Advisory Council Tri-Cities

The Advisory Council for Washington State University Tri-Cities (ACT) is comprised of business, civic, and education leaders as well as alumni who have a strategic interest in WSU Tri-Cities. The members are appointed by the University President. The Advisory Council’s primary mission is to foster closer ties between WSU Tri-Cities, its alumni, plus the community, region, and state. The Advisory Council meets monthly, coordinated through the Office of the Chancellor.


In memory of Brad Fisher

Born and raised in the Tri-Cities, Brad Fisher is a long-time supporter of WSU, WSU Athletics, and the Tri-Cities community. In 1979, Brad graduated from Washington State University with a BA in Business Administration. After graduation, Fisher returned to the Tri-Cities, serving two terms on the Kennewick City Council and one term as mayor. Inclusive of a successful career in wealth management, he retired as the Senior Vice President for RBC Wealth Management. Brad was best known in the Tri-Cities for his work on civic issues, working to advance education, health care and business opportunities in the Tri-Cities.

Brad was a Coug through and through. His legacy will live on through the recently endowed, first-ever WSU Tri-Cities Brad Fisher Butch T. Cougar Fund. This investment made by Brad and his wife, Jennifer, gave Butch a permanent new home on the Tri-Cities campus.

To donate to the endowment, visit

Advisory Council Tri-Cities Members

Fran Forgette, Chair

Attorney, Rettig Forgette Iller and Bowers, Retired


Francois X. Forgette is a long-time resident and active community member of the Tri-Cities. After decades of practicing law, Fran retired in late 2019 from Tri-City law firm of Rettig Forgette Iller Bowers. His full-time practice included business, real estate, agriculture, insurance defense and health care and related mediation and civil litigation. Fran also served on the WSU Board of Regents from May 2005 through March 2014.

Fran graduated from Seattle Preparatory School in 1970 and the University of Washington in 1974 with a B.A. in English Literature. He then attended Gonzaga Law School in Spokane where he graduated with honors in 1977.

Steven Ashby

Director, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Dr. Steven Ashby has served as the Director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) since April 2015. He is responsible for establishing the Laboratory’s vision and setting its strategic direction. Under his leadership, PNNL’s exceptional staff are advancing the frontiers of science and addressing complex challenges in energy, the environment, and national security. In particular, the Laboratory is providing national leadership in climate science, the power grid, nuclear nonproliferation, and environmental remediation.

Dr. Ashby previously served as PNNL’s Deputy Director for Science and Technology, and was responsible for integrating PNNL’s science and technology capabilities to meet national needs.

Before joining PNNL in 2008, Dr. Ashby spent nearly 21 years at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), ultimately serving as Deputy Principal Associate Director for Science and Technology. He previously oversaw the activities of the 500-person Computing Applications and Research Department. Dr. Ashby was the founding director of LLNL’s Center for Applied Scientific Computing, which was established in 1996 and has since matured into one of the world’s premier scientific computing research organizations.

In 2013, Dr. Ashby was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in the mathematics section for “exceptional technical contributions and scientific leadership in applied mathematics and computational science, particularly the development of novel numerical methods and robust software for parallel computers, as well as for exemplary service to the field of computational science and engineering.” He also was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2013.

He holds a B.S. in Mathematics/Computer Science from the Santa Clara University. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Nancy Boettcher

First Interstate Bank

Sharon Brown

Washington State Senator


Senator Sharon Brown represents the 8th Legislative district, located in the Tri-Cities. Brown is a state and national leader on energy issues, and is the Senate’s leading advocate for nuclear power. She is active on international trade, economic development and small business issues. She has also been instrumental in crafting and advancing the Legislature’s efforts to address suicide prevention and the state’s mental health system.

Brown served as Vice President Pro Tempore (2014-16) and is currently Deputy Leader of the Republican Caucus. She served 22 years as a business attorney before being elected to the Kennewick City Council in 2009. In 2010, she was elected Mayor Pro Tempore of the City of Kennewick, where she focused on increasing job growth in the city. An active member of the Tri- Cities community, Brown was appointed to the Washington State Senate by the Benton County Commission and assumed office on February 4, 2013. She was elected to serve a full term in November of 2014, and re-elected to a second full term in 2018.

Deborah Dihel, Ph.D.

Vice President of Innovation, Lamb Weston


Deb received her Bachelor of Science in Food Science from Cornell University, and her Ph.D. in Food Science from the University of California at Davis. She has 24 years of experience working in the food industry, and is currently Vice President, Innovation at Lamb Weston. She serves as an advisory board member at Washington State University Tri-Cities and University of California’s Department of Food Science. Deb and her husband enjoy WSU football, bringing a neglected small vineyard back to life and home improvement projects.

John Eschenberg

President and CEO of Washington River Protection Solutions


John Eschenberg has 30 years of industry experience in a variety of highly regulated defense, commercial and government settings. He has demonstrated achievement in leading the execution of large-value environmental cleanup project portfolios, nuclear facility operations and multi-billion dollar, first-of-a-kind construction projects. John has a proven ability to build long-term relationships with internal and external stakeholders by establishing a high level of confidence and trust throughout the duration of some of the largest and most complex construction projects in the U.S.

He is presently the President and Project Manager of Washington River Protection Solutions, LLC where he leads the $7.1 billion contract.  His team is responsible for the management of Hanford’s radioactive and hazardous waste tanks, in addition to integrating the site-wide efforts to initiate the tank waste treatment mission at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site. He is corporately aligned to AECOM’s Management Services Division as a Senior Vice President in the Nuclear and Environment strategic business unit.

Before joining AECOM, he worked as Director of Capital Projects and Infrastructure for PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP where he was leading the firm’s third-party advisory efforts for new nuclear plant construction both domestically and internationally. He was also responsible for leading several advisory efforts for capital projects related to nuclear plant decommissioning, license transfer, dry fuel storage campaigns, and independent spent fuel storage installations.  Eschenberg spent part of his career as a Senior Executive within the DOE while playing a lead role in managing large federal investments in science, national security and environmental remediation.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of Maryland, is a graduate of the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Va., and the Executive Management Program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2009, he was recognized as the Executive of the Year by the National Management Association.

John Fulton

President & CEO, CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, Retired


John Fulton was the President and Chief Executive Officer for CH2M Plateau Remediation Company in Richland. The project is a $5.8 billion, 10-year contract, and the mission includes decommissioning and remediating the Hanford site’s Central Plateau, 100K Area, and site groundwater.

John has 40 years of experience leading operations and projects, including 33 years in U.S. Department of Energy nuclear project management. He has managed multi-billion-dollar programs, improved safety performance, and ensured cost-effective project completion on schedule and within budget. Previous assignments include the Idaho Cleanup Project, Miamisburg Closure Project, Hanford Tank Farms Contract, and Washington Closure Hanford. Most recently, he served as the as Senior Vice President for the CH2M Nuclear Business Group, providing direction and leadership for all of the DOE projects managed by CH2M across the United States, as well as all other CH2M HILL liabilities management projects for North America and Asia.

John earned his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Washington State University. He was born and raised near Benton City.

George Garlick

President & CEO, George Garlick Enterprises


George Garlick is the President and CEO of George Garlick Enterprises. He has lived in the Tri-Cities since 1962, when he accepted a position at Hanford Laboratories. He began teaching 30 local students who were working on their Master’s degree. In 1967 and with the approval of Battelle, he became Director of the Center for Graduate Study, where he raised funds to build the first campus of what is now Washington State University Tri-Cities campus. While in the position Garlick established the first faculty recognition, student graduation recognitions and the first ability for local students to meet the residency requirements at WSU. Through his work at George Garlick Enterprises he has developed and formed companies related to real estate development primarily in the Tri-Cities Science and Technology Park for which he was one of the founding members in 1990. The 600,000 sq. ft. Stevens Center Business Park provides facility support to assist the local major companies in meeting their objectives on the Hanford Project. This Park also includes a Montessori School, Corporate Fitness Center, lakes and recreational areas. Garlick is also active in many community boards and committees, including the Tri-City Chaplaincy, CREST and TRIDEC, and he was named Tri-Citian of the Year in 2007. He also founded the Gloria Meek Garlick Foundation in honor of his sister-in-law who passed away from cancer. The Foundation will provide medical imaging systems manufactured in the Tri Cities for use by underserved peoples.

Garlick earned his Ph. D. degree in Electrical Engineering and Solid State Physics from Iowa State University.

John Hayfield

General Manager, Atkins Energy Federal

Laurie Hollick

Vice President of Contracts and Procurement, AECOM


Laurie Hollick is Vice President of Contracts and Procurement for AECOM’s ~ $5 Billion Management Services Nuclear and Environment Strategic Business Unit (N&E), located in Aiken, South Carolina.  Laurie provides contract administration and procurement management leadership for federal and commercial contracting throughout all phases of the acquisition process, from strategy development through the opportunity phase, contract award, performance and closeout.

In addition, she operates as Chief of Staff for AECOM’s Washington River Protection Solutions, LLC, (WRPS) which manages the Hanford Tank Operations Contract for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Richland, WA. She is also responsible for WRPS Human Resources, Employee Concerns, Communications and Public Relations.

Laurie has held several corporate senior leadership roles in large nuclear energy and environmental management programs and projects for AECOM’s legacy companies, spanning:

–  Government contract management and negotiations for U.S. and international projects

  • Management of corporate level and DOE site business and infrastructure support services, and
  • Management of strategic business development initiatives, planning and operations.

Laurie began her career with the Westinghouse Advanced Reactors Division in marketing and later in program control.  She managed engineering administration for the Westinghouse Advanced Energy Systems Division and was the proposal manager for Westinghouse’s first successful bid to manage and operate the DOE’s Savannah River Site.

She is a summa cum laude graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Technical Writing and Business Administration.  She received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

Laurie currently serves on the Board of the Association of Washington Businesses and the Washington State University Advisory Council Tri-Cities.

Patrick Jensen

Chief Executive Officer, Cadwell Industries, Inc.


Patrick S. Jensen, Ph.D. is Chief Executive Officer at Cadwell, a leading global medical device company that develops, manufactures, sells, and supports advanced monitoring and diagnostic solutions for the neurology market. Cadwell, located in Kennewick, WA., has a mission to help patients around the world through the introduction of innovative medical technology.

Before joining Cadwell in 2016, Dr. Jensen spent nine years in executive leadership roles at Spacelabs Healthcare, a publicly traded patient monitoring company based in Snoqualmie, WA. Dr. Jensen has also held leadership roles at Talyst, a market leading hospital pharmacy automation company, at Integriti Systems, an acute care vital signs monitoring company, and at Advanced Imaging Technologies, a medical imaging company located in Richland, WA. Prior to working with medical device companies, Dr. Jensen co-directed the Microsurgery Advanced Design Lab (MADLAB) at Johns Hopkins University and was a Research Engineer at Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, WA.

Dr. Jensen holds 12 patents and has authored 23 peer-reviewed publications on surgical devices, intraoperative diagnostics, and surgical robotics. He is skilled in creating and leading strong teams, developing high quality products, driving company growth, and most importantly, delighting customers.

Dr. Jensen earned his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Oregon State University; and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. He grew up in the Tri-Cities, WA where he currently lives with his wife, Tia. They have three children.

Reza Kaleel

Chief Executive Officer, Kadlec Health System

Reza has served as Chief Executive for Kadlec since January 2019. He originally joined the Kadlec team in July 2016 as Chief Administrative Officer for Kadlec Regional Medical Center, relocating with his wife and daughter from Grand Junction, Colorado, where he served five years as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. Reza has worked in healthcare administration since 1997, beginning his career in strategic planning and finance before steadily working his way up through various leadership roles in health system operations. Prior to living in Colorado, he spent 20 years in San Antonio, Texas, most recently serving as Administrator for a hospital in the CHRISTUS system. Over the course of his career, Reza has enjoyed the challenge of bringing diverse groups of talented and committed people together to solve important challenges and feels that working in health care is a lifelong career calling. Reza holds a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration and Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives.

Wayne J. Martin

Interim Chief Operating Officer, National Security Directorate, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, retired


Dr. Wayne J. Martin is the Interim Chief Operating Officer for the National Security Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. He is responsible for capability and staff development, including staff recruiting, retention, project management and expert delivery processes, and facilities, infrastructure, and operations within the directorate. PNNL’s National Security Directorate provides the science and technologies to support the detection of weapons of mass destruction, help the United States manage its nonproliferation treaties, and secure our nation’s borders.

Dr. Martin has contributed to a variety of basic and applied research areas including environmental remediation, contaminant fate and transport, geologic sequestration, and water treatment. His research interests focus on projects related to hazardous, toxic, and radioactive wastes designed to increase understanding of contaminant migration within the environment.

At PNNL since 1978, Dr. Martin has served as line manager, researcher and principal investigator, product line manager, and project manager for projects related to environmental science and national security. He was recently the Director of the Project Management Office responsible for overseeing risk mitigation, implementation, and the safety and success of more than 100 research projects in the chemical, biological, and nuclear surety and signatures sciences.

Dr. Martin is a strong advocate for nurturing and influencing young people in taking on scientific and technological endeavors. He mentors graduate students at PNNL and strongly encourages staff to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) activities for students in the local community. He is a past recipient of PNNL’s prestigious Laboratory Director’s Award (Fitzner-Eberhardt Award) for his outstanding contributions to science and engineering education.

Dr. Martin has given numerous technical, social, and educational presentations, and has authored more than 35 publications in science journals, conference proceedings, and government and private documents. He has received numerous awards, but considers one of the most significant to be being named the 2011 Washington State University Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumni of the Year.

He received a Ph.D. in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences from Washington State University, an M.S. in Radiological Sciences with an emphasis in environmental transport from the University of Washington, and a B.S. in Wildlife Management and a minor in Chemistry from Washington State University

Bill Monson

Monson Ranches

Katie Nelson

Director of Marketing, Gordon Brothers Cellars


Jeff & Vicki Gordon’s daughter, Katie, grew up with the vineyard and winery. So it was only fitting that after she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from Washington State University in 1998, she lend her talent to the family farm and winery. Before returning to the family operation, she worked as Marketing Coordinator for the Washington State Potato Commission for four years. During that time, she married Marc Nelson. In 2002 Marc and Katie moved on to join the family business.
She is now an integral part of the winery operation, overseeing marketing activities nationwide. Her inherent knowledge of the agricultural and wine industries has given her the tools necessary to grow the Gordon Estate brand.

Traci Pierce

Superintendent, Kennewick School District


Dr. Traci Pierce has served as superintendent of Kennewick School District since January 2020.

Prior to coming to Kennewick, Dr. Pierce spent the past 24 years in Lake Washington School District, in Redmond, Washington. There she served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal at the junior high level prior to moving to district level administration. At the district level, she oversaw a variety of programs and departments over the years including instructional technology, literacy, curriculum and assessment, special services, and K-12 schools. She served as superintendent in Lake Washington for six years, and in 2018, she was recognized with the Washington State PTA Outstanding Educator award.

Dr. Pierce earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and teaching certificate from the University of Washington and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and principal certification from City University. In 2009, she earned a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and superintendent’s credential from the University of Washington.

Dr. Pierce grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and has family in Kennewick and Richland. She and her husband Sherman have been married for 27 years and reside in Kennewick.

