Diane Simonson Dukes, '90 BS Hotel Administration, recently was awarded the Best Meeting Professional for 2020 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Minnesota Meetings & Events. Last year, she was promoted to vice president of meetings & events within the non-profit association where she has worked for 15 years. In 2019, she and her husband celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary back where it all started — Las Vegas! Her passions are travel and American history, and she says she often is lucky enough to combine both interests. She has visited all 50 states (some many times) and now is working on seeing all the national parks and presidential libraries. She has seen nine out of 14 libraries and visited almost 40 national parks. She tries to plan her vacations around which park or library she wants to see next. The couple lives in Lakeville, Minnesota.
Phil Thompson, '02 BS Architecture, recently was recruited to take over as the architectural manager for the western region of American Homes 4 Rent / AMH Development. In this role, he is responsible for management of resources and schedules for the design, development, and maintenance of documents related to AH4R's architectural projects within AMH Development’s ground-up, build-to-rent single family residential communities. He oversees projects in Seattle; Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City; Denver; Phoenix; San Antonio; and Las Vegas. He has more than 25 years’ experience in architecture & development, capital markets & banking, and strategic project, personnel, & organizational management. Before his private sector career, he served seven years in the U.S. Navy submarine service and was honorably discharged with a service-connected disability after serving aboard two different Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarines and with the deep submergence unit rescue team. He also volunteers with a number of community organizations.
Matthew O'Brien, '15 MA English - Creative Writing, and former adjunct professor at UNLV (2012-16), has a book due out in October with Las Vegas-based Central Recovery Press. Dark Days, Bright Nights: Surviving the Las Vegas Storm Drains is an oral account from people who lived in the city’s underground flood channels and got out and turned around their lives. These redemption stories cast light on a rarely seen side of Las Vegas and offer a portrait of homelessness and recovery in America. (The book was edited by his classmate, Dan Hernandez, '15 MA English.) He also is the author of two other books, Beneath the Neon (Huntington Press 2007) and My Week at the Blue Angel (Huntington Press 2010). Additionally, he is the founder of Shine a Light, a program that provides housing, counseling, and other services to the people in the drains. Part of the proceeds from Dark Days, Bright Nights will benefit Shine a Light. From 2017 until this July he was a teacher and tutor with Escuela Americana. His hobbies include reading, working out, hiking, traveling, and urban exploring. He lives in San Salvador, El Salvador.
Jill Flemington Schutte
Jill Flemington Schutte, '65 BS Elementary Education, was a member of UNLV's first graduating class when the school was formally named the Southern Regional Division of the University of Nevada and popularly known as Nevada Southern. Students were required to spend a year at what is now UNR before graduating. She now substitutes in the Temecula Valley Unified School District, having retired from the Anaheim City Schools after 46 years teaching in K-12 systems in California, Connecticut, Oklahoma, and Virginia. In Oklahoma, where she earned a master's degree in guidance from the University of Central Oklahoma, she also worked as a guidance counselor. In Virginia, she also was an administrator. She volunteers in Rotary, PEO, and at schools as well as at church. Her hobbies include gardening, sewing, reading, travel, and visiting museums, Broadway shows, and historic sites in Europe and America. She and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Jack G. Schutte, celebrated their 55th anniversary in August. The parents of two adult children, they have traveled to every continent except Antarctica. They enjoy reading, studying, and playing games. The couple lives in Murrieta, California.
Brittany Thompson, '11 BA Communication Studies, is a script supervisor, TV production professional, and singer / songwriter who recently released her debut single in the middle of a global pandemic. She says isolation gave her the space to reconnect with her first love, music, and use her creativity and production skills to release the song independently. "Permission," is the name of the song, which she released under the name Brit Thompson. It's available everywhere music can be streamed. She began her entertainment career as the director's production assistant at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in 2012. She also maintains a travel blog called Cultures Uncovered that documents her journeys around the globe and shares resources with other female solo travelers. She lives in Los Angeles.
