Tag Archive for alumni business

Olatoye ’96 Appointed Chairwoman of NYC Housing Authority

Shola Olatoye ’96

Shola Olatoye ’96

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently appointed Shola Olatoye ’96 as chairwoman of the New York City Housing Authority. Olatoye’s last position was vice president at Enterprise Community Partners, a nonprofit organization that advocates affordable housing nationally.

The previous head of the authority was John Rhea ’87. The mayor made the announcement at the Abraham Lincoln Houses in Harlem, a complex of 1,282 apartments in which de Blasio and other Democratic candidates spent a night during the mayoral campaign in order to get a firsthand look at the “moldy walls and broken cabinets” that constitute the disrepair of public housing buildings in New York City.

The New York Times points out that Olatoye faces taking over an authority that covers more than 400,000 residents “as the city’s largest landlord.”

Olatoye and three others were appointed to their leadership positions as part of de Blasio’s plan to expand New York City’s affordable housing stock. Denise Miranda, who works for the Urban Justice Center, which takes legal action for tenants of public housing, says that “Mayor de Blasio and Ms. Olatoye have their work cut out for them,” according to the New York Times article.

Robertson ’81 Tells Story of LEGO’s Trials and Triumphs

David Robertson '81

David Robertson ’81

In Brick By Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Toy Industry, David C. Robertson ‘81 (with Bill Breen) traces how the company grew from a small woodworking shop in a tiny Danish town to become one of the most beloved global brands of all time. In 2003, LEGO was heading toward bankruptcy but a new management was able to steer things in the right direction, transforming the business into one of the world’s most profitable, fastest-growing companies.

From 2002 through 2010, Roberston was a professor of innovation and technology management at the Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He was named the LEGO Professor at IMD in 2008, which provided him with first-hand access to the insular company and its customers. He toured the factories that produce billions of bricks each year, watched designers dream up new toys, and interviewed the company’s top executives.

Book by David Robertson '81

Book by David Robertson ’81

His book reveals the grueling years of failed attempts that led to the invention of the plastic brick in 1958, followed by successful toys in next four decades. Then the seven key elements of LEGO’s growth strategy from 1999 to 2003, driven by the business world’s most popular innovation strategies, nearly ruined the company. A new leadership team pinpointed the root cause of LEGO’s problems—an overly aggressive approach to creating distinctive new offerings, with no overall guidance of the innovation process. This team then set up an innovation management system for consistently inventing new toys, building a culture where profitable innovation flourishes.

Robertson includes candid insights and critiques from the company’s leadership, employees, designers, and fans. He shares lessons that will guide leaders in their own efforts to improve their organization’s innovation.

Scott Davis in his Forbes review of the book wrote: “LEGO is a fascinating story about innovation run rampant. And it very nearly paid the price with failure. But instead, LEGO used the experience to figure out where it went wrong, change course and transform itself in the process. … In Brick by Brick, Robertson uncovers and shares a rare inside exploration of innovation-led transformation at its worst—and best. Any manager can learn from these lessons.”

In 2011, Robertson joined the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a Professor of Practice. He teaches innovation and product development in Wharton’s undergraduate, MBA, and executive education programs. Click here to learn more about his work.

Donfried ’94 to Lead the German Marshall Fund

Karen Donfried '94

Karen Donfried ’94

Karen Donfried ’94 will become the president of the German Marshall Fund in April, a role for which she was unanimously elected. She’s currently a special assistant to President Obama and senior director for European affairs on the National Security Council at the White House. She advises the president on European matters and leads the development and implementation process of his European policies.

“I am very pleased that Karen is returning to GMF to take on its leadership,” said current GMF president Craig Kennedy, in a press release. Kennedy is retiring after 19 years at the helm. “I am very confident that this wonderful institution will thrive under her guidance.”

At Wesleyan, Donfried was a government and German studies major. She went on to earn her Ph.D. and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Magister from the University of Munich, Germany.

She received the Cross of the Order of Merit from the German Government in 2011, became an officer of the Order of the Crown of Belgium in 2010, and received a Superior Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State in 2005.
 She’s also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Council on Germany.

Donfried’s first stint with the GMF began in 2001 after having served for 10 years as a European specialist at the Congressional Research Service. She then returned from 2005 to 2010, first as senior director of policy programs and then as executive vice president.

