Oberlin Alumni Magazine

Spring 2014 Vol. 109 No. 2 OAM Home | Oberlin Online

Class Notes


The Alumni Association mailed a Valentine’s Day card with this photo to 2,206 married or partnered alumni couples (according to the alumni database), including Sue Duncan ’75, who emailed this note: “Thought you might like to know that was my (future) husband and me in 1973,” she wrote, speaking of Leo Fisher ’75. “We graduated in ‘75, got married that summer, and will be celebrating our 40th anniversary next year.”



Esther MacNeill Friend has written a memoir, Living Happily…in the Great Depression & Beyond, which includes recollections of her 
life in the ’20s and ’30s. Esther says the book shows how the hard times she experienced made little impact on the children she grew 
up with in Plainville, Mass. “We didn’t know we were poor,” she writes.
[e]: estherfriend@copper.net


Elinor Potee Nichols, who lived in Saudia Arabia from 1957 until 1970, reports that she was among a number of westerners who returned there as guests of the kingdom to repatriate artifacts they had taken years before. Elinor’s husband worked for the Aramco/Harvard School of Public Health Trachoma Research Project, and during a hike, Elinor had picked up some clay pots and a couple of grindstones. When the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities began the Antiquities Homecoming Project a few years ago to reconnect to the archeological treasures and antiquities that had been spread around the world, Elinor found a way to reconnect with her former home. She was among 13 people affiliated with Aramco who made the trip to Riyadh on the royal plane. Elinor says she apologized to a princess for taking the artifacts but was stopped. “No, no,” the princess replied. “You saved them for us—you have been a keeper of our heritage.” Elinor has written a memoir, True Tales from Jungle India, about growing up in India.



Joan Marcy Allen writes, “After teaching yoga for years, I am now teaching chair yoga at the Brimfield (Mass.) Senior Center and attending yoga classes whenever to loosen up. Often I substitute on organ at a few churches to keep my hand in. Also, I am available for my grandson and three great-grands to fill in for busy parents. Just got back from a visit to a huge gingerbread house!”


Photograph by Manfred Wenner

Photographs of ghost towns make up an exhibit by Manfred “Kurt” Wenner, featured at the Pueblo Grande Museum in Phoenix. Arizona Ghost Towns will run through August 2014.


Stanley Z. Fisher began his law teaching career in Ethiopia from 1964 to 1968. In October, the Boston University Law School professor returned to Ethiopia and reconnected with his early roots in the profession. Stanley presented a talk for students and faculty at the University of Addis Ababa Law School on the topic “50 Years of Legal Education in Ethiopia: A Personal Memoir.” “I thank Oberlin for arousing my interest in Africa as a freshman in 1953, when I attended a slide talk on apartheid by the Methodist minister George Houser,” says Stanley, citing the co-founder of CORE, who later headed the American Committee on Africa. “Sixty years later, I can still remember the scenes of black African poverty depicted on his slides.” Stanley plans to retire from Boston University in June.

Mary Lee Hayes Orr, a longtime activist in protecting the Great Lakes, was awarded the Art Palleon Advocacy Award by the Lake Michigan League of Women Voters. The award was presented to Mary Lee in October, during the annual meeting of the League of Women Voters Lake Michigan Region, for her perseverance in achieving concurrence of the Great Lakes Ecosystem position among the eight Great Lakes State leagues. At the dinner, she was greeted by a standing ovation. Mary Lee represents the League of Women Voters of the Grand Traverse Area in the Lake Michigan League.

Bill Oplinger and his wife, Ann, moved in December 2012 from Charleston, S.C., to Rockville, Md., to be closer to their daughter and 4-year-old grandchild. “We love all the cultural attractions in the D.C. area, such as concerts, recitals, museums, etc., including the recent exhibit at the National Art Gallery of Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes: When Art Danced with Music and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Britten’s War Requiem,” Bill writes. They also attended a recital at the Kennedy Center by Brandon Cedel, the son of two former music students of Bill’s from the College of Charleston, who is now in the Lindemann program at the Met.


Joyce Wilke Dupee writes: “Ralph and I travel every chance we get. We have visited all seven continents and 58 different countries—several more than once.” In the past year, they visited Myanmar and Patagonia. Back home in Katonah, N.Y., they enjoy volunteering and taking advantage of their proximity to Manhattan for all its cultural offerings. “Our two children and their spouses have enriched our lives with six grandchildren,” Joyce reports. “All is good.”

William Graham Hoover is cowriting a fifth computational physics book with the help of his wife, Carol. William was a physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1962 to 2005 and has been a professor (now emeritus) at the University of California, Davis, since 1975.

David L. Powell has published scientific articles on a variety of topics including hydrogen bonding, molecular orbital calculations, infrared intensities, vibrational assignments, conformational behavior, and chemistry for children. “My coauthors include faculty members and students from Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Wooster, as well as colleagues from a variety of other countries such as Norway, Denmark, Germany, Slovakia, Brazil, and Thailand.Margie and I continue to provide and organize 24-hour care for our disabled daughter, Katherine Anne ’84.”

Margaret S. Powell has received state and national awards for her achievements for the Federal Depository Libraries, part of a federal program designed to make government publications available to the public at no cost. Margaret has presented papers at meetings around the world, including Ohio, Denmark, Spain, Thailand, and Washington, D.C. She is a coauthor of the Bibliography of Place-Name Literature United States and Canada, published by the American Library Association.

Barbara Bryan Rojas relocated from San José, Costa Rica, to Plantation, Fla., in January 2012. She lives with her daughter and her family and works from home as a freelance translator.


Annie Laurer Selden is enjoying an “encore” career at New Mexico State University, where she teaches one or two courses per semester with her husband, John Selden. They still take part in research together, publishing their work and attending conferences in their field. Annie was recently appointed to the editorial board of Educational Studies in Mathematics. The Seldens have six grandchildren and enjoy traveling, mainly in conjunction with their conferences.


Ken Sobol began his writing career just weeks after graduating from Oberlin in 1959 with a piece in the Village Voice, an association that lasted for 15 years. His last writing project was a book, Love and Forgetting: A Husband and Wife’s Journey Through Dementia (Second Story Press, 2013), written with his longtime writing partner and wife, Julie Macfie Sobol ’59. The Sobols, who spent two decades writing together, began working on the book in 2008, soon after Ken was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia (LBD). LBD combines aspects of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s with almost non-stop hallucinations. It’s the second most common form of dementia (after Alzheimer’s) but is still widely unknown and often misdiagnosed. Ken died in 2010 but Julie was determined to finish the book. “The coming tidal wave of dementia affects us all and deserves more press than it is getting,” she explains. “No book on Ken’s disease existed when his puzzling symptoms began; I tried to write the book I desperately wished had existed then.”



To Catch a Virus, a book cowritten by John Booss and published by ASM Press, traces the way in which diagnostic virology has rapidly progressed since the diagnosis of rabies in a case from 1885. John is emeritus professor with the departments of neurology and laboratory medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine and was formerly national director of neurology for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Betty Boyd Caroli is working on a book on Lady Bird Johnson, to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2015. Betty divides her time between New York City and Venice, Italy.

David Garver recently retired—“for the sixth time”—from academia and his psychiatry practice, though higher education remains his calling: He’s currently working on his thesis for a master’s degree in liberal arts from the University of North Carolina, Asheville. David lives in an Episcopal Retirement Community in Asheville along with several other Oberlinians.

Michael Klein retired recently after 10 years as director of the Clinical Scholars Program in Family Practice, a program designed to help practicing family physicians with their research questions. Though he no longer sees patients, he remains active with research on maternity and newborn care, as well as teaching at the School of Midwifery at the University of British Columbia and the UBC Family Practice Training Program.

As his 76th birthday approaches, Lee B. Reichman remains a professor and executive director of the New Jersey Medical School Global Tuberculosis Institute, which recently merged with Rutgers. He also does consulting for the World Heath Organization and other groups. He enjoys spending time with his three grandchildren, whose mother, Debora Gar ’95, is a freelance TV producer. “Of course, everybody says it doesn’t seem like 55 years, but it doesn’t,” Lee says. “What more can I say?”


