SPSCC Welcomes 11 Full-Time Faculty Members for the 2020-21 Academic Year

Monday, September 14, 2020

SPSCC is kicking off the 2020-21 academic year with eleven new full-time, tenure-track faculty members. Instructors will teach across numerous pathways, including two new professors in Natural and Applied Sciences, three in Applied Technology, one in Social Science & Business, and five in Nursing. Each new hire brings a wealth of expertise in the subject they teach, are using innovative ways to keep students engaged online, and all are committed to student success.

Allied Health and Nursing

With five new instructors joining two established faculty members, Dean of Allied Health & Nursing Marriya Wright anticipates SPSCC’s nursing program will produce more graduates who propel change in the nursing field. “This faculty team’s experience, passion, grit, enthusiasm, and diversity will make a positive impact on the healthcare field—both in the Thurston County community and throughout the region,” said Wright.

Doris Cumings, Nursing 

Doris Cumings has been a Registered Nurse (RN) for 31 years, with a varied nursing background that includes trauma, therapy, and nursing management. She earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Nursing Education and Communities at University of Washington. Cumings previously taught at University of Washington – Tacoma, and is eager to get started at SPSCC.

“I’m very impressed with the school’s support system, and I’m excited to teach, shape, and mold new nurses,” Cumings said. Cumings lives on a small farm in Tenino and enjoys gardening and spending time on the coast.

Heidi Kennedy, Nursing

Heidi Kennedy has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Nursing Education from Norwich University in Vermont. This fall, she’ll teach for the first time in a higher educational setting. Kennedy has been involved in teaching in hospitals and involved in student education, and has worked in nursing for six years. Kennedy is a critical care COVID-19 nurse, and plans to continue that important work in addition to teaching.

Kennedy says being on the frontlines of the pandemic has shown her how important solid nursing education is to the nursing profession. “Getting nurses with high quality education into the workforce will change the healthcare field and whatever we may face going forward,” she said.

When she’s not working, Kennedy enjoys playing piano, hiking, and spending time with her two large dogs.

Gary Michelberger, Nursing        

Gary Michelberger earned his nursing degree at SPSCC over a decade ago, and from there he continued with his education. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing from Western Governors University. His career experience includes working for the U.S. military in psychiatric nursing, and at Providence St. Peter as a cardiology nurse.

Michelberger is excited to work in academia and learn from his colleagues. “I have so much support from all of my peers it’s overwhelming,” he said of his fellow professors.

Outside of nursing and teaching, Michelberger’s interests include origami, playing the guitar, and hiking.

Diana Wilcox, Nursing

Diana Wilcox has a Bachelor in Nursing from Saint Martin's University, an MBA in Healthcare Management from Western Governors University, and is currently enrolled in a doctoral program in psychiatric-mental health with Gonzaga University.

Wilcox has been in nursing for six years, and previously worked in marketing and communication in multinational publishing houses in Romania. Wilcox has experience educating other nurses, and is excited to begin at a higher educational institution.

“I think as professors we can support our students in order to help them become more resilient and adapt and cope with the new learning environment,” she said.

Wilcox describes herself as family-oriented, loves the outdoors, and is passionate about Native American medicinal plants.

Sonja Purtteman, Nursing

Sonja Purtteman has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and graduated from University of Portland School of Nursing in 1995. Previously, she taught the Nursing Assistant Program at Clover Park Technical College and, despite things looking a bit different this fall, she’s eager to teach nursing assistant classes at SPSCC.

“I’m ready to be on-campus and hope that brings some sense of normalcy in a world that is anything but normal.”

Outside of nursing and teaching, Purtteman’s hobbies include hiking, backpacking, running, and photography.

Applied Technology

Ashraf Alattar, Computer Science 

Ashraf Alattar is SPSCC’s newest Computer Information Systems and Computer Science faculty member. Alattar received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Arkansas State University, his Master of Science in Business Information Technology from Middlesex University in London, and his Ph.D. in ICT Engineering from PaiChai University in South Korea.

“Dr. Alattar comes to SPSCC after a recent post-doctoral research engineer opportunity at the Georgia Institute of Technology, followed by a visiting assistant professor position at Auburn University at Montgomery. He is committed to teaching excellence and diversity,” said Jason Selwitz, Dean of Applied Technology.

