Four Titan alumni and an honorary alumna were recognized for their service and support of the university and the broader community during Cal State Fullerton’s 25th Vision & Visionaries celebration at El Dorado Ranch. Established in 1994, the Vision & Visionaries awards are the highest honors that the university bestows upon alumni and community supporters.
In an evening that featured student performances, dinner and a poetry reading by Orange County’s Poet Laureate Natalie Graham, this year’s honorees were introduced by three previous award recipients: Lucy Dunn ’76 (2007 V&V recipient), Tam Nguyen ’05 (2015 V&V recipient) and Laurie Haack ’79, ’06 (2019 V&V recipient).
“As a past honoree, I know what it means to be selected and I will always cherish the wonderful celebration we had when I received this award,” said Dunn. “Tonight is that very special moment for this year’s honorees.”
President Fram Virjee also addressed those gathered by saying, “Tonight, we honor and celebrate that unique Titan spirit and sense of purpose. With Vision & Visionaries, we recognize alumni and friends whose success has been part of something bigger than themselves. Their work has enriched industry, science, philanthropy, culture and heritage, and touched people, families and communities.”
Virjee also noted that with more than 300,000 CSUF alumni, only 149 have been recognized with the university’s highest honor.
The 2022 Vision & Visionaries honorees are:
Michael R. Groff ’78
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Toyota Financial Services President & CEO, Retired
Groff recently retired from his role as Toyota Financial Services President and CEO. His career included over 40 years of general management experience in the automotive finance, leasing and insurance business. Under Groff’s leadership at Toyota, TFS USA reached $120 billion in assets and was the largest auto finance company in America. Groff also served as Regional CEO of TFS’s America’s Region which included operations in Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. Groff is now providing consulting services through his Harborview Consulting LLC.
At CSUF, Groff helped create the Executive in Residence mentorship program at the College of Business and Economics. He and his wife also established the Mike and Mary Kay Groff scholarship for women in the business school.
Douglas G. Stewart ’87
Distinguished Alumnus Award
Chairman, Marts & Lundy, Inc.
As chairman of Marts & Lundy, Inc., an international management consulting firm focused on fundraising and philanthropy, Stewart serves clients in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia. As a consultant, Stewart provides strategic and management advice, focusing on large and complex institutions, especially research universities and academic health sciences centers.
Over the past 25 years, Stewart has become well known as a speaker, training more than 8,000 institutional leaders, faculty members and staff in the principles and practice of philanthropy.
Dan Young ’74
Distinguished Alumnus Award
President, Camino Enterprises, LLC
Young brings years of real estate development experience to his latest venture, Camino Enterprises. After 20 years as a real estate developer, he joined the Irvine Company in 1999 and quickly moved up within the company to become president of the Irvine Company’s Community Development Group. In that role, Young’s focus was on large-scale development within The Irvine Ranch and select areas of Silicon Valley and San Diego. His latest projects include Passage San Mateo, a 960-unit apartment project with ground-floor retail, and consulting with the Honda Center for their newest project, OC Vibe. In 2020, he was named one of Orange County’s 100 Most Influential People by the Orange County Register for his work on the OC Vibe project at Honda Center.
Young served on the Santa Ana City Council from 1983-94 and as mayor of Santa Ana from 1986-94.
President & CEO, Casanova//McCann
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Otero-Smart has over 30 years of advertising experience in the U.S. Hispanic market and Puerto Rico. She joined Casanova Pendrill in August of 2008 as President/CEO. The agency rebranded as Casanova//McCann in 2016, and she acquired the majority stake from Interpublic Group in 2020.
At Casanova, she leads agency operations, managing offices in Costa Mesa, New York and Detroit, and field teams in Dallas, South Florida and Chicago. Her account experience includes Nestlé USA, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, Diageo, Cigna, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, U.S. Bank and Ford Division, among many others.
Otero-Smart is also a member of the board of directors of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (currently known as CMC). She is a founding member of this organization and has served as treasurer, head of its marketing communications committee, chair of the media committee and as president.
Otero-Smart is on the Dean’s Advisory Council for the College of Communications, agency advisory board for its PRacticalADvantage student-run agency and the board of governors for the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation. She is also a founding member of the university’s Latino Communications Institute and currently serves as chair of its advisory board.
Lauren DuCharme ’15
Recent Graduate Award
Fault Protection Systems Engineer, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In her eight years at JPL, DuCharme has been primarily involved in research and engineering development for Mars and Mars Sample Return technologies. She was a recipient of the NASA Group Achievement Award in 2017 for her research with the Mars Sample Transfer Technology Development Team, which developed key technologies and testbeds for maturing and validating enabling concepts for retrieval of cached samples from the Martian surface. As part of the Mars 2020 Fault Protection team, she developed, tested and validated fault protection architectures within flight software and led the team through launch, cruise and EDL (entry, descent and landing) operations and flight anomaly recovery. Post-landing, DuCharme joined the Europa Clipper Mission, where she now leads the fault protection team through their V&V campaign to prepare for their 2024 launch toward Jupiter.
During her time at CSUF, DuCharme was actively involved as a Titan Ambassador, student orientation leader, president of CSUF’s Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, and robotics lead for the CSUF Titan Rover Team.