Buck Institute for Research on Aging Finds Bodybuilding Supplement Promotes Healthy Aging and Extends Life Span, at Least in Mice

A dietary supplement bodybuilders use to bulk up may have a more sweeping health benefit: Staving off the ravages of old age. Mice given the substance—alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG)—were healthier as they aged, and females lived longer than mice not on the supplement.

Other compounds, like the antiaging drug rapamycin and the diabetes treatment metformin, have shown similar effects in mouse experiments. But AKG is naturally made by mice and by our own bodies, and it is already considered safe to consume by regulators.

“The big thing about this is that its safety profile is so good,” says University of North Dakota aging researcher Holly Brown-Borg, who was not involved with the study. “It has potential and should be explored further, for sure.”

AKG is part of the metabolic cycle that our cells use to make energy from food. In addition to its use by bodybuilders, doctors sometimes treat osteoporosis and kidney disease with the supplement.

The molecule grabbed attention as a possible antiaging treatment in 2014, when researchers reported AKG could extend life span by more than 50% in tiny Caenorhabditis elegans worms. That’s on par with a low-calorie diet, which has been shown to promote healthy aging, but is hard for most people to stick with. Other groups later showed life span improvements from AKG in fruit flies.

In the new study, Gordon Lithgow and Brian Kennedy of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and colleagues turned to mammals. They gave groups of 18-month-old mice (about age 55 in human years) the equivalent of 2% of their daily chow as AKG until they died, or for up to 21 months. AKG levels in blood gradually drop with age, and the scientists’ aim was to restore levels to those seen in young animals.

Some differences jumped out within a few months: “They looked much blacker, shinier, and younger” than control mice, says Azar Asadi Shahmirzadi, a postdoc at the Buck Institute who did the experiments as a graduate student. In addition, the AKG-fed mice scored an average of more than 40% better on tests of “frailty,” as measured by 31 physiological attributes including hair color, hearing, walking gait, and grip strength. And female mice lived a median of 8% to 20% longer after AKG treatment began than control mice, the group reports today in Cell Metabolism.

The AKG-eating mice did not perform better on tests of heart function or treadmill endurance, however, and the tests did not include cognitive performance.

Probing the mechanism for these improvements, the researchers found that female mice receiving AKG produced higher levels of a molecule that tamps down on inflammation. Chronic inflammation can spur many diseases of aging such as cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and dementia.

The effects on life span and health were smaller for AKG than for some other antiaging compounds, notes aging researcher Matt Kaeberlein of the University of Washington, Seattle, who was not involved with the work. But some of those compounds have run into safety issues—for example, rapamycin suppresses the immune system and may promote diabetes.

Kennedy, now also at the National University of Singapore, plans to test AKG in human volunteers soon. Looking at a group of people between the ages of 45 and 65, his group will see whether the molecule improves aging-related biomarkers such as inflammation, arterial hardening, and a type of chemical signature on DNA associated with aging. The company Ponce de Leon Health, where Kennedy serves as chief scientific officer (and Gordon and other paper authors have stock), is running a similar study at Indiana University.

Ponce de Leon Health already sells a formulation of AKG called Rejuvant that it says can “slow the aging process.” Kennedy defends these claims. “We are upfront about the data that we have and do not yet have on the website,” he says. And Brown-Borg notes the Buck Institute team isn’t the first group of aging-focused researchers to start a company to develop an antiaging treatment, an idea she hopes will eventually pan out in clinical trials. “It’s an exciting time in the field,” she says.


The Buck Institute for Research on Aging Highlighted in Making Up for Lost Time: Biomedical Research and Female Subjects

After the end of the Second World War, thalidomide was introduced in Europe as a safe and effective new sedative, an alternative to the highly addictive barbiturates that had been rising in use since the tail end of conflict. It was soon marketed for scores of other uses, from anxiety to the common cold. Handed out like candy to doctors and available without a prescription, thalidomide quickly made its way into households across the globe, including the United States. Its most notorious off-label use, though, was as a treatment for morning sickness. At the time, little was understood about how drugs passed from patient to fetus. When tens of thousands of babies were subsequently born with severe developmental anomalies, the FDA made a sweeping judgment call that would profoundly affect female reproductive health for decades. Instead of investing research effort into drug safety during pregnancy, it opted to simply exclude all women of “child-bearing potential” from early clinical trials.

