Tag Archive for alumni achievements

Actor, Director Schaal ’06 Returns to Campus for Sold-Out Premiere of Go Forth

Kaneza Schaal ’06 (Photo by Randi Plake)

Kaneza Schaal ’06 spoke to Wesleyan theater majors Sept. 15. (Photo by Sandy Aldieri of Perceptions Photography)

Actor and director Kaneza Schaal ’06 returned to campus for her New England premiere of GO FORTH (2015), a series of vignettes with projection, sound, and dance inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The four performances took place over the past weekend to a sold-out audience.

At a special lunch surrounded by a group of theater majors, one being GO FORTH ensemble member Cheyanne Williams ’17, Schaal explained how the Book of the Dead inspired her production: “I was drawn to the Book of the Dead after experiencing the loss of my father. I went to Rwanda for the ceremony and experienced a ritualized grieving process that helped me process his death.”

Schaal credits her time studying theater and psychology for preparing her for a creative career. “What I gained at Wesleyan was the opportunity to learn many languages, psychology, and theater, which all came together to how I make my work.” Furthermore, she explained that it was the faculty and staff who really supported her to go out and make what interested her.

After Wesleyan, Schaal came up in the downtown experimental theater community, first working with The Wooster Group, then with companies and artists including Elevator Repair Service, Richard Maxwell/New York City Players, Claude Wampler, Jay Scheib, New York City Opera and National Public Radio. Schaal is an Arts-in-Education advocate and just returned from a new project with the International Children’s Book Library in Munich, Germany working with young Syrian and Eritrean refugees to address migration and storytelling.

Quigley ’08 is Knight Cities Challenge Winner

Caitlin Quigley ’08 received a Knight Cities Fellowship for her project, "20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses."

Caitlin Quigley ’08 won a Knight Cities Challenge for her project in Philadelphia: “20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses.”


(By Margaret Curtis ’16)

Philadelphia-based Caitlin Quigley ’08 was selected as a winner of the Knight Cities Challenge for her project “20 Book Clubs, 20 Cooperative Businesses.” The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded 37 winners out of a pool of more than 4,500 applicants with a share of $5 million to support one of the 26 communities in which the foundation invests.

Quigley and her organization, the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA), were awarded $146,000 to implement her project, which will support neighborhood businesses. Quigley’s project will form 20 community-based book clubs of six to 12 people who will choose readings, films, and field trips that pertain to cooperatives. In six months, each book club will identify a business need in their neighborhood—such as a lack of grocery stores, credit unions, childcare centers, hardware stores, or artist studios—and form a business cooperative to meet that need.

PACA is a cooperative and a 501(c)3 nonprofit that aims to support the local economy by promoting local cooperatives.

The mission of the Knight Cities Challenge is to support initiatives that aid growing communities through what the Knight Foundation calls the “three drivers of city success:” attracting and keeping talented people, expanding economic opportunities, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

“This project will bring together residents to learn and work collaboratively in order to build long-lasting community-owned businesses,” Quigley said.

At Wesleyan, she double majored in Spanish and film studies.


Guiney ’77 Wins Freedom Through Literacy Award

Sue Rappaport Guiney ’77 and her organization, Writing Through, received one of six prestigious international Freedom Through Literacy award. Hosted by Judith’s Reading Room, an organization that provides literature to those who do not have access to it, the competition will donate $1,000 to the work of Writing Through. Guiney and the five other recipients will be honored at a dinner co-sponsored by the Colonial Association of Reading Educators (C.A.R.E.) in May.

A novelist, poet and educator, Guiney founded Writing Through as a way to develop English fluency, conceptual thinking, and self-esteem through the creative writing process. She began on a volunteer trip to Cambodia, teaching workshops to children from an educational shelter.

Sue Rappaport Guiney ’77, founder of Writing Through, leads an English creative writing class in Cambodia.

Sue Rappaport Guiney ’77, founder of Writing Through, leads an English creative writing class in Cambodia.

From that trip, she found inspiration for  the first in her collection of novels set in modern day Cambodia, A Clash of Innocents. The second in the collection, Out of the Ruins, was published in 2014. Determined to give back to the people who inspired her, Guiney expanded those initial workshops into an organization that targets at-risk and underserved populations. It offers both students and adults, in schools and NGOs throughout Cambodia, the opportunity to learn to express themselves in written English.

She has garnered international attention for this work. From 2011-2013, she was Writer-in-Residence in the SE Asia Department of The University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. And the organization continues to grow: Later this year, Guiney will expand the Writing Through program into Singapore—and she has been receiving requests for the program from sites in Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia.

