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The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of


How’s Your Social Media Life? Emersonians examine the extraordinary power, reach of social media

A Letter from the President

We live in an age of disintermediation and convergence, the former referring to the disappearance of the traditional intermediaries that, at one time, stood between the content we want and our capacity to access it, while the latter refers to the integration of multiple platforms of content and ideas into a single, increasingly seamless platform. One needs only to think of how we formerly accessed print news at newspaper stands or through delivery to our homes and how we are increasingly accessing news today on our computers, smart phones, and tablets. News is no longer constrained by print, but instead is delivered to us online where multiple media platforms—including audio, video, and print—merge. The new media is asynchronous, fast, and democratic. We now have the capacity to access content as easily at 3 o’clock in the afternoon as 3 o’clock in the morning and as quickly as electrons are able to travel across continents and oceans thousand of miles away. Most important, the new media are available to all­—not a privileged few—who have access to new technologies, many of which fit in the palm of a hand and are portable. In this new world, communicators wield enormous power. They define the world in which we live, or more precisely how we view that world. They frame the issues we address and how we respond to them. They present products and services that shape human society. They enable democracies to function by creating informed citizens. And, as we have seen, new channels of communication, in the right hands, can empower communities to unite and topple oppressive governments. Prominent among these new media are, of course, the various technologies that we call social media. Brian Solis, a thought leader in the field of new media, defines social media as tools that “transform people from content readers into publishers....[It’s] the shift from a broadcast mechanism—one-to-many—to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversations….” Increasingly, Emerson College is earning national (and international) respect and recognition for its role in elucidating, envisioning, and, to some extent, shaping the future of social media. Emerson faculty harness the power of social media to strengthen classroom instruction as well as provide opportunities for students to use it in creative ways that increase its utility, value, and purpose. And the world has taken notice. Emerson College has been named in: The 20 Colleges Making Good Use of Social Media—USA Today The Top 100 Social Media Colleges— Boston-area Colleges with the Most Klout (#2)—Boston Innovation Academic excellence, innovation, and leadership represent Emerson’s core values, all of which are inherent in our development and illumination of the ideas that inform the various uses of social media. Emerson’s educational purpose is to nurture a more creative and civic-minded impulse, one that would lead in the face of change and act responsibly in an increasingly complex, faster-changing world. The cover story in this issue illustrates how Emersonians are meeting the challenges of a new age, while shaping its future. Lee Pelton, President

Winter 2012

The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of





16 26 Departments

Features EmersonCollege

6 EmersonCollege emerson-college

Well Said


Community News

Strong speaking skills remain central to an Emerson education




Playing Well Together


How’s Your Social Media Life? emersoncollegeflickr

Megan Marshall examines the lives of superlative 19th-century women

Students learn by collaborating with performing arts professionals

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Faculty People Todd Strauss-Schulson ’03 directs the newest Harold & Kumar flick

Emersonians examine the extraordinary power, reach of social media


Alumni News


Class Notes emersoncollege

Executive Editor Andy Tiedemann Editor Rhea Becker Bringing Innovation to Communication and the Arts

Office of Communications and Marketing 617-824-8540 Fax: 617-824-8916 Office of Alumni Relations 617-824-8535 Fax: 617-824-7807

Copyright © 2012 Emerson College 120 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02116-4624

Design Director Charles Dunham Copy Editor Nancy Howell Production Coordinator Liliana Ballesteros

Expression is published three times a year for alumni and friends of Emerson College by the Office of Communications and Marketing (Andy Tiedemann, vice president) in conjunction with the Office of Development and the Office of Alumni Relations (Barbara Rutberg ’68, associate vice president; director).

community news Emerson’s Paramount Center includes a renovated 590-seat art deco theater.

The Center for the Theater Commons at Emerson College (“The Commons”) will take root July 1, when David Dower, current associate artistic director at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., and Polly Carl, current director of the American Voices New Play Institute (AVNPI), arrive to establish the Center. The Commons will be a center for research into the processes, challenges, opportunities, and best practices for developing new theatrical work, as well as a hub of communication and collaboration tools for the theater industry, nationally and internationally. Under the auspices of AVNPI, which launched at Arena Stage in 2009, Dower and Carl have led the development of a series of 21st-century tools for the field, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, including the online journal HowlRound, a livestream theater tool #NEWPLAY TV, and the real-time interactive New Play Map. The continued development and support of these tools will move to Emerson and become the core research and communications platform of The Commons.

The Commons will join ArtsEmerson: The World On Stage as part of Emerson College’s Office of the Arts, under the leadership of Rob Orchard. Together, Emerson’s distinct pedagogical environment for training and developing the artists of tomorrow, ArtsEmerson’s presentation and production of pioneering theater, and The Commons’ innovative set of tools for the study and development of the national infrastructure for new theatrical work will create an extraordinary center for the advancement of the American theater. President Lee Pelton said, “With the opening of the Paramount Center and the establishment of ArtsEmerson last year, and now the addition of the Center for the Theater Commons, Emerson will become a living laboratory for the future of theater.” Orchard said, “Arena Stage has provided an important service to the field by creating the American Voices New Play Institute. Emerson is one of the few places in America that can host this effort. It’s an immense responsibility, and we are honored and energized to be able to take it on.”

Ploughshares marks 40th anniversary The Emerson–based literary journal Ploughshares threw a star-studded 40th anniversary gala hosted by Denis Leary ’79 (far right; star and co-creator of Rescue Me and acclaimed comedian) that featured readings of several of the magazine’s greatest works. At the November event at Emerson’s Paramount Mainstage, nationally renowned authors, actors, sports legends, and television personalities entertained an audience of more than 250 supporters. Also pictured are novelists Dennis Lehane and Alice Hoffman.

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Peter Vanderwarker

New plays institute to be established

College receives National Preservation Honor Award The National Trust for Historic Preservation has given a National Preservation Honor Award to Emerson College—along with several other Boston organizations—in recognition of its contributions to the revitalization of Lower Washington Street in Boston, where the College built its multi-use Paramount Center complex. Located at 555 and 559 Washington Street, Emerson’s Paramount Center is an important piece of the revitalized downtown neighborhood. The award presentation was made at the Trust’s annual conference in Buffalo, New York, in October, and was also celebrated locally at a Boston Opera House reception. “We are deeply honored that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has chosen to recognize Emerson,” said President Lee Pelton. “Sixteen years ago, the Trust listed Boston’s historic theaters among America’s most endangered historic places, and now the area is revived and bustling with students and arts lovers alike. We are proud to have been a part of this renaissance.” Former Emerson President Jacqueline Liebergott, who led the College during its move to Boston’s Theatre District, and Trustee Ted Cutler, who was instrumental in the restoration of the Paramount Center, received the award.

Descendants co-producer is latest Semel Chair

EC Los Angeles breaks ground in March Emerson College breaks ground for its new facility, Emerson College Los Angeles (ECLA), on Thursday, March 8. The new ECLA will be located at the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Gordon Street in Hollywood, and has been designed by world-renowned architect Thom Mayne. The center will enrich academic programming and opportunities for undergraduates and graduate and professional studies students, as well as create spaces that integrate living and learning. The building will include residence

halls, classrooms, and administrative spaces. “This is a historic moment for Emerson,” said President Lee Pelton. “The new facility will represent a bold, visual statement of Emerson’s presence in Los Angeles, which includes several thousand alumni active in the media and entertainment industries. It will provide students and faculty with access to the people and places that can have the biggest impact on our students’ learning experience while they are in Los Angeles.”

Jim Taylor, the screenwriter of the Academy Award–winning film Sideways and the recently Oscarnominated The Descendants, is Emerson’s latest Jane and Terry Semel Chair in Screenwriting. For most of his screenwriting career, Taylor has collaborated with director/screenwriter Alexander Payne, co-writing several mostly comedic movies, including About Schmidt, Election, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

Mann Stearns awards honor faculty Polster, Belkina

Emerson administrators, faculty, and staff visit China An Emerson delegation visited Beijing, China, in Fall 2011 to meet officials from Emerson’s sister university, the Communication University of China (CUC), and Beijing Film Academy (BFA). From left are: Shujen Wang, associate professor of visual and media arts (VMA); David Griffin, director of international studies and external programs; Linda Moore, vice president for academic affairs; Emerson President Lee Pelton; President Zhang Huijun, BFA; Jonathan Wacks, chair of Emerson VMA; Zhong Dafeng, dean of the International School, BFA; and Janis Andersen, dean of Emerson’s School of Communication.

Performing Arts Assistant Professor Joshua Polster was honored as the recipient of the 2010–2011 Norman and Irma Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award at a luncheon held in November on campus. Faculty, staff, and donor Irma Mann Stearns ’67 attended. Polster used the award funds for a trip to London, where he researched the 2001 production of Arthur Miller’s play A Memory of Two Mondays by the Synergy Theatre Project, which was performed by a cast

and crew of prisoners from the HM Prison Latchmere House, along with a team of theater professionals. Visual and Media Arts Assistant Professor Anya Belkina is the recipient of the 2011–2012 Mann Stearns award. Belkina won the award for her work Moston, a 12-foot-tall suspended inflatable sculpture that conjures a technology-driven combination of Moscow and Boston.

VMA Assistant Professor Anya Belkina (left) is the recipient of the 2011–2012 Mann Stearns Distinguished Faculty Award.

Performing Arts Assistant Professor Joshua Polster (left), Irma Mann Stearns ‘67, and President Pelton at the luncheon.

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talk Megan Marshall Writing the Lives of Extraordinary Women

Nineteenth-century women who deserve more historical attention are Megan Marshall’s passion. In The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism (Houghton Mifflin), Marshall, an assistant professor of writing, literature and publishing, chronicles the lives of these formidable women. The book was 20 years in the making, as Marshall traveled the country to locate new sources, and read every extant document regarding her subjects. Her finished work received wide critical acclaim, numerous prizes, and was named a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in biography. The mid-1800s in Boston was an era of high intellectual activity, and the Peabody sisters were ahead of their time as active participants. Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia were variously involved in progressive movements such as abolition, Transcendentalism, and social reform.

Born to a mother who was a teacher and a father who studied medicine but rarely made a satisfactory living, the sisters strove for independence from an early age. In the 1840s, the Peabodys lived at 13 West Street in Boston, which still stands today, just steps from the Emerson campus. The house served not only as the Peabody family home, but its downstairs parlor became the site of Elizabeth’s well-stocked bookstore and lending library. At Wednesday night gatherings, the store became a “clubhouse open to a widening circle of reformers”; intellectuals such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, Horace Mann, and Ralph Waldo Emerson were frequent visitors and patrons of the shop.

Briefly describe each Peabody sister, her qualities, and accomplishments.

Marshall’s next book, The Passion of Margaret Fuller: A Biographical Romance, to be published in 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, explores the life of the social reformer who was “the most famous woman of her day” and an associate of the Peabodys.

Elizabeth was drawn to learning from people as well as books. She started schools, began teaching history to older women, she published, she became a Transcendentalist, and she started a bookstore and library where the Transcendentalists could meet and exchange ideas. Here she mixed with Hawthorne, Mann, Bronson Alcott, and entered into dialogue with them. The plan for Brook Farm, a Transcendentalist commune built in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, was formulated here. Elizabeth called the years of Transcendentalism “very living years.” She started some magazines that didn’t really take off, but Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience was

Marshall is working on a biography of Ebe Hawthorne, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s older sister, for which she received a Radcliffe Institute fellowship. 4 Expression Winter 2012

We’ll start with the oldest, Elizabeth, born in 1804. She lived 90 years and I think of her, in some ways, as “the woman of the 19th century.” If you trace her life, it begins with her rebellion against her parents’ religious point of view. Later, she started meeting liberal ministers, like William Ellery Channing, whose sermons advocated that people were in charge of their own spirituality. Unitarianism began to appeal to her. She started teaching at a very early age, 17, and wanted to apply these notions that even young children have a sense of the good and they had souls to be respected. Her beliefs dictated a whole new way of teaching. Teaching was a life work, but she was also a historian and an advocate of social reform in her writing. How did Elizabeth feed her intellectual hunger?

held out the notion to the sisters that they’d better be self-sufficient. It was important to have a “decent independence,” the mother told them. They were also born into a time and place where men had a great deal of privilege and they could, if they had the funds, go to Harvard and become a doctor, lawyer, or minister. But Harvard had been around long enough that there was some rebellion against it. If men respected self-educated men, then why not respect self-educated women? How do you choose your subjects?

published in one of them. She was also publisher of the well-known Transcendentalist journal The Dial. She learned about the kindergarten movement and went to Germany to visit some kindergartens and came back with an idea to start a national and international movement to create kindergartens. Tell me about the other two sisters.

Mary was the second. Bright, not as precocious as Elizabeth, but she had a mind toward novels and romance. She wanted to find a man to form a partnership with and fell in love with Horace Mann. They went on their honeymoon to Europe, studying schools, prisons, and mental institutions to bring back the reform spirit to America. She lived in Cuba for a time, translated the work of Sarmiento [president of Argentina, 1868–1874], and also had a great career in the kindergarten movement. Sophia was very artistically talented, but also prone to migraines and other illnesses, partly from being dosed with mercury for teething when she was an infant—not uncommon for the time. She would make her mark through an important marriage, to Nathaniel Hawthorne.

