NMC names 2024 Fellows

Bill DonbergBill Donberg
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TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College's highest honor, the NMC Fellow award, has been bestowed for 2024 on Bill Donberg, Timothy Nelson and Nancy Johnson, and Jack Segal and Karen Puschel Segal.

Donberg served as an aviation instructor for more than 23 years. Nelson served as NMC’s longest-serving president while his wife, Johnson, served as a tireless college advocate in her own right. Segal and Puschel Segal were co-chairs of the International Affairs Forum for seven years.

Donberg, of Elk Rapids, spent more than 23 years in NMC’s Aviation Division, including serving as lead flight instructor. In that capacity he taught hundreds of new instructors who would go on to serve as the foundation of the NMC flight program. He also served as the program’s interim director and as a founding member of the Aviation Advisory committee. A board member of the NMC Foundation since 2015, Donberg and his wife Phyllis also have supported aviation, the Commitment Scholarship, the Big Little Hero Race, and made a planned gift to the college. Donberg has founded multiple manned and unmanned aviation-related startups.

Tim Nelson and Nancy JohnsonTimothy Nelson and Nancy Johnson
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Nelson, of Traverse City, retired as president in 2019 after nearly 20 years of leading the college. During his tenure, NMC evolved and established many statewide, national and international competencies and accomplishments. Among the most notable were the community college baccalaureate in Michigan, service to student veterans, and new degree pathways in remotely-operated underwater and aerial vehicles. He chaired the Michigan Community College Association board and fulfilled four gubernatorial appointments by two former governors. In his retirement Nelson continues to serve the region as a board officer forMunson Healthcare, the largest healthcare organization in northern Michigan.

Johnson, a counselor by profession, took an active role in both NMC and the Grand Traverse region during Nelson’s presidential years. In 2019 the NMC Board of Trustees awarded her a Resolution of Appreciation for her advocacy and dedication to the college. At the state level, she provided leadership in the Michigan Community College Association Spouse and Significant Other Network. Her community commitments include the Zonta Club of Traverse City.

Together the couple have supported the college financially in multiple ways, including a planned gift. To mark Nelson’s 10-year anniversary as president, in 2011 they established the Global Opportunities Fund, which has made study abroad possible for hundreds of students.

Jack and Karen Puschel SegalJack Segal and Karen Puschel Segal
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Jack Segal and Karen Puschel Segal are both retired diplomats in the U.S. Department of State now living in Traverse City. Under their energetic leadership in the 2010s, the International Affairs Forum (IAF) expanded its programming significantly, growing into a major educational asset for northern Michigan and boosting the reputation and stature of NMC. They have been donors to the NMC Foundation for more than 15 years, supporting IAF, the Dennos Museum and other programs. Segal is also a popular instructor in NMC’s Extended Educational Services, offering multiple classes on world affairs. Puschel Segal is a tireless advocate for the immigrant community in the Grand Traverse area and serves as coordinator for the Afghan Migrant Ministry Project.

The Fellow is Northwestern Michigan College's highest honor, awarded annually since 1964. Fellows may be nominated because they have demonstrated influential networking on behalf of the College, have demonstrated a pattern of outstanding financial or personal time contributions to NMC, or as a retiree of the College continue to contribute back to their academic or professional fields as volunteers, mentors or advisors. Exceptional contributions in one or more of these areas may justify nomination. See a list of past recipients.

Release date: MARCH 11, 2024


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Cari Noga
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