CLASS OF 1997 | 2017 | ISSUE 2

While Mocon may be gone, the connections among our class are more solid than ever. There was so much love at the 20-year Reunion! After the 20th Reunion Reception, we marveled that no one was seen checking their phones during the evening because we were so intensely focused on being present with each other. Or maybe we didn’t miss our phones because Wesleyan was ALWAYS a cell phone-free zone in the ’90s. Either way, it was a thrill to reconnect with dear friends and to find “new” friends in our class who we hadn’t gotten to meet prior to graduation.

We really appreciate the Reunion Committee’s hard work. And congratulations to Kimberly King, the recipient of the Wesleyan University Service Award!

Attending some of the WESeminars made us realize what a powerful influence Wesleyan has had on us, enabling us to deepen our intellectual engagement with the world during the past two decades. We were blown away by the insight, talent, and raw honesty of our visionary classmates who shared their perspectives on their work at “The Future of Digital Media” WESesminar: Craig Thomas, Sean Brecker, Carter Bays, Santi “Santigold” White, and Maggie (McLean) Suniewick. Also, congratulations to Santi White on her Distinguished Alumni award from Wesleyan!

Some highlights from the weekend included seeing Christine Landry, her wife Megan Reed, and their two children and seeing how much Matt and Amy (Goorin) Fogelman’s two daughters have grown since the last Reunion. We went all fangirl on Mia Lobel, producer of the Revisionist History podcast, and we ran home and watched the 60 Minutes piece on the rise of women’s soccer in Iran, produced by Alexandra Poolos. Jess was delighted to see her frosh year roommate, Erica (Kaiser) Schuyler, when she and her two sons stopped by the Foss Hill festivities on Saturday afternoon. We enjoyed catching up with Lauren Porosoff, Julie (Philips) Wolf, Matt Mulvey, Leelach (Rothschild) de Koven, and Seth Spector at the class dinner on Saturday night.

We wished that we had had more time to spend with everyone who came to Reunion, including…Anita (Mitra) Crabtree, Alexander Grashow, Malayna Bernstein, Abe Velez, Vicki Kuskowski, Genevieve (Kramer) Maciel, Alison (Keimowitz) Spodek, Brent Spodek, Cria Ortiz, Marisa Uchin, Dara Katz, David Goldsmith, Erin Solomon Gaffen, Linda (Chun) Meehan, Raphael Crawford, Amani Willett, Charlotte Scott, Alison Brody, Kim Diaz, Sarah Benatar, Anna Lefer Kuhn, Meg Mullen, Robin (McLellan) Woodworth, Caitlin Meredith, Laura Roberts, Laura Woodrow, Benny Vasquez, Dara Greenwood, Michael Lenore, Tom Griggs, Erin Solomon Gaffen, Austin Applegate, Niko Higgins, James Seo, Ama (Goldsmith) Greenrose Manasse, Yaron Ben-Zvi, Tony Schloss, Brendan Bolton-Klinger, Molly Steele, Sarah Nowygrod Weihmiller, Diego Gutierrez, Jill Abraham, John Walcott, Mark Karvosky, Megan Thaler, Michael Sternhell, Rachel Meeropol, Samantha Abeysekera, Alissa Bell, Cana (McCoy) Williams, Kari Colen, Jessica D’Amore, Stephen McNulty, Michelle Driscoll, Jack Eighmy, Laura (Feldt) Roberts, Steve Guidi, Jade Hoye, Ann Marie (Preissler) Everdell, Kenneth Andersen, Bettina Berg, Mayo Escobar, Josh Arthurs, Ben Harbert, Emma (Ditrinco) Sollars, Amy Trask, Susan Alkasab, Lauren (Tehan) DiLoreto, Woodwyn Koons, Carin (Ivker) Armstrong, Maya Kremen, Alexis Levenson, Joanna Starrels, Nicole (Rodriguez) Leach, Chris Gaither, Heather Burke, Susanne Sreedhar, Rachel Ruane, Sacha (Shapiro) Emerson, Rebecca (Fried) Weisberg, Oliver Henzler, Alan Rozen, Kerry Halpern, Josh Rosenblatt, Jon Gelb, Flo Turkenkopf, Coop King, Jed Byrom, Josh Borenstein, Laura (Flynn) Edmonds, Kayce Davis,  Daniel Hughes, Ria (Mirabal) Higgs, Ryan Cunningham, Ram Subramanian, Matthew Carey, Joy (Langford) Connolly, Nicole (Smith) Padgett, Aileen (Nagle) McDonough, Rachel Rodriguez, Michelle Cho, Michael Vilas, Michael Mittelman, Fawn Phelps, Gaby Alter, Matthew Rattigan, Barbara Grieninger, Kerry (Biancamano) Coppola, Marina Tal, Geoffrey Hand, and Sam Layborne.

We found out from Josh Suniewick that their family is making a move: “Maggie was made president of digital enterprises at NBC/Universal last fall and has been commuting from Philly to NYC daily.  We are both looking forward to having a better life balance and more family time with our three boys. Also we’re excited to reconnect with other Wes alumni in the New York metro area!”

Though he couldn’t make it to Reunion, Abdul L. Rasheed reached out to let us know that he has been commissioned to dance and produce in the U.S., Europe, South America, and Latin America. Abdul is a proud alumnus, singing the praises of his dancer and rehearsal assistant Nik Owens ’12 and dancer Nick Daley ’17.

Lauren Porosoff and her husband Jonathan Weinstein have a book coming out in August called EMPOWER Your Students: Tools to Inspire a Meaningful School Experience. “The book is about helping students notice how their assignments and interactions can be contexts for values-consistent behavior, and to choose those values-consistent behaviors even when it’s hard.”

Andy Hiller wrote, “For the past three years, I have been living in Brooklyn with my husband and 2-and-a-half-year-old son, Dante. We love it here, but do wish we had more green space. A highlight twice a year is when Clara Petit and Wally Einenkel come to town and we get to spend some quality time together. We don’t get to see each other often, but the bond is as strong as ever.”

Derek DiMatteo wrote to us from Indiana University at Bloomington, where he is working on his dissertation on protest literature and higher education. He won the Winchester Fellowship Award from the Wesleyan English Department this year.

Monica Santana Rosen wrote: “I am married and settled in Chicago with my architect husband. I have three children: Antonio (13), Marlo (9), and Ana (we call her Annie B) who is 5. I launched my own consulting firm last fall, Alma Advisory Group. We provide human capital consulting to school systems across the country. I’ve been spending time consulting in Hawaii, Memphis, and Tampa among others. We have a team of nine and I’m loving life as a start-up CEO, helping states, districts, and CMOs find, grow, and inspire excellent principals and teachers, who in turn make great things possible for their students.”

Elizabeth Schneider has an award-winning wine podcast called Wine for Normal People, for people who want to learn about wine in a down-to-earth way, without the snob factor.

Nadia Gardner received her master’s in environmental science and management from University of California – Santa Barbara in 2006. She has worked for Columbia Land Trust as conservation manager for 10 years.  She lives with her partner, Michael Manzulli and 18-month-old son, Matteo Gardner Manzulli, in the forest within a block from the beach on Oregon’s north coast, where they hike and surf.

Breton Leone-Quick was sad to miss Reunion, and wrote to us from Boston, where he’s been with the Mintz Levin law firm for 15 years. Breton lives in Lexington, Mass., with his wife, Katie, and two children, Thomas (8) and Violet (6).

You can check out some photos from Reunion at and on the Wesleyan University – Class of 1997 Facebook page. Why not start planning to come back for our 25th reunion in 2022? We’ll be there, O’Rourke’s menus in hand!

In the meantime, please continue sending us your updates about work, home, family, travel, books, films, podcasts, and adventures big and small.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2017 | ISSUE 1

Happy spring, everyone! We’re looking forward to seeing you in Middletown at Reunion, May 25-28. We’re already planning to be in line at O’Rourke’s early on Saturday morning.

Kenneth Andersen writes in: “I’m going on 15 years in Mexico City, which is hard to believe as I write this. My wife and I have two beautiful children that keep us busy, ages 5 and 3. I started an organizational development consulting and executive training business a few years ago, Conversari Communication, following my passion in building bridges between Mexico and the global marketplace. It’s starting to thrive, and despite what election results would have you believe, we expect good things to happen in Mexico in the coming years. If you’re passing through town, I’d love to hear from you!”

Cary Kleinman and his family are living in Cheviot Hills, Calif., “around the block from Ben Lee ’95.” Cary and his wife have two children, Ethan, 2, and Sloane, 4 months. He works as a managing director at Oaktree Capital Management.

Hope to see you in May!

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2016 | ISSUE 3

It’s hard to believe that almost 20 years have passed since that rainy day in May of 1997 when we bid our farewells and moved on and out to the wide, wacky, post-Wes world. And it’s not too early to start making plans to join us for Reunion & Commencement Weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, May 25 to 28. We’d love to see you there!

Thank you to everyone who shared their latest news or just e-mailed to say hi.

Michelle Conceison writes in from Nashville where she’s moved her music marketing and management company, Market Monkeys. They manage Canadian songwriter Rose Cousins and pop/folk duo Fortunate Ones. Michelle is the president of the board of directors of Folk Alliance International and teaches at Northeastern. “I am part of a dream team launching a new online arts administration graduate program. This fall I will be teaching Strategic Planning in Arts & Cultural Organizations.” She’d love to connect with any Wes alums in the area.

Melissa Feldberg Whipps writes to us from Syracuse, where she is the director of foundation relations at Syracuse University. “We have been enjoying a beautiful Central New York summer and I am pursuing my master’s in public administration at the Maxwell School at Syracuse.” She’s also a mom to two daughters, Evelyn (5) and Amelia (7). Her husband, Chris, is an associate professor of biology at SUNY-ESF in Syracuse.

Sasha Harris-Cronin is living in San Francisco with her partner, Nathan Taylor, and their 4-year-old, Shannon Harris-Taylor. Sasha has spent the last 14 years making interactive museum exhibits and leading edge installations for museums and corporations around the country. She just finished one of her favorite projects to date, which allowed her to work with the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind. As she explains, “Together, we created a tactile control interface that allows folks with any range of sight to control audio and video equipment in complex conference rooms.” Sasha also teaches interaction design in the MFA program at California College of the Arts.

Matt Mulvey and his wife, Katie Sacksteder, became parents to Liam James Mulvey. Matt and Katie are also leading their immuno-oncology company, BeneVir Biopharm, Inc., into the first-in-human testing of their lead cancer killing virus T-Stealth.

Aileen Nagle McDonough runs a communications business in the Providence area, 3am Writers. This year, she spoke at WordCamp RI, a WordPress conference for developers, designers, and business owners all over New England. She also stopped by Wesleyan, when she was in Middletown to trace her ancestry in the Connecticut-based Schaghticoke Native American tribe. She and her husband, Kirk, traveled to Toronto for the final tour of the Tragically Hip.

From LA, Madeleine Perez writes, “After many years as a journalist at ABC News in New York, I switched careers and coasts and became a real estate agent. I’ve been in LA now for more than four years with my husband and almost 5-year-old son. If any Wesleyan people are looking for some real estate help in SoCal they can reach me at”

As for your class secretaries, we are happy to report that we got to hang out in NYC when Jess came to visit from Phoenix. Also, Jess is thrilled to have a book recommendation to share: “I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and couldn’t put it down!” Sasha is obsessed with the Moth podcast, which consists of “people telling short true stories—Some are dark, some are funny, many are both.”

We can’t wait to see all of you in May! We wish you a peaceful start to 2017 and we look forward to hearing from you soon.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2016 | ISSUE 2

After four amazing years, Kimberly King has so kindly agreed to pass the torch on to us, Jessica (Jess) Shea Lehmann and Alexandra (Sasha) Lewis-Reisen. Thank you, Kimberly, for all your hard work and great news! We are super excited to carry on the project of assembling the Class Notes—it’s always been our favorite part of the magazine.

We were also thinking that these notes can be both updates and a conversation, so please send us recommendations for books, podcasts, shows, or movies. And feel free to send your thoughts/good wishes to the class.

Jess lives in Phoenix, Ariz., with her husband and three sons (ages 10, 6, and 4). “I teach nutrition at Arizona State University. I serve as the faculty advisor for the Slow Food club. Last fall, I got to see Hamilton, which was sublime. If you’re interested in sustainable agriculture and/or if you’re into food, I recommend Dan Barber’s book The Third Plate. I’m always behind on Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and Girls, but those are some of my top faves.”

Sasha is living in NYC, working at a nonprofit, New York Legal Assistance Group. “Last year, Ez Cukor ’05 and I helped to set up a WEServe volunteer event in NYC, helping low-income transgender New Yorkers to legally change their names to names they prefer or reflect their gender identity. Let me know if you’d be interested in joining us next time. In the meantime, I am trying to learn how to not bring work home (ha!). Last good book I read: Alice Munro’s Dear Life stories collection. Guilty TV pleasure (can’t believe I’m admitting to the first one in print): Grey’s Anatomy and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

We were thrilled to hear from several of our classmates in the spring…

Brent Spodek is the rabbi of Beacon Hebrew Alliance, a creative and rapidly growing Jewish community in the Hudson Valley, N.Y. Alison Keimowitz Spodek is the Rockefeller Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Vassar, where she focuses on toxins in the environment. They have two children, Noa (8) and Abe (5). They can be reached at and

Rob MacDonald recently published a poetry collection, Resuscitation Party (available from Racing Form Press). He’s still living in Jamaica Plain, Mass., and still balancing teaching and writing.

Andrew Frishman wrote to let us know that “Leigh Needleman ’96 and I have been hanging out with Laura Warren ’98, as we’re now practically neighbors—we live just a few blocks from each other near Central Square in CambridgePort in Cambridge, Mass. It doesn’t feel like 20 years ago that I was the Head Resident (HR) in Butterfield A, and Laura was one of the Resident Advisers (RAs)… suddenly it is our children who are in kindergarten together! (and our younger children, each aged 3, are taking Spanish classes together two afternoons a week to prepare for the bilingual immersion school that they’ll attend in a couple of years. Leigh and I also had the incomparable privilege of attending the inimitable Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02’s Hamilton in NYC (Hurrah! and Go, Wes!—We felt some serious Wesleyan pride!!!) Just so happened to be the night that the company did a tribute to Prince—touching in so many ways.”

Larisa Ortiz published a book, Improving Tenant Mix: A Guide for Commercial District Practitioners, and was appointed by NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio to the NYC City Planning Commission. “It’s quite an honor and learning experience! On a personal note, my son, Xavier, is 6 and gets better at solving his Rubik’s Cube every day! Makes his mama proud!”

Malayna Bernstein and Josh Arthurs spent 2015–16 in Italy, where Josh was a Rome Prize fellow at the American Academy in Rome. Their boys, Eli (11) and Carlo (7), spent the year playing soccer and learning Italian. Malayna and Josh continue to teach at West Virginia University. Malayna writes, “If Wes friends are ever in Morgantown, drop us a line!” They can be reached at and

Bryan Sheckman teaches social studies at Lowell (Mass.) High School and was named a 2016 James Madison Fellow.

Cheryl Goldman Governale writes, “After nearly two years in California, we’ve just moved back to London (my third time!), where the kids are enjoying their new schools. I’m still blogging but looking to set up a photography business soon.”

Mei Woo Chin wrote to us on her way back to Dublin, Ireland, where she has been living for the past five years. She had just finished three months in San Francisco visiting family. Mei writes about food, including for Saveur and Lucky Peach. “Last year in Dublin, my partner Tommy Bergin and I founded Skillet, which paired at-risk youth with members of the Dublin restaurant industry, and trained them in the basics of food prep and service.” Mei keeps in touch with us, Sarah Kollman, and Morgan Fahey ’95, and she adds that “the last Wes person I saw was Michael (Mo) Ouyang ’96, who swung by Dublin for a couple of days. Mo is living in Shanghai, married to the contemporary art curator Zoe Zhang Bing. Mo is the creative director for EndemolShine China (he and Morgan Fahey just worked on a version of Superhuman together, an award-winning megahit show in China), owner of two alarmingly cute dogs, and still playing music.”

We really love hearing from you, so please get in touch! You can e-mail your updates, musings, and recommendations to us at our addresses below. Until next time!

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2016 | ISSUE 1

What a full 2016 and it is only February. Thank you to everyone that contributed. Let’s get to it!

Steven Tejada paid me a personal visit on a recent trip to NYC. My high school classmate, In-town roommate, and brother-for-life will relocate from Boston to Washington, D.C.—he was appointed the new Head of Upper School at The Maret School beginning July 1st. He continues to speak and perform throughout the country with his one-man show. In addition, his family welcomed another member—a baby boy. Super excited for mi hermano.

Matthew Fogelman wrote in to share that Wesleyan support was in full effect for the wonderful honor bestowed upon Seth Spector, as he was inducted into the Middletown Hall of Fame on a warm night in January. Matt, along with Raphael CrawfordJack EighmyArmando Petruzziello ’98, and Gabe Wieder ’98 were fortunate enough to join Seth and his mom, Kate (and many others) for the induction ceremony. Longtime Wes track coach J. Elmer Swanson was also inducted.

Meanwhile, Matt’s wife, Amy Goorin Fogelman, reports: “After 10 years at Mass General Hospital, I have decided to cut down on my commute and I am continuing to practice internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Chestnut Hill. I miss my old patients, though the good news is that I am finally accepting new ones, so if anyone needs a PCP, give me a holler!”

Abe Velez reconnected to update us with the happenings in his world: “I continue to do audio business development for ABC News and enjoy the Langone MBA program at NYU Stern, with the support of my wife, Sarah, and our fabulous second-grader, Frida. I was lucky enough to get briefly stuck in San Francisco during January’s storm and stay with Adam Rodnitzky—an evening filled with trading of puns that left us very amused, and his girlfriend, not so much. Recently saw Katharine Bailey and Ben Selkow ’96 at the home of my onetime neighbor Ned Gusick ’90. And then there’s the mystery of how most of us have turned 40…”

Andrew Frishman has been super consistent with keeping us informed on his world: “As I’ve mentioned in previous notes, I am the co-executive director of Big Picture Learning. Just last week I was visiting The Met High School in Providence, (which is the “mother ship” of the Big Picture Learning Network) and I had the particular privilege of enjoying a ‘philosophy literacy group’ that Arthur Baraf ’99 was leading. Arthur has the group of high school students enrolled and each week the students watch a lecture, do supplementary readings, and then engage in discussion and debate (Arthur serves as the TA). Took me back to my days at Wesleyan! In other news, it was fun to take my kids out to see the Wesleyan squash teams play in an invitational tournament in the fall up here in Cambridge. Go, Wes!”

I received a first-time submission from Bettina Berg Segal who shared, “After nearly 10 years of living abroad, across four continents and three babies later, I’m happy to say that my family and I have finally moved back to New York. It’s been great to be close to old friends… Jessica D’AmoreMia LobelAnita Crabtree MitraLaura Roberts and Kerry Biancamano Coppola. And yes, I am an awesome packer.”

David Vine wrote: “I’ll be unabashedly self-promotional in saying that my book Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World (Henry Holt, 2015) just came out. The book shows how our country is encircling the globe with some 800 bases in foreign lands—and how these oft-forgotten installations cause an array of ills for everyone from U.S. military personnel and their families to locals living next to our bases to U.S. taxpayers who pay the $150 billion per year bill to maintain bases and troops overseas. Although many assume that these bases make the U.S. and the world safer, our military installations abroad are, in a range of ways, actually undermining national and global security. All the proceeds from Base Nation are going to organizations supporting veterans and other victims of war. People can read more about the book, check out its 16 maps, and learn more about bases overseas at”

Kimberly Gilbert shared, “After living in Canada for six years, my husband, Jared Carbone, and I have returned to live in his hometown of Boulder, Colo., with our two girls, Louisa (7) and Beatrice (1.5). I’m a writer and Jared is a professor of economics at the School of Mines. We’re thrilled that being back in the U.S. has given us the chance to visit and catch up with several Wes friends, including Naomi PressmanRachel RuaneMatthew RattiganLucas Edwards, and Emily Weinstein.”

“I am enjoying a year-long sabbatical from my job at the University of Nottingham to start a new book on relations between medieval Russia and the Byzantine empire. Turns out, it’s all about the Crimea. Thanks to what’s left of the British welfare state, I was lucky enough to have over seven months of maternity leave following the birth of Morris Whitehill in November 2014,” writes Monica White.

In January, Noah Garrison and his wife, Michelle, welcomed the birth of their son, Bryce Cameron Garrison, in Santa Monica. Everyone is doing well, and they’re looking forward to Bryce joining his older (canine) brother, Dexter, for lots of Calvin and Hobbes-style exploring. Noah left his job as a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council last year to run an environmental science and policy capstone program at UCLA, and has gone back to his Wes E&ES roots to teach an intro geology class as well.

Jessica McInroy Thompson and Mike Thompson ’96 met up with fellow Californians Maria Magaña, her husband Aaron Miller, and newlyweds Allison Perlman and Trevor Griffey for pre-Grammy dinner and drinks. Jessica was nominated for the Best Historical Album Grammy for remastering Erroll Garner’s The Complete Concert By the Sea. After a dozen years in NYC, Jessica and Mike recently relocated to Berkeley with their two kids, Clyde and Margot. Jessica now works out of Coast Mastering in Berkeley, and Mike is in his eighth year of running the music licensing library, The Diner.

As of May 2016, I, Kimberly Cooper King will have completed my master of science degree in integrated marketing from New York University, with a concentration in brand management. Working full time and going to school part time through fall, spring, and summer semesters, with a growing 4-year-old hasn’t been an easy balancing act, but happy to have made magic happen in just 2-½ years. I’m also proud to announce that I’ve been elected as a trustee with The Oliver Scholars Program ( As an alum of the 30-year-old program that prepares high-achieving African-American and Latino students for success at top independent high schools and prestigious colleges, I’m looking forward to supporting an organization that has made a difference in my life and the lives of so many other Wesleyan alums.

And my final update… After almost four years as your class secretary, I must announce this is my last official column. It has been great hearing from you, and I am now placing you in two pairs of great hands—BFF’s no less, Jessica Shea Lehmann and Sasha Lewis Reisen. They are super excited to share the duty of reporting the #ThisIsWhy happenings of our year so be sure to submit your updates to them moving forward.

Do note, Wesleyan is in my blood so I will still continue with my own #ThisIsWhy mission working with The Wesleyan Fund alongside Justin ClarkDavid Levin and Marisa Uchin as well as the Wesleyan Alumni of Color Council with super chair Ray Sanchez ’00 and Associate Director of Alumni & Parent Relations Greg Bernard. Service is a lifestyle. Be sure to have a fabulous spring.

Kimberly King |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2015 | ISSUE 3

Happy Holidays! After three years serving as your class secretary, I’ve figured out the most effective mechanism to hear from you…miss a cycle in the magazine. With our section left blank ’97ers, you have so much more to say the next go around (smile)!

