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The Washington State STEM Education Foundation consists of Founding Directors, additional Board Members, and Partners who participate together in achieving the goals of the organization.
Matt Hammer | Board President
Chief Executive Officer
Vivid Learning Systems
Matt is President and Chief Executive Officer of Vivid Learning Systems, a publicly traded e-learning firm in Washington State. In 1994, Matt co-founded Imageworks, an interactive marketing and training company and was President of the firm until its acquisition by Vivid in 2004. In 2005, he became Vivid’s Chief Operations Officer and was named President and Chief Executive Officer in 2007. Matt is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic vision of the firm with special emphasis on marketing and strategic partnerships. Matt has a BA in Marketing and Business Administration from Washington State University and 15 years of executive leadership experience in technology-based companies. In addition to being the Board Development Chair of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation, Matt’s community involvement includes Chairman of the Three Rivers Community Foundation and Founding Member/Board Director of PLADD (People Learning About Destructive Decisions).
Tom Yount | Board Past President
Executive Vice President Engineering & Technology
Tom Yount graduated from Washington State University with a BS in Construction Management and a minor in Economics. Tom is an Executive Vice President with Atkins and has oversight responsibilities for the Engineering and Technology activities for the company in Commercial, Government and International markets. Tom has over 27 years of project management, and executive management experience in the nuclear waste management industry, principally in leadership roles for large complex nuclear waste treatment, storage and disposal projects in the Commercial, Government and International markets. Tom has been a member of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation board since 2008 and serves on the Washington State University Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Advisory Committee. Tom has also been recognized as a Washington State University Silver Laureate for Philanthropy.
Kyle Willers | Board Vice President
Kyle Willers has over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) industry, where he has developed and implemented cutting edge IT solutions for federal, state and commercial clients. Kyle is an active community volunteer and supports an array of non-profit organizations and serves on the boards of a number of organizations within the Tri-Cities community.
Kristi Nelson | Board Vice President & Treasurer
Northwest CPA Group PLLC
Kristi Nelson has been a CPA for 11 years, working in that time as a Senior Accountant for Ernst & Young, the Finance Director at the Federal Way School District and Sr. Manager for LeMaster Daniels, PLLC before beginning the Northwest CPA Group in 2004.
A graduate of Washington State University, she earned a Bachelor of Arts, emphasis in Accounting, with Cum Laude Honors in 1988.
She is a Member of the Tri-Cities Rotary and has served as Treasurer several times.
Bill Johnson | Board Secretary
Mission Support Alliance, LLC
Bill Johnson is president of the Mission Support Alliance (MSA), a joint venture with Lockheed Martin, Jacobs Engineering and Centerra Group. He leads an industry team providing a broad range of infrastructure services to the DOE and other contractors at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington.
Bill brings to his position 22 years of professional experience, including more than 10 years in leadership roles within Lockheed Martin. He previously served as vice president Business Services in support of PSEG Long Island and the Long Island Power Authority supporting a diverse customer base with an annual budget over $3 billion. Prior, he served as director, professional services, leading a portfolio of contracts in support of Sandia National Laboratories, U.S. Department of Labor, Centers for Disease Control, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, and several other government and commercial clients. He has served as director, business operations for two Lockheed Business Portfolios. His experience also includes program management and business operations through positions of increasing responsibility with Harris Corporation, Electronic Data Systems, and Lockheed Martin.
Bill is a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned an MBA and a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. In addition, Bill has completed executive leadership courses at the Lockheed Martin Center for Leadership Excellence, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Maryland. Bill is a trained Green Belt and has received several corporate awards including the Celebration of Excellence and Presidents Awards. Bill recently relocated to the Tri Cities and resides in Kennewick, Washington.
Michele Acker-Hocevar, Ph.D.
Interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Washington State University Tri-Cities
VP and Chief Financial Officer
Vicki Bogenberger serves as Vice President of Business Services and Chief Financial Officer for CH2M HILL at the Hanford Site in southeast Washington state. Prior to joining the Plateau Remediation Contract, Vicki served as Senior Finance Officer for CH2M HILL’s Nuclear, Environmental and Government Division. She has also served as a Certified Public Accountant in Wyoming, Colorado and Washington. She has extensive engineering and construction industry experience working for ICF Kaiser Engineers at Hanford, was Controller at the Department of Energy Rocky Flats Closure Project, and has worked on a variety of CH2M HILL corporate and project assignments across the globe.
Vicki has served on several boards and was actively involved in the community in Denver. She was recognized in 2008 as a Wise Woman of Colorado by the Women’s Vision Foundation and is a 2009 graduate of Leadership Denver. A Tri-City native, Vicki is a graduate of Gonzaga University.
President & Chief Executive Officer
CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company
Ty Blackford is the president and chief executive officer for CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington State. Previously, Ty was the Executive Director of Tank Closure and Regulatory Strategies on the $4 billion Liquid Waste Program Management Contract at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Savannah River Site, where he significantly accelerated high-level waste tanks closure and retrieval.
Ty has 31 years of experience developing, managing and implementing complex radioactive, hazardous, and mixed waste management, decommissioning and remediation processes, projects and programs to support DOE, the U.S. Department of Defense, and international interests.
Ty has dedicated more than 20 years to accomplishing DOE’s vision at the Hanford Site, including leading the Transuranic Waste Program, Mixed Waste Treatment Program, K-Basins Found Fuel Project, and 324 B-Cell Cleanout Project. Proven leadership skills, backed by intimate knowledge of the Hanford regulatory environment, customer expectations and workforce capabilities.
Ty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marine engineering technologies from the California Maritime Academy.
William (Bill) A. Condon
President, Nuclear & Environment Technical Services Sector
Bill Condon is the president of the Nuclear & Environment Technical Services Sector for AECOM. Previously he was the manager of the One System organization and Chief Technology Office for Washington RiverProtection Solutions (WRPS), the contractor responsible for the remediation of radioactive and hazardous waste tanks at the U.S.Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford Site. He has more than 30 years of experience in commercial nuclear power and the DOE complex. Prior to joining WRPS, Condon served as the Executive Project Director for Program & Project Management at the Sellafield nuclear site in the United Kingdom. There he helped establish and implement strategic direction of programs critical to the success of the $2.4 billion a year project, including construction of highly radioactive waste disposition projects. He was part of the initial team that helped develop the proposal to win the 17-year contract.
Condon spent 19 years at the Savannah River Site (SRS), most recently as Operations Manager. In this role, he was responsible for oversight of numerous nuclear facilities and programs, chemical processing and separations of nuclear materials, waste processing and shipping, receipt and storage of spent nuclear fuels from across the world, deactivation and decommissioning activities, environmental remediation and more. Budgets exceeded $1 billion annually and included a workforce of more than 4,000.
Additional demonstrated skills include contract negotiations, developing performance monitoring tools, resolution of legal issues, program planning and integration of business systems. Condon has a master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Tennessee.
Senior Director, Communications & Strategic Planning
Ms. Connell is the Senior Director of Communications & Strategic Planning for Fluor Government Group’s Richland Project Office. Before joining Fluor at Hanford in 2001, Ms. Connell worked in the U.S. nuclear fuel and service markets (AREVA and its predecessor companies in the U.S.), where she managed the communications functions, as well as strategic planning and mergers & acquisitions.
Ms. Connell holds a B.A. degree in Chemistry from Albertus Magnus College and an M.S.-level degree in Biochemistry from Sloane-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, a division of Cornell University. At Cornell, she was a candidate for a Ph.D. in Biochemistry. As a “blue-sky” researcher for Revlon, she co-developed several patented dyes for use on hair and nails, as well as innovative chemical formulas for topical applications.
She is a member of the of the National Management Association and the American Nuclear Society on both a local and national level and sits on several community boards in the Tri-Cities (Richland, WA) including the Reading Foundation; YMCA; United Way; Junior Achievement; and STEM program for advancing science, technology, engineering and math. Ms. Connell is also a member of EnergySolutions’ Scholarship-Selection Board.
Deborah L. Dihel, Ph.D.
