Autumn 2018 class notes

News and updates from alumni


KENNETH DEJONG ’71 spent a week in July conducting a Salem, Oregon, choir for daily Evensong services at Worcester Cathedral near London and concerts at Southwark and Canterbury Cathedrals. For this visit, he was commissioned to compose two canticles, Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis. One of his published organ pieces and a choral setting were also performed. Kenneth studied music at Seattle Pacific College, then studied conducting and composition at the University of Washington and the University of Southern California. In 2012, he left a 25-year church position in Bellevue, Washington, to focus on composition. A former SPU Music Department faculty member, Kenneth still conducts the Lyric Arts Ensemble and umpires baseball on the side. Kenneth and his wife, Kelley Mannon, live in Bothell, Washington.

PAUL BAKER ’75 was one of two harp soloists at a recent performance of the Culver City Symphony Orchestra in California. He received a master’s degree from the University of Southern California. Twice a winner of the International Pop and Jazz Harp Competition, Paul has published 20 arrangements of American standard songs arranged for solo harp, and he performs and gives workshops on arranging for harp through the U.S. The group Pastiche premiered his arrangements for flute, harp, and voice at Carnegie Hall. Paul recorded three solo Celtic harp albums, which won two Independent Music Awards. Voted “Best Musical Director of the Year” for his work on Stephen Sondheim’s musical Assassins, he created five tributes for Broadway honorees as musical director for Kansas’ William Inge Theater Festival.

THERESA WHITMARSH ’78 was the keynote speaker for the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women’s 2018 Professional Development Conference in Tacoma, Washington, in September. Theresa used her own career story to talk about opportunistic risk-taking in relation to goal-setting and career plans. She joined the Washington State Investment Board in 2003 with 20 years’ experience in business, government, and media. Theresa majored in English literature at SPU, followed by an MBA at Pacific Lutheran University. She serves as the chair of the Pacific Pension & Investment Institute, and immediate past chair of the Council of Institutional Investors.


RICHARD KAUFFMAN ’86 is the owner and president of Riverhaven Farm in Lynden, Washington. His farm emphasizes sustainable and natural processing of livestock and poultry. Raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Richard majored in biology and biblical studies at SPU, followed by a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota. He worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and rose through its ranks before starting his farm in 2010. His animals graze in a new area of the farm each day and are fed only natural foods. Riverhaven Farm products are sold at the Bellingham and Lynden farmers markets and on site.

ERIN-JOY BJORGE ’87, MSN ’91 is the associate dean of the Mark and Huldah Buntain School of Nursing at Northwest University. She will become the dean of Northwest’s nursing program in January. After completing her undergraduate nursing degree, she initially worked in intensive care/critical care at Seattle’s Northwest Hospital. Erin-Joy was part of SPU’s first cohort of MSN students. She spent six years teaching student nurses at SPU, part of her 25-year teaching career. Erin-Joy was a founding faculty member of Northwest’s School of Nursing. She is currently completing her doctoral studies through American Sentinel University, focusing on the impact of cultural immersion experiences and the development of cultural competence among baccalaureate nursing students. Erin-Joy and her husband, Svein, live in Edmonds, Washington.

RANDY WORDEN ’87 is the vice president for student life and dean of students at Rockford University in Rockford, Illinois. He’s had a 25-year career in higher education, previously serving at universities including Fresno Pacific, Northwest Christian, Houston Baptist, California Baptist, Simpson University, and Azusa Pacific. He majored in Christian education at SPU, and earned graduate degrees from Azusa Pacific University and George Fox University.


SHANNON STOWELL ’90 gave a TEDx talk in Bend, Oregon, on how to choose a better vacation to change the world for good. Shannon, CEO of the Adventure Travel Trade Association, is an adventurer and traveler with more than 25 years of business experience in adventure travel, e-commerce, outdoor retail, and environmental science. An advocate for responsible tourism, he has served on the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and Adventure Travel Conservation Fund boards. He and wife, Gabriella, live in Monroe, Washington.

R. MARSHALL WEBBER ’94 is an operating environment engineer for the U.S. Navy’s Aegis Combat System at a Lockheed-Martin/Navy facility in Moorestown, New Jersey. He previously worked at Parametric Technologies, supporting the U.S. Air Force ESCAPE program. A frequent speaker at East Coast technical conferences, Marshall’s 12 years of architecting high-speed market trading for Susquehanna International Group led to his work on the Aegis system. An SPU technical theatre major, he serves as a lay leader at Hope United Methodist Church, where he recorded an audiobook performance of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. Marshall and his wife, SARAH BOYLE WEBBER ’97, live in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with their children, Alex and Miranda.

