Health and Human Development Newsletter

Hello from HHD Chair Keith Russell


Keith, Sheri and daughters, Alena and Maysee, smiling and standing in front of McGill University building at graduation

The students, faculty and staff of the Department of Health and Human Development (HHD) all send you warm greetings and hope you have had an adventurous and healthy year. As I reflect on these last few years and all we have been through, I am drawn to the three pillars that have helped me navigate these tumultuous times—gratitude, patience and flexibility. I am grateful for the faculty, staff and students who have shown me what resilience and perseverance are all about these past two and a half years. We have all had to dig deep into our empathy wells and show patience with one another as we made our way through the pandemic. I have to admit some days were tougher than others, that is for sure. This past year has been a blur. In fall of 2021 we taught classes face-to-face (F2F) and in masks, pivoted back online winter quarter for a short period and then moved back into the classroom, all while dealing with COVID either individually, with our students or with our families and loved ones. But we made it through the year and continue to hope for a return to the new normal, whatever that will look like. I am forever grateful for the unbelievable efforts made by faculty this last academic year to continue to serve our students and offer a world-class education despite the myriad challenges. I am also grateful for our staff—Sue Hutchings, Katey Roemmele, Rob Eis, Denise Logue, Jen Leita and Delaney Peterson—for their continued support and flexibility in serving the department’s faculty and students.

The big news for the Russells is that we celebrated the graduation of our oldest daughter, Alena, from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where she studied art history and international development. We were fortunate enough to all attend the graduation over Memorial Day weekend together and meet her friends whom we had only met over Zoom. Our youngest daughter, Maysee, finished her first year at the University of Oregon and wants to study public policy and planning. It is wild being down in Eugene again after having spent most of my childhood there and graduating from South Eugene High School in 1986. It has changed a bit in 36 years…. We are very proud and grateful for both our girls and the plans they are making to help make the world a better place. Sheri continues to teach in Western’s Environmental Studies and Leadership programs and run her Bellingham Mediation business. The girls and I all send our best wishes and hope to see you on the trails, lakes and rivers.

We welcomed two new staff to the team in recent months. Becky Lancaster is the new HHD Instructional Lab Technician supporting the anatomy and physiology labs and the instructional use of cadavers in those courses.  Becky has a doctorate in physical therapy and has extensive experience in functional anatomy and cadaver dissection. We also said goodbye to Denise Logue, who took a position in University Advancement after receiving her degree in accounting (congratulations, Denise!), and welcomed Delaney Peterson to the program coordinator position. Delaney has extensive international experience and was a program coordinator for two different refugee programs in Greece and Seattle. We feel very fortunate to have her on the team. Shockingly, we are not welcoming any new faculty, but have recently celebrated Hillary Robey’s tenure and promotion to associate professor in the KPE program—Congratulations, Hillary!

I want to send a HUGE THANKS to everyone who contributed to the various scholarships and funds in the department in the past year. Your donations make it possible for us to: support and enrich students’ education in the form of scholarships, support students’ attendance at conferences and other learning opportunities, and maintain our state-of-the-art lab equipment. We are eternally grateful for your continued support. Thank you for helping us develop the next generation of HHD alumni who work to bring happiness and joy to others through their dedicated work in health and human development.

Please stop by Carver 102 if you are in the neighborhood and say hello. Best wishes for a healthy and adventurous 2022/2023!


Professor and Chair

Health and Human Development

Recreation Management and Leadership

HHD’s Recreation Management and Leadership Instructor Lindsay Poynter Awarded the Ronald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Award for 2022

TheRonald Kleinknecht Excellence in Teaching Awardis presented annually to one instructor or visiting faculty member from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences who has made outstanding contributions to teaching at WWU. The award was established by Ronald A. Kleinknecht, the founding dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Smiling woman standing in front of a tree with a medal around her neck

Lindsay Poynter - Health & Human Development

“As a graduate herself of the Recreation Management and Leadership Program (RML) at Western Washington University and with 18 years of private mental health counseling practice in Washington State, often drawing upon her master’s work in wilderness therapy, Lindsay brings a unique lens to her instruction at Western. In the 11 years she has been teaching at WWU she has taught over 15 different courses in RML and Health and Human Development. Some of the early training that created her foundations in teaching include work in outdoor and contemplative education, group development, and adventure therapy, including former work with Outward Bound School, Passageworks Institute, Women’s Wilderness Institute, and her time as a graduate student at Naropa University. Lindsay has long been passionate about the intersection of nature and health and lifting barriers that get in the way of humans accessing nature connection. During the fall of 2021, one of her students (Ben Crandall) approached her to help advise his Fairhaven senior project—an idea that involved creating an outdoor wellness peer mentoring program. With the support of the RML Program, the Counseling and Wellness Center and the Outdoor Center, the Outdoor Wellness Program launched this spring. Mentors and mentees meet weekly and utilize nature connecting experiences, mindfulness, physical activity and socialization as support for mental health wellness.”

Program Updates: