Whitman College Alumni Board
Kirsten Adams Gable ‘01, President, graduated from Whitman College in 2001. She majored in Biology, minored in Environmental Studies and received her MBA at Gonzaga in 2010. Kirsten has worked as a Management Consultant at Sapere Consultant for the past ten years. Their areas of expertise include business process improvement, organizational strategy, project planning and management, product strategy and development, and regulatory and policy analysis. Her work supports clients in the energy and natural resources sector. Clients range from large government entities to smaller local utilities. In addition, she heads Sapere’s Recruiting Committee.
Kirsten is married to Brent Gable (University of Idaho). They have two daughters.
Kirsten and Brent support the First Harvest Food Bank and the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery. They also take advantage of the many outdoor activities the Spokane area has to offer (hiking, beautiful city parks, skiing, camping). Prior to moving to Spokane, she was a volunteer for Share Vancouver, a non-profit that provides shelter, food, and emergency services, in addition to annual summer camps for disadvantaged youth. She also enjoys participating in Bloomsday and other local charity runs.
Kirsten said that it is hard to define one Whitman memory as a favorite, but rather the entire experience was fulfilling. The excellent professors (Professors Drabek and Carson in particular) taught her to always be intellectually curious and to actively seek out learning opportunities. The many late nights spent in the library taught her about the value of time management, thought hanging out in the library late at night often lead to great conversations with friends. Winning blue shirts for intramural flag football was a highlight (go Kappa!). Kirsten thinks mostly what she thinks of fondly when she reminisces about Whitman, was that it was a time in her life when she was surrounded by good friends who were always more than willing to embark on adventures together, whether it was a drive into the wheat fields or a decision to study abroad for the semester. The feeling of community at Whitman was strong and she is happy to be a member.
Kirsten's time at Whitman helped to shape her into the person she is today and she will always be grateful for the wonderful experiences she was able to enjoy. Volunteering for Whitman as a member of the Portland and Spokane Alumni Clubs and now as an Alumni Association Board member presents her with the opportunity to give back to the College and to the Whitman community. It also allows Kirsten to continue her Whitman experience, which she finds invaluable.
She is excited to begin her term on the Alumni Association Board and is looking forward to working with alumni to ensure their thoughts and opinions are heard and communicated to the College.
A 30-year veteran of public relations, Mary Deming Barber '78 , Vice President, is president and CEO of The Barber Group, a strategic communications and public relations firm in Anchorage, a firm she founded in June of 2000. Most recently, Mary worked with the Alaska Community Foundation help create a strategic communications plan and establish guidelines for the organization's branding and communications. She was instrumental in the creation of Anchorage's July 4th Celebration. She is adept at communicating with Alaska's unique population groups, especially Alaska Native peoples and has extensive experience in food public relations. Mary spent her professional career in Portland, Denver and San Francisco before moving to Anchorage in 1991. She received a Silver Anvil award for work with the Beef Industry Council at Ketchum Public Relations in San Francisco. Between 1978 and 1991, Mary worked with a variety of food groups representing beef, sheep, seafood, raisins, potatoes and prunes. Taking a break from food public relations and keeping a promise made to a US Senator, Mary also coordinated the volunteer efforts for his successful statewide political campaign.
Barber is currently the secretary/treasurer of the Public Relations Society of America College of Fellows. She recently completed a four-year term on the Society's Board of Directors, including service as the 2008 secretary and member of the PRSA Foundation's Board of Trustees. She is accredited in public relations and was inducted into the prestigious College of Fellows in 2003. In 2000, PRSA's Alaska Chapter named Mary its Communicator of the Year. She's been president of both the Ad2 Division of the American Advertising Federation and the International Foodservice Editorial Council.
An avid community volunteer, Mary served on the board of directors for the United Way of Anchorage for nine years. During her tenure, she established communication tools so the Board of Directors was aware of staff activities, and served as leader of a community-wide committee to identify Anchorage's strengths and weaknesses with a goal of building a better city in the long run. Mary also served as chair of the marketing and communications committee for several years where she spearheaded a re-branding effort for the organization.
Unable to say "no" to a cause in which she believes, Mary offers assistance to a number of other organizations. Most recently, she joined the Whitman College Alumni Board, continuing more than 30 years of service to her alma mater. She is well known in Anchorage for her flower garden so it's no wonder she also offers public relations advice to the fledgling Alaska Botanical Garden.
Mary's husband (Alan) completed 30 years of service in the Alaska Air National Guard and retired as commander of the Maintenance Group. He now works in business development for an Alaska Native corporation. They have two active sons, meaning Mary is intimately involved in all the boys' activities.
John Blackmon '79 is a banking consultant specializing in opening small community banks. Blackmon received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Washington and a graduate degree in banking from Pacific Coast Banking School. Blackmon's community service includes work as president of First Tee of Southern Nevada; chairman of the board of Junior Achievement of Southern Nevada; and president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, (UNLV) Rebel Football Foundation. He was a Whitman class representative from 1993 to 2006. Blackmon and his wife, Susan, have six children and two grandchildren. He enjoys golfing, reading and collecting foreign coins.
Theatre major Aaron Blank ’01 has been an active Whitman alumnus in New York, where he works as a producer for Penguin Random House Audio. He has organized events and helped fellow Whitties connect with other alumni professionally. Blank was active in the Whitman Drama Club, worked with Off-Campus Studies and the Coalition Against Homophobia, and took part in several Harper Joy Theatre productions. He wanted to join the Alumni Board to help strengthen the northeast alumni community and to help future students have “the same opportunities that I had through Whitman.”
Sarah Deming ’10 works at Google as Community Manager for Google Chrome. Originally from University Place, Wash., Deming majored in economics at Whitman, where she served as President of the Black Student Union and CEO of the Whitman Investment Club, as well as a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, the Senior Fund Committee, the Career Consultant Network and the Admissions Committee, among others. Deming received helpful career advice from other Whitman alumni after she graduated, and hopes to give back to current Whitman students in her position on the Alumni Board.
Matt Dittrich ’12 serves as Business Analyst to the CEO and VP of Sales at nLIGHT – a global semiconductor laser company headquartered in Vancouver, Wash., with offices in Europe and China. Before joining nLIGHT in 2015, Matt consulted at Bain & Company in London. A first-generation college graduate, Matt has sought to return Whitman's investment – collaborating on our Portland Young Alumni Council, mentoring students interested in consulting, interviewing Paul Garrett Scholarship nominees and contributing on Governing Board initiatives. Outside of Whitman, Matt has taken leadership roles in a wide variety of political campaigns and community organizations. As a student, Matt majored in Politics and dedicated most of his energy to ASWC – he served as a Senator, two-term Finance Chair and President – in addition to the college Governing Board, KWCW, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Green Dot and the Green Park Elementary Mentor Program.
J Preston Frederickson ‘02, Walla Walla, WA is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Walla Walla representing the city on various land-use, contract, municipal law and other civil matters. A politics major and studio art minor at Whitman, Frederickson attended Gonzaga University School of Law receiving his Juris Doctor degree in 2005. Before returning to Walla Walla in 2006, Frederickson practiced law in downtown Seattle, WA, focusing on construction defect litigation. He is involved at Whitman as an Associate Class Representative, a career mentor and an admissions office volunteer. He is married to Doretha. They are proud parents of 3 boys and 2 girls. Frederickson's interests include biking, camping, mechanicing and renovating his turn of the century craftsman bungalow.
Ashley Gevaart-Durkin ’08 works as a Course Production Manager at MedBridge Education, where she helps create online continuing education courses for different clinicians. Originally from Edmonds, Wash., Ashley studied biology, sang with the Sirens of Swank, served three semesters as a Student Academic Advisor, and played various IM sports. She went on to receive a Masters in Public Health from San Diego State University. Her hobbies include traveling, singing with Cantare, and cycling. Ashley’s goal for serving on the Alumni Board of Directors is to encourage the engagement and participation of alumni that are just past Young Alumni status, so they continue to feel a deep connection with the College.
