CLASS OF 1997 | 2015 | ISSUE 1

2015 has brought forth new beginnings for many of our classmates. As I begin my third year as your Class Secretary, Alumni of Color Council Member and Wesleyan Fund Class Agent I fondly reflected upon my relationship with Wesleyan through the years. Whether it was the Career Resource Center, the Dean’s Office, my professors, or my friends—I have found Wesleyan to return to me what I have placed into it. I enjoy hearing from everyone and learning about life after Wesleyan. I believe this platform is an outlet to re-establish connection for many of us. Please be encouraged to make a new or recreate an existing WesConnect.

Neily Buff wrote that in January, as Florida legalized gay marriage, she and her 11-year partner, Kelly Kingston, were married in their home state. Exactly one month earlier, they had their first child together—a girl.

Andrew Frishman (@andrewfrishman) shared: “Leigh Needleman ’96 and I just bought a place in Cambridge, located about halfway between Harvard and MIT. We’re excited to be living just a block from our 5-year-old daughter’s school and a 10-minute walk from her younger brother’s daycare. Leigh’s a neuroscientist at Harvard and I am on the leadership team at Big Picture Learning ( We get together regularly with Laura Warren ’98, her husband and children (who are similar ages to ours). Andrew is excited to be collaborating with Daniela Lewy ’99, who will soon be entering the final year of the Harvard EdLD program, which he finished in May of 2014. Andrew also connects regularly with Arthur Baraf ’98, a principal at the flagship Big Picture Learning school—The Met High School, in Providence, RI.

Carly Burton (@carlyburton7) says: “I’ve been in Boston for the past 12 years and just moved to a new house in Jamaica Plain (one block from our old house). I married my wife, Mo, in 2009 and in October 2013 we adopted our daughter, Clea. We got the call we were matched on the evening of Oct. 18, the day before my birthday. Clea was born on Oct. 22, and we got to meet her that day! It has been a joyous adventure. She is an active toddler who loves to dance and walk backwards and see how long she can pull the tail of the cat before getting in trouble. I’ve worked in advocacy since graduating from social work school at BU and my path has crossed with many Wes alums along the way, from Fawn Phelps to Melissa Shannon ’94, to former Rep Steven Walsh ’95, to Senator Dan Wolf ’79. Currently, I work at an LGBTQ advocacy organization and though I don’t see as many Wes alums in my professional world, I am lucky to see Karen Carniol ’98 and Ginna Smith Reeder ’98 and Liz Murray ’96 pretty regularly, which is wonderful.”

Dr. Joshua Arthurs (@Jwarthurs) and wife Malayna Bernstein are both professors at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V., Josh in modern European history and serving as director of graduate studies, and Malayna in curriculum and instruction. Along with their boys, Eli (10) and Carlo (6), they are enjoying life as Mountaineers, and welcome any Wes contacts in West Virginia or the Pittsburgh area.

Michelle Conceison (@ProfConceison) lives in Boston runs her own music management and marketing company, Market Monkeys (@MarketMonkeys Here she manages Canadian songwriter Rose Cousins ( and her record label, Old Farm Pony Records ( Michelle is also a professor in the music department at Northeastern University and she serves on the Board of Folk Alliance International, the organization that represents folk music worldwide.

Sean Brecker (@seanbrecker) moved back to the US after 11 years away (seven years in Singapore and four in England). His wife, Heidi, and three kids (Felix, 5, and girl/boy twins Eiffel and Dashel, 3) moved to Los Angeles in 2014. Sean is the CEO of Headspace, a guided meditation app. Sean would love to hear from any Wes alums in southern California!

Aileen Nagle McDonough (@3amwriter) lives in Rhode Island and serves as the chief executive of 3am Writers, a communications and content strategy firm that focuses on creative social media and online identity for businesses. Aileen writes stories as “Honda Mama” on; she also teaches social media classes at Cape Cod Community College. In addition, Aileen devotes time to her own creative writing. In 2014, she was back on campus to attend Wesleyan’s Shasha Conference on The Novel, and two of her essays were published in Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England.

Aileen has been married for 15 years to Kirk. They have two children: a hockey-playing, mohawk-sporting 11-year old son, Shane, and a redheaded 8-year-old daughter, Cate, who loves Irish step dancing and glee club. Aileen keeps up with Wesleyan friends on social media and meets up with ’97 classmate Michelle Driscoll in Boston or Providence whenever busy schedules allow.

Matthew Way ( completed his debut feature, “The Genital Warriors” and was very pleased to have celebrated the World and German premieres of it in Moscow and Berlin respectively at the Moscow International Film Festival, one of 15 A-list festivals worldwide. Visit for more information.

Derek DiMatteo wrotes, “I’m three years into the PhD program in English literature here at Indiana University, Bloomington, and have just settled on my qualifying exam committee members. Terrifying to think I will have to do my orals this coming September, but also elated to be done with coursework at the end of this spring.”

At the top of March, Abdul Latif was chosen as one of three 2015 winning choreographers with the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the official school of the Joffrey Ballet, to display his most poignant pieces to date at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Learn more at

Cheers to all of the new beginnings thus far. Looking forward to hearing more.

Kimberly King |