Jump to main content

Alumni Notes – Fall 2021



Follow along on Twitter @UNCBearsAlumni to read more alumni news and notes

Editor’s Note: Alumni Notes items are submitted by alumni and are not verified by the editors. While we welcome alumni news, UNC Magazine is not responsible for the information contained in these submissions.

October 14, 2021

  • Extended Notes

    Chris Garcia

    Alumnus Powering the Comeback

    Cristóbal (Chris) Garcia BA ’08, Evans, is UNC’s associate director of Alumni Relations and has been selected as a participant in the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Power the Comeback campaign. Launched this past April, the campaign empowers local influencers to motivate the communities they engage with to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and includes Coloradans sharing their stories about why they got vaccinated. The campaign hopes to eliminate barriers and misinformation around the vaccine.  

    Garcia, a podcaster and community advocate, says that the organizers reached out to him after learning about his podcast, “Latino Northern Colorado.”

    As a Power the Comeback influencer, he’s been featured across social media platforms and on billboards throughout the state and has been interviewed on Denver7 news and Univision’s national news program Aquí y Ahora. 

    “By getting vaccinated, we can protect our families and help power the comeback in our own communities,” Garcia says.

    Encouraging Student Wellness

    Shannon Loveridge Milliken BS ’11, MAT ’15, Thornton, is the comprehensive physical education and wellness senior consultant at the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). She is the principal investigator and project manager for the 1801 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Healthy Schools Grant and the 1801 CDC COVID-19 Supplemental Grant. She also oversees the CDE Student Wellness grant and provides professional development and technical assistance around the Comprehensive Physical Education Standards in Colorado.  

  • 1970s

    Lowell Graham BA ’70, MA ’71, Greeley, has been named the sixth music director for the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra in the organization’s 110-year history. He previously served as Professor of Music holding the Abraham Chavez Professorship in Music at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) from 2002 to 2021. He’s held numerous conducting positions including the commander and conductor of the United States Air Force’s premier musical organization in Washington, DC. As a USAF Colonel, he became the senior ranking musician in the Department of Defense. Graham also actively serves as an educational clinician for Conn-Selmer Education Division and was inducted into the Conn-Selmer “Hall of Fame” in 2021. Graham has released recordings on six labels — Naxos, Telarc, Klavier, Mark, Altissimo, and Wilson — that have been recognized for 
both their artistic and sonic excellence.

    Tom Linnell MA ’73, EdD ’77, Fort Collins, enjoyed a wonderful 45-year career in psychology as a teacher, clinician and consultant. He retired in 2019 and continues 
to live in Fort Collins with his wife, Sheri.  

    Tom Ninnemann BA ’72, Jackson, Wyoming, has been honored again as the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters Small Market Radio Newsman of the Year for 2020.  

    Bill Rowley EdD ’73, Escondido, California, has retired as dean of the School of Education at Seattle Pacific University. In 2008, Rowley was awarded status as emeriti professor of Counselor Education. He was a UNC commencement speaker in 2013, with his speech titled “Choosing the Road that Leads Up.” 

    Bob Peterson BA ’74, MA ’82, Windsor, in January, 2021, became the 24th person ever to be inducted into the National Association 
of Homebuilders Remodelers Hall of Fame. 

    Jay Petersen MME ’78, Tucson, Arizona, recently published a book, A Comprehensive Guide to Intersex, available at Barnes and Noble and all major outlets and distributors. Petersen’s intersex narrative, A Changed Life: Becoming True to Who I Am is published in the Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics section of the John Hopkins University Press. Peterson is also a self-employed abstract artist, with exhibits in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson, Arizona, and De Young Museum in San Francisco, California. Petersen has donated art to nonprofits such as domestic violence shelters in Southern Arizona, and a shelter for trafficked women and children on the east coast.

  • 1980s

    Ernesto Alvarado PhD ’87, Thornton, previously highlighted in the book Shamanic Wisdomkeepers, has co-authored Our Apache Ways, published by Vanishing Horizons. 

    Julie Dana MME ’87, Fresno, California, received the Bill Stewart Award for Excellence in Education for the State Center Community College District in spring 2021.  

  • 1990s

    Rina Wallace Bristol MM ’92, DA ’03, Montgomery, Alabama has been appointed assistant provost and dean of the Harold Lloyd Murphy Graduate School at Alabama State University in Montgomery. In her 22nd year at ASU, she previously served as interim dean, associate dean, and Music Department chair of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at ASU. Bristol was also recently elected to a three-year term to serve on the Commission on Accreditation of the National Association of Schools of Music. Bristol was recently honored as one of Alabama State University’s Women of Excellence for 2021. The award is granted to women in recognition of their service, leadership, strength, and spirit of excellence to the university.

    Kimberly Lees EdD ’96, Sheboygan, Wisconsin, authored her first book, Dying to Live, A Memoir: Choosing to Thrive After Trauma and Abuse. The story unveils how domestic violence, sexual assault, and two traumatic brain injuries from severe car accidents within four years of each other brought Lees to her knees.

