Networking – September 2022

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  • Amy Hubbard has joined Keller Williams Columbia Basin in Kennewick. The Tri-City native has a deep understanding of the community and real estate and enjoys mentoring new real estate agents.
  • Miramar Health Center in Kennewick has hired Monica Mendoza as a certified physician assistant. She earned her master of science in nursing from the University of Washington School of Nursing in Seattle.
  • New U Women’s Clinic and Aesthetics in Kennewick has hired Josie Ponce to its women’s health care team. Ponce is board certified as a family nurse practitioner. She has over 15 years of nursing experience working with patients of all ages and caring for a variety of health care issues. She has worked at Kadlec Regional Medical Center on the surgical unit and at Lourdes Medical Center in the emergency department. Prior to this she worked as a care manager, wound care nurse and per-diem travel nurse.
  • Mid-Columbia Opera on the Vine has named Mitzi Holmes as the new artistic director. She has been on the artist roster since 2017 and served as program coordinator in 2021. Opera on the Vine provides a varied number of singers, generally one to six, and a pianist for any casual gathering, formal or corporate event, or themed party.
  • Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic board of directors has hired Christy Trotter as CEO of the $300 million health care nonprofit. She had served as interim CEO since December 2021. She formerly worked as chief financial officer and has been with the clinic for more than 25 years.
  • Trios Health has hired Dr. Ethan Estoos as an intensivist in the intensive care unit at the Trios Southridge Hospital in Kennewick. He earned his medical degree from Loyola University of Chicago Stritch School of Medicine and completed his residency at Advocate Christ Medical Center, and his Critical Care Fellowship at Oregon Health & Science University. He is a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.
  • Trios Health has hired Dr. Jozef Pavnica as a general surgeon. Pavnica works in the Trios Care Center at Southridge. He completed his undergraduate education at Creighton University and obtained his medical degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he also completed general surgery residency.
  • Good Shepherd Health Care System in Hermiston hired internist & endocrinologist Dr. Sandeep Kunwar to Good Shepherd Endocrinology. He cares for conditions that affect the thyroid and endocrine glands, which include adrenals and pituitary. He also focuses on providing care for patients with diabetes through diabetes and metabolism management. He attended medical school at the University College of Medicine Sciences & Teaching Hospital in Nepal. He completed his residency in internal medicine from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and his fellowship in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at University of Nebraska Medical Center.
  • Pac/West Lobby Group in Hermiston has hired Amanda Spoo, an Eastern Oregon native with more than a decade of professional experience in agriculture, as director of communications.

For the past seven years, she has worked in the communications department for U.S. Wheat Associates in Arlington, Virginia, most recently as the director of communications. She has experience in digital communications, media relations, association and stakeholder management, consumer outreach and education. She has a bachelor’s of science in agricultural communications and journalism from Kansas State University. She will complete a master’s of professional studies in public relations and corporate communications from Georgetown University in December 2022. She grew up in Hermiston.


  • Benton REA trustees Mike Freepons of District 2 and Bob Evans of District 3 have been reelected to serve three-year terms on the Benton REA board of trustees. Final votes were counted during the 85th annual meeting of members on July 16 at Leona Libby Middle School in West Richland.


  • UScellular donated $30,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton and Franklin Counties to support K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and academic enrichment programs. This year the funding will support the club with increasing staffing, STEM equipment and supplies. This will allow more youth to participate in more than 10 STEM sessions.
  • Toronto-based public relations firm TIEJA Inc. Communications, founded by communications strategist Tieja MacLaughlin, has given a literary donation to the female inmates of Benton County Jail in Kennewick. The donation included more than 100 total books, valued at over $1,500. Titles included works of fiction and nonfiction – biographies, self-help, meditation guides, resume builders, GED prep study guides and more. The donation was matched by Kelowna-based accounting firm The Tax Pros, and supported by Toronto-based continuing education provider Asterid Group Inc. and Samantha Evans.


  • Pasco-based Elite Construction + Development has promoted two employees.

Aryn Kerr has been promoted to director of operations. He joined Elite in 2020 as part of a core team charged with creating and developing the company’s government division and was responsible for the overall management of federal government construction projects including new infrastructure and facilities, facility improvements, hazardous waste cleanup and environmental remediation in and around the Hanford area. In his new role, he will continue to oversee government operations and adds the private division within his purview. He will provide overall management direction and ensure delivery of efficient projects across both sectors with a focus on the client experience and trade partner development. Kerr has almost two decades of experience in general contractor firm ownership and hazardous waste remediation management.

Curtis “CJ” Black has been promoted to project executive within the operations department. He will provide leadership, oversight and direction to the private division. He will lead the project management team and all private division developments. Black joined Elite earlier this year and excelled in his previous role as director, project controls, responsible for comprehensive oversight of Elite’s projects on scope, schedule, and cost. He brings more than 14 years of project management and strategic business integration including construction management, strategic planning, risk management, project controls, scheduling and estimating in roles such as estimator, project engineer, project manager, and project controls. As project executive, he will focus on three key areas – exceeding client expectations, managing projects to meet business objectives, and leading and developing project teams.


  • Kennewick-based Petersen Hastings has again been included in the listing of Financial Advisor (FA) Magazine’s 2022 RIA Ranking. The financial trade publication annually reports an exclusive list of the nation’s leading independent financial advisory firms based on their total discretionary and nondiscretionary assets under management, as reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Petersen Hastings is the only firm in Eastern Washington to be recognized in the survey.
  • Wheatland Bank, which has a Pasco branch, has once again earned a top five-star rating from BauerFinancial Inc., the bank rating firm. Bauer rates every federally-insured U.S. bank with the same strict standards. To earn the rating, the bank must excel in areas of capital adequacy, profitability, loan quality and more. Wheatland Bank had earned Bauer’s top rating continuously since September 2007, or 62 consecutive quarters, earning it the added distinction of “Exceptional Performance Bank,” a designation reserved solely for banks that have earned this top rating for 40 (or more) consecutive quarters.
  • The Design-Build Institute of America has named Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Collaboration Hall as one of 30 winners in the 2022 national design-build project/team awards. DBIA’s distinguished panel of industry experts selected the top 30 projects across 10 categories to represent the best-of-the-best in design-build. As a merit award winner in the educational facilities category, the newest building on the WSU Tri-Cities campus will go on to compete for a national award of excellence and Project of the Year to be announced at DBIA’s Design-Build Conference and Expo Awards Ceremony in November in Las Vegas. Hoffman Construction nominated WSU Tri-Cities’ newest building for the award.
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