Teddy Verheggen ’20
Teddy Verheggen spent 10 weeks last summer working in The New York Botanical Garden’s 28,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Plant Research Laboratory.
Tafties come from all walks of life, each with a story that fascinates and inspires. Meet some of our students, faculty, and alumni here.
Teddy Verheggen ’20
Teddy Verheggen spent 10 weeks last summer working in The New York Botanical Garden’s 28,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Plant Research Laboratory.
Dylan Kim '19
Dylan Kim brought his technical skills as a film producer to a unique internship at The New York Botanical Garden.
Shannon Lenz Guidotti
Science Department Head
Shannon's evolution as a scientist, teacher, and thought leader has been shaped by deeply personal experiences and driven by unparalleled passion.
Pete Alexander ’94
Pete Alexander has something in common with the animals he researches as a biologist. Like cougars, he pursues his prey, following them up mountains and through canyons in Wyoming. Unlike the big cats, though, Alexander is studying, not stalking.
CJ D'Virgilio '20 & Ian Staines '20
CJ and Ian spent nearly three weeks in South America last summer building cultural bridges by “speaking soccer” in the mountains of Peru.
Mihir Nayar '19
When Mihir Nayar '19 returned to the US after spending six weeks in India during the summer of 2017, he knew there was still so much to be done. He went back to India in 2018 to continue his work with the children of Ahmedabad.
Eliza King Freedman '19
For two consecutive summers, Eliza King Freedman '19 has traveled to Cuenca, Ecuador, to work with children and young adults who have come to appreciate her warmth and caring.
Sean Dunbar '20
It was a pairing that was meant to be: Taft’s longstanding connection with The Island School in Eleuthera, Bahamas, and Upper Mid Sean Dunbar’s longstanding connection to the island, itself.
Caitlin Kennedy ’12
In the two years since graduating from Hamilton College, Caitlin Kennedy has already established herself in a career that wholeheartedly channels Taft’s ethic of Non ut sibi. Kennedy works as a contracts associate at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), a New York-based nonprofit providing employment services to men and women with criminal convictions.
Tania Tsunik '20
Tania traveled from her home in Ukraine to Sri Lanka last summer, where she taught English to young Buddhist monks.
Christopher Eanes ’94
After he assumed directorship of the Cincinnati Boychoir in 2009, Christopher Eanes soon discovered that the 45-year-old ensemble needed to adapt its mission. Eanes has grown the group of nearly 200 boys between kindergarten and high school age into an organization that uses music as an important teaching tool.
Michelle Lian '20
Michelle Lian ’20 spent two weeks in rural China teaching young women English and mathematics through Educating Girls of Rural China (EGRC), an organization working to empower women in rural regions of Western China to escape the cycle of poverty through education.
Kira Siebrecht '19
Kira Siebrecht '19 traveled to Argentina this summer to get involved in human rights issues at the grassroots level. She arrived on the eve of an important moment in the country's history.
Katie Putnam Martinez ’00
San Francisco-based designer Katie Putnam Martinez likes rooms and places that feel layered with old and new. “I gravitate more toward contemporary aspects in terms of clean lines and simplicity,” she says, but she often includes vintage pieces in her projects. Martinez focuses primarily on West Coast residential projects, but she has also worked on offices and a store.
For more than 1,000 years, pilgrims have journeyed along the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile network of ancient pilgrim routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. This summer, Spanish Teacher Jon Bender was among them.
Collegium Musicum continued their summer tradition of spreading joy through music across the globe, this time through concerts in London and Paris.
Jamie Cheney Flaherty '98
Like many of the most successful start-ups, 1998 alum Jamie Flaherty Cheney’s innovative search firm Prokanga was born from a place of personal experience. Cheney asked herself the question frequently pondered by working moms who are experienced professionals: Can you care for your child and also hang on to the career that you’ve invested so much in? As a result, she launched Prokanga, a search firm blending access to traditional and flexible workforces.
Logan Clew-Bachrach '20
Logan Clew-Bachrach '20 spent 16 days exploring Cuba from behind a camera. It is a vantage point, she says, that allows her to see things more deeply.
Craig Reistad ’80
At the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea, Craig Reistad served as Olympic security coordinator for the U.S. contingent of athletes, staff, media, and dignitaries. Reistad was there for a nearly two-year assignment with the Diplomatic Security Service.
Jonathan Ip '20
For the second consecutive summer, Jonathan Ip ’20 traveled from his home in Hong Kong to Mainland China to work with children who have been "left behind."
Kaitlyn Macdonald '19
Kaitlyn Macdonald '19 learned how to suture lacerations, start IV lines, and intubate patients over the summer. She also learned that a career in medicine is the right path for her.
