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State's Stars

  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Spring 2012

Felix L. Armfield, PhD ’98, professor of history at Buffalo State College, has published Eugene Kinckle Jones: The National Urban League and Black Social Work, 1910-1940 (University of Illinois Press, 2012), the story of professionalization of black social work in America, a story that coincided with the Great Migration of African Americans to northern urban centers. Arm field previously wrote Black Life in West Central Illinois (Arcadia Publishing, 2001).

Peg West, ’91, local news editor of the Grand Rapids Press, has been named the interim editor of the Muskegon Chronicle. West worked 19 years at the Grand Rapids Press, beginning her career in the Holland Bureau as an education and township reporter. She went on to be the Newspaper’s assistant sports editor, courts and crime editor, night editor and police reporter. While a student at MSU, West was the editor of the student newspaper, the State News.

Dick Taylor, ’38, a businessman and philanthropist in Mans field, OH, has been honored with the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Chairman’s Award for his long-standing commitment to community service. Taylor, president of Taylor Metal Products Co., has been a longtime supporter of the YMCA, and the Taylor Family Wellness Center was named in honor of him and his family. Taylor served on the Dream Team committee that led the recent Rehab Center capital campaign that successfully raised the needed money to renovate the building and purchase new equipment.

Melanie Hemmer, ’01, safety director at Divane Bros. Electric, Franklin Park, has been named one of “100 Women Making a Difference in Safety” by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Women in Safety Engineering (WISE) Common Interest Group. Her role at Divane requires implementing 90 percent of the company’s safety programs. A member of ASSE and WISE, Hemmer also chairs the safety committee for the Association of Subcontractors and Affiliates and is a member of the National Safety Council and the Board of Certified Safety Professionals.

Maurice Jenkins, ’76, managing partner of Jackson Lewis LLP, Detroit, has been named as a “Best Lawyer” and as a 2011 Super Lawyer. Jenkins is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a member of the American Bar Association, the Michigan State Bar Association and the Wolverine Bar Association.He serves on the MSU College of Law Board of Trustees and on the faculty of the State Bar of Michigan Institute of Continuing Legal Education. Jenkins is a member of the Presidents Club.

Stepheni Schlinker, ’91, has been named the chief of staff and press secretary of Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., Lansing.Schlinker held a variety of communication positions, including media and public relations advisor for Accident Fund Holdings, Inc., communications director for AARP Michigan, public relations director for the Michigan Dept. of Human Services, public relations director for the Michigan Lottery, public policy communications Manager for the Michigan Association of Realtors and communications specialist for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 951.

Seth Drucker, ’93, has been named partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, Detroit. He attended law school a er working for nine years as an automotive development engineer at GM and Ford. In addition to his current practice, Drucker is an active participant in the  firm’s pro-bono program, providing legal services to under-represented individuals. He was recognized as a Michigan Super Lawyer “Rising Star.” Drucker is an MSUAA Life Member.

John A. Coakley, ’00,   h grade educator at Hillsdale Community Schools, has been named president of the Lansing Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.As a stake president, he will be a minister and administrator to over 10 bishops and branch presidents and their congregations in the eight counties surrounding the Lansing Area. Coakley was selected under the direction of two church seventies, or authorities, who came to Michigan from Utah and New York.

Julie Fasone Holder, ’75, has been elected to the board of directors of the Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, TN. In 2009, she retired from Dow Chemical Co., Midland, as a senior vice president, chief marketing and sales reputation officer. She joined Dow in their sales department and quickly moved into management positions.A er Dow, she founded JFH Insights LLC, a consulting  rm dedicated to leadership coaching for high potential women executives.
Holder is a member of the Beaumont Tower Society and is an MSUAA Life Member.

Jay Farner, ’95, president of quicken Loans Inc., Detroit, has been named to the 2011 Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40” class. Farner began his career with Rock Financial, now quicken Loans. He started as a mortgage banker, then was promoted to director of Mortgage Banking and was later named vice president of Web Mortgage Banking. Farner played a key role in establishing quicken as the largest online lender in the country.He supports Bizdom U and is a member of the board of directors at Cellerant, Sociocast, ePrize and Protect America and is a member of the Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Marketing Committee.

Scott Wagasky, ’86, has been named vice president and market manager for the East Lansing office of Tri-Star Trust Bank, Saginaw.Prior to joining Tri-Star, he was a principal and director of Business Development for Grand Rapids-based AMBS Investment Counsel, LLC.Wagasky serves on the Stewardship Committee of First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven and the Public Policy Committee of the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce.He is president of the Lake Michigan Estate Planning Council.

Kathryn Ossian, ’80, principal and leader of Miller Can field’s Information Technology and Cyberlaw Section, Detroit, was honored as a 2012 Women in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.Ossian is a certified advanced Facilitator at the University of Phoenix where she teaches graduate level business law courses. She is listed in the Information Technology Law Section of  e Best Lawyers in America, as well as Michigan Super Lawyers. She is a frequent speaker and has published several articles related to her areas of practice. Ossian is a member of the Presidents Club.

Randall Gross, ’03, director of the Office of Policy and Legislative A airs for the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Equality, has joined ITC Holdings Corp. as manager of State Governmental A airs for Michigan. Gross, director of Environmental and Regulatory Policy for the Michigan Manufacturers Association, was a regulatory analyst at ITC, and was deputy House Republican Legal Counsel/Policy advisor.In his new position, Gross will be ITC’s primary interface with state government officials. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the American Bar Association.

Jennifer Kluge, ’93, president and CEO of the Michigan Business & Professional Association (MBPA) and Michigan Food & Beverage Association (MFBA), is the recipient of Vistage Michigan’s 2011 Soaring Eagle Award. A resident of Grosse Pointe, Kluge helped the MBPA become one of the largest trade associations in the Midwest. Kluge launched the National Association for Business Resources (NABR), Detroit, and acquired the local business magazine, Corp!. Kluge has been Named to Crain’s Detroit Business “40 Under 40.” She is an MSUAA Life Member.

David Schroeder, ’82, of Suburban Inns, Grand Rapids, has been named the company’s director of operations.Previously he spent 11 years with Larkin Hotels, the largest Holiday Inn franchise in the world, where he was a regional director responsible for 16 hotels in  five states.Schroeder was previously manager of the Midland Country Club and director of club operations for the Resorts of Tullymore & St. Ives.He is a member of the Beaumont Tower Society and is an MSUAA Life Member.

Karen Morris, ’84, senior vice president of Human Resources at Meijer, Inc., Grand Rapids, has been inducted into the MSU School of Criminal Justice Hall of Fame.Karen has 25 years of experience in human resources, including a stint as vice president of human resources for Tyco International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts.She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids; YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids; United Methodist Community House and Nokomis Foundation.

Bret Schapman, ’99, operator of Ingleside Farms, Almont, is the 2011 winner of Michigan Farm Bureau’s (MFB) Outstanding Young Agricultural Leader Award.He oversees recordkeeping as a state- certified operator of a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, and was instrumental in helping the farm become verified In the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program. Schapman serves as VP and Farmers CARE chairperson within the Macomb County Farm Bureau and serves as a member of the Michigan Beef Industry Commission. He is an MSUAA Life Member.

Deanna Fell, ’93, has recently been named the vice president of commercialization at Mary Kay, Inc., Dallas, TX. In the last 10 years, Fell has served in various management positions with Mary Kay. In 2008, Fell was named Mary Kay, Inc.’s “Leader of the Year.” Previously, she held manufacturing and engineering positions at Frito Lay and Pepsi.She is a member of Philanthropic Educational Organization Sisterhood and the Foundation for Women’s Resources.

Steven Warach, ’76, a neurologist and senior investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Dallas, TX, has been named founding executive director of the Seton/UT Southwestern Clinical Research Institute in Austin, TX. Warach has been at the NIH since 1999 as a senior investigator and is also the chief of the Section on Stroke Diagnosis and therapeutics at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Kathryn Kosko, ’10, a teacher at Marshall Upper Elementary School in Wayne-Westland Community Schools, was named 2010-2011 National Student Teacher of the Year by Kappa Delta Pi and the Association of Teacher Educators.She was also named Michigan Student Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Association of Teacher Educators. Kosko completed her student teaching internship at Gompers Elementary, Detroit.At MSU, she was active with the University Activities Board and served as a Spartan Ambassador.Kosko was in the Honors College and a member of the 2009 Homecoming Court.

Will Wiest, ’96, has been named director of sales and marketing for the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, FL.Prior to his new position, Wiest was director of sales for the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, CA.Previously he served as director of group sales, and also held leadership positions in Ritz-Carlton properties in Rancho Mirage and Pasadena, CA, and Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii.Before joining the Ritz-Carlton in 2002, Wiest held various management positions at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.

State’s Stars Submissions:

MSU Alumni Magazine Spartan Way 535 Chestnut Rd., Room 300 East Lansing, MI 48824 or All entries are subject to editorial review.State’s Stars


Ron Linton, ’51, was named chairman of the Washington, DC Taxicab Commission.

Alice M. (Pritchard) Proctor, ’57, of Lima, OH, was erroneously listed in the obituaries section.

Bonnie Knutson, MSU professor of hospitality business, was formerly chair of the MSU Alumni Association’s national alumni board.