CLASS OF 1989 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

THANK YOU for writing in, in such enormous numbers. Here’s the mildly edited LONG version of what’s happening in the class of 1989!

Having just rescued a dog named Smokey, Stephanie Dolgoff is totally smitten with him and has decided to make is official: “I’m engaged to marry my dog, and as happy as I’ve ever been.” (lol)

Colleen McKiernan is on the Board of the Waltham Fields Community Farm, a non-profit farm with a CSA and educational programs. She has been working to prevent this 400 year old farmland from being sold by the State of Massachusetts and after a two year campaign hopes to secure permanent protection through the state legislature this year.  The Farm donates 20% of its food, including to school lunch programs.  She invites any support for this organization from her classmates. 

Phil Rutovitz has been living in The Hague for the past 6 years with his wife and 3 kids.  After 23 years living in Europe, he finds it very strange to view from afar what the United States is going through now.  Although, as British citizen, he recently had to secure a resident permit to stay in the Netherlands which was surreal in its own way. After his company restructured in November, he started his own fintech consulting business.  In his copious free time, he was able to finish his first novel, a thriller called The Scarabus Deception, and is looking for an agent. 

Durba Ghosh writes from Cornell, where she has been on the faculty for 15 years.  She estimates she is one of about a zillion historians who were undergraduate majors who are now in faculty positions across the country.  Her son is a sophomore soccer player at Hamilton College and her daughter is entering her junior year in high school.  She thought the best college tour to date was at Wesleyan and the highlight seeing Brian O’Rourke behind the counter at the diner, and sitting on Foss Hill once again. 

Early on, Phineas Baxandall was feeling very grateful during quarantine because his son came back from college and senior-in-high-school daughter was home much more. They spent lots of time playing board games, watching old movies, and doing ceramics in their basement kiln. Then the kids got squirrelly as the months dragged on, until they started spending time in Cape Cod. Eventually, both kids went off to their college towns.  Now, he and his partner Sarah get to live the quiet remote-work life with lots of long runs  and swims and few people. In October, they’ll be returning to Cambridge to continue calling and writing letters to swing-state voters. 

2020 would have been a big year for Debra Steppel even without Covid-19: her firstborn graduated from high school and left for Arizona State University and she and her husband marked 22 years in the same home in Reston, VA.  It has also been 10 years since her husband Mark founded Sunrise Wealth Management, where they both work to help their clients plan their financial futures. 

John Hlinko is still living in Washington, DC, but he travels to many exotic locations, such as the living room, the kitchen, and the couch.  He did manage to get in a Vegas trip just before the plague hit with fellow 89’ers Sneep Wadhwa and Adam Long, and he looks forward to another trip with them sometime before 2030.  He is spending most of his time these days running Left Action, a progressive activist community currently focused on avoiding a fascist takeover.  But he did manage to write a second book — Pandemic Pickup Lines — a collection of groaners which no doubt offended many, but which also managed to raise $12,000 for José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen, to fight pandemic-related hunger. 

In October, Amy Randall organized the Twin Pandemics Forum, an interdisciplinary 2-day event in Santa Clara responding to COVID-19 and racial injustice.  It was co-hosted by the Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Bannan Forum in the Ignatian Center.  She is also finding California to still be wonderful but stressful. For over three weeks she couldn’t be outside because the air was so toxic from the fires surrounding her home.  She has been sheltering in place for over 6 months — although things have begun to open up more recently. As a professor and historian of 20th century European history (with a focus on the Soviet Union) — and gender and genocide — she no longer thinks it is alarming to suggest that authoritarianism if not fascism is on the march in the United States. If you don’t agree with her and think she’s wrong, she hopes you are right. 

Laura Hardin still works as a testifying expert on damages issues in international arbitrations for Alvarez and Marsal out of Houston. This November she will be cross examined in a virtual hearing for the first time.  In her personal life, she is settling into being an empty-nester and focusing on being healthy.  Over the last year she lost 160 lbs and is happy to share tips on how she is literally half the woman she used to be.  She now runs 8-10 miles every other day and cross trains with a Peloton bike and weights. She has run 2 half marathons since January and feels fantastic.  She is also riding my horses again and plans to start competing again next year.  Her daughter Samantha is in her second year at Colorado State Graduate Veterinary school and doing her first two years in Fairbanks, AK.  Her son Michael is in his third year of the Electrical Engineering program at the University of Texas. 

Robin (Allen) McGrew and her family just passed the one-year mark living in the energy efficient house she designed in Washington DC. The house is designed to the Passive House standard for energy efficiency and uses roughly 80% less energy than a code-built house. Photovoltaics on the roof are modeled to make the house net zero energy on an annual basis. The house has been comfortable in every season which they have gotten to know intimately since they have been working from home for the past seven months. Should would love to hear from anyone curious about Passive House design, which is a proven way to lower the carbon impact of the construction industry and make a dent in global warming.  