Almost half a century later, we still lack adequate data on female subjects, and it’s a problem that reaches beyond the clinic and back to the research labs, where promising new treatments are discovered and developed in animal models. Guidelines handed down by organizations that fund basic research, such as the NIH and FDA, are slowly catching up to this need for experimental equity. New research initiatives are also starting to bridge this gap—such as the Global Consortium for Reproductive Longevity and Equality at the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, where efforts are underway to look beyond “child-bearing potential” in order to understand how changes in female reproductive physiology affect health across the whole lifespan.

Before a drug makes it to clinical trials, its biochemical properties are first studied in animal models such as mice and rats. Even at this early stage, sample bias toward male subjects has been just as pernicious as it is in the clinic. After a few experiments conducted in the early 1960s and 1970s suggested that data collected from female rodents might be unreliable due to cyclical fluctuations in estrogen, researchers tended to avoid the headache of an extra variable and used only male animals in experiments. Dozens of independent studies done over the past decade, however, have revealed no such variability due to the estrous cycle.

One major problem in biomedical research is not just that these studies are conducted in unfairly biased ways, but that many aspects of female reproductive health simply aren’t studied in the first place. Dr. Judith Campisi, a professor at the Buck Institute who studies the basic cellular mechanisms of aging, explains that the reasons why male fertility persists throughout the lifespan while female reproductive capacity ends in middle age remain unclear to scientists. “Menopause is quite rare among mammals,” Dr. Campisi says in an interview for Lady Science. A gradual lifelong decrease in fertility is common in many species, she notes, “but this precipitous loss of reproductive ability is peculiar to humans.” A fundamental goal that unifies the work of the different labs who make up the consortium is to understand the basic molecular and chemical drivers of this difference.

Berenice Benayoun and her team at the University of Southern California are working to take some of the mystery out of this basic biological question. Her lab is developing mouse models of menopause, which until now have mostly been studied by removing the ovaries from mice who are 2-3 months old—the equivalent, Dr. Benayoun says, of throwing a 15-year-old human directly into menopause with none of the gradual hormonal shifts normally experienced by older women. By using models that more closely approximate human timelines and transitions, her work will pave the way for more thorough investigations of the basics of female physiology throughout the lifespan, beyond the mechanics of pregnancy and childbirth.

“There’s always been a lot of interest in trying to rescue the fertility or preserve the fertility of women who are undergoing premature ovarian failures,” Dr. Benayoun explains, speaking to Lady Science. “The ovary does a lot of things that are not related to reproduction.”

Work by Dr. Benayoun and others has revealed cyclical changes in immune function that correlate to estrogen levels, and links estrogen to susceptibility for Alzheimer’s disease and a variety of other age-related pathologies. Estrogen-dependent variations in the biochemical processes involved in these diseases can lead to variations in drug metabolism, which can translate to major differences in how a patient responds to a drug, how much of it is needed to be of any therapeutic value, and the potential toxicity of these compounds.

While intended to prevent unforeseen effects on prenatal development, the FDA’s guidance in response to the thalidomide crisis stymied progress on drug development for diseases that affect women in greater numbers than men. This response also failed to account for potential sex differences in adverse side effects. Several common sleeping medications were prescribed in equal doses to men and women, until women began reporting a higher incidence of serious cognitive side effects. Studies revealed differences between male and female patients in the rate certain sleep drugs clear the blood, prompting the FDA to adjust their dosage suggestions. Doctor Benayoun says she sees differences like these regularly when her lab compares the effects of common anti-aging interventions in either male or female mice. “Most of what works does not work the same in females and males,” she points out.

Because sex differences have been viewed in research for so long as an experimental confound rather than a critical area of further study, we’ve lost valuable insight into how these fundamental differences work. From the exclusion of women from clinical trials over concerns for the health of their fetuses, to the dearth of research into what happens after fertility declines, the inseparability of female physiology from fertility in the minds of clinicians and basic researchers has limited women’s health. “There’s so much we still don’t know,” says Dr. Benayoun, “that we can’t estimate how much we’ve lost.” But as her lab and others like it begin to expand our basic knowledge of this field, the research climate has begun to shift—and the attitude and approach of the larger medical community will shift with it.


North Bay Business Journal Names Kostecka as New Publisher

The North Bay Business Journal has named Norma Kostecka as publisher, succeeding Brad Bollinger, who will retire Dec. 31.

Kostecka begins her new role on Monday, Oct. 26.

She joins NBBJ after serving as advertising director for 22 years at the Napa Valley Register, where she was responsible for sales, promotional and strategic functions of the advertising and marketing departments.

Prior to the Napa Valley Register, she served as retail advertising manager for the Arizona Daily Sun. Kostecka started her career in publishing in 1984 as an automotive sales representative at The Times Advocate in Escondido in San Diego County, where she is originally from.

Kostecka said she initially planned to become a retail buyer in the fashion industry. But after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in downtown Los Angeles, she and her husband, Scott, decided to move back to Escondido. Once there, she joined The Times Advocate and never looked back.

Joining NBBJ is something Kostecka said she’s excited about, even in these challenging times for business that began in mid-March with shelter-in-place and other restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19, triggering an economic downturn that includes the publishing industry.

“The pandemic is a tragedy and it’s certainly a step back for our businesses,” she said. “But if we’re playing our cards right and if we’re taking advantage of the down time, we have an opportunity here to come back stronger … so that when everyone starts opening up again, we will be ready for all that.”

Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, which publishes the Business Journal, as well as The Press Democrat and other publications, said after searching long and hard over the last year for the right person to take on the role of publisher at the Business Journal, Kostecka “checked all of our boxes.”

“She brings an innovative mindset, extensive experience in the media business and a passion for helping our North Bay business community succeed. Her track record is outstanding in leading both digital and print efforts at the Napa Valley Register as director of advertising for nearly two decades,” Falk said. “Familiar with our North Bay communities, she will be deeply focused on enriching the business-to-business value the Business Journal provides and to carry on Brad Bollinger’s legacy of leadership and commitment.”

Kostecka said she’s already identified one of her top priorities.

“Sales is probably going to be where the immediate change will be and that’s because of the effect the pandemic has had on our business, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m going to come in and change everything,” she said. “It’s more so that if there’s one department in the publishing business right now that has been affected, it would be on the sales side.”

In addition to publishing a weekly newspaper and operating an active website, the Journal stages a number of events throughout the year, including conferences on business topics and recognizing area business leaders with awards programs. Kostecka noted how impressed she is that NBBJ was able to successfully pivot from staging live events to doing so on a virtual platform like Zoom, a move led by Bollinger and his sales and marketing team.

“Norma is an experienced and energetic leader,” said Bollinger, who has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 44 years. He started at The Press Democrat in March 1984, then moved over to the Business Journal in 2005, where he served as editor until 2007, when he transitioned to associate publisher, then publisher in 2012. “She brings a deep media skill set with which to lead the Journal into the future.”

Kostecka and her husband have two grown children, Ryan and Megan. She has backpacked the Grand Canyon twice and is an avid jogger, having run five half-marathons.

North Bay Business Journal Publisher Brad Bollinger to Retire in 2021

One of Brad Bollinger’s biggest pleasures is to go out to lunch or meet with businesspeople and hear what’s going on in their company and their industry. He comes away with a new understanding of the issues that these individuals face, and the implications for the rest of the economic ecosystem.

It is the kind of engagement Bollinger will miss most when he retires as North Bay Business Journal publisher at the end of December.

Coming from The Press Democrat in 2005, his approach to taking over as Business Journal editor was “don’t fix what isn’t broken.” He credits Business Journal founders Ken Clark and Randy Sloan with “building a great publication. My role at the time was to elevate the editorial product.”

With the two newspapers under ownership of The New York Times Company at the time, Bollinger transitioned from editor to associate publisher in 2007, and then to publisher five years later.

