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Washington State University
College of Arts and Sciences Welcome

Advisory Board

WSU alumni with extensive experience leading business and philanthropic endeavors provide insight on the impact and opportunities made possible by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Meet the current members:

Darren Alger

Unify Consulting

  • B.A., Political Science with a minor in history; Washington State University

Darren Alger is the president and CEO of Unify Consulting, a premier management-consulting firm headquartered in Seattle.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from WSU in 1993. Shortly thereafter, he joined Sanyo Energy as a sales and marketing specialist, where he played a key role in driving the growth of the company’s market share in Brazil. In 1998, he joined General Electric Information Services, managing accounts for high-tech and retail clients such as Microsoft, Tektronix, Nike, and Nordstrom. In this position Darren developed a love for data-driven decision-making. Merging his technological expertise and strong relationship-building skills, he joined Two Degrees Consulting to grow their current business which was at 35 consultants. He helped them rebrand to Slalom and rose to co-running Slalom’s P&L and running national business development, taking them to 2,000 employees. He then left to start his own firm. Today, Unify Consulting has more than 500 employees with offices in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Sioux Falls, and Silicon Valley.

Outside of the office, Darren supports local non-profit organizations including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Communities in School of Seattle, and Technology Access Fund. He serves on the board for WSU’s Data Analytics Program. He cherishes time with his family, skiing, reading, and is an avid golfer despite being constantly humbled by the sport.

Darren Alger.

Rhonda Crate

Sr. Data Scientist

  • B.A., Anthropology; Eastern Washington University
  • M.A., Anthropology; Washington State University
  • M.S., Statistics; Washington State University

Rhonda has been a part of The Boeing Company since 2014 and is currently working as a senior data scientist supporting the Analytics and Information Management Services within the Information Technology and Data Analytics organization. In addition to her MA in cultural anthropology and MS in statistics from WSU, she has earned professional certificates in statistical programming with R and big data technologies from the University of Washington, and is currently working on a master’s certificate in geospatial intelligence from Penn State University. Rhonda teaches R programming classes through Boeing’s Ed Wells program and is a relations focal for the WSU College of Arts and Sciences within Boeing. She is currently teaching a class for WSU Global Campus, Data 424, which helps students learn to combine skills they’ve gained from the data analytics program into creating a solution for an Industry based analytics project. Prior to her work at Boeing, she worked at a small marketing company doing work for companies such as Microsoft, GCI Telecom, Treehouse, and Seattle Central Co-Op.

Outside of work, Rhonda enjoys doing sewing craft projects, hiking, gardening, and organizing. She is married to fellow data scientist Andrey Zaikin, has an elementary school-age daughter named Elsie, and one fluffy Russian Siberian cat named Emma.

Rhonda Crate.

Stephen Fodor

13.8 Inc.

  • B.S., Biology; Washington State University
  • M.S., Biochemistry; Washington State University
  • M.A., Chemistry; Princeton University
  • Ph.D., Chemistry; Princeton University

Stephen Fodor is co-founder of 13.8, Inc. He previously founded and served as chief executive officer of Cellular Research, Inc., a start-up life science technology company founded in 2011, working to develop new technology to improve the precision of measurements in biological samples. He is also founder and former chairman of Affymetrix, Inc., a manufacturer of genetics analysis tools. Affymetrix began as a unit of the Affymax Research Institute in Palo Alto, where Stephen spearheaded the effort to develop high-density arrays of biological compounds. Of the techniques developed, one approach permitted high-resolution chemical synthesis in a light-directed, spatially defined format. Stephen and his colleagues were the first to develop and describe microarray technologies and combinatorial chemistry synthesis for measuring the genetics of an organism.

