One of the nation's top political strategists, Ron Dotzauer, will keynote commencement exercises at Central Washington University. The CWU alumnus and former chair of the Board of Trustees will address a crowd of more than 8,000 graduates, friends, and family in Ellensburg on June 8.

“I feel very honored to be asked to do this,” said Dotzauer, chief executive officer and founder of the Seattle-based strategic positioning firm, Strategies 360. “I’m treating it with the earnestness it deserves.”

Dotzauer said his commencement addresses will challenge the Class of 2013 to be willing to travel the “path less certain.”

“It will involve a variety of stories from different points in my life, the risks I’ve taken, and how they’ve helped move me along,” Dotzauer added. Those stories will include what he terms an epiphany that occurred a month into his military service in Vietnam.

After returning from Vietnam, Dotzauer came to CWU, which he says gave him a chance to grow educationally and mature. At Central, he was named “Outstanding Student in Political Science,” served as president of the Young Democrats, and produced the TV series “Politics and Personalities.”An Everett native, and the first member of his family to graduate from college, Dotzauer earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science 1972.

In its November 2012 edition, Campaigns & Elections magazine named Dotzauer to its list of the country’s top 500 political influencers, noting “His firm is a force and he may be the one person in his generation of consultants who’s built a legacy.”

Dotzauer’s nearly 40-year career in politics started in 1974, when he became the youngest elected county official in the State of Washington by winning the election for Clark County Auditor. He defeated five people in a primary for the open seat.

Dotzauer later successfully directed the electoral campaigns of U.S. Senators Henry “Scoop” Jackson and Maria Cantwell, and Governor Booth Gardner. The firm he founded, Strategies 360, is one of the country’s leading strategic positioning firms, with 14 offices in 10 western states. Dotzauer also served on the CWU Board of Trustees from 1989 to 1996. Appointed by Gardner and reappointed by Governor Mike Lowry, Dotzauer was chairman of the board from 1994 to 1996.

CWU will confer a total of 3,023 bachelor’s and 292 master’s degrees during the 2012-13 academic year. A total of 1,534 candidates will participate in two separate Ellensburg commencement ceremonies.

At 2:00 p.m. a ceremony begins for bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates in the College of Business and the College of Education and Professional Studies.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

Mary Alice Heuschel, the Chief of Staff for Washington Governor Jay Inslee, will keynote commencement exercises for Central Washington University on Sunday, June 9 in Kent.

A combined crowd of more than 3,500 family members and other well wishers will hear the address by Heuschel, who earned her own academic credentials at CWU, during the 1:00 p.m. ceremony in the ShoWare Center.

“Every graduate should be proud of what they’ve accomplished and, from this point forward, options are limitless for them,” Heuschel said. “These folks have demonstrated the tenacity to set their goal and to reach it; it’s the beginning of endless possibilities.”

In 2012, Heuschel was named Washington State Superintendent of the Year when she led the Renton School District. As superintendent, she annually presented the commencement address to the graduating classes at Renton, Hazen, and Lindbergh high schools.

Previously, Heuschel held administrative positions as deputy state superintendent in the Office of Superintendent of Public Institution, assistant state superintendent, and principal in the Yelm School District.

At CWU, Heuschel earned her principal’s certificate in 1992 and her special education administration credentials the following year. She says she chose CWU’s program for its reputation, and because Central offered unique learning opportunities for developing technical and leadership skills, and established long-lasting relationships among students and staff.

Now, as the chief of staff, Heuschel manages the governor’s office, and oversees all executive departments and statewide agencies. Calling the new position a “challenging journey,” she says she was prepared for those challenges because of her “training, passion, and commitment to contribute to making a difference.”

“Leadership skills develop over time and become part of who you are, and those skills are transferrable to any situation,” she added.

Heuschel says she will reference her most recent job change in her graduation remarks, and will challenge the class of 2013 to “keeping options and opportunities open—make sure the door is always open, [and] be willing to risk and contemplate sacrifice today for a better tomorrow.”

A total of 374 bachelor’s- and 30 master’s-degree candidates are expected to participate in CWU's Kent commencement.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, CWU Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,