SOLA Dean’s Advisory Board

The SOLA Dean's Advisory Board is committed to advocating for SOLA, advancing our work, and accelerating our students' post-graduation success. Board members serve as anchor plates for the School of Liberal Arts by connecting us to new networks, opportunities, and resources; supporting our academic work; being an outward and visible sign of the strength and value of the liberal arts at SMC; and upholding the values central to the Saint Mary's mission and identity. An anchor plate is an architectural feature that provides support, stability, and adornment to traditional structures. The classic mortar star anchor plate (pictured above) mirrors the five-pointed star that symbolizes our Lasallian Core Values.

Wayne BillheimerWayne Billheimer (English ’94) is an accomplished producer of animated content. Early in his career, Billheimer was a freelance coordinator on several features shot in San Francisco including What Dreams May Come, James and the Giant Peach, and Flubber and worked as an assistant to director Barry Levinson. Wayne joined Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) Lucasfilm in 1999 and, over the next two decades, worked his way through the ranks to the role of Visual Effects Executive Producer, with production credits on such films as Iron Man, the Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film series, the Avengers, the Mummy, Noah, and Downsizing. He credits his Saint Mary’s English major not only with teaching him about how to understand and tell stories effectively but also with equipping him to communicate and work effectively with highly diverse creative and technical teams. In January 2008, Wayne left ILM to take a new opportunity as Director of Engineering at Apple. He lives in Oakland, with his wife, Sally (’94).


ABAndrea Bortner (Parent ’23) is the Chief Human Resources Officer of Grocery Outlet, Inc. She has over 30 years of professional HR experience and has held executive positions in a wide variety of industries in both public and private sectors, including: Maxar Technologies, Catalina, Harris Corporation, Gap Inc., and PepsiCo.  Andrea is a results driven executive whose contributions span areas of strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions, corporate social responsibility, organizational development and talent management, total rewards (benefits and compensation), executive coaching, diversity and inclusion.  Andrea is an active volunteer with San Francisco’s, “Dress For Success.”  She lives in Marin County with her husband, Michael and they have two children. Their son, Dolan and his wife, Hishgee live in Palo Alto and their daughter, Brenna is in her freshman year at St. Mary’s.    

 

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Kelly E. Boyd (Integral ’84) has had an extensive career in the energy and environmental sectors as well as in the public policy realm.  She began her career as a regulator handling mergers and anti-trust issues at the California Public Utilities Commission and was tapped to be the Chief Consultant in the California State Assembly’s Energy Committee during the state’s energy crisis of 200-2002.  After representing Verizon, Edison International, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and numerous communications and energy associations while with the Manatt and Nossaman Law firms, she became an executive with Edison, heading up State Public Affairs for California and serving as part of its Senior Women’s Leadership Team.  Since leaving Edison in 2015, she has continued to represent energy, water and environmental firms and associations – primarily in the clean energy and emerging technologies space and serves on various state Task Forces related to wildfire prevention/resilience, forest management, and sustainability.  Kelly also serves on non-profit boards and was a founding board member of California Women in Energy and is the Executive Director of the California Low Carbon Fuel and Energy Coalition.  She is active in mentoring programs, including serving as a sponsor and long-time mentor in the SheShares Program, and as an ambassador of Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper Team, actively engaging in inclusive, multi-generational and multi-cultural outreach and networking.  She lives outside Sacramento with her Labrador, Lois, and is the mother of three grown children.

Dickson Chu

Dickson Chu (Integral ’86) is a fintech innovator with more than 25 years experience who has provided executive leadership at PayPal, Yahoo!, Living Social, Wells Fargo, and Citi, among others. Currently, he serves as Global Head of Portfolio Management for BBVA, Spain’s second largest bank, which is “reinvent[ing] itself as a digital business” (The Economist). He has also provided board service and/or advising to leading companies including Bluefin, Ingo Money, Boomtown!, and Confirm.io, and to the non-profit CFY.org’s PowerMyLearning initiative. A San Francisco native, Dickson earned a classical “Great Books” liberal arts education in Saint Mary’s Integral Program. A happenstance internship led him into the world of financial technology. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two teenaged children.

 

Carlos GrandaCarlos Granda (Parent ’23) is the new VP of Global Customer Success at Google Cloud.  Formerly, he was SVP for Global Customer Success at SAP.  He is a thought leader in the cloud market and digital transformation. Carlos is also the Executive Sponsor and founder of Business Women’s Network Cloud Services, and he was named to the 2018 Hispanic IT Executive Council (HITEC) 100 most influential and notable Hispanic professionals in the technology industry. Prior to SAP, Carlos led a team of over 2,000 consultants, technical consultants, trainers, and advisory leaders at Salesforce where he led Global Cloud Services. Mr. Granda has spent over 25 years in technology management consulting firms, focused on helping customers develop IT strategies to leverage technology to gain business benefits. Carlos lives in Southern California with his wife, Melissa, and two sons, Anthony and Nicholas, with whom he founded Granda Soccer 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that distributes soccer equipment to programs serving youth with need in the US and abroad. His eldest son, Anthony (’23), is a new Saint Mary’s student.

