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Alumni Council

Alumni Council members serve as ambassadors of The University of Olivet and the Office of Alumni Engagement by volunteering during events such as Homecoming, reviewing Alumni Council Scholarship applications, hosting events, contacting fellow alumni and making lifelong connections.

Frank Barretta '05

Frank graduated magna cum laude from Olivet College with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. Upon graduation, he moved to South Carolina to pursue a master of science in genetics from Clemson University. Frank has spent over 10 years in agricultural commodity testing; he currently serves as the director of quality and compliance for a multi-state analytical cannabis laboratory. While on Olivet’s campus, Frank met his wife, Katie (Edick) ‘06. They have lived in Ovid, Michigan, for the last 15 years, raising their family of four daughters. Frank is quick to voice his Comet pride. He is one of the newest members of the Alumni Council and is excited to see how he can give back to the Comet community.

Lydia (Allen) Brennan '98

Lydia R. (Allen) Brennan is currently serving as a legislative aide for a Councilman in Harford County, Maryland. She is responsible for overseeing district initiatives, maintaining positive community relations as well as office management. Prior to this position, she was the president of The Allen Brennan Group (ABG), a government affairs consulting company specializing in legislative affairs management, identifying and securing tax savings, and reputation management for businesses. The ABG also provided consulting services to political candidates, including development of campaign strategy, speech writing, and image consultation.

Prior to founding the ABG, Lydia worked as a government affairs manager for Visteon Corporation, a global automotive supply company, where she managed government affairs at the local, state and federal levels. She also served as a legislative aide in the Michigan House of Representatives for two State Representatives.

Lydia received a B.A. in communications from Olivet College, with a minor in psychology. In 2005, she was a Fellow in the Michigan State University, Institute of Public Policy and Research, political leadership program (MPLP), which is a multi-partisan program that brings together a diverse group of select individuals to engage in a public policy and leadership curriculum.

Lydia resides in Maryland with her husband of fourteen years, Dr. John K. Brennan, and their three children.

Angelique (Korstanje) Cook '11

Angelique (Korstanje) Cook was born in Ontario, Canada, and raised in Charlotte, Michigan. Angelique graduated from Charlotte High School in 2006.

After transferring from Lansing Community College, Angelique attended The University of Olivet and graduated in 2011, majoring in sociology and minoring in psychology. While at Olivet College, Angelique was active within Alpha Lambda Epsilon and Middle Ground, and she participated in service learning.

Angelique has recently joined the Alumni Council and says, “I am excited to participate as part of The University of Olivet Alumni Council. I am incredibly thankful for my time and experiences at The University of Olivet and I wish to support the College in future endeavors.”

Angelique served with AmeriCorps for a year after graduating. She now serves as a social worker working in the mental health field in Jackson, Michigan

Nicole (Gregory) Durga '09

Nicole Durga ’09 is the clinical quality manager for the Mary Free Bed healthcare system’s homecare division. She is responsible for the development and implementation of process improvement strategies, guides company outcomes and facilitates value driven connection and collaboration initiatives. In addition, Nicole is a licensed physical therapist. She received her doctorate in physical therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2012. In her 20 years of working in health care she has contributed to organizations in a variety of ways, including as a practicing physical therapist, clinical instructor, team mentor, learning and development resource, new hire trainer, clinical field staff supervisor and regulatory and compliance resource.

Nicole was a biology pre-med major and minored in physical and psychological wellness. She graduated, magna cum laude, while participating in a multitude of opportunities available at Olivet, including being a member of the Global Citizen Honors Program, vice president of Soronian Literary Society and assisted with new student orientation. She was on the cheerleading squad for four years, played softball, was nominated to be on the Homecoming Court and was a Shipherd Hall RA.

“Olivet provides an immersive experience for what being in community, with people who have different experiences and perspectives, looks like. It’s an opportunity to try new things, expand skill sets and innovate, while providing an environment for young adults to begin to identify their values and start to establish the foundation for who they may become. Being a part of the Alumni Council is an opportunity to continue to be actively engaged in the Olivet community.”

Nicole resides in her hometown of Grand Rapids, with her husband, Mike Durga ’08, and their two children, Mike Jr. and MacKenzie.

Barron Evans '77, Chair

Barron double majored in political science and English literature, graduating from Olivet College in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts. While on campus, Barron was immersed in student life including forensics, theatre, music, ODK and ISC. In addition, he held leadership roles on dean of student committees, was the national secretary of the Federation of German Students, and the first male president of Alpha Lambda Epsilon society, having been one of the inaugural male pledges the prior year.

Upon graduation from Olivet, Barron relocated to Washington D.C. where he had enjoyed a professional semester with the Population Crisis Committee during his undergraduate studies. He continued his education, earning a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in organizational development. It was the large organizational policy, people and process learning that would guide his diverse 35-year career engagements in private, public, consultancy and 501c3 capacities, including telecom, a change management start-up, global advertising, pharmaceuticals and consulting. His career resulted in eight national and three international residence moves, with opportunities to work, live and play in over 40 countries.

With a robust professional experience, Barron has also enjoyed a rich avocational journey, volunteering and serving on boards globally and in the United States, focusing on youth mentoring, the arts, developmental disabilities and healthcare. One affiliation of which he’s particularly proud is the Ronald McDonald House, where he’s volunteered in five U.S. cities for nearly 20 years.

Barron relocated to Ann Arbor in 2017 from Dallas for closer proximity to family, and he currently consults on helping enterprises realize sustainable business outcomes through application of change management and value creation principles. Consistent with his history of giving back and leveraging the The University of Olivet credo of social responsibility, Barron will play a leadership role with the Alumni Council, his condo association board, the Ronald McDonald House, the Ann Arbor Art Center, and the St. Joseph Mercy Health System.

Barron serves as the chair of the Alumni Council.

Alexander Miller '00

Alexander (Alex) R. Miller ’00 is an experienced scholar-practitioner in higher education administration. A proud native of Chicago’s westside, Alex has devoted his life and work to fostering environments that help young people thrive and meet their full potential.

Alex earned a bachelor’s degree in communication from Olivet College, a master’s degree in college student affairs administration from Michigan State University, and a doctor of education in higher education administration from Northern Illinois University.

He currently serves as the vice president for student life at Denison University. Previously, Alex held two roles at Harvard University, serving as the associate dean of student engagement and the acting associate dean of students for inclusion and belonging. With over 20 years of experience in higher education as an administrator and adjunct faculty, Alex has held leadership positions at Syracuse University, Tulane University, DePaul University and the University of Chicago. His research examines the intersection of transformational learning theory and identity formation among college students between the ages of 18-24.

Mauricio Palli '07

Mauricio Palli ’07, also known on campus as “Moe,” is a Chicago native. He received a bachelor’s degree from Olivet College in secondary education with a major in social studies and a minor in biology. At Olivet, Moe was active on campus and was a part of various student organizations, including The Society of Hosford Scholars, the Gay Straight Alliance and Earthbound. He was also a member of the Phi Alpha Pi fraternity, ran cross country and track, and participated in the scholarship phone-a-thon as a student.

After graduation, Moe worked as an academic adviser for Robert Morris University in Chicago. During this time, he graduated from Roosevelt University with a Master of Arts in training and development. This opened another opportunity for him at Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), where he was a development and recruitment manager for their North American online sales office. While at H&M, he worked very closely with local managers and public relations in Mexico to implement the Spanish-speaking bilingual agent teams. Through his drive and initiative, his team managed all email and customer service correspondence from Latin America. In addition, he worked with the human resources site manager to recruit top talent for the online/customer service office. Moe also worked for GrubHub at their headquarters in Chicago.

Currently, Moe is working forRoti Modern Mediterranean, a company offering an exciting new dining experience in Chicago, New York, Minneapolis and Dallas. Moe is the senior instructional designer, responsible for the design and deployment of the entire training and education program for the company.

