CLASS OF 1994 | 2020 | ISSUE 3

Greetings from Chicago! The pandemic continues and I hope that everyone and their families, friends and loved ones are all safe. I continue to practice law in Chicago—mostly remotely these days—and was recently named my firm’s administrative partner. As many are, I am negotiating working from home with two kids who are schooling from home! I caught up with my sister Humera Syeda ’90 in Albany, New York with her kids and our parents over the summer. I reconnected with frosh hall mate Amy Grundt whose daughter started at Wesleyan this year! Also, I had great fun being a guest on Peter Chandler’s cooking show where Lourdes Arista also made a cameo experience. Check out Peter’s show on Facebook!

Evan Sils writes that he relocated to Los Angeles after 20 years in NYC. He is heading up the in-house legal department and business affairs team at a media company. 

Josh Thomases writes that he is living in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons. He helps run a small school in Brooklyn (El Puente Academy for Peace and Justice), leading the small schools effort in NYC where he helped open 350-plus schools and currently leads a small organization providing high dosage tutoring and mentoring to secondary schools in five cities on the East Coast. Josh keeps in regular contact with our classmates Monique Sully, Terry Johnson, Mike Goodman and Ben Pappas.

Aram Sinnreich announced that he and Jesse Gilbert are writing a new book called The Secret Life of Data, based on an article they published in the International Journal of Communication in November: They recently signed a book contract with MIT Press and hope to have it in print in 2022–23. Congratulations!

Congratulations also to Joel Gershon whose first feature-length documentary film, entitled Cirque du Cambodia, is set to have its world premiere at the United Nations Association Film Festival in October! Cirque du Cambodia is about two teenagers from Cambodia who became determined to be the first Cambodians to take the stage with Cirque du Soleil after seeing one of their videos. The teens learned how to become circus performers at a special school for the arts near their home village and later moved across the world to Canada where Cirque du Soleil is headquartered to attend the world’s most elite circus school after receiving full scholarships. Joel started work on this film in 2011 and tracked the two main characters for more than six years as they continued to try to fulfill their dreams, filming in four countries in three languages! Check out information about the film at

It is always wonderful to hear from you all. Please continue to send in your updates!

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell | 

CLASS OF 1994 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

Greetings, all. After spending Thanksgiving in Puerto Rico, I was so enamored with the island that I had to fight the urge to abandon New Jersey, open a bakery, and remain in Fajardo permanently. While I enjoy my legal career, I’m still dreaming about the day when I will leave the world of derivatives and have been perfecting various pastries, cookies, and treats in the interim. When I’m not baking, I am writing a book detailing my healing and Christian journey since the loss of my mother in 2017. This past Mother’s Day was an unexpected source of joy, as I delivered my first sermon at Wellspring Worship Center in New York. I am happy to report that in the midst of our changing world, the majority of my family is safe and well. My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Wesleyan community. I hope that everyone stays encouraged and safe.

Max Belkin and his colleagues recently published a new book, Relational Psychoanalysis and Intersectionality: New Perspectives on Race, Gender, and Sexuality. He teaches graduate courses in individual and family psychotherapy at NYU’s Department of Applied Psychology and supervising psychologist at the William Alanson White Institute in New York City.

Ethan Hollander and his wife, Christie, welcomed their first child in March, a son named Isaac Howard Hollander. He continues, stating that “we have no idea what it’s like having a baby in normal times, but having a baby under lockdown has been strange and wonderful.” He also shares that in November, he was elected to the city council of Crawfordsville, Ind. He and his wife teach political science and economics, respectively, at Wabash College.

Doug Schaer just finished up a three-year stint as chief operation officer of LiveXLive Media, a global digital media company focused on live entertainment, after spending five years at Hero Ventures, producing The Marvel Experience, a global touring themed attraction. He remains on the board of directors at Hero Ventures. While contemplating his next chapter, he continues in the role of chief advisor to Baron Davis Enterprises, which was founded by two-time NBA All-Star and record-holder Baron Davis. He proudly shares that “In this dream role, I am active in overseeing several companies, including No Label, SLIC Studios, BIG (Business Inside the Game) Factory, and The Black Santa Company.” He adds that he “advises on portfolio investments across media, tech, and consumer product ventures.” Doug also notes that both his fourth and sixth graders are at Crossroads School for the Arts and Sciences, “which seems to be a feeder school for Wes.”

