B U L L E T I N
Charlie Flynn â€™70 Transforms a Riverfront From spanish Harlem to the Boardroom Growing Scientists at Taft
Spring 2015 winter 2015
In this iSSue
Spring 2015 E . c o li w
fu or es c en
t p r o t ei n
a change of course Charlie Flynn ’70 Transforms a Community’s Riverfront By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84
growing Scientists Taft Students Hard at Work in Labs and Classrooms By Kaitlin Thomas Orfitelli
3 4 4 5 11 12 20 44 45 85 88
On Main Hall Letters Taft Trivia Alumni Spotlight In Print Around the Pond Sports Tales of a Taftie: Hank Taft ’43 Alumni Notes Milestones From the Archives: Out of Time
rosa rising Jacqueline Rosa ’82 From Spanish Harlem to the Boardroom By Neil Vigdor ’95
m Mary Collette ‘17, Julian White ‘16, and Jane Kim ‘15 enjoy Taft’s Winter Formal. RobeRt
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
On Main Hall
a word from headmaSter willy macmullen ’78 Spring 2015
Volume 85, Number 3
B U L L E T I N
EdiTor Linda Hedman Beyus dirECTor oF MarKETiNg aNd CoMMuNiCaTioNs Kaitlin Thomas Orfitelli
Charlie Flynn ’70 tranSformS a riverfront from SpaniSh harlem to the Boardroom
pHoTograpHy robert Falcetti
growing ScientiStS at taft
aLuMNi NoTEs assisTaNT Katey geer Spring 2015 winter 2015
on the cover
Charlie Flynn ’70 catches some late-day sun in the restored and now-vibrant yuma Crossing National Heritage area that he heads located along the Colorado river.
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The Taft Bulletin (issN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, august, and November, by The Taft school, 110 Woodbury road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends of the school. all rights reserved.
WHy arE WE iN a CaMpaigN? BECausE WE arE a grEaT sCHooL THaT WaNTs To BE EVEN BETTEr.
This fall I was speaking to an alumni audience about our capital campaign and someone asked me, “Do you ever get tired of asking for money for the school?” You can guess my answer. “Never,” I said. “It’s a privilege. And more importantly, remember that a campaign is a proxy for improvement and excellence. If we were not trying to raise money, you should be asking, ‘Why not’”? So that’s what our capital campaign Ever Taft, Even Stronger is about: improvement and excellence. It’s a campaign rooted in the truth that for schools, endowment equals destiny. And it extends our history of raising funds for the school: recall the Kenan Challenge, which did so much for faculty compensation, or the Campaign for Taft, which Lance Odden and Jerry Romano led from 1995 to 1999. Campaigns are one way schools get better. I often explain to alumni and parents a few vital truths about Taft and the reasons for a campaign. First, Taft is thriving, stronger than ever. The faculty is talented and passionate. The applicant pool has never been deeper and more diverse. The programmatic offerings—academic courses and extracurricular activities—are remarkable. The campus is beautiful and well cared for. Second, Taft is a lean and disciplined institution, as we have been throughout our history. In the educational excellence business, Taft is a low-cost provider, and it always has been. Third, relative to our peer schools, and more important, relative to our aspirations, we are underendowed. Finally, through board discussion and strategic planning, we have identified critical areas of school life that we are committed to improving by increasing our endowment: faculty compensation and benefits, financial aid, campus upkeep, and academic programming. The campaign, then, is predominantly an endowment campaign, because we all know that very good and necessary things flow from a robust endowment: you can recruit, retain, and
grow a world-class faculty; you can offer financial aid to bright and deserving students who might otherwise not attend; you can invest in the care and renovation of our lovely campus; you can deepen and broaden opportunities in service, global leadership, technology, and environmental science; you can moderate annual tuition increases; and you can maintain a low endowment draw to ensure intergenerational equity. I believe it’s a really compelling case, and I feel fortunate to tell this story: Taft is blessed to have so many generous alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends who have responded to the call. When we announced our goal of $175 million (split between $150 million in capital and $25 in annual giving), we knew ours was an ambitious goal. But over the past five years, the support has been magnificent. As of March 31, we have raised $157 million, of which $29 million is for the Annual Fund. Funds have been directed to endow faculty chairs, support professional growth, establish scholarships, expand offerings in service and leadership, and renovate classrooms, dormitories, and labs; other dollars have been unrestricted. Witnessing this level of support is inspiring. So, do I ever tire of asking people to support Taft? Never, and I never will. Remember: a campaign is a proxy for excellence and improvement. It’s how you get better. Our school is such an important one, to the nation and the globe; and the education we provide today, as yesterday, is an extraordinary and unique one. To all who have supported the school, I extend my deep gratitude. To those who have not yet, I hope you will consider joining this great cause which Horace Taft envisioned in 1890.
