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Eleven ISU alumni honored with 2017 Professional Achievement Awards

April 10, 2017

POCATELLO – Eleven Idaho State University alumni will be honored with ISU 2017 Professional Achievement Awards at ISU Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 6, in Holt Arena.

Professional Achievement Award recipients are alumni who have made important contributions to their careers or profession, to the social, political or economic well being of the world around them and have shown continued community and civic involvement in addition to their association with and contributions to ISU. Individuals selected for these prestigious awards have been out of school at least 10 years and have excelled in their chosen field, attaining significant success and accomplishments.

Professional Achievement Award recipients for 2017 are: David “Chris” Carlson, from Medimont, College of Arts and Letters ­– Fine Arts and Humanities; Dr. Paul M. Miller, Somerset, New Jersey, College of Arts and Letters – Social and Behavioral Sciences; Galo Medina, Hollywood, California, College of Arts and Letters – General Studies; Gary L. Long, Inkom, College of Science and Engineering – Natural and Physical Sciences; Hernan R. Rendon, Turmero Aragua, Venezuela, College of Technology; Jack Walker, Grand Junction, Colorado, College of Pharmacy; Laura Lou Hill, Garden City, College of Education; M. Michele Pond-Bell, Pocatello, Nursing; Mindy Stosich-Benedetti, Pocatello, Kasiska Division of Health Sciences; Reed N. Brimhall, Meridian, College of Business; and Robert D. Boston, Blackfoot, College of Science and Engineering – Engineering.

Biographies of the winners follow.

Chris Carlson portrait• David “Chris” Carlson, Medimont, College of Arts and Letters – Fine Arts and Humanities: The eldest son of two school teachers, Carlson was born in Kellogg, but his family moved to the Idaho Falls area when he was 5 and then relocated to the Spokane Valley at the age of 10. He graduated from Central Valley High School in 1965. Carlson obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature with a minor in comparative religions from Columbia University in three years by attending summer school at Idaho State. Carlson taught eighth- and ninth-grade classes at Kootenai Junior/Senior High School near Harrison and coached the junior varsity basketball team in 1968-69.

He returned to ISU in the fall of 1969 to pursue his master’s degree in English literature. During this time, he taught two sessions of freshman composition each semester. He was employed as the political and education reporter at the Idaho State Journal. Following his graduation from ISU in 1970, he continued his journalism career working for the Spokane Daily Chronicle, freelanced for the weekly Intermountain Observer, became chief correspondent in Washington, D.C. for the Anchorage Daily News and started writing a weekly political column. Two years later, he began his life-long association with Idaho Gov. Cecil D. Andrus as his press secretary and the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Public Affairs when Andrus became Interior Secretary.

Carlson has served on the Northwest Planning Council, vice-president of The Rockey Company, public relations firm, vice-president of public affairs for Kaiser Aluminum and founded the Gallatin Group, an independent public affairs firm. Carlson has penned four acclaimed books – “Cecil Andrus: Idaho’s Greatest Governor,” “Medimont Reflections,” “Eye on the Caribou” and “Mass in Hell: The Story of Hells Canyon and its Saviors.” He and his wife Marcia have four children and two grandchildren.

Paul Miller portrait.• Dr. Paul M. Miller, Somerset, New Jersey, College of Arts and Letters – Social and Behavioral Sciences: Paul M. Miller earned his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration in 1970 from The Ohio State University, a Master of Science degree in experimental psychology from ISU in 1978, and Ph.D. in educational psychology in 1985 from the University of Utah. Miller has worked as a statistical analyst at the Office of the President, University of Utah, the Office of Institutional Research at Rutgers University and as a technology manager and curriculum analyst in the private sector for New Century Education Corporation, an educational software company producing a K-10 computer managed curriculum. He served an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University and is currently associate professor of educational measurement in the Department of Administrative and Instructional Leadership at St. John's University.Miller has published more than 20 articles in refereed journals and has presented more than 40 papers at professional conferences. He has served as a guest reviewer for a number of journals including Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes and the American Educational Research Journal. Miller's primary research interests are school-based data analysis and data-driven decision making, and the influence of personal characteristics and decision-specific factors on the choices of decision makers.

