Alumni News Summer 2017

Alumna improves community through large-scale events

Producing marathons, Super Bowl parade, Special Olympics and more in Seattle

by Susan Howard, ’10 and ’15
photos courtesy of Beth Knox

She didn’t realize it at the time, but growing up on a 60-acre farm in rural Michigan helped prepare Beth Knox, ’87, for a career producing large-scale events.

“I thought I entered my field by accident, but in hindsight I realize that the groundwork for a special events career was laid all throughout my childhood,” Knox said.

headshot Beth Knox

Beth Knox is president and CEO of Special Olympics USA Games Seattle 2018.

Knox graduated with a bachelor’s degree in advertising and public relations, and expected to have a career directly connected to her major. Yet, experiencing the graduation parties, weddings, and music festivals that took place on her family’s farm turned out to make event production the most rewarding professional path for her.

Her career has been fulfilling and successful. Knox has now produced large-scale events for nearly 30 years. After moving to Seattle, Knox began her career with Seafair, Seattle’s largest community festival. She gained a wide variety of skills and professional experiences from working in Seafair’s many different departments and became the organization’s CEO in 2005.

Blue Angels over Space Needle

Blue Angels fly over the Seattle Space Needle during Seafair.

“I had a boss at the time — my mentor to this day — who gave us the opportunity to experience the full gamut of producing events. I planned the operations. I helped secure sponsorships. I wrote press releases. I worked with city agencies. It helped prepare me for a leadership role and define what my true interests are,” she said.

Knox held the CEO position at Seafair for 10 years, with such accomplishments as bringing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon — and 25,000 runners — to Seattle in 2009 and producing the 2014 Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade that drew more than 750,000 spectators. She called the parade one of her career highlights.

“As the team was moving up in the league standings, we put an event outline together. Then we had to wait and see how the big game went,” she said. “When the Seahawks won that night, we had an emergency management call to get things started.”

Knox said planning, while frantic and fast-paced, went smoothly. “The coolest part was the immediate response from all of our community partners. People just did their jobs. They wanted to make this happen. There was no need to follow-up.

“Then, to see 750,000 people on the streets of Seattle cheering on their team, was mind-boggling. It was an honor to be in that role,” she said.

Knox is currently the president and CEO of Special Olympics USA Games Seattle 2018. She is responsible for oversight of the entire event, including corporate fundraising, community engagement, operations, marketing, on-site execution, and managing a team of 20 employees and 10,000 volunteers. Community outreach is another large focus that comes with her role.

“One of our goals for Special Olympics in Seattle is to serve as a model city of inclusion,” she said. “Our message of inclusion and diversity, and of being welcoming to people of all abilities, has resonated like nothing I have ever seen in my career.

“It’s such a privilege to be a part of that message and work with individuals and community leaders to join us in that message.”

Knox is proud of her alma mater and credits her Grand Valley education for influencing her drive to improve the community where she lives and works.

overview of downtown Seattle, crowd

More than 750,000 people attended the Seahawks Super Bowl victory parade in 2014.

“Grand Valley is community oriented and supportive of the people and institutions in the Grand Rapids region. It is always trying to improve, grow, and do better as a university. That’s how I live my life,” she said. “Those core values were developed for me at Grand Valley.”

And even though Knox lives more than 2,000 miles away from Grand Valley, she still considers herself a Laker for a Lifetime. She attends alumni events on the West Coast and stays updated by reading university news.

“Also, I have remained close friends with my original roommates,” she said. “I love to visit and get back on campus with them. Last year we went to a football game. Go Lakers!”

Alumni Events

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North Carolina Charlotte Alumni Reception 5/17/17

Upcoming Events

Life 101: September 28

Charles H. Irwin Dinner and Ceremony: October 27

Homecoming 2017: October 28

Gradfest: November 29-30

Community Outreach Week: March 24-31

For additional information, visit Events are subject to change.

four women

African American and [email protected] Alumni Reception 5/5/17

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Kalamazoo Area Alumni Reception 4/20/17

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GVSU dinner in Albania 5/13/17

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Volunteer Celebration and Service Awards 5/12/17

2 women at commencement

Traverse City Commencement 5/2/17


Metro Chicago Alumni Club Eataly Cooking Class 4/27/17

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Lansing Alumni Club Happy Hour 5/10/17

Community Outreach Week

Community Outreach Week is a powerful example of the Laker Effect, and the Grand Valley community’s collective impact on individual students, West Michigan, Michigan and beyond.

