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Award-Winning Winemaker, Other Alums Named by Fresno State as Top Dogs in 2021



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A Fresno State alumnus considered an icon in the winemaking business has been named one of the university’s Top Dog Alumni Award recipients for 2021.

The award recognizes alumni who “embrace the Bulldog spirit” and who have made significant contributions to the university, community, and their profession.

Marcello Monticelli, vice president of North Coast winemaking for E & J Gallo Winery, will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award for his innovations in the winemaking industry and creation of award-winning wines from Sonoma County.

Monticelli, a native of Pistoia in Italy’s Tuscany region whose family are vintners, graduated magna cum laude from Fresno State in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in viticulture and enology. He started working for Gallo the following year.

The university also recognizes university alumni and friends for distinguished service to the university with the Arthur Safstrom Service Award.

This year’s recipients are John and Elizabeth Shields, both professor emeriti of Fresno State. John Shields, who will receive the award posthumously, was a professor of agricultural economics in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, and Elizabeth Shields was a professor of finance with the Craig School of Business.

Top Dog Outstanding Alumni

In addition, an alum from each of the university’s eight academic schools and colleges, the Department of Athletics, the Henry Madden Library, the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies are chosen annually to receive a Top Dog Outstanding Alumni Award.

This year’s honorees are:

  • Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology: Walter Bentley (1969), integrated pest management entomologist, University of California Cooperative Extension emeritus.
  • College of Arts and Humanities: Barry Falke (2001), chief operating officer for the Pacific Division of the American Red Cross.
  • Department of Athletics: Kelly Rodriques (1989), chief executive officer of Forge Global.
  • Craig School of Business: Deborah Adishian-Astone (1988, 1994), vice president for administration and chief financial officer, Fresno State.
  • Kremen School of Education and Human Development: Maria Maldonado (2000, 2016), assistant superintendent, Fresno Unified School District.
  • Lyles College of Engineering: Juanita Leal (1990, 1995), associate technical fellow and flight test engineer, The Boeing Company.
  • Division of Graduate Studies: Bob Nelson (1995), superintendent, Fresno Unified School District.
  • College of Health and Human Services: Lisa Casarez (1994, 2000), founder and CEO, Angels of Grace Family Foster Agency.
  • College of Science and Mathematics: Rosemary Waters (1966, 1972), professor emerita, Fresno City College.
  • College of Social Sciences: Geri Yang-Johnson (2009), vice president and community relations senior consultant, Wells Fargo.
  • Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management: Andrew Souza (1981), chief administrative officer, Immanuel Schools.
  • Henry Madden Library: Frank Johnson Sr. (1964), author and retired publisher and superintendent of West Fresno School District.

The award ceremony will be televised in a one-hour special on ABC30 at 7 p.m. April 17 and will be livestreamed outside the Fresno area.

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

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