Parent Advisory Council Bios

Gail Ginell (Thousand Oaks, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in April 2012. Her son, Brian, is a mechanical engineering major, with minors in math and economics. He’s lived in the Yosemite dorm and Poly Canyon, and now lives off campus. He is a discussion leader for math and science and is a student member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Sales Engineering Club. In addition, he is a member of the Cal Poly Men’s Soccer Club and Hillel. Gail and her husband, Cary, have another son, Adam, who is a student at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

Gail works part time as an accountant and has done so for many years. She is also the longtime editor for the class notes section of the quarterly alumni magazine for Occidental College, her alma mater. She received her MBA from UCLA.

Gail was school site chairperson at her sons’ elementary, middle, and high schools for many years, and also served as a board member of the Thousand Oaks High School Boys’ Soccer Boosters. She was also an active member of the PTSA and frequent high school volunteer. She was also an active volunteer with Boy Scout Troop 761, from which both sons earned their Eagle Scout rank.

Gail and Cary enjoy theater, especially musical theater. Cary is a reviewer for the local newspapers and they see a lot of shows. Gail also enjoys traveling, scrapbooking, needlework, and visiting with friends and family. She is a member of Temple Etz Chaim and is on the parent committee for the youth group.

Gail has always been a member of the school site council at her sons’ schools and felt that joining the Cal Poly Parent Council was a natural thing to do.  It has been a rewarding experience so far. Gail has enjoyed learning more about the Cal Poly experience and also helping parents through their children’s transition to college.  Gail had the opportunity to speak at the April 2012 Cal Poly Open House for Admitted Students. While a little nervous in front of 3000 prospective parents and students, she enjoyed sharing the reasons that her son chose Cal Poly. He has been very happy at Cal Poly and Gail is happy to be a part of Cal Poly as well. As a member of the Parent Advisory Council, Gail feels that it is important to represent the views of all parents. She happily shares her positive feelings about Cal Poly with prospective students and their parents and she looks forward to meeting with other parents.

Michelle Hafford (San Diego, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in October 2013. Her son Joshua is a 3rd year Electrical Engineering major. Josh loves Cal Poly and the Central Coast, spending much of his free time bicycling and hiking. He lived in Sierra Madre his first year, and has ventured into both apartment and house living for the last two years. Cal Poly’s learn by doing philosophy has given Josh the opportunity to earn two internships, his first summer at a medical device company in San Diego and his second learning entrepreneurial skills at a San Francisco based startup. 

Michelle works in Training and Organizational Development, and is an adjunct instructor. She is finally dusting off her ABD status to complete her Doctorate in Organizational Learning at George Washington University in Washington D.C. Her research includes business approach to STEM education through Corporate Social Responsibility as well as Public/Private Partnerships and Collaborations. She is also an advocate for ensuring college readiness and access to under-served and minority students.

A transplant from Georgia, where her eldest son Jason recently graduated from the University of Georgia, Michelle and her husband David enjoy traveling throughout their new home state of California. She is looking forward to working with other Cal Poly parents, and sharing lessons learned from sending two sons off to college.

Laura Hamill (Clovis, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in April 2010. Her oldest son, Adam, is an aerospace engineering major. Her younger son, David, is a junior at Fresno Christian High School in Fresno, CA and hopes to attend Cal Poly as a computer science major in 2012.

Laura is a medical transcriptionist for Community Regional Medical Center Fresno and works out of her home. She also helps out with projects for the Health Information Management department that interface with the Information Systems department since she has experience as a network administrator. 

Laura enjoys reading, crochet and playing oboe/flute/clarinet in various groups throughout the Central valley. Until recently, she was the "show mom" to both boys, who rode American Paint horses in competition, and who were very successful, with numerous State, National and World titles to their credit. 

Laura is also fluent in American Sign Language, and utilizes her skills interpreting at Riverpark Bible Church in Fresno, CA, where she and her family are members.

Laura has found the Parent Advisory Council to be a rewarding experience because of the opportunity it affords to directly impact other parent's experience at Cal Poly in a positive way. She enjoys meeting with the parents on the Council several times a year, and looks forward to forming lasting friendships through that interaction.