Miller and his wife Nancy provide support for graduate student development and research training in the ISU Department of Psychology. This long-standing commitment to ISU students demonstrates his clear value of higher education and research training for students.

Galo Medina portrait.• Galo Medina, Hollywood, California, College of Arts and Letters – General Studies: Medina graduated from ISU with his Bachelor of Arts degree in general studies in 2000. As an undergraduate student, he was active in student government serving as chair for the Associated Students of ISU Finance Committee and organized and ran a successful campaign for ASISU president. Following his graduation, Medina returned to his native California and began his career as a financial advisor for John Hancock. At the same time, he continued his education and obtained his master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University.

After four years with John Hancock, Medina started his own firm, Comprehensive Financial Services, an investment firm that offers a variety of services to help clients plan their future. He has earned his Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor and Certified Senior Advisor designations, founded and is the director for the Los Angeles Chapter of Advisors for his broker-dealer, HD Vest. Medina is a sought-after speaker on various financial topics.

Giving back has always been important to Medina. In 2011, he helped open an art gallery in Los Angeles, the Co-Lab Gallery which is a studio focused on local artists, allowing them to show and sell their art. He has also served for many years as a Chaplain of high-powered inmates of the Los Angeles County Jail. In 2015, Medina established the Galo Medina endowment at ISU to assist students from varying backgrounds in any course of study. Medina serves on several boards of directors in the Los Angeles area, including the Hollywood Business Improvement District. Medina and his wife Robyn live in Los Angeles and have three children.

Gary Long portrait.• Gary L. Long, Inkom, College of Science and Engineering, Natural and Physical Sciences: Born in Twin Falls and graduating in 1968 from Hansen High School, Long attended ISU but traveled home by bus each spring to plant crops on a farm he leased near his family farm, until he was hired by JR Simplot as an analytical lab technician in 1970. He worked nights at this job and attended ISU during the day. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry in 1973 and was hired as a research chemist at the Simplot Pocatello phosphate manufacturing facility.

During the next 10 years, Long was the co-inventor of four patents, one which remains the standard process for making phosphate animal feed. In 1981 he became production supervisor at the Pocatello plant and in 1985 became the production supervisor over Simplot’s ammonia and nitric acid production facilities in Brandon Manitoba Canada. He returned to Idaho, served as director of research and development, production superintendent for the Don Plant, vice-president of wholesale marketing, vice-president of manufacturing until taking early retirement in 2000.

Long returned to ISU to obtain his teaching certificate in chemistry, physics and math, which resulted in a position teaching at Idaho Falls High School. He found these three years to be the most rewarding of his adult life, reflecting on his own high school teacher, Mrs. Rand and the impact she had on his career. In 2008, Long started again on his master’s degree in chemistry and completed it in 2008. He was again hired by Simplot as a consultant and was also an adjunct professor at ISU teaching chemistry. Teaching continues to be personally rewarding to Long when he sees student succeed by putting the pieces of chemistry knowledge together into a more complete understanding of the science.

Long and his wife Kristi have three grown daughters and one in junior high school. They enjoy water and snow skiing, golf, boating and traveling.

Hernan Rendon portrait• Hernan R. Rendon, Turmero Aragua, Venezuela, College of Technology: Born in Caracas, Venezuela, the oldest of two sons, Rendon attended elementary and high school in Venezuela, graduating in July 1980. He co-founded school bands in elementary and high school and played the mandolin, the cuatro (Venezuelan Ukulele) and conducted.

He came to ISU to study English at the American Language Academy (ALA) in March 1981. Scoring more than 520 points on the TOEFL test, he was admitted into the Diesel Mechanic Program and specialized in construction equipment and diesel electric in the College of Technology. An internship was required to complete the program, and Rendon was hired by Valley Detroit Diesel Allison (VDDA) out of City of Industry California, working as a test technician. He received his Associates of Applied Science degree in 1984. With graduation, his student visa expired and Hernan returned to Venezuela. In 1990, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from “Instituto Politecnico de Las Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales” in Venezuela.

