CLASS OF 1996 | 2014 | ISSUE 2

Koyalee Chanda writes in that she and Neal Brandenburg had their second baby girl, Noa Jayne Chanda Brandenburg, in August. Their older daughter, Ruby, is 5.5 years old and is very excited to have a real-life baby doll as a roommate. They are still living in Brooklyn (it will be 18 years this fall—yikes!) and regularly see a bunch of Wes folks (too many to mention by name!). What’s really cool is that their kids are starting to become close friends, so they’re back to doing dinner parties, only starting a couple of hours earlier. Neal is working as a lawyer for the Department of Education of New York City, where he sees Debbie Marcus, who also works there, on a regular basis.

She also mentioned that another Wes ’96er, Adam Peltzman, has created a new animated series for Nickelodeon called Wallykazam!. It’s a comedy-adventure series with a literacy curriculum, set in a world of trolls, goblins, and dragons. Koyalee is producing it, so they work very closely together every day. Sascha Paladino ’98 wrote a couple of episodes as well. It’s been really amazing to work with such close friends and colleagues. Definitely check it out. It’s on Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.— and you can find it On Demand and on iTunes. There’s also an app available on iTunes that had a very successful launch in April.

Sam Effron, his wife, and 2-year-old twins just decamped from NYC after almost 18 years. They are moving to Hastings-on-Hudson, in lower Westchester along the Hudson River.

Ernest Koe is working on his second software company, Proof, which provides integrated data management software to schools. He escaped the cold of New England and now lives in Jacksonville, Fla., with his wife, Charmaine Chiu, and two children (Beckett, 4, and Declan, 2).

Margaret Wright is happily living in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband, Jon, daughter Olivia (age 3), and two dogs. She recently made a career change, and works as a senior grant writer at the best non-profit organization in the world—The American Academy of Pediatrics. Last fall, she traveled to New York City and caught up with old pals Mark Davis and Jeremy Bernstein ’97, who are both doing well. Margaret and Mark spent most of the time commenting on what tremendous chefs Jeremy and his wife are, and how amazingly cute their kids are.

Jim Leiken writes that he and his wife, Candice, recently moved out to Napa, Calif., from West Palm Reach, Fla. He worked for Daniel Boulud close to 12 years, mostly in NYC (Restaurant Daniel, DB Bistro, and as the opening chef at DBGB in the East Village), but for the last two year in Palm Beach, running the kitchen at Café Boulud. He took a job in Cali with Cindy Pawlcyn, as the exec chef of Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen in St. Helena. Their twins, Maggie and Charlie, 2, are adapting really well to life in the country—they like climbing on the tractor and feeding carrots to the neighbor’s horse and donkey every morning.

Joel Levin drops us a line that after creating MinecraftEdu (an educational version of the popular sandbox game, Minecraft), he left his teaching job to start a company called TeacherGaming which brings games into the classroom. His business travels let him visit some other classmates recently: Jonah Hershowitz ’97 who runs an acupuncture and pain management clinic in San Francisco, and Ian Kavanagh, who is a programmer in Stockholm, Sweden.

Mark Davis and his wife, Megan, live in Middletown with their two kids, Minerva (“Minnie”), 4, and Oliver (“Ollie”), 2. Mark works at Wesleyan, so feel free to look him up if you’re visiting campus!

Colby and Sara Evans are expanding their dermatology practice to three offices in Austin, Texas, this summer. They are kept constantly entertained and on the move by their sons, 6 and 4, and daughter who is 2. Colby is the chair-elect of the board of trustees of the National Psoriasis Foundation, a role he will assume next year. The NPF is the largest national charitable organization that advocates for the over 7 million Americans with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Jacob Ward writes that he was editor-in-chief of Popular Science from 2012 to 2013, and just left to join Al Jazeera America as the network’s science and technology correspondent. He has two young daughters with his wife, Julie, and they live on Lake Merritt in Oakland. He sees Walter Einenkel ’97 and Emily Weinstein ’97 all the time, and he believes Vivek Asija just moved to the neighborhood, and that Susan Yee is there as well, but he hasn’t bumped into them yet.

Sabrina McCormick is a producer on the new Showtime TV series about climate change, The Years of Living Dangerously­—she produced a story with Matt Damon about heat waves and another with Michael C. Hall in Bangladesh.

Anya McMurray and her husband, Andrew, welcomed their second child, Zev Thomas Keller, to the world in March. Big sister Thea has reserved judgment regarding her level of excitement over this event but they are optimistic she’ll join in their enthusiasm soon.

Tori Peglar and Tom Rutkowski are living in Boulder with their two daughters and looking forward to this year’s season, as they have family passes to Winter Park for the first time. Tom’s an environmental engineer cleaning up water at mine sites and Tori works at the University of Colorado, Boulder. They see Dan Cohen and Mara Kailin in Denver with their kids. Tom also works with Jake Waples ’95, who lives in the area with his wife, Sandy Miller ’95, and their daughters. They had the opportunity to visit them when they lived in Chile two years ago. Time flies!



Class of 1996 | 2014 | Issue 1

Let’s start with news from Julia Morrison, who wrote in for the first time! She produced, wrote, and edited her first narrative feature film, the indie romance Hank and Asha, which won the Audience Award at the Slamdance Film Festival and will be released in spring 2014. Watch the trailer at and follow at

Sally Lee lives with her husband and two sons, Zach (4) and Marcus (2), on the Lower East Side. Her organization, Teachers Unite, just produced a documentary, Growing Fairness, about how schools are stopping the school-to-prison pipeline with restorative justice. Check it out at

Kirsten Greenidge’s play Luck of the Irish was at the Huntington in 2012 and Lincoln Center Theater in 2013. It won an Independent Reviewers of New England Award in May. Kirsten also received a PEN/America Laura Pels Award for midcareer playwright and a New England Theater Conference Special Award. She was happy to exchange a big hug with Lauren Elmore at a post-show discussion of Kirsten’s play Splendor in Boston, in the same afternoon that Kirsten got to see the closing performance of Ginger Lazarus ’96’s production of her play Burning, also in Boston.

