Dr. Denise Yost, Director of the CTLL
Denise Yost is committed to interdisciplinary teaching and mentoring to inspire individuals and teams in elevating their leadership, life and interpersonal skills. Denise holds degrees in Wildlife Science (B.S.) and Zoology (M.S.) from Washington State University, a Ph.D. in Marine, Estuarine, and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maryland, and completed her postdoctoral training at the Hawaiʻi Institute of Marine Biology. She applies a creative and dynamic lens, not only to scientific inquiries, but to life itself. Yost is passionate about living life with intention and loves creating opportunities for others to make their own greatest contributions to the world. Recently, she has worked as a thought-provoking and inspirational facilitator, trainer, and coach. She believes her best work is accomplished through living an integrated and inspired life.
Dr. Laura Hill is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Human Development, and a founding faculty member of the interdisciplinary Prevention Science PhD program at Washington State University. Dr. Hill trained as a clinical psychologist, but along the way she became more interested in learning about how to help prevent social and emotional problems rather than treating them. For many years she has conducted research on how parents can strengthen family bonds to promote healthy development of their children and adolescents. Recently, she held an administrative appointment as Associate Director for Health Promotion, Research, and Evaluation in the university’s Health and Wellness Services, and in that role studied risk and protective factors, including relationships with parents and instructors, that affect college students’ health, wellbeing, academic performance, and persistence. She is particularly interested in how parents and universities can apply science-based tools to help students feel connected, commit to valued actions, stay focused, and flourish in an academic setting. Dr. Hill is co-chair of an advisory committee for the Prevention Research Subcommittee of the Washington State Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, and an advisory member of Washington’s Strategic Prevention Enhancement advisory group.
Mary Kay Patton, Clinical Assistant Professor
Mary Kay Patton, J. D., is dedicated to the project of nurturing the human spirit as an essential dimension of leading a rich, full, meaningful life. In so doing, she supports individuals and teams in taking value-based committed action from a place of presence and mindfulness. She delights in designing and delivering workshops, trainings and retreats, all with the intention of shifting and deepening one’s relationship with our true nature. Mary Kay is a gifted facilitator, writer, educator and advocate. Over the past 15 years, Mary Kay practiced both civil and criminal law in both public service and private practice. Fueled by her experience in conflict resolution, social justice and mediation, Mary Kay now focuses her professional efforts on personal and organizational transformation. An Idaho native, Mary Kay has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Washington and a J.D. from the University of Idaho.
Anna Whitehall, Clinical Assistant Professor
Anna Whitehall is a Washington native who received her B.A. from Western Washington University and then worked for two years as the director of an after school program. In 2006 she returned to school to obtain her Master’s degree in Human Development from Washington State University. Since 2008 she has had the privilege of teaching Human Development 205 with the CTLL teaching team to nearly 800 students each semester. Anna provides customized leadership workshops and support for the CTLL’s Tidal Leadership Certificate Program. Her research interest involves the implementation and evaluation of theory-based, large scale prevention and well-being programs in real-world settings with university students.
Herb Lengel, Internship and Career Development Coordinator
Herb Lengel is a proud Coug and WSU alum who graduated in 2000 with a B.A. in Social Sciences. He comes to us from an education background in Admissions/Enrollment Advising with the University of Phoenix and Everest College. Herb is a thoughtful, personable individual who dedicates his career to providing students with coaching and career development support to assist them with acquiring the academic skills and professional experience required to lead them to be highly successful. As the Internship and Career Development Coordinator for the CTLL, Herb provides career development workshops to students, manages the CAHNRS internship program, and manages programs sponsored by the CTLL.
Caitlin Bletscher, Clinical Assistant Professor
Caitlin Bletscher is dedicated to assisting disadvantaged populations in developing their leadership capacity and brings her commitment to the CTLL. Alongside teaching and facilitating workshops, Caitlin is equally passionate about global leadership awareness, advocacy, and development, which is shown through her role as the Global Experience Coordinator. Caitlin joins us after obtaining her Ph.D. in Agricultural Education and Communication from University of Florida. She earned her M.A. from nearby Gonzaga University, and her B.A. from George Fox University, both with specializations in communication, nonprofit organizations, and leadership studies.
Kyle Shurm, Public Relations Specialist
Kyle Shurm is a current student at Washington State University pursuing a B.A. in Strategic Communication and also playing men’s water polo for the school’s team. Kyle appreciates meaningful communication and powerful social interactions that build connections between companies and the public. Kyle is currently working as Public Relations Specialist for the CTLL. His primary goals in this position include effectively communicating the mission, vision and services provided by the CTLL to multiple audiences. He also focuses on maintaining the Center’s image and brand of high quality, consistent, and transformative personal learning and leadership experiences for WSU and the region. As the CTLL continues to offer career development on the professional and personal scale, Shurm is excited to gain valuable experience and learn from this dynamic and experienced team.
Affiliated Faculty and Staff
Dr. Kim Kidwell, Founding Director
As founding Director of the Washington State University Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership, Dr. Kidwell created several highly successful life skill enhancement programs for the WSU community and beyond. Originally trained as a plant breeder, Kidwell redirected her career towards leadership development in response to what she noticed was an expanding need for effective leaders in academia. She has been recognized with numerous awards for her influential contributions to research, teaching, and leadership over her 20-year career. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and currently serves as the Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign. Kim Kidwell is an inspiring leader who strives to lead by example, while honoring the contributions of others. She is an adamant fan of the human spirit.
Melissa Bean, Associate Director of Development
Melissa Bean grew up in Stevenson, Washington, and is proud to be a 1994 WSU graduate. In addition to her degree from WSU, Melissa also holds a Master’s degree from Idaho State University. After working 12 years in development for non-profits, she transitioned to development in higher education in 2008. She joined the WSU CAHNRS Alumni and Development team in May 2011. Melissa is committed to education and to ensuring that higher education remains accessible. Melissa leads the efforts to support and expand the capabilities of the CTLL. Her primary goal is to increase access to high quality, paid internships for students and support and enhance the availability of CTLL opportunities.
Dr. Robby Cooper, Clinical Assistant Professor, Human Development and Graduate Faculty, Prevention Science
As a faculty member in the Department of Human Development and WSU’s new Prevention Science program, Dr. Robby Cooper is passionate about helping college students through instruction, advising and research. Dr. Cooper brings an inspired teaching style to the classroom, where he encourages students to connect with course material by personalizing content and putting it into practice with experiential exercises. Dr. Cooper has delivered Human Development 205 both during the school year and in the summer session for WSU’s Summer Advantage college transition program. Dr. Cooper comes to WSU by way of the Pennsylvania State University, where he earned both Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Recreation, Park and Tourism Management. During his time at PSU, Dr. Cooper taught a variety of classes, including Principles of Leadership, Program Management and Administration, and Graduate Level Research Methods. Dr. Cooper also worked with various state and federal land management research projects and completed a dissertation study on the effects of university orientation programs on college students’ transition to college.
Kari Sampson, Assistant Director of Recruitment and Retention
As the Assistant Director of Recruitment and Retention for CAHNRS, Kari Sampson is committed to providing all students, prospective and current, with a memorable and valuable student experience at WSU as a CAHNRS Coug. With a B.A. in Speech Communication from the University of Washington, Kari puts her best transferrable skills forward in her current position, serving as a personable and approachable advocate and face of CAHNRS. Interacting with nearly 2,200 CAHNRS students in 23 different majors, Kari has the opportunity to engage with every student, staff and faculty member in CAHNRS. She is passionate about all things CAHNRS Cougs and is not afraid to share with others!