IOWA Magazine | 03-08-2022

Class Notes Spring 2022

11 minute read
The latest University of Iowa alumni and faculty achievements.


Lila Rachel Becker (20MFA) is a member of the R&D Group of The Civilians investigative theatre company in Brooklyn, New York, which is developing the Untitled Jewish Pirate Play.

Alexis Hinman (20BA) is a stage management apprentice at The Julliard School in New York.

Serena Stevens (20MA, 21MFA), a visual artist in Burlington, Iowa, was featured in the exhibition Pretty Big Pictures at the Gangway Gallery in Newport, Rhode Island.

Emily Houston Tokheim (20BA, 21MPH) is the public health director for the Washington County Board of Health in southeast Iowa.


Bjorn Blomquist (18BSE) is an associate at Caldwell Cassady & Curry law firm in Dallas.

Mariana Colombo (17PhD) is associate director of professional development and online programming for the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center at the UI College of Education.

Patrick Cornally (12BBA) is a director in the capital markets group for Värde Partners in New York.

Rachel Decker (12BBA), managing partner and co-founder of the Decker & Halabi global advisory firm in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has been named to Forbes Middle East’s 2021 30 Under 30 list.

Tara From (11MBA) is the first U.S. board chair of Give A Mile, a Canada-based organization that provides flights to connect hospice patients with their families for the gift of a final goodbye.

Donte K. Hayes (19MA, 20MFA) was an artist-in-residence this past winter at Township 10, an artists’ retreat in western North Carolina.

Jennifer Hovda (12BBA) is a senior finance manager for the Gap in New York.

Micah Ariel James (14MFA) is the first outreach and equity coordinator for the city of North Liberty, Iowa.

Nina Jovanovic (17MPH) received the UI’s International Impact award for her leading work in ophthalmology in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Skyler Knutzen (18BA), a New York-based film director, was selected to show his short documentary, Daughter Sun, at California’s Cinequest film festival this month.

Annie Korkowski (15BA), vice president and creative director of August Jackson, a marketing company in Chicago, will visit UI classrooms as one of two alumni residents this spring.

Kyle Kuehl (13BBA), a combat veteran and entrepreneur from Bettendorf, Iowa, announced his plans to run for the U.S. House of Representatives in Iowa’s new first district.

Eric Marlin (19MFA) is a member of the R&D Group of The Civilians investigative theater company in Brooklyn, New York, which is developing the Untitled Jewish Pirate Play.

Amira Nash (17BA, 19MA) is associate director of partnerships and programs for the Linda R. Baker Teacher Leader Center at the UI College of Education.

Michelle Stammet Schmidt (14PharmD) is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science at the UI College of Pharmacy.

Rachel Singel (12MA, 13MFA), associate professor of art at the University of Louisville, was featured in a recent exhibition at the university’s Hite Art Institute titled Catalog: New Work from the Printmakers Left.

Jennifer Teitle (12PhD), assistant dean of the UI Graduate College, received the Assistant and Associate Deans Leadership Award from the Council of Graduate Schools, an organization that seeks to advance graduate education in the U.S.

Ben Urick (16PhD), an assistant professor in the Division of Practice Advancement and Clinical Education at the University of North Carolina’s Eshelman School of Pharmacy in Chapel Hill, recently received the American Pharmacists Association’s Academy of Pharmaceutical Research & Science Clinical Research Paper Award.

Kelsi Vanada (16MFA, 17MFA), a poet and translator, was named to the longlist for the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards for translating Damascus, Atlantis by Marie Silkeberg.

Lisa Wells (14MFA), a Seattle-based writer, was named to the longlist for the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards for her literary science book, Believers: Making a Life at the End of the World, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Jane Wong (10MFA), associate professor of creative writing at Western Washington University, was named to the longlist for the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards for her book of poetry, How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, published by Alice James Books.


Gina Badding (01BA, 04JD) is a newly appointed judge of the Iowa Court of Appeals.

Brett Barker (08PharmD) is vice president of operations for NuCara Management Group, vice president of government affairs for the Iowa Pharmacy Association, and mayor of Nevada, Iowa.

Jeff Bishop (03PharmD, 06MS), associate professor in the Department of Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology at the University of Minnesota, is chair of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy Foundation.

