University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Catamount Nation

Catamount Nation

 

The University of Vermont awarded the 100,000th bachelor’s degree in the history of the institution at last spring’s commencement. That milestone suggests an apt moment to step back and look broadly at a fraction of our community of graduates, a global glimpse at where some of those UVM diplomas have led.

Yudi Bennett G ’75 

Work: Founder of Exceptional Minds Studio, a non-profit vocational center and animation studio for young adults on the autism spectrum. Venture is a shift in direction from a more than thirty-year career in film production Home: Glendale, California. UVM Days: While earning her master’s in communications, professors such as Kim Worden advanced her interest and skills in filmmaking—“My studies there totally changed my life!” In Her Words: “Because we are an innovative, one of a kind program, the work is tremendously fulfilling and very exciting.  We like to say we are ‘changing lives…one frame at a time.’ Our graduates have just finished working on Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Game of Thrones—just to mention a few.”

Scott Baldwin ’76

Work: Owns Vermont Brokerage Services a, financial planning and employee benefits agency. A retired Vermont Air National Guard F-16 pilot, on September 11, 2001, Baldwin and another jet from the squadron were the first military planes to patrol the skies over New York City in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. Home: Burlington. UVM Days: Made lifelong friendships through a circle of guys, a fraternity of sorts, that dubbed themselves “Chikago.” They still gather each New Year’s Eve and, since 1991, have taken a reunion trip to Europe every five years. In His Words: “To me, those relationships you build—the friendships and growing experiences you take away—are the most important things of your years in college.”

Laura Wildman ’89 

Work: Fisheries engineer who specializes in the removal of dams. Formerly chief engineer at American Rivers, Wildman now runs the New England office of an ecological restoration firm, Princeton Hydro. She’s helped design and supervise the demolition of over one hundred dams—reopening waterways for fish and other wildlife. Home: Glastonbury, Connecticut. UVM days:  Wildman credits her UVM engineering professors, including Richard Downer, with pointing her toward a good career path. In her words: “I had started as a mechanical engineer, but Downer convinced me that if I liked the outdoors and people, civil engineering might be a better choice for me—and, boy, was he right. I now get paid to kayak and restore rivers!”

Matt Sharp ’94 

Work: Founder and CEO of Sharp Entertainment, a television production company based in New York City. Home: New York, New York. UVM Days: Enjoyed every minute of his UVM experience from freshman year in the Shoeboxes to his studies (history major/poli-sci minor) to joining a fraternity, playing lacrosse, skiing at Stowe, and playing Frisbee on the Green.  In His Words: “I’ve always been entrepreneurial but at the same time loved a creative challenge.  At UVM, I took painting and acting classes and during the summers in Burlington, I ran my own window washing business.  I guess a production company is a happy medium between being a creative and an entrepreneur.”

Diana Brooks ’13 

Work: Studio art instructor at North Branch Arts, and art instructor for kindergarten, fifth, and sixth grades through North Branch Arts at Edgebrook Elementary School. Home: Chicago, Illinois. UVM days: Began her undergraduate studies at UVM at age twenty-seven after earning an associate’s degree from Community College of Vermont in her early twenties. Counts art faculty Kathleen Schneider and Chris Campbell as key influences. Waitressed at Penny Cluse to help pay tuition. In Her Words: “My students’ intelligence and perseverance really shows through when you allow them to find their own answers. This is the way artists create outside of the classroom, and I want my students to consider themselves artists, to think of themselves as capable and creative people.”

Meredith BurackPhotograph by Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist

Meredith Rose Burak ’07 

Work: A Merrill Lynch financial manager for non-profits, Burak is also a committed volunteer advocate who recently led efforts to gain financial support from New York City government for impoverished Holocaust survivors. Home: Living her dream of moving to Tel Aviv, Israel, this fall. UVM Days: Professor Richard Sugarman and Holocaust Studies classes were major influences. Burak founded and organized the UVM student group raising awareness of genocide in Darfur. Also working with Hillel, she led efforts to bring author Elie Wiesel to campus. In her words: “I set up a table outside of the library, put up a poster, and started stopping people. ‘Hey, do you know what is happening in Darfur?’ I was that person, which was very uncharacteristic of me.”

Michael Hurdzan ’69 G’74 

Work: Golf course architect with an international practice whose firm has worked on 400-plus projects on five continents over the past forty-five years. Hurdzan has been a pioneering thinker and practitioner in creating environmentally friendly courses.  Home: Columbus, Ohio. UVM Days: “Vermont was a paradise to this midwestern, redneck kid,” Hurdzan recalls. He came for a master’s in plant and soil science and ended up staying for his PhD. He credits his professors and the state’s environmental ethic for setting his path.  In His Words: “One of my greatest challenges is convincing colleagues, clients, and golfers that the best golf is enjoyed in the most natural environments. We strive to make golf courses environmental assets not liabilities.”  

Madeline Murphy Hall ’10 

Work: Global affairs regional officer, working at the State Department on human rights policy in the Middle East. Home: Washington, D.C. UVM Days: A political science major and anthropology minor, she was inspired by Professor Gregory Gause, Middle East expert. She studied Arabic at the Middlebury Language program, then won a Boren Scholarship to study abroad in Jordan her senior year. In her words: “Being part of the Lawrence Debate Union at UVM was hugely influential. My coaches, Tuna Snider and David Register, and my teammates, were my family on campus.”

Sascha Mayer ’89 

Work: CEO and co-founder of Mamava, Inc., a company that makes self-contained lactation pods, allowing nursing mothers to use their breast pumps or nurse in private. Business was incubated at JDK Design in Burlington, where Mayer worked for nearly twenty years. Home: Williston, Vermont. UVM Days: Sociology major with a minor in women’s studies. Post-graduation, worked for then Congressman Bernie Sanders in his Burlington office. Has fond memories of the view from Williams Hall and “digging into a steaming plate of Nectar’s fries” with friends. In Her Words: “Mamava’s mission is to create a healthier society due to a changed cultural perception of pumping/nursing that affords every woman the opportunity to nurse her child regardless of her circumstances.”

Sanjeev Yadav ’05 

Work: Recently co-founded Banyan Tree Capital, a boutique investment advisory firm based in Boston. Prior to that venture, Yadav served for nearly two years as a vice consul for trade and investment at the British Consulate-General in Boston, where he worked on furthering trans-Atlantic trade between New England and the United Kingdom.  Home: Boston, Massachusetts. UVM Days: The son of longtime psychology professor Dharam Yadav, Sanjeev calls UVM a “home” to his family in many ways. In His Words: “Some of the most lasting experiences of my undergrad years were opportunities to serve as a student ambassador, a student trustee, and to work with other students to bring unique and engaging speakers to the university to increase campus discourse.”

Dan ZwickPhotograph by Jocelyn Hebert

Daan Zwick ’43

Work: Retired from a long career at Kodak, where he was a research scientist exploring image structure in color photography and the interface between motion picture film and color television. Home: Rochester, New York. UVM Days: A chemistry major, Zwick also ran cross-country and track, wrote for the Cynic, and was active in the Outing Club.  In His Words: Zwick’s abiding love for Vermont’s hiking trails inspired his advocacy and significant funding support for a long-sought footbridge over the Winooski River in Jonesville. "I began to have doubts that I would live long enough to see the finished bridge, let alone walk across it. But the bridge is completed. And I have walked across it. Joyfully.” 

Gary J. Margolis ’91 G ’96 ’01

Work: President & CEO of Social Sentinel, Inc., a service that alerts officials in education, local government, and other entities to potential threats on social media; Co-founder of Margolis Healy & Associates, LLC; Former chief of police at UVM. Home: Richmond, Vermont. UVM Days: Gained valuable experience working in police services, residential life, and admissions; undergraduate courses with Professor Robert Tyzbir and graduate courses with Professor Robert Nash guided him personally and professionally. In His Words: “Our service has helped prevent suicides, stop drug dealers at schools, identify sex offenders, and many other things. Having worn a uniform for twenty years as a police officer, I feel like I’m still protecting people and communities through Social Sentinel.”

Jilyne Higgins ’09 

Work: Co-founder of ZGiRLS, a non-profit organization dedicated to elevating and empowering the lives of girls through athletics. Established in Seattle in 2012, ZGiRLS has begun to branch across the country. Home: Charlottesville, Virginia. UVM Days: A public communications major, Higgins balanced her studies with training and competition as an elite alpine skier. She was a seven-time NCAA All-American skiing for the Catamounts. In her words: “I know that we’ve set a really big goal and with that comes challenges. But I always come back to exactly what we teach at ZGiRLS—chasing down your dreams takes courage, and by doing so, you make courage contagious. Like fire, it spreads and ignites even bigger dreams in those around you.” 

Joshua Prince ’86 

Work: President of The CDM Group, a global healthcare communications company. Named 2015 Industry Person of The Year by MedAdNews, he is also the author of two-well-reviewed children’s books. Home: Westport, Connecticut. UVM days: He credits the Cynic for forging his idea of what a workplace should be—“demanding, creative, productive, but fun.”  In his words: “I love how you can take a bunch of smart, creative folks, dig into a problem, and make something that moves people. We created the Tamiflu commercials with that giant flu guy…and I remember the moment when the team sitting around a table came up with the idea. Magic!”

Ian Thomas Jansen-LonquistPhotograph by Ryan McBride

Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist ’09 

Work: Freelance photographer whose work regularly appears in the New York Times. He’s currently the paper’s go-to photographer for coverage of the presidential campaign in his home state of New Hampshire. (Pictured: Jansen-Lonnquist, left, covers a Donald Trump rally.) Home: Burlington, Vermont. UVM Days: While majoring in natural resources, he also pursued his love of photography—at the Cynic and during his junior year abroad in India, where he served as an international correspondent for a National Geographic-affiliated organization. In his words: “Photography has always been a vehicle for me to meet and interact with people. It’s a little bit of psychology, sociology, anthropology all wrapped up into one.”

Robert Bayer ’66, G’68 

Work: An expert on lobster health and nutrition, he is executive director of the Lobster Institute, and professor of animal and veterinary sciences, at the University of Maine. Home: Orono, Maine. UVM days: Credits his animal science major with teaching him approaches to solving problems of food production, the main focus of his work today. Made lifetime friends in Buckham residence hall and joined some of them this summer to watch the walls tumble down. In his words:  “What I do is about preserving a way of life that is lobstering. Lobsters are doing very well this season, but the issues that we’re concerned about are climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution.”

Nancy Clark ’71 

Work: Co-founder and director of the Zienzele Foundation, which supports AIDS orphans and caregivers in rural Zimbabwe; care coordinator at Gifford Medical Center in Randolph, Vermont. Last year Zienzele supported approximately one thousand orphans in school. Home: West Topsham, Vermont. UVM Days: Majored in nursing because it felt like a “safe and predictable women’s career” at the time, but was encouraged by professors to think outside the box. In her own words: “My UVM experience gave me the courage to leave Vermont for a job at Albert Einstein Hospital in the Bronx, where I had my first experiences working in intensive pediatrics among underserved populations, an experience that has guided my entire career.”

Charles IacouvouPhotograph by Ken Bennett

Charles Iacovou ’92 

Work: Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Business, Kirby Chair in Business Excellence and Professor of Management. Home: Winston-Salem, North Carolina. UVM Days: Came to UVM from Cyprus to become a high school teacher, like his mother, but changed course after conducting research with his undergraduate advisor on the use of information systems by small companies. In his words: “I was captivated by that research experience. That was when I realized I could still be a teacher and follow my passion, and that a PhD would allow me to educate students at the college level. It changed my life.”

Ricky Strauss ’88 

Work: President of marketing for Walt Disney Studios, overseeing global marketing strategy including creative, media, digital, promotions, publicity, research, and synergy for live-action and animated motion pictures. Home: Los Angeles, California. UVM Days: Credits his involvement in UVM theatre, film, creative writing, and art history as “stoking his passion for the arts,” and a summer internship at TriStar Pictures for paving the way for his current career. In his words: “With a portfolio of films from Marvel, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Disney there is something creatively stimulating every day. I’m also fortunate to work alongside some of the industry’s top filmmakers and lead a team of incredibly talented and strategic marketers.”

