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News and updates from alumni


LARY NOEL ’57 is living at University House, a community in Issaquah, Washington, with strong partnerships with the University of Washington.


MARK R. TALBOT ’72 published Give Me Understanding That I May Live: Situating Our Suffering Within God’s Redemptive Plan (Crossway, 2022), the second volume in his four-volume series on suffering and Christian life. His work is also featured in a new podcast, When the Stars Disappear, hosted by The Christian Scholars’ Fund, which has supported Mark’s research. Mark is associate professor of philosophy at Illinois’ Wheaton College.

DWAYNE SMITH ’78 recently retired after 34 years as a college admissions enrollment consultant at NRCCUA/Encoura. He previously worked as a newspaper sports editor and college relations director. Dwayne and his wife, Suzanne, live in Kansas City, Kansas. They enjoy spending time with their two sons and grandson.


ANDY EKBLAD ’84 is the founder and director of Beautiful Gate Ministries, which provides training to pastors and leaders in developing nations, principally in Africa. Andy received much of his training in the school of life, serving as a pastor for 30 years and raising a daughter with profound disabilities until her death in 2013.

CATHI NELSON ’88 joined the North Central Educational Service District’s board of directors after 26 years of service in the Waterville School District in Wenatchee, Washington, as an elementary teacher, principal, and superintendent. Cathi started in the Monroe School District as a paraprofessional, but encouraged by her school’s principal, she earned her teaching certification at SPU while raising two young
boys and doing a work-study job in the district.


TAMI HAMILTON, MS ’94 was promoted to chief people officer of Pacific Whale Foundation, a nonprofit ocean conservation organization in Maui, Hawaii. In her new role, Tami acts as principal human resources advisor for the executive leadership team and oversees the organization’s talent strategy and corporate-culture initiatives.


MARNI ANN WHITEHEAD ’01 graduated in 2022 with a doctor of education degree from Walden University Online with honors and a 4.0 GPA.

JUSTIN WEATHERFORD ’02 has been named Musculoskeletal Service Line Director for St. Alphonsus Health System in Boise, Idaho. Justin, who earned a doctorate in physical therapy, has more than 15 years of experience in health care, including roles at the Physical Rehabilitation Network in Meridian, Idaho, and the Ambulatory Rehab Division at Providence Health and Services in Oregon. Justin is also certified in quality management with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

JOEL HENG HARTSE ’03 published Dancing About Architecture Is a Reasonable Thing to Do: Musings about Music, Meaning, and the Ineffable (Cascade Books, 2022). The collection unpacks rock critic Richard Meltzer’s claim that writing about music and making music should be parallel artistic efforts and ultimately argues that both impulses are inherent to the human desire to make meaning.

RACHEL KAPLAN ’03 has been named president of Equitas Partners, where she oversees the Evergreen Fund, recently named by Hedge Fund Managers as the top hedge fund under $1 billion. Rachel earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a double concentration in finance and information systems from SPU.

JONATHAN LIPKO ’05, MBA ’09 is chief operating officer at Valor, an asset management and professional services company specializing in oil and gas mineral rights which has seen its staffing and revenue double in the past year. Jonathan’s previous roles include lead operations manager at Amazon’s distribution facility in Park City, Kansas, where he oversaw a 300-person team that managed $250 billion in revenue, as well as leadership roles with multiple aerospace companies, including Boeing and Raytheon.

NEIL SHUPE ’06 was named District Teacher of the Year at the St. Vrain Valley Schools Education Foundation’s annual Tribute to Teachers celebration. Neil works in the Career Development Center in Longmont, Colorado, teaching technical skills for manufacturing and how to use machining equipment. He is considering earning a master’s degree with award’s $4,000 cash prize.

ADAM JACKSON ’07 is a vice president and commercial banker at RiverBank in Spokane, Washington. Adam has 14 years of experience in commercial banking, private banking, and financial advising.

PETER ORR ’07 is the author and publisher of Living God’s Way (2022), an illustrated children’s book which translates seven of Jesus’ Kingdom-descriptive parables into modern, relatable stories. Peter was inspired to write the book while gardening with his wife — as his thoughts drifted from the description in Genesis of Adam and Eve caring for a garden to the agricultural references in Jesus’ parables, he realized that without the act of gardening, he would have missed out on the richness of those parables. The book is available for purchase at

KACIE TATE WASHINGTON ’07 is the author of the new children’s book, Do Aliens Love Toast? (Curious Kids Publishing, 2022). Inspired by conversations with her two kids, the book follows Brooklyn the Brave as she sets off on a quest to discover if aliens share her love of toast. While at SPU, Kacie studied communications and was both an Ames Scholar and a student leader in Intercultural Programs. Kacie is also the author of The Squirrel Who Homeschooled. Both books are available at the Seattle Public Library and through

LAUREL GOETZ DONKERVOET ’08 is a visual artist whose work was featured in the West Seattle Art Walk from December 2021 to June 2022. Laurel is a Washington native, born and raised in Puyallup. She moved to Seattle to study apparel design at Seattle Pacific. Laurel lives in West Seattle with her husband and three children and currently works in acrylic and watercolor.

BJ MYERS ’08 became Woodinville’s police chief in July 2021. BJ spent 12 years at the King County Sheriff’s Office before moving to the police department in Woodinville, Washington. As police chief, he is interested in using environmental design to deter crime, establish block watches to safeguard businesses, and increase officers’ involvement in community activities.

LAUREN PATTIE ’09 serves Seattle Pacific as a content manager for Pivot NW, a team that works with Seattle-area faith communities to better understand the experiences of young adults and work with them to design, launch, and evaluate new ministries.


CATHY WARNER MFA ’11 edited and published Poemographs: an Anthology, in which more than a dozen poets respond to images that appeared in their inbox each day of National Poetry Month in April 2021.

KATIE G. ROSE-BORCHERDING ’12 has completed residency training at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Family Medicine Residency Program at Ascension Via Christi. She will be practicing osteopathic medicine with Delta Health West Elk Clinic in Hotchkiss, Colorado.

CLARA J. ROBERTS MS ’15, PHD ’18, a neuropsychologist and licensed clinical psychologist, has joined Lovelace Medical Group Neurology in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a practitioner with a focus on dementia, stroke, neurodevelopmental disorders, traumatic brain injury, and epilepsy.

ESTHER CHOE PENZAR ’13, MA ’16, PHD ’19 presented at the 2022 Annual Washington School Counselor Association State Conference with Professor of Counselor Education Cher Edwards on “Academic Achievement: Exploring the Role of Hope and Academic Self-Efficacy.”

SAMUEL NEHEMIAH SMITH III ’15 is founder and leader of Manzanita House, a community-based organization where immigrants can take Arabic classes, receive legal aid and other resources, and learn about community events in Spokane, Washington. Samuel comes to this work after completing law school and serving as head immigration counsel at World Relief.

ALSEA FISHEL ’16, MA ’17 was recently hired by Wenaha Group FF&E as a logistics project manager with the move management team in Portland, Oregon. She notes her ability to empathize with others and build trusting relationships are essential to her work and were skills which she gained from her background in counseling and education and her experience at SPU.

JASON M. THORNBERRY ’17 was recently a guest on the Thought Row Podcast, where he shared about his creative beginnings as a touring musician and the events that led him to become a celebrated writer. Last spring, he was the keynote speaker at “No Limits, No Boundaries,” SPU’s Disability Support Services’ annual celebration of difference and diversity that spotlights artistic expression and the commitment of community leaders to access, inclusion, and reconciliation.


PAUL HARVEY, PHD ’20 co-authored an article, “The Effects and Implications of Using Open Educational Resources in Secondary Schools,” with Professor of Educational Leadership JOHN BOND. It was published in the journal International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning and contributes to the growing scholarship of OER for primary and secondary education.

DAN KING, PHD ’21 was selected as the director of business and finance for North Mason School District in Belfair, Washington. Dan has been with the district for seven years as principal of Belfair Elementary. He completed the superintendent program and the principal certification program with the School of Education.

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