Georgetown Magazine Fall 2020

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Alumni share stories of resilience, transformation, and generosity from this unprecedented year.

12 WEATHERING THE STORM Why did COVID-19 hit so hard and so fast? What might the future hold?


Meet a few of the many essential workers who ensure that the campus operates smoothly during the pandemic.


The world lost Coach John Thompson Jr. in August, but Georgetown will remember his impact for years to come. 28 NEWS 42 LIVES WELL LIVED 44 THE LAST WORD

Cover Photo: Phil Humnicky




Office of Advancement R. Bartley Moore (SFS’87) Vice President for Advancement Amy Levin Associate Vice President for Communications Georgetown Magazine Staff Jeffrey Donahoe, Editor Elisa Morsch (SCS’20), Creative Director

FROM THE EDITOR We were first thinking about framing the content for this issue of Georgetown Magazine around the global health emergency that continues to rock health, economic, and social structures worldwide. By the time we were at work, our country was again facing a painful reckoning on racial injustice. Together these overarching narratives speak to a time of transformation—globally, nationally, and personally. The cover headline, Finding Our Way, tries to express that we are all on a journey. The alumni who shared their experiences in the “Personal Reflections” feature spoke about some of the ways their personal lives, work, and perspectives changed this year. I talked with many of them, and every phone interview was a privilege. I wish I could have included more from our conversations, but magazine space can be restrictive. I encourage you to follow the link in the “Campus Heroes” photo feature to our online magazine site to read more of the thoughtful stories that some of Georgetown’s essential campus workers shared. These members of the Georgetown family represent a tiny fraction of those working to keep campus running smoothly, even during a pandemic. Speaking of the online site, like almost all of our peers, Georgetown Magazine is online-only for this issue as a budget measure, given the financial realities facing higher education. I know that for many of you, nothing matches the experience of a print magazine. We are committed to returning to print as soon as we are able. In the meantime, we’ll keep our digital presence fresh, so make sure you have in your bookmarks. The online format makes it easy to share articles with friends and family. Digital magazines sometimes have the unfair reputation as being “less than” print, but the magazine team, whose names I encourage you to note in the right column on this page, have tended to every word and image as you would expect, and we’ve set up this PDF to simulate as much as possible your experience of reading the magazine in print. In closing, I want to highlight what I was told by the pandemic faculty experts interviewed for “Weathering the Storm”—just a few of the many Georgetown faculty and staff tasked with solving the biomedical and social issues of the pandemic. In addition to talking about the heavy lift facing all of us, they urge us to be kind and patient with ourselves and those around us, to check in with our families and neighbors, to think about a better future, and to stay hopeful. Good advice as we close a year like no other.

—Jeffrey Donahoe

Erin Greene, Executive Creative Director for Communications Editorial Team Kelly Anderson (SFS’23) Chelsea Burwell (G’16) Kate Colwell Jane Varner Malhotra Camille Scarborough Tammara Sutton Design Team Shikha Savdas Andrea Sumner Carolyn Zimmerman (SCS’18) Project Manager Hilary Koss University Photographer Phil Humnicky Georgetown Magazine 2115 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Suite 400 Washington, DC 20007-1253 Email: Address changes: 202-687-1994 or email Fall 2020, Volume 52, Number 1 Georgetown Magazine (ISSN 1074-8784) Georgetown Magazine is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. The diverse views in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or official policies of the university. Georgetown University provides equal opportunity in employment for all persons and prohibits discrimination and harassment in all aspects of employment because of age, color, disability, family responsibilities, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital status, matriculation, national origin, personal appearance, political affiliation, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran status or any other factor prohibited by law.

Additionally, the university will use goodfaith efforts to achieve ethnic and gender diversity throughout the workforce. The university emphasizes recruitment of women, minority members, disabled individuals and veterans. Inquiries regarding Georgetown University’s nondiscrimination policy may be addressed to the Director of Affirmative Action Programs, Institutional Diversity, Equity & Affirmative Action, 37th and O Sts. NW, Suite M36, Darnall Hall, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, or call 202-687-4798. ©Georgetown University


e will not need the long lens of history to know that 2020 was a milestone moment in the American experi-

ence. In the global experience. In our individual experience. This year instantly transformed how we live: in our daily routines, in our health, in the way we engage with inequality and racism. This issue of Georgetown Magazine focuses on how the intertwined issues of the COVID-19 pandemic and a renewed quest for social justice are affecting the Georgetown community and will continue to do so. It’s clear that alumni, faculty, staff, and students are living out the hallmarks of the Georgetown experience: a passion for big ideas, community, global interconnectedness, justice, being women and men for others, and cura personalis— care of the whole person. We invite you to share your story and your thoughts. Reach out to us at

Interviews by Jeffrey Donahoe | Design by Carolyn Zimmerman (SCS’18)

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Photo: Clay Banks

Over the summer, Georgetown Magazine asked thirteen alumni and campus community members to share what they were experiencing during the pandemic and this time of renewed awareness of the toll of racial injustice. We are proud to share their stories of resilience, transformation, and generosity in this issue. We invite you to share your story and reflections. Send an email to


Toni Lewis All aspects of health care and social justice have been crazy this year. New York, Brooklyn, and even more, Bed-Stuy have all been hard hit. The disproportionate impact on communities of color was predictable. Racism in how society neglects Black bodies was already socially determined and in place because the system prioritizes those that already have the most. There are so many chronic conditions and stressors underlying health and disease, and the stress of the coronavirus is just making it worse. The people I see in my practice and community are dealing with stress and burnout and grief. We know that we can’t wait for governments. New York State supposedly had this great response, but the resources did not come to Brooklyn, certainly not to Bed-Stuy. We know we have to organize within our networks and communities to save ourselves. We know that ain’t nobody coming to save us. Community organizations get it, and they prepare and organize.

That’s one of the things that I love about Georgetown—we don’t think small. My mom is in a nursing home in Southeast Illinois where I grew up in a town of 900 people, so that’s a worry. We talk daily. Again, it’s about communities and networks, and who is going to be there to help when needed. You need to think about your block and also globally. I learned that at Georgetown. That’s one of the things that I love about Georgetown—we don’t think small. I talk about my “spiritual assignment.” That idea was fed and nurtured at Georgetown, and I love that. It means thinking about who I am, why am I here, and what do I need? One day my spiritual assignment may be to protest and the next it might be to rest. We each have our own special medicine to bring. At a moment like this, we need all of it. u

Toni Lewis, M.D. (C’93, M’04) is a family and geriatric physician practicing in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood. Her commitment to social justice as well as medicine led her to co-found Health Equity Cypher in 2017 as well as being the founder and president of Liberation Health Strategies since 2018. Her wellness routine includes yoga and dance.

Patrick Ewing In May, I wasn’t feeling that well. I thought it was a cold or the flu. After three days, I wasn’t better, so I reached out to my doctor. She said to come in. Even though I had been social distancing and wearing a mask, my test came back positive. I want to say thank you to all the people who took care of me in Georgetown MedStar Hospital. The doctors and nurses were fantastic. All the essential workers did a remarkable job with all the patients. There were people there who were much sicker than I was. When people found out that I had COVID-19, my phone and email were just flooded with get-well wishes, which was great.


My message is that if you are not taking this virus seriously, please do. I don’t know how I caught it, but I did. You can get sick, even if you are otherwise healthy like me. Practice social distancing, wear your mask, wash your hands. Be mindful that it’s not just yourself that you’re looking out for, it’s others, too. u Patrick Ewing (C’85 and Parent) returned to Georgetown as head men’s basketball coach in 2017. Ewing was a center for four years at Georgetown, three of which the team reached the NCAA championships. Ewing played 15 seasons with the New York Knicks. Photo: Rafael Suanes, March 2020


Photo: March 2020

Tony Arend When the university made its decision to go virtual in March, the faculty had been prepared really well. I wasn’t surprised or scared. While things like having my class over for dinner went away, I felt that the teaching went smoothly. I enjoyed teaching online. It’s not the same as running around the classroom, but I enjoyed it. I found there are advantages too. Some students seem to be more willing to talk in an online format than they are in a class of 60. Maybe they don’t feel as nervous because it’s just them looking at a computer screen. There was also a lot of discussion going on in the chat function, which could be useful content. Faculty are still able to engage students. I call on people as I do in class. The quality of the work was the same in terms of the written assignments, and also class participation. The biggest challenge was accommodating students who were in other locations in the U.S. and abroad because different time zones meant they could not join us in a synchronous fashion. They would have to listen to the recordings. George Floyd’s murder and the ensuing protests strike me as a sea change in the country. There are a lot of issues that the Government Department will have to begin to address in new ways. I became chair of the department in June, and one of the first things that happened was that I received emails from students asking what the department is going to do to address these issues. We put together an ad hoc working group of students, staff, and faculty to look at some concrete measures that the department can take relating to justice, equity, and inclusion.

United States or come to the United States unless they could certify that their curriculum does not consist entirely of online courses. MIT and Harvard brought a suit against the administration, and Georgetown filed an amicus brief in a similar suit. The Trump Administration withdrew these guidelines for international students who already had a visa, but sadly they still apply to new, incoming international students.

A global perspective is an important part of the Georgetown experience and something we’re deeply, deeply committed to maintaining. The Trump Administration’s guidelines were very troubling. Georgetown from the outset has been a welcoming university to international students. The first course catalogs were in English, Spanish, and French, and a global perspective is in our DNA as a university. It’s an important part of the Georgetown experience for everybody and something we’re deeply, deeply committed to maintaining. u Longtime Georgetown Professor of Government and Foreign Service Anthony Arend (SFS’80) is chair of the Department of Government. In addition to an active undergraduate and graduate teaching schedule, he has held many administrative appointments at the School of Foreign Service, including vice dean for graduate and faculty affairs and director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

In July, visa directives coming from the Department of Homeland Security said that international students would not be allowed to stay in the



Gueinah Blaise A day or two before we left for spring break, we were alerted that Georgetown was planning on shutting things down. My mom, who’s a nurse’s assistant, said she thought it’d be best if I just got out of D.C. as fast as possible. When I got home in Boston, I quarantined in my room because my mom works in a nursing home. We were taking precautions so that my mom wouldn’t take the virus to work. If I give it to my mom, and my mom takes it to someone in the nursing home, they can die. The last couple of months have been insane because I had multiple members of my family diagnosed with COVID-19. My 14-year-old brother was diagnosed and had to quarantine. I would leave food outside his door and then Facetime him to see if he was okay.

Tom Wong There are lots of choices for virtual worship in New York, and I’ve been going to different Masses online, but Sunday evening Mass in Dahlgren Chapel offers me a sense of real community. It’s not the same as being there, but it’s great to “see” other people I know sharing likes and leaving comments. It’s very comforting for me to have one of the Jesuits say Mass, and it feels reassuring when Jack DeGioia is there. The virtual Mass is a chance to connect to a community and university that I love. Mass feels personal, and the space is very meaningful to me, as it is for so many who lived on campus. Attending Mass in Dahlgren was an important part of my time at Georgetown. Even online, it’s like reliving my Georgetown experience. u Tom Wong, O.D. (C’82) is associate clinical professor of optometry at State University of New York College of Optometry, where he is also director of clinical externships and director of new technologies. He is a member of the Alumni Association’s Board of Governors and a dedicated men’s basketball fan.

Attending Mass in Dahlgren was an important part of my time at Georgetown. Even online, it’s like reliving my Georgetown experience.


