Cynthia Rockwell

Conrad ’81 Hired for GSA’s Innovative Technologies Post

Kathy Prager Conrad '81

Kathy Prager Conrad ’81 was named the principal deputy associate administrator of the General Services Administration’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies. Honored as a Federal 100 award winner by Federal Computer Week in March, she was previously senior vice president of Jefferson Consulting Group. In an interview with Federal Computer Week, Conrad noted that she was honored to have the opportunity to advance the Administration’s open government and innovation initiatives.

Her new responsibilities include fostering adoption of innovative technologies such as cloud services and mobile computing and enhancing use of government data to improve government and citizen engagement.

“This job and office represent an amalgam of the issues I have been committed to – including promoting government IT as an enabler, not as an end in itself,” she says.

At Wesleyan, she was a biology/psychology major.

Smith ’92 Delegate for Mission to Indonesia

Jonathan Smith ’92

Jonathan Smith ’92 will be one of 14 delegates selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s Global Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) Mission to Indonesia in July. The delegation, made up of U.S. investors, entrepreneurs and academics, will offer individualized mentoring to Indonesian early-stage and growth-stage companies. Additionally Indonesian start-ups will have an opportunity to present their ideas to the delegation with the hopes of obtaining investors.

Smith, who earned his Wesleyan bachelor’s degree with a College of Social Studies degree, also holds a master’s degree in accounting, as well as a certificate in Homeland Securities Studies from Michigan State University. He is the president and chief operating Officer of Wave Dispersion Technologies ( Under his leadership, the company was ranked in Inc, Magazine’s 500 List.

Cottier ’12 Explores Tales from a Middletown Historic House

Charlotte Cottier ’12 spent the week hanging posters for her exhibit at the General Mansfield House on Main Street. (Photo by Olivia Drake MALS ’08)

While the rest of her classmates finished exams and headed for Foss Hill, Charlotte Cottier ’12 spent the sunny days of Finals Week inside the General Mansfield Home, getting ready to reveal excerpts from personal letters documenting a husband’s Western frontier travel to his wife at home, a nearly-failed courtship, and a myriad other stories that a nearly 200-year-old house can hold.

Cottier, an American studies and sociology major, is a guest curator for the Middlesex County Historical Society, hanging her exhibit “Within These Walls: One House, One Family, Two Centuries,” which opened May 20.

“The main theme is the social history of the house—showing the changing landscape of people and ideas that have marked a steadfast building so that it really comes alive,” she says.

The exhibit is culmination of a year-and-a-half of work and was sparked by the anthropology course, Middletown Lives, which she took in the spring of her first year. It was in the context of this service-learning course that Associate Professor Gina Ulysse “framed for me the idea of doing a public service by documenting history that hadn’t been recorded.”

Peretz ’84 Hosts Kail ’99, Miranda ’02 Reception in Miami

Andy Peretz ’84, Thomas Kail ’99 and Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02.

The nationwide tour of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical In the Heights ended its run with a Wesleyan flourish.

Andy Peretz ’84, inspired by the Wesleyan on Broadway alumni events, began organizing an event in Miami to celebrate with the local Wesleyan community at the Arsht Center Theater.

In The Heights, created and composed by Lin-Manuel Miranda ’02, was directed by Thomas Kail ’99, who agreed to conduct a talk for the alumni at a special reception at the Miami performance on April 2.

“What an amazingly articulate guy, so full of life,” says Peretz of Kail, who also directed Lombardi. Kail spent time with his host that day, talking about the collaborative process of turning Miranda’s one-time student play (performed in its first incarnation in the ’92 Theater) to the award-winner it is today.

Later that day, Kail gave Peretz another surprise: the news that Miranda had agreed to join the Wesleyan reception.

“It was indeed a unique experience to watch a Tony Award-winning play and then immediately afterward meet with the two people most responsible for the show’s creative distinctions,” Peretz says and adds. “Not lost on me was the unselfishness of Kail and Miranda in providing us with insight into the theatrical process – from both a creative and financial perspective.

“I truly believe that they offered themselves in this way because of their love of Wesleyan and sense of community. We were indeed very proud to be part of something so ‘Wesleyan.’”

