Find and Follow Your Passion

Story by Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-04-03

Captain Carole List, Tom Jones, Rear Admiral Bonnie Potter. Photo by Trina Drotar

Celebrating Women in Aerospace

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – Aerospace Museum of California Executive Director Tom Jones invited five women from across STEM careers to share their real world experience with young people, their families, and other interested parties in a STEM Education Day event, Celebrate Women in Aerospace. The morning kicked off with activities throughout the museum for children and their families which included a scavenger hunt, photo challenge, phonetic alphabet activity, but the most popular was the paper airplane table situated between some of the indoor display aircraft.

The weather also provided opportunities to view outside exhibits and look into some of the airplanes, including the FedEx classroom plane used by Sacramento City College Aviation students. Docents were on hand to share stories and history, and Warren Searles and his crew were helping aviators in training in the museum’s Flight Zone.

The event’s highlight was the panel talk which kicked off with keynote speaker, Rear Admiral Bonnie Potter.

 “I don’t fly,” said Potter, but that did not hinder her distinguished career which includes becoming the first female physician in the US Navy to be selected for flag rank.

 “My parents encouraged me to do anything I wanted to do.”

She wanted to be a veterinarian, a desire shared by panelist Chelsea Engberg, CEO and founder of Aviatrix LLC. Potter’s road led her to the US Navy where she received a scholarship through the US Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program. She quickly learned that Title 10 prevented her from serving her residency on a ship, as a flight surgeon because she would not be permitted to land on any ship, or on a submarine.

 “How you think is everything.” She was determined to become the best doctor she could be. In 1990, she was assigned to the USNS Comfort, a 1000 bed floating hospital that was deployed in support of Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Part of her responsibility was to set up the hospital, which meant unpacking crates, improvising when parts were not available, and developing an evacuation plan. She became certified as a Life Raft Commander.

“You can’t just wait for things to come to you. You have to go out and look for them,” she said. “Take chances. Test your ability.” These words and phrases were echoed by the panelists who highlighted their careers, challenges, and successes.

 “Live your life with honesty and integrity,” she said, reminding them that “the wrong post can keep you from getting the job you want,” referring to social media.

Following Potter’s address, Jones asked the panelists questions beginning with who their greatest supporters were or still are.

Captain Carola List, US Coast Guard Commanding Officer Air Station Sacramento, credited the support of Chief Petty Officers and her lifelong interest in flying.

 “If you don’t know your passion, try many things,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to fail.”

Chelsea Engberg said that the film, Top Gun, was a huge inspiration.

 “I wanted to be a fighter pilot.” She wrote many unanswered letters to President Reagan asking why she could not be a fighter pilot.

 “I fell deeply in love with physics.” She also fell in love with flying and earned a master’s degree in aeronautical science. Her parents purchased her one hour of flight time with Sean Tucker, and that was the start of a lifelong career, leading to her becoming the school’s COO. “Don’t give up. It’s all about the journey.”

She is a tough woman, even by military standards, having spent fifteen hours in centrifuges. She is a flight instructor, aviation safety expert, movie and television consultant, and aerobatic pilot. She also credits the strong women in her life and a flight to Europe as a child when she was invited to sit in the cockpit with the pilot.

 “The journey will take you where it’s going to take you. Don’t close the door on finding your passion.” She dreams of solo hiking the John Muir Trail.

Sarah O’Meara is currently a Ph.D. student at UC Davis and intern at the Johnson Space Center focusing on human-robotics integration and physiology, and she is a Link Foundation Fellow who uses all aspects of STEM in her research.

 “Math is an everyday thing,” said the quiet young woman who dreams of someday ice diving in Antarctica.

She created, with several classmates, SOAR (STEM Outreach for Academic Reinforcement) Mentorship program.

 “I guess our parents all went to the same camp,” she said when asked about mentors. Her mother had a Ph.D. and encouraged her to follow her dream, with a twist. O’Meara was directed to pursue engineering for her undergraduate degree. After that, she was free to study whatever she wanted.

