Class Notes


In August, Helen Stephenson Metcalf ’63, M.Ed.’75 had her book Get Real About DIY Decorating: A Concise, Comprehensive Guide to Designing, Decorating, Staging, and Downsizing Your Home published by CreateSpace. The photo-filled design book aims to teach readers how to decorate and stage their homes. It functions as a text, workbook, and project planner. Helen says the book reflects her longstanding passion for interior design and architecture, which began when she was a child and was fostered during her time at Puget Sound. “It’s never too late in life to take on new challenges,” she says. The book is available at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.


Rebecca Corey, a longtime teacher who says she loves to teach in small, one-room schools in rural areas, came out of retirement to open her own little schoolhouse in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. News Bonners Ferry reported in January that Rebecca was seeking students ages 5 to 12 to enroll in her Orthodox Country School, which occupies a room at Holy Myrrhbearers Orthodox Church. She said she would teach “the fundamentals” of reading, writing, and arithmetic to students who thrive in a small and focused learning environment. Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Puget Sound and taught in Tacoma for five years before leaving to teach at smaller, rural schools, News Bonners Ferry reports. In the early 1980s, she worked in the one-room Winton School near Leavenworth, Wash., and loved the job. She went on to teach at small schoolhouses in Montana and Idaho before retiring.


After 40 years in the finance industry, Terry Parsons retired from active trading. He says he will miss his clients and the action, but not the pressure. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Puget Sound, where he was a member of the university’s band, joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and studied abroad. He says he still keeps in touch with his roommates from the Dutch exchange program he participated in. He splits his time between Spain and Newport Beach, Calif.


Book by Karen Robbins '71Karen Robbins’ eighth book, Flags Across America, was published by Schiffer Books in April. The children’s picture book features 354 photos of the American flag accompanied by inspiring stories. Two other books, Think Farm Animals and Think Zoo Animals, will be published this fall. Karen holds a master’s degree in education from Puget Sound and taught in the university’s education and speech department in the ‘70s.


Scott McPhee was named a Lifetime Achiever by publishing company Marquis Who’s Who. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Puget Sound, two master’s degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is the executive director for strategy and program development at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Mass. He was chosen as a Lifetime Achiever due to his noted “achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes he has accrued in his field,” a statement from Marquis Who’s Who indicates. Prior to his position at Bay Path, he was a professor and dean of the School of Health Sciences at Indiana Wesleyan University and dean of the College of Health Professions at South University in Savannah, Ga. He also served 21 years in the U.S. Army. Marquis Who’s Who has been chronicling the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators in the fields of politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion, and entertainment since 1899. The list is a biographical source for researchers, journalists, librarians, and executive search firms.


After 14 years as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, 10 years as a high school teacher, and 20 years of service as a U.S. Air Force captain, John Robertson retired on Sept. 30. He says he is enjoying retirement and continues to travel and volunteer with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. He enjoys not having to wear his Air Force uniform and is working on writing an autobiography called The Flyers. He intends to always be with his “soulmate,” Karen, and says “life has been good.”


Property management service Associa Hawaii announced in January the hiring of Phyllis Okada Kacher as chief business development officer. She has more than 20 years of experience in the community management industry and previously was the senior executive vice president of Hawaiiana Management Company. Phyllis holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Puget Sound and is also a member of the Chi Omega sorority.


Local guitarist Neil Andersson joined gypsy jazz band Pearl Django for a set of shows at Seattle’s Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in January. Neil has been playing guitar since he was a student at Wilson High School and was a member of the Northwest rock group The Wailers. A 1993 collaboration with the late guitarist Dudley Hill led to the formation of Pearl Django, and Neil remained a member until 2010. Not only a musician, Neil is also a painter whose landscapes have been featured in exhibitions throughout the U.S. and Canada. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Puget Sound, a second fine arts bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington, and a master’s degree in fine arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Kim Lowry Coble, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Puget Sound and is a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, is The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment’s (SIF) chief operating officer. She was named to the Washington, D.C.-based senior management position in January and is responsible for ongoing oversight and reporting, as well as day-to-day management of the organization. SIF’s focus is to shift investment practices toward sustainable, long-term investment and the generation of positive social and environmental impacts.


After 16 years with the firm, Dwight Clark was promoted to president and chief operating officer of Jamison Door Company. The manufacturer has been in business for more than a century and specializes in doors for the cold-service industry. According to a company press release, in his previous position as vice president of sales and marketing, he was instrumental in developing a business capable of selling a growing number of products. Dwight holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Puget Sound and worked as a manufacturer’s representative in Southern California for 15 years prior to joining Jamison.


Lisa Stenseth Dow was appointed in January to the position of executive vice president, chief risk officer of Tacoma-based Columbia Bank. She has 35 years of banking experience and was previously the bank’s senior vice president, senior credit administrator. In her new position, Lisa is responsible for building a risk management process that allows for the bank’s future growth. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Puget Sound, is a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of California, Berkeley.


James Ledford, the president of golf grip manufacturing company Golf Pride, was featured in a Golf WRX article in December. He discussed the company’s plans to open a new facility at North Carolina’s Pinehurst Resort. James holds a bachelor’s degree from Puget Sound with a double major in economics and politics and government. He also holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University.


