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Who's Who: Donna Houser, Key Supporter at El Cerrito High

An El Cerritan since childhood, Donna Houser has been a valued volunteer at El Cerrito High. Her father was the city's mayor in the nation's bicentennial year. Her day job is overseeing the facilities and events at the Alumni House at Cal.

Name: Donna Houser

Age: 52, “Born in 1958 when the Plaza was built and the Giants came to San Francisco — it was a good year.”

Occupation: Director of the Alumni House facilities and events for the Cal Alumni Association

Tell me about your history in El Cerrito. We moved to El Cerrito when I was in third grade. Before that, we were in Richmond Annex, where my dad had built a house. I went to and then to Adams, and I went to to my freshman year and then I transferred to Kennedy and graduated from there in ’77.

I remember my dad campaigning for city council, and I remember going out on weekends and helping with that. He ran two times and won both times. He was mayor during the bicentennial year (1976, Mayor Ernie Del Simone). I remember having a great sense of community and loving where I lived and going to all the different parks in the area. 

And you are involved with El Cerrito High?  All three of my boys went there. My mother was the second graduating class from El Cerrito High, my husband and my brothers both graduated from there. I’ve been very involved in the PTSA, the music department and a lot of different things. I’m still on the archiving committee.

Tell me a little about the archiving project. It was something that started when the school was going to be torn down in 2005. Because the school had been around for so long, everyone got the idea that we should really save and archive a lot of of things. It blossomed into this committee that really put a lot of effort into archiving things and also throwing the big party we threw when the school was torn down. We have a museum now in the school. It’s very unique to have a museum in a still-operating high school. We also have scholarships that we give to students that are graduating, to help with their college education. We give out three a year. I really like it because I enjoy the history of the school and that we’re also doing something for the current students. I also threw the party for when the school was reopened. We are planning a fundraiser for our scholarship and museum upkeep for the archiving committee on October 8. We’re trying to bring the garage band of the high school.

What you like to do for fun? I really like to spend time with family and friends. I’ve been so involved for so long, I’m not quite sure what I do for fun — I worked the 4th of July booth for the archiving committee — I guess I like to do a lot of community stuff for fun. I like to go movies or entertainment events.

I do love my job. I have student staff that I manage here and I love being involved with the students. 

Is there anything you would like to add about El Cerrito? I think it’s a great place to be a part of and raise children. My husband and I are both from El Cerrito. We like to travel but we’ve never lived anywhere else. I love the whole surrounding area of El Cerrito. I think we’re lucky to live in a place where it’s so easy to get to the beach or to the snow.

I’m just going into a new phase in my life where I’m not so involved with the school; it’s different. I’m trying to get used to it. All of my kids are out of high school now. I’ve got one that graduated from Davis, I’ve got one that still has one year left, and one who just finished his freshman year here at Cal.

Betty Buginas July 09, 2011 at 12:16 PM
Nice photo, Scott!
Teresa Suchowaski-Gonzales July 09, 2011 at 05:44 PM
I needed to share this link. The Houser family, especially Donna and Scott, have given 110% to their community. El Cerrito High is just one of many. There's been cub scouts, boy scouts, Madera Elementary, Portola Middle School, (very active in all three school bands), little league...still...just to mention a few. Their family life was giving to the community. And I must not forget to thank them for the wonderful memories you've made possible for my sons. "Thanks for the memories" !!!
janet enos July 10, 2011 at 11:12 PM
Donna is quite modest.Her article didn't mention she and Scott's un-equalled devotion to the the music department at ECHS, particularly the Gaucho Marching Band. The Houser-Schumacher award is given annually for honorary service within the ECHS music department. Their contribution will remain memorialized for decades. Donna has been a role model to me personally. She has always integrated education with fun. El Cerrito is a better place because of Donna and Scott.

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