Two advisory board members who found their careers at Edmonds Community College and a former college commencement speaker are this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award recipients.
The Edmonds Community College Foundation named them as Clyde Klingenbeck, Ben Kocaj, and Duane Lewellen.
They will be honored at the Distinguished Alumni Awards 5-7 p.m., Fri., Jan. 27 in the Black Box Theatre, 20000 68th Ave. W., Lynnwood.
Out of high school, Duane Lewellen came to Edmonds Community College and discovered the field that sparked his career — Energy Management. Even before he finished his Associate of Technical Arts degree, he was offered a job as a home energy auditor with the Snohomish County PUD. He continued to take classes while working, completing his degree and going on to earn a bachelor’s in Business Administration from City University. Today, he is principal owner of The Rice Group, Inc., a Lynnwood consulting engineering firm.
““I’m grateful I got job as a direct result of my education and I worked 12 years at the PUD as a result," he said. "Edmonds Community College pointed me to a completely new career in Energy Management. It’s the only reason I’m doing what I’m doing today. I got excited about this field. I took my first solar energy course there. And I just finished a solar energy project in Bellingham.”
The Rice Group designs heating and cooling systems for commercial businesses such as Whole Foods, Group Health, and Boeing. “Sustainability is in vogue,” Lewellen said. “We’re doing a lot more energy efficiency projects.”
Lewellen is an advisory board member for the college’s Energy Management program. The Rice Group has hired the college’s students as interns and employees. He has taught Energy Management classes, passing on what he has learned, and his wife, Carol Lewellen, currently teaches in the program.
“It’s satisfying for my wife and I to help get students into a new career and reemployment,” he said.
The Lewellen family has stayed closely connected with the college. They participate in Foundation events and have contributed to Foundation scholarships for students.
As a homestay family for the college’s international students, they’ve hosted students from Japan, China, Bulgaria, and Denmark among other countries.