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Kenyan Immigrant Leads Fresno State’s Top Dog Honorees



Steven Were Omamo and other honorees will be celebrated with a one-hour ABC30 special on May 1. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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A Fresno State graduate whose humanitarian work feeding the hungry earned his organization the Nobel Peace Prize has been named the university’s Top Dog Distinguished Alumnus, Fresno State announced Wednesday.

Steven Were Omamo, who was born into a farming family in Kenya and graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness in 1986, is now president of New Growth International based out of Nairobi, Kenya, and Chicago.

He previously was the country director in Ethiopia for the UN World Food Programme, where he had worked for 15 years. The organization helps provide millions of people with resources to address acute hunger or need related to emergencies, natural disaster, outbreaks, and conflict and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020.

Omamo now heads a management consulting firm focused on agro-food and building educational programs to help clients, including governments, nongovernmental organizations, foundations, and others promote food security and sustainability.

The Top Dog Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes Fresno State alumni for exceptional accomplishments in their fields.

Arthur Safstrom Award Winner

The university also honors alumni and friends of the university who have made significant impacts with the Arthur Safstrom Award.

This year’s recipient is Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, a professor emeritus of social work education who founded and was the inaugural director of Fresno State’s Peace and Conflict Studies program. Kapoor founded the Peace Garden in 1990 and oversaw efforts to install the five monuments in the garden.

U.S. Attorney Kirk Sherriff, left, along with Dr. Sudarshan Kapoor, center, and Reza Nekumanesh. (GV Wire File)

Top Dog Honorees

Each year one alum is selected from each of the university’s eight academic schools and colleges, the Athletics Department, Henry Madden Library, Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and Division of Research and Graduate Studies to receive a Top Dog Outstanding Alumni Award.

The Outstanding Alumni honorees are:

  • College of Arts and Humanities: Ray S. Doumanian,  (1967, 1982), former president of HR LLC, and Jacqueline Doumanian (1974, 1982), educator and community advocate.
  • College of Health and Human Services: David Pomaville (1986), director of environmental health and safety, Caglia Enterprises, and former director of Public Health for Fresno County.
  • College of Science and Mathematics: William R. Silveira (1999), oncologist, Community Cancer Institute, Clovis Community Medical Center.
  • College of Social Sciences: Ana Jovel Melendez (2005), director of legislative affairs, State Water Resources Control Board.
  • Craig School of Business: Joshua Easterly (1998), co-founder, partner and co-president of Sixth Street and is chairman and CEO of Sixth Street Specialty Lending.
  • Department of Athletics: Rod D. Higgins, NBA veteran and vice president of basketball operations, Atlanta Hawks.
  • Division of Research and Graduate Studies: Philip Neufeld (1993, 2015), executive officer, enterprise services, core infrastructure, cybersecurity, learning analytics, Fresno Unified School District.
  • Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management: Sabahudin Tricic (1999, 2006), foundation faculty, University of Kansas Grantham.
  • Henry Madden Library: Jason A. Hubbart (2000, 2002), professor and director, West Virginia University.
  • Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology: James W. Nielsen (1967), California State Senator, 4th District.
  • Kremen School of Education and Human Development: Violet L. Chuck (1978), executive director, Educare Services Inc.
  • Lyles College of Engineering: Joseph F. Pickett (1994), president, Pickett & Sons Construction, Inc.

The honorees will be celebrated with a one-hour television special on ABC30 at 7 p.m. on May 1. The broadcast also will be live-streamed for those who live outside the Valley.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email