University of California, Riverside

Alumni Awards of Distinction


Alumni Awards of Distinction

Since 1986, the UCR Alumni Association has honored graduates who personify the university’s tradition of excellence and service.  Through their personal and professional achievements, these individuals bring distinction to UCR, contribute to the betterment of society and enhance their communities.

Friday, November 18, 2016 marked the 30th annual alumni awards where three prestigious alumni were honored for 2016. Thank you to our presenting sponsor; Altura Credit Union and our Blue & Gold Sponsors; Jorge Ancona, Jeffry and Karen Kaatz, Anna Lo ’00, Dollie Wolverton ’57, Brian Hawley ’90, M.S. ’91 and Vickie Hawley, William R. and S. Sue Johnson.

If you were unable to attend, please enjoy the below video featuring speeches about and from the honorees.

Photos from the event may also be enjoyed via the link below.

30th Annual Alumni Awards of Distinction Photos

2016 Award Recipients

Distinguished Alumnus Award: Shola Lynch, M.A. ’95 

Shola Lynch documentary film maker photographed in Harlem, NY on 24 May 2013

The most prestigious of the honors bestowed by the UCR Alumni Association. The award is based on national and international distinction in one’s field and significant contribution to humankind.

Shola Lynch is an award-winning filmmaker. She has written and directed for CNN, ESPN, HBO Sports and PBS. Her first independent documentary, Chisholm ’72 – Unbought & Unbossed which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, won a Peabody Award and has since become classic. Her second feature, which was co-produced with De Films En Aiguille, recounts the politically charged events that thrust academic and activist Angela Davis on to the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list. The Toronto International Film Festival premiered Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. The film sold internationally in Brazil, France, South Africa and Sweden. In the US, Code Black/Lionsgate distributed the film theatrically and BET broadcast it. Free Angela has been honored with numerous awards including a NAACP Image Award for Best Documentary.

In 2013, Sundance selected Shola for the prestigious Women’s Filmmaker Initiative. Her current project, The Outlaw, her first narrative feature, has been honored with a highly competitive 2015 Creative Capital grant.


Alumni Service Award: Ofelia Valdez-Yeager ’69, T.C. ’71 

Ofelia Valdez- Yeager

The public sector or a sustained pattern of volunteer service in the community, arts or for the benefit of UCR that has positively represented the University and fellow citizens.

Ofelia Valdez-Yeager graduated with a BA in Spanish in 1969 and earned her elementary teaching credential in 1971. Ofelia worked as an Upward Bound residential tutor-counselor, a high school counseling assistant, an elementary school teacher, a bilingual resource teacher and in several consultant capacities with public agencies.

Ofelia’s volunteer commitments took her to leadership positions in Little League and PTA as well as several community organizations through their committees and boards. She was elected to the Riverside Unified School district Board of Trustees in 1992; this was her first publicly elected position, and she was the first Latina ever elected to the local school board. She went on to serve as its Vice President and to extend her city commitments with a part-time position as administrative assistant to the Mayor, focusing on youth, education and crime issues. She also served as the executive assistant to the Superintendent of Riverside Unified School District.

Ofelia retired as the Chief Administrative Liaison to the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools in 2010. She is the President of the Latino Network and most recently spearheaded the effort to successfully erect the Cesar E. Chavez Memorial on the Downtown Mall. She continues to serve on numerous boards and committees of local agencies and human service consortia.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award: David Gutierrez ’04

David Gutierrez

Presented to alumni 35 years and younger with a significant record of career and/or civic achievement and promise in their profession.

David Gutierrez has over a decade of experience working with fortune 500 as well as early stage, high-growth companies as a trusted finance and accounting leader. David is the corporate controller for Radiology Partners, the largest hospital based radiology physician practice in the country. He also manages GA Investment Holdings and actively invests in entrepreneurial businesses, including Convoy Technologies, an international technology company based in Orange County that was recently recognized by the Inc 5000 and the OC Business Journal as one of the fastest growing companies. David is also Partner at Gutierrez & Anderson, a boutique business advisory and accounting firm providing services to clients throughout Southern California.

David is committed to the community, serving on the board of directors of the Bresee Foundation, a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles that helps low-income youth, adults and families, as well as the Youth Business Alliance, an organization focused on connecting high school students with real experiences of local business leaders. He remains active on campus at UC Riverside as an active mentor to students, guest lecturer and member the Dean’s Advisory Council for the A. Gary Anderson School of Management.

Nominations are accepted year-round. To submit a nomination visit our online form.

View criteria and nomination process

View a complete list of past recipients