Networking — October 2019


Andrea Whitlow has been named manager of STCU’s Queensgate branch in Richland, and Andres Montero will be the assistant manager of the Pasco branch, set to open early next year. Whitlow brings 14 years of financial services experience, including nine years with credit unions. Montero draws on six years of financial and retail management experience. He is currently attending Columbia Basin College. The Spokane-based STCU also named Marty Dickinson its new chief marketing officer. She will oversee the credit union’s brand marketing, community relations and facilities teams.

Jay Scott is the new development director at Blue Mountain Council, Boy Scouts of America. He will work to help the council develop new avenues of fundraising through grants, special events and community relationships. In the last 12 years, he has worked for multiple grant programs, including the 21st Century, GEAR UP and Upward Bound programs. The Navy veteran and father of four serves as the executive officer for the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, helping veterans in need.

Dr. John Winkelman has joined Trios Health as a pediatrician. Winkelman is board certified in pediatrics and provides care for neonatal intensive care unit follow-up, newborns, asthma, pre-operation clearance, school physicals, sports physicals, well-child care and more. He attended medical school at New York Medical College and most recently practiced in California at St. Joseph Heritage-Santa Ana.

Dr. Juergen Mueller, a gastroenterologist, has joined Trios Health. Mueller previously worked at Trios and was most recently working in Kalispell, Montana. He treats acid reflux, heartburn, all types of hepatitis and other liver diseases, HIV/hepatitis C co-infection, ulcers, rectal bleeding and more. Procedures he performs include colonoscopies, endoscopies and colon cancer screenings. He earned his medical degree from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich Faculty of Medicine.

Walla Walla-based Baker Boyer Bank hired Sean Haselrig as an investment advisor representative and Nick Punch as a business advisor for the Tri-City team. Haselrig has 20 years and Punch has 10 years of experience in the financial service industry. Baker Boyer also hired Tyson Romanick as a portfolio manager, Travis Wittnebel as a business advisor, and John Adams and Caleb Flippo as trust advisors for the Walla Walla team.

Tri-Cities Orthopedics, which has offices in Kennewick and Richland, has recruited Dr. Cathryn “CJ” Vadala as a hand and elbow orthopedic surgeon. Vadala is fellowship-trained in hand and elbow surgery and has a certificate of added qualification for surgery of the hand. She specializes in the treatment—surgical and nonsurgical—of conditions such as fractures, carpal tunnel, arthritis, trigger fingers and arthroscopy.

Josh Beck joined Petersen Hastings of Kennewick as the financial controller for the firm. In this role, he is primarily responsible for developing and monitoring the company’s financial strategy, budgeting and forecasting to ensure robust financial performance for the firm. He was born and raised in the Lower Yakima Valley and graduated from Pacific University in 2011 with a bachelor’s in economics. While working in the financial industry, he earned numerous certifications in the areas of financial management and compliance, was quoted and cited in numerous industry publications and graduated from Western CUNA Management School based at Pomona College.

Haley Helland joined Petersen Hastings of Kennewick as an associate wealth advisor for the firm. She will be part of a team assisting lead advisors in serving clients’ planning and investment needs. Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Helland graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s in social sciences.


Joshua Wright, a mechanic for Mission Support Alliance’s fleet services organization, received the 2019 Washington State Fire Mechanic of the Year award from the Washington Fire Chiefs Association for providing quality service, ensuring Hanford’s firefighting equipment is well maintained and in proper working order. The Hanford Fire Department is managed by MSA for the U.S. Department of Energy at the Hanford site.

The Kennewick School District has announced its staff excellence awards: Administrator of the year: Chad Foltz, principal of Amon Creek Elementary; Creativity in curriculum: Johanna Gerry, a Chinook Middle School teacher; Staff Support Person of the Year: Cindy Crane, custodian at Vista Elementary; Staff Support Person of the Year: Debbie Moore, secretary at Sage Crest Elementary; Staff Support Person of the Year: Carol Mattair, paraeducator at Chinook Middle School; Certificated Specialist of the Year: Noemi Morales, a counselor at Amistad Elementary; Elementary Teacher of the Year: Audrey Hickman, a kindergarten teacher at Ridge View Elementary School; Middle School Teacher of the Year: Jessica D’Aquila, a special education teacher at Desert Hills Middle School; High School Teacher of the Year: Lt. Col. Curt Wichers, an Air Force veteran and commander of Kennewick High School’s Air Force JROTC program.

The Master Chefs’ Institute recently issued Lamb Weston a seal of excellence rating across five product categories, for 52 Lamb Weston potato products. The institute, an organization comprised of certified master chefs, is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of culinary excellence by conducting comprehensive and objective third-party testing of food products, beverages and equipment. Lamb Weston frozen potato products were submitted for testing against national competitors’ products. Different lots of products were tested independently against a variety of attributes. All the products Lamb Weston submitted for testing qualified for the seal of excellence.

Wine & Spirits magazine has selected Col Solare of Benton City and L’Ecole No. 41 of Lowden as among the top 100 Wineries of the Year worldwide.

Crossbuck Brewing of Walla Walla earned a silver medal for its NoPac IPA at the 2019 Great American Beer Festival, the world’s largest commercial beer competition. Presented by the Brewers Association, the annual event recognizes the most outstanding beers produced in the United States. Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded on Oct. 5 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, in 107 beer categories, covering 174 different beer styles.

The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys has recognized Purcell Law of Kennewick among 2019’s 10 best family law firm for client satisfaction.

The American Institute of Real Estate Professionals has recognized Ginger Hudson of Century 21 Tri-Cities among 2019’s 10 best real estate professionals for client satisfaction.


Columbia Basin College has received a $10,000 grant from the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction and a matching $10,000 grant from Battelle, which operates Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, to help prepare local K-12 educators in teaching computer science. In 2018, CBC also received an OSPI grant to establish the Tri-Cities’ first Computer Science Teacher Association chapter, which provides local K-12 teachers with upgraded technology, innovative workshops and extended training for obtaining a computer science certificate.

With the additional $20,000, the project team, led by CBC Associate Professor of Computer Science Josh Bee, will use the network and resources established by the CSTA chapter to develop and conduct additional computer science professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers, including an ideation workshop, a train-the-trainer program, a cybersecurity challenge and a computer science professional job shadow program.


Empowered Health of Richland has established a new advisory board to help propel the health care clinic into becoming a premier wellness center. The board includes Dr. Jessica Schneider, chief executive officer of Empowered Health, Nicole Chiaramonte, the founder of Synergy MedAesthetics and CEO of TWG consulting, and Dr. Brian Lawenda, medical director for the Northwest Cancer Clinic/21st Century Oncology. Chiaramonte has 25 years’ experience founding, building and exiting businesses, with a focus in the medical and legal spaces. Lawenda is a Harvard-trained radiation oncologist who is nationally recognized for clinical expertise, has served on numerous medical boards and served as a commander in the Navy.

The Tri-City Development Council has elected the following people to serve on the TRIDEC board of directors for the 2020-22 term: John Solheim, chief executive officer of Trios Health; Katie Nelson of Kamiak Vineyards and Gordon Estate winery; Kirt Shaffer, a real estate broker at Tippett Co.; Luis Ojeda, owner/operator  of Ojeda Business Ventures; Melanie Hair, founder of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business, Senior Times and Focus publications; Mike Miller, president and co-owner of Moon Security Services; and Sandra Haynes, chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities.


Walla Walla-based Baker Boyer Bank has promoted Michelle Thacker to director of retail and digital banking, Lynsey Sherry to banking operations manager, and Olivia Loomis to trust advisor.

BrandCraft Marketing of Kennewick has expanded its leadership team. Torey Azure has been promoted to chief executive officer. Kellie Easley has been promoted to vice president of creative and digital. Azure, formerly chief marketing officer of Wildland/BrandCraft, founded BrandCraft in 2012 and merged with Wildland in 2017 to combine Wildland’s software expertise with BrandCrafts’ design, marketing, video and photography services. Easley joined BrandCraft in July 2018. She previously worked for Columbia Hospitality in Seattle as director of marketing. In other Brandcraft news, Ty Mulholland, formerly chief executive officer of Wildland/BrandCraft, is departing for a position as head of operations of Managed Squared Inc., which has been acquired by a legal services company based in California. Denovo, the flagship law practice management “software as a service” of Managed Squared, was developed by Wildland. The Wildland team members responsible for the development of Denovo also have been hired by Managed Squared, which will remain based out of Tri-Cities and continue to bolster the Tri-Cities startup ecosystem.

Nicole Stickney has been promoted to planning project manager at AHBL. She joined AHBL’s Tri-Cities planning department in 2015, bringing extensive experience as a land use planner, economic development manager and as a program manager for U.S. Army Europe. Her specialized experience includes policy development, code writing, environmental analysis and development review. She served as an appointed member of the city of Richland’s Economic Development Board.

Matt Kloes has been named executive director of AgForestry Leadership. For the past six months, he has been the interim president and program director. He has been AgForestry’s program director for four years. AgForestry, based in Spokane, offers hands-on learning experiences for people working in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other natural resource-based businesses.


Cathy Schaeffer, assistant vice president and family advisor, and Hollina Wadsworth, financial planner at Baker Boyer Bank, headquartered in Walla Walla, have been received the certified financial planner designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board.


Benton County’s longtime administrator, David Sparks, retired Sept. 30. Sparks had been with the county for more than 34 years and served as administrator for 19 years.

He began his county career in 1985, working in the treasurer’s office before transferring to the auditor’s office about a year later. He stayed with the auditor’s office until 2000, when he became the administrator.  

The Benton County commissioners appointed Loretta Smith Kelty as interim county administrator.


Petty Officer 2nd Class Mercedes Brotski, a 2014 Pasco High School graduate and native of Pasco, is working as a member of naval construction battalion center located in Gulfport, Mississippi. Brotski is serving as a Navy builder, who is responsible for construction work including concrete, carpentry and masonry.

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