The School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences honors the achievements and contributions of its alumni through the Hall of Alumni Excellence. Recipients join the IAS Circle of Recognition, a collective of alumni, students, faculty, and partners who have notable impact on our campus, region, and world.
The Hall of Alumni Excellence recognizes alumni at varying stages of career who are established or emerging leaders in their fields, policy changing public servants, and devoted and inspiring mentors. They are extraordinary alumni who embody IAS’ mission, values, and goals and demonstrate equity and inclusion in their work and lives.
Hall of Alumni Excellence
Vicki Christophersen (’92, Liberal Studies)
Vicki Christophersen has provided effective and comprehensive representation at the state legislative, executive and agency levels for a diverse client base since 1998. Her professional reputation and track record as an advocate and valued colleague have enabled Vicki to work effectively with both sides of the aisle to achieve results for her clients. She has a distinguished record of success in the years she has been working in Olympia.
Christophersen began her professional career as a middle school Social Studies and Language Arts teacher at Denny Middle School in Seattle. She became a lobbyist after teaching for 4 years and then started her own company, Christophersen, Inc. Her clients include the Association of Washington Spirits and Wine Distributors, Life Center Northwest Organ Donor Network, Northwest Kidney Centers, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Pediatrix Medical Group, OneEnergy Renewables, Stand for Children, Washington Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, Washington CannaBusiness Association, Washington Refuse and Recycling Association, and Washington State University. She is the 2005 recipient of the UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award.
Michael Collins (’94, Liberal Studies)
Michael Collins is an influential past member of the UW Bothell Alumni Council. He provided crucial leadership to the Council, resulting in additional programming and an increased ability to raise scholarship funds for current students. He played an integral role in the growth and success of the Husky 5K Run.
Collins worked in the railroad industry for 23 years. A 1988 recreational ski racing accident resulted in quadriplegia at the C-5 level. Since then, he has been a powerful advocate for the disabled. He is the author of more than 250 articles published online and in magazines, newspapers, and professional journals. Collins is also a member of the “Blog Squad” for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Foundation. He retired in 2010 from the National Council on Disability (NCD) in Washington, DC where he served as Executive Director following other management positions in public service. He now gives his time and expertise to many other organizations, including as a peer mentor for the Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System.
Mike also writes two columns called “Everyday Advocacy” and “Motorvation” as a contributing editor for New Mobility magazine. He served as a member of a technical standards committee of the Rehabilitation Engineering Society of North America, which developed standards for emergency stair travel devices used by individuals with disabilities. Collins is a founding board member of Global Mobility, an international charitable organization that distributes refurbished mobility devices to people in developing countries around the world. He is the 2013 recipient of the UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award.
Abigail Echo-Hawk (’07, American & Ethnic Studies; ’09, MA in Policy Studies)
Abigail Echo-Hawk is an enrolled member of the Kitkehahki band of Pawnee Nation. She serves as the Director of Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI). Before moving to UIHI, she served as the tribal liaison for Partnerships for Native Health.
Echo-Hawk’s interests center on culturally-based health communication through digital storytelling, tribally-guided research regulatory systems, community-based participatory research, and research ethics in Indian Country. She has worked at the academic and community level to ensure that research in American Indian communities respects tribal sovereignty and honors community involvement.
Echo-Hawk is a dedicated advocate for social justice, and she has spent much of her time volunteering for organizations that work to address the social determinants of health in marginalized communities. In 2006, the Mayor of Seattle appointed her to the Seattle Women’s Commission to advise the Mayor and City Council on policy and legislation to improve the health of American Indian and Alaska Native women and children. She serves as a strategic adviser on American Indian women’s health and community outreach on many boards, including Equal Start Community Coalition and the Native American Women’s Dialogue on Infant Mortality. Abigail Echo-Hawk is the 2011 recipient of the UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award. She lives in Seattle with her husband Chris and her sons Miguel and Noni.
