CLASS OF 1997 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

2020 has shown us the importance of staying connected to our loved ones near and far, and that includes our Wes fam. We enjoyed hearing from everyone who wrote in to share how they are doing. 

Kevin Carr O’Leary wrote: “We are good here in Brooklyn, thankfully. My husband Brian and I have two kids through adoption, Keith, 9, and Jason, 6. Brian is a family law attorney and we are coming up on 20 years together. I am a book collaborator, focusing on memoir. My most recent was Jessica Simpson’s Open Book, and my next one is out December 1 with Ruth Coker Burks. It’s called All the Young Men: A Memoir of Love, AIDS, and Chosen Family in the American South.” Kevin, we loved Open Book and can’t wait to read your next book. Congratulations to you and your husband on your milestone anniversary! 

  1. Elijah Hawkes wrote: “I’ve got a book out last spring, drawing from fifteen years as a public school principal in NYC and Vermont, it’s called School for the Age of Upheaval: Classrooms that Get Personal, Get Political and Get to Work. Also, my work in a rural Vermont school confronting racism has been featured recently in a special podcast series by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Sounds Like Hate (chapter 2).” We will definitely be adding your book to our shopping cart and podcast episodes to our playlists. 

In addition to running her business, 3am Writers LLC, Aileen McDonough has been working as director of communications for the Iroquois Nationals lacrosse team this year. The team’s story ignited on social media, and gained international press in the lacrosse world and beyond. Aileen explained, “The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) are the originators of the game of lacrosse, or ‘medicine game.’ INL is ranked 3rd in the world and is the only Indigenous team sanctioned 

to play at this level. The team had been denied a place at the 2022 World Games, which prompted an outcry in the lacrosse world, including a social media response, a petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures, and stories that were picked up by CNN, Sports Illustrated, Sky News, CBC, etc. In an act of stunning generosity, awareness, and allyship, Team Ireland voluntarily vacated their spot to make way for the Iroquois team to play.” So inspiring! We are so happy that the Iroquois team will be playing their game in the 2022 World Games. 

Alek Lev wrote that he might have had to wait for an entire new form of media to be invented, but he has finally made a Hollywood sale. Coming up in just a few months will be the premiere episode of his new podcast, Meeting Tom Cruise. A part of the Dan Patrick Podcast Network (Dan Patrick, whom Alek remembers watching in WesWings on a nightly basis) and produced by iHeart Media, the show is hosted by a duo of Tom Cruise super-fans who haven’t ever met their idol—the greatest and craziest movie star of all time—as they interview, and desperately envy, some lucky bastard who has. (Alek, in the background, produced the show and mocks it all mercilessly.) We’re not trying to change the world. We’re just trying to meet Tom Cruise. (And we’re wondering whether this is the better Waiting for Godot for our age. Love!)

Matt Albinson is teaching high school computer science in the East Bay and expecting his first child in November. (Congratulations, Matt! So exciting.) He finds time to play disc golf with other Nietzsch Factorians Ben Snyder, Sam Borgeson, Andrew Levine, Jason Monberg ’95, and Chris Wilmers ’95.

Lauren Porosoff has a new book coming out this March, The PD Curator: How to Design Peer-to-Peer Professional Learning That Elevates Teachers and Teaching. Lauren explained, “It applies the same psychological science that all of my books draw upon to professional learning.” Keep those books coming, Lauren! 

Keep your updates coming, dear classmates. Sending you our best wishes for a healthy and safe winter.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |