Willie Greeke ’87 passed away on April 7, 2020 at the age of 55. A full obituary can be found here.
Hello, Class of ’87! I am writing to you in May, while many governors are weighing the risks of opening back up. This has been an unimaginable part of our lives, and the notes I am reporting reveal the strangeness of this time in quarantine.
Giles Richter reports that he is hunkered down with his wife in San Mateo, Calif., having returned from Tokyo in January. He works at Stanford for a Japanese language intensive program. Giles worked to move the program online to keep it running despite the crisis. He has kept tabs on classmates sheltering in New York, including Anne Dunham, Adrienne Fitzgerald, Becca Gallagher ’90, Jack Levinson, Jeremy Mindich ’87, MALS ’89, and Vivian Trakinski.
Gabrielle Sellei was sworn into the New York Bar from her front porch in May. She is an entertainment lawyer, getting increased interest from New York-based clients. She’s now a Pennsylvania-New York-New Jersey triple threat.
Amy Baltzell shares a little joy in a time of so much dark news: Shayna, her oldest daughter, is attending Wesleyan this fall. She will be joining the rowing team. Amy says she is overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for her to have the chance to experience Wesleyan.
David Josephs and his family relocated from London back to Chicago in March, arriving at O’Hare on the first day of newly-instituted customs procedures at O’Hare Airport. It took them six hours to get through immigration. They have moved back into their home in the Chicago suburbs and are happy to be closer to their daughter and families now. David took a new job as CEO at daVinci Payments, after five years with Visa. Living in London was fantastic, including a visit from David Igler ’88, MA’88.
After 26 years in Chicago, J.B. Davis and his wife, Rachel, moved their family Josiah (18), Eli (15), Abby (13), puppy Booker, and cat Billie to Cleveland three years ago. Rachel is an administrator at Cleveland State University, and J.B. is the director of engagement and marketing at Suburban Temple – Kol Ami, a reform synagogue.
Hemanshu Nigam has built a career working on the safety initiatives in the public space and cyberspace. Recently, he developed an app called Syndesy (syndesy.io), offering protections including connecting emergency alerts to contacts and the ability to track negative interactions in a verified form. The app has a recently-added check-ins feature that makes it easy for users to voluntarily capture where they have been and when, and inform family and friends should they be diagnosed COVID-19 positive. This feature provides an approach to contact tracing, balancing civil liberties and privacy with the ability to protect society.
The pandemic pushed Wendy Blum’s dance education work online. She has been designing and teaching remote curriculum for pre-K through fifth grade in New York City public schools. She enjoys the upsides of technology, such as the ability to use the media of masterworks made available during the pandemic. However, teaching physical dance via video has been challenging. During the stay-at-home order, Wendy interacts with many Wespeeps via multiple digital platforms. She took a Zoom dance class alongside Molly Rabinowitz, had Jody Sperling ’92 as a guest artist in her GoogleMeets classroom, and has met virtually with Kim Sargent-Wishart (Australia), Sue Roginski (California), Evelyn Shapiro (Illinois), Darya Mead (California), Pauline Frommer ’88 (New York City), Eddie Zas (New York City), Dave Cole (Illinois), Debby Hamilton (California), Andrew Grimaldi (Massachusetts), Steve Morison ’88 (Bulgaria), Nancy Nachbar ’89 (Maryland), Steve Kullback ’89 (Georgia), Christie Trott ’88 (California), and Paul Gosselin ’88 (France).
Ian Rosen and his family are persevering in London. He finds himself grateful for the opportunity to work hard from home. He’s busy in sustainability across three businesses—investment management in renewable energy, a technology company in electric-vehicle charging, and property development. His daughter finished her Wesleyan frosh year from home in London. In his role as alumni rep, Ian is planning virtual gatherings given physical ones seem a way off.
Josh Calder works as a futurist, offering support across many industries. Years ago, his company sent out a prediction about the possibilities of a pandemic and its deep effects. Josh said that even being intellectually prepared, he was not inoculated against how weird the pandemic is. In the kind of news a class secretary delights in, Josh reports a previous column of class notes informed him that his sons’ peace teacher is our classmate Linda Ryden, who lives five houses down from him in Northwest D.C.
Finally, we got news in early April that Willie Greeke had died from COVID-19, a stunningly cruel disease. Willie was remembered on Facebook by his classmates for his activities at Wesleyan, and for the good guy that he was. The world is a little darker for this loss.
In addition to news of their activities during the pandemic, our classmates wrote in to send best wishes and love to their Wesleyan friends. I sincerely hope this message finds you and your family safe and healthy.
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano | email@example.com
Hi, Class of ’87. Rebecca here with news from you!
John Snyder is living in Amherst, Mass., with his 12-year-old daughter. He’s a partner at Amherst Pediatrics and excited to be teaching Science vs. Pseudoscience, a new undergrad course in the School of Public Health at UMass.
