Tag Archive for alumni achievements

Wesleyan Presence Celebrates BRC Success at The Way Home Gala; Swanson ’77 Honored

Richard Swanson ’77, a board member of The Bowery Residents’ Committee, was honored at The Way Home Gala, amidst a turnout of Wesleyan alumni also affiliated with the New York organization (see more photos below)

On June 12, Bowery Residents’ Committee (BRC), one of New York City’s largest providers of housing and services for homeless adults, honored longtime BRC board member Richard Swanson ’77 at the organization’s seventh annual gala. Swanson, a trustee of BRC, is managing director and the general counsel of York Capital Management, as well as a member of the firm’s executive, operating and valuation committees.

On the BRC website, Swanson explains his decision to join the board as his effort “to be able to give something back to the City of New York, which has treated me so well over my legal career.… We all have a responsibility to our fellow citizens who are less fortunate than ourselves.”

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.

New Book by Arndt ’92 Explores How the American Right Created Trump

The Right's Road to Serfdom, by Chris ArndtIn The Right’s Road to Serfdom: The Danger of Conservatism Unbound: From Hayek to Trump (Bulkington Press, 2016), Christopher F. Arndt ‘92 argues that conservatism is not what it pretends to be and that the American Right created Donald Trump. “There’s a destructive logic that has led the so-called ‘Party of Liberty’ to nominate an authoritarian like Donald Trump as its leader,” says Arndt, a former Wall Street executive and portfolio manager, in the press materials for the book. “I wrote the book to explain how this happened—to offer a readable, yet substantive account of recent political developments and do so in the context of the principles of political freedom that are common to us all.”

Below, News @ Wes talks with Arndt about the book, the subsequent election of Donald Trump, and the future.

What prompted you to write The Right’s Road to Serfdom?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding recent political developments, and in particular political developments on the American Right.  I wrote the book to clarify recent events, to offer a warning, and also to serve as a timely reminder of the American ideal of Liberty. That’s a pretty general answer so let me provide an example:

In early September of 2016, the Dallas Morning News—a famously conservative newspaper—wrote an editorial urging its readership to reject Trump’s bid for the presidency. In doing so, the editorial writers of the paper noted that “Trump is—or has been—at odds with nearly every GOP

Richardson ’60 Publishes Bio of Urban Development Pioneer Shepherd

Alexander Robey Shepherd, by John P. RichardsonAlexander Robey Shepherd: The Man Who Built the Nation’s Capital, by John P. Richardson ’60 (Ohio University Press, 2016), tells the story of urban development pioneer and public works leader Alexander Robey Shepherd, who was instrumental in building the infrastructure of the nation’s capital when it was knee-deep in mud and disrepair after the Civil War. In fact it was Shepherd’s leadership, says Richardson, that made it possible for the city to finally realize the vision of French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant, some 80-plus years after George Washington appointed L’Enfant to plan what was then known as the new “Federal City.”

“Shepherd did not build the buildings, but he built the infrastructure that made it possible to develop the city we see,” says Richardson, a retired intelligence officer and Middle East specialist who spent more than 30 years researching Shepherd before writing his book. “Much of Shepherd’s work is below the ground but critical to a modern city.”

Alexander Robey Shepherd was born in Washington in 1835. After his father’s early death, Shepherd left school at the age of 13 and worked his way up from apprentice to owner of a plumbing company. After serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, he started a second career—in politics.

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.

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.

Aubry ’89 Pens Science Fiction Book for Young Adults

Edward Aubry '89 courtesy of Curiosity Quills Press.

Edward Aubry ’89.

Edward Aubry ’89 is the author of a new young adult science fiction book, Prelude to Mayhem, published by Curiosity Quills Press in November 2016.

Prelude to Mayhem is the first book out of five in the Mayhem Wave series. The next installment is slated for release in mid-2017, according to Lisa Gus, managing partner at Curiosity Quills Press.

In this apocalyptic novel, Harrison Cody’s world is in ruins. He follows a mysterious voice on the radio as he and his pixie sidekick travel on foot across a terrifyingly random landscape. They discover Dorothy O’Neill, who has had to survive among monsters when her greatest worry used to be how to navigate high school. Together they search for what remains of Chicago, and the hope that civilization can be rebuilt.

Aubry, who studied music composition at Wesleyan, is the author of the young adult books Unhappenings (2015), Caprice (2012), and Static Mayhem (2010). He lives in rural Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters, where he has taught high school math for the past 12 years.

Barnwell ’89 Explores Voting, Millennial Women of Color in Upcoming Documentary

Michele Barnwell '89, courtesy of LinkedIn

Michele Barnwell ’89. (Photo by Marc Baptiste)

Michele Barnwell ’89 spent the summer filming a political documentary, Party Girls: Exploring Politics in America, a film that “follows a small group of millennial women of color who travel the country engaging in the politic process.” The documentary aims to air around Election Day 2016 as both an independent film and a six-part web series through PBS affiliate ITVS.

Barnwell, director and producer, traveled across the United States following six students as they prepare to vote for the first time this November. Barnwell’s aim is to make this a bi-partisan project and will feature “real conversations on immigration, mass incarceration, police brutality, equal pay, and education reform.”

