He continues to serve as a voting member of the Alumni Board. During his two terms as President, the Association experienced a dramatic increase in the number of active, dues-paying members (to over 4,000), and by the Spring of 2006, for the first time in the program’s brief history, dues revenues soared past the $100,000 mark. The CSUN membership program became recognized as the fastest growing program of its kind in the CSU system. Under Gene’s leadership, Affinity partnership agreements, dues income, sponsorships and program revenues were generating over $700,000 in annual revenue for the University, allowing the Association to underwrite university initiatives and further affirm its role as the primary funding source for Northridge Magazine. During his tenure the Alumni Association reserves tripled. With increased revenue, Gene ensured that the association stepped up its funding and commitment to scholarships. In two years, nearly $50,000 had been directed to the Association’s scholarship funds. Recognizing that data integrity was essential to the success of alumni engagement, Gene supported allocations exceeding $35,000 to an alumni data-restoration project. Most importantly, the Alumni Chapter program grew exponentially to 24 academic and interest-based chapters. As chair of the 2005 and 2006 Distinguished Alumni Awards Committee, Gene ensured that some of the university’s most outstanding alumni were honored and showcased at this annual awards gala. These events formally introduced Bon Appétit Magazine Editor Barbara Fairchild, California “Super Lawyer” Larry Feldman, Music Executive Mike Curb, and FBI Assistant Executive Director Grant Ashley to the university community for the first time. Each of these recipients has since maintained close ties to CSUN, supporting the University in various ways, including a combined philanthropy that exceeds $12 million in gifts to Cal State Northridge Gene has been an advocate traveling to Sacramento to lobby for the University’s needs with State legislators. Volunteering considerable time to CSUN Athletics, he spent multiple terms on the President’s Advisory Board on Inter-Collegiate Athletics and served as the alumni representative on NCAA compliance committees. Gene’s close connection to CSUN began as a dedicated and highly involved student. He received his BS degree in Marketing in 1984. During his undergraduate tenure, Gene served as an Associated Students Senator and as a student member of the University Foundation. He was an officer of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, and later served as President of the CSUN Interfraternity Council. He has continued to support his fraternity by serving as an alumni advisor and as a member of the PIKE Housing Corporation. Gene was given his first job out of college by Wayne Adelstein, a fraternity brother, past Alumni Association President, and the first winner of the Heitz Award. This early boost inspired Gene to begin playing an active role in connecting the university, and particularly the College of Business and Economics, with the local real estate and economic community. He sits on the Board of the CSUN Center for Real Estate Advisory Council, and serves on the Real Estate Outlook Committee for the San Fernando Valley Economic Summit, which CSUN has co-hosted with the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley for the past four years. Gene currently conducts a mock anchor tenant negotiation each year in conjunction with Dr. Donald Bleich’s Honors Real Estate program Gene is recognized by his peers as one of the State’s most successful and creative commercial real estate developers, with an emphasis on inner-city development. A past president of the Association of Corporate Real Estate Executives (ACRE), Gene currently sits on the Southern California Planning Committee of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Most recently as a partner in Primestor Development, Gene was responsible for leasing activities for all company projects, including Plaza Pacoima, now under construction, which is the largest current retail project in the San Fernando Valley. Before joining Primestor in 2000, he served as Vice President of Development of Lucy’s Laundrymart, Inc., and as National Director of Real Estate for Chief Auto Parts (purchased by AutoZone) where he headed up the national expansion of the 580-store chain. After the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992, Gene, in conjunction with Rebuild LA, spearheaded the reconstruction and development of 23 Chief Auto Parts in inner-city areas of Los Angeles. Gene is married to CSUN alumna Deanna Wollam Detchemendy ’87, who is employed by The Walt Disney Company as Vice President/Counsel and currently serves as National President of Alpha Xi Delta Sorority. They have two sons, Beau and Gage.


