FACETIME MAY 2013 2000s

Ken Koch, ’00 BS

Ken Koch, ’00 BS (pictured above), was selected as chief of police in Taos, NM in September. He retired from the Flagstaff Police Department in April of 2012 as a deputy chief with 23 years of experience. Though leaving his longtime home of Flagstaff was difficult, Ken informs us that Taos has proven to be a great alternative. He’s even picked up a new hobby – icehockey.

Cecily Smith, ’00 MPA, serves as the executive director for the Foothill Conservancy, an organization dedicated to protecting and restoring the natural and human environment in Amador and Calaveras counties. With more than 10 years’ experience with environmental nonprofits, she is proud to return to her native state.

Terri Wattawa, ’00 MED, is the new principal of Williams Field High School in Gilbert, Ariz. At the same time, the Higley Unified School District approved NAU alumnus Randy Mahlerwein, ’99 MED & ’06 MED, as the new principal of Cooley Middle School.

Chris Williamson, ’00 BS

Chris Williamson, '00 BS, has a passion for paddleboarding. Photo Credit: National Geographic

Chris Williamson, ’00 BS, knows how to excite and educate simultaneously. Just ask his group of sixth-graders from Bella Bella Community School on Campbell Island, who were tasked with taking their woodworking skills to the next level. Situated off the coast of British Colombia, Canada, and home to the native Heiltsuk nation, paddleboarding is tradition as much as outdoor recreation. Using locally-sourced red cedar wood, the students built stand-up paddle boards which were then put to use fishing. Featured in National Geographic, Chris explained his vision, “I wanted to have the students complete a project that would include a cultural connection with the ocean and utilize the incredible local wood supply.” The experience has been the highlight of his teaching career, and Chris hopes the project will help to promote a connection to the cultural heritage of the region. Chris received the Alberta Ingenuity Award for his research in environment science at NAU, which fully paid for his master’s degree at the University of Alberta.

Teachers Alicia Jorajuria, ’84 BS (Wellton Elementary, seventh- and eighth-grade), Jodi Barksdale, ’02 BSED (McGraw Elementary, fifth-grade), Marlie (Hayden) Meza, ’07 BAILS & ’12 MED (Yuma High, biology), Sarai Robles, ’08 BSED (Arizona Desert Elementary, extended resources), and Anne Foley, ’11 BSED (Pueblo Elementary, fifth-grade), were selected as finalists for the 2013 Yuma County Teacher of the Year Award. Jason McCutcheon, ’98 BA (Yuma High, welding instruction), took home the high school category honor. Rodolfo Rodriguez, ’01 BAILS & ’09 MED (Carver Elementary, fifth-grade), won the intermediate (fourth-sixth-grade) award. The 2013 Yuma County Teacher of the year award went to Jarrod Norris, ’11 BSED (G.W. Carver Elementary, special education).

The Sedona Heritage Museum hosted geoarchaeologist Josh Edwards, ’02 MS, a presenter in the Living History speaker series. His lecture, “Homesteading the Red Rocks in the 1920s-1930” highlighted the excavations of the Rogers and Rupe homesteads, located in the Dry Creek area.  Josh is the owner of Cornerstone Environmental Consulting in Flagstaff, specializing in archaeological surveying and excavation.   

Thaddeus Gates, ’02 MED & ’08 EDD, joins the Florence Unified School District in Florence, Ariz. as principal of Florence High School. Previously, Thaddeus served as an administrator for Mesa Public Schools, and as assistant principal and athletics director at Westwood High.     

Aaron Williams, ’02 DPT

Physical Therapist Aaron Williams, '02 DPT, works with a patient. Photo Credit: AZcentral.com

Aaron Williams, ’02 DPT,was featured in the Arizona Republic for the successful establishment of his physical therapy practice Orthopedic and Sport Rehab. Though launching his own practice so early after completing school was regarded by many as a bold move, he took a chance and followed his passion. He opened the first OSR in 2002 with two business partners and his wife Kori Williams, ’00 BS & ’03 DPT (whom he was dating at the time).

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) featured the accomplishments of Merwin Yellowhair, ’02 BSE & ’05 MENG, among nine other engineers to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the New Faces of Civil Engineering program. Merwin, who was raised in a traditional Navajo community in Kayenta, Ariz. shared his experience developing a new high school vocational training facility in his hometown.  Merwin is the principal engineer and owner of Arrowhead Engineering, Inc, headquartered in Tucson, which specializes in tribal land projects. 

Monica Castañeda, ’03 MED

Monica Castañeda, ’03 MED (pictured above), wrote an editorial opinion for Latino Perspectives, highlighting the importance of mentorship in career development.  Reflecting on her own experience, she shares strategy and tactics for reaching out, building relationships, and paying it forward.  Monica is the associate dean of academic affairs at Glendale Community College. 

Lisa Hollis, ’03 MM

Violin and Viola performer and instructor Lisa Hollis, ’03 MM (above photo), owns a private musical instruction studio in Longmont, Colo. In addition to performing with several symphony orchestras, including the Bermuda Philharmonic Orchestra, she has performed with artists such as Josh Groban, Smokey Robinson, Quincy Jones, Kenny Rogers, John Legend, and Michael McDonald. 