My grandfather and one of my mom’s close aunts who helped raise her were diagnosed with COVID-19 and passed away within four weeks of each other. My grandfather couldn’t have visitors in the nursing home, and he just got increasingly worse the longer he went without seeing people. My mom thinks he passed away from loneliness more than the virus. I think the first time I left my house was to go to Trader Joe’s to get groceries in preparation for my graduation celebrations with my immediate family. The second time was my actual graduation. We went to a park to take pictures. It’s weird because graduating is my biggest accomplishment but only a handful of my immediate family members could hug me. Not getting to tie a nice, neat bow on the completion of my Hilltop experience, or walk at graduation, or say goodbye to my roommates—even though I know I’m going to see them again—is hard. I feel sort-of robbed. If this pandemic hadn’t happened, I would have gone to law school this fall. Because of everything that my family was going through, I just felt like it wasn’t the right time to leave. It was a tough decision to make. u Gueinah Blaise (C’20) graduated with a major in Government and minors in Jewish Civilization and journalism. She celebrated her graduation with her mother, Gina, her brother, and a few close relatives at a park near her home in Boston. In August, she accepted a position as a legal assistant for a New York law firm.

Photo: CNN

Alex Marquardt Covering the protests in D.C. was similar in many ways to the work I’ve done overseas. I lived in the Middle East, reporting from countries across the region. I got to Egypt just before their revolution in 2011 kicked off. I covered the Gezi Park protests in Istanbul and protests in the West Bank. In many ways, the Black Lives Matter protests looked like and reminded me of those—people coming out in big numbers to demand equality and rights, often met with fierce crackdowns. In the run-up to the 2016 election, I could see that divisions in the U.S. were deepening dangerously. I was happy overseas, but CNN offered me a chance to come back and cover the U.S. I accepted because I knew that this was going to be a fascinating moment to be a reporter here. I came back to a wildly different country. We are in the midst of deep political division. There’s an unprecedented re-evaluation of race in our society. The fact that this conversation is happening is good, healthy, and long overdue. It’s coming during a historic pandemic, the debate over how to react is passionate, armed groups are storming statehouses, and we’re in an election year. There are people who think they can say whatever they want, and a huge number of people who felt they haven’t had their voices heard. There’s a cumulative impact from this, and it’s all coming together now. It was surreal to be reporting from Lafayette Square across from the White House on June 1, when peaceful protestors were violently dispersed so that the president could have his photo op at St. John’s Church. Police fired on peaceful protestors in my own country, in front of the White


House. I didn’t think that I’d suck down tear gas in the U.S. or see American security forces firing pepper bullets at a lawful and nonviolent gathering. Muscle memory from past assignments kicked in to convey the message and emotion of the moment. That afternoon was deeply distressing to me as a citizen as well as a journalist.

There’s an unprecedented re-evaluation of race in our society. The fact that this conversation is happening is good, healthy, and long overdue. The stories that have always interested me lay bare who we are as a people. That’s what is happening now in the U.S. It’s an incredible time to be a journalist, but it’s disturbing to see the anger directed at journalists. There’s a lack of trust. At Trump rallies you see signs and T-shirts that read, “Rope, tree, journalist: Some assembly required.” But we need journalists and journalism now more than ever. u Emmy Award-winning CNN Senior National Security Correspondent Alex Marquardt (SFS’04) is based in the Washington, D.C., bureau. Prior to CNN, he was an ABC News foreign correspondent. Among his 2020 CNN assignments has been covering the national security implications of the 2020 election and COVID-19, as well as the Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C.


Photo: Michael Martin

Michael Martin George Floyd was killed the Monday of Memorial Day Weekend. My girlfriend and I were headed back to Minneapolis after the long weekend. My social media started blowing up about this video of a white officer kneeling on a Black man’s neck while he pleads, “I can’t breathe.” I struggle with watching videos about racial violence. They can fill you with a lot of pain, but it was happening in Minneapolis, and I needed to watch it. It turns out it was taking place close to where I lived then. That was my point of entry into the George Floyd story. The next day, I went to the protests on the street where he was murdered. I wanted to experience it. I wanted to participate and let my voice be heard. People were standing in the middle of the street saying this is now a memorial site. Minneapolis is very white, and so to be around people who look like me mattered in that moment. The first day was a little scary, just because people did start to get rowdy. I would say maybe 20 people started to agitate the police officers. I got hit with tear gas. I didn’t realize that tear gas travels so far. People protested at the third precinct, which is down the street from me. The Target that got looted is right by me. I went to the Cub Foods grocery store that got looted maybe five times a week. I kept going back to the protests during the week. I was out there probably in total about 10 times, mostly during the day. I was never afraid of the protesters. It was the militarization of the police presence that was frightening. There is a fire station right by me, and that’s where they set up a National Guard camp, with three Humvees and people walking around with big assault rifles.

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By that Saturday, Lake Street had been destroyed. The media portrays only images of people rioting and looting, but the protests are all about community. You see people helping someone injured, people handing out face masks, people cleaning things up. The sense of community out there was amazing. In the George Floyd situation, a lot of people bring up his past. But the police were called on him for using a counterfeit bill. And because they felt like he may have been high on drugs. I feel that those are two symptoms of poverty and not of criminality.

I was never afraid of the protesters. It was the militarization of the police presence that was frightening. I think about what will happen next. My significant other works in local government. We’ve had a very interesting dialogue about how a city responds to a crisis like this one. A lot of our conversations have revolved around defunding the police, but what does that actually mean? A lot of people think “defund the police” means you want criminals to just do more crime. But I see it as pushing communities to re-evaluate how police departments are funded and what police departments do. People are angry because the crime that was committed did not warrant the killing of an individual. u Michael Martin (C’17) lived in the Lake Street area of Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed while in police custody. He is an information technology analyst at General Mills.


Christina Garza

Rohan Williamson

The sheer volume of patients with COVID-19 forced our hospital to quickly discharge everyone who wasn’t critically ill. Regular medical floors were converted to ICUs, new ventilation systems were used once standard vents were running out, and specialists in other departments were redeployed as medical and critical care doctors. Some of our psychiatry residents had to switch gears and go back to the ICU.

Georgetown has been investing in learning virtually for about 20 years now. We’ve made good investments in technology and pedagogy in both nonsynchronous and synchronous learning. No one planned on it being in force this year, but we’re in a good position.

There was a cluster of five or six of us in my division of 13 people who were sick. We did not meet the requirements to receive a test because the limited quantities were reserved for the critically ill. As a precautionary measure, the hospital mandated that we work from home in March and April, and that was really tough on our patients.

Our dedication to the student experience goes beyond classroom learning. We’re committed to cura personalis and want to develop the student in unique ways. The Georgetown experience, being in Washington, D.C., being engaged in a Jesuit tradition—we want to maintain that, but we can’t have students here on campus with each other. Keeping students—who may be thousands of miles away—connected is one of the challenges in this environment.

Traditionally, psychiatry had not used telehealth, but we had to figure out quickly how to see patients remotely in a way that was confidential, safe, and accurate. We were able to see patients remotely via iPads and smartphones, but with the influx of patients, we did not have enough technology to carry out patient care.

What’s just as important is remembering that as a community, we can remain physically distant, but still be socially present for one another. In order to get the technology we needed, I turned to the Alumni Association Facebook page. I just plainly laid it out in a post. I asked, “If you have an old iPad or an old tablet that you aren’t using, please send it to me.” Classmates were so generous, and I’m forever grateful to them. Even those who couldn’t send tablets wrote encouraging messages. I’ve been back in the hospital since mid-April and have been donning scrubs, a N95 face mask, gown, face shield, gloves—the whole get-up—and going into patients’ rooms.

Our dedication to the student experience goes beyond classroom learning. We need to engage students in all dimensions— student clubs, the career center, faculty connections, and study groups. We are figuring out ways to address those important aspects, plus provide opportunities to expand their horizons by having a diverse student body, being able to learn from others from throughout the world, and engaging in experiences that are unique to Georgetown. u —Interview by Chris Enochs Vice Provost for Education Rohan Williamson is a professor of finance and the Bolton Sullivan and Charles A. Dean Chair of International Business at the McDonough School of Business. He is also the father of two Georgetown alumni.

So much of what I do is to provide people with a sense of care and humanity. A lot of times, it’s the smallest things that can help people feel better and more normal and empowered. The telehealth aspect has allowed us to talk with patients who miss having one-on-one interactions. It’s really hard for our patients when no visitors are allowed. There are patients who are dying and don’t have the chance to say goodbye to their families. Many of us are in a privileged position to ask ourselves, “How can I take care of myself in this time of isolation?” For thousands of others on the frontlines and those in vulnerable work conditions, it’s a lot easier said than done. We know what preventive measures can turn things around when the second wave hits. What’s just as important is remembering that as a community, we can remain physically distant, but still be socially present for one another. u —Interview by Chelsea Burwell (G’16) Christina Garza, M.D. (C’01, M’08) is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center.


Photo: Lisa Helfer t, 2016


Faris Bseiso I had a journalism internship lined up at Bloomberg Industry Group in Arlington, right outside D.C., that was to start on May 26. Over spring break, students got an email from Georgetown that said that classes would move to being online. My brother Basil (B’23) and I immediately began packing our things and preparing to leave because we figured that this was just a stepping-stone to campus closing. And then we left for Abu Dhabi, which is home. I was home with my family in Abu Dhabi in April when Bloomberg Industry Group confirmed that the internships could be remote. Abu Dhabi is eight hours ahead of the East Coast. My first two weeks, I was working from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. because that was 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the East Coast, so I was able to make all the interns’ training meetings, all the information sessions, the on-boarding classes. They were very accommodating about the time zone difference, and I started working from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., which was 7:00 a.m. to 3:00, East Coast time. I worked the bulk of the day that people in the States worked, and I didn’t feel like I was completely out of the loop. I was supposed to work on the corporate team but they shifted me to the tax team in London because the time difference would be less of a problem. It ended up being really interesting to report on tax. The internship concluded on July 31. Then Bloomberg Industry News hired me as a freelance contributor to cover tax news in the Gulf region. I came back to D.C. in August. I had already signed a lease before I knew the university’s fall decision. At least I’m in the same time zone as my classes. u Faris Bseiso (SFS’21) is from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Rio Djiwandana The Crown Heights community is made up of mostly low-income families of color. The vast majority of my students identify as Afro-Caribbean and are from countries such as Jamaica, Trinidad, St. Lucia, all over the Caribbean. A lot of them are first- or secondgeneration immigrant families. Most of the students at our school receive free or reducedprice lunches. Even after the public schools transitioned to remote learning, many school sites remained open and provided students and families with grab-and-go meals. The last day of school was Friday, March 13. Over that weekend, New York City mayor de Blasio announced a school shutdown, then a transition to remote learning. Teachers were given very few teaching guidelines, and I mostly researched learning platforms. I taught via Google Classroom for the rest of the year. Because my students are 8 and 9 years old, I tried to make remote learning as userfriendly as possible. A lot of them are typing for the first time and haven’t had the chance to become very technologically proficient. That was a big challenge for them. Another really big obstacle in low-income communities is having consistent internet access. Only about a third of my students logged on every day or even just consistently. A lot of them didn’t have access to a device that would allow them to participate in remote learning. The city’s Department of Education finally was able to issue iPads, but I don’t think students got them until late April or early May, so they had already missed more than four weeks of instruction. As a teacher, not only are you making sure students learn the content they are supposed to be learning, you are teaching families and students how to use remote learning platforms so they can actively participate in their education. Low-income communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, and New York was hit so hard in the early days. A lot of my students had family members get sick. Someone loses a job or has their hours cut, and suddenly families are trying to figure out how to put food on the table. It’s understandable that helping their kids finish two assignments for school every day can’t always be a priority when they have all these other things to worry about. I was able to communicate well with my students and their families during remote learning this spring because I had built relationships from the beginning of the school year. u Rio Djiwandana (SFS’16) taught third-grade math and special education at P.S. 91, a public elementary school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He is now a special education coordinator at Uncommon Schools, a New York charter school network. He will continue to teach remotely until January 2021.

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Frank Giancola In 30 years as a pediatrician, I can honestly say I have never seen anything else alter the course of medical care in such an encompassing manner, and with such remarkable speed, as COVID-19.

Photo: Michelle Giancola

Many of our patients’ parents are essential workers without childcare flexibility or work-from-home options. They work behind the scenes in restaurants, as home and office cleaners, as health aides—they can’t miss a beat. They have to provide for the

family. There’s no luxury of working from home or homeschooling their kids. Fortunately, they’re bringing the kids in for all their health checks. u — Interview by Jane Varner Malhotra Pediatrician Frank Giancola, M.D. (C’82, M’86, R’89) is the co-founder PediatriCare in Manassas, Virginia. The group serves an economically diverse population in semi-urban western Fairfax and northern Prince William counties, including many Latinx families.

Bserat Ghebremicael The Black community is significantly and disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Add to this the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all the deaths that the larger world never hears about. That’s incredibly hard on the physical and mental health of a lot of Black people. Many Black people come to workplaces across the country where coworkers or leadership do not talk about any of the injustices in society today. That’s why, in our digital community, we are now focusing a lot more on wellness, support, and action. To support well-being and drive community, this summer we designed virtual concerts each bringing together more than 250 Black Googlers and allies. Around the time of the protests, we drove a fundraising campaign, accelerated through a much larger virtual concert called Music for Good, which raised money for on-the-ground social justice organizations like the Movement for Black Lives and The Bail Project, to not only support scaling the nationwide protests but also support those who were incarcerated as a result of participating in them. This virtual concert in particular brought in some much-needed positive energy after months of constant devastating news, as well as $350,000 in fundraising from Black Googlers and our allies.

The core of all my work is really about solving for the gaps—the gaps in access, opportunity, and support. Nationally, there’s only a small percentage of Black people working in tech companies. I think that Google is doing a better job with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) than most. Within the small percentage of Black people in tech, most of them are men—you don’t find a lot of Black women, and especially Black women in software engineering, so I work harder to support their needs and share opportunities as they come As a Georgetown student, I was leading a lot of conversations around race and socioeconomic status. During my sophomore year, I, alongside two great friends, created an event series called Ignite the Dream, a forum to reflect on the stories and state of underrepresented groups on campus and more broadly in the United States. During my junior year, I co-founded BRAVE, an event to celebrate and focus on Black women, provide access to opportunities, and advance discussions about race and gender, with intersections of additional identities such as sexual orientation and being an immigrant, on campus.


The core of all my work is really about solving for the gaps—the gaps in access, opportunity, and support. This is apparent in my core role, supporting developers by building relationships to offer more holistic solutions to support their businesses cross-Google, and in my work within DEI, doing all that I can to ensure underrepresented groups have a more equal playing field within tech and society at large. u As Global Events Lead for Google, Bserat Ghebremicael (B’17) helps web and app developers use Google products. She’s also a digital community organizer supporting and mobilizing Black Googlers with an emphasis on Black women. Georgetown Magazine thanks the participants for generously sharing their stories and photos.

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Only days into 2020, Georgetown Law professor Larry Gostin was already communicating with global health colleagues about a novel virus that had emerged a few weeks earlier in Wuhan City, China. From a few clusters, the new virus—what we now know as COVID-19—spread rapidly in China, then throughout the region. “I knew we were in real trouble,” Gostin recalls thinking then. That COVID-19 would spread from the region and reach the United States was just a matter of time—like watching a hurricane approach. Gostin is one among dozens of faculty members from every school at the university with pandemic-related expertise and research. Over the summer, Georgetown Magazine talked with four faculty members about why this virus is causing worldwide devastation and what the future might bring.




ostin is no stranger to global pandemics. He’s worked in public and global health since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s. In a March interview with Georgetown President John J. DeGioia in his Georgetown Now series, Gostin told him, “I was in the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] war room when the first case of HIV was announced.” Gostin has long worked alongside Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with whom he is still close friends.

Gostin holds the highest rank of University Professor and is the founding director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown Law, and director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights. He is the Global Health Editor of JAMA. Over his career, he has been called on for his expertise on SARS, MERS, H1N1, Ebola, and Zika outbreaks over the last 20 years. He is on the expert panel of the WHO International Health Regulations, which govern global pandemic response. This year, he’s been sought out almost daily by the media as the novel coronavirus, now in its second wave, spreads at a crushing pace.

When a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is developed, its manufacturing and distribution will need to accommodate global need. “There has to be justice and equity for people around the world to have a chance to live,” says Georgetown Law’s Larry Gostin, shown in a 2010 photograph.

Within three months of the outbreaks in China, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. A month later, Europe was the virus epicenter, and more than 1.1 million cases worldwide had been confirmed. As of October, WHO counts 40 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide, with 1.1 million deaths. The United States, which confirmed its first case in January, had 8.1 million cases and 219,000 deaths by October, per the CDC. Beyond the numbers is untold suffering, a strained health care system, economic havoc, lost jobs and homes, upended social and community bonds, and lives hanging in suspension. If more than 40 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 aren’t frightening enough, best estimates indicate that for every diagnosed infection there are 10 undiagnosed. Death-rate estimates range from about one percent to four percent of those diagnosed with COVID-19. Gostin thinks the death rate is on the low end of the estimates, “but even at one percent, COVID-19 would be 10 times more fatal than the seasonal flu,” he told DeGioia in their March interview.

Tools for decision making Ten months into the worst global health crisis in a century, there are still so many unknowns: How many people are asymptomatic but able to transmit the virus? For how long? Once you’ve had the virus, do you have lasting immunity, or can you get it more than once? When will a vaccine be available? How many people died from the virus but weren’t counted?


Photo: Sam Hollenshead


“Figuring out these questions is critical to how we keep our economy going and who can then go back into the workforce,” Rebecca Katz, professor and director of GUMC’s Center for Global Health Science and Security (GHSS), told DeGioia in a March Georgetown Now interview. GHSS has seven faculty, five full-time staff members, more than a dozen students, consultants working around the world, and about 10 active programs in 26 countries. In addition to her work at the Medical Center, Katz teaches global health diplomacy, global health security, and emerging infectious diseases at the School of Foreign Service. On November 10, Katz was named as an advisor to President-elect Joe Biden’s new coronavirus task force. Katz’s research focuses on international systems, global governance, and international health regulations. “All of our teaching, research, and service at GHSS has been focused on preparedness and building capacity around the world within governments and by promoting policies for exactly what we’re dealing with right now,” she says. Since the pandemic’s outbreak, Katz’s expertise has been in high demand from mayors, governors, international organizations, sports organizations, and private industry to inform their policy and response efforts. “I’m helping them think through everything from high-level policy to very operational components, like should there be a thermal scanner at an entrance, and what are the metrics that we should be using to figure out whether we reopen or relax some restrictions,” she says.

GHSS has launched the “COVID-19 Frontline Guide” to provide state and local government leaders and other public officials with a web-based decision support tool and progress indicators to assess COVID-19 in their jurisdictions. In September, Katz and her GHSS colleague Alexandra Phelan, a global health legal and policy expert, published a report, “Governance Preparedness: Initial Lessons from COVID-19,” which was commissioned by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board. In it, they wrote that the success of any effort to redress pandemic preparedness failures demonstrated by COVID-19 requires an approach to governance that would include greater accountability, transparency, equity, participation, and the rule of law.

Crossing borders There are ongoing pandemics of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, but most people in the United States don’t have personal experience with a global pandemic, says Mark Dybul (C’85, M’92). While outbreaks of other pandemics have remained localized regionally, the novel coronavirus rapidly moved from its epicenter to the rest of the world. Co-director of Georgetown’s Center for Global Health Practice and Impact, Dybul has a nonstop CV in infectious diseases. He was an HIV research fellow at the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where he was directed by Fauci, whom Dybul considers a mentor and close friend. He also led the President’s

“Figuring out these questions is critical to how we keep our economy going and who can then go back into the workforce.”

Georgetown University Medical Center’s Rebecca Katz, shown in Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in 2018, is director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security. On November 9, she was named as an advisor for President-elect Joe Biden’s new 14 coronavirus task force. Katz has been part of a team advising Biden on COVID-19 for the last several months.

G EORG E TOWN M AG A Z INE FALL 2020 Photo: Lisa Helfert

Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), founded by President George W. Bush, the largest international health initiative in history and the model for presidential global AIDS programming to this day. Other roles include executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. “There’s been very little conversation yet about a global response. Everyone’s focused on their own domestic epidemic, which is understandable,” Dybul says. But unlike the SARS outbreak of 20022004, for example, which did not spread beyond a small number of countries, the new coronavirus quickly reached the United States. For the first time, the U.S. is directly affected by a global pandemic, “which means our interest is personal, not just humanitarian,” Dybul adds.



WHO announces outbreak in China First U.S. case announced WHO issues global health emergency



First U.S. death recorded

WHO declares global pandemic

Amplifying inequality A global pandemic is also local, and Washington, D.C., provides a lesson in how COVID-19 amplifies long-standing systemic inequalities, including access to health care, especially in historically marginalized communities. According to estimates published during the summer, African Americans—who make up 45.5 percent of the District’s population—have accounted for three-quarters of the deaths associated with COVID-19. This mortality rate is attributable to a range of factors: disproportionate rates of preexisting health conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, limited access to timely health care services, and socio-economic disparities. Several years of research at the School of Nursing & Health Studies yields valuable data on the ties between entrenched racial inequity and health disparities. The data collected, analyzed, and published in a new NHS study is pre-pandemic, but it provides a baseline for future comparison analysis of the impact of COVID-19, says its lead author, Christopher J. King, chair of the Department of Health Systems Administration at NHS.


Global confirmed cases: 1.1 million+

MAY 28

U.S. deaths: 100,000+


U.S. confirmed cases: 2 million+


Global confirmed cases: 15 million+


U.S. confirmed cases: 5 million+

The report, Health Disparities in the Black Community: An Imperative for Racial Equity in the District of Columbia, builds on King’s 2016 study on the same issue. King’s research gets at a fundamental question: When compared with other cities, the District of Columbia has a healthy profile. However, when health and socio-economic data are stratified by race, why is the narrative vastly different? Deep-seated systemic issues that disproportionately affect African Americans increase vulnerability for a virus that transmits like COVID-19.



Global cases: 58 million+ Global deaths: 1.4 million+ U.S. cases: 12 million+ U.S. deaths: 255,000+

Sources: World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Johns Hopkins University 15

People of color are more likely to have front line and service-industry-essential roles that don’t lend themselves to telework, and often lack paid sick leave. And early in the pandemic, many employers did not have the capacity to provide personal protective equipment, nor did they have work environments with structural barriers. Highdensity apartment complexes and multigenerational households also increase risk of exposure. And a digital divide precludes residents from accessing timely health information and engaging in virtual activities in the home environment.

Beyond the massive economic disruption, there’s also the question of how to finance the response to the pandemic—from the costs of testing kits and patient care to the logistics of running the health supply chain, getting ventilators and other medical devices in place, distributing an eventual vaccine, and providing education to share best practices. The task force Dybul lays out would be global, with national and regional equivalents. Such a task force would not only need national governments, but also the private sector, nongovernmental organizations, and militaries globally to respond quickly.

“All of these [factors] create a perfect storm that puts residents at risk of not only infection, but also mortality,” King said to DeGioia in an April Georgetown Now interview.

One of the biggest issues in effective response is global interconnectedness. “We have two choices,” Dybul says. “We can basically become island states and never move around and never have risk of infection—which would destroy all our economies—or we can figure out how we work together.”