2008 Dorothea "Granny" Heitz Award

Jim and Mary Gorman

Jim and Mary Gorman are two of the university’s most loyal supporters, a relationship that began as fans of Matador volleyball that expanded totennis when Jim retired and took up the sport. Now their passion universally applies to all Matador sports…and their interest in and loyalty to CSUN has grown to include all areas of the University. Their appreciation for the university’s mission and its regional focus, their desire to be involved in their community and their interest in intercollegiate sports brought them to CSUN and they never looked back. “Cal State Northridge is the University of the San Fernando Valley,” Jim said in 2007. “We live in the San Fernando Valley and we believe in and support the university”.For over a decade the Gormans have been proud season ticket holdersfor multiple men’s and women’s programs demonstrating support for bothhigh and lower visibility sports. While Jim has held formal leadership positions such as president of the Matador Athletic Association and as a member of the President’s Athletic Advisory and NCAA compliance committees, Mary has been at his side serving as a friend and loyal advisor to Alumni Relations and Athletics staff. Jim created the first Matador fan e-mail list-serve to promote attendance at games and Mary has been instrumental in creating an informal recycling awareness effort at Matador athletic and CSUN Alumni Association events. Jim’s loyalty and leadership caught the attention of the Alumni Association and in 2000 he accepted an appointment to the Association’s Board of Directors to “represent the interests of Matador Athletics and non-alumni CSUN fans.” The Gormans’ philanthropic support of the university is notable and although neither of them are alumni, they are truly “alumni by choice” and have been proud members of the Alumni Association since the membership program’s inception in 2001. Having already made significant gifts to CSUN since their affiliation, in 2006 and 2007 Jim and Mary generously donated a total of $210,000 in cash and gift annuities to the university to create and support the Jim and Mary Gorman Athletic Scholarship Endowment. A Jim and Mary Gorman Athletic Scholarship is awarded annually to a student athlete (preferably a member of the university’s tennis team).  Jim and Mary were recipients of a Volunteer Service Award from Athletics in 2006 and Jim was similarly recognized at the 2001 Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony. Receiving this award…named in honor of Granny…is very special to the Gormans.  Over the years a warm, supportive friendship developed between Jim and Mary and Granny Heitz.  The Gormans truly loved Granny…and She loved them.  Jim and Mary would often escort Granny to CSUN events so that she could fulfill her role as unofficial campus spirit leader.  And Today, Granny is likely tipping one of her big red hats in honor of Jim and Mary.

2007 Dorothea "Granny" Heitz Award

John R. Golisch

John Golisch ’72 is a Certified Public Accountant and partner with BDO Seidman, LLP.  Prior to his association with BDO Seidman, John had earned a reputation as one of the most respected specialists on Southern California retail markets and was affiliated with Arthur Andersen & Company, where he was a senior partner. His involvement as a volunteer leader began as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.  In 1985, John was invited by President Cleary to join the Board of Directors of the Cal State Northridge Trust Fund, which was renamed the University Foundation Board in 1995.   He has served on the Foundation Board since that time, and along with his good friend Al Lapides, holds the distinction for longest continuous service on the Board.In 1985, just prior to his Trust Fund Appointment, the Alumni Association honored John with a Distinguished Alumni Award.  A member of the President’s Associates, John served on numerous committees of the Trust Fund and became the organization’s Chair.   In 1990, the President’s Associates presented John with their Community Leadership Award for his role in securing the first endowed faculty fellowship gift of $100,000 for the College of Business and Economics from Arthur Andersen & Co.  John has served on numerous other University and Foundation Committees including the Auxiliary Audit Committee, the College of Business and Economics Council of Business Advisors, the North Campus Development Committee, various search committees for senior administrative posts on campus and as Chair of the Finance Committee for the Cal State Northridge Foundation Board of Directors. 

2006 Dorothea "Granny" Heitz Award

David Fleming

David Fleming has earned a reputation as one of the most influential, philanthropic, and community focused leaders in the history of the Golden State. Whether he’s leading the Valley’s Economic Alliance, the county’s economic development corporation, or the region’s United Chambers of Commerce or whether he’s instigating and then chairing the city’s first charter reform effort in 75 years, David continually demonstrates his passion for serving the citizens of greater Los Angeles. Fleming has served the citizens at all levels. He is president of the Los Angeles Fire Commission and is a member of the city’s Ethics Commission. He has served as vice chair of the California Transportation Commission and last year was named by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as a director of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. Fleming is the chairman of the Board of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation and is a past chairman of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association. He and his wife Jean have been major benefactors of Valley Presbyterian Hospital, and for the last 13 years he has served as chairman of the hospital’s board. As chairman of the Board of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, he leads an influential group of civic leaders from various municipalities, 25 Chambers of Commerce, VICO, the Valley Economic Development Corporation, Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau and Valley Leadership Council. Although his personal philanthropy, involvements and interests are quite varied, his common focus centers on the improvement of the quality of life for the citizens of the San Fernando Valley. A Valley resident since 1956, Fleming came to appreciate and respect our university’s academic and cultural mission. Throughout the years, a warm friendship developed. For over 11 years, Mr. Fleming has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Cal State Northridge Foundation where he has been a member of the Major and Corporate Gifts, Corporate and Foundation Relations, and Board Development Committees. A university donor and close advisor to three campus chief executives, he has served as a member of the Presidential Scholar Selection Committee. He has participated in the university’s Executive Speakers Series. His leadership has led to collaborative partnerships between the Economic Alliance and the university. He was integral in creating the co-sponsored San Fernando Valley Economic Summit with our College of Business and Economics. In his role with the Fire Commission, he also worked closely with the university to create a fitness training program for the L.A. Fire Department that will be used by firefighters at all 104 city fire stations. As a member and vice chair of the university’s Imagine the Arts Campaign Committee, Fleming has been instrumental in positioning and raising awareness for private support for the $100 million, 1,700 seat state-of-the-art center and learning laboratory. Fleming has been honored by many organizations, including the Valley Bar, the Anti-Defamation League, UCLA, the Interfaith Council, and the Jewish National Fund, as well as the City and County of Los Angeles, the California State Legislature and three California Governors. He was the recipient of the prestigious Fernando Award in 1991.


