Networking — September 2018


Auctioneer Scott Musser, CEO of Musser Bros. Inc., was inducted into the National Auctioneers Hall of Fame. The second-generation Kennewick auctioneer operates estate and equipment auctions throughout the Northwest and has offices in Pasco, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. He became a full-time auctioneer in 1982. He began serving on the auctioneers association board in 2001 and became chairman in 2010. Musser was also named the International Auctioneer Champion in 2001. The induction ceremony was held during the auctioneer association’s annual conference, which was held in Jacksonville, Florida, in July.

Badger Mountain Elementary in Richland has earned a Partnership School Award from the National Network of Partnership Schools, or NNPS, at Johns Hopkins University. The award recognizes the work of Badger Mountain’s Action Team for Partnerships, a group of staff and community members. The school is the first in Richland School District to receive the award from NNPS, which advocates for strong partnerships between schools and communities to increase student success. The ATP’s activity focused on providing parents tools for developing fine motor skills in their children before kindergarten will be included in NNPS’s annual publication, Promising Partnership Practices 2018. NNPS also praised a cultural fair and summer reading program the ATP organized.

CEO of Solarity Credit Union, Mina Worthington, received the YWCA of Yakima’s Dorothy and Fred Plath Award. Recipients are committed to improving the life for those in the community. Worthington was selected for her support to the organization and living values of its mission that empower women and work to eliminate racism. Solarity has a Tri-City loan production office in Richland.



Diana Crane is the new digital marketing manager for Visit Tri-Cities. She has a degree from Carleton College and most recently was the customer marketing manager for Minneapolis-based, Cameron’s Coffee.

Mykaela Faulconer was hired at West Richland’s Cougar Digital Marketing & Designs as a graphic designer and photographer. She most recently worked as a financial advisor at Waddell & Reed.

Dr. Fatima Saifuddin will provide outpatient primary care to adult patients at Trios Care Center at Vista Field, 521 N. Young St., Kennewick. Saifuddin received a doctor of medicine and bachelor of surgery from Sindh Medical College in Karachi, Pakistan. She also has a master’s of public health from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. She completed a three-year internal medicine residency program at Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, Florida.

MaryAnne Wuennecke has joined United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties as the marketing and communications manager. She has more than 25 years of experience as a communications professional in the Tri-Cities, including science communications at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, public involvement related to the state of Washington’s oversight of Hanford cleanup, and promoting tourism at Visit Tri-Cities. She has a bachelor’s degree from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University.

Edward S. Stock has joined Project Time and Cost in Richland as senior technical editor. Stock has 30 plus years in the nuclear energy field with a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering technology. The privately-held firm is dedicated to increasing corporate value by conserving our clients’ time and money.

Trios Health has hired two doctors who recently completed three-year medical resident programs. 

Dr. Ivan Reyes-Rufo joined Trios Medical Group to work as a hospitalist at Trios Southridge Hospital at 3810 Plaza Way in Kennewick. He received his doctor of medicine from Touro University of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, California, and completed an internal medicine residency program at Trios Health. He is board eligible to be certified in internal medicine. 

Dr. Whitney Fix-Lanes will provide outpatient primary care at Trios Care Center at deBit at 320 W. 10th Ave., Suite 100, in Kennewick. She is the third graduating medical resident to be hired by Trios Health since the program’s inception in 2013. She received a doctor of osteopathic medicine from Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences in Yakima. She completed
undergraduate studies at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, receiving a bachelor of science in biology. She is board eligible to be certified in family medicine. 

Brant Baker has joined United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties as the director of finance. He previously held the same position from 2001-06. He has also served as the chief financial officer for Tri-Cities Chaplaincy and as the controller for Columbia Basin Health Association. He is a certified public accountant and a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Washington State Society of CPAs. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University.

N. Zach Ratkai is the new administrative and community services cirector for the city of Pasco. This position oversees information technology, facilities, recreation, municipal court and the city clerk. Ratkai has been in local government for nearly 15 years, and most recently worked for the city of Richland as the economic development manager. Before that, he worked in a handful of communities in Colorado in land use planning, building inspection and disaster recovery management. He has a bachelor’s degree in geography from the University of Northern Colorado and a master’s in public administration from the University of Colorado. He grew up in Denver, Colorado, and has lived in the Tri-Cities since 2016. 

The new executive director of the Tri-Cities Food Bank is Tim W. Sullivan. He replaces retiring Executive Director Bill Kitchen. Sullivan, 51, graduated from Pasco High School in 1985.  Prior to joining the food bank he had been serving as the Pasco School District’s director of employee services since 2013. He received his bachelor’s in African-American history and a master’s in education from Evergreen State College in Olympia. He has extensive management experience as a high school assistant principal in school districts in Washington and from 2000-13 as principal for several large high schools in Southern California. While in California, he worked to promote health and fitness among the youth of the Los Angeles School District.

The food bank, which serves more than 40,000 families a year, provides emergency food to the needy residents of Benton City, Kennewick, Finley, Richland and West Richland.

Renée Adams has been hired as the first executive director of the Arts Center Task Force, whose mission is to build a performing arts center in the Tri-Cities. Her career has spanned nearly every position in the performing arts, including arts manager, dance teacher and performer. Adams is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the task force and serving as its spokesperson and ambassador. She also works with the board to develop and implement strategic plans as well as policies and procedures. The Mid-Columbia Ballet brought Adams on staff in 2016 as director of programs and outreach. In 2017, she joined the arts task force as its administrator.

Jason Plemons was hired as an associate wealth advisor for Petersen Hastings in Kennewick. He has a degree in political science from Kansas State University and worked in Pullman for 16 years.

Brandan Eckhardt has been hired as a marketing coordinator for Petersen Hastings in Kennewick. He is a Hermiston native and has a degree from Washington State University in strategic communication.

Aubree Downing is Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels’ new community development specialist. She most recently worked for Snohomish County YMCA, and has a degree in nonprofit administration from Central Washington University.

Chris Deeney joined the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as chief science and technology officer for the national security mission area. His responsibilities include providing senior leadership in strategy development for the national security research portfolio and programs. For the past five years, Deeney worked for National Security Technologies, or NSTec, as vice president for program integration and chief technology officer before moving to special assignment for NSTec’s parent organization. His responsibilities included three directorates — stockpile stewardship, global security and environmental management — and he executed his programs throughout five DOE nuclear facilities and multiple high-level, hazardous waste facilities.

Previously, Deeney was the assistant deputy administrator for stockpile stewardship for the National Nuclear Security Administration. He managed the $1.7 billion nuclear stockpile stewardship program of three national laboratories and the Nevada National Security Site. He was also a senior manager responsible for numerous experiments related to nuclear weapons physics and pulse power technologies at Sandia National Laboratories. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering. He earned his doctorate in plasma physics from the Imperial College, United Kingdom.

Tri-Cities Orthopaedics has hired Dr. Samuel J. Strebel as a general orthopedic and joint replacement specialist. He is fellowship-trained in adult joint reconstruction, or joint replacement, from Johns Hopkins University Medical Center. He specializes in the treatment — surgical and nonsurgical — of a variety of orthopaedic conditions and procedures, including general orthopaedics, anterior approach hip replacement, total and partial knee replacement, minimally invasive surgery and adult and pediatric fracture care. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and sees patients in the Kennewick office at 6703 W. Rio Grande Ave.

Jessica Parnell joined Plateau Press Specialty Printing and Design with more than 20 years of graphic design experience.



John Oppenheimer has joined Anthony’s Restaurants’ Board of Directors. Oppenheimer is the founder and CEO of Columbia Hospitality. Anthony’s operates a restaurant in Richland.



Fitch Ratings affirmed its A+ rating with a stable outlook on Benton PUD’s electric revenue bonds. Fitch Ratings attributed the rating to Benton PUD’s competitive rates, favorable power supply, low debt levels, growing economy, and history of maintaining solid financial metrics. Benton PUD serves more than 53,000 customers electricity and wholesale broadband in Kennewick, Prosser, Finley, Benton City and surrounding areas in Benton County.



Kadlec Foundation raised more than $91,000 for academic scholarships at its annual Golf Classic fundraiser in early August. Scholarships are distributed to area students pursuing degrees in the health care fields at Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College.

This year, the Richland Kiwanis Club — with help from the Saueressig family — collected school supplies for needy kids in support of the SHAKE, or Seniors Helping All Kids Education, project. The club bought 72 backpacks and filled 22 with school supplies. Members also contributed five large boxes of loose supplies. SHAKE volunteers will sort and deliver the donated school supplies to schools in the Tri-Cities.



The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust gave the Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties a $300,000 grant to help pay for a new clubhouse in Kennewick and to expand youth services. The nonprofit operates four clubhouses in Benton and Franklin counties and several operated at capacity with children on the waiting list during the past year. The Kennewick 23,000-squart-foot clubhouse will be near Park Middle School and feature a full-size gym, game room and learning and technology centers. The group targeted the area to serve a population with a high density of children from low-income families, with lower academic performance, chronic absenteeism and increased housing insecurity.

A grant from Numerica Credit Union will pay for the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia to provide more than 8,000 high-quality books to the Union Gospel Mission families — enough materials for a year.

Sarah Roley, assistant professor with Washington State University Tri-Cities School of the Environment, and two colleagues received a $483,000 National Science Foundation grant to study how bacteria work with perennial grasses to fix nitrogen. Their focus will be switchgrass but may apply to other perennial grasses.

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