2018 Distinguished Alumni
The WWU Alumni Association is pleased to recognize 15 alumni, a campus school alumna, and five Athletics Hall of Fame awardees. The following recipients will be honored at the 2018 Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards & Recognition Celebration:
Larry “Go Vikings” Taylor Alumni Service Award
Ed Roddy ('84)
Business Services Loan Officer, Certified Financial Planner, WECU
When it comes to Viking Spirit, Ed Roddy walks the talk. His involvement in Viking athletics for the past three decades has been critical to the success of Western students and alumni. Roddy didn’t participate in athletics, but he attended football and basketball games as a student. Later in life, friends and family members began playing various sports at Western and he started attending games with his family. He began to take an active role providing program support and scholarships for student athletes. He’s a season ticket holder who rarely misses a men’s basketball game. He attends all pre-season and post-season events and even travels for away games. During his years at Key Bank, he was instrumental in making Viking Night a success, from setting up tables to securing scholarships.
"I enjoy helping people find jobs. Some athletes come to me concerned that they haven't done anything but play sports, and I tell them 'But look what you've learned—teamwork, time management, emotional resilience—all those soft skills that are ripe for employment."
As a supporter of Western athletics, Roddy brings his real-world advice and experience to young Vikings and sets them on a path of achievement and success.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Peter J. Hallson ('58)
Former President (retired), Diversey Water Technology
Peter J. Hallson’s journey from retail sales in high school to his years at Western prepared him well for a 35-year career at Nalco. His first real mentors were his high school principal and his football coach, both of whom helped Hallson appreciate the importance of science and education. After earning a B.A. in biology, he joined the U.S. Marines and went to Officer Candidate School, an experience that tested his mental, physical and emotional state.
Throughout his career, Hallson has held to one philosophy: “Adopt a helpful attitude. Look around, see what needs people have, and figure out how to build a relationship, build trust, to serve those needs.” That kindness has led Hallson to serve Western as a member of the College of Science and Engineering’s External Advancement Group, advocating locally and in Olympia for support for Western.
Entrepreneurs of the Year Award
John Bergen ('92), PJ Ohashi ('97) and Josiah Johnson ('99)
Partners, EY Society
Friends Josiah Johnson, ’99, John Bergen, ’92, and PJ Ohashi, ’97 were young entrepreneurs with long-standing relationships whose professional lives gravitated together until 2008 when they founded Society Consulting, a data analytics company that matched talented people with technology companies that needed them.
After securing relationships with Microsoft, Expedia and other major tech companies, Society Consulting had over 200 employees in 2016 and was the nation’s largest, independent digital analytics consulting company. They became well-known for helping clients aggregate, organize and visualize their data to find new markets, personalize customer experiences and generally adopt a big-data approach to their strategy and operations.
That’s when accounting and business management giant Ernst & Young came knocking. The culture the WWU alums had built was exactly what EY was looking for as it was spearheading its own new digital initiatives. Society Consulting is one of the largest of the 20 digital companies EY has acquired in the past three years and is helping EY modernize its growing set of digital solutions and capabilities, and applying them to solve the challenges of tomorrow.
Young Alumnus of the Year Andrew James Dumont ('11)
Founding Partner, Curious Capital
Andrew Dumont entered Western with a clear idea of what he wanted to do.
In his sophomore year, he joined local startup Tatango in the very early days of the company, serving as the Director of Marketing and Business Development until 2009 (three years). After dropping out of Western to focus on the company, he returned to Western and joined a rising startup Silicon Valley startup called Seesmic (with $16M in venture capital funding and later acquired) as a marketing executive, finishing his education at Western while telecommuting and traveling down to the Bay Area for work.
Dumont now splits his time between New York and Seattle to be closer to his family, and is re-engaged with Western. He serves on the Marketing Advisory Board and is an active investor in the Seattle technology ecosystem with his firm Curious Capital, which has invested in 11 startups over the past year.
“I’m very proud to be a Western Alum. They care deeply about their students, and I felt that first-hand during my time there.”
Campus School Recognition Award
Catharine R. Stimpson ('48)
Professor of English and Dean Emerita, Graduate School of Arts and Science, NYU
One of seven Stimpson siblings—all of whom attended the Campus School—Catharine R. Stimpson began her professional life of academic accomplishment and critical inquiry in the John Dewey-influenced classroom of the Campus School.
For Stimpson, the Campus School was the perfect foundation for her education. “It is my wish for every child to have the experience we had: small classes, a beautiful setting—we were surrounded by natural beauty—and astonishing teachers with advanced degrees who were mindful of their profession.” Though she travels the world and resides in New York, Stimpson celebrates her roots at The Campus School in her professional life every day.
Distinguished Alumna, Woodring College of Education
Anne Blanchard ('97, '99)
Instructor, Woodring College of Education
The first thing to understand about Anne Blanchard is her commitment to human services is more than professional—her personal life is also one of devotion to community, equity, and progressive causes. The second thing to know is that her professional dedication is deep.
