The Alumni Speaker Series is your chance to learn from fellow alumni, hear about their journeys, and make new connections. Upcoming talks are listed first and you can watch or listen to archived speakers as well.
Vice President - Branch Manager, Banner Bank
Oct. 12, 2021 @ 6 p.m. – Alumni Speaker Series
Interviewed by Bengisu Cicek
Mohamed Rashed is a Vice President - Branch Manager of Banner Bank with a history of working in the financial services industry. He grew up in Egypt and moved to the U.S. in 2006. He attended UW Tacoma and graduated in 2011 earning a dual degree in International Business and Politics. During his time at UW Tacoma, he was President of the Muslim Student Association (MSA). He went on to attain a dual master's degree in Business and Public Administration at Eastern Washington University. Currently, he is working on his Ph.D. focused in Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University and plans to graduate by 2024.
Founder & Executive Director, Recovery Career Services (BA '98, MBA '09)
Nov. 16, 2021 @ 6 p.m. – Alumni Speaker Series
Interviewed by Leland Adams
Ty Reed is a proud UW Tacoma alumnus who accomplished graduating with two degrees. Since entering recovery in 2016, he has used the lessons he learned in his journey to inspire and educate others about addiction, recovery, and the importance of second chance employment. Through his nonprofit, Recovery Career Services, which is dedicated to helping people in recovery find and keep employment, he provides career coaching and development to assist individuals in rebuilding and rescuing their professional lives. He also works for Workforce Snohomish as a Business Engagement Project Manager. Ty uses public speaking, storytelling, workshops, and webinars to communicate his message to those in recovery, their families, and the business community about the importance of desperation, hope, and second chances. His message is simple: no matter what happened in the past, there is always hope for healing and redemption.
Courtney Acoff currently serves as the Pierce County District Representative for Congressman Derek Kilmer’s Office (WA-6). She graduated with her bachelor's degree in communications and was part of the first graduating freshman class at the Tacoma campus. She loves spending time with her family and friends and attending her kids sports games. She previously worked for 13 years at Metro Parks Tacoma in a range of roles, including as the Community Outreach and Engagement Specialist, which broadened her work on behalf of serving marginalized communities. As a Certified Diversity Consultant, her focus is to acknowledge the intersectionality of life, along with the complexity those intersections bring to service organizations. Courtney currently sits on the Board as an At-Large-Trustee to the University of Washington Alumni Association, serves as a Commissioner to the Human Rights Commission for the City of Tacoma and is an active leader of Pierce County Community Engagement Task Force.
Peterson Chum is a first generation college graduate. His family were refugees and fled from a genocide in Cambodia, later settling in Seattle. He graduated with a BA in Healthcare Leadership and and minor in Business Administration at UW Tacoma, which has led him to a career in Social Services. His current role is Social Service Specialist at the Department of Social Health Services. He has worked as a community organizer putting on the Cambodian New Year Street Festival and connecting communities to social services. As well as owning his own balloon business creating balloon arrangements for families and communities. He loves spending time with his family, traveling, and trying new food.
Jonathan Teeter is a U.S Army veteran and first generation student who earned his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a minor in Law and Policy in 2015. Originally from sunny California Jonathan came to Washington in 2007 when he joined the Army, doing a tour in Iraq in 2009. The first thing he did as a civilian was enroll in community college. He attended Tacoma Community College before transferring to UW Tacoma. During his time at UW Tacoma, he volunteered at Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center. His time and experience there led him to pursue other positions in the Criminal Justice field, from a lawyer’s assistant, corrections officer to positions in the Department of Homeland Security. He has a passion for photography and videography, and hopes to one-day film a documentary about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous women and girls in Washington state. Currently, he is taking time to explore entrepreneurial opportunities in the Puget Sound. During his free time, he volunteers with the United Indians of all Tribes Foundation as a videographer.
Real Estate Agent, Coldwell Banker Real Estate (BABA ’16)
Mar. 11, 2021 @ 6 p.m. – Alumni Speaker Series
Interviewed by Madilyn Pawlowski
Jessica Barry graduated as a First Generation student in 2016 with a degree in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. During her time at UW Tacoma, she was the president of the Marketing Society. After graduating, she became a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Bain focusing on luxury, waterfront properties. She received the International Sterling Award in 2019 and was recognized and elevated to the International Diamond Society for 2020. She is also a Coldwell Banker Bain International Luxury Home Marketing Member based on her sales achievement. Born and raised in Washington, Barry is passionate about local industries. In her free time, she makes the effort to shop small businesses and support local businesses in the community.
Due to a technical issue, we were not able to record Jessica's talk.
