CLASS OF 1997 | 2020 | ISSUE 2

It is mid-May as Sasha and I are compiling these updates and it’s been two months since she and I each have been staying at home, working from home, supervising homeschooling for our kids, quarantine-baking, having Zoom cocktail hours, and holding our hands to our mouth when we read the news, hoping for the best for everyone.

First and foremost, we hope that you and your families are safe and healthy. For those of you touched by COVID-19, please know that we are all thinking of you. We’d also like to thank all ’97ers on the front lines: health care workers, first responders, nonprofit organizers, government personnel, friends, parents, teachers. We really are in this together (even if remotely).

Min and Alejandro Santandrea wrote that “My Italian factory is finally open but is only making PPE and not shoes. My company, SantM, is taking this opportunity to work with Nemours Children’s Hospital to donate masks to the hospital. If you want to contribute to this cause, email me at” Thank you for everything you and SantM are doing, Min! And back in February, they went on a ski vacation with Christian Housh and fam. “We saw Brandon Cook in Brooklyn, video-chatted with Lauren Wolfe and Peter Olson, and had Zoom cocktail hour with Tabitha WilliamsShelby StokesMichele Lau, and Neal Jacunski. We’ve been working with Wesleyan’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship led by Makaela Kingsley ’98.”

Min ’97 Zooming with Tabitha Williams ’97, Shelby Stokes ’97, Michele Lau ’97, and Neal Jacunski ’97
Alejandro ’97 on a ski vacation with Christian Housh ’97 and fam

David Vine wrote to us: “Since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve been inspired by working with Wes Classics Professor Eirene Visvardi, Alix Olson, and other Wes alums as part of a group of 60-plus people from 20-plus countries that drafted a COVID-19 Global Solidarity Manifesto. Little more than a week after a soft launch, more than 2,000 people from around the world have signed the Manifesto. In keeping with a certain Wes spirit, the Manifesto declares, ‘The COVID-19 crisis has revealed the urgency of changing global structures of inequity and violence. We, people around the world, will seize this historical moment.’ We invite you to add your name to this effort ( “to offer a vision of the world we are building, the world we are demanding, the world we will achieve.” Also “inspired by my time at Wes,” David has a new book coming out in October that tells the story of the United States’ long relationship with war. The book, The United States of War: A Global History of America’s Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State (University of California Press), explains a major reason the U.S. government was so poorly prepared for the pandemic. We look forward to reading your book!

Alix Olson wrote in “I am living in Atlanta, Ga., where I just finished my second year at Emory University (Oxford campus) teaching WGSS. I was thrilled to rediscover my pal Sara Pullen and we (and our kids) are now attached at the hip.” Emory is very lucky to have you!

Let’s congratulate Francisco Tezen! He was named the president and chief executive officer of A Better Chance, a national college prep and leadership development organization. Read the article for more details. We’re proud of you, Francisco!

We were thrilled to hear from Lauren Wolfe, who was recently hired as an editor at the New York Times. “I’ve never written in before, but Wesleyan people are still very much a part of my global family. I’ve spent the last six years of my career as a journalist covering (mainly for The Guardian) the gang-rape of 50 little girls (aged 18 months to 11-years-old) in a small village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Alongside NGO and doctor colleagues from DRC, the U.S., and The Hague, we managed to get the perpetrator (and a member of the Parliament) and members of his militia arrested and sentenced to life in prison—and no girls have been raped since. My drive to work internationally and within difficult, broken state systems was born at Wes, and through years of getting to know the amazing people who also went to school there.” Lauren, we thank you for the work you have done and the lives you have preserved through your journalism.

Peter Wei is in his first year into his full/early retirement, adjusting and living in a small coastal community in North County San Diego while spending his days working out, tending his garden and becoming the perfect domestic “goddess”—a role predestined by Mei Chin more than two decades ago while at Wesleyan. We couldn’t be happier for you, Peter!

Speaking of Mei Chin, she reached out to share some delightful news: “Greetings from Dublin, where the weather isn’t sunny, but the prime minister is gay and half-Indian, the government is recently pro-choice, and health care is free. (If you can get a flight, you can have our sofa.) I got married in February, which meant we got the chance to see many friends and family before lockdown. We were going to continue celebrating next month in Connecticut with Wes pals including  Sasha Lewis-Reisen, Peter Wei, Sacha Shapiro EmersonMichael Ouyang, and Morgan Fahey, but that’s been put on hold. Everything is good here; I am cooking and walking, and every day, I say hello to the absurdly tacky Oscar Wilde statue (he has a pink cravat and shiny shoes!) in Merrion Square. Most recently, I’ve been writing a column for Food & Wine Ireland called Dublin Global Beats; recording a podcast called Spice Bags (three expat women take on the Irish food scene), and starting a magazine, Ampersand: Eating at the Cultural Crossroads. I am sure that there are other Wes people in Ireland, but I don’t think we’ve crossed paths. If you want to reach out, email me” Yay Mei-Mei, all this, yay!

Corita Stull says hello “from quarantine, where I am trying to force my four sons to do their schoolwork and also teach for my own job. At least the oldest is graduating, so I can stop telling him to do his work, right? After 20 years of teaching middle and high school, I went back to grad school to become a special education teacher, and also became certified as a teacher of students with visual impairments.” Cori is working at the Maryland School for the Blind, and writes that it’s her dream job. “Believe it or not, my studies in the Wesleyan film program, which helped me to understand how the brain creates meaning, were a pretty awesome preparation for this job.” We are all so proud of you, Cori! And so impressed by you and your boys through this transition.

Derek DiMatteo accepted a job offer at Gannon University in Erie, Pa., in the Department of English as an assistant teaching professor. “I’m very excited about it! So now I’m in the process of selling my house in Bloomington, Ind., and trying to move to Erie, all while wrapping up the most bizarre semester of teaching half on campus and half online.” Good luck, Derek! We hope you have a smooth transition and your first semester starts off well.

Lauren Porosoff, author of Teach Meaningful: Tools to Design the Curriculum at Your Core, created a card deck called “Values and Questions” with her husband, Jonathan Weinstein. The cards invite students into conversations about the values they want to bring to their learning, work, and relationships, within and beyond school. Lauren wrote, “I can’t imagine what a different experience Wes would have been if we’d had to learn remotely. It makes me appreciate this community and the work Wes faculty is doing to support their students and one another. If there’s anything we, as alumni, can do to help, I hope we’ll be informed.” Agreed, Lauren!

Matthew Way reached out to us: “I last wrote to you regarding my first feature, The Genital Warriors, which has been available on iTunes, Amazon, or Google in 100-plus countries and 20 languages since December 2015 (for example the Village Voice and New York Times reported). After traveling with the movie and landing back in Berlin, I’ve written my second feature, The Pillow Snake, which features a rap and hip hop soundtrack, including a song I wrote especially for the movie: “Don’t Touch the 3rd Rail.” Though this song was meant to be rapped by the movie’s lead, I instead used it to give birth to my new alter ego, Yóbaby. Quite to our surprise, the music video has accrued almost half a million views until now. So yo, check it.“ Will do, Matthew!

Alek Lev submitted his film to festivals like The Cannes Film Festival, optimistically assuming that one day, soon, the amazing and (sometimes soul-crushing) and again amazing process of getting independent films to see the light of day will commence once again. Alek is also the vice president of the International Buster Keaton Society (a nonprofit, 501c3, all-volunteer organization), “If you are looking for a film (or two, or 29) to watch with the entire family during these trying times, I highly recommend the work of the Great Stone Face.” He’s coordinating the 26th Annual Buster Keaton Convention, which—for the first time —will be held entirely online. “I can also report that Noah Garrison, Craig Thomas, Woodwyn Koons, Kassie Bracken, and John Newman are all doing well during these trying times. And a special mention of Joel Viertel who produced and edited The Banker, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, and Nia Long. Run, don’t walk, to your couch to check it out.” We second, third, THOUSAND the recommendation to see The Banker, out on Apple+.

Send your updates anytime…we enjoy hearing from you. We hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. Take care.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2020 | ISSUE 1

In the fall, Francisco Tezen wrote to us about his wife Linda Rodriguez: “Linda is an executive director of Global Philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase. She was recognized last week by the New York City Council for her leadership in expanding opportunities for youth in New York City and around the country through her work. The recognition was part of the Council’s Puerto Rican Heritage celebration at City Hall.” We are thrilled that Linda’s work was honored.

Kimberly Rae Gilbert wrote to us from Boulder, Col.: “I recently published a children’s picture book I wrote called When We March (, which explains why citizens (even the very youngest!) in a democracy take to the streets in peaceful protest. Creating the book was a true community act and a labor of love. My co-creator and I relied on volunteer efforts and crowdfunding to get it done—including the love and support of dozens of Wes friends. Now we’re paying it forward by donating 100-plus books and working with nationwide organizations that support children’s education and serve marginalized populations. I’m so grateful that sharing this book continues to fortify its underlying message: that there’s joy and power in working together to promote the best in us.” We love this message!

We heard from Emy Johnson Zener, who works as a psychiatric social worker living in Washington Heights with Max Zener ’94 and their 13-year-old daughter Lucy. “We just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. After 18 years working in community mental health, I started a private psychotherapy practice for adults in Washington Heights. I also work part-time as a psychotherapist at Housing Works on the Lower East Side, working with adults dealing with issues such as HIV, homelessness, and addiction, in addition to having other mental health needs. I sing with MasterVoices, a NYC chorus, under the baton of Ted Sperling, and do several concerts per year. In addition to classical works, we also do musical theatre and more experimental works. It is thrilling to sing back-up to some true masters in such venues as Carnegie Hall and City Center and to be able to keep one foot in the performing world while doing other work that I love. Max is working full-time as an audiobook narrator and actor. Lucy is soon to celebrate her bat mitzvah with our unique Humanistic Jewish congregation. She is in eighth grade at the Lang School, a school for twice exceptional (“2e”) kids—gifted kids with disabilities—and is thriving in this amazing educational environment.” Emy and Max, we are so happy to learn about your work. Mazel tov to Lucy!

In the fall of 2019, Alek Lev wrote and directed his second feature film, entitled WHAT? “It’s a black and white, silent, feature comedy with a cast and crew of deaf and hearing artists. Inspired by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, the film tells the story of a deaf actor, fed up with Hollywood, who decides to take matters into his own . . . hands. The film is in post-production now, and the next steps are film festival submissions and (silent) prayer. Go behind the scenes at” We’re all crossing our fingers for you, Alek!

Cyrus Bryden reached out from Charlotte, N.C., where he has been living for 15 years and where he works in the accounting industry. “This past year, Dave Katz and I were fortunate to go see the Patriots play in the NFL Superbowl. In 2019, I traveled to many foreign countries which included Luxembourg, Finland, and Estonia. While in Finland, I reconnected with Charly Salonius-Pasternak where we experienced several saunas and an October swim in the Baltic Sea.” So fun!

In December, Derek DiMatteo successfully defended his dissertation, “Academic Dissent: U.S. Higher Education Protest Literature, 1985-2015” and graduated from Indiana University, earning a PhD in English with a concentration in literature and a minor in American studies. “As of this month, I am a visiting lecturer in the Department of English at IU Bloomington, teaching full time while I search for a tenure track position in the USA or abroad.” Congratulations, Derek! We wish you the best in your job search.

Elijah Hawkes wrote to us from Vermont: “I’ve been glad to cross paths in recent months with good friends and Wes grads Omar Rahim ’96, Brion Winston, and Ruben Fleischer. Omar shared with me a wonderful short film he wrote and directed called Agency, which has recently screened at South Asian film festivals in Chicago and NYC. Ruben shared stories of his work as a director and producer, including how much he enjoyed reuniting with the cast Zombieland for the sequel. Brion lives with his wife Melanie Schoen outside of Albany. Brion—in addition to working full time as a heart surgeon—has written an original musical production, The Count: A Musical, which comes to NYC in March. I’m in my 20th year working in public schools at teacher and principal, first in NYC and now in Vermont.   have a book coming out this spring, School for the Age of Upheaval: Classrooms that Get Personal, Get Political, and Get to Work (Rowman & Littlefield).“ What fantastic news!

Andrew Frishman wrote that he “spent a delightful few days between X-mas and New Years with Sasha Cooke. Sasha was the inimitable Wesleyan squash coach in the mid/late 1990s and it was great to catch up with him and reconnect with his two amazing teenage children! As always, there was great hiking and skiing, food, music, and discourse on a wide variety of topics.” And “on New Year’s Eve eve (December 30th), I had a rockin’ time going out to see Deer Tick with Christian Housh. He had invited me to see Idles late last year and I’m enjoying the informal tradition that we’re developing of inviting each other out to see concerts in the Cambridge/Boston area. Who else wants in?”

Lauren Porosoff’s second edition of her book will be released in May with the new title Teach Meaningful: Tools to Design the Curriculum at Your Core. Lauren explains, “It’s about empowering teachers to use their values as a starting point for creating more meaningful learning experiences for students.”

Eric Lichtenfeld wrote: “I’m living in Columbus, Ohio, with my wife, our son, and daughter, who are twins, and our two dogs who are not. I’m still writing for the film industry and I’m also a psychotherapist. I’ve just opened my own office, where I specialize in treating trauma, loss and grief, anxiety, and other concerns. Doing this work feels like a real privilege–and considering the various pursuits I’ve been able to enjoy over the last 20-something years, that’s saying something.”

And last, but certainly not least, Eric Bor wrote to us to share some exciting news! “My wife Melanie and I proudly announce the birth of our son, Alexander Myles Bor, aka Xander, born Dec. 19, 2019.” Congratulations, Eric and Melanie! We did the math. Could Xander be a member of Wesleyan’s class of 2042? Hmm . . .

That’s all for now. We love getting your updates, so send them anytime!

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2019 | ISSUE 3

Hi, Wesleyan peeps. Thanks for sharing your news! It’s always fun and inspiring to find out what’s going on with you.

Andrew Frishman shared: “This summer Alex Jermyn and his wife, Jackie Park, visited with my family on Cape Cod. His two kids and my two kids (both sets aged 6 and 9) had a great time swimming and playing games. We need to start grooming them into the next generation of Wesleyan squash players.

“I think back on the year that I spent as head resident of Butterfield A frequently because Laura Warren ’98, who was one of the resident advisors, lives a few blocks from me and our kids go to school together at Escuela Amigos School in Cambridge, Mass. When I think back on my senior year at Wesleyan so much of it feels deeply informed by my experiences as an HR. I wonder what other RAs and HRs are up to and if there might be an opportunity at a future event to have an informal meet up?

“Hope that all is well with you and that our paths intertwine again soon—please let folks know that if they’re passing through Central Square in Cambridge, I’d be glad to connect.”

Benny Vasquez wrote: “After serving as the co-executive director at the Center for Racial Justice in Education for five years, I transitioned to the inaugural role of chief equity officer at the KIPP foundation (the largest charter school network across the country) in leading their racial justice and equity initiatives across the foundation and the network of 232 schools. I also bought my first home in Nyack, where I live with my husband and 2-year-old Candis!” (Congratulations on the new job, new home! And we know you and your husband are busy, busy, busy with a little one—wow!) Benny adds, “I often see many of my WesFam including—but not limited to—Nicole Rodríguez, Abdul Rashid, Andrea and José DeJesus, María Mirabal, Jeneen García, and am officiating Rachael Rodriguez’s wedding in September!”

Anita Mitra Crabtree is relocating to Singapore from Washington, D.C. “We’re going for my husband’s job at IFC (World Bank) and I hope to be able to continue working from there. I look forward to seeing Ami Doshi the next time she visits and to connecting with Puja Sherwani ’96, who lives there. Merry Weaver ’96 has promised to visit and we look forward to having lots of other visitors, so I’d love to know if any Wes folks are passing through.” We will definitely let you know, Anita!

Derek DiMatteo wrote to us: “I started training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu a year ago and love it. I train as a member of the Indiana University BJJ Club. I am a white belt but have participated in a few tournaments in the white belt 170-lb masters age division and done very well, including a third place finish at the Arnold Classic this past spring and a first place finish in Pittsburgh this past July.” He is the managing editor of the academic journal Africa Today and a book that he edited, The Trustees and Officers of IU, Volume III: 1982-2018, was published. “It’s 107,000 words long, contains 147 biographies paired with portraits, and had 51 contributors.” Derek also completed the full draft of his dissertation, which he plans to defend in December and then he plans to graduate in May. Best of luck to you, Derek, and to all of our classmates in academia!

Lauren Porosoff is enjoying writing and presenting full-time. You can find Lauren on Twitter sharing her expertise in education at @laurenporosoff.

Erica Witsell wrote: “My debut novel, Give, was released this summer with a blurb by Professor Emerita Phyllis Rose. I also reconnected with Adriana Dakin ’96, Joshua Polluck ’96, and Jake Waples ’95 at book events in California and Colorado. Erica’s website is

Elizabeth Schneider’s book, Wine for Normal People: A Guide for Real People Who Like Wine, but Not the Snobbery That Goes with It, launched in November. Her book is on’s fall 2019 list of “must have” cookbooks! Elizabeth is a certified sommelier and hosts a podcast called Wine for Normal People.

Joel Viertel produced The Banker, coming out on AppleTV+ starring Samuel L. Jackson. Congratulations, Joel!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this update. Andrew Frishman commented, “I do look forward to reading the notes in the magazine—somehow different/better to see them in print rather than fleeting on social media.” We agree! Print media is one of our last ties to an analog world and we’re happy to be a part of it. Take care of yourselves, class of ’97!

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

Newsmaker: Francisco Tezén ’97

Francisco J. TezenFrancisco Tezén ’97 was appointed president and CEO of A Better Chance, a national nonprofit that places young people of color into the leadership pipeline through increased access to academically rigorous secondary schools. Theo Killion, the chair of the national board of directors and an alumnus of the program, noted that Tezén, a first generation Peruvian-American, “has a deep personal affiliation to the power of educational experiences that change lives. For over 20 years Francisco has focused on developing and implementing strategies and partnerships to unlock the potential of mission-driven organizations.” Tezén was previously the chief development officer at the Food Bank For New York City, and held positions at Year Up, The New School, and Columbia Business School. Tezén majored in history and Latin American studies while at Wesleyan and earned his master’s in nonprofit management from the New School. He is married to Linda Rodriguez ’97. 

CLASS OF 1997 | 2019 | ISSUE 2

Hope 2019 has been good to you and your loved ones . . . we appreciate the updates! The class of ’97 has at least two books coming out, so be on the lookout for them.

Lauren Porosoff and her co-author husband have a new book coming out in August called Two-for-One Teaching: Connecting Instruction to Student Values. Their book is an approach to instructional design to incorporate social-emotional learning into every stage of an academic unit. Looking forward to reading it. Congratulations, Lauren!

Larisa Ortiz has been on a speaking tour promoting her book Ecology of Place. She shared the stage with Colorado governor, and now presidential candidate, John Hickenlooper ’74! They chatted backstage about their Wes connection, which is always fun. Larisa always tries to connect with Dara Katz in D.C. and really enjoys keeping up with everyone’s lives on Facebook. “Keep the good news flowing everyone! In this day and age, we all need it.” Larisa lives in Jackson Heights, Queens, with her 9-year-old son, Xavier. After 11 years as a small business owner, she just sold her consulting practice to a D.C. firm called Streetsense and will now co-lead their Research and Analytics Studio, as well as their New York office. Great news, Larisa!

Wendy Paget Henderson is the child welfare director for the State of Wisconsin. She lives in Madison with her husband and spunky daughter and spends all her free time outside and traveling. Keep up the good work—wow!

Aileen Nagle McDonough is busy running her company, 3am Writers, in Rhode Island, and often travels to NYC for business if any Wes friends would like to connect. She was excited to watch Wesleyan win the DIII national lacrosse championship at Gillette Stadium and visited Wes campus to take her son, Shane, to a lacrosse prospect day. (Now, if that doesn’t make us feel old!)We all got super teary-eyed at the idea of taking our kids to see Wesleyan as an amazing prospective college. Keep the updates coming! We love to hear from you.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2019 | ISSUE 1

Greetings, Class of 1997! Monica White wrote that in November, she was “delighted to host Matvei Yankelevich ’95 in Nottingham, U.K., where he gave several well-received talks at the University of Nottingham and a local independent bookshop about translation, small press publishing, and his own poetry.

She reconnected with former German House housemate, Nathan Eddy ’98, in London for dinner with his lovely family followed by a Wes-hosted reception with Professor William Pinch. She is looking forward to a year-long sabbatical starting to work on her next book. Monica is a lecturer in Slavonic studies at the University of Nottingham, where she focuses her research on medieval Russian and Byzantine history.

Josh and Maggie Suniewick are settling into life in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., after moving from Philadelphia two years ago. Josh shared that at our 20-year Reunion, he reconnected with fellow classmates and bandmates from The Solids (founded in 1996 at Wesleyan), Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. They decided to get the band back together, along with Pat Butler ’98. “If you are into hooky, melody-laced rock sprinkled with How I Met Your Mother references (courtesy of Carter and Craig) you can find out about upcoming shows in the NYC area at our website, Remember, you are never too old to rock and roll . . . just remember to bend at the knees.”

Ben Helphand said he was honored to be part of the Next City Vanguard, Class of 2018, which is “a gathering of the top young urban innovators working to make change in cities.” As executive director of NeighborSpace, Chicago’s land trust for community gardens, Ben has helped create a network of community-managed nature play areas across Chicago. Instead of the traditional slides and swings, he writes that they borrow elements from the natural world—boulders and hollow logs—to allow children to work with loose parts and create their own worlds.

Go, Wes ’97!

Please e-mail us your updates and thoughts, books, movies, and TV recommendations. Sasha recently read and absolutely loved Katya Apekina’s The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish, told from multiple narrators in one strange, artistic, amazing, and terrifying family, as they move between New York and New Orleans. Absolute page-turner, well told. What’s on your nightstand? (Or phone reader app?)

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2018 | ISSUE 3

Thanks for your updates, Class of 1997!

60 Minutes producer Alexandra Poolos has been nominated for an Emmy for her most recent story, a profile of the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Alexandra, we’re so proud of you!

Monica Santana Rosen

It was great to hear from Monica Santana Rosen, who wrote in to share, “It’s hard to believe, but my husband and I celebrated 21 years since the day we first met, which was just after Wesleyan graduation. We have three kids, two boys and a girl, ages 14, 10, and 6. I’m running my own consulting firm and just about to celebrate two years in business.”

Min and Alejandro Santandrea launched a new shoe brand, SantM, and had the launch party during New York Fashion Week in the former studio/home of Jean-Michele Basquiat that was owned by Andy Warhol. “We had a great Wes turn out. Thy Pham flew in from Seattle to help us. Shelby Stokes, Soraya Kernizan, Susan Lee, Susan Ha, and Josh White ’84 were there. Rebecca, the daughter of Professor Emeritus John Paoletti, represented the Paolettis. Also, received a great support from Christian Housh and his wife, Tassia Thomas, Tyler Moriguchi ’95, Michele Lau, Lauren Wolfe, Charlson Choi, and Maggie Suniewick.” Check them out at (we totally did!) And, because it’s such a small world . . . turns out Min’s kids and Sasha’s kids go to the same elementary school in NYC. And we are having coffee as soon as she’s back from Italy (ah, the shoes!).

We have exciting news from Matt Mulvey and his wife, Katie Sacksteder. They welcomed another boy, Finn Mulvey, into the world in June 2017. Katie and Matt sold their company, BeneVir Biopharm, Inc., to Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Johnson & Johnson) in July of this year, which made headlines in the hot field of cancer immunotherapy. They will remain at the helm of the company for the foreseeable future and are excited about all of the resources available at Janssen to accelerate the development of their innovative cancer treatments. But, they are most happy about being able to spend more time with their kids now that they don’t have to raise capital anymore. Congratulations, Matt and Katie! And good luck with your work discovering new therapies to fight cancer—how amazing!

Your class co-secretaries have an update. We got to spend the day together in July in NYC. Sasha and her son (age 7) and Jess and her two youngest sons (ages 9 and 6) went to lunch at Russ & Daughters at the Jewish Museum and then to the American Museum of Natural History. We lucked out on the unusually cool weather that came right after a quick summer storm. Roaming around the city together felt magical. And we cannot wait till the next Wes Reunion with all of you (mere seconds away, in 2022)! Until then, send us your photos and updates.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2018 | ISSUE 2

Hi, Class of 1997! We hope you had a lovely summer. Cyrus Bryden writes: “I have been living in Charlotte, N.C., for about 13 years and my partner, Pina, and I have three children (ages 12, 11, and 8). I am employed by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board and regulate predominantly in the financial services and energy industries. I am an active coaching volunteer for my children’s sports teams (lacrosse, soccer, and baseball). This summer, I hope to reconnect again with David Katz and his beautiful family in Destin Beach, Fla.”

Brent and Alison Keimowitz Spodek are in the Hudson Valley, where Alison is an associate professor of chemistry at Vassar College and Brent is the rabbi at Beacon Hebrew Alliance. His synagogue held a benefit concert with Dar Williams ’89. Photos are online at This summer Brent and Alison spent time with Ilana Sumka in Belgium, where she lives with her family.

Josh Suniewick writes: “Maggie and I hosted a Wesleyan reunion party at our home in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., on Memorial Day weekend. We had so much fun at our 20th last spring that it seems to be the only way to spend Memorial Day weekend. The best part was not only being surrounded by so many Wes friends, but seeing the next generation of 23 possible Wesleyan students having such a blast together.” Go to to view a group photo that includes Maggie (McLean) Suniewick, Josh Suniewick, Amani Willett, Maya Kremen, Joanna Starrels, Niko Higgins, Yaron Ben-Zvi, Tony Schloss, Alex Grashow, Carter Bays, Emma (Ditrinco) Sollars, Emma Cooper-Serber, Katharine Bailey, Kimberly King, and Mike Lenore. Other WesSpouses in attendance were Alejandro Luciano ’96, Juno Shaye ’98, and Ben Selkow ’96.

In other news, beginning July 1, we have four new AAEC officers leading the Alumni Association Executive Committee, including Kimberly King, vice chair.

That’s all for now! Take care and feel free to send us your updates and photos, which can be posted to the class notes website.

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2018 | ISSUE 1

Class of 1997, we hope your new year has been a good one so far! Winter requires extra coffee and really should have extra weekends.

Let’s start off with some lovely news from Susanne Blossom: “Sergio Barahona and I are happy to report the birth of our son, John Rodrigo Barahona Blossom, in November. I have been a public defender in Los Angeles for many years and though I love it, I am loving maternity leave even more.” Congratulations, Susanne!

Michelle Conceison wrote to share some fantastic news: “My management company, Market Monkeys, is growing and things are going well in Nashville! Our client Rose Cousins’ album ‘Natural Conclusion’ is nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical category.” Great news, great album!

We’re so happy for Leah Brown Johnson! She wrote: “I am growing as a successful entrepreneur. I run Be Equipped LLC, a training, coaching, and development company. I help new and emerging entrepreneurs and business leaders turn their visions into proven results ( I’m preparing to celebrate 20 years of service through my nonprofit, AFCOM Inc. We have been consistently serving at-risk youth who struggle with poverty and homelessness ( I’m loving life, family and business!” Amazing, Leah! We are proud of you.

Big update from Alix Olson: “Happy 2018, everybody! My partner, Jaime, and I just added a second kid to our gang. Her brother is 4. I am also about to begin as professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at Oxford College of Emory University, so we’re off to Atlanta. I’d love to meet up with folks in the area!” Wes folks in Atlanta, please email her at

That’s all for now. We love getting your updates, so send them anytime!

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |

CLASS OF 1997 | 2017 | ISSUE 3

Hi, Class of 1997. Thanks for writing in to share the lovely ways you are making the world a better place through your talents, your work and your love for your families and communities.

Huge congratulations to Joshua Dubler, assistant professor of religion at the University of Rochester, who is one of 33 national recipients of a 2016 Carnegie Award for his work studying prison abolition. More details here.

Alek Friedman Lev writes, “Desperately jealous of the amazing work that my WOW-buddy Mia Lobel has done producing the fantastic Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell, I am hosting and producing Talking Buster Keaton, a podcast about the life and work of the great filmmaker. We talk to Leonard Matlin, Teller (of Penn & Teller fame) and our very own Jeanine Basinger. Go to”

Wedding of Trevor Griffey ’97 and Allison Perlman ’97

Congratulations to Trevor Griffey and Allison Perlman on their summer wedding in Seattle. They had a huge Wesleyan Greenhouse 1993-94 posse at the wedding. Courtney Cavellier, Jennifer Kelly-Dewitt and Mike Shen, Kevin Strait, Maria Magana, Ama Greenrose, Sabelo Narasimhan, Caleb Tucker-Raymond, and Caroline Cummins. Plus, Brodie Welch ’98, Lauren Berliner ’98, Monique Daviau (Smith ‘98, attended Wesleyan for a year), Sarah Wilkes ’00, Chris Wade ’00, Katrin Wilde ’92, and Abby Bass ’98 were in attendance.

Andrew Frishman and Leigh Needleman ’96 continue to love living just outside Central Square in Cambridge, Mass. Their two kids attend a Spanish/English bilingual immersion school, together with other Wes kiddos, including Laura Warren ’98’s. Andrew is the co-executive director of Big Picture Learning ( They are doing amazing work to improve the education system in many places across the U.S. and internationally. Leigh started a new position last year as a liaison between architects and scientists assisting with the coordination of the design and construction of a very large new Harvard School for Engineering and Applied Sciences building just across the Charles River in Allston, Boston. And in their spare free time, they hang out with Jesse ’06 and Annie Leavitt ’06, and Christian Housh, and a number of other Wes folks.

Monica White is in England, teaching medieval Russian studies at the University of Nottingham. She recently visited Kazan and Vladimir with some of her students (Monica, please send us pictures —sounds amazing). In August, she was “delighted to get a visit” from Professor Emeritus Duffy White ’62 and his wife Izzy, who came to the University of Nottingham campus for lunch. “We enjoyed catching up about travels to Russia, our students, and research.”

Kevin O’Leary cannot believe it’s been 20 years since we’ve graduated. Neither can we, Kevin, neither can we. He’s living in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with husband Brian Esser and their sons Keith, 6, and Jason, 3. Kevin is a book collaborator/guide on numerous projects, including Gabrielle Union’s We’re Going to Need More Wine and Bob Roth’s Transcendental Meditation, Strength in Stillness. Kevin’s husband is a family law attorney and advocate for same-sex families, and “he is the bee’s knees.”

We look forward to hearing from you via e-mail. Your class co-secretaries,

Jessica Shea Lehmann |

Sasha Lewis Reisen |