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Advisory Council

The WSU Health Sciences Spokane Advisory Council consists of members appointed by the Vice President for Health Sciences and the president of the university. The council’s primary mission is to foster closer ties between WSU Health Sciences Spokane, its alumni, the community, the region and the state. Council members participate in an advisory role and are not part of the formal governance of WSU. The Council meets quarterly.

Council members

Rich Hadley, Chair
Retired President/CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated

Rich HadleyRich Hadley is President Emeritus of Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), the region’s chamber of commerce and economic development council, where he served as President and CEO for 21 years.

Rich previously served 18 years as the chief executive officer of chambers in Minnesota, Montana and Colorado. Awards for his work include: National Chamber Executive of the Year, USAF Distinguished Public Service Award, AWB Bruce A. Briggs Award for Outstanding Commitment to Community Service, Whitworth University Distinguished Community Service Award, and Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame.

His background in the chamber field has led to several part-time projects related to military affairs, public policy and education/workforce development. Clients include the Association of Washington Business, ACCE Education Attainment Division and GSI.

Alisha Benson
President and CEO, Greater Spokane Incorporated

Alisha BensonAlisha Benson is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI). Alisha has been with GSI for 12 years. During her time at GSI, she has held roles as Chief Strategy & Business Development Officer, COO, VP of Education & Workforce, Executive Director of Spokane STEM, and Membership Director.

GSI is the regional business development organization in the Spokane region whose mission is to lead transformative business and community initiatives to build a robust regional economy. As CEO, Alisha provides organization wide leadership, strategy, and management.

Benson serves on the Board of the Washington Economic Development Association, and as co-chair of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Education & Talent Development Division. She also serves on the WSU Health Sciences Spokane Advisory Council, MultiCare Community Partnership Fund, Spokane County United Way, and Associated Industries. She graduated with a BA from Washington State University. She is married and a mother to a daughter and son. She loves sports, hiking, camping and anything that involves the outdoors.

Elaine Couture
Providence Health & Services, Executive VP; Regional Chief Executive Washington & Montana, Providence Health Care, Chief Executive

Elaine CoutureElaine Couture oversees the nationally recognized Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center & Children’s Hospital and Providence Holy Family Hospital; two critical access hospitals in Colville and Chewelah; adult day health, 500¬+ physician multi-specialty and ambulatory practices, numerous joint ventures and hospitals in Missoula and Polson, Montana; Walla Walla, Olympia, Centralia, Everett and Richland, Washington. In addition, Couture serves as the chief executive for Inland Northwest Health Services (INHS), Engage – a health technology company, and St. Luke’s Rehabilitation hospital.

Couture serves on a wide variety of community and professional advisory boards, including the Federal Reserve Bank Board of San Francisco/Seattle Branch, Washington State Hospital Association Board of Directors; Spokane and Providence Health Care Foundation. She serves on the American Hospital Association Metro Governing Council; Greater Spokane Incorporated Executive Committee; Washington State Hospital Association Executive Committee, Nominating Committee, Compensation Committee, Strategic Planning Committee and the Washington State University Advisory Board and University District Board/Spokane. Couture received her Master’s in Business Administration from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana.

Betsy Cowles
Chairman, Cowles Company

picture of Betsy CowlesBetsy Cowles is the chairman of Cowles Company, a fourth generation family-owned media, forest products, real estate, and insurance company headquartered in Spokane. She directly oversees the broadcasting, insurance, and real estate divisions of the company, which includes television stations in Washington and California; insurance clients in the Pacific Northwest and several mid-west states; and downtown Spokane’s River Park Square retail development and office buildings and other developments in Spokane Valley.

Cowles has served on a number of boards, including those of Greater Spokane Incorporated (past chair) and the Fox Theater (founding board member). She is a past chair of the Washington State University Board of Regents; serves on the William D. Ruckelshaus Center Advisory Board; and is a past trustee of George Washington University.

Other boards she has served on include those of the WSU Research Foundation, Spokane Legal Services, the Spokane Symphony (past chair), and Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest, as well as Mt. Spokane 2000.

