CLASS OF 1981 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

Greetings from the Pacific Northwest where I (Joanne) am visiting my oldest son and dodging the drizzle that is Seattle’s winter trademark. I’ve learned that you can temper the damp with some of Washington State’s red wine—cheers!

On behalf of the Class of ’81, I would like to extend warm thanks to retiring Wesleyan magazine editor Cynthia Rockwell MALS ’19. Cynthia has steered and edited the class notes for more years than I can count in addition to contributing interesting and thought-provoking pieces of journalism to the magazine. She will be sorely missed for her dedication, patience, literary exactitude, and sense of humor. All the best in your retirement, Cynthia! Thank you for all your guidance over the years.

Classmates, in anticipation of our (gulp!) 40th class Reunion, you are cordially invited by Belinda Buck Kielland,Livia Wong McCarthy, and Nancy Parker Wilson to a first-ever Class of ’81 Pre-Reunion on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. An old-fashioned New England clambake will take place at Greenvale Vineyards (Nancy’s family winery) on the banks of the picturesque Sakonnet River in bucolic Portsmouth, R.I. (neighboring town to Newport). Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway): with these co-hosts, you know it will be an amazing party—don’t miss it! If you haven’t already, you should be receiving an invitation in your email soon.  Please contact Liv at with any questions.

Dr. Kerry Bernstein wrote in after a long hiatus. She and her husband Wayne Balkan moved to Miami in 1991 to take faculty positions at the University of Miami (now Miller) School of Medicine, a sort of “coming home” for Kerry, who grew up in South Florida. She also convinced Wayne McGill ’78 (from Montreal) to relocate with the assurance that the “hurricanes never hit and the temperature doesn’t go above 90 degrees”. Well, shortly after moving, Hurricane Andrew, one of the worst hurricanes in history, hit the area . . . so much for Kerry’s credibility—in the meteorological domain at least!

Kerry became chair of her department (molecular and cellular pharmacology) in late 2018 and has been associate director of education and training for the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center since 2015.  “It’s particularly exciting and gratifying to be part of the leadership team that worked to make Sylvester the 71st cancer center in the nation to be designated by the National Cancer Institute.” Kerry and Wayne have two children, Kyla and Liam. Kyla graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and works in management consulting in NYC; Liam will graduate from American University in May 2020. Kerry adds, “We love getting together with Wesleyan alumni, including locally with Greg Andrisand Ed Gross ’87 and their wonderful wives. Our kids were in school with Greg’s and Ed’s, beginning in pre-K. Brian Hennesey ’04, Wesleyan alumni coordinator, South Florida) deserves a special shout-out for the great happy hours he organizes.

Ariel Rubissow Okamoto is trying to turn over a new leaf at 60—the family had to sell the California vineyard generations had owned for 40 years, and she’s still grieving. Ariel writes: “’It’s the land, Katie Scarlett, the land . ..’ Time to really write that memoir, novel, creative opus—so stand by! Suddenly, missing the Wesleyan orchestra (1/4 of my entire degree as last second violin). Funny the things that pop up with—dare I say it?– ‘age.’” You can now reach her at

In addition to his many other professional accolades, Dr. Sam Selesnick has recently assumed the position of editor-in-chief of The Laryngoscope, an official journal of the Triological Society, the oldest in the field and the primary voice for otolaryngologic clinical and translation research. For the past 28 years, Sam has been on the faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College, where he is currently professor and vice-chair of the department of otolaryngology, with appointments also in the departments of neurosurgery and neurology. He is also in the department of neurosurgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Congrats, Sam!

As we get older, it seems like we are getting busier and more adventurous—and that’s a good thing. My Wes housemate and fellow intrepid traveler Kathy Prager Conrad sent pix from her most recent adventure: cross-country skiing in Yellowstone National Park. “If you like (it) in the summer, you should see it in winter—love the steam and ice!” She did not encounter wolves that day but “got stuck in a bison traffic jam—beats the (D.C.) Beltway any day!” Check out her gorgeous photos on her Facebook page.

I recently returned from a “trip of a lifetime” partial-family safari to Tanzania.  Unfortunately, Son #1 had to stay behind due to a thing called “work.” Son #2 was smitten with Tanzania after living/learning/researching in Olduvai Gorge a few years back and decided to organize this trip before he finishes grad school in the spring. My husband, two sons, and I landed in Arusha and hit several national parks and the Ngorngoro Conservation Area, ending at the Ngorongoro Crater. Experiencing the scope of the wildebeest migration (they travel with zebras and gazelles) is awe-inspiring. Looking a lioness in the eye from eight feet away is spiritual. Observing a mother cheetah and her feeding cubs (spoiler: it was a baby zebra) is experiencing the great circle of life up-close. And the elephants cavorting in the river is like watching a group of young boys at a water hole. Don’t wait . . . do it! Africa changes your life!

David I. Block shared this story: “At a meeting of the Emergency Committee on Rojava in NYC, I mentioned how we brought Murray Bookchin, whose ideas inform their politics, to our conference on social ecology our senior year.

“Wait. What school did you say you went to?” I was asked, by a woman about my age.


“I thought so,” she replied. “I thought I recognized you.”

“What year were you?” I asked.


“I co-write your class notes,” I reminded Erica Goldman, who gave me permission to note that we met doing what we can to save—not betray—Rojava, the Kurds, and the SDF that defeated ISiS, from the invading Turks.

I had a serendipitous and utterly delightful e-chat with Mark Molina this fall. Mark, still in Connecticut, left the field of law in 2014 and invested early in OrangeTheory. He is now the (obviously fit!) owner of four locations. He told me he had attended Homecoming 2019 with his youngest son Ted ’20.  When I asked if Ted played as well (Mark is a former Wes football player), Mark replied, “No! He’s too smart for that—but he’s kind enough to indulge me and sits with me at home games. He’s a great kid!” Indeed, he would have to be with a dad like Mark. 

And that concludes this issue’s reporting. Hoping that some of you will be able to make the Pre-Reunion in Rhode Island in August.

Keep the news coming!

David I. Block |

Joanne Godin Audretsch |