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 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

First: Our 35th Reunion is in 2021, so we will have virtual celebrations this winter and spring, and (if all goes well) an in-person celebration in Middletown in late May. Please watch your email or our Facebook page for updates. If you haven’t been receiving emails from Wes, please let me know.

Earlier this year, many of us had children who were graduating from college or high school. Sue Bidwell’s comments about a senior week and virtual commencement were true for many of us. She said replicating senior week at home was a bit of a challenge, but “on the positive side, family members from around the country were able to participate virtually. Whereas even if there were no pandemic, they would have been unable to attend in person, so it was nice to be inclusive of the whole family—and best of all, we could all attend commencement in our PJs!”

Erika Levy wrote from NYC, where she’s an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Teachers College, Columbia University. Erika and her colleagues recently received a $1.25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a program fostering collaboration between speech-language pathologists and teachers of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. Erica is in regular contact with Craig Hetzer and Liza Baron.

Also, in New York, Jeff Liss has been spending this pandemic time cleaning and organizing his basement and garage. “In other news, I spent the last year losing 75 pounds and can now fit into the Wesleyan sweatshirt I bought in December 1981 the weekend after I was accepted! In December, I joined the Board of Trustees for a small nonprofit that has been making headlines recently as a result of all of the COVID-19 deaths in New York City—The Hart Island Project. You can learn all about it at”

Dennis Carboni wrote a long email; some extracts are below. Dennis has become a certified ice technician, meaning he operates and maintains a Zamboni ice resurfacer. “I use my engineering skills and art skills every year when we install the ice, layout, and then paint all the hockey markings. It’s hard to describe how much fun, joy, and peace I get out of physically working on the ice.” He’s in regular contact with David Rose and Hal Phillips; in fact, this spring, they’ve been doing a video call every Saturday night. Carboni’s son and daughter are both in their mid-20s and good in their post-college lives. Although Dennis never smoked or chewed tobacco, in recent years his right upper lung lobe and one-eighth of his tongue were removed because of two separate cancer diagnoses, but “I’ve been fine ever since.”

My inbox also had notes from, among others, Elena Scharnoff (“I have my own consulting business, and work continues to flow in”), Charlie Berthoud (a pastor for a Presbyterian congregation in Madison), Steve Price (one of many in our five-year club—those who started Wes in 1981 and graduated with us), Melany Kahn (near Keene, N.H., and very active in progressive politics), Shawn Cuddy (who referred to her husband, James Hallett), and Ann O’Hanlon (we are all fighting the passage of time, eh?), and Ester Amy Fischer (who like many of us, was wondering about the next chapter in her life).

I also acknowledge the new fellowship among many of 50-or-so classmates who participated in one or more of our video conferences earlier this year. It was a great way to learn about the interesting things that our class members are doing with their lives (and look into their private lives, as we saw their backyards and living rooms). The larger gatherings had about two dozen classmates, with some living only 20 miles off campus and some joining us from hundreds or thousands of miles away (the distance winners were Melbourne and the South Pole—each being about 10,000 miles from Middletown).

Our three class agents—John Gannon, David Hill, and Michael Levin—and I look forward to seeing you online or in-person in the coming months. If you would like to volunteer a few hours in the coming months to help support the university or help make the Reunion program a success, please let me know.

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

Mike Sealander wrote me, saying, “Recently, I have decided to make another go at learning Japanese. I studied at Wesleyan, went to Japan, made progress, and then left it alone. I’m intent on getting my groove back. If there are fellow alumni who would like to chat in Japanese, I’m game.”

Ben Schneider says, “I’m in my sixth year of training LGBTQ activists across North America for The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. May go to France in June for the SPI World Conclave. Still spending time with Melinda Newman, Cobina Gillitt ’87, Lisa Rosenblatt ’85, Julia Barclay-Morton, Dan Kolbert ’85, and others. Was thrilled to dine with Brad O’Neill in the fall. Miss Conor McTeague powerfully. Still occasionally guest lecturing at universities on gender activism and performance.” You can find Ben’s video storytelling on YouTube under Sister Unity.

Ellen Santistevan has joined the hybrid vehicle-owner’s club. “I feel somewhat pretentious, but I do hope that collective individual action will do a little bit to help things along. I don’t know for sure that it will, though, without reining in the big polluters. I also worry terribly about the poisonous battery materials and the fact that it feels like the entire vehicle is made of plastic. I hope it’s recycled plastic, at least! What’s making me happy these days are still being outdoors, being with my family, and playing with my pets. Sometimes I feel tired of work and taking care of people, but having worked for myself for so many years, I doubt whether I could fit into the 9-5 anymore. My two sons also have a really hard time fitting into that rut, and I kind of worry about their futures. My daughters seem to have found their ways to get through the world, at least. I feel like I have no real advice that I can give anymore, as the economy is so different now than it was for us. School is not the guarantee of a living wage. Life seems to hinge on luck and heritage more than anything else.”

Speaking of jobs, Cathy Cotins has changed jobs: “After more than a decade helping lead executive education and enterprise learning at Harvard Business School, I left last spring to join the executive team of a boutique leadership development firm. I love the work we do to transform organizations by helping their top leaders engage in deep personal transformation bringing empathy, compassion, and vulnerability forward and integrating head and heart intelligence. I’m grateful and so happy I found a community of teachers, leaders, and an expanding number of top global companies who value this work. I haven’t been this happy at work for a very long time. Our CEO and founder is a Wes graduate (’85), which was a fun topic of discussion the first time we met before either of us was considering I might join to help lead their growth. Go, Wes!”

And Rick Koffman is partner at Cohen Milstein in DC and co-chair of their antitrust practice group, where he litigates antitrust cases on behalf of the victims of corporations engaged in price-fixing, market monopolization, and other unlawful conduct. (According to the firm’s website, he was co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the largest price-fixing verdict in U.S. history and the largest jury verdict of 2013.) He says, “More interestingly, my son Dustin, who is 21, just published his first book of poetry, Eating Broccoli on the Moon (available at

Andy Layden celebrated 21 years of teaching astronomy at Bowling Green State University (in Ohio, near Toledo) by becoming chair of his Physics & Astronomy Department. In 10 years, he hopes to be retired, living in Puerto Rico (winter) and Canada (summer) and sharing his love of the night sky with anyone who will listen.

Dana Walcott and Stephen Porter ’87 are organizing a fundraiser to digitize audio cassettes of Wesleyan student music so people can listen to it online. The audio tapes are in a special collections at the Olin Library right now. If you’re interested in learning more or donating to the cause, go to

Throw back poster

Lastly, George Justice has started a higher education consulting firm with Carolyn Dever of Dartmouth College. Dever Justice, LLC leads workshops for faculty development focused on faculty leadership in research, teaching, and service. George and Carolyn write a monthly column for Inside Higher Ed and are working on a book together, Beyond the Dark Side.

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2019 | ISSUE 2

It’s always a pleasure to share news from classmates, and I hope you’re enjoying the new look of the alumni magazine. Now that my kids are older, I’m now getting alumni magazines from several institutions and I feel that the Wes one is the best.

The last issue got Kristin Bluemel to write in: “Having seen my friend Monica Bose’s profile, I am inspired to write you before I lose momentum.” She said that in May she celebrated her 25th year as a professor of English at Monmouth University in New Jersey, where she now holds the Wayne D. McMurray Endowed Chair in the Humanities.

We also heard from another in academia: Sarah Elkind is a professor of history at San Diego State University and was elected vice president (president-elect) of the American Society for Environmental History. Sarah has been teaching environmental, political, urban, and public history, and runs SDSU’s public history internship program. In the area of environmental policy, one of her interests is how influential groups secure and exercise their power and why Americans expand or constrain government services. Sounds timely to me.

Here in Massachusetts, Jennifer Steel works in Newton, where she’s the senior environmental planner for the city. She is responsible for staffing the Conservation Commission and implementing the Wetlands Protection Act, managing Newton’s conservation land, and engaging the public on issues of land stewardship and helping shape large-scale developments, transportation projects, stormwater projects, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements.

Risa Shames is living in Newton, and she wrote a career progression saying, “After a 20-year career in health care project management, I have transitioned to nonprofit consulting, helping organizations tell their story, raise funds, and advance their mission. I have also joined the board of my local food pantry and my synagogue.” She survived and enjoyed her first year as an empty nester, or “as I prefer to be called, a free bird.” Her daughter graduated from Tufts in the spring, and this fall, her son will be in his second year at Brown.

Further south, in Mount Kisco, N.Y., Doug Polaner is “super excited.” His son Mason will be at Wesleyan starting in the fall. “Other than that, still selling wine in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania through a wine import company, Polaner Selections, that I run with my wife. Celebrating our 20th anniversary in business this year. If you live in these states and like drinking wine, look for our back label and keep popping those corks!”

Ellen Santistevan shared some news from out west. “One of my kids just graduated with his AAS in welding technology. Another one was awarded a research prize in art history. One is a successful property manager and the last one is finding himself in Phoenix. We are definitely in that time of life when the offspring are taking charge of their lives.” She spent much of last year on a project that many of us are facing: helping parents move into a senior living community, and then, along with siblings, preparing the old home for sale. “That was wrenching and draining.”

My sympathies to all who are going through difficult transitions. Several studies have suggested that the early and mid-50s can be a particularly hard time in a person’s life. Don’t be afraid to call old friends and ask if they would be willing to let you cry on their shoulders. But do ask permission first, as your old friend may be going through tough times too.

With warm regards,

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2019 | ISSUE 1

Remember the on-campus music scene in the 1980s? The Olin Library Archives has a unique collection of student music performances. Seventy-nine audiocassettes recorded by Dana Walcott and Stephen Porter ’87 during our time at Wes. The library is willing to digitize the collection and make it available on the Internet. Some financial donations from members of our class (or other classes) could move this project toward the head of the line. To make a contribution, call the Alumni Office (860/685-2200) and specify that your donation is to support this project. Get a link to the collection here.

From the East Coast, Virginia “Ginger” Murphy writes: “An auspicious series of events has led me to my new job working as a constituent services advisor for our newly-elected Pennsylvania Rep. Melissa Shusterman. Very excited to be participating in the wave of newly elected leadership our voters sent to Harrisburg this past November. Not to mention more female leadership that ever now in our state government!” The district is about 30 miles from Philadelphia and includes the Valley Forge National Historic Park.

Also on the East Coast, a story from New Jersey that it’s never too late to exercise. Emily Zaslow Hourihan is now an Ironman (Ironwoman?): “I completed my first full Ironman in Cozumel, Mexico, last November; a 2.4-mile ocean swim, a 112-mile bike race, and a marathon for dessert. My time: 14:08. Perfect day in paradise. Can’t wait for the next one.”

And from Los Angeles, Brian Pass left the big, safe law firm at the end of the year (on his 55th birthday!) and hung out his own shingle ( “I’m enjoying newfound freedom to continue my practice (commercial transactions in tech and new media) on a more personal level that’s more flexible and more efficient for my clients and more exciting for me.”

So, what’s up in your life? Share with me or reach out to classmates you haven’t talked to for a while (or ones you don’t really know at all—although I never knew him on campus, I’m having a beer with George Justice in a few weeks because I’ll be in his hometown).

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2018 | ISSUE 3

A long note from Hal Ginsberg: “Many thanks to Sandy Goldstein for organizing a Delta Tau Delta reunion in downtown Manhattan. A cross-section of mid-to-late-80s classes were there: Sandy and me, Rick Davidman ’84, Soren Pfeffer ’85, Steve Shackman ’87, Jim Freeman ’87, Bill Houston ’87, Ira Skolnik ’87, Dan Levy ’88, Scott Ades ’88, David Morse ’88, Ed Thorndike ’89, and Mike Marciello ’89.

“Atlantic seaboard Delts from Montpelier and Boston all the way to Palm Beach traveled by plane, bus, train, car, subway, and our own two feet to share memories and catch up on a Friday night. Some hadn’t seen others in well over 30 years. We started with drinks at a Union Square watering hole then proceeded to a nearby Italian restaurant where a multicourse repast was supplemented by numerous bottles of Tuscany’s (near) finest. Not wanting to end the evening, we moved on for a nightcap. Steve graciously hosted a lovely brunch the next day at his apartment. It was a great weekend!”

Hal was struck by the varied professions that we entered over the years. “Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of us went into finance. Others became doctors, lawyers, and business consultants. But one of us is a wine merchant, another is a real estate agent who doubles as a burrito shop owner, a third was an art dealer, a fourth a religious studies professor. I am now in my third and fourth acts. After practicing law then operating a radio station, I have been writing freelance and am acting as co-chair for the progressive group Our Revolution in Montgomery County, Md.”

Sally Spener writes, “In February, my husband and running partner, Sergio, and I completed our first marathon after taking up distance running in 2017 with the Jeff Galloway ’67 training group in El Paso, Texas. By press time, we will have completed the Ciudad Juarez Marathon as well. We enjoy weekend training runs along the Rio Grande.”

Hazlyn Fortune lives in Oakland and is an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission. “I’ve been at the Commission for over 18 years on a variety of energy and telecommunications issues. I’ve been a commissioner advisor and supervised a staff of nine implementing statewide energy efficiency programs. I love to garden, travel, dance, and cook, and look forward to hearing about everyone else in class notes update.” 

Beth Kaufman and Mark Miller ’87 shipped their daughter off to her last year of college, packed up their life, sold the Yonkers house, and moved to Harlem. “It’s a year of transition and a new chapter. The move puts us closer to friends and family. It also puts us closer to Mark’s new board game café, Hex & Co., on the Upper West Side. I got my certificate to teach English as a second language and I’m aiming to find work near our new home. Finally, after deciding to put our music on the back burner for a bit, I’ll be taking my band down to Jamaica for one final show in late October.”

John Ephron’s younger son, Sam ’22, just started as a freshman at Wes, happily ensconced in Butterfield C. John says it was nice to stroll the campus, and he’s looking forward to getting back more often.

Jaclyn Brilliant’s daughter, Josephine ’18, graduated from Wesleyan in May. “It was a ton of fun for us to be back on campus for the celebration. My husband, Anthony Jenks ’85, and I got to briefly catch up with Ann O’Hanlon during a trip to D.C. over Labor Day—drinks, HQ online trivia game, and nostalgia prevailed. I like to think the spirit of Jinny Kim was with us.”

Jim Clark: “I’m running the World Technology Network, a global association of the most innovative people in sci-tech—helping our 1,500 elected fellows know about each other’s innovations, and convening conferences with the U.N. and others on such topics as renewable energy, the future of work, and the governance of A.I.

“In addition to consulting, I’m also involved in political work, especially over the past two Trump years. Divorced 10 years, with two still-keeping-me-busy daughters (now 19 and 23), I see a lot of movies, still dance at festivals, write/perform poetry, take photos, hang out with my BFF since Wes days, Peter Benson, and marvel at the speed of time.”

Andy Clibanoff and his wife, Denise, are thrilled that their children (Callie ’19 and Leo ’22) are at Wes. Both kids experienced “the Butts” just as Andy did when he became good friends with Tanya Kalischer ’85 and Chris Coggins ’85, whose son, Noah Kalischer-Coggins ’22, is also living there. Andy is active in Wesleyan’s Philadelphia area regional alumni group and planned a happy hour and concert by the Wes alumni duo, The Overcoats. He and Denise hosted the Philadelphia Summer Sendoff. Nearly 75 students and family members attended in August. Professionally, Andy is an organizational and leadership development coach serving the sports and entertainment, technology, health care, and entrepreneurial environments. 

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2018 | ISSUE 2

We have fewer submissions than usual for this issue, so as class secretary, I am using the extra space to mention our cohort of class agents. John Gannon, David Hill, Michael Levin, and John McIntyre were in touch asking if I might put the word out that they’d welcome some help connecting with and contacting fellow members of our class. Perhaps some female members of our class might wish to help diversify the volunteer leadership! Please e-mail me if you’d like more information.

Here are some notes from several classmates: Down in D.C., Scott Michaud is the senior speechwriter for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. He has a 5-year-old daughter (Class of 2032!) and another little girl due in July. He is still playing ultimate, still seeing other members of Nietzsch Factor at ultimate tournaments, and still playing summer league ultimate on the D.C. Wesleyan alumni team. He says, “Best wishes to all my Class of 1986 classmates and to the Class of 2018!”

Lisa Porter is living in Berkeley, Calif., where she is the head of voice and dialects at the American Conservatory Theatre and a lecturer at UC Berkeley. “I act professionally and just finished productions of two very successful new plays—Eureka Day by Jonathan Spector at the Aurora Theatre and The Eva Trilogy by Barbara Hammond at the Magic Theatre. My daughter, Maggie, will start at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in the fall. I also am the lead artist in a participatory Shakespeare theme camp at Burning Man. I keep in close touch with Melinda Newman and Shawn Cuddy.”

Monica Jahan Bose is busy with art and advocacy work around gender issues and climate change. She is working on a long-term feminist project called Storytelling with Saris and had a solo show, Weather the Storm. She is collaborating with homeless women in D.C., One Billion Rising in Miami, and women from her ancestral island village in Bangladesh, making saris about climate change and doing elaborate outdoor performance art actions. On a trip to Athens, she hopes to reconnect with Nada Bahu Pentaris. She wrote, “I’m so happy that my spouse (Michael S. Bennett ’87) will join me in Athens for a week so that we can relive our visit there in our 20s! Our older daughter, Tuli (“paintbrush” in Bangla), attends UC Berkeley and loves it. She is active with the Cal Dems and has started the Bangali Student Association. Our younger daughter, Koli (“flower bud”), is finishing eighth grade at a Spanish-English bilingual public school.”

Peter Crivelli is on the board of the Serviam Girls Academy. Based in Delaware, where he lives, Serviam is tuition-free, independent Catholic middle school in the Ursuline tradition for young women of all faiths from low-income families. The school has been very helpful in preparing the young girls for success in high school and beyond.

The film made by Ralph Savarese’s son won a Peabody Award. According to the jurors, the film is “a bold step forward in inclusive filmmaking that allows David James Savarese, a nonspeaking young man with autism, to tell his own story, focusing on accomplishment and possibility, not limits and barriers.” One of nine winners in the category of documentary films, Deej is the story of his journey. Last year he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College.

Belinda Hanson, founding partner of Hanson Crawford Crum Family Law Group based in Silicon Valley, has opened a second office in San Francisco. Her firm is celebrating their 20th year in business.

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2018 | ISSUE 1

Many thanks to the classmates who respond to my requests for updates for inclusion in the magazine (and online). Last year, 81 classmates were mentioned in our column, and this issue includes six reports from classmates who didn’t write last year. If you haven’t seen recent news from your friends, please ask them to submit something for the next issue or to post it on our Facebook group.

Marsha Cohen recently celebrated her 20th year in her dream job as executive director of The Homeless Advocacy Project (HAP) in Philadelphia. HAP is a legal services agency annually assisting over 3,000 homeless individuals and families, youth aging out of foster care, and homeless veterans with their civil legal needs. On the personal front, she’s celebrating 21 years with husband Peter; and raising two boys, Max (17) and Will (15). “I continue to enjoy regular visits with my dearest friends from Wesleyan: Vicki Strauss Kennedy ’87, Margaret Hagar, and Rebecca McLeod-Barnett.”

For Mike Sealander, his work life has been the same for the last 17 years. “My wife Robyn and I have a small architecture firm in Ellsworth, Maine. Our work is largely in the education sector for area colleges and public schools. We do a fair share of science-related work, including a marine research and flowing seawater facility in Beals that is now under construction.”

Hunter Silides has moved toGreensboro, N.C., where she has been called to be chaplain for the Canterbury School. Canterbury is an Episcopal PreK-8 school on 37 wooded acres. “It’s my dream job. I took a risk this year and switched coasts to return to my first love, being an Episcopal school chaplain (I should say my first love as a priest!). Moving cross country with a husband and four kids is *hard* but worth it. Our daughters, Gracie and Hope, are both freshmen at historic Grimsley High School. Our eldest son, Stephen, is a freshman in the Flagship Chinese Program at San Francisco State and heads off to Taiwan in a few months. Our second son, David, will graduate from Claremont High in Claremont, Calif., in June and plans to go home to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks next fall. My husband of 20 years, George, can finally move here to Greensboro! Thanks be to God! This long-distance thing is not for me. I’m so grateful to be doing work I love, and to be supported by my wonderful family after all those years on the mommy track! I’ve enjoyed seeing Arthur Haubenstock ’84 and Judith Hill-Weld. I will miss visiting Bennett Schneider in LA. My kids absolutely adore him and I haven’t found anyone quite as colorful here in the ‘shallow south.’ Y’all come visit us, now!”

Alex de Gramont: “As an international arbitration lawyer, I travel constantly. In every region of the world I visit, even the most conservative people I meet are stunned by what is happening in the United States. I don’t know which is more difficult: trying to explain it while abroad, or having to face it when I return. The best (and only) escape, I suppose, is family. Our 17-year-old, Nicolas, is going to Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., to study marine biology. Our 10-year old, Gabriel, is in fourth grade and wants to be an ‘animal scientist.’”

Margret Hagar:“I love my job as general counsel for Nobel Learning Communities, not least because I never know which challenge each day will bring. Erik and I are now empty nesters which is partly liberating but mostly strange. (We have two daughters; younger is a frosh now. Could not persuade either of them to apply to Wes, sadly.) Also experiencing déja vubecause our 21-year-old daughter is now spending junior year spring semester in Paris as I did. Revives vivid memories not just of the amazing time I spent there but the bonds formed in the Wes Paris program with two of the dearest friends anyone could ever have.”

Ethan Knowlden had the opportunity in July of last year to take his wife to see Wesleyan for the first time. “As we stood at the top of Foss Hill she commented on how small Wes looked. Of course, she’s a University of California, Davis grad where there are 35,000 students! I had a change of jobs in 2017, twice in fact. I started and ended the year at Medicines360, a San Francisco-based nonprofit pharmaceutical company whose mission is to expand access to medicines for women regardless of their socioeconomic status, insurance coverage, or geographic location. I head the legal and compliance functions there. But for five months I served as general counsel for Accela, Inc., a cloud-based software solutions provider, leading them through their acquisition by a private equity fund. I have to admit I prefer working for a mission-driven organization! Finally, we had the pleasure of having Kevin Freund visit us here California. And we enjoyed seeing Kevin’s parents while vacationing in Scottsdale, Az.”

Sam Connor: “During a spate of creative activity in the fall I finally launched some personal music projects that I have been writing and recording with friends and professional musicians over the years. Albums:Togo Songbook, Made in Burma, and several singles are finally up and available for free on Spotify and elsewhere. I credit Wes with promoting enduring creativity and meeting superb musicians who crushed it in the studio: Banning Eyre ’79, Ralph Gasparello ’84, Eric Rosenthal ’87, Simon Connor ’87, Dirck Westervelt ’82, and master drummer Kwaku Obeng Akoi ’14, and others all represented on the Togos Songbook, as well as singles “Allez Au Marche” and “Lost Man.“

Emily Cowan reports on her singing: “I’ve been enjoying writing songs for friends. Highlights: my sister’s wedding toast (did you know that the Yiddish word nachissrhymes with office?) followed by fifth and 10th anniversary songs to the tune of “Hello Muddah Hello Faddah,” a Haman song for a Billy Joel Purim spiel (“Only the Jews Get Hung”), a Bernie Sanders song to “Charlie Darwin” by The Low Anthem, and, while not a song, “Hillary R. Clinton Will You Please Win Now,” inspired by Dr. Seuss’s book “Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now.” So nice to have a place to brag about my oeuvre!”

Best wishes for the summer,

Eric Howard |

CLASS OF 1986 | 2017 | ISSUE 3

“When I was at Wes, I was initially opposed to bringing kids onto this crazy planet. But then, at some point, I decided that the most radical thing I could do was to raise great kids—kids who would be part of making the world a better place. It turns out, I was prescient beyond my years. Now in my ‘back 50,’ I feel particularly good that I’ve made the world a better place by bringing three extraordinary humans onto the planet—now fascinating young adults whom my radical, feminist former self would have loved!” Does anyone agree with these sentiments of Elaine Taylor-Klaus?

“I’ve had a super year fighting against this dumpster fire of an administration. Participating in the resistance movement has been a source of joy and inspiration the likes of which I haven’t experienced in over 30 years of activism. Whether joining the crowd of 750,000 at the LA Women’s march, or rallying with 75 people at the Kauai ‘Show Us Your Taxes’ protest, I’ve been overwhelmed by the camaraderie, patriotism, and creativity on display. And it’s a great way to catch up with fellow Wes alumni!” And maybe some agree with these sentiments from Lisa Rosen.

Carlie Masters Williams: “This has been an incredibly challenging year for us here in Washington, DC. We thought politics couldn’t get any worse and lo! We were wrong. But the protests have been incredibly invigorating. I am excited to see people speaking out about the things that matter to them. The Women’s March was a sea of pink hats and women speaking loud enough to be heard across the country. We hosted seven southern women I know through work and it was a beautiful thing. We will continue to shout about facts and data and science until we can drown out the voices of ignorance. As for physical feats? My office did the 100 push-up challenge this summer. As a group I am proud to say we did literally HUNDREDS of push-ups and had a good time doing it. I bought everyone a jump rope as a prize at the end. That requires a whole ‘nother level of coordination so I am not sure we are going to be doing Double Dutch anytime soon.”

Lucy Seham Malatesta was sworn in as a CASA (court appointed special advocate) on September 11 in Newark. “In this volunteer position, I advocate for children who have been removed from their families and are ‘in the system.’ With access to school and medical records and the right to contact teachers, professional providers, and visit the child at his/her residence, I present my findings to the court quarterly to help determine the best next steps. ‘To be for the child’ is my response to the current state of our country and our world.”

Jeff Liss: “My wife Susan and I love living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan since we became empty nesters (children number five and number six are now in college). I am currently between jobs, doing some independent consulting and also fulfilling one of my bucket list items as an adjunct professor, teaching digital marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I met up with Geoff Weinstein in San Diego during the summer. I also run into Dan Seltzer in the city every so often.”

Debbie Halperin: “While there is so much in the world that I don’t feel very good about, I also have a lot to be grateful for. I feel good about my family (celebrating 24 years of marriage this year to my husband Gil) and my kids who are in 11th and 12th grade. I feel good about the wonderful friendships I have formed over the years that sustain me, including those I met freshman year at Wes, Sarah Bosch, Nancy Cagan, Emily (Zaslow) Hourihan and Joanna (Feinberg) Miller. I feel good that my parents are healthy and close by. I feel good about relaunching my jewelry line, after many years’ hiatus. Finally, over the summer we visited Tokyo for the first time and survived an emergency landing on the way home—so I feel good that those pilots were well trained!”

Tomas Mendez: “I’ve been in advertising for 50 years and it’s been pretty great. This year, for the first time ever, I’ve gone to the ‘client side.’ I’m at Dell EMC and really like it. It is so much less intense than the agency side. My wife Tracy (Juilliard ’96) came out of dancing retirement a couple of years ago and is so amazing—our son Daschle, 9, and I got back from seeing her perform about an hour ago (as I write this) and it was awesome. Over Labor Day we got together with Garth Battista ’85 and his wife Lilly in Maine. They sailed in on the boat Garth built himself and used my mooring near our family summer home on South Harpswell. At least 10 folks from ’86, ’87, ’88, and ’89 have been there so hopefully you guys are reading this. By you guys I mean Chris Gould ’87 (great chatting the other day!), Linnea Berg ’88, Mike Edson ’87, Bill Love, Mark Woodbury ’87, Lisa Bogan ’87, Anna Luhrman, Paul Sutherland ’85, Allegra Burton ’87, Michael Tomasson, and I’m sure a couple of others who my aging brain isn’t conjuring up. I stop at Wesleyan on the way up and back from Maine (live in New York) so I’ve been visiting Wesleyan twice a year for 30-plus years and for those who haven’t visited in a while, I highly recommend it. The place is insanely amazingly fancy and has so much more land, versus the lovely but humble physical plant and grounds we all experienced.”

Lydia Crawford learned to drive a manual as an adult (husband is British and he really wanted a manual transmission car, so she agreed to have him teach her—and they are still married!). “Our son Owen is happy as a sophomore at Lawrence University in Wisconsin (about a five-hour drive from Saint Paul where I have lived since finishing law school in Virginia) despite going through a college application and selection process that should not be emulated by anyone. Our 15-year-old daughter Vivian is willing to engage in fairly meaningful conversations with me somewhat frequently and has learned that rolling her eyes at her parents is not appreciated. I am able to keep pretty physically fit (despite back surgery last February), including going to a 6 a.m. workout class where I regularly see Beth Haney ’91. My husband and I adopted a stretch of state road in southern Minnesota (a Department of Transportation program) where we pick up trash periodically and now some friends are coming along to help. Who knew that picking up trash could be so social!”

A traveling summer for Ben Schneider: “Washington, D.C. for the National LGBT Resistance March and the Profession of Vows ceremony for the Washington D.C. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, home to Maine for the Yarmouth Clam Festival with Dan Kolbert and Greg Wildes. Then to Seattle to officiate at a wedding, my 15th time. Then Lithuania to teach meditation. And, finally the North Carolina Smokey Mountains as the keynote speaker at the annual Fall Gay Spirit Visions Conference. Bought a bike, walked away from a serious car accident, and went to a doctor for the first time in 20 years. Still see Melinda Newman and Lisa Rosen all the time, as well as Kevin Pratt ’87.”

Sam Atkinson is still umbilically attached to Boston. Peter Hammond and Mark Woodbury ’87 made their annual pilgrimage last weekend to join him for a mini-reunion.  Sam sees Tom Matlack once a year at a big card game. He’s kept in touch with Tony Antonellis and Kevin Freund (his Clark 312 freshman roommates, along with Pete) and two close friends both from Cheltenham, Pa.: Paul Levitan ’85 and Margery Bank Bates ’87 (who is moving to Nantucket), but misses Liz Turner (“love you, Blue Lady!”) and “Chucker-V” Vuono.

Emily Hourihan: “Sorry, Wes. We are a Tulane family now (Avery ’14, Zoey ’15, and third daughter, Charlie ’21). Highlights: My 35-year-long friendships with Debbie Halperin and Laura Harrington. Seven wonderful years with husband, Todd Magazine. Boston Marathon in 2016, and, most recently, my first Ironman-70.3 in Atlantic City (6:37.13). Very proud of that one!”

Ellen Santistevan says: “If I am ‘halfway’ between graduation and retirement, I think I am way behind the curve. I spent most of the first ‘half’ odd-jobbing and raising my children. In the second half, now, I am learning to take care of myself, and studying to do things that I am really good at and enjoy. Deepening my studies and practice of craniosacral therapy is probably the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. I will probably always be in service to others, whether to my family or my clients or the various causes that I care about, but discovering that it’s ok to say no and to have good boundaries has been life-changing. Sounds simple, perhaps even dumb, and yet…”

Samuel Connor is also feeling good. “Feeling particularly good about my decision in 2015 to start my own business (running a consulting group focusing on innovative cause marketing). The variety of work coupled with the immeasurable value of flexibility to be with my three teenage sons has been super.” Kate McIvor also made a career change. “After working in public health in Helena, Mont., for 25 years, I now own a fabric store in Missoula, Mont. Learning how to run a very small business has been a welcome challenge for me. And, my core purpose remains the same: to uplift and empower people to be healthy. How does a fabric store help people be healthy? By providing the tools and materials necessary to slow down and create for ourselves and others; and, by reducing the need and desire to buy cheap, fast fashion.”

Steven Cohen feels great about finally getting married last year! “I met Müge on eHarmony. Our first date was an architecture lecture on the Guastavinos, a father and son from Spain who created beautiful tile ceilings and domes all around New York. Müge’s mother had worked as an architect on the design of Lincoln Center and can trace her lineage back to a Sultan and a sect that migrated from Spain to Ottoman Empire during the Inquisition. I’m also finding out how hard it is to learn to speak Turkish!”

Sue (Erikson) Bidwell took advantage of “local summer” at the Jersey Shore, otherwise known as when the vacationers go home. “I’ve spent my bonus time painting the outside of the house, and that is what I feel particularly good about. It’s my Zen time to contemplate the world while actually accomplishing something. I’m blessed that I can take my laptop with me and still work remotely as the office support for my husband’s company while enjoying these other perks at the shore.”

Zahara Heckscher:  “What I feel good about at this point in my life is having a son on the cusp of adulthood who is kind person, full of delight, and a husband who loves me despite my flaws. I had a long career doing nonprofit work but what I feel best about professionally are the books I’ve written and contributed to, including a little book of poetry I just published, and my father’s memoir about escaping the Nazis. Because of health challenges (breast cancer) my life has slowed down. I have a heart full of gratitude for the support of network around me including my sister and her family moved from Hawaii to be close to us. Life continues to be rich and meaningful. Life is good. I wish for classmates the ability to slow down and appreciate life, and focus more on what’s important—without having an illness that forces it!”

I think we can all agree to that.

Eric Howard |