Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Big C survivor creates architecture firm, charity for her second act

If it hadn’t been for Pam Whitehead’s battle with the Big C, she and her husband, Paul Almond, might never have struck out on their own to found Sage Architecture or the Triumph Cancer Foundation in Sacramento.

Whitehead described her diagnosis with uterine cancer in 2000 as the couple’s wake-up call. She had a radical hysterectomy just eight days after her 36th birthday, she said, and within weeks of that surgery, the couple started planning to open their own business.

“We had always talked about opening our own firm together over the years but had gotten comfortable in our positions and never taken it further,” she told me.

Six months after Whitehead’s surgery, the couple launched Sage Architecture in 2001. They began by designing energy-efficient residences and moved into planning wineries. Amador County’s Helwig, Andis and Renwood wineries are examples. The firm’s billings doubled in its first five years, Whitehead said, but revenue dipped amid the downturn. Year to date in May, revenue is up 21 percent over the same period in 2013.

Each year, to celebrate Whitehead’s survival, the couple have donated to nonprofits benefiting the cancer community. Then, in 2005, she founded a 12-week fitness program, known as Triumph Fitness, to help adult cancer survivors regain their stamina after treatment. For the first seven years, Whitehead said, she picked up the cost for each participant, but as the program expanded to new locations around the Sacramento region, her funds alone didn’t meet the need.

In 2011, she created the Triumph foundation to raise additional funds. On June 20, the organization will hold its fourth Triumph Uncorked fundraiser at Helwig Winery, 11555 Shenandoah Road, in Plymouth. Taste Restaurant in Plymouth will be cooking up a gourmet picnic meal, and Chicago Tribute Authority will supply the music. Visit for more information.

Success on a wider stage

At last week’s MuseumExpo in Seattle, institutions from Chicago to Edmonton, Alberta, expressed interest in exhibits created by West Sacramento’s Stage Nine Design, owner Troy Carlson said.

“We had several really big institutions come to meet with us, and many of them came back a second or third time to get more information,” Carlson said. “If you can get into these museums, then you have arrived in the industry.”

Stage Nine has created exhibits on animation, candy, rock ’n’ roll, superheroes and toys. His displays garnered inquiries from the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago; the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, considered the world’s largest children’s museum; OMSI, or Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, in Portland; and Telus World of Science in Edmonton. OMSI also developed an animation exhibit and suggested a partnership. The Indianapolis museum is looking at two or three Stage Nine exhibits for its space. The Chicago team inquired about availability later this year.

“A lot of these big museums, they work multiple years out, so even though I think we’re going to have success and multiple bookings, they’re looking at 2016, 2017,” Carlson said.

Carlson said it was such a success that he’s booking a spot for his trade-show booth at the annual conference of the Association of Science-Technology Centers in Raleigh, N.C., in October.

A new stage for Del Paso

Developer Dan Friedlander doesn’t want much publicity right now about the public market he’s opening on Del Paso Boulevard near Arden Way, although he’s planning a soft launch for June 7.

Friedlander envisions a day when the Arden Garden Market will have booths with 200 vendors open seven days a week, but it’s a vision he’s concerned that people won’t buy if they come during the market’s embryonic stage. First impressions could hurt the market’s momentum, he said, before he can add vendors or begin remodeling the space.

“This 2.5-acre site has new buildings and all sorts of things that are envisioned,” he said. “There will be a whole nonprofit corner, and Ubuntu Green will be doing community gardens. ... I almost want you to wait until there’s more for people to see.”

If you want to see the long-term plan for the space in and around 1409 Del Paso Blvd., visit and click on “our history” and “marketplace.” The animated tour shows meat and dairy counters, a fishmonger, a cafe and more. Next month, the market will open only on Saturdays for fresh produce sales. In July, it will expand to selling food and merchandise on Sundays, in tandem with the GOOD Street Food+Design Market, which will continue its first-Sunday-of-the-month sales. Friedlander will add arts and craft vendors on second Sundays; vintage and memorabilia vendors on third Sundays; home and garden vendors on fourth Sundays; fashion vendors on fifth Sundays.

If you have Friedlander’s kind of vision, check out the soft opening and then track the market’s progress. If you don’t, then Friedlander suggests you wait until July.