Autumn 2020 Class Notes

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News and updates from alumni


DAVID AXENE ’70 is the president and managing partner of AxeneHealth Partners, headquartered in Temecula, California. He started his health consulting firm in 2003 after a consulting career at Ernst & Young and Milliman & Robertson. David is recognized as a thought leader and strategist, serving as a frequent speaker and writer on health care issues. He and his wife reside in Southern California and have three children and eight grandchildren.

ALEC HILL ’75, former dean of SPU’s School of Business, Government, and Economics, recently penned an article about his cancer journey, “A Roadmap for Finding Purpose in Cancer,” in Psychology Today. Read an excerpt in this Response.


JEFF ESPERSEN ’83 is the general manager and chief merchant for online retailer Zappos. He was featured in a May webinar about how new COVID-19 retail realities are impacting e-commerce, customer service, and consumer behavior. Jeff and college sweetheart, JAN DAVIS ESPERSEN ’82, have been married for 36 years and raised four children.

The Rev. ANN DEIBERT ’86 is co-pastor of Central Presbyterian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where she joined the pastoral staff in 1996. Ann is also a member of Empower West Louisville, a local collective of Black and white pastors and congregations who work together to increase economic and educational opportunities.


SCOTT BRYANT ’90, MBA ’98 is executive director of Montana  State University’s Jabs Entrepreneurship Center and an professor of management in the
Jake Jabs College of Business & Entrepreneurship. Earlier in his career, Scott worked at a small advertising agency and at a technology startup in Seattle;
spent a year in Poland teaching English; and worked as an SPU admissions officer.

RYAN BEST ’97 is the owner and principal of Best Law PLLC, providing civil litigation and employment law services throughout Washington and Idaho. He completed his law degree in 2002 at Baylor Law School and founded his practice in 2012. He lives with his two children, eight chickens, and faithful German shepherd, Luke, in Spokane, Washington.

RODNEY YOUNG ’97 works at the Meier Clinic in Bothell, Washington, as a mental health therapist. He recently moved to Everett with his wife and three cats. He enjoys spending his free time hiking and walking on the Edmonds waterfront and local beaches.

JON HOLMEN ’98, MEd ’04, PhD ’16 began his tenure as superintendent of the Lake Washington School District in July. He previously served as the district’s deputy superintendent. He began his educational career in 1999 teaching third grade, and has been an elementary principal, associate director of special services, and director of school support.


CHRISTINA PETERSCHICK JEPPERSON ’00 is an advanced registered nurse practitioner at a family medicine practice in Mount Vernon, Washington. She moved to the Skagit Valley in 2009 and takes advantage of nearby opportunities to hike and fish.

CAROLYN “CARRIE” SMITH SUN ’00 is an assistant professor of nursing at Hunter College in New York City. Her research on nursing practices in the Middle East and eastern Africa has been featured in The New York Times in recent years, among many publications. Carrie completed her master’s degree at New York University before pursing her doctorate at Columbia University, where she served on the faculty. Her husband, Joseph Sun, is a professor of immunology at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

Lt. Cmdr. MEGAN BAUER WARTH ’00, a U.S. Navy reservist and a women’s and children’s nurse for the past 20 years, recently worked for two months at New York City’s Bellevue Public Health Hospital as part of the Navy’s crisis response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She is normally assigned to Operational Health Support Unit Bremerton, Detachment Charlie, in Everett, Washington. Megan has nearly completed her master’s of science in nursing administration from Liberty
University. Read more of her story in this Response.

ANDREA BUHLER TISHER ’01 assumed the role of lead pastor at Southwest Community Church in Kamloops, British Columbia, in October 2019. She formerly served as minister of worship at the First Baptist Church in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. Both churches are under the banner of the Canadian Baptists of Western Canada.

PRITMA DHILLON-CHATTHA ’03 in May launched Lavender, an online psychiatry and therapy practice based in New York to help increase access and affordability to mental health services. She and co-founder Brighid Gannon met while completing their doctorates in nursing practice at Yale University in 2018. Story on page 36.

TERESA SWANSTROM ANDERSON ’03 authored three books for her Get Wisdom Bible Studies (published by NavPress): Leading Wherever You Are: 7 Weeks in the Book of Joshua; Saying Yes in the Darkness: 7 Weeks in the Book of Psalms; and Living for What Really Matters: 7 Weeks in the Book of Philippians. The blogger, author, speaker, and Bible study teacher lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband and six children.