He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a member of the American Chemical Society, the Biophysical Society, and the National Academy of Engineering. In 1992, he and his colleagues were honored by the AAAS with the Newcomb-Cleveland Award for an outstanding paper published in science. He has received various honors and awards, including the WSU Alumni Achievement Award, the Intellectual Property Owner’s Distinguished Inventor of the Year Award, the Chiron Corporation Biotechnology Research Award, the Association for Laboratory Automation Achievement Award, the Jacob Heskel Gabbay Award in Biotechnology and Medicine, the Takeda Foundation Award, the Economist Innovation Award for Nanotechnology, and the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Award for outstanding contributions to biomolecular technologies. He holds over 200 U.S. and international patents.

Stephen earned a BS in biology in 1978 and an MS in biochemistry in 1981, both from Washington State University, and an MA in 1983 and PhD in 1985 in chemistry from Princeton University. From 1986 to 1989, he was a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, working on time-resolved spectroscopy of bacterial and plant pigments. He is a trustee of the Carnegie Institute of Science, a member of the AAAS Board, and serves on the council for the National Human Genome Research Institute as well as various advisory groups.

Bill Graber

Chief Financial Officer, Retired
McKesson Corporation

  • A.A., Mathematics; Yakima Valley College
  • B.A., Mathematics; Washington State University

Bill was raised in the Yakima valley and attended Selah schools until graduating from high school in 1961. He then attended Yakima Valley College for two years, receiving his Associate of Arts degree. In 1965 he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University with a major in mathematics.

After graduation he married Mary Lynn McArthur and together, they set off on a venture that would encompass three different corporations and 16 physical moves. From 1965 through 1991, Bill worked for General Electric Company (GE) in a number of financial assignments, and in a number of GE businesses. He left GE in 1991 and became the vice president and controller for the Mead Corporation, eventually becoming the senior vice president and chief financial officer in 1993. He retired from Mead in 1999. In 2000, he came out of his brief retirement to join the McKesson Corporation as senior vice president and chief financial officer. He retired for the second and final time in 2004.

After his business career, Bill served on a number of corporate boards including Kaiser Permanente, Solectron, Mosaic, Genesis Worldwide and Archimedes. He retired from corporate board work in 2017.

Bill has been involved with the Washington State University Foundation for the past 25 years, serving as a trustee and a member of the Board of Governors. He has also been active with the College of Arts and Sciences during that time period.

Bill and Mary Lynn are now happily retired in Kirkland, Washington, close to two of their three children and three of their four grandchildren.

Jim Hanna

Director, Datacenter Community Development

  • B.S., Environmental Science; Washington State University

In mid-2016, Jim Hanna joined Microsoft as the company’s first director of datacenter sustainability, providing strategic environmental direction in the fields of land-use, green building, energy and water to the company’s growing cloud computing platform. Today, he leads the company’s focus on urban planning and community prosperity in its datacenter communities around the world.

Previously, Jim served ten years as global director of environmental impact for Starbucks, where he led the company’s overall sustainability function and contributed to enterprise-wide initiatives that supported green building, energy conservation, international procurement, recycling and waste reduction efforts, in addition to serving as Starbucks external voice and policy advocate for its sustainability vision and platform.

Prior to Starbucks, Jim served as director of environmental affairs for Xanterra Parks & Resorts at Yellowstone National Park. In the position, he oversaw Xanterra’s many progressive environmental initiatives in its operations as the primary concessionaire in the park, including an ISO 14001-certified Environmental Management System. Before escaping to Yellowstone, he worked as director of operations for Teris Environmental in Los Angeles, managing the company’s seven regional offices in North America.

A native of Olympia, Washington, Jim earned a BS in environmental sciences from Washington State University and is a U.S. Green Building Council LEED-accredited professional. He serves on the boards of the Washington Environmental Council and Yellowstone Park Foundation.

JIm Hanna.

Cassa Hanon

VP Developer Relations, Community and Content
Educative, Inc.

