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Spring 2020 class notes

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News and updates from alumni


WESLEY WILLMER ’71, MED ’73 recently published Stuff and Soul: Mastering the Critical Connection. He resides in Fullerton, California, with his wife, SHARON WIGGINS WILLMER ’71, MED ’73.

JON SHARPE ’73 recently left Seattle’s C3 Leaders after 12 years. He is now chief strategist for Leaders Vineyard and Just Business Roundtable.

JEFF BARKER ’76 is a professor of theatre and department chair at Northwestern College in the northwest corner of Iowa. He has written over 50 plays and directed over 40. Jeff and wife, Karen, live in Orange City, Iowa.

SCOTT NOLTE ’76, Taproot Theatre Company’s producing artistic director, will retire at the end of 2020 after 43 years of leading the Seattle theatre, where he has directed more than 90 plays. His wife and Taproot co-founder, PAM BAILEY NOLTE ’76, will also retire from her staff position. Taproot was founded in 1976 by six friends, five of them SPU graduates. The Noltes were named SPU Alumni of the Year in 2011.

WILLIAM “CHRIS” HIGHLAND ’78 teaches on freethought at University of North Carolina Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and at Blue Ridge Community College. He also writes a weekly column for the Asheville Citizen-Times. His essays, columns, books, and photography can be found at

REBECCA GROOM TE VELDE ’78 received a lifetime achievement award from Marquis Who’s Who. She is the director of music at First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, where she has also served as organist since 1991. Rebecca has been an adjunct instructor of music at Oklahoma State University and an adjunct instructor of organ at Oklahoma City University. She is a longtime member and leader of the American Guild of Organists.

LINDA VANDLAC SMITH ’78 retired in December 2019 after a nearly 42-year teaching career. For the last 30 years, she taught communication studies at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Washington, where she also created an online speech lab, served as department chair, division chair, coordinator for the Center for Learning and Teaching, and editor of the faculty newsletter. She is looking forward to spending more time traveling, writing, and volunteering locally.


KAREN TOWNSEND ’83 is the dean for Health and Human Services academic division at Edmonds Community College. She has worked at Edmonds CC for 18 years, serving as a social and human services instructor and then as department chair for the past 10 years.

CLAUDIA LADD ’89, a first-grade teacher at McMeen Elementary in Denver, Colorado, was a finalist for the Colorado 2020 Teacher of the Year competition. She has been in education for 16 years and lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

SUSY SANDERS ’89, a Jungian psychologist and artist, exhibited her Emerging Image paintings at Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. Susy runs Morning Bridge Center, a psychology and expressive arts practice in Phillips, Maine.


CHARLES FAGERSTROM ’90 is the new chief executive officer of Sitnasuak Native Corporation, the largest of 16 Alaska Native village corporations. Born and raised in Nome, Alaska, Charles is Iñupiaq, with family roots in Nome and the Bering Strait region. After SPU, he earned master’s degrees from the University of Hawaii and the University of Colorado. He has been a health care executive for the past 25 years.

JONATHAN MITCHELL ’91 became the new pastor and head of staff at First Presbyterian Church of Pendleton, Oregon, last October. He previously led a congregation in Maryville, Missouri, for 10 years. Jonathan received his master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Jana, grew up in Walla Walla, Washington, and are pleased to be back in the Pacific Northwest.

MATT CHILES ’93 manages his family’s 3,500-acre Horseshoe Bend Ranch in Centerville, Washington. Matt grows grass hay and raises Jersey cows. He is
married to LISA MOORE CHILES ’93.

MATT LENHARD ’93 was awarded “Music Educator of the Year” for the state of Alaska by the Alaska Music Educators Association.

JOSHUA FREED ’95, real-estate developer and former mayor of Bothell, is running for Washington state governor. He and his wife, LINDIE KIGHT FREED ’95, were college sweethearts and have been married for 23 years. They reside in Bothell, Washington.

CHRIS HILL ’95 is the chief operating officer for Sentry Alarm Systems in Monterey, California, with more than 6,000 clients in the greater Bay Area. The U.S. Army veteran lives with his wife and their three children in Monterey, where they stay busy with basketball and travel.

SONEYA LUND ’98 was elected to the Yakima, Washington, City Council. She is the owner of Yakima’s Saol Salon.

JULIE TATE-LIBBY ’98 recently published a book, The Good Way, about her missionary and travel experiences in Nepal as an SPU student. Julie teaches anthropology at Wenatchee Valley College in central Washington.

WENDY MOY ’99 is the new artistic director of the Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus in Connecticut. Wendy is an award-winning conductor, singer, educator, and nonprofit founder who champions issues of social justice through music. She also currently directs the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Chorus, as well as choral activities and music education at Connecticut College in New London.


IAN COOK ’00 is general manager at Seattle’s Slalom Build, a firm that shepherds other companies through the software engineering process. He’s been at Slalom Build for close to eight years, overseeing some 1,000 employees across North America. The team completes approximately 1,000 engineering
projects for 400 clients annually. Ian and his wife, Amanda, along with daughters Hailey, Shiloh, and Maya, reside in Issaquah,

MATTHEW YOUNG ’02 is the dean of natural sciences at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan. An associate professor of chemistry, he previously served as the department chair for four years. He earned his doctorate in physical chemistry at Northwestern University.

CHANNAH HANBERG ’03 is general manager for Seattle radio stations KCMS Spirit105.3 FM and KCIS 630 AM Seattle, part of CRISTA Media. She resides in Shoreline, Washington, with her husband, Tyler, and her children, Hadley and Dax.

ALISON SOIKE ’03 opened Alison’s Coastal Cafe and Bakery on Leary Avenue in Ballard after 12 years working as a director at the Boys & Girls Club of King County. The cafe is in its fifth year serving the community breakfast, lunch, and ready-made meals to take home. It also provides catering services for events. Alison’s Coastal Cafe and Bakery hires and mentors young adults transitioning from high school to college in order to provide them with job skills and work experience.

ALISA KEARNEY ’04, MSN ’11, a certified family nurse practitioner, provides care for patients in neuro-oncology and spine neurosurgery at the Stanford Neuroscience Health Center in Palo Alto, California.

MATTHEW VIERS ’04, an attorney at Lane Powell, was elected a shareholder by his firm. He represents entrepreneurs, startups, and investors with mergers, acquisitions, venture capital financing, and intellectual property licensing. Matthew earned his law degree from the University of Washington.

JOELLE HATHAWAY ’05 begins her role as assistant professor of theological studies at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana, this summer. She is currently an instructor at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina, where she earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees.

COLBY WILSON MA ’05 is the CEO and president for the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Mexico. He has worked with the Boys & Girls Clubs for more than 18 years, including a role as the chief encouragement officer in Lawrence, Kansas.

SARA HUEY ’06 is the communications manager at Solitude Mountain Resort near Salt Lake City, Utah.

GINGER GUNN MA ’07, PHD ’11 is an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa’s Northwestern College. She most recently worked as a staff psychologist at the Harry Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Sedalia, Missouri. She has also been a clinical/administrative supervisor for a corrections center and a veterans affairs facility.

ADAM JACKSON ’07 is Mountain West Bank’s assistant vice president of professional and commercial lending in Spokane, Washington. He graduated from Leadership Spokane last year and co-chaired the annual gala for the organization.

BENJAMIN “BJ” MYERS ’08 is a sergeant for the Woodinville, Washington, police force. An Air Force veteran, he spent the past 12 years working for the King County Sheriff’s Office.

MICHELE WARD ’08 is in her first year as principal of Tierra Bonita Elementary School in Poway, California, just north of San Diego. An educator for 16 years, she has held numerous administration and teaching roles.


RUTH SIMS ’10, an electrical engineer who works on solar cell efficiency for aerospace applications, was profiled in Flylords magazine for her fly-fishing skills. Known as the “Navajo angler,” Ruth seeks opportunities to pursue the sport around the world.

JAMIE SSENKUBUGE ’11 directs the nonprofit vineyard and winery, Water from Wine, in southeastern Washington. It generates revenue to fund clean water and sanitation projects. The organization recently awarded $10,000 grants to eight water-related nonprofits.

CARMEL EASLEY HAUG ’12 is a third grade teacher at the school she attended as a child — Morgen Owings Elementary — in Chelan, Washington. Carmel’s SPU roommate, MEGAN FONDELL HEATHMAN ’12, is also a third grade teacher at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary, her hometown school in Sitka, Alaska. The best friends have connected their students as pen pals.

ETHAN MILLER ’13, a talent manager at IMG, a creative management agency for the fashion industry, created a networking platform, The Fabric. The initiative elevates black voices and connects creatives of color in the fashion world.
MICHAELA STEVENS LORANG ’14 was honored as a Teacher of the Month by the Rotary Club of Renton, Washington. Michaela is a third-grade teacher at Hazelwood Elementary School in Newcastle, Washington.

AMANDA WYMA-BRADLEY ’15 is a legislative assistant in Washington Congressman Adam Smith’s Washington, D.C., office. She handles agriculture, business, financial services, housing, transportation, and tax issues for the congressman. She formerly worked for End Violence Against Women International.

MATTHEW BURKE ’15 has joined a title and escrow company, TitleOne, as an office administrator in Boise, Idaho. He previously worked in the frozen food industry.

SAMUEL SMITH ’15 is the managing attorney and director of Immigration Legal Services at World Relief Spokane office. Samuel completed the SEA TRI
KAN last year, a five-day, 400-mile bike tour fundraiser in support of refugees and asylum seekers in Washington state. His wife, SARAH ANDREWS SMITH ’15, also works for World Relief Spokane as a volunteer coordinator.

MARCELLA BOULOS ’17 is a program coordinator for the Chamber of Commerce in Ferndale, Washington.

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS ’17 completed his MBA last year at Southeastern University. He is currently working for his home church in Hawaii in accounting, administration, and worship and youth ministries.

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