Julie Strauss and Joel Brown are “remarkably still happily married, even though they work, sleep, exercise, eat and whatever else in the same damn house. All. The. Time.  Joel ostensibly continues to work as an attorney but it feels more like a grossly overpaid scheduler of Zoom sessions.  Julie’s business of running content rich lectures for senior citizens dried up although some of her business has now returned through virtual offerings.  Their son, Ezra started graduate school in Non-Profit Development work at the University of Michigan. With Ezra continuing his life in Ann Arbor, they are able to visit with the esteemed Dr. David Bradley and his lovely family, long-time residents of Ann Arbor.  David and Joel were one-time Hi-Rise roommates, and would both be living large today had they only launched their much-discussed line of “Soup and Cous”.  David will have to settle for a career of fixing children heart defects at the U of M Medical Center.  Julie and Joel’s younger son, Jonathan, is a sophomore at the University of Illinois studying drums and communications.

Chris Roberts and his oldest daughter, Beatrix ’22, drove from their home in Austin up to Middletown so she could move into Low Rise and quarantine for the start of her junior year. She’s an American Studies major and a Dance minor.  Daughter Willa is a freshman “at” McGill University in Montreal, but is actually doing her studies in a pod in New York with similarly remote students. Chris and his wife Alexis (Neaman) ’90 also have India, a high school sophomore.  Chris hasn’t been to his office since March 12 and is not expected back until January, but is still somehow busier than ever.  

Marjorie Levine-Clark reports her household of three (plus dog, Theo) has been cozily working remotely since March. Isabel (‘22) was already on spring break in Denver when Wesleyan announced campus would be closed for the rest of term. Michael (’92) and Isabel flew back to Wes to get all her stuff right on the edge of danger. Marjorie is still happily a professor of history and associate dean for diversity, outreach, and initiatives at the University of Colorado Denver; and reports more on some deeply interesting projects that she is spearheading and that her partner is working on too!

Indy Neidell reports that life in Sweden has been as weird as anywhere else this year.  He was sick with Covid-19 the entire month of May, but is doing better now and is very busy with his new Youtube series “WW2 in Real Time.”   

Jeffrey Naness continues in his work in employment and labor law for employers, as well as playing keyboards in a couple of rock bands (to the extent the Pandemic allows). His two sons are in college, Muhlenberg College (PA) and Colgate University (NY).

Alexandra Aron shares that “a few months ago, I formally incorporated a non-profit theater company, The Remote Theater Project (RTP), an initiative to bring underrepresented international artists to perform in the US.  On the Board of Directors are two ’89 alumnae: Julia Brock (formerly Julia Randall) and Wendy Trippe. RTP commissioned, developed and produced  GREY ROCK by Palestinian writer/director Amir Nizar Zuabi which premiered at La MaMa Theatre last year. We brought Palestinian actors from the West Bank and Israel to LaMaMa Theater. The production was subsequently invited to the Melbourne International Arts Festival and returned earlier to the US earlier this year for a 5-week tour including at the Kennedy Center, The Public Theatre/ Under the Radar, The Guthrie Theatre, and Kimmel Center in Phili. The tour ended (thankfully) in mid-February just before Covid hit. RTP is currently developing several more projects: a collaboration with actor-writers from Uganda and Palestine, as well as one based in East Africa and involving artists from 5 countries (Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania).  I never would have imagined forming this company two years ago.The support of Wendy and Julia has been instrumental. I am incredibly grateful to them and to the many other Wes. alums who turned out for and supported Grey Rock.” Also, Alexandra’s daughter Sofia Aslan ‘23 is in CSS at Wesleyan now and loving it.

Finally, we were so very sad to hear of the passing of our classmate Michael Mahon. Mike died suddenly, at home, on May 20th 2020. He was an English major, swimmer, marathon runner, avid outdoorsman and lover of life. An excellent storyteller, he loved to regale his friends with their adventures (and misadventures), with a twinkle in his eye and an infectious laugh. A New Jersey native, Mike lived in NYC after graduation, working at ABC News. He later moved to Boston and a career in advertising and marketing. At the time of his death, he lived in Quincy. He is survived by his husband of 10 years, Peter Damon, extended family, and many, many friends. Many of you were his friends. We send our Wes best to his family, framily, friends and fellow classmates grieving this loss. May his memory be for a blessing.

Stay safe and stay in touch, classmates. 

Jonathan Fried | 

Michele Barnwell |

CLASS OF 1988 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Hillary writes for this issue.

Greetings Class of 1988. We hope you are holding up well during this crazy time. Pete Bond shares that in the middle of the pandemic, he and his wife decided to leave Chicago and return east to be closer to family in Connecticut as they raise their toddler. He reports that he “with a good friend, launched ‘The CPG Guys’ podcast which explores how brands and retailers engage with consumers in an omnichannel world. Our guests have included industry leaders at Instacart, Walmart, Drizly, Coca-Cola, Omnicom and many others. It is available on 15 podcast platforms.”

Rob Wrubel’s new book 30 Days to Your Special Needs Trust was released in September. He says “Writing a book was a good way to handle being home more during the first six months of the year.”

Rich Silverman is living in Pasadena near the Rose Bowl in a house his family built last year. He spends a good portion of each day volunteering for Biden-Harris. If there are any Wes alums in the Pasadena area who’d like to walk (safely) around the Rose Bowl with him, he’d welcome the company:

Erika Greene writes: “I have been living in NYC with my husband, film producer Peter Saraf ’87, for 30+ years. After several careers and two children, I decided to go back to school and recently received a master’s in social work. For the past two years I have worked at Fordham University’s Counseling and Psychological Services, and I am currently preparing for a new position at a group therapy practice in New York. 2020 has been a year like no other, and I hope everyone is navigating these times with as much physical and mental health as possible!”

Steve Morison sent a note that he’s doing well and working as the dean of students for the American College of Sofia in Sofia, Bulgaria. He had a short memoir of his meetings with Paul Bowles published by Khbar Bladna Press in Tangier in July, and continues his work as a contributing editor for Poets & Writers magazine in NYC. Steve has been seeing Paul Gosselin frequently in Sofia and Paris, and a bunch of other Wes folks on occasional Zoom reunions.

Tim McCallum reports that after almost six years on Maui, it’s clear, “I’m going to stay here forever. My pilates studio is holding its own despite the headwinds. My girlfriend and I are converting a 25-foot shuttle bus into a tiny home, including a 3.2-kilowatt solar power plant, so we can be at home wherever we park ourselves, which will usually be near the ocean since that is our happy place. We are hatching a plan to swim around the island. Happy to meet up with and show around Wes people if they should ever be in my neighborhood!”

Rob Krulak writes: “Last June I attended a memorial gathering for Mark Sarowitz ’89, who killed himself after a years-long struggle with a debilitating injury. He is survived by his brothers Tony and Sam, and leaves me with memories of good times with him at Wesleyan, his wit, sharp intelligence and outsized gift for aggravating people.”

Tracy Nathan, who is a rabbi in St. Louis, shares that she gathered with many of the members of the Wesleyan martial arts club for a Zoom reunion with Ann Mesnikoff, Alison Roth, Jon Snow, John Brinsley, Katherine Wood, Andy Stewart, Nathaniel Cutter, David Mendels, Stephen Morison, Rob Wrubel, Rebecca Bratspies ’87, Barbara Fried ’87, Nancy Heatley ’86, Michael Thomas ’90, Michael Nachmanoff ’91, Kiki Price ’91, Steve Schwartz ’89, and  Chris Webster ’89. They joined in from the coasts, the Midwest, Colorado, Montana, and Bulgaria, and Sensei Jean-Pierre Marques made an appearance as well. She reports that it was amazing to see everyone.

Peter V.S. Bond | 

Hillary Ross |

CLASS OF 1987 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

I didn’t get a lot of news this time around, but I have a great “small world” story to share.

This summer, Amy Mortimer-Lotke and Eric Mortimer-Lotke’s son, Isaac, was in a meeting focused on pandemic issues in NYC. He introduced himself on the Zoom call, and got a quick private message from another participant. “Are you  Amy and Eric’s son?” Isaac said yes, and texted his mom, “Do you know a guy named Muzzy?” Within minutes, Muzzy Rosenblatt had changed his background screen to show a picture he pulled off Facebook, featuring Amy and Muzzy eating pizza in a dorm room during sophomore year. Only during a pandemic, folks.

Johanna Van Hise Heart and Simon Heart are still enjoying life in Boulder, Colorado, and mostly surviving being parents of three teenagers. Their oldest daughter, Isabella, is a sophomore at UC Santa Cruz and their twins, Eli and Zoe, are juniors at Boulder High. Johanna is a nurse at UC Health in Boulder and Simon owns a property management business. Simon just published his first book The Right Start: Build Your Brand to Survive and Thrive in Corporate America. He says that it is a great gift for recent grads and young professionals, and he extends special thanks to Brad Karsh for providing a back cover testimonial.

Kim Sargent-Wishart completed certification as a teacher of Body-Mind Centering. BMC is an experiential approach to the study of anatomy, body systems and developmental movement. She also established the first BMC Somatic Movement Educator training program in Australia and began running courses just before the COVID-19 hold. During the pandemic, Kim has been experimenting with teaching movement and anatomy classes via Zoom from her home in a small town, which has the benefit of connecting with more people from around the world, including former classmates. She is starting work on new formats for sharing physical practices, somatic meditation, and creativity tools. Otherwise, she’s gardening, dancing in the kitchen, and hanging out with the family.

Paulina Bren has a new book launching in March 2021. The Barbizon is about New York’s famous women’s hotel and the women—including Sylvia Plath and Joan Didion—who passed through its doors from the 1920s to the 1990s. Paulina splits her time between New York and Poughkeepsie where she teaches in International Studies, Women’s Studies, and Media Studies at Vassar College. 

 Claire Conceision was interviewed as part of NPR’s September 2020 coverage of the first Chinese-language production of A Raisin in the Sun in Beijing. Claire is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an expert on contemporary Chinese theater.

Gabrielle Mason reports a personal recovery from COVID-19. She was in a social work field placement with the Alzheimer’s Association when the shutdown started, and so she did the difficult job remotely, working with caregivers on the association’s helpline facilitating support groups via telephone. She encourages people to learn more about the services the organization provides. Gabrielle completed her social work master’s in May, and got her license soon after. Her son Zach’s selection of Vassar as a freshman allowed Gabrielle to reconnect with Clark hallmates Holly Campbell Ambler, whose daughter started last year, and departing dean Chris Roellke. She scrambled to organize the unorganizable: pack light in case kids need to come home, but ensure they’re ready for self-sufficiency in case of quarantine. 

As I write this, the Wesleyan semester is underway with lots of COVID-19 restrictions. Thinking about the return to school sparks memories that scream our advancing age to me. It was not long ago that we were dancing to The Police, Thriller, and Flashdance in the Butterfield courtyard. We had to line up near Sci Li to get drop/add cards for the classes we wanted. We joined another line to secure SNET accounts, and we had to be home to use these phones. SNET always got my name wrong—one year I was Rebecca Zimblet and the next, Rebecca Bimbler. At least the phone worked. When the bill came, we marked which long-distance calls were ours. We walked down to Atticus to buy books and lugged them back to campus. Mostly, I remember the hope and anticipation of a new semester, and I wish all our students and educators embarking on the new year at Wesleyan—or anywhere else—great success. 

I’ll pick up Gabrielle’s sign off, “Until soon, I hope, wishing everyone safe and well as can be, with resilience, care, and every bit of laughter and love to be found.”

Reflection doesn’t rely on a date. Let me know what memories “back to Wes” taps in you! Don’t wait for me to ask; if you’ve got news to share, please contact me as soon as you can.

Rebecca Zimbler Graziano |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Congratulations. We made it through a very complex year, and we’ve also made it through an amazing 35 years! This coming May is our 35th Class Reunion, but unfortunately, on-site events have been postponed. Information about reunion is online at; keep an eye out for an updated date. Still, planning is underway. If you want more information or want to get involved, contact the class liaison, Nelson Albino MA’19, at

As I write this in the fall of 2020, there is tremendous uncertainty 

for many, though happily most members of our class seem to be secure in our jobs and in our lives. Here is some news that was shared with me during the past few weeks. 

First, a big and hearty congratulations to David Hill. This past July he became co-vice chair of the Wesleyan Alumni Association, and it is expected that he will become the president next July and serve a two-year term. Several classmates have children who will be joining the Alumni Association fairly soon. For example, Cathy Cotins has a son who is a senior, “He is living on Home Avenue, two doors down from the house I lived in senior year. We’re looking forward to celebrating his graduation on Foss Hill in the spring. I hope that will be possible!” 

Peter Crabtree was hunkered down at home with his wife of 29  years, partly due to COVID-19, and partly due to the Portland air being filled with smoke from nearby fires. “Overall things are good!  I continue to enjoy my psychology practice. I do psychotherapy, supervision of other therapists, and some teaching. I’ve been golfing, fly fishing, and hiking in my free hours. Despite the recent fires and post-apocalyptic feeling, I love Oregon.” Peter has been missing old friends from Wes and hopes to get to the next reunion; he still hangs out with Tony Green, who recently became a grandfather of a beautiful boy. 

Scott Donohue reported that Keith Gaby and his wife Ingrid Embree are empty-nesters, and so moved from Arlington, Virginia, to Oakland, California. They both rise early and work remotely with East Coast offices before that became a standard practice for many. “It’s been great to have them on the Left Coast but a bit hard to share adventures at the moment.”

Ayelet Waldman, Becky Mode and others on their team were tremendously successful as writers and producers of the TV show Unbelievable. The eight episodes were released in September 2019 on Netflix, and only a month later Netflix announced that the miniseries already had been streamed by over 32 million viewers.

Elizabeth Graver, a professor of English at Boston College, wants to “brag about some of my close friends from our class, who continue to awe me.” Sandy Newbury is director of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Shelter Medicine Program, an intense job that also somehow leaves her time to do circus aerial arts and white water kayaking. Patrick Symmes (who graduated in ’87 but started out with our class) continues to report on the front lines, most recently writing about the rise of authoritarianism in the United States. His newsletter has been helping many make sense of things. Ralph Savarese, a professor of English at Grinnell (and with whom she had a writers’ group in college), has published a wonderful poetry collection, Republican Fathers (Nine Mile Books) and a second collection called When This Is Over: Pandemic Poems (Ice Cube Press). Elizabeth is still writing fiction and teaching in the Boston College English Department, where there is a strong Wes presence: Tina Klein, Carlo Rotella, Suzanne Berne ’82, and Eric Weiskott ’09.

Also in academia, Kristin Bluemel is on sabbatical from (virtual) teaching at Monmouth University and working on various projects including a book proposal called An Ideal Modernity: Rural Britain, Women Artists, and the Twentieth-Century Wood Engraving Revival. “I specialize in eccentric subjects related to literature, book history, and children’s literature. My husband George Witte is still serving remotely as editor-in-chief of St. Martin’s Press. Will NYC ever recover, we wonder. In the meantime, books are one thing everyone can enjoy while social distancing so we hope people with Wesleyan educations keep reading.”

During the quarantine Bennett Schneider solo performed as Sister Unity for a marathon of 10 hours of storytelling live online to raise money for LifeGroupLA, an HIV/AIDS support charity. He watched Melinda Newman’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah live online and participated in a Zoom play reading produced by Renee Bucciarelli. Also in the play were Shawn Cuddy, James Hallett, Deirdra Finney Boylan, Steve Stern, Michael Steven Schulz, Marybeth Kilkelly, and others. Bennett continues to expand his horizons: “While sealed up at home I learned how to make porridge, congee, gruel, and chutney from scratch. Retirement planning has crept into the vocabulary. Nathan Gebert ’85 has been sending me real estate postings for Maine. There’s talk of a group getting land and buildings together for a Wes colony in Maine, assuming we all survive.” 

See you at the reunion events.

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1984 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Greetings, Classmates. A short round of updates for this season.

Susie Kang Sharpe was happy to connect with classmate, Beverly Hutt after 35 years! Susie is still enjoying her medical practice and painting as an artist. Her paintings are in numerous exhibits, on Facebook, and Instagram. She is thrilled to be invited to show her artwork at the International Contemporary Art Fair in early 2021. Her work is about bringing out beauty, healing and joy. Her website, to get a look at her work, is 

Susan Howard writes in with a wonderful life journey. Her work in social justice has included writing and reporting projects related to AIDS, as a producer/TV host in Honolulu and special projects producer in Baltimore in the mid-to-late 80s; seeking to better understand health inequities particularly among vulnerable populations globally by pursuing a master’s in public health and working as a global health practitioner in the 90s; endeavoring to solve problems through what we now call innovations for social impact as an entrepreneur and co-founder of a global health consulting firm from the mid-90s to the present. Now she is about to finish and defend her PhD dissertation in her third year as a professor at George Mason University.

Michael Bailit is working with a theatre and is quite busy with online productions.

We get an update from Karen Potischman Wise, who has added a “P” next to her graduation year, as her daughter has started at Wes, and is an empty nester until Thanksgiving. Karen is encouraged by everything Wes is doing to keep the kids safe and engaged, but wants her daughter to have the full on Wes experience. As she was hoping last issue, her son is at Colby, and her older daughter is teaching in Boston. Her work life as a freelance copy editor is still unchanged—aside from a few delayed photo shoots, the book publishing industry doesn’t appear to have been affected too dramatically by the pandemic.

Thanks to all who wrote in just to say hello. Stay safe out there!

Michael Steven Schultz |

CLASS OF 1983 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Hi everyone, not much to share this issue; not many classmates have responded. I wonder what all are up to. Perhaps it is pandemic fatigue and a wish to disconnect from computers. I know I have had enough Zoom meetings and Netflix to last a while. And though my cooking, baking, and bread making skills are greatly improved, I would so like to see a show, go to the movies, or simply hang with friends and family in person. All I can say is, “Ugh, enough already!” Fortunately, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. My new year’s wish is by the time this finds its way to your mailbox vaccines have become widely available and the country (and world) is on the mend. Here’s to hope!

On the work front: Mark Kushner is happy to report his daughter is a new onsite student at Wes, class of ’24, and hanging in there despite this weird year. After leading K-12 schools, both independent and charter, for the past 25 years, Mark is now co-leading the San Francisco Art Institute, a 150-year-old college whose past luminaries include Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Mark Rothko, Annie Liebovitz, Jerry Garcia, Kehinde Wiley, and many others. Give him a shout if you are in the Bay area.

Cheri Litton Weiss was ordained as a rabbi by the Academy of Jewish Religion. She is also an ordained cantor and founder of the San Diego Jewish Community Choir. In 2018 Cheri founded the San Diego Outreach Synagogue, an independent congregation. The mission is to offer accessible Judaism through prayer, music, education, conversation, community service, and friendship. 

On the social front: Karen Miller’s daughter has postponed her wedding not once but twice! Karen’s daughter and her fiancé decided to elope and got married on the Green at Brown University where they met. Karen recently helped Sue Stallone Kelly move, and caught up via Zoom with Wes crew Tammy Rosengarten in Australia, Gretchen Millspaugh Cooney in Pennsylvania, and Barb Bailey Beckitt in Colorado.

Karen Hunt Ellis had two close calls with this year’s Californian fires. The northern flank of the CZU Complex Fire came within seven miles of her house but firefighters were able to stop it in time. A few weeks later her husband was evacuated in a Black Hawk helicopter while backpacking in the Sierras. 

Stay safe, be well, and I wish everyone good health and many blessings in 2021. I hope to hear from more of you next time. 

Laurie Hills |

CLASS OF 1982 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

I’m still kind of in a glow about our Class Notes Live in June. So nice to see you all. Make sure you watch it if you haven’t or you missed it. We somehow have to turn to each other during what for most of us has been the difficult year of turning 60—hard enough on top of all else, pandemic and political. And if you are out here in California, like Laura Fraser and me, apocalyptic. 

Kathryn Benjamin agrees. “The Class Notes Live to celebrate our 60th birthdays was a great idea and I’m glad I joined in. Other than that, as is everyone, we’re hunkering down and getting through the pandemic. I put in an 8’x4’ raised garden bed this spring and have enjoyed fresh picked tomatoes, zucchinis and butternut squashes! Already planning what to plant next year.” I feel calmer already, Kathryn.

But still apocalyptic, too, for Lavinia Ross, who writes, “My area was placed on evacuation Level 1 status for a little over a week. The Holiday Farm fire to the south was up moving this way, and was the closest threat. I’ve been out here in rural western Oregon for almost 17 years now, and never had fire that close before, or smoke so thick and poisonous, a toxic brew of formerly living and non-living materials, including plastics, metal, construction materials, and chemicals. A fine layer of ash coated everything. We were lucky this time, we never had to evacuate, firefighters made some progress containing the blaze, and the rains finally came. It’s clear and sunny out here today, and the air is clear. Life doesn’t get much better than that.”

Even from the apocalypse, some sweet news from Rachael Adler, who happened to (literally) write to us through the haze of the fires: “Got married to a man I adore, whom I dated twice 28 years ago and finally “grew into”—a COVID-19 wedding . . . After decades as an acting coach, I am retiring the acting conservatory and theatre in Berkeley I founded years ago. Woke up this morning with a voice inside telling me that despite all this insanity going on around us that ‘everything’s going to be ok’.” Nice thoughts.

Some other 60th birthday notes: Jackie Roberts writes, “Rachel Hines and I met the first day on the top floor of Foss 10 and celebrated our 60th birthdays together on safari in Kruger National Park.” 

Mark Sirotta is reminiscing about Joe Barrett’s 60th in Chicago in Fall 2019, and the pandemic dashed plans for another get-together this year, but they reconnected during some virtual cocktail parties with Anthony Pahigian, John Brautigam, Bob Russo, Mike Levine, Tom Davis, Mike Greenstein, and Steve Davies ’83. “Reconnecting with old friends was a high point in a rough year.”

Various and sundry:

Jeannie Gagne’s mother died in June (at 94) and she held her memorial on Zoom, including live music. Jeannie, sorry for your loss (there’s a lot of that going around), but I’m sure it was beautiful.

Larry Seltzer is “Still working for The Conservation Fund. Focused right now on conserving large forests nationwide and buying land to prevent the Pebble Mine in Alaska. We had two of our three kids home for a while during the early days of the pandemic, but all are back on their own now. We are in line for an outdoor patio heater so we can continue to have outdoor dinners through the fall and into the winter.”

John Brautigam writes, “I’m living in Falmouth, Maine, driving distance to the cosmopolitan attractions of Portland and Boston, but also close enough to the ocean, mountains and forest of northern New England.”  His oldest son is working on a political campaign in Maine while his younger son is starting his sophomore year in college. “My legal practice focuses on elections and the mechanics of democracy, and it has been an eventful and challenging year work-wise. Overall, the awfulness of 2020 has not diminished the joys of family, friends, and community.”

Really, this is an up note from Patty Smith (who will always be P to me): “I’m teaching American Lit and creative writing remotely, via Zoom (I teach at a public high school for the arts in Petersburg, Virginia). So far, classes seem to be going ok . . . I spend a lot of time on Zoom­—including a Wesleyan-oriented book club with Stephanie Rosenfeld, Terry Cowdrey, and Laura Warren, when we met with Jan Eliasberg ’74, P’19 and discussed her terrific debut novel Hannah’s War.”

And even more up, with some next generation stuff from Ellen (Friedman) Bender and Sam Bender, who dropped off their daughter, Eliza ’24, at Wesleyan in late August. “Because of Wesleyan’s COVID-19 restrictions, we weren’t able to enter her dorm (Butt C), let alone her room, but that didn’t stop us from pointing out Sam’s freshman hall, the window of the room that Fred Pelzman lived in freshman year, or the Butterfield courtyard where we used to go to dance parties. Looking forward to the time when we can drive up to Middletown to take her out to brunch at one of the many restaurants that have opened up in recent years.”

We’re all looking forward to better times, Ellen. It’s really important, though, that we be present with the time we do have.

Laura Fraser |

Michael Ostacher |

CLASS OF 1981 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

This is Joanne with greetings from the Heartland during the time of COVID. Thankfully the 2020 election is over,  and vaccines are getting ready to roll out. It’s turned out to be quite a year, hasn’t it? These past months have served as a clarion call for the world. Individuals, families, communities and entire countries have experienced such a range of emotions in the battle against this virus. We continue to experience and read about extraordinary moments of human bravery, kindness, self-sacrifice, and empathy. We have been forced to slow down, ponder, reflect, and regroup. Until this is truly behind us, we can only continue to try to stay safe and help others weather this storm.

Delcy Ziac Fox writes that she and Miriam Stern Sturgis (retired) have been taking advantage of Zoom to do Israeli dancing together every week—fun! Delcy also reported dining with Jim Sullivan ’82 and his son Owen Sullivan ’19 for some very pleasant socially-distant meals on Cape Cod. Jim works at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Massachusetts; Delcy has been working remotely from the Cape.

Mike Trager is still a partner at Arnold & Porter in D.C., where he lives with his wife, Mariella. Mike reports that his parents (Phil ’56) are well and living in Connecticut. His “boys” are grown up and gainfully employed. Son Nick ’11 works in London but was told to remain in the United States when COVID hit. Son Alex works in NYC. Both of them returned to D.C. to telecommute. “We had a blessed three months with all of us working from our home and  having dinner together every night without fail. A true silver lining to all this madness!” Mike and Mariella joined the Biden for President team very early on and worked hard for the campaign.

“After seven months of work from home,” says Dave Lynch  (global economics correspondent at The Washington Post), “my wife Kathy and I take every chance we can get for a change of scenery.” This fall, they visited their youngest son Declan, a University of Virginia sophomore, and hiked in the nearby Shenandoah Valley. Their oldest son is living in Seattle, and their middle son is finishing up at the College of William & Mary. If you don’t already, follow Dave at The Washington Post or on Facebook to catch his insightful and thought-provoking articles.

In case you missed Brad Whitford in a riveting performance in season three of The Handmaid’s Tale, you can watch him and his West Wing colleagues for a reunion special airing on HBO Max, which benefitted When We All Vote. “We understand that some people don’t fully appreciate the benefit of unsolicited advice from actors. We do know that,” Brad said recently in a CNN interview, adding, “The risk of appearing obnoxious is too small a reason to stay quiet if we can get even one new voter to vote.” Right on, Brad!

I recently caught up via a Zoom cocktail call with Patty Smith ’82 and her “new” wife Cindy Warren from their home outside Richmond, Virginia. Although they have been together many years, they only officially tied the knot this past April. Heartfelt congratulations to them both! Patty and I raised our glasses and reminisced about our common Wes friends, our many experiences at Wesleyan, and our multitude of adventures (and misadventures!) in Paris. Patty continues to write, teach, partake in conferences and give readings—and ride her new Peloton bike, a 60th birthday present from Cindy.

A quick birthday text exchange this September with Deb Chapin revealed that she is now an official and enthusiastic resident of the Granite State (aka New Hampshire). That puts her a few hours closer to her daughter Thalia, a student at Montreal’s McGill University, as well as to other family members nearby. Telecommuting from the beauty of the NH mountains sure beats commuting in Boston traffic—and the skiing is right in your backyard!

As 2020 comes to a close, let us look forward to “the new normal” in a post-COVID world. In the meantime, continue to be wise and stay safe. 

And . . . don’t forget: 2021 is our 40th Reunion Year! Although the in-person event has been postponed (keep an eye out for updates from Wesleyan), the reunion committee is meeting virtually, brainstorming and planning some fun and exciting virtual events to kick off our reunion year. So be on the lookout for emails containing useful information and logistics on how to join in. If you have any ideas, feel free to share and I’ll forward to the committee. There is still hope for an in-person gathering at some point in the future. But in the meantime, it will be Zoom-land!

Happy holidays to you and yours, and best wishes for a peaceful, prosperous, and healthy New Year 2021!

David I. Block |

Joanne Godin Audretsch |

CLASS OF 1980 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Alan Jacobs wrote, “I ventured out of my COVID-19 cocoon in NYC to shoot a film in Marfa, Texas. Minimalist artist Donald Judd moved there in the 70’s and inadvertently created what is now an odd (and very Wesleyan mix) of artists, cattle ranchers, carpetbaggers, and random oddballs with an official slogan: ‘Small town, no hospital.’ Reconnected with our classmate Scott Karlin, who has not yet lost his Long Island accent even after multiple decades in Atlanta. Some things never change, y’all.”

Best to all from Ken Toumey: “Hello Classmates and Merry Christmas! I am a happy man, enjoying life. I have three children: two are married, one has two kids of her own. They are all  wonderful people who are positive contributors to society who I am grateful for every day. My wife Shari and I just celebrated our 12th anniversary. We both still live and work in New Jersey. I have been taking guitar lessons for the past three years—my six string therapy.”   Looking forward to the next part of the journey.”   


Demie Stathoplos wrote: “My husband, Dan Stoll, 21-year-old son Alex and I have been living in Newton, Massachusetts, and around the Boston area since 2010, after a six-year stint in Great Barrington, Masschusetts, where I was the health and healing director at Canyon Ranch in Lenox. The 2010 recession motivated a move back to the Boston area, where I was executive director of Pathways to Wellness, a nonprofit acupuncture and integrative health organization. Family health issues led to me resigning in 2015 to care for my aging parents.  I still take care of my mom’s financial and health issues, while spending the rest of my time as a climate activist. I speak about climate action locally to my Unitarian church community, to other faith communities and to community groups in my city.  I’ve also been coordinating the communication team for our Newton Climate Action plan and lead a Climate Task force at our church. I’ve kept in touch with Nancy Stier and Sharon Grady, and have been Facebook friends with Gigi Peeples, Pam Keon, Betsy Levine and Dana Felt. I’d love to hear from others—especially if you’re in Newton or nearby!

From John Singer: “Really enjoyed getting together with classmates through our virtual reunion events. One unanticipated benefit of meeting through Zoom and random assignment to breakout rooms was speaking with classmates who, realistically, I likely would not have spent as much time with had we been together in-person on campus. I also especially enjoyed working with the other members of the Gaiter Team who brought the gaiters to fruition. Perhaps as we eventually return to some type of new normal classmates can send in pictures of themselves wearing their gaiters in interesting local a la Douglas Cannon photos. After a quiet and healthy summer at home in Baltimore, we went to the Aspen area in late August for about three weeks to visit our son, Charlie, who works in finance and project management for the developer of the Snowmass base Village. In our time there we had summer the first week, winter the second week (4″ of snow), and moved to fall in the third week with the aspen tree leaves turning yellow. While my wife continued her law practice remotely and I taught my law courses online, it was a welcome change of scenery and provided opportunities for biking, hiking, swimming and other outdoor activities when not working. While we were out west, after two years in AmeriCorps (and a hurried evacuation from Guam due to COVID-19) our daughter, Amy, started working for FEMA at HQ as the executive assistant to the assistant administrator for field operations. With hurricanes and wildfires, she says it is an exciting time to be at FEMA and she feels she really is doing valuable public service. Though it’s not a term I typically use, Karen and I are truly blessed to have kids who are nice people, healthy (physically and mentally), and giving back to their communities in their own ways (Charlie is on the board of a not-for-profit focused on organ donation based in Aspen).  Stay healthy.”

Jane Polin, as a NYC-based philanthropic advisor, wrote in about her work on 12 case studies for “Scholarships for Change,” a new resource for donors:

Peter Scharf, president of The Sanskrit Library in India shared, “My wife and I took the opportunity of staying home to work to launch on-line courses in Sanskrit and the literature of India through the non-profit I started 18 years ago: The Sanskrit Library Twelve students have begun studying with us this fall semester in two courses.  Otherwise, I’ve been spending the year at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in Shimla with a fellowship to translate a work in Paninian linguistics. After December, I’ll teach again at the International Institute of Information Technology in Hyderabad where I taught before the fellowship began. We just bought a townhouse in Fairfield, Iowa this summer, unpacked my belongings from where they were in storage for the past four years, and now are ready to head back to India.  We plan to spend more time in the comfort of our own home when we get back here next spring.”

Jonathan Needle sent in his class notes confession and photo: “Hello to Wesleyan friends and classmates. I am in Houston enjoying taking pictures of nature subjects. Sometimes, it seems nature would like to take Houston back from civilization and development!  Hurricanes are not to my liking. I’ve been in touch all these years with John Emerich and of course with my fantastic brother Nat Needle ’76. I send John photos; he sends me art books in Russian (what a deal for me). John and Nat were best men at my wedding some years back. I am lucky to have two great kids, one in college and one in high school. I practice law in Texas, managing around the pandemic, but there hangs another tale. I have mixed feelings about getting senior discounts, but it’s nice to be a senior again. All my best wishes.” This species of lizard is taking over Houston at the ground level. They leap.”

Jay Borden says “I always loved dystopian fiction. Never really meant to live in it. We’re all safe, though. Granddaughter number three was born in May, she and numbers one and two are a joy to me in a dark era. I continue to work on my welding and metalworking skills as a custom steel bicycle frame builder (aka Roulez Cycles). Check it out on Instagram. Becoming a machinist teaches me patience, mindfulness, precision, and tolerance for my own errors. My machine shop is my refuge.” 

Our 40th reunion, scheduled for this May, has unfortunately been postponed again. Keep an eye out for news this coming spring. Fundraising for our reunion gift is happening all year long. For all gifts greater than $180, you will be thanked with a commemorative gaiter (while supplies last), and we hope to schedule some virtual events throughout the year. If you want more information or want to get involved, contact Mike Schramm at 

Jacquie Shanberge McKenna |