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


PETER A. SALZMAN, 38, who received his degree with high honors in anthropology with a minor in religion, died May 19, 2013. He interned in the Jewish chaplain’s office at Wesleyan and after graduation, continued his religious studies in Israel and his special interest in Jewish mysticism. An avid musician, he sang and played the guitar and piano, in addition to experimenting with electronic music. Survivors include his mother, Jill Roberts; his father, Scott Salzman; his stepfather; his brother and sister; his grandmother; and a large extended family.


JARRETT TAHIR SEALS, 27, died June 9, 2003. He had majored in art history. Among those who survive are his mother, his father, a brother, a sister, and several aunts and uncles.


ARAMIS GONZALO RIOS, 31, an assistant U.S. attorney in Puerto Rico, died June 25, 2007. He had been a government major at Wesleyan. Among those who survive is his child, Amaris, his parents, and his grandmother.