Moe enjoys meeting other Olivet alumni at social events and loves attending College events to connect with current students. “I joined the Alumni Council because I believe the skills learned at Olivet have positively impacted my personal and professional life,” he said.

Dan Pantaleo '85

Dan graduated from Olivet College in 1985 with a political science and history degrees. While at Olivet, he was the captain of the wrestling team. Upon graduation, he attended the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, where he was commissioned a second lieutenant in December 1985. During his 20-plus-year career, his assignments included duties in the Pacific and European theaters and state-side assignments. In his final tour, Dan was working in Washington, D.C., when the Pentagon was attacked on 9/11. He led critical recovery efforts at the Pentagon after the attack, which he chronicled in his book, “Four Days at the Pentagon.”

After retiring from the Marine Corps in 2005, Dan served in various senior executive positions for private firms supporting the Department of Defense. From March 2012 until May 2016, Dan was a sought-after keynote speaker on leadership. He spoke on four continents (Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America) and at numerous leadership forums throughout the United States.  Dan fully retired in 2017 and is now very active in his church as a teacher, missionary and speaker. He remains active as a high school wrestling referee and competitive golfer. Dan was inducted into the Olivet College Hall of Fame in 1991 and received the 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award.

He is married to his high school sweetheart, Jacqueline, and they reside in Fredericksburg, Virginia. They are the proud parents of Joseph, Amanda, and April  and are grandparents to seven wonderful grandchildren. Dan credits his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for the wonderful blessings he’s enjoyed and has taken to heart The University of Olivet motto: “Pro Christo et Humanitate.”

Michael Ryan '07

Michael Ryan ’07 is a native of Eastpointe, Michigan and is a 2004 graduate of East Detroit High School. He graduated from Olivet College’s bachelor’s degree in music. Michael was also an early participant in the Global Citizen Honors Program and worked with the new student orientation program during his college years.

Michael has worked in the automotive industry since graduation. He is currently General Sales Manager at Livonia Chrysler Jeep in Livonia and resides in Brighton.

Michael joined the Alumni Council after serving in the Class Captain program in hopes of giving even more back to The University of Olivet. He hopes to help foster greater cooperation between the Alumni Council and Class Captain program and become better connected with alumni of all ages.

Mike Storer ' 04

A 2004 Olivet College graduate, Mike obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration with an insurance concentration. His four years on campus were very active; he was engaged with the insurance society Gamma Iota Sigma, was a member of the men’s varsity wrestling team, and helped create, as well as act, as “Clyde the Comet” in his inaugural year as the mascot.

Upon graduating, Mike moved to New Jersey to begin his career in the insurance industry. Although he initially started his career in brokerage, he has spent the last 15 years on the underwriting side. In addition to Mike’s daily roles and responsibilities, he is also involved with mentorship and coaching to help further develop the skill sets and career development of younger talent as they kick-start their professional journeys. He married his wife, Laura, in 2011, and they have two wonderful kids, Nate, 8, and Maeve, 6. Outside of his professional career, Mike supports his kids’ soccer, baseball, swimming, softball and dance activities by coaching or holding board positions.  He enjoys traveling, playing golf and visiting the beach with his family.

Brad Thomas '19

Brad, a native of Battle Creek, attended Olivet from 2015-19. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in insurance. He was an active member of Olivet’s cross country and track and field programs and can confidently say he ran every street within eight miles of campus.

Brad spent a year in San Diego in a business development program with other college graduates nationwide upon graduation. This experience led to his passion for financial planning, which led him to return to Michigan as a financial advisor serving families in the Grand Rapids area. His most recent endeavor is in private banking, specializing in business succession planning, multi-generational wealth planning and partnering with non-profits and foundations.

Brad enjoys spending time with his wife, Cassie, and their two dogs and two cats. They are avid DIYers, always finding new projects for their home and garden. In addition, Brad is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist, whether rain or shine.

Brad said of his opportunity to serve on the Council, “It’s an honor to give back to the community of Olivet and continue to share the impact UO has on students with a greater audience. I’m thankful for the relationships and experiences I made and had at Olivet and look forward to contributing to the Alumni Council.”

Sue Topping '77

Sue was born and raised in Jackson, Michigan and is a 1973 graduate of Jackson High School in. She graduated from Olivet College in 1977 with a degree in economics and business administration, with a concentration in accounting and finance.

Sue has been licensed as a certified public accountant since 1982. She retired from the City of Lansing is 2011, where she served as deputy city treasurer. Presently, she run an active tax and accounting practice.

Sue enjoys playing the euphonium in the Lansing Concert Band and the Michigan State University Alumni Band. She is active in the Leonard Falcone International Euphonium and Tuba Festival.

Sue has been a member of the Alumni Council for more than 15 years.

“The Olivet Alumni Council is important to me for the continued relationships it builds. It also allows me to have firsthand knowledge of activities taking place on Campus and updates on students, faculty, administration, alumni and friends.”

Tala Welch '77

Captain Tala Welch ’77, a native from Niles, Michigan is a graduate from Niles High School. She received her bachelor’s degree in music from Olivet College and earned her master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the United States Naval War College.

Tala retired from the United States Navy after serving for 27 years. She served her country in various locations and Naval commands in the United States and overseas. She has served in Washington, D.C; Norfolk, Virginia: San Antonio, Texas: Newport, Rhode Island; and Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory. Her areas of expertise include training, personnel, data processing, traffic management and facilities management.

Tala has earned multiple military awards for her service and achievements, including Legion of Merit (2), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (5), Navy Commendation Medal (3), Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation and Meritorious Unit Commendation (2).

After her time in the Navy, Tala returned to Niles. She currently volunteers as Moderator of the Board of Deacons at the First Presbyterian Church of Niles. In her free time, she is pursuing her hobbies of cooking, reading, and weaving.

Woody Wiley '68

Linwood “Woody” Wiley was born and raised in the small town of Wenham, Massachusetts, graduating from the Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School in 1964. A visit by a team from Olivet College, that was touring high schools in the northeast, impressed his guidance counselor who suggested Olivet to Woody. He wanted a small college and Olivet College was the answer.

While at Olivet he was a member of the Choral Ensemble, an advisor at Blair Hall, president of the Circle K (Kiwanis) Club, president of the Student Michigan Education Association Chapter and was a student employee in the printing/mailroom dept. He was active in the Olivet Congregational Church where he taught Sunday school. He received The University of Olivet presidential citations in 1967 and 1968, and did his student teaching in Charlotte prior to his graduation in 1968 with a BA in English and Education. He is also an active supporter of the Kappa Sigma Alpha fraternity.

After graduation, he had a rewarding year teaching Junior High English in Bellevue (1968-69) while also serving as an intern with the Michigan Education Association visiting campuses throughout the state on weekends. He then returned to Massachusetts where, in 1970, he received a Master of Education in secondary school administration from Salem State University.

Upon graduation he was recruited into the professional service of the Boy Scouts of America. Over his 42-year career he served as a district executive in Boston, finance director in New York City as well as executive director in Boy Scout councils in Glens Falls and Jamestown, New York. He was appointed to the organization’s national staff in 2000 and retired in 2012 as assistant regional director for the Northeast Region which encompasses Boy Scouts of America councils throughout the Northeast plus Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Europe (for USA business and military dependents).

Woody married his college sweetheart in 1968 and he and Sue have a son, three daughters and nine grandchildren. They currently reside in Collegedale, Tennessee where he has served as president of the local Kiwanis Club and volunteers at WSMC, the Chattanooga classical FM station, and at Southern Adventist University.

“In addition to my financial support over the years, I am proud to be a member of the Alumni Council as it is another way for me to repay the college that changed my life in so many ways. Olivet, its faculty, student friends and friends in the community all contributed to my development for which I’m profoundly grateful.”

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