Entrepreneurship is the tie that binds 2005 award recipients

The collective level of professionalism this year’s Accomplished & Under 40 award recipients brings to Clark County businesses is impressive. While juggling family, social and philanthropic commitments, many of this year’s winners have found the time and inspiration to change careers in mid-path, start a company or companies, and grow long standing area businesses beyond their expectations.

While differing widely in age and originally hailing from stations around the world, the 2005 award winners all named community service and professional leadership, commitment to their respective organizations and the welfare of their friends and family as top priorities.

Despite their differing backgrounds – from the Russian mom heading up iQ Credit Union’s campus branch program to the entrepreneurial student who helped "save C-Tran" – this year’s Accomplished & Under 40 award winners share tirelessness and passion, things that fuel their entrepreneurial spirit.

The group’s range of professional experiences differs dramatically, with award winners representing many lines of work from education and social services to engineering and banking. In this year’s group, there is a hospital administrator and an ecologist, a forest ranger and a certified financial planner, a bank vice president and a physical therapist. A large number of this year’s winners have started and grown their own companies to meet a need right here in Southwest Washington.
Together, these young activists represent dozens of social service, educational and professional affiliations. They are teaching our children, building our homes, fueling our economy and helping break down stereotypes and roadblocks that impede those less fortunate. And they have so much left to do.

Please take a few moments to browse through the biographies of the 2005 Accomplished & Under 40 class on the following pages, and take time to congratulate the winners you recognize as coworkers, colleagues and friends. Hopefully, the stories will inspire you to nominate someone for next year’s award – or to be among next year’s winners.

The award winners were recognized at a luncheon attended by 250 guests held Thursday, Nov. 10, at the Hilton Vancouver Hotel and Conference Center.

Tony Johnson, owner of TJ and Associates, and Julie Dawson with Evergreen School Districts Community Partnerships, both former award recipients, presented the award winners. CEO Mike Worthy spoke on behalf of event sponsor Bank of Clark County. Worthy and representatives of the Vancouver Business Journal presented the awards.

Shareefah Abdullah, 35
Founder and President,
Hot Ovations Communications Coaching and Training Co.
Nominated by: John McDonagh, Publisher, Vancouver Business Journal
This year, Shareefah Abdullah launched her communications firm, Hot Ovations Communications Coaching and Training Co. Abdullah earned her juris doctor degree from Lewis and Clark Law School in 1996 and practiced in Clark County. She decided to change direction in her career and became a reporter for The Columbian and later worked as a public relations professional in Portland and Vancouver. Abdullah has been recognized for her writing by the Oregon Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Since branching out into her own firm, she has attracted a number of clients, including Portland State University, Oregon School Boards Association, NAACP of Vancouver and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Abdullah recently founded Black Entrepreneurs of Clark County and serves on Lewis and Clark Law School’s alumni board.
Jonathan Avery, 34
Vice President/Site Administrator, Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital
Nominated by: Pamela Vukovich, Chief Financial Officer, Legacy Health System

Jonathan Avery was appointed administrator of Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital in Vancouver just seven months prior to completion. In that time, he was responsible for contracting with health plans, compiling a medical staff and addressing the local community, among other duties. Additionally, he was involved with aspects of construction, information technology, purchasing, marketing, physician relations and more. In his 10 years with Legacy Health System, Avery has held a number of positions, including director of primary-care clinics and director of Legacy Clinics, in which he expanded the clinics from 20 physicians in three locations to 35 physicians in six locations. Most recently, Avery was vice president in charge of all employed physicians within Legacy, which included 100 doctors at 22 sites.
Michelle Beardshear, 27
Customer Service Representative II, Clark Public Utilities
Nominated by: Stephanie Richardson, Sales Representative, JC Penney
Despite losing use of her legs in a car accident at the age of 18, Michelle Beardshear has become an ambassador for the community. By the age of 19, Beardshear was living on her own, working full-time and attending Clark College. She completed her Associates Degree and began working for Clark Public Utilities. Since then, Beardshear co-founded the Stem Cell Awareness Committee of Clark County. She was named Ms. Wheelchair Washington in 2005 and is the Executive Director of 2006 Ms. Wheelchair Washington. Beardshear has served as the assistant coach of the Camas High School girls varsity fast pitch team. She helped lead the team to a state championship in 2002 and was named the Greater St. Helens League fast pitch coach of the year.

