Katherine O’Brien ’75
Katherine O’Brien ’75 was promoted to senior vice president and deputy general counsel at New York Life Insurance Company. She is responsible for managing the employment, litigation, ERISA, contracts, intellectual property, corporate transactions and administrative units of the Office of the General Counsel.
Previously, she was first vice president and deputy counsel after serving as the company’s chief diversity officer. She had joined New York Life in 1995 as a litigator, specializing in employment litigation and benefits compliance.
O’Brien earned a J.D. degree from Brooklyn Law School. At Wesleyan, she majored in English.
Sasha Chanoff '94, founder and executive director of Mapendo International.
“Mapendo International’s efforts to rescue and resettle one Darfuri family to the U.S. aired on ABC’s World News with Bob Woodruff (standing in for Diane Sawyer), Sunday, Nov. 21,” writes Sasha Chanoff ’94, founder and executive director of the Boston-based international refugee agency. Mapendo International rescues refugees in life-threatening situations by permanently relocating them to countries where they can rebuild their lives in safety and with dignity.
Earlier this year, David Low ’76 wrote about Chanoff for WesLive, when Chanoff was awarded the Charles Bronfman Prize, which recognizes an individual under the age of 50 who has contributed to the betterment of the world and has been influenced by Jewish values.
Chanoff’s work was also highlighted in the Wesleyan magazine, 2009, issue 3, in the article “Finding the Forgotten Refugees.”
Adrienne Bentman ’74
Adrienne Bentman ’74, M.D., director for the adult psychiatry residency program at the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital, received the 2010 Robert Cancro Academic Leadership Award from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP).
The Cancro award recognizes a professional serving in a leadership role for his or her contributions to the promotion of child and adolescent psychiatry.
At the annual meeting of the AACAP, Bentman presented a talk on her recent work: “The Little Engine That Could; Re-Establishing the Institute of Living’s Residencies.”
Beth Rose ‘84
Beth Rose ’84, P’14, of Sills Cummis and Gross P.C., was recognized as one of the 10 Most Admired Product Liability Attorneys by Law 360: Newswire for Business Lawyers.
Rose, whose specialty is defending pharmaceutical and medical device companies facing product liability and mass tort litigation, has “earned a reputation as a quick thinker and a team player,” according to fellow litigators who nominated her for the title.
A history major at Wesleyan, she received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and joined Sills Cummis immediately afterward. Her first case involved defending medical device manufacturer Becton Dickinson & Company in a lawsuit filed by a nurse who pricked her finger on a needle after drawing blood from an HIV-positive patient. The nurse alleged that the design was defective and without proper warnings.
Rose found this first case so intriguing that she began developing expertise in this area, even before legal specialization became common practice.
“What I really love about this type of litigation is that with each new case you have the opportunity to learn about a different product and how it was developed and labeled. It’s really interesting and it never gets boring,” Rose said in the article.
Her fellow Sills Cummis product liability attorney Stuart Feinblatt described her as “aggressive, but in a very diplomatic way. She’s 100 percent committed to the client’s interests but she’s able to interface with opposing counsel in a nice way, which reaches a consensus that’s favorable to the client.”
Peter Durwood ’86 and Grover.
Singer and composer Peter Durwood ’86, who crafts music and sound design for Sesame Workshop digital products, recently created the sound for a Sesame video that has become popular on YouTube.
In it, Grover, the furry blue monster, riffs on the Old Spice web-ads.
“I was an art major at Wes, but an unofficial music minor, particularly enjoying Mark Slobin’s Worlds of Music course, several semesters of African Drumming with Abraham Adzinyah, and Bill Lowe’s remarkable History of African-American Music,” says Durwood.
His album, Peter Durwood, will soon be available on iTunes.
Seth Halpern '09
Most people don’t become CFO of a national organization just one year out of Wesleyan—as a first job, no less—but Seth Halpern ’09 did just that.
A government major, he moved to Washington D.C. after graduation to look for employment, but the job market was difficult and a month later he was still unemployed. One morning at a local cafe he got to chatting with someone who said he worked at a software start-up, NationalField. Halpern admits that he’s always been “tech savvy” and the two hit it off. From there, he was introduced to the NationalField founders and he accepted a volunteer position with the team. A short time later, the CEO gave Halpern one of the top positions in the organization, formally naming him chief financial officer for NationalField,
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Thomas Cowhey ’94
Thomas Cowhey ’94 was appointed vice president of Aetna Investor Relations, responsible for maintaining the company’s relationship with the investor and analyst communities.