Educator, Puyallup School District (SIAS '98)
Interviewed by student Jason Glenn / Jan. 14, 2021
Ngoma Moses Howard is an educator, administrator and community engagement advocate who lives in Puyallup. Howard, who was born in Uganda and came to Tacoma when he was eight years old. A Lincoln High School alum, he earned his bachelor’s degree at UWT, master's degree in teaching at City University, and his Principal Certification at Seattle Pacific University. A 25-year educator and school administrator, Howard currently teaches math at Edgemont Jr. High School in Puyallup. He is a frequent and key contributor to that district's diversity committee where he strives to bridge the equity and access gap to marginalized students of color in the community. Ngoma Howard is an educator who uses his profession to make a positive impact on students and communities.
Interviewed by student Alex Geronimo / Dec. 10, 2020
Angela Suresh is a first-generation Indian-born American who earned her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media Communications and a minor in Nonprofit Management. During her time as UWT, she was the News Editor of the Ledger where her notable pieces included having interviews with former President Barack Obama, Governor Jay Inslee, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal and Edward Snowden. After graduating, Angela went onto to pursue her graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University and recently has been accepted at Penn State as a PhD candidate for strategic communications. Angela currently works at Boeing as a communications specialist focusing on culture and values. Since graduating, Angela had received several notable awards including 425 Business Magazine's 30 under 30 Honoree and the India Press Club of North America's presidential award.
Payómkawichum/Luiseño, Clinical Director/Owner, Advantages Plus Counseling (MSW '11)
Interviewed by student Mindy Roman / Nov. 12, 2020
Josette Parker is an enrolled member of the La Jolla Band of Mission Indians of Southern California/Mexico. She is the owner/clinical director of Advantages Plus Counseling, Inc., a small mental health practice located in University Place, WA. While enrolled in her master's program, she interned at the American Lake Veterans Hospital and also at First Creek Middle School. She was also a CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocate) for Pierce County Juvenile Court with a focus on Native American children in foster care. She is involved in the work of the Race & Pedagogy Institute/University of Puget Sound as a community partner to forward the work of re-imagining the art of education through a social justice lens as an act of revolution.
Director of AVID & Advanced Programs Equity, Tacoma Public Schools (BA '94, MEd '00)
Interviewed by recent graduate Jordan Al-Kaabi / Oct. 12, 2020
Justina Johnson has been an educator and administrator in the Tacoma Public School District for 24 years promoting a culture of pursuing higher education, fulfilling careers, and high expectations for all students. A proud UW alumna, she is currently the Director of AVID & Advanced Programs Equity using her expertise as an educator and principal to coach others. Known for providing ongoing support, Justina loves corresponding with current and former UW students to encourage their goals.
Interviewed by student Kristen Hargett / June 25, 2020
Omari Amili graduated from UWT in 2014 with two IAS degrees, one in Psychology and one in Self & Society. He graduated from UWT again in 2016 with a Master's in Interdisciplinary Studies. Upon graduating Omari has become a published author, a community leader, and an advocate for formerly incarcerated people. He has worked as a faculty member at South Seattle College and Tacoma Community College and as a Juvenile Justice Researcher with the ACLU of Washington in addition to various public speaking and consulting work around the state of Washington.
Interviewed by student Augustine Canales / June 11, 2020
Armando Mejia has applied his personal and academic experiences to a variety of military events as a guest speaker and advocate to military service members, families and communities within the Pacific Northwest. He has been recognized for his community service with the Distinguished Alumni Award from Pierce College and the Washington State Outstanding Service to Veterans Award, for his time and energy devoted to improving the lives of Washington’s veterans. Currently, he is a Community Investor with Boeing Global Engagement Team which implements Boeing’s charitable giving and employee community engagement strategies in the Puget Sound region.
Assistant Professor, School of Engineering & Technology, UW Tacoma (MS '04)
Interviewed by student Tatiana Linardopoulou / May 28, 2020
Dr. Matt Tolentino (MS '04) went on to earn his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech and then returned to UW Tacoma in 2016 as an assistant professor in the School of Engineering & Technology and a research associate in the Center for Data Science. He has also worked as a software architect and research scientist at Intel. Tolentino founded and led the Intelligent Platform & Architecture (IPA) Lab that focuses on workload analysis for edge computing systems. Locally he has worked with the Tacoma Fire Department on using technology to protect firefighters.
Chana Lawson is known as a connector — whether as a leader in the nonprofit world, a guiding hand connecting alumni to campus, and linking students to higher education and career opportunities. Always busy, Lawson has had a longtime passion for helping others while celebrating the past and future, which began on campus as a founder of the MLK Unity Breakfast while she was a student working with the Black Student Union. After collaborating with over 26 nonprofit organizations in Pierce and King County and receiving the City of Destiny Award for Equity and Empowerment, Lawson is ready to be back at UW Tacoma to make a difference for the campus community
Chief Information Officer, Washington Military Department (BA '95, MSW '01)
Interviewed by student Sarah Smith / Apr. 30, 2020
Mark Glenn, known as "Sergeant Husky" at UW football games, is the Chief Information Officer at the Washington Military Department. He is also a U.S. Army veteran and was a first-generation student. He talks with us about his career and education.