  • B.S., Computer Science; Washington State University
  • M.B.A.; Pacific Luther University

Cassa Hanon is a technology leader focused on team and leadership development.  She began her career as a software engineer and has held a variety of consulting and leadership roles in organizations including The Boeing Company, Weyerhaeuser, Starbucks, The Walt Disney Company, Apptio, and Oracle.

Cassa is currently vice president of developer relations, community and content at Educative. She also serves as a course facilitator for Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education and teaches a class for the Honors College at Washington State University. Cassa holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Washington State University, an MBA from Pacific Lutheran University, a master’s certificate in project management from George Washington University, and the Stanford GSB LEAD Certificate in Leading Corporate Innovation.

Cassa volunteers her time in team and leadership development for high school students, mentoring college students through the Society of Women Engineers, and serving on the Board of the Seattle Chapter ARCS Foundation.

Cassa Hannon.

Christopher ”CJ” Johnson

U.S. Space Force

  • B.A. in French, Honors College; Washington State University
  • M.S. in Security Studies; Naval Postgraduate School
  • M.S. in Strategic Intelligence; National Intelligence University
  • M.S. in National Resource Strategy; National Defense University

Colonel Select CJ Johnson is the director of innovation and technology outreach for the Cross-Mission Ground and Communications Enterprise within the U.S. Space Force at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. His organization develops, acquires, and sustains terrestrial-based communication systems, information networks, and command and control software applications comprising the Space Enterprise of the Department of Defense. CJ leads a small team focused on searching for and evaluating emerging technologies from the American technology start-up community.

CJ earned his commission in the U.S. Air Force in 2002, following graduation from WSU. While CJ currently supports the U.S. Space Force, he is both an Air Force communications network and Africa Foreign Area officer. CJ has served at every level of the Air Force, to include serving as the Commanding Officer of the 919th Special Operations Communications Squadron at Duke Field, FL.

His staff-level experience includes U.S. Special Operations Command Central, Office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force for International Affairs, Joint Staff Deputy Directorate for Africa, U.S. Africa Command, and U.S. Cyber Command.

He has been stationed overseas at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the U.S. Embassy in Morocco. CJ’s overseas duty also includes Tunisia, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, the Kyrgyz Republic, and operations supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Keith Simanton

Senior Film Editor and Senior Content Editor, IMDB

  • B.A., English; Washington State University
  • M.A., English; University of Washington

Keith Simanton is the senior film and content editor of IMDb, the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV, and celebrity content, and he is a longtime commentator on the arts.

Keith is in the select group of “Oscar Experts” on and tied for the #1 spot at picking the Oscar winners two years in a row. He is also a member of the Critics’ Choice Association and votes for the Critics’ Choice Awards each year. He travels to the major film festivals each season including Sundance, Cannes, Venice, and Toronto. He attends three major Comic-Cons (San Diego, New York and Seattle) and has been on the board of the Seattle Film Festival since 2008.

His greatest accomplishment has been with IMDb, which, when he joined in August of 2000, had 3 million-page views a month. During the time he was managing editor IMDb grew and now enjoys the patronage of more than 250 million unique users a month, with 150 million downloads of IMDb’s mobile apps worldwide.

In 2008 Keith managed the acquisition of Box Office Mojo for IMDb, bringing the revered industry site into the IMDb family. Part of his current role is working as the IMDb liaison to Amazon Studios and their original movies and shows.

Dawn Smith

Consumer Support, Retired

  • B.S., Botany; Washington State University
  • Certificate; Computer Information Systems

After graduating from WSU, Dawn spent several months as a volunteer for the Student Conservation Association in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  She had the opportunity to assist with trapping and relocating black bear and wild boar, setting up and checking gypsy moth traps to better understand infestation and spread, trail maintenance, eradication and control of invasive plants such as kudzu, mimosa, etc.

Dawn moved to Seattle in 1983 and worked as an office manager, data entry technician, and mainframe computer operator prior to being hired at Microsoft in 1993 where she worked in consumer support services, filling several roles before retiring in 2017.