After graduating from Whitman as a history major, Thomas W. Henderson ’83, obtained his law degree from the University of Denver and joined the Denver law firm now known as Burg Simpson, where Tom became a shareholder in 1994. Tom credits his acting classes with Jack Freimann and his speech class with Bob Withycombe for giving him the confidence to become the successful trial lawyer he is today, and credits all the papers he wrote as a history major for helping him develop the skills necessary for legal brief writing. It is these lifetime skills, learned at Whitman, that motivate Tom to always be looking for ways to “give back” to the school, including serving for many years as a class representative, and now joining the Alumni Board.
Tom was a member and officer of Beta Theta Pi while at Whitman, and also played on the tennis team, earning a varsity letter his senior year. Another Whittie, Beth Bright Snare ’83, introduced Tom to her best friend Tracy (University of Colorado, Boulder, ’83) while Tom was in law school in Denver, and they married in 1988. Their two boys, Tommy and Danny, chose to stay close to home and follow their mom’s foot steps to Boulder, where Tommy is now a senior, and Danny a freshman. As a family, they love to travel, ski and hike in the Rockies.
Tom enjoys his work for Burg Simpson as a trial lawyer. Tom’s work focusses on suing insurance companies for bad faith when they fail to pay the benefits owed under the policy. His firm has now grown to over 40 attorneys over 4 states, with the Colorado office in Englewood (a Denver suburb) remaining the home office. Burg Simpson focusses on representing inured persons in the fields of consumer rights, personal injury, construction defect, workers compensation and commercial litigation.
Tom is a director of the Arapahoe County Bar Association. Tom also is the co-chair of the Access to Justice Committee for the 18th Judicial District of Colorado, helping keep the courthouse doors open to litigants who cannot afford to pay for legal representation.
When not working, skiing or hiking with his family, Tom enjoys golf, as well as his weekly volleyball league with Craig Kelly ’83. Tom also looks forward to the annual “boys weekend” ski trips with a group of Whitman buddies – where our minds tells us we’re still back in our 20’s in Walla Walla, but our bodies scream NO, you’re in your 50’s and you are not invincible!
Evan Jones ’97, is a Business Development Territory Manager for United Educators Insurance Company, in which Whitman Trustee Janice Abraham is the President and CEO. Evan is originally from Cheverly, Maryland and was a Sociology major at Whitman, and was a two-year co-captain of the men’s basketball team, a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and the Black Student Union. After graduation, Evan served as Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach, Admissions Officer and Director of the Intercultural Center at Whitman before moving back to the Washington DC area. Evan now resides in Pasadena, CA with his wife Adrienne Hale, is excited to give back to Whitman as a member of the Alumni Board.
Minda McLaughlin Merrow ’62, a retired elementary school teacher, lives in San Diego with her husband, Charlie Merrow ’62. Minda Merrow earned a bachelor’s degree in education-psychology, but her focus in recent years has shifted to traveling with Charlie, “loving and caring for four wonderful grandchildren, “ and spending time with their children, Sharon and Michael, and spouses. Merrow also volunteers as a hospital surgical liaison representative, is a Stephen minister and sings in the choir at church, serves as an active member and past president of her P.E.O. chapter, and belongs to Women’s Political Organization. She is a longtime representative for her Whitman class and a San Diego alumni admission representative. “This is another opportunity to serve Whitman and to learn more about the college of which I am very happy to be an alumna! My associations with Whitman over many years have been most rewarding, and I am looking forward to working in this new capacity.”
Dennis McNair ’67 grew up in Dayton, Wash. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology from Whitman and his master’s and doctorate in Zoology from Southern Illinois Univ.-Carbondale. While at Whitman he met his wife, Karen Jacobson ’68. After grad school, Dennis and Karen moved to Pennsylvania in 1980 where he taught physiology and ecology for 33 years at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. Dennis retired from university teaching and administration in 2013 but is still active in research on dragonfly and damselfly ecology and distribution. He currently serves as past president of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra Board of Trustees and has sung in the JSO Chorus for 35 years. For 15 years he’s been president of the Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society. He’s been an associate class representative since the late ‘70s and co-chaired two reunions for his Whitman Class of ’67. “Whitman launched me on a rich and satisfying academic career and many of my closest and longest friendships began there. It will be especially rewarding to think I might be serving future alumni so that, over the years, they could profit from their Whitman experience the way Karen and I have.”