 “Stop being a perfectionist,” she said, adding that enjoying the process and not being afraid to share ideas are important.      

Shannon Sanders Swager owns Sanders Aviation in Ione and has her master’s degree in business administration.

 “I’ve got a pacifier in my pocket,” she said, a reminder that she is also a mom who, like many women, wears many hats. She also credits her grandmother as a role model and many of the men she encountered on the journey which took her from possible history teacher to working at Disney and returning to college.

“Don’t let people tear you down,” she said. “Look to people who build you up.”

She advised students to enjoy life because they never know where it will lead. “Don’t be afraid to try. If you don’t try, you may never find your passion,” she said.

Upcoming events include Rocket Appreciation Day on Saturday, March 30 and ACE Career Expo 2019 on Saturday, April 6 where interested students and others can learn about STEM career pathways and meet professionals in all of the STEM areas. 

For additional information on Aerospace Museum of California, visit:   




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Assemblyman Cooley, California Legislature  Recognize Callejas

By Jillena Hernandez  |  2019-04-03

Michelle Callejas has worked in the health and human services field for over 25 years. She received the award from Ken Cooley. Photo courtesy Office of Ken Cooley

Named as Extraordinary Woman at Annual Celebration

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Assemblyman Ken Cooley joined the California Legislative Women’s Caucus to recognize extraordinary women from across the state in celebration of Women’s History Month. This year, the Assemblyman honored Michelle Callejas of Sacramento. 

“Recognizing Michelle on this momentous occasion at the Capitol brings me great pride,” said Assemblyman Cooley. “Michelle’s dedication to working collaboratively with families and partners within our community fosters better experiences and exemplifies outstanding community service.”

Michelle Callejas has worked in the health and human services field for over 25 years and is currently the Director of Child, Family and Adult Services for Sacramento County. She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Master’s Degree in Counseling, and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. 

She began her career at W.E.A.V.E., a local domestic violence agency, providing services for victims of intimate partner abuse and sexual assault.  She also provided group counseling for children exposed to domestic violence and delivered court-ordered counseling services for women involved in Child Protective Services trying to reunify with their children. 

She began working for Sacramento County in 1996, and has served in child welfare, mental health, and the District Attorney’s Victim-Witness program working with family members of homicide victims and victims of hate crimes. 

Michelle served as Deputy Director of Child Protective Services for seven years, where she identified opportunities to work with system and community partners to better address the complex needs of children and youth in foster care. She and several other leaders in Sacramento completed a Multi-System Integration Certificate Program at Georgetown University and have implemented practices to reduce the number of foster children that cross over to the Juvenile Justice system. The team also worked with other community partners to develop a county-wide protocol to identify and serve child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. She is currently co-leading efforts to develop a county-wide prevention plan that focuses on strengthening families and preventing child abuse.

 “It is truly humbling to receive this award.  I consider it a privilege to serve our community and want to acknowledge the dedicated staff in the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services who are serving and supporting children, families and adults each and every day in District 8 and the larger Sacramento area,” said Michelle. 

Assemblyman Ken Cooley represents the 8th Assembly District which includes the communities of Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Rancho Cordova, Rancho Murieta, Rosemont, Wilton and other portions of unincorporated Sacramento County.   For more information, please visit

Source: Office of Ken Cooley

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United Way Announces Sacramento Foster Youth Summit in April

By Kristin Thébaud  |  2019-04-03

Stephanie Bray of United Way stands with keynote speaker September Hargrove, emcee Kitty O’Neal from KFBK and local foster youth at the annual Women United Luncheon where she called for a summit to address foster youth graduation rates. Photo courtesy United Way.

Findings will determine how to prepare foster youth for success in college and career

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - United Way is gathering foster youth and community leaders working on foster care issues for its inaugural Foster Youth Summit on April 5 from 9 am-3 pm at the Sacramento State Ballroom, 6000 J Street.

