Distinguished Alumni

College of Liberal Arts graduates exhibit many fascinating paths to success. Each year we celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni at an Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony.


Phyllis Cole (2017 Recipient)

MA, Applied Behavioral Sciences

Phyllis Cole is the owner and director of the Weekend Intervention Program (WIP). While working full time as a single mother of two, she enrolled in classes at the Miami University Middletown campus and earned her B.A. from Miami University in 1986. She immediately began working with Dr. Harvey Siegal in the Weekend Intervention Program at Wright State University in 1986. Phyllis went on to earn a Master’s in the Applied Behavioral Sciences Program and credits the program for encouraging students to investigate real world problems and develop applicable solutions to them. As a result of her master’s training she was able to effectively complete NIAAA, NIDA, and Ohio funded research evaluating the efficacy of a program like WIP in a range of areas including veterans, probationers, and women who suffer from substance use disorders. 

In 2015, when the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine discontinued their affiliation with the Weekend Intervention Program, Phyllis opted to take ownership of the program. WIP offers a 72-hour and a 48-hour educational, counseling and assessment program that focuses on individual clients, helping them deal with the impact of their substance use related driving conviction (OVI) and the use of mood-altering substances in their lives. The first year as an independent program has been extremely successful and Phyllis remains proud of the important work she has continued in the fight against drinking and driving.

David Womeldorff (2016 Recipient)

BA, Selected Studies, 1979 MA, Applied Behavior Sciences, 1989

David Emerald Womeldorff is co-founder of the Bainbridge Leadership Center, where his passion is supporting individuals, teams, and organizations in leading and working from an outcome-focused and passion-powered orientation. His principals and frameworks are based on over 30 years of   experience working with a wide range of individuals and organizations.

Writing under the pen name of David Emerald, he is the author of The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic), a best-selling book about Self Leadership.  David is currently creating an e-learning program entitled 3 Vital Questions™: Applying the Power of TED* to Work and Life for organizational and individual use.

Womeldorff also serves as an Executive Coach and is faculty on the Executive Integral Leadership Program at the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business. His TED* framework is also included in Notre Dame's Management and Leadership Certificate e-learning program.

Womeldorff earned his Applied Behavioral Science degree from Wright State University in 1989. Ten years prior to that, he designed and earned his own undergraduate degree called Community and Communication at Wright State. He now resides on Bainbridge Island, Washington with his wife and business partner, Donna Zajonc, MCC. 

Jeanette Skow (2015 Recipient)

MA, Applied Behavioral Science

Major Jeanette Skow earned a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from Princeton University in 1998. She graduated from the Air Force R.O.T.C. program the same year and has been serving on active duty in the Air Force ever since. While she was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as an Intelligence Officer, she attended Wright State University and earned a Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science, graduating summa cum laude in 2001. The Air Force then sent her to the University of Cincinnati College of Law under the Funded Legal Education Program, and she transitioned to become a JAG officer. 

Skow’s career has taken her to New Mexico, California, and the Washington, D.C., area. In 2013-14 she served a tour of duty in Kabul, Afghanistan, covering myriad operational and humanitarian law issues.  Skow is currently serving as the Brigade Judge Advocate to the Commander of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her
husband and daughter. They enjoy getting together with the WSU alumni group for Nationals-Reds baseball games whenever possible!

Kyla Woods (2015 Recipient)

BA, Criminal Justice; MA, Applied Behavioral Science

Kyla R. Woods graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice (now known as Crime and Justice Studies) in 2004. Immediately following graduation she began a master’s program in Criminal Justice at Clark Atlanta University, in Atlanta, Georgia. Moving back to Ohio, she enrolled in Wright State University’s Applied Behavioral Science Program, which she credits for giving her the knowledge and skills needed to be a dynamic force in the criminal-justice field.

In 2006 Woods accepted a job with Montgomery County Job and Family Services as a Job and Family Services Specialist II, and in 2007 she took a position with Montgomery County Juvenile Court as an Assessment Specialist in the Intervention Center. Within a year she transitioned to Juvenile Probation Services as a Drug Court Specialist. She is currently working to obtain her Ohio Chemical Dependency Professional License and hopes to become more involved with drug and alcohol treatment for youth.

David Finnie (2014 Recipient)

'04 M.A Applied Behavioral Science

In 1990, David Finnie began his law enforcement career as a police officer and supervisor at the University of Delaware. Arriving at Wright State University in 1999, Finnie accepted the position of Police Captain. Subsequently he was promoted to Assistant Chief of Police in 2005, Interim Chief of Police and Chief of Police in 2014, having served twenty five years in academia policing.