Heidi Bixby, 37
Certified Financial Planner and Co-Owner, Johnson Bixby and Associates LLC

Nominated by: Jonnie Martin, Owner, Jonnie Martin Associates
Before co-founding Vancouver financial planning firm Johnson Bixby and Associates, Heidi Bixby graduated from Marylhurst University, worked at a financial planning firm and became a certified financial planner through the College of Financial Planning. She has also completed Leadership Clark County, served as an officer of Women in Action and served two terms as the president of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation, which she helped to grow from a few thousand dollars to more than $3 million with full-time staffing. Bixby has also traveled extensively.

Michelle Brammer, 33

Marketing Manager,

Columbia Credit Union

Nominated by: Colleen Boccia, Vice President of Marketing, Columbia Credit Union

Michelle Brammer joined Columbia Credit Union’s marketing department just over three years ago, where she is recognized for her leadership and community outreach skills. Brammer is responsible for implementing Columbia’s marketing and public relations projects, campaigns and staff supervision. She is heavily involved in a number of organizations and events throughout the county, including the YWCA of Clark County, YW Housing board of directors, her neighborhood association and local political campaigns.

Scott Campbell, 38

Personal Trainer & Fitness Speaker,

Northwest Personal Training and Fitness Education

Sherri McMillan, Owner, Northwest Personal Training and Fitness

In Scott Campbell’s first month with Northwest Personal Training and Fitness Education, he generated more than $7,500 in training revenues. Even with 16 years in the industry, Campbell continually seeks continuing education opportunities and teaches courses to fitness professionals, speaks at corporations on health-related information and presents new and cutting-edge information to the NW Personal Training staff. He has been voted one of the top 10 personal trainers in the U.S. by the American Council on Exercise and keeps himself fit through participation in numerous physical challenges, including marathons, triathlons, cycling and hiking treks. Campbell also stays active in the community through outreach and mentoring programs such as basketball clubs for at-risk youth and fundraising efforts. He has also traveled as a missionary to several countries.

Todd Coleman P.E., 36

Deputy Executive Director,

Port of Vancouver

Nominated by: Larry Paulson, Executive Director, Port of Vancouver

Todd Coleman joined the Port of Vancouver in 2001 as director of facilities and was recently promoted to deputy executive director. Coleman was an instrumental player in the renovation of the port’s Terminal 3, and is the lead project manager on the 600-acre development of Columbia Gateway and Rufener properties, two of the most high profile projects in the region. He is involved with Self Help Housing and Helping Hands ministries at Summit View Church and is leading a project team to build a home for a low-income family in Battle Ground. Coleman also volunteers for the Junior Achievement program at local elementary schools. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and a 2003 graduate of Leadership Clark County.

Jennifer Crooks, 31

Assistant Director, Office of Campus Advancement

Washington State University Vancouver

Nominated by: Hal Dengerink, Chancellor, WSU Vancouver

Jennifer Crooks began working at WSU Vancouver as a student intern in 1995 and was named development coordinator in 2000 and assistant director of campus advancement in 2003. As primary fundraiser for the campus, Crooks has increased private support to the university by 40 percent since 2003, created five new endowed scholarships totaling more than $125,000 and grown annual giving to the university through telemarketing, direct mail and the annual faculty staff campaign from a donation level of 33 percent in 1999 to 78 percent in 2005. She is on the George C. Marshall Leadership Award committee, a member of the Willamette Valley Development Officers, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the WSU Vancouver Diversity Council and the WSU Vancouver Student Emergency Fund Committee.

KC Fuller, 38

Owner, Elite Marketing Inc.

Nominated by: Angie Laughlin, Executive Director, Hough Foundation

Hough Foundation Events coordinated by KC Fuller, including Taste of Vancouver and Hot July Nights, are responsible for attracting thousands of visitors to downtown Vancouver and bringing economic activity to local restaurants and shops. Additionally, his events have contributed thousands of dollars to local non-profit organizations, including Hough Foundation, Southwest Washington Donors, Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Legion Baseball and more. Fuller serves as a member of the board of directors of the Hough Foundation.

Kim Howard, 39

Audit Manager,

Perkins and Co. P.C.

Nominated by: Lynne Gross, Marketing Director, Perkins and Co. P.C.

As manager of the audit department at Perkins and Co., Kim Howard works on financial statement and employee benefit plan audits for a variety of clients. Previously, Howard has worked in managerial and leadership positions at microHelix Inc., Intel Corp., Sonyu Corp. of America and Deloitte and Touche. She also served more than six years in the U.S. Army stationed in Virginia, the Pentagon and Germany and participated in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia.

Travis Jacoby, 23

Network Specialist,

iQ Credit Union

Nominated by: Brad Wood, Network Administrator, iQ Credit Union

Most people attend a university before teaching in one, but Travis Jacoby taught computer related courses at Washington State University Vancouver as a high-school student. He also began working at iQ Credit Union as a high-school intern, and following his early graduation from Heritage High School in 2000, he began working full-time at the company. Since then, he has become responsible for key areas of information systems operations and is currently responsible for security related items such as firewall administration. Jacoby lends his knowledge as the chair of the IT Advisory Board for the Evergreen School District. Additionally, he has completed the Clark County Sheriff’s Reserve Academy. Jacoby is now a volunteer reserve officer for the Vancouver Police Department.

Jason Joner, 28


Miller Nash LLP

Nominated by: Stephen Horenstein, Partner, Miller Nash

Jason Joner began working at Miller Nash as a summer clerk and was then hired as a full-time associate practicing business and corporate law. Joner advises businesses and non-profit organizations as they start their business or evolve over time. He has worked as the legal counsel for the Vancouver Symphony as they have grown in the community. Joner is active in the community, particularly in the area of education. Joner serves as an adjunct professor at Clark College, teaching business and corporate law in the paralegal program. He is also a board member of the Clark College Alumni Association. The past two years, Joner has spearheaded the Clark County Bar Association’s High School Mock Trial program, which involves 13 teams and seven regional high schools.

Tamera Kihs, 39

Emergency Management Coordinator,

City of Vancouver

Nominated by: Jeanette Bader, Program and Policy Development Manager, City of Vancouver

Tamera Kihs has served in several capacities with the city of Vancouver, including manager of the Solid Waste Department and Water Resources Center, Community Services Department manager and as the emergency management coordinator with the Vancouver Fire Department. Her leadership showed through two rounds of budget cuts in the Community Services Department, which eventually led to the elimination of her own position. Kihs has volunteered for many community events, including as co-chair of the Evergreen Festival the past few years. Most recently, she has volunteered for assignment in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, where she is working 18-hour days in the Emergency Management Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Jennifer Larson, 34

Investment and Finance Specialist, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Nominated by: Russ Dyer, Owner, Princeton Athletic Club

Jennifer Larson has worked at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust for seven years and is a full-time student studying accounting. For the past seven years, she has been the support person for the Vancouver Rotary Foundation, where she organizes grant requests and correspondence and was designated honorary Rotarian by the Vancouver Rotary Club. Larson is also involved with the Alexa Dyer Life Challenge Award, where she coordinates grant requests from families with terminally ill children. Last year, Larson was the chairperson for Small Children Need Big Friends, which partners volunteer "lunch buddies" with elementary children, and this year, she is the gala chairperson for the Festival of Trees. Additionally, as a member of Women in Action, Larson volunteers as the lead mentor for Washington Elementary fifth grade girls.

Yelena Lyashevskiy, 22

Campus Branch Coordinator,

iQ Credit Union

Nominated by: Danette LaChapelle, Vice President of Marketing, iQ Credit Union

Yelena Lyashevskiy came to the United States from Russia with her family in 1995. She graduated early from Summit View High School in 2001, active in the Future Business Leaders of America program. Lyashevskiy participated in the iQ Credit Union Campus Branch program, an online branch of the credit union operated by students at their school. She became branch manager and also worked part-time at the credit union. She began working full-time at the credit union and in 2003, she became the campus branch coordinator. Two new high school branches have been opened under Lyashevskiy’s watch, bringing the number of student-run branches to six. She oversees the training for all incoming students and has helped other credit unions launch their own programs. Lyashevskiy is married and has two children.

Maija Mercer, 36

Vice President of Operations,

The Management Group Inc.

Nominated by: Carmen Villarma, President, The Management Group Inc.

Maija Mercer, vice president of operations for The Management Group, has increased the company’s revenues through a number of projects, including the implementation of a company-wide operational audit program, the mapping of all processes within a division of the company and the creation and maintenance of the company’s Web site. Under her supervision, staff productivity has increased 143 percent. Mercer is a member of the Leadership Clark County class of 2006. She is active in the YMCA, serving on the board of directors, Program Committee and as the section leader for the 2006 Strong Communities Campaign. Mercer is a member of Women in Action and was a participant in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Additionally, she is a leader in Venture Crew, a co-ed branch of Scouting.

Chuck Miller, 37

Vice President, Bay Bank

Nominated by: Wayne Kepfer, Regional Vice President, Bay Bank

Chuck Miller, a life-long resident of Vancouver, began his professional career with Wells Fargo in 1996 as a commercial loan officer. In 2004, he joined Bay Bank. Throughout his career, he has funded over $50,000,000 in loans to businesses in the community, including nearly $15,000,000 since April 2004. Miller is involved as an advocate of the local building industry as a member of the Building Industry Association and the Southwest Washington Contractors Association. Additionally, he is involved in fundraising activities as a member of Southwest Washington Independent Forward Thrust and has taught Junior Achievement at his alma mater, Mountain View High School. Miller received an Associates Degree from Clark College and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration/management from Portland State University.

Daniel P. Monaghan Jr., 31

Tax Manager,

Perkins and Co. P.C.

Nominated by: Lynne Gross, Marketing Director, Perkins and Co. P.C.

Dan Monaghan is a manager in the Perkins and Co. tax department, and he has more than nine years of public accounting experience, including work as a volunteer consultant for an IRS consumer assistance agency. He is an active member of the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, treasurer of the Young Audiences of Oregon board of directors and a participant in the Northwest Business for Culture and Arts "Art of Leadership" series. Monaghan was also involved with the Oregon Cultural Trust, where he researched statutes and regulations and helped draft communications about the provisions of a new tax credit and was chosen to speak at various engagements to promote and educate the public on the newly legislated tax credit.

Shawn G. Moore P.E., 35

Site Development Section Manager,

Hopper Dennis Jellison PLLC

Nominated by: Hopper Dennis Jellison co-workers

As the manager of site development, Shawn Moore oversees a diverse group of civil engineering specialists at Hopper Dennis Jellison. He has been involved with several award-winning projects, including the Hilton Vancouver Hotel and Conference Center. Volunteering his own time and paying his own way, Moore recently traveled to Liberia where he worked as a member of an international aid team to survey, plan and design a community that included an orphanage, schools, medical buildings, recreation and housing. In the community, he is active in youth ministries, heads up the Facilities Committee for Cedar Tree Christian Classical School and, along with his wife, coaches a soccer team. In 2004, while continuing to work full-time, he earned his MBA from George Fox University.

Steve Morasch, 38

Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt

Nominated by: Mark Long, Managing Partner, Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt

Through his work at Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, Steve Morasch has guided developers and land owners in the region through the land-use permitting process. His work has been instrumental in ensuring the success of high-profile projects, including Vancouver’s Tidewater Cove office complex. Morasch lends his expertise as a member of the Industrial Lands Committee of the CREDC and the board of the Clark College Alumni Association. He also serves on several bar committees and has published articles related to land use issues. Morasch is a graduate of Clark College, Willamette University and Lewis and Clark College’s Northwestern School of Law.

