Tag Archive for alumni

Governors Shumlin, Hickenlooper to Speak on Campus during Reunion

Two current state governors who proudly call Wes their alma mater will be back on campus during Reunion & Commencement Weekend, May 22-25. Both Gov. Peter Shumlin ‘79 of Vermont and Gov. John Hickenlooper ’74, MA ’80, Hon ’10 of Colorado will be celebrating their reunion years, and giving talks during the weekend.

On May 24, Hickenlooper will give a WESeminar from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., titled “An Inside Look Into the Legalization of Marijuana.” He will address how the decision by voters to legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult use is affecting his state of Colorado, and potentially the nation. The talk will be at the Center for the Arts Hall (formerly the CFA Cinema).

Hickenlooper was elected Colorado’s 42nd governor in 2010. A self-described “recovering geologist now on loan to public service,” he left the oilfields of western Colorado in the late 1980s and opened the state’s first brewpub. He went on to serve as mayor of Denver for eight years before running for, and being elected to, the governorship. Hickenlooper earned a BA in English and a MA in geology from Wesleyan.

Also on May 24 from noon to 1 p.m., Shumlin will speak at the Wesleyan Assembly and Alumni Association Meeting. At this annual meeting of the Alumni Association, chair Megan Norris ’83, P ’17 will share brief updates from the year on association priorities and Wesleyan fundraising. This year, the association also will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to Shumlin, David W. Knapp ’49, Russell Hardin, Jr. ’64, Rev. Edwin C. Sanders, II ’69, John M. Shapiro ’74, Karen E. Donfried ’84, Miguel Arteta ’89, and Jessica Posner Odede ’09. In addition, Stephen H. Oleskey ’64, P ’00 will be honored with an Outstanding Service Award.

Shumlin is the 81st governor of Vermont, elected in 2010. His public service career dates back more than three decades, when he was first elected to the Putney town select board at age 24. He went on to serve in the Vermont House of Representatives, followed by the Vermont Senate, where he was elected by his colleagues to lead the Senate as President pro tem. Shumlin is also the co-director, with his brother, of Putney Student Travel and National Geographic Student Expeditions, a company that sends students on educational programs and service projects around the globe. At Wesleyan, he majored in government.

Read more about Reunion & Commencement Weekend here, or see the latest news and full schedule for the weekend here.

Female Student-Athletes Benefit from Alumni Mentoring Workshop

Twenty alumni, parents and community members participated in an Alumni Athletics Mentoring Workshop May 12 in Daniel Family Commons. As part of the program, guests met with several female student-athletes to speak about career options.

Guests included Andrea Balkan ’86, managing partner with Brookfield Real Estate Financial Partners; Patricia Wetherill, M.D., of Norwalk Hospital; Ruth Bodian ’88 project manager at the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project; Clare Colton ’12, research analyst, CEO of Practice and Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practices, Spencer Stuart; Meg Dempsey ’85, elementary school teacher and high school tutor; Allison Monarca, school counselor at Woodrow Wilson Middle School; Francine Rivkin ’78, freelance business consultant; and Sheryl Smith Ph.D. ’78, clinical and sport psychologist.

Also Lisa Campoli ’84, executive vice president and managing partner of Capital Markets at Collier’s International; Liza Barrett ’86, middle school English teacher; Gretchen Cooney ’83, owner of Bucket List Training; Kate Antonucci, social worker; Cindy Robinson, Esq. ’83, attorney at Tremont & Sheldon P.C.; Ashleigh Corvi ’13, assistant dean of admissions at Wesleyan; Alicia Sisk ’86, psychotherapist; Lexi Turner ’83, project leader for the Strength Matters Initiative; Dr. Linda Polonsky, M.D. ’82, specialist at Baystate Medical Practices; Nikki Maletta ’08, advanced practice registered nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital; Karen Miller ’83, former director of squash and tennis programs at the Greenwich Academy; and Sarah-Jane Ripa ’02, assistant director of student services and outreach for the Department of Continuing Studies at Wesleyan.

Photos of the event are below: (Photos by Olivia Drake)

Alicia Sisk ’86 spoke to student-athletes about her career as a psychotherapist. Sisk works with college students and young adults with relationship challenges and substance abuse issues.

