Out & About

By Jessica Laskey
February 2022

‘A Hero & A Giant’

Former Sac State president transformed the university

Sacramento State’s longest-serving president, Donald Rogers Gerth, passed away Dec. 6 at age 93.

President Emeritus Gerth led Sac State from 1984 through 2003 and dedicated 45 years of his career to the California State University system, serving in various positions across four campuses.

Among his many accomplishments, Chicago native Gerth oversaw more than $100 million in public and private funding that added 1.2 million square feet of structures on campus and helped modernize existing buildings. He led fundraising efforts that netted $54 million, and created the School of the Arts, Center for California Studies and Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution.

Gerth created master’s degrees in public policy and administration, as well as the first master’s degree in software engineering at a California public university and a joint doctoral program in public history with UC Santa Barbara. He advocated for the California Master Plan for Higher Education, which created a system of access for all students.
Gerth, who served on numerous boards, also wrote “The People’s University: A History of the California State University,” published in 2010, which celebrates the growth and accomplishments of the CSU system of public higher education.

In 2018, Sac State renamed its archives the Donald and Beverly Gerth Special Collections and University Archives. A $300,000 gift from the Gerths allowed the university’s library staff to modernize the collection.

“With the loving support of his wife, Bev, who actively served alongside him, President Emeritus Gerth transformed Sacramento State,” says current President Robert S. Nelsen. “He loved Sacramento State and the CSU. His impact on our campus and the system as a whole is unquantifiable. It was my honor to call him a friend and I will miss his wise council. We have lost a hero and a giant of a man.”


Kathy Lester is the city’s new chief of police, succeeding Daniel Hahn who retired at the end of 2021. Lester, a 27-year veteran of the Sacramento Police Department, is the city’s 46th chief of police and the first woman to hold the position.

During her tenure, which began in 1994 as a dispatcher, Lester established Sac PD’s Pipeline Hiring Program, which has helped increase diversity; created a full-time mental health team; secured grant funding and developed youth-diversion programs as alternatives to juvenile detention; implemented gender-awareness training, and disproportionate-minority-contact and implicit bias training for all officers; and created the Outreach and Engagement Division, which expanded community outreach efforts to multiple ethnic groups. She now leads a department of more than 1,100 sworn and civilian staff.

“During her time with the Sacramento Police Department, she has proven herself to be a dynamic leader with an unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, accountability and innovation,” City Manager Howard Chan says.


The Sacramento City Council and Sacramento County Board of Supervisors redistricted at the end of last year. The process occurs every 10 years following the U.S. Census to ensure each of the electoral district boundaries have approximately the same number of people and comply with the Federal Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The county’s Final Supervisorial District Map is a product of months of drafting, meetings and public input. The Geographic Information System team worked with National Demographics Corporation to proof district lines suggested by the Board of Supervisors and make minor adjustments to address miscoding of census blocks and avoid sliver precincts and new ballot types. County residents can view the interactive map and get more information at redistricting2021.saccounty.gov.

For the city, the Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission engaged in a public process for approximately one year. Just like the county, the city must reestablish boundaries for City Council districts every 10 years after the census to balance population in accordance with local, state and federal rules. For questions, email
redistricting@cityofsacramento.org or call (916) 808-7200.


The city of Sacramento’s Community Development Department is accepting applications for its 2022 Planning Academy. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. Monday, Feb. 7.

The free 11-week virtual course begins March 7 and will provide the fundamentals of city planning and cover a broad spectrum of planning and development-related topics and issues. More than 300 Sacramento residents, business owners and community leaders have graduated from the Planning Academy since its inception in 2002.

Topics include affordable housing, environmental justice, zoning and land use, inclusive economic development, transportation and climate action planning. Speakers will include city staff, local architects, planning professionals and community advocates. Several optional outdoor events will be offered.

“Planning Academy equips Sacramentans to become strong advocates for a well-planned community,” says Tom Pace, the city’s community development director. “Some of our graduates have gone on to serve on city commissions and even City Council.”

To apply, visit cityofsacramento.research.net/r/pa_2022. For more information, contact Laura Tuller at (916) 808-3546 or ltuller@cityofsacramento.org.


A new sports complex located on a former vacant lot near Robertson Community Center is now open to serve Del Paso Heights youth and families.

The Del Paso Heights Sports Complex is managed by Mutual Assistance Network in partnership with The Center at Sierra Health Foundation, Sacramento Republic FC and the city of Sacramento, which provided $1.9 million in Measure U tax dollars to help fund the project.

The complex’s four futsal (a variety of soccer) courts and softball field will host youth sports leagues and regional tournaments, bringing revenue into the area, and provide youth employment and sports participation opportunities.

“Our neighborhoods and community organizations are ready for the deep investments the city of Sacramento and partners like Sacramento Republic FC are making in Del Paso Heights with this project,” says Danielle Lawrence, executive director of Mutual Assistance Network. “We know it will be a powerful economic and social driver for positive experiences and expanding power in our neighborhood and people.”


The city of Sacramento’s Office of Arts and Culture will receive a $500,000 American Rescue Plan grant from National Endowment for the Arts to help Sacramento artists recover from the pandemic.

OAC is one of 66 local arts agencies across the country that will receive granting from NEA. Once the City Council adopts a resolution to accept the grant, OAC will begin distributing grants and offering peer support to local artists to sustain their artistic practices.

“It is so great to see the Office of Arts and Culture recognized by the NEA for their efforts here in Sacramento,” says Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “This grant will leverage our nation-leading investments in the creative economy and directly support local artists, allowing our city to emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever.”

For information on how to apply, visit arts.cityofsacramento.org.


The Sacramento Region Community Foundation has awarded 40 grants totaling $312,000 to address the ongoing effects of the pandemic on area nonprofits that provide human services, education, arts and culture, community improvement and youth development.

“So many of our neighbors throughout the Sacramento region continue to experience the cascading impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, devastating wildfires and economic uncertainty—all ongoing crises that disproportionately harm those in our community who are already most vulnerable,” says Linda Beech Cutler, the foundation’s chief executive. “These grants aid the vital work that community-based organizations have been doing, day-in and day-out, to build a more equitable and thriving Sacramento region.”

A majority of the grants were made to nonprofits led by people of color or that primarily serve marginalized populations with annual budgets of less than $500,000. One grant will help rural immigrant residents access critical social service and economic resources. Another will support youth-led efforts to promote mental health among students of color and LGBTQ+ youth at local high schools.

Another grant will help volunteers provide mobility- and safety-related repairs to homes in low-income neighborhoods. For a list of organizations that received awards, visit sacregcf.org/bec-grants.


Bottoms up! Fairytale Town has teamed up with local brewery New Helvetia Brewing Company to create its own signature brew called Fairytale Ale.

A four-pack of the custom beverage brewed with passion fruit, orange and guava is available as part of a gift box that includes two Fairytale Town pint glasses, a Crooked Mile car decal and snacks.

Purchase your Fairytale Ale gift pack online and pick it up at New Helvetia on Broadway during normal business hours (the ale cannot be shipped). All proceeds support Fairytale Town’s park maintenance, animal care, and educational programming and events. For more information, visit fairytaletown.org/fairytale-ale.


The Sacramento History Museum in Old Sacramento has reached another amazing social media milestone: 2 million followers on TikTok.

To acknowledge this achievement, the museum received a $25,000 donation plus $5,000 in advertising credits from TikTok as part of the app’s new #GivingSzn initiative, which donated $7 million to nonprofits to support yearend fundraising efforts. The museum will use the much-needed funds to support its ongoing education programming.

The Sacramento History Museum began engaging on TikTok in November 2020, and gained notoriety through a video that went viral of 83-year-old volunteer docent and Land Park resident Howard Hatch working in the museum’s print shop.

The museum’s TikTok videos have a whopping 194 million views thus far. For more information, visit sachistorymuseum.org.


The UC Master Gardeners of Sacramento County provide free assistance via email or phone Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1–4 p.m.

You can snap a picture of a mystery pest or problem plant and email it to mgsacramento@ucanr.edu or call (916) 876-5338 for one-on-one advice on how to manage insects, diseases and weeds with science-based, environmentally sound solutions.
Don’t forget to check out the group’s library of how-to videos at sacmg.ucanr.edu and on YouTube, as well as a huge array of online publications on all aspects of gardening.


Pocket resident Carolyn Mullins and Arden residents Amber Lovett and David Wilson have been honored with awards by United Way California Capital Region.

Mullins received the Frances Wisebart Jacobs Live United Award. Mullins has served on the board of directors for more than 10 years and led two CEO search committees, including the one that brought Dr. Dawnté Early to the organization in November as its new president and CEO.

Lovett, chief resource development and marketing officer for United Way California Capital Region, was honored for 20 years at the organization, including her service as interim president and CEO from March to November 2021.

Wilson was one of three volunteers who received the Boje and Price Award for Outstanding Volunteerism. Wilson serves on the board, as well as the Finance Committee and Collective Impact Council, and helped lead the investment of a $10 million gift United Way received from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott last year.

“We are honored to recognize some of the remarkable people who are creating stronger, healthier communities in our region,” Early says. For more information, visit yourlocalunitedway.org.


There are now hundreds of freestanding touchscreen DMV Now kiosks throughout the state to help you complete vehicle registration renewal, submit proof of insurance, receive a driver or vehicle record, and more.

Using the kiosks, scan your document, pay the fees using a card or cash (where available), and print your registration card and sticker, planned non-operation acknowledgment or other record right on the spot.

If you just can’t fathom standing in one more line, check out DMV’s variety of online services, from renewing a vehicle registration or driver’s license to changing your address.

Also, the DMV’s Business Partner Automation program authorizes qualified partners to process vehicle-related transactions, including vehicle registration and titling, from their remote locations. For more information on all these services, visit dmv.ca.gov.


Square Root Academy and Kitchell’s free junior internship program, Hard Hat Scholars, is now accepting applications for spring 2022.

Hard Hat Scholars is looking for 20 dedicated youth who are interested in exploring architecture, engineering, technology, electrical/mechanical and construction careers. The program includes hands-on work and on-site learning at two active job sites.

Applicants ages 16–19 must be based in Sacramento, have transportation to local sites and the class location at 2417 21st St., and be available for the duration of the program, which runs Feb. 5 through June 4. Class hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, contact admin@squarerootacademy.com.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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