Debbie Hamilton moved from Colorado to Santa Barbara, Calif., more than two years ago. She became an empty nester, decided she was tired of the cold, and was burnt out from her integrative medical practice, so she took the initiative to pursue a major midlife change. Debbie is now the medical director for a nutritional supplement company, enjoying a more normal job with benefits and travel. She does some clinical consulting and spends some time in Colorado with her college-age kids. She’d love to connect with Southern California Wesleyan alumni.
James Flynn was named national managing director of a 14-office law firm and had an exciting first year, including an alliance with Deloitte Legal that an industry publication listed as part of the five biggest things to rock the legal world this year. James hopes 2019 wasn’t just beginner’s luck! James is the proud father of Justyna, a school psychologist; Michael, at Morgan Stanley; and Anthony, a freshman at Villanova who manages the men’s basketball team. His wife, Monica, is an educational administrator and curriculum director.
James celebrates career successes of Wesleyan basketball teammates: Chris Roellke, starting as president of Stetson University in July; and Mike Arcieri ’86, working as director of basketball strategy for the Knicks. Finally, James says it’s been too long since he’s seen Matt Glaser and Brock Ganeles ’88.
Eileen Deignan’s son, Evan Hsu, will join Wesleyan’s Class of 2024. She thanks her own alumni network—Trish Lindemann and Ira Skolnik—Wesleyan parents with children who reached out to Evan. Eileen attended a mini-reunion at the New York home of Sumana Rangashar where she saw Lucille Renwick, Michell Ahern, Suzy Walrath Mehrotra, and Ruth Bodian ’88. She saw Holly Campbell Ambler and Doug Koplow at a reception for President Michael Roth ’78 last fall. Closer to home, she sees Doug Neuman and catches up with Simon Heart and Johanna Van Hise Heart when they come through New England.
Tim Sullivan ’87, MALS ’98 and Mike Cooper attended a Wesleyan football game with a smoker full of ribs. He caught up with Wayne Stearns, Andy Campbell ’88, Pete Crivelli ’86, Ken Johnson ’86, Anthony Rella ’86, Charlie Galland ’86, Jim McGonagle ’84, and Joel Armijo ’84!
Nicholas Birns released a book called The Hyperlocal in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Literary Space.
Holly Campbell Ambler and her husband are adjusting to an empty nest, with two daughters now away from home. Her 19-year old is in her first year at Vassar and her 23-year-old is a dancer living in Providence. Holly works in Boston as a school-based social worker. Holly sees Wes friends frequently, including Trish and John Dorsey, Doug Koplow, and Dennis Mahoney.
Mark Pinto and his partner Jeff live in Tacoma, Wash., where they work in residential real estate. They’ve been together for 15 years. Mark serves as board president for Tacoma’s performing arts center, Tacoma Arts Live. He doesn’t see his old Wes friends as often as he’d like, but he saw Lael Loewenstein in LA recently, which was great.
Naomi Mezey had research leave in 2019 in Barcelona, studying the Catalan independence movement. She was a visiting professor at the Universitat de Pompeu Fabra but also watched the trial against the former Catalan politicians who led the 2017 independence referendum. Google “It’s not just Catalan separatists” to see her Washington Post op-ed piece.
Naomi was lucky to spend time exploring Catalonia with her then-13-year-old daughter, Lucy, who went to school, made friends, learned some Spanish and Catalan. They had a visit from the rest of the family, Matt Paul and son, Jake, a Yale junior. Jeremy Mindich ’87, MALS ’89 took Naomi to the Barcelona Open. She loved the research and the opportunity to exit her normal life for a few months.
Our classmate, Andy Grimaldi was diagnosed with ALS in 2017. Mike Pruzan, Dave Glatz, John Fitzpatrick, Chris Olinger, Jeff McCarthy, and Matt Nestor are fundraising to help Andy’s family with expenses. Please visit gofundme.com/f/andrew-grimaldi to learn more.
Michael Bennet suspended his presidential campaign after the New Hampshire primary. Several 87 classmates had been active in his campaign.
After 26 years in immigration law in Texas, Paul Zoltan won a lifetime achievement award from the Immigration Law Section of the Dallas Bar Association. His 2-year-old daughter, Natalia, will attend her parents’ wedding in May 2020.
Paul and I were among the last four to receive diplomas at commencement. Only those whose names start with Z understand the magic of the loud cheer when we started to cross the stage.
Keep those emails coming!
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello, class of ’87! I’m writing this in the early days of September, when many of us are dropping kids off at school. Lots of news this time about our kids and transitions in our own careers.
Nancy Rapoport reflected on how much her mind returned to her own college application process and experience while she was watching her first kid go through it. Her daughter, Orlee, is in her first year at Harvard. Her twins, Esme and Tess, are sophomores in high school, active in cross country, lacrosse, field hockey, and ultimate Frisbee. Aside from running her own editing business, Nancy spends a lot of time playing taxi and cheering for sports whose rules she admits she doesn’t fully understand.