2005 Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award

Tony and Chris Partipilo

Tony and Chris Partipilo are unique among thousands of individuals who have volunteered their energy, time and resources to Cal State Northridge. In the University’s 47-year history Chris and Tony stand alone as the only spouses to have both served as President of the Alumni Association. Tony joined the Alumni Association Board in 1983 and within a year was elected to Senior Vice President and created  a committee to honor, highlight and connect “VIP Alumni” back to the University through a series of Distinguished Alumni Receptions and profiles in Insight, the university newsletter at the time. In the spring of 1985 Brent Vallens passed the gavel to Tony and his term as President of the Alumni Association began. Among his accomplishments were new scholarships and greater alumni benefits including group insurance for alumni. This year marks the 20th anniversary of group insurance benefits for Northridge alumni and scholarships remain a high priority of the Alumni Association. At the time of his presidency he also began a 16 year tenure as a member of the Foundation Board of Directors.He is one of only a few individuals who is honored with emeriti status on the Foundation Board. On the Foundation board he served several years as a member of the Development and Nominating Committees. A Supervising Attorney with the Cochran Firm Criminal Defense Section, Tony was a double major in Political Science and History, graduating from California State University Northridge in 1969. He earned his J.D. from the University of California Berkeley 1972. Tony’s practice includes civil litication, corporate matters, probate, and real estate. In 1982, Christine Weinrich Partipilo completed her BA in history.  Chris served on the Association Board of Directors for over a decade when she was elected to the first of two terms as President in the late spring of 1994, following the Northridge Earthquake. As President, Chris helped convince the University the importance of creating a widely distributed publication to keep alumni informed and involved. In the fall of 1994, Northridge Alumni—a precursor to the current Northridge Magazine—was launched. The magazine was mailed to the largest alumni address distribution in the history of the campus. Chris and the Alumni Board signed the first bank card alumni partnership for the campus, which has sense generated millions of non-taxpayer dollars in support of the University. In 1996, Chris appointed a committee to draft the Alumni Association’s first strategic plan. That plan set an ambitious course for the creation of resources, the development of alumni recognition programs, the establishment of constituency chapters, the growth of staff for the Office of Alumni Relations and the enhancement of alumni association visibility on and off campus. In her professional life she is a Senior Technical Writer for Alcatel Corporation. Tony and Chris are the proud parents of two teenagers approaching college age, Joe and Kelsey. Together and individually, they have expressed their loyalty to their alma mater and have done so with great passion.


2004 Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award

Al and Sherry Lapides

The Lapides family first got involved with volunteer work at CSUN in 1974 when Al joined with another volunteer to try and develop a mentoring program to help undergraduates achieve career goals. That program brought Al into what was then the President’s Club, a group formed to raise funds for scholarships, special projects and special campus needs. In 1976 Al became president of that organization and remained active through its transition into the President’s Associates. In  1990, he joined the Foundation Board and served as vice chairman. In 1999, Al became and anvisor to the newly launched Family Business Center and remains very active in that program. He has been a member of the mentors program at the UCLA Graduate School of Management. He is a past president of the West Valley YMCA Indian Guides and Gray-Y. He is a board member and past Chairman of the Northridge Hospital Foundation and is a long-time board member for the Board at Temple Ramat Zion. Al is a native of Los Angeles and attended Fairfax High School. He graduated from UC Berkeley in mechanical engineering in 1949. In 1958 he enrolled the San Fernando Valley Branch of Los Angeles State College, taking classes at night while working and helping his wife raise their family. He received his MS in business in 1968 and his teaching certificate in 1969, both from San Fernando Valley State College. Sherry became peripherally involved with CSUN when Al did. She became formally involved about 1990 serving on the board of the President’s Associates. Her interest in the arts brought her on to the Dean’s Council of the College of Arts, Media, and Communication. Sherry has always been community-focused. She is a member of the Golden Hour Guild, a support group for the Trauma Department at Northridge Hospital and has been active in Head Start and in the PTA at both Devonshire Street School and Temple Ramat Zion. She has served as a volunteer coordinator at Temple Ramat Zion including founding and running the Long Time Members program. She is on the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Girl Scout Council. She is almost a native of Los Angeles, having arrived here at the tender age of three. She is a graduate of Los Angeles High School and attended UCLA. Albert has worked in the San Fernando Valley ever since graduating from Cal, first with the Marquardt Company and then with Litton Industries. Sherry and Al helped found Replacement Parts Industries in 1972, a vibrant and growing company now under the direction of their son, Ira. They bought their first home in Northridge only six months after their wedding in 1957 and have lived here ever since. They have three children and eight grandchildren ranging in age from 22 to 2.


2003 Dorothea "Granny" Heitz Award

Allan Oberman

Many individuals volunteer for causes but few individuals have made such a profound impact on the growth of an organization as Allan Oberman in relation to his service to California State University, Northridge and its Alumni Association.  During his tenure as the 21st president of the Association, the organization gained in stature and respect and was able to position itself as an entity that annually makes a difference for an ever-changing University.  Allan’s involvement with his alma mater began as an advisor to Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.  At a gathering of those supporting and advising the University’s Greek System, Allan was re-introduced to the then President of the Alumni Association, Wayne Adelstein, a 2002 recipient of the Dorothea Heitz Award.  Wayne invited Allan to become involved in the Alumni Association, and in 1996 Allan joined the Association Board of Directors.  Allan graduated from Southwestern University Law School where he wrote for the Law Review and received the American Jurisprudence Award.  After serving as Deputy District Attorney from 1976-78, he formed his own practice in Woodland Hills.  The growth of his client base coincided with involvement in a variety of community organizations including service as Chairman of the Board of the Israel Humanitarian Foundation, Chairman of the Woodland Hills Chamber of Commerce, and the Chairman of the Woodland Hills-West Hills Neighborhood Planning Advisory Council.  He served as a member of Council Member Jack Weiss’ Community Advisory Committee and as a member of the City of Los Angeles and State of California Budget Advisory Task Forces. He has served as a delegate to the Democratic Convention and as a district representative to the State Assembly.  He served as a member of the Community Advisory Board for Pierce College and has made substantial volunteer commitments by taking on leadership positions with the Executives, the United Chambers of Commerce, VICA and the San Fernando Valley Mental Health Association.  Under his leadership as President of the Alumni Association, he revised the Association’s strategic plan, and insisted the Association play a primary role in the celebration of the University’s 40th Anniversary, which enabled the Association to launch several major programs including the Distinguished Alumni Awards and the Emeriti Merit Awards. In 1999, under Allan’s leadership, the Association sponsored its largest cultural event with nearly 900 alumni and guest including public officials and celebrities attending a private showing of L.A.’s Van Gough Exhibit. An exclusive program followed that event with famed architects Eric Lloyd Wright and Robert A.M. Stern at Wright’s Grandfather’s Ennis House in the Hollywood Hills. Allan also was instrumental in helping negotiate partnership agreements that have guaranteed funding of nearly &1.5 million in private support of University programs and scholarships.  His involvement at Cal State Northridge hasn’t been limited to the Association. He was a member of the Cal State Northridge Foundation Board and Executive Committee and the University Corporation Board and served on various other University committees and task forces.  A University donor and lifetime member of the Association Allan Oberman has continually expressed his loyalty to Cal State Northridge.