Lucria Ortiz, Esq., joined the West Side Y in August as their senior director managing their development and communications team. It is a great career move for my friend who loves a good cause and reason to serve others. From the looks of Facebook, she, husband Chris Ebanks ’96, and their two kids are living life to the fullest and having fun along the way.

Brion Winston writes that he and wife Melanie Schoen are doing well. He is an interventional cardiologist and Melanie is a nurse in Albany. Together they raise organic grass-fed beef at their family farm with their two kids. You can learn more at

Charlotte E. Scott, Esq., checks in from Ukiah, Calif., where she is enjoying her law practice in Mendocino County and raising her children on a beautiful piece of property in the mountains about 45 minutes from town. Her daughter Violet just began kindergarten and Zara Rose is a feisty toddler. She sees Adriana Dakin ’96 on a daily basis, as their daughters are best friends at the same Waldorf elementary school.

In June, Trevor Griffey and Allison Perlman married during a civil ceremony and will host a formal ceremony in Seattle in 2016. Allison is an assistant professor of U.S. History at UC Irvine, and Trevor is a lecturer in U.S. History at CSU Long Beach. They reside in Long Beach, Calif.

Leah Ayanna Brown Johnson is proud to announce that after 12 years of building an organization in Harlem and then establishing and expanding it in Newark, N.Y., she has set her sights on her entrepreneurial endeavors. Be Equipped LLC is her for-profit entity focusing on coaching, training, and development. Ayanna is also working on her third book and you can check out her site:

Dr. Josh Arthurs, associate professor of History at West Virginia University has been awarded the 2015–16 Mellon Foundation Rome Prize in Modern Italian Studies. He, Malayna Bernstein, and their two boys are spending the year at the American Academy in Rome. He says, “It’s a big change from our regular lives as professors at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va.!”

Sadia Shepard shared, “I’m happy to be back at Wesleyan as a visiting assistant professor in film studies. My husband, Andreas Burgess ’01, and I continue to live between New York City and South Dartmouth, Mass., with our 3-year-old daughter, Noor Jehan.”

It was great to hear from Nikki Greene, who continues to enjoy her position as an assistant professor of art history at Wellesley, in what she describes as “passionately (read: ’frantically’) finishing my book manuscript.” Summer 2015 she ran into fellow Wesleyan alum Leigh Raiford ’94 while both presented at the Black Portraitures II Conference in Florence, Italy.

The managing director at the Long Wharf Theatre, Joshua Borenstein did notice that we didn’t have anything in the last issue! He’s married to Kate Hagmann ’98, and they have two beautiful girls who are 9 and 2. Settling in Connecticut, this past summer they visited Martha’s Vineyard, where they caught up with Sacha Shapiro Emerson, who has become an “islander.”

Excited to hear about other ’97ers, Andrew Frishman provided a quick update. He, wife Leigh Needleman ’96, 3-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter are living in Cambridge, Mass., often seeing Christian Housh and Laura Warren ’98. Laura’s son is in the same school with his daughter and they are neighbors, just a few blocks away from each other. Professionally, Andrew is the co-executive director of Big Picture Learning (, traveling to spread the word about “the need for a fundamental re-design/re-imagination of school, the education system and the importance of adopting more student-centered approaches.”

Ben Helphand is proud to announce that after 13 years of working for the conversion of an unused freight rail viaduct in Chicago, this summer they opened The 606 (, a multi-use trail and its centerpiece, the Bloomingdale Trail. The nearly $100M project features a three-mile-long elevated trail linking six access parks and weaving together four neighborhoods. The late Wesleyan trustee emeritus John Baird ’38 was one of the early leaders on the Bloomingdale Trail/606. Ben also dedicated Chicago’s first community-created and -managed nature play garden, The Jardincito, highlighting features borrowed from the natural world—boulders, play huts, a pebble pool and balancing logs. He, wife Dawn, and daughter, Selah spent the summer in Berlin, meeting up with Ben Rubloff ’98, his partner, Jennie, and new daughter, Juno, “eating kebabs in the city’s endless playgrounds.”

Semeka Smith-Williams wrote in to share that she is the lower-school diversity coordinator and kindergarten teacher at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn where she received the excellence in teaching award in the spring. The award acknowledges and celebrates the professional achievements of a master teacher who demonstrates consistent excellence through his or her ability to inspire and educate Packer students. “It was wonderful sharing this special moment with my family”—husband Sharif Williams ’95 and two daughters. Semeka also connected with Wes alums Nicole RodriguezRachel Rodriguez, and Jeneen Garcia at a Border Crossers event supporting Benny Vasquez in his efforts to bring social justice and equity work into schools and other institutions around NYC.

Aileen Nagle McDonough continues to run a communications company, 3am Writers. She and Michelle Driscoll went to Wes for the 2014 Shasha Conference on The Novel. This fall, Aileen also spoke at WordCamp Rhode Island and was chosen to be a “Speed Mentor” at the 2015 CWE Women Business Leaders Conference. Two of Aileen’s essays were published in Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England.

Jessica Shea Lehmann headed to New York to see Hamilton and hang out with Sasha Lewis Reisen. She teaches nutrition communications at Arizona State University, manages menu consulting with clients, and does some writing related to nutrition and food. She and husband Greg celebrated their 12th anniversary in November, and their boys—Oliver, Felix, and Adrian—are 9, 6, and 3 respectively. Jess writes that she missed the “reunion of Kappa Alpha Theta in August in Boston because Amy GorinSaskia Herz MowerJoanne MaxwellJulie PhilipsKalyna Procyk, and Lauren Porosoff were there.” But she is already making plans to come to our 20th Reunion in May 2017.

Matthew Way wants us to know his first feature film, The Genital Warriors, will be released in more than 100 countries and 19 languages “on the 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, December 8th.” The movie will be available in the US on iTunes, Amazon, Google and Sony, as well as on BluRay and DVD. The ensemble film pieces together the three main characters’ fragmentary pasts, allowing their different perspectives and memories to meet and overlap.

The protagonists’ hero, John Lennon, comes back to life. Matthew says, “I wrote, directed and produced this film alone, an indie/underground/arthouse production, costing approximately $200K. It’d be great if you would take a moment to watch our trailer (” Matthew majored in molecular biology and biochemistry while also taking film and fiction/screenplay writing courses. After a year in Venezuela, he received a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to Hamburg, Germany, where he lived for 12 years while shooting the movie. Matthew is now mainly based in Berlin, Germany.

Cheers to 2016!

Kimberly King |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2015 | ISSUE 1

2015 has brought forth new beginnings for many of our classmates. As I begin my third year as your Class Secretary, Alumni of Color Council Member and Wesleyan Fund Class Agent I fondly reflected upon my relationship with Wesleyan through the years. Whether it was the Career Resource Center, the Dean’s Office, my professors, or my friends—I have found Wesleyan to return to me what I have placed into it. I enjoy hearing from everyone and learning about life after Wesleyan. I believe this platform is an outlet to re-establish connection for many of us. Please be encouraged to make a new or recreate an existing WesConnect.

Neily Buff wrote that in January, as Florida legalized gay marriage, she and her 11-year partner, Kelly Kingston, were married in their home state. Exactly one month earlier, they had their first child together—a girl.

Andrew Frishman (@andrewfrishman) shared: “Leigh Needleman ’96 and I just bought a place in Cambridge, located about halfway between Harvard and MIT. We’re excited to be living just a block from our 5-year-old daughter’s school and a 10-minute walk from her younger brother’s daycare. Leigh’s a neuroscientist at Harvard and I am on the leadership team at Big Picture Learning ( We get together regularly with Laura Warren ’98, her husband and children (who are similar ages to ours). Andrew is excited to be collaborating with Daniela Lewy ’99, who will soon be entering the final year of the Harvard EdLD program, which he finished in May of 2014. Andrew also connects regularly with Arthur Baraf ’98, a principal at the flagship Big Picture Learning school—The Met High School, in Providence, RI.

Carly Burton (@carlyburton7) says: “I’ve been in Boston for the past 12 years and just moved to a new house in Jamaica Plain (one block from our old house). I married my wife, Mo, in 2009 and in October 2013 we adopted our daughter, Clea. We got the call we were matched on the evening of Oct. 18, the day before my birthday. Clea was born on Oct. 22, and we got to meet her that day! It has been a joyous adventure. She is an active toddler who loves to dance and walk backwards and see how long she can pull the tail of the cat before getting in trouble. I’ve worked in advocacy since graduating from social work school at BU and my path has crossed with many Wes alums along the way, from Fawn Phelps to Melissa Shannon ’94, to former Rep Steven Walsh ’95, to Senator Dan Wolf ’79. Currently, I work at an LGBTQ advocacy organization and though I don’t see as many Wes alums in my professional world, I am lucky to see Karen Carniol ’98 and Ginna Smith Reeder ’98 and Liz Murray ’96 pretty regularly, which is wonderful.”

Dr. Joshua Arthurs (@Jwarthurs) and wife Malayna Bernstein are both professors at West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.V., Josh in modern European history and serving as director of graduate studies, and Malayna in curriculum and instruction. Along with their boys, Eli (10) and Carlo (6), they are enjoying life as Mountaineers, and welcome any Wes contacts in West Virginia or the Pittsburgh area.

Michelle Conceison (@ProfConceison) lives in Boston runs her own music management and marketing company, Market Monkeys (@MarketMonkeys Here she manages Canadian songwriter Rose Cousins ( and her record label, Old Farm Pony Records ( Michelle is also a professor in the music department at Northeastern University and she serves on the Board of Folk Alliance International, the organization that represents folk music worldwide.

Sean Brecker (@seanbrecker) moved back to the US after 11 years away (seven years in Singapore and four in England). His wife, Heidi, and three kids (Felix, 5, and girl/boy twins Eiffel and Dashel, 3) moved to Los Angeles in 2014. Sean is the CEO of Headspace, a guided meditation app. Sean would love to hear from any Wes alums in southern California!

Aileen Nagle McDonough (@3amwriter) lives in Rhode Island and serves as the chief executive of 3am Writers, a communications and content strategy firm that focuses on creative social media and online identity for businesses. Aileen writes stories as “Honda Mama” on; she also teaches social media classes at Cape Cod Community College. In addition, Aileen devotes time to her own creative writing. In 2014, she was back on campus to attend Wesleyan’s Shasha Conference on The Novel, and two of her essays were published in Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England.

Aileen has been married for 15 years to Kirk. They have two children: a hockey-playing, mohawk-sporting 11-year old son, Shane, and a redheaded 8-year-old daughter, Cate, who loves Irish step dancing and glee club. Aileen keeps up with Wesleyan friends on social media and meets up with ’97 classmate Michelle Driscoll in Boston or Providence whenever busy schedules allow.

Matthew Way ( completed his debut feature, “The Genital Warriors” and was very pleased to have celebrated the World and German premieres of it in Moscow and Berlin respectively at the Moscow International Film Festival, one of 15 A-list festivals worldwide. Visit for more information.

Derek DiMatteo wrotes, “I’m three years into the PhD program in English literature here at Indiana University, Bloomington, and have just settled on my qualifying exam committee members. Terrifying to think I will have to do my orals this coming September, but also elated to be done with coursework at the end of this spring.”

At the top of March, Abdul Latif was chosen as one of three 2015 winning choreographers with the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the official school of the Joffrey Ballet, to display his most poignant pieces to date at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. Learn more at

Cheers to all of the new beginnings thus far. Looking forward to hearing more.

Kimberly King |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2014 | ISSUE 3

Cannot believe we are preparing to close out 2014. I am completing my first year of grad school. I am in pursuit of my master of science in integrated marketing at NYU. It’s been quite a nuanced balancing act with full-time employment and a curious 3-year-old toddler. Very thankful to my husband for helping to keep our routines consistent.

Leah Brown (@AyannaSpeaks) wrote in to spread good news and cheer with her fellow Wes alums: “I’m excited to share that I am the founding executive director of the only urban squash educational program in New Jersey. Just completing our second year and expanding in the fall, StreetSquash Newark is changing lives in Newark, N.J. I was married in August and in a few months I am releasing my second spoken word CD to music. My website with upcoming details is”

Frances Northcutt Green writes, “Next year I’m starting a children’s literature reading group in NYC for adults who love children’s literature and would love to include Wesleyan folks next. Anyone who is interested can reach me at”

Patrik Nylund (@PatrikNylund2) shared a few laughs. “Though I enjoy reading others’ updates, I have been terribly bad sharing my own for the last…well, maybe 10 years…Well, here are some. I returned to San Francisco two years ago after a four-year stay in my native Sweden. For the last four years, I have worked as a freelance research analyst and security adviser in the private security sector. I’d love to meet other Wesleyan alums doing similar work; please feel free to contact me via LinkedIn or”

Lauren Porosoff (@LaurenPorosoff): “Just writing to report the news that my book, Curriculum at Your Core: Meaningful Teaching in the Age of Standards, is coming out this fall. The book is a guide to designing curriculum, using values as a starting place because deciding what’s most important for students to learn is always a values-based process.”

Alexandra (Sasha) Lewis-Reisen was full of good news: “Working at the New York Legal Assistance Group, representing domestic violence survivors at trial and appellate levels. NYLAG, which represents needy New Yorkers for free, is a hotbed of Wes alums—awesome to see all the Wes mugs and posters around the office. The rest of the time, my husband Alex and I hang out with fellow NYers who have similar-aged kids as Anya (5) and Wes (almost 4). Earlier this year, my daughter Anya and I got to see Jessica (Shea) Lehmann (@JessicatheRD) in Arizona. Jess is teaching nutrition at ASU, appearing on local TV as a nutritionist, and raising three amazing boys with husband Greg Lehmann.” Sasha also added, “Visited Sarah Kollman and she is practicing charter school law and reveling in her adorable baby son, Peter, with husband Justin Regnier. Next trip: seeing Cheryl (Goldman) Governale, who is in California, finally stateside after years in Italy and England with her family. Wish we were all living closer to each other. And to O’Rourke’s!”

Andrew Frishman (@AndrewFrishman) wrote: “On the professional side, this past May I completed an EdLD (Doctorate in Education Leadership) at Harvard Graduate School of Education. My work focused on a year of residency with Big Picture Learning ( and was titled ‘The Future of Big Picture Learning: A Strategy to Spread Student-Centered Personalized Education.’ My committee members included my incomparable and inspiring adviser Mark Moore, and Clayton Christensen. I have now fully transitioned onto the BPL leadership team—if there are any folks out there in the Wesleyan alumni world interested in talking about how to innovate and transform the public education system, I’m eager to connect! On the personal side, my family loves living in Cambridge where my wife, Leigh Anne Needleman ’96 (a neuroscientist at Harvard), can walk a few blocks to work; our children, Jordan (almost 5) and Lundy (2), continue to thrive. We’re thrilled that Jordan is attending Amigos bilingual public school in Cambridge as a junior kindergartener this fall.”

A couple of short and sweet notes: Susanne Sreedhar recently received tenure and is now an associate professor of philosophy at Boston University. And Charlotte E. Scott, Esq., has been an attorney for the past 11 years in northern California with her own law practice in Mendocino County, right across the street from the courthouse. She recently had her second baby, Zara Rose and her first, Violet, is 4-1/2.

Semeka Smith-Williams wrote in to say hello and to provide a couple of general updates. “My daughters and I just made it back from our weekend at Wesleyan, where we saw Gillian Todd ’98 and Javaid Khan ’96 at the screening of Bobbito Garcia’88’s Doin’ It in the Park. What an incredible film! We had the pleasure of walking around the campus and soaking up the sun while exploring many the new spaces Wesleyan has to offer. Aside from that, things are going well for me and the family. I am working at Packer as a kindergarten teacher and LS diversity coordinator. My daughters are there, too, and feel like valid members of the community. It’s an extra exciting year at Packer, because Jose DeJesus is the new head of the upper school, and there are other Wesleyan grads in the building, but nothing compares to the class of ’97!”

And to close, Wesleyan’s Precision founder, Abdul Lateef Rasheed (Abdul Latif), following his inaugural artist-in-residence position at Lincoln Center, was the first Rockefeller Foundation Fellow to have a grant proposal that was his brainchild brought forth into a residency program, which he conceived, founded, and recently completed: The Artist Mentoring Lab.

Thank you ’97s for showing up strong with your notes for the end of the year. Until we meet again, please e-mail or tweet me @BGunlimited

Kimberly King

CLASS OF 1997 | 2014 | ISSUE 2

Happy 2014 four months into it! I’ve been deep into the books since I last checked in. Grad school has been keeping me quite the busy bee this semester. I’m lucky if I get to check in with everyone personally, but the power of social networking is wonderful. Social media is such a great way to stay connected and see what’s happening with everyone. It at least allows me to find a few updates here and there to report in. Sam Laybourne, wife Herran Bekele, and their two beautiful kids—son Skender and daughter Lulit, relocated back to New York in 2013. With the tough winter the East Coast had this season, I’m sure they miss the California sunshine and can’t wait for summer to arrive.