"I just do my thing." But her "thing" has incredible impacts on the students she teaches and the communities those students serve. As an extended education instructor, she sees students who, on balance, have more complicated situations than those on campus—single mothers, formerly incarcerated students, veterans, refugees, immigrants, and underserved populations. Her compassion for these students is profound.
Distinguished Alumnus, College of Science and Engineering
Raymond Merle “Bud” Burke ('68, '72)
Professor Emeritus of Geology, Humboldt State University
Burke was an enthusiastic student at Western and has remained engaged as an alumnus. He graduated in 1968 and was conscripted into the selective service in 1969. He ended up in Panama with the Inter American Geodetic Survey, and possibly because he had taken cartography at WWU, he managed to avoid combat in Vietnam. He returned to WWU for his Master's in 1972 with Easterbrook as his adviser. He then attended the University of Colorado at Boulder for his PhD. "I had planned a research career and teaching as a secondary career." When WWU Geology Professor Dave Rahm died in a plane crash, Burke was selected to take over his course load at Western in 1977, and Burke has been a dedicated teacher ever since. He won Outstanding Professor at Humboldt State University in 1998 where he has a distinguished career in teaching.
In 2011, Burke was recognized as a Fellow by the Geological Society of America for his long-term accomplishments in the field of Quarternary Geology and Geomorphology.
Burke manages to gather with WWU geology alumni and faculty on a regular basis and is always happy to connect with the Western community.
Distinguished Alumnus, College of Fine and Performing Arts Jeffrey Fisher ('89)
Retail Store Experience Leader, Bata Brands SA
Jeffrey Fisher says of his time at WWU, “I really found a home there—I loved the labs, the hands-on work and details (back when you had to cut your goldenrod, burn plates to create your halftones, etc.) and the photography dark room was a place I spent many nights—what an experience.”
As with so many undergraduates, Fisher didn't come to Western with a set idea of what he wanted to do. He enjoyed comparative literature and enjoyed the visual arts but wasn't finding much direction. And then he discovered Visual Communication, which combined his interests well. "Elsi Vassadal-Ellis was my advisor, professor, and a truly special person to me while I was there."
Distinguished Alumnus, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Gabriel S. Galanda ('97)
Partner, Galanda Broadman, PLLC
Galanda cites his major in literature at WWU and his keen interest in writing with his successes as an attorney. “Studying English literature taught me how to think critically and write analytically. I hit my stride studying English in particular.” As an attorney, Galanda is often cited for his eloquence.
Armed with a copy of James Baldwin’s “Native Son” under one arm and “Critical Theory and Practice” in the other, Galanda took off for law school. He received his J.D. in 2000 at the University of Arizona College of Law. His work has been published in the Arizona Law Review, National Law Journal, among many other places.
Additionally, Galanda founded Huy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to rehabilitative opportunities for American Indian prisoners.
Distinguished Alumna, Huxley College of the Environment
Christie True ('81)
Director, Department of Natural Resources and Parks in King County
Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Parks in King County, Christie True carries her mission as a Huxley alumna into her professional life. At the end of each year, True lays out the accomplishments of the DNRP. Among 2017's accomplishments, she lists the King County Land Conservation Initiative (protecting 65,000 acres of conservation lands), progress on a tree planting project that will plant one million trees by 2020, a landmark fish, farm, and flood agreement, among many other accomplishments. Her concrete, practical, approach to conservation is something she learned at Huxley. "I think one of the best aspects for me was that there was an emphasis on hands on work, it wasn’t just about theory. Lots of field trips and labs."
True's work carries her from the bucolic historic sites of King County to the depths of wastewater treatment, and with her leadership, King County's trees and trails are in good hands.
Distinguished Alumnus, College of Business and Economics
Russ Wilson ('79)
CFO, Legend Brands
Russ Wilson's dedication to Western began decades ago, when he was a recent graduate working at Moss Adams. At that time, Moss Adams had already established a relationship with Western, making small donations for programmatic support. But as Wilson's profile at Moss Adams expanded and grew, so, too, did Moss Adams' engagement with Western.
Since the 1980s, Moss Adams has raised more than one million dollars for WWU, and Wilson was a key player in raising those funds. In addition to his service to Western, Wilson has also served on the board of the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association,the Whatcom Family YMCA, and Christ the King Community Church in Bellingham.
Distinguished Alumnus, Fairhaven College
Coll Thrush ('93)
History Professor and author, University of British Columbia
Coll Thrush approaches his work as a historian and author as that of a detective teasing out hidden, untold stories from the past. Each of his books explores an undiscovered corner of history within a familiar landscape—for example, indigenous culture and downtown Seattle in Native Seattle: Histories from the Crossing-Over Place—and how that history exists today. In his most recent book, Indigenous London, Thrush explores not the origin of the landscape, but rather the way indigenous visitors from the U.S., New Zealand, Canada, and Australia influenced the decision-making, culture, and popular discourse in London beginning in the sixteenth century.