James S. Wolfe recently published The Kennedy Myth: American Civil Religion in the Sixties (AuthorHouse), which covers the period from John Kennedy’s election to Robert Kennedy’s assassination and analyzes the myth in terms of different types of civil religion.


In September, Roberta Bienvenu published the memoir It Must Give Pleasure (Serving House Books), which is also a treatise on poetry, literature, art, and life.


Courtesy of Ardis Nelson

Ardis Nelson recently became a nationally certified Spanish/English medical interpreter and developed a program in health-care translation and interpreting at East Tennessee State University. “During the past academic year I had the pleasure of working with Kayla Pennington ’12, who joined the Language and Culture Resource Center staff as an AmeriCorps VISTA member,” Ardis adds. Kayla launched a mentoring program for Latino students in local high schools, expanded service-learning placements for university students with the Hispanic community, and researched grant opportunities for the center. Ardis writes: “It was great to connect with a recent graduate and compare notes about Oberlin then and now.”

Book five in Linda Bailey Grotke Salisbury’s award-winning Bailey Fish Adventure series was selected to be read on Indiana Public Radio’s StoryBoard program for children as the first chapter book of the show’s new season. Each week, several chapters of “Ghost of the Chicken Coop Theater” were read on the air. Archived episodes are available on IPR’s website. Information about all her books is available at www.lindasalisburyauthor.com. This book was illustrated by her son, Christopher A. Grotke ’86.


Peter G. Pollak has released In the Game, his fourth novel, a murder mystery set in Albany, N.Y., featuring a retired city detective. It is a prequel to Pollak’s second novel, Making the Grade, from 2012.


The recent resurgence of interest in folk music—fueled in part by soundtracks to a couple of Coen brothers’ movies (one being Inside Llewyn Davis, which includes the Punch Brothers, featuring Chris Eldridge ’04)—might seem strange to folks at Oberlin, where the traditions never quite went away. Oberlin has held steady spots on the schedules of most touring folk bands for more than a half-century, including Taj Mahal, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Joe Hickerson ’57, and, most notably, Pete Seeger, who made frequent visits (Seeger’s Oberlin connection will be the subject of an article in the next issue of the Oberlin Alumni Magazine). In 1968, the a capella English folk trio the Young Tradition came to Oberlin to play in Wilder Hall following their success at the Newport Folk Festival, where they shared an afternoon bill of “Fresh Faces” with Tim Buckley and John Hartford. The Oberlin concert was produced by then-student Steve Mayer ’70, who had heard the group at Newport. He went on to produce a number of folk, bluegrass, and old timey music concerts at Oberlin, including performances by Mike Seeger and Michael Cooney.

Mayer recorded the Young Tradition show from the concert soundboard with the help of WOBC and for nearly half a century held onto the reel-to-reel tape. Last year, he had the tape digitized and gave it to Fledg’ling, a small English record company specializing in folk music, which commercially released the album as Oberlin 1968. Folkroots magazine named it the top 2013 record in the compilations and reissues category. Mayer, an appellate lawyer in San Francisco, makes no money from the project—all proceeds go to the record company and to the trio’s surviving member and the heirs of the other two. So why bother? “Because I love the music and want other people to love it,” he says. “And because I knew that fans of the Young Tradition would deeply appreciate it, because there are no other live recordings.”



For eight years, Bruce Breslauer has worked for Montana Blind and Low Vision Services, teaching cane travel to blind adults in Great Falls. He was promoted to supervisor in July 2011, and his work was published in the Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness in January 2010. The same year, he served as a peer reviewer for the textbook Orientation and Mobility: Techniques for Independence by La Grow and Long, published by the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Emmanuel Hatzidakis keeps busy in his retirement: He has two new books in print. Jesus: Fallen? The Human Nature of Christ Examined from an Eastern Orthodox Perspective (Orthodox Witness, 2013) addresses the subject of Christ’s humanity. His first published book, The Heavenly Banquet: Understanding the Divine Liturgy (Orthodox Witness, 2013), now in its third edition, is a comprehensive explanation of the Orthodox Christian Divine Liturgy.
[w]: www.orthodoxwitness.org

Noel Taylor received the SORSI (Sacro Occipital Research Society International) Presidential Award for “outstanding dedication and devotion going above and beyond the call of duty” at the chiropractic teaching and research organization’s annual symposium in Omaha, Neb. Noel serves as executive secretary on SORSI’s board of directors.


John D. Barbour recently published Renunciation: A Novel (Resource Publications/Wipf and Stock Publishers). The novel is set in the 1970s and describes the developing relationship between two brothers who are involved in different ways with new religious movements. John is a professor of religion at St. Olaf College.

At the beginning of each school year, incoming students who are children of Oberlin alumni gather for a luncheon at the Oberlin Inn. In August, 58 such legacy students entered as freshmen; their parents represent classes from 1973 to 1988.


Nancy Olah, counsel in Parker Poe’s Charlotte, N.C., office, won the 2013 ATHENA Leadership Award, which is given to a female leader who demonstrates excellence in her profession, gives back to the community, and supports other female leaders. The award was presented October 3, 2013. Nancy has more than 30 years of real estate and transactional experience and is a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional, signifying her thorough understanding of green building practices and principles. She also serves as board chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Charlotte chapter and as a board member of the organization’s North Carolina chapter.

Leanne Cupp Wagner and John Dent were married August 31, 2013, in their hometown of Wayne, Pa. They were joined in the celebration by Marilyn Rife ‘76, Nicholas Dent ‘01, Christa Wagner ‘08, Alumni Association Executive Director Danielle Young, Balint Gergely ‘00, Michael Kamarck ‘73, Carol Levine ‘84, and Laura Gobbi ‘91.

Susan Weiner, CFA, published Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts That Attract Clients, a practical, step-by-step guide to blogging for financial advisors.


Anne G. Cohen was installed as minister at Mt. Hollywood United Church of Christ in Los Angeles in a ceremony that concluded in a bounce house. Guests were invited to wear boas and hats and to throw their offering into a fountain. “All done Obie style,” she reports.

Cynthia Heinberg was named a research fellow at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki. Her new position follows her previous post as senior research scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In her new role, Cynthia focuses on issues related to the Fukushima accident.


Nancy L. Reeves was named assistant director of Academic Success Programs at the University of Akron School of Law. She writes: “When I returned to school for a juris doctorate 18 years ago, rather than pursuing a PhD in mathematics, I thought I was giving up my dream of working in higher education. I am glad to have the opportunity to work with many of the professors I loved as a student. And if life isn’t too busy, the University of Akron has a joint applied mathematics PhD/engineering program that I just may explore, since one of the benefits of my new job is tuition waiver!”

Rhonda Rider

Cellist Rhonda Rider, the artist in residence at Grand Canyon National Park, recently released a CD called The Grand Canyon Project on MSR Records. The album is a collection of 10 new works inspired by aspects of the park and features the work of composer Laura Kaminsky, among others. Rhonda is also a faculty member and chair of chamber music at the Boston Conservatory, in addition to her position on the faculty at Boston University and as cellist with the piano trio Triple Helix.
[w]: www.rhondarider.com


Amy Fried and Jim Katz ‘81 recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. Jim is now director of the rheumatology fellowship program at the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. Amy writes for opednews.com, tweets @opedwriter, and cares for her disabled twin.

Thomas Stoffregen’s recent research on motion sickness was the subject of feature articles in the New York Times and the Minneapolis Star Tribune in the past year. Thomas writes, “My research on seasickness, conducted in cooperation with the Semester at Sea program, was discussed in the Wall Street Journal and was the subject of a feature article in Le Figaro, the oldest continuously operating newspaper in France.”



Laura Stachel, who leads a nonprofit called We Care Solar, worked with her husband to create a special “solar suitcase” to bring light and power to health facilities in rural health centers in Africa and Asia. Laura was included among the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2013. The compact solar electric kit includes solar panels, batteries, a solar controller, a fetal monitor, phone charger, and medical lighting. She and the other heroes were featured on CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute and received grants of $50,000 from CNN and customized training by the Annenberg Foundation for their nonprofit organizations.


Beth Thorne Argiro is enjoying her 27th year of teaching orchestra and beginning strings in the public schools. She teaches at Indian River High School and Greenbrier Intermediate in Chesapeake, Va., and on weekends plays viola and violin with Club Violin, which plays for “weddings on the beach and at beautiful homes up and down the beachfront in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.” She and her husband, Vinny, are empty nesters, as son Louie is studying mechanical engineering technology at Old Dominion University. “We had the opportunity to have dinner with my roommate, Geraldine Nelson, and her husband on Long Island a few summers ago,” she writes. “It was great to see Geri and talk about Oberlin. Life is good.”

Drawing from more than 25 years of legal experience as a matrimonial lawyer, Chicago-based attorney Lester L. Barclay has written The African American Guide to Divorce & Drama: Breaking Up Without Breaking Down (Khari Publishing), the first-ever comprehensive book on divorce tailored specifically for African Americans. The book was featured in Essence and Ebony, and Lester has been a featured guest on television and radio programs in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles, among others.


A blog entry written by Naomi Gross, titled “Collaboration With a Twist,” appeared in October on JDA’s Supply Chain Nation blog. JDA is one of the leading global supply chain software providers. The blog’s editors have since asked Naomi to participate as a regular blogger for the site.
[w]: blog.jda.com

Justin Hughes was the chief U.S. negotiator for the completion of the Marrakesh Treaty for the Blind, the purpose of which is to establish much better access to copyrighted works for the blind. Negotiated in only four years by a group led principally by the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, and 
the European Union, the Marrakesh Treaty is only the second multilateral treaty in the world for people with disabilities, following the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Justin ended his work for the Obama administration in September and this January moved back to California, accepting the William H. Hannon Chair in Law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

After 20 years in academia (most of them at Allegheny College), Josh Searle-White returned to his home state of California, where he lives in Santa Cruz and works as district executive for the Pacific Central District of the Unitarian Universalist Association. “Basically, I get to drive around the state and spend inspiring time with incredibly interesting and heartfelt people,” Josh says. “It’s a nice way to live!” Josh welcomes contact from any classmates passing through the area
[e]: joshua.searlewhite@gmail.com

Warm Place in a Cold Time

It’s February, and it’s cold outside. Not just a little cold—polar vortex cold. I hope that all of you have been able to find warmth and comfort in the midst of this astonishing weather. A little soup, a lovely fire, some hot tea with perhaps a hint of brandy or schnapps—we take our warmth where we can find it, for sure.

One of the places we go for warmth, of course, is our memories. Certainly when we think of Oberlin at this time of year, physical warmth isn’t at the top of the list. But memories of close friendships, of intellectual challenges, of adventures of all sorts, of creative sparks exploding in all directions—it’s not necessary to own a pair of rose-colored glasses to remember with some appreciation the life and times we had as students. Each of us can recall how our own experiences in the rarefied air of a small town in northeastern Ohio touched us as we experienced the academic rigor, the social challenges to find and be true to ourselves, and the tools to examine and absorb the changes and issues facing the larger world that surrounded us.

Why, you might ask, am I waxing eloquent at this particular moment? Because it’s those memories and that sure knowledge that, even with the mistakes I’ve made along the way, Oberlin played a huge and definitive role in helping me forge the path I’m on. And this, friends, is what causes me to urge you to continue to engage with Oberlin. I have numerous opportunities to interact with alumni, administrators, students, faculty, and staff. Each time, without fail, I find myself enriched in some way. Perhaps for you, “engagement” might mean making a detour to drive through town when you’re passing by on the Ohio Turnpike (the donuts and pastries at Gibson’s have not, by the way, diminished in quality in the 40 years since I’ve graduated). Or it could mean volunteering to talk to high school students in your area about Oberlin and what makes it unique within the sea of competitor institutions. Or volunteering to give a talk to your local (and this is defined differently in different geographic regions, to be sure) alumni group about a current issue of interest in your field. Or registering on Obieweb to be a career mentor. Or… Or… Or… There are countless ways to engage, and as I’ve said before, the Alumni Association is looking to you to tell us what “engagement” looks like to you. And here’s the thing: I promise you that the benefit (dare I say the warmth?) that you’ll find from that encounter with another Obie will be just as gratifying to you as it is to the person or group with whom you’ve shared a piece of yourself. Trust me on this, it works.