“Under Brad’s leadership, the North Bay Business Journal has become the go-to source for thousands of North Bay executives for relevant and timely business news and information,” says Steve Falk, CEO of Sonoma Media Investments, a group of local businesspeople who acquired The Press Democrat, Business Journal and other publications from the Times in 2012. “Brad has also grown NBBJ events every year — currently they number more than two dozen — as a place for business leaders to convene for important discussions and to recognize and celebrate business success.”

Bollinger responds that Falk has been a great supporter.

“There aren’t many media companies in the United States that have a business journal as part of their portfolio. As a locally owned company, we have managed to completely outperform the industry in many, many measures, and not just in profitability,” Bollinger says. “Our newsroom has been kept intact, and we have been allowed to do what we are supposed to do, which is keep the community informed. When there is a problem, an issue, a fire, an earthquake, whatever it is, the radio stations and the newspapers are the source and the glue that holds the community together.”

Local, local, local might be Bollinger’s mantra.

“I can get a story about Hurricane Sally somewhere, but I can’t get my local news anywhere else except from North Bay journalists,” he says. “Many communities have lost their hometown newspapers and have become news deserts, as they are called. We’ve been fortunate here.”

Asked if there had been a “golden age” for newspapers in Sonoma County, Bollinger replies, “Right now!” He cites the Pulitzer Prize that The Press Democrat newsroom won in 2018 for coverage of the 2017 North Bay wildfires.

Bollinger believes the area has been lucky all along with the ownership of its publications, noting especially the period after The New York Times purchased The Press Democrat in 1985.

“The Times invested a lot of money that we are benefitting from to this day,” he says, “including their journalism fund, which supported the ‘Global Shift’ series I worked on.” Bollinger was lead editor and creator of the four-day investigation on the local impacts of economic globalization, which ran in September 2004.

The NYT journalism fund was then and is now a philanthropic arm of the organization that searches for nonprofit funding to expand the reach of their journalism. “Global Shift” won the prestigious Polk Award, as well as The New York Times companywide Punch Award. “That probably would never have happened without the Times as an owner,” Bollinger says.

He considers the late Mike Parman (who was Press Democrat editor at the time of the Times Company purchase) one of his mentors and the person who had the biggest influence on his career. “Basically, Mike gave me opportunities that may have passed me by. And when the Business Journal editorship came up, he helped me transition over. Mike had an enormous personal and professional impact.”

Personal newspaper legacy

Bollinger was born in Santa Rosa on Sept. 5, 1952, and lived there as a child until his family moved to Baker, Oregon, where his father was editor and publisher of a 5,000-circulation daily newspaper.

The family returned to Santa Rosa when Bollinger was a teen. After high school, he considered the medical field (“I don’t know why, I wasn’t that good in science classes.”) but while attending Santa Rosa Junior College, he went to work at the Oak Leaf. “I was about 18 when I took news writing as an elective and my interest continued on from there.”

His first job after graduating from San Jose State in 1974 was at a semiweekly in Crescent City, the Del Norte Triplicate. He then took a position at the Chico Enterprise Record, a daily newspaper.

“Thus my editorial trajectory began with a desire for a little more cash,” he says.

While he labored by day as a reporter and fledgling editor, Bollinger taught a night class in public relations at Chico State. Finding adjunct teaching a pleasure, he subsequently became a full-time faculty lecturer and concurrently finished his master’s degree in communications.

But after three years in the academic setting, the lure of journalism became too attractive and in March 1984, Bollinger found himself back at his hometown paper.

He tells two stories from his early years at The Press Democrat. During his college internship, he was sent to review a play; instead of using the real names of the actors in each role, he used the names of their characters. “Obviously, my opinion of whether the play was good or bad was of no value after that.”

The second incident is from the era when the late Art Volkerts was editor (Volkerts retired in 1986).

The Bollinger family has been connected to The Press Democrat for three generations.

Lee Bollinger was the classified ad manager when his son was an intern. (“Those were the days before Craig’s List,” Bollinger notes.) Many years before, Lee had worked as a flyboy — the apprentice who caught stacks of newspapers as they “flew” off the presses. Brad’s grandmother was in charge of “the morgue,” where newspaper clippings were stored. In addition, three of Brad’s siblings worked at the PD at various times.

“Dad retired from the PD around 1990; he’s 95 now and still strong. My son, Jacob, lives in Orinda and works in the tech field,” he says. “So you might say my retirement is the end of our newspaper legacy.”

Catherine Barnett, The Press Democrat’s executive editor, makes the same observation about the culmination of the Bollinger family PD legacy.

“I remember Lee Bollinger, who was a consummate gentleman, taking time to talk in-depth to a lowly intern the first summer I worked here during college more than 40 years ago,” she says. “Brad is a lot like his father — he values civility and is courteous and thoughtful.”

A business-to-business essential

Bollnger explains that the Business Journal fills a niche that the regular consumer daily paper does not.

It starts with providing a news operation, and then builds into business-to-business connections facilitated by a variety of public events.

“This community has done well because the people like living here, and they want to hear about what’s going on, and to contribute. After a tragedy like the fires, they want to bring leaders together and examine what they are doing, what they promised to do,” Bollinger says. “By growing as both a B-to-B publication and an event business, the Business Journal has a greater penetration into the market and provides a greater service.”

The focus of an event might be making contacts, presenting awards, or exploring in-depth an issue in a particular county — for example, the Impact Napa series titled “Connecting with Consumers in the Age of Covid.” A conference might also focus on a particular industry, like wine or construction.

The Business Journal also produces about a dozen awards and recognition programs, including Best Places to Work, Latino Business Leadership and Women in Business Awards.

Bollinger is typically the emcee at NBBJ events and is responsible for driving event content and moderating panels. For him, it’s all about fulfilling the mission to bring people together and hone in on what is happening in the community at the current moment.

Bollinger jokes that people are probably tired of seeing him behind the podium, although he seems to be a natural at hosting. Blair Kellison of Traditional Medicinals, who refers to Bollinger as “the real deal,” says this: “I will never walk into the lobby of the Santa Rosa Hyatt and not think of Brad in one of the conference rooms with a microphone in his hand.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a shutdown of large, in-person gatherings, the Business Journal staff shifted to orchestrating virtual events. By the beginning of October, they had produced 10 on Zoom. Bollinger notes that two recent online events had over 800 and 600 attendees each.

“Guest speakers can appear from all over, saving the expense of flights and accommodations,” he says. “The current circumstances have actually extended our reach, rather than narrowed it.”

Along with an expanded schedule of events and its weekly business reporting, the Business Journal has since 1990 published an annual Book of Lists, a reference guide containing information about North Bay businesses in about 80 categories.

“Everybody thought it would go away, but you lend your Book of Lists to somebody and you never get it back!” Bollinger says of the annual publications, which is based on the same model as other national business journals.

Response to calamity

Fires, pandemic, store closures, unemployment, and fires again — Bollinger wonders how much more California can take.

For him, the response of business leaders after the 2017 Tubbs fire was “nothing short of miraculous.”

The global companies located in the county — he used Keysight Technologies as an example — contacted every employee to find out was what going on and continued to pay people.

“Workplaces became the default home for many. The CEO of a FEMA contractor told me she had never seen a community respond like Sonoma County did to the fires,” Bollinger says. “And that includes the amount of philanthropy that went on at that time, and still goes on.”

During COVID-19, business leaders have responded in the same compassionate way. Those companies with employees who are able to work remotely have facilitated that.

“However,” Bollinger admits, “if you’re in hospitality or tourism, the pandemic shutdown has been very difficult. I think on the whole, companies here have responded by taking care of people. Those most impacted have been in lower wage industries — and I’ve said this publicly — we have to make sure that they are supported. A lot of the big restaurant names have developed funds to help their people.”

Calling himself “a very positive person,” he continues to draw attention to the community-oriented perspective of local employers in the face of the recent string of calamities.

Time for a new chapter

The Spanish word for retirement is “jubilación.” Bollinger likes to refer to his “next chapter.” He and his wife, Corine, had come to this major decision a couple of years ago and have been planning for it.

“After over 44 years as a journalist, editor and publisher, I’m ready to let someone else come in to do what they can to help the Business Journal grow. It’s time for me to try something new,” he says.

That “something new” is embarking on studies for a master’s degree in theology from the Augustine Institute in Denver. Starting Jan. 11, Bollinger will be a remote student.

“I’ve been looking at this for a long time, wanting to explore something significant and different,” Bollinger says. “There are a lot of writers and critics who have studied theology in their later years, like C.S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterson. Not that I’m on their level, but in taking this direction, I’m in good company.”

Bollinger plans to start slowly with one or two classes, and then ramp up with enough units to be finished in spring 2023. “Assuming I don’t flunk out,” he says, “it will be an adventure and a journey, but still a little scary, to be quite honest. I haven’t taken a test in 40 years!”

Bollinger feels blessed and grateful to have been a member of the journalism community for so long. In looking back, he has few regrets. “I’ve probably made a lot of dumb mistakes,” Bollinger pauses, “but nothing that was of serious injury.”

“Folks have been saying to me, ‘Don’t disappear.’ All I can answer is: everything is just opening up. There are some endings and there are some beginnings.”

Bank of America Issues 2020 Human Capital Management Report

Bank of America today published its 2020 Human Capital Management Report, which provides the latest information and progress against its continued focus to be a great place to work for its more than 200,000 teammates around the world.

Building on the company’s inaugural Human Capital Management report last year, the 2020 report details the many programs and resources, as well as supporting data, across Bank of America’s primary focus areas including: being a diverse and inclusive workplace; attracting and retaining exceptional talent; providing holistic benefits supporting teammates’ physical, emotional and financial wellness; and recognizing and rewarding performance.

“Since our initial report, we have taken extensive steps to care for the health and safety of our teammates during the unprecedented health crisis, including expanding and enhancing employee benefits and resources,” said CEO Brian Moynihan. “We have also built on work we have had underway throughout our company’s history to ensure a diverse and inclusive workplace, and have seen increases in diverse representation in nearly every area.”

In addition, Bank of America continues to share metrics on diverse representation across the company, a practice the bank has had in place for many years prior to last year’s inaugural report. Specific highlights of what’s new this year include:

  • Additional disclosures related to Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino representation throughout the report.
  • Increases in the representation of women and people of color in nearly every category across the company since 2018 (the exception being women in the top three levels of our company, which remains at 41%).
  • One of the most diverse classes of campus new hires ever – 45% women, 13% Black/African American and 14% Hispanic/Latino.
  • Progress in lines of business, including wealth management, which has seen increases in the percentage of women, people of color, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino employees.

“Our focus on being a great place to work has never been more important. While our teammates are focused on supporting our clients and communities, we’re focused on supporting them and their families, making sure they can be their best both at work and at home,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Sheri Bronstein.

New to this year’s report, Bank of America has detailed expanded support and benefits to help employees navigate the ongoing health crisis, and long-term commitments to advance racial equality and economic opportunity for all, including:

  • Supporting employee health and safety, including providing no-cost coronavirus testing; no-cost virtual general medicine and behavioral health consults; mental health resources; and additional support for teammates who continue to work in the office, such as transportation and meal subsidies.
  • Launching innovative solutions to support teammates with child care needs, including providing over 1.7 million days of backup child and adult care and an investment of over $200 million in child and adult care reimbursements through September 2020.
  • Delivering for our clients by providing advice, guidance and access to all our capabilities to help clients meet their financial needs, as well as by delivering critical financial relief.
  • Helping our teammates to have conversations about racial, social and economic injustices, with more than 165,000 employees participating in courageous conversations in the first half of the year alone.
  • Making a four-year, $1 billion commitment to advance work underway to address critical issues for people and communities of color, including health care, jobs, small businesses and housing.

These highlights are in addition to the actions Bank of America takes each year, including equal pay for equal work; support for new parents; personalized support for major life events (including connecting employees to resources, benefits and counseling) from Life Events Services, the company’s internal, highly-specialized group; and confidential counseling through its Employee Assistance Program to help manage the stress and broader emotional impacts of events and uncertainty.

Learn more about our progress in the full report.

NELSONtalks 10/22 Webinar to Focus On History and Future of Race Relations in the Workplace


Nelson Featured in Marin Independent Journal

The Marin Independent Journal recently featured Nelson in its Keep It Local section. This annual publication highlights companies working in and serving North Bay communities.

