The 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award nominations are now CLOSED.
The Foundation is pleased to announce Jessica (Jess) Wakefield, CFSP, as the recipient of the 2022 LWTech Foundation Annual Distinguished Alumni Award! We formally honored Jess at Commencement on June 17, 2022.
Jess has worked in the funeral service industry for over a decade, providing peace and comfort to families in the greater Seattle area. She is currently serving our community as the Location Manager at Sunset Hills Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Bellevue, Washington. A passionate leader in the industry, Jessica also serves as President of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association (elected in 2018). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jess played an integral role in advocating for funeral professionals including ensuring access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and recognition of funeral professionals as first responders in the vaccine schedule.
A strong believer in continuing education, Jess is always looking for new things to learn in addition to sharing her extensive industry knowledge in areas such as high-profile natural disasters and mass casualty events. She consistently mentors and provides opportunities to student interns to ensure the growth of the funeral profession in Washington State. Jess is a donation champion for Donate Life Washington, an organization that saves lives through organ and tissue donation and transplantation, and an active member of the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice and Lake Washington Institute of Technology Funeral Services Advisory Board. She currently serves as co-host of the Washington State Funeral Directors Association’s Podcast “Member Talks” in addition to volunteering on various committees including public relations, government liaison, and the Bill Martin Scholarship Committee.
Jessica earned an Associates of Applied Science degree in Funeral Service Education at Lake Washington Institute of Technology in 2011 and a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus on Environmental Science and Policy from The Evergreen State College in 2005. Jess also holds a prestigious Certified Funeral Service Practitioner (CFSP) certification from the Academy of Professional Funeral Service Practice.
In her free time, Jess and her husband of 19 years enjoy hiking, traveling and visiting Disneyland. Congratulations to Jess on this distinguished honor!
Established by the Lake Washington Institute of Technology's (LWTech) Office of the President in 2013, this is the highest honor the institution can bestow upon an alumnus in recognition of professional accomplishments as well as service to the college and/or the community.
The winners of this award exhibit the qualities of community and professional leadership that are symbolic of the mission of LWTech. They promote excellence, inspire others to reach their potential, encourage personal growth, and promote the enrichment of life through education and community service.
The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to an individual who exemplifies at least one of the two following criteria:
A distinguished alumnus is selected each spring from nominations received from the community. Each year's award recipient is honored at the LWTech Commencement ceremony held in June.
To be eligible for this prestigious award, nominees must have earned a minimum of 15 quarter credits from LWTech. Additionally, winners will be selected based upon notable achievement in his/her career, military or vocational field, outstanding service to the community and/or LWTech, and inspirational impact.
Dr. Lin Zhou
Dr. Lin Zhou
The Foundation is pleased to announce Dr. Lin Zhou as the recipient of the 2021 LWTech Foundation Annual Distinguished Alumni Award! We look forward to formally honoring Dr. Zhou at Commencement in Spring 2022.
Dr. Zhou currently serves as the President of Bates Technical College in Tacoma, Washington. She is the first female president of Bates Technical College and the first female Chinese immigrant to serve as president at a public two-year college in Washington state.
Dr. Zhou is a shining example of a successful alumnae mastering English language skills at LWTech and continuing on to achieve numerous educational and professional goals. Dr. Zhou first began as a student in LWTech’s Computer Security Network Technician (CSNT) program in fall 1999. After successfully completing this program, she was hired as an employee in LWTech’s Office of Instruction. In her 11-year stint as a LWTech employee, Dr. Zhou was promoted to progressively responsible positions starting as a Technical Support Aide and rising to Associate Dean of Extended Learning.
An outstanding colleague and advocate for the Washington State Community and Technical College System, Dr. Zhou has a distinguished career in higher education. Prior to serving as President of Bates Technical College, Dr. Zhou’s posts include Vice President of Instruction and Executive Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Student Success, Dean of Instruction, Dean of Continuing Education, Apprenticeship and Child Studies at Bates Technical College, and Associate Dean of Extended Learning, and Director of Branch Campus and Continuing Education at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. In thinking about her journey from an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) student to a college president, Dr. Zhou shared “I feel like I was re-born at LWTech because I started my life over as a new immigrant, from learning how to speak English to navigating cultural differences. I then grew as a professional at Bates Technical College. The opportunities, trust, and confident people at the two institutions helped shape me as a leader. Without the support from mentors, friends and family, I wouldn't have been able to make it this far. Washington’s Community and Technical Colleges do an amazing job for students like me. I am very humbled and honored to be recognized as a success for our system.”