Aaron Yeater writes: “I am sad to report that our classmate and friend, Amy Morrissey-O’Rourke, died this December. She leaves her loving husband, Matthew O’Rourke, and two beloved boys, Gus and Gabriel. Several of Amy’s classmates helped their family and friends grieve and celebrate Amy’s life at a memorial: John Lewis, Heather Lipkind and her husband, Jason Sunshine, Ben Mahnke and his wife, Elisa, Andrew McNeil, Jennifer Quest-Stern and Kevin Fairley, and my wife, Caroline Marple, and me. Amy was my hallmate and friend throughout my time at Wesleyan, and I am honored by her friendship of almost 30 years. We miss her dearly and will remember her intellect, humor, tolerance, and kindness. For those who wish, donations can be made to Steps to Success Program that promotes equity for students from low-income families in Brookline (PO Box 470421, Brookline Village, MA 02447) or to the National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI;”

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell | 

CLASS OF 1994 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

Greetings from frigid Chicago! It was wonderful to hear from many of our classmates—some who had not provided updates for quite some time!

Deborah Lowenthal Sorin, for example, said she had not written since the birth of her daughter—now 10! Her husband Dan,(a professor at Duke) and she have lived in Durham, N.C., for 17-plus years, excluding two sabbaticals, one to Portland, Ore., in 2010, and one in 2017-2018 to Edinburgh, Scotland. Her family has enjoyed living abroad and going to school. She writes, “During term breaks, we traveled all over Europe. Seeing Carnival in Malta was the coolest thing ever.” While in Edinburgh, Deborah took a job at international development consultancy, Challenges Group, and has been working remotely for them since they returned to the U.S. Deborah also serves on the Board of Directors of FosterClub, the national nonprofit for youth in foster care.

From others on the East Coast:

Matthew Solomon lives in Washington, D.C., with his family, where he practices securities law. Matt attended the 25th year Reunion and enjoyed catching up with Emily Henn and Sid Espinoza, among others. His 12-year-old daughter, Callie, already has her sights set on Wes, and Matt needs to break the news to her that she likely won’t be recruited as a ‘rock climber’.”

Marc Waxman writes that he moved his family to Wrentham, Mass., about three years ago to settle on a small “farm” (they have a couple horses and a bunch of chickens, dogs, and cats). He writes, “My two teenage sons keep me busy—very much enjoy watching them in organized athletics, and not so much enjoy working through the various injuries that are part of the process.” Marc also became executive director of Mindfulness Director Initiative which he co-founded about a year ago where the mission is to work toward every school community having a full-time mindfulness director. Marc would love to hear from anyone who are interested in being a mindfulness director or would love to see one at their local school. Email him at

Joseph Stein recently started new job at Natixis Advisors in Boston as director of quantitative research. He also joined the board of a nonprofit called Speak for the Trees, which works to increase tree canopy in Boston, particularly in lower income communities. He has two kids (7 and 9) who are doing great and enjoying school.

Aaron Passell is enjoying his work as associate director of urban studies at Barnard College and is soon to get his second book out. He also would love to hear from other Wes urbanists. Working in New York allows him to see Jesse Hendrich and Seth Lewis Levin, and sometimes even Scott Rosenberg, visiting from California. He also often crosses paths with Amy Fiske ’95 in Philadelphia.

From the West Coast:

Kate Gordon is going into her second year as Governor Gavin Newsom’s Senior Advisor on Climate Policy, as well as the director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. She writes, “I can honestly say the job is never boring and is often incredibly exciting—though daunting, especially as we grapple with utility bankruptcies, fires, and just the sheer size of managing the world’s fifth largest economy. So far, the commute from Berkeley to Sacramento hasn’t killed me, mostly thanks to Amtrak and its cafe car. My husband Gino Segre is helping to run a life sciences business incubator program called QB3, which includes working to turn UC Berkeley’s former art museum into an incubator space. Kids are now nearly 13 and 8 and doing great.”

Tanya Bowers is working on the Diversity and Inclusion/Equal Employment Opportunity Panel for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and chairing the planning commission for the City of Pasco. She invites us to look her up if you find yourselves in Eastern Washington.

Olivia Morgan writes that, “together with California First Partner, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, I just launched a nonprofit called the California Partners Project to focus on closing gender gaps in California. We will also be advocating on behalf of children’s well-being and mental health, especially as it relates to the effects of media and technology, industries which lead our economy and shape the world.” You can read about her recent project that received some publicity in Politico.

Olivia also updated us that Sid Espinoza moved to San Francisco and she re-connected with Erica Walters who also is raising teen boys at the same high school as Olivia’s teen boys! Olivia saw Leyda Carvajal in Portland, Ore., last spring, where she is raising two boys and works as an anesthesiologist.

Stephanie Anagnoson is the director of water and natural resources for Madera County, in California’s Central Valley. She works with residents and farmers to achieve groundwater sustainability.

From the international front:

Eric Byler writes that he moved his wife and kids (4 and 2) to Australia a year ago planning to return to the filmmaking (narrative) after more than a decade in documentary film and journalism. He writes, “The recent fires, and our narrow escape, led to this piece for The Intercept, and this video. It looks like I’ll be writing more about the climate crisis and its devastating impacts in Australia. I try to get out of journalism, and events pull me back in. But in the year I’ve been in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), I’ve written the screenplay for a film that follows a Chinese-Australian woman to her family’s ancient compound in China, which is, of course, haunted.”

David Campbell is halfway through his second assignment with Dell Technologies, currently serving as their CFO in Japan. He is “having a blast with my wife Brenna (25 years this April . . . yes, we got married less than a year after graduation) and our two youngest girls who are studying at the International School of the Sacred Heart here in Tokyo. We already have one college graduate and two others studying back in Texas while we are on assignment. Had a great chance to catch up with my homestay family from my junior year abroad in Kyoto. Would love to catch up with anyone else in the area, especially as the Olympics approach! You can reach me at or LinkedIn.”

Suzie Purcell Byers and husband Carl Bradford Byers ’93 are moving to Spain this summer so Suzie can begin serving as head of school at Madrid Montessori. Suzie said, “Carl will continue his venture capital work at F-Prime and his teaching of finance at Harvard, which means that he’ll be traveling back and forth across the pond a lot. Our son, Jake ’21, will be in his senior year as a film and English double-major at Wesleyan, so he’ll visit us during vacations until his graduation. We’re holding out hope that he’ll find a job in Europe, but it’s more likely that he’ll find himself back in Hollywood where he has been reading scripts during breaks. Our daughter, Emily, probably will choose to do a gap year in between graduating from Concord Academy and starting college (not sure where as of now). Our youngest, Katie, will be attending The American School of Madrid for high school. If you happen to be in the Iberian Peninsula, please email us at so we can reconnect!”

And, finally, from the Midwest:

I (Samera) am enjoying practicing law at my new firm, L&G Law Group in Chicago and serving on the Board of Directors at the Chicago High School For the Arts. My twin daughters, Sarah and Norah—almost 11—are doing well. We survived our first ever trip to Disney back in November with my sister, Humera Syeda ’90 and her kids. My other sister, Sohera Syeda ’96, could not make it so we plan on visiting her and her kids in Boston in the Spring.

It is wonderful to keep up with all of you here as well as many of you on Facebook. If your travels bring you to Chicago, please look me up!

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell | 

CLASS OF 1994 | 2019 | ISSUE 3

Jason Blalock writes to inform of the passing of one of our classmates, Andrew Berends, who was an accomplished filmmaker.

James Longley’s new feature documentary, Angels Are Made of Light, opened in theaters in July, premiering at Film Forum in NYC and moving on to other cities. The documentary that follows students and teachers in a school in Kabul, Afghanistan, was filmed over a three-year period and was distributed by Grasshopper Film. Read the reviews in the New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

Tonya Singer has co-written a new book, entitled Breaking Down the Wall. The book is aimed at educators to disrupt inequalities for multilingual students.

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell | 

John Griffin Jr. ’94

John Griffin ’94

John Griffin Jr. ’94 passed away on March 5, 2020 at the age of 47. A full obituary can be found here. At Wesleyan, John majored in history. He played football and lacrosse at Wesleyan and he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

His mother Carolyn Griffin said, “John enjoyed sailing, skin diving, and squash in his free time. He also enjoyed opera and historical bios. His two cats Perseus and Cleopatra were his soulmates as he battled this disease with a fierce determination for eight years.”

Thank you to John’s mother Carolyn Griffin for providing the photos.

CLASS OF 1994 | 2019 | ISSUE 2

Greetings from Chicago! I (Samera) had a wonderful time attending our 25th Reunion over Memorial Day weekend. It was great to see and catch up with Steve Henn, Emily Henn, John Lewis, Jiyoung Lim, Charlotte Castillo, Tomer Rothschild, Aaron Yeater, Shalini Shankar, and many others.

Steve and Emily announced that their daughter will be attending Wesleyan in the fall!

Our class president, Charlotte Castillo, SVP, Global franchise planning at Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products, spoke at Reunion on a panel presented by the Wesleyan Alumni of Color Council, The Coloring of Corporate. Also, Tomer Rothschild and I received Wesleyan University Service Awards at our class dinner.

Shalini is a professor of anthropology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She splits her time between Evanston, Ill., and Brooklyn.

In other news, David Nesbett was appointed by the Governor of Alaska as a trial judge in state court in Anchorage.

