On a good day, more than 4,000 vehicles cross through the Washington State Ferries terminal where Scott Iversen (’80) works. As a terminal supervisor, Iversen is responsible for making sure his section of the state’s ferry system is running smoothly — not always a simple task when you work for the largest ferry system in the world. (Last year, the state-operated system transported more than 22 million vehicles and passengers across the waters of northwestern Washington.) Before joining the ferry system — where he also worked after graduating from high school — Iversen spent 17 years in youth ministry. It was while studying at Biola in the 1970s that he first sensed the Lord was calling him to work with youth in a church or parachurch setting, he said. After graduating with an interdisciplinary degree in communications, he went to work full time as an area director for Youth Dynamics and doing campus ministry in Anacortes, Wash. “That was really fulfilling, and I still have my hands in youth ministry as I am on the committee for our local Young Life ministry that is here on Whidbey Island,” he said. People ask him if he misses working in full-time vocational ministry, but he said he has more opportunities now, at his job with the Washington State Ferries system, to have conversations with his coworkers and to be an example of someone who tries to follow the life of Jesus. Iversen said he desires to work at with the ferry system for another five years until he retires. Then, he and his wife, KK, would like to pursue short-term mission projects in cross-cultural settings. “We’ll see what kind of doors the Lord opens up,” he said. “I know it will be something good and exciting.”
As a new city employee for Whittier, Calif., more than 30 years ago, Nancy (Longenecker, ’78) Mendez’s job involved helping residents get fit. Today, as Whittier’s assistant city manager, it’s her role to help keep the government in good shape. In the position, which she has held since 2002, she provides key leadership in the city’s administration and is responsible for supervising major projects and day-to-day city duties. Mendez’s career with the city began shortly after graduating from Biola with a degree in physical education and recreation administration, when she accepted an entry-level recreation position. One of her first projects was converting an underutilized basement area into a fitness center where she taught aerobic dancing. She was also responsible for starting two Whittier traditions: the annual Holiday Craft Fair and the summer concerts in the park. More recently, Mendez has helped the city secure $15 million in grants to buy an abandoned railway and turn it into the Whittier Greenway Trail. Grant writing is only a small part of her job, but she enjoys helping her city find funds. “The grant writing is fun for me,” Mendez said. “It’s like finding buried treasure. You know there are people who want to give money out, so why not Whittier? Why not my city?” As she has worked her way up through various city departments over the years, she has also been active in community service and her church. Additionally, she has served since 1990 on the board of trustees for LeTourneau University, which she attended as a student before transferring to Biola in her senior year to play basketball. She was thankful for the supportive community at Biola, she said. “I made very good friends who I still have to this day,” she said.
While leading a mission trip to Mexico about seven years ago, Brian Cress (’80) received a phone call from the president of the International Justice Mission, Gary Haugen, asking him to consider applying for the organization’s director of youth mobilization position on the West Coast. IJM was looking for someone who understood church ministry and student culture. At the time, Cress was the head pastor at a church in Bellevue, Wash., and had never dreamed of leaving the church where he had worked at for 27 years, he said. But God prompted him and his wife to start thinking about applying for the new position. “It was like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘Brian, you know this church is my church. This isn’t Brian’s church, and I’m not surprised by this change because I’m actually in the process of this change with you,’” he said. Now, as IJM’s director of youth mobilization, Cress helps create resources for youth pastors to use in ministry, and he facilitates meetings and conversations with organizations, pastors and parents. Recently, he helped create a toolkit for high school students who want to start a Justice Club on their campus. He also published Seeking Justice: Exploring God’s Perspective 10 Minutes at a Time. Cress said the training he received as a Christian ministries major and a resident assistant at Biola greatly prepared him for the work he is doing now, because he learned how to identify and build up the gifts and talents God gave to those around him. Additionally, his training as a youth pastor and head pastor has helped him understand how important it is to help young people understand that God values seeking justice, he said.