Willy MacMullen ’78 Read more about the campaign’s progress on the inside back cover.
Connect with Tafties: taftschool.org/evertrue Explore Taft: get the app on iTunes.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
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“A campaign is a proxy for excellence and improvement. It’s how you get better.” Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
letterS I have read the Bulletin for many years and more closely than ever now that I am retired from the University of Virginia. It is the finest of publications, always perfectly written and illustrated, and so rich in memories! In the winter issue, my attention was drawn to the 1968 Alumni Notes, where my name was mentioned in reference to Mike Sandifer ’68. I remember Mike in the role of Lucky, when a few students in Advanced French and I decided to stage Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in the Chapel as a spring independent project. The play is supposed to take just
over an hour to perform, but we managed to stretch it to 90 minutes. The actors knew their parts well enough, but once on stage, they all seemed to be struck by some sort of existential anguish. How we laughed about it later! I remember my Advanced French Tafties in 1968 as among the very best students I ever taught: Mike, Bruce, Christian, so many I cannot list here. I also fondly remember Shaw Kinsley ’66, who guided me through my first drive across the Colorado Great Divide and Arizona. I remember Buzz Seeley ’66, who was practically my roommate on
corrections We apologize for an error in the winter issue’s Maru-a-Pula feature: Isabel Stack is a Class of 2014 alumnus (not ’13), and she spent six wonderful weeks in Botswana (not three) as a teacher’s assistant. In addition to a few ’51 alums mentioned in the Little Giants archive photo caption (winter Alumni Notes, page 40), we’d like to note that revered coach and teacher Bill Sullivan was also pictured.
Taft trivia Do you know what these tiles at Taft depict in their design and why? And where are they being used? Send your guess to the editor (email@example.com). The winner, whose name will be randomly chosen, will win a Taft sailcloth wine tote. Congratulations to Joe Dillard ’09 who, among others for the winter issue, correctly identified the lovely carved white panel’s location: the Harley Roberts Room. And yes, the close-up was of Horace D. Taft.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
weekends and woke me up by cooking awful smelling stuff for breakfast. I want Mike Sandifer to know that our daughter, Andrée Simon, is COO of FINCA and is periodically in Haiti. They should try to get together some time. My best wishes to all. I would only be too happy to hear from my Tafties and a multitude of good friends Rosanne and I left behind in 1968: my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
by linda Hedman beyus
—Roland H. Simon (Taft faculty 1964–68)
love it? comments? tell us! We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write. Linda Hedman Beyus, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 email@example.com
Q&a with writer, photographer, and strategy consultant mick minard ’91 MiCK MiNard took on an ambitious
project: co-authoring a book of photographic portraits and personal reflections from 15 women leaders across India who are improving the lives of ordinary people in their communities in extraordinary ways. The Poetry of Purpose: A Portrait of Women Leaders of India includes social activists, educators, doctors, development practitioners, farmers, athletes, social entrepreneurs, filmmakers, community health workers, and more. Minard’s passion for all of this—the women, their collective endeavors,
reflected in her book—is palpable. As she writes, “Through these women’s stories, as told in words and photographs, we might appreciate…the extent to which women’s leadership represents a new frontier of possibility that will always be with us—one that already is restoring a great faith in human nature, along with a strong desire to know what goodness there is in the world…for all to see.” Since 1998, Minard has worked in the United States, Europe, East Africa, and South Asia with both nonprofit and forprofit social ventures, especially those
m a selection of photographs from Mick Minard’s book about indian women leaders. .
m Mick Minard ’91
serving the underprivileged and the rural poor. When not traveling, she lives on her family farm in northern New Jersey. continued on page 10—
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
unbroken THE iNsTaNT HE Was airBorNE
on his mountain bike that April day in 2013, Steve Shope ’80 knew. He didn’t have enough speed to land the jump, though he had done this move successfully dozens of times before. He either had to ditch the bike or attempt to land safely—a split-second decision. Shope realized right after his head took the blow that his life would never be the same. “They say there are five stages of grief—and one of them is acceptance. I think this also applies to quadriplegics,” says Shope in State of Play: Broken, an episode of an HBO series directed by Shope’s classmate Peter Berg ’80. The show, which aired in November, chronicles the story of two competitive athletes, Shope and Eric LeGrand, a Rutgers University football
star—both now quadriplegic—and their courageous recovery process following devastating spinal cord injuries. Broken offers an intimate portrayal of everyday life for the Shope and LeGrand families, depicting the hurdles that not just the injured but also their families face on a regular basis. Filmed largely at the Shopes’ home in Newfields, New Hampshire, it’s poignant and emotionally candid. In one moving moment of the episode, Shope, husband and father of two, recalls the moments following the accident when thoughts turned immediately to his wife, Julie. Choked up, he says: “I thought I had let her down.” Berg, who conceptualized the documentary in part to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries, says he wanted to
take the audience on a journey through life with a catastrophic injury. “It’s extremely humbling to see how they endure, and do it with grace,” says Berg, calling the Shopes “flat-out inspiring.” While the episode reveals the stark realities of living with paralysis, it also offers glimpses of hope and silver linings. While Shope admits in Broken he was in a darker place during the months immediately following his accident, his progress has given him hope. “I’m happy…I feel that I’m strong. I have that will to survive and get stronger,” he says. He has taken on his recovery with a competitive athlete’s grit and determination, and has made noticeable improvement in the two years since the accident. “I have more strength
and movement in my arms now,” says Shope, who has adhered to a rigorous physical therapy regimen. Shope’s classmates, family, and friends have rallied around him—he notes he was never alone in the hospital for the first two months. These friends, many of
them fellow riders, established the Trail to Recovery Fund (www.trailtorecovery.com) to assist the Shopes with their astronomical health care costs. To date the fund has raised more than $250,000. Shope is most excited to be finally back at work with Julie at Exeter
She was the first female professor of electrical engineering at ETH and is currently the youngest tenured member of its faculty. Wood’s research group develops methods to determine what limits the performance of devices such as batteries, LEDs, and solar cells that contain
small, nano-sized materials. While these are already commercially available, there is, she says, “surprisingly still a lot to learn about how they work, and how they could be optimized.” Wood’s group formulates guidelines for how to design better materials and structures within devices. Then they look into manufacturing approaches to produce these new materials and structures. “For example, one challenge we are addressing is how to increase the energy density of lithium ion batteries, their charge/discharge rates, their lifetime, and their safety,” Woods says. Her group demonstrated that it’s possible to use CT-scan technology to visualize and quantify the internal structure of batteries during their operation. “For the first time, we could watch in real time what causes batteries to degrade or fail and use what we learned to develop guidelines for building better batteries,” Wood says. “One insight led us to patent a method for battery manufacturing,
compatible with existing process lines, that would enable cell manufacturers to increase battery energy capacity by 15 percent, without changing the materials they use,” says Wood. “These sorts of advancements, which require little change in infrastructure,” she says, “are critical to bringing down battery cost in the near term for applications such as electric vehicles.” Wood enjoys her highly interdisciplinary work in Zurich. “I lead a team of chemists, physicists, and engineers, and there is always something new to learn!” she says. As to what led her to a scientific career, Wood says, “I fell in love with physics and engineering as a lower mid at Taft. I arrived [there] thinking I wanted to either be medical doctor or a diplomat, but after having Ted Heavenrich for geometry and Jim Mooney for physics, I couldn’t wait to take more math and physics! “Thanks to the engineering design and robot competition teams that Mr.
Mooney coached, I learned how much I enjoyed the teamwork aspect of science,” Wood says. “I have fond memories of Mr. Mooney taking groups of us to Home Depot. We would load up a Suburban with all sorts of supplies and then spend late nights in the workshop fueled by Dunkin’ Donuts, building various contraptions.” Wood attended Yale, double majoring in applied physics and French literature. She realized that she enjoyed research “at the intersection of physics, materials science, and engineering” and decided to pursue an M.Sc. and Ph.D. in electrical engineering at MIT. After a year of postdoctoral work, she joined the faculty at ETH Zurich. At MIT she had the opportunity to work on an interdisciplinary project on new materials for LED displays. “Now, if you buy a color Kindle e-reader or a Sony LED television, your red and green color will probably be thanks to these materials, which are known as colloidal nanocrystals,” Wood says.
steve shope ’80 with his wife, Julie, at the Mount Washington Hotel in Franconia, New Hampshire.
Environmental, the consulting firm he founded in 1990. He has high aspirations for continued recovery and increased independence, but says he still takes life one day at a time. While his “work hard, play hard” attitude hasn’t changed since his accident, he says there’s one thing that has changed: “I don’t take my health for granted anymore. I would encourage everyone to live his or her life to the fullest. I certainly did, by the way.” Life has propelled Shope in a direction he never intended, but he’s using teamwork to negotiate the road ahead: “Sounds corny, but how you stay in the game is with the help of your friends and your family.” —phoebe Vaughn outerbridge ’84
power of the Small NaNoELECTroNiCs isN’T a Word
in most people’s everyday vocabulary. But it is for Vanessa Wood ’01. Wood, an electrical engineer, is professor of Materials and Device Engineering at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, or the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, in Zurich, ETH for short.
Zurich-based electrical engineer Vanessa Wood ’01 enjoys the view from schatzalp in davos, switzerland.
In addition to winning an ETH teaching award, she is a member of the World Economic Global Shapers and won the 2014 Science Award Electrochemistry for her innovative research in the area of lithium ion batteries. Wood enjoys living and working in Switzerland. “The environment for research is fantastic,” she says. ETH Zurich has state-of-the-art facilities and excellent students. “And, for someone like me who enjoys the outdoors as well as culture, Zurich is a great city,” says Wood. “I work downtown, but can go trail running directly from work. On weekends, I can hop on a train and head to the mountains for the day.” Wood also has an interest in languages, literature, and history. “I am having a great time learning German, the local Züridütsch dialect, and all about Swiss history,” she says. read more about science and Taft in a feature on page 30.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
a good Bet iF you’rE goiNg To graduaTE
school, chances are you’re going to owe money—a lot of money. The average American college graduate owes more than $29,000 in loans, but the average graduate student owes about twice that, or $57,600, according to U.S. News and World Report. But the whole idea of graduate school is that it better prepares you for a professional life—and many of those professions can yield lucrative salaries. That sort of matrix is what encouraged Jessup Shean ’00 and a couple of her fellow University of Pennsylvania Wharton School graduates to think about lending to certain graduate students in a different way. “We (were) looking at top graduate
programs and finding students who are very creditworthy,” says Shean, who was an art history and archeology major at Brown before she received her law degree and M.B.A. at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Wharton. The idea behind CommonBond, the start-up Shean co-founded with David Klein and Mike Taormina, is pretty simple. Students in particular graduate programs will likely work in fields that will make them more money. Therefore, those students are less likely to default on their loans. For example, the 10 highestpaying professions—all of them in health care—require advanced degrees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a lender, that means that loaning to a graduate student with the potential
to make a high income might be a better risk, says Shean, who worked in equity capital markets at JPMorgan Chase in New York and Hong Kong for five years before enrolling at the University of Pennsylvania. That means those graduate students could—and, in Shean’s mind, should—qualify for a lower interest rate. CommonBond, for instance, can refinance a federal student loan with rates starting as low as 1.92% APR on a variable rate loan and 3.89% APR on a fixed-rate loan (rates include an autopay discount). “When you look at the way student loans are now, you have a government rate that’s fairly high—about 7.7% fixed,” she says. “We are able to provide much lower rates because we are focusing on borrowers whose strong credit profiles
allow us to lend to them at lower rates than what the government is offering to other students and grads.” Shean, who began CommonBond as a venture pilot with Wharton peers, says the company loaned $100 million, fully funded, by 2014, and expects to loan $500 million by the end of this year. By the end of 2016, CommonBond expects to see $1 billion in loans, fully funded. CommonBond has both fixed and variable refinance loan options, with loan terms ranging from 5 to 20 years, as well as a 10-year floating rate. CommonBond recently made Poets & Quants’ list of Top 100 MBA Start-Ups. With her successful experience at CommonBond, Shean has transitioned into the financial world of
mergers and acquisitions and is now a vice president at Greenhill, an independent global investment banking firm focused on mergers and acquisitions and financial restructuring. She remains involved with CommonBond’s events and has an equity stake. Shean, a Manhattan native who calls her time at Taft “some of the best three years of my life,” has traveled widely, particularly in Southeast Asia,
as well as South America. She is a thirdgeneration Taft graduate; her father and grandfather attended the school. “The faculty was amazing,” she says of Taft. “It was a ton of opportunity to explore different areas in academics as well as sports.” Today, she enjoys tennis, museums, and catching up with Taft alums.