“Women and women of color are absolutely key to the American electorate,” she said. “I’m doing Party Girls to amplify the voices of millennial women of color first-time voters. And I promise you, they have so much to say and it’s not always what you might think.”

Barnwell, who was an African American studies major at Wesleyan, continues, “Much of this experience was positioned to ask a question that I believed my Wesleyan experience had in fact answered for me personally. That is, can a diverse group of intelligent critical thinkers who are not all aligned politically still find common ground and even friendship?”

Barnwell is the principal executive of Reel Roost, Inc., a  transmedia production company specializing in story-driven-content creation and production. She has worked extensively as a television showrunner and executive producer. Her work as a producer in nonfiction television, short-form branded entertainment, web-based clips, music videos, pilots, specials, and full series has been delivered for: the CW, HBO, Fox, MTV, Lifetime, E!, BET, Centric, Oxygen, TLC, STYLE, Intel, and the UK’s Channel 4—where she sold and delivered a nonfiction television pilot.

Graves ’81 Examines Campaign Communication through Behavioral Science

Christopher Graves ’81

Christopher Graves ’81

Christopher Graves ’81 is the global chairman of Ogilvy Public Relations and formerly held senior positions with CNBC Asia and CNBC Europe. This summer the Rockefeller Foundation and ideas42 selected him for a prestigious Bellagio Residency, where he has continued his work to turn findings from cognitive neuroscience and behavioral economics into practical applications in communications.

In this election season, Graves has co-authored several online posts for Harvard Business Review, analyzing communications from the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump campaigns. Below are highlights with links to the full posts:

The Art and Science Behind the Negative TV Ads of Trump and Clinton

There is a deep and deeply confusing body of research on negative ads and voter turnout.  There have been findings that negative ads: a) have no impact; b) decrease voter turnout; c) increase voter turnout; d) both increase and decrease turnout depending on the party and the timing.  One recent study looking back more than a decade says negative ads work better to mobilize Republican voters than Democrats. Another claims to find that Independents stop voting when both major parties go negative.

Kail ’99, Miranda ’02 Honored at the National Archives Foundation

The National Archives Foundation presented its 2016 Records of Achievement Awards to Wesleyan alumni, Tony and Emmy Award-winning film and theater director, Thomas Kail ’99, and Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, lyricist, and performer, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, at its annual Gala on Sept. 25.

According to the National Archives Foundation, “The Records of Achievement Award is an annual award given to individuals whose work has cultivated a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States through the use of original records.” Kail and Miranda were honored for their collective work on the Tony, Grammy, and Pulitzer Prize Award-winning Broadway musical, Hamilton.

In an article published by The Washington Post, Miranda credited the National Archives for offering the raw material and documents that laid the foundation for the Hamilton story, saying, “without these gems and genuine artifacts, there’s no story to tell.” Kail, on the other hand, was happy to share this moment with his mother, an archivist at Tudor Place: “I think the most excited I’ve been, was calling my mom and telling her that we had a chance to come to the Archives.” The duo, as part of the program, treated audience members to a full explanation of their creative process, using primary source documents to expand upon and flesh out parts of Hamilton’s life story.

More information is online here.

Brown University Provost Locke ’81 Receives Society for Progress Medal

Brown University Provost Richard Locke received one of five inaugural Progress Medals from the Society for Progress. (Nick Dentamaro/Brown University)

Brown University Provost Richard Locke ’81 received one of five inaugural Progress Medals from the Society for Progress. (Photo by Nick Dentamaro/Brown University)

Richard Locke ’81, Brown University provost and professor of political science and international and public affairs, was recently awarded one of only five inaugural Progress Medals from the Society for Progress. The Society, a group of scholars and leaders both independent and academically diverse, selected an international cohort to receive the four medals in scholarship and one in leadership with the “hope and hypothesis…that these medals will help attract and accelerate intellectual and practical attention to the moral dilemmas emergent in our modern economy.”

Locke, a scholar and authority on international labor relations and worker rights, and comparative political economy, was recognized “for work on labor justice in global supply chains and the influence and limits of private standards in integrating equity and efficiency,” as the Society stated in their announcement.

“I am both honored and humbled to be a recipient of this award,” Locke said in a news release from Brown University.

“Throughout my career, I have been challenged and inspired by issues of fairness, justice and human rights, and I have had the great privilege of engaging in research focused on understanding and improving working conditions and labor rights. It is particularly gratifying that, through this new award, the Society for Progress is emphasizing the role and value of university-based research in addressing some of society’s most pressing issues.”

Others who received these awards included Klaus Schwab, former professor of business policy at the University of Geneva and founder of the World Economic Forum, as well as Indra Nooyi, chair and CEO of PepsiCo, who received the leadership award.

In addition to the gold Progress Medal, each award winner received $100,000 from the Society. Locke used the funds to contribute to endowed scholarships he had established at Brown and at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Locke, who holds a doctorate from MIT, served on the faculty for 25 years. He joined the faculty of Brown University in 2013, serving as the Howard R. Swearer Director of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and he was appointed provost in July 2015.

