November 2020 Alumni Update

Julie Wright (BA ’17) and her work in Kenya were the subject of an article in November 25.

Nikki Donnelly (MA ’14, TC ’13, BA ’08) received an Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Early Childhood Intervention Doctoral Consortium Fellowship award to pursue a Ph.D. in Special Education through the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. OSEP is part of the U.S. Department of Education.

Brandon Dorman (MA ’13, TC ’07, BA ’05) is director of skills content at Empath, a software company based in Austin, TX.

Bobby Ramirez (BA ’13) was appointed to the board of the Livermore Shakespeare Festival.

Kurt Willems (SEM ’12) is a pastor, church planter, writer and host of the Theology Curator podcast. He recently wrote a book about hope, pain, trauma and Jesus. The book is titled Echoing Hope.

In October 2020, Adam Juarez (TC ’05, BA ’03) published The Complete EdTech Coach: An Organic Approach to Supporting Digital Learning. The book, co-authored with his wife Katherine Goyette, is geared for educational technology coaches but is beneficial to all educators looking for ways to integrate technology in a manner that empowers learning. The book is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Aaron Bryan (TC ’04, BA ’03) was named Fresno County’s Administrator of the Year by the Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools. Aaron is director of the visual and performing arts department in the superintendent’s office.,Fresno%20County%20Superintendent%20of%20Schools

Carlin Buhrman (SEM ’04) and Cheryl Dueck Smith (BA ’93) appeared on the USMB Lead Pods podcast series, hosted by the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches (USMB). They co-led a November 2020 session titled “COVID’s Impact on Mental Health.” Smith is an instructor in the M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary and Buhrman is an alumnus of that program.

Doug Noll (MA ’02) was the subject of an interview on emotional intelligence, an area on which he has spoken and written, posted November 24 by Authority Magazine.

Suzana Dobrić Veiss (MA ’02, BA ’99), Ph.D., assistant professor and director of the M.A. in Strategic & Organizational Leadership program, presented twice at the International Leadership Association Global Conference November 5-9, 2020. She presented the paper “Paul’s Intercessory Prayer: Motivating Language” in the symposium “Three Functions of Effective Communication in Critical Leadership Moments in Early Christianity,” and was one of the presenters in the workshop “Thriving on the Edge: Four Activities for Self-Renewing Leaders.”

Dina González-Piña (MA ’98, BA ’90) has been named executive director of West Coast Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), starting January 4, 2021. Before taking the leadership of the West Coast region of the Christian international relief organization sponsored by Mennonite denominations, Dina was ethnicity and gender equity specialist at West Coast MCC.

Michael Despain (BA ’96) has been named interim fire chief for the city of Piedmont, CA. His career as a fire and life safety professional spans a period of over 20 years.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations