Cynthia Rockwell

O’Shaughnessy ’08, Springer ’13, Pasarow ’13 Offer Career Advice in Publishing

Three young alumni in the publishing industry Anabel Pasarow ’13, Danielle Spring ’16, and Caitlin O'Shaughnessy ’08, returned to campus to offer tips and answer questions at a panel discussion sponsored by the English Department.

Three alumnae in the publishing industry, Anabel Pasarow ’16, Danielle Springer ’13 and Caitlin O’Shaughnessy ’08, returned to campus on Feb. 24 to offer tips and answer questions at a panel discussion.

On Feb. 24, three recent Wesleyan alumnae returned to campus for a panel conversation on “Finding a Career Path in Publishing.” The event, held in Downey House, was co-sponsored by the Department of English, Writing Programs and the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing.

Caitlin O’Shaughnessy ’08, Anabel Pasarow ’16, and Danielle Springer ’13 traced their career history and offered encouragement and tips to undergraduate audience.

O’Shaughnessy, marketing manager at Penguin Press, a division of Penguin Random House, had previously worked as an editor at Viking, and in publicity at InStyle magazine. Currently, she is also part-time student in the MBA program at NYU Stern. “Anabel, Danielle, and I talk about Wesleyan all the time at Penguin,” said O’Shaughnessy, “It was really interesting to compare our paths and try to figure out the best advice to impart to future Wes grads who are looking to get into the business.”

Springer, an editorial and publisher’s assistant at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, previously worked in publicity at Dutton Books. In preparation for her career, she had attended the Denver Publishing Institute. Glad to return to campus and experiencing a certain degree of nostalgia, Springer says she found it “very rewarding being the ‘expert’ on a topic,” also commenting on the high turnout for the Friday afternoon event, “considering that it was a gorgeous warm day and Foss Hill was surely calling”—and by the questions that were asked.

Pasarow, an editorial assistant at G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Random House, majored in English and math—and finds both useful in her career. “I was so happy to be a part of this panel,” she said, adding, “I haven’t been out of school for very long, so returning to campus sort of felt like returning home. It was great to see familiar faces in Downey, where I spent so much of my time at Wes.”

Professor of English Stephanie Kuduk Weiner, who chairs the department, was also pleased to see “successful Wesleyan graduates returning to campus to give back to current students.” Grateful to the panelists, Weiner emphasized the importance of their visit: “Students today are inspired when they have the chance to meet alumni,” she said. “It helps them imagine themselves in the future.”

Wesleyan Oscar Nominees: Miranda ’02, Topping ’89, Lonergan ’84 and Lame ’04

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The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will hold their annual award ceremony to recognize excellence on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017, 8:30 p.m., ET. The Academy Awards—or “Oscars”— for releases in 2016 have four film nominations with Wesleyan connections.

Disney’s animated comedy-adventure Moana features the song “How Far I’ll Go.” With music and lyrics both by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, it is one of five nominations in the category Best Original Song and was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Common Sense Media reviewer Sandie Angulo Chen writes, “This engaging adventure triumphs because of its empowering storyline, which pays tribute to Polynesian culture, and because of its feel-good music, courtesy of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.”

Jenno Topping ’89 is one of the producers of Hidden Figures (20th Century Fox Films), along with Donna Gigliotti, Peter Chernin, Pharrell Williams and Theodore Melfi. The historical drama, about a female team of African-American mathematicians who played a vital role in the nascent years of the US space program, is one of nine films nominated for Best Picture and also received nominations for Writing (Adapted Screenplay) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Octavia Spencer). Peter Debruge of Variety called it “empowerment cinema … and one only wishes that the film had existed at the time it depicts.”

Also competing for Best Picture is Manchester by the Sea, which previewed at Sundance and was picked up for distribution by Amazon Studios. Joe Morgenstern of the Wall Street Journal calls it “a drama of surpassing beauty.” Kenneth Lonergan ’84, the writer and director, earned a place as one of five nominees in the “Best Director” category, as well as in Writing (Original Screenplay). Additional nominations included Actor in a Leading Role (Casey Affleck), Actor in a Supporting Role (Lucas Hedges), and Actress in a Supporting Role (Michelle Wiliams). As an additional note, Jennifer Lame ’04 served as film editor for the production.

