Posts Tagged ‘Alumni’

CEO of Saddleback Leather Co. Dave Munson chosen for 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award

PORTLAND, Ore. – Multnomah University is proud to announce the recipient of the 2015 Alumnus of the Year Award: Dave Munson, CEO of Saddleback Leather Company.


Munson began attending MU in 1992 after a mission trip inspired him to study the Bible like never before. “I wanted to do ministry the rest of my life, so I knew I needed more education,” he says. “I came to Multnomah because I was trying to be obedient.”

After graduating with a degree in Bible and Theology, Munson moved to Mexico and began teaching English. He looked everywhere for the perfect carry-on to hold his school books, but nothing fit his criteria. That’s when he collaborated with a local craftsman to design his first leather bag.

When the bag started receiving multiple compliments a day, a lightbulb turned on in Munson’s head. He scrimped and saved for more bags and then sold them — first out of his Land Cruiser, then via eBay, and now through Saddleback Leather Company, his thriving business that crafts high-quality luggage, wallets, backpacks and more.

“Even if I knew the path of my life back then…even if I knew that one day I’d own Saddleback, I would go to Multnomah again,” says Munson. “It was instilled in all of us there to be honest. There was a constant pounding on the drum for integrity.”

Munson hasn’t only applied those principles to his personal life — he’s built his entire business around them. Saddleback is committed to investing in its employees and cultivating a sustainable work environment for them. This fall, the company’s factory in Mexico will start providing free day care and school for employees’ children. Factory workers can also enroll in complimentary parenting classes, marriage seminars, counseling sessions and English courses.

Saddleback also shows its English teachers how they can respectfully share the gospel with employees. So far this year, 104 people have accepted Jesus in Munson’s factory. “This is not a business created for just financial motives,” he says. “If God had a factory, we think this is how he would run it.”

Michelle Underwood, Multnomah’s director of alumni relations, says Munson’s heart for serving his employees is one of the reasons he was selected as this year’s award recipient. “Dave is a graduate who has not only distinguished himself as a business owner, but has also demonstrated that his business is a ministry to his employees and customers,” she says. “His passion, drive, humility and generosity make him a wonderful selection for the 2015 Alumnus of the Year.”

Munson will be honored with the Alumnus of the Year award at 10 a.m. on September 7, 2015. All staff, faculty and students are welcome to attend the celebration. During the event, Munson will share more about his personal journey and business model.

‘Jesus is the ultimate holistic healer’: Alumna and naturopathic doctor Mia Potter is inspired by faith

Mia Potter isn’t your typical doctor. She doesn’t see dozens of patients each day. She isn’t fixated on conventional medicine. And she doesn’t focus on your symptoms.

Potter is a naturopathic doctor (N.D.). She completed a naturopathic medical doctoral program*, passed the national and state board exams for licensure, and works as a primary care physician at Selah Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

Her initial appointments with patients last between 60 and 90 minutes; follow-up visits are 30-45. An average appointment with a conventional doctor is 15 minutes.


“I have space with people to hear their stories,” she says. “It’s so rewarding when someone feels heard and when a treatment plan works.”

Potter’s treatment plans are as varied as the patients she sees; she doesn’t settle for a one-size-fits-all approach. “If three different people come to me with headaches, they might need three different treatments,” she says.

It takes time and patience to find and remove the root cause of an illness, and Potter is committed to finding the truth — not merely suppressing symptoms. “A headache might be caused by hormones, an allergy, lifestyle, diet, ergonomics or something else,” she says. “I try to be a detective with my patients.”

‘We want to be fixed quickly’

Many of the people Potter helps are disappointed with conventional medicine and desperate for lasting relief. But the naturopathic approach to health is not necessarily the fastest.

“We want to be fixed quickly, but it took many years for most of us to create the patterns that impact our health,” she says. “It takes years, if not a lifetime, to relearn how to live and function differently.”

Years of retraining may seem daunting, but Potter knows the rewards are worth the struggle. “It’s very much like our walk with the Lord,” she says. “As we change and grow, it can be new and awkward and confusing, but God has created things to support us. My hope is that I can journey with people while encouraging, empowering and equipping them to live healthier lives.”

‘A transformative year’

Potter’s own journey to naturopathic medicine began years before she knew what a naturopathic doctor was. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from UC Berkeley before becoming a nutritionist. Through a conference she met Mission: Moving Mountains, a holistic community development agency serving countries around the world.

Potter decided to join their ministry in Senegal, Africa, but she had to prep first: One of the requirements was a strong biblical foundation. That’s how she found herself enrolled in the graduate certificate program at Multnomah.

The 12-month course was a pivotal point in her life. “It was a transformative year,” she says. “I grew up in church and was taught a doctrine, but at Multnomah there were so many different perspectives. I was in awe. The box I had God in got exploded.”

Living on campus only enhanced her experience. “My roommates became my closest friends — we studied, prayed, cried and had a lot of fun together,” she says. “It was a really special, supportive community. I still have friends from then.”

