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Class Notes Editor
Hello classmates, Megan here to give you some updates. I hope you are all hanging in there and staying healthy. Although 2020 has been a weird and somber year, several classmates have shared reasons to celebrate.
Ian MacLeod announces the birth of his son, River MacLeod. The little guy was born on January 22, 2020 and Ian says, “He now has two teeth, loves to laugh at peek-a-boo, and is lots of fun!”
Jocelyn Bonadio recently found a silver lining to this otherwise awful year. She writes, “My first child, my son Arjun Amar Kondabolu, was born on August 28, 2020.”
Nasim Khoshkhou reports, “I continue to work remotely in data analytics for Synchrony. I’m living in Westchester County in New York and welcome video catch-ups or actual visitors when travel is considered safe again! I miss my Wes peeps and I continue to engage with the University by recruiting there for work and meeting with current students through the career center.” She adds that her son Cameron, age four, recently returned to preschool. Perhaps a Wesleyan alum in the making?
Jane Charles-Voltaire is a senior program officer with the International Association of Women Judges. She and her partner are currently living in Madrid, Spain.
Finally, Alex Magnin wants to let classmates know that he has moved to Los Angeles!
Wishing you a happy fall and winter. Here’s hoping for a brighter 2021!
Megan Harrington | email@example.com
Victoria Belyavsky Pinsky | firstname.lastname@example.org
For this edition, I’m changing it up by placing births first! Steven Wengrovitz and his husband Dan welcomed their daughter, Elise Lucca Wengrovitz-Freeman, to the world on July 20, 2020. They can’t wait to show her around campus someday soon!
Please be sure to pick up Drew Berkowitz’s first book Framing School Violence and Bullying in Young Adult Manga: Fictional Perspectives on a Pedagogical Problem, released in November 2020 via Palgrave Macmillan. This title analyzes the ways in which young adult Japanese manga has influenced patterns of violence and
bullying in K–12 schools.
Kyle Gardner finished his PhD in South Asian history at the University of Chicago in 2018 and moved to D.C. to work for a consulting firm. Keep an eye out for his forthcoming book, The Frontier Complex: Geopolitics and the Making of the India–China Border, 1846–1962, which will be available in January 2021 via Cambridge University Press.
Amanda Thieroff is single and childless but she does not live with her parents (writer’s note: huge congratulations on that end)! Her small vegan ice cream company Fiddlehead Creamery, based out of Port Townsend, Washington, is weathering the COVID-19 storm and she is happy to be providing a small amount of joy in these wild times. She also adopted the most wonderful puppy in the world: Finlay. When she and Finlay are not hiking in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, they enjoy growing and cooking food, and trying to stay positive through the power of human connection.
Be sure to add the letters “M.D.” after Stephanie Diana Garcia’s name. Diana is happily thriving in Los Angeles and works as a family medicine resident at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. She recently had her research published in a prestigious journal.
Also on the West Coast is Alix Sleight, who just survived a wild pandemic cross-country move with her family. She started a new job as an associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she’ll be developing a new health behavior counseling program for underserved cancer survivors. She’s living in Malibu now and looking forward to reconnecting with all her old Wesleyan friends in SoCal.
Natalie Finegood Goldberg is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice in Beverly Hills, California. While she has been an AASECT certified sex therapist since 2015, she’s now also an AASECT certified sex therapy supervisor. Although the move to online counseling was daunting, her practice has been running smoothly.
The U.S. Department of State announced the selection of Juan Sebastian Moreno for a virtual fellowship engaging with English language learners online in Panama at Education USA. Moreno is among the first to be selected for the Virtual English Language Fellow Program, a new program created for the 2020–2021 academic year.
Hayley Stokar relocated to Washington, D.C. with her husband and two-year-old daughter to join the Social Work Department faculty at Gallaudet University.
Maggie Elliott Martin moved to Nashville this summer with her husband for his job at Vanderbilt. Post-pandemic, they’re looking forward to exploring the city and spending some time with Jessie Morris, Brian Adams ’04, and Brent Taylor ’07.
Pia Silva has launched her podcast Show Your Business Who’s Boss. The podcast seeks to educate service business owners and consultants about what it really takes to be the boss of their businesses, instead of at the mercy of clients. She also recently did a TEDx talk titled “Taking Leaps Is The Only Way To Bank True Confidence.”
And here’s a quick mention of a Wesleyan alum abroad. Smith Louis moved to Berlin, Germany in February 2020, where he works as a product manager at a tech company in the content management space.
And now I’ll be stepping into the third person role. Calvin Cato has remained in high spirits by keeping in touch with friends Sophie Karp, Mariana Brewer, Gabrielle Tynes-Labonte, and Alana Liskov (who recently completed her counseling psychology doctoral program at the University of Denver). Beginning in September 2020, he is currently co-hosting and producing an outdoor, socially-distant comedy and music variety show in the northwest end of Prospect Park called Disco Tree Variety Show. If you live in NYC and can travel safely and own a picnic blanket, feel free to come by! The show accepts donations where proceeds have gone to support mental health charities as well as BIPOC and LGBTQ organizations.
Finally, Fazal Yameen is currently the vice president of Product at Stash, a financial technology and financial services start-up in NYC. He sends his best regards and hopes that everyone is all well, healthy, safe, and staying close to their loved ones, whether in person or virtually.
Calvin Cato | email@example.com
Matt Sienkiewicz is an associate professor and chair of the Communication Department at Boston College. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife, Carrie Benedon, his son Leon (four), his daughter Dottie (one), and his mother Faye.
James Burke and his partner Hilary welcomed their third son, Charlie, in May of this year. Older brothers Monroe and George appear to have accepted the newcomer. James runs the Client Success team of a (former) fintech start-up, acquired by Nasdaq earlier this year shortly before the world fell to pieces.
Ben Rhatigan still lives in Barcelona and is heading up a brand strategy agency, and finally got married to his Spanish husband.
Cara Herbitter recently completed a PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. They started a postdoctoral research/clinical fellowship at VA Boston Healthcare System focused on the intersection of sexual and gender minority stress, trauma, and substance use. Cara lives in Jamaica Plain with their wife, Xiomara Lorenzo ’05, who is a director on the digital strategy team at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. Cara and Xiomara remain grateful for connections to other Wes alum near and far—since everyone is just a Zoom call away.
The third volume of Tejas Desai’s international crime trilogy The Brotherhood Chronicle: The Dance Towards Death, was published on September 16, 2020 and became a #1 Amazon Bestseller on its
opening day. His short story collection Good Americans (2013) was an Award Finalist in the 2020 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Content in the Fiction-Urban category and has experienced revived interest due to the political situation. During the toughest months of the pandemic in NYC, he was privy to many of its harsh realities since his mother is an essential worker at Elmhurst Hospital Center, the worst hit hospital in Queens. He hopes to use this and other experiences, observations and anecdotes while writing the anthology sequel to Good Americans (The Human Tragedy, Vol. 1), tentatively titled Bad Americans.
Mayuran Tiruchelvam was appointed the George and Judy Marcus Endowed Chair in Social Justice Fiction Filmmaking at San Francisco State University. He made the cross-country move in August. In addition to teaching, he supports grassroots social justice movements, with an emphasis on stopping the growth of armed white supremacist groups.
Amy Tannenbaum Gottlieb | firstname.lastname@example.org
Greetings. I write from the past (at least a few months prior to when you are reading this). With the speed of news these days, there is something a little comforting and quaint to me about sitting down to write these notes. We received fewer messages this time, considering, well, this time. My heart is with all of you experiencing hardship and pain, whether related to the pandemic or this enduring crisis of racism and racist violence. While I don’t have the lived experience or wisdom to speak too meaningfully to either, I’ll recommend the Harvard Implicit Bias tests for those of us who are white and haven’t already checked them out: implicit.harvard.edu.
Thank you to those who were able to write in and/or modestly agreed to let me share their news.
Lerner/Carolrhoda has bought Emily Barth Isler’s debut middle-grade novel, After/Math. When 12-year-old math whiz Lucy moves to a town that experienced a devastating school shooting four years ago, she must navigate her classmates’ lingering traumas as well as her own grief over a very different family tragedy. Publication is scheduled for spring 2021; Bradford Literary Agency handled the deal for world rights.
Emily says, “I will be doing a post-pandemic book tour and hope to see as many Wes alums as I can in the various cities I visit. I will also be doing school visits (and school Zooms!) so if any librarians or middle school teachers out there are looking for authors to visit classrooms, please be in touch!”
Michael Homolka continues to teach grammar and critical writing at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity in NYC. On the creative front, some of his recent poems have appeared in The Antioch Review, Colorado Review, and Prairie Schooner. “Most importantly, my wife and I have welcomed into the world our beautiful son, Alejandro, who laughs often at our inanity and already loves to play guitar.”
Andrea Donnelly has good news: “After an over 20-year study of myriad energy healing modalities, herbs, flower remedies, and meditation, I officially launched my healing arts business, We Are Here 2 Remember, this summer. I specialize in helping people navigate change and transition, and managing the complexities of modern life. I offer personalized individual sessions, coaching, ceremonies and distance healing. I have always been intellectually and spiritually curious, and deeply committed to the marriage and integration of the two in my own life. I am beyond happy to offer what I’ve learned to others. Feel free to contact me at email@example.com or wearehere2remember.com to book a session or find out more information!”
Mary Robertson is continuing her work as an executive producer with the New York Times Presents, and raising Malcolm (five) and Maxine (almost two). I’m always excited and never surprised to hear about Mary’s achievements, which include multiple Emmys for her team this year. The episodes, which include a searing piece on the killing of Breonna Taylor, are streaming.
Woody Fu will be performing in the New York ABC Discovers Talent Showcase.
Don Kim moved to Los Angeles and hopes there will be in-person alumni events soon!
I (Mara) have a new position as acting director of parole advocacy for my public defender agency. The job has ballooned since COVID-19 compelled the courts to consider more that can be done to assist prisoners, who have no chance of social distancing or proper PPE and very high levels of risk due to age and health conditions. While working from home with a little kid present can feel really hard, the stories I’ve heard from incarcerated parents remind me to hug my kid tight and appreciate the sheer amount of times I get to hear that little voice say “Mama” per day. Yesterday he managed to record the word onto his light saber toy, and hearing it distorted, sped up and slowed down as he slayed the air, seemed like a fitting tribute to all of us working caregivers during this surreal time.
Mara Voukydis | firstname.lastname@example.org
Aryn Sperando | email@example.com
Class of ’08—write to us and let us know how you’re doing!
Lynn Favin was accepted into eight different acting MFA programs all over America and the UK (including two full scholarships and stipend offers). She is currently in England, completing her MFA in professional acting with the Bristol Old Vic in England. She has renewed her contract with William Morris Endeavor and recently played Queen Margaret in Henry VI Part II on YouTube’s Shakespeare live stream The Show Must Go Online. For more acting credits and upcoming projects, visit lynnfavin.com.
Lyz Nardo writes, “Greetings from Long Island City…for now! We welcomed our second daughter, Sofia, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York. After social distancing for eight weeks in New York with my husband, my mother, a 1-year-old, a newborn, a cat, and a half-dozen Alexa devices, we are starting to pack up and countdown to our move to Livingston, N.J. Sadly, I will be far less likely to run into any Wes alumni on the streets of Livingston, but look forward to visits once social distancing relaxes a bit!”
Emily Palmer started a new job as a clinical director of palliative care at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston last month and is fully deployed on COVID response. She postponed a planned summer wedding to 2021, but will still be getting legally married to her love, Daniel Schultz, in a tiny backyard wedding in July. She enjoys growing food in her community garden in Jamaica Plain and sending love and strength to the whole WesFam.
Benjamin Rowland writes, “In January I joined a startup, Hio, as head of partnerships. We provide virtual event solutions to small meetups and large conferences. Since COVID, all event organizers are transitioning to virtual, so it’s been fascinating to watch this new digital world evolve so fast.”
Brighid Gannon recently opened an online mental health service called Lavender to help increase New Yorkers’ access to psychiatric services remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. She is a psychiatric nurse practitioner, and in addition to having recently launched Lavender, she owns a business providing mental health services to dozens of NY nursing homes, employing 12 other psychiatric nurse practitioners. Go to joinlavender.com for more information.
Alicia Collen Zeidan | firstname.lastname@example.org