Through this award-winning week of service, Lakers united to provide volunteer support and outreach to their communities. More than 1,100 individuals gave more than 5,000 volunteer hours in eight different states during the week of March 18-25. Thank you!

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Sophia's House- Mercy Health Saint Mary's

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By the numbers

37 cities

8 states

68 total projects

1,140 total volunteers

5,269 total hours

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Blandford Nature Center

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Steepletown Neighborhood Services


Kids' Food Basket

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College of Education Book Sorting

Laker Updates

These Lakers are staying connected by using the Laker Landings website, Alumni can share updates of the following types: Anniversary, Award/Recognition, Birth/Adoption, Community Involvement, Career Update, Military Service, and Wedding. Share your Laker Landing today!


family photo

Kelly Kamps, '12

Kelly Kamps, ’12, and Joseph Kamps, ’11, welcomed Isaac Robert to their family on February 6, 2017.

couple marriage photo

Lauren Hills DeHaan, '11

Lauren Hills DeHaan, ’11, and Sam DeHaan, ’11, were married on October 8, 2016, at Fountain Point Resort in Lake Leelanau. The couple met at Grand Valley as members of the rock climbing club, and continue to make Grand Rapids their home.

Thomas Santarlas, '89

Thomas E. Santarlas is currently serving as a county magistrate adjudicating traffic infraction cases in the central Florida area. He also works as a professor of criminal justice. He retired from law enforcement in 2014 after reaching the rank of deputy chief of police.


In Memoriam

Thomas P. Abraham, B.S., 1969, of Grand Haven, on March 20, 2017

Beverly A. Armstrong, B.S., 1971, M.Ed., 1976, of Luther, on March 18, 2017

James K. Biles, B.A., 1967, of Bellingham, Washington, on April 23, 2017

Marcia J. Breur DeWild, M.S.W., 1986, of Zeeland, on March 9, 2017

Sylvia J. Bult, B.S., 1973, of Grand Rapids, on May 2, 2017

Jennie M. Burgess, M.Ed., 2009, of Coopersville, on May 8, 2017

Pamela A. Culp-Peacock, M.Ed., 1983, of Muskegon, on April 14, 2017

Gayle L. Daniell, B.S., 1980, of Muskegon, on March 11, 2017

Karen L. Donahue, B.S., 1976, of Grand Rapids, on April 19, 2017

Lana W. Eringaard, M.Ed., 1977, of Grand Rapids, on May 19, 2017

Jonathan W. Ginka, B.S., 2006, of Muskegon, on May 10, 2017

Gordon Goudzwaard, B.S., 1975, of Big Rapids, on March 23, 2017

Anne M. Harker, M.S.N., 2002, of Muskegon, on March 14, 2017

Doris G. Herlein, B.A., 1967, of Muskegon, on March 16, 2017

Ronald C. Love, B.S., 1976, of Grant, on March 29, 2017

Brandon J. Maat, B.S., 2013, of Wyoming, on March 30, 2017

Daniel W. Masterton, B.S., 2010, of Allendale, on May 7, 2017

Jessica L. Morton, B.B.A., 2005, of Ada, on March 18, 2017

Beverly A. Punches, M.Ed., 1986, of Rockford, on March 6, 2017

Gregory J. Resner, B.B.A., 1977, of Grand Rapids, on March 20, 2017

Donald D. Robinson, B.S., 1996, of Grand Rapids, on March 14, 2017

Kenneth R. Shelton Sr., B.S., 2004, of Muskegon, on March 28, 2017

Kevin J. Vokes, B.S., 2013, of Comstock Park, on April 16, 2017

Page last modified August 17, 2017