ASU leaders visit Sacramento, host event featuring alumni in politics

Group of event attendees pose together.

Students participating in the ASU Sacramento Scholars program celebrate ASU with Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales and Christian Osmeña, ASU’s vice president for enterprise planning and program lead. Photo by ASU


Arizona State University Executive Vice President and University Provost Nancy Gonzales hosted students, alumni and friends at the California State Library in Sacramento late last month.

In addition to discussing the innovative solutions ASU is bringing to some of California’s most pressing challenges, attendees heard from two Sun Devil alumni who now hold exciting positions in the California political world: Cathryn RiveraCathryn Rivera was appointed by Governor Newsom in June 2019 to serve as appointments secretary. Prior to her appointment, Rivera served three administrations as a board member on the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) beginning with her appointment by Governor Davis in November 2002. Prior to joining the ALRB, Rivera served as the chief deputy cabinet secretary for Governor Gray Davis. As chief deputy, Rivera served as the Governor’s liaison to various state agencies, departments and boards, including the Health and Human Services Agency, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Office of Emergency Services, and Department of Food and Agriculture. As a member of the Cabinet office, Rivera was responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of administration policy and legislative initiatives within the agencies. Rivera also served as special legal counsel, working closely with the legal affairs secretary on significant legal matters arising within the agencies and departments. Rivera received a Bachelor of Science in business management from Arizona State University and obtained her law degree from Boalt Hall at the University of California, Berkeley where she was co-editor-in-chief of the La Raza Law Journal., appointments secretary to Gov. Gavin Newsom, and Katie OrrSince 2022, Katie Orr has been a senior strategist with Paschal Roth Public Affairs. Prior to joining Paschal Roth, Katie covered the California Capitol for nine years, first with Capitol Public Radio, then with KQED News. During her time in the press corps, Katie also served as president of the Capitol Correspondents Association of California. She previously worked for KPBS in San Diego covering city hall and has also reported for public radio stations in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Evansville, Indiana. Katie graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting in 2003. She is also a graduate of ASU's Barrett, The Honors College. She received her master’s degree in political science from San Diego State University in 2013. Katie currently lives outside Sacramento with her husband and their two young daughters. , a senior strategist with Paschal Roth Public Affairs.

Orr, a Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication graduate, discussed the ways in which her undergraduate degree opened professional pathways that may have otherwise been unattainable.

“ASU and my experience there helped me get my foot in the door. The Cronkite School has just continued to grow,” Orr said.

As the discussion came to a close, Gonzales complimented the alumni: “You’re both such accomplished, talented women. It gives us such pride to see the success that you’ve had and to know that ASU played a role in that.”

The event was part of a two-day visit by senior ASU leaders, including Gonzales, Senior Vice President for University Affairs Jim O’Brien and Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Dean Carole Basile. They talked with elected officials, legislative staff and advocates about key ASU initiatives, including the Next Education Workforce program through the education college.

With more than 20,000 Californians enrolled at ASU, the relationship between America’s most innovative university and its most populous state continues to grow year over year.

With its new home at the ASU California Center, located at the historic Herald Examiner building in Los Angeles, ASU plays a vibrant role in the California community. ASU’s vision for meeting the needs of California’s students and families has been covered by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly and others. 

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