University Affairs

Alumni Advisory Board Welcomes New Members for 2023

Heather Mason '96, (far left) has been named President of USU’s Alumni Advisory Board. New Advisors include (top left to right) Nate Alder ’91, Noah Riley ’07, Ryan Dent ’99, ’01 and (bottom left to right) Shelly Neilson ’01, Andrew Croshaw ’98, Tyler Tolson ’12.

Utah State University’s Alumni Advisory Board welcomes new President Heather Mason and elected advisors Nathan D. Alder, Andrew A. Croshaw, Ryan J. Dent, Shelly M. Neilson, Noah A. Riley and Tyler Levett Tolson. The board also gets new representation from Thomas R. Lee from the Retired Employee Association, Emily Lundquist from the USU Student Alumni Association, and Abraham Rodriguez from the USU Student Association.

Since the USU Alumni Association was started in 1898, board members have provided support for the strategic goals of the Alumni Engagement Office.

“Our advisory board members are essential to the success of the Alumni Association,” said Kim Larson, executive director of the USU Alumni Association. “Their energy and love for our alma mater boosts our engagement endeavors and helps position us as a resource for our alumni and campus community. I am thrilled to announce and welcome the new members to the board. Their knowledge, perspectives and experiences will enrich our efforts as we grow our alumni chapters and services.”

Advisory board members are the leading advocates and advisors for the USU Alumni Association, and provide direction and feedback in fulfilling its mission to contribute to the success of the university by providing opportunities for meaningful, lifelong involvement for its alumni, students and friends.

President

Heather Mason ’96

Journalism

Mason established the Caspian Agency in 2005 to elevate the strategic quality of impactful gatherings and events. Her renowned Caspian 10 Essentials approach to event planning has been widely taught both domestically and internationally. Throughout the past 18 years, Caspian has successfully organized conferences for prestigious institutions such as Hewlett Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation and Omidyar Network, along with managing Skoll World Forum. Before founding Caspian, Mason gained experience in TV and film development and pioneered the American Pavilion intern program at the Cannes Film Festival. Transitioning to high-tech marketing in the early 2000s, Mason went on to produce events for Charles Schwab. She now imparts her expertise as an instructor in San Diego State’s Masters Hospitality program.

While studying at USU, Mason held the position of Arts & Lecture vice president within the student government and she was the visionary behind “Poetry and a Beverage,” an enduring and cherished student event. Her remarkable journey at the university reached its pinnacle in 2022 when she was served as the commencement speaker for USU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In addition to her role as president for the USU Alumni Advisory Board, Mason serves on multiple boards, including the American Sustainable Business Network, Women Founders Network and the Entrepreneurs Organization. She works as a convening design consultant for the Rockefeller Foundation and played a pivotal role in editing and contributing to the “Rockefeller Foundation Convening Design Guide.” A sought-after keynote speaker, MC and moderator, Mason is represented by ConferenceEmcees. In her spare time, she has also created her own conferences, namely SUREFIRE Girls and CEO-U and delves into screenwriting.

ELECTED ADVISORS

Nate Alder ’91

History

While attending USU, Alder served as vice president of the Associated Students of Utah State University. After completing his undergraduate studies, he went on to earn a master's in public affairs and a law degree from Indiana University-Bloomington. Subsequently, he gained valuable experience working as a law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah before joining Christensen & Jensen, a prominent litigation, trial and appellate firm located in downtown Salt Lake City. His legal practice primarily focuses on handling complex litigation matters within the realms of commercial, business, professional, product liability, insurance and other related fields.

Alder's contributions extend beyond his legal career. Notably, he was appointed by former Utah Governor Gary Herbert to serve on the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. In addition to his involvement in the legal community, he is an active member of the House of Delegates for the American Bar Association and holds a position on the Board of Directors for the Salt Lake City Police Foundation. Furthermore, Alder and his wife, Laurel Cannon Alder, are dedicated to enhancing the well-being of students through their meaningful volunteer efforts with the university.

Andrew A. Croshaw ’98

Marketing

Croshaw is the CEO of Families First Pediatrics, a leading children's healthcare provider in Salt Lake City, Utah. Families First employs a unique, integrated and convenient care model, offering medical, dental and mental health services to patients from infancy to young adulthood. Before leading Families First, Croshaw served as CEO of Leavitt Partners, a healthcare strategy and policy consulting firm. He joined Leavitt Partners in its founding year, 2009, and became CEO in April 2017, solidifying the company's position as a top healthcare intelligence organization in the nation. Prior to his role at Leavitt Partners, Croshaw worked as a senior executive advisor to Secretary Mike Leavitt at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. He oversaw the implementation of a key initiative aimed at improving connectivity, transparency, and value in the American healthcare system. Croshaw's career also included leadership roles at Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation and Eli Lilly and Company, where he managed corporate Medicare and Medicaid segments.

Croshaw holds a bachelor's degree in business from Utah State University, where he served as USUSA President from 1996 to 1997 and as a member of the Utah Board of Higher Education from 1997 to 1998. He furthered his education by earning a master's in business administration from Harvard University.

Ryan J. Dent ’99, ’01

Business, MBA

Dent has dedicated his life to community service, with a strong commitment to Utah State University. His journey started during his undergraduate years, where he engaged in student government. Over the years, he has contributed significantly to the university’s various facets, including on the Advisory Board for the Huntsman School of Business’ School of Accounting, USU Extension Advisory Council, Alumni Chapter President and Board of Trustees. Dent’s passion lies in helping the university prepare students for success in the dynamic digital business landscape.

Professionally, Dent is a partner in PwC’s Banking & Capital Markets sector, boasting over 23 years of experience in consulting and auditing for both public and private companies. Currently, he leads PwC’s recruiting efforts at Utah State University. Beyond his professional life, Dent shares his world with his wife, Karen, also an Aggie, and their four children: two boys (ages 22 and 17) and two girls (ages 19 and 15). His two eldest children are proud Aggies, benefiting from scholarships and being part of the Huntsman Scholars program. In his leisure time, Dent enjoys fly-fishing, golfing and exploring new destinations through travel.

Shelly Anderson Neilson ’01

Human Resource Management

Neilson, a native of Logan, Utah, developed a deep connection with Utah State University from a young age, attending Aggie basketball and football games with her family, and loved going to her dad’s office at the Engineering Department. This early exposure ignited her passion for the university. During her time as a USU student, Neilson actively engaged in numerous campus activities. She relished giving campus tours, presenting at leadership workshops, reaching out to high school students and promoting the "True Aggie" spirit with her classmates. Neilson also enjoyed dedicating her time to volunteering at the Val R. Christensen Service Center. Additionally, she served as the Homecoming Chair, A-Day chair and actively participated in the Student Alumni Association. Her sophomore year at Utah State she was elected and served her junior year as the second female student body president at Utah State.

Even after her student years, Neilson continued to be a dedicated and engaged alumna. While working in Washington, D.C. as an event planner, she contributed to alumni events, organized and attended USU open houses in her region and when she moved to Springville, Utah she assumed the role of the Utah County alumni chapter president. In 2002, she married Reid Neilson, and they have 5 children: Johnny, Kate, Ally, Whitney and James. They are growing up with the same love for Utah State University. In 2019, Neilson and her husband, Reid, undertook a significant calling by serving as mission presidents for the Washington, D.C. North Mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She continued her recruiting and sharing her love for Utah State with all the missionaries they served with. She is currently serving as PTA president at her children’s’ school, volunteering in her community and finding ways to promote and strengthen the USU community.

Noah A. Riley ’07

Journalism

Raised in Payson, Utah’s fruit orchards, Riley earned a USU President’s Leadership Council scholarship, majoring in communications, international business and psychology. As a senior, he served as student body president and received the Robins Award Man of the Year honor. After graduating, he and his wife, Allison (also a USU alum), were recruited by Coltrin & Associates, a New York City PR agency, initially planning a three-year stint, which has now extended to 15 years. In New York, Riley moved on to lead the northeast region for an automotive software company and supported schools in the Greater New York City area with an educational firm.

Currently, Riley manages LinkedIn Learning’s customer success team for healthcare and nonprofit segments, aiding organizations in fostering a learning culture and upskilling their workforce. He also actively contributes to LinkedIn’s diversity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. Beyond work, Riley and Allison are busy raising their three daughters, actively participating in their Upper West Side community and embarking on adventures near and far.

