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 |