2003 Dorothea "Granny" Heitz Award

Robert Rawitch

When Robert Rawitch graduated from Cal State Northridge with a B.A. in Journalism, he took with him a sense of respect for the power that words hold. So, he focused his talent for writing on the task of creating a meaningful career that would serve not only his needs, but some of the needs of our city, country and our world. Back in 1968, he probably would not have expected to be honored with the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership.  Later, his efforts were to positively impact people throughout California-people who needed help the most.  Some highlights of his altruism include co-authoring a constitutional amendment that protects reporters in California from pressure to reveal their sources.  He paved the way for Los Angeles Times student-interns to be paid for their hard work. His efforts to protect and empower fellow journalists are balanced with his conviction for professional responsibility.  That is always clear during his many lectures, panel appearances, and speeches as a university educator.  He has taught in California, at Northwestern University, and many other institutions across the Southwest. In addition to teaching, he helped UCLA to create a journalism certification program in the 1970s. Mr. Rawitch’s work at the Los Angeles Times made him a fast-rising star early during his tenure there.  His first job, as a staff reporter, gave him the opportunity to shine, as he covered tough assignments like politics, the U.S. Justice Department and the federal courts.  As a metro reporter, his work garnered numerous journalism awards, including the Clarence Darrow Award, for his 1979 series on Scientology, and two Pulitzer Prize nominations.  He later went on to win a Pulitzer Prize with his teammates who reported on the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Bob went on to several senior editing positions at the Times, finally moving on from his post as director of editorial operations for the Valley and Ventura County editions, to launch his own consulting firm. Rawitch & Associates’ client roster included leading press organizations, and two Russian newspapers. Today, Robert Rawitch is Senior Vice President of Winner & Associates, a consulting firm whose clients included corporate giants, as well at local communities.  But, it is Robert Rawitch’s tireless service to California State University, Northridge that makes him our choice for the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership, 2003. A short list of his hands-on volunteer involvement at Cal State Northridge includes serving on: the Board of Directors of the Journalism Alumni Association; Board of Directors of the University Corporation; and Board of Directors of the Cal State Northridge Foundation.


2002 Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award

Alma Zatarain

It is fitting that Alma Zatarain, ’80, is one of the first to be presented a Dorothea Heitz service award. For like Granny, Alma has continually expressed her intangible loyalty in many tangible ways. She and her husband, Mark Bowland, have attended multitudes of Cal State Northridge athletic events, concerts and theatrical productions. Alma’s participation led to greater knowledge and appreciation of the university’s academic program and, in turn, her continuing commitment in support of the Oviatt Library. In 1989, then Alumni Association President Joe Tirado invited Alma to volunteer for CSUN and shortly thereafter she was elected to the Alumni Association Board of Directors. She served several terms on the association’s executive committee rising to the role of vice president, then president. Those roles led to service on the Cal State Northridge Foundation and University Corporation boards. Her commitment to the CSU and higher education was further expressed through her service as a member of the Legislative Connection and her role as a representative to the California State University Alumni Council. In the latter capacity, she served on various committees on behalf of the CSU system. As president of the Alumni Association, Alma was responsible for signing the largest affinity partnership agreement in CSUN history, bringing nearly $450,000 in support to the university. That partnership allowed the university to launch a major communications effort without using taxpayer funds or student-generated fees. The award winning Northridge magazine is a result of those efforts. In 1992, she served on the presidential search committee that recommended the hiring of Blenda Wilson. She also worked to help establish the alumni brick walkway and the Distinguished Alumni awards program. Her interest in student life has been affirmed by her service on homecoming court selection and outstanding student award committees and her vision of the university’s future has been articulated through service on the North Campus University Park Development Corporation. As her interest in enhancing the alumni experience continues, Alma has devoted a great deal of time, interest and personal resources in supporting and strengthening the academic center of the campus, the Oviatt Library. She serves on the dean’s advisory board and is a proud member of Friends of the Library.

