PhD graduates

Ph.D. candidates wait to cross the stage at the Department of Communication Graduation Celebration in June.

Class Notes


Dolores SibongaThe Department of Communication named Dolores Sibonga (1952) the 2010 Distinguished Alumna. As part of this honor, she gave the keynote speech at the Department’s 2010 Graduation Celebration. Recognizing that new graduates will be looking for work, Sibonga related her own job-hunting experience and the challenges she faced as a Filipina-American woman looking for work in the 1950s. Sibonga eventually became the first Filipina-American admitted to the Washington State Bar. In 1978 she was appointed to the Seattle City Council — becoming the first minority woman to be a member of the Council. She then won election to the Council in her own right in 1980, 1984, and 1988. In 2008 she was selected by the UW’s Alumni magazine, Columns, as one of the UW’s Wondrous 100 Alums.


Marty ThompsonMartin “Marty” Thompson (1960) retired in 2003 after a 37-year career with The Associated Press. From 1988 until 2003, he was based in New York and served as managing editor and as the news service’s first director of state news. In the latter position, he led the strengthening of state bureau news coverage through improved planning and execution and story selection to increase AP’s role in breaking original news stories. Earlier, he was bureau chief in San Francisco and Los Angeles, after working as a reporter and editor in Seattle, Reno and San Francisco. Before joining the AP in Seattle, he was news director of KREW in Sunnyside, Wash., and a newsman at KEDO in Longview, where he was raised. Thompson and his wife, Janet, live in Santa Rosa, Calif.


Steve Pool (1977), KOMO 4's longtime weatherman, was voted favorite local TV personality in Seattle Weekly's annual "Best of..." poll. Congratulations to Steve, a 2004 member of the Communication Alumni Hall of Fame.

Clarence Moriwaki (1978) is the new CEO of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center. He recently served as president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial Committee and vice president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and has been an active civic leader for over 20 years. He was a city council member for Tukwila, WA and a WA state Senate candidate in the early 90s. He worked as a media relations specialist for Sound Transit and was special assistant to the Office of U.S. Representative Jay Inslee. Moriwaki began his career in news radio as an anchor, editor and producer.

Melissa Durfee Davis (1979) is the Media Director for DNA Seattle, an advertising agency. She began her career at Cole &Weber and was a founding member of Borders Perrin Norrander's Seattle office (now DraftFCB/Seattle). During her 17 years at BPN she rose to the position of Vice President/Corporate Media Director overseeing a staff of 15 in Portland, Seattle and Salt Lake City offices. Davis is a four-time winner of Adweek magazine’s Creative Media Award.


KIRO Senior Editor Gregg Grinnell (1980) and Nicholas Trost (2010) were nominated for a 2010 Annual Northwest Regional EMMY Award. Grinnell and Trost, a web content editor at KIRO, submitted VOTE NOW! KIRO 7 Game of the Week in the Interactivity - Programming category. The site allowed viewers to vote at for the game they wanted covered.


Gerianne (Johnson) Merrigan (1992) is a Professor of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University, where she has been the Department Chair for eight years. The textbook she wrote with Carole Huston, another UW Speech Communication graduate, Communication Research Methods, was published by Oxford University Press in 2009.

Paul Valenti (1993) is a Job Counselor, Age 55+ Employment Resource Center for the City of Seattle, Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens.

Colleen Fukui-Sketchley (1994) was selected president of the UW Alumni Association. Fukui-Sketchley is the first Asian-American woman to serve in this position. Read more about her in the Aug. 4-17, 2010, edition of the International Examiner and at the UW Alumni Association's Blog Down to Washington.

The Northwest Screenwriters Guild hosted Peter Chiarelli (1996) for an interview and Q & A on navigating the studio system. Peter began his film career at DreamWorks. During that time, he produced the short film Terry Tate Office Linebacker, which went on to become one of the most popular Super Bowl commercials of all time. In 2001, he became an executive at Red Wagon Entertainment, where he worked on the films Memoirs of a Geisha, Win a Date with Ted Hamilton, and RV. He then moved to MGM to work as a Director of Development where he supervised production of The Pink Panther and The Amityville Horror. He also worked as an executive producer on The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2005, he returned to the DreamWorks lot to head up Kurtzman/Orci Productions and was a co-producer on that company's first film, Eagle Eye. He began his screenwriting career penning Touchstone Pictures’ The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Currently, he is a full-time screenwriter, working on screenplays for Sony Pictures, Paramount and DreamWorks. Universal Pictures recently purchased Peter's pitch, Most Wanted.