Alicia Sisk ’86 spoke to student-athletes about her career as a psychotherapist. Sisk works with college students and young adults with relationship challenges and substance abuse issues.

Abby Rutt '17 is on the softball team and women's ice hockey team.

Abby Rutt ’17 is on the softball team and women’s ice hockey team.

Women of Wesleyan Hold Conference to Push Workplace Boundaries

Jane Eiser '77

Journalist Jane Eiser ’77 gives a talk at the “Female Frontiers – Pushing Boundaries in the Workplace” program presented by the Women of Wesleyan. Eisner is a former Wesleyan Trustee and is editor-in-chief of “The Jewish Daily Forward.” She and other alumnae shared insights and strategies they’ve learned as women in the modern workplace.

Lin ’12 Honored with NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Zin Lin '12

Zin Lin ’12

Zin Lin ’12 received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for his research on PT-symmetric systems performed while a student at Wesleyan. Lin’s advisor was Tsampikos Kottos, the Douglas J. and Midge Bowen Bennet Associate Professor of Physics.

Lin was selected for his “outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well [his] potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise. He’s currently studying quantum nonlinear photonics as a second-year graduate student at Harvard University.

As a fellow, Lin will receive a $32,000 stipend for 2014-15. Fellows are expected to make satisfactory academic progress towards completion of their graduate degrees, as defined and certified by the Fellow’s GRFP institution. Upon completion of his fellowship, Lin is required to provide an Annual Activities Report that documents his activities, accomplishments, progress and productivity.

At Wesleyan, Lin double majored in physics and mathematics and graduated with high honors. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and received the Robertson Prize, awarded during his sophomore year for “excellence in mathematics.”

Novel by Guiney ’77 Addresses Women’s Health Issues in Cambodia

Sue Guiney '77

Sue Guiney ’77

Sue Guiney ’77 has published her second novel, Out of the Ruins (Ward Wood Publishing). At the beginning of the book, a Cambodian doctor is frustrated that the poor women in his country are dying needlessly. He reaches out to friends to help him create a new clinic for the local villages around Siem Reap’s world famous temples, and they answer his call.

An Irishman, Dr Diarmuid, arrives with his English assistant, Dr. Gemma, and a Canadian administrator Mr. Fred. Together they establish a place where poor women of Cambodia can find the basic care that so much of the world has long since taken for granted. A young and ambitious Cambodian nurse, Srey, acts as an interpreter and connection to the trust of the local community, but her idealized view of western medicine will be seriously challenged.

Tradition collides with science as East meets West, and though the doctors are all too eager to help, they have much to learn about their own personal demons in a desperate and seductive society.

Novel by Sue Guiney '77

Novel by Sue Guiney ’77

In a recent interview in The Phnom Penh Post, Guiney comments on an aspect of her writing process: “I do quite a lot of research for my books, both through reading and on the Internet, but most importantly, by immersing myself in the place, walking the streets and talking to the people. For example, to research Out of the Ruins, I found a Khmer guide in his 20s who was willing to take me to streets where there are karaoke bars and tin-roofed shacks with girls of all ages offering themselves up for sale. He was brave to take a middle-aged Western woman to places she had no right being in. And I suppose I was brave to go with him. But I need to see things with my own eyes, even if they are just buildings and surroundings. And I need to talk to people about their experiences if possible.”

Guiney has lived in London for nearly 20 years where she writes and teaches fiction, poetry, and plays. Her work has appeared in prestigious literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, and her first book, published by Bluechrome Publishing in 2006, is the text of her poetry play Dreams of May, (now been relaunched by Ward Wood Publishing). which premiered at London’s Pentameters Theatre. Ward Wood has also published her poetry collection Her Life Collected and her first novel set in Cambodia, A Clash of Innocents.

Sue Guiney web site


Esdaile ’00 New Athletic Director at Boston Public Schools

Avery Esdaile ’00

Avery Esdaile ’00

Avery Esdaile ’00 started his new job as athletic director for Boston Public Schools on Monday, April 14. Before his recent transition, Esdaile spent 12 years in the Wellesley College Athletic Department.

