CLASS OF 1997 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

In the fall, Francisco Tezen wrote to us about his wife Linda Rodriguez: “Linda is an executive director of Global Philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase. She was recognized last week by the New York City Council for her leadership in expanding opportunities for youth in New York City and around the country through her work. The recognition was part of the Council’s Puerto Rican Heritage celebration at City Hall.” We are thrilled that Linda’s work was honored.

Kimberly Rae Gilbert wrote to us from Boulder, Col.: “I recently published a children’s picture book I wrote called When We March (, which explains why citizens (even the very youngest!) in a democracy take to the streets in peaceful protest. Creating the book was a true community act and a labor of love. My co-creator and I relied on volunteer efforts and crowdfunding to get it done—including the love and support of dozens of Wes friends. Now we’re paying it forward by donating 100-plus books and working with nationwide organizations that support children’s education and serve marginalized populations. I’m so grateful that sharing this book continues to fortify its underlying message: that there’s joy and power in working together to promote the best in us.” We love this message!

We heard from Emy Johnson Zener, who works as a psychiatric social worker living in Washington Heights with Max Zener ’94 and their 13-year-old daughter Lucy. “We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. After 18 years working in community mental health, I started a private psychotherapy practice for adults in Washington Heights. I also work part-time as a psychotherapist at Housing Works on the Lower East Side, working with adults dealing with issues such as HIV, homelessness, and addiction, in addition to having other mental health needs. I sing with MasterVoices, a NYC chorus, under the baton of Ted Sperling, and do several concerts per year. In addition to classical works, we also do musical theatre and more experimental works. It is thrilling to sing back-up to some true masters in such venues as Carnegie Hall and City Center and to be able to keep one foot in the performing world while doing other work that I love. Max is working full-time as an audiobook narrator and actor. Lucy is soon to celebrate her bat mitzvah with our unique Humanistic Jewish congregation. She is in eighth grade at the Lang School, a school for twice exceptional (“2e”) kids—gifted kids with disabilities—and is thriving in this amazing educational environment.” Emy and Max, we are so happy to learn about your work. Mazel tov to Lucy!

In the fall of 2019, Alek Lev wrote and directed his second feature film, entitled WHAT? “It’s a black and white, silent, feature comedy with a cast and crew of deaf and hearing artists. Inspired by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, the film tells the story of a deaf actor, fed up with Hollywood, who decides to take matters into his own . . . hands. The film is in post-production now, and the next steps are film festival submissions and (silent) prayer. Go behind the scenes at” We’re all crossing our fingers for you, Alek!

Cyrus Bryden reached out from Charlotte, N.C., where he has been living for 15 years and where he works in the accounting industry. “This past year, Dave Katz and I were fortunate to go see the Patriots play in the NFL Superbowl. In 2019, I traveled to many foreign countries which included Luxembourg, Finland, and Estonia. While in Finland, I reconnected with Charly Salonius-Pasternak where we experienced several saunas and an October swim in the Baltic Sea.” So fun!

In December, Derek DiMatteo successfully defended his dissertation, “Academic Dissent: U.S. Higher Education Protest Literature, 1985-2015” and graduated from Indiana University, earning a PhD in English with a concentration in literature and a minor in American studies. “As of this month, I am a visiting lecturer in the Department of English at IU Bloomington, teaching full time while I search for a tenure track position in the USA or abroad.” Congratulations, Derek! We wish you the best in your job search.

Elijah Hawkes wrote to us from Vermont: “I’ve been glad to cross paths in recent months with good friends and Wes grads Omar Rahim ’96, Brion Winston, and Ruben Fleischer. Omar shared with me a wonderful short film he wrote and directed called Agency, which has recently screened at South Asian film festivals in Chicago and NYC. Ruben shared stories of his work as a director and producer, including how much he enjoyed reuniting with the cast Zombieland for the sequel. Brion lives with his wife Melanie Schoen outside of Albany. Brion—in addition to working full time as a heart surgeon—has written an original musical production, The Count: A Musical, which comes to NYC in March. I’m in my 20th year working in public schools at teacher and principal, first in NYC and now in Vermont.   have a book coming out this spring, School for the Age of Upheaval: Classrooms that Get Personal, Get Political, and Get to Work (Rowman & Littlefield).“ What fantastic news!

Andrew Frishman wrote that he “spent a delightful few days between X-mas and New Years with Sasha Cooke. Sasha was the inimitable Wesleyan squash coach in the mid/late 1990s and it was great to catch up with him and reconnect with his two amazing teenage children! As always, there was great hiking and skiing, food, music, and discourse on a wide variety of topics.” And “on New Year’s Eve eve (December 30th), I had a rockin’ time going out to see Deer Tick with Christian Housh. He had invited me to see Idles late last year and I’m enjoying the informal tradition that we’re developing of inviting each other out to see concerts in the Cambridge/Boston area. Who else wants in?”

Lauren Porosoff’s second edition of her book will be released in May with the new title Teach Meaningful: Tools to Design the Curriculum at Your Core. Lauren explains, “It’s about empowering teachers to use their values as a starting point for creating more meaningful learning experiences for students.”

Eric Lichtenfeld wrote: “I’m living in Columbus, Ohio, with my wife, our son, and daughter, who are twins, and our two dogs who are not. I’m still writing for the film industry and I’m also a psychotherapist. I’ve just opened my own office, where I specialize in treating trauma, loss and grief, anxiety, and other concerns. Doing this work feels like a real privilege–and considering the various pursuits I’ve been able to enjoy over the last 20-something years, that’s saying something.”

And last, but certainly not least, Eric Bor wrote to us to share some exciting news! “My wife Melanie and I proudly announce the birth of our son, Alexander Myles Bor, aka Xander, born Dec. 19, 2019.” Congratulations, Eric and Melanie! We did the math. Could Xander be a member of Wesleyan’s class of 2042? Hmm . . .

That’s all for now. We love getting your updates, so send them anytime!

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |