George Blue Spruce Jr., DDS, Surprise, Arizona, was honored by the city of Cincinnati on June 22, 2017, when Mayor John Cranley issued a proclamation declaring the day to be “Dr. George Blue Spruce Day.” The announcement was made as the city hosted the 27th conference of the Society of American Indian Dentists. Blue Spruce founded the organization and served as president for 16 years. He now serves as president emeritus. Blue Spruce has made significant contributions to the field of dentistry. As the first American Indian dentist in the U.S., he has been a tireless advocate for diversity and inclusion in the profession. He considers his life’s work to be encouraging people of American Indian heritage to consider careers in dentistry and the health professions.


John G. Manesis, MD, Fargo, North Dakota, has published His Good Stuff, a collection of his baseball poems.


Frederick B. “Rick” Allan, JD, Lincoln, Nebraska, retired from his position as director of the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program. Allan’s successor is Christopher B. Aupperle, BSBA’89, JD’92, of Omaha.


Dr. Joseph P. Drozda Jr., ARTS, Chesterfield, Missouri, was honored by the American College of Cardiology (ACC), receiving the designation Master of ACC. In prior years, Drozda was awarded ACC’s Presidential Citation and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the ACC’s Missouri Chapter. Drozda is the director of outcomes research at Mercy — a four-state regional health system head­quartered in suburban St. Louis. He is the principal investigator of a large, multi-center FDA-funded initiative developing systems for using electronic health record data to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of implanted medical devices.


Joseph M. LaTona, JD, Buffalo, New York, has been named in each edition of The Best Lawyers in America since 1987. He has been selected in each edition of Super Lawyers – Upstate New York Edition since 2008.


Col. Mason E. Smith, BA’66, MA, Colorado Springs, Colorado, has been elected president of the Denver Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the boards of the Colorado Hospital Association, St. Mary-Corwin Hospital and Colorado School District 20 Foundation.


Kent Irwin, MS, Omaha, has written Exploits of a Common Adventurer, a tale of his many adventures encompassing the seven continents of the world.

Daniel E. Monnat, JD, Wichita, Kansas, of Monnat & Spurrier, Chartered, has been ranked in the top tier of Kansas attorneys in the Litigation: White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations sector by Chambers USA 2017. Monnat also received Lifetime Achievement Designations from America’s Top 100 Attorneys in the practice areas of appellate law, criminal defense litigation and white-collar criminal defense. In addition, Monnat was recognized by Best Lawyers in America for the 30th consecutive year in the legal sectors of criminal defense: general practice; white collar criminal defense; bet-the-company litigation; and appellate defense.


Mark A. Weber, BA’74, JD, Omaha, was acknowledged by the Omaha Community Foundation for his work with the Charitable Advisor of Philanthropy Study Group program. Weber also published a book, The Legacy Spectrum, for affluent individuals preparing their estate plans.


Hon. Evelyn B. Clay, JD, Oak Park, Illinois, retired from the Cook County (Illinois) Court in August. Judge Clay sat on the bench for more than 20 years.


Dr. Patrick J. Edwards, BA, Newton, Iowa, recently started his 30th year as a family practitioner at the Newton Clinic in Newton. He also is the mayor of Lambs Grove, Iowa.

Mary Jo Morrissey Jerde, BSN, Tempe, Arizona, was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nurses in October. Jerde was one of 173 highly distinguished nurse leaders selected for the 2017 class of academy fellows. Jerde also received the Distinguished Nurse of the Year award from the Arizona March of Dimes in June. She is the senior vice president, UnitedHealth Group, Center for Clinician Advancement.


Gina D. Scales, BA’79, MS, Florissant, Missouri, was honored with the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for her lifelong commitment to building a stronger nation through volunteer service from President Barack Obama in June 2017.


Stephen A. Donato, JD, Fayetteville, New York, has been recognized in the 2017 Upstate New York Super Lawyers list in the field of bankruptcy: business. Donato is an attorney in the Syracuse, New York, office of Bond, Schoeneck & King. He is chair of the firm’s business restructuring, creditors’ rights and bankruptcy practice.

Muirne Heaney, ARTS’76, JD, Omaha, received the Nebraska State Bar Association’s Visionary Award at the Barrister’s Ball in March for her work on the Law Help of Nebraska interactive website.

Stephen B. Shapiro, JD, Greenwood Village, Colorado, was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2018 for his work in insurance law. Shapiro is managing partner of Denver-based Shapiro Bieging Barber Otteson.


September D. Williams, MD, Mill Valley, California, published her first novel, Chasing Mercury, as an eBook. The book was written to support the recently ratified United Nations Minamata Convention on Mercury.


John W. Neppl, BSBA, Omaha, has been appointed chief financial officer of Green Plains in Omaha.


Lawrence H. Necheles, BA’86, JD, Pontiac, Illinois, was appointed to serve as a hearing officer for the Illinois State Police Merit Board.


Dr. James G. Taylor VI, BS, Oakton, Virginia, was appointed director of the Center for Sickle Cell Disease at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Taylor leads the center’s staff in their mission dedicated to patient care, research, teaching and community outreach for sickle cell and other red cell diseases. He is also professor of medicine (hematology/oncology) at Howard’s College of Medicine.


Christopher B. Aupperle, BSBA’89, JD, Omaha, was named director of the Nebraska Lawyers Assistance Program. He replaces Frederick B. “Rick” Allan, JD’66, of Lincoln, Nebraska, who recently retired.


Laura E. Duffy, JD, San Diego, was appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown as a San Diego Superior Court judge. Duffy has been a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California for six years, where she has led initiatives to prosecute criminals involved in human and sex trafficking and drug smuggling.


Dr. Dawn R. Ebach, BS, Iowa City, Iowa, was promoted to clinical professor at the University of Iowa in July. She works in the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology.

David M. Williams, MD, West Des Moines, Iowa, is the president and CEO of UnityPoint Clinics and UnityPoint at Home in West Des Moines.


Michaela Sims, JD, Arlington, Virginia, opened Sims Strategies in Washington, D.C.


Kimberly A. Lammers, JD, Blair, Nebraska, joined the health care practice group of the law firm Baird Holm in Omaha. Lammers was previously the vice president for compliance at Methodist Health Systems in Omaha.


Shari Cuvelier Flowers, JD, Omaha, is the vice president for compliance for Methodist Health Systems in Omaha.


Dr. Nathan E. Brummel, BS’99, MS, Nashville, Tennessee, is an assistant professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he is the recipient of a Paul E. Beeson Emerging Leaders in Aging Research Career Development Award from the National Institutes of Health. He was awarded the 2017 Global Rising Star Fellowship from the Australia New Zealand Intensive Care Society where he presented his research on impairments and disabilities after critical illness in Gold Coast, Australia.


Patrick S. Cooper, BA’99, JD, Bennington, Nebraska, was named president-elect of the Omaha Bar Association.

Brandie Van Ness Fowler, BA’96, JD, Omaha, was named secretary of the Omaha Bar Association.

Grant W. Mussman, BA, Omaha, was recognized as part of the Midlands Business Journal’s “40 Under 40.” Mussman is a State Farm agent in Omaha.

Daniel W. Oldenburg, JD, Lincoln, Nebraska, joined the law firm Cline Williams Wright Johnson & Oldfather in Lincoln. Oldenburg practices immigration law.


Laura Frankam Happe, PharmD, Cornelius, North Carolina, was named chief pharmacy officer of Humana Inc. Happe also is the editor in chief of the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy.

Emily O’Malley Olsen, BSMth, Atlanta, was awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Award to study epidemiology in Finland. Her research focuses on surveillance of adolescent health-risk behaviors and disparities in violence victimizations.

Victor C. Padios, BACLS’99, JD, Omaha, was named general counsel for Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha.


Michelle Romanek Beyronneau, BS, Cathedral City, California, was named a 2018 Riverside County (California) Teacher of the Year. Of the nearly 20,000 educators in Riverside County, Beyronneau is one of four teachers who will represent the county in the 2018 California State Teacher of the Year competition. She teaches math at Desert Hot Springs High School in Desert Hot Springs, California.


Gabriel E. Lapito, MBA, BSBA, Billings, Montana, owner/financial advisor of Strategic Retirement Plans with offices in Billings and Gillette, Wyoming, was named to the Forbes’ Top 500 Next Generation Wealth Advisors list. The inaugural list, published on, recognizes wealth advisors born in or after 1980. Lapito is the only advisor in Montana and Wyoming named to the list.

Brian M. Sadowski, BSChm’01, MD, Omaha, joined Colon and Rectal Surgery, Inc., in Omaha.


Joseph P. Naatz, BSBA’04, JD, Omaha, was named treasurer-elect of the Omaha Bar Association.


Larry J. Johnson Jr., JD, West Des Moines, Iowa, has been appointed the state of Iowa’s public defender.


Erin M. Herrmann, MA, Chicago, is the associate director of the Writing Center in the University Center for Writing-based Learning at DePaul University in Chicago. Herrmann previously worked as the assistant director of the University Writing Center at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

Patrick J. Mack, JD, Omaha, joined the law firm Hennessy & Roach in Omaha and will practice in the areas of insurance defense, labor and employment, and worker’s compensation.

Yvonne D. Sosa, JD, Omaha, was a fellow in the New Leaders Council (NLC) 2017 class. NLC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that engages a diverse, collaborative national network of progressive political entrepreneurs.


Christopher R. Barondeau, MS, JD, Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, was named partner at Goosmann Law Firm in Sioux City, Iowa. He focuses his practice on divorce and family law and currently serves in the Nebraska Army National Guard as commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) of the 126th Chemical Battalion.

Jessica E. Thomas, JD, Omaha, joined the law firm Pansing Hogan Ernst & Bachman in Omaha as an associate. Thomas practices in the areas of real estate, business law and business planning.


Laura Goracke Anderson, OTD, Lincoln, Nebraska, joined Bryan Health’s Crete Area Medical Center in Crete, Nebraska.

Zachary W. Anderson, JD, Lincoln, Nebraska, is an associate attorney with Baylor, Evnen, Curtiss, Grimit & Witt, LLP, in Lincoln.


Brittany L. Murphy, MD, Rochester, Minnesota, participated in a medical mission trip to Jalpatagua, Guatemala, last February. One of her surgical mentors on the trip was Leroy J. “Lee” Trombetta, BS’92, MD’97. Murphy is a general surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.


Kelly J. Barth, MA, Omaha, and his wife started a liturgical ministry publishing company, Simply Liturgical Music (SLM). SLM offers psalms, Mass settings and other hymns in a downloadable format at Barth also composed his own Mass setting, Mass of the Gathered Assembly, which is currently sung in parishes around Omaha, across the Midwest and in Australia.

Anthony J. Quagliano, BS, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, is pursuing his PhD in cell biology and physiology through the University of Delaware. His work was recently published in the Leukemia Research Journal for the discovery of a novel therapy to combat microenvironment-induced drug resistance in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


Richelle Simmons, MS, Omaha, joined Ameritas in Lincoln, Nebraska, as vice president of digital.


Courtney M. Batterson, BSEvS, San Jose, California, is an assistant research scientist with NASA. Batterson is continuing her research on Mars’ climate.