Ken Barnett starred in the acclaimed short film Lavender, which premiered this year at Sundance and was acquired by FOX Searchlight. Ken also will appear in a beautiful, new off-Broadway play, Novenas for a Lost Hospital, about NYC’s recently departed St. Vincent’s Hospital. It will be premiering at Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre in the West Village this fall.

Aram Sinnreich is an associate professor and chair of communication studies at American University’s School of Communication. His new book, The Essential Guide to Intellectual Property, was released by Yale University Press in May.

Adrienne Truscott finished a performance at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art theater. THIS was a one-woman show written, directed, and starring Adrienne. She is slated to perform another show at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater in New York in September.

Kate Gordon has joined Governor Gavin Newsom’s staff as the director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research—a think tank within the governor’s office—as well as senior advisor to the governor on climate policy. Her job requires her to commute to Sacramento from Berkeley, where she lives with husband Gino Segre, kids Julia, 12, and Jacob, 8, and dog Mochi, 2.

Jesse Hendrich serves on the School Leadership Team of his local public school, PS 9, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and is on the committee of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. Last February, at the swearing in ceremony and “state of the district” address of New York State Assembly Member Walter Mosley, Jesse was given the Community Service Outstanding Achievement award for his work with both organizations (especially in the areas of public education and affordable housing).

Finally, for those who are not aware, our classmate Andrew Berends, Oscar-winning filmmaker died in March. His documentary Free Solo won the Best Documentary Feature Oscar earlier this year. Andrew’s first documentary Urk, about Dutch fisherman on the North Sea, was nominated for the International Documentary Association’s Pare Lorentz Award and was awarded the International Documentary Association Courage Under Fire award for his film, The Blood of My Brother, about an Iraqi family whose son was killed by an American patrol. Andrew risked his life to tell stories that needed to be told. I urge you all to read the obituary that detailed his life’s work at

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell | 

CLASS OF 1994 | 2019 | ISSUE 1

Hello, Class of 1994. Welcome to the latest edition of the class notes. Kristen Woronoff, our class liaison in University Relations at Wesleyan, wanted me to mention the upcoming Reunion. It promises to be a great time to not only reconnect with old friends but to meet classmates that you never knew.

Chris Bartley directs the music program at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, teaching music history and conducting two choirs, including one that is partnering with his local symphony for a production of Carmina Burana at the end of April. Chris teaches indoor spin classes, plays poker, and is trying to get his new dog, Olive, to sit. He hosted Eric Hung ’96 and Leah Bartell ’95, who gave a violin-piano duo concert on his campus. They reminisced about learning to conduct from the late Melvin Strauss. Chris got together with Ben Mahnke at a Celtics-Bucks game in Boston.

Elizabeth Rand Ehrlich’s handmade kippot (yarmulke) business, Kids Kippot, has been growing tremendously. One of her creations was featured in the show, Items: Is Fashion Modern?, at the Museum of Modern Art.

Elizabeth attributes her success to the skills she learned at Wesleyan. Elizabeth had dinner with Elizabeth Toohey and Sam Schneider ’91 and enjoys talking with John Pollock when they can both carve out some time from their busy schedules.

Adam Handler welcomed a second daughter, Danielle Max, to join big sister Josephine Flora. He reconnected with David Niles, Joe Pirret, Steve Frail, Jonathan Bernstein Sidhu, and Sean Mazer. Adam is looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends at Reunion.

Steve Henn and Emily Johnson Henn live in Menlo Park, Calif., and are celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. Their oldest daughter, a senior in high school, will attend Wesleyan. Steve left public radio to start a company, later acquired by Google, where he is eating more than his share of free food. Emily practices law at Covington & Burling. They hiked near Sausalito with Brooke Singer this summer. They are close with Andrea Seebaum ’92, who Emily says “models so well what life without kids could have looked like.” They enjoyed seeing Annelise Wunderlich and Jeff Kwan, and Sid Espinosa, whom Emily first met on the WOW trip. They visited with Scott Laton and family during an East Coast trip and are excited about Reunion.

John Lewis lives in Newton, Mass., with his wife, Suzanne, and three kids. He sees Jon Bender, Josh Protas, Tomer Rothschild, and Gabe Meil pretty regularly, as well as Sean Mazer and Aaron Yeater. John visited Julia Lazarus ’95 in Rhode Island and met her new baby daughter, Eleanor. John took a new job at Sound Physicians after 17 years at Athena Health, which has been a big change but good.

