Luther Alumni Magazine

Class Notes, 2000–2019

2000–2009 / 2010–2019


Jon Ehtessabian grows, processes, and roasts coffee in Costa Rica as part of an environmental movement he started with the Surfrider Foundation in San Diego. The mission is to connect consumers and farms directly in order to protect the planet and promote social equality and sustainability. Their Café Corazón coffee, dedicated to healthy watersheds and conserving wildlife, is sourced directly from the sustainable hillsides in Zona de Los Santos, Tarrazú, Costa Rica.

Chelli (Tigerman) Esser is principal group underwriter at Voya Financial in Minneapolis.

Emily Penk-Smith is an occupational therapist at Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wellness in Prior Lake, Minn.

Brian Wales teaches math and serves as the National Honor Society advisor and junior-level chair at Southland College Preparatory Charter High School in Richton Park, Ill.


Mollie Busta Lange has a radio show called Mollie B Polka Party on Rural Radio channel 147 on Sirius XM, Sundays from 10 to noon CST.

Jacob Coleman is a physician with Tryon Medical Partners in Charlotte, N.C.

Matthew Herrick earned an EdS degree from the University of Iowa. He is principal at St. Francis Catholic School in Marshalltown, Iowa.

Natalie (Van Vuren) Jackson earned a licensed baccalaureate social worker designation and is a case manager at Neuro Restorative in Garland, Texas.

Laura Koenig is assistant professor of psychology at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Jenny Kuderer of Winona, Minn., published her third book of poetry, The Pulse of Days: Poetic Effusions.

Heather (Miland) Peterson is corporate manager, revenue growth management, at Hormel Foods in Austin, Minn.

Ariana (Anderson) and Jason Wright live in Kasson, Minn. Ariana is principal at Kasson/Mantorville Elementary School. Jason teaches choir for the Rochester Public Schools at Friedell Middle School and is also a composer and arranger. He recently recorded and released solo piano albums entitled Journey to the Manger, Journey to the Cross, and Journey Home.


Trina (Uvass) Crowe earned the MS and EdS degrees in school psychology from the University of Nebraska–Omaha. She is a school psychologist for the Whitefish (Mont.) School District.

John Dague is senior systems engineering manager for advanced datalinks with Collins Aerospace in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He also owns a hobby exotics business called JD Constriction, which breeds rare genetic combinations of ball python color and pattern mutations.

Rebecca (Brennan) Haymaker is vice president of revenue cycle services at the Wilshire Group in Madison, Wis., and a member of the Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin Board of Directors.

Missy (Knott) Huff is assistant to the director of elementary and secondary education at Pleasant Valley Community School District in Bettendorf, Iowa.

James Russell teaches fourth grade at the Middleton-Cross Plains (Wis.) School District.

Kelly Shinn is associate director at Groundwork Denver.


Katie (Haseman) and Ian Asplund live in Clive, Iowa. Katie is a stay-at-home mom. Ian is chief strategy officer at EMC Insurance.

Sue (Gilbertson) Boxrud, of Lakeville, Minn., is owner/agent for Out of the Box Booking, a talent agency targeting top-quality entertainment for college and corporate events.

Joshua Cinnamo of Lakeville, Minn., set a world record in the shot put with a throw of 16.49 meters while competing for the USA Paralympic Team at the Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru. Cinnamo now holds records for the four longest throws in the world in his classification.

Tim Fink is policy director at American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food in Washington, D.C.

Mindy Stephens is a clinical education specialist/nurse educator at University of Minnesota Health in Minneapolis.

Michael Stuart is supplier business development manager at Quality Bicycle Products in Bloomington, Minn.

Melissa Stull and her business partner, George Soule, were named Attorneys of the Year by the Twin Cities legal publication Minnesota Lawyer. Minnesota Lawyer honors lawyers or case teams based on noteworthy legal work. The appellate lawyer they worked with on a Colorado case submitted their nomination. They were selected based on the following criteria: leadership in the profession, involvement in major cases, excellence in corporate or transactional services, and public service. They will be profiled in the magazine and honored at an event in the new year.

Josh Visser is a recovery specialist at Meridian Behavioral Health in Stillwater, Minn.


Kim Christensen is a licensed acupuncturist, health and wellness coach, and co-owner of Constellation Acupuncture and Healing Arts in Minneapolis. She is also enrolled in a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine program through the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. In addition to providing care to patients in her own clinic, Kim also provides clinical supervision for Chinese medicine students and frequently lectures on small business ownership at Northwestern Health Sciences University.