Read about Daniel Poliner’s #ThisIsWhy story about preparing for his first film, Jack, Jules, Esther & Me. You can visit to watch the trailer and for more information, but the film is available on iTunes, Amazon, cable on demand and many other platforms. Even my old In-Town roommate Christopher Andrews shared his own story on I love the nostalgic personal mini-essays on the site from so many generations. Definitely check it out when you get a chance, or better yet, contribute your own story.

Jose DeJesus was appointed head of the upper school at Packer in Brooklyn, N.Y., effective July 1. As a teacher and administrator, Jose has served at a variety of well-respected institutions throughout his career. Super confident, his biggest cheerleader is his wife, Andrea Rosario De Jesus, who is also a Packer alumna. Love seeing the Wes connection come full circle in another dimension.

One of my oldest Wes friends, Christopher Gore, wrote me to share the good news of boldly stepping into the entrepreneurial world with his own practice based in Mount Holly, N.J. Gore Law Office provides legal representation across a wide range of practice areas including: Night Court including DUI, Traffic and Municipal Ordinance violations; Estate Planning including Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Trusts; and much more. You can seek Chris’ services at

And speaking of entrepreneurs, Santi White, also known as Santigold, is doing the most these days. A March 2014 New York Magazine cited her latest movements by noting: “It’s been a year since Santigold released her last album, Master of My Make-Believe, but the artist (née Santi White) is now focused on two upcoming projects: a baby (‘I feel good!’ she says) and a new makeup collaboration with Smashbox Cosmetics.” Smashbox Santigold: The Santigolden Age Collection will be available this summer, 2014. How ultra-amazing for the singer/songwriter and mom-to-be. Congrats to Santi.

Until we meet again ’97ers, please e-mail or tweet me @BGunlimited.

Kimberly Cooper King

Class of 1997 | 2014 | Issue 1

2013 was quite a full year for so many. A few of our classmates were kind enough to keep us posted.

Maria Mirabal Hipps wrote: “I supported my bestie, Nicole Rodriguez Leach, in her New York Marathon run. Dolores Concepcion ’98 was also on hand to encourage our girl Nic as she accomplished this amazing milestone. Thanks to Facebook and Instagram, I am also able to reconnect with many Wes alums, such as Vanessa Rodriguez ’99, Lucria Ortiz, Semeka Smith, Angela Yee, Santi White, Maria Santana Guadalupe ’98 (recent Wesleyan cover girl), Benny Vasquez, and so many more. Love social media. I often marvel at the transformative and inspiring careers we have all pursued, fields in entertainment, finance, education, law, etc. As for me, I continue to practice law and recently celebrated my seventh year at IMS Health Incorporated, where I serve as the senior counsel overseeing contracting matters for the Latin America business unit. I’ve settled in South Jersey (for the time being), married with three healthy, inquisitive, and athletic children ages 10, 8, and 6. I’m still hoping to one day pursue my ‘dream deferred’ of directing and producing documentary films. Fortunately, I know there are several amazing Wes alums in the TV/film industry who I’m certain will do their best to welcome me with open arms. That’s the beauty of the Wesleyan network.”

Robin McLellan Woodworth wrote in after she attended Homecoming: “Tailgates with Kira Markiewicz Fabrizio and husband Dan Fabrizio ’96. Ran into Alex Barth and Sarah Brodsky Barth and a host of other football and BETA folks on campus. Wesleyan beat Williams for first time in about 43 years I think, and so it was very exciting! Looking forward to taking the kids with me to Arizona in March with my husband Mark’s Wesleyan baseball team and then a road trip with team to Southern California. Makaela Steinberg Kingsley ’98 and I took our four kids to Wes Wings, which was nostalgic, yummy, and so much fun! I am traveling quite a bit for work at Nuance, but the kids are healthy and happy, and Mark and I are great.”

Cheryl Goldman Governale (@cheryl_1999) has been living abroad for 10 years now—two in Milan and eight in London, where she is now. We stay connected via Facebook and Cheryl shared, “We welcomed our son, Luca, into the world on Aug. 26. Big sister Sophia is very happy to have someone to boss around! I’m in the midst of a career change, having left finance to train as a photographer.”

It’s wonderful to hear news about our classmates and their latest additions. Osvaldo Pena, wife Jocelyn, and their son, Miles, welcomed baby Mila to their family in November. Romi McVey, husband Hari and their daughter Leela welcomed Sonia Adena Ganapathy on Jan, 21, 2014. And Roxanne Williams Armstrong ’98, husband Kenneth and daughter Kamila also welcomed a new addition to their family: Karissa Hyacinth Armstrong was born Dec. 21, 2013. Lots of sibling love going around.

My old In-Town 22 roommate Steven Tejada and wife Anna welcomed their first born, Yameli Elena Tejada, on Dec. 30, 2013. Tejada continues to travel the world with his one-man-show performance pieces and I witness his excitement on Facebook. Our other In-Town roomy Kevin Strait and his wife Ty are basking in the glory of their twins, James and Langston, who will turn one year in March.

Wes’ Precision creator Abdul Rasheed celebrated in his final concert Rockefeller Brothers Fellow and Lincoln Center Institute Artist-In-Residence fellowship performance There Are No Tangents Part III.

And me, I celebrated Lucria Ortiz’s birthday with sommelier Oz Pena. Awesome experience: wine tasting and learning with friends. I’m still enjoying my family life/work balance. My husband, Rod, and I love watching our son, Cooper, grow like a sprout. Cannot believe he’ll be 3 in July. We’ve bumped into a few Wes friends this season including Marvin Bowser, Angela Tucker ’96, and Taisha Thompson ’95. This spring I enter the master’s in integrated marketing program at New York University. Nothing compares to Wes, however. Working in media at Viacom/BET Networks for the past few years, I’m truly excited to re-enter the world of academia in pursuit of higher education and executing the balancing act at a new level.

In 2014, I’m looking forward to hearing from all of my 1997 classmates. Until we meet again, e-mail or tweet me @BGunlimited.

Kimberly Cooper King