from home” for patients and their families seeking medical treatment in area hospitals. He was also involved with the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. So began Bell’s trajectory of nonprofit work, while he also served as board member and vice president of the Arthritis Foundation of Western Pennsylvania, which honored Bell with its Most Distinguished Service Award. After coming back to New York City and Connecticut in 1987, Bell became involved with education of minorities in Bedford Stuyvesant through Decatur Clearpool, a program that provides year-round education to underserved youth in Brooklyn as well as giving them further educational resources with a year-round facility in Carmel, New York. Odden had asked Bell to become involved with the program, and, with the support of Mike Osheowitz, another mentor to Bell, and the Gould Foundation for Children, Clearpool was born and prospered. Peter Rose ’74 was its executive director and a leading
force of the school they took over. One of Bell’s current interests is ReadWorks in New York City, where he’s been a longtime board member. Its mission is to close the achievement gap throughout the United States by providing K-12 educators with an online reading comprehension curriculum and methodology. “And we don’t charge a dime for it,” Bell proudly says. Growing daily, more than 2 million teachers have visited or are using ReadWorks’ website. For 20 years or so Bell has worked with Sponsors for Education Opportunities (SEO), which helps young people from underserved communities gain admission to college and find jobs. He has helped them find corporate sponsorships. SEO, also founded by Osheowitz, is “an exceptional organization,” Bell says, with more than 8,000 graduates. He is a past board member of the Workshop in Business Opportunities (WIBO), which enables small business owners and budding entrepreneurs from underserved communities to start and
operate successful businesses. Bell was so impressed with WIBO’s success that he brought it to Bridgeport, Connecticut, through Family Services Woodfield. Through the efforts of Hord Armstrong ’59 and Bill DeWitt ’86, a chapter of WIBO was started in St. Louis, Missouri. And, as if he didn’t have enough on his philanthropic plate, Bell serves as a board member of the National Urban Squash & Education Association (NUSEA), which runs after-school programs to help young people from economically disadvantaged households fulfill their academic and athletic potential. This summer, eight NUSEA students will attend Taft Summer School for the first time. Bell’s conviction that others can achieve their dreams, regardless of their circumstances, and his own success is underpinned by his belief in “street smarts” and “trusting your gut.” “You always have to depend on other people,” he says. “You can’t do it yourself”—
Jessup shean ’00 with her CommonBond co-founders, david Klein, left, and Mike Taormina, at the 2014 gala.
