Vivian (Mitchell) Prindl turns 107 in October 2018. She’s believed to be Kalamazoo College’s oldest living graduate (if you’re older, we’d love to hear from you). A summer resident of Suttons Bay, Michigan, for 68 years, she remains active and gave a talk in August 2018 at the main library in Traverse City, Michigan, on her personal experiences of women’s history, among other topics. Interviewed in 2016 by K’s archivist, Lisa Murphy ’98, she recalled life at the College during the Depression, when weekend fun for students meant doing things that had no cost involved, like taking long walks and dancing to records. She also recalled being taught by legendary professors such as Lemuel Smith in chemistry and William Praeger in biology, whose names are memorialized in prizes still presented to outstanding students each year. Long retired, she had a lengthy teaching career in Kentucky, Michigan, Florida and Germany, and traveled widely.
Don Leduc has retired as president and dean of the Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, a position he held for 16 years. He had been a professor there since 1975. The school has campuses in Lansing, Auburn Hills and Grand Rapids, Michigan, and in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, and offers some classes in Kalamazoo.
Sylvia Schwaag Serger ’90 (left), Fredrik Serger ’90, Kathleen Young Schwaag ’65, mother of Sylvia Schwaag Serger, and Jamie Hall Phillips ’68 gather in Sweden for the high school graduation of the Sergers’ son Gustav, who is shown as a boy in the photo held by his grandmother.
Gerald Rosen, former chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, delivers a campus K Talk, testifying to the enduring value of the K-Plan and calling himself “the prototypical K-Plan kid.” Known as “the judge who helped save Detroit” for his leading role in guiding the agreement that allowed the city to exit bankruptcy swiftly, he shared with students in a packed Olmsted Room his account of how his K experience helped him master the myriad of issues underlying the complex negotiations, as well as other decisions in his lengthy career. He also recalled how experiential education at K led him to public service. Rosen, who retired from the bench in 2017, is now a mediator for Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services.
Carlton Marcyan, a top family practice lawyer in Chicago, poses outside the courtroom of Cook County domestic relations Judge Raul Vega with Kalamazoo College students on a K to the Windy City Career Trek focusing on law. Also on hand was Matthew Brosco, K’s senior associate director of planned giving, who says Marcyan has been very supportive of the law treks and that Vega “spent a great deal of time” talking to the students. “It was a wonderful experience for the students,” Brosco says. From left, Sarah Gerendasy, Isabella Haney, Erin Smith, Emma Eisenbeis, Marcyan, Rosella LoChirco, Neelam Lal and Brosco.
Max Fenstermacher, a magnetic fusion physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, has been awarded the 2018 John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research from the American Physical Society. He shares the $5,000 award with Todd Evans of General Atomics and Richard Moyer of the University of California, San Diego. (Note: Your comprehension of what follows may depend on what you majored in.) Fenstermacher’s team was cited “for the first experimental demonstration of the stabilization of edge localized modes in high-confinement diverted discharges, by application of very small edge-resonant magnetic perturbations, leading to the adoption of suppression coils in the ITER design.” ITER is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering megaproject that will be the world’s largest magnetic confinement plasma physics experiment.
Cynthia Berman has been recognized for legal excellence and client service by the 2018 Chambers USA legal ranking guide. She is a member of the real estate practice at the Baltimore-area law firm of Kramon & Graham.
Joanne 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.
Paul Greff was promoted to CIO of the $99.6 billion Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS). He had been deputy CIO. He will lead a staff of 55 in the OPERS investment division, implementing the annual investment plan and long-term investment strategy. Greff joined OPERS in 2009 as a senior portfolio manager to oversee the internal global bonds and securities teams, and was promoted to deputy CIO in 2015. Before joining OPERS, Greff was senior managing director of global fixed income at State Street Global Advisors. Greff, who has a bachelor’s in political science from K and an MBA from the University of Detroit Mercy, has “proven he’s a skilled investment manager, and his impressive track record will help us strengthen our asset base and implement investment policy,” said OPERS Executive Director Karen Carraher. Greff is the brother of Matt Greff ’89 (see next listing).
Rene Greff and Matt Greff, who founded Ann Arbor Brewing in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1995, recently appeared on HGTV’s “House Hunters International” with real estate agent Natasha Medhora Irani to scout potential homes in Bangalore, India, where they planned to move after selling their Michigan operation and becoming partners in one of India’s first microbreweries. Arbor Brewing Company India in Bangalore began operating in 2012 under the management of University of Michigan alumnus Gaurav Sikka, a regular customer of Ann Arbor Brewing who proposed to the Greffs the idea of establishing an operation in Bangalore and persisted when they initially declined. “We are so glad that [Sikka] didn’t take no for an answer,” Rene Greff told UM’s Michigan Today. “We fell in love with the city and the country.” Matt Greff is the brother of Paul Greff ’82 (see previous listing).
The 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.
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!
Kalamazoo! Kazoo! Kazoo!
(Note to younger alumni: We checked. That really is the K yell. Memorize it before your next reunion.)
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.
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.”
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 second 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 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.
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 Special 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 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.
Hamza Suria was named a San Diego region finalist in Ernst & Young’s 32nd annual U.S. Entrepreneur of the Year competition. He has been CEO since 2011 at AnaptysBio, a clinical-stage antibody development company. Prior to that, he was at Maxygen, where he was responsible for partnering and alliance management of next-generation protein therapeutics in oncology supportive care, hematology and autoimmunity, including partnerships with Roche, Sanofi-Aventis, Bayer and Astellas, the IndiaWest newspaper reported. In addition to a bachelor’s in biochemistry from Kalamazoo College, he holds a master’s in immunology from the University of Western Ontario and an executive MBA from the university’s Richard Ivey School of Business.
Brian Tallerico, editor of RogerEbert.com and a regular contributor to New York Magazine’s Vulture website, has stepped up to the presidency of the Chicago Film Critics Association, succeeding Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire, who resigned after 22 years. Tallerico had been vice president. He studied theater and film at Kalamazoo College and told tech site Lifewire for a recent profile that he honed his critical skills by working at The Index. He also studied abroad in England, taking theater courses at the University of Cambridge. He has edited Magill’s Cinema Annual Films since the 2009 edition.
G. Andre Turenne has been appointed president and CEO of Voyager Therapeutics, and also has been appointed to the company’s board of directors. The highly touted company is working on pioneering gene therapies for neuromuscular diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, ALS and Friedreich’s ataxia. Turenne takes over from company founder Dr. Steven Paul, who will remain on Voyager’s board of directors. Turenne joins Voyager from biopharmaceutical company Sanofi, where he was senior vice president, global head, business development and licensing. With a bachelor’s in health sciences from K and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, he has been in top management at several high-tech companies.
Christina (Dudek) Anderson, Kalamazoo’s city planner, received the 2018 Leadership Award for a Professional Planner from the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP) for her role in bringing about the Imagine Kalamazoo 2025 plan. As part of the same round of honors, Imagine Kalamazoo, led by Laura (Edwardson) Lam, Kalamazoo’s assistant city manager, received the Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan. MAP said Kalamazoo’s planners had done an outstanding job of involving the community in shaping the vision for the city’s future, noting that the city has gotten a quick start on implementing the plan. “The ability to move right into implementation provides proof that this plan is supported by the community and its leaders,” said the contest jury. Anderson, whose husband is Nathan Anderson, was a consultant on the plan before being hired by the city in 2017. Lam, whose husband is Daniel Lam, has aided K’s Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement in forging a partnership in which a growing number of K students will gain real-world experience by helping carry out Imagine Kalamazoo initiatives. Also of note: An innovative Imagine Kalamazoo antipoverty program, Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo, that in winter term 2018 used K students as researchers, is underwritten through a $70.3 million donation by William D. Johnston, husband of former K Trustee Ronda Stryker, and William Parfet, brother of K Trustee Donald Parfet. Their gift created the City of Kalamazoo Foundation for Excellence.
Shadi Houshyar has joined Families USA, a leading health care consumer organization, as director of early childhood and child welfare initiatives. She had been at the Washington-based Center for the Study of Social Policy, where she led a project focused on preventing and mitigating the effects of toxic stress on young children and their families. She also has considerable policy expertise and interest in equity issues, particularly in relation to children. “I am thrilled to be joining Families USA’s team of nationally respected health policy experts and to work for an organization that has a deeply held social justice mission and a storied history of advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable among us,” she said. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College, she holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from Yale University.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brent S. Jackson has taken command of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Chung-Hoon. Originally from Grand Haven, Michigan, and now a resident of San Diego, he majored in political science at Kalamazoo College, where he was a Hornet football player, and received a master’s of science in global leadership from the University of San Diego. Jackson, who has served in the Navy since 2002, most recently was Maritime Operations Center deputy director for the U.S. Third Fleet in San Diego. He also previously served as executive officer of the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay. In addition, his sea duty has included tours aboard the guided missile destroyers USS Russel and USS Sterett, the guided missile frigate USS Ford and the guided missile cruiser USS Chosin. In 2014-15, he was executive assistant to the commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet, serving as the admiral’s primary advisor. The Chung-Hoon is deployed with Carrier Strike Group 3. It is Jackson’s seventh overseas deployment.
