Skip To Main Content

Alumni Spotlights

The World View, As Shaped by Steven Erlanger ’70

2020 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal Honoree

Steven Erlanger’s enduring newspaper career is rich with vignettes of a nomadic life of war zones, far-flung capitals, and contrasting cultures. As the The New York Times chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe, Erlanger has also served as bureau chief in London, Paris, Jerusalem, Berlin, Prague, Moscow, and Bangkok. Taft recognizes him with the school’s highest alumni honor.

Read More about The World View, As Shaped by Steven Erlanger ’70
Lifesaving Public Health

Liz Temkin ’83

As an epidemiologist with Israel’s National Center for Infection Control and Antibiotic Resistance, Dr. Liz Temkin ’83 focuses on how to control the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, how to limit unnecessary antibiotic use, and how to respond to the fact that few new antibiotics are in development.

Read More about Lifesaving Public Health
Homegrown High-End Bats

Jeremiah Vargas ’16

Jeremiah Vargas ’16 cofounded Tater Bats, a Waterbury, Connecticut-based custom wooden baseball bat and accessories company, with his father and brother. What started in a backyard shed has become a 3,500-square foot workshop and storefront selling to players all over the county, including Major League professionals.

Read More about Homegrown High-End Bats
Drawn to Service

Fiona McFarland ’04

A desire to serve, which first took hold during her time at Taft, has gone on to drive many of Fiona McFarland’s life decisions, including her most recent ambition: being elected to the Florida State House.After graduating from the United States Naval Academy McFarland spent eight years on active duty, including six and a half years at sea.

Read More about Drawn to Service
Equitable Coffee

Rob Terenzi ’01

Rob Terenzi ’01 and his wife, along with a college friend, saw an opportunity to help coffee farmers and upend the supply chain. They formed Vega Coffee, known for its dedication to individual coffee farmers in Nicaragua.

Read More about Equitable Coffee
Partnering for Clean Water

Ellie O’Neill ’11

Based on their view that water scarcity is a pressing issue of our time, Ellie O’Neill ’11 and Jack Hartpence cofounded Powwater, a social business that sells reusable water bottles, coffee mugs, and wine tumblers and reinvests profits into sustainable clean drinking water systems across the globe.

Read More about Partnering for Clean Water
From Law to Llamas

Charley Rosenberry ’77

CharleyRosenberry ’77, who retired from his law career, now spends his days organizing weeklong hikes for veterans who have recently returned from combat, and also doing llama pack trips into the Cascade Mountains to resupply trail crews working there.

Read More about From Law to Llamas
Sea Change

Irina Prentice ’94

Read about the work of Irina Prentice ’94, who is part of a team at Encounter Edu, a London-based education agency using innovative teaching methods, such as live-stream learning, to help students in classrooms around the world learn about pressing environmental issues.

Read More about Sea Change
A Therapy Program in the Wild

John Wyman ’10

John Wyman ’10 traded his corporate office in Times Square for the desert plains and mountains of Utah, where he’s now an advanced field lead at Elements Traverse, a wilderness therapy program for young adults battling issues such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, addiction, and suicidal behavior.

Read More about A Therapy Program in the Wild
Growing Future Leaders

Stacey Rudnick '85

In her role as director of the Center of Leadership and Ethics at McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, Stacey Rudnick gives MBA students the tools to become the “effective, thoughtful, moral leaders that businesses so desperately need,” she says

Read More about Growing Future Leaders
Decoding Cancer

Ranjit Bindra ’94

Read about the work of Dr. Ranjit Bindra ’94, co-director of Yale University’s Brain Tumor Center. Bindra is physician-scientist and biotechnology entrepreneur, specializing in the study of pediatric glioma. Two years ago, he started Cybrexa Therapeutics to bring its best tumor targeting technology to patients.

Read More about Decoding Cancer
Madame President Aspirations

Liz Osterhus Fleuette ’84

Liz Osterhus Fleuette ’84 was inspired to start Ms President US when her daughter, Maggie, at age 5 announced that she wanted to be the first female president during a visit to the National Constitution Center. Through the nonpartisan, nonprofit, community-based program and its mentors, girls learn about public speaking, diplomacy and listening skills, local/state/federal government, and women’s history.

Read More about Madame President Aspirations
What Is Blockchain?

Wesley Jamieson ’13

In our Q&A, Wesley Jamieson ’13 unpacks what blockchain technology is and isn’t and how it works on a practical level. Jamieson is a lead blockchain technical resource in accounting firm RSM’s Blockchain and Digital Asset Management Consulting practice.

Read More about What Is Blockchain?
Unscripted

Alexandra Dickson ’99

For actor and improviser Alexandra Dickson ’99, who performs and teaches at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, it all began in an introductory acting class during her mid year at Taft. After studying acting at the Circle in the Square Theatre School and taking workshops at Chicago’s The Second City, she now appears weekly with The Stepfathers.

Read More about Unscripted
Helping Uprooted Families

Donna Eldridge ’76

For Bay Area-based Donna Eldridge ’76, delivering furniture to a family of Afghan refugees in her truck is just another day. But for these uprooted families who have landed in the U.S. with nothing, her services are invaluable, and, ultimately, life-altering. Read about her Non ut sibi-inspired service work.

Read More about Helping Uprooted Families
Lawrence B. Morris III ’65: 2019 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal Honoree

Larry Morris ’65 received Taft’s highest alumni honor this year for his more than 40 years of work at the Quebec-Labrador Foundation, including as its president for three decades and for his role as a leader in the environmental and conservation fields. Read about Morris’s leadership at QLF with its broad-reaching, community-based conservation efforts.

Read More about Lawrence B. Morris III ’65: 2019 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal Honoree
Talking Baseball

Scott Barnsby ’94

Scott Barnsby ’94 has spent more than 10 years crisscrossing the country as a scout for the Cleveland Indians. Now as scouting director, his time is spent reading reports and talking with his staff about the club’s directions in the draft, but he’s still connected to the game he loves.

Read More about Talking Baseball
Onscreen and Onstage

Eliza Clark '03

Based in Los Angeles, Eliza Clark '03 is both an accomplished playwright and the showrunner/executive producer of TNT's popular drama Animal Kingdom. On any given day, Clark is in the writers' room, the editing suite, on set, or in production meetings.

Read More about Onscreen and Onstage
Sonic Playground

Nick Gotten ’93

Blending the technical with the creative—that’s what Nick Gotten ’93 loves about his job as a re-recording mixer and sound engineer. Gotten takes recorded dialogue, sound effects, and music to create the final version of a soundtrack for a feature film or television program. He won an Emmy for his work on mixing the sound for the Disney juggernaut show, Sofia the First.

Read More about Sonic Playground
Called to Nursing

Torie Snyder Pearce ’04

Torie Snyder Pearce ’04 has always been inspired by Taft’s motto, Not to be served but to serve. A strong resonance with Non ut sibi helped persuade her to become a pediatric nurse, and to cofound Urgent Care for Kids, an urgent care company specializing in pediatrics in Texas.

Read More about Called to Nursing
Overcoming Epilepsy’s Challenges

Chanda Gunn ’99

Former Olympic hockey player Chanda Gunn ’99 helped lead Team USA to a World Championship in 2005 and an Olympic Bronze Medal in Turin in 2006 while battling epilepsy. Diagnosed at the age of 9, she has turned a substantial obstacle into a fulfilling career. A longtime spokesperson for the Epilepsy Foundation of America, Gunn now works for the Epilepsy Foundation New England.

Read More about Overcoming Epilepsy’s Challenges
Secretive Felines

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.

Read More about Secretive Felines
The Power of Jobs

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.

Read More about The Power of Jobs
Styled Simplicity

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.

Read More about Styled Simplicity
A Balanced Life Workforce

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.

Read More about A Balanced Life Workforce
Olympic Mettle

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, the State Department equivalent to the Secret Service that provides protection at U.S. embassies and consulates around the globe and at major international events.

Read More about Olympic Mettle
From On the Ice to On Air

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.

Read More about From On the Ice to On Air
A Business in Bloom

Evelyn Barata Lee ’75

Evelyn Barata Lee transformed her Southport, Connecticut, property into Butternut Gardens, a fresh-cut flower garden that produces about 45,000 beautiful flowers every year. Since 2011, her business has grown to include a small retail cottage, wholesale accounts, weddings and events, workshops and presentations, and a flower delivery subscription service for local customers.

Read More about A Business in Bloom
The Digital Architect

Clarence Kwei ’91

Clarence Kwei is vice president 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.

Read More about The Digital Architect
Big IT, Big Impact

Marina Martin '03

After serving as the chief technology officer for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Marina Martin is now a partner with Layer Aleph, 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.

Read More about Big IT, Big Impact
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.

Read More about 2018 Horace Dutton Taft Alumni Medal Honoree
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.

Read More about Fashion into the Future
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.

Read More about Coming to Netflix
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.

Read More about Teaching with a Worldview
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.

Read More about Go Think...About Retail
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.

Read More about Pumped Up By Renewables
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.

Read More about Algorithms in Action
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.

Read More about Following the Money
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.

Read More about On Modern Slavery
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.

Read More about A Bistro Grows in Brooklyn
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.

Read More about Wineries Counsel
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.

Read More about Take Care of Your Friends
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.

Read More about Serving in the Skies
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.

Read More about Tap. Book. Dock.
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.

Read More about A Baker Who Serves
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.

 

Read More about Four-Wheeled Love Affair
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.

Read More about A Q&A with Max Sandvoss ’98 of First Light Farm & Creamery
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.

Read More about A Slice of Italy in Oyster Bay
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.

 

Read More about The Treasures of Trade
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.

 

Read More about A Nose for the Business
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.

 

  • fall2016
Read More about Rocket Woman
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.

Read More about Digging History