Dr. Nick Paslidis ’82, chief medical officer of an Arizona hospital, earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Whitman, then a medical degree and a doctorate before beginning his career as a physician in a rural health-care setting in Little Rock, Arkansas. Paslidis became medical director of 18 rural health clinics in 2001 and added a master’s degree in health-care management from Harvard University to his resume. In 2006, he became CEO/president of the Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care, and later moved his family to Arizona for his current position. Paslidis volunteers with an agency that provides free health care to the uninsured and underinsured, and is involved with the sports activities of his and wife Sarah’s three children, Alexandra, Abigail, and Yiannis. His hobbies include playing tennis and racquetball, traveling and reading. “My studies at Whitman prepared me for life and helped to form my career goals. I am pleased to be able to volunteer my time to assist the college with new projects and with innovative ideas for the students and alumni in order for them to continue their cohesive relationship with Whitman.”
Beth Long Salaguinto ’88, a human resources expert in recruitment, performance management and employee relations, lives in Bothell, Wash., with her husband, David Salaguinto ’87, and children, Taylor and Grayce. Beth Salaguinto has worked in the human resources field for high-tech, aerospace and health-care companies for the past 15 years. A politics major at Whitman, she earned her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington in 1995, and later a certification in human resources. Salaguinto serves on the board of the Snohomish County Human Resources Association, for which she teaches certification courses. The governor appointed her to the Snohomish County Boundary Review Board. This past year, she co-chaired The Links Inc./Junior League Mother’s Day Project, which supplied more than 1,500 baskets of personal items to women’s shelters in the Greater Seattle area. Salaguinto has served Whitman as a class representative, reunion chair and alumni admission representative. She enjoys spending time with her family, scrapbooking and travel, and looks forward to serving on the alumni board and sharing enthusiasm for Whitman with other alumni and prospective students. “I get a chill when I see any Whitman alumnus or a Whitman sticker on someone’s car. The connection provides endless conversation because we have so much in common.”
A history major, Greg Saliba ’90 is now President of Taurus Capital Management in Portland. As a student, Saliba was a Phi Delta Theta member, played intramural sports and worked with ASWC. More recently, Greg married Jenn in 2010 and they now have three awesome kids: Sophia (3) and her twin brothers Bennett and Marcus (19 months), who keep them happy and occupied.
Kieta Mall Skoglund ’89 is a 16-year veteran of the events management and hospitality industry and operates her own event consulting, photography and web design business. She has worked on numerous high-profile events, including the Presidential Inauguration. After earning her bachelor’s degree in history, she attended George Washington University for her certificate in event management. Skoglund lives in Alexandria, Va., with her husband, Randy Skoglund. Her hobbies include photography, travel, gardening and volunteering for Dog World Rescue, through which she adopted her dog, Wrigley.
Skoglund also has served as a Whitman alumni admission representative for 19 years and has organized numerous alumni events in Washington, D.C. Her goal as an Alumni Association Board member is “to give back to an institution that was so instrumental in shaping who I am today.”
Debi Aucutt Toews ’76 will be retiring at the end of 2016 as an attorney and as partner at Willis &Toews, PLLC. She has had good fortune to live in Walla Walla all but two years since her graduation. Those two years were spent teaching in a secondary school in northeastern Kenya with husband James, ’78.
Toews is an avid bicyclist, and is the “Team Mom” for the Whitman Cycling Team, traveling with the team to races throughout the Northwest and to the National Championships in May.
She has testified in the Washington state legislature on several occasions on behalf of bicycle safety legislation, including the 2005 “Safe Passing Law,” requiring motorists to pass bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians at a safe distance. In 2005, Debi won the Washington State Susie Stephens Award for Bicycle Advocacy on behalf of her successful efforts to get the Safe Passing Law passed in Washington State. In 2006, Debi won a “Hometown Hero” award from the Blue Mountain Chapter of the Red Cross for her work in Public Safety.
She is currently helping to organize her 40th Reunion for September, and wondering how the number of years since she graduated became such a large number. Toews earned an English major at Whitman.
A first generation college student in her family, the Whitman Experience helped shape her into the person that she is today. She is looking forward to serving the Whitman Community in a new way through the Alumni Board.