 

Ben KacyraBen Kacyra’s (Parent) career has included founding several corporations engaged in diverse businesses, including high technology manufacturing and software, consulting engineering and construction services, and real estate development and asset management. Currently, Ben is a principal in KGI Investments Inc, is a Founding Director and President of the Kacyra Family Foundation, and is a Founding Director of CyArk, whose mission is to digitally preserve world heritage sites using 3D laser scanning and other state of the art technologies (see his TedGlobal talk). CyArk's concept stemmed from Ben’s work as co-founder and CEO of Cyra Technologies, a San Francisco Bay Area technology company responsible for developing the first fully integrated laser 3D imaging, mapping, modeling, and CAD system which is currently used worldwide in the architectural, engineering and construction industries as well as in the automotive, entertainment and crime forensics fields. Prior to Cyra Technologies, Ben was CEO of Cygna Corporation, an engineering and construction management firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area which he co-founded in 1973. Under his leadership, Cygna became one of the top 80 engineering companies in the United States. Ben’s activities have also included serving on the University of Illinois President’s Council and on the Board of Trustees of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. Ben and his wife, Barbara, have three grown children, two of whom are SMC alumnae, and four grandchildren.

 

Jeff LeslieJeff Leslie (English ’91) is a communications and change management professional who spent more than a decade managing communications and World Wide Channel Sales for Autodesk before joining DocuSign in 2016, as Director of Field Communications/ Sales Enablement. Jeff has extensive experience in project management, strategic communications, training program development and delivery, change management program development and delivery.  He also serves on the board of the San Francisco chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and is passionate about the value of a liberal arts education to the business world. Jeff lives in Marin, where he was born and raised, with his wife and two daughters.

 

 

Heidi Huynh RacherlaHeidi Huynh Racherla (English ‘95, Board Chair 2021-) has over twenty years experience in the banking industry and joined Bank of America in 2001, where she currently serves as Senior Vice President, Enterprise Business & Community Engagement and Market manager for San Francisco and the East Bay. During her seventeen year tenure, she has held all Financial Center positions, including Financial Center Manager, and most recently Consumer Market Manager and Operations Market Manager, leading a team of over 30 direct reports and 300 associates. In 2014 and 2015, her market was recognized in the National Top 10% and Region  Top 3. In addition to strong revenue and partnership performance, Heidi led her team to all time high client satisfaction as well as employee engagement survey results 7-10% higher than national and local averages in key brand/pride metrics. She provides leadership to her organization related to responsible and sustainable growth, especially through Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives, community engagement, philanthropy, marketing & sponsorships, x-LOB business integration, influencer outreach with business, civic and non-profit leaders, employee development, engagement and volunteerism. Heidi, who originally planned to be a professor, channels her passion for teaching into community and employee engagement and influence. She enjoys international travel and photography with her husband, Sangam, and is an avid sports fan and athlete who recently completed her first two half marathons.

 

ATAnita Torrano (Integral ’92; Executive MBA ’02) is a supply chain and business transformation executive with expertise in designing end-to-end business operations.  As Director of Customer Logistics at Mondelez International for the Western U.S., encompassing 29 states, she has oversight for over 1,000 employees in the distribution food chain.  She has over 25 years of operational experience working at two Fortune 500 CPG food companies:  Kraft Foods and Mondelez International.  She has worked across multiple businesses leading business consolidations, systems implementations and business acquisitions in roles including distribution, transportation, sales support and human resources.  She is passionate about her Integral education and year abroad as helping shape her critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities.  As a senior leader in her organization, her ability to influence and develop a strategy for teams to follow is crucial to business success, much of what she learned and developed in her undergraduate and graduate studies.   Anita served as the lead on the Mondelez international’s Global Diversity Task Force and as a past and current Officer for the Network of Executive Women’s Northern California Region.  She is an avid reader and loves to travel.  She is married and lives in Danville with her husband, Chris.