David Fleener is pastor at Shalom Lutheran Church in Alexandria, Minn.

Lisa Franek is associate principal at Korn Ferry in Madrid, Spain.

Kjerstee (Saarloos) Miller is accounts and events coordinator at Type A Events in Minnetonka, Minn.

Scott Rheinschmidt is vice president of finance at GreatAmerica Financial Services Corporation in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Carissa Thomas completed a fellowship in head and neck surgical oncology and microvascular reconstruction at the University of Toronto. She is assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Cindy (Tudor) Verdick is training and benefits coordinator at Hiawatha Homes in Rochester, Minn.


Lindsay (Niswander) Bernhagen of Junction City, Wis., is editor of the journal To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development. 

Will Chiles released his first choral EP, “Sapling Dream,” onto streaming services last August. All three tracks on the EP are sung by the Springfield Chamber Chorus, a Missouri-based choral ensemble.

Anna Kabe is tax director at Vista Outdoor in Anoka, Minn.

Kirstin (Choma) Lauritsen is assistant professor of psychology at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa.

Anna McDowell and Scott Simpson published their first textbook, The Clinical Interview: Skills for More Effective Patient Encounters. The text aims to help healthcare professionals apply evidence-based psychotherapies during brief interactions with patients. 

Scott Meyer is the Ozbun executive director of entrepreneurship for the Nice Center at North Dakota State University in Fargo. He is charged with developing NDSU’s entrepreneurship program and creating campus and community connections to encourage entrepreneurship among students and faculty.

Julie (Kruse) Summer reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania last February. This photo shows her on top of the Barranco Wall, a large rock wall that took most of the morning to conquer.

Mikhal (Hagstrom) Szabo is manager of international accounting at HOPE International in Lancaster, Pa.

David Zelinskas is a family physician with Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group at Indian River Family Practice in Chesapeake, Va.


Andrew Allen earned an associate degree in wind energy and turbine technology from Iowa Lakes Community College. He is a service technician for Vestas Americas on a wind farm near Montezuma, Iowa.

Helissa (Stevens) Bell teaches elementary music for the Chippewa Falls (Wis.) School District.

Kevin Oppermann was featured on the front page of the Wisconsin Agri-View newspaper in an article titled “‘Carpet Farmer’ Matures to Beef Producer.” The story discusses Kevin’s journey from playing with farm toys on the living room floor as a child to becoming a beef farmer who uses sustainable grazing practices. Kevin owns Highland Spring Farm near Fitchburg, Wis.


Kat Beane Hanson earned a master of music degree in voice from the University of Northern Iowa. She is an adjunct faculty member in music at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.

Dara (Stull) Clifford is associate pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Combined Locks, Wis.

Alex Ford is a site reliability engineer at TDS in Madison, Wis.

Haylee (Easton) Latta is a staff nurse in the Pediatric Infusion Suite at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Matt Pyle is a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Salina (Kan.) Regional Health Center.

Amy (Gminski) Schultz is foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State in Arlington, Va.

Kate Vernor is senior agile coach at Apex Systems in St. Louis.

Rebecca Westphal of Verona, Wis., is senior business analyst at SSM Health.

Nathan Wicks earned an MDiv degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.


Elizabeth (Koenig) Appel is training manager at Propel Nonprofits in Minneapolis.

Brad Ernst is Audi brand specialist in vehicle sales at Lithia Motors in Johnston, Iowa.

Ethan Grev is senior analyst at Allianz Life Financial Services in Minneapolis.

Candice Grimes is a paralegal and hearing officer for the Housing Authority of Cook County in Chicago.

Tyler Hendrickson of Iowa City, Iowa, teaches piano at Preucil School of Music in Iowa City and viola and violin at Schultz Strings in Cedar Rapids. In October, he performed on campus in a Luther guest artist recital, “Best of the Rest: Forgotten Gems from the 1919 Berkshire Festival Competition.”

Emily (Workman) and J.P. McGinnis ’10 live in Houston. Emily is an adjunct professor at San Jacinto Community College. J.P. is a resident physician in the Department of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine.

Niki Mosier is technical SEO manager at Seer Interactive in Philadelphia.

Janelle (Ackerman) Novak is terminal bulk supervisor at Ecolab in St. Paul, Minn.

Kaycee (Green) Rogers is an ESL faculty associate at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.