And in another Wesleyan connection, David Laub, visiting professor in film studies at Wesleyan, is an acquisitions executive at A24, the distributor of Moonlight, the Best Picture nominee of which the New York Times wrote, “And perhaps the most beautiful thing about Moonlight is its open-endedness, its resistance to easy summary or categorization. . . . To be afforded a window into another consciousness is a gift that only art can give. To know Chiron [the film’s main character] is a privilege.”

Bronstein ’89, Selkow ’96 join Reza Aslan for CNN Documentary Series ‘Believer’

“We have to give a shout-out to Jeanine Basinger, who changed all of our lives with her incredible mind and teaching,” Bronstein adds. “Exactly—teaching the principles of story, the foundation of drama and cinema, which we were rigorous in trying to apply to the series.”—Selkow Adds Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies:  “I am really looking forward to seeing this show.  I’m very excited that two of my very best film students, Ben and Liz, are working together on this.  It’s a good example of the collaboration that all students who study film at Wesleyan learn.

Two film alumni, Liz Bronstein ’89 and Ben Selkow ’96 collaborated on the new CNN series, Believer. “We have to give a shout-out to Jeanine Basinger, who changed all of our lives with her incredible mind and teaching,” Bronstein notes.
Selkow concurs, adding “She taught us the principles of story, the foundation of drama and cinema, which we were rigorous in trying to apply to the series.”
For her part, Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies says she’s looking forward to the show. “I’m very excited that two of my very best film students, Ben and Liz, are working together on this. It’s a good example of the collaboration that all students who study film at Wesleyan learn.”

A new CNN original series, Believer with Reza Aslan, premieres Sunday, March 5, at 10 p.m. ET. Billed as a “spiritual adventure series,” in which Aslan, acclaimed author and religious scholar, will “immerse himself in the world’s most fascinating faith-based groups to experience life as a true believer.” The show employs the talents of two alumni who majored in film at Wesleyan: executive producer and show runner Liz Bronstein ’89 and director Ben Selkow ’96. Additionally, Professor of Religion Liza McAlister provided both academic scholarship and on-the-ground connections when the crew traveled to Haiti for the segment on Vodou, which will air as third in the series.

Bronstein joined the project soon after a close friend sold Believer to CNN. “He told me, ‘This is the show you were born to run—and he was right.” Growing up with a “spiritually curious mother” who’d often invite different gurus to their home—and with a sister who’d left to join what the family viewed as a cult—Bronstein welcomed this opportunity “to tell the stories that I’d always wanted to tell.”

She began searching for a nonfiction television director who was also a filmmaker. Selkow fit the bill, and, like Bronstein, came with a unique backstory: he had spent most of his youth living with his mother on a religious commune. Both envisioned the show as an immersive experience. The team formed a tight bond, which became crucial in what Selkow calls “dicey situations.”

In one of these (see the trailer), Aslan is seated on the sand next to a cannibalistic tribe member, whose gestures and mood turn threatening. Aslan calls Selkow over from off-camera for assistance.

“The adage in filmmaking is that when you stop rolling, that’s when the action gets good—so we kept rolling,” Selkow recalls. “And It’s amazing to watch the scene unfold, with Reza slowly realizing that he’s in a perhaps dangerous situation and figuring out how to handle it.”

The new CNN series, Believer with Reza Aslan takes viewers on an immersive tour with the noted scholar, with Liz Bronstein ’89 as executive producer and Ben Selkow ’96 as director.

The new CNN series, Believer with Reza Aslan takes viewers on an immersive tour with the noted scholar, with Liz Bronstein ’89 as executive producer and Ben Selkow ’96 as director. (Photo © Ben Selkow)

One of the biggest challenges in filming the show was gaining access to religious communities that were often closed off and wary of outsiders. Bronstein found that working with academic scholars who had done extensive field research often opened a lot of doors in local communities.

For the episode exploring Vodou in Haiti, she researched foremost scholars: “Everybody we talked to said, ‘Liza McAlister is the one.’”

In the episode, McAlister provides Aslan with both the historical and cultural perspective on Vodou. “But more than that, she acted as an incredible ambassador and helped us get access to people we wouldn’t have known,” said Bronstein.

“You could see her years of work in the community,” said Selkow. “She was deeply trusted—and Reza would mine her for as much info as he could off-camera.”

More than gaining access, integrating cultural knowledge, and immersing themselves in the experience, the filmmakers had a further challenge:

“How are we going to tell stories about religion in a way that’s visually and emotionally exciting?” asks Bronstein. “In hour-long episodes, how will Reza participate? Scenes of people praying and mediating don’t make for the best TV. So figuring out what Reza would be doing was paramount.”

The team worked with a thesis statement for each episode, often finding the dramatic structure through a conflict. “Most episodes look at a religion that’s under siege or at least highly misunderstood for a variety of reasons,” Selkow says.

Bronstein gives an example: “For Scientology, we asked, ‘Is this what a religious reformation looks like?’ We focus on people who have left the Church of Scientology but still believe that L. Ron Hubbard is their prophet. We compare it to the Protestant reformation. The true believers featured in the series feel like, ‘The church may be corrupt, but we’re taking back the religion and doing it our way.'”

Despite preparation, the team found surprises: “With our Wesleyan film background, Liz and I know that you go into each documentary super prepared—and the outline goes out the window the first day your feet hit the ground. We’d watch Reza starting every time with ‘All right; this is what I can expect to happen,’ and then there would be a great revelation and we’d watch him go through that—and it was extraordinary.”

While the show was filmed a year ago, the two agree that the series is even more relevant today. “It demonstrates compassion for others, domestically and globally,” says Selkow.

Bronstein concurs. “During the filming of each segment we had different people on the set look at the camera and finish this sentence: ‘I believe…’. I thought it might be a cool way to end each episode. It was just an experiment we thought we’d try and it ended up working pretty well. Now CNN is doing a campaign where users can send in their own ‘I believe’ videos. In these crazy times there’s so much need for tolerance and respect for others who don’t share your beliefs.”

The production crew of Believer joined Reza Aslan in Mexico for ceremonies celebrating Santa Muerte. (Photo © Ben Selkow)

The production crew of Believer joined Reza Aslan in Mexico for ceremonies honoring Santa Muerte. (Photo © Ben Selkow)

Butler ’90 on JFK’s Legacy

With the approach of the centennial of John F. Kennedy’s birth, it’s fair to ask: Will his legacy endure?
By Tom Kertscher

Emily Jennett Butler '90, a grant writer at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston, believes the JFK legacy is enduring and relevan today.

Emily Jennett Butler ’90, a grant writer at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston, believes the JFK legacy is relevant today.

Last July [2016], President Barack Obama signed a law creating the John F. Kennedy Centennial Commission, which will develop and carry out activities to mark the 100th anniversary of Kennedy’s birth on May 29, 2017.

Kennedy, polls have shown, continues to be among the most highly regarded presidents. But only about a third of Americans were alive when he was assassinated in 1963.

So, it’s fair to ask: Will Kennedy will remain relevant?

Emily Jennett Butler ’90, a grant writer at the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation in Boston, says “yes” and offers data to prove her point.

While not everyone, of course, recalls the Kennedy years as an idyllic time, his appeal endures:
● In 2015, the library released an iPad app for kids—“The JFK Challenge”—that was featured as a best new app in the Apple Store. It has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

● Of the library’s 80,000 Twitter followers, more than 40 percent are age 34 and under; and of its 80,000 Facebook fans, 35 percent are in that age group. On Facebook, the 25-34 age group is the most engaged with the library on Facebook.

● The library recently launched the New Frontier Network, a group for young professionals in the Boston area. Its membership of 350 has doubled in the past year.

“I think most of the people who join the network are looking for ways to give back, and certainly JFK’s call to ‘ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country’ still resonates today,” Butler said. “Part of the New Frontier Network’s focus is service projects in the community. So by joining this group, many members are fulfilling a very strong desire to stay engaged and to make a positive contribution to society, locally and globally. A lot of the people currently in the network are involved in politics and believe strongly, as JFK did, that government can be a force for good.”

“I do think it’s probably good for the national psyche to remember a great leader who brought people together.”

Tom Kertscher is a PolitiFact Wisconsin reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the author of two sports books.

Jasper ’98 Writes/Directs Sundance Hit Patti Cake$

The cast of Patti Cake$: Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty, Siddharth Dhananjay, director Geremy Jasper, Danielle Macdonald, and Bridget Everett, which was a Sundance hit. (Photo by Daniel Bergeron)

The cast of Patti Cake$: Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty, Siddharth Dhananjay, director Geremy Jasper, Danielle Macdonald, and Bridget Everett, which was a Sundance hit. (Photo by Daniel Bergeron)

Patti Cake$, the debut film from writer-director Geremy Jasper ’98, has earned the second-highest deal of Sundance so far this year, with a bid of $9.5 million for distribution rights from Fox Searchlight. Producers are Dan Janvey ’06 and Michael Gottwald ’06; Matthew Greenfield ’90 is senior vice-president of production at Fox Searchlight—all Wesleyan film majors.

Jasper’s film tells the story of Patricia Dombrowski, (played by Danielle Macdonald)—also known as Killa P and Patti Cake$—an aspiring rapper in New Jersey. In his review, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn called the film the “best hip-hop movie since Hustle & Flow.”

The film premiered at Sundance’s Eccles Theater on Monday afternoon, receiving two standing ovations, rave reviews—and the Fox Searchlight deal.

Indiewire’s Chris O’Falt ’99, who was also a film major, interviewed Jasper for “How Patti Cake$ Director Geremy Jasper Went from Indie Rocker to Breakout Filmmaker” and Jasper told him, “It’s probably about as autobiographical a story as I’m capable of telling.” O’Falt described Patti Cake$ as “one of the most-anticipated films hitting Sundance this year, ” which” has put Jasper on Hollywood’s director watchlists.”

In tracing Jasper’s biography, from boyhood in a New Jersey suburb, O’Falt notes the similarity to that of the fictional Patricia Dombrowski.

Jasper, who was an American Studies major, had returned to his parents’ home after college. After touring with his band, Fever, Jasper was introduced to Benh Zeitlin ’06—a Wesleyan film major—through a mutual friend. Zeitlin, who was headed to New Orleans to make his first short film, Glory at Sea, invited Jasper to star in the 2008 project. (Zeitlin’s first feature film, four years later, was Beasts of the Southern Wild in 2012, which won the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, at that year’s Sundance Film Festival—among numerous other awards.)

Hurricane Sandy in 2012 again brought Jasper back to parents’ house—this time to help with cleanup—and he began writing rap lyrics, along with the initial version of the Patti Cake$ screenplay. Accepted into the Sundance Writing Lab, with Quentin Tarantino as his first advisor, Jasper wrote nearly a dozen more drafts of his screenplay and was invited back to their Directors Lab.

Reflecting on the process, Jasper told O’Falt, “This has been the most fun, intoxicating and rewarding year of my life making this film….I’m so thankful for the winding path that got me here, but there’s something about it that feels so right about it.”

Neufeld ’79 Named St. Jude Physician-In-Chief, Clinical Director

Ellis Neufeld ’79, MD., PhD, joins St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to lead clinical efforts and patient care programs.

Ellis Neufeld ’79, M.D., PhD, joins St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to lead clinical efforts and patient care programs.

Ellis Neufeld, M.D., PhD., was appointed clinical director, physician-in-chief and executive vice president of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, an internationally renowned center that pioneers research for and offers treatment to children with catastrophic illnesses. He will begin his new position at the Memphis medical center in March.

Neufeld, a pediatric oncologist with a global profile, is a longtime Harvard Medical School faculty member, serving most recently as associate chief of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. He was also medical director at the Boston Hemophilia Center and held the Egan Family Foundation Chair in Transitional Medicine at Harvard Medical School as a professor of pediatrics.

In a press releaseSt. Jude President and Chief Executive Officer James Downing, M.D., said: “Dr. Neufeld’s leadership and experience will help steer St. Jude clinical operations as we expand our patient care programs, increase the number of patients treated and work to set the standard for pediatric cancer care delivery.”

A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan who was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Neufeld earned his doctoral degrees at Washington University in St. Louis. He completed specialty training in pediatrics and medical genetics at Boston Children’s Hospital and in pediatric hematology/oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children’s.

 

Bissell ’88 Balances Social Impact, Scale in Ethnic Goods Retailer Fabindia

William Bissell is on the cover of Forbes Magazine in India.

William Bissell ’88 is on the cover of Forbes India.

William Bissell ’88, managing director of Fabindia, a retail enterprise begun by Bissell’s father, John, in 1960, is featured on the cover of Forbes India on Jan. 20, a special issue on social impact. “A Fab New World: Not Only is Ethnic Goods Retailer Fabinidia Spreading its Wings, It Continues to Shape the Lives of Thousands of Rural Artisans,” the cover line reads.

The article, by Forbes India staff writer Anshul Dhamija, details the beginnings of the company, as an exporter of hand-loomed fabrics and furnishings with only one initial retail store, which opened in New Delhi in 1976. The second opened in the same city in 1994. William Bissell took the helm in 1999, after his father’s death in 1998. The younger Bissell had returned to India after graduating from Wesleyan, establishing an artisans’ cooperative, the Bhadrajun Artisans Trust.

Forbes India charts the astronomic—yet socially conscious—growth of the company since the turn of the century. William Bissell, with a vision to redesign the stores as “retail experience centers” (more than tripling the size, offering cafes, “children’s zones,” and on-site tailoring), plans to open 40 of these centers across the country in the next year-and-half, many as franchise opportunities—all the while maintaining the company’s commitment to local artisans and traditional crafts. Of particular interest is the high percentage of women who are employed by Fabindia in a country not noted for providing financial opportunities for females.

Nowell ’48, Lasker Prizewinner for Cancer Chromosome Finding, Dies at 88

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter C. Nowell ’48 died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88.

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48 died Dec. 28, 2016. He was 88 and was a trustee emeritus of Wesleyan.

Acclaimed cancer researcher Dr. Peter Nowell ’48, the Gaylord P. and Mary Louise Harnwell Emeritus Professor and former chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine, died Dec. 28, 2016, of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 88.

A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan, Nowell earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine in 1952. He joined the faculty in 1956 as a member of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, later serving as chair. He was also the first director of the University of Pennsylvania Cancer Center, now known as the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1960, Nowell and colleague David Hungerford, then a graduate student working at the Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Institute for Cancer Research, “made a startling observation that the number 22 chromosome in the tumor cells of individuals suffering from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) was abnormally small,” explains writer Bonnie Cook in the Philly.com obituary for Nowell. “The research broke new ground because it was the first consistent chromosome abnormality found in any kind of malignancy.” This came to be called “the Philadelphia chromosome.”

To put the enormity of the discovery in perspective, New York Times writer Denise Grady spoke to Mark Greene, director of the Immunobiology and Experimental Pathology Division at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who told her that, back in this era, “The notions of cancer were so bizarre. It was a total conundrum. There was no consistent theory at that time that was even recognized.”

“The finding,” wrote Grady, “published in 1960, took cancer research in a new direction, leading to an extraordinary advance by other scientists three decades later: the drug Gleevec. For many patients, Gleevec transformed chronic myeloid leukemia from a fatal disease to a chronic one that can be kept under control for many years.”

In 2007, Nowell reflected on his work in a paper published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, “Discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome: A personal perspective.” Nowell’s son, Michael, told Philly.com writer Cook, “He lived long enough to see it developed into treatment to allow individuals to lead longer lives.”

Nowell was named a Distinguished Alumnus of Wesleyan in 1968. Among the many other honors and awards Nowell received were the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award, the 1998 Albert Lasker Clinical Medical Research Award (often called “the American Nobel Prize”), and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Life Science. He served on Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees for 15 years and was elected trustee emeritus of the university.

Ainspan ’88 Receives Katzell Award for Work with Veterans, Research-Based Insight

Nathan Ainspan ’88, the editor of The Handbook of Psychosocial Interventions for Veterans and Service Members and When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, received the Raymond A. Katzell Award in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Nathan Ainspan ’88, the editor of The Handbook of Psychosocial Interventions for Veterans and Service Members and When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, received the Raymond A. Katzell Award in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Nathan Ainspan ’88, an industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologist with the Department of Defense’s Transition to Veterans Program Office, has received the Raymond A. Katzell Award in I-O Psychology from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) for his work improving the lives of military veterans and for his commitment to promoting research-based insights designed to improve organizations and the lives of individuals.

Ainspan’s work has focused on influencing policy and educating service members, veterans, clinicians, and corporate leaders to improve the military-to-civilian transition process. The editor of When the Warrior Returns: Making the Transition at Home, The Handbook of Psychosocial Intervention for Service Members, and Returning Wars’ Wounded, Injured, and Ill: A Reference Handbook, he has just begun editing another handbook to guide private-sector human resource professionals on hiring and retaining military veterans in their companies.

An American Studies major at Wesleyan, he earned his doctorate from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He attributes his interest in I-O psychology to a course he took at Wesleyan and traces his work with veterans from there.

Christopher ’54 Remembered for Playing Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H

William Christopher’54 was Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection.)

William Christopher’54 was Father Francis Mulcahy on the hit 1970s-1980s TV series “M*A*S*H.” (Credit 20th Century Fox, via Everett Collection.)

Actor William Christopher ’54, best known for his role as Father Francis Mulcahy in the popular television comedy/drama series M*A*S*H, died Dec. 31, 2016, at his home in Pasadena, Calif. Christopher’s Mulcahy was a gentle Roman Catholic chaplain assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War on the CBS series, which aired from 1972 through 1983.

A theater major at Wesleyan, Christopher began his acting career in New York, playing in Broadway and Off-Broadway productions before moving to Los Angeles, where he worked in television and appeared in a number of popular shows.

In a New York Times article, writer Liam Stack quotes Loretta Swit—M*A*S*H nurse Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan—who called Christopher “‘TV’s quintessential padre… It was the most perfect casting ever known. He was probably responsible for more people coming back to the church.’”

Schwartz ’94 Provides Medical Assistance in Ecuador with Team Rubicon

during the hike to get one of these villages.  Some of the villages in Ecuador are rather remote in Jungle locations.  There are no roads.  Getting to these locations means walking through the Jungle to get there.  Many of the locals do it on Donkey back (we sorely regretted not taking more time to find donkeys, by the way).  It had recently rained the day before, and many of the usual trails were damaged or unpassable due to landslides and washout.  Where the trails were passable, the mud was as high as our hips and almost impossible to walk through.  We found it was easier to just hike IN the river at certain points rather than stay on the trails. 

“Some of the villages in Ecuador are rather remote in jungle locations,” says Dan Schwartz ’94, at right. “There are no roads. Many of the locals do it on donkey back (we sorely regretted not taking more time to find donkeys, by the way). It had recently rained, and many of the usual trails were washed out or damaged by landslides. Where the trails were passable, the mud was as high as our hips.  We found it was easier to just hike in the river at certain points rather than stay on the trails.”

Last spring, Dan Schwartz ’94 returned from Ecuador where he worked as a physician with Team Rubicon as a part of a rapid-deployment disaster medical assistance team after a 7.8M earthquake hit the area on April 16, 2016. Team Rubicon provided rescue, medical and reconnaissance aid to remote villages that could not be reached by the local government or non-governmental organizations.

“One of our mottos is, ‘We go where the others can’t or won’t,” Schwartz says.

Team Rubicon, a group of military veterans and first responders, was formed in 2010. In its first mission, the team brought lifesaving equipment and supplies to Haiti, which had been devastated by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0.

Schwartz joined Team Rubicon in 2015, only a year and a half before getting that phone call on April 21. “‘Can you go to Ecuador? Let us know—your flight leaves in eight hours.’” He was on board.

Saint John ’99 Named Women in Music Executive of the Year

Bozoma Saint John, photographed on Nov. 7, 2016 at Smashbox Studios in Culver City. (Photo by Ramona Rosales, appearing in BillBoard.)

Bozoma Saint John, photographed on Nov. 7, 2016 at Smashbox Studios in Culver City. (Photo by Ramona Rosales, appearing in Billboard.)

Bozoma Saint John ’99, head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple Music, was named Women in Music executive of the year.

In an article for Billboard.com, writer Shirley Halperin interviewed Saint John, describing the recent months that catapulted the music executive into the industry’s spotlight and beyond. “A year ago, she was the streaming service’s secret weapon,” Halperin wrote. “Now, after a headline-making onstage appearance and a series of high-profile, star-studded ads, she’s the (glamorous) new face of Apple Music.”

Previously at Beats, Saint John had been only three months at that the job when Apple music acquired the company in 2014 and invited her to head up Apple’s music marketing division. In June of 2016 when she took the stage at Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference, Saint John brought a whole new perspective to the conference, reaching beyond the engineers in the auditorium with an approach to music marketing that grabbed attention.

Saint John explained to Halperin: “’The strategy was to talk to the people outside—those who are going to be watching in their office or on the phone, the people on social media,’ she says. ‘They need to feel like their best girlfriend just told them about this cool new thing. It needed to feel fun because that’s what the ­experience of music is.'”

Active in the Wesleyan community, Saint John was recently announced as a member of the selection committee for the first-ever Wesleyan University Hamilton Prize for Creativity. She is a member of the President’s Council and served as keynote speaker at WesFest 2016, the April event for admitted students and their families.