I was an English major at Harvard, but took one of the first women’s history classes offered there. I learned about Elizabeth and Mary Peabody when we studied social reform and the kindergarten movement. And I learned later that there was a third sister, Sophia, married to Hawthorne, whose novels I’d always loved. Altogether, the three sisters touched on many things I was interested in: reform, feminism, literature. I felt a lot of kinship with the Peabodys. For one thing, they didn’t need college degrees to do great work. I had a college degree, but I was not a trained historian. One of my greatest satisfactions was having my book recognized by professional historians with the Francis Parkman and Mark Lynton prizes.

Describe the two decades it took to complete the Peabody book.

The first book I wrote took a year and a half. I thought the Peabody book would be twice as hard, so I told my publisher I would be done in three years. But I had never done archival research before, which I quickly became infatuated with. After three years, I was still reading letters and journals! My method was to type out these letters, which were in handwriting, because I knew I couldn’t return to the archives to view them. So I created my own archive at home. I felt a great burden and privilege of having these voices speaking to me. It was a responsibility that I never let go of. I had young children at the time and I was reading about their own child rearing, so there was a way in which I was growing up along with the Peabodys. And your latest projects?

The new Margaret Fuller book took much less time because, as a better known literary figure, many of her private journals had been published, and there is a six-volume edition of her letters available, edited, and painstakingly annotated by Robert Hudspeth. So I didn’t need to spend so many years in archives gathering the materials. For Ebe Hawthorne, I made typescripts of most of her letters while researching the Peabodys, so I’m just about ready to write. E A view of West Street in Boston, where the Peabody sisters once lived.

Despite the era in which they lived, what enabled the sisters to become such fully realized women?

Their mother was a teacher and the strong intellectual figure in the family. The father had gone to Dartmouth and studied medicine, and turned to being a dentist, but had trouble finding work. So the mother

The Bostonian Society


raduates of Emerson College know the school was founded in 1880. Most alumni recognize the name of the founder, Charles Wesley Emerson. And many can tell you that the College was established as a school of oratory. But how many realize that this legacy— instilling the practice of good oral communication—is carried on to this very day? In a world saturated with more communication platforms than ever before, learning how to inform an audience, construct a persuasive message, or present a cogent argument is as important as ever. “Maybe you’re going to pitch a screenplay to a producer over Skype,” said Communication Studies Assistant Professor Angela M. Hosek and director of the Fundamentals of Speech Communication Program. Or interview for a job. Or represent a nonprofit organization that is pushing for social change.

Well Said Strong speaking skills remain central to an Emerson education

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To that end, all Emerson undergraduates are required to take a course called Fundamentals of Speech Communication (CC 100), which serves as a foundation for their education. Although its content and form have changed over the decades, the course is designed to teach students to think and communicate with clarity, substance, and insight; and to develop an ability to apply sound communication principles in a variety of oral communication scenarios. The School of Communication is currently conducting a top-to-bottom review of the course. Led by Hosek, the review is designed to ensure that CC 100 is a “model course for the discipline,” she said. “There is no doubt that the communication field has looked to Emerson to lead the way in all things communication,” said Richard West, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Studies, who is also president of the National Communication Association. “Refining and updating our CC 100 program— and maintaining its focus on student speaking competency—is a logical and necessary undertaking.” Some 16 instructors teach 27 sections of CC 100 each semester. Overall, “we want to make sure each student receives the same message and outcomes,” said Hosek. To aid her review, Hosek meets with CC 100 instructors three to four times per semester, and holds focus groups of students who are taking the course to solicit their ideas. Now in the second year of the two-year examination, Hosek is revisiting “the mission” of the course with an aim to ensure that the content is top-notch and rigorous, as well as consistent in assignments and grading. She is streamlining grading rubrics and review sheets for exams, and is considering adding a civic engagement component to the program, providing an opportunity for students to make speeches in the “real world.” In addition, Hosek, with assistance from the CC 100 instructors, has created a workbook used by all CC 100

Then and Now Emerson College founder Charles Wesley Emerson (below) believed in the power of speech; Tiernan Cahill ’12 (right) practices for a collegiate forensics competition.

instructors and students, which includes activities and assignments that instructors have found “meaningful or useful,” and she has established an online video library of model student speeches. “For us to stay current, we need to remain innovative,” she said. By the fall semester, many of the fruits of Hosek’s review will be in place. Eventually, she hopes to launch a longitudinal study of CC 100 students to see how they employ their skills in their schoolwork, and later, in their careers. “The course is never static,” she said. “There’s always room for continual improvement.” A cornucopia of courses Today’s speech and communication offerings at Emerson include much more than CC 100. A sampling of the courses that explore many distinct aspects of the field include: Professional Voice and Speech; Oral Presentation of Literature; The Evolution of Expression; Argument and Advocacy; Conflict and Negotiation; Interpersonal Communication Skills; Language, Symbols, and Political Communication;

Read about a large speech improvement firm staffed almost completely by Emerson graduates. See next page.

Mediation, Facilitation, and Dialogue; Crisis Communication; and Communicative Informatics. Professional Voice and Speech, for example, trains the speaker in developing a wide range of controls in pitch, volume, and quality to meet the needs of journalism, public speaking, and interpretation (many Emersonians of a certain age will remember a similar course called Voice and Articulation). Mediation, Facilitation, and Dialogue explores the theory and practice of various forms of third-partyguided dispute resolution. Students learn to mediate conflicts, facilitate discussion, and promote dialogue among parties in conflict. One of the newer offerings, Communicative Informatics, explores the role of communication in creating and sustaining social communities online and examines web-based technology and use by people in building social networks and organizational structures.

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Speech, Speech! A company powered by Emerson energy has taught good speaking skills for almost 50 years

Photos by Tony Rinaldo


eads of state, standup comics, U.S. presidential candidates. They have all sought the help of The Speech Improvement Company to develop their speaking skills. Founded by two Emerson graduates almost 50 years ago, The Speech Improvement Company (TSIC) has tackled a variety of oratorical challenges, from helping actor Rex Harrison learn how to “rest his voice” between appearances in the Boston run of My Fair Lady many decades ago, to instructing a young man on a recent season of the hit CBS show Survivor in how to speak with an English accent. Politically speaking, TSIC has coached three U.S. presidential candidates as well as the governments of Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates. In fact, TSIC prides itself on its numerous international clients, many of whom travel to Boston for in-person speech coaching. Husband-wife team Dennis Becker ’64, MS ’68, and Paula Borkum Becker ’64 say their

company is the oldest speech coaching firm in the country. “There were only two other companies we knew of when we started in 1964: Toastmasters International and Dale Carnegie,” said Dennis Becker, who earned his degrees in speech, then rhetoric and public address, and a PhD from Union Graduate School in Cincinnati in 1983. Paula Borkum Becker studied speech pathology and audiology. Today, TSIC, based in Brookline, Massachusetts, is recognized as one of the top communication coaching organizations in the country with corporate and private clients all over the world. In fact, when the National Communication Association convened a blue-ribbon task force in 2011 to establish the qualifications required for the certification of speech coaches, Dennis Becker was tapped to represent practitioners nationwide. Emerson College was founded in 1880—the heyday of oral communication—but the Beckers contend that the need for solid speaking skills has only increased with the explosion of the Internet, video conferencing, Skype, podcasts, and other online media. “The emergence of high tech has increased the importance of human communication,” said Becker. Quality control A speech coach who is interested in applying to become a TSIC staff member must possess a speech education background. And, often, that means an Emerson degree. “We’re a very Emerson-oriented company,” said Borkum Becker.

Paula comes from a three-generation Emerson family: Her mother, Frieda Berger, was a member of the Class of 1937; Paula is a 1964 graduate; and two Becker offspring hold degrees from Emerson: Monica Becker Murphy ’87 and Stefan Becker ’90. Another son, Ethan Becker, is president of TSIC, and their fourth child, Gregory, has pursued another form of communication as a songwriter in Nashville. Most of TSIC’s coaching staff are also Emerson alumni: Kristen Curran-Faller ’91; Tori Aiello ’90, MFA ’92; George Matson, MS ’60 (who also taught broadcasting at Emerson from 1960 to 1966); and Debbie London, MA ’91. “Not only do we carry forward the traditions that we have been taught at Emerson, but we also have a really nice generational span to reinforce the traditions,” said coach and trainer Aiello. Among TSIC’s offerings are formal and informal speaking skill coaching, mechanics of speech (which

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includes the traditional voice and articulation topics that are familiar to many Emersonians), fear of speaking, accent reduction, leadership communication, interpersonal skills, customer service, improving written communication, and communication strategy. In addition to one-on-one and group coaching sessions, the staff have authored 11 books on communication, including the bestseller Mastering Communication at Work (McGraw-Hill) by Ethan Becker. The Speech Improvement Company has worked with thousands of people from various walks of life and prides itself on never turning anyone away. “There probably isn’t any part of society we haven’t touched,” said Dennis Becker. “A job interview, a bar mitzvah speech, eulogies, best man speeches. We’ve done it all.” Good works is also an important part of TSIC’s mission. All coaches perform pro bono work for clients

including the Girl Scouts of America, the Task Force for the Homeless, B’nai B’rith, Oxfam America, and many others. “It’s part of our philosophy,” said Becker. In fact, as a response to the tight job market and to aid the rising tide of job seekers, TSIC offers a free two-hour workshop on interviewing with confidence. “When we started it, we thought we’d do it three or four times, but we’ve done it 31 times,” said Becker. The way in which TSIC coaches deliver training and coaching has adapted with the times. Staffers commonly work with clients around the world via Skype and video chat. New technology “has made a huge difference in the way we coach,” said Becker. However, while the delivery methods for speech training have evolved, the core fundamentals and tools have never changed. E

Tori Aiello ’90, MFA ’92 Aims to help clients improve their oral communication as well as their written communication—even emails

Kristen Curran-Faller ’91 Whose clients include Putnam Investments, Boston Ballet, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Massachusetts General Hospital

Laurie Schloff

Many of the coaches at The Speech Improvement Company of Brookline, Massachusetts, hold Emerson degrees, including the founders.

Not shown:

Denotes Emerson degree

Debbie London, MA ’91 Stefan Becker ’90

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Paula Borkum Becker ’64 Whose areas of expertise include leadership and management communication, business English, and communicating technical data to nontechnical listeners George Matson, MS ’60 Has a specialty client base of radio and TV broadcasting professionals

Robin Maxfield

Monica Murphy ’87 Specializes in conference planning, leadership/ management communication, customer service training, media coaching, and controlling the fear of speaking

Dennis Becker ’64, MS ’68 Has 40-plus years of coaching experience

Nancy Goldberg

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Playing Well Together Students learn by collaborating with performing-arts professionals


hile most students slumbered and otherwise enjoyed the long Veterans Day weekend, two dozen BFA Musical Theatre actors spent full days stretching, singing, dancing, and auditioning in Paramount Center studios with noted theater artist Anne Bogart. The weekend marked just one stop on the months’– long collaboration among the students, Bogart, and her renowned New York City– based SITI theater company. This spring, the work will result in a brand-new theatrical production to be presented at Emerson called Café Variations. The book Café Plays by Charles Mee will serve as the basis for the new musical, which features adaptations of well-known film and theater scenes that take place in cafés, set to a Gershwin score. Left: The New York City–based SITI Company, shown here performing La Dispute, is collaborating with Emerson students on the world premiere of Café Variations, to be presented at the College this spring.

Student actors, such as those at right and below, have more opportunities than ever to collaborate with professionals.

This project is among a growing roster of opportunities afforded undergraduates to work with professionals in their field, thanks to a program jointly developed by the Department of Performing Arts, Emerson Stage, and ArtsEmerson, the professional presenting organization founded at Emerson in 2010. The mission of matching professional artists with Emerson students is supported, in part, by a $375,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation. “Performing arts at Emerson is reaching new heights,” said Melia Bensussen, chair of Emerson’s Performing Arts Department. “I’m thrilled to offer our students access to these world-class professional artists and these kinds of unparalleled opportunities that will enhance their experience and the quality of their work.” The grant supports a form of collaboration that Emerson students have rarely been exposed to in the past. “We are exploring what can happen when you take the faculty and the students at a school for arts and communication and professional companies, and put them together and look for connection opportunities,” said Ruth Davidson, director of external affairs for Emerson’s Office of the Arts. Bensussen and the Performing Arts faculty and staff work closely with ArtsEmerson Executive Director Robert Orchard to look for specific ways in which students and visiting artists can work together. In ArtsEmerson’s 2010 inaugural season, students had a chance to perform alongside professionals in choreographer Doug Elkins’s Fräulein Maria. In addition, students worked directly with the show’s famed choreographer to create a choreographed “flash mob.” In the professional production of The Color of Rose, which tells the story of Rose Kennedy’s life, the role of Young Rose was played by Therese Masse ’11. Several behind-the-scenes roles in that show were also filled by students.

Other first-season highlights included a visit by four puppeteers from Basil Twist’s Petrushka to a World Drama class, and a week in which Performing Arts ensemble classes worked with K.J. Sanchez of the New York–based Civilians. This season, the collaborations are more extensive and ambitious. Dozens of students are taking part in Café Variations, on stage as well as in design, music direction, stage management, crew, and other aspects of the production. During the Veterans Day weekend workshop with students, Bogart encouraged them: “It’s a new work. You will come up with the characters. We need a certain resilience. We’re making it up from scratch.” In another recent collaboration, the Pulitzer Prize–winning book by J. Anthony Lukas, Common Ground (1985), which explores the 1970s busing crisis in Boston, served as the basis for a theater piece created by two dozen students in the Performing Arts course Adaptation (see story on next page). The Civilians visited campus to teach students how to use the theater company’s investigative techniques to explore topics, such as the busing crisis, to produce an engaging theater experience. The students located and interviewed people who were at the center of Lukas’s book. Once students had completed their interviews, they spent class sessions piecing together a coherent story and then rehearsing. In the final performance, the students used their interviewees’ actual words, and even mannerisms, in their portrayals. Other collaborations this season included the creation of an investigative theater piece by students that was performed on the same bill as The Civilians’ You Better Sit Down: Tales from my Parents’ Divorce, and a collaboration on Sugar, a play by Performing Arts Professor Robbie McCauley and directed by Performing Arts Professor Maureen Shea, in which students from various departments were involved in design, stage management, crew, and other aspects of production.

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Living History Theater piece created by students brings Boston busing controversy to life

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he 1970s was a troubled time in Boston. The desegregation of the public schools was taking place via forced busing of schoolchildren. More than 25 years later, about two dozen Emerson students—who hadn’t been born until decades after these historymaking events—immersed themselves in that period through their work in a Performing Arts class called Adaptation. Led by Associate Professor and Performing Arts Chair Melia Bensussen, the students began the fall semester by reading the Pulitzer Prize–winning account Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1985) by J. Anthony Lukas to become familiar with the tense period. They would use the book as a foundation for a unique theatrical exploration. Linda Healey, widow of Common Ground author Lukas, contributed to the project by

giving permission to use the book, and providing additional information that was never published. The Adaptation class requires students to wear many hats (writer, reporter, actor, director, and so on), and each semester a variety of methodologies are tapped to create the presentation: existing text, both fiction and nonfiction; original period documents, such as letters, videos, court transcripts, and news broadcasts; completely original scenes and monologues influenced by source material; movement sequences that capture both literal and metaphorical aspects of the story or theme; improvisation; and character studies drawing on both existing and fictional people connected to themes in the work. The book traces three families’ experiences of busing: the African American Twymons, the Irish McGoffs, and the Yankee Divers. One of the methods the students employed was journalistic: finding local

people who appeared in the book and interviewing them using a method they had learned from members of the New York–based Civilians theater company. “ArtsEmerson and the College brought in The Civilians last year and we learned about investigative theater,” said Luke Jones, a second-year Writing, Literature and Publishing graduate student. “The Adaptation class was a chance to use the method in a show.” Investigative theater involves using the words and even the mannerisms of interview subjects in a theatrical presentation. “Making a show from scratch was a really exciting idea,” said Maria Carreon ’13, who is part of the class. Dan Robert ’13, a Theatre Studies and Acting major, added, “We had this 700-page book of material and it was, grab something and work on it.” Working the streets The Adaptation students, most of whom were unfamiliar with the busing crisis before taking this class, divided into small groups and took to the neighborhoods to try to locate the people that Common Ground focused on. Jones and his cohort visited Charlestown and decided to simply stop an elderly woman on

At a reception following the presentation, Kristen Greenidge (left), a playwright who co-taught the Adaptation class with Associate Professor Melia Bensussen, and Chris Sawey ’13 greet Joan Diver, one of the main characters in the Pulitzer Prize–winning book Common Ground. Right: Associate Professor Melia Bensussen oversees the creation of the Common Ground storyline.

the street. Within a minute or two, it was clear that the students had struck gold. “She knew a lot of the people in the book,” said Jones. Guy Ben-Aharon ’12 used a different method. He asked a stranger in Charlestown for a good breakfast place in the neighborhood. The stranger, Joe, “invited us to meet a friend of his who ran the local historical society and, after a few calls, he got the numbers of the people we needed to locate.” The students were “impressed that everyone was so grateful to have the outlet” to talk, even after all these years, said Melissa Bergstrom, a second-year Theatre Education graduate student. Even the Huhta family who endured a home invasion— described in the book on page 636—opened their doors and gave the students a tour of the house, said Bergstrom. Once Bergstrom mentioned the Common Ground project, “it was a domino effect. My aunt, for example, connected me to three people who worked in the schools.” When the interviews had been completed, they were combined with several scenes adapted from the book, along with entirely new scenes that the students wrote. Finally, students

compiled “news reports, funeral transcripts, sound clips from politicians. We wove all of this together to make a theater piece,” said Robert. Connecting past to present Robert was part of a group whose mission was to locate Twymon family members. He turned first to his computer. He knew that Rachel Twymon, the matriarch of the African American family, had died years ago. In seconds, “I found her daughter, Rachel Jr., on Facebook. We made a connection on the phone. We spoke for a very long time.” Within weeks, they had set up an in-person meeting with her and her two sons, who traveled over an hour to meet the students at Piano Row. “It was never imaginable that I would be in a room with Rachel Twymon Jr. and having this conversation,” said Robert, in awe of this occurrence. “She’s so incredibly giving, you don’t even have to ask questions. She’s willing to offer us this information.” Robert felt he needed to tell Twymon that he was going to play her mother: a bit of casting that is both gender-bending and race-bending. “An older African American woman. How can I play that role?” Robert asked himself. “How can I approach that with integrity? I was nervous

to tell her. But then for us to hear her say she thought we ‘got it’ was amazing. She said, ‘That’s so beautiful.’” For Robert, his experience in the course “is a dream. I want to write, I want to direct, I want to act. I’m doing all three.” The students gathered twice a week throughout the fall semester in the Semel Theater to shape the project, which was presented to the public in December under the auspices of Emerson Stage. Members of the Twymon, Diver, and McGoff families as well as Linda Healey attended the special presentation, which proved an emotional journey for those onstage but especially for those in the audience whose stories were front and center. E

Chip Huhta (below, right), whose South End home was invaded in the 1970s, resulting in inclusion in the book Common Ground, greets Melissa Bergstrom, a second-year graduate student who appeared in the student performance.

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How’s Your Social Media Life? Emersonians examine the extraordinary power, reach of social media

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Where to Find Emerson Social Media


ow powerful is social media? When the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the nation’s leading breast cancer advocacy organization, recently pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood, the foundation’s supporters and others expressed outrage via Facebook and Twitter, spreading their comments to hundreds of thousands of people. The New York Times called the outcry “fierce.” The foundation watched the firestorm, then quickly reversed its position— all within a few days. Social media can make—or break— causes, careers, and products. Amateur crooner Rebecca Black, for instance, became mega-famous in 2011 when her videotaped rendition of “Friday” attracted hundreds of millions of YouTube views. Bank of America reversed its decision last fall to levy a debit card fee on its customers, and Congress abandoned an Internet piracy bill following powerful social media– fueled protests. Twitter, the enormously popular microblogging site, is still in its infancy, yet this social media tool, launched in 2006, has some 300 million users who generate hundreds of millions of tweets per day.

By Rhea Becker

Created just two years earlier, Facebook has some 800 million users around the globe, nearly half of all Internet users; a study by digital marketing firm icrossing declares the site will have 1 billion users by the summer. YouTube, created in 2005, with views in the billions, has launched the careers of numerous do-it-yourself filmmakers, actors, singers, and pundits. Social media—roughly defined as a collection of online platforms and tools that people use to share content, opinions, experiences, and media, and to facilitate online conversations and interactions—has become indispensable to countless journalists, students, businesspeople, politicians, activists, and academics. In fact, many people can’t imagine life without social media. Why has it become so critical to its users? Emerson experts assert that the extraordinary reach of social media, its powerful ability to convene like-minded individuals, and the way social media can attract attention are just a few of the qualities that galvanize users. Social media can, for instance, create community, enable political activism, facilitate corporate communication with consumers, launch careers and help users find employment, build audiences for arts events and organizations, and increase support for good causes.

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It’s all about connecting Emerson Ranks High Emerson College has established itself over the past several years as one of the top social media colleges in the United States. Student activity on social media as well as the official Emerson Twitter and Facebook accounts (managed by the Office of Communications and Marketing) have contributed to the high scores.

Emersonians from an array of industries explain how they use social media

Explaining our attraction to social media requires a look back in time, said Thomas Vogel, associate professor of Marketing Communication. He draws on anthropology to explain how social media makes it easier to do what people have always done: make connections. “We belonged to tribes and communities long before the Internet arrived, and social media tools basically allow us to practice what is a very human desire: to connect with each other. But now, we can connect independent of time and place.” Eric Gordon, associate professor of Visual and Media Arts, agrees. “Lots of tools don’t allow new actions. Instead, they allow more efficient actions. If you think of social media as a tool, it enables a better social network. The way we can share, get, and use information is remarkably better than before.” Some dismiss social media as a vast repository of banal conversation, but Vogel, who is also the graduate program director for the Global Marketing Communication and Advertising Program, asserts that social media

Networking with Influential People Marketing communication is a lot about—let’s face it— getting attention. You could say that David Gerzof Richard, an adjunct faculty member in Marketing Communication who also holds a master’s degree from Emerson, is an expert at attention getting. Students eagerly register each semester for his mega-popular Social Media marketing class. The syllabus includes projects ranging from creating marketing schemes for real-world clients to experiencing the extraordinary reach of social media by testing the ability of the students to attract the attention of an influential public figure who tweets. Their chosen target last semester was Patriots football star and prolific social media user Chad Ochocinco. By

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has evolved in multiple, important directions. “The initial activities on Facebook allowed users to, say, stay in touch with high school friends. People might not be in your physical space but you could stay connected to them.” But social media also enables users to “start meaningful conversations, share expertise. It becomes a public space for connecting in discourse about very specific topics.” In his own work, Vogel has been able to connect with colleagues that he cites in his research. “You can engage in short but meaningful conversation with other professionals who might further your work.” In addition, Vogel said that social media “dispenses of the gatekeepers, such as the people who are protecting the CEOs. Ten years ago we could not have made these inroads.” Vogel and Gordon agree that social media has “created wildly expansive access to information and to other people,” said Gordon. What follows is a look at a number of innovative ways social media is being employed, according to Emerson faculty, both in the world and in the classroom.

Building a Larger Fan Base for Bill Moyers crafting and transmitting multiple tweets, the students not only reached him, but successfully invited him to guest lecture in the class. Two students, both concentrating in Marketing Communication, wrote about the experience:

personal network. My biggest take-away from the ESM (Emerson Social Media) Ochocinco project is that social media has created direct communication channels between literally anyone. Nothing is off limits.

Kendal Peiguss ’12 Before the Internet age, convincing Chad Ochocinco to be our guest speaker would have required constant communication with his rep, a little money, and knowing his relatives probably wouldn’t have hurt, either. In a class of social media-savvy college students, however, all we needed was a strategy and a Twitter account. With the help of our instructor, we developed a plan that appealed to Ocho’s ego and involved other people in his

Sofia Nasr ’13 The biggest lesson I took from the ESM project is that you need to have a strategy when it comes to social media. Everything I write should have a purpose. In our tweets to Ochocinco, we made sure that whatever we said was a way of trying to engage him in conversation. I don’t think social media is a temporary trend or fad. I view it as something that will remain an important component in my future, both professionally and personally.

Veteran television journalist Bill Moyers (at right) hired Joel Schwartzberg ’90 to direct digital strategy and communications at Moyers & Company/ in New York. “I’m thrilled to oversee the digital presence of Bill’s new TV show and the launch of,” said Schwartzberg. “Bill is a journalistic genius.” Schwartzberg and staff are employing Facebook, Twitter, blog ads, Facebook ads, StumbleUpon, and YouTube to bring more eyeballs to Moyers’s work. “We also have a new feature called Ask Bill,

where we solicit questions from our Facebook and Twitter audiences.” The digital team is encouraging community engagement around topics and guests on the show. “We’ll post links to video and other content, ask questions of the audience to start a conversation, and then retweet audience reactions to our content on Twitter.” Numbers are rising, reported Schwartzberg. “We’re really happy with the growth we’ve seen in our social media channels. Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen our Twitter audience grow by nearly 20 percent—and that’s in just three weeks. Similarly, our Facebook audience has grown from around 20,000 to

Emerson is ranked #11 in the Top 100 Social Media Colleges Nationwide (

Participatory Chinatown, an award–winning civic engagement game, which is part of the “sociable web,” was developed by Associate Professor Eric Gordon.

Turbo-Charging Marketing Campaigns

more than 30,000, representing a 50 percent jump. So we’re very happy with the audience response to our efforts.”

Carla Blumenthal is a natural when it comes to social media. And that’s a good thing because fully “95 percent” of her job involves the use of such tools. As a senior account executive at Mr. Youth, a word-of-mouth, social interactive, and experiential marketing firm in New York City, Blumenthal, who earned a master’s degree at Emerson in 2009 in Global Marketing Communication, came of age during the social media revolution.“I’m 25, so social media is a part of who I am as

Connecting Brands to People’s Circles of Influence a millennial,” she said. “Facebook was founded in 2004 and I was on it my first week of college.” Blumenthal’s work entails managing online communities and planning large-scale online word-of-mouth campaigns for clients such as Microsoft’s Bing and MSN. She described her social media planning process: “There are primary channels where a lot of consumers spend their time: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube. Each of those channels has a different purpose in the user’s mind: Facebook is for connecting with friends; Twitter is about getting short-form information; YouTube is to look at and share content. And there are lots of secondary channels, too. Before we recommend anything to a client, we

analyze which channels are the best fit for our target audience and business objectives.” As people vary their time between traditional media and social media, “we need to vary our marketing spend and efforts to match,” said Blumenthal.

How does Carrie Kerpen ‘98, chief operating office at Likeable Media in New York City, a successful social media leveraging and word-of-mouth marketing firm, define social media? “You’re at a cocktail party with the world.” Kerpen, who manages Likeable along with husband Dave Kerpen, who is CEO, knew Likeable needed to make a seismic shift “when we realized that social media was the fastest form of word of mouth. We quickly changed our services to focus more on social media versus traditional word of mouth.” Social media has “expanded everyone’s circle of influence. Not long ago, it would be unheard of to keep in touch with Stephanie Weissberg, your best friend from your pre-K class. But social media makes it so

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An activist tool

Emerson has been named one of the Top 20 Colleges Making Good Use of Social Media (USA Today/College)

impact election results....Expect to see an It’s difficult to dismiss social media as a fad when it has been widely cited as instrumental in increase in social change campaigns and online activism, both locally and globally, that will fomenting events like the 2010 Arab Spring, build off the successes experienced by the Arab which was chronicled by citizen-protesters who Spring and Occupy movements of 2011.” relied on the Internet and social media such as Twitter, TwitPic, Facebook, and YouTube to Engaging citizens accelerate social protest. “Social movements have been driven, by and Eric Gordon’s scholarly work focuses on the large, by young people,” said Cindy Rodriguez, Emerson journalist-in-residence. “This is the way creation of games that build civic engagement, “which fit into the logic of the sociable they communicate. It’s been proved that what web. In other words, you can share, discuss, happened in Egypt wouldn’t have happened and discover.” without social media. People were connecting The Engagement Game Lab, a virtual and talking. Democracy can’t run on auto pilot.” research lab at Emerson that Gordon directs, Emerson instructor David Gerzof Richard, is developing Community PlanIt, which allows MA ’01, who teaches a popular social media community members to participate in marketing communication class, predicted in a neighborhood and city planning efforts through Boston Herald story that “the 2012 U.S. a gaming interface. The pilot made its debut elections will see unprecedented use of social in the Boston Public Schools last year. It will media, with campaigns and voters engaging in be employed again this year to engage the city debate and activism that will significantly in rethinking the school assignment process.

Helping the Government Spread Important Health Info

much easier to connect now. And it makes the opinions of people hundreds of times more important. A brand has to understand that a person at a water cooler talking about your brand is also talking to 2,000 people on Twitter or Facebook. As a brand, you have to engage with everyone.” Likeable’s client list includes Neutrogena, Verizon, 1-800-Flowers, Pampered Chef, Things Remembered, The Company Store, and Heineken. Last year, Likeable was ranked #118 of the Fastest Growing U.S. Companies on the INC 500.

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As the H1N1 flu epidemic barreled through the country several years ago, Erin Edgerton, MA ‘05, was working at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), using social media to spread health messages to Americans across the country. Edgerton had been hired by the premier health agency to help create a new 45-person unit called the Division of eHealth and “advance the way digital communication was done.” As the senior social media specialist at CDC’s National Center for Health Marketing, Edgerton led efforts to use YouTube, Myspace, Facebook, RSS feeds, widgets, badges, and other tools to spread information on issues like H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, injury prevention, and smoking.

Snagging the Attention of the New York Times “Most people weren’t spending their time going to website,” said Edgerton. “That’s not the first place they went when they woke up in the morning. Instead, people go to their favorite blog, they check their social network profiles. So health communicators needed to be in those spaces, reminding them that they have information that’s relevant, interesting, and meaningful to them, and then driving them back to their website for more of that content.” Edgerton and the CDC team established various Twitter feeds, including one dedicated to health emergencies, which was launched during the peanut recall in 2009. She also established traditional online tools such as email

subscriptions. “The more options we provided, the more people we could reach,” she said. After four years at the CDC, Edgerton was named director of new media and strategic communication at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Earlier this year, she joined Danya International Inc. as senior director of health communications.

Gaby Dunn ’09 was living in New York City working as a standup comic and blogger about a year ago when she came up with an idea. She thought to herself, “Every person I see has a story. How many am I missing out on?” Putting her journalism degree to work, she decided to collect 100 of those stories in one year’s time. “It was a lot like when I was editor of the Berkeley Beacon and coming up with what I thought would make interesting stories,” she said. The roster of people she sought out included: a police officer who had been injured on the job, someone who’d had a lot of reconstructive surgery, a transgendered person, a one-hit wonder, a psychic, a person who’d been left

The health of urban youth Gordon says the aim is to revitalize the community planning process by allowing stakeholders to work—and play—together to solve problems. “This means everything from talking to their neighbors to contributing to planning decisions. We are doing more than just building games, however; we’re researching how games work in this context and learning about how we can apply games to the everyday life of cities.” An additional goal is to learn “to what extent processes like this create a greater sense of being able to act and be empowered, and to what extent these games enable a more civil and productive dialogue.” A grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has supported the development of Community PlanIt. Gordon’s earlier Engagement Game Lab project, Participatory Chinatown, was selected by the Games for Change community as the Best Direct Impact Game of 2010.

When a young person needs information on health issues relevant to him- or herself, including depression, abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, or drinking, “the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health have really informative sites, but when you go to them, you have to know what you’re looking for,” said Angela CookeJackson, assistant professor of Communication Studies. “These sites are not really places a young layperson is going to visit. I found there was an absence of really good information that was age-appropriate and relevant.” So Cooke-Jackson, a health communication expert, is launching a social media collaboration between high-risk youth in Boston and Emerson students in her course Diversity, Culture & Health Communication. The aim of the project, which has just received a grant from the Reebok Foundation, is to create a digital health manual relevant to high-risk youth in Boston that can be accessed through social media.

Emerson is #8 in the Top 50 Social Media Innovators in Higher Education (

Getting Noticed in Los Angeles at the altar. She posted the completed interviews on her Tumblr blog site and called the project “100 Interviews” ( She woke up one day late last year to a text from a friend that read: “Congratulations, the Village Voice named you best Tumblr blog!” Dunn was floored— and excited. She’d had no idea she’d been nominated. “All of a sudden it went from a web project I was doing for myself to a project that other people were actually invested in. It became less of a personal blog and more of a journalism site that people were following.” Then Dunn was interviewed by Business Insider, resulting in a post that “went super-viral. I got tons of email, and people were

contacting me who hadn’t even read the article.” Since then, Dunn has been written up in The New Yorker, Salon, The Huffington Post, Romenesko,, Daily Candy,, and other media. When she completed the last of her 100 interviews, the Sunday New York Times magazine hired Dunn to write a regular column, “Famous on the Internet.”

“The New York Times came to me because they saw what I was doing on the Internet: ‘We want her to write for us because she’ll bring eyeballs to the site.’” How much of her success does she attribute to social media? “Pretty much everything. Other people say I wish I’d thought of a project like 100 Interviews. But I have no special skills, except Emerson journalism training. I’m not a wizard. Social media and the web are egalitarian.”

As an undergraduate, Pat Lambert ‘12 was good at a lot of things. He hosted numerous television productions for the Emerson Channel, he was executive producer of the 30th annual Emerson EVVY Awards, and he played an important role in producing the now-famous on-campus Lady Gaga Lipdub, which went viral in 2010, attracting more than 1 million views on YouTube. And he was also good at using social media. Very good. Early on, he realized social media would be critical in finding work upon graduation.

Lambert finished his degree one semester early and moved to Los Angeles late last year, where he ultimately aims to become a TV host and producer and cultural critic. His regular social media activities, which he honed early in his college career, involve using Twitter and Facebook to follow professionals on programs such as Entertainment Tonight and E!, keeping his page up to date, widely posting his producer and hosting reels for potential employers to view, and staying active on Tumblr and YouTube. For job hunting, he uses Twitter “to keep the people I really need within my network. If I have an interview tomorrow, they can check me out on Twitter.”

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Robust curricula

Emerson is #2 in Klout among Boston-area Colleges (

Emerson students will shadow a selection of young Bostonians to film their stories, and each clip will become the basis for a page dedicated to a particular health issue in the digital health manual. Each page will also feature appropriate links that will lead the user to more detailed information on each health issue. “These young people are digital natives,” said Cooke-Jackson. “They know how to use all forms of digital technology. If you take health communication and social media and think about how this young population accesses information, why not create something that’s more appealing to them?”

Emerson is #2 of the Top 5 Boston Schools with the Best Social Media Presence (

Graduates who don’t employ social media in their job hunts, said Lambert, are busy “taking days stressing over cover letters. I keep my connections with social media, stay relevant, and put out my host and producer reel and they get me meetings.” After all, Lambert’s reels demonstrate he is “not just your typical college

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student looking for work. I’ve already done work. The EVVYs is industry standard. That’s very powerful.” Lambert has already “taken meetings” with senior producers at Entertainment Tonight, E!, Access Hollywood, and MTV. Why is social media so important? Lambert explained, “It’s everything. Social media allowed me to commodify myself. I can create a public personality, I can broadcast my personality, and attract people to what I’ve got going on. It’s like being at a party and being able to snap your fingers and say, ‘Hey, look over here.’ If you have something you want people to look at, getting their attention is everything.”

Broadcasting in a New Media Age When Shira Lazar When When Shira Lazar graduated from Emerson in 2004, she realized that the traditional route for aspiring reporters was to “move to a small city and work at a news affiliate. But I didn’t necessarily want to spend years working my way up markets to pursue my passion.” Fortuitously, about five years ago, an online revolution was taking place: the convergence of technology and entertainment. “It was an exciting time,” recalled Lazar. She was blogging (Twitter hadn’t been invented yet), vlogging, and reporting— all online. “There was no cap on what was possible and it was a great way to hone my craft,” she said. Lazar quickly realized she could forge a career by producing and hosting her own online

Emerson faculty across all disciplines are employing social media in their classrooms, as both a tool (keeping a blog journal, for instance) and as subject matter. Emerson is “certainly among the leaders in social media as it relates to the educational environment,” said Vogel. Rodriguez is a social media evangelist. An award-winning reporter who has worked for the Detroit News and the Boston Globe, Rodriguez says that although she “came of age when we still used typewriters in journalism,” she loves social media for its ability to “get information out quickly in words, photos, and videos. You can say the police are cracking down on protesters and you can show it, too.” Journalists monitor Twitter feeds, she said, to “get a sense of the bigger picture. What do a lot of people have to say about a particular subject, like how a candidate is resonating with young people. You can search the Twittersphere to see what people are saying.” To that end, Emerson’s new Department of Journalism curriculum has incorporated the technology, requiring students to use and

programs. “I would find holes on sites where videos weren’t being produced and I would approach them and create an opportunity.” So she went to Los Angeles and set her sights on online reporting. She landed a gig doing interviews for celebrity-news website Her presence on the Internet and on the red carpet attracted more work, and she quickly became the “go-to person” for interviewing and hosting shows online. She scored other work—for, MSN,, NBC, DirecTV, Reelz Channel, Yahoo!, and the Huffington Post. Lazar has since been the face of some of the biggest live-streams on the web, including the Oscars and the Grammys.

Lazar is now the host and executive producer of a weekly live interactive show and 24/7 news hub, She is also the host and creator of the YouTube talk show “Partners Project,” interviewing the biggest YouTube stars. LA Weekly has called Lazar “a hybrid journalist...the human manifestation of the

become familiar with an array of social media channels. “We are way ahead of the game among schools that teach journalism. We are in a good place,” said Rodriguez. She aims “to utilize all the journalistic tools that are out there. If my students are tweeting, they must have accounts that sound and look professional. I go through a checklist for my students of what’s professional and what’s not.” Live-blogging—covering an event by posting short reports online as the event is happening—is a popular method of reporting. “In the middle of the semester, I replace one of my students’ breaking news assignments with live-blogging an event.” Rodriguez also uses Facebook and Google+ as sites for students to “post their responses to their reading assignments and to read each other’s assignments.”

Emerson’s Marketing Communication program has incorporated social media to a great degree. “Now, we don’t just write and publish through magazines or websites, but we make sure our students engage in the social media technology because it is as important as being orally well equipped to give presentations,” said Vogel. As an exercise, Vogel encourages students to investigate and experiment with their ability to engage others in their conversations. “Choose a few important players in your area, say, advertising, and follow them, watching the conversation and reflecting on it. Fairly early in the game, students can add value to a professional discourse in their field.” Although its form will continue to evolve, experts agree that social media is here to stay. The Twitter of Tomorrow, unimaginable now, will one day supplant the tools we rely on today—building ever-expanding spheres of influence for individuals, commercial enterprises, and organizations. E

Emerson is #2 of the Top 10 Schools for Social Media Savvy (HerCampus)

Keeping Technology Fans Engaged convergence of technology and entertainment,” and she was recently named one of Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology 2011. “Growing your audience and owning your own work—this is where it’s at,” she said. “The top 10 YouTube channels have a bigger audience than the top 10 cable channels. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

gaming show. An avid gamer, Geeks get goose bumps whenever they hear her name: Belmont is also co-host of The Sword and Laser, a science Veronica Belmont ’04, the fiction and fantasy podcast one-woman tech wonder. and community. As one of the most visible Belmont, who studied technology reporters on the audio production and new web with 1.6 million Twitter media at Emerson, moved to followers and a long list of San Francisco upon graduation. impressive credentials, Belmont is a sought-after “From the tech side, Emerson technology and gaming pundit. helped me feel very prepared going into the workforce,” She co-hosts the popular Tekzilla, an online news she said. and technology video show on She quickly landed a job Revision3, and Game On! at CNET, where she worked (TWiT Network), a weekly on shows Buzz Out Loud and MP3 Insider. Next, she hosted the eclectic video show Mahalo Daily, which was named one of the top new podcasts in 2008 on iTunes. Soon, her calendar was filled with appearances, interviews, and videocasts. Social media is a critical aspect of her work: “It’s my

main way of interacting with my readers and viewers of my shows. I can take the pulse of the immediate reactions to the things we produce. It also allows our program to have instant reactions to news.” Right now, Belmont is intrigued by Google+. “With Twitter, you post something, but comments get lost in the timeline. With Google+, you never lose that audience feedback.”

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f a c u l t y

Castañeda researches transgender issues Claudia Castañeda, scholarin-residence in Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, presented a paper, “Infantilization: Fashioning Transgender Childhood,” at the Center for Fashion Studies’ “Fashioning Childhood” Conference at the University of Stockholm, Sweden. She also attended Gender Spectrum’s Family Conference in Berkeley, California, as part of her research on transgender childhood. Gender Spectrum supports families with gender-variant children. Romanska wins Polish studies prize Magda Romanska, assistant professor of performing arts, won the 2011 Aquila Polonica Prize, given to the author of the best article written in English during the previous two years on any aspect of Polish studies. The winner is selected by a threeperson committee with one representative each from the social sciences, literature/culture, and history. The award is announced during the Polish Studies Association meeting at the National Convention of the Association for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies.

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VMA filmmaker examines Haiti after earthquake Theodore “Regge” Life, an independent producer and director of awardwinning documentaries about people’s cultural experiences in places such as Japan and Africa, is a distinguished director-in-residence in the Department of Visual and Media Arts. Reason to Hope, Life’s latest documentary, recounts the experiences of CBS correspondent Bill Whitaker and producer Erin Lyall George living and reporting in Haiti for a month after the 2010 earthquake. Whitaker and George stayed in Haiti longer than other network journalists to cover the aftermath of the earthquake, and consequently witnessed more than what was generally depicted in the media. Reason to Hope won Best Film/ Video at the 26th International Black Film Festival in Berlin. Life came to Emerson last fall after teaching at Howard University for several years.

Robins teaches media workshops worldwide Melinda Robins, an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, conducted a two-week workshop on media research methods for academics and professional journalists at the Media Development Center at Birzeit University, Ramallah, West Bank. Robins has extensive international media experience. She has served as a media consultant for the Jamaican government; has been a Fulbright Scholar in Uganda and India; and has conducted workshops in Senegal, Tanzania, Tonga, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Her research interests include media globalization, media in developing countries, issues of representation, and gender. Krasner, of Performing Arts, publishes books on acting Associate Professor of Performing Arts David Krasner has published An Actor’s Craft: The Art and Technique of Acting (Palgrave Macmillan) and A History of Modern Drama, Part 1 (Blackwell). He is a nationally recognized teacher of the Method and Stanislavsky acting techniques. Krasner has also written or edited books on dramatic literature, African American theater history, and dramatic theory and criticism.

Tobin wins Massachusetts Book Award

Gibson introduces his book on South African tour Nigel Gibson, director of the Honors Program, was a keynote speaker at the “Reading The Wretched 50 Years Later” conference at the Universita Studi di Napoli L’Orientale, and from there he toured South Africa with his new book Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Biko to Abahlali. The tour began in Johannesburg with two talks at the University of Johannesburg, two at the University of the Witwatersrand, and a public meeting at the popular Jo’burg bookstore Boekehius. Among his other stops, in Durban, Gibson was welcomed at the Abahlali baseMjondolo general meeting and visited a number of shack settlements. He also met with the Bishop of Natal (who had been the deputy president of the South African Student Organization when Steve Biko was president in 1969) and with S’bu Zikode, the president of the shack dwellers’ organization Abahlali baseMjondolo. Murray wins NIH grant Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders Amy Vashlishan Murray was awarded a grant from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health to create a genetic resource for assaying neuropeptide function in vivo. Vashlishan is a molecular biologist with research and teaching interests at the intersection of genetics, neurobiology, and public understanding of science.

Filmmaker Todd awarded $15k grant Visual and Media Arts Associate Professor Robert Todd was one of six local artists awarded a Brother Thomas Fellowship from the Boston Foundation. The award is a $15,000, no-strings-attached grant given to accomplished artists. Todd is a filmmaker who has “produced a steady stream of short films that refuse to be categorized,” according to the Boston Foundation. His work has been screened internationally and has received a number of awards. Todd never storyboards; rather he creates his films from a library of footage, almost all of which he has shot himself. “I shoot it in response to what’s in front of me,” he said. “I put myself in a location where I might get something, but I don’t know what.” Binkley to publish in three journals Sam Binkley, associate professor of sociology, has had three articles accepted for publication: “The Government of Intimacy: Satiation, Intensification and the Space of Emotional Reciprocity” will appear in the journal Rethinking Marxism; “Happiness and the Program of Neoliberal Governmentality” is appearing in Subjectivity; and “Psychological Life as Enterprise: Social Practice and the Government of Neoliberal Interiority” was published in the July 2011 issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences. Binkley’s second book, Happiness as Enterprise: An Essay on Neoliberal Life, will be published by SUNY Press this year.

Interim Dean of the School of the Arts and Professor Daniel Tobin won the 2011 Massachusetts Book Award in poetry for his collection Belated Heavens (Four Way). Tobin’s book, along with the other Massachusetts Book Award winners, was formally presented to the State Library at the annual meeting of the Massachusetts Center for the Book in the fall at the Massachusetts State House. Tobin read three poems from his book at the ceremony. Belated Heavens is Tobin’s fifth collection of poetry. It spans prehistory to modern Manhattan, Neanderthals “cowering in caves” to a man snoring in Penn Station as if he’s “swallowed an espresso machine.”

Miller publishes books on steampunk, zombies, sci-fi TV Cynthia Miller, an adjunct faculty member in Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinary Studies, is the editor of the forthcoming Too Bold for the Box Office: A Study in Mockumentary (Wayne State University Press). She has also received contracts for two new books: Undead in the West: Vampires, Zombies, Mummies and Ghosts on the Cinematic Frontier (Scarecrow Press) and Cadets, Rangers and Junior Spacemen: Televised “Rocketmen” Serials of the 1950s and Their Fans (Palgrave Macmillan), which will both be published in the fall.

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people When Todd Strauss-

Meet Todd StraussSchulson ’03, the young director who helmed the latest Harold & Kumar flick

Schulson ’03 was an Emerson film student, he was obsessed with pursuing a career as a director.

From Emerson to Hollywood Gareth Reynolds ’03 (above, left) and Evan Mann ’03 appear in the newest Harold & Kumar film, which their friend Todd Strauss-Schulson ’03 (far right) directed.

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Todd Strauss-Schulson (center) on the set of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas with stars John Cho (Harold) and Kal Penn (Kumar).

He plastered his residence hall room, and the campus, with posters for his films and spent most of his nights in the Little Building working on movie projects with his friends. Today, less than a decade after his graduation, Strauss-Schulson has directed his first feature film, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (HK3), and he is still collaborating with many of the same Emersonians he worked with in the Little Building. In fact, he credits his Emerson friends with helping him land his directorial debut. “I felt like the film was a success for my whole Emerson crew because we had been working together for so long,” he said. Post-college, Strauss-Schulson and many of his classmates moved to Los Angeles, so, naturally, they continued to work together. He started his career working odd jobs to pay the bills and, whenever he could, making music videos. The first video job he got was for a Christian rock band, so he assembled “basically, a fully Emerson crew” to complete the job. After a few years, it became clear to Strauss-Schulson that directing music videos wasn’t going to land him a career in film. He decided to take a job in Bangkok working for MTV Asia for eight months, creating humorous segments for one of the most popular shows on the network. “It was a huge learning experience,” he said. “We had different cultural references and different languages, and I started to learn what is funny to people no matter what their language or culture.”

Strauss-Schulson ’03 (left) and Emerson pal David Lebensfeld ’04 (right) visited campus last fall to speak to students about their work. Lebensfeld created the special and visual effects for HK3.

Once he started working on HK3, Once he returned to Los Angeles, Strauss-Schulson made sure to get Strauss-Schulson was signed by a manager his Emerson friends involved with the film. and began working on branded web viral “It’s what we do. We all lift each other up. videos and as an in-house director for Whenever we get opportunities, we try to the Improv Comedy Club in Hollywood. get the others involved,” he explained. At the club, he had the opportunity to shoot A number of Emerson alumni worked promotional videos with several comedy on HK3 in various capacities. David legends. That experience, he said, was Lebensfeld ’04, owner of Ingenuity Engine “like a comedy school. It became very clear visual effects, and Matt Poliquin ’04, to me that the delivery of the joke was as executive producer at the company, oversaw important as the joke itself.” and produced many of the special and In addition to his jobs, Straussvisual effects. Mann and Reynolds acted in Schulson began making “visually aggressive,” humorous video shorts with his the movie and helped Strauss-Schulson punch up the script. Comic Dan Levy ’03 Emerson crew. One of those shorts, about two straight men competing to get a job as a also had an acting role. Stephen Moreau ’03 gay phone sex operator called Mano-A-Mano, worked on the movie’s press at Warner Brothers (the film’s distributor) in became an Internet sensation. The film starred Evan Mann ’03 and Gareth Reynolds New York City. “This movie has a certain look and ’03, and was produced by Strauss-Schulson feel because of Emerson and because of the and his friend, producer Ken Franchi ’03. relationships we made at Emerson,” said Its success led to Strauss-Schulson getting Strauss-Schulson. “We have over 400 visual “a big, fancy agent.” effects shots in this modestly budgeted With the agent came scripts to read, movie because my oldest friend in the meetings with movie executives, and, world [Lebensfeld] wanted to help me make eventually, opportunities to make pitches a movie and agreed to do extra work on for movies. He landed HK3 at age 29. off hours so long as I brought him Red Bull “It was shocking and euphoric,” he and hung out, just as if we were still said. “My mom and I cried, and it was in the LB.” hyper-emotional. I’d made thousands of Up next for Strauss-Schulson: things prior to getting the movie, and it was plans to grow the company he started years a lot of work to get there.” ago with Franchi called Ulterior After his friends and family received Productions. The duo has already sold a the news, they threw a big celebratory party pitch to New Line Cinema for an action for Strauss-Schulson, “but really to me comedy that takes place in Brazil. that party was for all of us, that whole group from Emerson,” he said. Allison Teixeira

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alumni news A Message from David G. Breen ’78, president of the Alumni Association


Dear Fellow Emersonians, A vibrant sense of community is palpable on campus these days. President Pelton (or Lee, as he likes to be called) has embraced and grown the established culture of collaboration among faculty, staff, and students that has Emerson buzzing. In my numerous visits to campus, the level of pride in the institution and the level of commitment to the spirit of the school has only continued to grow. Alumni connection with the students is such an important part of the overall Emerson educational experience. Did an alumnus serve as a guide or advisor to you during or after your college days? Becoming a mentor is a great way to engage with students and “give back” some of your knowledge to the next amazing group of Emerson alumni. There are many ways to share your industry knowledge with students, including signing up as a formal mentor through the Career Services Office; hosting a work site visit in Boston, Los Angeles, or New York; or serving as a guest lecturer for a class, student group, or the E3 Program (Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship). The Alumni Relations team would be happy to find you a great match. As Emerson continues to grow, we as alumni need to recognize our responsibility in supporting the Emerson “brand,” which provides a solid foundation to our professional résumés. The GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade) Council, Scholarship Fundraising, Annual Giving, and overall alumni participation are critical to this institution. Reconnect to the school; one way to do so is by attending an ArtsEmerson production, and see firsthand the cutting-edge performing arts and artists that our students are exposed to. I have served on the Alumni Association Board for six years and have been part of the growth of this great group of volunteers. We provided six scholarships for deserving students, increased awareness of the school and Association through our fundraising efforts, and created wonderful relationships with Trustees, Overseers, and the Parents Leadership Council. You could say I have an affinity for Emerson College. Do you? If you or someone you know would like to join the Alumni Board, we are accepting nominations from alumni. Contact me, come visit, reconnect. You will be blown away by the students, faculty, and energy of our wonderful school. David G. Breen ’78

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3 2, , 1

Celebrating all Classes Ending in 2’s and 7’s Anniversaries 110th Kappa Gamma Chi 110th Phi Alpha Tau 65th Berkeley Beacon 65th WECB 20th Amigos 10th Chocolate Cake City 10th Noteworthy 10th Gauge magazine

Emerson College will honor distinguished alumni Bonnie Comley, MA ‘94, Tony Award-winning producer and vice president of Stellar Productions International; Paul Santinelli ‘91, partner at North Bridge; Veronica Belmont ‘04, host of Tekzilla (Revision3), Game On! (TWiT Network), and The Sword and Laser; Jason Castriota ‘97, design director for Saab Automobile For more information 617-824-8535

Los Angeles

Los Angeles–area alumni fete president The Los Angeles African American Alumni of Emerson College hosted an intimate cocktail reception in honor of Emerson President Lee Pelton. The event brought together African American communication alumni of Emerson College.

