July 12, 2022

Katrina Kidd, a passionate and dedicated educator who was fiercely devoted to helping students excel and who served as director of Stanislaus State’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) Programs until her retirement last year, died June 18 at UCSF Medical Center after battling a rare form of cancer.  

“Katrina loved loved loved teaching and being the director of the MBA program,” said her friend Nicole Pianalto. “It allowed her to put all her analytical skills to use. But every once in a while, she had a pull to get back into the classroom. She always wished she could have done both.”   

A celebration of life honoring Kidd will take place Friday, July 15 in Modesto. Those who are interested in attending are asked to RSVP via email to Pianalto

For seven years as director of MBA Programs, Kidd worked tirelessly to help students reach their goal of earning a master’s degree. She first joined the University in 2005 as a part-time instructor teaching operations management for the College of Business Administration. In 2012, she was hired as director of the college’s Executive and Online MBA Programs. 

In 2015, Kidd’s became director of the college’s Master of Business Administration Program, and recruited students, developed marketing and advertising plans, managed the programs’ operational aspects and other responsibilities.  

“I am terribly saddened about her passing,” said Gina Donahue, interim director of MBA Programs. “Katrina was a huge part of the MBA Program and its success. I so admired her passion, knowledge and desire to help students succeed. I know she loved her job and her students. I can only hope that I can walk in her footsteps and honor her memory and the work she accomplished with the MBA programs. She will be deeply missed.”  

Kidd — who moved to California with her family at the age of 5 and had been a Stanislaus County resident since then — was a Stan State alumna who earned her bachelor’s degree in 1998. She formed close bonds with students and maintained those ties outside of the classroom.  

“Some of our colleagues remember Katrina as a faculty member, but I met her when she was already the director of the MBA Programs,” said Tomás Gómez-Arias, a former dean of the College of Business Administration. “It would be easy to talk about her success in her professional capacity, with enrollment growth and an increasing presence in the community. Her background was in operations, so she was methodical and process oriented.” 

“The memory that will stay with me about Katrina is how she approached students who had a problem,” Gómez-Arias said. “It was like suddenly everything else disappeared and all her focus was on helping that student, trying to find a solution in a gentle and caring way, acknowledging their individuality and the complexity of their lives. It didn't matter when or where; she was there for them.” 

Gökçe Soydemir, the Foster Farms Endowed Professor of Business Economics at Stan State described Kidd as a great colleague who was fun to work with.  

“I was always impressed by her outstanding positivity and very warm personality every time I spoke with her,” Soydemir said. “She was a quick problem solver and facilitated things to run very smoothly. Seeing her in meetings gave others confidence because she would always be there for the business faculty. Katrina had a very practical mind and was a down-to-earth person. She was also easily approachable by students and colleagues. She was a true asset to our college.” 

Pengtao Li, chair of the Department of Management Information Systems, said Kidd was a compassionate and hard-working colleague.  

“She was enthusiastic about our MBA programs and very active in marketing the programs and keeping in touch with students,” Li said. “Katrina was also a person with a positive attitude. She encouraged me to take on the graduate program assessment work and had been enormously supportive and cheering along the way.” 

James Strong, a professor in the Department of Management, Operations and Marketing remembered Kidd as a good person who was dedicated to her students and to the college. 

“She was an outstanding instructor and so enthusiastic about operations management and the lean approach to operations. She did a fantastic job as MBA director,” Strong said.  

“When I was provost at Stan State, we took a trip to Chattanooga at the request of E.&J. Gallo Winery to tour a VW and Bayer plant and to learn more about corporate partnerships between universities and companies to prepare workers for production positions. (Former Stan State President) Joe Sheley, myself, Katrina, and Chuck Gonzalez were on the trip along with a group from Gallo. I remember how engaged Katrina was, chatting up Gallo’s director of operations about how Stan State could help Gallo train new operations workers. Katrina was terrific during the entire trip.  

“On the way back, we flew over Yosemite National Park, and it was spectacular. I remember how much Katrina loved Yosemite and that incredible view.” 

“Katrina was full of life and loved her family, her friends and the outdoors, especially the beach,” Pianalto said. “I think Katrina mostly would want her students and MBA candidates to know how important they were to her and how much she wanted to see them achieve their goals.” 

Kidd is preceded in death by her parents, brothers Larry and Richard, her sister April and nephew Jacob. Kidd is survived by her daughter Kim, sister Cheryl, nieces Sarah (Joseph), Keleigh and Jennifer; nephews Rob (Angela) and Cody (Danielle), three great-nieces, Ruby Mae, Catherine and Railyn and great-nephew Ryder.  

In lieu of flowers, donations in Kidd’s honor may be made to the Esalen Institute or the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.