Ken Still, the former athletic director for Boston Public Schools, retired in October, leaving the schools without an AD for much of the fall and the entire winter season. Esdaile, with a degree in sociology from Wesleyan and a master’s of science in management of sports industries from the University of New Haven, says he is looking forward to being “in a position to hopefully down the line develop a program that infuses some learning and life lessons through athletics” because he hopes to help “kids that participate in athletics not only grow athletically but grow as the people that they are,” according a Boston Globe article.

Esdaile will face challenges through the transition from college to high school including the huge shift in size; at Wellesley he had only one team in each sport but as AD for Boston Public Schools, he has multiple teams participating in each sport. One issue Esdaile is planning to tackle is “the lack of interest in certain sports in the city.”

Less popular sports include hockey and swimming and Esdaile hopes to give students more opportunities to participate in these sports. Speaking about his plans, he states, “Right now, for me to come in and make changes would be foolish. The goal is to get through the year, take that breath, and then start to get ready for next year and look at what are some of things that we can do that make us more efficient or open the lines of communication or deal with anything that will just make what we do in this office here work at a higher level.”

Morrison ’96 Writes and Edits Romantic Comedy Film Hank and Asha

Juila Morrison '96 and James E. McDuff

Juila Morrison ’96 and James Duff

Julia Morrison ’96 has co-produced, co-written and edited a new film, Hank and Asha (website), which opened at the City Cinemas Village East Theater New York City last weekend and will run at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater in Los Angeles from April 18–24. This lovely romantic comedy about identity, longing, and the irresistible appeal of entertaining life’s what-ifs was co-written and directed by James Duff, who is also Morrison’s husband.

In the film, an Indian woman (Mahira Kakkar) studying in Prague and a lonely Southerner (Andrew Pastides) living in New York begin an unconventional correspondence through video letters—two strangers searching for human connection in a hyper-connected world. When their relationship develops, they must decide whether or not to meet face to face.

Andrew Pastides in "Hank and Asha"

Andrew Pastides in “Hank and Asha”

Hank and Asha premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Since then it has screened at more than 25 festivals worldwide, and has won 11 awards.

In his New York Times review, Nicolas Rapold writes: “A rare sustained epistolary romance, … this winsome, whisper-thin tale shimmers along with the charming urge to connect and reveal yourself that links its two correspondents. … this is a movie by people who honor the pleasures of waiting, wondering and longing in an instantaneous world.”


Mahira Kakkar in "Hank and Asha"

Mahira Kakkar in “Hank and Asha”

NPR interview with Julia Morrison and James E. Duff

Hank and Asha on Facebook
Twitter: @HankandAsha

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Jeremy Serwer ’70 Inducted into Outlet Industry Hall of Fame

Jeremy Serwer ’70 was inducted into the Outlet Hall of Fame

Jeremy Serwer ’70 was inducted into the Outlet Hall of Fame.

Jeremy Serwer ’70 joined the Outlet Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2005, the Developers of Outlet Centers and Retailers started the Outlet Industry Hall of Fame to honor people in the outlet retail industry who help the industry grow and improve. Serwer is the president of a consulting firm he began in 1993.

At Wesleyan, Serwer majored in French, Russian, and music, so his decision to enter the retail industry shocked his family. As a 14-year-old boy working in a girls’ clothing store, Serwer thought that retail was the most exciting market. “The constant demand and constant energy and the measurement of your efforts every day through sales really turned me on,” he said.

With a client list that includes Michael Kors and Jockey, Serwer has worked on both developer and retail sides of the industry. As he accepted the award, Serwer said he had “never envisioned that the industry would become a primary channel of growth and innovation. We started with a cigar box for cash and 2-year-old inventory, and then one day a landlord offered to write a check to build a store.”

Boston Children’s Establishes Griscom ’52 Chair

Boston Children’s Hospital announced the establishment of the N. Thorne Griscom Endowed Chair in Radiology. Dr. Griscom ’52, recently retired after 49 years in pediatric radiology, served as president of the Society of Pediatric Radiology (SPR) in 1981-82. Dr. George Taylor, SPR president in 2005-06, is pictured with him here at the reception to celebrate the announcement. Taylor calls Griscom as “an outstanding radiologist, clinician, mentor and friend,” adding, “This was a very deserved honor for this truly gentle man.” A Phi Beta Kappa chemistry major at Wesleyan, he earned his medical degree from the University of Rochester and was a professor of radiology at Harvard University.

