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
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.
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 wellbeing programs in real-world settings with university students.
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.
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.