By empowering learners, educators, and citizens through hands-on experiences, we can create a new generation of leaders and innovators.

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.

Executive Committee

Matt Hammer | Board President

imageChief 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 President of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation, Matt’s community involvement includes Past-Chairman of the Three Rivers Community Foundation and Founding Member/Board Director of PLADD (People Learning About Destructive Decisions).

Tom Yount | Board Past President

imageGlobal Technology Director, Nuclear
Atkins a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group

Tom Yount is the Global Technology Director for the Nuclear business sector of Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group. He provides Executive leadership and strategy oversight for the team responsible for the Nuclear Sector’s full technology portfolio including digital technology, physical and digital products, chemical process, novel designs of systems and intellectual property. Tom has over 32 years of project management, and executive management experience in the nuclear industry, principally in leadership roles for large complex nuclear projects in the Commercial, Government and International markets. Tom Yount graduated from Washington State University with a BS in Construction Management and a minor in Economics. Tom also serves on the Washington State University Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Advisory Committee as well as the Tri-Cities Economic Development Council Board. He has been a member of the Washington State STEM Education Foundation board since 2008, where he served as Board President for 4 years. Tom and his company have been the recipient of numerous industry and community awards including a Washington State University Silver Laureate for Philanthropy.

Kristi Nelson | Board Vice President & Treasurer

CPA, Partner
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.

Robert Wilkinson | Board Secretary

Mission Support Alliance, LLC

Bob Wilkinson is the president of Mission Support Alliance (MSA), a joint venture with Leidos, Jacobs and Centerra Group. Bob has close to 25 years of experience at Hanford and leads the MSA team, providing a broad range of site and infrastructure services to the Department of Energy and other contractors at the Hanford Site.

Formerly the chief operating officer at MSA, he has a wealth of experience working with site services and the Hanford contractors, providing integrated support to maximize efficiencies. Prior to joining MSA in 2015, he served as the manager of Environment, Safety, Health and Quality at Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), responsible for environmental protection, safety and health, security and emergency services, radiological controls, quality assurance, contractor assurance and vapor recovery support, as well as having acted as their chief operating officer and the manager of Base Operations. His professional background has included managing the demolition of nuclear and high-risk industrial facilities, remediation of waste sites, and surveillance and maintenance of 530 waste sites, nine nuclear facilities and 150 radiological/industrial facilities at Hanford. Bob’s tenure at Hanford has afforded him with the opportunity to work in all aspects of operations - tanks farms, operating nuclear facilities with emphasis on waste packaging and treatment, project management, environmental compliance, construction management, engineering, quality assurance, emergency response, and radiological control -- and all phases of project execution, ranging from early startup to commissioning.

Bob graduated from Montana State University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Eastern Oregon University. Bob is a Certified Project Management Professional and a Certified Human Performance Evaluator. He was named Manager of the Year in 2008 by the Mid-Columbia National Management Association.

Board Members

Ty Blackford

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.

Vicki Bogenberger

VP and Chief Financial Officer (Retired)

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.

Judy Connell

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. 

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.

Jean Dunkirk

Senior Counsel
Bechtel National Inc.

Jean H. Dunkirk, Senior Legal Counsel for Bechtel National Inc., has over 30 years of legal experience. Jean joined Bechtel in 1994 and was assigned to the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant Project (WTP) in 2007 as Senior Counsel. At WTP, she is responsible for assessing and providing legal advice and counsel related to all aspects of contract and project execution.

Admitted to the Bar in California, Tennessee and Washington, Jean earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University and a juris doctor degree from the University of California-Hastings College of the Law.

Prior to joining Bechtel, Jean was in the environmental practice group at McCutchen Doyle Brown and Emerson in San Francisco. Jean has also served as Managing Counsel for Bechtel Jacobs, LLC in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where she established a legal department to execute a waste management and environmental remediation contract at DOE sites in three states.

Richard French

President & CEO
Federal Engineers & Constructors

Richard French 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.

Patrick Jensen, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer




Martin G. Klotz, Ph.D.

Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Washington State University Tri-Cities

Dr. Martin G. Klotz ( joined Washington State University Tri-Cities as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs in July 2017 after serving as Dean of Faculty, Division of Mathematics & Natural Sciences, and Professor of Biology at Queens College, The City University of New York, in Flushing, New York. Before coming to CUNY, Klotz held academic positions at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Professor and Chair, Department of Biological Sciences), the University of Louisville (Departments of Biology and Microbiology & Immunology) and the University of Colorado-Denver (Department of Biology). A Physics undergraduate Major by training (Universität Rostock, Germany), he holds a Master's degree in biophysics and earned his doctorate in biology from the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena (Germany). His graduate and postdoctoral training in biology (Germany, Hungary, Sweden, USA) ranges from membrane biology to bacterial genetics to plant-microbe interactions. Klotz is also a Professor in WSU’s School of Molecular Biosciences in Pullman.

For the majority of his career, Klotz directed his "Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology Laboratory" to study the molecular underpinnings of ammonia- and methane-oxidizing bacteria with an interest in metabolic reconstruction of key catabolic pathways, the evolutionary history of involved inventory and how this inventory is being regulated. His research has been funded by federal and state grants agencies in excess of $4 M, which contributed to the editing of 3 books on nitrogen cycle research and the co/authoring of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles. Klotz served on a variety of national and international grants panels and presented at numerous national and international meetings. As an administrator, Klotz facilitated the receipt of development and educational awards exceeding $5M including an HSI-STEM grant award from the US Department of Education.

Klotz has served the microbiology community in many capacities including as an elected officer (Chair, Adviser and Councilor of Division R “Evolutionary and Genomic Microbiology”, as a member of the General Meeting program committee and as a reviewer and editorial board member) of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM); he also serves on the editorial board of Environmental Microbiology. He has co-edited several recent books on Nitrogen Cycle research and is the co-founder of international professional organizations that coordinate collaboration in research on the global Nitrogen and Carbon cycles. Klotz is the founding Editor-in-Chief for the open-access journal Frontiers in Microbiology (2016: IF 4; 3rd most cited journal in the field of Microbiology).

Michael Lee, Ph.D.

Associate Vice President for Instruction for Arts, Sciences, and Program Development
Columbia Basin College

Michael Lee is an Associate Vice President for Instruction for Arts, Sciences, and Program Development at Columbia Basin College. He began his career at CBC teaching in 1999, teaching English composition and literature. While teaching at CBC, he earned a Ph.D. in English and the Teaching of English at Idaho State University. He also holds a BA in English from University of Idaho and an MA in English Studies from Western Washington University.


Mark Lindholm

President & Project Manager
Washington River Protection Solutions

Mark Lindholm is President and Project Manager for Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), where he leads the remediation of radioactive and hazardous waste tanks at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. Lindholm has been serving as WRPS Chief Operating Officer since January 2015, concentrating on production operations, waste retrievals, small projects execution and capital project execution, including the associated engineering functions. He has more than 30 years of experience in government nuclear facilities operations. Before joining WRPS, Lindholm was the manager of commissioning, readiness and operations at Hanford’s Waste Treatment Plant, leading a team of nearly 300 AECOM employees. He also served as executive vice president and chief operating officer at the Idaho Cleanup Project and previously held a senior role at WRPS as the manager of Single-Shell Tank Retrieval and Closure from 2008 to 2010. In addition to his experience at the Department of Energy’s Idaho and Hanford cleanup sites, he held a number of management positions at the Savannah River Site from 1989 to 2007.

Lindholm holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental and hazardous material management from the University of Maryland. To relax, Mark enjoys golfing and traveling to exotic destinations. He and his wife, Lisa, live in Richland, Washington.


Paula Linnen

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* 


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.


Ken Robertson

Executive Editor (retired)
Tri-City Herald

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.


Non-Voting Board Members


Dave Bond

Kennewick School District

Dave Bond is the superintendent of the Kennewick School District. Bond assumed that position July 1, 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. 

Rick Schulte

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.  

Michelle Whitney 

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). 



Deb Bowen | Executive Director |

Kathy Bull | Business Manager |

Robin Wojtanik | Community Outreach Manager |

Kim Chen | Program Manager |