Senior Director R&D
ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston
Deb received her Bachelor of Science in Food Science from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of California at Davis. She has 20 years of experience working in the food industry. She started her career at The Coca Cola Company as an Associate Scientist working on Sprite and Fanta. From there she worked at National Starch as a Product Innovation Manager specializing in French fry coatings. In 2007, she joined ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, where she is currently Senior Director of Research and Innovation. Lamb Weston isNorth America's premier potato company, offering innovative frozen potato, appetizer and vegetable products to global foodservice and retail customers. Lamb Weston has 21 manufacturing locations worldwide, including 10 in the Columbia Basin.
Deb is an adjunct professor and advisory board member at the Washington State University and University of Idaho Bi-State School of Food Science. She also enjoys spending time with her two teenagers and husband, traveling, volunteering, running, and eating chocolate.
Jonathan (JD) Dowell
Senior Project Director
Jonathan “J.D.” Dowell is the Senior Project Director at Fluor where he manages operations and supports business development for the Federal Government's Environmental and Nuclear division. Prior to joining Fluor, JD was the Deputy Manager for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Office of River Protection (ORP) where he supported the ORP Manager in the safe storage, retrieval, treatment, and disposal of 53 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste at the Hanford Site, including building and operating the world’s largest radiochemical processing facilities to vitrify Hanford’s tank waste and protect the Columbia River. With 30 years of experience in nuclear operations and program management, he has held various positions of senior management at the Hanford DOE Offices and he served in the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program, commanding the USS ALABAMA as well as the Naval Undersea Warfare Engineering Center in Keyport, Washington. J.D. holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Nebraska, and is a Defense Department certified program manager. Since joining DOE’s Environmental Management team in 2008, he has completed DOE’s Nuclear Executive Leadership Training Course, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology‘s Sloan School of Business Program for Executive Management and Leadership, the National Academy for Nuclear Training Senior Nuclear Plant Manager’s Course, and qualified as a DOE Senior Technical Safety Manager. STEM remains a personal passion in his career and community service.
Bechtel National Inc.
Richard French Jr.
President & CEO
Federal Engineers & Constructors
Richard French Jr. is responsible for all aspects of FE&C. French was previously Vice President of Business Development, as well as Chief Financial Officer, information technology, equipment management, human resources, contracts and procurement roles in FE&C's national and international offices. He holds the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and has many years of experience managing multiple products, products and teams. Before his life at FE&C, he was a Project Manager at Lockheed Martin Information Technology where he led sizable project teams on software and web development projects for large government contractors and Fortune 500 corporations.
Executive Director of External Affairs
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Paula Linnen is Executive Director of External Affairs for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). In this role, she leads federal and state legislative affairs; public outreach; and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education efforts.
She joined PNNL in 1991 and was named Director of Human Resources in 1996; she held this position until assuming leadership for Organizational Development in 2007. In that role, she directed the laboratory's human resources, communications, and education efforts. Paula helped advance PNNL's and Battelle's foundational roles in the creation of Delta High School, the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center, and the Mid-Columbia STEM Education Collaboratory.
Paula is currently a committee member for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center National Accelerator Laboratory Board of Overseers; a member of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation board of directors; a board member of the Association of Washington Business; and a board member and academic committee chair for Heritage University in Toppenish, Wash.
Phil Ohl previously was founder and principal partner serving as president of Vista Engineering Technologies, L.L.C., a full service engineering design and technology development firm. The company provided engineering, environmental, and technology development services.
Phil is currently serving on the engineering advisory board for the Department of Materials and Mechanical Engineering at Washington State University. He is also on the Blue Mountain Council Board of Directors for the Boy Scouts of America and past president of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation.
Phil holds a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and a M.EM. in Engineering Management from Washington State University. In addition, he is a registered professional mechanical engineer and in the states of Washington and Oregon and a registered Project Management Professional. Phil also holds a Certificate in Management and Leadership from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.*On leave of absence.
