2024 Recreation Management & Leadership Newsletter

Landscape picture of mountains, water and flowers
Jasmine’s travel adventures to the Mt. Cook area in New Zealand
Landscape photo of mountains, rocks and orange flowers
Jasmine’s travel adventures to the Slovenia Alps

RML Faculty News

Jasmine Goodnow

Greetings from the Recreation Management and Leadership (RML) Program. I am full of gratitude and happiness as I write about our exciting new opportunities and bittersweet changes. Fall of 2023, Keith Russell, Chair of the Department of Health and Human Development and beloved Professor of RML, was promoted to Dean of WWU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. We miss him sorely in the classroom and around Carver, but we are so proud that he is steering the ship and making waves at the college level! Katey Roemmele, event coordinator and phase friend extraordinaire, retired in mid-September 2023. Katey has been my dear friend and mentor since I first came to WWU back in 2013. I miss her presence around the office every day. She kept us on course and made sure we had everything we needed for every RML event, phase retreat, senior celebration, Camp TEAM, and field trip. Thank you, Katey for your 21 years of service, amazing support, and humor! I am so fortunate that she was there in fall 2022 when I stepped into the role of RML Program Coordinator. 

The RML program has been on the move. In fall of 2023, we struck a collaboration with WWU’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, part of University Interdisciplinary Programs, to create the FOREST (Foundations of Outdoor Recreation, Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Tourism) certificate. The FOREST certificate program serves current RML students and the greater WWU student body. The purpose of the FOREST certificate is to provide students with the ability to apply entrepreneurial and innovative mindset, knowledge and skills to Outdoor Recreation and Sustainable Tourism and related areas. Students learn foundational skills and knowledge to become entrepreneurial and innovative leaders (intrapreneurs), create and prepare to launch their own businesses (or other organizations, including non-profits/NGOs and social enterprises), and/or join existing organizations as productive, entrepreneurial team members. Our interdisciplinary connections continue. RML faculty Kristen Chmielewski teaches Critical Disability Studies (DSA 330) for the Institute of Critical Disabilities Studies and Lindsay Poynter leads the Outdoor Wellness Program, a collaboration among RML, the Counseling and Wellness Center, and the AS Outdoor Center.  

While serving as RML Program Coordinator, my scholarship has also been fruitful. I partnered with Steve Bennett in Public Health and Liz Mogford in Sociology, to publish “Centering public health and community consent in tourism post COVID-19” in the journal Recreation, Parks and Tourism in Public Health. We followed this publication up with a conference presentation “Flourishing Adventure Destinations: Free, Prior, and Informed Consent Communities” at the International Adventure Conference in Queenstown, New Zealand. While at this conference, I presented a second paper which I co-authored with Kristen Chmielewski, “Opportunity to Flourish: Accessible Adventure Tourism.From New Zealand, I traveled to Slovenia and presented “Serendipitous Sacred Experiences: Garden and Window Box Micro-Pilgrimages in the time of Covid-19 at the 9th Annual Sacred Journeys Conference. And finally, I was honored with the Metcalfe Endowed Keynote Speaker honorarium to present “Adventure and Explorations in Research” at the 72nd Annual Cortland Recreation Conference at SUNY Cortland.

The students have been a highlight of my year. In fall of 2023, RECR 479 Reconstructing Tourism: Issues and Ethics was back at Neah Bay where we learned about community-based sustainable tourism with the Makah First Nation. It was wonderful to reconnect with friends and leaders. In spring 2023, the highlights for me were Camp TEAM and the magic that our students created with community members, along with our overnight rafting trip on the Wenatchee River. Winter quarter, students worked so hard to prepare and secure their summer internships. Each student positively impacted the host agencies as well as the people they served. Their work continues to be excellent, and their commitment and engagement in the community is second to none.

Please stay connected either via email or through our RML Facebook and Instagram pages.

Facebook: WWU Recreation Management and Leadership

Instagram: Rec Management & Leadership


Keith Russell

Greetings from Bellingham and the great Pacific Northwest. I write to you all this year from a different perspective and perch. It is one that has taken me through the foggy haze of “Imposter Syndrome,” to generally being terrified when I woke up each morning wondering what I had gotten myself in to, to a strange sense of calm and presence over the last four months. On August 1st, I started in my new position as the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Last February, I reluctantly penned a letter in support of my application, and three months later, was offered the position. I say reluctantly because I knew I would miss the faculty, staff, and students in the department of Health and Human Development and my role as chair of the department. Moreover, I also knew I would miss my teaching and research in in Recreation Management and Leadership. All of that is true, but I am slowly settling in to my new normal and getting accustomed to the role during these challenging times in higher education and the world around us. I feel fortunate and grateful to have the support of the 16 different departments and programs and the amazing chairs and staff I get to work with in the college.

Sheri and I are adjusting to our new empty-nested life, as our two girls are all grown up and out adventurously living their lives. Alena is in her first year of an MFA program in Art History at NYU and living in the Bronx. She loves being at the center of the arts world but misses the PNW and wide-open spaces. Maysee is in her senior year at the University of Oregon studying Urban and Environmental Planning and Public Policy and is working at a coffee shop. It will be fun to see where they land in the coming years. Sheri is still running Bellingham Mediation and teaches two courses a quarter for the College of the Environment on Environmental Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution. We had an amazing trip to Italy this summer as a family that we will never forget.

We hope you have a healthy and adventurous year and please stay in touch. Also, hold your loved ones tight as we continue to navigate the unrest in the world. My thoughts are with you all during these challenging times. Stop by if you are ever in the neighborhood. It would be great to catch up over a cup of tea!

Keith with two daughters and wife standing in from of mountains smiling
Keith Russell and his family hiking in the Dolomites.

Randy Burtz

Like every year it feels as though the only thing that stays the same is constant change! I’m sure that I won’t be the only one to comment on the retirement of Katey Roemmele. I remember my first days at Western almost 20 years ago bantering with Katey and gaining such a deep appreciation for her professional abilities, clever wit, and kind heart. My productivity may have decreased a bit, but the laughter and smiles were certainly a worthy exchange. The students often referred to her as “Phase Mom”, and while we’re so very happy for her to begin her retirement, we feel the loss every day. Also, the inevitable progression of Keith from RML Program Coordinator, to Department Chair, to Dean of the College took place. Fortunately, he still joins for some RML events and lectures!

As always, my family is the other wonderful center of my world. We have one son at WSU and another getting ready to drive, which absolutely boggles my mind. Professionally I’m working on some scholarship around trauma-informed care and the rewilding of natural areas. Totally divergent subjects, but as I always joke, I’m a two-trick pony (at least in my mind). I also have to add that last quarter was an absolute blast with a great Phase 4 cohort who filled the office lounge on a daily basis!

I hope everyone is out there thriving in these difficult times, and as always, we love to hear from you! Please keep in touch!

Randy and two students wearing helmets smiling in front of river
Randy Burtz enjoying some river time with amazing alums Katie King and Christopher Copeland.

Melissa D'Eloia

Greetings RML alumni! As I reflect on the last couple of years, I am filled for the first time in many years with gratitude and hope. After several years of upheaval and uncertainty, it feels incredible to say that RML is finally back in full swing. We have returned to overnight retreats and raft trips, all classes are in-person, and you can feel the amazing energy of phase. Every day, as I walk to my office, I find myself navigating a maze of RML students who have made our wing of Carver their home away from home. In between classes, you will find our students playing hacky sack, drinking coffee/tea, studying, laughing, and supporting each other as they navigate the many stressors that the academic quarter can bring.

The fall 2023 quarter brought much change as we are now without Dr. Keith Russell and Katey Roemmele. The RML program is simply not the same without them and they are sorely missed by students and faculty alike. 

Professionally, I have been busy as ever. In fall 2022, I was elected to the Council on Accreditation of Parks, Recreation, Tourism and Related Professions (COAPRT) as an Educator Representative. COAPRT accredits baccalaureate programs in parks, recreation, tourism, sport management, event management, therapeutic recreation, and leisure studies within the United States, Canada, and Mexico. I have sense joined the executive committee and am serving as Vice Chair. In January 2024, I will also join the editorial board of the Therapeutic Recreation Journal, which is a renowned quarterly publication devoted to publishing scholarship in the field of therapeutic recreation/recreational therapy. When not at work, you can find me recreating with my family (Greg, Orion, and our dog Loki). Please stop by Carver 209 if you are in the neighborhood and say hello. Wishing everyone a wonderful new year.

Mother and sun skiing, standing on a hill in snow smiling
Melissa D’Eloia enjoying a powder day in British Columbia with her son Orion.

Kristen Chmielewski

This past year has been such a wonderful one on both the personal and professional fronts. Both of my parents visited Bellingham over the summer, and my dad finally got to meet Harper, my two-year-old super mutt. I traveled to New Orleans with college friends, and my found family in Bellingham continued to adventure our way across the PNW and Canada. I also, like so many others, caught the pickleball bug. I had played volleyball, starting in grade school and then for traveling clubs and my high school’s and college’s varsity teams, and I hadn’t realized how much I missed and needed competitive sport in my life. To parrot so much of what we discuss in our RML classes, this new hobby has done wonders for my mental health and has introduced me to an incredibly diverse, welcoming community in Bellingham I’d never have met otherwise. My dogs Scout and Harper continue to be the best snuggle buddies and to grace many a class PowerPoint.

On the professional front, this past year has been tremendously fulfilling. I received tenure, so I officially started this year as an associate professor. The History of Education Society asked me to co-chair its Presidential Taskforce on Access and Inclusion, and I worked with the other co-chair to intentionally create space for disabled scholars and work on disability history both in the society and at our annual conference in Atlanta last November. In that vein, I had the privilege of teaching WWU’s first ever Critical Disability Studies course for our new Institute for Critical Disability Studies. Our Phasers continue to be so engaged both in and outside of class, and working with community partners the Max Higbee Center and the Mount Baker Care Center gave our TR students the opportunity to practice both individual and group program planning. Our new Phase I students ran an incredibly fun, jam-packed Surf’s Up themed Camp TEAM at Bloedel Donovan Park, and Western Today published a story on it here. I also got to cheer on recent RML graduate and Honors student Logan Cornwell as he researched the history of the Recreation major at WWU and mapped the location of over 650 Phaser internships—complete with site details, local activities not to be missed, and other vital information—for the benefit of future Phasers.

Kristen and students standing together smiling in front of projector screen
Kristen Chmielewski celebrating Logan Cornwell’s successful honors project presentation

Lindsay Poynter

2023 was an engaging year with students fully back in person for regular retreats, rafting trips, and all the typical socializing that enhances learning and connection.  The highlight of my year was helping to build and teach courses for the Outdoor Wellness Peer Mentoring program.  Developed by the Recreation Management & Leadership program, the A.S. Outdoor Center, and the Counseling and Wellness Center, the Outdoor Wellness Program pairs Western students with peer mentors who will work with participants during winter and spring quarters to create weekly nature-based experiences designed to boost their wellness. These experiences may support health maintenance, be used as prevention and/or help move individuals from surviving to thriving.  https://cwc.wwu.edu/outdoor-wellness-program. Outside of work I'm continuing to trail run, play music, ski, backpack, read and spend time with my awesome family and friends.  I think about the past phasers often and wish you all the best!

Lindsay and two kids standing on ferry deck in front of a sunset

RML News and Updates

Katey Roemmele Retirement

Hello RML alumni and friends! Some of you may not have heard that I retired as of 9/15/23. It is pretty amazing to me that I worked as RML secretary and HHD event coordinator for almost 21 years (that second position for the last three and a half years). Between attending Western as a student and working there, I spent 36 years on campus. Over half my life. It was such a beautiful place to work (I think that's the main reason I chose to attend Western way back in 1975...though it was a lot smaller then!). But when I started working there, I pretty soon realized that the students were the best thing about working at Western (also shoutout to all the wonderful faculty and staff I made friends with over the years). In the HHD department in general, and in the RML program specifically, the students were always so thoughtful, respectful, and caring towards me, AND they were so much fun! So, thank you to the alumni who crossed my path as students (and also alumni I only knew virtually) who made working at Western a joy. I'm forever grateful. Now...on to a new joy: NOT having to set an alarm clock!

Katey and her family standing together smiling
Katey Roemmele and family October 2023

2022-23 Student Award Recipients

2022-2023 Scholarship Recipients

Double-Eagle III Scholarship: Rae Osborne and Marisa Viteritti

Jake Merrill Outdoor Leadership Scholarship: Isaac Bozeman and Abigail Anderson

Jake Merrill Fund for Outdoor Leadership, Safety and Training: Sage Brozovich (Wilderness First Responder), Ruthie Yawney (High Angle Rescue), and Isaac Bozeman (Avalanche Training AIARE 2)

Legacy Scholarship: Christa Robertson

Manfred and Diane C. Parker Endowment Scholarship: Drew Murphy


2023 Phase IV Awards

Outstanding Graduate Award: Mikaela Keller

Academic Achievement Award: Camille Wood-Foucar and Chloe Young

Servant Leader Award: Logan Cornwell

Recreation Management and Leadership Phase IV Speaker: Joe Davies



Community Partner Award 2023: Community Boating Center, Bryan Rust and Angela Morovic

 Alumni Spotlight

Girl sitting in car with dog in the desert

Alicia Burki, Class of 2017

In addition to my full-time job in Construction and Maintenance for State Parks, I’ve been heavily involved in worker’s rights in the public sector as a Shop Steward, Trades Representative, active lobbying member, and Committee member on the Statewide Skilled Labor and Trades (SLAT); Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (DEI); Natural Resources Policy and Statewide Executive Board for the Washington federation of State Employees (WFSE-AFSCME Council 28). In my spare time, I can usually be found at a local climbing crag re-bolting routes, photographing friends and family, or hanging out with my dog.

Man wake surfing in the desert on blue water

Michael Stover, Class of 2017

Michael Stover is the Lead Recreation Therapist for VA Puget Sound and works at the American Lake VA hospital. Michael graduated from WWU in December 2017 and acquired his CTRS in April of 2018.  A Marine Corps Veteran, Michael knew that he wanted to work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and accomplished this goal just 10 days after graduating from WWU. Although he has been in various roles during his time at the VA, in his current role, he is the Recreation Therapist on two Polytrauma Interdisciplinary teams that serve Veterans with sever TBI. In this role, Michael can assist Veterans with re-engaging in their recreation and leisure passions through adaptation, social engagement and active participation with local resources and at national VA adaptive sports clinics and competitions. Over the last year Michael assisted Veterans with participation in the VA’s summer sports clinic, wheelchair games and golf clinic, and facilitated an adapted wake surfing clinic with a local organization. Along with this role, Michael is also the Chair of the Whole Health Committee in Rehabilitation Care Services where he helps create a path for implementing the Whole Health approach to healthcare that empowers and equips Veterans to take charge of the life and health. In his leisure time, Michael spends time with his wife Sierra and two boys, Ryker and Caleb pursuing multiple activities, including hiking, camping, 3d printing, traveling and riding motorcycles.

Ways to Give to the RML Program

As always, we appreciate your support of Recreation Management and Leadership, which allows us to offer more opportunities to our students. Our RML Foundation Fund covers conference attendance, special events, guest speakers, research, equipment, materials, etc. Our Legacy Scholarship Fund supports students while on their internship, helping cover tuition, lodging, travel to the internship site and general living expenses.

Online: Recreation Management and Leadership Foundation Fund

Recreation Management and Leadership Legacy Scholarship

Health and Human Development Foundation Fund

Via phone: 360-650-3027

With a check made payable to the WWU Foundation: Please indicate which fund you are donating to on the memo line of your check. Mail to: WWU Foundation, 516 High St., Mailstop 9034, Bellingham, WA 98225-9034

Thank you for your generosity. We appreciate your support!

Students with graduation caps and gowns standing together smiling
Congratulations to Spring Phase IV
Students standing together smiling in classroom
Fall 2023 RML Program Graduates. Congratulation Phase IV!
Students in graduation caps and gowns standing in red square smiling
Fall 2023 Graduation with Dean Russell