Alumni Board Members

alena dubinski akins

Alena Dubinski Akins

Alena Dubinski Akins '99 resides in Gurnee, Illinois. A WWU board member since 2013, she was raised in Columbia, Mo., and visited the campus frequently with her father, who was a faculty member. Alena hold a B.A. degree in biology with minors in physical science and psychology, with an M.A. degree in secondary education from University of Phoenix. She has been employed by Abbott Laboratories in north suburban Chicago since graduating from WWU and is currently an operations manager in the diagnostics division. In this role she is responsible for worldwide production of testing supplies needed to ensure that more than two-thirds of the world's donated blood is safe and free from viruses that may cause disease. She is a certified manager of quality/organizational excellence through the American Society of Quality and and active member of Diagnostic Women in Action. Alena is a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and participates in the Lake Community, Ill., alumnae chapter, Iota Lambda Iota, serving a membership chair in previous years. Alena and her husband, Tim, have three young boy, Caleb, Colton, and Jonas.

Lisa Burke

Lisa Burke '11 lives in Louisburg, Kan. A William Woods Alumni board member since 2013, Lisa hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications, with an emphasis in public speaking, and a minor in American Sign Language. Lisa is a major gifts officer for the United Way of Greater Kansas City, where she has worked since July 2011. While at WWU, Lisa was chapter president of Alpha Chi Omega sorority, a phonathon caller, a University Ambassador, and a founding member of the WWU Dance Team. Lisa's professional affiliations include United Way of Greater Kansas City Income Mobilization Impact Council, Young Leader's Society, Kansas City Chamber, KC Steering Committee, and Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. She has continued her involvement with Alpha Chi Omega as an adviser for the Phi chapter at the University of Kansas and the Delta Chi chapter at WWU. She also serves as the Missouri State Chair for the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation. Lisa and Rich welcomed their daughter, Charlotte Grace, September 28, 2013.

molly hanley

Molly McTaggart Hanley '05

Molly McTaggart Hanley '05 lives in Mexico, Missouri.  A WWU Alumni Board member since 2011, Molly holds a BA degree in Accounting and Business Administration from William Woods.  Molly graduated in four years with 150 hours and passed the CPA exam in 2007.  She is a senior staff accountant with MHC Certified Public Accountants working in the areas of tax and auditing.  Molly's professional and civic affiliations include: The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Mexico Area Jaycees (board member), and Altrusa International (secretary).  While at WWU, Molly was a member of Alpha ChI Omega, President's Twenty, Student Alumni Council, Order of Omega, and Phi Beta Lambda.  Molly and her husband Josh (WC '02) have two children.

Claire Burghart Hodge '66

Claire Burghart Hodge '66 lives in Hinsdale, Illinois. She was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Claire graduated from William Woods with AA and BS degrees in education. She taught 2nd grade in Overland Park, Kansas and Topeka, Kansas. She earned an MS from Kansas University. She served as President of KU Dames. She moved to Illinois in 1971 and lives in the Hinsdale area. Claire has 2 married daughters, and one grandson. Claire was a member of the Junior League of Chicago where she served as treasurer and was recognized as outstanding volunteer. She was a board member of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago's Clarendon Hills chapter. She was named one of the Outstanding Young Women of America. She worked as an administrator of the Hinsdale Science Center. She served as a tutor, a softball coach, a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, and was active in the WWC Chicago Alumni group, serving as an officer. She is active in her church and pursues her many interests, including gardening, working out, traveling, reading, family, friends, and her dog, Ellie. She enjoys finding old friends, like WWC roommate Gail Kurtz, and enjoys giving back to the college that helped make her the person she is today.

Margaret Holmquist '87

Margaret Holmquist '87 grew up in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, and has lived in Dallas, Texas, since 1997. She joined the Alumni Board in April, 2010. Margaret holds a BS degree in Home Economics with a concentration in Clothing & Textiles and a minor in Business Administration. While at William Woods, she was an active member of Alpha Chi Omega Sorority and served as a Panhellenic Council delegate, which included managing the publication of the campus sorority rush manual. She was also involved in the Big Brother-Big Sister Organization and Young Republicans. Margaret worked for the Metropolitan Water District where she assisted the program manager of the largest reservoir construction project in southern California. She was an active member of the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce and participated in the dedication of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Since 1994, Margaret has been responsible for the care of her elderly parents. Margaret works at Right Management and is the executive assistant to the executive and managing director of sales and marketing. She is secretary of the William Woods Dallas Area Alumni Board and has planned and hosted various special events to get members actively involved. Margaret has been a member of the Junior League of Dallas and continues to enjoy volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House.

Meredith Varnell Leslie '95

Meredith Varnell Leslie ’95 lives in Vandalia, Ohio. Meredith, who joined the William Woods University Alumni Board in 2011, holds a B.A. in marketing management and a minor in equestrian science from WWU. Meredith works in Human Resources for Procter and Gamble Pet Care, proud manufacturers of Iams, Eukanuba and Natura pet foods. She is the past president of Public Relations Society of America, Dayton Area Chapter. Meredith is involved with various local community and service organizations including the Alpha Phi alumnae association, the Humane Society of Greater Dayton and the Vandalia, Ohio Parks and Recreation 2020 Strategic Planning Committee. She enjoys spending time with her dogs, cooking, gardening and skiing. While at WWU, Meredith was an active member of Alpha Phi Sorority, Paddock Club and Dressage Club. Meredith and her husband are the proud parents of a son, Andrew.

cassie doepke kunkel

Cassie Doepke Kunkel

Cassie Doepke Kunkel '82 lives in Lee's Summit, Mo. A new member to the WWU alumni board, she holds a B.A. degree in business administration from William Woods University. Cassie was active in her sorority, Chi Omega. Her father, Bud Doepke, is an honorary board member and established a scholarship at WWU in 1984 in recognition of his wife, Jody, a '55 graduate and two daughters, Sherri Tearney '78 and Cassie '82. Cassie and her husband own CK Enterprises in Lee's Summit, Mo., which manufacturers over 800 different chemical products that are shipped worldwide. Cassie and Charlie enjoy boating at the Lake of the Ozarks and spending time with family and friends.