The article coincides with Nelson’s 50th anniversary in 2020 and features the company’s history and founding of its first office in San Rafael. The story explains Nelson’s evolution from an administrative employment agency into a full-service staffing partner to businesses across California and the United States.

The article talks about Nelson’s current-day workforce strategies and recent hiring trends resulting from COVID-19 are discussed. The article also showcases Nelson’s commitment to and philanthropic support of the communities where employees live and work.

The story begins on Page 14.

To learn more about Nelson and how we help people find great jobs and great companies find great people, contact us today.


Nelson Grants Three Wishes Through Make-A-Wish Foundation

Nelson has been a longtime supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Greater Bay Area. In early 2020, the greater Nelson community came together to create a special Make-A-Wish fund in honor of Lisa Madigan. The many generous donations to Make-A-Wish gave three courageous children a unique experience to always remember:

Nova, 5, traveled with her family to Oahu, Hawaii.

Alex, 15, went with his two best friends on a limo ride and a shopping spree.

Kerry, 18, took a life-changing trip to Paris.

Lisa loved all children, and we know she would be immensely touched by each and every donation received. Through the generous and caring nature of our larger Nelson community, Make-A-Wish was able to give these three children and their families a wonderful wish come true.

Thank you,
Craig S. Nelson


Dominican University of California Announces Dr. Nicola Pitchford as the 10th President

Dear Dominican community,

I am thrilled to inform you that the Board of Trustees has voted to appoint Dr. Nicola Pitchford as the 10th President of Dominican University of California.

Dr. Pitchford’s record is outstanding in all arenas – academic, administrative, and creative. Through the evaluation process, it became clear that she enjoys the enormous, and critical, respect of her campus colleagues. Dr. Pitchford arrived at Dominican in fall of 2011. She was Dean of the school of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences (now the school of Liberal Arts and Education) until her appointment as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty in 2014.

Prior to Dominican, Dr. Pitchford was a professor of English Literature and Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Associate Chief Academic Officer at Fordham University. She received her MA and PhD in English from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a BA (cum laude) in English & Creative Writing from Pomona College.

In her current role as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty, she has spearheaded a number of efforts on behalf of the University. In 2014, she co-chaired the Dominican Experience Task Force, composed of nearly 30 faculty and staff. Their charge was to align and expand Dominican’s academic and co-curricular strengths within the principles of engaged learning. Today, we are nationally recognized for bringing this signature student experience to scale, and for the strides we have made in supporting student success. Since that time, Dr. Pitchford oversaw the alignment of our entire curriculum, a tremendous lift for the faculty who led innovation within their programs, and the impressive efforts of the staff to implement these changes. Despite the degree of extra effort required, it passed the Faculty Forum with more than 85% majority approval in spring, 2018. Dr. Pitchford has twice led successful negotiations with our adjunct faculty union, and she has instructed Dominican’s Navigating College course for first-year students. In fall 2018, she attended the Rural Writing Institute, and has continued to study the history of Marin County and Coast Miwok land, composing her own place-based narratives. These many accomplishments speak to her inspired vision for equity in education, her organizational acumen, her creative and innovative spirit, and her ability to develop compassionate, personal connections with her peers.

In addition to respecting her personal and professional qualifications, the Board prioritized organizational continuity at this time of global uncertainty. Our strategic plan, Dominican at 130, is strong and has already resulted in improved student performance as well as improved institutional stability. Rather than looking for a new direction with an outside leader, it is clear that Dr. Pitchford has the outstanding qualifications and commitment to mission that positions her—and Dominican—for furthering the path we are on. We are fortunate to have filled this position without added disruptions and uncertainty for the campus.

The Board acknowledges, respects, and is aligned with the campus concerns regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Dr. Pitchford’s commitment to these goals is decades-long, not just a response to the times. At Dominican, she has been a champion for our students, who through the Dominican Experience have access to the kinds of opportunities that help them succeed in college, life, and career, regardless of personal background or major. She is an advocate for social justice, both on the campus and in her personal volunteerism. And she has been, and will continue to be, supportive of the Diversity Action Group (DAG) and its strategic plan. In summer 2020, the Board was made aware of the results of the campus climate survey conducted by DAG this past academic year. As Board Chair, I am committed to this work, and have given the charge to each committee of the Board of Trustees to engage in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion that is within their purview. In Dr. Pitchford, we have a strong advocate for this work. At Dominican, we take for granted that women hold positions of authority; this is not the case nationally. As such, she will represent us well, as President Marcy has done.

