Networking – July 2020


• Danielle Connor has been hired as the Port of Benton’s director of finance/auditor. She graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor of science in accounting and a master’s of professional accountancy. She is a certified public accountant and has more than 12 years of experience in accounting and systems implementation. Her experience spans public accounting at a regional firm, Peterson Sullivan LLP in Seattle, to working as the fiscal manager for the northeast region of the state Department of Natural Resources, to serving as the controller for a large multi-entity manufacturing company in Northeastern Washington. She most recently served as a financial consultant and project manager assisting with systems implementation for Epicor Software. The port contracted with Clifton Larson Allen to recruit for this position.

• Tiara Pajimola has been hired as a client service coordinator at Fulcrum Wealth Management Group of Richland, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services. She has extensive experience with client service roles in the veterinary care and health care services industries. Her responsibilities as client service coordinator will include scheduling, client information updates, upholding the company’s client service model and general service needs.

• Brian Leavitt has been hired as Kennewick School District’s next K-12 student services director. Leavitt, who recently worked as executive director of learning supports in the Pasco School District, started July 1. He had worked in Pasco since 2008, joining that district as an assistant principal of Pasco High School. He also served as Pasco’s director of employee relations, principal of New Horizons High School and director of career and college readiness.

Jack Anderson, the former K-12 student services director, became assistant superintendent of secondary education on July 1 at Kennewick School District.

• Trios Health’s residency class of 2023 includes four internal medicine residents:

Drs. Carissa Burke, Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine; Niki Mohammadi, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences; Carlos Ramirez Rincon, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine; and Nathan Vicknair, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. The 36-month Trios Health Internal Medicine Residency Program includes inpatient and outpatient experiences. One-on-one training is provided by faculty who work at Trios Health and in the community.

• Meier Architecture Engineering has hired Pat Fuller as the electrical group manager. He has more than 25 years of experience in the electrical engineering field. He has worked extensively in the data center, food and beverage, nuclear, and pulp and paper industries. Fuller has more than 10 years of project management experience in construction and design/build projects, as well as more than 15 years of experience in electrical, including medium voltage, and instrumentation and control systems design. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Washington State University.

• Neal Ripplinger has been hired as the new executive director at the Prosser Economic Development Association. He started July 6 and replaces

Deb Heintz who recently retired. Ripplinger spent the past 18 years running his own insurance agency in Grandview.


• The Three Rivers Community Foundation donated $40,000 to the Knights Community Hospital Equipment Lend Program, or KC Help, to support its work. For more than 20 years, KC Help has provided in-home medical equipment to residents across Benton and Franklin counties, at no cost.

• The Mid-Columbia Libraries received a $3,000 federal CARES Act grant to buy hand sanitizer, face masks, sneeze guards and other personal protection equipment. The grant through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act passed through the Washington State Library.

Awards & Honors

• Two LifePoint Health employees in the Tri-Cities have been recognized as 2020 Mercy Award winners. The award recognizes employees from each of LifePoint Health’s hospitals who profoundly touch the lives of others and best represents the spirit and values on which the company was founded.

Aggie Mowry, a registered nurse who has worked at Trios Health for nearly two years, has been recognized as the hospital’s 2020 Mercy Award winner. Mowry has a particular spot in her heart for patients dealing with pregnancy loss and was part of starting “Gone Too Soon,” a pregnancy loss support group through Chaplaincy Grief Care. She also is certified in perinatal loss care. Each May, she organizes the Little Hearts Remembrance program, a memorial service to honor and remember babies lost during the past year. Last year, Mowry traveled to Uganda on a medical mission she organized and volunteered in hospitals and clinics and spoke with mothers about pregnancy loss. Prior to leaving for Uganda, she collected 130 pounds of donated baby blankets that filled three large suitcases. The donations were made anonymously through Amazon, volunteers at various churches in the Tri-Cities, 4-H groups and a local mother who lost her baby, among others.

Bill Mich, a Lourdes Health pharmacist, was recognized as the hospital’s 2020 Mercy Award winner. He has worked at Lourdes for more than 30 years and goes out of his way to make his work family and co-workers feel special, including cards on Mother’s Day and for their birthdays. He gives the employees a gift card for National Pharmacy Tech Day. Each Christmas season, he can be spotted riding around town on his motorcycle in his Santa suit. As Santa, he visits kids who are part of Lourdes’ Children’s Day program, an intensive mental health treatment program for children to develop skills for coping with emotional and behavioral problems at school and home, to help them feel the Christmas spirit.

Each hospital winner will be considered for LifePoint’s 2020 companywide Mercy Award. The companywide winner will be announced this summer and honored during a ceremony in Nashville, Tennessee, in October.

• Gesa Credit Union has been selected as Washington’s best-in-state credit union by Forbes and Statista, a market research firm. They identified the credit unions based on an independent survey of more than 25,000 consumers. Respondents were asked a variety of questions regarding their banking relationships and were asked to rate credit unions on criteria such as overall satisfaction, trust, digital services and financial advice. This was the eighth year in a row Gesa has received this honor.

• Blaine Tamaki, Bryan Smith and Vito de la Cruz of Tamaki Law were selected as 2020 Super Lawyers honorees. Super Lawyers 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. Tamaki Law has an office in Kennewick.

• The Arts Foundation of the Mid-Columbia restructured its board of directors to serve as a resource to help other arts organizations throughout the Mid-Columbia accomplish their goals.
The current board of directors is led by President Yichien Cooper, a member of the board since 2017. The Washington State University Tri-Cities teacher founded the Asian Awareness Art and Culture exhibition in 2009 and is the president of the World Chinese Arts Education Association. As a former member of the Richland Arts Commission she oversaw the development of public art and beautification projects.

Other officers and members of the AFMC board include Emma Barnes, vice president, gallery administrator at Allied Arts Association’s Gallery at the Park since 2018; Walter Timmons treasurer, a manager at Banner Bank in Kennewick; Dennis Cresswell, secretary, publisher of the Entertainer newspaper; Nisha McSwane-Franco, a community activist, author, publisher and reviewer who writes under the pen name Stella Williams; Madison Rosenbaum, a graphic designer and photographer; and Lisa McCoskey. owner of Blossoming Lotus Art.

Past President Pam Ransier serves on the AFMC Advisory Board, along with Cesar Franco and Paul Anguino. Emilie Cooper is the foundation’s youth liaison.

• Michael J. Mahoney and Jason H. Pratt were elected directors at the Baker Boyer Bancorp annual shareholder meeting on May 21. Mahoney is senior managing director at Falcon Point Capital LLC and lives in the San Francisco Bay area. He also serves on the President’s Advisory Board and Investment Committee for Whitman College. Pratt of Seattle is director of supportability for the Windows Commercial Business at Microsoft. He has been at Microsoft for 21 years, and has worked in various roles at Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters, as well as its international subsidiaries in France and Japan.

• Spokane-based Wheatland Bank, which has a branch in Pasco, has received its 53rd consecutive five-star rating from BauerFinancial Inc., the highest available from the bank rating firm. Its enduring performance placed Wheatland Bank in the category of “Exceptional Performance Bank,” which is reserved for banks that have earned Bauer’s highest rating for at least 10 consecutive years.


• Kaitilin Newman, a paraplanner at Fulcrum Wealth Management Group of Richland, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, has earned her chartered retirement planning counselor designation.

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