Tyler Levett Tolson ’12

Communication Studies

Tolson is the CEO and Founder of Denik, a company he started as a full-time student at Utah State University in 2011. Denik is a custom notebook and lifestyle product company that uses a portion of its funds to build schools and support artists. In 2022, the company was named to the Utah Business FAST 50 “Fastest Growing Companies in Utah” list and to the Inc 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing companies. The company has blossomed into a multimillion-dollar brand and serves customers like Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters and Target in more than 16,000 retail locations in North America. Denik also produces custom notebooks for brands like Nike, Disney, Google and TikTok. The Denik community has funded and built seven schools to date — in Guatemala, Ghana, Nicaragua, Senegal and Mali, Africa.

Tolson has been named as “Young Emerging Leader” by the Leader to Leader Institute in New York, and was selected as a “Top 40 Under 40” leader in the gift and stationary industry. During the last 12 years, he has taught and trained audiences of various capacities and has consulted for entrepreneurs, students and artists at all stages of business. However, Tolson’s greatest accomplishment is marrying the girl of his dreams and raising his five rock star kids.

RETIRED EMPLOYEE ASSOCIATION

Thomas R. Lee ’79

Family and Human Development

Currently the president of the USU Emeriti and Retired Employee Association, Lee is an emeritus professor of Human Development and Family Studies, dedicating 37 years to Utah State University. He joined USU in 1982 after earning his doctorate from Virginia Tech. For more than two decades, he served as extension specialist with USU Extension, overseeing 18 grants from federal, state and foundation sources supporting programs for children, youth and families across the state. In January 2010, Lee assumed the role of dean at USU Brigham City, following his tenure as head of the department of Human Development and Family Studies.

Tom and his wife, Kathie Frischknecht, first crossed paths at Utah State, where he pursued his master’s degree, and Kathie had just obtained her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Their Aggie spirit truly blossomed at USU Brigham City. Both of their parents graduated from USU, and their six children represent the third generation of Aggies. They are now fostering a legacy, encouraging their 25 grandchildren to become the fourth generation of proud Aggies.

STUDENT ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

Emily Lundquist

Journalism

Hailing from Kaysville, Utah, is Lundquist, a junior at USU majoring in journalism with a specialization in social media. She is also pursuing minors in entrepreneurship and organizational communications.

Lundquist’s unwavering dedication to enhancing student engagement and nurturing relationships within the Aggie community has been truly remarkable. Throughout her tenure at Utah State, she has consistently made significant contributions, such as her active involvement on the vice president’s council, her impactful internship at the Center for Entrepreneurship and her crowing achievement as Miss USU 2022. Currently, Lundquist holds the position of president of the Student Alumni Association, where she eagerly anticipates assisting fellow students in becoming lifelong Aggies.

UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT ASSOCIATION

Abraham Rodriguez

Marketing and Journalism

As the current president of the Utah State University Student Association, Rodriguez stands as a prominent figure on campus. In the previous year, he served as the executive vice president. Now, as he enters his senior year in the journalism and communication program, Rodriguez applies the valuable skills he honed during his media relations class. These skills empower him to navigate interviews with confidence, knowing what to do and what to avoid when interacting with the press.

Despite potential challenges, Rodriguez remains eager and grateful to embark on his second year in office fully aware of the pivotal and transformative times ahead. His commitment to leadership and communication promises to make a lasting impact on the USU community.

For more information about the USU Alumni Association, visit https://www.usu.edu/alumni/.

Thomas Lee '79, Retired Employee Association representative for USU’s Alumni Advisory Board.

Emily Lundquist, Student Alumni Association representative for USU's Alumni Advisory Board.

Abraham Rodriguez, USU Student Association representative for USU's Alumni Advisory Board.

CONTACT

Kim Larson
Associate Vice President of Alumni Engagement
Advancement
(435) 797-0373
kimberly.larson@usu.edu


TOPICS

Alumni 181stories

Comments and questions regarding this article may be directed to the contact person listed on this page.

Next Story in University Affairs

See Also