Nicole Misencik,’03 BA, is weekend sunrise meteorologist for the SkyTrak weather team of WTHR, located in Indianapolis, Ind. Nicole has been with WTHR since 2007, when she relocated from WWMT in Grand Rapids, Mich. Though she misses her family in the Phoenix area, Nicole finds relief from the winter months with vacations to Arizona.   

Mad Buffalo Distillery

Our friends at the Mad Buffalo Distillery recently held a Mad Moonshine Party, their first public event in Union, Mo. to introduce Thunderbeast Storm, their flagship spirit, considered a “white dog” or un-aged whiskey.  Pictured from left to right is: William "Cole' Uphouse (NAU Park Ranger Training Program '10) , Robert Ralston (Uncle), Donald "Chris" Burnette, '04 BS, Henry Burnette (age 2), and Elise (Uphouse) Burnette '07, BS.  

Brad Lee Hines, ’04 BSBA

Brad Lee Hines, ’04 BSBArelocated to Sterling Heights, Mich. from Albuquerque, N.M. to begin work as a business intelligence consultant and software trainer for iDashboard.com. He also began graduate work at the University of Colorado, pursuing a master’s in information systems and business intelligence. Ever proud of his alma mater (above photo), Brad lets drivers know where his roots lay.

Trine University has hired Bree Stalhut, ’04 BS & ’12 MED, as director of admissions at a new campus in Peoria, Ariz. Responsible for enrollment and supervision of admissions counselors, Bree will spearhead operations and program development as well as financial aid counseling and developing community partnerships.

Bailey Billington, ’05 BS, of the American Red Cross - Northeastern Nevada Chapter in Elko, Nev, was promoted to director. Previously she served as community relations coordinator for the chapter.

Robert Breeding, ’05 MLS, authors an internet column entitled “Out of Bounds”, featured in the Flathead Beacon, a news source serving the greater Flathead Valley of Western Montana. His poignant style and personal reflections on life’s lessons learned make for interesting reading.  

Judah Nativio, ’05 BS, is the newest governing board member for Queen Creek Unified School District. He was sworn in on March 20.

Artist Logan Phillips, ’05 BA, worked as a professor of Latin American literature, culture, and translation at Universidad International in Cuernavaca, Morelos, before committing full time to his artistic passions. Author of five poetry chapbooks, he co-hosted the first national Mexican Poetry Slam in 2007. He shares his art through Verbo•bala, a multimedia collective which combines spoken word with video imagery. For more information on Logan visit www.dirtyverbs.com.

The League of Women Voters hosted a presentation by Lanya Ross, ’05 MS, on the topic of “Water Supply Sustainability in the North Metro.” As principal environmental scientist for the Metropolitan Council, Lanya has spent more than a decade developing solutions for the Twin Cities regional planning agency. 

Kevan Hayden, ’06 BAILS & ‘08 MED, and Alicia (Piotrowski) Hayden ‘07 MED

Kevan Hayden, ’06 BAILS & ‘08 MED,and Alicia (Piotrowski) Hayden, ‘07 MED, welcomed their first child Henry Randall (above photograph) in mid-February. The following is a note from Kevan: We had the baby at Mercy Hospital in Janesville, Wis. Our doctor works with some of the residents at that hospital. While making small talk with one of the residents during the delivery, we found out that she was also an alumna of NAU. Dr. Lisa Rauls, '03 BS, assisted in the delivery of our baby.  Dr. Rauls and I overlapped when we attended but we didn’t know each other. We were both involved with Greek Life - and knew some of the same people.  It was a pretty cool moment and I wanted to share the news.

Kat Thorp, ’06 BS

Kat Thorp, ’06 BS, (upper left in light blue shirt) poses with her third and 11th graders at The Majuro Cooperative School in the Marshall Islands.

Kat Thorp, ’06 BS, is enjoying the expat life, teaching at The Majuro Cooperative School, a private school in Majuro, capital city of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. In addition to instructing her third graders, Kat also mentors juniors and seniors on career advice and future education opportunities. She wrote us recently to request information about NAU, sharing that her students are excited to learn about Flagstaff, as well as the snow and mountains – geographical oddities which most of them have never seen.

Carolyn Brown, ’07 MLS, has been honored with a Gracie Award for Outstanding Director for News/Non-fiction for her documentary From the Fields: An American Journey. A poignant look at overcoming stereotypes and following one’s dreams, the film explores the life of Damian Trujillo, who transitioned from farmworker in the Salinas Valley to student at San Jose University. In pursuit of a newsroom career, Damian struggled with finding an identity between two worlds. Along the path to recognizing his Chicano heritage, the film deconstructs popular beliefs about Latino culture, and presents a modern take on the American success story. Watch the film's trailer.      

Brittny Bevel, ’09 BA, is museum school coordinator for the education department of the El Paso Museum of Art. She manages Neighborhood Kids, a grant-funded program focusing on art education. She also oversees the studio art classes. Brittny received her master’s in art and design education from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Stefanie Falknor, ’09 BS, is group sales specialist at the Woodlands Convention and Visitors Bureau in The Woodlands, Texas. Formally sales and media coordinator at the JW Marriott San Antonio Resort and Spa, she has also worked on the sales team of the Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau. 

The Florence Unified School District of Florence, Ariz., has promoted Toby Haugen, ’09 MED, from vice principal of Florence High School to principal of Skyline Ranch K-8. Prior to the role of assistant principal, Toby was FUSD’s musical department chair from 2005 through 2011.