University of Vermont

Vermont Quarterly

Catamount Nation

San Francisco Edition

San Francisco bay and Golden Gate bridge

By Thomas Weaver

Principal photography by Clayton Boyd ’09

Geography and vibe have earned Burlington the “West Coast of New England” nickname. On a smaller city scale—with gentler hills—UVM’s hometown shares something with San Francisco, in particular. Talk to a sample of the approximately 1,700 alumni who make the Bay Area home and you’ll hear echoes of these words from Jim Louderback ’83: “It’s more like Vermont than you might think.”

With this issue, VQ launches an annual focus on our alumni in various cities or regions. Next year: we’re coming for you, Chicago.


WORK: CEO of VidCon, an online video events and experiences company. Big picture: “I focus on how we fulfill our mission to celebrate, connect, and democratize the creative economy around the world. I love the emerging ecosystem that lets creative people anywhere in the world create and connect to audiences without the traditional media middlemen that have constrained connections between fans and creators.”  UVM: A math major/mass communications minor, Louderback also learned computer programming and worked many shifts at WRUV. “That mix of technology and media proved to be a fundamental underpinning of my career, as the two are now inextricably bound up.” SF FAVE: Praising the outdoors options and Bay Area vibe— “It’s more like Vermont than you might think.” He loves walking the beaches near his home in Pacifica, and evenings at Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Crossroads music club in Marin take him back to a favorite UVM memory, the night the Grateful Dead came to town. 

Luke Apfeld in Berkley law library


WORK: Third-year student at Berkeley Law, graduating in May. “I’m in the process of figuring out where I want my career in the law to go. There are a lot of possibilities for lawyers right now, and I want to make sure I use my law degree to help ease some of the unrest in our society today.” The former Catamount basketball star helps pay the rent by working with the Golden State Warriors youth program, travelling Northern California for hoops clinics. “It is great to see the positivity that the Warriors embody seep into the neighboring communities.” UVM: Double major in English and sociology. Friends in Vermont included coaches, fellow teammates, and the sports medicine staffers Apfeld credits for keeping him on court. He also found a mentor for his law career in UVM President Tom Sullivan, J.D.  SF FAVE: Apfeld declares allegiance to Oakland. “It is a beautifully diverse city that captures the best of both worlds—the free spirit of Berkeley and the big city feel of San Francisco.”


WORK: Line chef at famed Berkeley restaurant Chez Panisse. “Being part of the magic and history of Chez Panisse is an honor. To invigorate and inspire people with good food and to be able to tell of the people and stories behind the food and the soil is part of what makes Chez Panisse so special.” UVM: Cromley says her four years at UVM were transformative. From volunteer work helping with Hurricane Irene clean-up during her first year to the mentorship of Professor Rachel Johnson in her nutrition and dietetics major, Cromley fell in love with the state and the university. Of Johnson, she says, “Each day, I learned something new from her; I was continuously inspired to stay committed not only to my studies, but to myself.” Cromley’s work as president of Slow Food UVM, a student club, put her on a path to Chez Panisse, she says. Last, far from least, she values the community and connection she found in the Slade Environmental Cooperative. SF FAVE: Excited to continue exploring the historic network of paths and staircases in her new hometown of Berkeley.


WORK: A founding member of Duck’s Breath Mystery Theatre, a comedy team that made their name from 1975 to 1990 with live performances and sketches on National Public Radio. Today, Allard is focused on producing, distributing, and marketing Duck Spots comedy movies with the goal of having “ten funny movies for Apple to sell by 2020.” Allard calls it “achieving my dreams in the last quarter-mile of my life.” UVM: A theater major, Allard says legendary professor Ed Feidner “hired me to work for the Champlain Shakespeare Festival while apologizing for ruining my life.” He was also a varsity swimmer, AEPi brother, and braved the snow on his Honda 90 motorcycle. SF FAVE: Allard and his wife, Margaret, own a house in Outer Sunset and have lived in the city for nearly forty years. “Every inch of this wonderful city is worth a zillion dollars, and we’re all still mining for gold. Digital gold.”


WORK: VP for engineering at Off.Grid: Electric, an innovative company focused on multiple aspects of bringing affordable, reliable, renewable energy to communities in need. Her previous jobs include engineering/management roles at FitBit and nine years with Tesla during the automotive company’s early days. As a woman in management in a technical field, Werner is thankful for the advocacy of a mentor who saw her leadership potential. “I love creating the environment that stimulates our engineering team to be creative. It is about allowing people to access that inner playful side of work.” UVM: While earning dual degrees in civil/environmental engineering and geology, Werner ran varsity track and cross-country. She has stayed involved with the university through work on her college’s board of advisors and recently hired Tariye Peter ’17, a young UVM grad. SF FAVE: Home is in the Marina and work is on Potrero Hill; Werner deeply appreciates that she can bike to work. Weekends, she, her husband, and their two kids often head to Chrissy Field. 


Work: Together with two business partners, owns and operates a wine and whiskey bar/restaurant concept called District, with locations in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Small plates, pizza, house-made charcuterie, and an eclectic wine and whiskey list are District’s niche. Day to day, D’Angelica focuses on finance and operations with a big picture outlook on possibly growing far beyond the three units.  “I enjoy the fact that it’s our business and that we control our own destiny.  If it were manufacturing widgets, I’d still love it because it’s ours.  But the fact that it’s something I love so much—wine, whiskey, food, making people happy—makes it that much better.” UVM: A business major/history minor, D’Angelica got a taste for his future working at the fabled Chicken Bone several years. Skiing, music downtown, and a strong circle of lasting friends filled the hours he wasn’t on the job or hitting the books. SF FAVE: Being out on the Pacific fishing for king salmon with his three kids. 


WORK: Community director for Conscious Capitalism International, a nonprofit dedicated to elevating humanity through business, overseeing chapters in forty communities worldwide. “I get to work with incredibly purposeful and engaged business leaders around the world who truly want to positively impact their communities, employees, partners, and the environment.” UVM: Studied psychology and studio art. Academically, classmates in the Integrated Humanities Program and printmaking professor Bill Davison had lasting influences upon her. Off-campus, Peabody was active in the local punk rock scene, as a fan and singing in bands. On the quieter side, Muddy Waters was a favorite spot to read and write.  SF FAVE: “This city celebrates and encourages diversity and independence like no other place I have experienced. The value of this lends itself to an incredible richness of self-expression.” A “just say yes” motto since moving to the city four years ago has led to many experiences, including an ultramarathon on Mt. Tam. Marin Headlands—endless trails, views, whale sighting—keeps her coming back for more.  

JIM BETTS ’69 MD ’73

WORK: Surgeon-in-chief and assistant director of Trauma Services at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. As a safety-net facility, the hospital turns no patient away. Betts, who grew up in Bennington, Vermont, with his two siblings and their widowed single mom, who had no health insurance, notes that his personal background resonates with the hospital’s mission. “It is an honor and privilege to be able to serve the surgical needs of our patients.” Betts also serves as a tactical physician with the FBI-San Francisco SWAT Team. UVM: A Wilbur Scholarship combined with other aid and work as a resident advisor enabled Betts to earn his bachelor’s and medical degrees debt free. Within the College of Medicine, longtime dean Bill Luginbuhl and his wife, Vi, were encouragers and confidants. A self-described “very unaccomplished discus and hammer thrower,” Betts credits legendary Catamount track and field coach Archie Post with helping him fit athletics into a challenging academic schedule. SF FAVE: During the week, Betts lives in Alameda, near the hospital. An ideal weekend usually means heading to his oceanside home in Big Sur, where he does double-duty as a member of the area’s volunteer fire department. 

Kate Sylvester in front of a sculpture of a head lying on the ground at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art


WORK: Staffing manager at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. “It’s busy, full of innovative and creative people. We’re a pillar in the community for art of our time and I get to see it every day.” Mentoring interns and helping them move into the field is another especially fulfilling aspect of her job. UVM: Environmental studies and poli sci major. Kept busy outside of the classroom with Phi Beta Phi, as an orientation leader, waiting tables at Trattoria Delia, and, very importantly, suiting up as Kitty Catamount. Study abroad experiences in Australia and Costa Rica, along with a semester in Washington, D.C., sparked a love for travel. As a co-chair of the UVM Alumni Association San Francisco Regional Board, Sylvester helps connect fellow grads with one another and their alma mater. SF FAVE: Diverse culture of people, food, careers, says the Mission District resident. “Urban hiking” or checking out a new neighborhood are free-time priorities. 


WORK: Housing policy advisor in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, focused on big picture questions such as affordability. Buckley is particularly proud of a public housing plan that leveraged $100 million in local city funds to provide more than $750 million in direct improvements to public housing—without losing a unit or displacing tenants. “That’s why I got involved in government—to make change and improve lives.” UVM: History major/English minor. Ski slopes, music downtown, gravy fries at Nectar’s are among the fond memories. Buckley also worked as a student journalist for the Vermont Cynic, covering the Vermont legislature’s same-sex marriage decision. He credits that experience for guiding his path toward taking a role in progressive government. SF FAVE: Describing a typical day leaving his home in Ingleside, dropping his three-year-old daughter at day care, and getting on BART to go to work, Buckley says, “The beauty of this city is around every corner.” The rickety wooden deck of Fort Funston, watching hang gliders over the Pacific, is his place to be. 

Brigid Donovan at the hospital 


WORK: Trauma nurse practitioner at San Francisco General Hospital and clinical assistant professor of nursing at the University of California, San Francisco. “The science of medicine and working with people is what I love. The hospital work environment is very intense at times. However, to be at the bedside with patients who are often in their most vulnerable state after sustaining terrible injuries and to know you are taking the best possible care of them is very rewarding.” UVM: A Burlington local who grew up just a few blocks from campus, Donovan still found a new world up the hill at UVM. She made lasting friends living in Harris and Davis halls, rose early for rowing practice with UVM Crew, and knew she’d found the right calling in her nursing courses and clinical experiences. SF FAVE: Donovan rattles off a long list of the things she loves—the sound of the Pacific, runs through the Presidio, shopping in Union Square and hearing the rumble of the cable cars, Giants and Warriors fans, and “liberal politics, diversity, tolerance, acceptance. Everybody is always welcome in SF.” 


WORK: Supports three senior editors at WIRED magazine with everything from scheduling to research to photoshoots. “I love the community at WIRED—everyone is so quick, sharp, and kind. I’m constantly learning. I also report to three senior WIRED women—which feels quite special and unique in the tech industry—and feel grateful to be supported and surrounded by such brilliant women.” Horne is also in good company with fellow Catamounts at WIRED—Natalie DiBlasio ’11, Alex Baker-Whitcomb ’11, and Michael Calore ’96. UVM: English major/art history and Italian double minor. Visiting art professor Peter Shellenberger inspired exploring film photography and Super 8. “He completely redirected my interests and self-understanding as an artist.” SF FAVE: Church of 8 Wheels, a church-turned-roller skating rink, with Soul Train soundtrack, on Friday and Saturday nights. “It has the perfect collision of funk and nostalgia that initially drew me out to San Francisco in the first place.” 


WORK: Associate university registrar at the University of San Francisco. “I stumbled into something (I don’t know anyone who knows they want to be a registrar when they grow up) that I’m good at and gives me the opportunity to help others. I get to work with students from the moment they step foot on campus to the moment they walk across the stage with their diploma in hand.” UVM: Bachelor’s in psychology and master’s in education. Vitagliano was SGA vice president and served on the President’s Commission on LGBTQ Equity, among other leadership roles. He credits late friend David Maciewicz ’11 with shaping his UVM experience and career path. “He showed me that even when you are just one student, out of an entire student body, you can make a difference.” SF FAVE: Lives in SOMA neighborhood with husband, Gary, and puppy, Stetson. Vitagliano praises the view from Twin Peaks. “No matter how many times you go to the top, every time you look down at the city below, you fall in love with it all over again.”


WORK: Freelance photographer, creative, climber, and certified rope tech who has climbed with Greenpeace for more than ten years. He is also lead rigger and photographer with Bandaloop, a vertical dance company that performs across buildings, bridges, and cliffs. “My goal is to share and provide a holistic and visually driven approach to all the work I do—including my work in the vertical world—it’s a powerful way to change perspectives and move people.” UVM: Tsimoynianis earned his degree in environmental studies, also studying photography. Climbing with the Outing Club “launched my obsession into the vertical world.” As a campus environmental activist, he helped push the university to change paper procurement policies in response to deforestation in Boreal forests. He credits the late Professor Tuna Snider for “encouraging me to speak up and for teaching me that it’s not just what we say but how we say it that matters.” SF FAVE: At home in East Oakland, Tsimoynianis says one of the best parts of the Bay Area is the landscape outside the city. “The Eastern Sierras hold a special place in my heart and is where I go to come home to myself.”