Cowles currently is a member of the Board of Directors for the Laird Norton Company, the Spokane Symphony (past chair), Planned Parenthood of the Inland Northwest, and Mt. Spokane 2000.

She received a bachelor of arts degree from Dartmouth College and a juris doctor degree from George Washington University.

Kelly Fukai
Regional Affairs – Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories

Kelly FukaiKelly was born and raised in Spokane, and is a proud “Spokanite.” She currently manages the Regional Affairs at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories where she identifies and prioritizes issues and promotes the company’s values and principles of operations to communities and governments at the regional, state, and local level.

She began her career with Avista Corp. where she spent 16 years holding various positions in Corporate Accounting, Budget and Forecast, Financial Reporting, Resource Accounting and Gas Supply. She also worked for Pinnacle Marketing Group as an Account Executive where she developed comprehensive marketing plans and strategies for high tech companies both locally and across the United States.

Kelly has a passion for service to the community. She currently serves as Chair of the Board for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, Chair elect of the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce, and Treasurer for the Tree of Sharing. She also serves on the Advisory Board for the College Success Foundation. However, her favorite service is to her three busy kids, Mason (16) Abbey (13) and Jack (12).

She earned and Associate of Arts Degree from Spokane Falls Community College. From there she attended Gonzaga University, graduating with a BA in Accounting. She was later awarded her MBA from Gonzaga University.

Lars Gilberts
Spokane University District CEO

Lars GilbertAs the University District’s CEO, Lars is responsible for carrying out the mission and goals of The University District, providing strategic leadership, forming tactical partnerships and collaborations, managing the financial well-being of the organization, moving projects from creation to completion, and overseeing operations and staff.

A key role of the CEO is to realize the potential of the University District as a platform for the coordinated interests of higher education, research, local government, business and private development including expanding the health-care and life sciences sectors, as well as the “smart city” technology investments in the area.

Prior to joining the University District in April 2017, Lars served as the statewide ALICE director at United Way of Broward County. The United Way ALICE Report equips businesses, nonprofits, funders, policy makers and the community with the common data and language to develop improved policy and practice for those who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. Prior to joining United Way, Lars was the director of financial stability at Branches, Inc., where he served more than 10 years. While at Branches, Lars started and grew a variety of programs that promoted financial self-sufficiency through emergency services, VITA free tax preparation, financial education, personal financial coaching, the automotive microloan Ways to Work program and small business services.

While much of Lars’s professional experience has been with nonprofits, his education and original experience has been in the for profit arena. Lars completed a BBA in Marketing at the University of Texas Pan American as well as an MBA in Management from Barry University. He comes from a family of business and farm owners and before joining Branches, Lars salvaged a shipping logistics franchise that had had been in a long decline. These endeavors have been successful in large part because of Lars’s commitment to providing valuable opportunities for his clients and partners alike; from helping small businesses succeed, to providing integrated financial coaching for working families, to building cross sector coalitions. Lars has committed his life and career to helping people and organizations meet their missions in ways that help others do the same.

Rustin Hall
President/CEO, ALSC Architects

Rustin HallRustin is the President/CEO of ALSC Architects P.S., a Spokane / Coeur d’Alene architectural firm that has served clients locally, nationally and internationally for over 70 years. He joined the firm in 1993 after spending nine years practicing in the Seattle area, and joined the ownership of the firm in 2000. Rustin, his five business partners and staff of 45 provide master planning, pre-design/feasibility studies, architectural and interior design services for higher education, municipal, K-12, sports and recreation, government and private clients. Throughout his career, Rustin has focused on developing his expertise in integrated project delivery, leadership development and community support through volunteerism.

Rustin serves on numerous local and state boards and commissions, including the Washington State CPARB Project Review Committee (past Chair), Greater Spokane Incorporated, the Spokane Sports Commission, the Boy Scouts of America (incoming Chair), the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber Foundation (past Chair), the Spokane Chapter of the DBIA and the WSU Riverpoint Advisory Council. Other boards and commissions Rustin has served on include the YMCA of Spokane, the Spokane Valley Planning Commission, the Greater Spokane Valley Chamber of Commerce (past Chair) and bond campaign fundraiser for Central Valley School District.

