President Barack Obama has named Ian Bassin ’98 to be a deputy associate counsel in the Office of Counsel to the President. Bassin recently served as a member of the Education Policy Working Group for the Presidential Transition Team, and had earlier served as the Florida Policy Director on the Obama Campaign for Change.
Previously, he served as a law clerk to Judge Sidney R. Thomas of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He earned his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Andrew Seibert ’86 Promoted to President of SmartMoney Andrew Seibert has been named president of SmartMoney, a joint venture between Hearst Corporation and Dow Jones & Co. Seibert will continue in his current position as vice president and publisher of SmartMoney’s Customs Solutions, the venture’s successful custom publishing arm. In his expanded role, Seibert will be responsible for the circulation, advertising and marketing operations of SmartMoney magazine as well as for SmartMoney.com.
In its cover story, the January 2009 issue of Written By calls Joss Whedon ’87 a web pioneer for his self-produced “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog,” which tells the story of a young wannabe super villain and initially aired on the web in July.
“The show was a web pioneer, streaming online for free before becoming available for sale on iTunes, where it shot to the top of the charts,” Written By says. “Although there’s no way to tell where it ranks in terms of online programming, it is certifiably the most successful web musical of all time. Whedon’s traits are on display—humor, humanity, musical chops, reversal of expectations, tragic twists—but serving a new medium and no masters.”
Time magazine listed the show in its Top 50 inventions of 2008, at number 15.
Lisa Rosen ’86 wrote the article; she first met Whedon when they were at Wesleyan together. “He struck me as ridiculously funny, smart, and engaging, with a playful way around words. I didn’t know that back then he used a Brother manual typewriter that he named Mutant Enemy, which he still owns but can’t find ribbons for,” she says.
Whedon also is the creator of Dollhouse, scheduled to air on Fox in February.
Michael Bennet '87, superintendent of Denver Public Schools, meets with students from OpenWorld Learning's program at Castro Elementary School in Denver.
Michael Bennet ’87, designated to fill a vacant Senate seat from Colorado, told The New York Times in January that he would go to Washington believing there is “no problem too tough to withstand innovative thinking.”
Bennet, son of Wesleyan President Emeritus Douglas J. Bennet ’59, is the superintendent of schools in Denver. Colorado’s governor, Bill Ritter Jr., selected him to replace Sen. Ken Salazar, nominated as interior secretary for the Obama administration.
Bennet told the Times he would focus on health care, the economy and education. He has gained prominence as superintendent, working with Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper ’74.
In a statement, then President-elect Obama said, “His breakthrough work at the helm of Denver’s schools has reflected that commitment, and established Michael as one of the nation’s leading education reformers.”
The Times credited him with turning around a school system “replete with problems” despite his having little experience as an education administrator. Student performance on standardized tests has improved during his tenure.
Justin Oberman ’96 is planning a run for the House seat that soon will be vacated by Rahm Emanuel in the Illinois 5th district. The date for the election will not be set until Emanuel officially resigns to become President-elect Barack Obama’s chief of staff.
Oberman is an authority on transportation and homeland security, having served as a founding member and senior executive of the Transportation Security Administration. From 2003 through 2005, he was TSA’s assistant administrator for Transportation Threat Assessment and Credentialing. He was responsible for the agency’s programs that identify known or potential terrorists threats to the nation’s transportation system. His office oversaw the still-ongoing implementation of a new passenger pre-screening system for domestic aviation, the Registered Traveler program to expedite passenger screening, the development of a biometric smart card for more than one million workers at seaports, and a program to conduct background checks for all TSA employees and contractors.
He subsequently co-founded NEXA Capital Partners, a specialty financial advisory firm. In 2007, he joined President-elect Obama’s advisory committee on homeland security.
Sean Patch ’02 knows how to beat the morning rush—he paddles across the Hudson River to his Manhattan teaching job in a kayak.
The New York Post caught up with Patch, a former Wall Street trader who started boating to work this past summer to save money after the cost of a ferry ride nearly doubled.
“Patch, a 29-year-old high school math teacher, unties the 17-foot kayak he keeps at a dock on the Weehawken waterfront,” said the Post. Pulling on an orange life jacket, he grabs a foghorn, a safety light and a drybag holding his laptop and his work clothes, and heads out into the river. When he reaches Pier 66, he gets dressed for work, picks up his bicycle and pedals to Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities on West 18th Street.
“‘It adds a little adventure to the day,'”Patch told the Post.
He reverses the commute at the day’s end, winding up at a yacht club, where he lives on a 30-year-old sailboat he docks for $400 a month.
Patch is no stranger to life on the water. When he left his home state of Maine for New York, he arrived on a sailboat. He spent 18 months on a sailing trip to the Bahamas before becoming a teacher through the nonprofit New York City Teaching Fellows. He also co-founded his own nonprofit, Hudson River Community Sailing, dedicated to making the sport of sailing accessible to more New Yorkers.
Undeterred by river traffic or occasional rough water, he told the Post that his goal was to make it through the winter.