Networking – May 2022


  • The Board of Directors of Tri-Cities Community Health (TCCH) has selected Jim Merrill as the organization’s new chief executive officer. Merrill has served as chief financial officer for TCCH since 2019 and brings with him over 18 years of experience in a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) setting. He received a master of public administration degree from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting and a minor in economics from Oregon State University.
  • Gesa Credit Union has promoted Traci Bouslaugh to vice president of member fulfillment. She brings more than 25 years of financial experience to her new role.Bouslaugh will provide direct executive support and strategic oversight of Gesa’s Member Contact Center, inbound and outbound sales, and the virtual sales and service teams. Bouslaugh, a Richland native, has been with Gesa for 10 years. Prior to her promotion, she served as a branch manager and then later as the assistant vice president of sales and service. She is pursuing a bachelor of arts in project management at Columbia Basin College.
  • Heartlinks Hospice & Palliative Care has hired Tanya Gutierrez as the new Heartlinks clinical director for administration and oversight of all clinical operations throughout the Heartlinks service area. She has spent the last three years serving as the clinical supervisor for Heartlinks. She received training as a registered nurse from Yakima Valley Community College, earned her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Wisconsin – Greenbay, and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and human resource management. She has over 20 years of progressive management experience.

Heartlinks also hired Monica Thielen as a clinical supervisor to supervise and deliver all clinical programs to patients and their families. She received training as a registered nurse from Columbia Basin College and has over 14 years of clinical hospice experience. Additionally, she has over 28 years of nursing and management experience. Thielen has spent the last three years serving as the clinical educator for Heartlinks.

  • Alyssa St. Hilaire has been hired as Kennewick School District’s new assistant superintendent of teaching and learning. She replaces Matt Scott, who’s set to become the assistant superintendent of K-12, starting July 1. As assistant superintendent, St. Hilaire will lead the teaching and learning team to oversee curriculum, professional development, assessment, Career & Technical Education (CTE), and federal programs. St. Hilaire has been the district’s director of federal programs since 2019.
  • Port of Benton has named Summers Miya as its public information officer. She will serve as the official spokesperson for the port and lead collaborative and comprehensive communications strategies as chief consultant to all port departments. She started with the port in March 2020 as executive administrator, primarily facilitating administrative processes of the port commission while assisting several port departments in day-to-day accounting and operational functions. She formerly worked for Visit Tri-Cities and has more than a decade of experience in communications and marketing.


  • Distinctive Properties, an independent and locally owned real estate brokerage in Kennewick, has hired Hunter Shipman as a residential real estate broker. Shipman is a lifelong Tri-City native, graduating from Hanford High School and earning an associate degree at Columbia Basin College.
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Amma Ababio joined Astria Health Center in Prosser. Her services include primary care and family medicine; annual exams; treatment of general health problems and minor emergencies; chronic disease management; immunizations and school physicals. She completed a bachelor of science degree in nursing at Edinboro University in Edinboro, Pennsylvania and a master of science degree in nursing at Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
  • The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia has hired Leanne Purcell as its next executive director. Purcell has more than 20 years of experience in the field of education and has served for five years on the board for The Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a bilingual endorsement and a master of education degree with a focus on reading from Central Washington University. She taught in a Spanish/English dual language program in California, educated future teachers as a student teacher supervisor at Washington State University and worked as a language development coach and English as a second language teacher with the Kennewick School District. She also has instructed CRFMC READY! For Kindergarten classes through the district. She succeeds Elizabeth Barnes who led the organization for three years.
  • Hayden Pitman has joined Numerica Credit Union as a financial advisor for CUSO Financial Services LP (CFS). Numerica’s Financial Services team offers comprehensive financial planning, retirement and insurance services. Pitman specializes in creating financial plans, portfolio review and retirement planning. He was previously a senior private client advisor with KeyBank.
  • Prosser Memorial Health has hired psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner Juliet Dennis to its team of providers at the Grandview clinic. Originally from Southern California, Dennis moved to Washington to attend Washington State University, where she received her bachelor of science in psychology. She later went on to receive her bachelor’s in nursing from Western Governor’s University and recently graduated from Frontier Nursing University with her master’s in nursing. She will be providing a variety of psychiatric services at the Grandview clinic, including medication management, referrals and counseling for mental disorders like anxiety and depression.


  • Energy Northwest’s Board of Directors elected five inside directors and one outside director to the agency’s 11-member executive board April 27 during its regularly scheduled meeting. Each of the directors will serve a four-year term on the executive board, beginning July 1. The executive board sets the policies that govern the operations of Energy Northwest. The board of directors elected the following utility commissioners from its 27 members to serve as inside directors: Arie Callaghan, Grays Harbor County PUD 1; Jack Janda, Mason County PUD 1; Curt Knapp, Pend Oreille PUD; Jim Malinowski, Clark Public Utilities; and Will Purser, Clallam County PUD.


  • Melanie Hoefer Hair, president and founder of the Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business, was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. The recognition acknowledges individuals who make significant contributions to The Rotary Foundation. Tri-Cities Sunrise Rotary bestowed the honor.
  • Prosser Memorial Hospital received the state’s No. 1 ranking for nurse-patient communication from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) Hospital Compare website, a national standardized survey of hospital patients about their experiences during a recent inpatient hospital stay. Prosser Memorial Health scores exceeded those of healthcare organizations in cities such as Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver.
  • Visiting Angels, the nation’s leading provider of senior home care, named Jose De La Torre Gonzalez of Kennewick as one of the 11 semifinalists for its National Caregiver of the Year award. He was selected for his kindness and joy and ability to connect to his clients and their family members, said Christine Rose-Van Wormer, owner of Visiting Angels. The honor recognizes Visiting Angels caregivers for their overall contribution and commitment to delivering quality care to the clients and families they serve as well as how they embody the company’s compassionate values and demonstrate excellence. The semifinalists were selected from entries throughout the 600 Visiting Angels franchise locations across the country. The winner will be announced July 5. The grand prize winner will receive a $5,000 prize. Two finalists will each receive $2,500.
  • The Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco has earned the GBAC Star Facility Accreditation through Global Biorisk Advisory Council, a division of the International Sanitary Supply Association (ISSA). The program was developed by the worldwide cleaning industry association and is the industry’s only outbreak prevention, response and recovery accreditation for facilities. To achieve accreditation, the airport was required to demonstrate compliance with 20 different health and safety elements, which range from standard operating procedures and risk assessment strategies to personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness and response measures.
  • Kay Lehmann of Kennewick is the recipient of the 2022 Clacey McNary Volunteer of the Year Award. This honor recognizes one volunteer each year whose contributions have made a significant impact on the mission and vision of the Alzheimer’s Association Washington state chapter. Lehmann started volunteering with the Alzheimer’s Association in 2014 after she lost her father to the disease. She has been involved ever since, taking on leadership roles for the Tri-Cities Walk to End Alzheimer’s and as a board officer for the state chapter. She also has been involved with Alzheimer’s advocacy at the state and federal levels, and most recently, as a community educator. She will be presenting a session for dementia caregivers at the Tri-Cities Alzheimer’s & Dementia Conference in May.
  • Leslie Jimenez, an X-ray/CT technologist with Trios Health, has been recognized by the Tri-Cities League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council with an award for her commitment to the Latino community. She was nominated for the honor by a former professor, who detailed her leadership and service to the community. She continues to work with students at Columbia Basin College as a mentor and was honored during the “Noches de Leonas” (Night of the Lionness) event of the Tri-Cities LULAC Council on March 26.
  • Matthew Riesenweber of Cornerstone Wealth Strategies was recently ranked No. 10 in Washington in Forbes’ 2022 Best-In-State Wealth Advisors list. According to Forbes, the annual ranking spotlights the nation’s top-performing advisors, evaluated based on criteria that includes industry experience, client retention and assets under management.
  • Eight local seniors are the recipients of $52,000 from Benton REA. Three recipients of the cooperative’s $4,000 Trade Technical scholarship are from West Richland: Coral Bears, daughter of Jim and Jennifer Bears; Ethan Henning, son of Jake and Diana Henning; and Garrett Collins, son of Jason and Lori Collins. Five recipients of the $8,000 academic scholarships live in West Richland: Shreya Mehta, daughter of Sunil Mehta and Priya Sabharwal; Madison Slade, daughter of Roscoe and Shawna Slade; Ella Stam, daughter of Erik and Jaqueline Stam; Brookelyn Peterson, daughter of Kirk and D’anna Peterson; and Sydney Smith, daughter of Blake and Sheri Smith.
  • KT Ranch of Connell has been recognized as the 2021 AQHA Ranching Heritage Breeder of the Year. This award is open to AQHA ranching heritage breeders who exemplify the ranching lifestyle. These breeders are working cattle ranches that produce five or more registered American quarter horses each year for ranch work. Nominees for the award are chosen by their peers, with final voting done by the AQHA Ranching Committee. The ranch is operated by Donald and Pamela Pierson and their family, daughter Toni Meacham and her husband Kicker Meacham, and daughter Kellie Pierson-Geddes and her husband Ben Geddes.
  • The Pacific Clinic in Kennewick received the Pasco-Kennewick Rotary 2022 Company of the Year award. The clinic has an extensive list of its community contributions, among them are countless volunteer hours and thousands of dollars donated to other organizations; free special needs Zumba classes; supporting Teen Challenge, assisting in drug recovery and the close working relationship with The Arc. The Arc of Tri-Cities promotes the rights of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by actively supporting full inclusion and participation in all aspects of the community throughout their lives. Additionally, the clinic supports the Care from Anywhere program, community outreach, and assists in fighting and beating diseases including dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and concussions.
  • Numerica Credit Union received the Raddon 2021 Crystal Performance Award for its growth, financial ratios and efficiencies for a second consecutive year. With more than 500 credit unions evaluated nationwide, Numerica ranked among the top 11 for organizations larger than
    $1 billion in assets. To receive this data-driven award, credit unions are analyzed on financials, product performance and member household relationships. Numerica was a top performer in deposit balances, return on assets and other categories.


  • Teachers received $100 classroom grants as part of STCU’s efforts to support area educators at schools in Eastern Washington, Central Washington and north Idaho. The not-for-profit credit union, which was founded by teachers, honored its roots by awarding grants to 100 educators, including several in the Tri-City area, with a total of $10,000 to winners drawn at random. Winners can spend their $100 grant on anything that will enhance students’ classroom experience, whether a basic need or something special. Tri-City area winners are:

Kennewick School District: Megan Hagihara, Amon Creek Elementary School; Heidi Weisert-Peatow, Hawthorne Elementary School; Doug Reppe, Kamiakin High School; Johnna Reavis, Washington Elementary School.

Pasco School District: Kati Flannery, James McGee Elementary School; Paula Bazinet, New Horizons High School; Alexis Deleon, Pasco Early Learning Center; Olivia Valle, Whittier Elementary School.

Prosser School District; Bertha Montano, Housel Middle School.

Richland School District: Melissa MacDonald, Chief Joseph Middle School; Sidney Bowen, Jefferson Elementary School; Amy Bearden, Jefferson Elementary School; Jennifer Smith, Marcus Whitman Elementary School.

Finley School District: Mickey Middleton, Finley Elementary School.

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