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The latest online edition of CLA's Impact Magazine


Meet Nestor Veloz-Passalacqua (Ethnic Studies, ’11, Master of Public Policy, ’16 ), the City of San Luis Obispo’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Manager

Nestor Veloz-Passalacqua

Nestor Veloz-Passalacqua began his academic career with a passion for social justice and a desire to implement practical changes. He harnessed that motivation to earn two associate degrees from Cuesta College, a bachelor’s degree in comparative ethnic studies and a master’s degree in public policy from Cal Poly, and a master’s degree in legal studies from the University of Arizona.

“I had a strong determination to learn how using the current system’s tools can help underserved communities experience the same benefits and representation in society,” Veloz-Passalacqua said. “Cal Poly set that foundation and allowed me to seek a path in which my skills can be used for social justice and governmental change. The entire faculty and staff from the Ethnic Studies Department and the master of public policy program made an impact on my career and personal development. With their support, I was able to successfully marry concepts and practices key to creating change, which in turn fueled creative ways to engage and practice DEI.” Veloz-Passalacqua successfully combined his passion with practical tools once he learned how a dual degree in law and public policy would equip him to change the way the government addresses vulnerable populations’ needs. After graduating, he continued his DEI work with the San Luis Obispo County Department of Social Services and as DEI program manager for the SLO County Behavioral Health Department. Now as DEI manager for the city of San Luis Obispo, he partners with Cal Poly’s Office of University Diversity and Inclusion and other DEI-focused organizations to create positive change in the local community.

“The work of DEI is integral for the entire community and is meant to create a healthy and thriving community for all,” he said. “The entire world is more diverse and constantly changing. Transformative initiatives and strategies are needed to address social change innovatively while being conscious of the growing needs of underserved/underrepresented communities.”

He encourages students with similar ideals to pursue this work. “DEI must come from a genuine desire and passion for change led by those who have been historically disenfranchised,” he said. “Students should know that engaging in this work is fulfilling as it speaks directly to actual policy and community impact.”

Class Notes 

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Rober “Rob’t” Coltrin (Art and Design, ’86) was honored as a “Disney Legend,” the highest honor given at The Walt Disney Co., after 29 years as an Imagineer creating new attractions and lands for various Disney Parks.


Julianne Williams (Human Development, ’91) recently published a book with 19 other authors titled “You Can, You Will: True Stories of Finding Hope Through Grief and Mental Health Journeys.”

Jim Joseph (Social Sciences, ’92) was named president of UPS Airlines, one of the world’s largest cargo airlines.

Sarah Caravahlo Khan (English, ’98) was promoted to head of human resources for biotechnology company, Vaxart, Inc.

Samantha “Sami” Schneider (Speech Communication, ’98) is founder and CEO of AmpersandPeople, a human resources and talent consulting firm. She was recognized as one of the top 100 most influential recruiters globally by LinkedIn.


Kristin Horowitz (M.A., English, ’06) is CEO of The Pad Climbing gym, which received the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Dream Big Woman-Owned Business of the Year award in 2022.

Daniel Rivoire (Philosophy, ’07) is the newest member of the CLA Dean’s Advisory Council. Rivoire is the executive director for leadership development at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

Jackie Duerr (Psychology, ’09) is the program manager for UC San Diego’s Transfer Student Success Program.

Jenae Nott (History, ’09) recently took a position as a secondary curriculum and instruction specialist.


Steven DeLay (Political Science and Philosophy, ’10) is the editor of “Life Above the Clouds: Philosophy in the Films of Terrence Malick,” a book about Malick’s directorial work.

Kristen Sanzari (Art and Design, ’11) is a toy designer for Mattel, where she and her teammates primarily design toys connected to Disney and Pixar movies.

Alexandra Schindler (History, ’12) is the registrar and history programs manager at New Museum Los Gatos. She is currently planning her wedding.


Stephanie Zombek (Art and Design, ’12) is the communications and marketing director for the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Theresa Trenholm (English, ’14) joined law firm Snell & Wilmer’s Las Vegas office as an associate in the labor and employment practice group.

Dennis Zapata (Sociology, ’14) is an academic advisor for the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Lindsay (MacLeod) Zuchelli (Journalism, ’13) and Ed Zuchelli (Journalism ’14) won Emmy awards for news coverage of the Alisal Fire in October 2021.

Nicole Mullikin (Modern Languages and Literatures, ‘15) serves the community as an immigration attorney at her law office in San Luis Obispo.

Katy Palmer Rodgers (Anthropology and Geography, ’15) was named one of the Power 25 in Health Care in Idaho for her work as interim director at Project ECHO Idaho at the University of Idaho WWAMI Medical Education Program.

Hollie West (Journalism, ’18) is the new director of communications for the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.


Vaughn Paul (Communication Studies, ’21) lives in San Francisco, where he works for Oracle in IT project management.

Cameron Pedretti (Sociology, ’21) finished her master’s degree in social research methods at the London School of Economics and is now a survey statistician with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Venessa Rodriguez (Interdisciplinary Studies, ’21) is the CalFresh Outreach Manager at the SLO Food Bank, promoting the CalFresh program throughout SLO County.

Leslie Torres (Communication Studies, ’22) returned to the Cal Poly campus as an alumni engagement specialist.

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