Spring/Summer 2022 Class Notes
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News and updates from alumni
JON SHARPE ’72 and LAILA OLSEN SHARPE ’73 were recognized with the Marie Green Impact Award for their commitment to the mission of Washington, D.C.’s Museum of the Bible, where Jon is the chief relations officer and Laila is an ambassador for Women of Legacy. Jon was previously co-founder and president of C3 Leaders, an organization for Christian business leaders. Laila formerly served as associate director of Alumni and Parent Relations at SPU, working in the Alumni Office for 16 years before retiring in 2012.
DALE WINSLOW ’73 retired after 45 years of pastoring Free Methodist churches. He led congregations in Oregon, Washington, and California, and served as superintendent of Illinois and Missouri’s Gateway Conference for three years. Dale and his wife, KAREN STRAND WINSLOW ’74, live in Upland, California. Their daughter, KARMELLE WINSLOW ’00, is also a Falcon.
JOHN FORTMEYER ’77 retired after 27 years as founder and editor of Christian News Northwest, based in Oregon. John worked for more than four decades at newspapers throughout Oregon and Washington. At SPU, he edited the campus paper his senior year, and then reported and edited for small dailies and weeklies in Ontario, Astoria, and Portland, Oregon, and in Anacortes, Washington, before establishing CNNW. John and his wife, Sandy, live in Newberg, Oregon.
REBECCA GROOM TE VELDE ’78, an organist and educator, composed four hymn miniatures featured at the Composer’s Workshop annual program of the Federated Music Club in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Rebecca has served as the organist for First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater, Oklahoma, since 1991 and is an adjunct professor at Oklahoma State University. She studied organ, composition, and church music with her father, Lester H. Groom, an SPU music faculty member from 1969 to 1991. She and her husband, John, live in Stillwater.
NANCY LUDEMAN LURKER ’80, was included as a “Top 25 Women Leaders in Medical Devices of 2022” by the Healthcare Technology Report. As president, chief executive officer, and board director of EyePoint Pharmaceuticals, Nancy brings over 30 years’ pharmaceutical industry experience to lead her company’s mission to improve the lives of people facing serious eye disorders. She and her husband, Dean, reside in St. Pete Beach, Florida.
GREG NELSON ’87 joined the board of directors for Opportunity International, a global leader in providing financial services to lift people out of poverty. Greg served on the board’s Stewardship and Impact Committee for the past year. Before retiring as vice president of Microsoft’s Partner Ecosystem, Greg held a variety of roles there for more than 26 years, including work in engineering, partner and business development, marketing, and sales. Greg was based in Seattle, London, and Paris. He currently lives in Kirkland, Washington, with his wife, LAURIE ANDERSON NELSON ’86.
Former SPU professor ROB MCKENNA ’90, MBA ’92, gave a TEDx talk, “Becoming a Whole Leader in a Broken World,” at a TEDx event in Manitou Springs, Colorado. He and his wife, JACKIE ESNOUGH MCKENNA ’93, live in Kirkland, Washington. Rob’s father, David L. McKenna, was president of SPU from 1968 to 1982.
KEVIN IWERSEN ’92 is the chief information officer for Tyler Technologies in Plano, Texas. Kevin manages technology infrastructures for corporations, state judicial courts, state executive government agencies, and U.S. military organizations, most recently serving as CIO for the Idaho Judicial Branch.
DESIREE WHITE ’99, FNP ’04, designed and opened a clinic for adopted and special-needs children in Tacoma, Washington, which recently celebrated its first anniversary. She is consulting with other agencies to establish additional clinics. Desiree and her adopted children, Mila and Isaac, who have Down syndrome, live in Tacoma. Learn more at her blog, adoptionseed.blogspot.com.
JESSICA SMITH BESSO ’00 is the chief financial officer and accounting manager at Weinstein A+U, business-to-business products and scaled the sales and operations organization.
PRETRINA MULLINS MEd ’07 has been appointed to a five-year term on Centralia College board of trustees by Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee. She has been a teacher for 27 years, primarily at White Pass High School in Randle, Washington. Pretrina lives in Randle.
HOLLY PATTON OLSEN ’08 founded Perfectly Posh Events, a wedding-planning and event-design company in 2010. Holly and her team were awarded Seattle Bride Magazine’s “Best of” awards for “Best Wedding Coordinator” in 2018 and “Best Wedding Planner” in 2016, 2015, and 2014, along with being named one of the top 10 wedding planners in the Northwest by MyWedding Magazine and receiving the Couple’s Choice award from Wedding Wire for multiple years in a row. She and her husband reside in Seattle.
JOSHUA FRANKLAND ’09 is a physician at Olympic Medical Physicians’ Children’s Clinic in Port Angeles, Washington. He completed a residency in pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He lives in Port Angeles.
ZACHARIAH BRYAN ’11 is the assistant news editor for The Daily Herald in Everett, Washington. A veteran reporter on the public safety beat, he also leads The Herald’s environmental coverage. Zachariah began working for the newspaper in 2018, following stints writing as a freelancer in Montana; for The Tundra Drums newspaper in Bethel, Alaska; and for several newspapers around the Puget Sound. He lives in Graham, Washington.
ALEX ABBOTT-EMEN ’12 won the 2021 Staff Excellence of the Year Award from the University of Kentucky’s College of Health Sciences, where he is a computer support specialist. He mentors students, faculty, and staff, and provides technical support, troubleshooting, and maintenance for the IT infrastructure. In his free time, Alex enjoys spending time with his family at their Lexington, Kentucky, home, creative writing, animating, and trading in the financial markets.
SUE CONSTAN, MEd ’12 worked in Singapore part of this past school year, conducting research and pursuing additional learning, as a recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching Research Program. Sue was one of 22 Americans selected for the program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. She is a counselor at Woodward Middle School on Bainbridge Island, Washington.
AMANDA GEERS ’12 authored a children’s book, Sir Frederique von Turtlestein, which follows the adventures of a red-eared slider turtle and his friend, a hummingbird. As a freelance writer and editor and a mom to both humans and animals, Amanda nourishes her soul through dance, communing with nature, and following her writing dreams. She and her family live in a cabin in the woods near Sammamish, Washington.
JANE SHIPEK ’14 completed a master’s degree in public health from New York Medical College. Her three-year thesis project focused on the life experiences of incarcerated women in Montana. Jane resides in Great Falls, Montana, and works for the Cascade City-County Health Department.
KATE ISLER ’18 was featured on mompowerment.com for her work as a business leader, author, and gender-parity advocate. After working at Microsoft for more than 20 years, Kate founded a nonprofit, Be Bold for Change, which creates Seattle-area events in celebration of International Women’s Day. In 2020, she co-founded and became the CEO of thewmarketplace.com, an e-commerce site for women-owned businesses. The 500+ businesses on the platform help women disproportionally affected by the economic impact of the pandemic.
STEVIE SHAO ’19 was featured on the Crosscut news site for her work as an in-demand muralist and illustrator in Seattle, known for a distinctive and vivid folkloric style. Before the pandemic, she had never painted a mural. A sampling of recent projects includes painting murals to brighten boarded-up businesses, as well as parks, restaurants, and bars; shrouding Pioneer Square’s Metropole building in Northwest marine mammals, fish, and birds; collaborating with the nonprofit Urban ArtWorks, Sub Pop Records, and Starbucks; painting a mobile food pantry for Family Works; and designing merchandise like T-shirts and tote bags for local businesses. Stevie was the art director of Lingua, a student-run art and literary magazine, while at SPU.
KERSHA TAITANO ’20, a digital content strategist for Pacific Daily News, was selected for a spot in GivingTuesday’s Starling Collective, an international cohort of grassroots leaders. During their six-month program, she will develop The Inspo Initiative program to help high school students and young adults who live on Guam learn more about college options and connect with people working in industries they hope to pursue professionally. She lives in Dededo, Guam.
KARA SMITH DNP ’21 is a nurse practitioner resident at the Yakima Medical-Dental Clinic in Yakima, Washington. The practice is part of the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, a network of community health centers focused on underserved migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, with over 40 clinics in 18 communities across Washington and Oregon.
Have an update you want to share with the SPU community? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.