Randy Mueller, 34

Mueller Consulting Services

Nominated by: Lynne Griffith, Executive Director, C-Tran and Kathy McDonald, Co-Director, Committee to Save C-Tran

Entrepreneur, campaign director, volunteer, student. All of these describe Randy Mueller. He most recently acted as co-director of the Committee to Save C-Tran in the successful bid to pass the voter initiative giving C-Tran additional funding to maintain transit services. Mueller also successfully managed the 2004 state senatorial campaign for Don Carlson. He recently scaled back the scope of his business, which had 12 employees and annual revenue of more than $500,000 in 1999, to concentrate on his Washington State University Vancouver coursework and public service. Mueller also serves as WSU Vancouver student liaison to the legislature, is a volunteer and lobbyist for M.A.D.D. and is a member of the state’s Conservation Voters. He anticipates running for public office in the future.

Meridee Pabst, 36


Miller Nash LLP

Nominated by: Stephen Horenstein, Partner, Miller Nash

Meridee Pabst works as a senior associate in Miller Nash’s land use practice. In addition, Pabst is involved in the firm’s Hiring Committee, summer clerk program and Pro Bono Committee. She is also active in the Clark County Bar Association, where she chairs the Judicial Preference Poll Committee and Law Library Committee and is a member of the Washington Women Lawyers organization. Pabst is a 2004 graduate of Leadership Clark County, and she volunteers for the Friends of Camas Public Library, YWCA. She was formerly a Court Appointed Special Advocate for dependent children and served as a board member for the Downtown Vancouver Association.

Dean Perry, 37,
Cheri Perry, 37

Owners, Total Merchant Concepts Inc.

Nominated by: Shannon Decker, Vice President, Bank of Clark County

Dean and Cheri Perry founded Total Merchant Concepts following their own experience dealing with credit card processing as business owners. The company focuses on providing a high level of customer service and has partnered with many of the community banks and credit unions in the county. As a Toastmaster, Cheri Perry volunteers each year to teach a speech and communication class for high school students, and Dean Perry is active within his neighborhood and little league sports. As a couple, they volunteer for many organizations and events, including the Clark County Fair, Festival of Trees and the PTA.
The Perrys were also nominated by Eric Jenkins, Business Consultant, Total Merchant Concepts and DeeAnne Sherdnik, Assistant Vice President, First Independent Bank.

Kimberlee Pierce, 36

Marketing & Business Development Manager, The JD White Co. Inc.

Nominated by: Karen Ciocia, Senior Public Involvement Project Manager and Marketing and Client Services Manager, The JD White Co. Inc.

Kimberlee Pierce has been with The JD White Co. Inc. for 11 years and is responsible for researching, developing and tracking new project opportunities through client contacts, publications, community involvement and committee memberships. Pierce serves on the board of directors for the local chapter of the Society for Marketing Professional Services, where she has been active for more than five years and served on several committees. She also is the head coach for the women’s volleyball team at Portland’s Warner Pacific College and since 1991 has been a volunteer coach for club teams in Cowlitz and Clark counties. Pierce attended Portland State University on a volleyball scholarship.

Tahira Probst, 34

Associate Professor of Psychology, WSU Vancouver

Nominated by: Michael Morgan, Director of Research & Graduate Education, Washington State University Vancouver

Just eight years as a professor, Tahira Probst "has already achieved remarkable heights of distinction in her career as an academic," say her nominators. Probst arrived at WSU Vancouver at the age of 27, following completion of her Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and was promoted to her current position within five years. She has published 27 articles and eight technical reports while at WSU Vancouver. Her work has encouraged partnerships in community research efforts locally and abroad, which has also resulted in collaborations with colleagues at overseas universities. Additionally, Probst has contributed to the campus community as the first WSU Vancouver Diversity Fellow, in which she developed a recruitment plan for increasing student diversity.

Tahira Probst was also nominated by Candice Goucher, Professor of History & Director of Undergraduate Studies, WSUV.

Tabitha Reeder, 37

Associate Ecologist,
The JD White Co. Inc.

Nominated by: Kent Snyder, Natural Resources Manager,
The JD White Co. Inc.