The summit will identify opportunities to increase the number of foster youth who graduate from high school and go on to complete post-secondary education. Summit findings will be released as a report that will determine the direction of United Way’s foster youth programs. For more information and to sign up:

Stephanie Bray, president and CEO of United Way California Capital Region, announced the summit to 300 supporters at United Way’s 17th Annual Women United Luncheon on March 21. More than $78,000 was raised through the luncheon for United Way’s programs that are preparing foster youth for success in college and career. Since 2002, United Way’s Women United action group has raised more than $2 million for programs for local foster youth.

“It’s time to take our work to the next level,” Bray said at the luncheon. “For far too long, we have talked about the drop-out and homelessness rates for foster youth. We know that no one person or organization can do this alone. So we are convening a public forum to discuss how we move the needle on high school graduation and college or career attainment for foster youth so that fewer struggle as they transition into adulthood.”

Nonprofit service providers, state and county foster youth advocates, school districts, foster youth and other supporters will come together for a deep dive into community level data, a foster youth panel on real-world implications of the data, breakout sessions and a keynote speech by Jennifer Rodriguez, JD, executive director of Youth Law Center and a former foster youth.

At the luncheon, Bray cited a 2018 Annie E. Casey Foundation report that noted without any support, California foster youth drop out of high school at a rate of 24 percent, 30 percent do not have stable housing and 51 percent are unemployed.

 “That is so much lost potential,” Bray said. “We at United Way believe that every child, including each foster youth, has the opportunity to achieve. Imagine the impact if we don’t invest in our foster youth’s potential.”

Bray referred to luncheon keynote speaker September Hargrove as an example of how foster youth achieve success, not only for themselves but for communities across the country. Hargrove, a former Sacramento foster youth who volunteered with United Way a decade ago, is now VP of global philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co., leading the company’s $150 million commitment to Detroit through neighborhood revitalization, small business, financial capability and workforce development.

For nearly 100 years, United Way California Capital Region has brought local people together to make community change happen. Today, the nonprofit is bringing people together across Amador, El Dorado, Sacramento, Placer and Yolo counties for its Square One Project, a 20-year promise to significantly increase the number of students in our region who graduate from high school ready for success in college and beyond.

United Way believes ending poverty starts in school and is working to ensure kids meet important milestones and their families receive support and resources. To learn more and make a donation:

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Hailing Volunteers

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-03-29

 Max McGregor (center), Dick Laursen (second from left) and other supporters were recently commended for volunteer effort at the Effie Yeaw nature Center. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Effie Yeaw Nature Center recently honored top volunteers with an awards luncheon.

Located in Ancil Hoffman park, the non-profit facility lost County funding nine years ago. Its educational mission is now spearheaded by the American River Natural History Association. Center doors stay open with the assistance of supporter donations and 250 nature-loving volunteers.

One of two helpers surpassing 1000-hours of selfless service was 17-year-old Max McGregor from Sacramento. The home-schooled teenager has assisted in animal care for three years and is the youngest of many volunteers to reach the 1000-hour mark. ARNHA board member Dick Laursen (90) also passed the grand milestone. 

Located in Ancil Hoffman Park, the Effie Yeaw Nature Center and its 100-acre preserve see many thousands of visitors in all seasons of the year. For information, call (916) 489-4918.

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All Buttoned Up

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-03-29

Rancho Cordova button collector Barbara Alfidi (right) enjoyed a display of historic fasteners with fellow enthusiast Dawn Healy at the Button Bazaar in Carmichael. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Dealers and collectors from three states recently assembled in Carmichael for the California Button Society’s bi-annual show. This year’s event was co-hosted by the Sacramento and Santa Clara Button Clubs.

The one-day bazaar drew 17 vendors and more than 200 aficionados to the la Sierra Center. “We’ve preferred Carmichael for 12 years,” explains Sacramento Button Society treasurer Sue Rhoades. “La Sierra Center is a great facility that affords lots of light – that’s very important for viewing – and it’s easily accessible from the Bay Area and the Foothills. Our vendors are experts from Washington, Nevada and California. A button show is a new experience for many people; we welcomed many new faces and everyone had a good time.”