Brad Cavanagh (00BA) is mayor of Dubuque, Iowa.

Kaitlin Zander Emrich (07BS, 09MPH) is deputy director of the Black Hawk County Health Department in Waterloo, Iowa.

Jennifer Fawcett (08MFA), a lecturer in English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, is author of the new novel Beneath the Stairs, published by Simon & Schuster.

Ryan Flugge (02PharmD), medical account associate director at Novo Nordisk pharmaceutical company in Omaha, is presidentelect of the Nebraska Pharmacists Association.

Michelle Gil- Montero (07MFA), a professor of English at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was named to the longlist for the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards for her translation of Edinburgh Notebook by Valerie Mejer Caso.

Brooke Ryther Kensinger (03BBA, 05MHA), CEO of MercyOne Elkader Medical Center in Elkader, Iowa, recently received the Iowa Hospital Association’s 2021 Young Executive Achievement Award for her contribution to health care in the state.

Diandra Lyle (01BS) is an actor who stars in Secrets of Sulphur Springs on Disney+.

Jiha Moon (01MA, 02MFA), a visual artist in Atlanta, was recently featured in a solo exhibition at Derek Eller Gallery in New York titled Stranger Yellow.

Joni Ploeger (09BS) is a shareholder with Dentons Davis Brown law firm in Des Moines.

Jessica James Rotole (01BA, 05JD) is a family law attorney with Whitfield & Eddy Law firm in Des Moines.

Jered Sprecher (01MA, 02MFA), a visual artist and professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, was featured in the recent exhibition Re: Representation at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery in New Orleans.

Ryan Standfest (05MA, 06MFA), a Michigan-based visual artist, was featured in a recent solo exhibition titled Dumpster Fire at the Harry and Virginia Murray Gallery at Southeastern Community College in West Burlington, Iowa.

Peter Vass (09BA) and his film production company, Bad Weather Films, released their second feature film, Bigfoot Famous, this past fall.

Casey Villhauer (07PharmD) is founder and CEO of Vaxi Taxi, a Des Moines-based business that sends licensed pharmacists directly to patients for convenient vaccinations.

Breanna Marcum Young (01BA, 04JD) is a shareholder with Dentons Davis Brown law firm in Des Moines.


Gina Arquilla DeBoni (97BA), a managing and senior partner at Romanucci & Blandin law firm in Chicago, was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business, a business news and analytical newspaper, on its Notable Leaders in Gen X Accounting, Consulting, and Law list.

Jim Haugsland (95BA) is executive vice president of sales and marketing at Allied Universal, a security and facility services company in Santa Ana, California.

Pete Schulte (96BFA, 07MA, 08MFA), an artist and associate professor at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, was recently featured in a solo exhibition at McKenzie Fine Art in New York titled The Train and the River.

Patrick Seda (93BSE) is a software engineer who also has become a filmmaker, writer, and director for his Atlanta-based production company, Saturn Moon Beach Productions.


Liz Bucheit (82BFA, 86MA), owner of Crown Trout Jewelers in Lanesboro, Minnesota, received a Scandinavian Folk Arts and Cultural Traditions in the Upper Midwest Fellowship to support her project, Silver Threads: Discovering Norwegian Sámi Silver.

Alexander Cartwright (89BSE, 95PhD) is president of the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Victor Corpuz (85BA), an attorney with Jackson Lewis law firm in Dallas who sits on the Drake University Law School Board of Counselors, visited UI classrooms this spring as one of two alumni residents.

Bruce King (87MSW) is the inaugural vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion at Elmhurst University in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Cormac O’Sullivan (87BSN, 08PhD), a UI associate clinical professor and director of the anesthesia nursing program at the College of Nursing, is president of the board of directors for the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.

Ann Patchett (87MFA), a bestselling author based in Nashville, was named to the longlist for the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards for her book, These Precious Days: Essays, published by Harper.

Michael Pugh (87BA), a real estate attorney with Pugh Hagan Prahm law firm in Coralville, was named a 2021 Great Plains Super Lawyer, which recognizes outstanding attorneys based on peer recognition and career performance.


Rita Dove (77MFA), a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and former U.S. poet laureate, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the UI at this spring’s commencement ceremony.

Keith Gormezano (77BGS), an accountant and software trainer in Seattle who also serves as treasurer of the Seattle Community Network Association, has been named a Top 100 ProAdvisor for 2021 by Insightful Accountant.

Joy Harjo (78MFA), U.S. poet laureate, has been named the first artist-in-residence at the new Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Mark M. Johnson (73MA), executive producer of more than 40 feature films and numerous television films and series and founder of the Children’s Action Network, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the UI at this spring’s commencement ceremony.

Markes Johnson (71BA), professor emeritus of the geosciences department at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, recently published the book, Baja California’s Coastal Landscapes Revealed, with University of Arizona Press.

Randy Juhl (72BSPh, 74MS, 76PhD), dean emeritus of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy, received the UI College of Pharmacy’s Osterhaus Medal for Lifetime Achievement, which recognizes extraordinary achievements in the pharmacy profession.

Tatjana Lorković (72MA), a former longtime UI Libraries employee, was honored by Yale University Library with a distinguished service award for her contributions as curator for the Slavic and Eastern European collections.

James Ponto (77BSPh), clinical professor emeritus of the UI College of Pharmacy, is honorary president of the American Pharmacists Association for 2023-24 in recognition of his contributions to the specialty practice of nuclear pharmacy.

Russ Redsville (75BS), a freelance photographer in Sioux City, Iowa, is author of Cameralot, a digital visual arts novel about photography, set in Chicago.

Richard Sayre (76MS, 78PhD), a senior research scientist at the New Mexico Consortium who focuses on plant biotechnology, was elected to the National Academy of Inventors.

William Scharnberg (71BM, 73MA, 75MFA, 77DMA), former president and honorary member of the International Horn Society, editor of The Horn Call, and professor emeritus at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, recently donated a large portion of his French horn music collection to the UI School of Music’s Paul G. Anderson Memorial Horn Research Library.

Lawrence Tabak (74BA, 77MA) a journalist in Madison, Wisconsin, released his first book, an exposé on U.S. economic development titled Foxconned.

Deborah Clausen Weiss (75BA), a retired art teacher for the West Liberty Community School District in Iowa, is chair of Brick Street Gallery, a new art gallery in West Liberty.

Deanne Warnholtz Wortman (70BFA, 76MA, 98MFA), director of the NEXUS of Engineering and the Arts at the UI College of Engineering, recently showed her foil imaging artwork at ArtiFactory art gallery in Iowa City.


Joy Williams (65MFA), an award-winning writer based in Tucson, Arizona, was named to the longlist for the 2022 PEN America Literary Awards for her novel, Harrow, published by Knopf.


Bill Sorenson (53BA), a former Hawkeye men’s gymnastics letter winner, founder of American Athletic Inc., co-founder and retired CEO of American Sports Products Group, and member of the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, has been inducted into the NSGA Sporting Goods Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2022 for his transformation of the sport of gymnastics through the innovative creation and development of equipment.

faculty & friends

Clarissa Chun, coach of the Iowa women’s wrestling team and a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, was elected to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s 2022 class.

Zahra Aprili Collins, program manager at Toledo Urban Credit Union in Toledo, Ohio, recently received a 2021 20 Under 40 Leadership Recognition Award for career excellence and volunteer leadership in her community.

Witold F. Krajewski, UI professor of civil and environmental engineering and founding director of the Iowa Flood Center, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Keith Mueller, Gerhard Hartman Professor and head of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the UI College of Public Health, recently received the Iowa Rural Health Association’s Jerry Karbeling Award, which recognizes significant contributions to rural health in Iowa.

Ksenia Nosikova, UI professor of piano and co-chair of piano area, has been inducted into the Steinway & Sons Teacher Hall of Fame, which honors North America’s most committed and passionate piano educators.

Milan Sonka, a pioneer in medical engineering who serves as the UI’s Lowell C. Battershell Chair in Biomedical Imaging and professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

Adrien Wing, associate dean for international and comparative law programs and Bessie Dutton Murray Professor at the UI College of Law, has been appointed to the American Bar Association’s Council on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, which accredits law schools throughout the country.

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