Tabitha Reeder works in a variety of capacities as a biologist and project manager for The JD White Co. She applies her professional experience as a volunteer teaching environmental science to local students. In addition, Reeder has published a number of articles and received several awards throughout her academic and professional career. In the early 90s, Reeder was a founding member of a hospice in Austin, Texas, housing individuals in the late stages of AIDS, including raising funds to hire a nurse and establish a vintage clothing store as a continual source of funding. She is also the founder of Slow Food of Southwest Washington, a national organization supporting local agriculture. Last spring, Reeder was a Leadership Clark County participant. Reeder is a graduate of Western Washington University and WSU Vancouver.

Greg Shine, 37

Chief Ranger,
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site and Reserve

Nominated by: Timothy Buckley AIA, Associate, LSW Architects

Greg Shine has been chief ranger at the Fort Vancouver Reserve since 2002. He has led the revitalization and expansion of the park’s special events, interpretation and visitor services programs. Shine has served as the lead National Park Service representative for many community activities, including America’s Celebrate Freedom Salute: 60th World War II Commemoration and the Fourth of July celebration. He is a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commemoration Steering Committee, an active member of the Vancouver Rotary Club, where he is chair of the Hands-On Committee, a volunteer judge for local activities and a member of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District’s Citizen Planning Committee. Shine was a finalist for Vancouver’s General George C. Marshall Public Leadership Award.

Carren Senn Walker, 35

Financial Advisor,

Ameriprise Financial

Nominated by: Deb Wallace, Director of Business Expansion, CREDC

After 13 years as a mathematics and economics teacher, Carren Senn Walker moved on to become a financial advisor. She was awarded the First Year Achiever Award and the Mercury Award by Ameriprise Financial in 2005. Senn Walker was also recently nominated for the 2005 Marshall award. She is active in Vancouver Rotary and recently appointed to the board of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library Foundation. Additionally, Senn Walker was named chair of the Clark County chapter of the Women’s Political Caucus and was a member of the 2005 Leadership Clark County class.

Kristy Weaver, 37

Vancouver Branch Manager/
Vice President,
West Coast Bank

Nominated by: Lisa Dow, Senior Vice President, West Coast Bank

As Vancouver branch manager and vice president, Kristy Weaver helps oversee the downtown location of West Coast Bank with more than $100 million in deposits. Weaver is also a member of the bank’s marketing/promotional committee. Weaver is active in the community as a board member of the Community Housing Resource Center and serves as a Development Committee member and chair of the Affordable Home Ownership Committee. She is the local chapter secretary and treasurer of Ducks Unlimited and is a committee member for the annual auction and dinner for Columbia River Mental Health. Weaver is an active member of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce where she is a member of the Retail Recruitment Committee.

Joel White, 29

Public Affairs Director,

Building Industry Association of Clark County

Nominated by: David Rowe, Executive Director, BIA of Clark County

After serving three years as the community affairs director, Joel White was recently named the public affairs director of the BIA of Clark County. White has been responsible for recreating the image of the association, launching a new newsletter, coordinating a bi-annual directory distributed to more than 50,000 Clark County residences and creating a new logo, Web site and community involvement program. He has built a Remodelors Council that is the third fastest growing in the country, administered a Built Green program and created a scholarship program that awards more than $10,000 annually to students in the county. White can be found behind the scenes of the many BIA events. He also serves on the Washougal Planning Commission and is a Rotary member.

Brett Windsor, 32

Director of Ancillary Services,

The Vancouver Clinic

Nominated by: Thomas VanSweringen, Executive Director, The Vancouver Clinic

Brett Windsor joined the Vancouver Clinic in 2002 as manager of physical therapy and was recently promoted to Director of ancillary Services, responsible for a staff of 91 employees and annual gross revenue of $42 million. Windsor also was appointed to the Physical Therapy Licensing Board by Gov. Gregoire. He has 11 years of professional experience and has worked and studied in Australia, Canada and Scotland. He became a U.S. citizen in 2003, and volunteers at La Center High School as a physical therapist.

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