2018 Distinguished Awards honorees

Distinguished Alumni

Through the years, Distinguished Alumni honorees have made a positive impact on their communities and beyond and continue to inspire current students to succeed.

Distinguished Alumni logo
Distinguished Alumni Awards recognize outstanding El Camino College alumni, honoring them for their contributions to the community.Sponsorships

The El Camino College Foundation is pleased to recognize the accomplishments of our alumni through the Distinguished Alumni program.

Many of our alumni are highly respected in the community and have achieved great success in their careers and lives.

We are honored to acknowledge these individuals and remember the strong educational foundation El Camino College provided them as they embarked on their professional journey.

Selection Criteria

Potential candidates should meet the following criteria:

  • Ten years must have elapsed since candidates attended El Camino College.
  • Candidates must have a proven track record of achievement in their chosen career, service to the community, or area of endeavor.
  • Candidates should have gained local, state, or national recognition.

2024 Distinguished Alumni and Gratitude Awards Dinner - SOLD OUT

Save the Date


Friday, February 23, 2024

DoubleTree by Hilton, Torrance

21333 Hawthorne Blvd, Torrance, CA 90503

Guest check-in will begin at 5:30 p.m.  |  Reception begins at 6 p.m.

2024 Distinguished Alumni

View 2024 Photo Album



Current Honorees

2024 Distinguished Awards

Chief Dumais

David Dumais

Fire Chief, City of Torrance

Chief Dumais grew up in Torrance, CA and is a graduate of Torrance High School. He earned his Associate of Science degree from El Camino College in Fire & Emergency Technology in 1995 and then transferred to California State University, Dominguez Hills where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education/Biology.

Chief Dumais has been the Fire Chief for the City of Torrance since December 2022. He was hired by the Torrance Fire Department in 1987 and over the last 36 years, has served as a Firefighter, Fire Investigator, Firefighter Paramedic, Fire Engineer, and Fire Captain. During his tenure as Fire Captain, he provided departmental leadership and completed many in-service courses in Emergency Management/Disaster Preparedness and attended the Los Angeles City Fire Department Leadership Academy.

In 2003, Dumais was promoted to Battalion Chief, and in 2006, he was promoted to Deputy Fire Chief. In 2016, Dumais was assigned as Refinery Safety Coordinator to provide oversight of the Torrance Refining Company and the transition of the refinery from the ExxonMobil Corporation. In 2019, Chief Dumais was assigned to the Community Risk Reduction Division (CRRD) and appointed as Fire Marshal. Under Chief Dumais’ leadership, the CRRD was recognized as the 2022 CUPA Participating Agency of the Year for Refinery Safety.

Chief Dumais has been a member of the City’s Emergency Preparation Advisory Team working in the areas of emergency management, EOC activation, secondary EOC development, exercise design and planning, hazard mitigation planning, and critical Infrastructure identification. Among his many accolades, Chief Dumais was honored with the Torrance Unified School District “Golden Apple” Award for outstanding partnership with TUSD in 2019.  He is an adjunct Fire Technology instructor at El Camino College and was recently appointed to represent the California Fire Chiefs’ Association as the Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA) Forum Board representative for Southern California.

Chris Mortensen

Chris Mortensen

Senior NFL Insider, ESPN (Retired)

Chris Mortensen is an award-winning journalist and one of the most respected and accomplished reporters covering the National Football League today. A senior NFL Insider, Mortensen joined ESPN in 1991 and has appeared and contributed to many NFL programs, including: Sunday NFL Countdown, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN’s annual Super Bowl week and NFL Draft coverage. Last year, Mortensen announced that he was stepping away from ESPN after 33 NFL Drafts, to focus on his "health, family and faith."

Mortensen was honored by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) with the prestigious Dick McCann Award for his long and distinguished contribution to pro football in 2016. Mortensen has covered every Super Bowl since 1985 with the exception of Super Bowl 50 when he was forced to take a leave of absence after being diagnosed with Stage IV throat cancer. In October 2016, the NFL Players Association recognized him with the NFLPA Georgetown Lombardi Award for his contributions to pro football and his courageous battle against cancer. Mortensen was also honored with the coveted George Polk Award in 1987 for his reporting, and the same year, won the National Headliner Award for Investigative Reporting. In addition to receiving numerous other journalism awards, Mortensen has been nominated for two Pulitzer Prizes.

A native of Torrance, California, Mortensen graduated from North Torrance High School before starting at El Camino College in 1969, the same year he began his journalism career with the Daily Breeze. He served two years in the Army during the Vietnam Era before he was honorably discharged.

Sabrina Steele

Sabrina Steele

Executive Director, Corporate Affairs & Communications, The Aerospace Corporation

Sabrina K. Steele is executive director of the Corporate Affairs and Communications Division at The Aerospace Corporation, responsible for leading an integrated, national team of professionals to promote the company as a thought leader across the space enterprise. Steele manages Aerospace’s corporate communications needs, including public and media relations, internal and external communications, and innovative corporate strategy campaigns. Through the corporation’s brand and reputation programs, Steele communicates Aerospace’s role as the nation’s trusted and preeminent space enterprise. Additionally, she has led brand partnerships to connect the commercial and technology community with the nation’s military, intelligence, and civil space missions.