In 1991, Rendon was hired by Schlumberger, an oil company that sent him to Argentina as an oil field engineer. During the oil crisis in the Middle East, all oil field engineers were sent to Venezuela, as it could elevate oil production and compensate for the shortage of oil. He started his own company, Energy Systems and Engineering, S.A. now known as “Sistemas de Energia, S.A. The company is an electrical generator service company, distributing generator parts, solid manufacturer of control panels, automatic transfer switches and paralleling switchgear. The company has offices in Venezuela and Panama and may have one in North America by 2020. Rendon is married to Raquel Barreto and has two daughters, Valeria, 17, and Vanessa, 12.

Jack Walker portrait.• Jack Walker, Grand Junction, Colorado, College of Pharmacy: Walker graduated from ISU in 1955 with his Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy.

Shortly after starting his pharmacy career, he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug and in 1958 purchased three Walgreen’s Agency stores in Colorado and Utah.

His company grew into a 12-store chain in the 1960s and 1970s. Walker gradually divested all but one, which he still operates, his store in Moab, Utah.Walker has repurposed, remerchandised this store and renamed it Walker Drug and General Store with Express Grocery.

Ever the entrepreneur, he has long been an advocate of the POS (point of sale) technology, which has enabled he and his staff to organize this facility to meet their customer’s needs efficiently and effectively. Walker has very successfully combined his love of pharmacy with serving the needs of his Moab community.

Walker has been a member and vocal participant in both professional pharmacy and industry trade organizations. He joined NARD (now NCPA) in 1967 and Affiliated/Associated Drugstores (now DDMA) in 1974.

He has been a board member since 1998 and served as chairman from 2009 until early 2014.



Laura Hill portrait.• Laura Lou Hill, Garden City, College of Education: Originally from Jerome, Hill graduated from ISU in 1983 with her bachelor’s degree in both secondary education and health education. She obtained her master’s degree from St. Mary College in Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1998. She was selected as the assistant director of Cyber Security for the U.S. Forest Service in 2016. Previously, she served in several Washington Office leadership positions. She had a 23-year career as an Army Signal Corps Officer, retiring in 2004.

Hill was deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Guard and was responsible for the preparation and combat deployment of more than 130 major items of communication equipment and 260 personnel. As chief, Operations Center, Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Ft. Belvoir, 2001, she was responsible for providing emergency response communications in support of the terrorist events of Sept. 11, 2001. Hill assumed command of the Washington Area Communications Command, White House Communications Agency, entrusted with responsibility for one of the highest profile communications positions in the Department of Defense.

She has been recognized with many military awards including the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the White House Presidential Service Badge. She is currently serving as a formally appointed VA Secretary appointed advisory board member for the Readjustment of Combat Veterans, and chair of the Idaho State University Veterans Advisory Board. Hill is married to Lt. Col. (retired) Bart J. Hill, director of information technology for the Idaho Catholic Diocese, currently residing with their yellow lab Anni, in Boise.

Michelle Pond-Bell portrait• M. Michele Pond-Bell, Pocatello, Nursing: The daughter of Mary T. Pond and the late Earl R. Pond, Michele is married to Ned Bell and the proud mother of Christian Bell and grandson Everett Bell. Pond-Bell, and her entire family have a long history and legacy with Idaho State University.Pond-Bell is currently employed as the nurse administrator at Intermountain Healthcare Cassia Regional Hospital in Burley, Idaho for the past 6-1/2 years. Prior to this, she was affiliated with Pocatello Regional Medical Center/ Portneuf Medical Center, St. Anthony Community Hospital, all in Pocatello and LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.

Pond-Bell received her Bachelor of Arts degree in university studies in psychology and sociology from ISU in 1978 and her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 1978. She received her Master of Business Administration degree in health administration in 2007 from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Pond-Bell has lifelong affiliations with ISU. She has been a member of the ISU Alumni Association since 1978, Gamma Phi Beta Social Sorority since 1978, served on the ISU Alumni Association Board of Directors 1994-1999, ISU Alumni Board president 1997-98, ex-officio member of the ISU Alumni and Visitors Center Cabinet, member of the ISU Bengal Foundation, ISU Medicine Ball Committee member and ISU Steering Committee for Pond Student Union 50th Anniversary Celebration.

She has been recognized by the ISU Foundation in the Jade and Garnet Societies of Gem Legacy and multiple career service awards. She is affiliated with the Idaho Nurses Association, American Nurses Association, American Organization of Nurse Executives, Idaho Alliance of Leaders in Nursing, ISU Department of Nursing Adjunct Faculty member, College of Southern Idaho Department of Nursing Advisory Council.

Pond-Bell is an active volunteer for community, university and church events. She enjoys family activities, traveling, photography, cross-stitch and scrapbooking.

Mindy Stosich-Benedetti portrait.• Mindy Stosich-Benedetti, Pocatello, Kasiska Division of Health Sciences: Stosich-Benedetti became the CEO of Health West in 2014, leading the organization in a new era of growth, sustainability and health care advancement. She oversees eight medical clinics, a dental clinic, a team of behavioral health providers and all the supporting personnel required to run a thriving health care organization operating in seven cities and four counties in southeast Idaho. She has been with Health West for more than 11 years. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration from ISU in 2006 followed by her Master of Business Administration degree in business administration.

Stosich-Benedetti is an accomplished leader, having participated in Leadership Pocatello 2011-12 and Facilitator in 2012, recognized as one of the recipients of the Idaho State Journal’s 20 Under 40 award in 2016, was awarded an Emerging Leader Award from the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services Geiger Gibson Program in Community Health Policy.

Her professional affiliations include National Association of Community Health Centers, North West Regional Primary Care Association, Idaho Primary Care Association, Medical Group Management Association and American College of Healthcare Executives.

Her civic affiliations include Portneuf Rotary, Medical Group Management Association- Member, Idaho Primary Care Association board member, Community Health Center Network of Idaho board member, GMEC board member, Great Rift Gate Way to Health board member and Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce member.

Reed Brimhall portrait.• Reed N. Brimhall, Meridian, College of Business: Brimhall became Chief Financial Officer of Scentsy, Inc. in 2015. Prior to this position, Brimhall served as chief accounting officer of several public companies including URS Corporation, Inc. in San Francisco, senior vice president and controller of Washington Group International, Inc. in Boise. While the director of the Office of Government Cost and Rate Studies as Accounting Controller at Stanford University, Brimhall was the key figure in a landmark case in higher education finances.Brimhall obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in accounting from ISU in 1978 with very high honors. Brimhall is a Certified Public Accountant in Idaho, Oregon and previously in New Mexico. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Idaho Society of CPAs and the Institute of Internal Auditors. He has served as the chair, Faculty Advisory Board for the ISU College of Business 1999-2001 and a member from 1995-2003. He has also been a member and served on the board of directors of Idaho Virtual Academy.

He has been actively involved with the College of Business over the years. He was named Accountant of the Year in the College of Business in 1998, and served as keynote speaker for the ISU College of Business Accounting Symposium in 2014.

Brimhall and his wife Brook, opened Boise Bricks and Minifigs in Boise in 2016, offering a place for children to build and play with Legos and miniature figures. They are the owners of this franchise, but it is operated by their entire family.

 Robert Boston portrait.• Robert D. Boston, Blackfoot, College of Science and Engineering – Engineering: Following his graduation from high school, Boston enlisted in the U.S. (Nuclear) Navy and served 12 years on active duty. After enrolling in the engineering program at ISU in 1990 he received his Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1994. He spent 10 more years in the Naval Reserves, retiring after 22 years of service. While at ISU, he became licensed as a senior reactor operator by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, serving in that post for three years until completing his master’s degree. He then joined Lockheed Martin Advanced Environmental Systems. He joined the Idaho Operations Office of the Department of Energy in 1999.

Boston is the Deputy Manager Operations Support. Chief Operating Officer of the Idaho Operations Office of the US Department of Energy. His office has oversight of the operations of the Idaho National laboratory. Boston has had a career covering 18 years with the Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office, nine of which as the team leader for the Advanced Test Reactor Complex. He currently has oversight on work to restart the TREAT Reactor.

Boston is licensed as both a Professional Engineer (Nuclear) and Certified Health Physicist and one of very few in the nation with this dual certification. He has maintained a close connection to ISU as a member of ISU’s Nuclear Engineering program and Reactor Safety Committee, performing annual audits, giving instructional lectures and seminars on many occasions. He served on the Engineering Advisory Board and the ISU Health Physics Advisory Board and was selected as the Outstanding Engineer for the ISU Department of Engineering in 2015.