Francesca Nyakora '19
For Francesca Nyakora ’19, international relations is a way of life, with family in Kenya and relatives working for the United Nations across the globe. It also led her to Yale this summer to study international affairs and global security as a Yale Young Global Scholar.
Collin Amelsberg '19 spent a month in Belize this summer, building relationships, while delivering health education and medical care.
AJ Mleczko ’93
Former Olympic gold medalist AJ Mleczko had her fifth assignment as NBC’s women’s hockey analyst at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics for her post-playing broadcasting career, which started in 2006. In May 2018, she also became the first female broadcaster to call an NHL playoff game from the booth.
Stone Fenton '20
Stone Fenton stumbled upon a series of articles about agricultural advances. What he read changed the course of his summer, and may change farming worldwide.
Evelyn Barata Lee ’75
Evelyn Barata Lee transformed her Southport, CT, property into a fresh-cut flower garden that produces about 45,000 flowers a year. Since 2011, her business has grown to include a small retail cottage, wholesale accounts, weddings and events, workshops and presentations, and a local flower delivery subscription service.
Clarence Kwei ’91
Clarence Kwei is VP of product and engineering at Univision Communications Inc., where he oversees product and technical strategy across the company’s digital platforms for web, mobile, and television. If you’ve been on websites owned by the media brands Meredith, Time Inc., Condé Nast, or Univision, you’ve seen Kwei’s website development work.
Marina Martin '03
After serving as the chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Marina Martin moved to a digital services company that restores complex systems to service. Her true passion, though, is finding ways to make the nation's complex foster care system function safely and efficiently to minimize the time children spend in foster care.
Kayla Robinson '19
A natural athlete and leader, Kayla uses her high-profile positions at Taft to help make others feel at home.
Philip Howard '66
As an author and founder of Common Good, a nonpartisan reform coalition working to simplify government, Philip Howard is being recognized for his impressive work with Taft's highest alumni honor. He is also senior counsel at the New York City law firm Covington & Burling.
Marcus Valenta '19
Marcus Valenta's connection to science runs deep, and may be rooted in a history he has only recently come to know.
Vanessa LeFebvre Robinson ’95
Vanessa LeFebvre Robinson is leading the women’s merchandising team at Stitch Fix, one of the most successful and exciting fashion/technology companies in the world.
Micah Umeh '19
Micah Umeh is guided by strength and values that shape his character and drive his achievement.
Dennis Liu '02
Netflix has ordered a 10-episode series of the sci-fi family drama called Raising Dion, based on Dennis Liu's short film and comic book of the same name. A graduate of NYU's Tisch School for the Arts, Liu has spent much of the last 10 years directing commercials and music videos for a variety of artists.
Eleanor Streit '19
The science of language sparks Eleanor Streit's passions, which led her to take a leap of faith.
Tom Losee ’84
Combine running and stand-up paddleboarding and what do you get? RUN/SUP®, outdoor sports entrepreneur Tom Losee’s increasingly popular training program that fuses his two favorite recreational fitness activities.
Eva Baurmeister '19
By jumping in with both feet and feeling the support of the Taft community, Eva Baurmeister continues to grow as a student, an athlete, an artist, and a leader.
Adam Yonkers '89
Adam Yonkers '89 says that making a huge career change in his early-30s freed him to take on a career that feeds his soul. He went from corporate communications—marketing and public relations at a big corporate law firm—to teaching U.S. history and foreign policy to high schoolers at Palo Alto Unified in California.
Jeff Lamson's quest to uncover the layers of history not found in a textbook drives his passion for both teaching and learning.
Katie Maxey Sorrentino ’85
Ever wonder how retailers seem to know what you want to buy before you do? Mining data about our likes and dislikes to help perfect the relationship with consumers is what Go Think!, the company of Katie Maxey Sorrentino ’85, is doing to help guide retailers across the nation.
Pearl Young '18
Pearl Young '18 is an artist, an academic, a leader, and a role model. Her commitment to the community makes Taft a better place.
Mihir Nayar '19
Mihir Nayar '19 witnessed the effects of poor nutrition on learning during his summer in India. His recent win at a pitch competition will help him do something about it.
Peter Dzubay '18
Peter Dzubay is a talented self-starter who, in reaching for the stars, has become one.
Harrison Clay ’92
Early in his career, Harrison Clay ’92 began thinking about methane as a solution to the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and a way to reduce greenhouse gases. Read about Clay’s role as BP’s vice president of strategic development, global environmental products, and his work in biogas and biomethane project development.
Simone Foxman ’07
As an investing reporter for Bloomberg, Simone Foxman’s beat specific to the finance industry allows her to “uncover stories that the public deserves to hear,” she says. Read about her role as a journalist that allows her to be part of conversations happening at the highest level in the world of finance.
John McGowan ’81
John McGowan ’81 created Mathematical Software, a start-up dedicated to researching and developing tools and algorithms that can be used to automate complex data analysis. Learn about his work.
Klara Skrivankova ’96
In her role at Anti-Slavery International, Klara Skrivankova ’96 works with businesses on tackling forced labor in supply chains. Read more about her efforts to eradicate the modern slavery that reaches, often invisibly, into many aspects of our lives.
Doug Ellis ’54
After a long career in the textile industry, Doug Ellis ’54 decided it was an ideal time to return to his passion of flying. Ellis is a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, which offers free transportation to patients in need of medical treatment.
Tyler Kneisel '99
Dockwa, cofounded by Tyler Kneisel ’99, makes reserving boat slips a snap. Since its launch in 2015, tens of thousands of boaters now find, reserve, and pay for moorings in real time, using the award-winning Dockwa platform on their computers or the free mobile app.
Aditya Balsekar '18
Founder, Meaningful Summers
Aditya Balsekar combined his passion for service with his talent as a leader to change his community for the better.
Director of Environmental Stewardship; Global Studies & Service; Science
Carly Borken brings a world of experiences into the Taft classroom.
Osi Bialunska '19
Osi recently traveled to Nepal an experience that brought new clarity and understanding to the value of a Taft education.
Natalie Waldram '18
Natalie Waldram ’18 is deeply connected to the environment. She spent time last summer in the Amazon rainforest, and at an environmental leadership academy.
Caleb Hannon '18
Caleb's efforts to immerse himself in other cultures have taken him around the world, and have him on track to earn a Global Studies and Service diploma from Taft in June.
Peter Van Der Mije ’98
After working for notable chefs in New York City, Peter Van Der Mije ’98 opened Osteria Leana, a chic, casual Italian restaurant in Oyster Bay on Long Island. He’s established a place that is small, local, and accessible for diners craving a city experience along the North Shore coastline, with easy access to excellent fresh produce and seafood.
Ally Anderson '18
Ally Anderson '18 worked with scientists from the New York Botanical Garden to develop an algorithm for an electronic plant identification program.
Taylor Jacobs '18
Taylor blends the places in her heart with her passion for touching children’s lives.
Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73
Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73 has made it her and her family’s mission to bring awareness about alcohol poisoning and hazing in order to save lives.
One day, Khalid Tellis may write a book he'll call Joy and Humor in the Classroom. For now, that's exactly what he brings to Taft.
Liila “Lee” Hass ’77
A trained naturopath, yoga instructor, and counselor, Hass works as a high-needs support counselor at Risdon, and her role is to focus on inmates with mental health issues and other disabilities.
Luisa Bonachea ’00
Luisa Bonachea ’00 combines her legal training with her love of wine in a fulfilling career. Read about her work as an intellectual property attorney based in Napa Valley and serving the wine industry.
Max Sandvoss '98
Read about the goat farm and creamery owned by Max Sandvoss ’98 in upstate New York and his transition from actor to experienced farmer and cheesemaker. He and his brother, Trystan, are committed to the entire natural process with grass-fed animals and organic pastures. First Light sells its cheeses at farmers’ markets and to stores and restaurants across six states.
Joanna Kleszczewski '18
Artist and ISP Scholar
Joanna Kleszczewski '18 tells stories through her art; each piece speaks volumes.
Gabriela Gonzalez Carpio '17
Capturing Ambiguity Through Art
Gabby is an artist in every sense of the word. She used the Independent Study Program to expand her skills and repertoire.
Nick Firestone ’84
Nick Firestone ’84 has loved racing since age 3. At 51, he’s a professional race car driver who has raced among the most acclaimed drivers in the world and has been racing since the late 1980s. Firestone’s niche is go-karts, and he regularly races in the U.S. and internationally.
Peter Horne '18
Peter came to Taft to hone his leadership skills, and found even greater opportunity than he imagined.
Sarah Surber teaches students to express thoughts and emotions though movement.
Ben Laufer '18
Ben Laufer has spent the last year working to change the world. He's done so with a global audience.
Ashley Wilberding Balavoine '90
As a perfumer, Ashley creates scents that are in products most of us use every day.
Leigh Sharpless '17
Leigh Sharpless '17 is studying cutting-edge cancer therapies, with an eye on the future.