Pauline Frommer hosted a summer rooftop party for lots of Wesleyan folks in New York. It was great to see so many we hadn’t seen since Foss Hill.
Ian Rosen ’88 writes from London where he lives with his wife, Sagra, and works in sustainable investments and renewable energy. Their youngest daughter, Olivia, attends the American School and their eldest daughter, Isabel ’23, started Wesleyan in the fall. He said, “Scary thought that she will be class of 2023, so follows me by 36 years. Yet visiting campus, it is still so familiar.”
Lynda Ryden is a peace teacher in a Washington, D.C., public elementary school. She has written a curriculum that integrates mindfulness, social emotional learning, conflict resolution, and neuroscience. Lynda runs a nonprofit called Peace of Mind dedicated to promoting social emotional learning in schools nationwide. Lynda’s daughter, Rosie, is at Bryn Mawr and her son, Henry, is at Dickinson. Lynda’s sister, Tricia Ryden ’88, works as a public librarian in a rural community where libraries serve many crucial community functions.
Hope Salzer is pleased to have successfully transitioned back into active participation in the economy after 14 years of active work at home. While raising her husband, Larry (Yale ’88), and her two children, Henry and Clio, Hope was volunteering on behalf of public education and civic engagement. Hope now works with Catalogit, a collections management app used by museums, private collectors, professional conservators, and organizations to keep track of their collections. Technology is pushing a disruptive change in this field, and Hope is enjoying her role in the transition. Hope recently enjoyed time with Lisanne Misrok ’88 and Lisa Hone. She reports that she and her family recently used the health care system like never before—broken arm, emergency appendectomy, ankle sprains. They are all looking forward to a healthy 2020!
Sanford Livingston is still in Oakland, Calif. He is the CEO of NorCal FDC, a nonprofit that helps small businesses in California find capital for growth. He is lucky to work with Lydia Esdaile ’85, who is the director of marketing and communications, and he says the Wes energy is amazing!
Amy Baltzell spent 20 years as a professor of sports psychology and made a change toward a more eclectic approach to her career. She is now a Reiki Master Teacher, sport psychologist, and performance psychology consultant to businesses. She helps others awake and thrive. Amy is recently and peacefully single with a house bursting with teenagers. She is co-authoring a new book with a shaman healer and she is feeling grateful.
In 2007, Erika Cosby was invited by Lyle Ashton Harris ’88 to teach art at NYU and she is still there, going strong. As an artist, she has been using the name Erika Ranee since receiving her MFA in painting from UC Berkeley in 1993. Her next solo exhibition was scheduled to open in NYC in November. Erika enjoyed reconnecting with Lisa Heilbrunn Rattray and Amanda Jacobs Wolf at two recent art openings.
If you were at Wesleyan’s Shasha seminar, Understanding Russia, you heard David Abramson’s presentation on the Russia-China partnership. Most speakers are alumni who work on Russia issues in government, NGOs, industry, and academia. David was looking forward to seeing Anthony Richter ’84, Ilya Vinkovetsky ’88, Andy Meier ’85, and Kate Hardin ’90. David’s daughter, Hazel, started her first year at Mt. Holyoke. And, surprisingly, his genealogy research revealed a third cousin named June Price ’83, whom he has yet to meet.
How many people can say they knew a presidential candidate when they were undergraduates? Michael Bennet is running, and Muzzy Rosenblatt writes that a whole bunch of ’87s are working hard on his behalf, including Amanda Jacobs Wolf, Evan Glassman, Bradley Lubin, Sibyll Carnochan Catalan, Jeremy Mindich ’87, MALS’89, and more!
Late breaking news: Congratulations to Christopher Roellke, who was recently appointed the next president of Stetson University. Chris will leave his post at Vassar to start this position this summer.
What’s happening with you? Check in with us soon!
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano | email@example.com
Christopher Roellke ’87, PhD, was elected the 10th president of Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. Chair of the Stetson University Board of Trustees Joe Cooper said, “Dr. Roellke is bringing an outstanding record of energetic leadership in higher education and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities Stetson University faces.” Previously a professor of education at Vassar College, where he was appointed dean of the college, emeritus, Roellke is also past president of the Association of Education Finance and Policy. He was a 2014 Fulbright scholar, and the founder and fundraiser of Vassar College’s Urban Education Initiative. Roellke majored in government at Wesleyan and earned his doctorate at Cornell University. He is married to Kim Greenberg Roellke ’87, DVM; the couple has three daughters.
Rebecca here. Back again, and thankful to hear from so many of you. In the wind up for these notes, Elizabeth Kromelow and I had a compelling back and forth about this column. We decided that many of you might run a dialogue internally to vet your own experiences, asking the questions, Is this news? Does it sound good? Is it inspiring? Elizabeth argues that you should feel comfortable expressing what’s actually going on in your life and not just the Sunday’s best, social media version.
