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College of Arts and Humanities

Faculty and Staff Bios



Michael Caldwell, M.F.A. (1990, University of Southern California)
Subsequent to obtaining his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, Michael began his career in entertainment at Walt Disney Studios, where he was ultimately promoted to Production Executive. After five years at Disney and five more years as a Production Executive at New Line Cinema, he moved to Seattle to become the Director of Motion Picture Production at Vulcan Productions. His credits as an executive and producer include award winning films such as The Joy Luck Club, Austin Power 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Love Jones, Far From Heaven, and Hard Candy.  Prior to Central Washington University Michael taught film classes at Seattle Film Institute and University of Washington.


Yong Cao, Ph.D. (2010, Southern Illinois University)
Yong joined the communication department in 2008. He has taught a variety of courses including business and professional speaking, intercultural communication, visual communication, introduction to convergent media and advertising planning. His teaching and research interests include oral communication, intercultural communication, new media, advertising, global communication, and digital media production. He has won best paper awards at 2007 Conference of the International Communication Association and 2005 Annual Convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.


Emily DuPlessis, M.A. (2013, Gonzaga University)
Emily is a multidimensional communications instructor with a strong background in writing, branding, marketing, media relations, website management, higher education, organizational leadership, public relations strategy and advertising.  She has over 10 years of industry experience and 3 years sharing her expertise with future communication professionals in the classroom. “I believe students interested in this vibrant field should examine and learn in settings that resemble the professional sector. Therefore, my instructional philosophy blends both theory and rhetoric with practical scenarios in order to equip students with a realistic perspective of the profession. Ultimately, I am an active educator with a relationship-centered approach to learning.” Ms. DuPlessis earned a Master of Arts in Communication and Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University and a Bachelor of Arts from Central Washington University.  Her Wildcat pride lives on in her current role as a full-time public relations lecturer and Faculty advisor for the PRSSA and AAF.


César García, Ph.D. (2005, Complutense University)
César is an associate professor at Central. Dr. García specializes in teaching and research on public relations and communication. Dr. García also has more than a decade of experience in the professional world of public relations for international firms such as Edelman and Pleon, where he implemented communications programs for global companies. Dr. García has published in academic publications such as Public Relations Review, Public Relations Journal, Journal of Communication Management and International Journal of Strategic Communication.


Jamie Gilbert, M.Ed. (2014, Central Washington University)
Jamie is an alumni of Central, and soon will be graduating with her Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership. She teaches courses in non-profit leadership, grant writing and fundraising, and event planning and management. Jamie’s research interests lie within Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), learning styles and strategies, and peer partnering, learning, and mentoring. While at Central, Jamie was a two-time SOURCE (Symposium of University Research & Creative Expression) winner for her ASD research and was awarded the CWU’s Women’s Achievement Award for Student Empowerment. She is Vice-chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Governance committee for Washington PAVE (Partnerships in Action, Voices for Empowerment).  Jamie is also the Program Coordinator for the Office of Undergraduate Research & the Chair for SOURCE along with the CWU Club Advisor for the Undergraduate Research Club.


Jennifer Green, M.A. (1997, San Francisco State University)
Jennifer lived and worked in Madrid, Spain as a journalist for 11 years. Her work spanned magazines (Screen International), newspapers (The Washington Post), television (ABC News, ESPN), film (independent production companies) and radio (BBC Radio). As the correspondent for Screen, Ms. Green covered Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American cinema, traveled to festivals including Cannes and Berlin, sat on film festival juries across Spain, and wrote and edited books on the European film industry. At Central, she teaches writing, freelancing and film classes and serves as Faculty Adviser to Pulse Magazine She continues to write for Screen as a freelancer covering Latin America, and she contributes a monthly column on international film to The Daily Record (archives at


Jillene Krause, M.A. (2013, University at Buffalo, SUNY)
Jillene specializes in Organizational Communication, with specific interest in sexual harassment in media organizations. After earning her Associate’s Degree in Music Business from The Art Institute of Seattle, in 1997, Jillene worked in radio broadcasting in several markets across the United States for 12 years. Her time in radio directly relates to her research interests. Ready for a career change in 2006, she attended the University at Buffalo and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication. She is currently completing a PhD in Communication at North Dakota State University where her focus is Organizational Communication with a minor in Media and Society.


Cynthia F. Mitchell, M.B.A. (1985, Vanderbilt University)
Cynthia directs the Digital Journalism program and is the adviser to the Observer, Central’s weekly student newspaper. The Observer won the Associated Collegiate Press Best of Show Award at the 2015 and 2016 National College Media Conventions, was named Best Weekly in the Society of Professional Journalist’s Region 10 in 2015, and its news, enterprise, photos and photo illustrations have won numerous other regional and national awards. ( Her research and service passions are in First Amendment education, and to that end, she steers an annual First Amendment Festival on Central’s campus. She’s also on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and is on the national advisory board of the Associated Collegiate Press. Before turning her career toward the classroom, she was a reporter at The Wall Street Journal and a reporter and editor at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where her beat, enterprise and investigative work won numerous awards from local, state, chain and national organizations. Cynthia likes to keep her oar in the journalistic water. Her work as been published in The Seattle Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Yakima Herald-Republic and Editor & Publisher.


Joshua Nelson-Ichido, M.A. (2016, Michigan State University)
Josh's research specializations are in intercultural and interpersonal communication, and he has been instructing university courses on these and other topics for over six years.  Additionally, Josh has worked as a professional communication consultant in the accounting field, and has a passion for the application of communication research in real-world contexts.  Josh is also a graduate of both CWU’s Communication Studies program and Japanese Foreign Language program, and lived and worked in Japan for two years following his graduation.  After his time in Japan, Josh attended San Diego State University for his MA, and is currently completing his PhD at Michigan State University.


Terri Reddout, M.S. (1996, Utah State University) 
Terri’s current workload focuses on broadcast journalism and public speaking.  Terri’s professional background is in television news reporting, anchoring and producing.  That’s why being the advisor to Central News Watch (CNW) is such a good fit.  The student-produced television newscast covers news events and sports on campus, in Ellensburg and throughout Kittitas County. You can see what the news team is up a also blogs for on-line classes.  Read what she has to say on topics ranging from gender communication to 3D printing’s influence on our society at  In her spare time Terri builds web pages and creates social media for her siblings’ small businesses.


Maria Sanders, M.F.A. (2002, American Film Institute)
Maria primarily teaches editing, screenwriting, introductory film studies, and helps graduating seniors develop their personal portfolios. Ms. Sanders explores how writing and editing are used to shape narrative, emotional, and visual structure in cinema.  In 2013, she wrote and directed "Temperance," a short film which explores a chance encounter between two women of different ages.  "Temperance" is now entering the festival circuit. Ms. Sanders is firmly committed to bringing more women into CWU's film program and encouraging them to take leadership roles in film production.  She would like to see more women directors, cinematographers, and writers, and more female lead characters onscreen.


Patrick William Smith, M.F.A. (2012, UT Austin)
Patrick is a commercial and narrative director/cinematographer based out of Los Angeles. His work includes national spots for brands like Disney, Anheuser-Busch, Gillette, BANDAID, Adidas, & Crest - among others. As a cinematographer, he has undertaken narrative features (Into the Who Knows), 3D films (Hard Reset), television pilots (Ananda) and web-series (Penny Arcade: The Series). As a director, his most recent narrative endeavor (a quest film told entirely in the endangered Tewa language) was acquired for archival and exhibition by the Smithsonian Institute and aired nationally on PBS and Direct TV. He is an avid fan of Norse mythology, green tea and granny smith apples. REEL:

Francesco Somaini, Ph.D. (2014, University of Oregon)
Francesco was a reporter for daily newspapers in Switzerland before entering academia. His scholarly interests include print and online journalism, user-generated content, international communication, compared media systems, representations of minorities in the media, and news coverage of immigration. His research has been published in the International Communication Research Journal and in the Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies. He is currently the Associate Chair of the Communication Department.


Toby J. Staab M.Ed. (2006, Central Washington University)
Toby is currently is a senior lecturer at Central. Prof. Staab teaches courses in Broadcast, Publication Design, Law & Ethics, Print Journalism and Public Relations. Mr. Staab has worked for daily newspapers, trade publications and in radio.  In 2008, he began writing and designing a book about the challenges of commercial salmon fishing in Alaska. Toby was nominated in 2012 & 2013 for Non-Tenure Track Faculty of the Year and in May of 2013, received an award for "Professor of Excellence" by the National Residence Hall Honorary.  Mr. Staab loves fishing, hunting and enjoying the scenic beauty of the Kittitas Valley.  Overall, Mr. Staab truly enjoys teaching and mentoring students.

Nicholas Temple, Ph.D. (2011, North Carolina State University)
Nick is a lecturer in the Communication department. His specialties include teaching rhetorical theory, persuasion theory, and public speaking, but he has a wide variety of experience teaching multiple courses within the department. Broadly, Dr. Temple is a teacher/scholar with interests in rhetorical theory and criticism; more specifically, he looks at how rhetoric is engaged and enacted in digital contexts where it is less fixed, more ephemeral, and quite often less attributed to specific authors. In that context, he often focuses on visual and environmental communication. When he isn’t in the classroom, Dr. Temple can be found hiking and camping in the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest or in town, enjoying the all the charm that small town Ellensburg has to offer.


Joe Tradii, M.B.A. (1997, University of California, Irvine)
Joe has an extensive background in marketing and business strategy, encompassing the full range  of the discipline from advertising, PR, branding, campaign management, research, channel development, and more. He has held senior marketing roles at both large and small organizations including Frontier Communications, Microsoft, AT&T Wireless, Verizon, and Intuicom Wireless. His industry experience includes software, telecommunications, wireless, consumer, business-to-business, and startups. Joe is an internationally recognized authority on marketing with publications in leading industry journals including Brand Quarterly, Brandweek, Visions Journal of Product Management, and the International Journal of Branding. During his tenure with some of the world’s most-recognized advertising agencies, his award-winning campaigns garnered Belding, ANDY, Creative Arts Annual, and ProComm honors. His campaign for Ocean Pacific Sportswear is part of the Library of Congress permanent collection.


Jon Ward, M.A. (2013, Central Washington University)
A native of Seattle, Jon graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Physics then spent five years with the United States Department of State. He subsequently resigned to pursue his long-term interest in film. After he sold a script to a Hollywood production company, he spent more than a decade in Los Angeles writing screenplays and television pilots for studios such as Warner Bros., Fox, Village Roadshow, and Paramount. Additionally, he has directed and produced numerous films including shorts, features, and documentaries. Jon returned to the Pacific Northwest a few years ago and currently resides in Ellensburg where he continues to work on film projects and teach in the CWU Film program.


Katharine Whitcomb, M.F.A. (1995, Vermont College of Norwich University)
Katharine Whitcomb earned her B.A. from Macalester College in English. In 1995, she received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Norwich University. She was a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1996-1998. She is the author of two full-length collections of poems, The Daughter’s Almanac & Saints of South Dakota & Other Poems. She is also the co-author, with the artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter, of The Art Courage Program. Currnetly, Katharine is Chair of the English Department and Acting Chair of the Communication Department at Central Washington University.

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