Penney ’87 Promoted to Chief Strategy Officer at Starz

John Penney '87

John Penney ’87

Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has named John Penney ’87 Chief Strategy Officer at Starz, the integrated global media and entertainment company. Penney will work closely with the CEO to extend the company’s corporate and business growth strategies via partnerships, ventures and innovative models for new business opportunities.

“His deep insight into the global media and entertainment ecosystem is uniquely valued,” said Albrecht, in a press release. “He has set a high bar in providing our management team with keen industry analysis that has been invaluable to our decision making, and we look forward to John’s continued contributions to helping grow our businesses.”

Penney was a social psychology major at Wesleyan who went on to earn his MPA in public policy & administration from Columbia. He’s worked as a financial analyst in the Media & Telecommunications Corporate Finance group of the Chase Manhattan Bank, as an equity research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., Inc. covering the media and entertainment industries, at Scient, Inc., Viacom, ACTV, HBO, IMG and Forsee Entertainment, which he cofounded with Albrecht.

He currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter and works in Beverly Hills.

Selig ’84 Nominated by Obama Administration

Stefan Selig '84

Stefan Selig ’84

In November 2013, the White House nominated Stefan Selig ’84 as under secretary of international trade for the United States Department of Commerce. Since 2009, he’s served as executive vice chairman of global corporate and investment banking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The Obama administration rarely appoints Wall Street bankers, especially from Bank of America, so this is an exceptional case.

If confirmed by the senate, Selig will head the International Trade Administration, working toward the expansion of American industry, job creation and the promotion of exports.

Selig earned his BA from Wesleyan and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Before joining Bank of America in 1999, he worked for First Boston, Wasserstein Perella & Company, UBS and Société Générale.

Suniewick ’97 Named SVP of Strategic Integration for NBCUniversal, Comcast

Maggie McLean Suniewick ’97

Maggie McLean Suniewick ’97

Maggie McLean Suniewick ’97, who served as vice president of programming for Comcast Cable, has been named senior vice president of Strategic Integration, linking NBCUniversal and Comcast. It is now her task to find creative, technological and strategic opportunities between Comcast, the nation’s largest video, high-speed Internet and phone provider, and NBCUniversal’s portfolio, which includes broadcast networks (17 cable networks and more than 50 digital properties), a motion picture company, television production operations, a television stations group and theme parks.

Suniewick — an economics major at Wesleyan who went on to obtain an MBA from Columbia — will lead the charge on NBCUniversal’s “Symphony” initiatives along with Comcast to promote upcoming programing, movies and events, including the Olympics.

Armandroff ’82 Announced as McDonald Observatory Director

Taft Armandroff ’82

Taft Armandroff ’82

Taft Armandroff ’82 has been appointed as director of the University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas. He’ll be moving to the Lone Star State in June 2014 to claim his new position.

Armandroff’s specialties include dwarf spheroidal galaxies, stellar populations in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies, and globular clusters. He will soon be leaving his current position as director of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Prior to Keck, he worked for 19 years at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Ariz., having earned his BA in astronomy with honors at Wesleyan and his Ph.D. from Yale.

“I’m tremendously excited to be joining the Texas astronomy program, and to develop the McDonald Observatory further with new instrumentation and research programs, and to continue the observatory’s stellar efforts to communicate astronomy discoveries to the public,” says Armandroff, in a press release. “There are very few places like UT Austin that can boast such a strong astronomy faculty, total access to a facility like the McDonald Observatory, and participation in a next generation telescope such as the Giant Magellan Telescope.”

Chill ’78 Named Associate Dean at UConn School of Law

Paul Chill '78

Paul Chill ’78

Since September 2013, Paul Chill ’78 has been presiding as the associate dean for clinical and experimental education at the University of Connecticut School of Law. He first joined the UConn faculty in 1988 and is known for his advocacy on behalf of parents and families.

Chill teaches legal ethics, legal interviewing, counseling and negotiation, torts and criminal law and has supervised clinical programs relating to child protection, civil rights, disability, mental health law and mediation.

Between his time as a government major at Wesleyan and the present, he has worked with dangerous juvenile offenders, graduated from UConn Law (in 1985), worked as a plaintiff’s employment litigator at Garrison, Kahn, Silbert & Arterton in New Haven and as a part-time state magistrate.