In that spirit, Elizabeth reports that she has been struggling through the American medical system as she recovers from a brain tumor. She writes, “It’s incredible to learn that doctors don’t realize they’re part of an orchestra, and that a conductor is essential. I’ve had to fight for all kinds of things to which I’m entitled and put things in context for the doctors that they should be able to do themselves. The irony is that doctors tell me to avoid stress and relax. A Wesleyan education is definitely required to get through this!” Elizabeth hopes to be back at the hockey rink in a couple of weeks. We’re pulling for you, Elizabeth!
Karen Humphries Sallick reports that after 23 years, she still enjoys work in her customer experience consulting company. In April, she soft-launched an app called Contacts 411, a contact updating tool based on the idea that people should have access to the same data companies do for their marketing without sacrificing the privacy of their contact list. Eileen Deignan provided awesome early feedback that Karen incorporated before the launch.
Andrew Hall regularly plays gigs in the NYC area with the instrumental rock trio, Big Lazy, and the Western swing band, Brain Cloud. He’s been learning the sousaphone, inspired by a twin love of New Orleans brass bands and old time jazz. He says it is fun, ridiculous, physically invigorating, and vastly different from his experience with the acoustic bass. Big Lazy toured the southeast this spring. Andrew was looking forward to seeing Annabel Conrad ’88 when the band hits Memphis. Check out both groups online—they’re great!
Nicholas Birns is teaching in China this summer and he and his wife Isabella are vacationing in California later in the year.
Ben Waxman probably speaks for many of us when he reports that when he and his wife Nicole McLaughlin became empty nesters last August, it was “totally devastating.” But don’t worry, by May, Ben was presenting on digital marketing micro-conversions at the NAFSA conference for international educators in D.C.
Hemanshu “Hemu” Nigam launched the Center for Online Justice to help victims of cyberstalking, online harassment, and other attacks to bring to justice those who use anonymity to engage in bad conduct. Hemu hopes to bring his work into a university setting as a clinic to help those who can’t afford services like these.
Lots of news from James Flynn, who became managing partner at Epstein Becker Green in January. James says he keeps in touch with Professor John Finn, “forcing him to endure” his eclectic articles about intellectual property. James and his wife Monica have three children, Justyna (bachelor’s and master’s from Loyola University), Michael (Boston College grad), and Anthony (Villanova University ’23).
Carla Yanni won the Rutgers University Scholar-Teacher Award, a university-wide prize for her work as a social historian of architecture. Carla was cited for her ability to inspire students to think about the ways people live with the built environment. Josh Bellin teaches writing and literature at La Roche University in Pittsburgh. He just published a novel titled House of Earth, House of Stone, the final book in a fantasy trilogy.
Joan Morgan published her second book, She Begat This: 20 Years of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill to great reviews. Joan took a national book tour with events at the Brooklyn Museum and The Kennedy Center. Her first book, When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip Hop Feminist Breaks It Down, was optioned for screen rights by Academy-Award-nominated producer Mimi Valdés. Still, it was back to work this summer as Joan prepared to defend her American studies doctoral dissertation at NYU.
Rafael Semansky began his own business Nantasket Road Consulting, providing health analytics, writing, and grantwriting. Prior to this, Rafael was a scientific review officer for NIH, organizing expert review groups in health IT and nursing science.
After 50 years of East Coast living, Brooks Kraft and his wife Christine have moved to California, where he now works at Apple. Their son Daniel ’23 will be attending Wesleyan!
For the record, Michael Bennet announced his run for the presidency. Lots of classmates are rallying around him, and as I finalize this column, he is preparing to do a CNN town hall. To me, we are all still 22, which makes the stories of our lives even more amazing. Keep us posted.
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi! New class secretary here! Thanks to Amanda Jacobs Wolf for her work in this role over the years, and thanks to all who sent me good wishes. The Class of ’87 will always be 20-somethings to me, which makes these notes so mind-blowing. We’re raising kids, working hard, and still checking in with classmates. Read on!
Anne Undeland has been playwriting in the Berkshires, where she gets the chance to see Dan Bellow and Elena Pappalardo-Day ’86 from time to time. Her latest effort, Lady Randy, about Winston Churchill’s extraordinary American mother, is being produced by WAM Theatre in Lee, Mass., in April. Anne says it would be an understatement to say she’s more than thrilled.
We heard from Holly Campbell Ambler in Cambridge, Mass. She and her husband, David Ambler, are experiencing their first empty-nest year as their youngest daughter graduated from high school in June and is now traveling the world on a gap year. Their other daughter is a ballet dancer in Rhode Island. Holly keeps busy working as a child and family social worker, both in a clinic and in a K-12 school in Boston. Happily, she sees Wes friends regularly, Trish and John Dorsey, Dennis and Karen Mahoney, and Doug and Michele Koplow.
In December, Ben Waxman and his wife made the trek to Wes for their 16-year-old to suss it out. Student intern Sam in the admissions office made Wes shine in her eyes. The campus did its thing. And they enjoyed lunch at O’Rourke’s. Steamed cheeseburgers all around!
Chris Roellke and I connect on Facebook, where I get to cheer him on during the annual Vassar College faculty vs. student basketball game. If you want to catch up with his famous enthusiasm, Chris broadcasts the VC women’s basketball games live on the web. Chris is on sabbatical after completing his second term as dean of the college. He is writing a book on the policy and practice of American higher education and working on a project with Jeremy Mindich and Sarah Williams ’88 to support classroom teachers in urban schools.
Kim Greenberg Roellke’s veterinary practice in Millbrook, N.Y., is great, and they have lot of news about their daughters to share: Emma is applying to med school. Liv is an avid equestrian. Julia is a senior at Vassar and on the basketball team there; she took the fall of her senior year off to study food justice in Ecuador, Malawi, and Italy.
If you are a fan of horror films, you have no doubt been aware of Brad Fuller’s work. He produced A Quiet Place which is enjoying success during this year’s awards season. The First Purge was released in 2018, too. Recent TV work includes The Last Ship, The Purge, and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Brad serves on the board of councilors at the USC School of Dramatic Arts.
Karen Craddock is a visiting scholar at Wellesley College. She is continuing her research and action to elevate the lives and voices of women of color. She is primarily focusing on Native American/indigenous women and African-American/black women—and in particular emotional health, mental health, and overall wellbeing. Karen is working on domestic violence prevention and wellness promotion for Native American women. She is chairing the domestic violence advisory board of the Wampanoag Tribe Women’s Center on Martha’s Vineyard. They are now in the third year of operation, addressing and preventing violence against Indian women.
In the last issue of this magazine, a few lines of my note were dropped in a page turn, and the outcry was muted, to say the least. For those of you who want the whole story, here’s what I reported: Rebecca Zimbler Graziano met up with Steven Shackman and Ira Skolnik to see a Mets/Red Sox game in Boston in September. As seniors in 1987, they may have gone to opening day at New York’s Shea Stadium, but Rebecca is the only one who remembers it. They had a surprise reunion at Citifield during the 2015 playoffs. During their recent Boston weekend, Ira, a licensed town of Concord tour guide, drove them to see the sights in town including Thoreau’s home and gravesite. Lifelong Mets fans, Rebecca, Steve, and Ira are looking forward to seeing the Mets in the playoffs again soon. Rebecca’s son, Sam, is at American University, and she visits Amy Mortimer-Lotke and Eric Lotke frequently when she gets to campus. Amy and Rebecca were lucky enough to grab a day with Grier Mendel in D.C. last April, too.
I hope it’s warmer in the USA by the time you read this. Looking forward to hearing from you. Keep us posted.
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano | email@example.com
Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for keeping the notes coming.
Susan Arndt: “I married my one true love, Tracey, in 2015 and we have a little boy, Thomas, 3. He and his big brothers from my first marriage are totally besotted with each other, which makes me very happy. Jake is 14 and Angus is 12 and we are all three working hard to let them become their own people and still get a bit of love and care from mum when it counts. I work with start-ups to help them get to scale (having been involved in seven so far). I’m working for Founders4Schools, which connects professionals with secondary school students (many from disadvantaged backgrounds) who want to learn more about career opportunities. We’ve already touched the lives of 200,000 students in the U.K. and have great ambitions to grow. I keep in touch with Amy Baltzell, Stacy Owen, and Peg O’Connor.”
Scott Pryce: “Living in the D.C. area with family (wife and boys, ages 10 and 12). Last May, Chris Lotspeich, Dan Sharp ’88, Rob Campbell, and I reunited for what the Scots call ‘hill walking.’ And we did some cultural tourism visiting the family seats of various namesake, ancestral clans: Campbells, Sharps, Macdonalds (Chris), and MacLeods (Scott). Truly a once-in-a- lifetime experience with old friends!”
Joan Morgan: “I took an unexpected break from my dissertation writing when I was asked by Atria to pen a book on the 20th anniversary of the iconic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. She Begat This: 20 Years of the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released in August.”
Rebecca Zimbler Graziano met up with Steven Shackman and Ira Skolnik to see a Mets/Red Sox game in Boston in September. As seniors in 1987, they may have gone to opening day at New York’s Shea Stadium, but Re-University, and she visits Amy Mortimer-Lotke and Eric Lotke frequently when she gets to campus. Amy and Rebecca were lucky enough to grab a day with Grier Mendel in D.C. last April.
John and Trish McGovern Dorsey successfully launched child #1 to Hamilton College, class of 2022. He is spending his first semester on the Hamilton freshman exchange program in London with 37 of his Hamilton classmates. “His adventure has allowed us to see more of David Josephs and his lovely wife, Holly Bishop, who are living in London on a short-term exchange with DJ’s Visa gig. We enjoyed many family travels this summer, including a 20th wedding anniversary trip to Scandinavia and our annual visit with Holly Campbell Ambler and her family in Vinalhaven, Maine.”
Ken Mathews: “Just wanted to inform my Wes peeps that in addition to my wife, four kids, and two golden retrievers, I just welcomed our first grandchild on Jan. 26. Her name is Nova and she is incredible. Once she learns to talk, the plan is to call me Poppie. Two of my kids work in the fashion industry. One as a runway model and the other as a designer. They surely did not get their looks or artistic talents from me. With any luck I’ll be finishing my 35th and last year in public education by our 35th Reunion.”
Lori Benson: “Neil ’86 and I dropped oldest son Oliver ’22 off for his first year at Wesleyan. We are proud and excited for him. It was fun to be back on campus, and I must admit I was a bit jealous—it looked like such fun to be starting out in college. To add to the awesomeness of the day, Nelly Taveras was also there dropping off her daughter, Sophie ’22.”
John Snyder is “now a partner at Amherst Pediatrics in Amherst, Mass., enjoying the paradise of the Pioneer Valley with my daughter, Maggie.”
Amy Baltzell: “I am going into my annual conference as president of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology in October in Toronto. My new book is out: The Power of Mindfulness (2018, Springer). I just become a reiki master level 2, teacher. My three kids have all decided to row this fall.”
Cobina Gillitt: “During a sabbatical last spring semester to research a book on contemporary Indonesian theater and censorship, I stayed in Jakarta with Indonesian director and playwright, Putu Wijaya, who directed Roar at Wesleyan, starring several Wes ’87 students in 1986 during our junior year. Between March–May, I performed in his newest play, JPRUTT, with his company, Teater Mandiri. I wasn’t the oldest performer in the production, but I was the most senior, celebrating my 30th anniversary as a member of Teater Mandiri.”
Amanda Jacobs Wolf | firstname.lastname@example.org
[Ed.’s note: This is Amanda Jacobs Wolf’s last column as class secretary and we want to extend warm thanks for her years of service in this role.]
Hi, everyone. I recently had dinner with Bill Shapiro and his girlfriend, Naomi Wax, in NYC. Bill and Naomi just finished writing a book called What We Keep, a collection of interviews with people around the country about the single object in their life that holds the most emotional significance. The book includes interviews with people like Hasan Minhaj, Cheryl Strayed, and Melinda Gates, and alumni Joss Whedon, Amanda Palmer ’98, and Anthony Weintraub; it comes out in September.
Speaking of Joss, he had this to say: “I’m writing, which means I’m okay. The last few years had less writing and more crippling sleep apnea, but a hilariously painful throat surgery in May made it possible to breathe, and therefore sleep, and therefore write/live/do that show-tune at karaoke that I thought everyone else knew too. This oxygen shit is dope, I highly recommend. My son is 15, my daughter is 13, and both of them still like me so something went right there. They are delightful, hardworking and kind, the lights of my life, and I’m counting the hours till they go to college, so I can move out of Santa Monica, where the last remaining bookstore just closed, and the sun is still trying to kill me in the face. I, on occasion, see or e-mail Lael Loewenstein, Tommy Plotkin ’86, John Penney, and Lisa Rosen ’86, all way too seldom. I am co-running One Vote at a Time, making free ads for anti-gun, pro-women candidates for midterms. I despair at the world but hope we may yet keep it spinning. I drink too much, but LESS too much, so I’m basically a True American Hero. Bye-ee!”
From Andy Grimaldi: “I’d like to share with our class the wonderful vacation that we recently took in Barcelona. My family and I visited with David Glatz and his daughters. We were joined by Chris Olinger, and his brother, Michael ’89, visited from Brussels. Dave was a fantastic guide, from a festival in Barceloneta to an amazing tour of Costa Brava. My wife, Lynne, and I are grateful to him, the Olinger brothers and our sons, John and Nick, for assisting me around the city. They went above and beyond by helping me into the Mediterranean for a rather brisk dip. I was diagnosed with ALS in 2017 and this was a tremendous getaway with good friends. Rumor has it that the Dilated Pupils will be reconvening this fall in western Massachusetts. Cheers everyone!”
Florence Dore has a new book, Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll (2018) out on Columbia University Press. Greil Marcus has said of Novel Sounds, “This is an original and subtle book, with punk rock ricochets.”
Stephen Porter donated his collection of 75 tapes of live student music to Olin Library Special Collections. “The tapes still sounded good after 30 years, and these are mostly the original master recordings. This includes stuff like all the mid-1980s Duke and Zonker Day music. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, I do not remember much beyond what was written on the tapes themselves. There will be an inventory of these tapes available online under Olin Library Special Collections, if anyone can fill in names of musicians.”
Liz Kromelow writes: “My second son, James Dietz ’18, just graduated from Wes with honors in general scholarship. It was the Class of 1988’s Reunion so I got to see many familiar faces, including Justine Gubar ’88, Kwong Lee, Geoff Howell ’88, David Davenport ’88, and Deirdre Davis ’88. I met quite a few people I didn’t know from my time at Wes including Bobbito Garcia ’88, who has a new documentary coming out in June. I also ran into Muzzy Rosenblatt.”