Lura Powell

WSU Regent

Ray Robinson

CEO & President, RKR, Inc.


 An excellent education facilitated many challenging, rewarding and mostly fun work experiences that are continuing.

Ray’s education, BS, ChE (UT-Austin), MBA (U of WA), and Doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering (MIT), together with some very dedicated and helpful leaders and mentors opened many doors of opportunity along the way. His jobs have spanned a broad range including that of managing a 2,000-employee Exxon company with a broad reach world-wide. He has been co-owner, co-founder and managing director of six start-ups and a director and senior executive of three multi-national companies and one regional company. He has three patents and is currently working on a fourth patent application.  He has been honored as a representative of the many local community volunteers with the 1999 Tri-Citian of the Year designation and one national recognition as a nuclear materials expert. Working closely with WSU President Sam Smith and his leadership team, Ray, along with enthusiastic local leaders helped WSU get state approval for and then launch WSU Tri-Cities. Ray his spouse, Marilyn, have been active in WSU Tri-Cities’ Advisory Councils nearly continuously since inception with Ray serving as Vice-Chair and then Chair of the first Council and both served among the first Tri-Cities’ WSU Foundation Trustees.  Their 33-year old “management and technology best practices” company, RKRI, uses a teaming approach with U.S. subject matter experts from throughout the U.S. to solve challenging problems for public, private and government entities.

Kevin W. Smith

Manager, U.S. Department of Energy Office of River Protection, Retired


Kevin W. Smith became manager of the Office of River Protection (ORP) in December 2012.  Kevin is responsible for management of two of the largest projects in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Environmental Management portfolio, the Tank Farms and Waste Treatment Plant projects, and an annual budget of $1.4B.  As manager, he leads a federal and support service staff of ~250 employees and oversees ~5,000 contractor employees and their mission activities.    

Smith’s career spans 40 years with a number of senior leadership positions with the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.  Prior to his current role, Smith served as manager of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Los Alamos Site Office (LASO).  As the manager, he was responsible for administering the Los Alamos National Laboratory management and operations (M&O) contract and federal activities on the site.  These responsibilities included oversight of security, quality assurance, environmental compliance, health, safety, nonproliferation missions, national security missions, and nuclear operations.

His previous positions since joining DOE in 2004 include acting manager of NNSA’s Kansas City Plant, deputy manager of the Y-12 NNSA Site Office, and assistant manager for the Nuclear Material Stabilization Project at the Savannah River Site with responsibility for oversight of the Savannah River National Laboratory.

Prior to joining DOE, Smith served in the U.S. Air Force in a number of capacities including as Air Combat Command’s Director of Safety where he was responsible for the flying, weapons, and industrial safety programs for ~100,000 personnel.  He also served as an
F-16 fighter squadron commander, deputy chief of staff for operations for U.S. Forces Korea, and the commander of 49th Operations Group at Holloman Air Force Base NM.  He flew a number of aircraft to include the F-4, F-16, and the F-117 Stealth Fighter.

A native of Olympia, Washington, Smith is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s degree in physics.  He also holds a bachelor degree in mathematics and a master of science degree in management, from Troy State University.  He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Richland, Washington.

Tom Yount

Executive Vice President, EnergySolutions, Retired


Tom Yount has served as Executive Vice President of the Engineering and Technology Group for EnergySolutions since August 2008. Prior to this assignment, Tom was the Senior Vice President and Project Manager for the Western Operations of the Engineering and Technology Group.

Tom joined EnergySolutions through the acquisition of British Nuclear Group America in 2006. While with BNGA, he served in various senior management and leadership positions. Prior to working for BNGA, Tom worked 10 years for Westinghouse Hanford Co. in a variety of waste management programs.

Tom is one of the founding Board Members for the Washington State STEM Education Foundation and remains active on the STEM board. He graduated from Washington State University in 1986 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Construction Management and a minor in Economics.