Julie Nersesian has retired after 20-plus years of teaching, primarily social studies middle school. She is leaving soon for Oaxaca, Mexico, to be a sunbird for the rest of January. She toasts all those engaged in education and action for social justice. “It is exhausting work but so important!”

Martin Reames and his family were relocated by his company, to Guadalajara, Mexico, for a year. He writes that “living in Mexico is quite different than visiting a week at a time” as “driving in Mexico is adventurous, and riding in a taxi is calm compared with negotiating other drivers’ unexpected maneuvers.” Martin’s 10-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, has attended a Spanish-English school since kindergarten, and speaks Spanish quite well, while he and wife Nicole are far from fluent. Nicole took a one-year sabbatical from work to focus on Spanish classes, yoga, and spending time with Elizabeth. They enjoy living in Mexico, especially the fantastic restaurants in Guadalajara; hiking in Copper Canyon in Chihuahua; and visiting the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán where they saw “countless millions of butterflies—it was truly magical.” They are sad that it’s been six months already and they’ll be headed back to Minneapolis in just half a year.

Aram Sinnreich’s third book, The Essential Guide to Intellectual Property, will be published by Yale Press this May.

Sondra Youdelman, in Brooklyn, joined the staff team of People’s Action ( as their national campaign director working on housing, health care, and climate issues.

Shalini Shankar’s book, Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about Generation Z’s New Path to Success, will be published in April with Basic Books. It is based on research she conducted over six years at the National Spelling Bee, with spellers and families.

So long for now. Send Samera and me your news, notes, and updates—we’d love to hear from you.

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell | 

CLASS OF 1994 | 2018 | ISSUE 3

Hello from Chicago! The summer flew by and school has started for my twin girls, Sarah and Norah, who are in fourth grade! I continue to practice law at Nixon Peabody LLP in Chicago. Just last week, Peter Chandler came to an event hosted by my firm in D.C. at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. It was a gorgeous locale and it was great to catch up with Peter, who works on Capitol Hill as the chief of staff to Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan. During the summer, Peter traveled to Europe with Lourdes Arista and other friends and said they had a fabulous time.

Robin Shane has been appointed to a full-time, tenure-track position as an assistant professor of theater at Rider University. Robin will be joining the faculty as the costume designer professor, teaching classes, designing shows, and running the costume shop. Her daughters, Cecily and Miranda, are now in ninth and sixth grade, respectively, and doing great.

Matt Solomon is practicing law in D.C., where he lives with his wife and two kids, and is still in close touch with Jon Liebson ’92, Gideon Stein, and Sul Lunat.

Jessica Sharzer wrote the movie, A Simple Favor, directed by Paul Feig that opened in theaters in September.

Jessica is also writing for the Apple reboot of Amazing Stories and raising her kids, Dante, 11, and Sasha, 8, in Los Angeles.

James Longley premiered a new feature documentary film at Telluride, TIFF, and NYFF! The movie is called Angels Are Made of Light, and it’s set in a school in Kabul. He spent three years in Afghanistan filming it.

Kika Stump has a new job in the office of institutional research at Bates College.

Karen Gaffney has been an English professor at Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey for 15 years. She published an accessible introduction to race and racism with tools for action called Dismantling the Racism Machine: A Manual and Toolbox (Routledge, 2018).

Sasha Chanoff lives in Somerville, Mass., with his wife, Marni, and their two children, Hayden, 10, and Lailah, 8. RefugePoint, the organization he started in 2005 to find solutions for the most at-risk refugees, is growing. RefugePoint has main offices in Cambridge, Mass., Nairobi, and Geneva, and staff in about 25 countries around the world.

Matt Fraser has taught and studied languages and written books on education. His latest book, Critical Infrastructure for Children: The Astonishing Potential of New England Schools, asks and answers 165 questions on education.

Charlotte Castillo celebrated her 13th year working at Viacom Media Networks . . . and her first year in a new role as SVP, global franchise planning. Her role takes her around the world, where she sometimes bumps into fellow Wes folks! This summer, Charlotte had a fabulous girls’ trip to Grenada with Patria Rodriguez ’93, Cynthia Centeno ’93, and Lisette Nieves ’92.

Kate Gordon joined the firm Ridge-Lane Limited Partners as a partner in the sustainability practice. She is working on finishing a book on climate risk and “just transition” for communities dependent on fossil fuel extraction—coming out sometime in 2019 from Columbia University Press. Kate writes that her kids keep getting older—Julia started middle school this year and Jacob is in second grade.

This year is our 25th Reunion and I hope to see a lot of our classmates! In the meantime, please continue to send in updates, and if anyone finds themselves in Chicago, get in touch!

Samera Syeda Ludwig |

Caissa Powell |