His years at Fairhaven have deeply influenced his teaching as well. "I'm teaching a course on the history of death—how different cultures approach death with ritual and celebration like Halloween, Dia de los Muertos, Parade of Lost Souls—and how these traditions have changed, or not, throughout history." The course, he says, is inspired by Bob Keller's course on death and dying. Wherever he is, Thrush carries Fairhaven and his open-minded, fresh questions for history with him.
Campus Volunteer Recognition Award
Kate Stevenson ('00)
Family Outreach Manager, New Student Services, WWU
Kate Stevenson is a campus connector, one of those people who know exactly who to call to get things done. A graduate of Western, she majored in Fitness/Exercise Science and worked as the Viking Union set crew supervisor, a position that informs the work she does today. Kate has dedicated most of her adult working life to Western.
Stevenson's connection to Western is deep. She has friends and acquaintances in just about every department on campus. In addition to working on events and student services, she teaches multiple classes for the faculty/staff wellness program. "I started teaching when I was pregnant, and I loved kicking their butts," she says, chuckling. She's certified to teach Polestar Pilates, she's an NSCA certified strength and conditioning specialist, and a certified ACSM fitness instructor. She also enjoys running and yoga, and she's been teaching classes at Western since 2008. Anyone can attest—she's tough, but a lot of fun.
Community Volunteer Recognition Award
Mayor Kelli Linville ('74, '82) & City of Bellingham
Western's relationship with Bellingham has always been symbiotic. The students that Western educates are neighbors, children, and employees in Bellingham. The City of Bellingham is with us every step of the way, whether working with Western to create a successful downtown event like Paint B'ham Blue or bringing Bellingham to campus for WWU Alumni Weekend (formerly Back2Bellingham).
Looking forward, Linville is excited about the potential for Western to be more involved in the Sister Cities program and greater student engagement in the community. "The City appreciates the friendship and support we have of Western—this relationship makes our community better."
2018 Athletics Hall of Fame
Anne Cooper ('86)
Anne Cooper was a dominant defensive presence for the Vikings from 1982 to 1986, setting school records for blocked shots in a game (9, twice), season (114, 4.1 avg.) and career (322, 2.8). She was a team co-captain as a junior and senior and her four-year career won-lost record at WWU was 94-27 (77.7 percent).
Cooper has served on the WWU Foundation Board since 2013 (currently in her second term) and the Board of the Central Iowa Chapter of the American Red Cross. She was a commencement speaker at Western’s December 2014 graduation ceremony.
Alison (Haukaas) Richards ('99, '01)
Three years after Alison (Haukaas) Richards joined the WWU softball team as a walk-on freshman in 1995, she pitched a complete-game victory for the Vikings in the title contest of the NAIA National Tournament. It was the first national championship for any team in school history. Western, which posted a 33-13 record, had received the seventh and final at-large berth in the tourney.
Richards received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from WWU in 1999, and a master’s degree in 2001. She obtained a Master of Science in Systems Engineering degree from the naval post-graduate school in 2005.
Joni Slagle ('78)
This is the third hall of fame for Joni Slagle, who was earlier named to the Kitsap County Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Olympic College Sports Hall of Fame in 2016.
The 5-foot-10 Slagle averaged 20.1 points per game (543) and 11.3 rebounds (306) during the 1976-77 season at Western, both team-best figures, in leading the Vikings to the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) National Tournament. That followed first-place finishes at the Northwest College Women’s Sports Association (NCWSA)-AIAW Region 9 Tournament and the Northern-Southern Area Tournament.
Following her playing career at Western, Slagle was a Viking assistant coach for one season while completing her bachelor’s degree in physical education. The Minnesota Fillies of the short-lived Women’s Professional Basketball League (WPBL) had drafted Slagle in 1978, but she passed on that opportunity.
Jason Stiles ('96)
A four-year starter at quarterback for the Vikings from 1992 to 1995, Jason Stiles was a first-team choice to WWU’s All-Century Football Team (1900-1999). He had a 30-9 record while directing the offense and finished as the school’s career leader in yards passing with 7,854 and touchdown passes with 67.
Stiles has been a color commentator in football and basketball at ROOT SPORTS Northwest since 2006. He has covered college football, arena football and high school football. Stiles also spent nine years handling color for WWU football radio broadcasts. He is employed as a regional sales manager for a medical device company.
Katja (Trygg) Parrish ('06)
Katja (Trygg) Parrish holds or shares WWU records in women’s golf for best season scoring average (75.4), lowest scoring round (69), tournament medalist performances (8), and top finish at nationals (5th).
During her senior season of 2005-06, Parrish was a first-team National Golf Coaches Association All-American for the second straight year and Western's Female Athlete of the Year as she helped the Vikings to the best campaign in program history, which included a third consecutive fifth-place finish at nationals.
After graduation, Parrish worked at Wing Point Golf & Country Club (Bainbridge Island) for two years, enrolling in a PGA program for teaching professionals. Parrish returned to Western and while going to school was the women's golf assistant for two seasons from the fall of 2007 to March of 2009.