Tag Archive 'alumni'
Four Wesleyan faculty and five alumni participated in the annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Boston, Nov. 21-24, 2013.
Wesleyan attendees included Peter Rutland, Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic thought, professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies; Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock, assistant professor of history, assistant professor of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies; Priscilla Meyer, professor of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian studies; Bill Trousdale, associate professor of physics, emeritus; and Russian and East European Studies (REES) graduates Julia Chadaga ’93, currently at Macalester College; Emily Wang ’08, currently at Princeton University; Booth Wilson ’07, currently at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Matvei Yankelevich ’95, currently with Ugly Duckling Presse; and Lindsay Ceballos ’07, currently at Princeton. These faculty and alumni were joined by Alexander Skidan, a Moscow poet, and Dubravka Ugresic, a post-Yugoslav writer based in Amsterdam, both of whom have spoken and taught at Wesleyan.
Nataly Kogan ’98 is the co-founder and “chief happiness officer” of Happier.com, a Boston-based happiness company. Kogan immigrated to the United States with her parents from the former Soviet Union when she was thirteen and spent two decades “chasing the big happy,” as she calls it. But when even her achievements failed to make her truly happy, Nataly turned to science and became inspired to stop saying “I’ll be happy when…” and start thinking “I’m happier now because…”
Kogan was a student in the College of Social Studies and met her husband, Avi Grossman Spivack ’99, while they were working at Russell House.
The ever-busy Jeffrey Richards ’69 is the co-producer of a new musical The Bridges of Madison County, based on the hugely popular novel by Robert James Waller, which opened at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway on February 20. The musical stars acclaimed actors Kelli O’Hara (Nice Work If You Can Get It, South Pacific) and Steven Pasquale (Rescue Me) with a score by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Parade), a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Marsha Norman (The Secret Garden, ‘Night, Mother), and direction by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza).
The musical focuses on a four-day love affair between an itinerant National Geographic photographer and an Italian-American housewife, whose husband and children are away at a state fair, in 1965 Iowa. The highly romantic and often transcendent score allows the O’Hara and Pasquale to shine, particularly in two of their memorable duets, “Falling Into You” and “One Second and a Million Miles.” Sher’s deft direction avoids sentimentality but touches on the expression of loneliness and need for deeper connection by the characters.
The Bridges of Madison Country opened to generally positive reviews with praise for the leading actors’ performances and the songs.
Jesse Green in his New York Magazine review wrote that the show is “a very serious musical indeed, both rapturous and moral, with a gorgeous score by Jason Robert Brown. It is also one of the few recent Broadway shows to take up the challenge laid down by the great midcentury works of Rodgers and Hammerstein and their cohort: to tell stories that weld important sociological upheavals to personal conflicts and somehow make them sing.”
In Time Out New York, Adam Feldman wrote: “The musical’s emotion is unapologetically grand, and its love duets have a wide, old-fashioned scope. Directed with spare precision by Bartlett Sher—reunited with his most of his South Pacific design team—it’s a new work that plays like a classic. … The night, however, belongs to its stars. Singing mostly in her luxurious upper register, O’Hara sounds ravishing, and she and Pasquale—in the performance of his career—generate that rarest of Broadway commodities: a genuine spark of erotic heat.”
For tickets, go to Telecharge.com or call 212-239-6200.
This Broadway season, Jeffrey Richards also is the co-producer of recent revival The Glass Menagerie, which just finished its successful Broadway run, recouping its investment; and the upcoming Broadway productions of two new plays, All the Way, starring Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) as President Lyndon B. Johnson (currently in previews, opens March 6 at the Neil Simon Theatre), and The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno, an insightful comedy-drama about friends and neighbors, with Emmy Award winner Toni Collette, Michael C. Hall (Dexter, Six Feet Under), Tony Award winner Tracy Letts, and Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei (previews begin March 13, opens April 6 at the Lyceum Theatre), as well as Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, a play with music by Lanie Robertson, starring five-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald as the legendary jazz singer Billie Holiday (previews begin March 25, opening April 13 at Circle in the Square Theatre). Richards also co-produced the Tony Award-winning revival of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which is currently on a national tour.
Talia Bernstein ’11 made a walk-on in a scene set at Wesleyan during the episode of How I Met Your Mother titled “Rally” which aired Monday, Feb. 24. Bernstein is the all-time leading hitter in Wesleyan softball history with 192 career hits and the career RBI leader with 114. She works on the production staff of the show and was picked to walk across the scene in her Wesleyan softball sweatshirt while characters Marshall and Lily Eriksen were dropping their son off at Wesleyan in the year 2030.
How I Met Your Mother is in its ninth and final season on CBS and was created by Wesleyan grads Carter Bays ’97 and Craig Thomas ’97. Its main characters Ted Mosby, Marshall Eriksen and Lily Eriksen are all Wesleyan graduates on the show.
Dan Poliner ’97 released his debut feature-length film “Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” in October 2013 at the Austin Film Festival. It’s about four friends living in NYC — two rich and two poor — during their final week of summer before leaving for college. It’s a wacky comedy, a romantic comedy and an examination of the differing paths presented to those who have money, and those who don’t.
Much of the music in the film was provided by the band Peace Museum, which Casey Feldman ’12 formed on campus.
“I believe all the music was recorded while they were at Wesleyan,” Poliner said.
Poliner was a history, government and theater major, and he grew up just down the road in Durham, Conn. After graduation, he attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he received his MFA in Dramatic Writing.
His previous short films include “Right Foot, Left Foot,” “The Bar Mitzvah Club,” “The Campaign” and “The Year of Sublets.”
In a recent interview with “The Daily Quirk,” he offered some advice to aspiring filmmakers.
