Thursday, April 24, 2014

Veteran local educators honored for support of former foster youths

Members of the Soderquist family present Sandi Redenbach and Ken Gelatt with the 2013 Charles J. Soderquist Award, given by the UC Davis Foundation in recognition of volunteer leadership and philanthropic support for the university. Gregory Urquiaga, UC Davis/Courtesy photo

The Soderquist family present Sandra Redenbach and Kenneth Gelatt with the 2013 Charles J. Soderquist Award, given by the UC Davis Foundation in recognition of volunteer leadership and philanthropic support for the university. Photo taken on Wednesday, May 8, 2013.

Longtime Yolo County educators and UC Davis alumni Sandi Redenbach and Ken Gelatt are the 2013 winners of the Charles J. Soderquist Award, an honor bestowed by the university in recognition of exceptional volunteer leadership and philanthropy benefiting the campus community.

Created in 2005 by the UC Davis Foundation, the award honors the late Charles “Charlie” Soderquist — a UC Davis alumnus, management professor and well-known Sacramento-area entrepreneur and philanthropist.

“Sandi and Ken’s commitment to philanthropy and passion for UC Davis truly exemplify Charlie Soderquist’s legacy and the UC Davis Foundation’s vision,” said Shaun Keister, president of the UC Davis Foundation and vice chancellor of development and alumni relations at UC Davis.

“Their generosity, volunteerism and compassion have made a tremendous, lasting impact on improving the lives of students at UC Davis and throughout the region. We are very fortunate to have them as members of our community.”

The award comes with a $5,000 prize that recipients give to the university program or area of their choice. Redenbach and Gelatt are donating their prize money to the School of Education’s Guardian Teachers Scholarship. This program was created in 2011 with seed funding from the San Francisco-based Stuart Foundation to encourage former foster youths to pursue careers in teaching by providing scholarships to students studying in the school’s teaching credential program.

“I think we all have a responsibility to give back,” said Gelatt, a math teacher and coach in Davis for nearly 40 years. “I want our gifts to UC Davis to serve as a way to let people know that giving is not hard to do. All of us can do more than we think, especially educators.”

Redenbach, a veteran speech, drama and English teacher, agreed.

“If two teachers can make that type of contribution, it must be clear to others that there is much they can do as well. My education proves that anyone can overcome obstacles and work toward a life of fulfillment and contribution,” she said.

“Our education at UC Davis helped Ken realize his dream of being a teacher and coach; it helped me discover my passion for teaching; and together, we discovered how we can effectively contribute to others.”

Supporting the Guardian Teachers Scholarship resonates with Redenbach since she herself was adopted, a teenage runaway and a former high school dropout. Redenbach and Gelatt hope others will join them in their support of the Guardian Teacher Scholarship to inspire more former foster youth to pursue careers in teaching.

“Even when I was a dropout, I knew someday and somehow I would go back to school, get my diploma and find a way to be somebody,” said Redenbach, who is president and founder of Esteem Seminar Programs and ESP “Wise” Publications. “And I just really want that for every kid.”

Tanya Anaya, the 2012-13 recipient of the School of Education’s Guardian Teacher Scholarship, can testify to the good that Redenbach and Gelatt’s gift will do.

“The Guardian Teachers Scholarship is a blessing,” Anaya said, who received her undergraduate degree in spring 2012, will complete her teacher credential this June, and plans to continue in the program to complete her master’s degree in 2013-14.

“Because of the program, I met mentors who transformed my life, got me on track, helped me transition through changing majors, graduate, get into the School of Education’s teaching credential program, and to begin realizing my childhood dream of becoming a teacher. None of this could have happened if it wasn’t for the scholarship.”

Harold G. Levine, dean of the UCD School of Education, said the gift is characteristic of Redenbach and Gelatt, both of whom earned their undergraduate degrees and teaching certificates at UCD.

“Sandi and Ken represent the best that the School of Education and UC Davis have to offer the world,” Levine said. “They are extraordinary teachers, committed Aggies, and dedicated and generous volunteers and supporters. We in the School of Education are honored by their being honored.”

Indeed, Redenbach and Gelatt have committed their lives, volunteerism and philanthropic support to supporting education and disadvantaged youth. Both spent more than 40 years in Yolo County classrooms.

After leaving the traditional classroom in 1988, Redenbach founded the Woodland Joint Unified School District’s Independent Learning Center for at-risk youth, which is still in operation.

She has traveled throughout United States, Canada and Europe consulting and providing professional coaching to teachers, administrators, students, parents and business professionals. Redenbach also is a past winner of the California Teachers Association’s Martin Luther King Jr. award, a grant from the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education, and two Outstanding Educator awards.

Redenbach and Gelatt give both their time and resources to a number of programs at UCD. Redenbach is an ardent supporter of the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, serving as an usher and as vice president of the Friends of Mondavi. She is also a member of University Farm Circle. Gelatt provided financial support for the Marya Welch Tennis Center, and both give time and money to UCD’s Mini Medical School.

In 2008, Redenbach created an endowed scholarship fund to establish the Sandi Redenbach Students-at-Promise Award — an award for teaching credential and master’s degree candidates committed to improving education for those at risk of not succeeding in school.

In 2012, she made a $5,000 pledge to the School of Education as a match to inspire others to support the Power of 10 Scholarship Fund — a fundraising effort to raise scholarship funds during the school’s 10th anniversary. She also created a charitable remainder trust and, in 2010, the couple became the first education alumni to include the School of Education in their estate plans.

They have also supported the School of Education’s Words Take Wing program — an annual event to promote children’s literature. In 2013, the couple made an estate gift of $1.6 million to support, in perpetuity, the Redenbach Students-at-Promise Award. This gift helped the university surpass its goal of raising $120 million for student support through The Campaign for UC Davis — the university’s first comprehensive fundraising effort.

To learn more about the Guardian Teacher Scholarship Program, visit

Past Soderquist Award recipients are:

* 2012: Mike and Renee Child
* 2011: Tom and Meg Stallard
* 2010: Wayne and Jacque Bartholomew
* 2009: Hal and Carol Sconyers
* 2008: Barbara Jackson
* 2007: Michael and Betty Chapman
* 2006: Jim Otto
* 2005: Charlie Soderquist (posthumously)

— UC Davis News Service


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