 

Photo of Kristi WilerKristi Weiler (Government ’97) is a strategic, analytical and results driven leader with over 20 years of omni-channel, apparel retail experience across roles in Financial Forecasting, Buying, Inventory Management and Supply Chain disciplines at Gap, Inc. In her current role as Vice President of the Gap US Online business, Kristi is responsible for driving strategic sales and earnings growth, managing the annual Budget and LRP, improving customer conversion through intuitive, digital shopping experiences and leading high performing teams. Prior to Gap Inc., Kristi was a Statistical Analyst within Consumer M&A for Banc of America Securities LLC. Kristi lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband (another St. Mary’s alum) and son and currently serves as a Team Treasurer for the Castro Valley Soccer Club.

 

Dan Whitehurst Dan Whitehurst (Government ‘69, Board Chair 2019-2021) is an attorney/businessman whose career has also included stints in government, education, media and nonprofits. Eight years after graduating from Saint Mary's, he was elected mayor of Fresno, California, becoming the youngest mayor of a large city in the United States. He served on the board of directors of the National League of Cities and was president of the mayors department of the League of California Cities. He left office in 1985 and was a resident fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School. In his business life, he was CEO of funeral service companies with locations in California and Washington and a director of AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah since 1999. He was also a longtime television and radio commentator and wrote public policy articles for the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and California Journal. He has served as board chair of the Great Valley Center, Institute for Local Government and California Issues Forum and was Maddy Professor of Public Administration at Fresno State. In his time at Saint Mary's, he served as editor of the Collegian and student body president and led a student movement that successfully advocated the admission of women to the College and the initiation of the Jan Term program. He says one of his most influential life experiences was serving on the SMC Board of Trustees as the student representative. Dan and his wife Kathleen live in the Napa Valley and have two grown children and three grandchildren.

 

Sheila Hassell HughesSheila Hassell Hughes (Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, ex officio) was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada. She earned an Honors BA in English at the University of British Columbia, an MA in English from the University of Toronto, and an interdisciplinary PhD in Women’s Studies from Emory University. She spent her professorial career at the University of Dayton, a comprehensive Catholic and Marianist university in Ohio. Her research focuses on women, religion, and multi-ethnic American literatures and on pedagogical and theoretical questions in women’s and girls’ studies. Sheila joined Saint Mary’s College as Dean of Liberal Arts in 2015 and has since headed several new initiatives, including PIE: Planning for Inclusive Excellence, LAB: the Liberal Arts Bridge career development program, and a SOLA scholarly travel grant program. She launched the SOLA Advisory Board in 2018.  Sheila lives in Martinez with her spouse, Randy, and teenage daughter Sophie.

 

Heidi Stornetta ButlerThe Advisory Board is also supported by Heidi Stornetta Butler. Heidi joined Saint Mary’s Advancement Office as a Major Gifts Officer in 2017. Previously, she had spent 17 years in development in the healthcare sector, including almost a decade with Sutter Health. Heidi lives in Moraga with her spouse and four young children.

 

 

 

 

Quinten Lawrence is currently striving toward a bachelor's degree in Sports and Recreation Management with a dream to redefine the way we look at health and wellness in the US. Following the completion of the degree, he plans to obtain a master's in Integrative Health and Medicine with the ultimate goal of helping as many people as he can. An advocate of individualized and unconventional health practices due to a unique medical history, Quinten is strongly skilled in public speaking, health coaching, word processing, and video editing. He understands himself to be on a one-of-a-kind journey, using the lessons along the way to make others' lives better.

 

 

Holly Nguyen is a senior at Saint Mary’s College of California, with a triple major in marketing, digital media, and communication. On campus, Holly is President of SMC’S American Marketing Association, Vice President of Net Impact, and VP of Public Relations for the Gael Women in Business Network. Additionally, she serves on the Undergraduate Advisory Board where she works with the School of Economic and Business Administration to improve her undergraduate peers’ academic experiences. Holly is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Guyette Leadership Fellows and Elfenworks Responsible Fellows.

Off campus, Holly has established her own iPhone case business, and runs an Instagram page with nearly 40,000 followers where she innovatively utilizes meme marketing to re-post and generate content to market small upcoming brands with a low marketing budget. She recently interned with a healthcare marketing agency this past summer where she was responsible for content writing and helping create marketing campaigns on various advertising mediums. She has a long-term goal of pursuing an MBA. Currently she is interning at a wealth management firm in San Ramon. 

Holly hopes to work within healthcare/medicine. She desires to use her voice and skills to sustain the greater good by exercising social marketing through incorporating health and wellness to the public. Combining all her majors, she intends to bridge the gap between communication and business to help healthcare providers cultivate good corporate and social responsibility. Her passion for helping others motivates her to work in a rewarding field that allows her to positively contribute and be one with her community. When Holly isn’t pursuing her educational and professional aspirations, she enjoys shopping, traveling the world, and enhancing and designing interiors of homes and buildings.