Long Beach, News

CSULB alumni nominated for 40 under 40 awards

The Long Beach Post hosted its 40 Under 40 event Thursday night where seven Cal State University Long Beach alumni were recognized for their service to Long Beach and the community.

According to Dennis Dean, director of operations at the Long Beach Post, 40 Under 40 began in 2012 as a way to recognize the top 40 people under the age of 40 who contribute to the betterment of Long Beach.

The CSULB alumni recognized at the event, along with the other nominees, work in various sectors of the community as business owners, community activists and politicians.

Deni Volkoff, an entrepreneur and banker; Jeff Boulter, president of Sir Brilliant LLC; and Samantha Argosino, owner of the Brass Lamp coffee bar — all graduates of CSULB — were recognized for their roles as business leaders in Long Beach.

Another CSULB alumna recognized was Katie Rispoli Keotami, founder and executive director of We Are The Next.

We Are The Next is a non-profit organization that works for government agencies and other organizations to maintain, repair and restore historical places.

The last CSULB alumni to be recognized were Kehau Fujikami, director of operations at Long Beach Blast, Mercelle Epley, president at the Long Beach Community Foundation and Brian Addison, communications manager at Downtown Long Beach Associates.

The 40 winners were selected based on an open nomination in early September. Community members wrote a set of synopses explaining the reason why their nominee should be recognized as one of the top 40 youngest Long Beach influencers.

Long Beach Police Department Commander Randy Allen announced and awarded the 40 nominees alongside Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach Post publisher Cindy Allen.

“You make Long Beach great,” Mayor Garcia told the nominees.

CSULB alumna Kehau Fujikami, director of operations at the non-profit organization Long Beach Blast, said she was surprised that Long Beach Blast’s founder Jean Egan nominated her.

“We’ve worked closely for years,” Fujikami said, “I’ve seen her as [a] mentor and I truly appreciate the nomination.”

Fujikami graduated from CSULB in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts in business management and said that CSULB opened the doors for her to be part of Long Beach Blast, which provides after-school learning for at-risk children.

“To see the need here in Long Beach of providing college students a mentor or role model that they don’t really have in their lives, that’s where my passion lies,” Fujikami said.

CSULB alumni Brian Addison worked as the executive director of the Long Beach Post and is now part of Downtown Long Beach Associates.

While doing his undergraduate studies at Cal State Fullerton, Addison decided to move to Long Beach. He graduated from CSULB with his MFA in writing in 2010.

Downtown Long Beach Associates works for the community development in different sectors such as management, marketing, security, maintenance and economy.

“I wanted to focus on the diversity, the dynamism of DTLB in all facets,”Addison said in an email. “So, I started creating daily content that wasn’t just about our organization, but about people, small businesses, artists.”

In the same email, sent last week, Addison  announced his resignation and said he will pursue building his own company – a communications firm that will help the online presence of Long Beach organizations, restaurants and other businesses.

The 40 Under 40 awards are held every year, giving as many opportunities as possible for locals to be recognized for their positive influences in the community.

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