RCCD Alumnus of the Year

The RCCD Alumnus of the Year was created in 1959, to recognize alumni who not only have made an impact in their professions but who also have contri​buted to their communities, the district             and/or the individual colleges.

Click here​ to nominate for RCCD Alumnus of the Year.​

Ana Maria Espinoza


Virginia Blumenthal, J.D.
Riverside City College, Class of 1968
Founding Attorney, Blumenthal Law Offices

Virginia Blumenthal is known throughout the community for her expertise in the courtroom and her dedication to Riverside Community College District.
An alumna of Poly High School and Riverside City College, Virginia’s Riverside roots are grounded deeply in her hometown. Her parents lived in a Wood Streets home directly across from the College, her mother attended a class and worked at RCC, and Virginia and her sister learned early in life to work hard, care for others, and strive to make a difference. 

After a slow start at college—she admits to a 1.1 GPA in her first semester—Virginia hit her stride, which led to advanced degrees, including a juris doctorate that followed an earlier career as a teacher. It was as a criminal defense attorney, maneuvering in a man’s legal world, that she built her reputation and became a high profile community leader.

The National Trial Lawyers named her as one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the United States and she has been named as “One of the Best Litigators in California” and one of the “Most Influential Attorneys in the State of California.” Outside the courtroom, her contributions are equally impressive.

Virginia is a fixture in Riverside, known for her volunteerism and public service. Named “YWCA Woman of the Year,” she also is a recipient of the ATHENA award for community service and a holder of the Gold Key Award from Soroptomists International of Riverside. Her service to RCCD began in November 2006 when she was elected to the RCCD Board of Trustees. This year marked her third term as president of the Board.

Her selection as Alumnus of the Year recognizes her outstanding service to the college district, as well as her professional and community achievements. On the 100th anniversary of RCC, it is fitting that the year also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Virginia’s connection with RCCD and its colleges.

Previous Alumni of the Year Recipients​​
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ana espinoza


Ana Maria Espinoza
Riverside City College, Class of 1975
Director of missionary organization, 
His for the Fields, and United Farm Workers Union activist

To the crowd gathered in Calexico to hear farm labor leader Cesar Chavez in 1974, it was a calming embrace. For Ana Maria Espinoza, it was the beginning of a life-long journey. She was among a group of  students from Riverside City College and UC Riverside, who had chartered Greyhound buses and packed U-Haul trucks with food for the trip to donate money they had raised for the United Farmer Workers Union.

 Complete List of Recipients​

2016 - Virginia Blumenthal
​2013 - Rod Piazza
​2010 - Jerry Louder
2007 - William Emmerson
2004 - Eugene D. Humphreys
2001 - Tom Mullen
1998 - Judith A. Nieburger
1995 - Nicholas E. Tavaglione
1992 - Rodolpho Castro
1989 - John Coudures
1986 - Charles Bracker
1983 - Admiral Alan E. Hill
1980 - Major General Andrew Pringle, Jr.
1977 - Senator Robert Presley​
1974 - Mine Okubo
1971 - John Gabbert
1968 - Frances W. Mills
1965 - Eliot J. Swan
1962 - Omer W. Wheeler
1959 - O.W. Noble
Kathy Wright


Kathy Wright, Ed.D
Riverside City College, Class of 1968
Retired Superintendent, Alvord Unified School District

Kathy Wright attended RCC in 1966 and transferred to San Diego State University where she obtained her bachelor's degree and teaching credential. She earned her master's degree from UC Riverside and doctorate degree from the University of La Verne. Kathy spent 37 years in education, first as a teacher then as a principal, assistant superintendent and deputy superint​endent. Wright serves on multiple committees and boards, including the RCCD Foundation Scholarship Committee, and is a member of the Greater Riverside Dollars for Scholars.​

2015 - Ana Maria Espinoza
2012 - Nicolas D. Ferguson
2009 - Marion Ashley
2006 - Gary Rawlings
2003 - Gene Gleeson
2000 - Clayton A. Record, Jr.
1997 - Ernest Robles
1994 - Gary A. Best
1991 - Charles A. Kane 
1988 - Ruth Kirkby
1985 - Bob Fitch
1982 - Bart R. Singletary
1979 - Edna Bailey Lockhart
1976 - Anita Mackey
1973 - George Moody
1970 - Jess Hill
1967 - Rex Brandt
1964 - Chester Carlson
1961 - Ray Engleman
Rod Piazza


Rod Piazza
Riverside City College, Class of 1979

Known as one of America’s premier blues harmonica players, Rod Piazza has recorded 24 albums, appeared as a guest performer on over 21 releases, and toured concert venues, blues clubs, and festivals worldwide. He is credited with creating a style that combines Chicago Blues with West Coast Swing, R&B, and Rock and Roll. Piazza attended Riverside City College from 1978 to 1979.​

2014 - Kathy Wright
2011 - Nick Goldware
2008 - Susan Straight
2005 - Robert A. Wolf
2002 - Ameal Moore
1999 - Norm Martin
1996 - Donald McCoy
1993 - Patsy Martin McCoy​
1990 - Leo Baca
1987 - Helen Bottel
1984 - Patrick Maloy​
1981 - Robert Patton
1978 - Albert D. Brown, Jr.
1975 - John Neblett
1972 - Rupert Castro & Sister Amelia M. Goethals
1969 - Harold Butterfield & Gen Robert F. Worley
1966 - James Mercereau
1963 - Fred Oldendorf
​1960 - Russell S. Waite​