Tawny James (Woodland, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in January 2014.  She is a Cal Poly Alumnus (Bus - Acctg ’89) as is her husband Buzz (OH ’87.)  They are the proud parents of Brayden who is a senior majoring in Industrial Engineering and Lucas who is a sophomore majoring in Industrial Technology.  Tawny and Buzz were both very involved in the Greek system at Cal Poly. Tawny held many offices in her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and held the office of President in her senior year. She feels her participation in Sigma Kappa gave her skills she carried into her career and also gave her another forum to promote Cal Poly.  Both her sons are following in their parents footsteps, and are both active in Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.

Tawny began her career as a CPA at KPMG Peat Marwick in San Jose, CA. She credits much of her career success to the exceptional education she received at Cal Poly.  She is now a partner at Smith & James, where she works with her long time business partner. Her practice focuses on tax compliance and consulting.  When not working in her tax practice, Tawny remains very involved with Sigma Kappa.  She serves as an advisor to collegiate officers, holding positions on two corporation boards and chairing the National Audit Committee.

Tawny was drawn to the Parent Advisory Council because she wanted to give back to a university that prepared her for success in her chosen field.  Her love of Cal Poly has only grown now that both her children are attending her alma mater.  Tawny hopes to be a resource to families as their children embark on one of the most exciting decisions they will ever make – becoming a Mustang.  She hopes that her experiences will benefit other Cal Poly parents.

JoAn Kenmotsu (Placentia, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in May 2013. Her daughter Jocelyn is a junior majoring in Construction Management. JoAn is a Design Project Manager at an audiovisual firm in Orange, CA, mainly acting as a liaison between architects and audiovisual engineers. She is a licensed artchitect in California but received her architectural degree in New York.

Since 2007, JoAn has volunteered as a coordinator for the Student Community Bible Study in Fullerton. She believes in providing a safe place for the high school students to socialize and build up their characters.

JoAn was drawn to the Parent Advisory Council because although she sensed Cal Poly was a well-rounded school and attractive to students, she recognized that there have been comments about how loose the morale can be. She wanted to konw the behind-the-scenes stories, and, if possible, make some positive impact, both inside the school and outside as a parent representative. JoAn has been very pleased with that she has learned, and after each meeting she is affirmed anew what a wonderful choice her daughter has made in Cal Poly. 

Katherine Rojas-Kirby (Los Osos, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in April 2013. Her oldest son, Gordon, is a senior at Stanford University and will be starting his PhD at UCSB in the fall after graduating with a BS in Mathematics and a BA in Iberian Studies. Her younger daughter, Allison is finishing up her sophomore year at Cal Poly majoring in Sociology with a minor in Spanish and Gender Studies. She volunteers at the Cultural Diversity Center and is involved in WOW. Both of her children studied abroad in Spain in 2013. She and her husband traveled to Spain to visit too. Both universities were outstand, and the host families offered excellent experiences.

Katherine is a master teacher in SLCUSD, working together with Cal Poly, La Verne, and Chapman Universities. She has taught 29 years in grades 1st-6th with a multiple subjects credential and completed her BCLAD at Cal Poly and her Reading Recovery certificate in 1995 in SLCUSD. Her husband, Murray, is also a teacher in SLCUSD where he teaches middle school math. Both of them started their teaching careers in Fresno Unified School District before moving to the central coast in 1994.

Katherine enjoys reading, sports, cooking, walking, making yard art, gardening, traveling, and going to the movies. During her summer she can often be found walking around town and visiting the local library to find new recipes to try and books to read. As a fan of her students, she loves to cheer them on at their sporting events.

Katherine has served as a PTA Vice-President and President when her children were in middle school. She was the San Luis Obispo Youth Symphony Manager for several years. She is part of the School Site Council at her school, a CTA representative, and a negotiator for her teachers' Union. Katherine is excited to me more active in the Parents' Advisory Council since it is so close to where she lives. Katherine looks forward to working with Cal Poly as it handles the increasing demands of costs, admissions, and Cal Poly’s Place in the San Luis Obispo Community.