Finnie’s education, training, and service include a Master of Public Administration (’07); Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science: Criminal Justice & Social Problems (’04), and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice ('97). In addition Finnie has completed several nationally recognized law enforcement executive development and leadership programs and is a highly sought teacher and speaker. Currently a member of the Executive Board for the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the Southwestern Region of Ohio, Finnie also serves on the Government Relations Committee for the International Association Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) and adjuncts at Wright State University in the Departments of Political Science and Applied Behavioral Science.

David Finnie provides strong, service-driven leadership to the citizens of our university community.

Timothy Leedy (2014 Recipient)

'10 B.A. Criminal Justice, '12 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Tim Leedy serves as a Clark County Deputy in Ohio.  After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force and continues to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserves for a total of 28 years of service to our country.  Working in the medical arena initially, Leedy realized that he wanted a career change, joining the Clark County Sheriff’s office in 2003.  To expand his skills, Leedy furthered his education by graduating from Wright State University  in 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice (now called “Crime and Justice Studies”) and a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavioral Science (ABS) in 2012. Currently Leedy is giving back to the WSU community by adjuncting in the  ABS program.  

A Dayton native, Leedy makes his home in New Carlisle (a community he serves proudly) and spends his off time with his wife, Billie, riding motorcycles and practicing martial arts. In February 2013, Leedy was recognized by the City of New Carlisle for his outstanding response on emergency runs.  If you see Tim Leedy patrolling Main Street, give him a big WSU Raider shout out!   

Cindy Vanzant (2014 Recipient)

'04 B.A. Women's Studies, '06 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Cindy Vanzant has been a member of the Wright State Community   for more than 21 years.  She began her Wright State career working in the Weekend Intervention Program as a Senior Secretary and soon thereafter became Senior Secretary in the newly opened Women’s Center.  While working in the Women’s Center, Vanzant earned a Management Information Systems degree.  In 2004 she earned a B.A.     in Women’s Studies and received the Outstanding Undergraduate Women’s Studies Student Award.  In 2006 Vanzant earned an M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science: Criminal Justice and Social Problems and currently serves as   the Assistant Director of the Women’s Center at WSU.

Always a good student growing up, Vanzant got good grades in school, never learning until later about social inequalities all around her.  Only later did Vanzant realize that to make the world a better and more inclusive place, she needed to gain a more complete and thorough insight into social injustice. From that point on, her future was not with computers but with a new-found passion to be an agent of change, a passion that deepened as she pursued her Women’s Studies degree.  Today Vanzant still loves her job and continues to work towards a more just and equal society. 

Terrie Hottle (2012 Recipient)

'97 B.A. Urban Affairs, '99 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Terrie Hottle earned her undergraduate degree in Urban Affairs specializing in criminal justice in 1997. Two years later she earned a Master of Arts in Applied Behavioral Science. Upon graduation she was employed by WSU in the Center for Urban and Public Affairs as a Research Associate. In 2003, she became a site supervisor for the Boonshoft School of Medicine, Center for Interventions Treatment and Addictions Research working on a five year federal grant to study drug abuse in rural Ohio counties. After the grant ended, Terrie became a federally contracted program manager for the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration where she earned two letters of commendation.

In 2008, Terrie began her career with Lincoln College of Technology as the Criminal Justice Department Chair for the Tri-County campus in Cincinnati, Ohio. After two years as the chair, she was promoted to the assistant academic dean for the Dayton campus. This past November, she was promoted again to the academic dean. Terrie has been married to her husband Dave for 12 years, who is also a WSU Alum. They share a 10 year old son Jackson and she is the step-mother to 20 year old Austin who is currently attending WSU.

Lucy L. Owens (2007 Recipient)

'05 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Lucy L. Owens earned a bachelors of science in Criminal Justice from the University of Toledo and her master's degree in Applied Behavioral Science at Wright State University. She graduated in the top one percent of her graduate program. As a practitioner, she has dedicated ten years to various areas of the criminal justice system. She has also worked tirelessly in the community through numerous outreach programs for disadvantaged youth and battered women. Lucy has been a pillar in The Visions Mentoring Program at Wright State University by earning an Award for Mentor of the Year in 2005.

In conjunction with her professional experience, Lucy is also a prolific poet, writer, and activist and has appeared in national publications, including Essence Magazine and Nexus Literary Journal. She is a member of two distinguished public services organizations, The Order of Eastern Star and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Currently, Lucy continues her undying passion for knowledge and achievement by instructing at Wright State University.

