One of the many traditions tied to Wittenberg’s Homecoming, Reunion, and Family Weekend is celebrating alumni excellence. The University’s Alumni Association Board is excited to honor nine individuals with special distinctions during a special ceremony from 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1, in room 105 of the Joseph C. Shouvlin Center For Lifelong Learning.
First to be honored during the Alumni Achievement Awards banquet will be Sally Brannan, professor and chair of education. She is the 2022 recipient of the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, the top faculty prize at Wittenberg. The award recognizes the superior classroom teaching that takes place at Wittenberg. Brannan learned that she was the recipient during Wittenberg’s annual Honors Convocation last spring.
Since joining the faculty in 2001, Brannan has been active in research, service, and teaching in both the graduate and undergraduate degree programs at Wittenberg. Her primary research examines collaboration among special educators and related health service providers for children and students with disabilities. Much of her teaching is directed toward the introduction of teacher candidates to the needs of preschool and elementary students with special needs and the appropriate teaching strategies and methodologies that address these needs.
She is also active outside of the department of education through her involvement in the recruitment of prospective students. Her interest in welcoming and fostering incoming students to Wittenberg is evidenced by her enthusiastic participation in conferences for The First Year Experience and Students in Transition. In addition, Brannan has developed and taught two courses for the WittSem Program for all incoming students and has taught in the summer transition to college program. Throughout her endeavors with and for her students, Brannan sets high goals for herself and her students with every expectation that they will be achieved.
Earning her B.A. in education from West Liberty State University in 1987, followed by an M.Ed. in special education from Ohio University in 1991, Brannan served for seven years as the director of early childhood programs at the Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center in Wheeling, West Virginia. She also taught students with severe and multiple disabilities at John Marshall High School, Marshall County Schools, in West Virginia, for two years while completing her doctoral studies at West Virginia University.
Dedicated to service, Brannan has given presentations on community-based instruction, assistive technology, collaboration, and distance learning at the national meetings of several professional societies including the Council for Exceptional Children, the American Association for Intellectual Disabilities, and the American Council on Rural Special Education. She also has served on the editorial boards of Rural Special Education Quarterly and Education and Treatment of Children.
Honorary Alumni Awards honor individuals who, though not graduates of Wittenberg, have demonstrated exemplary loyalty and commitment to the University, and whose devotion to service embodies the institution’s motto, “Having Light We Pass It On To Others.” This year’s recipients are Pastor Rachel Sandum Tune and Pastor Anders “Andy” Tune.
Pastor Anders “Andy” Tune was born and raised in northern California and graduated from the University of California at Riverside in 1980. He then attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he had his year-long internship in Singapore, in Southeast Asia. Andy received his M.Div., and later his M.Th. at the seminary. After graduation, Pastor Andy served as an associate pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Pastor Rachel earned a B.A. in biology from St. Olaf in Northfield, Minnesota. She earned her M.Div. from Luther Seminary, where she met Andy. After her graduation, they served together in Vining Lutheran Parish in northern Minnesota. They then moved to the Washington, D.C., area so that Andy could pursue doctoral studies in theology at the Catholic University in America; he received his Ph.D. in 1994. Pastor Rachel served as associate pastor at Hope Lutheran Church from 1990-1999.
In 1999, Pastor Andy and Pastor Rachel began their ministry at Wittenberg as co-pastors to the University, later becoming the inaugural holders of the Rev. David P. and Carol Matevia Endowed Pastor to the University position at Wittenberg. Established thanks to the vision and leadership-level support of the late Rev. David P. Matevia ’60 and his wife, Carol, this position provides institutional leadership for religious and spiritual life, and is called to lead the campus community in ministry and pastoral care.
After 23 years journeying with students through mentoring, counseling, advocacy, prayer, and attending events in what they described as “a rewarding, challenging, and meaningful calling,” the Tunes retired from the University this past summer.
The “Pass It On” Wittenberg Volunteer Service Award, given in recognition of exceptional demonstration of the University motto “Having Light We Pass It On To Others,” will be presented to Katie Bringman Baxter, class of 2003, who strives to live her faith and values every day through her relationships and work. She is chief program officer at Interfaith America (IA), a Chicago-based organization that is one of the largest interfaith organizations in the world. Interfaith America’s work focuses on the idea that religious difference should serve as a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division. She is responsible for a broad range of programs across sectors including higher education, civic engagement, for-profit training, faith and health, and other emerging areas of work. Within IA, she is known as someone who models care and professional leadership while helping staff across the team succeed in order to achieve the organization’s vision. She started at IA in 2011 and has held multiple positions over a decade of work.
Prior to joining the IA team, Baxter held administrative and student life positions at St. Mary’s College of California and Valparaiso University. Her experiences in student leadership at Wittenberg led her to complete a master’s degree in college student personnel from Bowling Green State University and launched her early career in student affairs.
