Empire College History

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Empire College History

Established in 1961 to meet the needs of local companies, Empire College has been part of the fabric of the North Bay from its inception. Fostering community outreach with his philanthropy in the area and throughout the state of California, founder Henry Trione created a legacy of giving back that has become part of Empire College’s culture.

The Empire College School of Law was founded in 1973. Currently, approximately 25 percent of the Sonoma County Bar are Empire College alumni. Its competition teams have received numerous awards in the statewide Moot Court Competition, capturing first place and top oralist in 2018 and second place and best appellant’s brief in 2019.

In 2011, Empire College celebrated its Golden Jubilee and was commended for 50 years of providing high-quality business and legal educational opportunities in Sonoma County. Supervisor Shirlee Zane presented a Gold Resolution on behalf of Sonoma County, noting the achievements of Empire College graduates, faculty and staff. This honor followed recognition from the California State Assembly and Senate, as well as the U.S. House of Representatives which entered a commendation into the Congressional Record on November 1, 2011.

In 2012-2015 Empire College was named to President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, a national award recognizing colleges that inspire lifelong civic engagement among their students and achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve. In addition, its Board of Directors was recognized by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in 2015 as one of five Jefferson Award recipients.

In 2020, facing declining enrollment influenced by devastating wildfires in Sonoma County, historically low unemployment and a shrinking local population, the Empire College School of Business announced it would no longer be accepting new enrollments. The business school, which offered six specialized associate degree programs, as well as career education programs in legal and medical office careers, accounting, business and information technology including cybersecurity, graduated more than 10,000 people in close to six decades. The School of Law will be unaffected and continue operations.

Since it opened, Empire College has been helping students reach their full potential and achieve employment in the career fields of their choice. We have dedicated our resources to providing quality career education that incorporates service-based learning, gives graduates an advantage in the job market and provides them with the skills employers require. This is not only our goal, but our legacy.


Angela Emerick, Esq.

(Class of 2015)

"Being born in Australia and becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2009, I understand the process and honor of becoming an American citizen and am proud to help those in their quest to become citizens and better their lives."

Daryl Reese, Esq.

(Class of 2014)

"I decided to enroll in Law School when I was 50 years old having enjoyed a full career in the nonprofit sector. Now I have a robust business and nonprofit law practice serving clients throughout the State of California and I am loving it. I could never have made that kind of career transition if it had not been for Empire Law School. The opportunity to take evening courses and at a cost far less than other law schools, and to do so in my own community made my career shift affordable, enjoyable, and attainable."

Orchid Vaghti, Esq.

(Class of 2010)

"There are not that many new lawyers who have the experience to go to trial. They would not be ready for it. Seeing the practical points of the legal process through her Empire education gave Orchid an advantage."
- L. Stephen Turer, Esq.