Thorodd Bakken ’96 G’98

Work: Head of sales and research for Nordea Markets in Norway, one of Europe’s largest banks. Leading the Norwegian operation involves setting strategic direction and continually developing the talented team that Bakken says is critical to success. Home: Oslo, Norway. UVM Days: A four-time NCAA champion in Nordic skiing, Bakken also was the Catamounts’ top cross-country runner. In addition to his coaches, he counts business faculty members Lauck Parke and Len Tashman as key influences. In his words: “I guess I have always liked working with financial markets—the everlasting chase to try to figure out how and why they move like they do.”

Linda Sell Steil ’83 

Work: Helping rehabilitate veterans as military adaptive sports and reconditioning site coordinator, Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe. Home: Recently moved to San Antonio, Texas, where she continues to work with soldiers, after nineteen years in Germany. UVM Days: Worked as an athletic trainer and was introduced to adaptive sports in a required physical education course. In her words: “Military adaptive sports gives those wounded in war the opportunity to start over and find new ways to tackle issues that come with losing a limb, sight, or dealing with chronic pain. It has been rewarding to see most soldiers rise to the occasion and make a good transition either back to duty or to civilian life.”

Leslea NewmanPhotograph by Shana Surek

Lesléa Newman ’77 

Work: Author of seventy books for readers of all ages including the children’s classic, Heather Has Two Mommies. Home: Holyoke, Massachusetts. UVM Days: Professor David Huddle’s creative writing class made a great impression. In her words: “As Heather was challenged, burned, and defecated upon over the years, I looked on in amazement that my little book caused such an uproar. It’s such a sweet little story with the message that ‘The most important thing about a family is that all the people in it love each other.’ I never expected that to be seen as controversial. I’m thrilled that children with two moms or two dads now have the legal protection they deserve. Love DOES conquer all!”

Ray Allen ’59 

Work: Fourth-generation Vermont farmer on his family’s Allenholm Farm in South Hero. His alarm goes off at 4 a.m., beginning a day that includes the anything and everything of overseeing a diversified agri-business—bookwork to hauling a load of apple bins to making a batch of pie dough for the farm store. Many family members pitch in, including a pair of great granddaughters who “train the chickens to be friendly” in the farmyard petting paddock. UVM Days: Allen ran on one of Coach Archie Post’s greatest teams—Yankee Conference and New England champs. In his own words: “Having guys on the team who could work together that way was just an incredible experience and those lessons have helped me throughout life.”

Laura Bernardini ’95 

Work: CNN Washington’s director of coverage. After fifteen years in the field, she’s now managing the assignment desk and live unit, and planning D.C. coverage. Bernardini is writing some, too, contributing to CNN’s Belief Blog as she reads through the Bible. Home: Washington, D.C. UVM Days: Benardini was an English major, but her main focus, she says, was working on the Cynic, an experience she credits for her career today. In her words: “The Cynic gave me the chance to write, edit, and work with a team. I may not have been the best student in the classroom, but I loved being in that newsroom.”

Vincent Mugisha G’14 

Work: Educational development adviser for FHI360, a Washington, D.C.-based international development think tank. Current project is a collaboration among FHI360, the government of Equatorial Guinea, and HESS Petroleum Corporation to improve the quality of public schooling in the country. Home: Professionally based in Washington, D.C., but currently working in the west central African nation.  UVM Days: Mugisha earned his doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies. He credits many faculty members for creating a welcoming and supportive environment. In His Words: “In my view, to succeed in this environment one has to develop important competences such as political savvy, intercultural competence, program planning, monitoring and follow-through abilities, human empowerment, and capacity development.”

