Networking — July 2019


• April Castañeda, a senior executive with 20 years of experience leading human resources programs at Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been named director of human resources at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Castañeda joins the Department of Energy laboratory after serving as assistant vice president for equity and equity investigations at Caltech in Pasadena, California. In this role, she was responsible for Caltech’s policies and practices related to discrimination and harassment, including overseeing the response, investigation and resolution of allegations, and developing and leading institute-wide education programs and activities in those areas. Castañeda previously served as assistant director of human resources with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech manages for NASA, and as the executive director for human resources at Caltech. In those roles, she was responsible for HR strategy and communications, and for recruiting, employee relations, learning and development, workers compensation and data management functions. At PNNL, Castañeda will lead a team of 70 professionals and direct the laboratory’s compensation and benefits, talent acquisition and university recruiting, diversity, leadership and staff development, labor relations and other key HR functions.

Joseph Williams joined Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as director of its Seattle office. The office is home to more than 130 researchers and support staff spanning PNNL’s national security and energy and environment missions. A former executive with Microsoft and Sun Microsystems, Williams also served as dean of the School of Business, Government and Economics at Seattle Pacific University before being appointed to the industry sector lead team at the state Department of Commerce.  

Jody O’Connor is the new Procurement Technical Assistance Center counselor in Kennewick, and her office is located within the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce. Her service region includes seven Washington counties, including Benton, Franklin, Klickitat, Yakima, Grant, Walla Walla and Columbia. She joined the PTAC team in April.

Paul Klein has joined United Way of Benton and Franklin Counties as the community impact manager. He is responsible for managing the funding process for local nonprofit partners who help the growing number of people in need across the community. Klein comes from a nonprofit background and also has served in the Peace Corps. He has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington.

Tamra Meyer has been named as the new regional director for Junior Achievement in the Southeastern Washington region. Meyer formerly served as statewide programs director for Junior Achievement of Washington. As regional director, she will manage development efforts and program implementation designed to bring work readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy programs, currently reaching 11,465 students in Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties. Meyer begins her new tenure in the organization with goals to increase student access to Junior Achievement programs, and grow the community’s involvement in the organization’s fall event, the Hearts are Wild Gala.

• Yvette Raymond is Desert Wind Winery’s new chef de cuisine. Raymond is responsible for creating new signature menu items and food pairings at the Prosser winery. Raymond will offer customized menus for special events and initiate a private dining program to offer overnight guests. Raymond brings with her a passion for cooking as well as decades of experience in the culinary field. She has previously held positions in all levels of the food and beverage industry from server to head chef, owning two restaurants and offering large scale catering. 

Dorothy Hunter has joined EverStar Realty as a Realtor. A Tri-City resident since 1999, she has won multiple customer service awards for her business, Paw’s Natural Pet Emporium.


Debbie Bone-Harris, Franklin PUD’s senior public affairs manager, will be retiring at the end of November. Bone-Harris began her career at Franklin PUD in 2003 and has held various roles throughout the utility with responsibility for community events, communications, legislative affairs and public involvement. She spent hours educating customers and the public about the value of the federal Columbia and Snake river dam system, working with state and federal legislators in Olympia and Washington, D.C. Prior to joining Franklin PUD, she spent 20 years working at Hanford in various positions. She holds a number of leadership roles including sitting on the Pasco Chamber of Commerce, Visit Tri-Cities and Tri-Cities Legislative Council Board of Directors, as well as previously sitting on the Board of Directors for Tri-City Development Council. In the electric industry she serves on boards for the Washington Public Utility District Association, Northwest Public Power Association and the Pacific Northwest Waterways Association. She also was well-known for serving as chair of the Small Business Awards Banquet, which ran for 20 years.


• Jared Balcom of Pasco, vice president of trade affairs the National Potato Council, was named to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee for Trade. This committee holds primary responsibility for providing agriculture industry input to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. trade representative regarding U.S. trade policy. He joins 32 other chief executive officers, association executives and trade experts on the committee.


Kadlec Foundation raised more than $80,000 through sponsorships and attendance at 2019 Kidz Dig Rigz event on May 18. The event attracted more than 4,000 people. The presenting sponsor was Numerica Credit Union.


• Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance recently donated $12,000 to the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia to support the Read-Up program. The money was used to buy summer libraries for more than 380 incoming third-graders in the Tri-Cities who may not otherwise have access to books during the summer months. This is the second year that MSA has supported this program.

Lamb Weston presented Washington State University Tri-Cities with a $25,000 check to support the campus’ food pantry program called the Cougar Cupboard. The money will go toward a new industrial freezer, salaries for student workers who will ensure that the cupboard will remain open longer and the cost of additional food and toiletry items not regularly being provided. Lamb Weston also will provide $25,000 to the Cougar Cupboard program next year to support student salaries and the overall program, and has pledged an additional $25,000 for a third year. At WSU Tri-Cities, about 37 percent of students have identified that it is difficult for them to meet their daily living expenses, and 7 percent of students indicated they are at risk of homelessness.


Gov. Jay Inslee announced $5.8 million in grants to fight poverty in Washington. The Economic Security for All grants, awarded from the governor’s federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Statewide Activities fund, supports organizations in four local Workforce Development Areas which are developing plans and sustainable activities to improve the lives of families to above 200 percent of federal poverty level.          

Benton-Franklin Workforce Development Council received more than $856,000 with the expected outcome of moving 138 families out of poverty. Proposed activities will focus on Connell, building a partnership around four pillars of support: transportation, health care, child care and employment. Benton-Franklin Workforce Development Council will establish regular transportation to connect residents of Connell to opportunities and resources in the Tri-Cities; provide access to physical and mental health care; support access to affordable, reliable and quality child care; and focus employment and training efforts on high-demand occupations in Connell and the Tri-Cities. This model is designed to enable replication in other rural population centers in Washington, upon request.


Retter & Company Sotheby’s International Realty of Kennewick announced owner/broker Dave Retter was recognized on the 2019 REAL Trends & Tom Ferry “The Thousand,” a summary of the top 1,000 independent real estate agents and teams in the United States. The “The Thousand” comprises four categories: the top 250 agents by sides, top 250 agents by sales volume, top 250 teams by sides and top 250 teams by sales volume. Retter was ranked in the Top 250 agent by sides in the United States.  The Sotheby’s International Realty brand claimed 41 of the top 250 sales associates in the REAL Trends individual sales volume category, more than any other real estate brand. The brand also had the highest combined individual sales volume from sales associates in the same category.

Travel Leaders/Columbia Basin Travel of Richland and Kennewick won a 2018 Agency of Excellence Award. To earn the distinction, each Travel Leaders agency is scored in multiple categories that reflect business growth; utilization of marketing programs to reach local consumers; participation in training programs to enhance service to clients; participation in local and national business networking meetings; and their overall promotion of the Travel Leaders brand. Sondra Wilson is the company president and Julie Harrington is the chief executive officer.

• For the third consecutive time, Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant, known as the vit plant, has earned the U.S. Department of Energy’s highest certification for excellence in occupational and health protection. The vit plant was first awarded Voluntary Protection Program Star status in 2010 and was recertified in 2014 and again this year. Contractors whose programs meet requirements for outstanding safety and health programs receive this recognition. Earlier this year, a VPP team from DOE headquarters conducted a site review to gauge employee and management involvement in safety programs. The team noted several positive attributes of the job site’s culture and worker-safety programs, including management observations, culture and safety committees, and stop-work authority. The review team also noted that management expectations are communicated effectively and there is a trusting and respectful environment among workers and management.

Janet Bryant will receive the 2020 Award for Volunteer Service from the American Chemical Society. This award is presented annually to honor volunteer efforts that have served ACS and contributed to the organization’s goals and objectives. Bryant is being honored for her holistic and strategic approach to volunteerism, unwavering commitment to empowering chemists, and proven track record of translating goals and needs into tangible actions. Bryant, recently retired after 38 years with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has been an ACS member for more than 20 years. During this time, she has been deeply involved in a number of society activities and committees, with a particular focus on career building, networking and the advancement of women in the chemical sciences. She has served as the chair of the ACS Women Chemists Committee, the ACS Richland Section and the ACS Division of Business Development & Management, among others. As part of her award, Bryant will deliver the keynote address at the ChemLuminary Awards ceremony during the fall 2020 ACS National Meeting and Exposition in San Francisco.