Wayne Adelstein

Wayne Adelstein, ’69, has unselfishly earned a reputation as one of the most passionate, effective and committed business leaders, communicators and higher education advocates in the San Fernando Valley. Cal State Northridge has been fortunate beneficiary of his ability to articulate the value of the university to the region. He has been personally responsible for identifying and convincing dozens of volunteers to join him in support of his alma matter. Alumni Association President Irene Tovar and her two immediate predecessors began their involvement at CSUN on the invitation and encouragement of Wayne. Through his company, Decision Publications, Wayne publishes several regional and community newspapers distributed to more than 100,000 residents in the San Fernando Valley. On many occasions, his newspapers have emphasized the university’s intrinsic value to the region including a cover story introducing President Koester to the region and feature stories promoting the campus cultural and performing arts opportunities. In addition to his publishing concerns, Wayne concurrently serves as president of the Northridge/Porter Ranch Chamber of Commerce. Wayne began his volunteer service to the university as an advisor to the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. In 1992, at the request of then President Blenda Wilson, he began to participate in university programs and was elected to the Alumni Association Board of Directors. By 1996, he was elected the Alumni Association’s 19th president. As president, he developed the association’s first strategic plan and mission statement, amended and updated bylaws and developed new cultural programs and alumni president, he became Northridge’s representative on the California State University Alumni Council while staying close to the campus as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. In the CSU system, Wayne quickly rose to leadership positions. The campuses elected him vice president in 1998, and president- elect for 1999-2000. In June of 2001, he became president of the statewide organization that represents 2.2 million alumni from 23 campuses. Amazingly, Wayne’s volunteerism and sense of community aren’t limited to Cal State Northridge and the CSU. He has served as vice chair of the Valley Economic Development Center; member and vice chair of VICA, a member of the board of directors of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley; Economic Research Center, member of the board of directors of the Los Angeles Valley College Patrons; founding board member of the Executives, a support organization for the Jewish Home for the aging, and president of the Agoura Chamber of Commerce.


Inaugural Dorothea “Granny Heitz” Award

Dorothea “Granny” Heitz

Affectionately known by generations of Cal State Northridge students and alumni as “Granny,” Heitz has always caught the attention of those around her. In 1966, this grandmother, age 50, senior in age to most of the campus professors and nearly 30 years the senior of the average student, entered as a sophomore at San Fernando Valley State College. She had attended the University of Montana in 1935, but due to Depression-era hardships was unable to complete her coursework leading to a degree. After 31 years she decided to go back to college and did so with a determination to fully embrace the college experience. When student leaders casually gathered at “The Tub” one day to discuss who could help the cheerleaders establish better school spirit, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity turned to Heitz and said, “You go for it, Granny!” On the day, Dottie became Granny and a tradition was born. Granny began to build the spirit squad, and shortly thereafter the squad declared themselves as “Granny Girls”. As the girls mentor, Granny suggested that the squad not only have a single goal of fostering school spirit, but they should additionally serve as role models to impress the importance of community and campus volunteer service. With their hats and bright red outfits, the Granny Girls became a staple at every Matador football and basketball game, were the highlight of local parades, were guests on local radio stations and made eight television appearances. The university began to count on the Granny Girls to be the official hostesses of the campus and take charge of campus tours for prospective students and guests. The success of the Granny Girls led to the creation of today’s Student Ambassadors program. Since graduation, Granny has maintained an unofficial role as a spirit leader. At most CSUN sporting events, one can expect to see Granny in a bright red outfit passing out candy to spectators and handling balloons to children. She has been a friend and advisor to every campus president, a donor, a member of the Matador Athletic Association board, and a member of the Alumni Association. Surprisingly, she’s found time to extend her enthusiasm for other interests as well…and has done so after the age of 50. She’s an advocate, educator, parliamentarian, cheerleader, historian, mentor, leader, volunteer and honorary sweetheart of Sigma Chi forever. She built a distinguished career as one of the 20th century’s leading-and one sought after-parliamentarians and lecturers on Robert Rules of Order. Her service to society beyond Northridge is notable. She’s served as president of San Fernando Valley Alpha Phi, the California Association of Parliamentarians, and the Woodland Hills Coordinating Council, the Woodland Hills Woman’s Club and the Golden Age Club. She founded the latter two organizations as well as co-founded the Granada Community Theater. She served as chair of the March of Dimes for 10 years and in various leadership positions for the Valley Cultural Center, the PTA, the district women’s clubs and the Calabasas Historical Society. For more than 50 years, she has been devoted to helping her boys at the Pacific Boys Lodge. Her hobby of collecting interesting hats provided her the opportunity to establish the valley’s “Red Hat Society” and her enjoyment of collecting vintage dolls was the impetus for the creation of a national society for doll collectors, “Doll for Forever.” Over the years, Granny has collected nearly 500 hats of all shapes and sizes and nearly 200 dolls. Her service to her alma mater and her community has brought her praise from the U.S. Congress in the form of a certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to a community. In 2000, the California Assembly and Blue Shield honored her as “an ageless hero.” That award, in recognition of her service to the university and the Pacific Boys Lodge, affirmed that Granny is a testament to intergenerational friendships. She’s been honored by the Cal State Northridge athletic and alumni associations as fan and alumna of the year, respectively, and has been recognized by ODK, Sigma Chi fraternity and Pierce College, to name just a few. Granny graduated from San Fernando Valley State College in 1969 with a degree in Sociology.