In a wildfire Mark Dybul wants a global task force on pandemics that is charged with detecting risk and dealing with preparedness, protection, and response—so he designed one. He and several Georgetown Center for Global Health Practice and Impact colleagues, including Katz, authored a white paper, A Global Health Pandemic Deserves a Global Response, which lays out strategies to deal with this pandemic and presents a framework that might prevent—or at least contain—future health pandemics. The white paper addresses both the health crisis and the global economy.

This kind of systematic preparedness is crucial, Dybul says, because domestic and international connectedness, population growth, and climate change will lead to more pandemics. “We need to be prepared for the long haul,” he says. “The pandemic is a relatively straightforward public health problem,” Dybul adds. “If you had these technical responses and the financing in place now, you could have a rapid response to prevent the spread,” The United States would normally be leading such an effort, Dybul says, but the Trump Administration has chosen not to play that traditional role. While Germany, South Korea, and New Zealand among other countries effectively contained COVID-19’s spread, the Trump Administration dismissed the severity of the threat and the guidance of scientists and its own coronavirus task force, he says. With 8.1 million cases and 219,000 deaths (as of October), the U.S. has the most cases globally. “The U.S. objectively has had one the worst responses in the world in this pandemic,” Dybul says. “All the more aggravating is that we had a head start, because COVID-19 came to us later. We blew it all.” Dybul notes that the Administration has announced that it will leave WHO in 2021, even though “we need global organizations like WHO more than ever.” Dybul is part of an independent panel to review WHO’s pandemic response, with the first report released in September.

Mark Dybul, M.D. (C’85, M’92) directs the Georgetown Center for Global Health Practice and Impact, and with his colleagues, authored a white paper, A Global Health Pandemic Deserves a Global Response, which lays out strategies to deal with this pandemic and presents a framework that might prevent—or at least contain— future health pandemics. Dybul is shown in a 2016 photograph.

Photo: Rafael Suanes



Christopher J. King, chair of the Department of Health Systems Administration at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, photographed March 4, 2020, has spent several years studying racial inequity and health disparities in Washington, D.C., with other faculty members and undergraduate and graduate students.

“Even the strongest health system will fail without leadership,” Georgetown Law professor Gostin says. “This could have been stopped right at the beginning if we got tests out and did contact tracing immediately. Now we need to mask-up and maintain social distance. There were other opportunities to stop or slow the spread, but those are long exhausted,” Gostin adds. “It’s like we’re now in a wildfire, and the fire department is overwhelmed. The fire will have to burn itself out,’” he says.

Holy Grail Developing a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is the Holy Grail, and is likely to be considered the most valuable medical resource ever. Several promising vaccine candidates are in the final stages of testing, but none are approved yet. A vaccine developed by the U.S. may just have to take longer. “We have institutional guardrails like the FDA and the CDC,” Gostin says. “These are robust agencies—they may need to bend to [pressure from] this Administration for speed, but they won’t break. We will end up with a safe and effective vaccine.” When a vaccine is developed, it will be in limited supply, and it could require regular reformulation, like the flu shot, which has to be adjusted every year to attack new mutations in the virus. And manufacturing and distribution will need to accommodate global need. “There has to be justice and equity for people around the world to have a chance to live,” Gostin says. “A lack of equity will undermine global solidarity.” A U.S. Advisory Panel has been


Photo: Phil Humnicky

convened to monitor distribution, ensuring that health care workers and first responders have early access and that vaccines are distributed in a socially just way.

‘Don’t let hope be a casualty’

Despite a focus on the devastation, disruption, and death that COVID-19 has left in its wake, the faculty members interviewed in this article all see reasons to hope—and not just on the disease management front. King is excited by the interest of fellow NHS faculty members and especially students. “Our students have an appetite for delving into the root causes of racial differences in health outcomes. Using our own city as a laboratory for experiential learning, they are able to make sense of the data and unearth opportunities for a brighter future,” he says. Dybul urges that we not let hope become a casualty of the pandemic, pointing to the vast amount of progress made in treating AIDS worldwide over the last 20 years through a combination of science, leadership, and global cooperation. “We can look backward and inward with fear, or we can look outward and forward with hope,” he said in an April interview Georgetown President DeGioia. “It’s inspiring because if we all work together globally, we can solve this problem.” Looking forward, Gostin already thinks about what we as a society will want to be like when the pandemic is over. “I think we will come through stronger because we’ve been here for each other.”


By Camille Scarborough Photos by Phil Humnicky Design by Andrea Sumner

FROM KEEPING BUILDINGS SECURE TO COLLECTING LAB DATA, essential work must be accomplished to keep a major research university running–­­­even during a pandemic. When the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of Georgetown’s on-campus activities, most students, faculty members, and administrators shifted to virtual learning and work. But some work requires a physical presence, and several staff teams are providing in-person support, protection, continuity, and even a bit of comfort.





Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J., leads a Sunday Mass that is broadcast to Hoyas around the world through Facebook. This page, from top left: Mike Pontti (center), who has served Georgetown for almost 50 years, works with landscape crew members Jose M. Reyes and Enrique Salinas • Gideon Pinckney and Delores Skinner sort mail • GUPD Sergeant Joyce Pearson makes time to speak with a student. These photos represent just a few of the essential staff members on campus, all of whom must comply with the Every Hoya Everywhere public health campaign by social distancing and wearing masks.







When the pandemic began widening in March 2020, Georgetown shuttered research labs except for work needed to sustain critical ongoing projects and new COVID-19 research. Working with public health experts, Georgetown restarted its research slowly and thoughtfully. In this photo, Aline de Souza, M.D., (left) and Xie Wu (right) do RNA prep for ACE2 studies led by Hong Ji, M.D.





CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP: “Georgetown always takes care of its people,” shares Catherine Anderson (above, left), who has worked at Georgetown for 44 years. • The culinary team made several adjustments this calendar year including one-way dining traffic lanes in O’Donovan Hall, more frequent cleaning, personal protective equipment, strict vendor requirements, and more. • The limited number of people on and near campus this fall have all undergone weekly COVID-19 tests, which the university tracks on a public dashboard. These practices have become the new normal on the Hilltop, in preparation for a time when all can safely reconvene. Read more.










At 6 feet, 10 inches tall, Coach John Thompson Jr.—affectionately known as “Big John”—stood above many as an athlete, pioneering NCAA coach, architect of the Big East, three-time Olympian, and a champion and advocate for racial justice and his Washington, D.C., community. The world may have lost him at age 78 on August 30, 2020, but Georgetown and broader communities will remember his impact and reach for years to come.


ell-known as a sports icon, advocate for social justice, and his tireless support of players, Thompson encouraged his teams to value both the sport and academics—achieving an impressive 97 percent graduation rate.

Hired in 1972 as the university’s first Black head basketball coach, he began with a team that had won only a handful of games the year before and went on to win nearly 600 for Georgetown until he stepped down in 1999—the same year he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

The Hoyas advanced to the NCAA Championship game three times—in 1982, 1984, and 1985— during Thompson’s tenure. His teams earned 24 consecutive postseason berths and won seven Big East tournament championships. Thompson remained a part of the university community as coach emeritus, continuing to mentor and support Hoya athletes. Father figure He coached Dikembe Mutombo (C’91), Patrick Ewing (C’85), Alonzo Mourning (C’92), and Allen Iverson (C’98)—all of whom later joined Thompson as a Naismith Hall of Famer. Georgetown is one of only three schools to have seven people hold the distinction. “Georgetown University, the sport of basketball, and the world has lost someone who I consider to be a father figure, confidant, and role model,” said Ewing, current head coach of men’s basketball at Georgetown. “He has done so much to impact my life and the people he has coached and mentored along the way.” Ewing recalled how Thompson’s reach went far beyond just those he knew personally. “He changed the world and helped shape the way we see it,” the current head coach added. “He was a great coach but an even better person, and his legacy is everlasting.” The 6-foot-10-inch coach, remembered for towering courtside with his trademark towel over his shoulder, often fought racism directed at him and his players. He was one of the first Black coaches to head a major collegiate basketball program. Even today, the number of Black coaches makes up less than 20 percent of the 75 programs in college basketball’s six major conferences.



Photo: 1989

Thompson was hired as head men’s basketball coach in 1972. He and the Hoyas went on to win nearly 600 games until he stepped down in 1999.

When the NCAA’s Proposition 42 eliminated educational funds for low-income students, Thompson spoke out and took action, bringing the issue to national attention. He walked off the court in 1989 before a game against Boston College in protest. The proposition was subsequently dropped. “While he broke barriers on the court, his legacy is the mark he made on our society as he fought each and every day for the rights of all people regardless of their race or where they came from,” said Lee Reed, Georgetown director of athletics. “He was a coach, mentor, activist, and friend, and his death leaves a gaping hole within the basketball community and, in fact, our nation.” Founding father Ushering in a new era of college basketball, Thompson’s Hoyas were one of the original teams of the newly formed Big East Conference in 1979. During his tenure, Georgetown not only captured seven Big East Tournament titles but also saw a Hoya named Big East Player of the Year six times. The conference named him Coach of the Year on three occasions. “Few individuals have been as closely aligned with the Big East Conference as John Thompson, Jr.,” read an August 31 statement from the conference. “As a Providence College star, the basketball patriarch at Georgetown University and one of the conference’s ‘founding fathers’ in 1979, John can be directly credited with establishing the Big East’s national profile and


propelling us to college basketball’s top tier. His dedication to the game of basketball was eclipsed by his unabashed determination to challenge norms and call out social injustices.” NBA and Olympic success Prior to Georgetown, Thompson had been a basketball star at Providence College in Rhode Island. He went on to play two national championship seasons with the Boston Celtics. The coaching legend’s reach also extended globally. He served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic Basketball Team that won a bronze medal in 1988. Thompson also was part of two goldmedal efforts—first in 1976 as an assistant coach and again in 1984 as a member of the selection committee for the team. “Coach John R. Thompson Jr. had a profound impact on our university,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “Forty-eight years ago, he joined the Georgetown community and with his distinctive style, commitment to excellence, and clear sense of purpose, transformed Georgetown basketball.” ‘A better university’ The university awarded Thompson for his lasting commitment to the Hilltop community with two of its highest honors—the President’s Award and the Patrick Healy Award. “We are a better university because of John’s leadership—he challenged us to live up to our values and enabled all of us to see new possibilities, for ourselves, and for the impact we could have on the world,” DeGioia added.


“Forty-eight years ago, he joined the Georgetown community and with his distinctive style, commitment to excellence, and clear sense of purpose, transformed Georgetown basketball.” georgetown president john j. degioia

Lasting impact While his success from the 1970s through the 1990s was unparalleled, his legacy reached well into the 21st century. In October 2016, Georgetown dedicated the 144,000-squarefoot John R. Thompson Jr. Athletic Center in honor of the basketball legend’s profound impact at the university, on the game of basketball, and in the fight for racial justice, equity, equality, and opportunity. A bronze statue of the basketball great dominates the center’s lobby, along with several Thompson quotes, including “When I’m gone, if I can’t go to Heaven, take me back to Georgetown.” Lara Adekunle (NHS’22), a middle blocker on the women’s volleyball team who frequently walks the halls of the Thompson Center, expressed gratitude for the trail the coach blazed not only for Georgetown basketball players, but for all studentathletes at the university. “Coach Thompson used his platform to amplify marginalized voices and served as a role model for many,” said Adekunle, a global health major. “He expanded the space for Black culture at Georgetown and was a pioneer in improving the Black experience on the Hilltop. I hope we all can learn from his time here and continue the path towards racial and social justice.” After coaching, Thompson had served as a coach emeritus and presidential consultant for urban affairs at Georgetown, as well as a consultant, spokesman, and board member for Nike. The basketball giant also pursued a variety of broadcasting efforts that included hosting The John Thompson Show on ESPN 980 until February 2012. Serving D.C. A native Washingtonian, he established The John Thompson Charitable Foundation in 2000 to help improve the quality of life for underserved children within the District of Columbia and other communities. The foundation awards grants to organizations that enhance children’s lives, provide for continuing education, or support rehabilitation.


Top: The 6-foot-10-inch Thompson, remembered for towering courtside with his trademark towel over his shoulder, was one of the first Black coaches to head a major collegiate basketball program. Bottom: Fellow Naismith Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo (C’91) wrote on Instagram with a photo of himself and Thompson: “Under Coach Thompson, I learned a lot about the game of basketball but most importantly, I learned how to be a man in society.”


In October 2016, the 144,000-square-foot John R. Thompson Jr. Athletic Center was dedicated in his honor. Several Thompson quotes line the interior walls, including “When I’m gone, if I can’t go to Heaven, take me back to Georgetown.”

Legacy of a dream In 2003, Georgetown created the John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award to honor emerging local leaders who reinforce the university’s commitment to engagement within Washington, D.C., and work to solve key issues that are responsible for shaping the city and the people who live in it. For the past 17 years, the award has been granted to civil rights icons, children’s rights advocates, and other humanitarians. “John will be remembered for many things—his historic achievements, the lives he shaped, his advocacy for social and racial justice—but perhaps most of all, for the authenticity through which he lived his life,” DeGioia said. ‘Historic shepherd’ Thompson is survived by two sons and a daughter—former Georgetown head basketball coach John Thompson III, Ronny Thompson, and Tiffany Thompson. “Our father was an inspiration to many and devoted his life to developing young people not simply on, but most importantly, off the basketball court,” the family said in a statement. “He is revered as a historic shepherd of the sport, dedicated to the welfare of his community above all else.” The family shared their “father, grandfather, uncle, and friend” with the world, but they saw those roles as his greatest legacy. “More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear every day,” the family added. “We will miss him but are grounded in the assurance that we carry his faith and determination in us. We will cherish forever his strength, courage, wisdom, and boldness, as well as his unfailing love.” ‘My mentor’ Thompson’s former players rushed to pay tribute when they learned of his death. “Our legendary Georgetown coach, John Thompson, has passed away,” Dikembe Mutombo wrote on Instagram that morning with a photo of himself and Thompson. “He was my mentor, great teacher, hero, and a father figure to so many of us who got the chance to play for him. Under Coach Thompson, I learned a lot about the game of basketball but most importantly, I learned how to be a man in society.” 26

Mutombo received the John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award from Georgetown in 2010 for his humanitarian work in America and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The basketball great witnessed Thompson’s commitment to the D.C. community and decided in 2012 that his Mutombo Foundation would partner with the university to begin an initiative aimed at providing care for visually impaired children from low-income families in the D.C. region. The deflated basketball Thompson famously kept a deflated basketball in his office to help his players understand they would need, at some point, to do something else besides play ball. “Coach Thompson taught me a great deal and broadened my horizons,” former basketball player Fred Brown (C’84) told Georgetown Magazine in 1997. “I still remember him spending whole practices just discussing things with us. It was a great classroom, and one of the most important things he taught me involved a perspective which goes beyond the immediate.” Brown, who went on to attend Georgetown Law, is now CEO of Process H.O.P.E. (Help Overcome Poverty through Education) Inc., a nonprofit community-based organization that helps children in the Washington, D.C., metro region. Fostering support In 1972, longtime athletic director Frank Rienzo, who passed away in 2018, told The Washington Post that he didn’t “expect John Thompson to work a miracle” when he hired him. Though it later appeared that Thompson had worked a miracle, it was actually a concentrated effort to turn the team around and win hundreds of games while mentoring young men to value both their education and sports. “It hasn’t been John Thompson standing out there alone,” the legendary coach told Georgetown Magazine in 1997. “In order for me to be me, I had to get support from a hell of a lot of people: from the custodian who agreed to spend a couple of extra hours at the gym waiting for us to finish practice, to the faculty who understood when a player had to miss a class, to the deans listening for one thing or another. From the lowest to the highest, we have had support from a lot of people.” G EORG E TOWN M AG A Z INE FALL 2020

Left: Coach John Thompson Jr. not only served as a leader for his players on the court—he was a father figure to many, including current head men’s basketball coach Patrick Ewing (C’85), shown in this 1984 photo. Right: When the NCAA’s Proposition 42 eliminated educational funds for low-income students, Thompson brought the issue to national attention, and walked off the court in 1989 before a game against Boston College in protest. The proposition was subsequently dropped.

“For us, his greatest legacy remains as a father, grandfather, uncle, and friend. More than a coach, he was our foundation. More than a legend, he was the voice in our ear every day.” thompson family

Members of the Thompson family gathered in October 2016 to celebrate the dedication of the John R. Thompson Jr. Athletic Center.




Rev. Jerry Hayes, S.J., director of Ignatian Programs, Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J., vice president for Mission & Ministry, and Julia Farr (C’88 and Parent’19, ’21, ’24), executive director of the alumni association, shared a socially distanced but still meaningful walk and conversation in September.

A call to hope: A conversation with Julia Farr (C’88), executive director of the Georgetown University Alumni Association Since I became executive director of the Alumni Association two years ago, I’ve been committed to discovering and showcasing alumni stories in ways that are personal, creative, and bespoke. With more than 200,000 alumni across the globe, the stories are endless, but I want to shine a light on as many as possible, including through the new 1789 Seconds series (see page 38). I love sharing the core Georgetown story, so in September, I donned a face mask to talk with two campus ministry leaders about how faith has been guiding them in this unprecedented year.


As I walked down 36th Street socially distanced from my campus colleagues and friends Mark Bosco, S.J., and Jerry Hayes, S.J., the noon bells of Healy Hall rang. I remarked that listening to the daily extended bells at noon and 6 p.m. is my favorite part of living right outside Healy Gates. Father Bosco quickly responded, “the Angelus bells? In Medieval times it was the devotion prayed in memory of the Annunciation; and the bell tolled in the morning, at noon, and in the evening as a call to prayer.” The idea of a community call to prayer was the perfect start to our conversation about their faith experience during COVID-19, a conversation that took place on what happened to be the 480th birthday of the Society of Jesus. Within 48 hours of our campus closing last March, Dahlgren Chapel opened its doors with just a Jesuit priest, lector, and videographer to celebrate its first virtual Mass. In the face of all the uncertainties, Hoyas around the world were invited to community, to prayer, and to a new way of attending a ritual that now is the way—eight months later—we do things. Every Sunday, the virtual Mass, available to watch on Facebook Live or later, draws several thousand views.


I asked Father Bosco and Father Hayes to speak with me about life on campus since we suddenly went remote and how this global crisis has changed their outlook, impacted their mission, and influenced their prayer life. How did you view and experience life during the pandemic in its earliest months and how do you think about it and experience it now? Hayes: When COVID-19 first started, I was living in a state of “what next?” We started to realize all that we had to let go of—the spring break service trips, students returning to classes to finish the semester, and graduation. Then I started asking, “What can we do?” The reality of what we were facing crept into my awareness slowly. I then realized the question I needed to be asking was, “Where we can find hope?” I have been trying to see a way to bring community to people who are hurting. Much of my role is focused on engaging our community of faculty and staff, and that has required me to be a little more creative in these times. Bosco: When we discovered we were in the throes of a pandemic, we quickly pivoted to a focus on spiritual continuity for our Georgetown community. We had a sense of adventure in this experience—to extend the faith experience on campus into our student’s homes. We lived with the expectation that we would be back together in the fall, but we spent the summer developing Mission & Ministry in a way that could be adapted to whatever hybrid situation we might encounter. At the end of the summer, when most of our students didn’t return to campus, it hit me again —this is going on and on. I didn’t feel the same sense of adventure the second time around. I contemplated words like “endurance” and “hope,” and started asking questions like how do we support each other? How do we respect that we are fatigued by Zoom and our virtual liturgies and yet leverage our tools in the name of that spiritual continuity? What I’m feeling now is a sense of waiting and expectation. I ground myself in our Ignatian Spirituality that this is where we are supposed to be. And as I feel the anxiety of everyone around me, I ask, “How can I be an anchor for others?” While having such a small community still here on campus has been challenging for me, in some ways, the pandemic has made connections even easier and more prolific. In my oneon-one conversations with students, I am able to see them in their homes, zooming in from places like France, Mexico, and Colorado, meeting them literally where they are—a very Jesuit principle in practice. Tell me about the role of prayer for you during the pandemic. Hayes: The Ignatian examen prayer is all about finding the face of God in the people we encounter. And now we are called to look for the face of God on our Zoom calls and we look for the face of God above the mask.


Bosco: I pray the rosary in the morning. I dedicate a decade to our university administrators, especially President DeGioia, who has the responsibility of leading us during this crisis. And I dedicate a decade to our students. I pray for our community. I pray for hope, strength, and endurance for all of us. Where are you finding God in these challenging times? Hayes: The original name of the order of the Society of Jesus was the Compania de Jesus, translating to Friends in the Lord. I have found that one of the best things we can do as a Society is to come together in the breaking of the bread. I think I speak for Mark and myself when I say that we have found God in the discovery of deeper friendships—with both the Lord and within the brotherhood of the Jesuit community. Bosco: It is key for Jesuits to find God in all things. We find God in the anxiety of this pandemic; we find God in the small acts of kindness toward one another. These are the moments when we sense the revelation of God. St. Ignatius says that God will be found in the light and in the dark places; in the places where we are broken. As our conversation concludes, I am reminded of the call of the Angelus bells that will be tolling again in just a few hours: a community call to prayer and an unwavering reminder of our Jesuit values ringing out on the Hilltop. A call to find God in all things… even—and most especially—amid these challenging times. But the bells will also have new meaning to me after my conversation with Father Bosco and Father Hayes—their constancy calls us to endure and, perhaps above all, they call us to hope. •

Mark Bosco, S.J., is vice president for Mission & Ministry, and joined Georgetown in 2017. He also is a lecturer in the English department and is co-director and producer of the award-winning documentary feature film, Flannery, about the life of Catholic author Flannery O’Connor. — A member of the Georgetown community since 2016, Jerry Hayes, S.J., is director of Ignatian Programs. He provides spiritual direction and leads retreats that engage participants in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. — The 7 p.m. Sunday Mass from Dahlgren Chapel livestreams weekly on the university’s Facebook page: www.facebook. com/georgetownuniv.


