Honored Alumni 2017



Celebration and Awards Dinner

Friday, November 3 in Chumash Auditorium 

5 p.m. Doors Open

6 p.m. Dinner and Awards Presentation

The Honored Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon Cal Poly alumni by the university's Alumni Association, and was established more than 50 years ago. The award recognizes alumni from the university's six academic colleges. The Alumni Association also recognizes alumni through two distinguished awards, as well: The CPAA Distinguished Service Award and the Sandra Gardebring Ogren Leadership Award.

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The 2017 Honored Alumni

Cal Poly Alumni Excellence Award

His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair
B.S. Industrial Engineering, 1977
C.E.O. of Mashreqbank

His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair is a 1977 graduate in industrial engineering. He is the CEO of Mashreqbank, the largest private sector bank in the United Arab Emirates and the Chairman of Al Ghurair Investment LLC, one of the largest and most successful business groups in the Middle East. His Excellency was appointed in 2012 Chairman of the UAE Banking Federation, representing the 49 member banks operating in the UAE. His current positions include Vice Chairman of the Higher Board of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and the Board of Emirates Foundation, among many others. Throughout his career, His Excellency has received numerous awards and accolades. Most recently Gulf Business named him the Banking Business Leader of the Year in 2016, the Innovator of the Year in 2014 and gave him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. He has also been recognized for his commitment to his more than 3,000 employees at Mashreqbank and was named Best CEO by Middle East Magazine in 2008. He leads the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, one of the largest privately funded philanthropic education initiatives in the Arab world. Established in 2015 with one third of the assets of the Al Ghurair group of companies, the foundation works to prepare young Emiratis and Arabs to fulfill their potential through access to higher education. At Cal Poly, His Excellency graduated with honors and was Chairman of the Cal Poly Muslim Students Association and Arab Student Association. 

Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences

Paul Burkner
B.S. Agricultural Engineering, 1964
Co-Founder & V.P. Ag Industrial Manufacturing, Inc.

Paul F. Burkner is a 1964 graduate in agricultural engineering and earned a master’s in agricultural engineering from the University of Hawaii at Honolulu in 1966. He started his career as an applied mechanization researcher for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1966 and co-founded Ag Industrial Manufacturing Inc. (AIM) in 1979. Burkner is known for his innovations and inventions in the field of custom agricultural machinery. He developed a new concept for a grape harvester in 1980 that is still in use today and has continued to develop countless harvesters and machinery for a diverse group of crops and various agricultural needs. The owner of several patents, Burkner is one of only 15 members of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers to be named to its 2009 class of fellows. Also in 2009, he was inducted into the San Joaquin County Agricultural Hall of Fame. He is an active member of the BioResource and Agricultural Engineering Department Advisory Committee and makes a point to hire several Cal Poly students to intern at AIM each year, where he has a direct hand in their training.


Architecture and Environmental Design

Doug Lowe, FAIA

B.S., Architecture, 1974
Founding Principal & V.P. Cuningham Group Architecture, P.A.

 Douglas Lowe, FAIA, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in architecture in 1974. He is the founding principal and vice president of Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc. and was president of Cuningham Group Construction Services, LLC. Lowe is licensed to practice architecture in several states and as a general contractor in California. His skills can be seen in a variety of projects, including theme parks, hotels and multi-use facilities such as Disney’s California Adventure, the Star Trek Theater, Universal Studios Hollywood and the renovations of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Pasadena Hilton Hotel. He was elevated to Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 2009 and in 2014 was the first recipient of the Norma Sklarek Award given by the American Institute of Architects, California Council for his humanitarian efforts, volunteering his assistance to communities recovering from disaster. Lowe served on the Dean’s Leadership Council from 1999 to 2006 and is a member of the industry advisory council for Cal Poly’s Resilient Communities Research Institute. He is a supporter of the Architecture Summer Career Workshop, sponsoring students with financial need, and works to help students secure internship opportunities.


Orfalea College of Business

Lisa Hufford

B.S., Business Administration, 1993
Founder & CEO Simplicity Consulting

Lisa Hufford graduated with a degree in business administration in 1993 and earned a Technology MBA Certificate from the University of Washington. She founded Simplicity Consulting in 2006, a marketing and communications consultancy, currently working with Microsoft, Amazon, T-Mobile and many more high-profile companies. Prior to founding Simplicity Consulting, Hufford worked in corporate America for 14 years starting her career in sales at RR Donnelley and then moving to manage large accounts for Microsoft. Simplicity Consulting has been recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the country’s fastest growing private companies for five consecutive years, and in 2011 Inc. named Hufford one of their top ten female entrepreneurs. Hufford has also been chosen as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Woman and is a Young Presidents’ Organization member. She is an advisory board member for the Orfalea College of Business and the University of Washington’s Bothell College of Business. Hufford is a founding member of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and serves on the advisory board for the Cal Poly Women in Business Club.


College of Engineering

John Nielsen

B.S., Mechanical Engineering, 1965
Retired Automation Specialist Engineering General Mills

John K. Nielsen graduated in 1965 with a degree in mechanical engineering. He had a long career as a staff engineer for several companies and retired from General Mills after designing, building and managing the engineering functions in several of the company’s plants throughout the United States. Nielsen credits Learn by Doing for much of his success and is a dedicated supporter of hands-on learning opportunities for students in the College of Engineering. Nielsen is the founding donor of the Mustang ’60 Shop, an on-campus machine shop where students can complete the cycle of design from concept to finished product and gain confidence using manufacturing equipment. In addition to providing funding for the lab, Nielsen created an endowment to ensure a full-time shop technician would always be available to assist students. He is a longtime member of the Mechanical Engineering Industry Advisory Board, with a special interest in providing a safe environment for students working in the lab, working with staff and students to install equipment, provide safety protocols and follow up on implementation.