Hannah Armstrong earned a doctor of musical arts degree in vocal performance and pedagogy from the University of Minnesota. She is vocal music and choir director at Southwest High School in Minneapolis and also performs with The Singers choral ensemble.

Johanna Bergan of Decorah was awarded the 2019 Certified Elected Municipal Official designation from the Iowa League of Cities for her commitment to continuing her professional development while in elected office. She serves on the Decorah City Council.

Tiffany Choi teaches French at East High School in Denver. She was elected president of the Denver Classroom Teachers Association. Tiffany was cited in the Denver Post as “a progressive young teacher who played a high-profile role in February’s teacher strike.”

Sam Darnall-Werlinger earned a doctor of medicine degree from Ross University School of Medicine. She is a resident physician with the Sioux Falls (S.D.) Family Medicine Residency.

Holli (McClure) and Christopher Huus live in Oakdale, Minn. Holli is a teacher at Oakdale Elementary School. Christopher earned a juris doctor degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is a public defender for Washington County.

Beth (Cochrane) and Joe Koenig ’07 are both certified registered nurse anesthetists at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Andrea (Johnson) Mierau is faculty and clinical education coordinator for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program at Rasmussen College in Eagan, Minn.

Alex Stoppel is senior iOS engineer for Target in Minneapolis.

Kristin Swedlund is senior manager, annual giving and fundraising operations, at Morgridge Institute for Research in Madison, Wis.

Jen (Meuwissen) VanDeVoorde is pharmacy manager at Walmart Pharmacy in Galesburg, Ill.


Mahlet Amanuel is ERAP coordinator at Housing Counseling Services in Washington, D.C.

Sky Macklay is an oboist, installation artist, and assistant professor of music at Valparaiso (Ind.) University. She was the featured composer at the 2019 New Music Festival at the University of Louisville School of Music.

Tyler Powell is Northern Door executive director at Door County YMCA in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

Jacob Reitz is security contracts manager at Carlson Wagonlit Travel in Minnetonka, Minn.

Vanessa (Oelrich) Wiest is contracts and assignment specialist for University of Iowa Housing and Dining in Iowa City.


Taylor Bergen is interim director of Legion Arts at CSPS Hall in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Mitchell Demers is executive director at Hope Farm School in Stockholm, Wis.

Amy Dorman is the Eileen R. De Dea Fellow for the Study of Gender and Women’s Policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis.

Sabrina Hawkinson of Minneapolis earned an MEd degree in mathematics from the University of Minnesota. She teaches second grade and is makerspace coordinator for ISD 196.

Aaron Knodle earned a DMA degree in choral conducting with a cognate in vocal pedagogy from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He was named assistant professor of choral music education and director of choral activities at the Louisiana Tech University School of Music.

Chris Nevala-Plagemann is an internal medicine resident at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Alex Olson works for Amazon in Seattle.

Kelly (Bandman) Scocchera is site supervisor at Habitat for Humanity Chicago.

Shaun Vegter is production supervisor at Hormel Foods in Austin, Minn.


Eric Eitrheim of Oklahoma City is an assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Mathematics and Science at the University of Central Oklahoma. He was named a Virtual, Inorganic, Pedagogical, Electronic Resource Fellow in an innovative national study. The study will use classroom observations, analysis of student work, student surveys, and faculty interviews to study how changes in the classroom affect student learning, interest, and motivation.

Jeff Emerson is research associate II at Kemin Industries in Des Moines, Iowa.

Kristi (Holmberg) Grieder graduated from Wartburg Theological Seminary and is pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Waterloo, Iowa.

Erik Hageness is home sales counselor at Plus Relocation Services in Minneapolis.

Shelby Klein is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor at Zumbro Valley Health Center in Rochester, Minn.

Augie Lindmark earned a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and completed an Oryema Fellowship in social medicine. He also received a Nicholas Skala Health Activist Award for work related to health reform and Medicare for All advocacy. He is a resident physician in primary care and HIV medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn.

Samantha McAllister earned an MS degree in genetic counseling from Augustana University and is a licensed genetic counselor at Integrated Genetics in Los Angeles.

Daniel Ridenour earned an MS degree in exercise science from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He is senior performance specialist at Ignition Athletic Performance Group and director of athletic performance at Wilmington (Ohio) College.

John Stender earned the MM degree in organ and sacred music from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. He is director of music at First Presbyterian Church in Rochester, Minn.

Jessica Streeter earned a doctor of nursing practice degree from the University of Iowa and completed a postgraduate family nurse practitioner program at the University of Cincinnati. She is practicing at the Pella (Iowa) Regional Health Center’s Diabetes Management Clinic.

Jake Wittman is a PhD student in entomology at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.


Jessica Cline teaches seventh- and eighth-grade mathematics at St. Francis of Assisi School in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Michael Crowe received a regional Emmy Award for Breaking News at the Midsouth Regional Emmys while working at WBIR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, Tenn., in January 2018. In 2019, Michael received four Northwest Regional Emmy Awards for stories he reported for KING 5, the NBC affiliate in Seattle. The awards were for Spot News, General Assignment Report within 24 Hours, Video Journalist within 24 Hours, and Crime Story/Series within 24 Hours. He also received a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in 2019. His story “Perks of Being Chief” was awarded a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Sound.

Blake Funke earned a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Iowa. She is a third-year resident physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

Kirsten Hash earned a juris doctor degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. She is an associate attorney at Ploen Law Firm in St. Paul, Minn.

Holly (Godar) Neuman is an oasis therapist at Canopy Center in Madison, Wis.

Katherine Perschbacher earned a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Iowa’s Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. She is a research scientist III at Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville, Iowa.

Jena Schwake is director of training at Northwestern Mutual in Minneapolis.

Niki Tryggestad is workspace experience specialist at Marvin in Eagan, Minn.

Cody Tucker is managing agent at American Income Life in Aurora, Colo.

Stephanie Wick is a resident physician in psychiatry at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.


Hannah Axt is youth services librarian at the Arlington County (Va.) Public Library.

Talia Barber is data insights analyst–finance operations at C.H. Robinson in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Jaimie (Rasmussen) and Aaron Burk ’12 live in Minneapolis. Jaimie is account supervisor at Epsilon Agency. Aaron is principal technologist at Object Partners.

Alex Dallman is RedCard engagement consultant at Target in Minneapolis.

Molly Eversoll earned an MDiv degree from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. She is associate pastor at Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette, Mich. 

Daniel Gallagher earned a DMA degree from Ohio State University in Columbus.

Allison Gieswein teaches fourth-grade dual language at West Liberty (Iowa) Elementary School.

Marissa (Satern) Hoelscher of Ankeny, Iowa, earned an MS degree in genetic counseling from the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Terra Kruger earned a PhD in pharmaceutics from the University of Iowa and is a scientist in clinical pharmacology for Johnson & Johnson in Raritan, N.J.

Carson Lilly is a lab assistant for the Department of Chemistry at Minnesota State University in Mankato.

Joel Martin is a research analyst at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn.

Courtney Meyer is a financial reporter for Black Creek Group in Denver.

Brittney (Leemon) Mitchell is the regional membership program manager at Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul.

Nathan Nicolaisen earned an MBA degree from Marquette University. He is commodity manager at Clarios in Milwaukee.

Joe Novak earned a medical doctor degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School. He is a family medicine resident at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Megan (Wichmann) and Logan Ramer live in Rochester, Minn. Megan teaches special education at the Kasson-Mantorville Schools. Logan is an advisor/general agent at Ramer Retirement Resources.

Naomi Sandgren earned an MEd degree in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minn. She is reading intervention teacher at the Wayzata (Minn.) Public Schools.

Kelsey Smith earned an MM degree in cello performance from the University of North Texas. She is a doctoral student in cello performance at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley.

Rachel Stenhaug is audit manager at Deloitte in Minneapolis.

Maria (Ellingson) Thom is the digital marketing coordinator in Jackson, Minn., for C&C Operations, a John Deere dealer with 37 locations in Iowa, Idaho, Minn., Mont., S.D., and Wyo.


Timothy Bumpus received the Gordon Hammes Scholar Award, which honors young scientists responsible for the very best papers published in Biochemistry and seeks to recognize those at the bench—postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates—for the outstanding work they do. The award is sponsored jointly by Biochemistry and the ACS Division of Biological Chemistry. Timothy was selected as this year’s winner from a large applicant pool based on his first-author paper “Ex Uno Plura: Differential Labeling of Phospholipid Biosynthetic Pathways with a Single Bioorthogonal Alcohol,” published earlier this year as part of the Future of Biochemistry special issue. Timothy received his award and presented a talk during the 256th ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Boston. He is currently a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.

Kaley Herma is data manager for Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in Duluth, Minn.

Nils Johnson is an associate attorney in the litigation division of the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sarah King is a strategic planner at EXOS in Phoenix, Ariz.

