Networking – December 2020

Awards and Honors

  • LouAnne Neill of Neill Construction Services LLC, received the Associate of the Year Award from the Building Industry Association of Washington. Neill has served on the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities board of directors nearly every year since 1997 and has been a BIAW director since 2007. Over her time as a member, she has served on over nine committees between HBATC and BIAW and regularly volunteers at the Regional Home and Garden Show and the Fall Home Show. Neill currently serves as BIAW’s 2020 second vice president.
  • Energy Northwest electrician Levi Dunlap received the Good Samaritan Award from the Washington Public Utility Districts Association for his quick actions in response to clear the airway of a choking coworker. He was recognized for his role in a July 10, 2020, incident when he noticed a coworker, who had been eating a snack, in distress. Dunlap quickly realized the individual was choking and administered the Heimlich maneuver, clearing the coworker’s airway. The association presented its annual awards recognizing the outstanding dedicated service and commitment of individuals serving PUDs at the organization’s annual conference on Dec. 3.
  • Two Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. PNNL’s Janet Jansson and Ron Thom were chosen by their AAAS peers for their efforts to advance science or its applications.

    Jansson was selected for advances in the field of microbial ecology. She is chief scientist for biology in PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division and a Laboratory fellow. She has studied complex microbial communities living in soil, sediments and the human gut for more than 30 years. Her research has led to a better understanding of the impact of a changing climate on microbial communities in prairie and arctic ecosystems, including how warming temperatures affect permafrost soil microbiomes and drought on grassland soils. Jansson is a leader of a focused effort funded by the U.S. Department of Energy on the microbiome of the soil, teasing out questions about how drought, temperature and other factors influence the environment. She has authored more than 200 publications and is the editor of two books on molecular microbial ecology and a textbook on soil microbiology. She previously served as president of the International Society for Microbial Ecology and on numerous advisory panels, including the National Academy of Science Committee on Science Breakthroughs for Food and Agriculture by 2030.

    Thom was selected for nearly five decades of research on coastal and estuarine ecosystem research. After positions in California and with the Army Corps of Engineers and the University of Washington, Thom joined PNNL’s Marine and Coastal Research Laboratory in Sequim in 1990, working as a research scientist and managing MCRL’s Coastal Ecosystem technical group for more than 20 years. He retired from PNNL in 2013 and is currently an emeritus scientist at MCRL, as well as the outgoing president of the Washington Academy of Sciences. Over his 48-year career, Thom has led and participated in studies on the ecology of seagrasses, seaweed, salt marshes and tide flats; the effects of climate change on estuarine and coastal ecosystems; and the adaptive management of restored ecosystems.

    Jansson and Thom will be recognized during a virtual induction ceremony on Feb. 13, 2021. AAAS is the world’s largest multidisciplinary scientific society with a mission to “advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.” A designation of fellow is the society’s highest honor. PNNL now has 33 active staff members who hold the rank of AAAS fellow.
  • EHS Today, a national occupational health and safety publication, has named Washington River Protection Solutions as one of America’s safest companies. The designation recognizes companies that exemplify excellence in safety leadership and promote a world-class safety culture. WRPS received several other safety awards in 2020, including the DOE Voluntary Protection Program’s Star of Excellence for the sixth consecutive year. It also received several awards from the National Safety Council, including the Industry Leader & Occupational Excellence award, the Safety Leadership award and the Community Advancement award. In addition, WRPS was recognized by the Council for One Million Safe Work Hours.
  • Marv McKenzie, a private wealth advisor/financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial Services in Kennewick, recently obtained the certified private wealth advisor designation through the Investment Management Consultants Association. He has more than 35 years with Ameriprise.
  • Edward Jones financial advisor Shelley Kennedy of Richland has been invited to attend Barron’s 2020 Top Women Advisors Summit. This is the second time she has been invited to the invitation-only event. The three-day conference gathers the nation’s top women financial advisors and leading industry decision-makers.
  • The Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized eight outstanding individuals who are positively contributing to the Latino and greater Tri-City community during its Una Tarde de Éxitos awards event in October. They are:
    Outstanding Business of the Year: Alisheva Law.
    Latino Community Ally of the Year: Donna Kary.
    – Outstanding Health Care Professional of the Year: Gabriela Araico.
    Outstanding Health Care Professional of the Year: Hilda Torres.
    Outstanding Community Leader of the Year: Victor Ortega.
    Outstanding Community Leader of the Year: Socorro Garcia.
    Outstanding Public Servant of the Year: Ray Aparicio.
    Outstanding Educator of the Year: Antonio Cruz.
  • The Port of Kennewick’s presented two Friend of the Port awards to recognize outstanding service to the port and the community during a Dec. 8 meeting.
    Kennewick Police Department was selected as the 2020 Friend of the Port of Kennewick, representing an organization. The KPD leadership team, comprised of police Chief Ken Hohenberg, Cmdrs. Scott Child, Trevor White, Chris Guerrero and Randy Maynard and Lts. Aaron Clem and Christian Walters, received a plaque on behalf of all KPD employees for their compassionate service, rapid response and friendly assistance whenever called, the time and effort their officers spend patrolling and safeguarding the port’s development projects, and for the diligent commitment exhibited by each officer in helping transition Kennewick’s historic waterfront into a destination gathering place.
    Kay Metz was named a 2020 “Friend of the Port” for his individual contributions. Metz is a personal steward of Clover Island. Sixty-five years ago, his family created the region’s first marina, and his Metz Mobile Marine is still doing business on the island. In selecting him, port staff said he never hesitates to share his knowledge of boating, maintenance and repair with anyone in need. The port said he keeps a watchful eye on the island and has loaned his pump equipment when boats were sinking. He is a tireless cheerleader for all the port’s endeavors and the go-to resource when the staff has marine-related questions. He has been involved with Tri-Cities Water Follies for 54 years and is a longtime member and a past commodore of the Clover Island Yacht Club. He also was instrumental in helping facilitate a new yacht club building.

New Position

  • Jim Hall, director of communications at Kadlec for the past 26 years, has been selected as Kadlec’s new chief philanthropy officer. Hall joined the Kadlec team in 1994, after working for 12 years in sports and news at a local TV station. Hall will continue to produce and host weekly radio (“Kadlec On Call”) and TV programs (“Community Health Journal,” “2 Minute Take”), working to integrate these communication tools more closely with the work of the Kadlec Foundation


  • The Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership has elected four board directors. Directors serve three-year terms to begin January 2021. They are: Theresa Buckendorf, Apollo Mechanical Contractors; Shaun Ehlers, Free Culture Clothing; Jasmine Howell, Banner Bank; and Joel Watson, Just Joel’s.


  • To help curb food insecurity among college students and especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Lamb Weston donated $25,000 to the Washington State University Tri-Cities Cougar Cupboard as part of Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1. The Cougar Cupboard is a food pantry program that allows students to access individual food items or pick up a package of food for themselves and their families. It features both fresh and pre-packaged food and toiletry items. The donation actualizes on the third year of a three-year naming sponsorship totaling $75,000. The $25,000 gift will continue to support costs to run the Cougar Cupboard and provide food to WSU Tri-Cities students and their families throughout the next year.
  • The Kennewick Fire Department and the Kennewick Firefighters Local 1296 teamed up Dec. 5 to build 50 bicycles at this year’s Covid-safe “Bikes for Tikes” event. They will be distributed to children of various ages throughout the Tri-City area by the Heads UP Tri-Cities Foster Kids Committee. Typically, hundreds of volunteers across the Tri-Cities region come together to assist with the annual bicycle build, sponsored by the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 598. This year, the annual event took a different approach. Organizations were asked to participate as micro-build groups to keep the event safer by limiting the size of each group.


  • Two Kennewick School District teachers will use grants from the local PSI Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International to buy materials to enhance student learning. The grants are $250 each. Recipients are Katelyn Berry, a kindergarten teacher at Westgate Elementary School, and Jayme Brackett, pre-physical therapy instructor at Tri-Tech Skills Center. Berry plans to use her grant to buy Math Stackers materials for her class, and Brackett to buy virtual reality materials for her program. The group also selected Southridge High School graduate Bailey Berger as the recipient of its $1,000 scholarship. Berger, who graduated from Southridge High in June 2020, is attending Washington State University and plans to become an elementary school teacher. Delta Kappa Gamma Society International works to promote professional and personal growth of women educators and excellence in education.


  • Gov. Jay Inslee announced new board and commission appointments for November 2020. These include: Chaune Fitzergald of Richland, Commission on African American Affairs; Physician Assistant Joel Quiroz of Richland, Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery; and Phil Tracy of Pasco, Developmental Disabilities Council.

New Hires

  • Mark Gomolski, a volunteer and former board member of Eastern Oregon Mission, has been hired as executive director of the organization. Along with volunteering in the food box program and as a board member, he has helped with fundraisers and other functions increasing the community’s awareness of Agape House and Martha’s House, the two outreach programs of the mission. Gomolski replaces Cathy Putnam, who served as interim director since October 2019 following the retirement of Dave Hughes. Gomolski’s first day was Dec. 1. Through November, Agape House handed out 9,286 food boxes and more than 11,000 weekend food backpacks for students, a program that was extended to year-round in light of Covid-19. In October 2020 the board hired Julia Galan as an on-site house manager at Martha’s House, a drug-free transitional housing program. In 2020 the program has assisted 18 families with housing, education, workforce training, mentorship and encouragement.


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