Steele leads her team across 22 corporate locations in 15 states. She also serves as executive champion of Aerospace’s Community Outreach Focus Area, the team charged with establishing community liaisons, expanding STEM scholarships to under-served communities, and conducting conversations on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Reinforcing the corporation’s DEI actions, Steele was part of the Space Workforce 2030 team, an initiative in which space industry executives and CEOs pledged to create a more diverse and inclusive environment. For her work on Space Workforce 2030, Steele’s team was recognized with the Trustees’ Distinguished Achievement Award, the highest honor awarded at The Aerospace Corporation, which was established to increase diversity within the company.

Steele attended El Camino College from 1982 to 1984. She later transferred to California State University, Long Beach where she earned her bachelor’s degree in 1985, magna cum laude, in journalism, where she was named Outstanding Journalism and Humanities Graduate, a Scripps Howard Scholarship Honoree, and a Knight-Ridder Scholarship Honoree. Her education continued with two years of post-graduate coursework in Russian/Eastern European Studies. Before joining Aerospace, Steele was director of communications at Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems in El Segundo, California. Prior to that, she was an award-winning reporter/editor for the Press-Telegram, a Knight-Ridder newspaper in Long Beach, California.

Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza

President, West Valley College

Dr. Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza currently serves as the 13th president of West Valley College (WVC) and is the first African American educator to lead the institution. She is a longtime leader with over twenty years of higher education experience in both instruction and student services, mainly in the California community college system. In her various roles as a classified professional, tenured faculty leader, director, dean, vice president, and now president, Taylor-Mendoza’s areas of expertise include accreditation, dual enrollment, educational policy, enrollment management, global learning, guided pathways, online learning, professional development, strategic planning, and workforce partnerships.

President Taylor-Mendoza has found inspiration in the endless potential of community college students. She leads for social justice, recognizing our shared responsibility to address racism and to create a more just educational system of access, reward, and long-term equitable outcomes. The “obligation gap,” a term she coined, speaks to institutional responsibility. She is co-author of Minding the Obligation Gap in Community Colleges: Theory and Practice in Achieving Educational Equity. As Chief Instructional Officer, President Taylor-Mendoza served on the State Chancellor’s Office’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statewide Implementation Workgroup in developing, implementing, and assessing DEI strategies to improve system wide equity outcomes for all of California’s community colleges.

As a public servant, President Taylor-Mendoza believes that healthy, vibrant communities increase enrollment, build public confidence, attract funding support, and impact local legislation. A proud community college alumna, President Taylor-Mendoza started her higher education journey at El Camino College, earning an A.A. in General Studies in 1998. She later went on to attain a B.A. in Psychology (California State University, Los Angeles), an M.S. in Counseling (California State University, Northridge), and a Ph.D. in Education (Claremont Graduate University).



McKellop Wager Family

Chevron logo Norris Foundation logo

The McKellop/Wager Family

Individual Gratitude Award

- Generous supporters of the McKellop Wager Family STEM Scholarship.

Harry McKellop, Ph.D., graduated from El Camino College in 1969 as an Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Scholar with an A.A. in Engineering. He transferred to UCLA where he received a B.S. in 1970 and a M.S. in 1973, both in Mechanical Engineering. In 1988, he was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Mechanical Engineering by USC.

Dr. McKellop is a professor emeritus of Orthopaedics and Biomedical Engineering at UCLA, and formerly was Vice President for Research and Director of the J. Vernon Luck, Sr., MD Orthopaedic Research Center at the Luskin Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles. His research focused on the development of improved orthopaedic implants for stabilizing fractures and replacing joints, which resulted in numerous U.S. and international patents. In recognition of his innovation, Dr. McKellop’s team received the Kappa Delta Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Research Society in 1998, and for his contributions to research and education in Orthopaedics, Dr. McKellop received lifetime achievement awards from the Luskin Orthopaedic Institute for Children (2018) and The International Society for Technology in Arthroplasty (2019). 

Tovya Wager earned a B.S. in Art Education at the University of Oregon, and an M.S. in Psychology at California Lutheran College. She taught Art in middle and high schools for fourteen years. Fascinated by travel and cultures and with a special interest in China since childhood, Tovya studied Mandarin and visited China for the first time in 1980. Eventually, she founded Asian Pacific Adventures, a tour operating company specializing in small group and custom tours in Asia. During a visit to Bhutan in 1996, Tovya was blessed in a Buddhist fertility ceremony. The result was her daughter, Rachelle Tashi McKellop who was born in 1998, and has been the light of her parents’ lives. 

Tashi McKellop was born and raised in Los Angeles. They now live in Colorado and are a senior at Naropa University, majoring in Environmental Science and Psychology. They are proud to be Indigenous (Mvskoke), Jewish, and queer. After graduation, they will pursue their passion for Indigenous land stewardship and sovereignty, specifically through preserving and reviving traditional methods of agriculture and traditional foods, with a focus on returning lands to the original tribes.

Chevron Corporation

Corporate Gratitude Award

Chevron Corporation is one of America’s leading energy companies, proudly operating under the slogan The Human Energy Company. Chevron consistently works toward providing reliable, affordable and ever-cleaner energy for the millions of people around the world that rely on them. Chevron’s corporate strategy is to leverage its capabilities, assets and customers to deliver lower carbon energy to a growing world.

As the second largest direct descendant of Standard Oil, and originally known as the Standard Oil Company of California, Chevron is headquartered in San Ramon, California. Their local office in El Segundo, California is El Camino College’s local community partner. Chevron actively operates in over 180 countries, helping them garner total sales revenue of $236 billion in 2022.

Chevron is committed to investing in communities by giving time and resources to support local organizations that make their community a better place to live and work. Since 2001, Chevron has generously gifted the El Camino College Foundation grants to support STEM initiatives, South Bay Promise, educational scholarships and event sponsorships.

Norris Foundation

Community Gratitude Award

 Kenneth T. Norris and Eileen L. Norris believed they had an obligation to give back to the community so in 1963, the Kenneth T. & Eileen L. Norris Foundation was established with $9,140. They initially focused their philanthropy on two key areas: medicine and private education in Southern California. It was their belief that concentrating the Foundation’s resources would allow its gifts to make the greatest impact.

Throughout the years, the Norris Foundation continued to allocate large portions of its resources to medicine and education but also encompassed a broader range of organizations – one that also includes community and youth programs, education, science and the arts. In each program area, the Norris Foundation has shaped the results, producing a pattern of giving designed to encourage, extend, reconfigure or transform projects originating from a diverse assortment of nonprofit recipients.

In 2022, the Norris Foundation awarded 184 grants, totaling over $13 million in charitable gifts, and in 2023, they celebrated their 60th Anniversary. The Norris Foundation has created many meaningful and long-term relationships including their generous community partnership with El Camino College.


  • 2024 Distinguished Alumni and Gratitude Awards Dinner Photo Album
  • 2022 Distinguished Alumni and Gratitude Awards Dinner Photo Album

Distinguished Alumni Honor Roll

Daelea Aldrich '97

Barbara Ann Alexander '97

Karin Baker '22

David Benoit '11

Eleanor Bersano '16

Timothy Robert Blevins '97

Donald Brann ‘11

James Brooks '97

Rocky Chavez '18

Fred Claire '97

Rudy deLeon '97

Cindi Demboski '97

Fred Dryer '97

David Dumais '24

Keith Erickson '97

Dennis Fayze Fandey '97

James Ferreira '97

E. Michael Fincke ‘12

Diane Fitzhugh '97

Monica Fredericks '14

Pat Furey '11

Gary Galiger '97

Don Gilpin '97

Barbara Gleason '97

James Hill '97

Robert Horii '97

Nils Johnson '97

Kathryn Joiner '97

Richard Keelor '97

Dan Keenan '18

Timothy King '97

Sherry Kramer '18

Michael Lacey '12

Jack Ledbetter '97

Russ Lesser '97

Carol Liess '97

Ian and Marilyn MacLeod '22

Dennis Mangers '97

Patricia Martz '97

Harry McKellop '97

Anita McLaughlin '12

William Mealer '97

Candace Messer '12

Cliff Meidl '03

Mark Mercier '97

Chris Montez '12

Philip Montez '97

Michael Montoya '11

Chris Mortensen '24

George Nakano '16

Carol Neblett '97

Joe Boyd Noble '97

Wayne Overbeck '97

  David Pack '97

Nick Parras '97

Maria Pena '97

Virginia Pfiffner '97

Gregory Rafijah '14

Francisco X. Rivera '22

Gerald Robinson '97

Mary Rooney '97

Kirk Rossberg '22

Edmond Russ '97

James Russell, Jr. '97

Laura Schenasi '16

Ray Southstone '97

Jannette Stewart '97

Sabrina Steele '24

Ryan Stonebraker '14

Jennifer Taylor-Mendoza '24

Megan Tatu '14

Ian Teague '97

Maxine Thomas '97

Donna Toy-Chen '97

Brian Wilson '18

Cinna Toy-Wohlmuth '11

Carlos Vessels '97

Cheryl Ann Winkler '97

Hope Witkowsky '02

Merrie (Penny) Wood '97

Roy Yanase '97

Beverly Young '97

William Young '16 


Gratitude Awards Honor Roll

Frances Ford '18

Mary Haag '22

Harry McKellop '24

Manhattan Beach Rotary '22

Norris Foundation '24

Edison International '18

Northrop Grumman '22

Chevron '24