    Jenny Thomas Briggs BS ’97, Windsor, serves as a senior strategic consultant at the Rady School of Management, UC San Diego, at the Beyster Institute. She also serves as an outside independent director for PFSbrands and Engineering Economics and is a founding partner of GRITT Business Coaching. Briggs is a Rutgers University Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit-Sharing Executive Fellow focusing on corporate governance and performance. She has contributed to the Democracy at Work Institute, and the reinventing work initiative with the Boston FED. She was a member of the New Belgium Brewing executive leadership team for more than a decade as vice president of Human Resources and Organizational Development and was the chairperson of the board for GISinc which is headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama. 

    Jeremy Olinger BA ’99, Eaton, has become the Deputy Town Administrator at the Town of Berthoud for the Colorado Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP).

  • 2000s

    Travis McCorkle MA ’01, San Angelo, Texas, received the United Soccer Coaches Organization Award for the 2020-2021 National Staff of the Year (as voted by the Division 2 Women’s Soccer coaches). 

    Stephen Michalik BA ’03, MA ’05, Spring, Texas, founded All Nations Community 
School in 2018, a globally-minded, Christ-centered school located in The Woodlands, Texas, after nine years of teaching at schools in South America and the Middle East. Michalik also serves as board president 
and STEM coordinator. 

    Cortney Kelley Westhoff-O’Farrell BS ’04, Greeley, has recently published a gluten-free cookbook called Our Next Food Adventure, with more than 300 simple, straightforward recipes that span generations and cross borders. 

    Toni Niccoli BA 04’, MA ’07, Greeley, was appointed principal of St. Vrain Valley School District’s Global Acceleration Campus, overseeing New Meridian High School (SVVSD’s Alternative High School) and the Career Elevation and Technology Center (1 of 8 Premier Career and Technical Education Campuses in Colorado). 

    Lucas Sorenson BA ’09, Englewood, began work on an MBA through UNC’s Kenneth W. Monfort College of Business. 

  • 2010s

    Jennifer So-Bruno BA ’10, Littleton, went to Colorado Media School and received a technical degree in radio and television broadcasting. She began working in radio broadcasting in 2011 and has since earned numerous accolades. So-Bruno currently serves on the Artistic Board for Insight Collab Theatre, a theatre company founded by Pan Asian American artists that focuses on inclusive, innovative, and inspiring works that illuminate our shared human experience. She was fortunate to have the opportunity to be cast in an Audio Drama Podcast called Forward Podcast.  

    Whitney Frase Armstrong BA ’13, Beavercreek, Ohio, was named as the winner of the prestigious 2020 Joan Orr Air Force Spouse of the Year. The award recognizes contributions to the U.S. Air Force community by non-military spouses of the U.S Air Force service members. Over the past two years, Armstrong served as the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base United Service Organizations Center Manager, leading a team of more than 200 volunteers providing services to more than 100,000 military and family members. Currently she serves as the vice president of development and strategy for the Military Spouse Advocacy Network, a 501(c)3 nonprofit on a mission to educate, empower and support military spouses through peer-
to-peer mentorship. She is also working toward a master’s in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, Public Leadership Credential. 

    Joshua Nowak BA ’13, Denver, joined McDermott Stuart & Ward LLP in Denver as an associate attorney following five years as a Colorado Public Defender in Adams County. Joshua brings with him the passion for serving clients in need and has proven experience in successfully taking on challenging criminal defense work defending clients with offenses ranging from petty offenses to first degree murder.  

    Sarra Stanley BS ’13, Arlington Heights, Illinois, was a missionary for the Roman Catholic Church at the University of Northern Arizona (2013-2015), Colorado State University (2015-2017), and expanded FOCUS to the United Kingdom at the University of Southampton (2017-2019). She is now a parish outreach missionary in Chicago, Illinois. As an international speaker and emcee, Stanley recently completed a graduate certificate at the University of Notre Dame. 

    Elizabeth Van Lierde BA ’16, Santa Ana, California, recently announced her debut cookbook Everyday Entertaining which has 110 Recipes for going all out when you’re staying in.  

    Kerri-Noelle Humphrey MA ’18, Huntsville, Alabama was awarded an Arts Educator Fellowship in the amount of $5,000. Her current research, Dancing the Diaspora: Discovering the Influence of Traditional and Tribal African dance in the History of African-American Social and Concert Dance in the Caribbean and the United States, was listed on DanceMagazine.com and DanceTeacher.com as the article What to Read and Watch During Quarantine: Recommendations from Master Teacher Katiti King

    Grace Hoag BA ’19, UCERT ’19, Fort Collins, is an artist-in-residence at Art Gym Denver with a late-summer, early-fall exhibition called “In Absentia” with other Create Award recipients Thinh Dinh and Justice Miles.  

    Erika Siebring BA ’19, Parker, previously accepted a position as a multimedia journalist at the KNOP-TV Nebraska News 2 station in North Platte, Nebraska. She was promoted to the morning news producer and anchor for the station where she produced and anchored a two-hour morning show every weekday morning. In early April 2021, Siebring accepted a position as a content marketing specialist at Madwire in Fort Collins. 

  • 2020s

    Isabel Powell BS ’20, Salida, will begin graduate studies in Nursing in fall 2021 
at UNC. 

    Lily Brynteson BA ’21, Greeley, will be attending Avenue Five Institute in Austin, Texas in the fall to receive her massage therapy license. She hopes to continue to get a master’s in counseling and eventually find a way to combine counseling and massage therapy, working primarily with survivors of physical and sexual abuse.