Gulnar OderaPhotograph by Deanne Fitzmaurice

Gulnar Pothiawala Odera ’03 MD ’08 

Work: Cardiologist at Kaiser Permanente in Antioch, California. Home: San Francisco. UVM Days: Favorite hangouts ranged from the Molecular Genetics labs to Muddy Waters coffeehouse. Favorite activities: intramural soccer, running, studying in the medical library in the dead of winter. “UVM was and still is an idyllic place to go to school,” the Essex, Vermont, native says.  In her words: “What I enjoy most about my job is the variety: I see patients in clinic, I supervise stress tests, read echocardiograms, EKGs, place pacemakers, and take care of patients who are hospitalized with more acute cardiac needs. The most challenging part is making sure I’m making the right decisions for my patients.”

Marion Brown Thorpe ’38 

Work: After graduating with a degree in home economics education, she went on to earn her master’s at Syracuse University, then returned to join the faculty at UVM, where she taught home economics education for thirty-three years, retiring in 1974. (Thorpe turns 100 November 27, 2015.) Home: South Burlington, Vermont. UVM Days: Her students found in her an inspiring and gifted teacher, a friend, mentor and advisor who helped launch and sustain many a successful career. In Her Words: In her “Opening Reflection” at UVM’s historic two-hundredth Commencement Ceremony in 2004, she said, “I leave you with this. You may be only one person in the world. But you may be the world to one person.”

Chris Zimmerman ’81 

Work: President and CEO of Business Operations for the St. Louis Blues. Held similar positions with the Vancouver Canucks, Nike, Bauer, and Easton. Home: St. Louis, Missouri. UVM Days: Zimmerman recalls the joy of playing hockey to packed houses at Gutterson Arena and the power of the Catamount community. In his words: “My journey through the sports world has been filled with the chance to see athletes at all levels achieve spectacular personal accomplishments. From the NHL to the Ryder Cup to the Little League World Series to Special Olympics to six year-olds playing Kick and Chase, I have been inspired by the power and emotion that drives athletes to test their personal boundaries.”

Jay Shindler ’94 

Work: Chef, chocolatier, and owner of Catering Chocolate, a retail gourmet food shop with a focus on catering. Shindler’s client list has included Mikhail Baryshnikov, presidents Clinton and Obama, as well as beloved Chicago institutions such as the Steppenwolf and Goodman theatres. Home: Chicago, Illinois. UVM Days: Philosophy major; Delta Psi brother; Mad River skier; Kountry Kart Deli lover.  In his Words: “Catering covers a lot of ground and we need to be prepared to cook anything at anytime. Staying creative with the changing seasons and meeting the needs of varying events certainly is a daily challenge. People say I’m a workaholic; I say my customers are orderaholics.”

Melissa Wolff-Burke ’82 

Work: Physical therapist, professor of physical therapy at Shenandoah University, and founder of the Adventure Amputee Camp for children, now in its twenty-first year. Home: Winchester, Virginia. UVM Days: Still talks about the donut machine in Redstone dining hall. In her words: “We have campers who (until camp) hid their amputated limb in pictures, never went swimming because of a bathing suit, climbed a ladder, rode a bike, or thought someone would like them. And something magic happens at camp when they’re surrounded by other people with physical differences… there is a bigger, prouder self that emerges.”

David Perez ’81 

Work:  Founder and CEO of Seamless Medical Systems, Inc., a digital healthcare company that replaces the paper forms patients fill out in medical offices with an iPad. Home: Santa Fe, New Mexico UVM Days: Double major, economics and political science, focus on economic development and international affairs. Away from class, worked with Concert Bureau and loved to ski.  In His Words: “I am a serial entrepreneur. This is my third venture since 1999.  The challenges of starting a business from an idea are manifold—raising capital, building the team, building the software, getting customers, scaling the enterprise. I love the creative experience of coming up with an idea, then building a team and business to execute it.”

Bill Barron ’89 

Work: Carpenter; founder of the non-profit Renewable Energy Resources, dedicated to educating the public in ways to utilize renewable energy and improve energy efficiency; founder of the Salt Lake City-Citizens’ Climate Lobby; a past (and likely future) single-issue climate change candidate for U.S. Senate and Congress. Home: Salt Lake City, Utah. UVM Days: Geography major and founding member of UVM Crew, rowing in the team’s first competitions, including the 1987 Head of the Charles. In His Words: “My work as a carpenter keeps me grounded, offers tangible results, creativity, and a sense of accomplishment. My advocacy work offers a way to speak from my heart for what I believe is possible and necessary.”

