Alumni Spotlights

2018 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal Honoree

Philip Howard '66

As an author and founder of Common Good, a nonpartisan reform coalition that describes itself as working to simplify government to put humans back in charge, cut red tape, and limit bureaucracy that prevents progress, 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.

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Fashion into the Future

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. Starting at her mother’s clothing store before she went to UPenn, then moving on to a position as a buyer at Lord & Taylor, along with other prominent retailers, she is now at the forefront of fashion selection using technology.

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Coming to Netflix

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.

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A Workout That Takes You Somewhere

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. For more than 10 years, Losee has worked in the stand-up paddleboard business in Florida’s northwestern Gulf Coast.

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Teaching with a Worldview

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.

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Go Think...About Retail

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.

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Pumped Up By Renewables

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.

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Algorithms in Action

John McGowan ’81

Mathematical software engineer 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 to help firms analyze their research and development in data-intensive areas such as medicine or pharmaceuticals, finance, and engineering.

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Following the Money

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.

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On Modern Slavery

Klara Skrivankova ’96

In her role at Anti-Slavery International, the world’s oldest international human rights organization, 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.

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A Bistro Grows in Brooklyn

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. “My goal was to play with food and to create a neighborhood restaurant that straddles the line between formal and informal service,” he says. Read more about The Finch and McMackin’s journey to being awarded a Michelin star.

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Wineries Counsel

Luisa Bonachea ’00

Luisa Bonachea ’00 never imagined that she’d combine 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 who specializes in trademark and copyright law for wine-industry clients.

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Take Care of Your Friends

Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73

Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73, whose son, Lynn Gordon “Gordie” Bailey Jr., died of an alcohol poisoning at the University of Colorado after a fraternity initiation ceremony in September 2004, has made it her and her family’s mission to bring awareness about alcohol poisoning and hazing in order to save lives.

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Serving in the Skies

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 and who are too sick or injured to drive a long distance or fly on a commercial jet to a hospital.

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Tap. Book. Dock.

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.

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A Baker Who Serves

Billy Himmelrich ’82

Since 1999, owner Billy Himmelrich ’82 has been running Old School Bakery in Delray Beach, Florida—known for its fresh bread with a delicious combination of taste and texture—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.

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Four-Wheeled Love Affair

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.

 

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A Q&A with Max Sandvoss ’98 of First Light Farm & Creamery

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.

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A Slice of Italy in Oyster Bay

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 in 2016. He’s successfully 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.

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The Treasures of Trade

Karina Corrigan '88

As the Peabody Essex Museum’s H.A. Crosby Forbes Curator of Asian Export Art, Karina Corrigan ’88 is charged with overseeing the world’s most comprehensive collection of fine and decorative art made in Asia for export to the West.

 

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A Nose for the Business

Ashley Wilberding Balavione '90

As a perfumer for the leading privately owned fragrance company in the world, Ashley Wilberding Balavoine ’90 gets to create the scents that, whether we realize it or not, are in products that most of us use every day. Balavoine has to keep abreast of the trends in fragrance, which are very connected to each culture, and vary by country.

 

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Rocket Woman

Jane Kinney ’06

As assistant director for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), Kinney supports CSF’s engagement with government entities, industry experts, and entrepreneurs for opportunities in the commercial space industry.

 

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Digging History

Lizzie Macaulay-Lewis ’98

Read about Lizzie Macaulay-Lewis ’98, who has recently been helping document archeological sites in the Middle East that are endangered due to conflicts, especially in Syria. Her research focuses on the material culture of the Roman, Late Antique, and Islamic worlds, and Islamic architecture.

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