Alattar previously taught at Auburn University at Montgomery in Alabama, Georgia Institute of Technology, and did his postdoctoral research at Islamic University in Gaza, Palestine. He is looking forward to encouraging students to be independent learners who can explore learning resources and work opportunities on their own.

“I am interested in working with students on Information Systems projects which apply artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in business, health, education, and various other areas.”

Jennifer Evans, Office Technology

Jennifer Evans brings over 20 years of teaching to SPSCC, including previously teaching at Pierce College, South Seattle College, and Green River College. Her undergraduate degree is in English literature and she has a master’s degree in Adult Education.

“SPSCC is very fortunate to have landed Jennifer Evans' enthusiasm for student success and her expertise. She is an accomplished Office Technology instructor and project manager with over 20 years of instruction experience,” Selwitz said.

In addition to teaching, Evans is also a novelist and has penned 19 novels and novellas over the years. When she isn’t teaching or writing, Evans likes to travel and has visited over 30 countries.

Heather Maye, Office Technology 

Heather Maye’s educational background started with an associate degree in science from Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration – Management from University of Nevada, Reno, and a Master’s of Science in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University.

“Heather Maye is a great addition to the SPSCC Office Technology program because she is a strong curriculum development specialist with well-received course design skills. She is committed to student success and their placement in a relevant occupation or advanced education,” said Selwitz.

Maye has a varied background and has worked in retail, parks and recreation, food service, accounts payable, and as a wild animal keeper where she cared for bears, tigers, wolves, and many other species.

Although this is her introduction to higher education, she has developed a training program from the ground up for a logistics company, and trained hundreds of team members in various roles.

“I am passionate about helping others and feel higher education is a great way to help others reach higher and further,” said Maye.

Natural and Applied Sciences

Leslie Chao, Biology       

Leslie Chao has a background in biological oceanography and has a Master’s of Science. She fell in love with the ocean when she was three years old and uses her passion for science to study evolutionary and ecological changes in the ocean.

“We are extremely excited to have Leslie Chao join the team. Not only is she an amazing instructor, she is also a strong advocate for inclusive pedagogy in STEM and open educational resources,” said Bryan Powell, Dean of Natural & Applied Science at SPSCC.

Chao previously taught at Portland Community College, Mount Hood Community College, and Western Washington University. She’s most looking forward to becoming involved with the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Center at SPSCC and using online learning methods to reach her students.  

“I am excited to teach another distance learning term. There are a lot of challenges but it is possible to give our students a top notch education during this pandemic,” Chao said.

Natalie Hobson, Math    

Natalie Hobson got her start as a college student at SPSCC before moving on to University of Washington to complete her undergraduate studies. From there, she left the Pacific Northwest and earned both her Master in Math Education and her Ph.D. from University of Georgia. Hobson previously taught at Sonoma State University in California.

She is originally from Shelton and is happy to be back to living and working in the Northwest. “I wanted to come back to SPSCC because my experience as a student was great.”

Besides teaching math, Hobson is also a certified yoga instructor, and when she’s not teaching she enjoys being outdoors.

“We are thrilled to bring Natalie Hobson back to SPSCC. She is a graduate of SPSCC who brings a passion for student success and a wealth of transfer-degree knowledge as a former university professor,” Powell said.

Social Science & Business

Ann Weiss, Accounting  

Ann Weiss received her undergraduate degree at Middlebury College in Vermont and later earned her CPA license in California. She earned her master’s degree in Education from Indiana University. Weiss taught previously at Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is excited to get started at SPSCC.

“I’m eager to meet my students. To me, they’re the best part of teaching.” 

Outside of teaching and spending time with her family, Weiss said her favorite activity is running, and considers her three-mile run each day a form of meditation.

“Ann is a fantastic addition to SPSCC and the accounting department because she brings a wealth of student-centered teaching experience. She is committed to teaching accounting in innovative ways and is passionate about making the discipline accessible to all students,” said Valerie Sundby-Thorp, Dean of Social Science & Business.

A collage of all 11 faculty head shots
SPSCC is kicking off the 2020-21 academic year with eleven new full-time, tenure-track faculty members in various pathways.