Ross ’81 Awarded for American History Contributions

Beth Hill, executive director of Fort Ticonderoga, presents the first national Fort Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History to John F. Ross ’81 at the 17th Annual Ticonderoga Ball held at the Union League Club, New York City, March 4.

Noted author John F. Ross ’81 received the first annual Fort Ticonderoga Prize for Contributions to American History on March 4. After a national search and in a unanimous vote, the trustees selected Ross for his broad contributions to 18th-century military scholarship with his book War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America’s First Frontier (Random House 2009), which explores the exploits Major Robert Rogers.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ross said, “When I started a book on the 18th century warrior hero Robert Rogers, I realized what I had been looking for all my life was lying right under my nose—narrating and interpreting the rich themes of our past. Robert Rogers was the greatest of ranger leaders and creator of special operations. Modern rangers still must master his amazingly concentrated 28 rules of woods fighting. His ground zero was Fort Ticonderoga, key to the geo-strategy of North America. Today our men slip off to Afghanistan and many unnamed places with Robert Rogers by their side.”

In his research for War on the Run, Ross walked and kayaked many parts of Rogers’ tracks, much of them around Fort Ticonderoga, giving him on-the-ground knowledge and insight with which to bring Rogers’ experiences to life.

In addition, Ross was also praised for making America’s history accessible through his work as the executive editor of American Heritage Magazine. In a Fort Ticonderoga press release Peter Paine, president of the Fort Ticonderoga Board of Directors, is quoted as saying, “John F. Ross is a scholar who understands the importance of bringing history, observation, and experience together when seeking to understand the past.”

Additionally, Ross is executive editor of Invention and Technology and was previously a senior editor for Smithsonian magazine. He has published more than 200 articles and spoken at the Explorers Club of New York, the Smithsonian Institution, and NASA’s Ames Research Center.
While on research assignments, he has chronicled adventure around the world: chasing scorpions in Baja, diving 3,000 feet underwater in a submersible off the Galapagos, dog sledding with the polar Inuit in Greenland, living with the Khanty reindeer herders in Siberia and launching the northernmost canoe trip ever in the Canadian Arctic.

At Wesleyan, Ross majored in history. He is also the author of The Polar Bear Strategy: Reflections on Risk in Modern Life (Basic Books, 1999).

Benson ’43 Honored for Medical Education Service

John A. Benson Jr. ’43

John A. Benson Jr. ’43, MD, dean emeritus at Oregon Health and Science University and professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Medicine, received the 2010 Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the award, their highest, honors Benson’s “extraordinary contributions to the board certification process, medical education, and academic medicine.”

Benson, who is known as the modern “father” of the American Board of Internal Medicine, was appointed and served as its first president for 16 years. A gastroenterologist by training, he began what would become a 30-year association with the board in 1961.

As an elected member of the board of governors, he helped to approve examinations in new subspecialties, such as nephrology, endocrinology, and hematology, among others. A biology and chemistry major at Wesleyan, he earned his medical degree from Harvard University.


Leiner ’93 Organizes NYC’s First Film, Entertainment Soccer Tournament

Dylan Leiner

“Executive VP of Acquisitions & Production for Sony Pictures Classics, Dylan Leiner has spent his career traveling to Cannes, Milan and other international film festivals looking for material to acquire. For roughly 15 years, he’s also been a member of an informal floating soccer game,” writes Michelle Kung for the March 25, 2011, Wall Street Journal.

On April 23, Leiner and a friend, Jeffrey Saunders, founder of CinemaCapital and a former professional soccer player, will bring a version of that floating game of film professionals and more to New York City. Their organization, NYFEST—New York Film and Entertainment Soccer Tournament—will host a day of soccer as a charity event organized in conjunction with the Tribeca Film Festival and in partnership with UMBRO. Proceeds will benefit underserved inner-city youth.

“Our vision of hosting an entertainment-based soccer tournament in New York, the world’s most international city, took shape several years back,” Leiner recalls. “When the opportunity arose to work with the Tribeca Film Festival to bring the idea to fruition,

Casper ’90 Confirmed as Federal Judge

Judge Denise Jefferson Casper ’90

In late December, Denise Jefferson Casper ’90 was confirmed to a United States District Court Judgeship in Massachusetts. She had been nominated last April by President Obama, and an American Bar Association panel had rated her as “unanimously well qualified” for this lifetime appointment.

Casper was previously the Deputy District Attorney for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, overseeing the daily operations of one of the largest district attorney’s offices in New England.  Prior to that position, Casper taught legal writing at Boston University School of Law.

She had served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Boston from 1999 to 2005; she was promoted to Deputy Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force in 2004.  Casper also practiced as a civil litigator in the Boston office of Bingham McCutchen LLP (formerly Bingham, Dana & Gould) from 1995 to 1998.  After law school, Casper clerked for the Honorable Edith W. Fine and the Honorable J. Harold Flannery of the Massachusetts Appeals Court. At Wesleyan she majored in history and African-American studies. She received her J.D. in 1994 from Harvard Law School.

Ostfeld ’10, MA ’11, Semi-Finalist for Sierra Club “Best Internship”

Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, MA ’11

Rosemary Ostfeld ’10, MA ’11, an E&ES and biology major, is a semi-finalist for Sierra Club’s “Best Internship on Earth.” The winner will spend the summer video-blogging on different Sierra Club outings sponsored by the club’s Inner City Outings, Building Bridges to the Outdoors, and Volunteer Vacations programs.

A four-year member of Wesleyan’s Outing Club and former house manager of OutHouse, Ostfeld also developed and led an outdoor program for Snow Elementary School in Middletown. She says that Suzanne O’Connell, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and director of service learning, encouraged her to apply for the internship with the Sierra Club.

She had learned about documentary film making in FILM 140, “Making the Science Documentary” a service learning course that she took in 2007, with Adjunct Assistant Professor of Film Studies Jacob Bricca and Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Manju Hingorani.

Ostfeld received the good news that she’d made it to the semi-finals, along with a message from the contest officials telling her, “This week, we’re inviting folks to view the videos and leave comments to let us know who they would like to see get the position and become our Outdoors Youth Ambassador. While this won’t be the determining factor in who we choose, we’ll be looking to see who’s getting attention.”

Ostfeld (“Contestant 21”) invites you to view her video entry and submit your comments.

(See an earlier WesLive for further information on Hingorani and Bricca’s course.)

Chen ’98 Advocates for Asian Americans with Eating Disorders

Lynn Chen ’98; photo by JJ Casas

Lynn Chen ’98 writes on the blog, Thick Dumpling Skin, which she co-founded with Lisa Lee:

“If you read my food blog, you know that I struggled with binge eating and anorexia for many years. Although it’s no longer a real day-to-day battle for me, I remember the feelings all too well and thought I would share with you what my eating disorder looked like.

“I binged probably once a week for most of my late-twenties. It started off as my “cheat day” – I was in the midst of my trying-every-diet-under-the-sun phase and I liked the idea of a full 16 hours of eating whatever I wanted. It soon became a habit I both dreaded and looked forward to.” (Click here to read the rest of her Feb. 17  posting.)

Lynn Chen ’98 is an advocate for Asian Americans with eating disorders.

Norris ’83 Directs Labor, Employment Law Group

Megan Norris ’83

The law firm of Miller Canfield has elected Megan Norris ’83 to serve a two-year term as a managing director, effective Jan. 1. She is part of a five-person management administration that works with the CEO to oversee the firm’s offices in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Poland and China.

A principal in the Detroit, Mich. office, Norris is leader of the firm’s Labor and Employment Law Group. She counsels clients on employment matters that include discipline and discharge, discrimination, harassment, and tort claims. She is a nationally recognized expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Cited as a “2011 Leader in the Law” by Michigan Lawyers Weekly, she also has been recognized for her work in The Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA and Michigan Super Lawyers.

A government and music major at Wesleyan, she earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. Norris is a member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees.

Postel ’77 Assistant Administrator at International Development Agency

Eric Postel ’77

Nominated by President Obama in January 2011 and confirmed in March, Eric Postel ’77 joins the leadership team at the U.S. Agency for International Development as assistant administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade.

Postel, an experienced economic development expert and financier with a background in emerging markets investments, has worked in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East as an advisor and financial officer. In 2006, he served as commissioner on the bi-partisan Senate Helping to Enhance the Livelihood of People Around the Globe (HELP) Commission.

A mathematics/economics major at Wesleyan, he is also a four-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and a graduate of Stanford Graduate School of Business.