Daphne Valerius ’06, Chrystee Pharris ’98, and Lionel Adams ’67

Brent Jennings ’74 (left), Leslie Moraes Davis ’80, Kim Swann ’81, Doug Holloway ’76, President Pelton, Eitra Kennedy ’10, Daphne Valerius ’06, Judyann Elder ’67, Marlene McCurtis ’79, and Stephen Farrier ’75

Barbara Perkins ’77 (left) and Kim Swann ’81

Wentworth holds open house John Wentworth ’81 hosted a President’s Society’s event at his home in Los Angeles in December to welcome President Pelton. The event was attended by alumni and parents who are members of the Society.

Panel explores social media Bob and Linda Gersh, P ’10, hosted a panel, “Likes, Camera, Action: How Social Media Is Changing Hollywood” at the Gersh Agency in December. More than 100 alumni attended the event, which featured experts from Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other social media/entertainment companies.

Leslie Moraes Davis ’80 (left), Nanci Isaacs ’79, Marlene McCurtis ’79, and Wendy Wheaton ’89

John Wentworth ’81, Vin Di Bona, MSSp ’66, and Lucia Cottone ‘92

President Pelton (back row, second from right) and Bob Gersh, P ’10 (back row, far right) join the panelists (from left) Doug Schwartz, Tom Henry, Erik Flannigan, Kay Madati, Omid Ashtari, Jodi Flicker, and Todd Christopher.

29 Expression Winter 2012


From left are Jill Breem ’03, Eric Hutchinson ’02, David Lebensfeld ’04, Todd Strauss-Schulson ’03, and Chad (’04) and Courtney Gessin

Alpha Pi Theta marks 65 years More than 80 Emerson alumni brothers of Alpha Pi Theta came back to campus last fall to celebrate the fraternity’s

30 Expression Winter 2012

Young director comes to campus Todd Strauss-Schulson ’03 returned to campus last fall as the successful director of A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas

65th anniversary. “Brothers from several different decades all celebrated together,” said Bruce Fowler ’82, an Alpha Pi Theta brother who helped organize the event. “We are pleased to

(see profile in this issue). WB treated the Emerson campus to a screening of the film followed by a Q&A session with StraussSchulson ’03 and David Lebensfeld ’04, owner of Ingenuity Engine, who produced many of the special effects for the movie. While on campus, Strauss-Schulson spoke to students and emphasized that he is still collaborating with many of the same Emersonians he worked with as a student.

continue our long-standing tradition as one of the most successful organizations in the Emerson community since 1946.” During their reunion weekend, the brothers hosted a career event for Emerson students called Brick by Brick: Building Emerson, Building Your Career. The fraternity gave current students a chance to socialize with, and get career tips from, brothers who work in

Todd Strauss-Schulson ’03 signed autographs during his return to campus.

television, film, radio, marketing, and other fields. Other weekend events included campus tours, an official Alpha Pi Theta meeting, and a rendition of the traditional Theta song “Lyda Rose,” sung in four-part harmony by the brothers on Boston Common. After their formal meetings, they also enjoyed a mixed reception with their sister sorority, Sigma Pi Theta (see photo at left). The sisters of Sigma Pi Theta were not celebrating a significant milestone, but they came to Boston because the fraternity was a key influencer in the founding of their sorority. About 30 sisters reunited for the weekend and raised more than $3,000 for the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk.

CSD alumni hold dinner event Alumni from the Greater Boston area gathered for the 7th annual CSD Alumni Dinner and Roundtable Discussion in November. The informal dinner provided opportunities for networking and catching up with old friends and classmates. The topic for discussion this year was the ASHA Scope of Practice and its usefulness in helping

establish boundaries of professional practice in an age where speechlanguage pathologists are asked to do more with less. Many attendees came away with new ideas, new strategies, and new connections. Topics in past years have included supervision issues, the importance of syntax, efficacy of oral-motor treatment, and pressures of the workplace.

From left are: (front row) Clara Chu, MS ’06, Melissa Dunseath Ricci, MS ’06, Angela Gao Pierce, MS ’01, Kristina Duggan, MS ’06;

(back row) Marnie Ross Weinberg, MS ’07, Melissa Zabala, MS ’05, and Sarah Putnam Budney, MS ’05.

Film producer Rudy Scalese ’93 spoke on a panel called “How I Got My First Job in L.A.” during the autumn Career Week for students. Here, he is flanked by Carol Spector (left), director of the Office of Career Services, and Anna Umbreit, assistant director of career services.

Eric Mofford ’82, producer of the documentary film Houston We Have a Problem, visited with his former Emerson film teacher Ann Carol Grossman ’76 at a screening for students and alumni in the Bright Family Screening Room in October. The film examines America’s dependence on cheap oil.


Michelle Solomon ’83

David Fonseca ’13 with his parents, Beatriz and Oscar

Jan (’69) and Jeff Greenhawt ’68 hosted a South Florida Alumni Brunch at Woodfield Country Club, where attendees welcomed President Pelton and heard a presentation by Associate Professor Martie Cook and Collin Kittredge-Smith ’12 on

the development and production of the student TV project Trending. The sitcom was developed in a course taught by TV producer and Emerson instructor Kevin Bright ’76 with a script developed in Cook’s course.

President Pelton, Collin Kittredge-Smith ’12, Jeff Greenhawt ’68, Jan Greenhawt ’69, and Associate Professor Martie Cook ’82, MFA ’99

Randy Ketive ’69, Ellen Carr ’69, President Pelton, and Susan Namm Spencer ’61

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New York Members of the BFA Performing Arts Class of 2011 appeared in the inaugural Showcase Performance at the Producers Club in New York City last fall. The audience consisted of alumni and friends working in the theater industry.

Phi Alpha Tau members, mostly from the Class of ’60, gather in New York City once or twice a year. From left are Barrett Mandel, Bob Douglas, Paul Austin, Mike Paltrowitz, Howard Schwartz, Phil Amato, and Macey Levin.

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New Emerson Alumni Online Community coming soon! Reconnect and network with fellow alumni, learn about your continued benefits as an Emerson graduate, and receive invitations to events in your area.  Register and update your account today at

32 Expression Winter 2012

Washington, D.C. From left are President Pelton, Philip Maggi ’93, Linda Gayle-Garrett ’69, Peter Loge ’87, Bill White ’69, Gibby Ries ’86, and Paul Tetreault ’84

Pelton welcomed at Ford’s Theatre Paul Tetreault ’84, executive director of historic Ford’s Theatre, hosted a reception in November to welcome Emerson President

Professor and Chair of Communication Studies Richard West (right) with students in the Washington program.

Pelton. More than 80 alumni and parents attended the reception in addition to the students from Emerson’s Washington, D.C., Program.

From left are Grace Konrad ’09, Beth Laird ’11, and Emily Hagen ’10 at the New York City gathering.

Sybil Tonkonogy, MSSp ‘58, Dies Sybil Tonkonogy, MSSp ’58, executive director of Speech First Corporation, died December 14, 2011. She lived in Newton, Massachusetts. She was a highly respected communication consultant, well-known radio personality on WNTN for more than 20 years, and a valued resource as a communication coach trainer. She had also served on Emerson’s Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Choral group remembers the late Matt Starring ’08 Noteworthy alumni in New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles gathered in their respective cities in November to celebrate the life of Matt Starring ’08 and the bond that they have—not only as an a cappella group—but as family. Starring died two years ago on November 8. “Each year, on or around

College represented at inaugurations Associate Professor Tim Edgar represented Emerson College at the inauguration of Anthony P. Monaco, the 13th president of Tufts University, on October 21, 2011.

the anniversary of his passing, we try to get together wherever we are to celebrate him,” said founding Noteworthy member Sara Phan ’04. “We call it Mattsgiving Day.” Noteworthy will celebrate its 10th reunion during Alumni Weekend 2012 and alumni and current students will be among the featured talent in the Saturday night showcase.

Theresa Romano ’57 (in photo at right) represented Emerson College at the inauguration of Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, the 12th President of Rivier College, on November 18, 2011.

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a l u m n i

Rasky honored by ADL; Goldfarb leads new marketing group at firm The Anti-Defamation League/New England honored Larry Rasky ’78 with the Abraham Joshua Heschel Interfaith Relations Award Dinner in December. The award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to social justice by improving and strengthening relations among different racial, religious, and ethnic groups. Above are (from left) Michael N. Sheetz, ADL/ NE regional chair; James L. Rudolph, chair, ADL Board of Overseers; Rasky; and Derrek L. Shulman, ADL/NE regional director. The evening focused on Rasky’s involvement with the naming of the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge in Boston. Zakim was an activist and an ADL director who worked for nearly two decades to build connections between Boston’s disparate ethnic groups. Rasky is a founder of Boston–based Rasky Baerlein

Strategic Communications, a public policy and media relations firm. He is also vice chair of Emerson’s Board of Trustees. In other news at Rasky Baerlein, Sandra Goldfarb ’78 will lead the firm’s newly created nonprofit, consumer, arts, and entertainment group. Goldfarb joined Rasky Baerlein in 2008 as a vice president working with the firm’s nonprofit, academic, consumer, and energy and environment practice groups. Goldfarb designs and implements strategies that integrate media, community and public relations, and marketing communications for her clients, including the Museum of Science, MooBella Inc., ArtsBoston, the Greater Boston Food Bank, and Lasell College. Her expanded role will include management and growth of the nonprofit, consumer, arts, and entertainment practice areas. She is a member of a number of trustee advisory committees at Emerson.

Grilled cheese is key to success James DiSabatino ’09, whose Roxy’s Grilled Cheese food truck was featured on the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race, participated in E3 (Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship) while at Emerson. Today he is a successful entrepreneur. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese has garnered devoted grilled cheese customers in Boston and surrounding areas since it was rolled out in March 2011. DiSabatino appeared on the Food Network program with his partners, brother Mike and chef Marc Melanson.

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Alumni win Caucus awards in TV, film Emerson Trustee, executive-artistin-residence, and alumnus Kevin Bright ’76 and recent graduate Matthew Hashiguchi, MFA ’11, were among those honored at last fall’s 29th Annual Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors Awards Dinner in Beverly Hills. Bright, who won the Chair’s Award, was the executive producer of the hugely successful TV series Friends. He also directed a number of episodes of the spinoff sitcom Joey, including the series finale. He returned to Boston in 2006 to teach television production classes at Emerson. He has also developed several community TV and film programs, including one to help visually impaired youth use the medium of video. Hashiguchi

Filmmakers create viral sports-fan video Christian Wisecarver ’00 (above, left) and Billy Donohoe ’00 (right) created an original rap video called “Titletown” that attracted thousands of YouTube views upon its release. The 4-minute film is a humorous tribute to New England sports teams and includes cameos by Boston sports legends and current players, including Ray Bourque, Johnny Pesky, Milan Lucic, Mike Eruzione, Zdeno Chara, and Steve Grogan. Wisecarver and Donohue, who work under the rubric of the Super Secret Project, also created 2010’s Jay-Z spoof “Granite State of Mind,” which has attracted 2 million-plus views.

Steve Cohn Photography

won second prize in the student film category for his film The Lower 9, about the area of New Orleans devastated by Hurricane Katrina, which has still not recovered. His prize was a $20,000 postproduction package. Current graduate student Elaine McMillion co-directed and co-produced The Lower 9 with Hashiguchi.

Above: Lionel Chetwynd (left) and Vin Di Bona ’66 join Kevin Bright ’76, who won the Chair’s Award at the Annual Caucus for Producers, Writers, and Directors Awards dinner. Left: Matthew Hashiguchi, MFA ’11 (center), won second prize in the student film category.

Dionne pens young adult novel about marching band Erin Dionne ’99 has written a new young adult novel, Notes from an Accidental Band Geek (Penguin Young Readers), about a young girl following in her family’s footsteps but marching to the beat of her own drum. Kirkus Reviews wrote of the novel, “Marching-band kids everywhere will enjoy this believable celebration of a life-changing, musical rite of passage.” Dionne is also the author of The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet (Dial) and Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies (Dial).

Car designer Castriota included on creative businesspeople list Saab Design Director Jason Castriota ’97 has been named one of Fast Company magazine’s 100 Most Creative People in Business. “I am incredibly honored to be selected by Fast Company,” said Castriota. “To be included with such an impressive list of professionals encompassing technology, entertainment, design, and education signifies the breadth and depth that creativity carries to all facets of our lives.” At Saab, Castriota is overseeing the design of the next-generation Saab 9-3, which will mark a return to a hatchback design and some of the brand’s classic design influences.