KAREN SPRINGS ’04 recently authored her first book, Adoption Through the Rearview Mirror: Learning from Stories of Heartache and Hope. She lived in Kyiv, Ukraine, for over 14 years advocating for orphaned and at-risk children and working with hundreds of adoptive families. Karen has managed humanitarian and child advocacy projects throughout Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East with Orphan’s Promise. She is passionate about seeing nations collaborate in solving their orphan and vulnerable children crisis through the World Without Orphans global movement.

MICHELLE MOONS DAWI ’05 began her White House role as special assistant to President Donald Trump in June 2019.

ALLISON DEMMERT ’07 sails as a chief engineer for Western Towboat, helping the company pull barges to Alaska. The barges carry rail  cars and cargo containers with everything from building materials to food, paper products, vehicles, and chemicals to remote regions of Alaska. While onboard, Allison
monitors the engine room and checks the refrigerant levels in the containers with perishables. On their return trips to Seattle, the barges are often loaded with
processed fish and scrap metal.

JORDAN HAAK ’08, a second-generation dairyman, works in the Yakima Valley, one of the largest dairy-production areas in the nation. Jordan grew up on a dairy farm, and while he doesn’t have his own dairy now, he enjoys working in the industry and meeting its daily challenges. He and wife, LISSA DEGROOT HAAK ’08, live in Sunnyside, Washington, with their four children: Regan, Claire, Sloane, and Graham.

RACHEL JACOBS MUBEZI ’09 and her husband, Isaac Mubezi, run a nonprofit, Something Deeper Ministries, with the mission of using health care and spiritual and social development to sustainably improve conditions in rural Uganda. After earning her special education degree, Rachel, working as a missionary teacher in Burundi, met Isaac, a practicing surgeon. They are working to build a hospital in the village of Kiwanyi in eastern Uganda.


BREE BLACK HORSE ’10 joined the Seattle law office of Kilpatrick Townsend in August as an associate on the firm’s Native American affairs team. Bree is an enrolled member of Oklahoma’s Seminole Nation. She earned her law degree from Seattle University School of Law, where she co-founded and served as editor-in-chief of the American Indian Law Journal and presided over the Native American Law Students Association.

Lt. HAYLEE YEPSON ’12, a physician, recently graduated from the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute in Pensacola, Florida, and serves as a Navy flight surgeon. As a flight surgeon, she has learned to fly military helicopters and fixed-wing airplanes. Haylee and her husband, former Sgt. Combat Medic Terrence Ordonez, a registered nurse, live in South Carolina, where Haylee is the primary care physician and occupational medicine expert for the F-18 and F-35 squadrons stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort.

KIRA LEWIS ’13 recently completed her master’s of public health at Eastern Washington University while working as a public health nurse for the Spokane Regional Health District. During the pandemic, Kira’s efforts have been focused on the homeless, where she is part of a team helping to ensure that opportunities for transmission of the virus are minimized through social distancing, testing, and treatment.

CHRISTOPHER VANDER HAAK ’13 is an architectural designer for Seattle-based Graham Baba Architects. Christopher was a summer intern at the firm. After graduating from SPU, he earned a master of architecture degree from the University of Washington. He is currently working on the Ethan Stowell Tavern and Rubenstein Bagels in the Via6 building in Seattle.

KATHRYN YANCEY ’14 is putting her degree to work as an associate show mechanical engineer for Walt Disney Imagineering. She has worked on robotic images within different Disney Resorts worldwide. Kathryn was also selected as a Disney representative for the international media for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

SAM FILBY ’16 is a spring 2020 graduate of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, where he earned a master’s degree in philosophy. His thesis dove into questions
of social epistemology, highlighting the ways in which humans depend on other people for what they know. Sam previously pursued a master of studies in philosophical theology at the University of Oxford in England. He took a year off after Oxford and moved back to Seattle, where he taught at SPU.

KATELYN “KAT” WYNN ’17 is the communications development manager at New Horizons, a nonprofit serving youth affected by homelessness in Seattle. As part of a three-person development team, she runs the community outreach, marketing, social media, and fundraising efforts of the organization. With the organization’s main fundraiser canceled by COVID-19, Kat and her team developed Operation Light the Way, an email, web outreach, and social media campaign that easily surpassed their goal of raising $275,000, bringing in more than $300,000. Online story at

MANOLA SECAIRA ’18 is a staff reporter at Crosscut, a Seattle-based independent news site featuring in-depth stories and news analysis. Manola began work
at Crosscut right after graduating, beginning as a reporting fellow in a six-month position. She was then hired on permanently as a reporter focusing on urban growth and the impacts of changes in the Seattle region and beyond. Currently, Manola covers Native/Indigenous stories in the Pacific Northwest for Crosscut.


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