TIM PATRICK ’97 authored an American history book, Self-Evident, published by Owani Press, on the important historical events and Enlightenment Era writings used to construct the Declaration of Independence.


JOSH OTTUM ’00is a professor of commercial music at Bakersfield College in Bakersfield, California. He double-majored in music and psychology at SPU and earned graduate degrees at UC Irvine and Ohio University. As a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and performer, he was signed to two record labels and toured throughout Europe and the U.S. for about a decade.He launched Bakersfield College’s commercial music program three years ago, teaching classes like recording techniques, live sound, and songwriting to instruct students on how to make music. He and his colleagues run a music festival and started a student-run record label. Even while creating opportunities for students, Josh continues to perform with his band, the Josh Ottum Trio.

JOSIAH WALLACE ’00 is an associate professor of speech and theatre at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. Josiah spent the last six years teaching theatre at Dordt College in Iowa. Unsurprisingly, he found his niche at SPU in the theatre department. He joined SPU’s theatrical touring group, directing it for two years after graduating. He served as director of outreach for the Taproot Theatre Company before moving to Texas to complete his MFA at Baylor University. Josiah and his wife, BETHANY MCNICHOLS WALLACE ’02, live in Siloam Springs with their three sons.

BRANDI WILLIAMSON ’06 and her dog Flier won their first canicross qualifying event at the Northwest Sled Dog Association Spring Fling in Cle Elum, Washington. In canicross — a popular sport in Europe — runners compete with their canine teammates, using a hip-belt and tether connected to a harness on the dog. Brandi, a former cross country runner at Seattle Pacific, won the two-heat, 1.5-mile race with her 6-year-old Siberian Husky. She is hoping to clinch a spot on Team USA for the International Federation of Sleddog Sports Canicross World Championship in Latvia in fall 2019, as well as to interest more Americans in the sport.
Brandi operates a recreational sled dog kennel in Corvallis, Montana, where she lives with her husband, Cobey, sons Keegan and Rohn, and nine dogs.

ALEJANDRO I. TORRES ’08 is an internal medicine resident, interning at Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, California. Alex, who spent his childhood living in both Mexico and the U.S., was a psychology major at SPU. He went to medical school at Mexico’s Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara after seeing a need for doctors fluent in both Spanish language and culture. Alex played semi-professional soccer as a high schooler in Mexico; his interests have expanded to golf, film production, outdoor activities, live symphonies, travel, cooking, and foreign films.


NATE SABAN ’10 and SYDNEY BENSON SABAN ’10 are real estate brokers with Windermere Real Estate’s South Everett, Washington, office. Nate spent 10 years rebuilding and remodeling homes before turning to real estate. Sydney taught English as a Second Language for almost four years in Moscow, Russia. She also worked with a nonprofit based out of Snohomish and Finland, and was a volunteer translator at a Moscow church. The pair enjoy staying active by running, doing hot yoga, and playing basketball. The Sabans live in Mukilteo, Washington.

HAYLEE YEPSON ’12 recently graduated from Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, California, with a doctorate of osteopathic medicine. She received a full scholarship from the U.S. Navy to pursue her medical degree. At graduation, Haylee was honored with the Outstanding Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine Student Award, a peer recognition of her skills in using her hands to diagnose, treat, and prevent illness or injury. She received her lieutenant stripes from her husband, former U.S. Army combat medic Terrence Ordonez. Haylee is interning at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego and serves as vice president of her intern class. Haylee graduated from SPU with a physiology degree.

JARED BLANK MBA ’13 surpassed his fundraising goal of $50,000 for the International Dyslexia Association by running 183 miles in the World Marathon Challenge. The endurance event encompasses seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. Jared gave up his job as football operations director for the University of Southern California to tackle the challenge and raise awareness for dyslexia, a condition he was diagnosed with at 5 years old. Jared placed 12th overall and 10th among the 50 male competitors who ran at the Novo Station, Antarctica; and in Cape Town, South Africa; Perth, Australia; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Lisbon, Portugal; Cartagena, Colombia; and Miami, Florida. Jared lives in Portland, Oregon.


John Hale ’85 to Jenny Steinbrenner Pratt on April 22, 2018, in Portland, Oregon.

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