Riding a Wave of Positivity

Angel Llano '81 Surfing

Those who know Angel Llano ’81 cannot escape his optimism and his smile. He shares them freely.

In fact, every morning, he emails inspirational quotes to a list of friends and former staff members, seeking to remind them of such maxims as: “No amount of money can replace the limited amount of time I have on the planet.”

He contends that he is an “average guy who has lived an average life,” but some might argue that his ability to balance work and play, his resiliency and his positivity are anything but average.

Despite moving through five foster homes as a child on Long Island and trying to

Angel Llano '81

develop his identity as a young man of Puerto Rican descent living with Italian and Irish foster families, he was able to graduate early from high school and carve out his own life path.

“I don’t spend time or energy looking back,” he said. “Life is too short to harbor ill will or negativity.”

He served in the U.S. Air Force, and came to SUNY Oswego as a 22-year-old ready to study psychology. He said he grew under the guidance of professors such as Mark Morey, Dorothy Rogers and John Fisher, and got involved with the International Student Association and the Latino Student Union.

“I loved my time at Oswego, and I go back every five years for my reunions,” he said. He has maintained many of the friendships that he first forged at Oswego in the late 1970s.

After earning a master’s in public administration in government administration from California State University at Sonoma, he dedicated his career to public service—initially working for the Employment Development Department of California and then moving into the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

He moved up the ranks to become chief of compliance and ancillary clinical services for San Quentin State Prison. One of his many accomplishments occurred as the data program and compliance manager of the dental program. Under his leadership, he was able to get the prison’s dental program out of receivership (federal courts) within five years by developing a system that streamlined processes and created efficiencies.

“My philosophy is that government should provide services that people demand but are unwilling to pay for,” he said. “A government official’s job is to make that demand equal to the value of what they are willing to pay, so you make it profitable and then you can send it off to the private sector to reduce the size of government.

“I enjoyed what I did,” he said. “I loved crunching numbers, designing databases, and working with analysts, nurses and
doctors.”

An avid surfer, he retired in 2014 and bought a home in Florida, where he is able to bike, run and catch a few waves. He splits his time between Aspen, Colo., and Florida.

“When I’m out in the water, it’s my time to meditate,” he said. “I try not to think, and I know all things will work out.”

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