Guiney explained her commitment in a “Letter Home” article published in the Wesleyan Magazine (2013, issue 2): “Through writing, I am helping the children of Cambodia find their places in the future, find a future for their country, find their own self-esteem and exercise their otherwise untapped abilities in conceptual thinking.”

Wright ’77 Elected to American Pediatric Society

Dr. Joseph L. Wright ’77, MD, was elected to the American Pediatric Society.

Dr. Joseph L. Wright ’77, MD, was elected to the American Pediatric Society.

Dr. Joseph Wright ’77, MD, MPH, and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics and Child Health at Howard University College of Medicine, was recently elected to the American Pediatric Society (APS).

“Election to the APS is a special honor,” said Wright, noting that membership provides a platform for him to further, not only “Howard’s commitment to outstanding patient care and service to the community,” but also the missions of the numerous national advisory bodies he serves on, including the Department of Transportation’s National EMS Advisory Council, the American Hospital Association’s Maternal and Child Health Council, the March of Dimes’ Public Policy Advisory Council, and recently, as an Obama Administration appointee to the Food and Drug Administration’s Pediatric Advisory Committee.

He was a psychology major at Wesleyan.

“Star Power” of Sirmans ’91 Draws Crowd to Miami Museum

Franklin Sirmans ’91, director of the Pérez Art Museum, welcomed guests to the successful fundraiser, which the Miami Herald lauded as "stellar." Photo by Pedro Portal for El Nuevo Herald.com

Franklin Sirmans ’91, director of the Pérez Art Museum, welcomed guests to the successful fundraiser, which the Miami Herald lauded as “stellar.” (Photo by Pedro Portal for El Nuevo Herald.com)

Franklin Sirmans ’91, director of the Pérez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM), was credited for his “star power” that drew a crowd to the museum’s reception and fundraiser. The first African-American director of this publicly funded museum, Sirman was previously curator of contemporary art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

An article in the Miami Herald quoted Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen ’66, who attributed the rise in attendance—double that of last year—to previously successful celebrations, as well as to Sirman’s arrival: “There is no getting around the fact that people are excited about Franklin Sirmans; they’re energized and they’re proud that he’s our museum director.”

Ibargüen notes that Sirmans took on the leadership of the museum “just after the opening of a fabulous new building on Biscayne Bay by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron.”
The Knight Foundation and real estate developer Pérez, for whom the museum is named, contributed $1 million to PAMM’s African American Art Fund to purchase works by African Americans. The evening event was designed to raise awareness of the project and to strengthen connections with the African American community.

“Franklin is determined to make PAMM both Miami’s most popular arts stop, and a place of scholarship and artistic rigor,” says Ibargüen. “He and Jessica are welcome additions to a town that welcomes builders.”

Hamilton Wins Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album

The Broadway musical sensation­ Hamilton claimed a Grammy Feb. 15 for Best Musical Theater album, and the show’s creator and star, Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, rapped his acceptance speech. Miranda and the cast of Hamilton (directed by Thomas Kail ’99) also performed for the 58th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony live via satellite from the show’s home at the Richard Rodgers Theater in New York.

In addition to Miranda and Kail, the show’s Wesleyan connections include album co-producer Bill Sherman ’02 and Atlantic Records’ head of A&R Peter Ganbarg ’88, who helped sign the album to the label.

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, rapped his acceptance speech. Miranda and the cast of Hamilton (directed by Thomas Kail ’99)

Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02 and Thomas Kail ’99. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

“This has been an amazing experience for all involved, and the fact that so many Wes alums are a part of this makes it even more special,” Ganbarg said. “Hamilton is the fastest-selling Broadway cast recording in over 20 years, since Rent, and it will soon be certified as a Gold album—the first cast album to be certified since Jersey Boys, almost 10 years ago.”

“To perform from our home is a dream come true,” Miranda said of the performance in a statement prior to the ceremony. Grammy Awards’ producer Ken Ehrlich called Hamilton “the toast of Broadway” in an interview with ET. Stephen Colbert had the honor of introducing the cast performance of the show’s opening number live from New York.

Miranda previously won a Grammy for Best Musical Show Album for his Broadway debut In the Heights. Sherman, the album’s co-producer, also received a Grammy that year. In the Heights also received several Tony Awards.

Next up for Hamilton: Nominations for the 2016 Tony Awards will be announced live on May 3, with the awards presented at the Beacon Theatre in New York on Sunday, June 12.

Wesleyan hosted a sold-out benefit performance of Hamilton on Oct. 2, raising $1.6 million for financial aid. Read more.