I offer you all good wishes for a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2014.

Chuck Spitulnik ’73
President, Oberlin Alumni Association


Judith-Kate Friedman has a new CD nearing completion, Life’s a Song. The songs were collaboratively composed by rural Washington state elders (age 60 to 100+) and professional songwriters. Songwriting Works, a nonprofit that she founded, continues to expand programs for those living with Alzheimer’s and other health challenges, their loved ones, and care partners in the Northwest and nationally.


Jonathan Feldman is coauthor of the legal textbook Education Law (Routledge, 2013). He was a visiting clinical professor at Cornell Law School during the fall of 2013, where he taught in the Legal Aid Clinic. In the spring he returned to his regular job, doing civil rights and education cases with the Empire Justice Center in Rochester.Jonathan still plays in jazz and blues bands and is married to Alison Helms ’83. Their oldest daughter is a freshman at Swarthmore (“a close second to Oberlin, right?” says Jonathan).


On August 31, Joshua Shuman and Aaron Amit (Mate) held family celebrations in their hometown of Jerusalem: Josh’s daughter celebrated her bat mitzvah, where she chanted in Yemenite cantillation (as per her mother’s family); across town, Aaron’s son held his bar mitzvah. Josh and Aaron met as first-year students; Josh had the dubious pleasure of staying with Aaron, his family, and cats at his home in Denver during winter break—only to discover terrible allergies to cats, forcing him to sleep with his head on an open windowsill during the night. Aaron and Josh have sons currently serving in the Israeli Army. “We look forward to seeing all Obies passing through Jerusalem!”

Poet Peter Money released American Drone: New and Select Poems (Harbor Mountain Press), a new book of his work from the 1990s until 2011, in November. It has been among Small Press Distribution’s top 10 poetry best sellers.

Melissa Donohue '87


“I recently started a company called Financial Nutrition that provides financial education for girls and young women in New York City and online,” writes Melissa Donohue. “My goal is to teach the basics of money management and entrepreneurial thinking so my students can grow up to lead lives of independence and success on their own terms.”
[w]: www.financialnutrition.com


Laurie Collyer wrote and directed the film Sunlight Jr., a love story set amid the ruins of the American dream. The film, which stars Naomi Watts and Matt Dillon, premiered November 15 in New York, Los Angeles, and several other cities, and can be streamed through iTunes, Amazon, Comcast, and other sites. The film was among Salon’s top 10 underrated films of 2013.



In 2013, T.J. Demos published The Migrant Image: The Art and Politics of Documentary During Global Crisis (Duke University Press) and Return to the Postcolony: Spectres of Colonialism in Contemporary Art (Sternberg). He also guest edited a special issue of Third Text (no. 120, 2013) on the subject of “Contemporary Art and the Politics of Ecology.” Currently he is a reader in the University College London’s art history department.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was one of four new members elected to the National Aquarium Board of Directors. “We are delighted to welcome these incredibly talented individuals to the National Aquarium Board,” said CEO John Racanelli. As Baltimore’s 49th mayor, Stephanie focuses on growing the city’s family population by strengthening neighborhoods through improving public safety and public education. She was elected secretary of the Democratic National Committee following the reelection of President Obama.

Receiving nominations for this year’s Golden Globe Awards were Cory Stoll ’98 (supporting actor in a series, miniseries, or TV movie) for House of Cards and Lena Dunham ’08 (actress in a TV series, comedy) for Girls, which Dunham created and produced. Girls was also nominated for best TV comedy series. Dirty Wars, coproduced by Anthony Arnove ’91, was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary.


