WSU Vancouver's Annual Women of Distinction Event to Honor 29 Local Women

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 9:41am -- brenda_alling

VANCOUVER, Wash. - Washington State University Vancouver will celebrate 29 women who inspire, mentor and empower others at the annual Women of Distinction event at 6 p.m. March 27 in the Firstenburg Student Commons. The event is free and open to registered guests. To RSVP, visit

A panel comprised of four local businesswomen will share stories about the mentors who inspired them to achieve their dreams. Presenters include:

Deanna Green, program director for the “I Have a Dream” Foundation of Southwest Washington. Green has planned, organized and implemented afterschool and summer programming for at-risk youth from elementary school through college to help them stay in school and graduate. She is also a 2013 Woman of Distinction.

Amy Henderson, executive director and founder of The Geezer Gallery, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting local master senior artists and providing therapeutic arts programming for low-income seniors.

Veronika “Ronnie” Noize is widely known in the community as “The Marketing Coach.” She has worked with hundreds of small business owners to help them identify, acquire and retain their best clients. Noize is also a 2014 Woman of Distinction nominee.

Lisa Schauer serves as the vice president of business development at MacKay Sposito, a regional consulting firm where she is responsible for strategically positioning, leading and managing the firm’s marketing and business development efforts.

Following the panel of presenters, the event will honor the nominees and reveal the Distinguished Woman of the Year award recipients in each of three categories: high school student, WSU Vancouver student and community member.

High School Nominees

Lauren Clark is a junior at Columbia River High School. She excels in math, which will be valuable when she studies business in college. Hard-working, yet easygoing, Clark loves to make people smile and is a woman of her word. She is looking forward to adventures like learning to drive and visiting Europe with the Girl Scouts.

Krti Hariharan is a senior at Camas High School. She regularly volunteers with the Oregon & Southwest Washington Blood Program. She initiated a CHS volunteer chapter and serves as chapter president. Hariharan has also been a part of the CHS tennis program for three years. She plans to attend WSU next fall and study to become a nurse practitioner.

Victoria Hernandez is a senior at Heritage High School. She is enrolled in the Teaching Academy, works in the Heritage Food Pantry, is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance program, participates in athletics and has exhibited her art at the Educational Service District 112 art show. Her goals are to graduate from college, become a guidance counselor and continue making a positive influence in the lives of youth.

Kaitlin Maguire is a senior at Union High School. She plans to attend a four-year university to study molecular biology and medicine. Maguire aspires to work as a nonprofit pediatric physician in developing countries. She enjoys skiing, hiking, singing, traveling, art and spending time with friends and family.


WSU Vancouver Student Nominees

Elizabeth Brodie is the station manager at KOUG Radio. She is a senior and will graduate in May with degrees in anthropology and public affairs.

Kelsey Condon is a senior. She is president of the human sciences honor society, Kappa Omicron Nu, where she organizes student support sessions and a mentoring program. She volunteers at Boys and Girls Club and at a home for teenage mothers and their babies.

Terri McReynolds is completing a humanities degree with the goal of becoming an academic advisor. As an active student leader, she chairs the Student Media Board, interns in the advising department and facilitates a university-to-community educational outreach project. McReynolds visualizes success and a yellow Fiat.

Beth Miles: The simplest way to define Miles is to look at the people closest to her and recognize that who she is, and her successes, are a direct result of their unconditional love and support. She is a senior and is looking forward to graduation this May.

Audrey Miller is a graduate student in the master’s of public affairs program. Miller is the editor-in-chief for the award-winning VanCougar student newspaper. She plans to attend law school, work in the field of sustainable development and run for public office one day.

Sara Seyller is the managing editor for the VanCougar student newspaper. She holds more than one job to support her family while attending college. She will graduate in May with a master’s degree in public affairs.

Kim Stewart is a graduate student in the master’s of accounting program. She serves as part of the executive team of the Institute of Management/Beta Alpha Psi Honor Society and loves being a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

Shavey Winters has devoted her college career to service and involvement. In her senior year in the public affairs program, Winters currently serves as the student body president. She leads with a genuine desire to bring out the best in other leaders through passion, commitment, laughter and enthusiasm.

Erica Zutz is the public relations director for the student-run KOUG radio station. She is a senior graduating in May with a degree in social science.

Community Member Nominees

Helena Abernathy went to college to support her family after her husband became disabled and could no longer work in the logging industry. She is involved with community and is also the glue that holds her family together.

Brenda Alling is the director of marketing and communications for WSU Vancouver. She relishes every opportunity to mentor writers and has worked with interns and student media organizations to hone their skills. Alling is the mother of a 19-year old son who experiences learning differences and supports her husband in his battle with cancer.