Erin Mayovsky (1996) works for Seattle’s Q13 Fox as a weather anchor and Comcast Sports Net where she hosts a live sports show. From 2006 to 2009 Erin covered the weather for the KIRO 7 Weather Center, Seattle’s CBS affiliate. Erin has also hosted several local and national programs, including Hip Hoods on KSTW 11. This program was produced by On Gaard Productions, a company Erin co-founded in 2004 that produces live television and Internet programming. She also worked at KSTW 11 in Seattle from 2004-06 where she hosted and reported local programs. Those programs include: Northwest Space, The Mariner Bullpen Pre-Game Show, Inside Out Northwest, Winterfest, summer parades and special events. Erin was a guest at the 2010 Communication Scholarship Awards ceremony. She presented the Marty Wilson Endowed Scholarship more than 10 years after receiving the same scholarship as a Communication undergrad. Erin was the first recipient of this award.


Lesa Linster (2000) and her husband, Zach, are the proud new parents of little Bennett Linster. Lesa is the Director of National Camp Erins; Corporate & Foundation Relations at The Moyer Foundation.

Matías Valenzuela (2000) is a Public Education Officer for the King County Department of Public Health – Public Information & Education. He works on the King County Equity & Social Justice Initiative. Learn more about the initiative at

La’Chris Jordan (2001) had the honor of a staged reading of her full-length play Betty's Wish at the John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., on September 4. La’Chris is a poet, actress, screenwriter, and award-winning playwright who was named one of the 50 to Watch by the Dramatists Guild of America. Read more about La’Chris at

Meredith Li-Vollmer (2002) is a Risk Communication Specialist for the King County Department of Public Health.

Hillary Holman (2006) is a member of World Vision’s Correspondence Team in the Donor Contact Services Department and enjoys having the opportunity to put her Communication degree to good use serving donors from the more than 90 countries where World Vision works. After graduation, she worked with a peace-building and reconciliation program in Croatia where she served on the leadership team and as a small group facilitator. She has visited 33 countries, but has a particular interest in Eastern Europe. She enjoys teaching English and has taught in Croatia and in the Seattle area.

My Tam Nguyen (2006) is a recipient of the 2010 Verizon Wireless Asian Pacific American Heritage Bash Community Roast “Most Inspirational” award. She works in community relations for the City of Seattle Department of Planning and Development on long-range urban planning projects and she is an alumna of Leadership Tomorrow and the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation's Community Leadership Program.

Nancy Van Leuven (2007) recently joined the faculty at Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco, CA. She was an assistant professor of Corporate Communication and a Teaching Fellow for the Office of Teaching and Learning at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, MA before moving to the west coast. Van Leuven is a 2010 Course of Distinction award recipient. The award is given annually at the Massachusetts Colleges Online Sharing Best Practices in e-Learning Conference and recognizes a Massachusetts faculty member who has developed and leads an innovative and exciting online course.

Jaime Bourns (2009) begins law school at Loyola University in the fall of 2010. She was a student representative on the Communication Alumni Board during her senior year and served as an alumni volunteer for a year after earning her B.A.

After 62 years, Wallie Funk (2009) (in photo at left) finally heard his name called during the Department’s Graduation Celebration. He walked in the event to celebrate the correction of being 15 credits short of graduating in 1948. Funk led his fellow students to their seats at the beginning of the ceremony and led the graduating class in celebrating their accomplishment at the end of the event.

Dana Bagwell (2010) completed her Ph.D. Dana is a research manager for Management Insight Technologies.

Meghan Dougherty (2010) completed her Ph.D. and is now an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication at Loyola University Chicago.

Kristin Gustafson


Kristin Gustafson (2010) completed her Ph.D. She spent the last year of her studies as a Project for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy Fellow at the University of Washington Bothell.

Linda Heuertz (2010) completed her Ph.D.

Patricia J. Hooper (2010) completed her Ph.D. She has worked for 13 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Read more about Hooper’s work at FEMA >>

Yeo Jung Kim (2010) completed her Ph.D.

Amoshaun Toft


Amoshaun Toft (2010) completed his Ph.D. He spent the last year of his studies as a Project for Interdisciplinary Pedagogy Fellow at the University of Washington Bothell.

Jonathan Tomhave


Jonathan Tomhave (2010) completed his Ph.D. and is now an Assistant Professor in the departments of Anthropology and Radio, Television and Film at the University of North Texas.

Nicholas Trost (2010) and KIRO Senior Editor Gregg Grinnell (1980) were nominated for a 2010 Annual Northwest Regional EMMY Award. Grinnell and Trost, a web content editor at KIRO, submitted VOTE NOW! KIRO 7 Game of the Week in the Interactivity - Programming category. The site allowed viewers to vote at for the game they wanted covered.

Mary Lynn Veden (2010) completed her Ph.D. and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Arkansas.


Charles Edward Cockelreas: B.A., 1951

Harry S. Pruzan: B.A., 1935