Author Archives: Andy Brown

About Andy Brown

As the Director of News and Social Media, Andy shares the stories that distinguish Kalamazoo College through social media, the Web and the news media. Contact him at

Cliff Lampe ’96

Cliff Lampe, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information (UMSI), has been elected executive vice president of the Association for Computing Machinery Cliff LampeSpecial Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction. The group is the top international society for professionals, academics and students interested in human-technology and human-computer interaction. Lampe has conducted research on social and technical structures of large-scale, technology-mediated communications, working with Facebook, Wikipedia, Slashdot and Everything2. He also founded the Citizens Interaction Design project at UMSI, which helps Michigan cities develop new information tools for fostering citizen engagement.

Matthew J. Conti ’97

Matthew J. Conti has been elected vice president, human resources of AMETEK, a global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices, by the company’s board of directors. David A. Zapico, AMETEK chairman and chief executive officer, said Conti’s “extensive human resources experience within the industrial space makes him well suited for this position. He will play a key role in AMETEK’s talent acquisition and leadership development in support of AMETEK’s growth plans.” Conti joined AMETEK from Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Precision Castparts Corp., where he served as vice president of human resources for the aerostructures division, a leading parts supplier to the aerospace industry. Prior to Precision Castparts, Conti held various roles at Harman International Industries, Imerys S.A. and the Fiat Group. In addition to a bachelor’s in economics and business from Kalamazoo College he has an MBA from the London School of Business.

Ryan Plecha ’04

Ryan Plecha is the first attorney to receive an internal promotion to partner at Kostopoulos Rodriguez PLLC in Birmingham, Michigan. Founder and managing partner K. Dino Kostopoulos said Plecha “has a unique energy and perspective that has benefited the firm and resulted in numerous client successes. I am confident that Ryan’s new position will further aid him in helping (Kostopoulos Rodriguez) fulfill its mission of taking care of business.”

Sonya Olds Som ’94

Sonya Olds Som, a partner with legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA), was honored as Executive of the Year by the National Bar Association (NBA) General Counsel Invitational (GCI) at its third annual conference in New York City. “I am thrilled to be recognized by the National Bar Association General Counsel Invitational as Executive of the Year,” said Som, one of the organizers of the GCI and a recognized thought leader regarding diversity and inclusion in the legal profession nationwide. “As an African-American lawyer, it is my honor to use my position as an in-house counsel recruiter and partner at Major, Lindsey & Africa to assist in programming and promoting NBA GCI and other events that provide continuing legal education and relationship-building opportunities for NBA’s members nationwide. The National Bar Association plays an important role in advancing the cause of diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and it is my privilege to lead MLA’s partnership with the NBA as we do our part to increase the number of African-American GCs and in-house counsel in our nation’s legal departments.”

Selma Blair ’94, Aaron Toronto ’95

After majoring in human development and social relations at K, Aaron Toronto took a completely different career path and moved into acting, writing, producing and directing. His Aaron Torontosecond feature film, “Face 2 Face,” starring Daniela Bobadilla from “The Middle” on ABC, streamed on Netflix. His first feature, “The Pact,” a comedy in which he played a leading role, had a successful run on the indie film festival circuit, winning several best feature awards, an audience favorite award and a best ensemble cast award. He is developing a TV series entitled “Rezball,” about a troubled NBA player who ends up coaching high school hoops on a Native American reservation. He also says he is writing a film for Selma Blair, but really needs to know from her what kind of story she has in mind.

Tewodaj Mogues ’95

Tewodaj Mogues was chosen for Foreign Policy Interrupted’s 2018 Fellowship program. The program seeks to diversify voices and perspectives in foreign policy by empowering women 30 and older who demonstrate dedication and achievement in international affairs. Mogues is a senior research fellow for the International Food Policy Research Institute who studies the welfare impacts of public investments in agriculture and rural areas in Africa. She assesses the political and economic factors behind the allocation of resources for development and has produced empirical data from Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda. She also leads the research cluster on public investments and institutions under a research program on policies, institutions and markets for CGIAR, formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research.

Mark Spitznagel ’93

Mark Spitznagel recently received high praise from satirist, author and libertarian commentator P.J. O’Rourke. In his blog, O’Rourke dubbed the hedge fund investor “Ursa Major” (Great Bear) for having correctly predicted the last two bear stock markets. He also recommended Spitznagel’s 2013 book “The Dao of Investing.” Spitznagel splits his time between his office in Miami and a goat farm and award-winning artisanal cheesemaking operation in Leelanau County, Michigan. O’Rourke wrote that he shares with Spitznagel a belief that the Midwest will stage an economic comeback. He also wrote that Spitznagel can still recite his college yell:


Breck-ki-ki-kex! Ko-ax! Ko-ax!

Whoa-up! Whoa-up!

Paraballou! Paraballou!

Kalamazoo! Kazoo! Kazoo!


(Note to younger alumni: We checked. That really is the K yell. Memorize it before your next reunion.)

Adam Muellerweiss ’93

Adam Muellerweiss, executive director of sustainability and environmental affairs for Johnson Controls Power Solutions, was named to the Environment Energy and Leaders Institute Environmental Leader 75 for his efforts to advance the sustainability of the battery and energy storage industry. This includes leading the creation of the Responsible Battery Coalition, a group of companies, academics and partners dedicated to responsible life-cycle management of batteries. In addition, he has been recognized for his leadership with the Global Battery Alliance of the World Economic Forum.

Julie Mehretu ’92

Julie MehretuThe San Francisco Museum of Modern Art announced the appointment of Julie Mehretu to its board as an artist trustee. Mehretu joins artists Rosana Castrillo Díaz and Jeff Wall as artist trustees serving three-year terms. In 2017, Mehretu’s monumental commission “HOWL, eon (I, II)” went on display in the museum’s Haas Atrium. As a trustee, she will represent the artist community and provide counsel to the board from the artist’s perspective. A native of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Mehretu holds a bachelor’s of art from Kalamazoo College and received a master’s of fine art in painting and printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design. Mehretu has participated in numerous international exhibitions and received the U.S. Department of State Medal of Arts Award and a MacArthur Fellowship.

Joanne Stewart ’82

Joanne Stewart ’82Joanne Stewart, Elmer E. Hartgerink Professor of Chemistry at Hope College, received the 2018 Janet Anderson Lecture Award from the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science. The award honors faculty at the 13 consortium-member colleges and universities who have vigorous research programs involving undergraduates, are exceptional mentors for undergraduate research students, are engaged and skilled teachers, or who create interdisciplinary research opportunities for undergraduate students. A faculty member at Hope since 1988, Stewart has been active at the national level for more than two decades in efforts to enhance science education.