Dedicated to Making a Difference: drummond C. Bell iii ’63 THis yEar’s rECipiENT of the TH T
The family of drum Bell ’63: from left, son drum ’90 with Max; drum’s wife, amy, holding Wyatt; drum and his wife, shelly; daughter rachel Bell robards ’92 and her husband, Jake, holding Jake, Jr.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal is Drummond C. Bell III ’63, who has served Taft as a dedicated and hardworking trustee for 30 years. The school’s highest alumni honor is given annually to a person whose life’s work best exemplifies Taft’s motto of serving others. “It all started at Taft, because everybody cared,” Bell says. The seeds planted there drew Bell to his decades-long interest in philanthropic work and, in particular, the heart of his service efforts: educational opportunities for minorities. Faculty were key to his time at school. Lance Odden, then a young faculty member, was a valued mentor to Bell and remained an influence in his philanthropic work after Taft. “What John Small, my track coach, taught us,” Bell says, “was ‘Keep it up,’ grit, and perseverance.” While in Pittsburgh with U.S. Steel, where he spent 20 years as one of their youngest officers, he became a board member of Family House, a “home away
continued on next page—
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Alumni Spotlight —Bell, continued
advice that has served him well as he continues to serve so many others. As a Taft trustee spanning three decades, Bell has served on the board’s Development Committee, Governance Committee, Campaign Steering Committee, Campus Planning Committee, Nominating Committee, and Executive Committee, and on the Citation of Merit Committee (now known as the
Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal Committee). “Many of us know of Drum’s tireless efforts on behalf of Taft. He has been one of the most effective and hardworking trustees in the last 50 years,” says Holcombe Green ’87, chair of the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal Committee. “He is not only Taft’s biggest cheerleader but also the heart and soul of the alumni body. His efforts on behalf of many other
—Minard, continued from page 5
Bulletin: What inspired you to take this book project on? MinarD: I nearly always feel compelled to accept any opportunity I’m offered to bring to light the work of leaders who are creating positive social change against enormous odds, and who are not widely known—especially women, who are often “invisible.” Plus, this book was on a subject I care deeply about. It took over two years of research and documentation, and one year of writing to pull it all together. My coauthor, Dr. Shashi Gogate, invited me to collaborate with her to write a book about women leaders of India, and together we ultimately produced the book. It was the hardest and most rewarding project of my life thus far. [Part of the project’s appeal was also that] it was a self-grown project. Being able to have complete freedom helped the stories to flow as a natural course. Bulletin: What was the most rewarding aspect of this project? MinarD: To be able to meet each of these women, spend time with them, and to have the privilege to tell their stories in the way we felt conveyed their deepest meaning. It is only when we make women leaders visible that their contributions can be recognized, their efforts supported, and their 10
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
indispensable role in peace-making and nation-building properly understood.…There can be no meaningful development in India without the full participation of all its people. “We selected leaders who…convey an honest and inspiring portrait of human potential—where body, mind, and spirit have each been awakened, strengthened, and nurtured. The women included here are, each in their own way, achieving greatness, cultivating a profound faith in the restorative power of love, understanding, and compassion.” Bulletin: Who is the audience and readership you hope for? MinarD: Our audience is boys and girls in developing countries who have to struggle to find a self, to find a voice, and who will be inspired by these stories, recognizing themselves, their capacities, and their struggle in them. The other audience that drives social transformation is government officials, policymakers, foundations, civil society and nongovernmental organizations, entrepreneurs, and impact investors—we all need to work together to shine a light on women’s leadership and the role women play in growing a more decent society. j
Minard’s book was released in late March in New delhi, india, followed by a book tour.
philanthropic institutions have been no less tireless and his impact has been quite far-reaching. Drum’s life is an excellent example of our school’s motto at work.” Bell is an alumni parent representative for the Admissions Department and interviews prospective students. He was reunion chair for the Class of 1963’s Fifth Reunion, president of the Alumni Association in the late 1970s, chair of the Annual Fund, and an assistant class agent. Bell and his family have established three endowed funds at Taft: the Drummond C. Bell III Endowment for Faculty Support, the Drummond and Ruth Bell Fellowship, and the Bell Family Scholarship. He is president of the Drummond C. & Ruth A. Bell Foundation, which provides grants for educational programs for children in underserved areas. His business experience covers many sectors over decades. He started his career at U.S. Steel, where he became one of the youngest division presidents. After 20 years he left to run a real estate firm, worked in private equity, became a venture partner of a New York firm, ran small businesses, and served on many boards. Today, he serves on the board of WineDirect and has recently become CEO of a start-up venture. Bell earned a B.A. from the University of North Carolina in 1967 and attended Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program in 1982. Among other awards, Bell received the Woodfield Award twice for his service to Family Services Woodfield (now Lifebridge Community Service), an Educational Opportunities Award from Sponsors for Educational Opportunities, the Partners in Entrepreneurship Award from Alliance for Children and Families, and was an honoree at National Philanthropy Day in 2010. “Taft served my brother, Richard ’71, as well as my daughter, Rachel ’92, and my son, Drum ’90,” Bell says. “We have all been lucky to have gone to this great institution whose motto is certainly followed by many Tafties.” j
THE souNd oF MusiC sTory:
War agaiNsT aLL puErTo riCaNs:
HoW a BEguiLiNg youNg NoViCE,
rEVoLuTioN aNd TError iN
a HaNdsoME ausTriaN CapTaiN,
aNd TEN siNgiNg VoN Trapp
nelson denis ’72
CHiLdrEN iNspirEd THE MosT BELoVEd FiLM oF aLL TiME
tom Santopietro ’72
“Fans of The Sound of Music will find plenty to please them in Santopietro’s history of the sweeping musical,” says Kirkus Review. Santopietro entices fans of this beloved classic with behindthe-scenes stories from the movie’s production, including why it was nearly cancelled and what other actors were considered for the lead roles. The book also includes new interviews and explores the real life story of Maria von Trapp.
Pedro Albizu Campos was the president of Puerto Rico’s Nationalist Party when, in 1950, they staged an unsuccessful armed insurrection against the United States. Albizu Campos was imprisoned for 25 years before dying under mysterious circumstances. In telling Albizu Campos’s story, Denis reveals a larger story of Puerto Rico and U.S. colonialism. Denis was the editorial director of El Diario and has written for the New York Daily News, Newsday, and Harvard Political Review.
rEFLECTioNs oN MarTHa’s ViNEyard
edited by tom dunlop ’79
MoVE BEyoNd addiCTioN aNd upgradE your LiFE
tommy rosen ’85
Rosen’s autobiographical account of addiction and recovery is told with honesty and compassion. With keen insight into the roots and tentacles of addiction, Rosen explores the perfect storm of social, emotional, psychological, and economic factors that crashed down upon him. Now, 23 years sober, Rosen shares the wisdom he gained on his journey to recovery in his book and in his Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction Online Conference Series. He is also one of the pioneers in the field of yoga and recovery.
Nobody ever wrote about Martha’s Vineyard quite like William A. Caldwell did. Reflections on Martha’s Vineyard presents the best of the essays he wrote for the Vineyard Gazette between 1973 and 1986. His writing inspires those who love the Vineyard—its inhabitants, weather, wildlife, food, seasons, and predicaments, and to see these all as newcomers, as Caldwell’s writing proves he himself always did. Dunlop is the author of three previous books on Island subjects.
siNgiNg WiTH sTarLiNgs
victor altshul ’52
The poems in Altshul’s Singing with Starlings elude easy generalization. Many descriptors come to mind: melancholy and joyous, ironic and romantic, lyrical and robust, haunted and hopeful, enormously intelligent and down to earth, allusive and accessible, steeped in past and present. “This is a book as beautifully inconsistent as life itself. It will make you more alive!” says publisher Antrim House.
ronald gerstl ’53
Anyone who is interested in an inside look into the fascinating and rarified world of the Nobel Prizes, the lives of groundbreaking scientists, America’s preeminence in science, scientists’ view of religion, women Nobelists, and much more, will find The Superachievers a concise and engaging read. Gerstl’s early career was in advertising and marketing, and he later founded an executive search firm in Caracas, Venezuela. j
if you would like your work added to the Hulbert Taft Library’s alumni authors Collection and considered for this column, please send a copy to: Taft Bulletin | The Taft school | 110 Woodbury road | Watertown, CT 06795-2100
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Around the pond For more information, visit www.taftschool.org/news
Around the pond By DeBra Meyers anD Kaitlin thoMas orfitelli
The success of the ap Capstone seminar depends, in part, on students’ ability to engage in critical conversation and debate. Early in the process, theater teacher Helena Fifer worked with students to increase their comfort with each other and with open dialogue.
