Mother’s Day Great Time To Celebrate Our Greatest Superheroes: Moms 

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Welcome back to The Sunstone Way and Happy Mother’s Day! 

I think we can all agree that mothers are the real-life superheroes.  They literally have the power to give life!  And that is just the beginning of a lifelong commitment to service and self-sacrifice for the benefit of others (who often don’t say thank you enough).  Having now been a parent of two teenage boys, I now know my mother was, and is, a super superhero. 

About My Mom 

My superhero mom is named Paula Huston. Have you heard of her? 

Paula Huston, who gave me my Minnesota Viking Norwegian heritage (and which contributed to my attending St. Olaf College), grew up in Long Beach and attended Millikan High School where she first learned how to be a cheerleader for others.  Remarkably, nearly 50 years later, she is still cheering for her grandson Benjamin who now plays for the Millikan High School baseball team at Blair Field! 

After graduating from Millikan, she was married a year later, moving to San Luis Obispo and working clerical jobs while trying to sell her short stories. She had a daughter, Andrea, in 1977 and a son, John (yes, me!) the following year.  Not uncommon, there were tough times too as we overcame divorces, remarriages, and all the adventures of a blended family. 

Long Happy Ending 

In 1985, Paula married my stepdad Mike Huston, and added two more sisters to our family. Shortly after, in her mid-30s, she enrolled at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she earned bachelor’s and masters’ degrees, and taught in the English Department for 12 years. 

She persevered, never losing sight of her dream in bad times or good. A lesson for sure. 

But there’s so much more. She won a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Creative Writing in 1994 and published her first novel just a year later. 

At the same time, she returned to faith as a Catholic and began exploring Christianity. She discovered the New Camaldoli Hermitage community of monks in Big Sur, eventually becoming an off-site lay member there. She has focused on nonfiction books about faith and living simply. The lessons she shares are many and have touched me. 

One I really like is a lesson she said she learned from the very first female Camaldoli member. Here is what she said in an interview

“A woman who is brave and stubborn enough can change a whole culture; when Therese first arrived, many of the original monks were still alive, and a lot of them had been trained to fear and mistrust the company of Women. She set out to change their minds, and she did! She inspired me to stick to what I believe, even if everyone around me thinks I’m nuts.”2 

Superhero In Our Midst 

Here at Sunstone Management, we are fortunate to have our own mom-like superhero – Stella Zhang. Stella is a partner at both Sunstone and American Lending Center, and is the COO at ALC

On the public side, she is a longtime supporter and mentor of the Beall Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, part of the Paul Merage School of Business at UCI. Stella got her MBA there, and sponsors the Stella Zhang New Venture Competition. She provides significant prize money for that pitch competition, but more importantly, provides an amazing role model for these young entrepreneurs. 

The Grand Finale of the competition is two weeks away – May 23 – and Stella, along with several of her friends from Sunstone and ALC, will be on hand to cheer the teams on and make the check presentations. It would be no surprise if she manages to whisper a few words of advice to the winning teams as well. 

Because that’s what superheroes, and moms, do. And that’s The Sunstone Way. 

Remember, always be a Sunstone! 

John Keisler 

CEO & Managing Partner 

Sunstone Management, Inc. 

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©Sunstone Management, Inc. 2024 

More About Sunstone Management 
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered in Southern California. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. In the latest Pitchbook rankings, Sunstone Management was #15 in the third quarter of 2023 nationally, and #18 in the fourth quarter.1 

  1. Rankings from Pitchbook Venture Monitor, Q3 and Q4. 
  1. Catholic Mom, Feb. 16, 2022 

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