Ted Staton (2007 Recipient)

'77 B.A. Political Science, '80 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Ted Staton holds a B.A. in Political Science and a M.A. in Applied Behavioral Science/Public Management from Wright State where he also served as an adjunct instructor of urban policy/public management for ten years. As a student, Ted was president of the political science club, chairperson of the University Center Board, and graduate representative to the student government. He is a charter member of the Theta Zeta chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha. Prior to his appointment as City Manager of East Lansing, Michigan, Ted served in a number of senior administrative positions with the City of Dayton, Ohio including Director of the Department of Public Works, Office of Management and Budget, and the Dayton International Airport.

Over the course of his 12-year tenure as East Lansing City Manager, he has helped engineer a dramatic redirection of this big-ten city of 50,000 residents, leading the way to unprecedented expansion and economic growth. Ted’s work has been recognized nationally in the Reinventing Government Series by David Osborn and Pete Plastrik, and he was given the prestigious Outstanding Service Award by the Michigan Municipal League. Earlier this year, he was honored by the Michigan Local Government Management Association with an award for excellence in local government. He is also a two-time recipient of awards from the American Society of Public Administration honoring his distinguished work in the field of local government management.

Katherine Rowell (2006 Recipient)

'89 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Katherine R. Rowell earned her Bachelor's and Master's degrees at Wright State University. She was recently named Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Katherine has taught sociology at Sinclair Community College since 1996. She has won numerous awards for teaching excellence, including “Who's Who Among America's Teachers” (1996, 1997, 2002, and 2004) and the 2005 North Central Sociological Professor of the Year.

In 2003, Katherine was one of 15 community college faculty chosen for a Fulbright group study abroad trip to Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa to develop curriculum for the Midwest Institute for International Education.

From 2001 to 2005, she served as advisor for Sinclair's Nu Pi, Phi Theta Kappa Chapter, which was recognized as one of the top 25 chapters in the United States for four consecutive years under her leadership. Katherine earned her Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Douglas Hickey (2005 Recipient)

'95 B.A. Sociology, '97 M.S. Applied Behavioral Sciences

Douglas Hickey graduated cum laude from Wright State University with his B.A. in Sociology in 1995 and his M.A. in the Applied Behavioral Sciences program in 1997. Mr. Hickey is currently employed as a Police Officer with the City of Franklin where his responsibilities include protecting and serving the citizens of Franklin by conducting routine patrols of the city, investigating crimes and maintaining order. He has completed the Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy in Sex Crimes Investigation, Sexual Assault, and Behavioral Analysis of Violent Crime.

Karen Lahm, Ph.D. (2005 Recipient)

'95 B.A. Sociology, '97 M.A. Applied Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Karen Lahm graduated from Wright State University with her B.A. in Sociology in 1995. She then obtained her M.A. from WSU in the Applied Behavioral Sciences program in 1997 and her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Kentucky in 2001. She is currently an assistant professor in the Behavioral Sciences Department at Capital University. Her areas of specialization include criminology/deviance, corrections and penology, women and crime/corrections, and quantitative methods. She has been active in presenting her scholarship at professional conferences and has published research articles in leading criminology journals.

Mary Leal (2004 Recipient)

'79 B.A. Sociology, '03 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Commander Mary Leal joined the Dayton Police Department in 1982, performing a variety of duties including those of a patrol officer and detective, as well as those involved with communication and conflict management. Due to injuries received in the line of duty, Mary retired on disability in 1989 but continued to teach in a variety of forums. In July 2003, she was appointed the first commander of the new Criminal Justice Training Academy at the Greene County Career Center.

Bonnie Langdon (2003 Recipient)

'77 B.A. Sociology, '79 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

After completing her degrees at WSU, Bonnie did additional graduate work at Ohio State and Duke. She is currently President and CEO of the Marion-Joseph Center, a 440-bed long-term care facility in Montgomery County. Bonnie has served the Dayton community as chair of the Montgomery County Human Services Levy Campaign, the Board of Governors of Leadership Dayton, the United Way Campaign for Health Services, and Sunrise of Oakwood. She was the first woman to chair the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Dayton Business Journal named her one of the Top 25 Most Influential People in the Dayton Region in 2001.

Kathryn M. Felty (2002 Recipient)

'78 B.A. Sociology, '82 M.A. Applied Behavioral Science

Kathryn completed her Ph.D. in sociology at Ohio State University in 1988. She was hired by the University of Akron where she served as director of the Women's Studies Program and director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Sociology. Her professional service to her discipline includes having served as vice president of Sociologists for Women in Society and vice president-elect of the North Central Sociological Association.