Wunder earns raves for her first young adult novel Wendy Wunder, MFA ’00, has published a young adult novel, The Probability of Miracles, which is attracting a surplus of positive reviews. It also earned a starred review in Kirkus (“beautiful”). The book tells the story of a teenager named Cam who has spent most of her life fighting a terminal illness. At the start of the book, her doctors tell her she is going to need nothing short of a miracle if she’s going to survive beyond the summer. So, she sets off to make some miracles come true.

Sales wins Emmy for visual effects Brian Sales ’91 won an Emmy for Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series for his work on Boardwalk Empire (pilot). He works at Crazy Horse Effects in Los Angeles.

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class notes 1950 Nanette Andre Clark belongs to Hampshire Emergency Animal Response Team (HEART) and has been deployed three times to help companion animals (for the Springfield, Massachusetts, tornado and other emergencies).

1960 Bernie Sweet pays tribute to his former wife, the late Ruth Sweet ’61, MA ’70, who was an acting teacher in Nashville for nearly 30 years. Ruth trained more than 4,000 acting students, celebrities, and numerous others. She died in August 1998.


Ralph is premiering a brand-new comedy as a dinner theater production at a county airport, of all places, which might lead to the formation of a resident company.

1969 Glenn Alterman’s play After was published in The Best Ten-Minute Plays of 2011, and Second Tiers will appear in The Best 10-Minute Plays of 2012, which won Best Play at the After Folsom Play festival. Glenn’s play The Sealing of Ceil won the prestigious Arts and Letters Award in Drama. He is working on his 24th book, Writing the 10-Minute Play (2013) and is appearing in several national commercials.

Steve Bluestein, comedian and playwright, has published a collection of short stories and essays about his insane life called It’s So Hard to Type With a Gun in My Mouth. The memoir recounts his years on the road and life in general. It’s a steal at $8.99, he says.


Richard “Ricardo” Levy created a new social interactive game, Coffee Talk. Read about it at

Bruce Angeli accepted the position of vice president for advertising sales at RevShare TV. The company is the largest performance-based direct response TV network in North America. While Bruce is based in New York City, RevShare is headquartered in Southern California.

Ralph Maffongelli and his wife, Alice, became grandparents for the first time, to a beautiful girl, Anna Marie Christopher, in September. Though retired,

Jerry Posner has published his second book, Eternal Cosmic Wisdom at Bargain Basement Prices. Jerry is a speaker, author, and motivational entertainer.


Martin Friedman writes, “After being introduced to Stephen Sondheim by Leo Nickole in 1973, I have directed nine different Sondheim musicals, and now will direct Anyone Can Whistle in February 2012.” Martin is a theater instructor at John Carroll University and Baldwin Wallace College.

1977 35th Reunion Michele H. Ciment’s mother, Leocadia Sondej Haracz, passed away in October in Norton, Massachusetts. Lee was 91 and is survived by three children, six grandchildren, and two greatgranddaughters. Lee was a strong supporter of Emerson College during the ’70s. William Klayer writes, “A movie I shot had its world premiere at Sundance 2012.”

1978 Sandy Goldfarb is head of the newly created nonprofit, consumer, arts and entertainment group at Rasky Baerlein in Boston. Conrad Smith, COO of the Minnesota Lynx, celebrated the WNBA Championship when the Lynx defeated the Atlanta Dream in October. This was Conrad’s second pro sports championship, as he was vice president of sponsorship sales with Major League Baseball’s 1991 World Champions, the Minnesota Twins.

1979 Bob McHenry ’83, who graduated with a degree in Mass Communication, died November 28, 2011. He worked as an independent television producer and director in the Boston area. He was also the co-owner of the Atlantic Entertainment Company. A friend says of Bob: “He was a spark to all those around him. His imagination was astonishing, his loyalty unquestionable.”

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Nora Cassar graduated with her master’s degree in art therapy and counseling from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

1981 Judy Mitchell has been named vice president, affiliate marketing & co-op, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, where she will be responsible for the supervision, organization, and communication of local

Tobias Baharian ’95 announces the birth of his second future Emersonian, Abagail Calderon Baharian, on January 2, 2011. “She joins her older sister Nicole in being immersed in the world of cameras and editing by her father Tobias, who can’t wait to send them to Emerson even though mother Jennifer patiently prays for them to go to medical school.”

station marketing, media, and promotion strategies internally and with affiliates. She will work closely with the sales department and WBDTD/Telepictures’s marketing teams to optimize station performance and enhance the effectiveness of show promotion on a local level. Iva Newton Peele, producer and director at Picaflor Productions, is writing and directing a film about the Q’ero people of Peru, along with Beth Bornstein Dunnington. The film follows a New York family as they travel to the high Andes to study never-before-filmed ceremonies of Incan descendants and bring their findings back to the industrialized world.

1982 30th Reunion Sheryl Kaller, who was Tonynominated for her direction of the dramatic comedy Next Fall on Broadway, also directed it at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.

1983 Ted Canova has been named executive editor for 89.7 WGBH, Boston Public Radio. Paul Marte is communications manager at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. Shirley Terrill Holdman has published the second book in the series The Adventures of Giggles and Owen: A True Story. The series follows what happened while Shirley was producer for Canine Capers on Billerica (Massachusetts) Access TV. She has donated the manuscripts for this five-book series to the Billerica Adventure Series Corporation.

1984 Thomas Lockie is director of photography with Freediving Film Group in Los Angeles. Joe Toto is the lead event producer for his new company He’s looking to collaborate with newly graduated Emersonians in Boston who would like to share in the fun and excitement of the world of special events from lighting to decor. Reach Joe on Facebook at Groove MYEvent.

1985 Jonathan Burkhart is producer of a new movie Peace, Love, & Misunderstanding, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. It is directed by Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies) and stars Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Jonathan also produced Higher Ground, directed by and starring Vera Farmiga.

1987 25th Reunion John Jones is in his third season with the NFL Network as a DGA stage manager at the Culver City studio. John writes, “My wife, Carolyn Freyer-Jones ’88, has a very successful life-coaching practice and our three-year-old daughter, Lucinda Piper, seems to have a flair for drama.” Thomas Kilgallon is a credentialed trainer at Sharon Stone Smith is the first executive director of the new Sacramento Children’s Museum.

in memoriam 1933 1946 1953 1954 1958 1958 1962 1970 1970 1972 1983 1983 1989 1989 1998 2004

Clarice (Penney) Walker Louise Marie (DeCaprio) Bradtke Kenneth Albridge Priscilla Mullin Luebbers Gerald Lennick Sybil Tonkonogy John Lingley Phyllis J. Mitchell Ann (Findlay) Williams Richard Earl Hilton Judy Nobel Jakups Robert F. McHenry Julia Anderson Robert W. Riley Brian Supler, MA Brian Paul McKee, MFA



Christine (Golden) Johnston is proud to announce another Emersonian in the family. Her son James is part of the Class of 2015. “After touring Emerson, it was his only choice. I can’t wait for him to experience all that Emerson has to offer.”

Barbara Layman-Prusak’s feature article “It Was All Started by a Mouse” won first place in the 80th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition (2011). Barbara is a freelance writer and regular contributor to several Disney magazines and has published two educational picture books featuring Winnie the Pooh characters.

1989 Jerry Parisella finished a tour of duty as a judge advocate (Army lawyer) in Iraq. Jerry is an Army reservist and deployed as a legal advisor with the 804th Medical Brigade, based in Devens, Massachusetts. In the civilian world, Jerry represents the 6th Essex District in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and is an attorney in Beverly.

Joel Schwartzberg is director of digital strategy and communications at Moyers & Company/ in New York. Joel writes, “I’m thrilled to oversee the digital presence of Bill Moyers’s new TV show, Moyers & Company, and the launch of Bill is a journalistic genius.”

1991 Jean Harper, MFA ’91, was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (prose, 2012).

1992 20th Reunion Elizabeth Ahl’s chapbook Luck (Pecan Grove Press, 2010) won the “Reader’s Choice” award in the poetry category at the 2011 New Hampshire Literary Awards. John “Jack” Dean has been promoted to community banking officer and manager of the Framingham, Massachusetts, branch of Middlesex Savings Bank. Todd Lubitsch will be seen briefly in a TBS comedy, The Wedding Band, this summer. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Melissa, and son, Milo, who was born in July 2010.

1993 Bill Burr received the Boston Comedy Festival’s prestigious “Comedian of the Year” Award. The Boston native first gained notice for his recurring role on the second season of Chappelle’s Show and Bill has gone on to become a regular performer on the Late Show with David Letterman and to have his own HBO special. Diane Sylvester was awarded an NEH grant for a documentary project about jazz and Cuba titled Oye Cuba!

Beth Franco ’97 married Dan Homeijer on September 25, 2011, at Arista Winery in Sonoma, California. Beth is a senior account executive at Marleah Leslie & Associates PR in Los Angeles. Dan is a mental health counselor. The bridal party consisted of Cherilyn Hayres Fox, Tiffany Walker, and Stacey Kahn, all Class of 1997 members.

Timothy Barney ’02 finished his PhD in communication at the University of Maryland, College Park. He has since taken a tenuretrack assistant professor position at the University of Richmond. Tim’s research has been published in venues such as Quarterly Journal of Speech, Rhetoric & Public Affairs, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies. His wife, Elinor Frisa ’02, is a production editor for Currents, a magazine for higher education professionals.

1994 Caitlin McCarthy, MFA ’94, wrote a feature screenplay, Resistance, that is heading into production with Populus Pictures and UK director Si Wall. It is expected to start shooting in 2012 with an A-list cast, says Caitlin.

1995 Erica Forrette is the online marketing manager at Hot Topic Inc.

Stephanie Young ’01 and Tim Workman were married March 21, 2011, in Negril, Jamaica. They live in Exeter, New Hampshire. Stephanie and Tim were married in a private ceremony under a palm tree.

1998 Danielle Ledesma married Noam Gretz in New York City on October 2, 2011. They were surrounded by close friends and family as they shared their lifetime vows. The couple and their 9-year-old daughter, Hannah, will continue to reside on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Joya Reusch Weinroth is a staff producer for KTTV/Fox Television.

2000 Kristen Kearns is an executive producer at Element Productions in Boston. William Neidlinger has been multimedia producer at State Street Global Advisors for the past 11 years. William also spent the last year providing communication support and strategy to a nonprofit that provides secondary education to youth in Uganda. This past summer, he scored a short film

by Eric Shapiro ’00 and Rhoda Jordan ’00 called Mail Order, based on a short story by Jack Ketchum ’68. William is the lead singer and songwriter in Boston band Modern Stereo.

2001 Amanda (Langlinais) Pepper’s short play Warm Bodies was named a semi-finalist in Valley Repertory Company’s 3rd Annual LabWorks and was produced in Enfield, Connecticut. It’s also slated to be produced as part of a directors workshop at Sam Bass Community Theatre in Round Rock, Texas, in May.

2002 10th Reunion Jason Grossman writes, “I co-produced the Broadway production of The Pee-wee Herman Show (which played a limited engagement at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre November 2010 to January 2011). In addition, I produced the West End production of Lend Me a Tenor: The Musical (which opened at the Gielgud Theatre in London on June 15, 2011). My production company is Radio Mouse Entertainment.”

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Scott Rutherford is director of marketing and communications at UC Irvine Extension, where he will direct efforts to promote more than 55 certificate and specialized study programs.

story of four brothers who have left their native Northeast and converge in Los Angeles just after WWII ends.

Paul Solet was tapped to direct the new horror flick The Faces, produced by Aaron Ryder ’94.

Erin Flaherty is coordinator of events and special projects at Morgan Memorial Goodwill in Boston.

Eric Wasserman, MFA ’02, released his first novel, Celluloid Strangers, published by Cut Above Books. The book tells the

Kaelyn Parlin ’06 married Brian Stieg in the Boston Public Garden on September 17, 2011. Sara Nasshan ‘06 was maid of honor and Jon D’Ambrosio ‘06, Laura Leonard ‘06, and Brian Schaus ‘06 were guests. Kaelyn and Brian enjoyed a honeymoon in London.

2003 Bryan Rosengrant is the lighting designer on tour with Yesterday & Today, an interactive Beatles Experience. Bryan is a master electrician at Georgia Ensemble Theatre.

Britta Franson is an account supervisor with Formula PR in Los Angeles. Wanjiru Mary Njendu was interviewed for the African Women in Cinema Blog, where she talks about her work with Women in Film and her new film Look Again.

What was your department called? Over the years, a number of Emerson’s academic departments have changed names. To help you find your field, please consult the directory below. Communication Sciences and Disorders


Communication Disorders Speech Pathology and Audiology Speech and Hearing Therapy

1972–1996 1957–1972 1951–1957

Communication Studies


Speech and Communication Studies Speech

1971–1982 1938–1970

Marketing Communication Mass Communication


Performing Arts



Drama 1933–1955 Dramatic Art 1969–1980 Theater Arts 1955–1969 1980–1986 Visual and Media Arts


Humanities Fine Arts


Writing, Literature and Publishing


Creative Writing and Literature English

1983–1984 1933–1983

Crystal Powell “had an amazing 2011. In July, I scored a dream job working for Etsy. In August, I bought my first home. In October, I adopted a long-awaited puppy named Emmett. But the highlight of the year came on Halloween, when I married Michael Capritta in a small ceremony in Upstate New York surrounded by friends and family.”

2004 Joanna Chan is a video encoding specialist at Netflix in San Francisco. Deron W. Cluff co-founded and launched A Free Music Platform for musicians and producers to sell their music directly to fans. Matthew Harker has expanded upon his experience in Los Angeles to form a full-service private chef and event design company. Asterios Kokkinos is a recurring sketch performer on Fuel TV’s late night talk show The Daily Habit. Christine Morissette is a grants associate at Silicon Valley Community Foundation in San Francisco. Patrick Rooney is director of development, principal and major gifts, Harvard Medical School.

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Mark Simpson is news director at NPR affiliate WMFE-FM in Orlando, Florida. He continues hosting a weekly interview program Intersection on WMFE and reporting for the national journalism project

2005 Dariel Cohn married Erin “Syd” Sidney ’04. Dariel is vice president of international sales and marketing for Athena Cosmetics in Ventura, California. She travels worldwide for the company’s product launches and marketing campaigns. Syd finished another acclaimed countrywide tour with his band Hotels and Highways, who performed live on WERS in October 2011. Syd will be co-producing a new album for Australia’s Mia Dyson. Dariel is the granddaughter of Stuart Tower ’51.

Johnna Marcus works as a private caregiver for a woman who has non-fluent aphasia. Johnna writes, “I am learning all about melodic intonation therapies and day-to-day living with the effects of a stroke. It is such a challenging yet rewarding experience. I am planning to apply to graduate school for speech-language pathology with a focus on the adult post-trauma population. I hope my classmates are finding fulfilling work in their fields as well.” Meg Pinsonneault completed a short film, a period thriller called Feast of the Foolish, a unique tale about a Depression-era outlaw lost in the desert who seeks answers about his future from a Dark Enchantress, but it is his past he should be worried about. Iliza Shlesinger, after winning NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2008 and having her own Comedy Central Presents special in 2009, is hosting CBS’s comedy dating show Excused.

2006 Elizabeth Bates is a graduate student at the A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard, MFA Acting Class of 2013. Bryan Bossard is a production coordinator at Disney/ABC in Burbank.

AJ Henning is assistant director at the Multimedia Arts & Design Academy in Santa Barbara, California.

Chelsea Holmes and Adam Riccio ’06 were married this past July 4 at Kasteel Well, where they met in 2003.

Jessica A. Kent writes, “My recent publications include short stories and articles in Boston Literary Magazine, Corkboard Literary, Relevant Magazine, Coq & Bull Literary, and Barnes & Noble Inside. I’m also still working on The Novel.”

Elaine Kornbau Howley was featured in the “That’s the Spirit” column of the November/ December issue of Fitness magazine for her charitable work and open water swimming accomplishments.

Alison Thompson, MA ’04, is vice president at Solomon McCown, a Boston-based public relations firm.

Nicole Trifiro ’07 and Alex DiCicco ‘08 were married August 27, 2011, in Connecticut, where they live and work. Scott Amico ‘08 was a groomsman. Other alumni in attendance included Carissa Marlowe, Jennifer Churchill Riopel, and Amanda Barnett (all Class of ’07). Alex works as an associate studio operator in production operations at ESPN; Nicole works in transcription for VSI Media on television programs such as Hoarders and Real Housewives of New Jersey.

Billie Larson ’07 and Scott Shipley ’04 were married in September 2011 at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont surrounded by Emerson College friends. From left are: Patrick Rooney ’04, JP Sarro ’05, Samantha Finken ’06, Nicole Witkov-Rooney ’03, Scott Shipley ’04, Billie Larson Shipley ’07, Eileen McSweeney ’07, Melissa Parent ’07, Heather Sand ’07, Ashley Aruda ’07, and Melissa Bazillion ’07.

Rachel Pearson, MA ’06, was named associate director of alumni relations at Emerson College. Prior to joining the team, Rachel served as a donor relations events officer and an assistant director of principal and major gifts at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for more than five years. She writes, “As a graduate school alumna and scholarship recipient, I am honored and excited to contribute to the Emerson College community and to build new and positive relationships with fellow alumni.” Emma Putnam is a graduate student at Boston University Metropolitan College for Arts Administration.

2007 5th Reunion Susan Anderson, MA ’07, joined the 451 Marketing team in Boston as a social media marketing specialist. Sean Armstrong wrote the screenplay for A Country of Strangers, a film about the real-life Beaumont Children kidnapping. The film took First Place at the Colorado Film Festival. Walter Blazewicz writes, “I am a video editor working at Powderhouse Productions on the Must Love Cats television series for Animal Planet. As a busy freelancer, I welcome projects in the documentary, education, and environmental fields.” Laura Bakaysa ’07 and Mike Morphy were married August 26, 2011, in Wells, Maine. They live in Memphis, Tennessee, but are working on relocating back to Massachusetts. Their honeymoon was in Negril, Jamaica.

Alia Hamada married Jake Forrest at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center on October 22, 2011. Jeff Luker photographed Levi’s “Go Forth” global advertising campaign. Lauren MacLeod and Daniel “Dante” Bua Jr. ’08 were married in Las Vegas in April 2011. They live in Boston. Lauren is a literary agent with The Strothman Agency and Danny is a private events chef at L’Andana. 
 Rachel Miller is back at Emerson pursuing a master’s degree in health communication. She works at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Elizabeth Overlan is a senior account executive with the Abernathy MacGregor Group in Los Angeles. Shaquanna Philip is a project manager at Digitas Health. Andrew Rostan has released his debut novel, An Elegy for Amelia Johnson. Published by Archaia Comics under editor-in-chief Stephen Christy ’07 and editor

Chris Robinson, Elegy is a romantic graphic novel written in collaboration with artists Dave Valeza and Kate Kasenow. Pablo Velez Jr. assisted the Farrelly Bros. on the set of The Three Stooges and will continue to work on the film as a postproduction assistant. Kristina Williams is engaged to John Cannon and is the associate director of admissions communications at Unity College in Unity. A September wedding is planned.

Amy Coombs ’07 and Michael Blaisdell ’07 were married September 4, 2011, in Windham, New Hampshire. Michael writes, “While we both live in Los Angeles, we traveled back East to be with our family and Emerson friends.”

2008 Danielle Bemis is the central and crowds production supervisor on The Croods, a new computeranimated film from DreamWorks Animation. Evan Crean met and interviewed Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen for their films Moneyball and 50/50. Evan also interviewed horror master Wes Craven for his DVD release of Scream 4. Thom Dunn completed a playwriting fellowship to workshop his new play, True Believers, at the Berkshire Fringe Festival. His short comic book story “Not Dead Yet” will be included as a part of The Gathering Comics’ Science Fiction anthology. Thom is the web and new media manager at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston. Camille Harris’s honors thesis, the musical Muffin Man, has been published by Samuel French Inc. after a sold-out run in the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival and the FringeNYC Encore Series. It is available for production around the world.

Susan Jackson is associate editor of the Harvard Business Review. Lucinda Kavazanjian is a graduate student in USC’s Rossier School of Education’s marriage and family therapy program. Summer Land released the eBook, Fried Chicken for the Drunk Girl’s Soul, a collection of short stories to inspire people to find a little humor at their own expense. It can be downloaded for free at Emily Belyea ’08 and Molly Somers ’09 helped Summer create her branding, website, and eBook. Joshua Milowe was interviewed for Renewal: A Journal for Waldorf Education. Joshua works in New York City with a design firm and two clothing companies. Shannon Murphy is a national account manager at Antler Agency in Boston.

Heath Tavrides is an account manager with GSD&M in Austin, Texas.

2009 Farah Fard works in the audio department at Seven45 Studios in Boston. Farah recently was employed at Vital Source Media (formerly VPG Integrated Media) as associate producer. Jim Foley is the sports director at KNDU-TV in Kennewick, Washington. Lori Gottlieb is casting associate for the Mike & Molly show on CBS. Lori has been working for the Valko-Miller Casting Agency since her graduation. Jerreta Hartfield, MA ’09, is a health communications specialist at Health Dialog in Boston. Previously, Jerreta was an operations manager at NeoStem Inc. in Cambridge. Grace Konrad has been promoted to copy supervisor/senior copywriter at Ralph Lauren.

39 Expression Winter 2012

Robert Krauss is a video encoder at AOL-Huffington Post Media Group. Andy Laub co-founded the adventure nonprofit after more than 5,000 miles of trekking in America’s most rugged backcountry. The company provides a base for adventurers of all types to share their stories, make connections with their featured sponsors, and partner with already existing charities. Andy’s nonprofit was awarded the 2011 Mountain Hardwear Expedition Grant. The grant funded the filming of a documentary from his recent hiking trip from Mexico to Canada along the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail.

2010 Jessie Baxter is the literary director at Fresh Ink Theatre Company in Boston. Shannon K. Felton is account coordinator (news, politics, business, and crisis) at Regan Communications Group in Boston. Adam Goldberg’s play Sidekickin’ It (originally produced at Emerson) was performed in Pakenham, VIC, Australia. The original performance is online at

Maria Rios Sandoval is the music programming coordinator at Sirius XM in Washington, D.C.

Ben Grossman is a digital strategist at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global brand experience agency that is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. Ben is returning to Boston after having worked as a communications strategist at Oxford Communications in New York City and Philadelphia.

Jessica M. Vidinha’s first children’s picture book, Starlight, has been released.

Ryan MacKenzie is a financial staffing specialist at Professional Staffing Group in Boston.

Tamika LeRay is a clinical fellow in speech-language pathology in the Boston Public Schools.

Erika Wise ’08 married Matthew Borland on October 15, 2011, in Sarasota, Florida. Erika is the marketing communications manager for Take Care Private Duty Home Health Care in Sarasota. The couple honeymooned in Montreal and Quebec City.

Tom Nevels is the technical director at Durham School of the Arts in Durham, North Carolina.


Andrea Drygas ’08 married Joe Martucci on August 27, 2011, in Newark, Vermont. From left are: Shivani Mehra ’09, Justin DeMarco ’09, Joe Martucci, Andrea Drygas Martucci ’08, Faye Brennan ’09, Nick Munyan ’09, Robin Lewis ’09, and Kristen Berke ’09.

Nick Coit is the sports anchorreporter at WABI in Bangor, Maine. Previously, Coit was a sports producer with WFXT in Boston. Jared Taylor is a programming coordinator at Disney Channel in Burbank.

Submitting Class Notes

Expression magazine at Emerson College welcomes alumni news: promotions, career changes, marriages, births, volunteer work, and other news.

CORRECTION: In the last issue of Expression, we misstated the name of the project the following alumni are involved in: Emerson alumni working on the feature film

40 Expression Winter 2012

Ted, directed by Seth MacFarlane and starring Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis, join director Seth MacFarlane (seated): (front row) Jake Dow ’12, Kelly Cronin ’96, Zack Schultz ’06; (back row) Jason Fyrberg ’06, Joe Christofori ’89, Dean Egan ’09. Not pictured are Ryan Cook ’09, Tim Ladue ’00, Billy Peloquin ’10, Mike Kennedy ’09, Derek Desmond ’09, and Conrad Radzik ’14.

Class Notes are printed on a space-available basis. For publication purposes, photos must be high resolution (300 dpi is ideal). In general, a larger file is better than a smaller file. How to submit class notes and photos Email: Online: U.S. Mail: Class Notes, Emerson College, Office of Alumni Relations, 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116-4624

G i f t s t h a t M a t t e r Theater has always been an enormous part of Hattie Kittner’s life, so when it came time to choose a college, Emerson was at the top of the list. Once here, she pursued a degree in theater education. After graduation, she worked both onstage in various productions and in management on Broadway’s Les Misérables, Phantom of the Opera, and Miss Saigon. She quickly realized that theater management was her greatest passion. Today, as general manager for the past 13 years of the acclaimed Goodspeed Musicals in Connecticut, Kittner

oversees the production of established musicals at the Goodspeed Opera House as well as the development of new shows at the Norma Terris Theatre. Goodspeed has won two Special Tony Awards, and 19 Goodspeed productions have moved to Broadway, receiving more than a dozen Tony Awards. In 2002, Kittner decided to give back to Emerson, so she created the Performing Arts Scholarship Fund at the College, which provides financial aid to those studying the performing arts.

Harriett (Hattie) Kittner ’77

Leo Nickole, Al Corona, and Harry Morgan were among the Emersonians who provided me with so many different kinds of support systems.

What do you enjoy about your career? The art of the deal, the negotiation, the things I do as general manager of Goodspeed Musicals with a whole cross-section of people. I work with a team of extraordinarily talented people and we do great work. All of this is possible due to my education at Emerson. Have you been back to campus lately? Yes, and it blows my mind how much the College has grown! You can help support scholarships, an academic department, or any area of Emerson College by making a gift today at or by contacting Danielle Reddy, director of leadership giving, 617- 824-8543.

Diane Sobolewski

How did Emerson help you find a career you love? Emerson enabled me to customize my education. That was such a gift. Emerson also helped me find my voice and develop my confidence. The College gives you an opportunity to make a bridge to becoming a young adult, and the professional you want to be. To live in Boston for four years—what’s not to love?

120 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02116-4624

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Burlington, VT 05401 Permit Number 4

Lauren Foley ’13

Just a sprinkling Students frolic on Boston Common in a rather rare Winter 2012 snowstorm.

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