The process of selecting a new president brings increased engagement between the Board and the campus community. This has been an instructive and inspiring experience for me and the Board, and I have great appreciation for your thoughtful participation in this process. I trust that together, we will collectively work with Dr. Pitchford to build upon Dominican’s strengths as we plan the future.

Early on, the Board of Trustees emphasized a commitment to the integrity and inclusivity of the campus in this process. The Board is deeply grateful for the care, respect, and candor expressed through the work of the Trustee Transition Committee and the Campus Panel. These individuals embodied our founding values of study, reflection, community, and service while they represented every grouping of constituents on campus. Along the way, Trustee Jamie Ferrare, Founding Managing Principal of AGB Search, provided invaluable guidance.

Please join me in thanking them:

Transition Committee

Charlie Francis, Transition Committee Chair
Sr. Margaret Diener, O.P. ’70
Andy Mathieson
Rosemary Morgan
Denise Wang-Kline
Carolyn Klebanoff, Chair of the Board of Trustees (ex officio)

Campus Panel

Charlie Francis, Transition Committee Chair
Andrea Boyle (HNS), Faculty Affairs Committee Chair
Thomas Cavanagh (BSB), Faculty Forum Chair
Nnekay FitzClarke (Library), Diversity Action Group
Amy Gladstone, Staff Council Chair
Amy Henkelman, Director of Athletics
Paul Raccanello, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students
Hannah Roitman (Student Representative), ASDU Vice President
Lynn Sondag (LAE), Curriculum & Education Policy Committee Chair

There is only one University President at a time, and we are grateful for President Marcy’s leadership through this remarkable school year. Dr. Pitchford will have plenty to occupy her time in her current position. They will begin to work, together with the Board, toward what we expect to be a seamless transition on July 1, 2021.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Carolyn Klebanoff, Chair
Board of Trustees
Dominican University of California

Sonoma State Student Receives Prestigious CSU Award for her Academic and Personal Accomplishments

Growing up in a small, rural central California town, Sonoma State University student Therese Azevedo has always defied expectations. While at SSU, the first-generation senior statistics major is helping others do the same, volunteering to mentor middle-grade girls on behalf of STEM programs and conducting research on math anxiety.

In recognition of her resolve along the path to college success, Azevedo is one of 23 students to receive a prestigious Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement for 2020, the highest student recognition given by the California State University.

“Therese personifies what is best about Sonoma State Students – hard-working, dedicated, and brilliant,” said President Judy K. Sakaki. “That she is interested in pursuing an advanced degree in STEM is a testament to her ongoing curiosity and to the commitment of her SSU faculty.”

As a multiracial student in STEM, Azevedo has prevailed over many stereotypes of what (and who) she should (or could) be. Navigating many cultural and institutional boundaries has informed her passion for data analysis. Azecedo actively supports student engagement as a Learning Community Mentor to statistics students and her research into math anxiety focuses specifically on female and underrepresented college students.

“Being selected as one of the recipients for the 2020 CSU Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement is an incredible honor,” said Azevedo. “This recognition has increased my momentum to remain dedicated to my academic studies and research with the intention of giving back to my communities every step of the way.”

Azevedo plans to pursue her Ph.D. in statistics with the ultimate goal of becoming a professor, while continuing her exploration of data driven research, increasing inclusivity, and sharing her passion for education.

“I am beyond grateful for all of the wisdom, guidance, and authenticity that I have received throughout my undergraduate journey because through empowerment I developed the strength to make my dreams become a reality,” said Azevedo. “I strive to continue cultivating these impactful and meaningful experiences that have occurred in my life to help and encourage others with their own life adventures.”

Azevedo was be recognized for her achievement in a virtual meeting on Sept. 22 and will be awarded $6,000 as a Stauffer Foundation Scholar. For more information on the 2020 Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement, visit the CSU.