The Sacramento Button Society is 65 years old. Its 25 members meet monthly. For information, contact

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DOVIA Presents Annual Awards

By Trina L. Drotar  |  2019-03-29

Darlene Cullivan, CVA (Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement winner) with Rachele
Doty, Photos by Mika Guevarra, courtesy DOVIA Sacramento

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - On March 14, volunteers were recognized by Directors of Volunteers in Agencies (DOVIA) at Shriner’s Hospital for Children – Northern California. Nearly 100 people attended the annual awards ceremony which recognized three categories of volunteers – Youth Volunteer of the Year, Individual Volunteer of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement.

Rachele Doty, CVA is the board’s chair and presented the welcome to all nominees, their friends and families, judges, and Brian Ricks from Assemblyman Ken Cooley’s office. Doty said that each of the nearly twenty-five nominees present received certificates from DOVIA and from Cooley’s office. He was unable to attend this year but is very supportive of the awards.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Abby Schumacher, who has volunteered at Fairytale Town since 2016. In addition to the certificate, she received the $500 Margaret Einsphar Memorial Scholarship award to assist with college tuition. Youth volunteers are under 21 years of age and must currently be students. They are also required to have donated a minimum of 25 hours of service during the year and are nominated by their organizations.

Schumacher was nominated by Fairytale Town’s Education and Program Coordinator, Samantha Hawes who wrote, “Abby has truly made the lives of people who come to our park helping in summer camp, programs, events, marketing and so much more. We are so proud of her, and she is truly a wonderful volunteer.”

Doris Henke, a decades-long volunteer with Snowline Hospice received the Individual Volunteer of the Year award. She received a certificate and a $100 honorarium gift for Snowline Hospice. Henke has spent a lifetime giving back to the community in El Dorado County where she has lived since the 1960s.

“Doris Henke is a name to be recognized and remembered. Her name is truly synonymous with love and caring because of the profound difference she makes in the lives of others,” wrote Bonnie Davis, CVA, Director of Workforce and Volunteer Services for Snowline Hospice. Davis nominated Henke for the award. “It is impossible to quantify the hundreds or thousands of lives she has touched through the years. This loving wife, encourager, mother, caregiver, businesswoman, selfless giver, community developer, friend, ministry-builder, and mentor lives an intentional life of service to others and is a shining example of ‘giving your all’.”

The Individual Volunteer Award of the Year is new this year, said Doty. “We had always focused on the youth volunteer, and DOVIA is looking to the future.”

The final award for Outstanding Achievement in Volunteer Engagement award was presented to Darlene Cullivan, CVA of Eskaton for her work. “I am honored to receive this special award as it demonstrates Eskaton’s vibrant philanthropic culture. Eskaton is grateful for the over 2600 volunteers who invest their time, talent and compassion to enrich the lives of seniors. I am inspired daily by people of all ages aspiring to make a difference. Eskaton volunteers illustrate our belief that Age is Beautiful.”

Nominees were judged by Carla Lehn, CVA, Cole Forstedt, and Valeri Mihanovich and had, Doty said, a difficult time making the final decision this year because all of the nominees were “so wonderful.” Volunteer service must have been performed in Sacramento, Yolo, Placer, or El Dorado counties during the 2018 calendar year.

Service includes work release time, without pay or for student course credit, and each nominating organization must provide service for the larger community, not simply for its members.

Nominees were involved with Access Leisure and Paralympic Sport, Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, ACC Senior Services, Sacramento Sheriffs Explorer Program, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento, Breathe California Sacramento Region, yolo County 4-H, Project R.I.D.E., Inc., Sacramento Tree Foundation, First Call Hospice, Sacramento SPCA, Foothill Therapy Dogs, Sutter Hospice, Oak Park Community Center, Gardenland/Northgate Neighborhood Association, and Junior League of Sacramento, Inc., Snowline Hospice, Eskaton, and Fairytale Town.