Dylan O’Reilly was named Business Lawyer of the Year for 2013 by the Business Law Section of the New Mexico State Bar. The award recognizes his service to the citizens of New Mexico and the business law community. Among other endeavors, Dylan is active on a variety of nonprofit boards. He lives with his wife, Sara Montgomery, in Farmington, N.M.


Backwards, the third novel for young adults written by Todd Mitchell, was released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats from Candlewick Press in October. Narrated by the Rider, a character who awakes to find himself trapped in the body of a dead teen and moving backwards in time, the book explores identity, first love, and redemption.
[w]: ToddMitchellBooks.com


Andrew Lavallee and Marco Repola were married October 20, 2013, in Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York. They were joined by fellow Oberlin alumni Susie Chen, Katie Howard, Anna Smeby, and Shilpa Mankikar ’99, as well as Andrew’s sister, Penny Burgoon ’85, and brother-in-law, David Burgoon ’85.



Morgan Pinney and Daniel Smithwick were married on June 22, 2013, in Mill River, Mass. The celebration took place at the Berkshires home of Morgan’s cousin, Elizabeth Goodman ’82, and her husband, Don Cook. Other alumni in attendance included bridesmaids Eliza Valk ’99 and Sonya Sheats, as well as Sonya’s husband, Benjamin Selman ‘98; Mark Goodman ’75; and Peter Goodman ‘49.

Shawn Steiman, who specializes in coffee research and consulting, recently published the book Coffee: A Comprehensive Guide to the Bean, the Beverage, and the Industry. Also brewing is Daylight Mind Coffee Company, Shawn’s new “coffeepub and coffee school” in Kona, Hawaii. Your invitation, direct from the big island: “Come get a cup, Obies!”

Though new technology has lately revolutionized media consumption, one recent graduate has started a business that relies on something far older—135 years older, to be exact. Adrian Rew ’13 is releasing vinyl records by experimental musicians on his own music label, Ergot Records, as well as some CDs and tapes. Backed by a $2,000 award from Oberlin’s Creativity & Leadership Project, the comparative literature major released his first record last spring: Corpse on Horseback, by Oberlin resident Aaron Dilloway. While Ergot’s medium might seem something of an anachronism, it’s actually in step with current trends. According to a study by Nielsen, vinyl sales are rising.
—James Helmsworth ’13

Nagual, formed by Ian McColm ‘13 and David Shapiro ‘12 at Oberlin, released their self-titled vinyl on Ergot last September.


Timothy Salazar completed his PhD in educational leadership and policy at the University of Utah on April 17, 2013. His dissertation was titled “Government Accountability Reports and Public Education Policy: Studying Political Actors’ Decision-Making.”

Pauline Shapiro and Rusty Singletary were married in Rosendale, N.Y., on September 7, 2013. In attendance were many Obies, including Sabine Rogers ’00, Amy Wolf ’00, Brie Abbe, Erin Sickler ’00, Emily Manzo, Emily Farrell ’00, Miriam Kassell ’00, Elena Shore ’00, Joanna Theis ’00, and Oberlin professor Pipo Nguyen-Duy. Pauline is a staff photographer at Sotheby’s auction house, where she has worked for the past 10 years. Rusty is an executive recruiter. The couple, who live 
in Brooklyn, N.Y., honeymooned in Colombia in January. 

With her father, Maya Silver cowrote the book My Parent Has Cancer And It Really Sucks (Sourcebooks), a guide for teens whose parents have cancer. Based on Maya’s experience at age 15 with her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, the book includes interviews with more than 100 teens and experts.


Robert A. Brennan was named staff accountant at the New England Foundation for the Arts. Bob previously managed accounting operations at Accelerated Cure Project, a nonprofit dedicated to curing multiple sclerosis.


Brendan Kelley, formerly data director for the Ohio Democratic Party, has been named campaign manager for state Rep. John Patrick Carney’s race for Ohio auditor. Since graduating, Brendan has worked on local, state, and federal races all over Ohio and has arranged winter-term projects and summer internships for many Obies—and is happy to help with many more.


