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
Jefferson Ketchel (’08, M.A. in Policy Studies) is the administrator of the Snohomish Health District, which provides programs and services to Snohomish County, improving the health of individuals, families, and communities through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Ketchel has over 24 years of public health experience, including five years as administrator for Grant County Health District and 15 years with Public Health – Seattle & King County. He is former president of the Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials and a past chair of the Washington State Board of Registered Sanitarians. Ketchel is also a graduate of Harvard University’s National Preparedness Leadership Initiative Executive Education Program and the CDC’s Environmental Public Health Leadership Institute.
Mary Le Nguyen (’06, American Studies, ’09, M.A. in Policy Studies) is the executive director for Washington Community Action Network (CAN), the state’s largest grassroots social justice organization with over 44,000 members. She has more than a decade of community organizing experience with prior roles as membership manager for Social Justice Fund NW, community organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 labor union, and board president of Vietnamese Friendship Association.
In Winter 2018, Nguyen served as a co-instructor for the Policy Studies practicum course, a collaboration between Washington CAN and the Policy Studies program. Students canvassed neighborhoods and created issue power maps for Washington CAN, while Nguyen and her staff provided training, information, and guidance to students.
Natalie Singer-Velush (’16, MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics) is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her hybrid memoir, California Calling: A Self-Interrogation, was published by Hawthorne Books in 2018. She is an invited 2017/2018 writer ambassador for On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts collective in Seattle, where her critical responses to the season’s performances create a bridge of dialogue between artists and the community. She has taught poetry with Pongo Teen Writing to youth inside King County’s juvenile detention and at the state's psychiatric facility for youth. Natalie is also a communications manager at Microsoft. As a mother/artist, Natalie is concerned with the experiences of, and access granted to, parent artists and mothers in particular. In a culture where mothers navigate near-constant tension and marginalization around their identities as women and caregivers, mother/artists often struggle to access the resources available to other artists and which are critical to sustain a creative self. Through her creative and community work, Natalie is committed to supporting mother/artists so that their voices may be heard and their work elevated.
Stephen Ssemaala (‘03, Global Studies) is the recipient of UW Bothell’s 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award, which honored his professional achievements and outstanding community service. Once an elected leader to the Uganda Constituency Assembly and founder of an AIDS education organization, Ssemaala fled Uganda to avoid persecution and relocated to Washington state. After graduating from UW Bothell, Ssemaala earned a law degree from UW School of Law. Since 2006, he has worked as an assistant attorney general and contracts counsel for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services in Olympia. Ssemaala is also an adjunct instructor at South Puget Sound Community College, where he teaches American government, and the founding member of KamuKamu Learning Foundation, which works to improve schools and provide resources to children in Uganda.