“Be prolific,” he said. “Be willing to fail often. The more quickly you work the more quickly you’re able to turn it around. Whatever crew you have, whatever actors you have access to, the easier it will be for you to learn.”
Watch “Jack, Jules, Esther & Me” right now on Amazon Instant Video or iTunes, as well as streaming through cable companies including Time Warner, Comcast, Cox Cable (just search for it on your provider to see if they carry it).
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.
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.
Avital Norman Nathman MALS ’07 has edited a new collection of 35 essays, The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality (Seal Press) unravels the social media-fed notion of what it means to be a “good mother” in an era of mommy blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook. This volume takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for a diversity of voices, sharing revealing, candid, and sometimes raw stories to expand the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.
The essay writers come from all walks of life, from professors to porn directors and musicians to massage therapists, who share tales of panic and feeling overwhelmed, surprise pregnancies, single motherhood, dealing with the terrible twos, adopting a child, and several other issues. The honesty of the essays reflects a community of mothers don’t wish to be in competition with others or with the notion of the ideal mom. The foreword is by Christy Turlington Burns, founder of Every Mother Counts, and contributors include Jessica Valenti, Sharon Lerner, Soraya Chemaly, Amber Dusick, and more.
Editor Norman Nathman concentrated in women’s studies while earning her MALS at Wesleyan. She completed a master’s thesis on the status of feminism in the lives of women in their 20s, which encouraged her to investigate and comment on the role of feminism for women in other aspects of their lives, including motherhood.
She writes a blog, The Mamafesto, and has a regular series, “The Femisphere,” for Ms. magazine’s website, as well as a regular feminist parenting column, “Mommie Dearest,” for The Frisky. Her freelance writing employs a feminist lens on a variety of topics, such as motherhood, gender, reproductive justice and reproductive health, and has appeared in The New York Times, Bamboo Family Magazine, RH Reality Check, Bitch magazine, CNN, Offbeat Families, and elsewhere.
In From Little London to Little Bengal: Religion, Print and Modernity in Early British India 1795-1835, (The Johns Hopkins University Press), Daniel E. White ’91, associate professor of British Romanticism at University of Toronto, examines the traffic in culture between Britain and India during the Romantic period. In the early part of the 19th century, part of Calcutta could be called “Little London,” while in London itself an Indianized community of returned expatriates was emerging as “Little Bengal.” Circling between the two, this study considers British and Indian literary, religious, and historical sources alongside newspapers, panoramas, religious festivals, idols, and museum exhibitions.
White shows how an ambivalent Protestant contact with Hindu devotion shaped understandings of the imperial mission for Britons and Indians during the period. He focuses on global metaphors of circulation and mobility, communication and exchange, commerce and conquest, and he follows the movements of people, ideas, books, art, and artifacts initiated by writers, publishers, educators, missionaries, travelers, and reformers. In the course of the book, he places luminaries such as Romantic poet Robert Southey and Hindu reformer Rammohun Roy in dialogue with a fascinating array of lesser-known figures, from the Baptist missionaries of Serampore and the radical English journalist James Silk Buckingham to the mixed-race prodigy Henry Louis Vivian Derozio.
White also is the author of Early Romanticism and Religious Dissent (Cambridge University Press). At the University of Toronto, he has directed the graduate collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture.
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.
Wesleyan students and alumni are invited to a networking and relationship building opportunity, Connect@Wes, held Feb. 28 and March 1 on campus. Events held throughout the weekend are designed to help with career advancement.
Events begin with “Creating Connections,” a hands-on opportunity for students to practice presenting themselves as professionals through structured speed-networking. Students will apply to participate and will be matched with expert advisors (recruiters and hiring managers as well as alumni and parent volunteers) for brief, one-on-one sessions. Expert advisors will use their experience and expertise to critique what they have heard and give valuable insight on how the presentation might have been more effective. Students must apply for this opportunity.
Other events include a dinner with Wesleyan’s Board of Trustees, workshops on “Create Your Career Calling Card,” “Get the Most Out of Your Workplace,” and “Be Ready to Move Up, Or Out.” Featured speakers include Ed Heffernan ’84, CEO and President of Alliance Data; Jim Citrin P’12 ’14, senior director at Spencer Stuart and Associates; and Bradley Whitford ’81, Emmy award-winning actor and advocate for Clothes Off Our Back Foundation.
Connect@Wes is sponsored by University Relations and the Career Center and is designed to help current students and alumni build relationships with other members of the Wesleyan community and receive advice from an array of experts.
The event is free, but requires registration. For more information, click here.
Randall MacLowry ’86, visiting instructor in film studies, co-produced, directed and wrote an episode for the PBS history series American Experience. Titled “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station,” the hour-long episode premieres at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Pennsylvania Station, a monumental train terminal in the heart of Manhattan, finally opened to the public on Nov. 27, 1910. Covering nearly eight acres, the building was the fourth largest in the world. By 1945, more than 100 million passengers traveled through Penn Station each year.
But by the 1960s, what was supposed to last forever was slated for destruction. In 1961, the financially strapped Pennsylvania Railroad, which had been losing customers to air and automobile travel, announced that it had sold the air rights above Penn Station. In 1963, the demolition of the grand edifice began and construction on the new station was completed in 1968. Watch a preview of “The Rise and Fall of Penn Station” online here.
MacLowry is an award-winning filmmaker with over 25 years experience as producer, director, writer and editor, and is co-founder of The Film Posse with producer and partner Tracy Heather Strain. His work for American Experience includes “Silicon Valley,” “The Gold Rush” (2007 Erik Barnouw Award), “Building the Alaska Highway,” “A Brilliant Madness and Stephen Foster;” he also served as editor of “The Polio Crusade” and an episode of the two-part series “Reconstruction: America’s Second Civil War.”
MacLowry majored in art with a film studies concentration at Wesleyan.