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Class Notes

Class Notes include professional accomplishments, awards, retirements, weddings, obituaries and other news about Western Washington University alumni; they’re gathered from published reports and communication from alumni themselves.

If you have an update you’d like us to share in Class Notes, please email it to window@wwu.edu. Tell us what’s new with you, and we’ll publish it in the next edition and online.

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Class Notes (General)

Jackelyn Garcia - 2023

Jackelyn Garcia, M.S., marine and estuary science, was awarded a Washington Sea Grant Keystone Fellowship to work with the Puget Sound Partnership and Washington Conservation Action on a wide range of work focused on environmental policy. 

Ron Podmore - 1991

Ron Podmore, BAE, geography - secondary education, is screening an hour-long documentary, "The Best of Honduras," at the Federal Way Performing Arts Center on Nov. 3. During Ron's 30-plus year career in education, he has extensively traveled in Central America, written two books and is working on a third about the region. About 10 years ago Ron began to see a growing number of students from Central America in his classroom. "It made sense to really start digging into stories from these courageous young migrants," Ron writes. "To date, with over 10 trips exploring Central America, mostly to Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, I recognize a growing need to change the narrative and share positive stories from this area of the world." Learn more about Ron's work

Randy Alanko - 1977

Randy Alanko, B.S., chemistry/biology, reports that he retired from his solo family medicine practice in Baker City, Oregon, after "36.98 years." He has six grown children and recently celebrated his 40th anniversary with his wife Janet. 

Paul Lindholdt - 1978

Paul Lindholdt, B.A., and '80, M.A., English, teaches literature and environmental studies at Eastern Washington University. LSU Press just published Paul's latest book, "Interrogating Travel: Guidance from a Reluctant Tourist," which combines first-hand narratives with research about the travel trade. Amid the escalating climate crisis, Paul asks, has the human cost of trekking the globe become too high? 

Meagan Bryson - 2005

Meagan Bryson, B.A., human services and '07, M.Ed., student affairs administration, became the director of Western's Academic Advising and Student Achievement Center, which brings together the former Academic Advising Center and Student Outreach Services. Meagan previously was assistant director of the Academic Advising Center. 

Abdullah Naimzadeh - 2019

After earning his master's degree in applied data science from Syracuse University in 2022, Abdullah Naimzadeh, B.S., physics, became a research associate with the Institute for Defense Analyses Information Technology and Systems Division. 

Marilyn Redmond - 1961

The latest book by Marilyn Redmond, BAE, music education, "A Spark of Truth," is now on Amazon, along with her other 10 spiritual/self‐help books.

Karen Fortuna - 2003

Karen Fortuna, B.A., human services, is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine and recently joined the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine standing committee of experts in primary care delivery, research, and policy. 

David Schmidt - 1985

David Schmidt, B.A., business administration, recently became a vice president and Small Business Administration business development officer at North State Bank in North Carolina. David has worked in the financial services industry for three decades. 

Chris Rust - 1979

Chris Rust, B.A., political science, retired as superintendent of the Toledo School District in Washington state. Chris taught children with special needs and served as a school administrator in several Washington school districts. 

Peter Monahan - 1988

Peter Monahan, B.A., Fairhaven interdisciplinary concentration, is a Spanish instructor at Yakima Valley College and was awarded the Sherrie and Daryl Parker Faculty Award for his work motivating students. 

Jon Suek - 2013

Jon Suek, B.A., music, is a 2023-24 resident artist with the Toledo Opera and will perform throughout the year in Toledo Opera's regional educational program, in the company's Opera Outdoors and in smaller roles in Toledo Opera's mainstage productions this season. A tenor, Jon previously studied and performed at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, lived in Austria and Italy, then returned to the U.S. and performed in Seattle, Chicago and New York City. 

Jess Newley - 2013

Jess Newley, M.Ed., environmental education, is a scuba diver and the Community Science and Education director for the Friends of the San Juans, where she develops scientific education programs like boater education, beach surveys and community science projects. 

John Kulsa - 1990

John Kulsa, B.A., philosophy, is an IT specialist and a longtime member of the Seattle Seahammers underwater hockey team --  a sport he first played at Western. 

Eric Burford - 2023

Eric Burford, B.A., art history and philosophy, recently became bar manager at Keenan's at the Pier in Bellingham. 

Chris Hughes - 2004

Chris Hughes, B.S., computer science, won the 2023 Padden Triathlon

Andy Perdue - 1988

The Auction of Washington Wines recently gave Andy Perdue, B.A., journalism, its Wine Industry Champion Award. Andy is a longtime wine journalist and the co-founder of Great Northwest Wine magazine. 

Al Ralston - 1972

Al Ralston, B.A., political science, is vice president and partner at Gordon Thomas Honeywell - Government Affairs and the incoming president of Renton Rotary. Previously, Al was the president of the Washington Research Council and spent more than two decades in political strategy for The Boeing Co. 

Neal Digre - 2016

Neal Digre, B.A., linguistics and B.S., computer science, is a member of a team in the finals for the $10 million XPrize Rainforest Competition. Neal, a machine learning specialist, is working with Team Waponi on systems that help scientists better understand rainforest ecosystems in areas where manual data collection is challenging. Neal's main role is to train neural networks to identify insect species from audio recordings of their sounds. Neal and his teammates will compete with the five other finalist teams for the XPrize in 2024. 

Robert Sears - 2010

Robert Sears, B.A., English literature, is an attorney who specializes in car accident injury cases. He just opened a second Sears Injury Law office in Tacoma.