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Faces of CBE

Meet some of the students, faculty, and staff of the
College of Business and Economics


Kati Johnson, Assistant Director, MBA Program

Kati Johnson portrait


My professional career started in the Seattle area working in Marketing for Sage Manufacturing, famed producer of the world’s finest fly rods, reels, and accessories. This early exposure to an integrated business allowed me to pursue my fly fishing passion around the world, but also gave me strong foundations in business as I worked with all aspects of our company (manufacturing, distribution, accounting, marketing, sales, product development, warranty services, etc.). I am so grateful for that early opportunity in my career, and will be forever indebted to my former boss for taking a chance on a young woman from South Carolina. After six years at Sage, I headed north to pursue Grad School here at WWU, in the MBA Program in fact, and then two years after graduating, left my job in the technology industry to return to WWU and work on behalf of the MBA Program

Favorite thing about your role in the MBA department:

I say this to prospective students all the time, and I mean it… “the best part of my job is seeing people across the spectrum of their MBA journey.” From the very early prospective student stage when an MBA is merely an idea, to the confident professionals that graduate and do amazing things, I feel so lucky to be a part of this positive journey for so many students, and I never take it for granted.

Something interesting about yourself:

I was raised by two former professional athletes so it is in my bones to want to compete! Since my college soccer days are a long time in the past, I have now found a passion for Crossfit, which helps fill that need to compete and push myself physically. As a mother of two young kids (a son and a daughter) this physical exercise is my one ‘non-negotiable,’ and it makes me extremely proud when my daughter now asks if we can work out together or go on a run.

Marciana Hill, Economics Student

Marciana stands in front of foliage


I am from Los Angeles, California. I am a senior graduating in spring 2019, majoring in Environmental Economics with a minor in Energy Policy.

Goals after CBE:

Upon graduation, I will be joining the Peace Corps as a Coastal Resource Management Facilitator stationed in the Philippines

Favorite thing about being a student at CBE:

My favorite thing about the CBE is it's helpful faculty and staff. The assistance they've provided has been proven to be invaluable during my collegiate journey; their support has made the process easier, and has helped me develop great relationships with those working in the CBE

Shih-Fen Chen, Kaiser Professor of International Business & Director of Center for International Business

Shih-Fen smiles, portrait


After finishing his college in Taiwan, Shih-Fen came to the US to obtain an MBA from Michigan State University and a PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining Western Washington University, he held tenure-track and tenured positions at Kansas State University, Brandeis University, and the University of Western Ontario. Shih-Fen’s teaching and research interests include direct investment, technology licensing, and product outsourcing. Specifically, Shih-Fen studies the allocation of branding rights between two companies that cooperate across borders to serve consumers and compete for the right to brand the final product.

Thoughts about International Business:

One needs to study International Business in order to appreciate the intricacy of International Business.

Being new to CBE: My students thanked me before leaving the classroom, which is a pleasant surprise to me.

Favorite thing about teaching:

I talk, the kids listen, and I get paid, which will never happen at home.

Something interesting about yourself:

aka, Steve Cohen (Shih-Fen sounds like Stephen, and my friends at Brandeis inserted an “o” between the “c” and “h” in my family name).

Sasha Steiner, Director of Development

Sasha wears a blue shirt


I grew up in Forks, Washington as a first generation applicant to Portland State University where I earned a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Management and Leadership. Deciding to continue my education, I moved to Lyon, France, where I completed my graduate program in a Master of Arts in Business with a concentration in International Business Development at the Universite de Lyon Lumiere 2. I was the first in my cohort to be American, and learned how to do international team development through this process. I went on to work at BDO Paris, a public accounting firm, as their business development professional and the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris in the same position. After 4 years in France, I decided to move back to Portland, Oregon, where I worked as a development director for a private liberal arts university before moving to Western as the Director of Development for the College of Business & Economics at the end of 2016. In total I’ve been a development professional for over 10 years in both private and public institutions.

Favorite thing about your role as Director of Development:

I revel in the ability to align alumni, students and faculty to benefit the future generations. My favorite moments are when a successful project leads to benefiting the College. Furthermore, I absolutely adore being surrounded by education and educators.

Something interesting about yourself:

I speak French fluently, having had to write my master’s thesis in French and defend to 3 professors in my graduate program. I also own two cats, which are essentially twins but 12 years apart in age.

Favorite pastime:

Traveling and cooking. Yes both at the same time, I love traveling to new countries and cooking for the locals while learning new cuisines.

Edward Alden, Ross Distinguished Visiting Professor

Edward in suit and tie


Edward Alden is the Ross Distinguished Visiting Professor at WWU, and the Bernard L. Schwartz senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Failure to Adjust: How Americans Got Left Behind in the Global Economy. He was the project director for the Council’s Independent Task Force report The Work Ahead: Machines, Skills and U.S. Leadership in the 21st Century. He has also directed CFR Task Forces on U.S. trade policy and immigration policy. His first book, The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration and Security Since 9/11, was a finalist for the J. Anthony Lukas book prize. He has testified to Congress numerous times, written widely for major newspapers and appeared on several news stations. Prior to joining the Council, Mr. Alden was the Washington bureau chief for the Financial Times. He has written extensively about the U.S. response to globalization, focusing particularly on international trade, immigration, and homeland security.

Thoughts about International Business:

In the words of Charles Dickens, it is the best of times and the worst of times for international business. Company profits are strong, and robust growth in many developing economies is providing a host of new market opportunities. But the rules of global commerce are being tested in a way they haven’t been for decades. Escalating trade conflicts, the growing U.S.-China disputes over technology, international cyber-theft, and rising concerns over data privacy all pose enormous new challenges for companies.

Favorite thing about teaching:

I love seeing the progress that students make. They are eager to get smarter about the world around them, and to learn how to write and communicate. Watching the progress they make is very rewarding.

Diane Brearley, Academic Department Manager of Economics

Diane poses in front of white background


Diane began working for the Economics Department in 2010. Prior to this she worked in the Equal Opportunity Office at WWU. She has over 16 years of administrative experience. She was born and raised in Bellingham and attended WWU. Her hobbies include photography, creating tribute videos and spending time with her family

Favorite thing about your role as an advisor:

Meeting the students – most definitely.

Something interesting about yourself:

I have 6 kids.

Favorite pastime

Camping with my husband and family, including our little dogs