2019 Alumni Award Winners

Joseph Evans, Ph.D. '81 BS, ’83 MA - Distinguished Alumni Award

Joseph Evans '81, '83 - Distinguished Alumni Award

Dr. Joseph A. Evans is an executive with a record of success developing and executing strategies in the global defense markets. Joe is currently the Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy for SAAB Middle East and Africa headquartered in Washington, DC & Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Most recently, he served as SAAB's Executive Vice President and Head of Strategy and Business Development responsible for strategic development and industrial partnerships for the company in North America. Previously, Joe served as SAAB North America's Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  Prior to joining SAAB Technologies in 2004, he spent 18 years with General Dynamics Corporation in the areas of engineering design and development, supply chain management, procurement, manufacturing, finance, international sales and marketing, international program management, international business development, strategic planning and international alliances, international offset, and corporate development.  Joe is also an adjunct assistant professor of the business strategy capstone course in the MBA program at the University of Maryland Global Campus. 

Joe earned a master's degree in political science and a bachelor of science in engineering technology from Northern Michigan University.  Additionally, he holds a master's degree in international politics and economics from the University of Detroit and earned his doctorate degree in management at the University of Maryland with a dissertation focused on international mergers and acquisitions. He is a graduate of the International Operations Program in cooperation with the Stockholm School of Economics and also the Global Business Executive Leadership Program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He has been involved with a number of groups and associations including the Association of the United States Army and the National Defense Industrial Association.

Joe currently serves on the NMU Foundation Board of Trustees, the College of Business Dean's Advisory Council and the Academic Advisory Board for the Engineering Technology Department. He is a past president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.


Kristine Poole '92 BFA - Distinguished Alumni Award

Kristine Poole '92 - Distinguished Alumni AwardBorn into an artistic lineage, Kristine Poole has been following her creative path since early childhood.  Encouraged in her artistic proclivities by her parents, she discovered a passion for representational art and rendering the human figure in her formative years.

Having been awarded a Valedictorian Scholarship and a Visual Arts Scholarship, Kristine began her professional education at Northern Michigan University under the tutelage of Marvin Zehnder. Graduating Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor of fine arts degree, she has continued her artistic development through professional apprenticeships and several artist residencies. Her path merged with fellow artist and future husband Colin Poole, when he asked her to dance a Tango. Married in Greece the following year, they combined their artistic talents to develop their current style of classically inspired contemporary realism.

Kristine has become an internationally recognized artist, having been featured in publications including The Wall Street Journal, The ARC International Art Salon, Spectrum: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, Ceramics Monthly, Ceramics Ireland 500 Figures in Clay and Masters of Contemporary Fine Art.  She has completed many public art commissions including sculptures for the Carnegie Library in Howell, MI, the Game and Fish Department’s “Lifetime Achievement Awards in Wildlife Conservation,” and the Pop Culture Classroom’s “Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards,” among others. Her work has won accolades in numerous exhibitions and is included in notable public and  private collections around the country.

Kristine frequently donates her time to give lectures, demonstrations, workshops and panel talks on art and business. Her commitment to championing young artists, born years ago during her tenure as Director at NMU’s Student Art Gallery 236, found full expression recently in the conception and implementation of The Spectrum Rising Star award for Flesk Publications. Each year, the Pooles jury and present this international award recognizing and highlighting the work of a young emerging artist.

In 2015, she was selected to be the featured artist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern New Mexico. The sculptures she created for the organization raised in excess of $20,000 to help underprivileged children in her area.  The Pooles currently live and create in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo mountains overlooking Santa Fe surrounded by their menagerie of birds and beasts.


Tom Fish Ph.D. '69 BS - Alumni Achievement Award

Thomas Fish '69 - Alumni Achievement AwardDr. Tom Fish graduated from Northern Michigan University in 1969 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. He was active in student government, served as a residence hall advisor, and was founding president of the campus chapter of Circle K.  Northern was a place where Tom always felt at home and accepted. Having grown up in Northern Chicago suburbs, Marquette was a far cry from home in many ways. He learned the valuable lessons of not taking himself too seriously and looking on the brighter side of life from Dr. Lon Emerick. Tom’s Northern experience was a huge building block for his career.

Tom went on to obtain a master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University and Ph.D. in rehabilitation counseling from The Ohio State University. He spent 8 years in the field of mental health in Boston and Phoenix, before embarking on a 39-year career at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center where he taught, supervised students, conducted research and developed programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

Tom has authored three books and several journal articles as well as being the recipient of over three million dollars in eternal grants and contracts. Tom is a nationally recognized authority on sibling relationships, having developed adult information and support programs both in Ohio and across the country. 

Tom was the founder of the Next Chapter Book Club, the largest community-based reading program for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the world.  Dr. Fish was also co-founder of the largest and longest standing program serving young adults with high functioning autism and their families.

Tom received a Community Hero Award in 2018 from the Columbus Dispatch Newspaper for his commitment to community service and was the 2017 recipient of the National Service Award from the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. In 1999, he received a Mary Switzer Fellowship from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation. 

He has served on the Boards of Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, the Down Syndrome Association of Eastern North Carolina, United Cerebral Palsy of Columbus, Ohio SIBS, the National Sibling Leadership Network, Community Kitchen and ARC Industries.

Five years ago, Tom established a scholarship at NMU to support social work students, who demonstrate excellence, leadership skills and a commitment to graduate social work education.

Tom is now retired and resides in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he spends time with his grandchildren, volunteering, and honing his Ukulele skills.


Jon Mommaerts '91 BS - Alumni Service Award

Jon Mommaerts '91 - Alumni Service Award

Jon is the son of Michael and Barbara Mommaerts, and he was raised in Watertown, Wisconsin, with his brother, Tim, and sister, Katy. Jon was an honest, dependable and responsible kid whose love for skiing came early in life. His parents ran a cross-country ski shop out of their basement, and exposed Jon to skiing before he could even walk. His middle and high school years brought some unexpected challenges.  At 13, Jon was hit by a car that broke his leg. Then, at 15, a cancerous tumor in his facial nerve cost him his hearing in one ear. He persevered, excelling in school and lettering in tennis and cross-country running.  His high school didn't have a ski team so he skied with family, friends or solo and competed in local races.  When it came time to select a college, a great atmosphere for cross-country skiing was a must; and what better place than Northern Michigan University.

He started at NMU in the fall of 1987. He quickly joined the Nordic Ski Team as a walk-on. Jon went on to graduate with a degree in Finance in 1991 and competed competitively for NMU his entire college career.

Prior to graduating at NMU, Jon studied at George Washington University (through the Washington Center program).  After graduation, Jon studied at the American College, where he completed his Financial Planning Curriculum. Jon was one of the first practicing Certified Financial Planner licensees in the Upper Peninsula. He co-founded Mommaerts Mahaney Financial Services 25 years ago, and recently co-founded one of the first Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firms in the U.P. Through his hard work and dedication to others Jon has helped create well-paying careers for a number of U.P. families to include start-up business ventures like Norway Springs Water.

Jon has volunteered countless hours making Marquette a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. For over 20 years, Jon has nourished and built a silent sports culture in the Marquette community to the point where today the city is renowned for its trail system and world-class events that attract tens of thousands to the area. Due in large part to Jon's decades-long commitment, Marquette today is recognized as one of the nation's top destinations for such sports as mountain biking, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking and related activities. He is actively involved in the local community, serving on a number of both profit and nonprofit boards. He is the co-founder of the Noquemanon Trail Network (“NTN”) and the Noquemanon Ski Marathon, for which he is the current Chief of Course. He helped formulate what is now known as the Ore-to-Shore Mountain Bike Epic, and he has served on the US Ski Hall of Fame Board. He’s helped create the Superiorland Ski Club, a cross country ski club for younger kids and adults, and he continues to promote the NMU Nordic Ski Team. Jon is also considered a Worldloppet Master after skiing marathon races in over 10 different countries.


Nicole Weber '09 BA - Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Nicole Weber '09 - Outstanding Young Alumni AwardNicole “Niki” Weber graduated in 2009 from NMU with a BA in Community Health Education and Spanish, and a French language certificate. At NMU, Nicole was active in the Student Leader Fellowship Program and Superior Edge, was a student employee in the Volunteer Center (Center for Student Enrichment), and volunteered with the Marquette Mountain Ski Patrol.

After graduation, Nicole was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Marquette (Rotary District 6220) to serve as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to Geneva, Switzerland. While in Geneva, she completed a Master of Advanced Studies in Humanitarian Aid and interned with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Following this, she completed a joint Master of Public Health between universities in Spain, Poland and France. During her Masters, she interned with Mercy Corps in the Democratic Republic of Congo and with the International Federation of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland.  Nicole then worked on Guinea Worm Disease Eradication while living in rural Chad, managed internally displaced persons camp in DR Congo, and then led the hygiene and behavior change component of an urban water and sanitation program in Eastern DR Congo.  After 7 years abroad, she returned to the US in 2016 and completed a research fellowship with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. While at CDC, she co-authored a chapter on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in the textbook:  Health in Humanitarian Emergencies: Principles and Practice for Public Health and Healthcare Practitioners and provided technical assistance in Zambia, Mauritania, Togo and Bangladesh.

Nicole recently moved to Washington D.C. where she is a Senior Specialist at Save the Children, where she provides technical assistance and capacity strengthening support in water, sanitation and hygiene across a number of partners and countries. Nicole is also an adjunct with the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University since 2015 and teaches Global Health, Hygiene Promotion and Social and Behavior Change courses. In her free time, Nicole enjoys time with friends and family, hiking, biking, yoga, spending time in the great outdoors (and misses the beautiful outdoors in Marquette), enjoying playing softball and board games, and having adventures in the U.S. and abroad.