‘A better resource’

Once Potter graduated she joined Mission: Moving Mountains in Africa, where she served on a team as a nutritionist. After six months, she returned to Oregon and married a young man she’d met at Multnomah.

The next season of Potter’s life was filled with career development as she conducted exercise and diet research at the Portland VA Hospital and Oregon Health and Science University. She worked part-time as a nutritionist in between her research jobs.

“My job made me discover that I wanted to be a better resource for my patients,” she says. That’s when her husband stepped in. “He told me I should be a naturopathic doctor. I said, ‘What the heck is that?’ But once I looked into it, I realized it fit perfectly into the path the last decade of my life had taken.”

‘The ultimate holistic healer’

That path has led her right to Selah Natural Medicine, where she practices as a primary care physician. She also teaches classes on nutrition and eating disorders to graduate students at the Helfgott Research Institute.

The biblical wisdom she cultivated at Multnomah continues to inspire Potter and her career. “My faith influences every aspect of my work,” she says. “So much of naturopathy is steeped in the Scriptures. Think about the manna for the Israelites and the living water for the woman at the well. God provides for people in the ways they need; he goes to the root cause of their issues. He is the ultimate holistic healer.”

Potter says MU fostered an openness to talk with the Lord that still influences her prayers today. “There are so many things I took from Multnomah,” she says. “I learned to walk with open hands. I pray for my patients. I trust that God will bring them to me if they’re supposed to cross my path.”

And when they do, Potter is ready to hear their stories — and help change their lives.


*Accredited, naturopathic medical doctoral programs are comprised of the hard sciences, clinical and lab diagnosis, pharmacology, treatment modalities such as botanical medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, and physical medicine, as well as clinic internships. Learn more about naturopathic medicine.

Elementary education graduate Kylie Cole opens private preschool

Kylie Cole opened her own preschool just one year after graduation. “Multnomah gave me the tools for my toolbox that I needed,” says the elementary education major. “My education equipped me mentally, emotionally and spiritually for this.” Read the full story.


Executive director and DCP alumna Gayle Fidanzo: ‘I wouldn’t be the leader I am without MU’

Comments Off Written on January 12th, 2015 by
Categories: Alumni, Press Releases, Students

When Gayle Fidanzo was offered a job at Christian Family Adoptions, she was reluctant to accept.

“We all want the desires of our heart — but I didn’t know my heart yet,” says the leadership and ministry major. The DCP graduate dreamed of taking risks, working overseas and rescuing women from slavery. “I thought an adoption agency would be boring,” she says.

It was quite the opposite. Read Gayle's story.



Looking Back and Looking Forward

Of the many activities held during commencement, our 50-year alumni society event has traditionally been one of my favorites. This year was no different. We inducted 24 members from the class of 1964 into Multnomah’s 50-year alumni society, and I was, once again, struck by the significance of this half-century mark that underscores the legacy of a Multnomah education. I believe it is a tangible expression of our rich heritage that demonstrates God’s faithfulness throughout the generations and the importance of a vital daily relationship with Him.

"Our years of training at Multnomah have resulted in much fruit, both here and abroad," said 50-year society member Dr. Tim Aldrich. The former faculty member was encouraged by the reunion with his former classmates — and by meeting MU's new president, Dr. Craig Williford, at the event.

"During the last 50 years, Multnomah has changed in response to the needs of a changing world by adding facilities, new majors and faculty members," Aldrich said. "And yet, at its core is a solid commitment to the transforming power of the Word. Having met Dr. Williford, I am confident that he will continue the Multnomah tradition and its commitment to the Word of God."

Anticipating What is Ahead

It is an honor and a great joy to be a part of the ongoing legacy of Multnomah. As I reflect back on our history, in anticipation of what is ahead, I am excited for the future. While admittedly it has been a challenging season, I have never been more encouraged to see God at work in such amazing ways.

It has been a season of prayer, as we’ve collectively sought the Lord for the man or woman who would lead the ministry of Multnomah in this next chapter. Thank you for the part you’ve played in partnering with us here. God has far exceeded our expectations and we are humbled by His graciousness in His selection of Multnomah’s new president.

I’m excited for you to meet Dr. Craig and his wife Carolyn. I think you’ll find that beyond the wealth of experience in higher education, leadership and pastoral ministry that Craig brings, he and Carolyn both have a heart for the Savior and a recognition of  their deep dependence upon Him.

A Man of Humility and Prayer

“We humbly take our place within the distinguished line of former and current trustees, faculty, staff, administration and presidents who served so sacrificially,” Craig said in response to the board of trustee’s invitation to serve as Multnomah’s fifth president. In reading his latest book, "How to Treat a Staff Infection — Resolving Problems in Your Church or Ministry Team", I’ve been encouraged to see his heart for people and ministry, as well as his incredible insight and vision for leadership. His obvious dependence on the Lord, his humility and his heart for prayer is most inspiring.

In closing, I want to leave you with the charge Craig gave to his readers: “May you always lead with godliness, humility, wisdom, courage, grace, mercy, respect, and love. As under-shepherds who report to the Head Shepherd — Christ himself — how else will we mobilize others to serve in God’s kingdom with distinction? What an awesome responsibility!”

