Supporters and friends of California State University, Northridge and its Alumni Association will celebrate the accomplishments of three of the university’s most illustrious alumni at a special gala next month.
The 2013 recipients of Cal State Northridge’s Distinguished Alumni Award represent the fields of education, banking and design: National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki; George S. Leis, regional president for the central coast for Union Bank; and Ravi K. Sawhney, president and chief executive officer of RKS, an innovative, award-winning design firm based in Thousand Oaks.
The trio will be honored at a special dinner on Saturday, April 13, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the dinner and awards program at 7:30 p.m.
This year’s honorees join a notable group of past recipients that includes former Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle, Curb Records Chairman and former California Lt. Governor Mike Curb, CBS executive Michael Klausman, actors Teri Garr, Joan Chen and Cheech Marin, astronaut Scott Horowitz, Oscar-nominated producer Don Hahn and opera singer Carol Vaness.
“There’s no better way to judge a university’s quality than to see how successful its alumni have become,” said D.G. “Gray” Mounger, assistant vice president for alumni relations at CSUN. “The alumni who have been singled out over the years to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award embody what CSUN does best—educate the thinkers, leaders and innovators who not only positively impact their chosen professions, but all of us. Moreover, they make us proud to be Matadors.”
Rebecca Mieliwocki teaches seventh grade English at Luther Burbank Middle School in Burbank. She was the 2005 California League of Middle Schools Educator of the Year for Southern California. Last year, she was recognized by President Barack Obama as the 62nd National Teacher of the Year in a ceremony at the White House along with all 2012 state Teachers of the Year. She has a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from California Polytechnic State University and earned a credential in secondary English education from CSUN in 2001.
George S. Leis served as president and chief executive officer of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust (SBB&T) beginning in 2007. Following the acquisition of SBB&T by Union Bank, he was named regional president for the central coast. Prior to SBB&T, he was the managing director for investments at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management. He served as senior vice president and director of private client services at
Wells Fargo and senior vice president and manager for Bank of America Private Bank. He is an active member of the community, serving on the Santa Barbara Symphony Board of Directors, the Channel Islands YMCA Board of Directors and the United Way of Santa Barbara Board of Directors among others. Leis is also a member of CSUN’s Foundation Board and has served on several university committees, including the advisory committee that recommended the appointment of Dianne F. Harrison as CSUN’s new president. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geography from CSUN in 1981.
Ravi K. Sawhney is an internationally acclaimed industrial designer. His company, RKS, has won dozens of awards, including five Industrial Design Excellence Awards from the Industrial Design Society of America. He graduated from CSUN with a bachelor’s degree in art three dimension in 1978 and began his career as an instructor of industrial design at the university. He moved on to a job at Xerox, where he worked on several projects, including those involving first-generation touch screens. Sawhney also co-founded RKS Guitars with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason. The company designs and manufactures unique open-architecture guitars. In 2005, one of these guitars graced the cover of BusinessWeek, one of only two products to ever be put on the magazine’s cover. The other was an iPod.
Tickets for CSUN’s Distinguished Alumni Awards dinner are $150 per person. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit the Alumni Association’s website at https://www.csunalumni.com/.