Kim Loquaci(San Jose, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in Spring, 2010. Kim has been a Special Education teacher for Santa Clara Unified School District for 31 years. Kim's husband Steve, is a lawyer and youngest son Kevin, is a senior at Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Her son Mitchell, is a second year biology major. He is a member of Pike, and enjoys football and volleyball. He has a summer job working at a sports camp. He enjoyed dorm life as a freshman, and will be live off campus next year.

As a parent council member, Kim enjoys the opportunity to assist parents and provide student success resources to other Cal Poly families.

Cassandra Ornelas (Santa Barbara, CA) joined the Cal Poly Parent Advisory Council in July 2010. Her daughter, Jenna Larson, is an Animal Science major. Jenna wants to be a veterinarian. Jenna attended the Polycultural Weekend and looks forward to become active in the clubs and activities on the Cal Poly campus. Besides her love for animals, Jenna is passionate about music. She has participated in a competition Jazz choir as the Alto section leader and loves the piano. She has a younger sister, Carliegh, age 10, who aspires to become a future Cal Poly Student.

As a Registered Nurse, Cassandra is a District Nurse for the Santa Barbara School District with 15 years school health experience. Professionally, Cassandra is an advocate for students in the educational system. She has always been an active parent, who is currently the President of Monte Vista Elementary School’s School Site Council and has served on the council for 5 years. Cassandra has also been the Travel Coordinator and Health Expert for the Dos Pueblos High School Jazz A Choir and Combo for the past 2 years. She enjoys reading, spending time on the beach, scrap booking, spending time with family and friends, and traveling.

Cassandra looks forward with working with other parents and members of the Cal Poly Parent Advisory Council. In addition, Cassandra looks forward to meeting with Cal Poly students to explore strengths and frustrations students are experiencing and act as a voice for positive changes when appropriate. She looks forward to sharing both her personal and professional experiences when advocating for Cal Poly students and families.

Lynne Preisser (San Diego, CA) joined the Parent Council in April 2011. Her son Alex is a materials engineering major. He is active in the student/professional society and has enjoyed conventions and field trips. Lynne enjoys hosting his Cal Poly friends.

Lynne is in sales for Neiman Marcus and has an MS in social science research and is currently working on a certificate in arts and the creative process. The Preisser family enjoys kayaking in Moro Bay. Lynne is excited to be part of the Cal Poly Parent Advisory Council and support the university during a time of great changes.

Cynthia Pretzel(Arroyo Grande, CA) Cynthia is a third grade teacher in Santa Maria.  She enjoys walking her dog, water aerobics and reading.  She is proud to be part of the Parent Advisory Council and supports the "learn by doing" philosophy of Cal Poly SLO.

Ellen Solum (Tehachapi, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in July, 2012. Her son James is a Forestry and Natural Resources major and daughter Erica is a Software Engineering major. Both kids are active in the Greek System, James in Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity and Erica in Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. The residence hall experience in the red bricks was great for both of them, as well as Poly Canyon Village for James.

Ellen graduated from Cal Poly in 1979 with a double major in Home Economics, as well as Dietetics and Food Administration. She became a registered dietitian after earning a Master's Degree from Cal State Northridge. Ellen spent 11 years working with Los Angeles Unified School in school food service and has been with Kern County Senior Nutrition Programs for the past 23 years. Husband Eric graduated from USC in 1978 with degrees in Petroleum Engineering and Geology. It was challenging for him to make the transition from Trojan to Mustang, but he has really learned to appreciate the accessibility of the faculty to the students, as well as the many opportunities for collaborative hands-on projects.

Ellen is passionate about Cal Poly's "Learn by Doing" philosophy and enjoys helping other families to have the best possible college experience, as well as sharing all that San Luis Obispo has to offer. She also loves being involved with the continued growth and development of the university with the chance to give back.

Bob Stephens (Torrance, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in October 2013. His daughter, Ashley, is a graduating senior majoring in Political Science, while his son, Matthew, is a sophomore majoring in Construction Management.

Originally from Manhattan Beach, CA, Bob graduated from Mira Costa High School in 1979. He attended El Camino College from 1979-1982, graduating with an Associate of Arts Degree, then attended Cal Poly SLO from 1982-1986, graduating with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Management. In 2005, Bob graduated from the Anderson School at UCLA – Graduate School of Management, Executive Program.

Bob went to work for Tishman Construction Corporation of California in Los Angeles upon graduation from Cal Poly, SLO in 1986. In 1992, he moved to Morley Builders where Bob still works today as a Senior Manager overseeing major concrete construction projects in the Los Angeles area. Bob and his wife Monica live in Torrance, CA. 

Jeanne Stone (Irvine, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in January 2009. She is a Cal Poly alumnus (LS ’78) and is the alumni board member representative to the Parent Advisory Council. She and her husband Ken (ARCH ’80) are the parents of two, and soon to be three, Cal poly students: Michael, Architecture, Andrew, Civil Engineering with minor in Watershed Management, and Daniel who will enter the Architectural Engineering program in Fall 2009.  Ken has been actively involved in the Cal Poly Alumni Association for almost 20 years, serving as its President twice.  He is currently President-elect of the CSU Alumni Council, representing all 23 campuses of the California State University. All those trips to Cal Poly for alumni activities, Homecomings, and Open Houses ultimately “brainwashed” their sons into thinking that there is no other university worth attending. Even their many activities at UCI with Mom could not sway them.

Jeanne is a lecturer at UC Irvine in the Department of Education. She is actively involved in her sons’ high school Instrumental Music Boosters and local church. When not busy with her sons, Jeanne enjoys reading, scrapbooking, family activities and cooking. Ken is Vice President and General Manager for The Austin Company’s Western Region.  Austin is an architecture, engineering, and construction company. In addition to his work with the alumni groups, he is involved with the music boosters, high school youth ministry at church and has just “retired” from serving as Chaplain of Boy Scout Troop 36 for the past 12 years.

All three of their sons have been active in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts all having reached the rank of Eagle Scout. They enjoy backpacking and camping and have all hiked through the backcountry of Philmont Scout Ranch with their father. In addition to their interest in the outdoors, all were involved with music in high school, but unfortunately, have not found time to continue formally while at Cal Poly. Michael spends all his free time in his architecture labs or bike riding. Andrew spends his all free time in the Vista Grande kitchen as a student crew leader doing meal preparation and inventory management. Daniel still enjoys (if possible) the daily high school schedule which he surrounds with as many music activities as possible: pit orchestra for the school musical, marching band, jazz band, orchestra, and state and district honor orchestras.

The Stone family considers Cal Poly their home away from home and continuously looks for ways to give back to the university where Jeanne and Ken first met (thank goodness for the dorms!) and found their vocations. Jeanne looks forward to meeting new parents and sharing with them the wonders they can find at Cal Poly with their student.

Lori Sullivan (Santa Barbara, CA) joined the Parent Advisory Council in November, 2013. She and her husband, Joe, are the proud parents of Sean Sullivan who is a Wildlife Biology major. Sean is active with the Cal Poly Triathlon Team and was co-director of the March Triathlon Series in 2014 as well as being an assistant bike coach for the team. Sean is also active with the Cal Poly Wildlife Club and has enjoyed several camping trips with the club. Lori's husband, Joe Sullivan, is the Vice President of Business Services at Santa Barbara City College. Joe and Lori are both proud alumnus of UC Santa Barbara. 

Lori has been involved in college textbook sales for over 34 years and for 18 of those years Cal Poly was one of her key accounts. She has worked for Pearson Education for 18 years and for the past two years she has taken on a home base job where she covers both open sales territories as well as assists with technology training for math and science websites. When not working Lori enjoys working out at the gym (spinning, yoga and weight lifting) as well as running and hiking around the beautiful area of Santa Barbara. She also enjoys her book club, working as a docent for the Santa Barbara Zoo and whenever possible she loves to travel.

As a member of the Parent Advisory Council Lori enjoys sharing her love of Cal Poly with other parents and loves to be able to offer assistance to new parents. The opportunity to share her love of Cal Poly and all it has to offer is why Lori decided to join the council. Lori has enjoyed meeting all the parents from the group and looks forward to working with new parents over the coming years.

Pat Thompson (San Juan Capistrano, CA) joined the PAC in the fall of 2010 when his son, Connor, entered his first year at Cal Poly in the College of Business. Connor enjoys the small, family-like atmosphere at Cal Poly as well as the large availability of outdoor activities in the SLO area when he is not studying.