Speaking of Muzzy, as of July 1, he is the chair of a new four-person Alumni Association Executive Committee.
Trisha Lindemann was just at Wes for her the graduation of her son, Jordan Witzel ’18. “Fitting bookend. From Bill Cosby to Anita Hill. From blistering sun to chilly rain. Go Wes.”
From Lori Benson: “Neil Benson ’88 and I just attended Neil’s 30th Reunion. The attendance was a bit small, but we had a great time catching up with folks like Steve Morrison ’88 and Christie Trott ’88. They were able to catch me up on Paul Gosselin—to whom I send a big ‘hello’! My oldest son, Oliver, and Nelly Taveras’s and Brian Shelly’s youngest daughter, Sophia, will be matriculating in the fall, which means their graduation will be our 35th Reunion. Wesleyan looked great—investment in the campus and facility really shows. I had a great dinner with Claire Conceison, who is the Quanta Professor of Chinese Culture and Professor of Theater Arts at MIT and splits her time between New York and Boston. She is as vibrant and gorgeous as ever and it was great to reconnect. I’m excited to have her up to my husband’s new restaurant—The Red Zebra—in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y.”
Amanda Jacobs Wolf | email@example.com
Kelly Washburn is “living in New York, working in fundraising in a private school. This summer I spent three weeks volunteering at Ritsona refugee camp in Greece with Echo100Plus. I’d be happy to share more about my experience with anyone who might be considering doing something similar: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
On Nov. 6, Paul Zoltan’s daughter, Natalia Charlotte Zoltan, was born. “With her birth through surrogacy, I’ve embarked on the adventure of single parenthood here in Dallas.”
Johanna Maaghul has “three kids in college now, two at Berkeley and one in Santa Barbara. I am continuing to enjoy my work as a literary agent with Waterside Productions and am excited to see more and more of my projects coming out in the world. I have also been doing some technical advising in the cryptocurrency and Blockchain space with a group of advisors in Germany called sicos.io, as well as helping to launch my husband, Rich’s company, odem.io in Switzerland, a beautiful country indeed. I will be spending a good part of the year there and would love to hear from any classmates also living there.”
Lisa Pavlovsky is “life-coaching and president of the board of my synagogue which is a full-time job, as is parenting two teen boys. Menopause and adolescence is not the best combo! Had a wonderful visit with Vivian Trakinski when she was in San Francisco for business lately. Feeling very much of the sandwich generation taking care of children and aging parents (my dad passed away a year ago), but feeling fortunate I live close to them.”
Mark Ungar published a book, The 21stCentury Fight for the Amazon(Palgrave Macmillan), based on his work for the United Nations to develop environmental enforcement agencies in the nine countries of the Amazon Basin.
Holly Campbell Ambler and her husband live in Cambridge, Mass. One daughter lives at home and is in the midst of the crazy college search process. Their eldest daughter is an aspiring ballet dancer who is training with a company in New Jersey. Holly works as a clinical social worker with a focus on children and families, “a career I came to in mid-life which I am enjoying,” she writes. “I frequently see Trish and John Dorsey, Karen and Dennis Mahoney, and Michele Houdek and Doug Koplow, and enjoyed catching up with others at our Reunion last spring.
Claudia Center is still at the ACLU doing disability rights. “Our damages trial in the Kenton County, Kentucky child-handcuffing case starts this March. I also collaborate with MIUSA—in the past year I’ve traveled to Guatemala, Pakistan, and Mexico working on disability rights trainings partnering with local organizations. I’ve spent time IRL with Jennifer Bush, Jack Levinson, and Becca Gallagher, connected via FB to many more.
Hemanshu Nigam launched the Center for Online Justice (centerforonlinejustice.com) to help people who are being attacked, harassed, stalked, or victimized online. They help identify and bring justice in an area where anonymity and misconduct can rule.
Debby Hamilton moved from Colorado to Santa Barbara, CA a year ago to join a supplement company called Researched Nutritionals to help with product development, research and physician education. “I do that three weeks a month and then see patients in my integrative practice in Colorado one week a month. I am in Colorado long enough to bother my kids in college and make them spend time with me! Love missing winter and being able to go to the beach year-round after being land locked in Colorado for 18 years. Wendy Blum‘s mom is nearby so had a great visit with her family last summer. I welcome any visitors or alumni who are in the area to contact me.”
Ian Friday, associate director of The Colored Girls Museum, said the museum was created in September 2015 alongside Vashti Dubois ’83, executive director, and Michael Clemmons, curator. This memoir house museum is located in historic Germantown, Philadelphia, and celebrates the ordinary/extraordinary colored girl. This museum has been granted a 20k sponsorship by the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, which is led by Shawn Dove ’84, and reopens for weekly Sunday tours during Women’s History Month. The exhibition is Urgent Care, A Social Care Experience Part 2.