Gabe McMackin ’94
Gabe McMackin ’94, chef and owner of The Finch, a restaurant in Brooklyn, wasn’t planning to “shoot for the stars,” when he opened. The Finch and McMackin’s were recently awarded a Michelin star.
Mathematics, Mid Class Dean
Lindsay Leal's time as a boarding school student help shaped her approach to being a boarding school teacher.
Billy Himmelrich ’82
Since 1999, owner Billy Himmelrich ’82 has been running Old School Bakery in Delray Beach, Florida, and providing bread to top restaurants, hotels, and country clubs in Southeast Florida, along with donating unsold bread to the Palm Beach County Food Bank and helping raise money for hunger relief through events.
Christopher Brown '64
Chris Brown '64 had "spectacularly good" English teachers at Taft. Naturally he became one.
Maeve Millen '17
Maeve is passionate about social issues, with wealth inequality at the top of the list.
Belle McDougald '17 and Emily Weaver '17
Kaedi Dalley '18
Singer, Actor, Leader
Kaedi Dalley's talent, passion, and leadership inspire respect and awe, while galvanizing our community.
Amy Lynd Luers ’84
When Latin American villagers needed help getting access to clean water, she answered the call. She co-founded an NGO called Agua Para La Vida to help build potable water systems in the region.
Zygi Jievaltas '17
GSS and GLI Scholar
Zygi Jievaltas says that Taft has spurred his intellectual development and helped crystallize his ambitions.
Benjamin Roberts '18
Benjamin Roberts '18 looked to the plagues of the past to predict health crises in the future.
Emma Bellet '18
Emma Bellet believes that Taft is a place to grow and thrive; a place where you will exceed even your own expectations.
Todd Gipstein '70
Keeper of the Light
Todd Gipstein returned to his childhood home to bring new life to a historic landmark.
Spanish Teacher, International Student Advisor
Pilar Santos knows what it is like to be young and far from home.
Sydney Trevenen '17
Listen to Sydney Trevenen talk about her summer internship with the Yale University Discovery to Cure program.
Andrew Farrier '17
Hockey Captain, Student Leader
Andrew Farrier came to Taft from a much larger school near his home in Canada. What he found is that the strength of a community does not lie in its numbers.
Michael Klein '10
Michael Klein manages projects aimed at producing energy for local communities using natural, renewable resources.
Dr. Joyce Poole '74
For more than 40 years, Dr. Joyce Poole ’74, the 2017 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal honoree, has been a passionate voice—a protector and defender—of elephants, dedicating her life to their conservation and welfare.
Shasha Alvares '17
Day student Shasha Alvares says that coming to Taft every day feels like going home.
Mathematics Department Head
Jack Elrad '17
Jack Elrad has established himself as a talented videographer and producer, documenting life at Taft, and working with Hollywood's best.
Director of Environmental Stewardship
Carly Borken is an environmentalist, a woman of vision, a change agent.
Shemar Christian '17
Eliza Price '17
Shemar and Eliza spent the summer of 2016 working side-by-side with world-renowned scientists, graduate students, and college interns in the laboratories of The New York Botanical Garden.
Boys' Head Soccer Coach
Upper Mid Class Dean
Ozzie Parente's strength as a coach and a teacher? He loves what he does.
AJ Barre '17
AJ Barre brings his passions for service and soccer together to raising funds and awareness for global causes.
Jane Kinney '06
Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineer
When Jane Kinney ’06 was five she knew she wanted to be involved in aerospace. Today, her aspirations have become a reality.
Andrew Eisen '04
Yee-Fun Yin wants his students to make pictures, not take pictures; to create art that is deliberate and personal.
Emerson Wickwire '91
Sleep expert Emerson Wickwire '91 studies the effects of what is known as “blue light” emitted from electronic devices on the body’s natural circadian rhythms, and discusses the importance of getting enough sleep.
Eliza Denious '17
Eliza Denious is a head mon, a team captain, and a student who quickly recognized the ties that bind all Tafties together.
Ciara Connolly '17
Ciara Connolly finds inspiration wherever the music takes her.
Andy Taylor ’72
Andy is changing the lives of students in Botswana.
What started with a poetic spark quickly caught Fire, and swept five Taft students into the white hot lights of the TriBeCa Film Festival.
Jalen Little '19
Jalen Little '19 is dedicated to service, both locally and globally.
Lauren Fadiman '17
Lauren Fadiman brought her dedication to service to a remote Alaskan village.
Nick Halmos '97
Nick Halmos '97 has created a way to efficiently grow food in urban environments by combining hydroponic systems with automation and live data. He safely and sustainably grows fresh food in a range of climates and everywhere from rooftops to parking lots.