Meghan Clohessy ’05 

Work: Studio director of Daniel Arsham Studio, a role that includes overseeing the production of Arsham’s artwork and films, working with galleries and museums to arrange exhibitions, manage press, and plan events. Previously, she managed artists Vanessa Beecroft and Kehinde Wiley. Home: Brooklyn, New York. UVM Days: Double major in art history and studio art. Professors Kelley DiDio and Frank Owen and an internship at Burlington’s Firehouse Gallery were key influences. In her Words: “My work is fulfilling because it allows me to use my business sense to help an artist achieve their professional and creative goals. I’m involved in the creative side of the art world without being a professional artist myself, which is a unique position.” 

Matt Carreira ’05

Work: His business card with TwoXSea reads “Sustainable Fishmonger.” Carreira defines that as primarily a sales role to connect chefs with the company’s sustainable seafood, but adds, that could span making deliveries to analyzing financials—“basically doing whatever it takes to keep the company moving in a positive direction.”  Home: Alameda, California. UVM Days: Carreira looks back fondly on the friendship of fellow students and mentorship of professors in the School of Business Administration. His passion for sustainability was kindled by an elective course in environmental studies. In His Words: “It feels great to wake up every day utilizing my talents to make the world a better place. For me, it does not get any better than that.”

Rebeka Foley ’13 

Work: Pursuing a master’s degree in International Relations and Russian Studies at the European University of St. Petersburg. Prior to that, Foley worked in film and video production in Paris, France. As a “fixer,” she organized productions and translated for American crews working abroad in France, Monaco, and Italy. Home: St. Petersburg, Russia. UVM Days: Double major in French and Russian Studies, also active in Student Government Association. In Her Words: “Professors Kathleen Scollins and Kevin McKenna of the Russian Department are not only fantastic instructors and hugely inspiring academics, but they were also mentors for my career and life in general. The whole department had a huge impact on my further pursuits.”

Leslie Lawson ’91 

Work: Chief of the Nogales Border Patrol Station. The 700-employee station, the largest in the country, is responsible for securing more than thirty linear miles and nearly 1,100 square miles of border with Mexico. Home: Green Valley, Arizona. UVM Days: An English and history double major, she found a friend and mentor in Professor Jean Kiedaisch, who taught Tutoring Writing. Favorite Burlington hangouts included Rasputin’s, What Ales You, and Nectar’s, where she heard Phish “before Phish was Phish.” In her words: “I find it very fulfilling to serve my country by entering a career field that most women do not.”

Will Trowbridge ’12 

Work: Video producer and director at Disney Interactive Media. Home: Los Angeles, California. UVM Days: A film and television studies major, Trowbridge got his first break in the business with an internship on the 2012 Sundance film Safety Not Guaranteed. He scored the position after making an impression on the director during a class visit. In his words: “I think about UVM often. I appreciate my analytical education now more than ever and have found it gives me a leg up in my largely technical industry. I miss the lake and cold winters. L.A. is really warm, just a heads up.” 

Kristin Hubert ’00 

Work: Principal at Northwest Primary School (Rutland City). Winner Distinguished Principal Award from the National Association of Elementary Schools Principals. Home: Rutland City, Vermont. UVM Days: Worked at Recreational Sports and as a lifeguard at the UVM pool. Participated in mentoring/tutoring programs and volunteered in community elementary schools. In her words: “I love collaborating with teachers as they do the important work of molding young minds. As a teacher, I made a positive impact on the students I taught. As a principal, I have the ability to make a positive impact on my school and the community.”

Achier Mou ’06 

Work: Principal, Aweil Health Sciences Training Institute. It’s the first post-secondary health training institution in the South Sudan city, part of an effort to combat the severe shortage of health workers in the country. Home: Aweil, Northern Bahr El Ghazal State, South Sudan. He’s finally close again to his mother, from whom he was separated—unsure if she’d survived—for twenty years. UVM Days: A “Lost Boy of Sudan,” Mou started his time at UVM as a custodian. As a student, he helped lead UVM to divest from Sudan. In his words:  “I had always thought I would come back to South Sudan to help in the field of health and development. It was going to be the time when the country had straightened out its priorities and all the agendas had been set.” 

Emily Berliet ’08 

Work: Founder of the CSR Alliance, a corporate social responsibility and sustainability advisory firm specializing in social entrepreneurship, social innovation, and social business. Home: Lyon, France, until she moves to Paris this fall. UVM days: Vice president of SGA and co-coordinator of the Big Buddies program. In her words: “Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. We create value while fostering a strong social and environmental impact, proving to the world that making profits can be compatible with bettering society and the planet.”

Richard Bass ’66 

Work: Founder and president of Cardinal Shoe Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of ballet pointe shoes in the world. The patented slippers are shipped to more than ninety countries and used by American Ballet Theater, the Royal Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet to name a few. Home: Salem, New Hampshire. UVM days: In between “studying like it was my job,” he learned to ski.  In his words: “In 1962 I went into the shoe manufacturing business with my father. Now my son, Jon, and daughter, Jill, have joined the team and they plan on extending our history well into this century.”

Jamie Christian ’94 

Work: Christian and his wife run Karisia Walking Safari, using camels to explore northern Kenya—rich with wildlife and far out of reach of vehicles. Home: Laikipia, at the base of Mt. Kenya, where his children go to school. UVM Days: Credits profs Ross Bell, David Hirth, and others for a solid grounding in natural history. In his words: “On the property we currently have hundreds of elephants—and lions that are trying to eat our camels. Like any business we face some mundane challenges, but rural Africa does also present some interesting obstacles.  We’ve had to consult a witchdoctor to dissipate an argument between two employees. The night before last a leopard ate one of the dogs that guard the camels.” 

Alana Chain ’06 

Work: Senior construction manager on solar energy projects with Barron Partners. Home: Boston, Massachusetts. UVM Days: Chain recalls quickly falling for the university and Burlington when she visited as a prospective student. She studied French and political science, counting Professor Garrison Nelson as inspiration, mentor, and friend.  In Her Words: “You can’t help but feel fulfilled when you’re standing in that field among thousands of modules that were once just a concept in a CAD file and know that by harnessing this natural source of power we’re not only reducing energy costs, but most importantly; we’re combating greenhouse gas emissions, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, and creating jobs in the process.”

Ryan Fletcher ’02 

Work: Principal, Piedmont Middle School, recently ranked the #1 public middle school in the country. Previously, taught math and science in Palo Alto, California. Home: Oakland, California.  UVM Days: An elementary education major and human development minor, Fletcher still found time for plenty of ski days and “seeing live music all around the East Coast.”  In his words: “My proudest professional moments have been reading letters that I receive from former students. In this line of work, there is nothing better or more fulfilling than hearing how students feel that you have supported them along their educational journey.”  

Rose Levy Berenbaum ’65 

Work: Cookbook author and designer of bakeware products. A three-time James Beard Award winner, she has authored ten best-selling cookbooks with an eleventh on the way and hosted her own PBS cooking series. Home: Hope, New Jersey. In her own words: “In a food class at UVM I learned how to make lemon meringue pie, and when I tried making it on my own in a friend’s house it would not thicken. It turned out it was the hard water, and that was the beginning of my investigative approach to baking—the merging of science, art, craft, precision, and instructional and creative writing—all the things I love.”

Mark Biedron ’74 

Work: President, New Jersey State Board of Education. Co-Founder, The Willow School in Gladstone, New Jersey, home of LEED gold and platinum facilities where “children discover who they are, the joy of learning, and the wonder of the environment around them.” Home: Pottersville, New Jersey. UVM Days: Majored in business, enjoyed skiing at Mad River, hiking in the mountains, and exploring the countryside around Starksboro. In His Words: “Education is my focus. It is the process for real and lasting change. In K-12 education, you are designing the future.”

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