WORK: Staff for The Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit headquartered in San Francisco. After starting as an intern, Boochever is now on the organization’s Parks for People team, assisting in project management and outreach for urban parks that the trust builds or renovates in the Bay Area. She’s particularly excited about a Green Schoolyards program getting started in Oakland. “I used to be a teacher on a farm right after I graduated UVM and before moving to San Francisco, so I know first-hand the benefits of teaching outside and encouraging children to have a connection with nature.” UVM: Studied ecological agriculture in the Plant and Soil Science Department with a minor in Food Systems. She counts an internship on an organic farm in Starksboro as a highlight and influential experience. SF FAVE: Slide Ranch, a non-profit educational farm just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, where Boochever first lived when she moved west. “I’d probably bring my picnic of local cheeses and bread and an avocado and hike down to the rocky beach to munch and watch the sunset over the Pacific.” 


WORK: Product manager for rewarded advertising at Pandora Media, where his role means connecting business, technology, and user-experience teams. Bernstein leads Pandora’s engagement-based ad product suite. “In a world where advertising is often seen as interruptive and intrusive, I’m very excited to work on experiences that provide users with what they want, when they want it and satisfy their need for instant gratification without having them swipe their credit cards.” UVM: Engineering management/mechanical engineering were Bernstein’s focus as an undergrad, followed by an MBA. He also excelled as a varsity Nordic skier for the Catamounts. “As part of the ski team, I feel fortunate to have been able to travel to amazing places, make lifelong friendships, and prepare for the real world.” Influential people from his student days included Joan Jordan and Tony Julianelle from his college and ski coaches Patrick Weaver and Fred Fayette. SF FAVE: Bernstein puts a landscape that offers “skiing in Tahoe one day and hopping on a surfboard in Santa Cruz the next” to good use. Lately, cycling has been a free-time focus, with the Marin Headlands as a favorite destination.  

John Austin in a green house


WORK: Director of education and outreach for The Garden Project, a non-profit that focuses on employment, education, and food security in the city’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. The project’s 145-acre farm, employs three hundred students in the summer, donating six tons of vegetables. Being part of a smaller “scrappy nonprofit” might mean joining a SFPD task force and driving a tractor in the same afternoon. “When I go home I feel content knowing that we’ve done something tangible to help the community move forward.” UVM: An anthropology major, he has fond memories of Living/Learning’s Chinese Suite. Jazz trombone and competitive Taekwondo also filled his days. Active in the student of color community, Austin credits staff member Beverly Colston as a key influence. SF FAVE: Though he lives in Haight/Ashbury, Austin is an East Bay fan who loves exploring Oakland. “I think it’s a really diverse and complex city.  It creates a great contrast from SF’s tech culture, offering artist spaces and communities that offer a different face of The Bay.”


WORK: After twenty years as a freelance journalist specializing in endurance sports and adventure travel, Kefauver shifted into social media coaching shortly after Twitter launched. She teaches small business owners how to use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter for marketing. “I love helping people demystify the ever-changing technology.” UVM: Her experience at the university, Kefauver says, pivoted on two key “life-changing” events. First, spending her first year in Living/Learning, where she thrived academically and socially, making friends who lasted long past graduation. Junior year, studying abroad at the University of Kent in Canterbury via the Buckham Overseas Program Scholarship led her to decide on an English major. SF FAVE: Kefauver lives in Santa Cruz, where she first visited on a West Coast road trip at age twenty-three. A few nights in a youth hostel and she decided this was the place for her—ocean, check; redwoods, check; mountain bike trails, check. “Twenty-five years later, I love it just as much!”


WORK: Photographer, who works in-house for The North Face on a broad variety of projects—product shots, on-location and in-studio photos of models, photojournalistic work with the brand’s athletes in action, and portraiture. “The variety has taught me a lot, but the portraits are the most engaging aspect of this job.” (Boyd also takes on freelance projects, including most of the portraits of his fellow alumni in this article.) UVM: Earned a bachelor’s in Latin American literature, which he credits for opening a door to critical thought on social issues. Professor Martin Oyata—“an enthusiastic and studied man who seeded a love for the genre”—made a lasting impact. Boyd competed in downhill events for UVM Cycling and lived at the Adsit Court team house where, let history record, he and Adam Morse ’08 built a pump track in the backyard one summer. SF FAVE: Climbing is Boyd’s athletic focus these days. “The Matthes Crest Traverse is a climbing route in Yosemite that is comparatively easy. It’s like walking a sidewalk, but with hundreds of feet of air below you on either side.”

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