The first holder of the N. Thorne Grisom Endowed Chair is Dr. Simon Warfield, who serves as research director on the department of radiology at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Dr. N. Thorne Griscom ’52 (left) with Dr. George Taylor.

Dr. N. Thorne Griscom ’52 (left) with Dr. George Taylor.


Hourihan ’86 Named President of AIG Private Client Group

Jerry Hourihan ’

Jerry Hourihan ’86 was named president of AIG Private Client Group for the US and Canada.

Jerry Hourihan ’86 is the new president of AIG Private Client Group for the United States and Canada. In his new role, Jerry will drive the development, implementation, and execution of strategies and priorities in the Private Client Group business.

Before being named president, Hourihan served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer for AIG Personal Lines, working with marketing, distribution management, and field operations. Hourihan has been with AIG Private Client Group since 2002 and has held several different positions. At Wesleyan, he studied economics.

Rodgers ’70, Burfoot ’68, Galloway ’67 – Long Distance Legends Reunite at Wesleyan

Pictured, left to right, are John Driscoll '62, advisor at the Wesleyan Career Center; John Hastings '71, a former Wesleyan standout runner and track and cross country coach at Middletown's Mercy High School; Jeff Galloway '67; Amby Burfoot '68; and Bill Rodgers '70.

Pictured, left to right, are John Driscoll ’62, advisor at the Wesleyan Career Center; John Hastings ’71, a former Wesleyan standout runner and track and cross country coach at Middletown’s Mercy High School; Jeff Galloway ’67; Amby Burfoot ’68; and Bill Rodgers ’70.

Three legendary running greats from the ranks of Wesleyan’s alumni — Jeff Galloway ’67, Amby Burfoot ’68 and Bill Rodgers ’70  — returned to Middletown for the first time as a group in more than 45 years to take part in the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half Marathon and Legends 4-Mile Race on April 6.  On site well before the start of the race, Galloway, Burfoot and Rodgers stood at the “legends tent” to sign autographs and have their photos taken with other runners and spectators.
Pictured, left to right, are Amby Burfoot '68, his wife, Cristina, and Jeff Galloway '67.

Pictured, left to right, are Amby Burfoot ’68, his wife, Cristina, and Jeff Galloway ’67.

While Rodgers, four-time winner of both the Boston and New York Marathons during the 1970s, was unable to take part in the race due to a muscle pull, he did fire the starting gun for the event. Burfoot, who won the 1968 Boston Marathon as a Wesleyan senior, and Galloway, a 1972 Olympian in the 10k event, hit the road for the half marathon along with Burfoot’s wife, Cristina. Galloway is a noted author and clinician on running as a lifetime activity.  Burfoot is a former editor-in-chief of Runner’s World magazine and is currently editor-at-large for the publication.  Rodgers heads the Bill Rodgers Running Center in Boston.

Wesleyan was well-represented in the race as Kathleen Roberts, assistant director of university events and scheduling; Sherri Condon, accounting specialist for auxiliary operations and campus services; Sarah Croucher, assistant professor of anthropology, assistant professor of archaeology, assistant professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies; Chris Caesar, Windows system administrator; Antonio Farias, vice president for equality and inclusion; and Ryan Robbins of Bon Appétit all competed in the half marathon as well.
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Gionfriddo ’75 Named President and CEO of Mental Health America

Paul Gionfriddo was named the new president and CEO of Mental Health America

Paul Gionfriddo ’75 was named the new president and CEO of Mental Health America.

After an extensive national search, Mental Health America’s board of directors has named Paul Gionfriddo ’75 the new president and CEO of the organization. Gionfriddo is an experienced nonprofit leader and former state legislator and mayor. During his over 30-year career, Gionfriddo has held many leadership positions related to health and public heath; he has led nonprofit organizations in three states, run his own consulting business, specializing in public health, children’s health, primary care and mental health.

In 2013, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius appointed Gionfriddo to a four-year term on the National Advisory Council to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services. Gionfriddo writes a popular weekly health policy blog and has written multiple essays, one of which was adapted as an opinion article in The Washington Post. Not only did Gionfriddo get his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan, he was also a member of the adjunct faculty during the 1990s.