Rustin earned his Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Washington State University. Rustin and his wife Lynda are the proud parents of three adult boys, a daughter-in-law, and are enjoying their new granddaughter.

Latisha Hill
Director of Business Development for Avista Corp.

Latisha HillLatisha Hill is the Director of Business Development for Avista Corp. and a Senior Vice President for Avista Development, a subsidiary of Avista Corp.

As a Senior Vice President at Avista Development, Latisha works to build economic vibrancy on behalf of the company. She is responsible for directing the strategic development and operations of non-utility properties to maximize return and contribution to the broader regional economy. She has more than two decades of experience working alongside communities, driving economic development, and leveraging her specialties in regional systems planning and policy.

Latisha joined Avista in 2005 as a special projects coordinator. She has held positions as regional research and project manager, and regional business manager. Latisha has also served as manager of consulting and analytics in Avista’s human resources department. Prior to joining Avista, she was the neighborhood network service lead for Kiemle & Hagood and worked in business development at AHANA.

Latisha serves on the board of the Group Health Foundation, Visit Spokane, the UW School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Partnership, WSU Riverpoint Advisory Council, and the University District Board. Latisha has held numerous other board and committee roles, including with the Inland Empire American Planning Association, the Washington State Transportation Commission, Spokane Regional Transportation Council, and Greater Spokane Inc.

She has a BA in Communications from Washington State University and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Eastern Washington University.

Manuel Hochheimer
Assistant Vice President Corporate and External Relations, Numerica Credit Union

Manny HochheimerManny has over 15 years of Financial Industry experience that includes roles in Branch Administration and Regional Management, Commercial and Private Banking, Financial Advising and Investments, Legislative and Government Relations, Mergers and Acquisitions, External Relations, and Business, Economic, and Community Development. He has a diverse background in leadership, operations, development, lending, underwriting, sales, marketing and communications, and executive management.

Manny has been with Numerica since 2012. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a Specialization in Business Administration from Colorado State University, and an M.B.A. in Finance and Economics from Whitworth University. Manny currently serves on the City of Spokane Mayor’s Advisory Council on Multicultural Affairs, Spokane Rotary 21, as well as on the Washington State University – Spokane Chancellor’s Advisory Council, and the Boards of United Way – ELS, Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) – Governmental Affairs Committee, Association of Washington Business (AWB) Government Affairs and Health Care Committee, Priority Spokane, Big Table, and the Whitworth University Athletics Fund Board. He has previously served on the Epicurean Delight Steering Committee, American Cancer Society – Coaches vs. Cancer Board, West Central Community Center Board, North Wall Children’s Association Board, and Spokane Public Schools Foundation Board.

Manny is married to Whitworth University Economics Professor, Dr. Vange Ocasio Hochheimer, and is a father of two young boys, Noah and Luca, ages 8 and 6.

Tom Johnson
Retired president/CEO of STCU

Tom JohnsonTom Johnson retired as President/CEO of STCU in 2017, having been associated with the credit union for over 23 years, first as a member of the Board of Directors, then as an executive, serving his final seven years as CEO. Prior to STCU, Tom served as Vice President for Business Affairs at Whitworth University for 17 years.

Tom is the chair-elect of the board for Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI), where he has served on the board for several years. He was also actively involved with the University District, serving as Past Board President, Secretary/Treasurer and board member of the UDDA and UDPDA boards. His many community activities included serving on the Spokane United Way Campaign Committee, Spokane’s STEM Task Force, the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Economic Vitality, and Leaders for a WSU Medical School.

In 2008, Tom was appointed by the governor to the Washington Higher Education Facilities Authority Board and served as its chair (2012 to 2017). He was also active in the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA), serving as past chair and member of the Governmental Affairs Committee, was Advocate of the Year for 2015 and recipient of the association’s Summit Award for lifetime achievement in 2017.

Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in business and industrial administration from the University of Illinois in Urbana, and a master’s of business administration from Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY. He is a Certified Public Accountant (retired).

Jim Kolva
Owner at Jim Kolva Associates

Jim Kolva Jim Kolva is the owner of Jim Kolva Associates, a management consulting firm in Spokane. He assists clients with land use policy, environmental review under the State Environmental Policy Act, and renovation of historic buildings in downtown Spokane.

He has been involved with downtown Spokane planning, historic preservation, and the arts for 40 years. Kolva and his wife Pat Sullivan renovated an historic downtown Spokane warehouse, creating six residential lofts two gallery spaces, and Jim’s office. They have now lived there for 20 years, and operate the Kolva Sullivan Gallery. Kolva and Sullivan are also avid collectors and supporters of contemporary art.

Kolva has served on several local boards, including president of the Spokane Plan Commission, and chairman of the city Landmarks Commission. Besides serving on the WSU Spokane Advisory Committee, he is presently on the Spokane Arts Commission and was a member of the committee to build the new art museum on the Pullman campus.

Kolva has also served on the boards of the Archie Bray Foundation, Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and Fox Theater. He is a past board member of the Downtown Spokane Partnership.

Kolva earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University before serving in the Air Force as a navigator. He served a combat tour in Southeast Asia and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal. After serving his military duty, Kolva returned to Spokane to complete a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning at Eastern Washington University and to pursue his career in land use consulting.

Tom Reese
Spokane Branch Manager, URS Corporation

picture of Tom ReeseTom Reese is the Spokane branch manager for URS Corporation , which provides engineering, construction, and technical services to public agencies and private sector companies around the world.

Previously, he was director of business development for Lydig Construction, a large general contractor based in Spokane; principal and founder of The Reese Group, LLC, a land development and planning consultancy; associate principal at AHBL, a multi-disciplinary design, planning and engineering firm in Spokane, Seattle, and Tacoma; and project director for Black Rock Development, where he oversaw the 80-acre, $150M Kendall Yards mixed-use development project. He also served as economic development advisor in the Office of the Mayor and as urban designer for the City of Spokane Planning Department.

Reese currently serves on the Greater Spokane Incorporated Public Policy Council, Northeast Area Economic Development Council, Friends of the Falls Board, Downtown Rotary 21, Active4Youth Board, and the EWU Foundation Board Real Estate Committee. He previously served as president of Friends of the Falls and was on the March of Dimes Board, Downtown Business Improvement District Board, and Eastern Washington State Historical Society Board. He was also a member of the executive committee that led various city planning initiatives.

Reese has a bachelor of science in landscape architecture from Cal Poly and a master of arts in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University.

Susan Stacey
Chief Nursing Officer, Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center

susan-stacey-for-webSusan Stacey is the Chief Nursing Officer at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children’s hospital.  In this role she oversees patient care in all areas of the hospital including the emergency and trauma services, adult critical care, adult acute care, women’s services, psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital.

Susan has worked for Providence for more than 30 years as a clinical bedside nurse, nurse manager, and most recently prior to her current job as CNO, was the Executive Director of the Children’s Hospital.  She currently sits on the board of directors for the March of Dimes, Partners with Families and Children, and the Northwest Organization of Nurse Executives.

Susan is a 1985 graduate of WSU with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing and has an MBA with a healthcare administration certification from the University of Phoenix.

Amber Waldref
Former Spokane City Council Member

Amber WaldrefAmber Waldref represents District 1 for the Spokane City Council. In that role, she has been a member of the Spokane Transit Authority Board, the chairs of the Board of Health, Public Works Committee and the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

In 2003, Waldref began working for The Lands Council, a local nonprofit striving to protect forests, water, wildlife and people’s health in the Inland Northwest. She specifically focused her efforts on protecting the Spokane River and working to keep Spokane’s children safe from toxics in our environment.

Waldref is a graduate of Gonzaga Prep High School and Georgetown University. She is supported in everything she does by her chemistry teacher husband, Tom Flanagan, and their two daughters, Karolina and Nora.