Alumna lends expertise to Georgetown slavery archive project In conjunction with Michigan State University and the University of Virginia, Georgetown is continuing its commitment to slavery reconciliation by expanding access to these institutions’ slaveryrelated archive material through the “On These Grounds” project. This collaborative initiative will implement a novel approach to connecting thousands of archival items across the universities, including letters and bills of sale. In addition, the linked-data approach will use context and events as guides to paint a more comprehensive view of the lived histories and backgrounds of the enslaved communities at these institutions. “On These Grounds” is financially supported by gifts from alumni and a $550,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has funded other archival and digital humanities efforts across the three universities. While colleges and universities have distinct approaches to examining and interpreting their individual histories as slavery-complicit institutions, Dean of Georgetown University Library Harriette Hemmasi says that the project’s methodology will enable a broader understanding of the similarities and differences in these shared histories. With its focus on events recorded in the archives, the project will enhance the ability of scholars and the public to access and analyze these historical records and will allow descendants of those enslaved to gain a more dynamic picture of their ancestors’ lives. “The most important part of this project is that we are opening and connecting the archives in ways never before possible,” Hemmasi says. “In the past, we looked at each archive as if it were a separate, unique entity. With this model, however, researchers and the public will have the ability to examine and compare a wide range of archives to reconstruct a more comprehensive history, while also being able to delve more deeply into individual records. As the archives are allowed to speak, they will tell us the stories that

shaped not only the lives of our institutions but, more importantly, the lives of those enslaved at our institutions,” Hemmasi adds. Sharon Leon (C’97), associate professor of history and digital humanities at Michigan State, birthed the idea for “On These Grounds” and now serves as the project director. As an American Studies major, Leon learned to examine critical questions about American culture and heritage. Her role in this project connects to her first encounters with Georgetown’s slavery archives during her sophomore year, when she “worked with primary sources from archival materials related to the Maryland Province Jesuits” as part of a digital humanities project she and her fellow American Studies students conducted. “In existing scholarship, the scope is really about the Jesuits and why they did what they did. Now it’s our job to expand that lens and find out as much as we can about the enslaved community, about their families, and about the conditions in which they lived,” says Leon. Thus far, Leon has researched about 1,200 individuals living between 1717 and 1838, including Henny, who was a midwife and George and Flora, who lost three of their six children in one year due to a smallpox outbreak in the early 1790s. Beyond her expertise in digital humanities, Leon says she feels obligated to take on this project because of her family’s legacy as Georgetown alumni. “My father not only attended and worked at Georgetown, but my father’s family was from colonial Southern Maryland,” Leon says. “So I’m certain that my father’s family was on the ground with the very enslaved people I’m learning about.” Hemmasi and Leon emphasize that the work to learn more about the enslaved communities at Georgetown falls on the shoulders of the entire university community. “Grappling with the history of slavery at colleges and universities is a contemporary issue. These institutions multiplied access to privileged white people and limited equitable access to the descendants of the enslaved in a way that has had lasting consequences,” Leon says. “Therefore, this is everybody’s problem, but especially my problem as an alumna. My family didn’t pay tuition, but this work is my tuition. This is my ongoing debt.” • —Chelsea Burwell (G’16)

“On These Grounds” will make it easier to discover more nuanced information in slavery-related archival materials to gain a new understanding of the lived reality of bondage at institutions such as Georgetown. Georgetown observes Washington, D.C.’s April Emancipation Day with events, including this 2019 transcription session.



Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster (C’68) serves as the founder, chair, and CEO of InterEnergy Group. A longtime Georgetown volunteer leader, he credits his lifelong Jesuit education for shaping his perspectives. “I believe that if I have been able to succeed in the world, a lot had to do with Georgetown’s influence,” he says. He and his wife, Monica, are parents to four Georgetown graduates.

Georgetown parents give $25 million to create Americas Institute, build on Georgetown’s ‘decades-long commitment to Latin America’ Longtime Georgetown supporters Rolando (C’68) and Monica Gonalez-Bunster (Parents’00, ’05, ’14, ’16) have committed $25 million to establish the Americas Institute, creating a cross-disciplinary platform for the university’s work on Latin America and the hemisphere. The institute will bring Georgetown’s existing Center for Latin American Studies and Latin American Leadership Program under a university-wide umbrella that connects with other programs, including the Law Center’s Center for the Advancement of the Rule of Law in the Americas and the Americas Initiative in Georgetown College. Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, who originally hails from Argentina, sees Georgetown as well-positioned to bridge North and South America through collaboration with Latin American Jesuit universities. Latin America has one of the highest concentrations of Jesuit universities in the world, with 30 higher education institutions “I see Georgetown as being able to serve as a focal point of knowledge and change for the better,” he says. The institute will focus on research, teaching, and creating impact in the Americas across three strategic pillars: governance and the rule of law, economic growth and innovation, and


social and cultural inclusion. The gift will fund a faculty chair, strategic research and outreach programs, and scholarships for students enrolled in the Latin American Leadership Program and Center for Latin American Studies programs. Major goals of the institute include improving transnational cooperation with Brazil, Mexico, and other key partners on issues related to climate change, global health, migration, international trade, and technological innovation. “The world’s problems can’t be solved by just one discipline,” says Christopher S. Celenza, dean of Georgetown College and professor of history and classics. “We are committed as an institution to making the most of our global mission.” The institute will consider challenges facing the hemisphere as a whole. “We want to create a platform for a two-way dialogue,” says School of Foreign Service Dean Joel Hellman. “It’s not about the U.S. teaching Latin America. We need to listen to multiple voices from Latin America and build the future together.” • —Kate Colwell


Students inspire Medical Center to advance systemic inequity work to a new level of commitment to diversity, inclusion, and racial justice This past summer, student activism inspired the Georgetown University Medical Center to deepen its existing commitment to racial justice work. Motivated by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, more than 500 members of the School of Medicine community signed an open letter to university leaders calling for institutional action against systemic and structural racism. “In order to adequately create culturally competent and effective physicians, it is imperative we be trained to consider the impact that racism and the history of race-based medicine has on our patients’ lives, clinical encounters, and health outcomes,” wrote the students who initiated the effort. How institutions contribute to dismantling systemic racism has been top of mind in recent months, with widespread protests over police killings of Black people and the Kentucky grand jury decision to not charge Louisville police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor. The letter inspired the July launch of the Racial Justice Committee for Change (RJCC) to develop “specific recommenda-

tions to achieve racial equity in admissions, education, and the diversity of faculty, students, and staff across schools and programs at the Georgetown University Medical Center campus, and to better achieve Georgetown University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to address systemic racism,” said Dr. Edward B. Healton, executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine. “The RJCC work is focused on actions to better create and strengthen a culture of mutual respect and support, equity as a lived value, and to be truly welcoming to each of us and all of us,” Healton added. RJCC subcommittees meet every couple of weeks to discuss the following topics: well-being, experience, and responsiveness; safety and campus policing; recruitment, retention, and success of URM (underrepresented in medicine) students, staff, and faculty; and racial justice curriculum reform. Mariama Jallow (M’22), student co-chair of the RJCC subcommittee on underrepresented minority well-being, experience,

Photo: Ranit Mishori

Jennifer Gyamfi Holiday (M’22) speaks to health care providers on June 6 at McPherson Square in Washington, D.C., before a White Coats for Black Lives protest at the White House. She spoke on how anti-Black racism and white supremacy are institutionalized in medicine and urged providers to combat implicit biases.



and responsiveness, says that the work has felt like history in the making. “I have faith that this is just the beginning of sustainable institutional change.” The RJCC will present recommendations to medical center leadership by December 15. Several action items have already begun, and recommendations are expected in the short term, with ongoing implementation until the final recommendations and plans for continued work are submitted. The RJCC submitted its first report on September 30.

Lively summer programming with a purpose

“I remain grateful for the student leadership that has been a critical driving force behind this initiative,” Healton said, emphasizing that the work goes well beyond a committee. “Standing up the RJCC is an important goal, but it is by no means an end. It is one of our important vehicles for change, and its establishment marks only the beginning of the impactful work that lies ahead.” In response to the open letter with specific requests for curricular reform, the Medical Center has held fall workshops to review the medical school curriculum for racialized content. Additional changes have already been implemented, including: • A new required orientation session for first-year students on anti-racism, during which facilitators lead small group discussions of excerpts from Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century. • New student and faculty training on responding to microaggressions in the Cura Personalis M1 course. • Diversified curricular content for the Immunology, Rheumatology, and Dermatology module for this academic year. • Expanded representation by renaming a learning society to honor Georgetown otolaryngologist Earl H. Harley Jr. • Diversified portraiture across the medical center to include physician leaders of color Cliff Leftridge Jr., and Princy Kumar, M.D. • A renamed School of Medicine Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, with expanded content including Health Equity Forum events, Healing Circles, SPARK engagement and support activities (e.g., a student, faculty, and staff book club series including White Fragility), and a Teaching for Inclusion and Equity series. • A new Committee on Admissions Subcommittee on Diversity, committed to recruitment of URM students. The RJCC is also working on next steps beyond the letter to build on the tremendous initiative medical students began, collaborating and work closely with colleagues in the School of Nursing & Health Studies, Biomedical Graduate Education, and the new MedStar Working Group for Racial Justice. • —Kate Colwell


From juggling to dancing with kids, behind-the-scenes tours of campus beehives and alumni-owned craft breweries, insider access at NBC Studios to living like an Italian at home, Georgetown offered alumni more than 50 live virtual experiences with 31 alumni and six faculty expert hosts. The novel eight-week Zoom-based programming was part of 90 Days with Georgetown, a fundraising initiative to support two crucial university priorities—COVID-19 response and student financial aid (see page 36). Participants were invited to make a suggested donation to the 90 Days initiative when they registered for a session. Over the eight weeks of programming, 1,204 registrants made 643 gifts totaling just under $31,200. The Alumni Association, which sponsored the programming, thanks the talented and generous sessions hosts, participants, and donors.


Student volunteers fight for social justice, COVID-19 relief Amid the chaos of tear gas, rubber bullets, and cries of injured protestors, Ethan Greer (C’23) stood ready to help with bandages and disinfectant. “There were fires everywhere, people screaming, clouds of tear gas—it was very horrific,” recalls Greer, who lives in Canton, Georgia, about 40 miles from Atlanta, where he worked as a volunteer medic helping protestors injured in confrontations with the police following the killing of George Floyd. He is one of several Georgetown students who have been on the front lines of efforts to help during the coronavirus pandemic, racial injustice protests, and the economic downturn. Greer was on the scene during several nights of protests in the Atlanta area in June and July following high-profile police killings, marching with activists during the day and helping to provide first aid at night. He is trained in CPR and received basic first aid training but had never worked as a medic under such stressful conditions. “There were a lot of times when I wasn’t sure if we were going to get arrested or seriously hurt. We didn’t know if they were going to open fire with actual bullets, so that was really scary,” Greer says. “The protests were, and are, very important and people will remember them for a long time. It was cool to be part of that,” he says. Debating for change Greer was not alone in his activism. After watching television coverage of Black Lives Matter protests, Bernard Medeiros (C’24) and Zidao Wang (C’24) knew they couldn’t wait any longer to help. The two friends from Mequon, Wisconsin, were high school debate team partners, so they decided to use their shared hobby as a vehicle to help spur reform in the criminal justice system.

Medeiros and Wang teamed up with several other college students from across the country to offer debate tutoring, lectures, and feedback to high school students for a small fee. The group, Policy Coaching, donated all proceeds to the Bail Project, a nonprofit organization that helps pay bail for low-income people awaiting trial. “We saw everyone trying to do their part and we wanted to do something that we had a unique angle on,” Wang says. “Trying to make bail payments has really disastrous consequences, especially on single mothers and people who have to work. It really disrupts their lives.” The group held a series of lectures over Zoom; Wang and Medeiros also offered individual coaching sessions and provided feedback on debate speeches. In total, Policy Coaching donated more than $1,200 to the Bail Project. “We thought it would have a large impact and the money could be recycled,” says Wang, who noted that funds for bail payments can be used again when defendants appear for their trial and the money is repaid. Stepping up for communities in need After Chicago Public Schools announced in July that they would reopen for in-person classes in the fall, LaHannah Giles (C’23) knew she had to help Chicago children have the needed materials for school. CPS later reversed their decision and chose to have an all-virtual fall semester, but not before Giles started an organization called March for the Hood, which provided low-income students with donated school supplies and personal protective equipment. Giles started March for the Hood after receiving a $5,000 grant from Chicago Scholars, a group that supports students in Chicago Public Schools.

Left: LaHannah Giles (C’23), kneeling, with other March for the Hood volunteers, organized school supply drives in Chicago over the summer. Right: This past March, Allison Rooney (M’22), one of the MedSupplyDrive founders, loads a car with PPE. The organization helped deliver supplies to dozens of states using the help of volunteers from 66 other medical schools.