Emily (Betts) and Christian Moore ’17 live in Cottage Grove, Minn. Emily is senior manager of operations at Self Esteem Brands. Christian is program manager at Basecamp Fitness.

Hannah Parker is milieu treatment coordinator at Orchard Place in Des Moines, Iowa.

Victoria Peters is an adjunct music history professor and academic administrative assistant for the College of Fine Arts at North Central University in Minneapolis.


Kalla (Galyon) and Jordan Boekhoff live in Owatonna, Minn. Kalla is a representative at State Farm Insurance. Jordan teaches social studies at Byron High School.

Ellen Badger Hanson is project manager and research assistant for the USDA—Agricultural Research Service/Thunder Basin Grasslands Prairie Ecosystem Association in Fort Collins, Colo.

Olivia Brooks earned a juris doctor degree from Drake University Law School. She is an associate attorney at Ahlers & Cooney in Des Moines, Iowa.

Makayla (Marinack) Dahleen is a graduate student at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.

Samantha Ea is coordinator for global service with the ELCA’s Global Mission Unit in Chicago.

Claudia Elvidge is loan documentation specialist at Coulee Bank in La Crosse, Wis.

Bryn Hedlund earned a juris doctor degree from the University of Iowa College of Law. She is an associate attorney in the litigation division of Whitfield & Eddy in Des Moines, Iowa.

Elizabeth Hovden is physician assistant with Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minn.

Amanda Jenkins of Decorah earned an MA degree in library and information science from the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science. She is a user experience librarian at Luther.

Riley Samuelson earned an MA degree in library and information science from the University of Iowa School of Library and Information Science. He is an education and outreach librarian at the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences in Iowa City, Iowa.


Shelby (Gebhardt) Ballard earned an ASCP board certification for Medical Laboratory Science and is a medical laboratory scientist at UnityPoint St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Kierra Blackstad is a youth and family ministry director at Trinity Lutheran Church in San Pedro, Calif.

Mikayla Brockmeyer earned an MS degree in biomedical sciences from Des Moines (Iowa) University. Mikayla is a hospitalist scribe for ScribeAmerica.

Betsy Fawcett is an assistant ESL teacher for Lutheran Volunteer Corps at Briya Public Charter School in Washington, D.C.

Kylie Hanschman is practice assistant–outpatient clinical practice at Nordic Consulting Partners in Sun Prairie, Wis.

Madolyn Martini is a healthcare program training manager at Project for Pride in Living, a nonprofit in Minneapolis.

Cassie Peterson is a research technologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

Anna (Beamsley) and Zachary Rogers live in Waterloo, Iowa. Anna is a graduate assistant at the University of Northern Iowa. Zachary is choir director at Holmes Junior High School.

Hunter Yrigoyen was named sports information director at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


Kaitlin Bratland teaches elementary special education for the Mabel-Canton (Minn.) Public Schools.

Elizabeth Budahn is choral director at Milaca (Minn.) High School.

Erik Duethman is health unit coordinator at Meriter Hospital in Madison, Wis. In September, he won the gold medal for the 8K race with a time of 25:33.8 at the 42nd annual Briggs & Al’s Run & Walk on the Marquette University campus.

Christen Foster teaches eighth-grade science for the Estherville (Iowa) Community School District.

Ethan Harris is lead facilitator at Team Quest in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Daniel Melaas-Swanson teaches music at Hillside Elementary School in New Richmond, Wis.

Adam Morgan is a mental health counselor at Touchstone Mental Health in Minneapolis.

Christopher O’Connell is grades 5–12 band director for the Ogilvie (Minn.) Public Schools.

Mariah Olson Trewin is a registered nurse with Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis.

Hannah Sutcliffe is produce programs assistant at the Food Group in Minneapolis.

Bailey Victoria is director of athletic performance at Florida State University Schools in Tallahassee.

Steffenee Voigt teaches art for the Oelwein (Iowa) Community School District.


Victoria Bleckeberg is retirement plan services account manager at Associated Financial Group in Minnetonka, Minn.

Samantha Bratland is a self-employed artist who also works at Identity Works in West Salem, Wis.

Fallon Cassidy is a police officer for the Waukon (Iowa) Police Department.

Tyler Puettmann is the 7–12 vocal music director for the Cherokee (Iowa) Community Schools.

Alex Sekora is a customer service advocate at UnitedHealthcare in Green Bay, Wis.