 

Fecteau ’91, Nelson ’94 Recipients of MacArthur Genius Grants

Vincent Fecteau '91 and Maggie Nelson '94 received MacArthur "genius grants" Sept. 22. 

Vincent Fecteau ’91 and Maggie Nelson ’94 received MacArthur “genius grants” on Sept. 22.

Two Wesleyan alumni are recipients of the 2016 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, commonly known as the “genius grants.”

Vincent Fecteau ’91 and Maggie Nelson ’94 each received a no-strings-attached $625,000 grant for their exceptional creativity and potential for future contributions to their fields.

Vincent Fecteau works from his studio in California.

Vincent Fecteau works from his studio in California.

They’re among 23 fellows in the country to receive the honor.

“While our communities, our nation, and our world face both historic and emerging challenges, these 23 extraordinary individuals give us ample reason for hope” said MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch. “They are breaking new ground in areas of public concern, in the arts, and in the sciences, often in unexpected ways. Their creativity, dedication, and impact inspire us all.”

Vincent Fecteau, a studio arts major, is a sculptor who creates abstract pieces—by hand from simple materials—that encourage careful and concentrated looking and reflection. His slow and meticulous approach to his craft, as well as his experimentation with modes of displaying his work, demonstrates that abstract sculpture is a vital and expressive form of art.

The results are both captivating and demanding; as viewers work to understand what they are seeing, they find themselves at the threshold between visual perception and objective knowledge of three-dimensional space. In this way, Fecteau imbues his work with philosophical content, just as the work assumes psychological dimensions through its uncanny correspondences with the human body. In our age of ever-increasing distraction, Fecteau’s sculpture offers a place for the sustained experience of thought and observation to unfold and flourish.

Maggie Nelson, an English major, is a writer reflecting on the complexities of gender, identity and culture in day-to-day living in works that transcend the divide between the intellectual and the personal. She is creating a new form of nonfiction writing and cultural criticism that examines some of the most pressing cultural issues of our time, such as transgender and queer identity, depictions of violence and femininity. Her work, like her most recent book The Argonauts, represents an empathetic and open-ended way of thinking that offers a model for how even very different people can live together.

Since 2005, she has been a member of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where she currently serves as director of the Creative Writing Program.

Since 2005, Maggie Nelson has been a member of the School of Critical Studies at the California Institute of the Arts, where she currently serves as director of the Creative Writing Program.

In all of her work, Nelson remains skeptical of truisms and ideologies and continually challenges herself to consider multiple perspectives. Her empathetic and open-ended way of thinking—her willingness to change her mind and even embrace qualities of two seemingly incompatible positions—offers a powerful example for how very different people can think and live together. Through the dynamic interplay between personal experience and critical theory, Nelson is broadening the scope of nonfiction writing while also offering compelling meditations on social and cultural questions.

Sculpture artist Jeffrey Schiff, professor of art, and painter Tula Telfair, professor of art, remember having Fecteau as a student. They’re impressed with his “remarkable body of work” that explores the fullness of dimensionality in sculpture.

“His small and medium sized sculptures, usually on pedestals or hanging on the wall, wrap form around space in convoluted tangles, sometimes incorporating objects or photographic images in the mix. The work reminds us of the endless potential mobility of space, while composed of simple non-precious materials,” Shiff says. “In all his work, his touch or hand is in evidence.

At Wesleyan, working with Tula Telfair, Fecteau produced a painting thesis that was, even then, fundamentally sculptural, balancing colorful objects in juxtaposition with each other and the gallery space – each contained in a plastic tailored slipcover. “These sculptures hung a few inches off the wall like paintings – creating shimmery and curiously intimate bubbles that hinted at narratives while remaining purely formal,” Telfair said.

Christina Crosby, professor of English, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, worked with Nelson on her honors thesis, which focused on confessional poetry.

“Maggie’s artistic practice is a demanding one,” Crosby says. “She reports in The Argonauts that she sometimes finds herself laboring ‘grimly’ over her sentences, wondering if any language offers the needful form (52). Her practice makes no claim for emotional transparency (as if one can simply know one’s own, or another’s, emotions). Art can hold open a space in which we – the writer and the reader – don’t know, and in that not knowing can address the world without attempting to know it fully creates possibility. Her artistic practice makes a space for interactions that undo the known landscape, the one covered by cliché. She is open to exploring the sometimes explosive intimacies of the everyday – not every conversation is a happy one –, and she does not hide, conceal, sidestep, or evade what she finds there.”

Wesleyan boasts several other alumni MacArthur Fellows including 1988 recipient Ruth Behar ’77, cultural anthropologist; 1994 recipient Sam-Ang Sam PhD ’88, musician and cultural preservationist; 2005 recipient Majora Carter ’88, urban revitalization strategist; 2009 recipient James Longley ’94, filmmaker; and 2015 recipient Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, playwright and performer.

In addition, Eiko Otake, visiting artist in dance and East Asian studies, won a MacArthur in 1996; translator/poet/publisher Peter Cole, who worked as a visiting writer and professor at Wesleyan, received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2007; and jazz composer and performer Anthony Braxton, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus, received the award in 1994.