2014 CoLA Outstanding Alumni

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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.


Will Beigel

'90 B.S. Geography

Will Beigel completed his Bachelor of Science degree at WSU in 1990.  He began his career as a physical imagery scientist trainee for the Wright Patterson Air Force Base’s Foreign Technology Division, joining the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) after graduation as an Intelligence Specialist. 

Over the last twenty years, Beigel has served in various positions critical to  our nation’s security, including National Systems Manager, Chief of Imagery Systems, Coordinator of NASIC External Affairs, and (currently) Executive Secretary of the Defense Intelligence Space Threat and Operations Committee (DISTOC).  His 19-straight years of performance awards include NASIC Commander’s Award for Merit, NASIC Big Brass Bullet Award, Recognition Award for Operation Horned Viper, and Air Force Meritorious Service Award. As the Executive Secretary of DISTOC, Beigel coordinates multi-agency intelligence against foreign space and for navigation warfare capabilities for Warfighter operations, acquisitions, and policy customers. He also manages and monitors national and Department of Defense space intelligence studies and programs in support of DISTOC’s chairman while coordinating community involvement and analysis that informs DISTOC decisions. 

While everything Mr. Beigel does is secret, it is not a secret that he is an outstanding alumnus and a model of national service for us and our geography majors.      

Mark Benbow

'83 M.A. History

Mark Benbow received his M.A. in History from Wright State University in 1983, two years after graduating from Hanover College.  From 1987-2002 he worked on national security issues for the federal government; during this time he received his Ph.D. from Ohio University.  From 2003-2006 Benbow was the Historian at the Woodrow Wilson House Museum in Washington, D.C.  He joined the Marymount University faculty in 2007, first serving as an adjunct and then as an assistant professor.  He also serves as the Director of the Arlington Historical Museum in Arlington, Virginia, and is a member of numerous professional and amateur historical groups.  Benbow is the author of Leading Them to the Promised Land: Woodrow Wilson, Covenant Theology and the Mexican Revolution: 1913-1915 (Kent State University Press, 2010) and many scholarly articles and essays.  Currently Benbow is working on a biography of Washington, D.C. brewer Christian Heurich. After that book is completed, he plans to write a book about Woodrow Wilson and the birth of the American film industry. 

Jill Channing

'03 B.A. English, '05 M.A. English

Jill Channing is Dean of the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Division at Kankakee Community College (KCC) in Kankakee, Illinois. Originally from the small rural Ohio village of Plymouth (population 1,800), Channing earned her B.A. and M.A. in English at Wright State University and her Ph.D. in Educational and Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. During her graduate study at Wright State, she served as president of the English Graduate Organization; worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the university writing program; and completed two graduate concentrations, one in composition and rhetoric and one in litera-ture, as well as earning a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies.  She was the English department’s Outstanding Graduate Student in Literature in 2005. Prior to becoming a dean at KCC, Channing chaired  the English Department at Mitchell Community College in North Carolina and taught writing, literature, and women’s studies at two-year colleges in New Mexico and North Carolina. Channing’s research and scholarly interests include online curriculum development and delivery, 20th Century British and American literatures, first-year composition pedagogy, and higher-education leadership strategies.

A highly effective teacher and administrator and an energetic and positive educator and scholar, Jill Channing truly personifies the values of a humanities education and showcases the versatility of an English major.

Sandy Collins

'84 B.A. Communication Studies

Sandy Sloan Collins worked 20 hours on September 11, 2001, and then anchored news coverage for another 8 hours overnight for 8 stations. Such dedication to her audience is typical of this WSU mass communication graduate.  A Dayton native, Collins’ passion for truth and timely news is apparent in her work at The Dayton Daily News, WHIO Radio, WHIO Channel 7, and on Facebook and Twitter. Midwest Cox Media's Vice President of Content Ms. Jana Collier says, "Sandy exemplifies how converged platforms can be orchestrated to get quality information out quickly, and she helps her fellow professionals at the same time."

Communication Department Chair Dr. Melissa Spirek concurs: "The Annual Communication Department Outstanding Alumni is selected as a role model for our students. He or she exemplifies the Communication Department's motto of striving for excellence to make the world a better place. You cannot turn your head without running into Sandy's service like that of the ThinkTV PBS auction, Beavercreek community auction, department networking host, professional panel expert for the Communication Department and, yes, career mentor. This star sets the bar high and then helps students to stand on her shoulders, cheering them all the way."

How fitting that this Cox Media Group News Writing Desk Team Leader be celebrated for her multimedia expertise, for her innovative organizational leader-ship, and for her philanthropy by being awarded the 2014 College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Alumni Award from the Department of Communication.


Kathleen Davis-Siudut

'07 M.A. International and Comparative Politics

Currently living in Washington, D.C. with her husband and daughter, Kathleen Davis-Siudut has spent the past 10 years working in the fields of human trafficking and sexual assault, ranging from policy advocacy to direct victim assistance. She has authored reports on human trafficking; provided subject matter expertise to local, national, and international government entities and nongovernmental organizations; and served on federal and state taskforces, developing specialized training and curriculum, consulting on public and private sector projects and strategic plans, and drafting legislation. 

Davis-Siudut’s master’s project, titled “Human Trafficking and Its Presence in Ohio,”  was based on extensive interviews across the state and country, including an assessment of current Ohio statutes, examination of contributing factors, and extensive discussion of current anti-trafficking legislation and efforts in Ohio. She has assisted with two Ohio legislative bills on human trafficking, providing testimony to both the Ohio Senate and the Ohio House of Representatives.  Further, Davis-Siudut estimates that she has trained and educated more than 3000 Ohioans on human trafficking and worked with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to train military leaders from 45 countries.  Additionally, she developed curricula now studied by law-enforcement recruits for the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy.

Having worked for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Polaris Project, Davis-Siudut currently works for the United States Marine Corps’ Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.

Naomi Ewald-Orme

'90 B.S.W. Social Work

Naomi Ewald-Orme, BSW graduate in 1990, is the 2015 Social Work Alumna of the Year.  After graduating from WSU, she went on to receive her MSW from University of Cincinnati in 1999.  She worked  for Montgomery County Children’s Services for three years before founding her own agency in 2000 called Adoption Link, Inc.  In fourteen years, this agency has grown to serve families throughout Ohio, including Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Cleveland.  The agency works with birthparents and adoptive families to assist in the adoption process.  Adoption Link provides birthparents with resources, supportive services, and referrals.  Agency social workers conduct required home studies, counseling, and education for adoptive parents.  Adoption Link was featured in a 2011 Yellow Springs news article, highlighting the agency’s focus on supporting the collaborative plans of the adoptive and birth parents.  The agency provides domestic adoption as an option to those seeking adoption services. 

In addition to Naomi’s social work experiences, she has also served on the College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Leadership Board since 2005.  In this capacity, she provides feedback on CoLA initiatives, contributes to the annual Dean’s Leadership Board scholarship funds, and helps select the annual awardees.

David Finnie

'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.

Justin Goney

'05 B.A French

Justin Goney earned his B.A. in French from Wright State University in 2005. During his years at WSU he spent two years in France, where he both studied the French language and worked as an English language teaching assistant. Upon returning to Wright State, he completed his TEFL certificate as well as a summer teaching internship in Okayama, Japan. He went on to earn a Master of Arts in French philology/computer science from the University of Helsinki (Finland) in 2012. His thesis project there examined the use of Anglicisms in the French press, which involved designing and implementing his own word classification algorithm, and compiling a completely original French-language corpus of 78+ million words.
Professionally, Mr. Goney's been very successful in combining his education in the humanities with his technical competence. At his current job as a software engineer at NVIDIA, he builds support software to aid in the development of new microchips while also managing internal technical documentation. In his previous position as technical researcher at the University of Helsinki, he built a web-based concordance search tool for performing corpus linguistics research. He is also an experienced educator who has worked in many different teaching environments. In 2005-2006 he was director of English studies for Centre Régionale d'Études Françaises (CREF) in Moscow, and subsequently taught English in Finnish companies before moving on to be a classroom teacher at the International School of Vantaa (Finland). Finally, since 2006 he's worked as a freelance writer, including contributing to the local publications Helsinki Times and SixDegrees.
Mr. Goney's zest for life and all things creative show up both in his work and in his pastimes, which include playing music, photography, and cooking.

A word from Justin (PDF)

Brent Huffman

'03 B.F.A. Motion Pictures

Brent E. Huffman has been making social-issue documentaries and environ-mental films for more than a decade in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. His documentaries have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival; been featured   at the China Exploration and Research Society; and aired on The Discovery Channel, The National Geographic Channel, NBC, CNN, PBS, and Al Jazeera. Huffman has also directed, produced, shot, and edited short documentaries for The New York Times, TIME, Salon, Huffington Post, and PBS Arts online outlets. He was also an editor of Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar’s Primetime Emmy-winning PBS documentary series A Lion in the House about children battling cancer.

In addition to the Primetime Emmy, Huffman’s films have won numerous other awards including Best Conservation Film-Jackson Hole, Best Documentary-Fresno, College Emmy, Student Academy Award, Grand     Jury Award at AFI’s SILVERDOCS, and three Cine Golden Eagle Awards.

An assistant professor at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Huffman has written for CNN, Asia Society Online, Tricycle magazine, Bust Magazine, The Wilson Quarterly, FRONTLINE, and The China Digital Times. He recently completed a book about his experiences in China, called Life in the Heart of China: Diary from a Forbidden World.  Most recently Huffman completed The Colony, a documentary for Al Jazeera about China in Africa. He is currently working on two new documentaries in Afghanistan and China.

Martin Kim

'00 M.U.A. Urban Administration

Martin Kim received a B.S. in Engineering in Urban Planning from South Korea and graduated from Wright State University in 2000 with an M.A. in Urban Administration (now called “Public Administration”). While at WSU he was a Research/GIS Data Analyst and a Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) for the Center for Urban and  Public Affairs.

Currently Kim is the Director of Regional Planning at the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) with over 15 years of experience in strategic planning, land use and transportation planning, planning support systems, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and quantitative and qualitative research. At MVRPC Martin leads a five-member team to provide planning process consultation, research and analysis, and technical support services to many jurisdictions in the region for their successful planning and policy development efforts.

Since 2009 Martin has been an adjunct professor, guest speaker, and mentor in the Department of Urban Affairs and Geography at WSU, and this fall will   be teaching the Community and Regional Planning course introducing students to this field.

As a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and a certified GIS Professional (GISP), Martin is a frequent speaker at many local, state, and national conferences and also an active member of the Dayton chapter of American Planning Association and the Southwest Ohio GIS Users Group.

Brady Kress

'96 B.A. Political Science

Brady Kress is President and CEO of Dayton History and Carillon Historical Park. A 1996 graduate of Wright State University, he currently serves on the National Advisory Council of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Board. Formerly Kress served as the Chairman of the Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau, President of the Association of Indiana Museums, and Director of Museums for Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana.

Kress is a 5th generation Daytonian, husband, father, and Eagle Scout.

Timothy Leedy

'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!   

Eben O. McNair

'06 B.A., Philosophy

Ben McNair was raised in northeast Ohio and joined the Marine Corps after high school. During his six years of service in the Corps he achieved the rank of sergeant and served as section leader and platoon sergeant. He began studying at Wright State University in 2001 while simultaneously serving in the Marine Corps Reserve. He studied philosophy because it was interesting, the professors were enjoyable, and the flexible credit-hour requirements allowed him to pursue other academic interests. He interrupted classwork twice for tours of duty, in Israel in 2004 and Iraq in 2005. While completing his degree he volunteered as an instructor for the Young Marines. After graduating from Wright State in 2006, he worked as a Teamster.

In 2009, he began law school at Case Western Reserve University, choosing law because it allows for--or in his words, arguably demands--a career of service. While a student at Case Western, he was Editor in Chief of the Journal of Law, Technology, and the Internet, and during his tenure, the journal was cited by the Supreme Court of the United States in a landmark patent ruling.

He is currently employed by the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, where he is responsible for the prosecution of felonies. He co-founded a unit to investigate and prosecute gang-related offenses, which recently charged 43 codefendants with a combined 437 gang-related charges, including racketeering, robbery, extortion, and kidnapping. For this innovative work he won the office’s annual Crime Prevention Award. In his free time, he serves indigent clients as a volunteer attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland.

Andrew Miller

'09 B.M. Music Performance

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Andy Miller holds degrees in percussion performance from both Wright State University and the University of Illinois where he was named the Swanson Family Percussion Fellow, studying under renowned marimbist William Moersch. At the University of Illinois, Miller won the 2010 concerto competition, performing with both the Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra as part of a percussion trio. Navigating   the diverse world of percussion with technical and musical precision, he has performed in North America, South America, and Asia with groups as diverse as the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, members of the Bang On A Can All-Stars, the Mark Morris Dance Company, and the Afro-pop group Rhythm Manding. In 2011 Miller was awarded a prestigious Fulbright fellowship from the U.S. Government to Colombia where he studied both traditional music from the Caribbean and Pacific coasts and contemporary music.

An active performer and passionate educator, Miller currently co-directs the percussion and world percussion ensembles as an adjunct faculty member   at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbannais, Illinois. Having completed a series of concerts given in Bogotá premiering newly commissioned works by American and Colombian composers, Miller currently serves as the percussionist and artistic director of the Archaea Tree Ensemble and co-founded the traditional Colombian music group Costas, both groups based in Urbana, Illinois. Andy has recently accepted an Associate Instructor position at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he will begin his doctoral studies this fall.

Lee Monnin

'00 B.F.A Art

After emigrating from Paris to the United States as a teenager, raising   a family of six children, and completing a successful business career (wherein she helped launch Hilltop Vending), Lee Monnin reacquainted herself with two of her long-time passions: art and education. Enrolling as a non-traditional student, Lee graduated from Wright State University in 2000 in the field of painting. After graduating she established a scholarship fund aimed at benefiting Wright State women art students. To date, she has provided full and partial scholarships for 15 students and has also helped purchase numerous works of art for the Wright State University galleries.While painting primarily for her own enjoyment, Lee has had a number of her works displayed at various art exhibits and galleries throughout Dayton.