Ezra Yacob was promoted to executive vice president, exploration and production at Houston-based EOG Resources in December. EOG is one of the largest independent oil and gas companies in the nation, and Ezra has worked at the company for 12 years. He was previously vice president and general manager of the company’s Midland, Texas, office. In his new position, he is responsible for the company’s Midland, San Antonio, and Artesia branches. Ezra received a bachelor’s degree in geology from Puget Sound, is a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, and holds a master’s degree in geology from the Colorado School of Mines and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at Tyler.


After many years of being involved in his children’s schools, Scott Clifthorne was elected to the Olympia School District Board of Directors in November. Scott had been PTA president at Lincoln Elementary School. He ran on the platform of ensuring equity for all students, and reported that one of his concerns was destigmatizing trades, such as carpentry and electrical work. Scott has his own consulting firm where he negotiates contracts for public organizations. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international political economy from Puget Sound and received numerous honors while at the university, including the Norton Clapp Arete Award and being named both a Wyatt Scholar and Matelich Scholar. Hinting at his future, he was also a member of ASUPS. He holds a master’s degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego.

Breanne Goss Sheetz, who received a bachelor’s degree in international political economy from Puget Sound, was elevated to shareholder status at the Seattle Littler Mendelson P.C. office. Breanne is an attorney at the employment and labor law practice and was one of 28 attorneys elevated to shareholder status across Littler’s U.S. offices. She holds a law degree from the University of Michigan.

Alison Smith started 2018 by being promoted to Meritech’s vice president of sales. She has been with the company for three years and was sales manager before her promotion in December. Based in Golden, Colo., Meritech manufactures automated, touch-free handwashing systems and sanitizing equipment. Alison holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Puget Sound and is a member of the Alpha Phi sorority.


Nicola Shangrow Samra was one of three speakers in the Monterey Museum of Arts’ Women in Arts Management lecture series in January. Nicola is a classically trained violinist who holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Puget Sound and was a member of the university’s orchestra. She is the executive director of the Monterey Symphony in California and gave a talk called “Musically Speaking, Leadership in the Arts,” in which she spoke about the role of women in arts management, fundraising for the arts, and the role of art in society.


Jesse Proudman is proving a force to be reckoned with in the Seattle startup scene. A December article
in GeekWire called Jesse a “startup vet” and reported he is embarking on a new cryptocurrency initiative he’s calling Strix Leviathan. According to the article, the goal of the software platform is to help organizations better trade cryptocurrencies. Jesse rose to startup fame after founding cloud computing company Blue Box. He sold it to IBM in 2016. He recently quit his job as an entrepreneur in residence and distinguished engineer at IBM to work on Strix Leviathan. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Puget Sound’s Business Leadership Program and an entrepreneurial master’s program certificate from MIT.


Cymon Kersch '09 finished sixth in her age group at the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands.As a graduate student at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Cymon Kersch finished sixth in her age group at the 2017 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in September. She competed against nearly 2,000 other athletes in the standard-distance event that consisted of a 1,500-meter swim, 40-kilometer bicycle ride, and 10-kilometer run. She holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Puget Sound, where she was a member of the swim team and worked at Diversions Café. She is currently enrolled in OHSU’s Neuroscience Graduate Program. Her M.D./Ph.D. research focuses on understanding the role of adhesion and growth factor receptors in the ability of metastatic breast cancer cells to grow in the brain microenvironment.


Daniel Burge, who holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Puget Sound and a Ph.D. in American history from Boston University, was published in The Washington Post in January. His piece, As Congress Prepares to Loosen Bank Regulations, It Still Refuses to Address the Cause of the Two Worst Financial Meltdowns in History, criticized the nation’s lawmakers for their push toward deregulation of financial institutions.


Heidi Vladyka was featured in a January article on the University of Washington Tacoma website. She was a recipient in the 2017 David Chow Foundation Humanitarian Awards, which recognize and reward dedicated and caring humanitarians. Heidi received her master’s degree in occupational therapy at Puget Sound but attended UW Tacoma through 2013, where she majored in interdisciplinary arts and sciences with a concentration in global studies. Following a study-abroad trip to Mexico while at UW Tacoma, she began volunteering with Push International, an organization co-founded by Bree LairMilani ’10 that aims to provide means of mobility—wheelchairs, walkers, and canes—to people in Mexico. Heidi now works as an occupational therapist at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and is the vice president and director of international service learning at Push International. She continues to work with Puget Sound students by overseeing occupational therapy service trips to Mexico.

Teddy “Ted” Oja, an avionics electrical technician in the U.S. Coast Guard, was one of three Coast Guard members to be treated to the Culpepper Inn’s annual Christmas dinner in Elizabeth City, N.C., the Daily Advance reported. Each year, the North Carolina bed and breakfast serves local Coast Guard personnel Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and Ted and his two other Coasties said they were honored and humbled to be invited. Ted, who holds a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Puget Sound, told the Daily Advance that the meal was “a profound act of generosity” and that he had spent the prior Christmas on a cutter in Alaska.


Less than two years after earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Puget Sound, Jessie Sayre started a job as a zookeeper in Great Bend, Kan., in October. According to an article in the Great Bend Tribune, Jessie worked at Tacoma’s own Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium while attending Puget Sound and applied for the Great Bend Brit Spaugh Zoo position in order to “learn as much as possible.”

Geotechnical and environmental engineering consulting firm Hart Crowser hired Ben Stone as a field geologist in January. He was one of 10 professionals the company hired to start the new year at its Seattle headquarters. According to a press release, Ben has experience in geotechnical, wetland, stormwater, and erosion control projects. He holds a bachelor’s degree in geology from Puget Sound.