Service-minded businesswoman, biotech leader named 2022 Alumni of the Year
Innovators in comedy, wine and sustainable business are the 2022 Alumni Hall of Fame inductees
For 28 years, San Francisco State University has recognized outstanding alumni for their countless contributions to Bay Area life and beyond. This year’s Alumni Hall of Fame inductees are leaders in their fields and examples of the varied paths that can be taken with a San Francisco State degree. SF State President Lynn Mahoney and the University community will honor the new inductees at a celebration and dinner Thursday, Oct. 13, at Chase Center in San Francisco. Rock journalist and author Ben Fong-Torres (B.A., ’66) will be the emcee for the night.
“When I look at this year’s inductees, I see pioneers. They’re blazing trails in medicine, public service, comedy, business, sustainability and wine,” said Associate Vice President of Alumni Relations and University Engagement Nicole Lange. “What connects our inductees is SF State. The University clearly played an integral role on their path toward success.”
Alumni of the Year
Kimberly K. Brandon
B.A., ’84, Psychology
Kimberly K. Brandon has led a flourishing career in the financial services industry along with extensive engagement in public service. She was senior vice president with the Brandon Group at Morgan Stanley, where she oversaw a portfolio of assets of high net worth individuals, foundations, endowments and public entities. She’s held similar positions at Bank of America and Wells Fargo. She’s the first African American woman to serve as a commissioner for the Port of San Francisco, a position she’s held since being appointed by Mayor Willie Brown in 1997, and now serves as its president. Brandon was the former board chair for the Museum of the African Diaspora, is board chair of San Francisco Grants for the Arts Advisory Panel, Metta Fund and is a board member of PACT, Inc., Golden Gate University and the SF State Foundation, where she concluded a term as the University first African American chair.
Michael S. Richman
M.S., ’93, Business Administration
Michael S. Richman is co-founder, president and CEO of NextCure, a biopharmaceutical company founded in 2015 committed to discovering and developing immune medicines to treat cancer and other immune-related diseases. Richman has worked in the biopharmaceutical sector since 1985, holding senior leadership positions at companies such as Amplimmune, MacroGenics, MedImmune and Chiron (now Novartis). Richman served as president and CEO of Amplimmune when it was acquired by AstraZeneca in 2013. He holds a B.S. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from UC Davis. He lives with his wife Kathleen H. Richman in Maryland.
Hall of Fame Inductees
B.A., ’08, Marketing and Communications
Dalia Ceja followed her family into the wine business and is now the sales and marketing director at Ceja Vineyards, one of the few Latino-owned wineries in the Napa Valley. After earning a degree from SF State, she helped transform her family’s winery into an internationally recognized brand. In 2011, she was named Woman of the Year by the Napa Valley Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In 2020, she received The North Bay Business Journal’s Latino Business Leadership Award. She serves on the board of NG: The Next Generation in Wine and participated in the Napa Valley Vintner’s Leadership Program. She holds an eMBA with a focus in wine business from Sonoma State University.
B.S., ’16, Business Administration
Gulshan Kumar is partner and vice president of sales of Fremont-based PATH (formerly PathWater), a producer of responsibly and locally sourced purified water in refillable aluminum water bottles. He hopes the company’s product will help phase out single-use plastic water bottles. PATH bottles are sold at 35,000 retailers across the country, including Sprouts, Safeway and San Francisco International Airport. The company also has partnerships with Intuit, Dropbox, Facebook, Tesla, Orange Theory and SF State.
SF Sketchfest founders and directors
David Owen, B.A., ’99, Drama; Cole Stratton, B.A., ’99, Drama; Janet Varney, Drama
Pictured: David Owen (left), Janet Varney and Cole Stratton.
Photo by Jakob Mosur
David Owen, Cole Stratton and Janet Varney forged a friendship at SF State and began performing together in their comedy group Totally False People alongside Gabriel Diani (B.A., ’00). In 2001, the trio founded SF Sketchfest to showcase Bay Area comedy. Twenty years later, the festival has grown into a nationally recognized, monthlong festival that’s featured some of the biggest names in comedy, such as Gene Wilder, Carol Burnett, Robin Williams, Catherine O’Hara, Alan Arkin and more.
Individually, they have led prolific careers in entertainment. Owen has worked as a producer and curator for events and festivals including Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, Clusterfest, the Mill Valley Film Festival and much more. Stratton hosted the acclaimed “Pop My Culture Podcast,” has appeared in TV and film and, along with Varney, wrote and performed comedic downloadable comedic commentary to films for RiffTrax.com. Varney has starred in several TV shows, including “You’re the Worst,” “The Legend of Korra” and “Stan Against Evil.” She’s also a longtime host of the podcast “The JV Club” and continues to perform improvisational comedy with ThemePark Improv.