Monnin remains active in the Dayton arts community. She currently serves on both the Dayton Visual Arts Center Board (DVAC) and the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance Board (DPAA) and formerly served as President of Tri-Art Club. In addition, Monnin is involved with Dayton Society of Painters and Sculptors (DSPS) and the Dayton Opera and its Guild. Monnin has always believed in the benefits of a strong education and has adopted this philosophy in her philanthropic ventures.

David Pettegrew

'98 B.A. Anthropology

David Pettegrew graduated from Wright State University with a B.A. in Anthropology and Greek in 1998. He subsequently earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in History from The Ohio State University with a specialty in ancient history and the archaeology of the late antique Mediterranean world. Since 2006, Pettegrew has served as a professor of history at Messiah College near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, teaching courses in introductory Latin,   Roman History, Late Antiquity, Digital History, Historical Archaeology, and a Fieldschool in Archaeology in Larnaka, Cyprus.

As a WSU student supervisor for two summers in Dr. Riordan’s annual field school in archaeology, Pettegrew learned to manage both the logistical side of archaeology and the intellectual side of making methodological     decisions about how to investigate sites. These experiences transferred   directly to subsequent fieldwork and enabled him to register as a Professional Archaeologist in 2007.

Since leaving WSU, Pettegrew has been involved in archaeological projects in Greece and Cyprus, and is today an acting co-director of the Pyla-Koutsopetria Archaeological Project near Larnaka. He has authored dozens of papers, archaeological reports, and historical interpretations of ancient landscapes, and is the co-author of Pyla-Koutsopetria I. Archaeological Survey of an Ancient Coastal Town (2014).  Pettegrew lives in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, with his wife Kate, three little children, and one fat cat.

Marsha Pippenger

'07 M.A. Humanities

Marsha Pippenger has been active in Dayton’s art community for more than 20 years, creating and exhibiting her colorful collages and promoting the visual arts. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Ohio Northern University and a Master of Humanities from Wright State University. Through Central State University, Pippenger completed independent coursework with local artist and educator Bing Davis.

Currently Pippenger is an adjunct faculty member at Wright State University and the Kettering College of Medical Arts where she teaches courses in art and art history. As a Kennedy Center-trained artist, she conducts workshops in Arts Integration for teachers.

Pippenger’s work experience includes creating professional graphic art, teaching art in the Dayton Public Schools, and serving on the boards of local arts organizations. Her artwork can be found in local galleries and in a variety of public and private collections.

Phillip Roney

'11 B.A. Sociology

In 2011 Phillip Roney graduated from Wright State University with a B.A. in Sociology. While working multiple jobs, he held memberships in several honor societies, actively volunteered in the community, and was a mentor and leader in the Iota Gamma chapter of Delta Tau Delta fraternity where he continues to serve as an assistant chapter advisor, event volunteer, and mentor. Most recently Roney was honored as Iota Gamma chapter’s Most Dedicated Alumnus for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Roney enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2012. During his time in the military, he distinguished himself among his military peers, garnering such accolades as Basic Military Training Honor Graduate and promotion to Senior Airmen Below-The-Zone-- both honors reserved for the top  10% among Airmen—and volunteering his time and talents with Airmen Against Drunk Driving, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator’s office, and Airmen Dormitory Manager’s office.  

Since October 2013 Roney has volunteered a combined 100 hours with Habitat for Humanity, St Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, and Bellbrook Youth Soccer, all the while maintaining devotion to the Wright State community.  As a participant in the Gracie Defense System program, he coordinated communication between university and base personnel and collection of research survey material. 

Aaron Sorrell

'98 B.S. Urban Affairs

Committed to community and civic engagement, Aaron Sorrell graduated from WSU with a Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Affairs in 1998.  He continued his studies at The Ohio State University where in 2000 he earned a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning.

Soon after graduation Sorrell began working for the City of Dayton in the Department of Planning and Community Development where he now serves as Director of Planning and Community Development.  Under his leadership, Dayton has seen improvements in a broad array of services and programs ensuring quality housing, enhanced safety, and innovative development. Sorrell’s project teams have overhauled Dayton’s zoning code, managed Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds, and restructured Dayton’s 30-year-old community engagement strategy. His current projects include updating the City’s comprehensive plan, transportation plan, and open-space master plan. Sorrell’s efforts and initiatives have resulted in more effective engagement of neighborhood groups and interaction between planners and residents while increasing the transparency of city planning processes.

As a certified planner (AICP), certified economic developer (NDC), past president of the American Planning Association of Ohio, and Director of Planning and Community Development, Aaron Sorrell has become a leader shaping the future of Dayton.

Cindy Vanzant

'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.