Executive Editor (retired)
Ken Robertson is the former executive editor of the Tri-City Herald, where he worked from 1976-2011 and managed its newsroom from 1991-2011. He served as the Herald’s managing editor, assistant managing editor and city editor. Prior to coming to the Herald, Ken was managing editor of The Helena (Mont.) Independent Record, where he also was a reporter for several years. Under his direction, the Herald newsroom won several national awards during his tenure as editor, including national SPJ awards for investigative reporting in 2002 and for feature writing in 2010.
He also won several Northwest regional SPJ awards for column writing, including first place awards in 2001, 2002 and 2005. He graduated in 1970 from the University of Montana in Missoula where he majored in journalism and Latin. From 1970-1972, he attended the University of Alberta’s master’s degree program in ancient history. In addition to his duties overseeing the Herald newsroom, he was chairman of PNNA's Education Committee from 1998-2007 and served on PNNA reviews of several regional university journalism programs.
He also has served on advisory boards for the journalism programs at Washington State University, Western Washington University and the University of Montana. In the Tri-Cities, he has served on the boards of Junior Achievement and the Three Rivers Community Foundation. In 2008, he received the Crystal Apple Special Achievement Award for his contributions to education across the school districts that serve the Tri-City area.
He and his wife Patti, a piano teacher and collaborative pianist, were married in 1976 and have three grown sons and three granddaughters.
Virginia M. Tomlinson, Ph.D.
Vice President for Instruction
Columbia Basin College
Having studied math as an undergraduate and interned at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Virginia is excited to serve on the STEM Foundation Board. Her education expanded to include doctoral work in Sociology, where again, she explored the social, economic and political aspects of Yucca Mountain storage before completing a dissertation in Mathematical Sociology. As a tenured faculty member at Westminster College in Pennsylvania, she served as Director of the College’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. In her role as VP at Columbia Basin College, she looks for ways to support STEM education, on-campus and off-campus.
Non-Voting Board Members
Kennewick School District
Dave Bond is the superintendent of the Kennewick School District. Bond assumed that position July 1st, 2008 when Marlis Lindbloom retired from her position as the Kennewick School District superintendent. Mr. Bond served the Richland School District from 1988 to 2001 as a teacher, athletic director, assistant principal, and then Principal at Hanford High from 1996-2001. He has worked in the Kennewick School District since 2001; first as principal at Kamiakin High School (2001-2006), and then as the Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education (2006-2008).
Bond earned his master’s degree in Educational Administration from Seattle Pacific University and then went on to Washington State University to receive his superintendent’s credential.
In both his professional and personal life, Bond looks at his greatest accomplishment as preparing kids for a successful future. “Ultimately it’s about student achievement,” says Bond.
He and his wife of 32 years, Carmen, are proud and anxious for the exciting transitions that await their three children: Josh - a graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy; Jeremy – a graduate of Seattle Pacific University in international business; and Jenny – a sophomore at Washington State University planning to major in nursing.
Richland School District
Dr. Schulte is the Superintendent for the Richland School District. Previously, he was the Superintendent of the Oak Harbor School District, a position he had held since 1993. Prior to the Oak Harbor superintendency, Dr. Schulte served as Assistant Superintendent in Oak Harbor for six years. Prior to Oak Harbor, Dr. Schulte was a middle school Principal and high school Principal in the Bremerton School District. He earned his Bachelor's Degree from Georgetown University, his Master’s Degree from the University of Washington in 1980 and his Doctorate from Seattle University in 1987.
Pasco School District
Michelle Whitney has been Superintendent of the Pasco School District since 2016 and has been an educator with the Pasco School District since 1996. Her previous titles include: Deputy/Successor Superintendent; Executive Director of Teaching and Learning; Director of Human Resources; Principal and Assistant Principal at McLoughlin Middle School; Librarian, Technology Facilitator, and Counselor, Chess Elementary; Kindergarten and 4th grade teacher, Captain Gray Elementary.
Michelle holds a Master's of Education from Washington State University (ESA certification with an emphasis on Psychology and Counseling Theory), a Principal's Certification from Washington State University, and a Bachelor of Education, endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL) (K-12) and Elementary Education (K-8).