Joshua Heim (’10, MA in Cultural Studies)
Joshua Heim had 10 years of experience in the cultural heritage and museum field before joining MACS. He began his career at Kaho‘oilina: A Journal of Hawaiian Language Sources in Honolulu, a scholarly journal dedicated to preserving the Hawaiian language and supporting Hawaiian language immersion schools. He then went on to the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle where he developed community-based exhibitions and managed YouthCAN, which received the National Youth Arts and Humanities Program Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Joshua is now the Arts Program Manager at the City of Redmond, Washington, where he develops cultural plans and policies, supports nonprofits through grants, manages a public art collection, and delivers public programs. His interests include new approaches to public art, creative place-making, and Washington State’s cultural community. He serves on the King County 4Culture Arts Advisory Committee, King County Library Arts Advisory Committee, and the Humanities Washington Program Committee. He has also taught courses and workshops at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Immigration Sites of Conscience, the Northwest Indian College, and University of Washington.
Holli Martinez (’08, Society, Ethics & Human Behavior)
Holli is a passionate, life-time advocate for diversity and equality. In 2007, she launched The Martinez Fellows Program (formerly The Martinez Foundation) dedicated to the professional development and retention of teachers of color in Washington State’s Title 1 Schools. By 2012, the Martinez Fellows program had increased the diversity within the Seattle Public School teaching corps by 10%. Holli’s advocacy in diversity has been recognized by T-Mobile, the Hispanic National Bar Association, the Commission of Hispanic Affairs, the University of Washington College of Education, University of Washington Bothell as a Distinguished Alumni, and the University of Washington’s Women’s Center.
Holli joined T-Mobile in February 2013 as the company’s first Director of Diversity & Inclusion. Holli is passionately committed to sustaining an inclusive workplace where ALL employees can thrive. Under her leadership T-Mobile has embraced D&I initiatives across the enterprise. Today, over 8,000 employees are actively engaged in 6 Employee Resource Groups and 30 local D&I Chapters across the country. T-Mobile has received the distinction of the Best Place to Work for the past three years from the Human Rights Campaign and most recently, Best Place to work for People with Disabilities. T-Mobile become widely recognized as the most diverse wireless carrier in the US.
Fredrika Smith (’94, Liberal Studies; EdD ’12, Education Leadership & Policy Study)
Fredrika Smith, who goes by “Deka,” is the Superintendent of Monroe School District, district serving approximately 7,200 K-12 students, with about 27 percent on free or reduced-price meals. She is also a lecturer in UW Bothell’s Leadership Development for Educators master’s program. Her focus is on developing innovative, equity-focused systems that transform learning communities ranging from K-12 through higher education.
Deka’s studies focused on effective teaching for different types of students, including those in special education and gifted programs. She has a long history of service to education, having previously served as a school administrator, assistant superintendent, assistant principal, teacher and behavior specialist in several Washington school districts, including Mukilteo, Meridian, Stanwood-Camano and Marysville. She served as the chief academic officer for the Puyallup School District before joining the Monroe School District. She also led an effort in Marysville for teachers to meet parents in their neighborhoods instead of on campus, which helped improve the relationship between the Tulalip Tribes and the school district. She is the 2016 recipient of the UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award.
Melissa Watkinson (’11, Global Studies and Society, Ethics & Human Behavior; ’15, MA in Policy Studies)
Melissa Watkinson is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and has lived most of her life in the Pacific Northwest. Her passion for community led her to three degrees from the School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell. Following her dual major bachelor’s degree, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the UW Bothell Office of Community-Based Learning and Research. She also volunteered with Oxfam America working on food aid and climate change issues.
As a graduate student, Melissa worked with the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute, where she learned methods and applications of community-based research, and with Washington Sea Grant, where she developed skills in social science and spatial analysis. She used these tools in her master's degree research where she worked with the Quinault Indian Nation to identify and analyze the impacts of historic land policies on climate adaptation.
Melissa recently completed a Marc Hershman Marine Policy Fellowship at The Nature Conservancy where she applied social science policy approaches, and advocated for improvement of community engagement practices, particularly in relation to conservation work with tribal nations. Currently, Melissa works with the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at University of Washington and serves on the City of Seattle's Environmental Justice Committee.