Larry Lyon, '71 BA Psychology, has worked in various mental health positions for many years since earning his master's degree in experimental psychology and a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Washington State University. For the past six years he has worked at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System. His previous jobs included 19 years in private practice in The Dalles, Oregon. He recently saw a long-held dream realized with the publication of a book, 1930: Manhattan to Managua, North America's First Transnational Automobile Trip, originally written by his uncle, Arthur Lyon, who with his younger brother; Joe Lyon, Jr., drove their 1930 Ford Model A Roadster from New York to Managua all under their own power. Larry Lyon wrote the introduction, while award-winning Nevada author Sally Denton wrote the conclusion. Denton compared it with travel writings by Charles Lindbergh, Jack Kerouac, and John Steinbeck. His main hobby is music. He lives in Boulder City.
Perry Keith Todd, '84 BS Hotel Administration, is a table games supervisor and pit supervisor in dice at the California Hotel and Casino. He has worked in gaming for more than 35 years and spent five years working in food and beverage. For the last 21 years he has been a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and has worked on films and television. He recently wrote a script, The Diplomat, which is the life story of Angelo Bertolotti, the late father of the late Brittney Murphy. Bertolotti was the cowriter. He reads scripts and plays. He also collects movie posters, signed photos of movie stars, and anything related to Hollywood. He has studied acting. He enjoys eating in gourmet restaurants and has a collection of restaurant menus. Foreign travel, greyhound racing, and handicapping greyhound and horse racing are among his hobbies. He has been married to Jennifer Truong for 21 years and has a three step-children and three grandchildren. One of his daughters-in-law is a graduate of UNLV's School of Nursing.
Evangelin Lee, '06 JD, has joined McKinsey & Company's legal department as associate general counsel. She is the lead attorney for the firm on aerospace and defense matters. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
Diane Karagienakos, '86 BSBA - Marketing, earned a master of arts degree with distinction in anthrozoölogy, the multidisciplinary study of human-animal relations, from England's University of Exeter in 2019. She recently led an online discussion, "Animals under a Human Pandemic: The Effects of COVID-19," at that university. She is seeking opportunities that draw upon my her experience in marketing, background in film, and education in/passion for animal rights and the natural world to design and implement strategies for organizations to become more responsible global citizens. She volunteers as an animal assisted therapy team with her pup, Picard, visiting a variety of vulnerable populations, such as people in hospice, psychiatric wards, and subacute wards, as well as community centers and children's literacy programs. Recently, she has combined her certifications as a human-animal intervention specialist and pet loss grief recovery specialist and, along with Picard, formed a companion animal loss meeting in Sacramento, California, for people who have suffered the loss of a companion animal, either recent or in the past. Vegan Greek cooking is her hobby. She lives in San Francisco.
Brad Weiss, '00 MA Communication Studies, who uses the name Brad Carson for professional purposes, was voted as the No. 1 mid market program director in America for 2019, according to Barrett Sports Media's annual poll. He lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
Marissa Nichols, '08 BS Human Services Counseling, '10 Master of Education Counselor Education, '10 PhD Higher Education Leadership, one of the emerging leaders in the landscape of intercollegiate student-athlete development, was named the first associate athletics director of the newly formed Cameron Institute at UC Berkeley in September 2019. The Cameron Institute, a comprehensive model to support student-athlete development, was made possible through a $12.5 million gift from C. Bryan Cameron and is based upon three pillars — leadership and personal development, career development, and community engagement. A former NCAA Woman of the Year finalist and first-team All-American softball player at UNLV, she had spent the past two years at Boston University where she was the institution's first director of leadership & career development and oversaw the inaugural Bloom Family Leadership Initiative, which focused on the holistic development of student-athletes. She lives in Oakland, California.
Jasmine Crighton, '06 MA Journalism and Media Studies, is an assistant teaching professor in the School of Media & Communication at Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Ohio. She started at BGSU in Fall 2019 after teaching for seven years at Western Illinois University in the Broadcasting & Journalism Department. She is a two-time winner of the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s Outstanding Advisor Award for College Television and recently has been recognized as a Distinguished Broadcast Adviser by the College Media Association. She also was named a “Noteworthy Journalism Educator” in 2019 by Crain’s NewsPro magazine.