A native southern Californian, Pat lives in San Juan Capistrano with Janette, a non-practicing nurse and a full-time mother to Connor and his three siblings: Cassandra, Cameron, and Cortland. A graduate of UCSD Revelle College and UCI School of Medicine, Pat has maintained a medical practice in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine in Orange County, California, since 1983. He has been involved in teaching as a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at UCI for over 25 years and is also a Professional Services Reservist with the Orange County Sheriff's Dept.

Pat was initially attracted to the concept of the PAC where students' parents have the opportunity to input ideas to the University administration, hopefully to enhance the overall college experience and to encourage lifelong education of Cal Poly graduates. It is Pat's endeavor to help guide other Cal Poly families through their college years by his participation in the PAC's numerous activities.

Monica White (Danville, CA)—joined the Council in April, 2014. Her son, Zach, graduated from Cal Poly in 2012 with a degree in Agricultural Business and her daughter, Katelyn is currently in her 3rd year in the Orfalea School of Business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.  Both her children have been active in Greek Life at Cal Poly.  Zach was also a member of the National Agribusiness Marketing Association which was very helpful in developing skills in his current career in sales.  Katelyn was a member of the Dance Team at Cal Poly this past year.  They both have taken full advantage of all the wonderful opportunities Cal Poly has to offer to receive a very well-rounded education.

Monica is a 1982 graduate from UC Santa Barbara.  Upon graduation, she worked in the financial services industry for 8 years.  She and her husband, Bruce, have four children and Monica has been a full-time mom for the past 24 years.  Monica has been very active in her childrens’ schools serving as VP of the PTA of their elementary school,  Team Mom for several of their sports teams, VP of their high school Athletic Boosters and supporting their education and extra-curricular activities in any way she can.

Cal Poly is a special university to Monica’s family as her children have both had a wonderful all-around experience.  She is thrilled at the opportunity to give back and she enjoys meeting other parents and helping them navigate their childrens’ college years. 

Monica’s hobbies include traveling, hiking, riding her horse and enjoying time with her family.

Jackie Caplan Wiggins (Long Beach, CA) joined the Parent Council in October 2012. Although she did not attend Cal Poly (she graduated from San Diego State in 1980 with a degree in Business Administration), she has a family “history” with the school.  Her husband Doug is a Cal Poly graduate (’82) with a degree in Agricultural Business Management.  Her sister-in-law Colleen Childers not only graduated from Cal Poly, but taught in the school’s Animal Science Department. Jackie’s sister and business partner Karen sits on Andy Thulin’s CAFES (College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences) board of advisors.  And finally, Jackie’s mother, Frieda Rapoport Caplan, will be receiving an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences during the June 2014 commencement.

Both of Jackie’s children are currently studying at Cal Poly.  Frankie is a 5th year Mechanical Engineering major and will graduate this June (2014).  He has been very involved in the Cal Poly Triathlon Team (he was President in 2011- 2012) and through his Cal Poly connections, worked as an intern at the Phillips 66 refinery in the summer of 2013 and has been asked to return in the summer of 2014 to work in their Houston Headquarters.  Rachel is a 2nd year Communications Studies major. She will be studying abroad in Thailand during the summer of 2014 and Italy in the fall of 2014.  She is an active member of the Omicron Mu Chapter of Chi Omega.  In March of 2014, she co-chaired their annual Casino Night benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She plans to graduate in 2016.

Jackie is the Vice President and COO of Frieda’s, Inc.; a specialty produce company started by her mother (Frieda) over 50 years ago!  In addition to her “day job”, she just finished up her term as VP of Operations for her Temple Board and is a member of the United Fresh Produce Association Wholesaler-Distributor Board.   As a recent breast cancer survivor and mentor to other women in various stages of their diagnosis, Jackie has found helping others quite rewarding. When she is not working or volunteering, you can find her working out at the gym.

Jackie is currently Vice Chair of the Parent and Family Advisory Council and will take on the role of Chair in August 2014. She looks forward to working with the other council members as ambassadors to help support the goals and mission of the University and to being a mentor to other Cal Poly parents; especially those “new” to being the parent of a college student. 

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