Mercer Island School District to honor four graduates with new Pathfinder Award


MERCER ISLAND, Wash. – March 11, 2016 –The Mercer Island School District will present its new Pathfinder Award to four graduates of Mercer Island High School whose achievements, strength of character, and citizenship inspire and challenge today’s youth.

They are:

Warren Brown, Ed. D., 1988, President of North Seattle College.

Earle Canfield, 1965, physician assistant, founder and executive director of American-Nepali Students’ and Women’s Educational Relief (ANSWER).

Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H., 1987, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.

Michelle Flowers Taylor, Ed.D., 1988, Director of the Institute of Engineering Community and Cultural Competence (IEC3) at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering.

“Growing up on an island with exceptional schools and residents who strongly support public education, these four individuals used their formative years to embrace the larger world around them and to push the boundaries of their potential,” said Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano. “These award winners exemplify the amazing impact our high school graduates can have in our local and global communities. Each of them is a pathfinder aspiring to improve our way of life and to make this world a better place.”

Winners will be honored at the Mercer Island Schools Foundation’s Breakfast of Champions on April 26, 2016, and a permanent Pathfinder Award display will be created at Mercer Island High School alongside previously recognized distinguished graduates. 

This year’s Pathfinders were selected from nominations submitted by the community at large and chosen by a 13-member Selection Committee comprised of a high school teacher, a high school student, former MISD board member, a retired teacher, a city councilmember, business leaders, alumni, and officials from the district and the Mercer Island Schools Foundation.

Warren Brown, Class of 1988

Warren Brown

Warren Brown, Ed.D. began his tenure as the 16th President of North Seattle College on July 1, 2014. He previously served as Executive Vice President for Instruction and Student Services at Seattle Central College. Additionally, he served as an adjunct faculty member for Seattle University’s doctoral program in educational leadership.

At Central, President Brown facilitated instructional planning that led to the development of new applied baccalaureate degrees in allied health and nursing and a new associate degree in allied health.

Previous responsibilities include serving as Dean for Student Learning at Cascadia Community College, Associate Dean for Academic Support at Whatcom Community College, tenured instructor in communication studies at Pierce College and an instructor at Portland State University.

Brown holds a doctor of education degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Washington, a master's degree in speech communication from Portland State University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington, where he was a member of the Husky Marching Band.

Earle Canfield, Class of 1965

Earle Canfield









Following high school graduation, Earle entered the University of Washington and graduated in 1970 in General Studies with an emphasis on Tibetan language. He later entered Western Michigan University and earned a Bachelors of Medicine in 1990 as a Physician’s Assistant (PA).

Earle worked as a PA in community clinics in Michigan and Seattle, completed a PA surgical residency, and received a Masters of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University.

Canfield, who is retired after more than 20 years as a physician assistant, was honored by the American Association of Physician Assistants as Humanitarian of the Year 2013 for spending his lifetime helping people in the third world though medical mission work. He was particularly singled out for his first-hand experience working with underserved communities and impoverished children in Nepal, that led him to start American-Nepali Students’ and Women’s Educational Relief—ANSWER—in 2001. He first saw the need for such an organization during a medical mission trip to that nation.

Canfield serves as the volunteer executive director of ANSWER, which relies on sponsors in the West to fund education efforts for children from very poor and low-caste communities in Nepal. Today, ANSWER has more helped more than 1,000 children in 120 schools and colleges throughout the country. Every high school graduate in the program, 117 in total, has gone on to college. The program also offers medical assistance to their families.

Dariush Mozaffarian, Class of 1987

Dariush Mozaffarian









Dariush Mozaffarian, M.D., Dr.P.H. has served as Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston since July 1, 2014. He previously served as an associate professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.

A cardiologist and epidemiologist whose research has illuminated the connection between lifestyle and heart disease, he is deeply passionate about food and how it influences our communities, our environment, our families, and our selves.

Throughout his career, he has used scientific evidence to enhance nutrition policy, noting that providing basic nutrition advice to people, and relying on personal responsibility, hasn’t been enough to improve public health. He led an international team looking at issues of diet and chronic disease, including the first analysis of sodium intake of populations worldwide.

He received a B.S. in biological sciences from Stanford University, an M.P.H. from the Unversity of Washington, an M.D. from Columbia University in New York and a doctorate in epidemiology from the Harvard University School of Public Health.

Michelle Flowers Taylor, Class of 1988

Michelle Flowers Taylor







Michelle Flowers Taylor, Ed.D. currently serves as the director of the Institute of Engineering Community and Cultural Competence (IEC3) at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering. In this role, Dr. Taylor leads the development and implementation of intervention strategies, programs, and ongoing research aimed at eliminating the gender gap in STEM with emphasis on the high-demand fields of computer science and engineering.

IEC3 has emerged from Dr. Taylor's doctoral research, and it is specifically focused on empowering African American and Latina girls and women to enter STEM fields, and advancing their career readiness in technologies of the future.

In 2015, she completed her doctoral research at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she worked with academically high-achieving African-American female students to assess the language and literacy strategies that they have used to excel in school and in their roles as community leaders.

Dr. Taylor is also a co-founding member of Black Women: State of the Union (BWSOTU), which is a California-based performing arts organization that represents and celebrates black women. Through live theater and community events, BWSOTU demonstrates its dedication to encouraging and inspiring black women and girls. 


Contact: Craig Degginger