The list of California State University, Northridge’s Distinguished Alumni Awards recipients is diverse and dynamic. In keeping with that theme, the university is adding three highly accomplished honorees from three different walks of life to the list in April.
Entertainment entrepreneur Richard Foos, banking industry executive Janet Garufis and Superior Court Judge Hon. D. Zeke Zeidler will receive CSUN’s Distinguished Alumni Awards on Saturday, April 21, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village.
Foos ’71 (Sociology) is a visionary entrepreneur who founded Rhino Records and Shout! Factory. Foos started Rhino as a record store and was integral in growing it to the iconic label that was sold to Time Warner in 1998. In 2003, Foos co-founded Shout! Factory, one of the leading independent companies in entertainment, giving its fans definitive home media releases of classic and cult-favorite films and television shows, as well as theatrical releases and original productions.
“CSUN gave me a good, well-rounded education that allowed me a lot of freedom,” Foos said. “I met a lot of diverse people I would have never met [had I gone somewhere else].”
Foos began selling used records at a friend’s father’s electronics shop in Santa Monica. He opened his own record store in Westwood, Rhino Records, where he sold used and non-mainstream albums.
In the back room of the store, Foos and his business partner, Harold Bronson started the Rhino Records music label and began releasing novelty songs on vinyl. Foos and Bronson began acquiring licensing rights for songs that had been out of print, and in the 1980s, Rhino capitalized on the compact disc revolution — creating a reissue boom in the United States by reintroducing classic hits to the mainstream marketplace. The company partnered with Atlantic Records, a subsidiary of Warner Bros., in the early 1990s, reissuing the back catalog of legendary artists such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Otis Redding. Foos and Bronson sold Rhino to media giant Time Warner in 1998.
Foos, along with business partners, launched his next venture, Shout! Factory. He once again revived classic media, this time releasing cult films and timeless television series on DVD and Blu-Ray. The company launched its own streaming service, Shout! Factory TV, in 2015 and a distribution and production arm, Shout! Studios, in 2017. Foos is currently chairman of the company.
Garufis ’77, M.A. ’02 (English) is the chairman and CEO of Montecito Bank & Trust, and an inspiring figure as one of the top women in banking in the state of California. She has more than 45 years of experience in the banking industry and was formerly a senior vice president with Bank of America.
At Montecito Bank & Trust, Garufis oversees more than $1.4 billion in assets, and the company’s 11 branches cover Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Garufis originally went to CSUN hoping to pursue a career in education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in English, and then her career in banking took off.
Her first job was as a teller at Security Pacific Bank. She rose through the ranks and successfully led retail banking, commercial banking and private banking organizations. She pioneered significant changes in the bank’s work separation practices. Garufis made her mark as an extraordinary leader and visionary by establishing the business lending division of Security Pacific and later Bank of America.
After returning to CSUN to earn her master’s degree, Garufis went back to banking at Montecito Bank & Trust in 2004. In two years, she became the company’s president and CEO.
“CSUN made me figure out what I was made of and what mattered,” Garufis said. “What I needed to figure out was, what was I going to do, how was I going to contribute to the world and how could I best do that. … CSUN gave me a space to do that. It was a great place to learn about being and becoming a grown-up.”
Zeidler ’87 (English Literature) is an esteemed Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge and LGBT trailblazer. He has presided over thousands of child welfare cases since 1998, and he was named Outstanding Judicial Officer in 2002 by the Juvenile Courts Bar Association.
Zeidler was a champion of human rights while a student at CSUN. He served as Associated Students president from 1984-85, becoming a pioneer as one of the first openly gay student body presidents of a major U.S. university. In 1995, he was elected to the Redondo Beach School Board — only the ninth openly gay/lesbian school board member in the country.
After graduating from Loyola Law School in 1991, Zeidler began his legal career representing parents and children in child abuse and neglect cases. In 1998, he became a juvenile court referee for Los Angeles County’s Superior Court system.
In 2004, he was elected to the first of what have been three terms as a Superior Court Judge, where he presides over cases at the Edelman Children’s Court in Los Angeles.
Zeidler often makes presentations at CSUN, provides guidance to students and invites students to shadow him for a day in court. Judge Zeidler and his husband, attorney Jay Kohorn, who serves as assistant director of the California Appellate Project, are ardent supporters of CSUN’s Resilient Scholars Program, which empowers former foster youth through opportunities in higher education. The couple has also established a scholarship for former foster youth at CSUN.
“My experience at CSUN gave me a lot of confidence about being able to be who you are and being able to make a difference. [CSUN} laid a lot of foundation — whether it was political [or] social — in so many ways,” Zeidler said.
To purchase tickets or tables, attend or sponsor the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Awards, visit csun.edu/daa2018.