Dr. Zhou holds a Ph.D. in education, with an emphasis in community college leadership from Oregon State University, a Master’s Degree in business administration from City University in Seattle, an Associate Degree in computer science and networking technology from Lake Washington Institute of Technology, and an Associate Degree in accounting from Renmin University of China. In 2017, Dr. Zhou participated in the Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management, administered by the university’s Graduate School of Education.
In addition to her many educational and professional accomplishments, Dr. Zhou is active in many community organizations including Commissioner on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity of American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Board of Trustee for American Technical Education Association, City Club of Tacoma, College Spark of Washington Board of Directors, Workforce Central Board, Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee Board, Washington State Adult Education Advisory Council, and the National Asian Pacific Islander Council Board.
Congratulations to Dr. Lin Zhou on this distinguished honor.
The LWTech Foundation is pleased to announce Teddy Overleese as the recipient of the 2020 LWTech Foundation Annual Distinguished Alumni Award! We look forward to formally honoring Teddy at Commencement on June 18, 2021.
Teddy is an accomplished artist, entrepreneur, business, and community leader with
numerous strong ties to Lake Washington Institute of Technology. Among her many talents,
Teddy is known to be an outstanding “connector” of people, organizations,
Teddy earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fashion Design from Woodbury University
in Glendale, California. She moved to Kirkland, in 1974 with her husband John and sons, Erik and Jason. Teddy’s first connection to LWTech, then Lake Washington Technical College, was as a student in the Sewing program in 1988. She continues to actively participate in this vibrant area of study which has grown to offer students an opportunity to earn a certificate of completion. She currently tests women’s clothing patterns for Vogue Pattern Designer, Marcy Tilton.
Teddy and her late husband John started several successful businesses in the Kirkland area. Possessing a strong commitment to giving back, Teddy has been deeply involved in many civic and community organizations. She has served as chair of the EvergreenHealth Foundation Board, chair of the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and chair of LWTech Foundation’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Campaign Committee. Teddy also served as a board member of the Kirkland Arts Center, Kirkland Performance Center, Seattle Symphony Women’s Association, St. Thomas Day School, and the LWTech Foundation. Teddy has led and participated in numerous task forces. She was the founding executive director of the Kirkland Downtown on the Lake (Downtown Association) and was instrumental in the formation of the Kirkland Fourth of July parade and Farmer’s Market. She also raised funds for the Kirkland Centennial.
As an artist, Teddy is passionate about fabric arts and sewing. She participated in the Kirkland Fish Frolic, creating the only fabric fish (and indoor fish) in the collection.
In addition to sharing her time and expertise, Teddy funds an annual scholarship at LWTech and has connected her family to LWTech. Her daughter-in-law, Kristen Overleese, is currently serving on the LWTech Foundation Board of Directors. Her son, Erik, a teacher, has toured the campus with his fifth-grade students and her son, Jason, is active in the selection for Kirkland Rotary’s annual scholarship recipient at LWTech.
Congratulations to Teddy on this distinguished honor!
Nazanin (Nazie) Nabaie
Nazanin (Nazie) Nabaie
The LWTech Foundation is pleased to announce Nazanin (Nazie) Nabaie as the recipient of the 2019 LWTech Foundation Annual Distinguished Alumni Award! We look forward to honoring Nazie at Commencement on June 15, 2019.
Nazie is a true LWTech success story! Nazie earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from Tehran University in Iran. She immigrated to the United States in 1989 and proudly became a United States Citizen in 1999.
Nazie began work as a certified nursing assistant as her nursing degree was not recognized in the United States. As a single mother of a young daughter, she worked hard to support her child while working and going to school. “I wanted more for myself and for my daughter Neda,” Nazie recalled.
Nazie enrolled in the Dental Hygiene Program at LWTech in Fall 2000. She excelled in the rigorous courses, and thrived in LWTech’s exceptionally supportive learning environment, graduating with her Applied Associates Degree in Dental Hygiene in 2002. Nazie was on Dean’s list and graduated with honors from the program. “Beginning the Dental Hygiene Program is the single best decision in my life,” says Nazie. “LWTech gave me a career in a field that I love and a means to support my family.”
Today, Nazie is employed as a lead dental hygienist at Implant and Periodontic Specialists, a dental practice in with locations in Bellevue and Issaquah, Washington. She is passionate about patient care, hygiene protocol, and recognized as a motivator and developer in the practice. “As a hygienist, I work one on one with our patients and set a program to improve their dental health. This is significant because it provides me with a beautiful opportunity to observe their health improvement over time. My goal is to create a strong and trusting relationship with our patients.”
Nazie believes in giving back to the community and LWTech. She volunteers annually at multiple events including Freedom Day USA, Smiles for Veterans, and the Oral Cancer Foundation Walk. Nazie is also a generous donor and four time table captain for the LWTech Foundation’s Annual Bright Futures Benefit Breakfast. As a result of Nazie’s leadership, Implant and Periodontic Specialists has sponsored the LWTech Foundation’s Annual Bright Futures Benefit Breakfast for the past three years.
Spring 2019 brings two honors to Nazie: Her appointment as the 2019 LWTech Foundation’s Annual Distinguished Alumnae and her daughter Neda’s acceptance into LWTech’s Applied Bachelor’s Degree in Dental Hygiene Program.
Cathy earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French Language and Literature from the University of Oregon in 1990. Cathy enjoyed studying French, yet had a strong desire for a career focused on helping people to attain, maintain, or recover optimal health and quality of life.
To this end, Cathy enrolled in the Nursing Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech) in 2010. Cathy excelled at LWTech, benefiting from the program’s small class sizes, state-of-the-art learning labs, and clinical experiences and opportunities.
Cathy graduated from LWTech with her Associate’s Degree in Nursing in 2012 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Washington, Bothell. She holds a Maternal Newborn Nursing Certification from the National Certification Corporation and is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International Society of Nursing.
Cathy has also been active in her community serving as a volunteer with Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS), the Seattle/King County Public Health Medical Reserve Corps and the Girls Scouts of Western Washington.
Today, Cathy is employed in her “dream job” as a Registered Nurse specializing in Labor and Delivery at Swedish Medical Center Issaquah Campus.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without LWTech,” shares Cathy. “I met my current manager through an innovative senior practicum experience offered by LWTech. I am forever grateful for the stellar faculty and terrific nursing education.”
Cathy and her husband, Perry England, are staunch supporters of workforce development and education. In 2017, Cathy and Perry traveled to Switzerland alongside Governor Jay Inslee and LWTech President Amy Morrison and a delegation of business, education and government groups to learn about the Swiss apprenticeship model.
Like many LWTech students, Cathy juggled parenting and academics at the same time. Cathy’s two children, Zachary and Sophie, were eight and three years of age during Cathy’s journey to become a nurse. Today, they are thirteen and nineteen, and extremely proud of Cathy.
Nancy Dick began her association with LWTech enrolling as a student, following a job layoff. She completed a Certificate in Graphics, Winter Quarter of 1999, and an Applied Associate of Science degree in Computer Graphics, Summer Quarter of 2002.
Leveraging her prior industry experience, Nancy started as a part-time instructor for LWTech in 1999, developing and teaching technical design-related courses in the college’s Multimedia Design & Production program. While teaching, she earned a B.S. from City University in 2005, and later, a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington in 2008. Nancy rose to a full-time, tenure-track position and taught until 2008.
Nancy became Dean of Instruction, Applied Design Programs in January 2009, serving in that position until 2015. Initially, Nancy led the design program followed by the addition of IT programs and eLearning. She led the implementation, growth, and success of LWTech’s first baccalaureate program, the Bachelor of Technology in Applied Design (BTAD). This program enables Applied Associate program graduates from a variety of disciplines to continue with upper division study of design theory, process and strategy, project/team management, sustainability, and related topics.
As an Adobe Certified Instructor and Adobe Education Leader, Nancy worked with leading software companies on certification exam development. She remains interested in educational pathways for non-traditional students, with the goal of empowering them to further their education and pursue career opportunities.
Nancy was inducted into the University of Washington, Department of Communication, Alumni Hall of Fame in 2013.
Nancy is currently enrolled in the Washington Executive Leadership Academy (WELA) as part of the 2016-2017 cohort. WELA is an exemplary leadership program created by, and for, our community and technical college system, and assists participants in building their system knowledge and leadership capacity. Nancy graduates from this prestigious program in July 2017.
Currently, Nancy serves as Director of Workforce Education at the Washington State Board of Technical and Community Colleges. She remains a friend, partner, and distinguished alumna of LWTech.
The LWTech Foundation is pleased to announce Josh Nesbit as the recipient of the 2016 LWTech Foundation Annual Distinguished Alumni Award! Josh is a true LWTech success story, excelling as both at student and an employee at LWTech. His educational journey is a wonderful example of LWTech’s pathways approach to workforce education.
