JONAE PISTORESI A MASTER IN BUSINESS AND PEOPLE
PHOTO BY COREY STUBER
WRITER: Adam Cox BIO: Adam Cox was born and raised in Merced. After attending Merced High and Merced College, he studied political science at Arizona State University. He now works for a local nonprofit and enjoys the atmosphere of our growing town.
FROM BOARDROOM TO THE CLASSROOM Jonae Pistoresi, founder of Merced College’s nationally awarded Customer Service Academy
Jonae Pistoresi is a doer. When she’s not hosting tea parties, pairing wines with great food, or travelling the globe with her family, she’s actively imagining what the next “big thing” is going to be for her students. Of course, that’s how she got to where she is today. Jonae Pistoresi, M.B.A., has always had a passion for people. Born in Binghamton, New York, she grew up with her three younger siblings in Miami. She studied business and marketing at Santa Clara University where she met her husband, Tim, now a senior vice president of wealth management for Swiss banking giant UBS. After graduation and a marketing stint with a South San Jose homebuilder, she followed her sweetheart back to his hometown of Merced and immediately began looking for jobs with ad agencies and marketing powerhouses. She quickly learned, however, that the pace of life in Merced was much different than it had been in the South Bay. She ended up landing at local radio station 104.7 FM, where she would remain the marketing director until having her first child — daughter Katie — in 1988. Even though Pistoresi loved having a family (she later had a son, Nick), her active personality and entrepreneurial spirit kept her mind in overdrive. She soon found herself teaching business courses as an adjunct faculty member at Merced College, where she’s now been teaching for 24 years. Not long after she began teaching her first couple of business classes, Pistoresi started to pay attention to the comments coming from her students — thoughts and complaints of uncomfortable and hostile work environments, infighting, ill-prepared coworkers and untrained managers. Her idea was simple: to launch a module-based program that would both award college credit and prepare employees for the workplace. It was to be called the Customer Service Academy (CSA). Her immediate supervisor couldn’t find the money in the budget. The supervisor’s supervisor couldn’t either. Finally, Pistoresi ended up in the president’s office at Merced College, pleading for any kind of funding to launch the program. Former President of Merced College Benjamin Duran approved Jonae’s request and the CSA was born. It is now a nationally awarded program that is active in one form or another on 75 of California’s 112 community college campuses. And why does she do it? “I love to be entrepreneurial. I love to create new things. Because I’m a business professor, you have to stay current on what’s happening in real life. It forces me to be on top of new things!” Staying on top of human resources trends and best practices has certainly struck a chord with some major employers: the San Diego Chargers, Napa Wine Train, and major local companies like Foster Farms and Hilmar Cheese have all taken advantage of the CSA to train their employees and managers. After all this, you’d think she’d be tired. But instead, she’s busy at work building her next program, the Emerging Leaders Institute, which was inspired by her recent sabbatical at the Disney Institute and is set to officially launch next Fall 2014. “I’m passionate about the things I’m teaching, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this. I believe it can help make lives better and I want to share that passion with other people,” she said. “Stay real and stay relevant.” #collegelife