College of Liberal Arts

Chris Trapani 

B.A., Political Science, 1990
Founder & President Sereno Group Real Estate 

Christopher Trapani graduated in 1990 with a degree in political science. He is the founder and CEO of Sereno Group, a residential real estate company generating more than $3 billion in sales annually, which was named the “Best Place to Work” by the Bay Area News Group for eight consecutive years from 2009-2016. Trapani is committed to the environment and community development through philanthropy. He created Sereno Group’s 1% For Good program, through which one percent of gross commissions are automatically donated to local charities, resulting in nearly $500,000 annually. For the company’s philanthropic work, Sereno Group was recently honored as one of the top 50 corporate givers in the Bay Area by the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Trapani is a member of the Cal Poly President’s Council of Advisors and is playing a lead role in raising funds for space for the Expressive Technology Studios in the new Science and Agriculture Research and Teaching Complex scheduled to open on campus in 2021. Trapani’s wife Kirsten is a Cal Poly alumna and two of their children, Gabi and AJ, are currently Cal Poly students.


College of Science and Mathematics

John Waggoner

B.S. Biology, 1979, M.B.A. Business Administration 1989
President & CEO HMS Global Maritime

John W. Waggoner graduated in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences. In 1989 he earned a master’s in business administration from Cal Poly and was chosen as the Outstanding MBA of the Year. He began his career in the sport fishing industry and served as the director of Marine Operations for Hornblower Dining Yacht’s fleet of 29 vessels before co-founding HMS Global Maritime in 1994. As president, CEO and principal, Waggoner grew the company from one employee to more than 900, with four divisions: ferries, overnight cruises, government services and consulting & technical. HMS Global Maritime is the largest operator of high-speed car and passenger ferries in the nation and the first private high-speed vessel operation chosen to serve the United States military. Recently trusted with the transport of President Barack Obama, HMS Global Maritime has received a Public Service Commendation from the U.S. Coast Guard. The company recently christened the largest paddlewheel steamboat in the world, the American Queen. Waggoner’s daughter Marissa graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in psychology in 2001.



Steve S. Jones

B.A., Political Science, 1992
CEO, Allied Universal

Steven S. Jones graduated with a degree in political science in 1992 and earned an MBA from the University of Redlands. He is the CEO of Allied Universal, a Fortune 500 company providing security and staffing solutions. Under Jones’ leadership, the company has grown from $12 million in revenue to more than $5 billion and has acquired more than 50 companies since 2011. Jones was named the top job creator for two consecutive years by Inc. magazine and has earned the prestigious Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in addition to being a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. Jones played football at Cal Poly and was an honor roll student. Jones and his wife Stacy have been significant contributors to Cal Poly Athletics, being the lead donors of the Steven S. Jones Family Football Locker Room and supporting projects such as the Doerr Family Football Practice Field, the Dignity Health Baseball Clubhouse,improvements to the weight room, Wilson Family Basketball Locker Room, Mott Athletic Center Renovation and purchasing new alternative football uniforms and helmets. He regularly attends Cal Poly sporting events with his sons Carter and Caden and serves as a mentor for student-athletes.


CPAA - Distinguished Service Award

Kelley Bannon Lashley

B.A., Political Science, 1995
Partner Calleton, Merritt, De Francisco & Bannon LLP

Kelley Bannon Lashley graduated in 1995 with a degree in political science and a doctor of jurisprudence degree from the Santa Clara University School of Law in 1999. She is a partner at Calleton, Merritt, De Francisco & Bannon, LLP and a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law. Bannon Lashley is a Cal Poly softball alumna and the founder and president of the Cal Poly Varsity Club, an alumni chapter for former student-athletes. She has worked to gain representation for all Cal Poly sports on the club’s Board of Directors and to connect Cal Poly alumni to athletic events and activities at Cal Poly and throughout the United States. She has served in various volunteer roles at Cal Poly, including the Mustang Athletic Fund, Board of Directors, 2002-2005; Alumni Association Board of Directors, where she chaired the Spirit and Traditions Committee, 2011-2017; and the Athletics Director’s Advisory Council, 2015-present. Bannon Lashley is leading the effort to raise funds for a new $300,000 batting cage for the Cal Poly softball team. Bannon Lashley’s husband Dan is a former wrestler at Cal Poly and a 1996 physical education and kinesiology graduate.


CPAA - Sandra Gardebring Ogren Leadership Award

Randell Iwasaki

B.S., Civil Engineering, 1982
Executive Director Contra Costa Transportation Authority

Randell H. Iwasaki graduated with a degree in civil engineering in 1982 and a master’s in engineering from California State University Fresno in 1989. He began his career at the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in 1983, culminating in his appointment as director in 2010. He is currently the Executive Director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA). Iwasaki is responsible for the launch of the GoMentum station, an autonomous vehicle testing station, and is partnering with tech and automotive companies toward developing the next generation of transportation solutions. He is the recipient of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Thomas H. MacDonald Memorial Award for meritorious contributions to the art and science of highway engineering; the Charles H. Purcell Award for managerial excellence at Caltrans; and is the recipient of the 2009 “Doers, Dreamers and Drivers” award given by Government Technology Magazine. Iwasaki has donated an Intelligent Transportation Systems Laboratory to the College of Engineering and serves on the advisory boards for both the college and the Civil and Environmental Engineering department. He supports the student chapter of the Institute of Transportation Engineers at Cal Poly through visits to campus, guest lectures and mentorship.