ASI’s Ask an Expert

New to CPP? Looking for advice on how to succeed in college? Then look no further and join us for ASI’s Ask an Expert! We’re bringing you a panel of ASI and CPP alumni for open discussion and Q&A to help you in your journey as Broncos! Zoom link will be emailed prior to start of program.

Date: Thursday, September 10, 2020
Time: 5:30-7:30 PM
Registration: Online via ASI Portal. Registration closes at noon.

Alumni Panel

Portrait of Walt Allen


Walter Allen is a council member in the city of Covina, director of the Rio Hondo Police Academy at Rio Hondo College in Whittier, a proud member of the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association board of directors and a member of the Cal Poly Philanthropic Board of Directors. Allen also serves on the Ettie Lee Youth and Family Services board and is the past chairman and current member of the board of directors for Citrus Valley Health Partners, which provides management and oversight of three non-profit hospitals. Allen also serves as a member of the Metrolink board of directors and the League of California Cities Public Safety Committee.

In 2003, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Allen as director of the California Youth Authority which, at the time, was the largest juvenile correctional system in the nation, housing and supervising over 10,000 juvenile offenders throughout out the state and managing over 5,000 employees, with an operating budget of over $400 million dollars. In 2005, Schwarzenegger appointed Allen as the assistant secretary of the newly created Office of Correctional Safety (OCS) for the newly reorganized California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The OCS provides oversight to all law enforcement, safety and security issues in all state run youth and adult correctional prison facilities throughout the state. In November 2009, he was appointed to the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training by Governor Schwarzenegger and served as a deputy commissioner for the board of parole hearings through June 2013. He has been in the law enforcement profession for more than 44 years and is a graduate of the 172nd session of the FBI National Academy. Walt obtained his degree in Urban Planning at Cal Poly Pomona, from the College of Environment Design in 1975 and has a Masters Degree in Law Enforcement Executive Leadership from California Southern University.

Portrait of Renita Bess


In 1992, Renita started in the Payroll industry by joining Southland Data Processing. Since 1992, Renita has been a part of creating the infrastructure of SDP. Renita has participated in every aspect of the business from sales to operations. She has served on the Board of the IPPA (Independent Payroll Providers Association); IPPA President 2003-2004 and 2018-2019; and continues to serve on IPPA committees since 2001. She has served on the finance council at St. Denis Catholic Community, helps with Children’s Faith Formation at Santa Clara de Asis, and serves on the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Board. Renita graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Cal Poly Pomona. Renita’s top two favorite movies of all time are Forrest Gump and Braveheart.

Portrait of Dean Bui


Dean is a first-generation immigrant and the first in his family to attend college. He has a Marketing Management degree and an MBA from Cal Poly. Started as an intern, he has 20+ years of experience in the banking industry specializing in product development, marketing, product pricing and risk management. Currently, Dean and his team are focusing on the digital transformation and process improvement of their business. He’s a servant leader who works for his team to help them achieve their personal and professional goals.

Portrait of Brenda Diederichs


Brenda Diederichs is the Assistant CEO/HR Director for the County of Riverside. She has more than 25 years’ experience in the public sector in executive level positions with the County of Orange, City of Riverside, LA METRO, City of West Covina, as well as 17 years in private labor and employment law practice. Brenda is focused on leading HR transformation and building HR to be an established business partner in the organization. Brenda makes building her teams and developing leaders a priority. In her current role, she has the full gamut of HR functions, from general liability, talent management, benefits, payroll, employee and labor relations, learning and organizational development and overseeing a County run health plan.

Portrait of Jonathan Farrar


Ambassador Jonathan D. Farrar retired in August 2018 after three years as the Senior Advisor to OIG’s Assistant Inspector General for Inspections, and has inspected posts in the EAP, EUR, AF, and SCA bureaus.

Ambassador Farrar served as the U.S. Ambassador to Panama from 2012-2015. Prior to his service in Panama, Ambassador Farrar was the head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba from 2008-2011. Ambassador Farrar served as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) from 2006 to 2008, and was DRL’s Acting Assistant Secretary from August 2007 to March 2008. From 2004 to 2005, Ambassador Farrar served as a Deputy

Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL), with responsibility for INL’s programs in the Western Hemisphere, Africa, Asia, and Europe. He was the Deputy Chief of Mission in Montevideo, Uruguay, and also served at the U.S. embassies in Mexico, Belize, and Paraguay.

Ambassador Farrar was born in Los Angeles, California, and studied at the California State Polytechnic University Pomona, the Claremont Graduate School, and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Portrait of Don Henry


Don Henry is an alumnus from Cal Poly Pomona who graduated in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He served as the Director for the Division of Plant Industry for the California Department of Food and Agriculture for 30 years and was responsible for the State’s Plant Test in Sacramento, California. Don also served as Officer for the US Customs and Border Protection in Sacramento, California which he was responsible for the Port’s Animal/Plant Pest Quarantine Inspection programs for 7 years. Don is now retired and currently serves on the board for a non-profit organization called Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels is an organization that serves seniors in the county of Sacramento by providing them with home-delivered meals, nutrition education, and much more. Don enjoys giving back to his community and has been a volunteer driver for this organization since 2012.

Portrait of John Poli


John is a Procurement Team Manager for the Metropolitan Water District of Sothern California with more than 25 years of private and public procurement experience. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from California Polytechnic University, Pomona, and a Masters of Public Administration in Water Resources Management from California State University San Bernardino and is the recipient of multiple “Achievement of Excellence in Procurement” awards from the Institute for Supply Management. He is a program manager for multiple projects including water conservation and community outreach, water rights analysis, and the development of a tiered water rate program. John currently serves on the Cal Poly Pomona Alumni Association Board of Directors and is a former President and served as President of the Alumni Association from 2015-2017. Currently, John is Cal Poly Pomona’s representative for the CSU Alumni Council where he represents over 165,000 Cal Poly Pomona alumni.

Portrait of Tracy Yao


Tracy is currently the Administrative Support Assistant for the College of Environmental Design. She completed her undergrad at UC San Diego in Economics and acquired her Master’s in Public Administration from Cal Poly Pomona in 2019. Her experiences and interests predominantly lie in higher education and in serving her community. She has worked with international students through Cal Poly Pomona Foundation and was an academic skills tutor for the Learning Resource Center as a grad student.

Portrait of Amairany Rivera


Amairany Rivera began her educational pathway at Cal Poly Pomona. During her undergraduate studies, she faced challenges, allowing her to transfer into Chaffey College where she attained the necessary tools to become a successful student. Amairany transferred over into Cal Poly Pomona where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business-Marketing and Fashion Merchandising. She is currently attending the University of La Verne pursuing her Master’s degree in Educational Counseling and balancing the role of a Success Coach at Chaffey Community College. Due to her experiences as a first-generation student who navigated through the transfer path, Amairany is passionate to help students in their academic journey through a relatable and diverse lens.

Amairany loves staying active through soccer and the gym. Additional interests she enjoys are photography, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.

Portrait of Hansini Vitharanage


Hansini Vitharanage is currently working for Kite Pharma, a subsidiary of Gilead Sciences. Kite Pharma is focused on delivering CART-based immunotherapy for patients. She is an individual contributor and a project lead in the Process Development Department. Hansini has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology

and a Master’s degree in Biology from Cal Poly Pomona. She has always been passionate about immunology and the incredible potential of our immune system. So, she is at the right place, where she has the opportunity to help cancer patients by contributing to deliver immunotherapies. She enjoys her work very much. During leisure, she enjoys traveling with her husband (2-3 trips a year), watching TV, trying out new recipes, and baking.