Katahdin Cook and Ryan Whitt were married September 14, 2013, in a celebration that included many Oberlin alumni. Pictured, left to right: Ryan, Kate, Travis Oman ‘06, Katie Au ‘06, Rita Kaplon ’10, Jerome Goings ‘10, Steele Hearne, Eric Goldman ’74, Noah Goldman ‘09, Ezra Goldman, and Anne Moxon Goldman.

Caitlin Seeley and Austin George of Denver were married September 9, 2013, in Evergreen, Colo. Other alumni in attendance included Henry Schneider, Xander Woolverton, Marie Barnett, Maya Curry, Jeff Beem-Miller, Sam Lasser, Danielle Koplinka-Loehr, and Gabriel Golden ’05.

Tech entrepreneurs George Saines ‘08, Nick Winter ‘08, and Scott Erickson ‘08—who after graduation stayed in Oberlin to create Skritter, a software tool designed to help language learners write Chinese and Japanese characters—are at it again. This past summer, the trio reconvened in the San Francisco Bay Area to launch CodeCombat, a fantasy-themed online 
 game that aims to make basic coding concepts more exciting and accessible to the nascent programmer.

While Skritter was built to be a study aid for serious language learners (and has done well in the pursuit, having become the top-ranked web and iOS app of its kind), CodeCombat is a game first and a teaching tool second. Pitting wizards and soldiers against munchkins and ogres according to how a user strings together lines of the programming language JavaScript, CodeCombat’s goal is to make newbie coders eager to play and replay levels, sharpen their skills, and ultimately dive deeper into the discipline.

30 UNDER 30
Three Oberlin alumnae were among Forbes magazine’s roundup of “brightest stars” under the age of 30. Emily Doubilet ’06, cofounder of Susty Party, makers of sustainable party supplies like compostable plates made from tapioca starch, made it in the food and wine category. Actress/writer/producer Lena Dunham ’08 appeared in the Hollywood and entertainment category. Political operative Audrey Gelman ’09, a strategist and spokesperson for Scott Stringer’s successful campaign to become New York City’s controller and who is now vice president at SKDKnickerbocker, made the list for the law and policy category.

“We’re creating a tool that demystifies and teaches the basics in a way that feels fun and accessible,” says Saines. “If we do this right, there will be a generation of people—the 10-year-olds or 12-year-olds of today—who in another decade will say they got into coding because of CodeCombat.”

Saines, Winter, and Erickson started working on the game remotely in February of 2013, and knew they were onto something when a soft launch later that summer brought in more than 10,000 users in less than two months. A big break came in October, when CodeCombat was one of several dozen startups tapped to join Y Combinator, a legendary Bay Area business accelerator that provides budding companies with seed money, guidance, and access to a rich network of the Silicon Valley tech elite.

While success in the startup capital of the world is sometimes about who you know (says Saines: “Access to human capital, access to introductions; that’s worth a lot more than most rounds of actual funding”), the three founders are most eager not for big-name connections, but for the personal mentorship they’ll receive from Y Combinator coaches and guest speakers.

“Their ideology is just right,” says Saines. “In running Skritter, we based a lot of the choices we made off of advice that we read, which we then tested in our own work. And we saw that almost everything [Y Combinator founder] Paul Graham writes is correct. And boy, instead of sometimes spinning our wheels, wouldn’t it have been good if we could have had someone like that to guide our hand a little bit?”

With Graham and some of the best startup advisors in Silicon Valley on deck this time around, CodeCombat shouldn’t be fighting much of an uphill battle.


Conservatory grad Nikoleta Rallis made her Carnegie Hall debut at Stern Auditorium on March 17, 2013, as the soprano soloist in John Rutter’s Requiem.


Chris Lipski was chosen to receive a five-year teaching fellowship from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation. The teaching fellowships were created to improve science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the U.S. Chris is enrolled in the Stanford Teacher Education Program and hopes to teach in the Bay Area.


Madison Goldman of High Point, N.C., is a White House intern working for the Office of the First Lady’s correspondence team. “I campaigned for President Obama before I was even old enough to vote, and I support the first lady’s initiatives to better the youth of our country,” Madison told the High Point Enterprise. “I admire their family values and the hard work they have completed during their time in the White House.”


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