The chief executive officer of the company that brought touch-based computing to the mainstream, an entrepreneur who appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and sells origami sound systems across the world, and a teen runaway-turned-philanthropist are among the winners of this year’s UC Davis Cal Aggie Alumni Association awards.
They will be honored, along with other outstanding alumni, at the CAAA’s 40th annual Awards Gala on Friday, Feb. 28, at the Silverado Resort and Spa in Napa.
This year’s award winners are:
* Sandi Redenbach of Davis: Redenbach, a 1972 graduate who earned her teaching credential in 1973, is a retired English and theater arts teacher who overcame a tumultuous adolescence. She will receive the Aggie Service Award for her dedication of time, energy, volunteerism and leadership in support of the Cal Aggie Alumni Association and UCD.
She was a Woodland school teacher for 15 years and in 1988 established an independent learning program, which still operates serving at-risk youths. She authored numerous articles and books and has made a planned gift to the School of Education that created a perpetual scholarship for students committed to improving education for those at risk of not succeeding in school. She is also recognized for exceptional volunteer leadership and support of philanthropy at UCD.
* Jerry Lohr of Saratoga: Lohr, an engineer and founder of J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines, is the recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award for exemplary conduct and achievement. He was raised on a South Dakota farm and learned at a young age about the importance of soil quality, the environment and sustainable farming practices. His enterprise now sells a variety of wine and other beverages across the United States and worldwide.
Lohr is a strong supporter and friend to the department of viticulture and enology, and serves on its board of visitors and fellows. He has been a key contributor in the design, planning and fundraising efforts for UCD’s winery, brewery and food-processing teaching and research complex in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
* Francis Lee of Milpitas: Lee, a 1974 graduate, is the recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award for exemplary conduct and achievement. He was only 16 when his family moved from China to Sacramento and enrolled him in high school without his knowing English. That did not deter him. He was accepted into UCD and held three jobs concurrently while earning his degree.
He graduated with honors and went to work for Synaptics Inc., a Santa Clara-based company that develops gesture-based computing sensors that are used in such products as laptop touch pads and smartphone touch screens. After two decades, Lee became the company’s chief executive officer in 1998 and built the company to be a worldwide leader of touch-screen technology. He returns regularly to the Davis campus to mentor students and serves on the College of Engineering’s dean’s executive committee.
* Daniel Evans of Queretaro, Mexico: Evans began his career as a volunteer for the Peace Corps while earning a master’s degree in international agricultural development (1984) and Ph.D. in ecology (1988) and is being honored with the Emil M. Mrak International Award for his distinguished career and service outside the United States.
For more than 30 years, Evans has worked in the field of ecology, conservation and international development in some of the poorest countries in the world. He strives to protect biodiversity and improve natural resource management while struggling with challenges to alleviate poverty. He and his wife live in Queretaro, Mexico, where he is Peace Corps director of 85 volunteers working in technology transfer and natural resource management.
* John Chuck of Davis: After completing his residency in 1989 at UCD School of Medicine, Chuck became a board-certified family practice doctor and is a faculty member at the Med School. He is presented with the Outstanding Alumnus Award for displaying outstanding achievement, promoting innovative change and making professional contributions to the community and to UCD.
He was key in developing My Doctor, an online tool that helps physicians stay in touch with their patients and includes online tutorials and health-education programs focused on delivering personalized care. Chuck is the founder and chief executive officer of Serotonin Surge Charities, which has raised $2 million for free medical clinics, breast cancer research and scholarship funds. He serves as a trustee for the UCD Foundation.
* Jason Lucash of Tustin: Lucash, a 2006 graduate, launched his first business selling candy in front of his parents’ home when he was in the fifth grade. Now, thanks to his UCD education — including a degree in managerial economics and internships — and his continued entrepreneurial spirit, he is the co-founder of OrigAudio: a premium audio products company that offers innovative solutions for music portability.
The company’s origami-style speaker was named in a 2012 Time magazine story as one of the “Best 50 Inventions.” After being featured on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” the company’s products are now sold in 5,000 stores worldwide.
Lucash lectures to university students around the country and helps support several local charities. His successes garnered him the Young Alumnus Award that honors outstanding professional contributions to the community or to UCD within 10 years of graduation.
* Pam Fair of San Diego: Fair, a 1980 graduate who is vice president of environmental, safety and support services and chief environmental officer for San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Gas Company, will be awarded the Jerry W. Fielder Memorial Award for extraordinary service to CAAA, the UCD Foundation and the university.
She is a past chair of the foundation’s board of trustees, current chair of the Davis Chancellor’s Club and a longtime donor to the university.
She helped acquire funds for the Sempra Energy Endowed Chair in Energy Efficiency at UCD, as well as research and workshop activities related to the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
Fair created the Alan Jackman Scholarship in honor of her former chemical engineering professor and also established an undergraduate scholarship for leadership in engineering.
— UC Davis News Service