Sheila Rhatigan Arcelona writes, “Not much new, still busy and happy, living and working in the rapidly changing city of San Francisco. I still love my job as an administrator in the San Francisco District Attorney’s office, which is always challenging and always interesting. Very proud of my old boss, Senator Kamala Harris, who was the district attorney who hired me 12 years ago. Which seems like last week—I can’t believe how time has flown by. My little daughter Angel is now 17 and all about finding the right college. I expect an East Coast college tour is on our horizon. Finally, just want to give a shout out to the Wesleyanmagazine for the excellent articles and especially the book reviews. I love reading about what our alumni are writing and I especially can’t wait to read Carolyn Tesh O’Doherty‘s upcoming book Rewind.”
Becca Wharton is “happy to report that my stepdaughter, Julia Jurist, was accepted early decision to Wesleyan and will begin in the fall as a freshman.”
Eileen Deignan writes, “It had been way too long since I had caught up with Elizabeth Saveri and Renee Fogleberg. I saw them in Pasadena and San Francisco respectively last summer. Johanna Van Hise and Simon Heartmake it to the East Coast most summers and we had a great mini-reunion with Suzy Walrath and her family in July. Sumana (Chandrasekhar) Rangashar checks in whenever she is in Massachusetts and we meet up in the Berkshires. Ira Skolnik keeps me up the date on Wesleyan as he has a son who is a freshman there now. We serve together on the state dermatology board. Ira is doing Wes proud as the current president.”
Alisa Kwitney has a young adult novel, Cadaver & Queen, coming out from HarlequinTeen at the end of February, and a prestige format comic book miniseries, Mystik U, coming out from DC Comics. is teaching graphic novel writing in the fall for Manhattanville College’s MFA program.
Ian Rosen has “joined forces with Arnab Bhattasali ’03, Souleymane Ba ’03, and Sisi Miteva ’15 as regional representatives for the Wes London/UK community. This is part of a push by Wesleyan to relaunch the international regional community groups. We’re planning some events and hope to entice the London, and broader UK, and maybe even European, Wes communities to attend.”
David Josephs has relocated to London.
Kevin Pratt writes that “it was a good year! Highlights included a family trip to Guatemala to visit an orphanage we’ve supported over the years. The trip included one-on-one Spanish lessons (yes—even for our 3-year-old). The kids also spent six weeks in Brazil with my wife, while I built out my music studio at home. I now have a great space to play, write, and compose. I’m in frequent contact with Roger Russell ’85, Vashti Dubois ’93, Ian Friday and had a lovely visit with Bennett Schneider ’86 in LA this past October. I’m already looking forward to the next Reunion.”
David Abramso nwrites, “I’m in my 17th year living in Washington, D.C., and working at the state department as a senior analyst on Russian foreign relations (no requests for written comment on life in the U.S. government please!). My family and I will be visiting Wesleyan on a college tour in New England during spring break in March for my elder daughter, Hazel, a high school junior. More than 30 years after graduating from the Russian department, it’s touching to know that four out of five of the same faculty members are still there. Between campuses, I plan to spend time in the Boston area with Becky Riccio, Skip Lockhart, and Jessica Miller, and hopefully will see Janet Ginzberg in Philadelphia on the way home.
Karen Sallick writes, “As of the new year I have switched from working mostly in my marketing consulting company of 20 years to working on my newly launched app. The change of focus is invigorating. I also realized that as I sent my kids back to college, I have likely spent the last big chunk of time with everyone home together. Over the past few years I have become more and more involved in donating my time to my local NPR station (WSHU) as I feel more strongly now than ever that more balanced and comprehensive news coverage is critical.”
Melissa Marks writes, “My exhibition Volitia Returnsat Planthouse Gallery in New York continues through the spring. In conjunction with the exhibition, the gallery will present Double Self Split, a film about my 2016 installation and exhibition inside the Castle of Vélez Blanco, Andalucia, Spain.While the installation in New York City draws energy from the dissonant confluence of bricks, fences, walls, and looping wires in a make-shift canyon on the back-side of a Tin Pan Alley row house in New York City, Double Self Split draws itself through a different set of material parameters, found conditions and cultural histories in the open courtyard of a Renaissance castle in Spain!
“I still live in Chelsea with my husband, Vicente Caride ’85 and our 16-year-old son Archie.”
John Fitzpatrick writes, “Last November, Chris Olinger organized a get-together on the Oregon Coast. Attendees in addition to Chris and I, were Andrew Grimaldi, Dave Cole, Jeff McCarthy ’89, and Michael Pruzan. Football on the beach, hiking, kayaking, eating, drinking, and reminiscing with the backdrop of the Pacific and sunshine made for a great long weekend.”
And finally, Amy Baltzell, has anew book coming out, The Power of Mindfulness: Mindful Meditation Training for Sport. “I also am now the president of the Association of Applied Sport Psychology. I have been spending some time with Susan Anthony, now an artist living on Cape Cod. Her work is beautiful.”
Amanda Jacobs Wolf | email@example.com