About the Award

Established September 15, 2000, the UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes outstanding alumni who have exhibited distinguished professional achievements and/or community service since graduation from the University of Washington Bothell.

Nominate an individual for the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award

Nominations are due Tuesday, May 10.

2016 Distinguished Alumnus

2016 Recipient: Fredrika Smith

Smith, who goes by “Deka,” earned her bachelor’s degree in the liberal studies program in 1994 and reconnected with the University as a lecturer six years ago in the Leadership Development for Educators (LEDE) master’s program, which leaves about 60 percent of graduates as principals.

When she attended UW Bothell, Smith says she didn’t realize she would have a career in education and that the “development of relationships, a focus on service, and a dedication to innovation would prove to be a primary driver of my personal core values.”

Now as Monroe superintendent and a UW Bothell instructor, “I am able to further develop innovative, equity focused systems that will continue to transform learning communities ranging from K-12 through higher education,” says Smith, a Monroe resident.

The recognition of the Distinguished Alumni Award is a true honor, Smith says. “It sincerely feels like my core values, the mission of UW Bothell, and my work in public schools have come full circle.”

The UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2000 to recognize alumni for distinguished professional achievements and community service.

Mina Hooshangi of the UW Bothell Alumni Council says Smith is clearly having a positive impact on community schools by addressing the unique needs of all learners and working to improve classroom instruction.

“Deka embodies the mission and values of UW Bothell in her work shaping the future generation of learners, and UW Bothell is proud to call her an alum,” Hooshangi said.

Smith will be honored at University of Washington Bothell’s 25th commencement ceremony Sunday, June 12, at UW Seattle’s Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion.

2015 Recipient: June Altaras Sue Ambler

Mike CollinsAltaras graduated with her bachelor’s in nursing in 1998 and she was so impressed with the student-centered experience at UW Bothell that she returned to get her master's degree in 2007.

Altaras’ career in the healthcare industry began when she worked part time in a physician’s office, moving from file clerk to receptionist. Eventually, she was trained as a nurse and completed her associate degree at Everett Community College before finding her calling in oncology. Altaras’ star continued to rise when she began working at Swedish Hospital. She was ultimately offered an opportunity to open a pediatric intensive care unit and become a nurse manager. This next step in Altaras’ career came with the condition that she return to college and complete her bachelor’s degree in three years.

The full time nurse manager and single mother of three young children and a teen says going to a four-year college seemed out of reach for her. However, after great hesitation, the first generation student enrolled in UW Bothell in 1995. Altaras says it was not easy in the beginning, but with faculty and staff who were eager to help each student succeed, she found her footing and her voice in her nursing cohort.

Altaras credits her analytical thinking, research success, and vision for diversity in hiring and patient care to the classes she took at UW Bothell. “I believe that there is not a day that goes by that my education at UW Bothell doesn’t influence something I’m doing, impact my thinking, or impact a decision.”

Now, the nurse who once just wanted to be the best nurse ever is creating pathways and partnerships that will allow nurses in hospitals across five states to be the best nurses they can be. She helped set policy that requires all 35 hospitals in the Providence Healthcare system across five different states to ensure that 80 percent of their nurses have a BSN degree by 2020 and all nurse leads have master’s degrees. Altaras says her exceptional experience inspires her to encourage any nurse who is seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree to attend UW Bothell.

Altaras serves on multiple community boards, including the UW Bothell School of Nursing, Seattle Pacific University School of Nursing, the American Diabetes Association and the Northwest Healthcare Response Network.

“When evaluating candidates for the Distinguished Alumni Award, we look at career experience as well as the candidates’ impact on their community,” says UW Bothell Alumni Council chair George Lampe. Not only were June’s career achievements very impressive, but she has been proactive and passionate about leading change in the healthcare industry. We are delighted to honor her with this prestigious award.”

Past Recipients

2014 Recipient: Sue Ambler

Sue AmblerThe University of Washington Bothell has named Workforce Snohomish president and CEO Sue Ambler the 2014 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year. Each year, the university recognizes an alumnus who has exhibited distinguished professional achievements and outstanding community service. Ambler graduated in 1997 with a Master of Education degree from UW Bothell.

Michelle Gamboa chairs the UW Bothell Alumni Council and will present Ambler with the award at the June 15 commencement ceremony. “It is an honor to present this award to Sue,” says Gamboa. “We are grateful for her service to the community and to UW Bothell. She is a strong example and inspiration of what it means to be a UW Bothell graduate.”

Since taking over leadership of Workforce Snohomish in 2006, Ambler has transformed the company into a national model for workforce development. The company has been recognized as one of Seattle Business Magazine’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For.’

Ambler invests both her personal and professional time to support the creation of a vital local economy. Her passion for serving youth and families has led her to work with elected officials in the state of Washington and in Washington, D.C. Her efforts have contributed to initiatives that help the unemployed, veterans, youth, homeless and many others in need.

Ambler serves on UW Bothell’s School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics advisory board. She’s also contributed her time and expertise to various other organizations, including the Washington First Robotics Board, the United States Conference of Mayors, Economic Alliance Snohomish County, Washington Workforce Association, and the United Way of Snohomish County Community Campaign where she served as chairperson in 2011.

Ambler is a longtime resident of Bothell where she lives with her husband of 32 years. The Ambler family also includes Blake, his wife Cary, and Lieutenant Junior Grade Ian Ambler who serves in the Civil Engineering Corps United States Navy and is currently stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

2013 Recipient: Mike Collins

Mike CollinsUniversity of Washington Bothell alumnus Mike Collins was selected as the recipient of the 2013 UW Bothell Distinguished Alumni Award. The award recognizes outstanding alumni who have exhibited distinguished professional achievements and/or community service since graduation from the UW Bothell. Collins graduated in 1994 from the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

“Mike is an amazing person who exemplifies the spirit of community engagement that UW Bothell is all about,” says Sean Marsh, Associate Director for Advancement and Alumni Relations at UW Bothell. As an active participant in the UW Bothell Alumni Council, Collins has played an integral role in the growth and success of the Husky 5K Run. Collins has also provided crucial leadership to the UW Alumni Council, resulting in additional programming and an increased ability to raise scholarship funds for current students.

Collins worked in the railroad industry for 23 years until 1988, when a recreational ski racing accident caused quadriplegia at the C-5 level. Since his accident, he has been a powerful advocate for the disabled. He is the author of more than 50 articles published in magazines, newspapers, and professional journals. Collins is also a member of the “Blog Squad” for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Paralysis Foundation.

Collins recently retired from the position of Executive Director of the National Council on Disability (NCD) in Washington, DC, a position he held since June 2007. In addition to his work with the UW Bothell Alumni Council, he gives his time and expertise to many other organizations. He is a member of the advisory board for the National Center for Personal Assistance Services at the University of California San Francisco and serves as a peer mentor for the Northwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury System. He also writes a column called “Everyday Advocacy” as a contributing editor for New Mobility magazine.

He is currently completing work with 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.

2012 Recipient: Holli Martinez

Photo of HolliWhile researching educational issues for a class at UW Bothell, Holli Martinez, 08’, learned that many children in under-represented neighborhoods in the state of Washington were in desperate need of relatable role models. This discovery would change the course of her life, and the lives of countless students living in Washington.

Through her class research she learned about the gap between the number of minority teachers and students in public schools. She discovered that students often have better academic outcomes when they have teachers who share similar cultural backgrounds and can serve as role models.

She was determined to make a difference. In 2008 she and her husband, former Mariner Edgar Martinez, founded The Martinez Foundation. Its mission is to promote, support, and retain exceptional teachers of color in public schools throughout the state of Washington.

The foundation provides scholarships to students of color working toward a master’s degree from the UW, Washington State University or Seattle University. After students finish the program, they agree to begin their careers teaching in underserved communities where they can be supportive role models for young students.

As president of The Martinez Foundation, Holli works with community partners to develop support programs that will enable and sustain teachers of color to teach in underserved areas. Holli also supports a variety of non-profits and community organizations including Hopelink, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Hospital, Powerful Schools and Washington Women in Need.

Holli grew up in the Bellevue area, and still resides locally. She earned a bachelor’s of arts degree from the UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Studies in 2008; and graduated magna cum laude. In 2012, Holli earned a master’s degree from the Evans School of Public Affairs.

2011 Recipient: Abigail Echo-Hawk

Photo of Abigail Echo-HawkAbigail Echo-Hawk is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, but has made Seattle her home for the past 12 years. In Ms. Echo-Hawk's role as Tribal Liaison for the University of Washington's Institute for Translational Health Sciences, she works with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes in a five-state region to identify health priorities.

As a dedicated advocate for women's health, Abigail was first appointed by the mayor of Seattle in 2006 to serve on the Seattle Women's Commission; she is now in her third mayoral appointment to the commission and currently serves as co-chair. Abigail has concentrated on policy and institutional change in order to minimize disparities for Native American and African American women in Seattle. Ms. Echo-Hawk also focuses on policy advocacy in areas such as: domestic violence, sexual assault, youth prostitution and educational disparities.

Abigail earned a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with an option in American Studies and a minor in Human Rights in Spring 2007. She continued on to graduate school and received a Master of Arts in Policy Studies in Spring 2009.

2010 Recipient: Mahnaz Javid

After earning her Master's in Education at UW Bothell, Mahnaz has been improving access to education around the world. Mahnaz attributes much of her success to UW Bothell's engaging professors that helped stimulate her curiosity about how people learned and the idea of an equal education for all. It was from this passion that Mahnaz founded the Mona Foundation, a non-profit organization which consists of several projects and campaigns ranging from providing solutions to teacher shortages in India to building schools in Vietnam.

Mahnaz Javid serves as an inspiration for all who hear her story of dedication to education. She shared her legacy at UW Bothell's 2010 Commencement.  To learn more about Dr. Javid, see the UW Bothell Insight articles  

  • 2009 - Mike Hope (MAPS '06)
  • 2008 - Natalie Kay Lang - (Liberal Studies '97)
  • 2005 - Vicki Austin (Liberal Studies '92)
  • 2004 - Barbara A. Haner (BSN '95, MN '98)
  • 2003 - Wendy L. Hough (MEd. '02)
  • 2002 - Travis Fairchild (Business '99, MBA '06)
  • 2002 - Chad S. Estes (Business '99)
  • 2000 - Bonnie L. Blachly (BSN '94, MN '04)

Did You Know?

Seventy percent of first-year students are from diverse backgrounds