Josh graduated from the LWTech High School Academy and earned an AAS-T Degree in Computer Science Network Technology at LWTech. He continued his education with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Applied Technology at Eastern Washington University, Certificate of Project Management at the University of Washington. He is currently enrolled in an MBA Program at Western Governors University.
In 2007, Josh was hired in LWTech’s Information Technology Department as a computer/network maintenance technician. His “can do” spirit and dedication to customer service enabled him to make an immediate, positive impact. An innovative thinker with fresh skills, Josh earned three promotions at LWTech between 2007 and 2016, rising to the position of LWTech’s Acting Chief Information Officer.
Josh began his experience at LWTech as a sixteen year old high school student. In
March, he left his position as Acting Chief Information Officer for an exciting new
position as Network Systems Engineer and Constellation Software Inc. in Redmond.
At his going away party, Josh remarked “I’ve had several great mentors during my time as a student, IT Technician, Specialist, Director, and even CIO. Even though I’ve completed an undergrad and am working on an MBA, it is my time at this school that I’ll forever cherish.”
Congratulations, Josh, on this distinguished honor!
The LWTech Foundation is proud to honor Elaine Melnik with the 2015 LWTech Foundation Annual Distinguished Alumni Award. Created in 2013, the LWTech Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor the institution can bestow upon an alumnus in recognition of professional accomplishments as well as service to the College and/or the community.
Elaine is a stellar individual and wonderful example of the many pathways existing for students at LWTech. In the fall of 2008, at the age of 16, Elaine enrolled at Lake Washington Technical Academy. After completing two quarters of academic prerequisites, she enrolled in the Computer Security Network Technician (CSNT) program. Elaine completed each step in her education with speed and tenacity. She completed her AAS by age 18, her BAS by age 20, and her Master’s degree by age 22, all while working full-time. Education is an ongoing part of Elaine’s life as she continues to grow professionally. She’s been accepted to the University of Washington’s Project Management certification program, and serves as a member of the CSNT advisory committee. Elaine has been working for Lane Powell, a multi-specialty law firm in Seattle, Washington since 2011.
Elaine truly exemplifies how education makes a difference in people’s lives. Congratulations, Elaine, on this distinguished honor!
The LWTech Foundation is proud to honor Tina Dixon as the 2013-14 winner of the Lake Washington Institute of Technology Distinguished Alumni Award. Created to honor our graduates, LWTech Foundation gives this award to alumni for successes in business, professional, military, civic, or community life.
A 1987 graduate of the Environmental Horticulture program, Tina founded the successful interior/exterior container garden plant design and maintenance company, Plants à la Cart. With recognition from publications including Sunset, Seattle Homes and Lifestyles, Pacific Northwest, and Garden Design Magazine, Tina’s work reflects the wide reach of our graduates. She is also the recipient of the prestigious Golden Trowel Award from Garden Design magazine, showcasing her achievements in both personal and professional endeavors.
Tina is an active member of the Environmental Horticulture Advisory Committee and contributes generously to the Environmental Horticulture scholarship fund. She is also a terrific volunteer and donates plants for propagation by students who then grow them for sale at Lake Washington Tech’s popular Annual Spring Plant Sale.
Initially graduating in 1990 from the University of Washington with a B.S. in Zoology Dave soon completed his Electronics AA degree at LWTech in the mid 90’s while working full time as a software developer. He later incorporated the skills learned into a hybrid software/hardware role. In the early 2000’s Dave left his job to launch Click Engineering, an IT consulting firm based in Kirkland, WA. After building the business Dave sold Click Engineering in 2010 to begin his present enterprise, Gibberin Inc., a patented platform for spoken messaging that is changing the way people communicate online.
After obtaining his AA degree Dave stayed on at LWTech to serve as a member of the Electronics program’s advisory committee and ultimately serving as chairman. During his participation the committee was able to grow awareness of the program outside the college, onboard industry partners, secure funding for special projects and lobby for support of the program within the college.
Dave joined the LWTech Foundation Board in 2010 eventually serving as Vice President and then President of the organization. During his tenure the Foundation Board has hired a new Executive Director and redefined its branding, policies and procedures resulting in dramatic growth in donations, donor support, the size of the endowment and the amount of scholarships and program support provided each year.
Outside of business and LWTech Dave is an avid sailor of thirty years and is an enthusiastic participant in Seattle area yacht cruising and racing events. He enjoys developing and executing strategies to drive participation and growth in communities of all kinds.
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