New Trustees Join PNWU Board


New Trustees Join PNWU Board

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences (PNWU) recently welcomed Dr. Karen Ireland and Maria Benavides to the university’s governing board of trustees. The two accomplished community members are scheduled to attend their first board of trustees meeting virtually September 26.

“We are thrilled to welcome Ms. Benavides and Dr. Ireland to the board of trustees,” said PNWU President Dr. Michael Lawler. “PNWU will benefit greatly from their expertise.”

Dr. Ireland and Benavides join 17 individuals spread across the five-state service region of the University (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington). They both bring valuable experience and insight to assist with the governing role of PNWU.

“We are excited to have Karen and Maria join our team”, stated trustees chair Dennis Fulton. “We look forward to working with both of them.”

Benavides brings to the board 20 years of experience working in healthcare in the Yakima Valley. She is the Program Director of Outreach and New Hope Clinic for the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Master of Education in Program Administration degrees from Heritage University in Toppenish, WA. She is bilingual, bicultural, and has experience in program implementation, working with federal, state, and private grants, and has vast knowledge in collaborating with social service agencies, school districts, and institutions of higher education.

A native Oregonian, Dr. Ireland graduated from Gonzaga in 1968 and from the (then) University of Oregon Medical School in 1973, taking an extra 15 months in pathology.  After a rotating internship at Waterbury Hospital, CT, she did a seven-month gynecologic pathology fellowship at Johns Hopkins. Three years of pathology residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center was followed by 20 years on staff at Oregon Health Sciences University, with appointments in both pathology and obstetrics and gynecology, ending as a professor in both and head of Surgical Pathology. 

Teaching medical students, residents and pathologists was a great joy for Dr. Ireland. In 1998, she joined InCyte Pathology in Spokane and was laboratory director at Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d' Alene, Idaho. After moving to Yakima in 2010, she assisted with forensic autopsies until 2016. Now retired, she walks, birds, reads and travels with her husband. 

PNWU’s Board of Trustees is comprised of 19 members, appointed to three-year terms. They may serve up to a total of six years. The trustees meet eight times a year to discuss University business, oft times scheduled around important campus events like graduation, scholarship luncheons and back to school celebrations.