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Eight New Trustees Join Emporia State University Foundation Board

Seven Emporia State alumni and a longtime professor are new trustees on the 49-member board for the Emporia State University Foundation.

Ross Bjork of College Station, Texas, is director of athletics for Texas A&M University. A native of Dodge City, Kansas, Bjork played on the Hornet football team and was a two-year starter at fullback. He received the ESU Distinguished Alumni award in 2017. Bjork also has a master’s degree in athletic administration from Western Illinois University.

Walter M. Brown of Overland Park is a shareholder and litigation attorney at Ogletree Deakins in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from Emporia State in 1995 with a bachelor of arts degree in political science and earned his juris doctorate at Texas Southern University in 1998.

Kirsten A. Ford of Palmer Lake, Colorado, former associate commissioner and senior women administrator for Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, was a student-athlete on the Hornet tennis team while an undergraduate at Emporia State. Originally from Wakarusa, Kansas, Ford earned a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology in 2011 then a master of business administration in 2013 from ESU. In February, Ford begins a new role as operations support specialist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Michael Gonzales of Shawnee, Kansas, principal owner of NE&E Consulting, travels the United States as a consultant, executive coach, speaker, panelist and advisor on diversity and inclusion topics impacting business and workforce imperatives. He previously served as leader of corporate diversity and inclusion at Hallmark Card, Inc., until his retirement. Gonzales earned a bachelor’s degree in art in 1975 and a master’s degree in counselor education in 1977 from Emporia State University.

Maurice N. Gray Jr., of Kansas City, Kansas, an insurance casualty claim specialist in Independence, Missouri, was a Hornet football player while he earned a bachelor of science in education degree in psychology in 1975 from what was then called Kansas State Teachers College. As an alumnus, Gray was influential in establishing Emporia Connection, an official ESU alumni chapter designed to strengthen ties between African American alumni, current and prospective students and the university. He previously served on the ESU Alumni Board.

Dr. John C. Rich of Emporia came to campus in 1968 to teach accounting after earning a bachelor of science degree in accounting in 1967 and a master of science in accounting in 1968, both from Oklahoma State University. He earned his Ph.D. in accounting from University of North Texas in 1985. At his retirement in 2020, Rich was the university’s longest-serving faculty member. In 2017, former students came together to create the John C. Rich Distinguished Accounting Professorship in his honor.

Angela M. Watson of Rantoul, is director of global finance strategy for Garmin International in Olathe. Watson earned a bachelor of science in business degree in accounting in 2003 and a master of business administration in 2004 from Emporia State University.

Angel R. Zimmerman of Topeka, managing partner of Zimmerman & Zimmerman PA, earned a bachelor of science degree in political science from ESU in 1991. She earned her juris doctorate from Washburn University School of Law.

Trustees serve as role models for potential donors by generously contributing of their own time and resources. They are actively involved in university events and programs and serve to raise philanthropic resources to advance the mission of Emporia State University.