“DOVIA exists to support the volunteer managers, to provide networking, continuing education and support,” said Doty who has held several board positions. DOVIA presents at least one event each month.

For additional information, visit

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Reconciling a Rivalry

Story and photo by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-03-27

(Left to right) San Juan Unified School District Athletics Director Ron Barney, Rio Head Coach Sam Stroughter, El Camino Head Coach JP Dolliver, Playmaker Founder Greg Roeszler, and Playmaker Director Phil Dubois plan to bring rival teams together through community service. Photo by Shaunna Boyd

Playmakers Brings Rival Players Together to Serve Underprivileged Kids

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) – Last October, during the last game of their season, the football teams from local high schools Rio Americano and El Camino forfeited the game due to bad conduct — a bench-clearing brawl that ended the season with a lot of bad blood on both sides.

After hearing about the brawl, Greg Roeszler was inspired to find a way to turn the situation into a positive for both the players and the game itself. Roeszler — or Coach Roz, as he is affectionately called — has a long history with football: he played at Encina High School and at San Diego State University, went on to play for the NFL, and then eventually returned to Encina to coach the varsity football team. Coach Roz now runs a local non-profit, The Playmakers Organization, that coaches character through leadership and provides free programs to underprivileged and at-risk youth. 

Coach Roz saw an opportunity to heal the rift between Rio and El Camino through shared service to the community. He invited El Camino Head Coach JP Dolliver, Rio Head Coach Sam Stroughter, and San Juan Unified School District Athletics Director Ron Barney to join him and Playmaker Director Phil Dubois at a meeting to discuss a unique idea. Coach Roz suggested that the coaches and selected members from each team work together to serve at the upcoming Tim Brown Playmaker 9-1-1 Camp for Kids on April 12.

The Playmakers Organization is bringing retired Oakland Raider and NFL Hall of Fame player Tim Brown to West Sacramento for a free one-day football camp for at-risk and special needs kids. Coach Roz suggested that serving together at the camp could create a sense of camaraderie between rival players. He said, “There are so many good things that will come out of this. … Players being led by the most powerful guys in the community in serving at-risk underprivileged kids — using the greatest game that God put on the face of the earth as the magnet.”

Barney said the District fully supports the teams “doing something positive for the community and at the same time developing positive relationships between the two schools.” Barney explained that a good rivalry motivates the players to perform at their best and is based on mutual respect. He said teams all over the country deal with this type of problem all the time, and he hopes this could be an example of positive change. “This is big. … It takes people to step up to make a difference. … I think we’re on the ground floor of something good here,” said Barney.

The respect between Dolliver and Stroughter was evident. Both coaches agreed that the fight was the result of a few bad apples, and most of the players were out on the field trying to break it up. Stroughter said, “I had kids in the locker room afterward crying because they were seniors and that was their last game, and a handful of people did the wrong thing and ruined their last game.”

Both coaches also expressed frustration with social media, which they believe escalated the rivalry to the point that some of their players were throwing punches on the field. Dolliver said the kids typed things to each other with a screen between them that they never would have said face to face. “These kids are missing out by not treating this rivalry as a positive. … Without Rio, that last game of the season is just another game,” said Dolliver.

Stroughter and Dolliver are both committed to coaching their players on character as well as football. As Coach Roz said, “This is about loving the game more than loving the fight. … We can take this thing and turn it into something that’s good for the game. … We’ve all been in football a long time. Has anyone ever heard of reconciliation like this? ... What if Sacramento has figured out and is implementing how you take a bad rivalry and make it a good rivalry, how you take a bad situation and turn it into a good situation? This could be the model. … We very well could be on to something here beyond just our community.”

If you are interested in learning more about The Playmakers Organization or signing up a youth for the Tim Brown Playmaker 9-1-1 Camp for Kids, visit

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