Cowhey, who joined Aetna in 2007, has most recently served the company as managing director of new business development. Prior to his affiliation with Aetna, he was a principal with Legacy Partners Group, an independent investment banking firm, and also had been a vice president at Credit Suisse First Boston. At Wesleyan, he majored in economics. He holds an MBA, with a concentration in health sector management, from Duke.
Aetna Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Joseph M. Zubretsky noted in a press release that “This new assignment makes very good use of Tom’s diverse experience, his strong knowledge of the health care industry and his familiarity with Aetna’s strategic and financial plans.”
Elise Bean ’78
Elise Bean ’78 was selected as one of this year’s most influential women lawyers in Washington, by the National Law Journal. Chosen as one of only 33—based upon reporting over the past year and nominations from the D.C. legal community— Bean is the Democratic staff director and chief counsel of the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The National Law Journal credits Bean and her fellow honorees, which include the two Supreme Court justices, with setting the legal agenda in the nation’s capital.
Bean leads a team of Capitol Hill investigators, who have explored commodities trading, money laundering, offshore tax evasion, and foreign corruption. “People don’t like to get calls from us,” Bean admitted in an article for the National Law Journal, “but we view ourselves as people who try to do a thorough, careful job.” These meticulous investigators can spend a year or more on a project—and the subcommittee can issue subpoenas if a company is deemed uncooperative.
Bean has worked for the subcommittee’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), since 1985 and has served as the Democratic staff director since 2003. A Phi Beta Kappa government major at Wesleyan, she earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan.
Judge Anthony Scirica ’62
Judge Anthony J. Scirica ’62, of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, was one of two justices presented with the 28th Annual Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Awards on Sept. 13 in Washington, D.C.
The Devitt award, administered by the American Judicature Society, is given annually to honor judges “whose careers have been exemplary, measured by their significant contribution to the administration of justice, the advancement of the rule of law, and the improvement of our society as a whole.”
William D. Johnston, president of the society, noted in the press release that, “The award is considered the highest award that can be bestowed upon a member of the federal judic
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Joseph Fins '82
Dr. Joseph J. Fins ’82, chief of the Division of Medical Ethics at Weill Cornell Medical College, has been elected to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies. IOM membership is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine.
Announced Oct. 11, at the IOM’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., Fins is among 65 new members and four foreign associates elected this year. “Each of these new members stands out as a professional whose research, knowledge, and skills have significantly advanced health and medicine and who has served as a model for others,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg in a Cornell press release.
“I am grateful for this honor and for the opportunity to be joining an organization that has done so much for America’s health.
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Diana Farrell ’87
Diana Farrell ’87, deputy assistant to the President on economic policy and deputy director of the National Economic Council, was the subject of a Fortune magazine interview. Writer Tory Newmyer was exploring the impending departure of Farrell’s boss, Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, at midterm elections.
When asked what Farrell thinks Summers’ legacy will be, she told Newmyer: “I think his legacy and the President’s legacy are going to be extraordinary. Consider the first 18 months of this administration, when Larry was really a key architect of a lot of the economic policy, it was an unprecedented time in the number of things we were faced with. It’s
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Dan Charness ’10
Dan Charness ’10 won first place in the folk/acoustic category of the Indie International Songwriting Contest for his song, “Summertime Delight,” which he also arranged produced, recorded and mixed.
A cellist since the age of four, he Charness was a Phi Beta Kappa history major at Wesleyan and has recently moved to New York City to pursue a career in music. Two weeks after arriving, he landed his first gig in the City—at Caffé Vivaldi on Nov. 7, in Greenwich Village.
While Charness spent his earlier years immersed in classical music, he used his four years at Wesleyan to develop further breadth in his musical interests—including a thesis on the Beatles and Baby-Boomers, with Professor of History Ron Schatz and Professor of Music Eric Charry as his advisers; an internship at a recording studio; and three years in The Spirits, Wesleyan’s traditional all-male a cappella group.
“I joined the Wesleyan Spirits as a sophomore,”
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