Chung Ma moved from NYC to Virginia when he accepted a new role at the Virginia Retirement System in Richmond, managing an emerging markets equity and currency portfolio. The entire family (Emily, Zoe, and Desmond) moved in mid-August. He writes, “It’s a big change from NY, as we’re living in a place that is three times the size at the same price. We’re going to miss our friends in NYC, but we hope to come up and visit regularly.”

Jimmy Liao is in his fifth year as a professor of biology at the Whitney Lab for Marine Biosciences at the University of Florida. He just received his second grant and tells us that he is also “fishing bass tournaments at the semi-pro level and surfing badly.”

Kelly Bird Pierre is director of enrollment and admissions, K–12, at The Hewitt School in NYC. Children Oona, 11, and Jacques, 8, attend public school in New Jersey, where the family lives.

Emma Jacobson-Sive is still in Los Angeles, sometimes acting and often doing PR for a local museum. She regularly sees Ariel Levy (godmother to her daughter, Charlotte Eve Lapin, named after Eve Crowell), as well as Rebecca Cutter, Mike Stabile, and Kenny Barnett ’94.

Justin Navarro writes, “I recently became a homeowner in Cheshire, Conn., a mere half hour from ol’ Wes! After moving back to Connecticut with the husband for his residency training at Yale back in 2007, we decided to settle down here. Not coincidentally, I’m working for the Yale School of Medicine doing Web project management. Speaking of resettling, I accompanied John Favretto on a cross-country drive from Washington, D.C., to Santa Fe, N.M., where he has now lived for almost a year. Last but not least, I was thrilled to attend Chris Shepard’s wedding to Christopher Norwood this month.”

Ashraf Charania has been with Virgin Galactic for over a year now, as their business development manager, based in Washington, D.C.

Elura Nanos Kish’s reality-TV series, Staten Island Law, completed its first season on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Elura has also been making weekly TV appearances as a legal analyst for Fox News, HLN, Sirius Radio, Current TV, and HuffPostLive—where she aims to bring that Wes-brand of common sense to legal news. Elura still lives in South Jersey with her husband and two kids. She also serves on the board of several charitable organizations and plays piccolo in the Philharmonic of Southern New Jersey.

Maria Lourdes Chen Quinn now lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Chris Quinn, and their four children (a son and three daughters). Her youngest child was born in August.

Merry Weaver reports that her son, Adam, was born on Aug. 20, joining his sister, Danica (who turned two in October).

Sarah Wildman writes: “Ian Halpern and I welcomed a baby girl in mid-June (Hana Dorothy Wildman Halpern—named in honor of Ian’s grandfather Harry and my grandmother Dorothy), joining big sister Orli. We’re very conscious of our grandparents’ generation, it seems. I am working on a book for Riverhead/Penguin press on the lover my grandfather left behind when he fled Vienna (tentatively due out in fall 2014).”

Congrats to all on the exciting news! Keep the updates coming.



MARGARET (MEG) L. ZUPANCIC, 36, a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland Medical School, died Oct. 7, 2010, one day after giving birth to her second son. After receiving her degree from Wesleyan magna cum laude, she received a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and a doctoral degree in biochemistry from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her research centered on the interaction of the human microbiome with the genetic bases of obesity. She was also a talented clarinetist and an accomplished backcountry explorer. Survivors include her husband, Bill Vinje, her parents, two children, and her sister, Nellie Zupancic ’00. Her brother died in 1999.


With deep grief, I submit this obituary of my daughter Eve Erin Crowell ’96. She was proud of graduating from the school.

Thank you,
Barbara Crowell Roy

Eve Erin Crowell, 30, of 1232 North Flores, West Hollywood, California, died suddenly at her home on February 24, 2005. The daughter of Barbara (Lepley Crowell) Roy of Newport, Rhode Island and Sachseln Switzerland and Dr. Robert Crowell of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Eve was born on November 4, 1974,in Boston, Massachusetts.

Eve Crowell was educated at Williston Northampton School, in Easthampton, Mass., and was a 1996 graduate of Wesleyan University. In May of 2002, she received a JD degree from the Law School of UCLA.

In October 2002, Ms. Crowell joined the prominent law firm of Kirkland and Ellis in Los Angeles. There she rapidly gained a reputation for intelligence, hard work, and collegiality. Eve worked in the litigation division, and she distinguished herself by winning the firm’s national mock trial competitions in 2003 and 2004. She was a member of the State Bar of California and the American Bar Association.

Eve Crowell was an excellent athlete, and she participated in numerous triathlons and marathons in California.

She is survived by her parents and her brother, Wyatt E. Crowell of Dallas, Texas. Other survivors include her stepmother, Mary Woodson Crowell, her stepfather, Dr. Vance Roy, her stepbrother, John P. Dennis III of Houston, Texas, and her stepsister, Jennifer D. Farley of Saugerties, New York.

A memorial service was held on March 3, 2005 at the Forest Lawn Mortuary in Glendale California. Burial will be private. Donations in her honor may be sent to Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives in care of Mr. William Heckel, 210 Montezuma, Suite 100, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501-2681 (telephone 505 983-8699).