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Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees

Friday, October 23, 2015 the Central Washington University Alumni Association recognized six outstanding CWU graduates who exemplified true Wildcat spirit. Among those honored were a professor of art, a CEO, a Senior Financial Consultant, a former Director of Oregon’s Early Learning System, a Wardrobe Stylist, and Former CWU President Dr. James Brooks who received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mimi Healy
Robert Dohrmann
Jeff Hensler
Jada Rupley
Melissa Triber
Jim Brooks


2015 Distinguished Alumni Awards

Mimi Healy ‘90

College of the Sciences

Distinguished Alumna Dr. Mimi Healy graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, and a B.A. in Psychology of Industry and Organizations. She is currently the President and CEO of Lasergen, a start-up biotechnology company focused on developing chemistries for next-generation sequencing and cutting-edge medical diagnostics.

Regarding her time at Central, Healy stated, “I wasn’t yet ready to take responsibility for myself so the professors here helped me take responsibility for myself. Central taught me that I could learn how to study, that I could educate, that I could be educated, that I could have a challenge, and that I could overcome that challenge.”

Dr. Healy has more than 20 years of healthcare, molecular diagnostics and biotechnology experience in both US and international markets. Her experience includes all aspects of strategic development and implementation, corporate finance and fundraising, product development from research to the clinical validation and the successful market launch of molecular diagnostic systems and test kits.

“It’s really an honor to come back here and see how much the university has grown. Central brought everything together for me and I really appreciate it and I hope to give back.” Healy said.


Robert Dohrmann ‘89

College of Arts and Humanities

Distinguished Alumnus Professor Robert Dohrmann received his B.A. in Art with an emphasis in painting in 1989 and his MFA in Painting and Drawing in 1992, both at CWU. After two years at Central serving as a full-time replacement instructor teaching all levels of graduate and undergraduate painting, drawing and illustration, he took a position in the University of Oklahoma’s Art department in 1999 in the Foundations area.

“If you do what you love it’s pretty easy.” Dohrmann said. He has since turned his research interests to digital media. His most recent body of works includes experimental video shorts, audio mash-ups, and nonlinear interactive web based media.

“I came back in ’87 and looked in the mirror one day and said I don’t like you, and you can do a lot better. I knew I wanted to be a professor, so I went into graduate school. I was really happy with my time here.”

Dohrmann has had several solo exhibitions throughout the US and has participated in numerous international film festivals over the past several years.

“Like I like to tell the Seattle Seahawks, I like to say it’s not how you start it’s how you finish.”


Jeff Hensler ’98

College of Business

Distinguished Alumnus Jeff Hensler has been in the investment and insurance industry for nearly 20 years and is a founding partner at Sound Consulting Services.

“I just want to say I love Central. Central really taught me a lot. One of the reasons I found myself was the caring faculty.” Hensler said while accepting his award. “My passion for Central starts with the faculty, and the great people who are a part of Central.”

Mr. Hensler is actively involved in his community and currently presides on the Board of Directors for the Central Washington University Foundation as well as the Finance and Accounting Committee. Knowing the significance of education, he has also endowed two education scholarships at Central Washington University and Oregon Health Sciences University.


Jada Rupley ’73

College of Education and Professional Studies

Distinguished Alumna Jada Rupley, earned her Bachelor’s of Education in Psychology at Central Washington University and later returned to receive her School Psychologist Certification in 1979.

From the beginning, Ms. Rupley’s passion for education was apparent. She began her career as an elementary teacher and School Psychologist, and recently retired from her position as Director of Oregon’s Early Learning System.
“I went into education to make a difference, and I think that education made a difference in me.” Rupley said while accepting her award.

Rupley is a demonstrated leader with over 25 years of successful performance in the classroom, educational administration, non-profit development, and regional and state leadership.

“My time at Central was pivotal, I came from a small town. I made a difference in who I wanted to be and who I am today.”

Previously, she served as Associate Superintendent of ESD 112 in Vancouver where she led work in Washington's Teacher and Principal Evaluation and educational and environmental programs for a six-county region. Ms. Rupley’s diverse educational-focused background also includes overseeing and implementing education programs for young children, including Childcare, Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, and Special Education; serving as Co-Chair of the State of Washington’s Early Learning Advisory Council from 2007-2010.


2015 Recent Graduate Award

Melissa Triber ’09

College of Education & Professional Studies

Distinguished Alumna and Los Angeles based celebrity wardrobe stylist, Melissa Triber, began her career in fashion after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Fashion Merchandising from Central Washington University. 

She continued her education in Product Development at the prestigious Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, where she started trend consulting at Stylesight and styling for Paper Magazine.

In accepting her award, Triber stated, “The relationships that I’ve established here at Central have really helped me grow as a person. My job is all about giving customers or talent confidence and being able to express that through clothing. It’s all about them being comfortable in what they’re wearing. I just really appreciate all the opportunities that I got from being here and how that translated to me helping others finding their confidence.”

Upon graduation, Triber went on to work with publications such as Bello Magazine, Institute Magazine, XOXO the Magazine, and Status Magazine. She has worked with national and international brands, including Disney, Hewlett Packard, Harper Publications, and Honda, while also dabbling in the music arena, working with Atlantic Records, Hollywood Records, Universal Records, and Republic Records.

On the celebrity front, Triber has styled some of the biggest names in entertainment today, including: Amber Heard, Anna Kendrick, Cameron Monaghan, Demi Lovato, Drake Bell, Joe Manganiello, Josh Hutcherson, Matt Bomer, Kendall & Kylie Jenner, Mindy Kaling, and Rebel Wilson, to name a few. Aside from her work with talent from television, film & music, and her work with brands, Triber also continues to creatively consult for various companies.


2015 Lifetime Service Award

Jim Brooks '49

College of Education and Professional Studies

CWU Distinguished Alumnus, and former faculty member, Dr. Brooks first completed a bachelor’s degree in education and social science in 1949 at the then Central Washington College of Education. He was then appointed to College President at the young age of 35 and served for 17 years from 1961 through 1978.

Brooks has the distinct designation of being the only Central graduate appointed to the president’s post. He was the catalyst for Central Washington College of Education as it transitioned into Central Washington State College in 1961 and finally when it received the name of Central Washington University in 1976.

After resigning from his presidency in 1978 he served as a professor of geography for nearly 20 years. He was named Distinguished Alumni and Phi Delta Kappa CWU Educator of the Year in 1986; Distinguished University Professor for Public Service in 89-90 and was a commencement speaker in 93’.

“Central has been extremely important to me, obviously, and it’s been very important to my family. This is my life, this is our life, at this particular time. But I’ll always look back at all that Central did for me and all it did for many, many others, and I’m very proud.” Brooks said.