Quah ’12 has ‘All the News on Podcasting’

Nicholas Quah ’12 is the creator of Hot Pods, a newsletter on podcasting that is garnering attention as expert commentary on a new field of journalism.

Nicholas Quah ’12 is the creator of Hot Pods, a newsletter on podcasting that is garnering attention as expert commentary on a new field of journalism.

Nicholas Quah ’12 is the subject of “Meet the 26-year-old who’s got all the news on podcasting,” an article by Benjamin Miller on Poynter.org. Quah is the creator and full-time blogger at Hot Pod, his newsletter about podcasts, which you can find at nicholasquah.com. It is also hosted at NiemanLab, the site for Harvard’s Neiman Foundation for Journalism.

While most media aficionados consider the fall of 2014 to be the time when podcasts gained considerable popularity (Serial—the true crime investigation series on public radio is just one example), Quah had been a fan of podcasts for several years by then: as a Wesleyan undergrad majoring in the College of Social Studies, he had enjoyed podcasts. He continued listening in his post-college life, where he started as a research associate at Business Insider.

Both as a fan and a journalist, Quah followed podcasting from a cultural and business perspective. He began an e-mail newsletter, Hot Pods, because, as he explained to Miller: “It just felt like there was a lot missing…. Why were there developments in podcasting? Why were there developments in podcasting culture? Where did “Serial” come from? …I approached it from a criticism standpoint at first and then expanded into more business-side stuff.”

On Jan. 26, he announced his departure from Panoply, a podcast network, for which he served as manager of audience development, to devote himself full time to HotPods, hoping to make his avocation a sustainable business, with subscribers receiving weekly updates—with the option to pay a fee and receive more frequent communications, with Quah’s insights and analysis.

The decision, he told Miller, came about because:  “I think it feels like everything in podcasting is moving a lot quicker, and we’re going to hit some kind of tipping point. And I want to be an outsider and cover that when it happens.”

Bush ’93 Receives Leadership Award from Tufts Medical Center

Jonathan Bush '93, chair, CEO, and cofounder of athena health, was named a visionary leader by Tufts Medical Center.

Jonathan Bush ’93, chair, CEO, and cofounder of athenahealth, was named a visionary leader by Tufts Medical Center.

Tufts Medical Center selected Jonathan Bush ’93 to receive the Ellen M. Zane Award for Visionary Leadership. Chairman and CEO of the health care technology company, athenahealth, Bush was cited for “exemplifying visionary and transformational leadership” as well as his “passion for uniting individualized and coordinated patient care with the demands and practicalities of healthcare management.”

Bush co-founded athenahealth in 1997. In 2007 it was the most successful initial public offering, and it is now one of the health care information technology industry’s fastest growing companies, considered by many to be industry standard. In announcing the award, President and CEO of Tufts Medical Center and Floating Hospital for Children Dr. Michael Wagner said, “I am proud that we share Jonathan’s enthusiasm to drive change in health care for the greater good.”

Runner ’79 Named President and CEO of Chicago Urban League

Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League

Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.

Shari Runner ’79 was named president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. Crain’s Chicago Business notes that she is redirecting the purpose of league.

“Right now, all the things we support are in turmoil,” Runner told reporter Shia Kapos. “We have an opportunity to change that.”

Runner had been interim leader of the Urban League for eight months and had served as senior vice president for strategy and community development a the Urban League since 2010. Previously a banker—vice president of ABN/AMRO Bank and vice president at First National Bank of Chicago—she attributes her move into the nonprofit world to her parents’ influence: her mother was a social worker and her father was a pediatrician.

“It was in my DNA to be of service to the community,” she told Kapos.

While the Urban League has always championed economic empowerment and civil rights, it had been most recently focused on strengthening the business community after the financial crisis. However, with current concerns about gun violence and police/community relationships, Runner plans to focus on education and social justice, as well as economic empowerment. “We’re at a unique point in time. We need to make sure the Urban League is strengthening African-American communities,” Runner explained to Kapos.

Runner also met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and officials with the U.S. Justice Department. Emanuel “inherited this dysfunctional” system, Runner said, adding, “We need systemic change. We need to make sure we’re changing something in people’s minds that allowed this to exist for 60 years without it being a priority.”

Runner comes to the position after serving since 2010 as senior vice president for strategy and community development at the Urban League. Prior to that, the Chicago native was a vice president of ABN/AMRO Bank and vice president at First National Bank of Chicago.

