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Rise Up! Social Mobility Conference

Back row, from left: Taina Movete, David Collins, Jennifer Delaney
Middle: Jocelyn Morales
Front Row, from left: Iris Avalar, Rene Marfia, and Diana Espinosa-Osuna

Working with CollegeNET, NDNU hosted a conference earlier today called, “Rise Up! Guiding Students to Better Futures through Social Mobility.” The panels and speakers included a keynote speech by Dr. Lindsay Romasanta on “Changing conditions, culture, and care to advance student success and social mobility;” recognition of outstanding transfer students from multiple community college partners; a panel discussion on affording a private college education; a fascinating talk by Jim Wolfston, the CEO of CollegeNet on how transfer counselors can help restore the American dream; and a wonderful panel with the students pictured above in which they discussed what they wished their transfer counselors had told them (or asked them). Our deep gratitude to all involved for a wonderful conference!

Perhaps the most inspiring comment was made by Mr. Wolfston, who said that “the best universities aren’t the Ivy Leagues; they just promote the status quo. The best universities are places like NDNU because these are the places that are making a difference in social mobility, which is our best hope not just for a more just future for everyone, but for the very survival of our planet.”

It was a day to be proud of NDNU, especially of our students and alumni. They are the best inheritors of the legacy of NDNU’s founders – one of access to education that recognizes the transformative power of that experience.


Alum in the News: Maria Sanchez

Last July, Maria Sanchez (Human Services, ’15) and her husband Tim opened a coffee shop (Tertulia) and art gallery (Sanchez Contemporary) in downtown Oakland.  I finally made it over there yesterday with my daughters (and our friend Aurore) and we were delighted.


This article gives it a great review and here’s an excerpt:

“The café and adjacent gallery are the brainchildren of husband-and-wife team Tim and Maria Sanchez, who have long dreamed of combining their passion for art and coffee. (She’s an artist and he’s a self-described coffee geek.)

Many cafés put up art, said Tim Sanchez, but the art often ends up being a part of the café’s decor and not a successful source of income. Sanchez worked with noted San Francisco architecture firm Lincoln Lighthill, which designed Blue Bottle’s café in the W.C. Morse building, to create a space where the café flows into a distinct gallery space.

Maria Sanchez curates the art at Sanchez Contemporary, and said she hopes to highlight Latino artists and other artists of color. “A lot of under-represented artists don’t normally get gallery shows,” she said. “We want to give their art the respect that it deserves.”

A photo from the article:


Congratulations, Maria and Tim.  What a wonderful concept, fantastic art, beautiful space, and great hot chocolate.  So happy to finally see your beautiful work in person….

Alum in the News: The Grateful Garment Project

TGGP3Human Services grad Lisa Blanchard and the organization that originated as her senior capstone project made the front page of the San Jose Mercury News recently, highlighting the important work that they do to support the victims of sexual assault.  Congratulations to Lisa, her son William Cotter (Human Services), and other recent graduates (Zita Agazzi, Lisa Swanson) who have supported this project with their talent and expertise!  Such important, wonderful work…

The article can be found here.

Image courtesy

Graduate in the Spotlight: Lisa Blanchard

Lisa BlanchardLisa Blanchard will be speaking at a symposium at USF tomorrow; information about it below, registration is FREE, and you can sign up right at this link.  Here is a description about the symposium and the issue that they are addressing:

The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, including 5.5 million children. 55 percent are women and girls. At the end of 2012, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011. In fact, more people are refugees or internally displaced than at any time since 1994.

USF For Freedom presents a symposium on the Jesuit values and practices of accompaniment, service and advocacy in relation to Bay Area nonprofits serving victims of forced migration and modern slavery. Hear from Mitzi Schroeder, Policy Director of Jesuit Refugee Service, David Batstone, President and Co-founder of Not For Sale, Minouche Kandel, Women’s Policy Director of the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women, as well as other Bay Area nonprofits as they share their experience accompanying and advocating for the underrepresented.

Come and learn about these realities and how we can change the world of unjust migration and slavery.

Date: Saturday, May 30, 2015

Time: 9:00am – 3:00pm

Venue: USF Downtown Campus, Room 150, 101 Howard Street, San Francisco.  Lisa Blanchard graduated from NDNU’s Human Services program in 2011; her profile for this symposium follows.  Way to make a difference, Lisa!

Lisa J. Blanchard, Founder, The Grateful Garment Project

Alumnus in the Spotlight: William (Tony) Dixon

TonyDixonWilliam Dixon, a 24-year veteran of the Menlo Park Police Department, has been promoted to commander, one step below chief, the department announced.  He will join Dave Bertini as one of the department’s two commanders.  Dixon has been interim commander of the department’s patrol division since January 2014.  The city did not disclose Dixon’s new salary but Bartini earned $166,000 in base pay in 2013 and $224,241 in total compensation.  Dixon began his career with the department in January 1990 as a Police Explorer.  He held various positions before being hired as a police officer in July 1997, a move that included parking enforcement, records, and dispatch.  He was promoted to sergeant in February 2007.  Dixon holds a bachelor of science degree in Human Services from Notre Dame de Namur University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at the university.”

Well done, Tony!

Image courtesy Daily Post, February 13, 2015

Alumni News: Michele Yoskovich

MicheleYMichele Yoskovich has a new position, at the University of California at Santa Cruz’ Department of Physics.  Congratulations, Michele!

As many current students and alumni know, Michele is a Human Services graduate (2014) and has also worked as the advisor for the School of Business and Managment’s MBA program for the past four years.  We will miss you, Michele, and wish you the best of luck at UCSC.

Alumni Spotlight: Al Pardini New East Palo Alto Police Chief

Al PardiniAl Pardini graduated from our Human Services program in 2010 and we are thrilled to celebrate his appointment as East Palo Alto’s Chief of Police. A link to more information about Chief Pardini and this appoinment is here; congratulations, Chief!


Photo courtesy