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Idaho State University Announces Professional Achievement Award Winners

April 8, 2024

The ISU Alumni Association has announced the 2024 Professional Achievement Award recipients: Valorie Watkins, Brent Manning, Don Burdick, Jim Liday, Becky Sulik, Dr. Paul Black, Trisha Arave, Trevor Steffler and Dr. Michelle Anderson.

Join us on Friday, May 3 at 9 a.m. in the ICCU Bengal Alumni Center. The morning will be a tribute to the hard work, enduring pride and outstanding achievements of our ISU alumni. Registrations are required. RSVP by April 26.

Please help us to congratulate the 2024 Professional Achievement Award recipients.


Valorie Watkins, College of Arts and Letters - Fine Arts 


Valorie Watkins, a proud Idahoan, has devoted her life to community development, education and public service. After graduating from Idaho State University in 1966, she served in various roles, including as District Director for U.S. Senator Jim McClure and Alumni Director at ISU. Valorie's commitment has earned her accolades such as the Idaho Governor's Brightest Star Award. Even in retirement, she remains active in community affairs, embodying the spirit of service and dedication.


Brent Manning, College of Arts and Letters - Social Sciences 


Brent V. Manning, a founding partner of Manning Curtis Bradshaw & Bednar, is esteemed for his legal prowess and community dedication. With a JD from Harvard University School of Law and a BA from Idaho State University, Manning's legal career spans decades, focusing on business litigation, intellectual property, class actions and antitrust matters. Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America® and Mountain States Super Lawyers®, Manning specializes in business litigation and antitrust matters. Active in professional associations and community initiatives, he has chaired the "And Justice for All" Campaign and served on various boards. Manning's commitment to pro bono work and outdoor pursuits reflects his passion for justice and adventure.


Jim Liday, College of Education

Jim holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Idaho State University, an M.Ed in School Administration from the University of Nevada/Reno, and an Education Specialist in School Administration from Idaho State University. For 35 years, he served as an Elementary Principal in the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District. Jim received Idaho’s National Distinguished Principal Award in 1988 and was the first Idaho Elementary Principal on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Elementary School Principals. He secured funding for the Idaho Executive Institute and co-founded Impact Software, reaching schools in 27 states. Jim also contributed to Special Olympics and his alma mater, where he established the Jim and Judy Liday Scholarship Fund. His dedication continues to impact students and colleagues.

Don Burdick, College of Business

Don graduated from Idaho State University in 1977 with an accounting degree and served as student body Vice President. He then pursued law at Seattle University, practicing with Foster Pepper before joining Dave Sabey's firm as Vice President and General Counsel. Don later embarked on a distinguished career at Costco, holding various leadership positions including VP of Legal Affairs, CIO, and SVP of Global eCommerce and Travel. Notably, he pioneered the Executive Membership program and oversaw significant sales growth. After retiring in 2021, Don now enjoys married life, splitting time between an Alpaca ranch in Bend, a home in Edmonds, and a condominium in Puerto Vallarta, alongside his two accomplished children.

Becky Sulik, College of Health

Becky Sulik is a dedicated professional with extensive experience in advancing diabetes education and advocacy. Graduating with honors from Idaho State University in 1995, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics and is a certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist since 1998. Becky has been instrumental in volunteer initiatives, serving as the Public Education Chair for the Pocatello Chapter of the American Diabetes Association since 1993. She also actively contributes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. As the Director of Education at Rocky Mountain Diabetes & Osteoporosis Center since 2000, Becky coordinates comprehensive diabetes education programs and serves as a research coordinator. Her commitment to diabetes education and advocacy continues to leave a lasting impact on the field.

Dr. Paul Black, College of Pharmacy


Dr. Paul Black obtained his doctor of pharmacy degree from Idaho State University in 1998 and completed his residency in Ambulatory Care at the Boise VA Medical Center. He is currently the PGY-1 Residency Program Director and Associate Chief of Pharmacy for Clinical and Educational Services at the Boise VA Medical Center. He was an Ambulatory Care Clinical Pharmacist for 15 years at the Boise VA before taking his current position. 

Trisha Arave, College of Science and Engineering

Trisha Arave serves as the Plant Manager at J.R. Simplot Company, Inc. in Pocatello, Idaho, leveraging her extensive background in project management. With over seven years of experience, she plays a vital role in overseeing all facets of plant operations, ensuring efficiency, productivity, and adherence to quality standards. Trisha's tenure at Idaho State University equipped her with the skills and knowledge crucial for her success in the industry. Her dedication and strategic management prowess continue to propel J.R. Simplot Company towards sustained growth and success.

Trevor Steffler, College of Technology

Trevor Steffler, a graduate of Idaho State University’s College of Technology, is a seasoned project manager at Electrical Werx & Construction, LLC. With extensive experience spanning diverse industries, including a decade as Automation & Controls Project Manager at Automation Werx, LLC, Trevor excels in overseeing on-site operations and ensuring client satisfaction. His career journey showcases a commitment to excellence, highlighted by recognition such as the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce Business of Distinction Award, Rockwell Automation PlantPAX System Integrator 2022 and Marquis Who's Who Listee Honored for Instrumentation and Controls Engineering for 2024. Trevor's expertise, adaptability, and dedication to continuous improvement make him a valuable asset in driving projects to success.

Dr. Michelle Anderson, Graduate School

Michelle Anderson, a Clinical Associate Professor at Idaho State University, is a respected Family Nurse Practitioner with over two decades of experience. She played a key role in establishing the ISU Meridian Health Care clinic, earning recognition for clinical excellence and advocacy. Dr. Anderson's leadership extends to roles on the Idaho State Board of Nursing and as a national NP residency site accreditor. Residing in Meridian, Idaho, she balances her professional commitments with family time.


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