Jane Steadman is a lawyer in the Seattle office of Kanji & Katzen PLLC, a law firm that specializes in issues involving Native American tribes. In June 2018, 21 tribes, for which she is part of the coordinating legal team, won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring the State of Washington to re-engineer hundreds of culverts that block salmon from swimming upstream to spawn. It was the culmination of a fight that began the year she graduated from Kalamazoo College. She joined the firm in 2011 and was co-author of the winning brief before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. That 2016 ruling was automatically upheld when the Supreme Court voted 4-4 on the state’s appeal. The tribal challenge was based on 1850s treaties in which the tribes forever reserved the right to fish as they had since time immemorial. Salmon stocks have fallen drastically since the treaties were signed, and biologists have determined that the culverts are a major factor. Steadman, who earned a cum laude B.A. in biology at K with minors in anthropology and environmental studies, worked as a campaign organizer for Save Our Wild Salmon in the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia and Snake river basins before receiving her law degree at Lewis & Clark Law School, where she co-wrote a law review article about the culverts case with one of her professors. Before joining Kanji & Katzen, she was a legal analyst at the Wilderness Society’s National Forest Action Center and remains active in environmental causes.
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.”
Matt Pieknik has received his master’s degree of social work from New York University and begun a private practice in Manhattan. He provides psychotherapy and psychoanalysis and focuses on issues related to gender, sexuality, love and relationships, trauma recovery, addiction and aging. He also is pursuing post-graduate training in Lacanian psychoanalysis. He lives in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood with his partner, Jeanpier, and their schnauzer, Lilly.
Joe Tracz was quoted extensively in a recent Guardian feature about the unexpected popularity of “Be More Chill,” a musical comedy for which he wrote the book. The Guardian described the show as a “pop-rock, sci-fi musical about an anxious teenager named Jeremy who takes a mysterious black market drug to get popular (quite literally, a chill pill).” Though it closed following a brief regional theater run in 2015, the show’s cast album suddenly caught on in early 2017, mainly with teens who identified with Jeremy. That led to an off-Broadway run in summer 2018 that sold out in hours and was extended to accommodate the crowds. Tracz, who collaborated with composer Joe Iconis on the show, called the turnabout “surreal” and told the Guardian, “I’m convinced it’s a dream and this entire phenomenon will dissipate if I’m awakened.” Tracz, who has a B.A. in English from K, has written extensively for the stage and TV and is the author of award-winning shows including “The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical,” which will tour nationally in 2019. The College’s Festival Playhouse in the 2010-11 school year staged his play “Alison Shields,” which began as his senior individualized project. The production was performed by invitation at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (Region III). K also has produced his play “Phenomenon of Decline.”
Dr. Nicholas J. Helmstetter has joined the faculty of the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine in the departments of medicine and pediatric and adolescent medicine as an assistant professor. After receiving a biology degree at K, he earned his medical degree at Wayne State University in 2014, then served a four-year residency in internal medicine-pediatrics at Michigan Medicine. In addition, he completed a one-year Community of Medical Educators in Training (CoMET) fellowship in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2017. He is certified in advanced cardiac life support, pediatric advanced life support and the neonatal resuscitation program and is a member of the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the National Med-Peds Residents’ Association.
Professional photographer Phoebe Solomon, accompanied by client Jamie Siminoff, CEO of Ring, poses with NBA Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal.
Solomon, who stands “barely” 5 feet tall, said she couldn’t resist getting a photo of herself with the 7-foot-1 O’Neal when she conducted a photo shoot with him for Ring. Recently profiled by Voyage LA magazine, Solomon, a philosophy major at K, is proprietor of Phoebe Solomon Photography, taking product and lifestyle photos for people and companies in need of new or updated branding materials. She called the session with O’Neal “a blast.”
Yongle “Lilly” Wang earned her Master’s of Fine Art in 2017 at the University of Southern California and is working as a documentary filmmaker and editor in Los Angeles. She got her start in filmmaking by taking a class in the subject at K and since has been involved with several award-winning films, beginning with her Senior Individualized Project at K. A film about feminism in China that she called “Some of Us,” it was screened at the China Women’s Film Festival. An English major at K, she says filmmaking appealed to her because “there are so many stories that already exist in the world that I cannot convey in my own personal writing because they are not a part of my own personal experience.”
Dr. Nick Beam in May 2018 became a member of the first class to graduate from the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine, also known as WMed. Beam, a native of Paw Paw, Michigan, told MLive that he will complete his residency training in pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and that “WMed has 100 percent been the right place for me. I had a ton of opportunities to be involved in the school and make fantastic friends and make connections with really amazing people.”
Allison Starr of the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance has been accepted into the University of Nebraska Omaha master’s degree of public administration program, with a concentration in non-profit management. She would like to thank her professors at K for their guidance and encouragement.
Nate Donovan was recently featured in the Detroit-area newspaper the Trenton Trib. The paper wrote about how the Savio Consulting Group, a firm Donovan co-founded with Chris Francis while a Kalamazoo College student, has grown into what he described as a small business “brand building/brand scaling organization” with clients throughout the state. He said small companies can use “the same exact tools to reach their targets” as larger firms and that they aren’t as costly as they may seem. Donovan, who has returned to his native Trenton, Michigan, said he intends to keep building the business. He is president of the company, while Francis is vice president. Another K alumnus, Sean Peterkin, is videography specialist and engineer for the group.