What an awesome responsibility indeed, and what a privilege it is to serve and be a part of what God is doing this side of heaven.

In awe of God’s grace,

Michelle M. Peel-Underwood,  B.A. '00, M.A. '10

Director of Alumni Relations

Multnomah University


A Greeting from Dr. Craig Williford

Dear Alumni Family,

It’s an honor and a great privilege to assume my role as Multnomah’s fifth president today. I’m humbled by the legacy and rich heritage of Multnomah University and want to personally thank each of you for the ways you have represented Multnomah with godly distinction.

The strength of any university lies within the quality of its alumni, and Multnomah University is strong because of the ways you've invested your life in service to others — either in the marketplace or vocational ministry, locally or around the world.

As president, I want to express my complete and unreserved affirmation of Multnomah’s faith statements, mission and core values. As a biblical university, our continued aim will be to integrate the Bible into all aspects of our educational experience as we prepare alumni to be biblically competent, academically proficient, spiritually formed and culturally engaged. We trust that God will continue to infuse our future alumni with servants’ hearts and faithful lives — just like yours.

I’m excited about what lies ahead. MU faces some external and internal challenges, like many other faith-based universities. But we’re committed to prayerfully embracing these challenges while also identifying the exciting opportunities that exist as we seek to expand the work of the Gospel. As we seize these opportunities, we’ll continue to add new majors and grow our online course offerings to ensure that as many people as possible are able to benefit from the Multnomah educational experience.

I invite you — a vital part of Multnomah’s ongoing legacy — to join with us in this critical effort. If I may, I’d like to challenge you in the following three ways:

  1. Continue to tell your story. Prospective students seek advice from people they trust — people like you. Historically, our alumni have proven to be our strongest recruiters, so use your influence to motivate people to attend MU. You might even consider taking more course work yourself. We continue to expand our degree offerings and would love to have you back on campus.
  1. Join us in prayer. The board and I are calling the MU community to a day of prayer Saturday, August 16, and we would love to have you join us on campus that day. You also can join us through the spirit of prayer from wherever you live. I believe that prayer places us in a posture of humility that enables us to hear God’s voice and wisdom. Our plan is to pray in every classroom, office, dorm and gathering space throughout the entire campus as we ask God to use our human interactions in these spaces to help us fulfill our mission. We desire a strong presence of Christ on our campus and endeavor to create relationships, spaces and experiences where the Holy Spirit can transform our students. We will give more details regarding our day of prayer soon.
  1. Be a part of Multnomah’s ongoing legacy. Prayerfully consider how you might invest your time, talents and treasures to support MU in its eternally-focused mission.

I look forward to meeting you and hearing from you in the days and weeks ahead.

With deepest appreciation,


Being Transformed Into His Image

Comments Off Written on May 30th, 2013 by
Categories: Alumni, Faculty, General, Students

"And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit."
II Corinthians 3:18

“Dr. G” – As He is Affectionately Known

The auditorium erupted into applause and a standing ovation as Dr. Garry Friesen, this year’s commencement speaker, was introduced and presented with the special honor of Professor Emeritus by Multnomah’s President and Board of Trustees. The influence “Dr. G” has had in the lives of students, faculty, staff and alumni alike is remarkable.  The evening was especially significant for our Multnomah community in light of Garry’s retirement announcement after 37 years of teaching on Multnomah’s faculty.
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Overcoming Anxiety About Past Sins

Comments Off Written on May 9th, 2013 by
Categories: Alumni
Overcoming Anxiety About Past Sins

by Renée Sanford ('95)

No matter what you've done in the past, God wants you to worship Him wholeheartedly today and enjoy life to the full. It’s possible!

When I stand on a sandy beach looking out over the watery expanse of the ocean, hearing the thunder of the waves, I am awed. Every time, I think, “What a magnificent creation! What a marvelous Creator who holds these waters in the palm of His hand!” Instinctively, I begin to sing “How Great Thou Art.” No one hears me as the wind rushes my words to the Lord alone.

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On the Flip Side – Kathryn Dunbar (’98 MAPS)

Comments Off Written on February 19th, 2013 by
Categories: Alumni, General
On the Flip Side – Kathryn Dunbar (’98 MAPS)

Kathryn Dunbar (‘98 MAPS)

Kathryn graduated from Multnomah University with a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies and an emphasis in Women’s Ministries. She secured a position in the Registrar’s office at Multnomah, and worked there for four years. After studying and working at Multnomah, the Lord led Kathryn back home to Fresno. Kathryn said, “leaving Fresno to take a job at Multnomah was one of the hardest decisions to make, but returning home was almost as difficult. I created a new network of family and friends, loved my job and got involved at a church. The Lord has certainly blessed my move back.” Read the rest of this entry »

On the Flip Side

Comments Off Written on August 7th, 2012 by
Categories: Alumni, General
On the Flip Side

How does Multnomah measure its success in changing the hearts and lives of people? One way we measure success is through hearing your stories and how God is at work in you.

Help us share your story.

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