Claremont, Calif. (April 5, 2022)—Each year, Pitzer College recognizes alumni who exemplify Pitzer’s core values in their professions and communities and give back to their alma mater after graduating. This year, Pitzer named Steven C. González ’85 as the College’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Michael V. Ceraso ’14 as the 2022 Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient.
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award: Steven C. González ’85
Pitzer’s Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes a graduate who boldly puts the spirit of a Pitzer education into action and demonstrates a commitment to making meaningful changes in their community.
Chief Justice Steven C. González is the Washington Supreme Court’s 58th Chief Justice. Before joining the Supreme Court, Chief Justice González served as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court and practiced both criminal and civil law. He was an assistant US attorney, a domestic violence prosecutor for the City of Seattle, and in private practice at a Seattle law firm. While working in private practice, González regularly provided pro bono representation. The chief justice has received numerous awards, including the Golden Scarf from the Seattle Sounders FC; the 2022 Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession; and the 2021 CZ Smith Trailblazer Award from the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington.
Chief Justice González is passionate about providing open access to the justice system. He was appointed by the Supreme Court to the Washington State Access to Justice Board and served as chair for the Interpreter Commission to enhance language access across Washington state. González also mentors students and serves as a board member for the Washington Leadership Institute, whose mission is to recruit, train, and develop traditionally underrepresented attorneys for future leadership positions in the Washington State Bar Association and legal community.
Chief Justice González earned his BA with honors in East Asian Studies from Pitzer College and his JD from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he was the technical editor of the La Raza Law Journal. During his sophomore year at Pitzer, González studied at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan, and during the spring semester of his senior year, he studied at Nanjing University in China. Before law school, he did graduate work in economics at Hokkaido University. He received Honorary Doctor of Laws Degrees from Gonzaga University School of Law in 2011 and the University of Puget Sound in 2015.
Chief Justice González speaks Japanese, Spanish, and some Mandarin Chinese. He lives in Olympia with his wife, Michelle, and their two sons.
2022 Young Alumni Achievement Award: Michael V. Ceraso ’14
Pitzer’s Young Alumni Achievement Award recognizes graduates of the last 10 years who apply Pitzer’s unique educational experience to their professional life and find creative and innovative ways to make impactful changes in the community.
Michael V. Ceraso has over a decade of experience in electoral campaigns and political advocacy. Ceraso worked on President Barack Obama’s first presidential run after he graduated from Citrus College. After working on several down-ballot races in the Northeast, Ceraso returned home to earn his Political Science and Government degree from Pitzer College in the New Resources Program. His rise through the political ranks led him to manage statewide operations for presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg. In between, he worked on Capitol Hill and managed down-ballot races in the rural South. Ceraso also ran for Claremont City Council twice, including a second-place finish in District 5.
Ceraso is the founder and executive director of Winning Margins, a public relations firm that works with executives, political candidates, and advocacy leaders. Established in 2017, Winning Margins also provides resources for underfunded candidates in underserved communities who lack the financial resources and staff talent to compete. Ceraso also founded Community Groundwork, which offers training and mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and financial resources to two-year community college students who are interested in working in government advocacy political campaigns but do not have the same opportunities as students at four-year schools. Community Groundwork first originated in 2019 when Ceraso raised $6,000 through a GoFundMe campaign for a pilot program with 22 students at Cerritos and Long Beach community colleges.
Ceraso’s interests do not just lie with political advocacy and mentoring the next generation of students; he currently writes and interviews up-and-coming comic book talent through Comics Bookcase.