Baxter is active in her community primarily through her church, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square. She has served two terms as council chair, leading the dynamic urban congregation through mission and visioning processes. She has held multiple other leadership positions within the congregation and accompanies worship on her flute. From 2017-2018, she served on the ELCA’s Interreligious Policy Statement Task Force and was part of a small team that wrote a statement of interreligious commitment for the denomination.
Baxter graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2003 with a religion major and sociology minor. At Wittenberg, she was involved with Weaver Chapel Association, the Honors Program and honor societies, Orientation, Office of Admission, flute choir, and other activities. She currently lives in Oak Park, Illinois, just west of Chicago with her spouse, Justin, an ELCA pastor; Susanna, age 6; and Ezra, age 3.
The Outstanding Young Alumnus/a Award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through outstanding accomplishments in their professional careers, impressive volunteer service, and/or noteworthy involvement in professional and/or service organizations, all since graduating within the last 15 years. This year’s recipient is Mai P. Trinh, class of 2009.
After earning her doctorate in organizational behavior from the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University in 2016, Mai P. Trinh joined Arizona State University (ASU) as an assistant professor in the Leadership and Interdisciplinary Studies faculty group in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. She is a faculty affiliate in the Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity, the Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment, and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at ASU.
Trinh studies leadership as a holistic and experiential process that requires dynamic interactions among interdependent, heterogeneous people in changing operating environments over time. She integrates research from organization science, complex systems science, education, philosophy, and sociology to offer new dynamic perspectives on leadership with an emphasis on experiential learning, adaptability, and systems thinking. Her work uses principles of Kolb's Experiential Learning Theory coupled with peer and executive coaching to help current and aspiring leaders foster a positive learning identity, embrace humility, appreciate diversity, value teamwork, and adapt effectively to uncertain and changing contexts. She employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, but above all, uses agent-based computational models to simulate the collective impacts as well as policy implications of individual-level interventions.
Trinh is committed to advancing the United Nations' sustainable development goal #4 "Quality education," #5 "Gender equality," #10 "Reduced inequalities," and #3 "Good health and wellbeing." Her research has tackled issues of cultural diversity in small groups and proposed an inclusive framework for leadership ethics based on Western and Eastern notions of practical wisdom. Her works have developed policy recommendations for improving the Latinx population's access to healthcare and addressed the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on gender inequity in academia.
Trinh has published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Leadership Quarterly, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Journal of Management Education, and Business Ethics: A European Review. Her awards include Best Symposium Award from the Management Education & Development division of the Academy of Management, Early Career Teaching Award in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts for teaching innovations, and the Faculty Women Association's Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award.
This year’s Servant Leader Award, bestowed upon alumni who have distinguished themselves through outstanding service, goes to Janis Rhea Worley, class of 1982. Passionate about service, Worley has been giving back to her community for 25 years. As a dedicated volunteer at the school her children attended, she served as president of the Old Trail School Parents Association and on the board of trustees. Active in the Junior League of Akron, she served as league president and three-time chair of their largest fundraiser, Designer ShowHouse; created an “adopt a high-rise” program to serve residents of a Section 8 housing project; and won the Rookie of the Year Award.
Worley then joined the board of the Summit County Historical Society, chairing multiple fundraising events and earning the 1,000-Hour Service Award. She was named 2022 Woman of the Year for Integrity by the Summit County Historical Society and the Woman’s History Project. She also has served on the Akron Children’s Hospital Women’s Board, and as past board president of the Ronald McDonald House of Akron.
Worley spent 15 years in corporate America and nearly 15 years as an entrepreneur before spending 10 years employed in the nonprofit sector. Early in her career, she took a position with Sherwin Williams at their corporate headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Serving as director of new product development, she created and developed a 30-minute television series that was purchased by Scripps Howard for air on their newly created cable network, HGTV. She went on to produce nine nationally broadcast seasons of the home improvement show Room by Room.
Worley then created her own freelance writing and video production company, soon joining forces with the local PBS station to create multiple documentaries for the local market, as well as a weekly business and economy series, NEOtropolis. She earned the National Gracie Allen Award for Best Documentary for Heart of a Nation and a Regional Emmy nomination for Act of Duty. In 2013, she took the position of manager of advancement and volunteer programs at One of Kind Pet Rescue in Akron, Ohio. Currently, she is the finance and operations manager for First Congregational Church of Akron.
Worley earned an MBA in marketing from Pennsylvania State University in 1986. She completed the Executive Program in Strategic Marketing Management at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and holds a Certificate of Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from Michigan State University and the Society for Nonprofits. In 2020-2021, she participated in the Leadership Akron Signature Program. She lives with her partner, Lee Andrews, in Hudson, Ohio. She has two children, Grant and Grace ’20.