She held a series of supply drives in partnership with several other Chicago nonprofits and distributed notebooks, backpacks, writing utensils, face masks, and food. “I wanted to create access through investing directly into students’ education because there has been a strain on support available to them,” she says. “Since the start of the pandemic, many of the resources that people counted on were taken away,” Giles says. “One mother told us she was really grateful for the school supplies she received because it was one less thing she had to worry about.” Fighting food waste during the pandemic Cooper Adams (B’21), Elisabeth O’Brien (C’20), and Peter DiGiovanni (C’21) spent the summer working remotely for the Farmlink Project, a grassroots charity run by college students that aims to connect farms with surplus produce with food banks facing food shortages. “Just being able to talk to and understand the lives of people who are growing the food for all of us to eat in the U.S. is something I never envisioned myself doing but something I’m extremely grateful for,” says Adams, a management and international business major. Farmlink has delivered over 12 million pounds of produce and served more than 10 million meals. The Georgetown students worked remotely with Farmlink to coordinate food donations in several states across the country, including Washington State, New Mexico, California, North Carolina, and New Jersey. Adams said reduced demand in the food service industry has hurt farmers, who continued to grow their supply even as movie theatres, ballparks, and other businesses stopped or cut back on food orders. “To say that COVID-19 has increased food insecurity is a vast understatement,” he says. The group continues outreach to growers and consumers across the country, with hopes of growing their volunteer force to help facilitate more donations. Delivering PPE where it’s needed most Shortly after her medical school peers were pulled from their clinical rotations due to COVID-19 health restrictions in March, Hannah Day (M’22) texted her classmates, asking if they would be interested in collecting personal protective equipment to donate to hospitals in need. Five other third-year students responded and began work on what would become an international nonprofit organization called MedSupplyDrive. “I don’t think any of us really imagined what it was going to turn into,” says Day. “Things kept taking shape and it kind of caught on fire on social media.” Within the first two weeks, the organization gained more than 341 volunteers from 37 states. Volunteers came from 41 undergraduate universities and 66 medical schools. They collected PPE from research labs, tattoo parlors, construction firms, auto body companies, and other businesses.


Photo: Farmlink

This past summer, Georgetown students worked remotely with other Farmlink teams on the ground to help bridge the gap between two problems brought on by the pandemic: farmers with surplus produce and people facing food insecurity.

After initially focusing on relief efforts in New York, volunteers shifted toward securing donations for hospitals in Florida, Arizona, and California, where cases rose dramatically over the summer, according to Allison Rooney (M’22), who helped oversee regional coordinators for MedSupplyDrive. “We began focusing on smaller facilities or clinics in rural regions with less opportunity to acquire these supplies,” Rooney says. When protestors marched in major cities in response to the murder of George Floyd, MedSupplyDrive began work to ensure Black Lives Matter activists would have access to PPE. “As health care professionals going into a field dedicated to protecting human life, the Black Lives Matter movement was extremely important to all of us,” she says. Rooney said the medical students who started the initiative transferred leadership of the nonprofit to regional coordinators in July to ensure MedSupplyDrive continued when their medical school classes resumed. “There’s a common misconception right now that the supply chain caught up and there are no longer PPE shortages. This is not true.” Rooney says. “The pandemic is not going anywhere. As long as there is a need we’re going to try and fill it and adapt to the changing realm.” • —Kelly Anderson (SFS'23)


90 DAYS with



Community gives to meet the economic challenges of COVID-19 Seeking to reinforce community bonds during a time of physical dislocation and to help lay the foundation for success in the 2020-21 academic year, Georgetown introduced 90 Days with Georgetown in early June. This summer-long initiative brought thousands of alumni together through virtual events and raised millions of dollars in support of two crucial priorities that will directly and immediately strengthen Georgetown: the university’s COVID-19 response and student financial aid. Hoyas from around the world participated, with more than 20,000 members of the Georgetown community registering for virtual events and 9,000 committing $40 million to the university. These funds are critical to mission continuity, offsetting some of the university’s COVID-19-related operational losses from the end of fiscal year 2020 and enabling the university to start 2021 in a stronger position to tackle a wide range of pandemic-related challenges, such as significantly increased financial aid need, campus public


health infrastructure requirements, and additional investments in technology and pedagogy to facilitate virtual learning. Most importantly, 90 Days with Georgetown reinforced community bonds at a time when many families faced serious health and financial concerns, many frontline workers toiled day and night, and everyone felt the burden of loneliness, worry, and heartache. 90 Days with Georgetown reminded us that we are all Hoyas, and we are all in this together. Mission continuity From the earliest signs of the novel coronavirus in January 2020, Georgetown has been guided by a commitment to the health and safety of its community. In early March, the university decided to pivot to a virtual learning environment, a transition that Georgetown approached with a particular concern for the needs and well-being of students.


“If I’ve learned one thing these last several months, it’s that Georgetown is everywhere. Even when we are not physically together, we are united in spirit and values; we are connected through the work of learning and teaching; and we are living our commitment to being people for others.” —R. Bartley Moore (SFS’87), Vice President, Advancement

From ensuring their safe travel home, shipping or storing belongings left on campus, and providing internet broadband access, to offering continued on-campus housing and other critical services to the small number of students who could not return to their permanent addresses, the university sought to provide the support students needed. In addition, the university refunded prorated room and board costs to all students, including those receiving financial aid, to ensure continued food and housing security for the semester. Meanwhile, Georgetown quickly shifted to virtual learning for all students, a transition facilitated by the university’s more than 20-year investment in technology-enhanced and technology-aided teaching and learning. As a result, students were able to finish their semester’s work; seniors and graduate students in their final years were able to graduate on time; and the university was able to successfully start the 2020–21 academic year in virtual mode, in accordance with public health guidance provided by the District of Columbia. Community strength With live events canceled due to social distancing requirements, the university’s Office of Advancement worked with alumni volunteers across the country to set up more than 200 virtual experiences to elevate alumni connectivity during the summer months. Optional donations supported the 90 Days initiative. These live, curated Zoom sessions showcased Hoya alumni chefs, entertainers, athletes, florists, and assorted entrepreneurs who shared their time and expertise to support their alma mater. Even Jack the Bulldog joined the fun, jumping into remote meetings to offer some Georgetown cheer (see page 33). Moving forward The COVID-19 pandemic presented Georgetown with an unprecedented financial challenge. University-wide belt-tightening—and a surge of support from alumni, family, and friends in June—enabled Georgetown to close fiscal year 2020 with a deficit of $25 million, less than half of what many universities experienced.


But even with careful financial discipline, Georgetown is likely to face a larger deficit in fiscal year 2021—the projected gap is currently estimated at $40 million. Keeping Georgetown campuses safe and healthy in the shortterm will require everything from testing to PPE to signage to technology upgrades. But beyond that, gifts are needed to safeguard long-term institutional health and the university’s decades-long commitment to access and affordability. Go to to read more about Georgetown’s priorities moving forward and consider making a gift of any size to support mission continuity. • —Camille Scarborough

90 Days with Georgetown BY THE NUMBERS June–August 2020

$42 million >9,700 200+ >21K

in gifts


virtual events

event registrants


Julia Farr (C’88 and Parent), executive director of the Alumni Association, hosts the 1789 Seconds webinar series. Her kickoff guest in July was entertainment executive Andrew Jameson (SFS’90). Learn about new programming at

Alumni share their often-unusual career journeys in webinars To keep alumni connections strong during a time of social distancing, Alumni Career Services relaunched the “1789 Seconds” webinar series in July. In just under 30 minutes—approximately 1789 seconds—the webinars provide attendees an opportunity to hear about a fellow Hoya’s experience on the Hilltop and learn about alumni who have forged career paths that are not necessarily linear or conventional. Julia Farr (C’88 and Parent), executive director of the Alumni Association, hosts each episode. The July broadcast featured Andrew Jameson (SFS’90). Originally a business affairs lawyer, Jameson is now a Hollywood entertainment executive who has produced more than 100 primetime television shows, including Power and The Good Life. Jameson credited his Georgetown education for a skill that’s been key to his success: “Diplomacy is a constant in my life. It’s something I do every day. The foundation of that was clearly the School of Foreign Service,” he shared. Peter Hamby (C’03), Emmy-award winning producer and host of Snapchat’s “Good Luck America,” was Farr’s September

webcast guest. Hamby recounted that he chose Georgetown because of his interest in writing, international politics, the D.C. location, and the “nerdy, Jesuit academia” that he credits for developing his intellectual curiosity, finding his voice, and creating a community that inspired his interest in investigative journalism. Lulu Garcia-Navarro (SFS’94), host of National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday was the October guest. Sarah Smith, senior associate director of Alumni Career Services and program organizer, says that 1789 Seconds showcases “Georgetown’s 200,000 alumni who are doing 200,000 different, amazing things.” The series will continue to broadcast live episodes monthly throughout the current academic year. • —Tammara Sutton You can register for upcoming webcasts at If you miss a session, you can catch a recording at com/c/GeorgetownACS/videos. We encourage you to share the recorded broadcasts with anyone in your network.



Athletics gift highlights diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives A recent gift from the Behrens family will establish a new position in the Department of Athletics focused on matters related to social justice, specifically the training and education of student-athletes, coaches, and staff members. Lee Reed, Francis X. Rienzo Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, said the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Athletics position also will facilitate partnerships between Georgetown Athletics and campus units, providing opportunities for interaction between and among a diverse population. “Georgetown Athletics is committed to continuing to develop a community where all members feel valued, heard, and respected,” said Reed. “The unjust killing of Black people at the hands of the police reminds us of our responsibility to not only educate, but to speak up in times of injustice. We support our student-athletes, coaches, and staff in the positive actions they are taking in the fight against racial and social injustice and we promise them that prejudice of any kind will not be tolerated in the Georgetown Athletics community.” The work of the new Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Athletics will complement that of the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group as both pursue a strategic goal of inclusive excellence. The working group brings together coaches, student-athletes, staff, and campus partners. Amid the recent nationwide protests, the group shifted focus to examine the experience of the Black student-athlete. The working group includes Rosemary Kilkenny (L’87), who serves as Georgetown’s vice president, diversity, equity,

inclusion and chief diversity officer; Kilkenny also sits on the Big East Diversity and Inclusion Working Group. “I would like for the working group to help all student-athletes feel included and feel like their worth is more than what they can do on the playing field, that their worth is to contribute intellectually in the classroom and to contribute to the overall mission of the University,” said Kilkenny. “This mission of social justice asks us to take care of each other and create a sense of belonging.” “My family and I are honored to assist the Athletics Department in creating this important new position,” said former studentathlete Mary Taylor Behrens (C’83). “We hope the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Athletics will serve as a voice and mentor for the Black student-athletes to feel more welcome and accepted on campus, as well as among their teammates. Additionally, the new position will help educate all student-athletes, coaches, and staff on how to be better allies.” Behrens was a member of the track team during her time on the Hilltop, is a Regent Emeritus, and serves as the head of the Regent’s Athletics Committee. Her son Matt (C’18, L’22) played lacrosse and was a Patrick Healy Fellow, and her son Chris (C’16) also graduated from Georgetown. “The goal of this gift is to harness the fullest potential of every player, team, and community on Georgetown’s campus,” said Matt Behrens. “To prepare the next generation of allies and leaders in the fight for true racial justice, we can start right here and model leadership in this moment.” • —Georgetown Athletics The family of Mary Taylor Behrens (C’83) has made a gift to establish a new position in the Department of Athletics focused on matters related to social justice, specifically the training and education of student-athletes, coaches, and staff members. “We hope the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for Athletics will serve as a voice and mentor for Black student-athletes to feel more welcome and accepted on campus, as well as among their teammates,” says Behrens, a former student-athlete. Chris and Mary Behrens are parents of Matt (C’18, L’22) who played lacrosse, and Chris (C’16). The family, left, is pictured on campus in April 2018.



Four questions about technologyenhanced learning at Georgetown How does CNDLS compare to work at other universities? First, we are not new to this. Over the past 20 years, CNDLS has developed a strong presence on campus. There are only a few centers in higher education that are like CNDLS, and those that are similar are much newer. The full range of services and activities that CNDLS provides is definitely not common. I would say that Georgetown is probably unique in the commitment of time and energy, from both the faculty and the institution. By the end of this past summer, we have worked, over time, with about 90 percent of the Main Campus faculty, and that’s really impressive engagement. How did CNDLS help the university pivot to an online environment to complete the spring semester? In March, the first priority was to quickly move to the new environment. The goal was not to be perfect, but for faculty members to be compassionate with students and themselves. We had to figure out the best tools to continue instruction until the end of the semester. There were a few hundred courses that were really challenging because they had lab components or other unique features. Photo: Joe King, CNDLS

Professor of English Eddie Maloney is executive director of the university’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship—better known as CNDLS—which leads Georgetown’s strategy to advance teaching and learning practices, including a major emphasis on innovative approaches to technology-enhanced learning. Georgetown Magazine asked him about the university’s 20-year investment in CNDLS and how it has served the university during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic was obviously unforeseeable, but had there been precedents over the past 20 years? About eight years ago, there was a MOOCs craze. [MOOCs —short for Massive Open Online Course—offered open-access courses via web-based platforms like edEx.] At that time there was a lot of concern about its impact on the future of higher education. Georgetown set up an excellent process to not only understand [student motivations] at the time, but also to make sure that we were reinvesting in important ways, even after the threat of MOOCs receded. That ongoing process served us well and gave us an enhanced capacity to respond with agility this year. The fall semester is in a remote environment. How did CNDLS help prepare the faculty? Going into the summer, we didn’t know whether we’d be teaching all in-class, all online, or in a hybrid model so we had to think how to teach in any of those options. It was a busy summer as we helped faculty members adapt courses for an unknown environment. COVID-19 requires us to do something that we’ve never done at this scale before and we need to do so in a way that is as effective as possible because our students are depending on it. • —Interview by Jeffrey Donahoe



Idol Family Fellowship equips students for the virtual workplace This past summer, a program that supports first-generation and low-income undergraduates in summer internships adapted to meet the challenges of the pandemic, offering financial resources and advice that helped students facing new obstacles in their introduction to the world of professional work.

Students compete for the Idol Fellowship through several rounds of interviews with previous participants in the program. Eleven students were chosen this past February, and after the pandemic hit, the Idol team helped students find remote internship opportunities.

The Idol Family Fellowship Program awards stipends to cover the cost of housing and transportation and connect interns to a network of alumni who offer professional advice. The coronavirus forced many fellowship participants to work remotely, so the program modified the stipends to match their needs.

Glen Waters (C’21), an African American studies and English major from Dallas, who spent the summer working remotely as a research intern at the National Black Worker Center Project, said he found the support network of alumni available through the Idol Fellowship invaluable.

Malak Abusoud (SFS’22), a research intern at The Middle East Institute in Washington, said she would not have been able to spend the summer exploring Egyptian security and economic policy without the additional help.

“It was amazing to be able to have this access to a repertoire of professionals who have resources and are able to talk to you,” says Waters, who created a mixtape to help Black workers understand their rights during the pandemic as part of his summer work.

“The fact that I was able to have the resources to pay for my accommodations and have stable housing throughout the summer during COVID-19 is incredible,” said Abusoud, an international economics major from Jerusalem who lived in Washington in housing provided by the fellowship program.

The fellowship is funded by a $5 million gift from the Idol family, whose members have strong connections to Georgetown. John Idol, father of Christina (C’14), is a former member of the Board of Directors, Board of Regents, and College Board of Advisors.

Melissa Foy (C’03), director of the Georgetown Scholars Program, said the Idol Fellowship has been a critical resource for first-generation and low-income students seeking professional advancement opportunities. “Every year my staff and I see students struggle between the short-term need for money and the long-term benefit provided by these internships,” Foy says. “It can be really hard to apply to unpaid internships, and most internships tend to be unpaid when you are entry-level,” Abusoud says. “The Idol Fellowship really helped me in my internship because I wasn’t really stressed about whether I could find food or housing.”

“Our family believes that education and access to professional development opportunities that serve as a training ground for future employment will help create advantages for first-generation students at Georgetown,” John Idol said. The Idol Fellowship will provide support in-person in Washington next summer in collaboration with the Capitol Applied Learning Lab (CALL) initiative run by Georgetown’s Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative. The partnership will give fellows access to professional development seminars, networking opportunities, mentoring, community service options, and social events during their internships. • —Kelly Anderson (SFS’23)

Participants in the 2020 Idol Family Fellowship Program met regularly over Zoom this past summer to support each other as they adjusted to this dramatically new learning environment. The program was adapted to ensure it could continue virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.



LIVES WELL LIVED Lives Well Lived honors a few alumni who have recently passed away with short obituaries. We share with you these portraits of alumni beyond the headlines who have made an endelible impact living day to day. You can find an In Memoriam list at

T. David Stapleton Jr. (C’64, Parent) Meghan Stapleton Steenburgh (C’94) says that her father, David Stapleton, who died on May 15, 2020, at age 77, was such a dedicated alumnus that he died wearing a Georgetown T-shirt. Stapleton and his wife of nearly 54 years, Helene, lived in Auburn, New York, where they settled after he earned his law degree from The Catholic University of America. Stapleton practiced law and served as an Assistant District Attorney for Cayuga County. Steenburgh says that her father’s “true legal passion” emerged in the second half of his career, when he began a focus on elder law. He served on the Executive Committee of the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, including as chair—“antique chair,” as he jokingly referred to himself—of the 3,000-member section, which advocates for the elderly and those with special needs. Stapleton received numerous awards for his work. Stapleton was an alumni admissions interviewer for more than 50 years and helped establish a scholarship in his parents’ name to assist Central New York students attend Georgetown. In addition to his wife and daughter, Stapleton is survived by another daughter, Shannon, son David (C’95), four grandchildren, and many close Hoya friends. He was the son of Thomas D. Stapleton, M.D. (C’34, M’38).

Marie-Marcelle Buteau Racine (G’70) Marie-Marcelle Buteau Racine, who emigrated with her husband, Etzer, to the United States in 1963 from Haiti, took part in history that year when she joined an estimated 250,000 participants at the National Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. “It was there, by the Reflecting Pool, [that] she added her voice to that collective call for change, that she discovered an abiding love for the United States of America,” wrote her son, Karl, in The Washington Post. Decades later, in 2017, in her 80s, she attended the Women’s March, holding a handwritten sign that read, “Welcome to the New Civil Rights Era.” Fluent in eight languages, Racine received a doctorate in French and theoretical linguistics from Georgetown in 1970. She was a professor of French Language and Literatures for 45 years at the University of the District of Columbia, where she held many administrative positions, including department chair, associate dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, and as acting dean. She was a FulbrightHays Fellow in 2002 and retired as professor emerita in 2013. Racine was part of many social justice causes. Racine died on July 23, 2020, at age 86. In addition to her son, she is survived by a daughter, Mikaele, and a sister.



Robert J. Menegaz, M.D. (C’58, M’62) Robert J. Menegaz grew up in New Jersey, not far from the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, where his Italian immigrant father, Enrico, had entered the United States. As he worked his way through Georgetown, Menegaz regularly wrote to his parents, sharing stories of his student life and thanking them for their sacrifices—letters that his mother kept for decades. Menegaz served as a Navy medical officer and practiced internal medicine and cardiology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. “Dr. Bob,” as he was called by everyone, was known for making house calls on foot or by folding bike until his later years. Mindful of his roots, Menegaz provided free care to indigent patients. His wife, Donna, recalls that when she was helping her husband clean out his office after his retirement, she found a thick folder of letters and evaluations from residents he had trained over the years. In addition to thanking him for teaching clinical care and physical examination, the letters had another theme. “Over and over, the former residents said that Bob had shown them the importance of being compassionate,” she says. Menegaz died on September 11, 2020, at his home in Sarasota, at age 84. In addition to his wife, he is survived by three children, their spouses, and three grandchildren.

John G. Conaghan (C’67, L’71) Diane Dubiel describes her longtime friend and companion, John Geoffrey Conaghan, as a man with a keen mind and natural wit, who told fascinating stories on any subject, from 1960’s rock stars to the history of a molecule. Fluent in five languages, his wide interests and knowledge seemed boundless. She recalls him being unbeatable at trivia, a trait that likely qualified him for an invitation to be a Jeopardy contestant. “He won more bottles of wine as prizes at local trivia nights than I can remember,” Dubiel says. In addition to his bachelor’s and J.D. from Georgetown, Conaghan earned an MBA at Columbia University. He had an avid interest in geology and metals, and in his quest for advances in clean soil technology, he founded several patented mining equipment companies in Alaska and Nevada. Dubiel fondly remembers a trip to D.C. early in their relationship. “We hired a cab driver for an afternoon, just to take us around Georgetown,” she recalls. “We saw the campus and also the pubs and hangouts John had loved as a student. It was such fun.” Conaghan passed away in San Francisco on March 13, 2020. In addition to Dubiel, he is survived by his brother, Bill, and many friends. “John taught me to love the Hoyas, and I’ll keep watching them.”




Protestant chaplain

Rev. Ebony Grisom on guiding students, confronting symbols, and praying without ceasing during the pandemic. Photo: Campus Ministry, 2019

Rev. Ebony Grisom joined Georgetown as a Protestant chaplain in fall 2019. This past summer, she became interim director of Protestant Christian Ministry. What brought you to Georgetown? I had worked in higher education, and I was really excited about the opportunity to have the best of both worlds— both fully church and fully academic. Georgetown was particularly appealing because people here see the value of fully integrating faith into their lives. What is particularly satisfying about campus ministry? What’s great about being with college students is that worshiping or exploring questions of faith isn’t being imposed on them. They are making that decision and claiming it for themselves. As chaplains, we act more as conversation partners and guides. I went to a public university, and I don’t recall a robust campus ministry there. But I sang in the gospel choir for two years, and that was a really formative experience. Before earning your divinity degree, you earned degrees in American and African history. Does that expertise frame your view of what’s happening in our country now? There have been tremendous gains in civil rights, voting rights, and human rights but they required tremendous losses. Not just in the Civil Rights Era. In 2020 alone, we have seen the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor—all tremendous losses. To activate our country today, it’s not just that someone has to die, it’s that someone has to die on video. Black people have been saying that this is our reality for hundreds of years. Why


weren’t our words enough? Why didn’t more people believe us? But I do feel hopeful that we will come through this moment with a different iteration of America.

What’s great about being with college students is that worshiping or exploring questions of faith isn’t being imposed on them. They are making that decision and claiming it for themselves. What’s your perspective about reconsidering the role of statues, monuments, flags, and team names? There’s a power in confronting symbols. It says that this is not who we want to be anymore. Has it been difficult to make time to reflect and pray during the pandemic? A passage from 1 Thessalonians tells us to “pray without ceasing.” I think a lot of people imagine prayer to be hands clasped, head bowed—which is one posture. But prayer is also a kind of constant communion with God, regardless of what one is doing. To be able to hear and discern the voice of God in all things. I pray without ceasing in that way. G EORG E TOWN M AG A Z INE FALL 2020

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