Dr. Denise Yost
Director of the CTLL
Denise Yost is a creative scholar committed to interdisciplinary teaching and mentoring to inspire authentic and elevated leadership, and to develop life and interpersonal skills in students, faculty, individuals, and teams. Denise holds her B.S. and M.S. degrees in biological sciences 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. Denise has also been committed to professional training and facilitation for nearly a decade, applying transformative learning techniques to diverse contexts within and beyond the university setting. She translates and applies her creative and dynamic scholarly activities to learning, leadership and life. Yost is the Director of the Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership and a Principal Investigator on the university-wide Transformational Change Initiative at Washington State University, a five-year grant focused on students’ academic success, excellence in instruction and student mentoring. Denise continues to demonstrate that her best work is accomplished through living an integrated and inspired life.
Dr. Laura Griner Hill
Professor and Chair in the Department of Human Development
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, well being, 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
Wanting to get away from rural Idaho at a young age, Mary Kay Patton studied her undergraduate at University of Washington, before receiving her J.D. from the University of Idaho and practicing both civil and criminal law in public service and private practice for 15 years. However, she discovered it wasn’t the right path for her. She then jumped between jobs before becoming a leadership facilitator and now designs and delivers workshops, trainings and retreats for the CTLL, all with the intention of shifting and deepening one’s relationship with their true nature. She supports individuals and teams in taking value-based committed action from a place of presence and mindfulness. Mary Kay’s main values are compassion, connection and freedom in allowing herself to create something bigger than herself, aspects she emulates in her work. Mary Kay said her position puts a lot on her hands, but with the collaborative team at the CTLL, she said it’s all worth it. “I center myself in the present,” she said, “open my heart and then move forward.”
Clinical Assistant Professor
Teaching students didn’t seem a likely path early on in Anna Whitehall’s undergraduate studies after not getting into the College of Education at Western Washington. But after receiving her B.A. in psychology and working as a director of an after school program, she returned to school to obtain her Master’s degree in Human Development from Washington State University and received an opportunity. Shortly into the program, Whitehall was offered to be a TA for HD 205 where she fell in love with the concepts, which helped her make positive changes in her own life incorporating her values of compassion, accepting yourself and trusting in a bigger sense. Anna now teaches HD 205 and 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. Even though a lot of her work involves analyzing data points, she said she gains the most value from teaching her students. “Helping students discover, develop and implement their best selves, there’s no formula for that,” she said.
Clinical Assistant Professor
A synchronized swimmer for 13 years on the road to the Olympics, Caitlin Bletscher decided to go a different direction, pursuing school and learning about different cultures throughout the world. She studied her undergraduate at George Fox University and received her master’s from nearby Gonzaga, both with specializations in communication, nonprofit organizations and leadership studies. She earned her PhD from University of Florida in agricultural education where she spent time working on refugee resettlement of Haitian people. Caitlin’s dedication to assisting disadvantaged populations in developing their leadership capacity shows in her work. Alongside teaching and facilitating workshops, Caitlin is equally passionate about global leadership awareness, advocacy and development working as the Global Experience Coordinator. Her main values are connection, belonging and daring to dream. She hopes she can instill in her students to think beyond Pullman, learning intercultural communication and understanding diverse perspectives. “A lot of people make harmful mistakes not thinking long-term,” she said. “We have an opportunity to have a bigger impact, university students have too much apathy, I try to change that.”
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.
Public Relations Specialist & Social Media Coordinator
A recent graduate, experienced writer and creative communicator, Katie Shadler is working to bring the CTLL into the spotlight. Katie received her B.A. in Strategic Communication at Washington State University in December 2017 where she gained the majority of her experience as a writer. As a Senior Reporter for The Daily Evergreen, Katie quickly discovered her passion for bringing impactful human stories to the forefront. In addition to her writing, she played with the WSU Women’s Rugby Club, working with a passionately-driven team that helped build her determination and work ethic. She is excited to join another high-functioning team as the new PR Specialist for the CTLL.
Kyle Shurm is a current student at Washington State University pursuing his B.A. in Strategic Communication and Sports Management. Shurm appreciates meaningful communication and powerful social interactions that build connections between companies and the public. Currently working in the Public Relations department for the CTLL, his primary goals 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
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!
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. Kim Kidwell
Founding Director of the Washington State University Center for Transformational Learning and Leadership. Currently serves as the Dean of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Campaign.