This year’s Professional Achievement Award, presented to Wittenberg University alumni who have achieved outstanding distinction in their professional field, goes to two recipients in Sarah Henrickson Parker, Ph.D., class of 2004, and Cheryl D. Lindeman, Ed.D., class of 1971.
Parker is the chair of health systems and implementation science at Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. She has over 15 years of experience applying human factors and industrial/organizational psychology principles to healthcare.
She received her B.A. in psychology from Wittenberg University in 2004 and her M.A. in human factors and applied cognition from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she worked at Mayo Clinic applying human factors principles to various inpatient quality and safety challenges. She pursued her doctorate at University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She was a Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellow, focusing on team coordination during trauma resuscitation.
Parker has over $2 million in research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and many other local and national foundations. Most importantly, Parker and her husband, Michael, are parents to three beautiful children, Layla (9), Jack (5), and Miles (1).
Lindeman majored in biology and secondary education and was a member of the Wittenberg Choir, Alpha Delta Pi, Beta Beta Beta honorary, and senior class secretary. She earned her M.S. in biology at the University of Akron and studied the water quality of the James River in Lynchburg, Virginia. At the University of Virginia, she received her Ed.D. in higher education administration. Currently, Lindeman is a STEM consultant for Carolina Biological’s Smithsonian’s Science for the Classroom K-8 and certified middle school OpenSciEd units.
After earning her doctorate in 1984, she became a founding faculty member and partnership coordinator for the Central Virginia Governor’s School for Science and Technology (CVGS) in Lynchburg. With the assistance of the late Dr. David Mason, professor emeritus of biology, she established an Electron Microscopy Lab, and also developed and managed microbiology, biotechnology, and water quality laboratories.
As an adjunct instructor of biology at Central Virginia Community College, Lindeman taught general biology, anatomy, and physiology and helped to establish a dual enrollment program with CVGS. In 2014, she retired from public school teaching and became an assistant professor of education at Randolph College in Lynchburg with research interests in math/science inquiry methods. She retired in June 2021.
On the national level, Lindeman is past president and executive director of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools. With her colleagues, she was coeditor and author of Schools Like Ours: Realizing Our STEM Future (2011). Her teaching awards include the Virginia Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Student Impact Award, NABT Outstanding Biology Teacher for Virginia, Virginia Association for Science Teachers Biology Teacher of the Year, and Outstanding Conservation Educator by Robert E. Lee Soil and Conservation District.
In retirement, Lindeman serves as an appointed member of the State Board of Education’s Virginia Advisory Committee for the Education of the Gifted. Leadership roles include president of the Future Focus Foundation (STEM focus), Director of the Central Virginia Regional Science Fair, and ruling elder at Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church. She and her husband, Dean, have three daughters: Sarah Campbell, Kristen Shifflett ’03, and Allison Pappas, and four grandchildren.
The Alumna of the Year is the most prestigious recognition bestowed upon alumni. The award celebrates alumni who have attained a significant level of achievement in their chosen field, impacted their local communities with integrity and character, and demonstrated a continued commitment to Wittenberg. This year’s recipient is Nicole Fogarty, class of 1998.
Upon graduating from Wittenberg, Fogarty moved to the Florida Keys to pursue her dream of becoming a marine biologist. She worked as a marine educator at Newfound Harbor Institute, outreach coordinator for citizen science programs at The Nature Conservancy, and research technician at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of North Carolina Wilmington. These opportunities solidified her career goal to study and try to conserve coral reefs.
In 2003, Fogarty began her Ph.D. at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, focusing on the ecological and evolutionary significance of coral hybridization. She met her husband, Kevin DeFosset, in 2006. Four years later, just days after she defended her dissertation, they married in the backyard of her childhood home. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Marine Station where she continued to study various aspects of coral reproductive ecology.
In 2012, Fogarty accepted a position as an assistant professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center in southeastern Florida. In 2016, Fogarty and her husband became foster parents which led to the adoption of their sons, Nico and Nathan. In 2018, she and her family moved to North Carolina after Fogarty accepted a position at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she received tenure earlier this year. Her laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to conduct basic research throughout the Caribbean related to coral resilience and recovery.
Throughout her career, Fogarty has served as the primary mentor to 18 master’s students and six undergraduate honors students, served on numerous student committees, published over 26 peer-reviewed articles, and been awarded over $1.5 million in grant funding from private, state, and federal agencies including the National Science Foundation and NOAA. She has not only been dedicated to educating her students, but also the public through numerous outreach events and educational videos where she describes the importance of coral reefs and why they should be protected. Fogarty and her family enjoy the beautiful, natural areas that North Carolina offers, through hiking, camping, biking, boating, and hanging out at the beach.
The Alumni Association Achievement Award program will be emceed by Laurice Moore, class of 1995, president of the Wittenberg Alumni Association Board.
To view this year’s Homecoming, Reunion, and Family Weekend events or to register, click here.