This year’s Professional Achievement Award winner tells compelling stories—and teaches others to do the same.

When Francisco Menéndez ’85 was a young boy, his aunt took him to see his first film in a theater: The Wizard of Oz.

Things started out well enough: He was already accustomed to watching television programs, like Batman and The Avengers, in black and white. But by the time a tornado hit Dorothy’s house and knocked her unconscious, he began to grow anxious. All bets were off when the screen suddenly bloomed into Technicolor.

“When they got to Oz, and there was a nasty green witch, the color was overwhelming,” Menéndez recalls. “The witch scared me, and then the flying monkeys? Forget it.”

Despite his fear, the movie made an impression on him, one that foretold his career as an award-winning film professor and filmmaker. It also foretold a lifelong fascination with the power of storytelling. That fascination, and that career, led to Menéndez being named this year’s recipient of Puget Sound’s Professional Achievement Award.