Dana Baker is associate director of the College of Arts and Sciences and an associate professor in the School of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs. She works primarily in the areas of public policy design, public leadership and public administration. She is particularly interested in issues relating to neurodiversity and neuroethics.

Kafiat Beckley has worked at WSU Vancouver as a program assistant for the past four years. She earned a degree in human services from Oregon State University and now devotes her time to helping others achieve their educational goals. She enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and running trails with her colleagues.

Jasenka Cehajic works as an immigration program counselor at Lutheran Community Services Northwest. She counsels refugees and immigrants regarding their rights and responsibilities pertaining to their immigration status, helps clients with all immigration forms and applications, and represents clients before the Citizenship and Immigration Services. In addition, she is engaged in advocacy for the preservation of immigrants’ rights in the legal system at all levels of government.

Susan Courtney has been active in Vancouver since 1974. She founded the Hidden House Restaurant and Paradise Café and operated them for almost 30 years. She continues to work in the hospitality industry consulting with restaurants and planning events for the nonprofit community. Courtney and her husband, Dean, actively support arts, education and architecture through the Courtney Irvin Foundation.

Carol Curtis has been practicing real estate in Clark County since 1980. She is an original partner of The Stellar Group, now Windermere/Stellar. Curtis was commissioner for Clark Public Utilities from 1982 through 2002. She is the recipient of first Athena Award in Clark County, and the first female president of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. Curtis is past president of the Clark College Foundation and now serves on the board of H-Roc, a political-action committee.

Laurie Drapela is an associate professor of criminal justice at WSU Vancouver. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001. Her research areas include juvenile justice policy, community corrections and therapeutic specialty courts. Her work appears in journals such as Crime & Delinquency, Youth & Society, Deviant Behavior and the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice. Currently, Laurie has a grant sponsoring her research on Veterans Therapeutic Courts.

Dene Grigar is director and associate professor in the creative media and digital culture program at WSU Vancouver. Grigar and her students have completed countless digital projects for nonprofit and for-profit businesses in the community. She has boundless energy, is known worldwide for her work in electronic literature and is an inspiration to her students.

Nikki Hinshaw is the student activities director for the Office of Student Involvement at WSU Vancouver. She feels it is a privilege to work with and advise students in her role. Hinshaw believes she has worked with many wonderful people in her life who have guided and inspired her to be the person she is today.

Jennifer Horowitz is a volunteer for Junior Achievement and has played a pivotal role in introducing the nonprofit organization’s financial literacy program to students in the Evergreen and Vancouver school districts. Jennifer has served as PTA president and treasurer. Horowitz lives in Camas with her husband and two children.

Temple Lentz is director of content and communications for High Five Media. A 2013 recipient of the Vancouver Business Journal’s “Accomplished and Under 40” award, Lentz serves on many local boards, produces and hosts events including Vancouver’s live talk show “Hello Vancouver!” and writes the popular satire blog “The Daily Couve.”

Maria Lopez was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Havana and was an educational psychologist for 18 years. In 2000 she moved to the United States and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish from Portland State University. In 2006, she began teaching at WSU Vancouver. In her spare time she likes gardening, reading, traveling and salsa dancing.

Cyndie Meyer is the program manager for Chronic Disease Prevention at Clark County Public Health. In past years, Meyer worked for Community Choices and the Steps to a Healthier Clark County initiative, was facilitator of the Community Diabetes Program for WSU Extension, and was a department manager for Southwest Washington Medical Center.

Veronika “Ronnie” Noize is a marketing coach, author of three books, recipient of numerous awards and the founder/managing director of the DIY Marketing Center. Noize currently serves the women’s business community as an officer of the Women Entrepreneurs Organization of Southwest Washington.

DeeAnn Perler inspires and mentors WSU Vancouver students, faculty and staff, and people in the community to live healthier lifestyles. Her passion for leading others is evident in her work on campus as the private trainer and group fitness instructor. Perler has two daughters and lives with her husband near campus. She can often be seen running joyfully through campus with her two dogs.

Women of Distinction is held annually in March with the purpose of recognizing women in Southwest Washington who have made a difference in the lives of others. Held in concordance with Women’s History Month, the event honors women who have inspired, mentored and empowered others. Nominations are accepted for women in three categories: high school students, WSU Vancouver students and community members. Distinguished Woman of the Year award recipients are determined by a committee of WSU Vancouver staff, faculty, students and community members. The event is co-sponsored by Unitus Community Credit Union.

WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave., east of the 134th Street exit from either I-5 or I-205 and is accessible via C-Tran bus service. Free parking will be available to guests in Orange lots beginning at 4:30 p.m.

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Contact Info:

Nikki Hinshaw, Office of Student Involvement, 360-546-9465,
Brenda Alling, Office of Marketing and Communications, 360-546-9601,