Frank ’12 and Ohanian: How to become an Entrepreneur

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Peter Frank ’12 spoke to Wesleyan students on Dec. 5. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Peter Frank ’12 spoke to Wesleyan students on Dec. 5. (Photos by Cynthia Rockwell)

Over a lunch of pizza in Beckham Hall on Dec. 5, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, a serial entrepreneur and author of Without Their Permission, addressed a crowded hall of nearly 200 students. He spoke on the importance of the internet, which allows us to access “an incredible amount of information,” and our ability to make use of it to develop new ideas, through maintaining an entrepreneurial mindset. Asking for a showing of hands of those involved in their own creative endeavors, he invited students to seize all opportunities to tell people about their idea—and to view all failures as the initial step in becoming an expert. He also chatted with Peter Frank ’12, founder and CEO of Texts.com, a text-book exchange site, about startups, creativity and freedom of information.

Afterwards, he signed copies of his book, Without their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed, shaking hands, asking each about his or her project, offering encouragement.

Peter Frank ’12, now CEO of Texts.com and one of the sponsors of the luncheon, has been interested in entrepreneurship since middle school. He has built several businesses and sold hundreds of domain names. In January 2011, he sold the nation’s largest anonymous college confession board.

After graduation, Frank, an English major at Wesleyan, served for six months as a “jack of all trades” associate at Hatch Labs, a mobile app incubator, and has interned at Demand Media and Capital Group, where he was a member of the TAP Program.

Other sponsors for the luncheon were the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship and the Wesleyan Career Center. A video of the event will be available through these offices.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian signs copies of his book inside Beckham Hall.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian signs copies of his book inside Beckham Hall.

Woolard II ’03 Joins City of Middletown’s Police

John Driscoll '62 and Larry Woolard II '03.

John Driscoll ’62 and Larry Woolard II ’03.

Larry Woolard II ’03 was sworn into the City of Middletown Police Department in October 2013. At Wesleyan, he was a religion studies major and captain of the football team.

“Larry was quite a football player for Xavier High School and for the Cardinals, especially in an exciting Homecoming win over Williams. I suspect he is one of Wesleyan’s first local police officers,” said John Driscoll, advisor in the Wesleyan Career Center.

Solomon ’68 Named Provost, Rutgers-Camden Campus

Rayman Solomon ’68

Rayman Solomon ’68

Rayman Solomon ’68, dean of the Rutgers School of Law-Camden, was named to the newly created role of provost for the Rutgers-Camden campus. As chief academic officer, Solomon will work the Rutgers-Camden’s academic departments on achieving rigorous standards for curriculum and faculty development.

Solomon will begin his new responsibilities as provost on Jan. 1, 2014, and will continue to serve as dean of the Rutgers-Camden law school, a position he accepted in 1998, until July 1, 2014. Under Solomon’s leadership as dean, the school opened a new, state-of-the-art $37 million classroom building in 2008. He also oversaw the school greatly expanded its portfolio of clinical and pro bono legal programs, in order to provide experiential learning for its students while delivering critical service to Camden and southern New Jersey residents.

Prior to joining the Rutgers-Camden law school, Solomon served as an associate dean for Northwestern University law school. He directed the Seventh Circuit History Project and published the book A History of the United States Court of Appeals, 1891 to 1941 (Government Printing Office, 1981). He served as a law clerk to the Honorable George Edwards, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Solomon served aboard the U.S.S. Dale during the Vietnam War. He was a history major at Wesleyan and earned his J.D. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago.

James ’78 Chairs Board of Landmark School

Moira McNamara James '78 P’10, P’16

Moira McNamara James ’78 P’10, P’16

Moira McNamara James ’78 P’10, P’16, was named chair of the board for Landmark School, an independent, coeducational boarding and day school serving students in grades 2–12 who have language-based learning disabilities, such as dyslexia. The mission of the school also includes an extensive educational outreach program to parents and professionals, as well as a research collaboration with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

“I am honored to serve in this role,” said James in a press release. “Landmark’s Trustees are an impressive group of individuals. We all passionately believe in the remarkable and life changing work that the school offers students from around the U.S. and the globe.”

James, now a freelance video producer, previously served as an Emmy award-winning senior producer of news for WNEV-TV in Boston. She is a trustee emerita at Wesleyan, serving on the board for 15 years. Additionally, she chaired the Wesleyan Alumni Association’s executive committee, was vice chair and then chair of the nominations committee and also served on the university’s athletic advisory council.