• The city of Pasco was named one of 20 finalists for the national All-America City award from by the National Civic League, but did not win it. The award application involved a description of three community projects focused on celebrating examples of civic engagement practices that advance health equity in local communities. Pasco’s three projects submitted for consideration were the Hot Spotters mental health program, Tri-Cities Community Health’s “Let’s Prevent Diabetes/Prevengamos las Diabetes,” and Pasco School District-Columbia Basin College’s Food Student Support Program.

Blaine Tamaki and Vito de la Cruz of Tamaki Law, which has an office in Kennewick, were selected as 2019 Super Lawyers honorees. This is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Megan Hale of Tamaki Law was selected as a 2019 Rising Stars honoree. To be eligible, a candidate must be 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. While up to 5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named to Super Lawyers, no more than 2.5 percent are named to Rising Stars.

Yong Wang, a laboratory fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, received the 2019 Catalysis and Reaction Engineering Practice Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He was recognized for his pioneering contributions to catalysis and chemical reaction engineering. The internationally-recognized researcher is known for the development of novel catalytic materials and reaction engineering that convert fossil and biomass feedstocks into important industrial products, such as chemicals and fuels. Wang has been a leading researcher in catalysis at PNNL since 1994, where he assumed the position of associate director of the Institute for Integrated Catalysis in 2008.

• Hanford site contractors were recognized by The Green Electronics Council and managers of the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment tool for their efforts to protect the environment by using sustainable electronics. The contractors, which include CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., HPMC occupational medical services, Mission Support Alliance, Washington River Protection Solutions and Wastren Advantage were among 59 worldwide winners to receive an award from the council and EPEAT. EPEAT is a ranking system that helps companies compare and select office equipment that helps reduce environmental impacts. Ranking criteria include greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous waste production and total energy usage. In 2018, over 95 percent of the electronics bought by Hanford contractors met the EPEAT standards.

Trios Health received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines Target: Stroke Honor Roll Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes Trios’ commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Apollo Heating and Air of Kennewick received the Carrier President’s Award which recognizes Carrier dealers who exemplify leadership and management, customer satisfaction, expertise, business growth and operational excellence.

Roger Harnack of Sunnyside has been selected as a 2019 Golden Dozen commentary writer by the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. He is the regional publisher of Horizon Publications’ holdings in Eastern Washington, which include the Statesman-Examiner, The Sun, Deer Park Tribune, Mid-Week Extra and press plant operations. Harnack previously served as editor and publisher of Daily Sun News in Sunnyside and The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle in Omak.


Michael Novakovich, president and chief executive officer of Visit Tri-Cities, has achieved credentials as a certified destination management executive, the tourism industry’s highest individual educational achievement. The four-year credential is available to senior executives through Destinations International. The program blends theory with experience and application of knowledge to help industry leaders thrive in a constantly changing environment by focusing on vision, leadership, productivity and implementing business strategies. Certification requires 88 classroom hours, group projects, presentations and a series of papers including a research paper suitable for publishing. While the program typically takes two to four years to complete, Novakovich accelerated the program and completed it in less than a year. In addition, Novakovich has been selected as a speaker at Destinations International’s annual convention in St. Louis, Missouri, where he will present on tourism advocacy. He also has been selected to play drums in the Destinations International House Band at the convention. The House Band will be performing at the Ballpark Village at the St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball stadium during the welcome reception.


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce with 4-Star Accreditation for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures and positive impact on the community. This honor puts the regional chamber among the top 3 percent of chambers nationwide. It is now the only accredited chamber of commerce in Washington. Accreditation is a national program that recognizes chambers for their effective organizational procedures and community involvement. To receive accreditation, a chamber must meet minimum standards in its operations and programs, including areas of governance, government affairs and technology. This self-review can take six to nine months to complete.


• More than $2 million in scholarship dollars were awarded to 89 students in the Tri-Cities and surrounding areas to pursue STEM and health care degrees in Washington state through the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship program. The program aims to prepare students for Washington jobs by reducing barriers for low- and middle-income students to pursue high-demand science, technology engineering, math or health care degrees at eligible Washington state colleges and universities. Students receive up to $22,500 in scholarships, as well as mentorship and professional development to support the launch of their career in Washington.

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