She grew up in Hyde Park and attended the University of Chicago’s Lab Schools. At Wesleyan, she majored in psychology. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Lubell ’98, Lexton ’08, Marcus ’13 on Top National Noteworthy Lists

Jordyn Lexton ’08, founder of Drive Change

Jordyn Lexton ’08, founder of Drive Change

Forbes named Jordyn Lexton ’08 and Guy Marcus ’13 to the 2016 “30 under 30” list for 2016, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy highlighted David Lubell ’98 as one of the “40 Under 40.”

Under the headline, “Todays Brightest Young Stars and The Future Leaders of Everything” Forbes magazine highlighted two Wesleyan alumni in their fifth annual listings of the top 30 young leaders in 20 different categories.

From an initial list of 15,000, Jordyn Lexton ’08 made the listing in entrepreneurs. Lexton is the founder of “Drive Change,” which employs previously incarcerated youth, teaching food preparation as well as providing positions in their award-winning culinary vehicle in NYC.

Goodman ’69 Featured in Digital Photography Review

Tom Goodman '69 (self portrait by Tom Goodman)

Tom Goodman ’69 (self portrait by Tom Goodman)

"4th & Fulton," 2012, from the portfolio Window Dressing. (Photo by Tom Goodman)

“4th & Fulton,” 2012, from the portfolio Window Dressing. (Photo by Tom Goodman)

Tom Goodman’s (’69) career in photography has spanned many different mediums. From being a full-time photographer, an instructor, to operating an agency, Goodman has always been fascinated by the art of photography.

After graduating Wesleyan with an honors degree in art, he went on to earn his MFA in photography from the University of New Mexico, which was the catalyst that launched his career. In 1975 he was hired by the University of Texas at San Antonio to develop the photography program. Three years later he moved to Philadelphia to teach at the University of the Arts (then the Philadelphia College of Art). He also taught history of Art at the Curtis Institute of Music. Goodman went on to create Tom Goodman Inc., an agency that formerly represented photographers and digital illustrators for commercial assignments for 25 years.

After retiring from the commercial business in 2009, Goodman began photographing again. Now, eight years after he has resumed taking pictures full time, his work from his highly focused portfolios is being featured in Digital Photography Review, one of the premier photography sites on the web.

Using a Nikon D750 and Sony DSC-RX100, Goodman states that “serendipity plays a significant part” in how he chooses his subjects—one could even say that he waits for his subjects to choose him. As shown by The Veils Portfolio, which grew out of his obsession with looking through screens, and other ‘veils’ to see things on the other side and the Scanned Portfolio, which contains images taken while shopping in Asian groceries, Goodman simply observes and lets his surroundings present themselves as possible targets.

"Capital Man," 2011, from the portfolio Focal Points. (Photo by Tom Goodman)

“Capital Man,” 2011, from the portfolio Focal Points. (Photo by Tom Goodman)

Most importantly, he credits his mentor, Ray Metzker, for providing him with the advice that he tries to apply to his work daily—“it is the artist’s lot to accept, indeed embrace, not knowing, in order to begin the journey of discovery and achieve some breakthrough.” For Tom Goodman his next challenge will be to continue to follow that advice.

View Goodman’s website.

(Story by Fred Wills ’19. All images copyrighted, Tom Goodman)

Carpignano ’06 Awarded for His Debut Film

Jonas Carpignano '06 - Photo courtesy of the filmmaker

Jonas Carpignano ’06 (courtesy photo)

In his recently released debut film Mediterranea (IFC Films), director and writer Jonas Carpignano ’06 focuses on two friends from West Africa’s Burkina Faso (played by non-professional actors Koudous Seihon and Alassane Sy) who take a hazardous journey to Calabria, Italy, across the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to better their economic fortunes.

Carpignano recently received two awards for his work: the Independent Film Project’s Gotham Award for Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director and the Best Directorial Debut Award from the National Board of Review.

In his New York Times review of the film, Stephen Holden writes that Carpignano “has adopted a low-key neorealist style, using hand-held cameras that intensify its ground-level perspective. The character-driven film focuses on the day-to-day experiences of people struggling to find a foothold in a hostile land that throws up nearly insurmountable barriers to assimilation. … Mediterranea is impressive for the degree to which it lends its characters complex human dimensions and gives equal weight to everyone’s joys and frustrations.”

Carpignano was recently profiled in Interview magazine. His hometown is the East Bronx, N.Y. but he currently lives in Gioia Tauro, Calabria, Italy, where his feature film takes place.

“My knowledge of film as an art always came from Italy; it came from my grandfather,” he said. “I grew up on neorealism and the giallos—the Italian horror films. To me, that was the difference between film just being escapism and something being seen as an art. My grandfather instilled that in me.”