Category Archives: Inside CSUEB News Blog

CSUEB English grad owns successful B2B web marketing firm

Dianna Huff ’86, ’93 tells college students that you don’t always know where life will take you.

She started her journey at Cal State East Bay in nursing but that didn’t go as she planned.  After struggling in science classes and receiving low grades, she decided to give business school a try. Nope. That wasn’t a good fit, either, she said.

It wasn’t until she lucked into an English course with Professor Robert V. William that Huff found her passion. It was William’s praise of her writing that gave her the confidence to choose English as her major. The degree taught her to think strategically, research, analyze well thought out plans, analyze business Web sites and support with evidence.

“One of the things that California State University, East Bay is good at is creating people who work – either for themselves or others – and who sustain the economy,” said Huff.  She currently lives in New Hampshire where she owns her own company, DH Communications, Inc., a business-to-business Web site marketing firm.

Her advice to CSUEB students, “Keep learning constantly, this doesn’t mean you need to go back to school but you should always keep learning in whatever career you end up in.”

Read previous blog story on Huff, “English grad Dianna Huff wins gold for marketing work”



Samsung VP Mike Abary ’88 attributes success to CSUEB’s diversity and quality education

 Mike Abary ’88 earned his Business Administration degree with a concentration in marketing from Cal State East Bay and is now a senior vice president over at Samsung. “My degree provided me with a foundation on which to rely upon,” said Abary. “Skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, and understanding people – these were fundamental skills I learned from Cal State East Bay that I have carried throughout my career.”

Abary wants current CSUEB students to know that pursuing their careers is a journey that should be enjoyed, and the steps taken and the skills gained are more important than the destination. He went on a journey and found his true calling in technology product marketing at Sony, a place that felt rewarding and effective in a positive way to people’s lives.

“Never stop believing in yourself, and never let perceptions about attending a state school stop you from reaching for the sky,” said Abary. He says he is proud to be a CSUEB grad because the school provided high quality academics, is down to earth, and diverse. “I was always ambitious, always driving for higher positions, and my next goal is becoming a CEO.”

We have no doubt that we’ll soon be writing a story about Mike Abary’s promotion to CEO!


Pathbrite’s CMO encourages students to never stop learning

Alumnus Derek Gordon, ’86 mass communications, a San Francisco based marketing veteran loves story telling. “I discovered that I love to tell the stories about people at work changing the world,” he said. “So, after some initial twists-and-turns, I started my current path working with non-profits. I ran communications for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation for about seven years and then Yerba Buena Center for the Arts for two.”

It was at this time that a friend had convinced him to work at an Internet start-up during the tech boom of the late 90’s. Gordon considers it the best move he ever made because his company invented e-learning and he enjoyed an enormously successful IPO. Gordon is now working as the Chief Marketing Officer at Pathbrite, an early stage start-up in the education technology space.

Gordon’s says his advice to CSUEB students is to “learn to write well. Learn to present yourself well. And never stop learning. The world changes at an amazing pace these days and you can’t possibly imagine the sorts of skills and knowledge you’ll need 25 years from now, so never stop learning.”

With such a vibrant track record in the marketing field Gordon is a great example of what you can achieve at CSUEB!

CSUEB alumnus Mike Dresen featured in SF Business Times article

San Francisco Business Times reporter Aaron Tilley interviewed Cal State East Bay alumnus Mike Dresen, hydrogeologist and CEO of Weiss Associates, for the paper’s Entrepreneur Profile section.

Dresen earned his bachelor’s in geology and a master’s in environmental geology from CSUEB then joined Weiss 27 years ago. He manages and has worked on Weiss Associates’ Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Superfund projects for 24 years and is responsible for the company Quality Management/Quality Assurance program and resource allocation.

In the article, Dresen said one of his favorite things about working at Weiss is that “this company takes a portion of profit and donates to a local charity.”

Read “Mike Dresen, hydrogeologist, CEO and president of Weiss Associates”.

Congrats on your success, Mike!


CSUEB alumna named city manager for Los Altos

Cal State East Bay alumna Marcia Somers has been named city manager for the City of Los Altos.  Somers is the second woman to serve as Los Altos’ city manager. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Cal State East Bay.

She served as the assistant town manager for the Town of Danville since 2006. According to the city staff report, Somers oversaw many capital projects during her tenure in Danville; these include a 17-acre community park development, the renovation of the town’s historical Village Theatre and the restoration of its Veterans Memorial Building, just to name a few. Somers’ decision to take up the mantle of the city manager’s position, involved several factors one of which was Los Altos’ small-town atmosphere. Prior to her employment in Danville, Somers spent more than eight years working for the city of Sunnyvale.

“I have really enjoyed Danville because of its small-town character,” said Somers. “I wanted to be somewhere that had that same sort of environment. (Los Altos) is very similar, and I like that feel.” Read Los Altos Town Crier article.

Congrats, Marcia, on all your accomplishments!

CSUEB grad recognized for his firm’s green manufacturing practices

Cal State East Bay alumnus Frank P. Paniagua, Jr. ’82 is the founder and CEO of Green Plug, the first developer of digital technology enabling communication and negotiation between electronic devices and power sources. His firm was recognized on the AlwaysOn’s GoingGreen Global 200 list —the top emerging companies that are transforming big industry and creating viable business models for the green technology.

Paniagua writes “We are pleased to be recognized by AlwaysOn for introducing innovative technology that enables chip-makers and power supply manufacturers to bring further green technology innovations to market.”

Paniagua has spent his entire career involved in start-ups. Paniagua was the founder of KidWise LearningWare, co-founder of the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), Eskape Labs, AutoNetworks, and the president of IXMICRO.  He earned his BA degree in Communications from Cal State East Bay.

Congrats, Frank!


“Amazing Race” TV show a life changer for CSUEB CBE grad

Cal State East Bay alumnus Jeremy Cline ’98 competed on the last season of the CBS television show, Amazing Race, with his partner, Sandy Draghi. Although the couple finished second place on the show, Cline told Livermore Patch that he came out winning more than money. Read interview.

After the show, they were inspired to immediately hold a yard sale. Cline and Draghi realized how much ‘stuff’ they owned after seeing people around the world make do with so little.

The couple was also aware that they were cast as the couple whose relationship might not have survive the race.  But, the complete opposite happened. The Race brought the two closer together and, after filming ended, the two moved in together in Cline’s Alamo home.

After the experience they wanted to do more for others. “Growing up in the Bay Area, Jeremy and I have both been fortunate. I’ve done medical missions, but I want to do more,” Draghi says. “When you see what we have, that extreme level of poverty, it sparks you to do more for others.”