CLASS OF 1986 | 2021–2022 | WINTER ISSUE

Daniel Seltzer writes: “Survived the pandemic (so far) hunkered down on the Upper West Side. The last of our kids moved out last year and my wife Hillary and I are loving the empty nest effect. In 2019 I started a digital product development company (InData.dev), which was already a remote, distributed team, and saw huge demand in health tech during the past year. We built a digital health passport (CommonPass) that’s gotten a lot of coverage and did other projects in education and finance. I stayed in touch with Daniel Sullivan, Giles Richter ’87, John Ephron, Peter Durwood, Laura Harrington, and David Hamburger.”

     Suzanne Bidwell says: “My big update for the newsletter is that my son, Sam Bidwell ’21, graduated from Wes this year. Like our graduation 35 years ago, it was in the 90s without a cloud in the sky. However, remembering the weather in ’86, I knew enough to recommend a golf umbrella for him so he wouldn’t cook as I did back then. With the socially distant graduation seating, it was no problem and quite easy for me to find him in the crowd too! I look forward to attending future reunions with him sharing my reunion year.”

     Steve Cadigan writes: “I just published a book on the future of work titled Workquake: Embracing the Aftershocks of COVID-19 to Create a Better Model of Working. I am definitely biased but I think it’s a great read for anyone working today or anyone contemplating working— such as our class members who still have kids in school. I can also say that I have had regular monthly Zoom calls during COVID with Gus Conroy, also of our class; he is now based in Houston and doing great.”

Editor’s note: We’re on the hunt for a new class secretary! If you have any interest, please reach out to classnotes@wesleyan.edu.

 

CLASS OF 1986 | 2021 | ISSUE 1

For this issue of Class Notes, rather than share stories about individual members of our class, your class secretary would like to celebrate us as a community and celebrate our journey through life. This spring marks 35 years since we graduated, which puts us at about the halfway mark from 20 to 90. We’ve done so many interesting things; there are so many interesting things still to come.

      In the interim, we have certainly gotten dispersed geographically: we can be found in 44 states and several foreign countries, though there are 15 states where a couple of us can be found (AK, AL, AR, DE, ID, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, NE, OH, SC, TN, WV). At the other end of the scale, there’s New York City where more than 80 of us have congregated. When reviewing our class list and our majors, I had not realized that nearly 1-in-7 of us were English majors (about 100 out of about 750) and that 200+ others were nearly equally distributed among four other majors: Art, Biology, History, and Government. If those five majors made up half the class, maybe we weren’t that diverse after all? Though in each of the five there are quite a few subdisciplines. In any event, what we did at age 18–22 may have helped set the trajectory for our lives, but those majors don’t fully encompass who we are today and why we are loved and appreciated, and while there probably were some broken hearts along the way, hopefully we didn’t accumulate too many enemies.

      In recent years through this Class Notes column we’ve learned about spouses, children, parents, jobs, hobbies, trips, and various passions. We’ve heard of deaths, illnesses, divorce, intermittent retirement, and career shifts. At my urging, you’ve also told of local, often unrecognized, things such as coaching youth sports, serving on the school board, or volunteering at a church or food pantry. These things may not be splashy, but they make a difference, and so it was a pleasure to honor and recognize you for them.

      For myself, on New Year’s Day of 2020, I decided that I would make a conscious effort do at least one additional good deed each week­—sometimes it was mailing a check to a small, under-resourced charity, other times I added things such as hacking back at invasive plant species and picking up trash on the beach. In January 2021, I looked at my list of the 52 things from 2020 and decided to continue this weekly tradition for another year.

     To help broaden our horizons, please continue to share your stories. I’d love to hear about what you are doing and your community involvement. My email is easy to remember (ehoward86@wesleyan.edu), but note that your notes to me won’t be shared with the class. With this issue I’m stepping down from my role as class secretary, and I also asked for others to serve as co-administrators of our Facebook group. As secretary for the past decade, I’ve enjoyed corresponding with many of you, but after 10 years, it is time for someone else.

     I have the honor to be your obedient servant.

CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Congratulations. We made it through a very complex year, and we’ve also made it through an amazing 35 years! This coming May is our 35th Class Reunion, but unfortunately, on-site events have been postponed. Information about reunion is online at wesleyan.edu; keep an eye out for an updated date. Still, planning is underway. If you want more information or want to get involved, contact the class liaison, Nelson Albino MA’19, at nalbino@wesleyan.edu.

As I write this in the fall of 2020, there is tremendous uncertainty 

for many, though happily most members of our class seem to be secure in our jobs and in our lives. Here is some news that was shared with me during the past few weeks. 

First, a big and hearty congratulations to David Hill. This past July he became co-vice chair of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, and it is expected that he will become the president next July and serve a two-year term. Several classmates have children who will be joining the Alumni Association fairly soon. For example, Cathy Cotins has a son who is a senior, “He is living on Home Avenue, two doors down from the house I lived in senior year. We’re looking forward to celebrating his graduation on Foss Hill in the spring. I hope that will be possible!” 

Peter Crabtree was hunkered down at home with his wife of 29  years, partly due to COVID-19, and partly due to the Portland air being filled with smoke from nearby fires. “Overall things are good!  I continue to enjoy my psychology practice. I do psychotherapy, supervision of other therapists, and some teaching. I’ve been golfing, fly fishing, and hiking in my free hours. Despite the recent fires and post-apocalyptic feeling, I love Oregon.” Peter has been missing old friends from Wes and hopes to get to the next reunion; he still hangs out with Tony Green, who recently became a grandfather of a beautiful boy. 

Scott Donohue reported that Keith Gaby and his wife Ingrid Embree are empty-nesters, and so moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Oakland, California. They both rise early and work remotely with East Coast offices before that became a standard practice for many. “It’s been great to have them on the Left Coast but a bit hard to share adventures at the moment.”

Ayelet Waldman, Becky Mode and others on their team were tremendously successful as writers and producers of the TV show Unbelievable. The eight episodes were released in September 2019 on Netflix, and only a month later Netflix announced that the miniseries already had been streamed by over 32 million viewers.

Elizabeth Graver, a professor of English at Boston College, wants to “brag about some of my close friends from our class, who continue to awe me.” Sandy Newbury is director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Shelter Medicine Program, an intense job that also somehow leaves her time to do circus aerial arts and white water kayaking. Patrick Symmes (who graduated in ’87 but started out with our class) continues to report on the front lines, most recently writing about the rise of authoritarianism in the United States. His newsletter has been helping many make sense of things. Ralph Savarese, a professor of English at Grinnell (and with whom she had a writers’ group in college), has published a wonderful poetry collection, Republican Fathers (Nine Mile Books) and a second collection called When This Is Over: Pandemic Poems (Ice Cube Press). Elizabeth is still writing fiction and teaching in the Boston College English Department, where there is a strong Wes presence: Tina Klein, Carlo Rotella, Suzanne Berne ’82, and Eric Weiskott ’09.

Also in academia, Kristin Bluemel is on sabbatical from (virtual) teaching at Monmouth University and working on various projects including a book proposal called An Ideal Modernity: Rural Britain, Women Artists, and the Twentieth-Century Wood Engraving Revival. “I specialize in eccentric subjects related to literature, book history, and children’s literature. My husband George Witte is still serving remotely as editor-in-chief of St. Martin’s Press. Will NYC ever recover, we wonder. In the meantime, books are one thing everyone can enjoy while social distancing so we hope people with Wesleyan educations keep reading.”

During the quarantine Bennett Schneider solo performed as Sister Unity for a marathon of 10 hours of storytelling live online to raise money for LifeGroupLA, an HIV/AIDS support charity. He watched Melinda Newman’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah live online and participated in a Zoom play reading produced by Renee Bucciarelli. Also in the play were Shawn Cuddy, James Hallett, Deirdra Finney Boylan, Steve Stern, Michael Steven Schulz, Marybeth Kilkelly, and others. Bennett continues to expand his horizons: “While sealed up at home I learned how to make porridge, congee, gruel, and chutney from scratch. Retirement planning has crept into the vocabulary. Nathan Gebert ’85 has been sending me real estate postings for Maine. There’s talk of a group getting land and buildings together for a Wes colony in Maine, assuming we all survive.” 

See you at the reunion events.

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu

CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

First: Our 35th Reunion is in 2021, so we will have virtual celebrations this winter and spring, and (if all goes well) an in-person celebration in Middletown in late May. Please watch your email or our Facebook page for updates. If you haven’t been receiving emails from Wes, please let me know.

Earlier this year, many of us had children who were graduating from college or high school. Sue Bidwell’s comments about a senior week and virtual commencement were true for many of us. She said replicating senior week at home was a bit of a challenge, but “on the positive side, family members from around the country were able to participate virtually. Whereas even if there were no pandemic, they would have been unable to attend in person, so it was nice to be inclusive of the whole family—and best of all, we could all attend commencement in our PJs!”

Erika Levy wrote from NYC, where she’s an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Teachers College, Columbia University. Erika and her colleagues recently received a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a program fostering collaboration between speech-language pathologists and teachers of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Erica is in regular contact with Craig Hetzer and Liza Baron.

Also, in New York, Jeff Liss has been spending this pandemic time cleaning and organizing his basement and garage. “In other news, I spent the last year losing 75 pounds and can now fit into the Wesleyan sweatshirt I bought in December 1981 the weekend after I was accepted! In December, I joined the Board of Trustees for a small nonprofit that has been making headlines recently as a result of all of the COVID-19 deaths in New York City—The Hart Island Project. You can learn all about it at hartisland.net.”

Dennis Carboni wrote a long email; some extracts are below. Dennis has become a certified ice technician, meaning he operates and maintains a Zamboni ice resurfacer. “I use my engineering skills and art skills every year when we install the ice, layout, and then paint all the hockey markings. It’s hard to describe how much fun, joy, and peace I get out of physically working on the ice.” He’s in regular contact with David Rose and Hal Phillips; in fact, this spring, they’ve been doing a video call every Saturday night. Carboni’s son and daughter are both in their mid-20s and good in their post-college lives. Although Dennis never smoked or chewed tobacco, in recent years his right upper lung lobe and one-eighth of his tongue were removed because of two separate cancer diagnoses, but “I’ve been fine ever since.”

My inbox also had notes from, among others, Elena Scharnoff (“I have my own consulting business, and work continues to flow in”), Charlie Berthoud (a pastor for a Presbyterian congregation in Madison), Steve Price (one of many in our five-year club—those who started Wes in 1981 and graduated with us), Melany Kahn (near Keene, N.H., and very active in progressive politics), Shawn Cuddy (who referred to her husband, James Hallett), and Ann O’Hanlon (we are all fighting the passage of time, eh?), and Ester Amy Fischer (who like many of us, was wondering about the next chapter in her life).

I also acknowledge the new fellowship among many of 50-or-so classmates who participated in one or more of our video conferences earlier this year. It was a great way to learn about the interesting things that our class members are doing with their lives (and look into their private lives, as we saw their backyards and living rooms). The larger gatherings had about two dozen classmates, with some living only 20 miles off campus and some joining us from hundreds or thousands of miles away (the distance winners were Melbourne and the South Pole—each being about 10,000 miles from Middletown).

Our three class agents—John Gannon, David Hill, and Michael Levin—and I look forward to seeing you online or in-person in the coming months. If you would like to volunteer a few hours in the coming months to help support the university or help make the Reunion program a success, please let me know.

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu

CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

Mike Sealander wrote me, saying, “Recently, I have decided to make another go at learning Japanese. I studied at Wesleyan, went to Japan, made progress, and then left it alone. I’m intent on getting my groove back. If there are fellow alumni who would like to chat in Japanese, I’m game.”

Ben Schneider says, “I’m in my sixth year of training LGBTQ activists across North America for The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. May go to France in June for the SPI World Conclave. Still spending time with Melinda Newman, Cobina Gillitt ’87, Lisa Rosenblatt ’85, Julia Barclay-Morton, Dan Kolbert ’85, and others. Was thrilled to dine with Brad O’Neill in the fall. Miss Conor McTeague powerfully. Still occasionally guest lecturing at universities on gender activism and performance.” You can find Ben’s video storytelling on YouTube under Sister Unity.

Ellen Santistevan has joined the hybrid vehicle-owner’s club. “I feel somewhat pretentious, but I do hope that collective individual action will do a little bit to help things along. I don’t know for sure that it will, though, without reining in the big polluters. I also worry terribly about the poisonous battery materials and the fact that it feels like the entire vehicle is made of plastic. I hope it’s recycled plastic, at least! What’s making me happy these days are still being outdoors, being with my family, and playing with my pets. Sometimes I feel tired of work and taking care of people, but having worked for myself for so many years, I doubt whether I could fit into the 9-5 anymore. My two sons also have a really hard time fitting into that rut, and I kind of worry about their futures. My daughters seem to have found their ways to get through the world, at least. I feel like I have no real advice that I can give anymore, as the economy is so different now than it was for us. School is not the guarantee of a living wage. Life seems to hinge on luck and heritage more than anything else.”

Speaking of jobs, Cathy Cotins has changed jobs: “After more than a decade helping lead executive education and enterprise learning at Harvard Business School, I left last spring to join the executive team of a boutique leadership development firm. I love the work we do to transform organizations by helping their top leaders engage in deep personal transformation bringing empathy, compassion, and vulnerability forward and integrating head and heart intelligence. I’m grateful and so happy I found a community of teachers, leaders, and an expanding number of top global companies who value this work. I haven’t been this happy at work for a very long time. Our CEO and founder is a Wes graduate (’85), which was a fun topic of discussion the first time we met before either of us was considering I might join to help lead their growth. Go, Wes!”

And Rick Koffman is partner at Cohen Milstein in DC and co-chair of their antitrust practice group, where he litigates antitrust cases on behalf of the victims of corporations engaged in price-fixing, market monopolization, and other unlawful conduct. (According to the firm’s website, he was co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the largest price-fixing verdict in U.S. history and the largest jury verdict of 2013.) He says, “More interestingly, my son Dustin, who is 21, just published his first book of poetry, Eating Broccoli on the Moon (available at unrestrictedinterest.com).

Andy Layden celebrated 21 years of teaching astronomy at Bowling Green State University (in Ohio, near Toledo) by becoming chair of his Physics & Astronomy Department. In 10 years, he hopes to be retired, living in Puerto Rico (winter) and Canada (summer) and sharing his love of the night sky with anyone who will listen.

Dana Walcott and Stephen Porter ’87 are organizing a fundraiser to digitize audio cassettes of Wesleyan student music so people can listen to it online. The audio tapes are in a special collections at the Olin Library right now. If you’re interested in learning more or donating to the cause, go to facebook.com/groups/wesleyanclassof86.

Throw back poster

Lastly, George Justice has started a higher education consulting firm with Carolyn Dever of Dartmouth College. Dever Justice, LLC leads workshops for faculty development focused on faculty leadership in research, teaching, and service. George and Carolyn write a monthly column for Inside Higher Ed and are working on a book together, Beyond the Dark Side.

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu

CLASS OF 1986 | 2019 | ISSUE 2

It’s always a pleasure to share news from classmates, and I hope you’re enjoying the new look of the alumni magazine. Now that my kids are older, I’m now getting alumni magazines from several institutions and I feel that the Wes one is the best.

The last issue got Kristin Bluemel to write in: “Having seen my friend Monica Bose’s profile, I am inspired to write you before I lose momentum.” She said that in May she celebrated her 25th year as a professor of English at Monmouth University in New Jersey, where she now holds the Wayne D. McMurray Endowed Chair in the Humanities.

We also heard from another in academia: Sarah Elkind is a professor of history at San Diego State University and was elected vice president (president-elect) of the American Society for Environmental History. Sarah has been teaching environmental, political, urban, and public history, and runs SDSU’s public history internship program. In the area of environmental policy, one of her interests is how influential groups secure and exercise their power and why Americans expand or constrain government services. Sounds timely to me.

Here in Massachusetts, Jennifer Steel works in Newton, where she’s the senior environmental planner for the city. She is responsible for staffing the Conservation Commission and implementing the Wetlands Protection Act, managing Newton’s conservation land, and engaging the public on issues of land stewardship and helping shape large-scale developments, transportation projects, stormwater projects, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Risa Shames is living in Newton, and she wrote a career progression saying, “After a 20-year career in health care project management, I have transitioned to nonprofit consulting, helping organizations tell their story, raise funds, and advance their mission. I have also joined the board of my local food pantry and my synagogue.” She survived and enjoyed her first year as an empty nester, or “as I prefer to be called, a free bird.” Her daughter graduated from Tufts in the spring, and this fall, her son will be in his second year at Brown.

Further south, in Mount Kisco, N.Y., Doug Polaner is “super excited.” His son Mason will be at Wesleyan starting in the fall. “Other than that, still selling wine in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania through a wine import company, Polaner Selections, that I run with my wife. Celebrating our 20th anniversary in business this year. If you live in these states and like drinking wine, look for our back label and keep popping those corks!”

Ellen Santistevan shared some news from out west. “One of my kids just graduated with his AAS in welding technology. Another one was awarded a research prize in art history. One is a successful property manager and the last one is finding himself in Phoenix. We are definitely in that time of life when the offspring are taking charge of their lives.” She spent much of last year on a project that many of us are facing: helping parents move into a senior living community, and then, along with siblings, preparing the old home for sale. “That was wrenching and draining.”

My sympathies to all who are going through difficult transitions. Several studies have suggested that the early and mid-50s can be a particularly hard time in a person’s life. Don’t be afraid to call old friends and ask if they would be willing to let you cry on their shoulders. But do ask permission first, as your old friend may be going through tough times too.

With warm regards,

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu

CLASS OF 1986 | 2019 | ISSUE 1

Remember the on-campus music scene in the 1980s? The Olin Library Archives has a unique collection of student music performances. Seventy-nine audiocassettes recorded by Dana Walcott and Stephen Porter ’87 during our time at Wes. The library is willing to digitize the collection and make it available on the Internet. Some financial donations from members of our class (or other classes) could move this project toward the head of the line. To make a contribution, call the Alumni Office (860/685-2200) and specify that your donation is to support this project. Get a link to the collection here.

From the East Coast, Virginia “Ginger” Murphy writes: “An auspicious series of events has led me to my new job working as a constituent services advisor for our newly-elected Pennsylvania Rep. Melissa Shusterman. Very excited to be participating in the wave of newly elected leadership our voters sent to Harrisburg this past November. Not to mention more female leadership that ever now in our state government!” The district is about 30 miles from Philadelphia and includes the Valley Forge National Historic Park.

Also on the East Coast, a story from New Jersey that it’s never too late to exercise. Emily Zaslow Hourihan is now an Ironman (Ironwoman?): “I completed my first full Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico, last November; a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race, and a marathon for dessert. My time: 14:08. Perfect day in paradise. Can’t wait for the next one.”

And from Los Angeles, Brian Pass left the big, safe law firm at the end of the year (on his 55th birthday!) and hung out his own shingle (brianpasslaw.com): “I’m enjoying newfound freedom to continue my practice (commercial transactions in tech and new media) on a more personal level that’s more flexible and more efficient for my clients and more exciting for me.”

So, what’s up in your life? Share with me or reach out to classmates you haven’t talked to for a while (or ones you don’t really know at all—although I never knew him on campus, I’m having a beer with George Justice in a few weeks because I’ll be in his hometown).

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu

CLASS OF 1986 | 2018 | ISSUE 3

A long note from Hal Ginsberg: “Many thanks to Sandy Goldstein for organizing a Delta Tau Delta reunion in downtown Manhattan. A cross-section of mid-to-late-80s classes were there: Sandy and me, Rick Davidman ’84, Soren Pfeffer ’85, Steve Shackman ’87, Jim Freeman ’87, Bill Houston ’87, Ira Skolnik ’87, Dan Levy ’88, Scott Ades ’88, David Morse ’88, Ed Thorndike ’89, and Mike Marciello ’89.