Gail Emmons Kurtz '66

Gail Emmons Kurtz '66 lives in Fulton, Missouri. Gail, a WWU Alumni Board member since 2008, holds a BS in Elementary Education from William Woods. Gail is a teacher in central Missouri and is excited to become active with her alma mater, having returned to Missouri from living in Florida. Gail has specialized in treating and coordinating the successful treatment for Learning Disabilities (LD) for many years. She was a teacher for 20 years in both Central Missouri and Central Florida public schools. Gail has been involved in local, state and national levels of the Learning Disabilities Association of America (LDA). She was the President of the State of Florida LDA, and President of the nationwide LDA Presidents' group. She has served on the National LDA Board of Directors. Gail is a member of the International Dyslexia Association, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD) and the National Institute for Learning Disabilities (NILD). Gail started the Kurtz Center for Cognitive Development in 1986, in an effort to provide treatment which would actually remediate the various types of Learning Disabilities. Over the years, she and her husband found and developed programs which would both remediate and prevent these very significant difficulties. Gail serves as a member of the Fulton Colleges Board of Associates.

susan lowry

Susan Werbach Lowry '91

Susan Werbach Lowry '91 lives in Jefferson City, Missouri. Susan, a WWU Alumni Board member since 2010, holds a B.A. degree in elementary education from William Woods. Susan is currently the director of Donor Relations at the University of Missouri. Among her responsibilities are the management of the University's donor acknowledgement and stewardship practices, MU's major donor giving society, the Jefferson Club and staffing its thirty-member board of trustees. Susan also oversees donor recognition and event programming. She started her career in higher education at WWU upon graduation. Susan worked in the Admissions and Financial Aid offices as well as the Director of Alumni Activities before leaving her alma mater. In 1999, Susan began work with the MU Alumni Association which lead to her current position in MU's Office of Development. Her professional affiliations include: Counsel for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and Association of Donor Relations Professionals (ADRP). As a student, Susan's involvement included: Kappa Delta Pi (honorary education), Order of Omega (Greek leadership society) and her sorority, Chi Omega. She is a P.E.O member, a member of the University Club Board of Directors and serves as advisor for the William Woods Chi Omega chapter. Susan and her husband, Kent, have one daughter.

Jody McFarland head shot

Jody Allemenos McFarland '69, '00

Jody returned to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2002 after having lived all over the United States while married and raising her daughter Stephanie (Canty) '97 and son, Alex. During the many moves from one end of the country to the other, she always managed to look up former college friends and reconnect. It was with great pride that her daughter also choose William Woods. She had the opportunity to return to Williams Woods and complete her college requirements and graduate in 2000. She is currently a claim manager for Travelers Insurance and specializes in workers compensation catastrophic injuries. In her spare time, she travels mostly to visit Stephanie and family in Exeter, New Hampshire and Alex and family in Columbia Missouri. She is a Stephens Minister, leads a book club and enjoys life. She is thrilled to be able to serve on the Alumni Board.

gwen mersky

Gwen Erickson Mersky '72

Gwen Erickson Mersky '72 calls Excelsior, Minnesota her permanent home. She attended William Woods for two years and has been an Alumni Board member since 2004. Gwen received her Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri. Her best memories of her time at William Woods are the long-term, ongoing friendships she developed and the experience of working on the Green Owl newsletter. Gwen served as the reunion chair for the 1972 class. She is a change management consultant focusing on communications. Gwen's interests include anything animal related and golf. She and her husband had their first hole-in-one in May 2008.

Amy Orr Michel '87

Amy Orr Michel '87 lives in Des Moines, Iowa. She joined the Alumni Board in April of 2010. She is a native of Carthage, Missouri. Amy graduated from William Woods with a B.S. degree in home economics. She earned an A.A. in interior architecture from Harrington School of Interior Design in Chicago in 1990. While at the Woods, Amy was on the volleyball team and was employed full time at Missouri State School for the Deaf. Amy moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and worked as a commercial interior designer before becoming a commercial real estate broker. She served as a local board member for International Facility Management Association (IFMA), and international board member for the Computer Application Council of IFMA. She taught Computer Aided Facility Management at Woodbury University in Burbank, California. She moved to Scottsdale in 2000 where she joined Wells Fargo & Co as vice president for Corporate Properties Group managing in-house real estate where she is currently employed today. Amy enjoys traveling with her husband, Jeff, book club with friends, collecting fine wine, and consulting for home staging and remodeling. She is alumni coordinator for the William Woods Des Moines Area Alumni Board.



Suzie Swyden

Suzie Swyden '77

Suzie Swyden '77, lives in Leawood, Kansas. She joined the Alumni Board in 2009.  She has lived in the Kansas City area since graduating from William Woods with a B.A. in business administration.  After college, she joined a start-up industrial air pollution control company called BHA Group, Inc. headquartered in Kansas City, (later acquired by GE Energy).  What started as a marketing position evolved into a 30-year career in the information technology field, where she held various leadership and executive positions.  After three decades with the same company and eager for change and new challenges, Suzie left the company to become an independent technology and business consultant.  Today she provides small, medium, and large technology support and IT management services.

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