About the Speakers
2017 Return to Evergreen Speakers
Scott D. Baker '77
Principal Consulting Arborist, Tree Solutions, Inc.
Scott Baker is a Registered Consulting Arborist and currently the principal consulting arborist with Tree Solutions Inc. in Seattle, Washington. Scott began his career as an arborist in New York in 1972, climbing trees and running a spray rig for a small tree service. Scott continued to work with trees while a student at TESC and owned a tree service in Olympia. More recently, Scott’s focus has been on advances in the field of biomechanics, the use of trees to support structures, and the use of technology in the field of arboriculture. As a speaker and trainer, Scott has presented talks and workshops all over North America.
Jessica Bateman '09, MES '12
Jessica is currently serving her second year on the Olympia City Council, where she belongs to the general government and finance committees. She is co-chair of The Home Fund, a coalition focused on passing a permanent supportive housing levy in Olympia, and was a proponent of Olympia becoming a sanctuary city. Before her election to the City Council, she served on the Olympia Planning Commission and the board of GRuB, a local nonprofit committed to empowering at-risk youth and low-income families. Jessica has over eight years of experience in the public and non-profit sector working in public policy, planning, and legislative affairs. She currently works as a health policy associate for the Washington Association of Community and Migrant Health Centers and has served as community impact director for The United Way of Thurston County, as a legislative aide, and community organizer. Jessica is a first-generation college student who began her post high school education at Green River Community College. She holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from The Evergreen State College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies.
Amira Joy Norte Caluya
Amira is a generation 1.5 Pilipinx immigrant/queer/trans/non-binary femme, and LGBTQ Coordinator of the Trans and Queer Center. They are thrilled to be here to celebrate and honor Evergreen’s LGBTQQIAA community, and continue deepening the path our community has paved for us. They completed their Bachelor of Arts in Social Work at Portland State University, and their Master’s in Social Work at University of Michigan, with a focus on social policy and evaluation. Their past experience includes campaigning for undocumented students’ equitable access to higher education in Oregon, and researching the impact of punitive attendance, suspension, and expulsion policies in K-12 schools in Michigan. Prior to working at Evergreen, they were the Program Co-Director at Stonewall Youth, in Olympia, WA, where they developed a youth/adult co-leadership model that ensured youth voices were the driving force of the decision-making process. In their spare time, Amira likes to read, sleep, and contemplate the big question: what could their majestic black cat Chac Balaam possibly be doing right now?
Member of the Faculty
Rebecca Chamberlain earned a B.A. in English from Seattle Pacific University and an M.A. in English from the University of Washington. Her expertise is in comparative literature, writing, and oral narratives. A Northwest writer, storyteller, educator, and activist, her publications include poetry, essays, articles, research, and curricula. Her interdisciplinary work explores culture, language, and communications; folklore and mythology; astronomy and cosmology; natural history, environmental, and outdoor education; arts in education; and contemplative practices. She has published papers with Evergreen students on subjects as diverse as binary star research and citizen science, and with Salish elders on language, culture, and sustainability. Her poetry has been featured in international journals. Rebecca has been teaching at The Evergreen State College since 1996, and has served on the on the Board of Governors for The Evergreen State College since 2011.
Session: Just Mercy Seminar
Daniel Cherniske '15
Food Systems Educator and Small Business Owner
Daniel Cherniske is the co-founder at Symbiotic Cycles LLC, an Olympia-based company dedicated to the application of regenerative food production through aquaponics. He is passionate about facilitating community growth and resilience. Daniel is currently working on Entimago, his insect farming project.
Session: Sustainable Living in the Northwest
Stephanie Coontz is Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families as well as Faculty Emerita at The Evergreen State College. She has authored seven books on marriage and family life, including A Strange Stirring: ‘The Feminine Mystique’ and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s, The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap (with a revised and expanded edition released in 2016), and Marriage, A History: How Love Conquered Marriage, which was cited in the U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. She also edited American Families: A Multicultural Reader. Coontz is a frequent guest columnist for the New York Times and CNN and has appeared on The Colbert Report, MSNBC's "The Cycle," The Today Show, PBS News Hour, Oprah Winfrey, Crossfire, 20/20, CBS This Morning, C-SPAN, and the O'Reilly Factor. She was recently awarded the Work-Family Legacy Award by the Families and Work Institute.
Patti Dobrowolski '80
Founder, Up Your Creative Genius
Patti Dobrowolski, author of Drawing Solutions: How Visual Goal Setting Will Change Your Life, is the founder of Up Your Creative Genius, a consulting firm that uses visuals and creative processes to help companies and individuals around the world accelerate growth and change. A critically acclaimed comic performer, internationally recognized keynote speaker, writer, and business consultant, she has brought innovative visual practices to Fortune 500 companies, NGOs and small businesses. A 1980 graduate of The Evergreen State College, she also holds an MA in Psychology: Drama Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies. A multiple business award winner, Dobrowolski has also been a featured speaker at TEDxRainier - DRAW YOUR FUTURE and TEDxSacramento - IMAGINATION CHANGES EVERYTHING. Her recent clients include Nike, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, New Zealand Principal's Association, and the Children’s Storefront Harlem. She recently finished a 32-foot mural of employee experience for the employee entrance of The Seattle Space Needle.
Larry Eickstaedt grew up on a farm in northwest Iowa. He has earned degrees from Buena Vista College, University of Iowa, and obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford University. Larry started his college teaching career at Moss Landing Marine Station and at the College at Old Westbury in New York. In 1970, he joined the Planning Faculty at The Evergreen State College. Larry taught in programs such as Environmental Design, Marine History and Crafts, Paradox of Progress, Reflections of Nature, and Conservation Biology and Restoration Ecology. He has also served two terms as Academic Advisor, two terms as Faculty Reference Librarian, and one term as Faculty Representative to the Board of Trustees. Following retirement, Larry started writing poetry and has published one book. He also began carving stone and has had his sculptures displayed at many shows. He has been blessed with a wonderful family, and was inspired by his grandchildren to build an artistic tree house in his back yard last year.
Member of the Faculty Emerita
Susan Fiksdal first came to Evergreen in 1973 with a M.A. in French from Middlebury College in Vermont. She taught Linguistics and French language classes, and later served as Academic Dean at Evergreen. After eight years of teaching, she had many questions about language and went on to study at the University of Michigan and receive a Ph.D. in Linguistics in 1986. Her second book, A Guide to Teaching Seminars: Conversation, Identity, and Power, was published in 2014.
Session: Just Mercy Seminar
Assistant Director, Longhouse
Laura Grabhorn is a member of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. She is from the Gaanax.ádi clan, and is the youngest daughter of Pearl Peratrovich of Klawock, Alaska. Laura has been working at the Longhouse as Assistant Director since 1999. From 1994-1999, she served as a Financial Aid counselor and Director of Student Employment. Before she came to The Evergreen State College, she worked in Multicultural Affairs at Kansas State University, and was the Assistant Dean of the University Graduate School at Indiana University-Bloomington. She has a Masters Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs, and a B.A. in Sociology from Indiana University.
Dr. Steve Herman is renowned in the worlds of science and natural history. He has a wealth of knowledge that he shares through teaching. Steve has inspired many aspiring student scientists to follow through with their goals. Although "retired," he continues to teach biology at The Evergreen State College.
Kirk Jones '93
Kirk Jones has worked with newspapers, assisted photographers at Portland's largest commercial studio, prepared custom printing for Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly, and worked freelance in Asia for 5 years. He has done professional work for Chubb Security, Indovina Bank, Coke, and Foster's Beer. His images have been published on CNN.com, BonAppetit.com, NYTimes.com, and most recently for the LA Times Travel Oregon print section. Currently he is producing a series of Gigapan images of the Northwest entitled NW Collection, as well as a continuing series of John James Audobon-inspired Cannabis flower images. The subjects he is most captivated with are how people live and specifically what our environments are like: the structure of our housing and how we co-exist. Recently Kirk has been fascinated with urban farming and the community that supports it, and has made a few trips into clear-cut areas to photograph logging and loggers as they work.
Elizabeth Lord '95
Elizabeth Lord fell in love and grew a passion for oral storytelling and traditional folktales while studying at Evergreen and earned a degree in Folklore and Theater in 1995. She joined the Olympia Storyteller's Guild in 1992 (now known as the South Sound Storytelling Guild) and in 1996 began storytelling professionally. Since then she has performed for numerous organizations and groups both public and private throughout Western Washington. She is one of the hosts of Olympia's popular monthly storytelling event, StoryOly, where community members come together to share, compete and tell true stories based on a monthly theme.
By training, David Marr is an American intellectual historian, but since joining the Evergreen faculty in 1971, he has broadened and sharpened his interests by teaching with thirty-five different colleagues in the arts, sciences, and social sciences. David retired from teaching in 2011 with a conviction that just as students are ignorant by definition, teachers are made newly ignorant by their training - and the best teachers he has known share that conviction. He and his wife Susan met in high school in Clinton, Iowa. They have been married fifty-five years, and have three daughters and three grandchildren. Susan gardens and reads novels about the Tudors; David reads books on the origins of Europe in the Barbarians’ conquest of the Roman Empire, and since Ferguson, on historical justifications for reparations.
Stacy Mears, parent of McKenna, Class of '21
Parent and Family Advisory Council Co-chair
Tanner Milliren '14
Sustainable Builder and Small Business Owner
Tanner began building at a young age, working with his father in a small town. He came to Evergreen for wood shop and after graduating proceeded to build sustainable and eco-friendly tiny homes. He believes building is an intimate process, like therapy. To build is to see the value in what you have accomplished throughout the day reflected in your work - at the end of the day you can see what you have accomplished.
Session: Sustainable Living in the Northwest
Corey Mosesly '11
Corey has over 10 years of experience working in both the non-profit and government sectors. He has worked with organizations on a broad range of issues including education, housing, and workforce development. He currently serves on the City of Tacoma's Human Service Commission and Vision 2025 Advisory Committee, the American Leadership Forum Program Committee, and the Puyallup Watershed Initiative. Over the last few years, Corey has provided consulting services for the City of Tacoma's Neighborhood Council Program, Neighborhood Business District Program, and more recently to several of the independently run Neighborhood Councils. Corey was one of the Business Examiner's 2014 annual "40 Under Forty" community and business leaders. He is a long-time member of the Pierce County Black Collective, a Palmer Scholar, and a Senior Fellow (class 18) of the American Leadership Forum. He has a Master of Public Administration degree from Evergreen State College with a concentration in non-profit management. Corey currently works as the Manager of Family Stability Initiatives for United Way of Pierce County and lives with his wife and three boys in Tacoma's Central Neighborhood.
Alex R. Puckett
Poetic, also known as Alex R. Puckett, is a spoken-word artist rapper and author with an extensive background in performance and songwriting. He published his first book in 2013, A Thousand Words, and performed for renowned poet Nikki Giovanni. He is currently working on a debut album which has an unspecified release date. Alex studies English and creative writing at The Evergreen State College. He hopes to transform societal norms as well as bless the world through his art, and his aspiration in life is to be the best at what he does - which is educating through music.
Thomas Rainey has been married to Nina Carter, a double Evergreen graduate, for 33 years. He has two daughters, two grandchildren, and two great grandchildren, who call him "Great Daddy." A seventh-generation Floridian, Tom proudly served in the U. S. Navy from 1954-59, a key formative experience in his life. He earned a BA in History from the University of Florida, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa; he has a MA and Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois, with Certificate in Russian and East European Studies. Tom served as a member of the faculty at The Evergreen State College from 1972-2000, and became Faculty Emeritus in 2000. Tom styles himself as a “failed retiree;" he still primarily teaches Russian and Eurasian Studies in Evergreen's Evening and Weekend Studies programs. He has taken almost twenty-five study or research trips to Russia and Siberia, often with Evergreen students. He has two monographs and many articles in popular and scholarly journals on Russian history and culture, most recently dealing with Russian and Siberian environmental history and problems.
Crackers in Paradise: Memories and Stories of a Florida Family; unpublished is a finished interdisciplinary monograph on Anton Chekhov and landscape artist Issak Levitan, entitled Witnesses to a Vanishing Russia. Soon he hopes to publish his lectures and essays on Russia and a monograph on the environmental history of the middle basin of the Volga River entitled Farewell to Mother Volga. His favorite spectator sport is American politics and world geopolitics between the three major emerging superpowers of the twenty-first century. His teaching philosophy is simple—set academic standards and expectations high and then help his students to meet them. His favorite quotes: "History is not was, history is." (Attributed to William Faulkner) and “History does not repeat, but it does instruct.” (Timothy Snyder, Historian)
Session: Making Russia Great Again
Lab Manager at Photoland
Ryan is currently the Photo Lab Manager at The Evergreen State College. Most of Ryan’s current photographic work is outdoor life and adventure-based photography and video, but he did spend several years doing studio photography for Steelcase Inc. in Grand Rapids, MI. When he is not out photographing he can be found riding his mountain bike or surfing various locations in Washington and Oregon. He stays in shape and loses many hours of sleep chasing his active three-year-old and one-and-a-half-year-old boys.
Sandra Romero '06
Sandra Romero, now happily retired, has served in various elected positions beginning in 1980 as a school board member in Granite Falls, Washington. After moving to Olympia in 1983, she served three years on the Olympia City Council before being elected to the Legislature where she served for twelve years. After leaving the Legislature, she was elected to serve two consecutive four year terms as a Thurston County Commissioner. She has spent time working in both Cambodia and Pakistan training political parties on how to run grassroots campaigns. Sandra is a proud graduate of The Evergreen State College.
Kristen Rubis '01
Executive Director of Empowerment 4 Girls
Kristen Rubis, Executive Director of Empowerment 4 Girls, has been dedicated to a path of service for nearly two decades with her healing arts business encompassing massage, yoga, sound healing, and maternity support. A graduate of The Evergreen State College, Kristen has focused on alternative education and childhood development, teaching her gift for harmonious wellness to people of all ages. Kristen brings her own self-empowerment and self-healing into her work, her practice and her relationships. Seeing her path of service as a resource for her community, Kristen is deeply committed to empowering others to do the same.
Session: Healing with Yoga and Song
A long stint recording oral history in North Idaho led Sam Schrager to receive graduate training as a folklorist. He then went on to study trial lawyers for the Smithsonian and wrote an ethnography, The Trial Lawyer’s Art. Sam has taught at The Evergreen State College since 1988. He considers Evergreen to be a great setting to explore the power of stories in everyday life with students. Essays from one such fieldwork seminar have appeared in Writing American Cultures: Studies of Identity, Community, and Place (The Evergreen State College Press). Sam owes a great debt to colleagues (three of whom are on this panel) for collaborations that have expanded how he and our students think. Sam has now come around full-circle: teaching post-retirement, guiding the Evergreen Oral History Project, and writing—a book of Idaho oral history from that long-ago research.
Nancy Taylor was one of the few Washingtonians hired by Evergreen for the very first year of classes. She was raised in Kent, and all of her grandparents arrived in Washington in the 1880s. She received her academic degrees in History and Education from Stanford, but got her true education during her 38 years at Evergreen. In 1970, after teaching in high school and working for an educational TV station in Boston, Nancy was hired to be the Admissions Counselor for The Evergreen State College and traveled the state with the planning faculty, recruiting our first students. Once the students arrived, she joined the faculty to teach in the Human Development Program. Since then, Nancy has taught with fifty colleagues in twenty-six Coordinated Studies Programs such as: Democracy and Tyranny, Shakespeare, Making American Selves, Victorian England, Modern Japan, and Enduring Stories. She has also taught in Japan and China on exchange, served for one year as a Faculty Reference Librarian, served three years as an Academic Dean, and pursued research into the lives of 17th century English women through their private letters, culminating in a book published in 2003.
Ernest L. Thomas
Senior Advisor to the President
September 1972, Dr. Ernest L. Thomas began his career in higher learning. His first professional position was Recruiter and Advisor for the Educational Opportunities Program (EOP) at Central Washington State College in Ellensburg, Washington. He also served as a lecturer in the Sociology Department.
As a first generation learner, Dr. Thomas is passionate about supporting the access and transition of first generation learners into higher learning. In 1973, this passion led to writing and successfully procuring an Upward Bound grant. For 40 years, Dr. Thomas diligently supported first generation learners in a number of roles including Coordinator of Upward Bound, Director of Educational Support Programs and Dean of Student Development, Vice President of Student Development and Campus President. In 2011 Dr. Thomas retired as Campus President from Tarrant County College South Campus. In tandem with his administrative appointments, Dr. Thomas served as an adjunct faculty for 12 years at The Evergreen State College. Dr. Thomas firmly believes in the reciprocal value between higher learning institutions and the communities that support these learning organizations. He has served on numerous civic and business related boards. However, his preferred means of serving the community is through community based program development for young people, parents and families. He never turns down an opportunity to speak to diverse audiences on the importance of continuous learning, leadership and legacy development, and self-empowerment.
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