“Atlantic seaboard Delts from Montpelier and Boston all the way to Palm Beach traveled by plane, bus, train, car, subway, and our own two feet to share memories and catch up on a Friday night. Some hadn’t seen others in well over 30 years. We started with drinks at a Union Square watering hole then proceeded to a nearby Italian restaurant where a multicourse repast was supplemented by numerous bottles of Tuscany’s (near) finest. Not wanting to end the evening, we moved on for a nightcap. Steve graciously hosted a lovely brunch the next day at his apartment. It was a great weekend!”

Hal was struck by the varied professions that we entered over the years. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of us went into finance. Others became doctors, lawyers, and business consultants. But one of us is a wine merchant, another is a real estate agent who doubles as a burrito shop owner, a third was an art dealer, a fourth a religious studies professor. I am now in my third and fourth acts. After practicing law then operating a radio station, I have been writing freelance and am acting as co-chair for the progressive group Our Revolution in Montgomery County, Md.”

Sally Spener writes, “In February, my husband and running partner, Sergio, and I completed our first marathon after taking up distance running in 2017 with the Jeff Galloway ’67 training group in El Paso, Texas. By press time, we will have completed the Ciudad Juarez Marathon as well. We enjoy weekend training runs along the Rio Grande.”

Hazlyn Fortune lives in Oakland and is an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission. “I’ve been at the Commission for over 18 years on a variety of energy and telecommunications issues. I’ve been a commissioner advisor and supervised a staff of nine implementing statewide energy efficiency programs. I love to garden, travel, dance, and cook, and look forward to hearing about everyone else in class notes update.” 

Beth Kaufman and Mark Miller ’87 shipped their daughter off to her last year of college, packed up their life, sold the Yonkers house, and moved to Harlem. “It’s a year of transition and a new chapter. The move puts us closer to friends and family. It also puts us closer to Mark’s new board game café, Hex & Co., on the Upper West Side. I got my certificate to teach English as a second language and I’m aiming to find work near our new home. Finally, after deciding to put our music on the back burner for a bit, I’ll be taking my band down to Jamaica for one final show in late October.”

John Ephron’s younger son, Sam ’22, just started as a freshman at Wes, happily ensconced in Butterfield C. John says it was nice to stroll the campus, and he’s looking forward to getting back more often.

Jaclyn Brilliant’s daughter, Josephine ’18, graduated from Wesleyan in May. “It was a ton of fun for us to be back on campus for the celebration. My husband, Anthony Jenks ’85, and I got to briefly catch up with Ann O’Hanlon during a trip to D.C. over Labor Day—drinks, HQ online trivia game, and nostalgia prevailed. I like to think the spirit of Jinny Kim was with us.”

Jim Clark: “I’m running the World Technology Network, a global association of the most innovative people in sci-tech—helping our 1,500 elected fellows know about each other’s innovations, and convening conferences with the U.N. and others on such topics as renewable energy, the future of work, and the governance of A.I.

“In addition to consulting, I’m also involved in political work, especially over the past two Trump years. Divorced 10 years, with two still-keeping-me-busy daughters (now 19 and 23), I see a lot of movies, still dance at festivals, write/perform poetry, take photos, hang out with my BFF since Wes days, Peter Benson, and marvel at the speed of time.”

Andy Clibanoff and his wife, Denise, are thrilled that their children (Callie ’19 and Leo ’22) are at Wes. Both kids experienced “the Butts” just as Andy did when he became good friends with Tanya Kalischer ’85 and Chris Coggins ’85, whose son, Noah Kalischer-Coggins ’22, is also living there. Andy is active in Wesleyan’s Philadelphia area regional alumni group and planned a happy hour and concert by the Wes alumni duo, The Overcoats. He and Denise hosted the Philadelphia Summer Sendoff. Nearly 75 students and family members attended in August. Professionally, Andy is an organizational and leadership development coach serving the sports and entertainment, technology, health care, and entrepreneurial environments. 

Eric Howard | ehoward86@wesleyan.edu