ap capstone™: learning to learn THirTy TaFT sTudENTs are among the
first in the nation and around the world to participate in a new and innovative course of study developed by the College Board. Following a two-year, 15-school pilot program, the College Board launched AP Capstone at Taft and 135 other schools worldwide in the fall of 2014. Introduced to the Taft community and stewarded through its on-site development by Dean of Academic Affairs Jon Willson ’82, AP Capstone is a rigorous, two-year academic program that uses course content as a vehicle to advance a broader, more pragmatic approach to learning: the development of research, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and analytical skills from an interdisciplinary perspective. “It flips some of the basic concepts of traditional learning,” explains Edie 12
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Traina, associate dean of faculty and co-teacher of Taft’s first AP Capstone course. “Our approach in developing curriculum for the program is one of ‘backward design,’ where our lessons are ‘scaffolded’ to create a solid foundation and progression for the development of the essential skills we expect students to take away from the course.” Backward design, also known as backward mapping, is a structured approach to curriculum construction that begins by identifying specific course goals, then creating learning experiences and practical instruction that progressively and consistently moves student learning and skill development toward those goals. In backward design, individual lessons are focused on the goal of acquiring and applying specific skills, rather than the process of teaching traditional material and content.
“It is an approach that is incredibly thoughtful and deliberate in making choices for inquiry into an academic area,” notes Traina. The program is comprised of two newly created AP courses: AP Seminar and AP Research. Each is a full-year course with consistent objectives and methodologies defined by the College Board; topics and content are defined locally and vary from school to school. Students learn to effectively question, analyze, and evaluate information through multiple interdisciplinary lenses (AP Seminar), and then apply those skills in developing, communicating, and defending evidence-based arguments around a topic of their choosing (AP Research). Students complete the AP Seminar in the first year of the program; year two is dedicated solely to research. Those who complete both courses with AP scores of 3 or higher are eligible to receive the AP Seminar and Research Certificate; those who earn scores of 3 or higher on those courses and on four other AP courses of their choosing will receive
the AP Capstone Diploma™. The designations reflect outstanding academic achievement and the mastery of collegelevel academic and research skills. “The nature of the class is that it is more about the skills we are learning and less about the content,” explains Jack Elrad ’17. “It is more understanding ideas and topics and less memorizing lists of names and dates like other classes may be. The skills we learn about in class also transfer into other classes and have made researching for any topic more effective and easier.” At Taft, the skills-based learning of the AP Seminar is driven by the “seven billion person question,” a topic recommended by Traina after reading Alan Weisman’s population study, Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? “AP Capstone students are required to examine subject matter through a variety of lenses,” explains course co-teacher and Director of Environmental Stewardship Carly Borken. “Population scholarship aligns well with that kind of exploration. China’s one-child policy, for example, allows us to ask questions about its social, cultural, ethical, and political implications—we can look at the economic impact of the policy and consider the relationship between population and environmental sustainability.” Notes Aaron Pezzullo ’17, “We learn about topics and issues that are relevant in today’s world, unlike in all the other history classes I have taken, which focus on the past.”
With Traina’s expertise in history and Borken’s in the sciences, the teaching dynamic organically supports the multidisciplinary requirements of the program established by the College Board. “I had never been in a classroom with co-teachers before,” says SeArah Smith ’17. “It is different and interesting, and really beneficial to the students, particularly in a course like this. Our class is about viewpoints and discussion and opinions. Having two teachers with different backgrounds gives us not only more perspectives but also more in-depth academic information about the topics we debate.” As with traditional AP courses, students will be issued final AP score ranging from 1 to 5 for each of the two courses. The final AP Seminar score is a combination of all course assessments and components, including a final, end-of-course exam. “The final, three-question exam is administered and scored by the College Board,” explains Traina. “Our students already know what the three questions will be. What they don’t know is what source documents they will be given to answer those questions.” Students will be required to use all of the inquiry-based skills developed in the AP Seminar to evaluate the source documents, synthesize the ideas in the source material to establish a well-reasoned argument, then effectively communicate and offer an evidence-based defense of their position. While they do not know what topics the documents will relate to, they almost certainly will not be megacities or population dynamics as it relates to environmental sustainability. And that is the point of the AP Capstone program: the takeaway from the course is an ability to process, analyze, and communicate information—any information, in any subject or discipline. “This is not just the next iteration b a team project incorporating individual research and refection, a written team report, and a multimedia team presentation represents 25 percent of each student’s final AP Seminar score. Traina and Borken issue scores on each measure; the College Board validates the scores for the individual research and refection, and written team report components.
. Edie Traina (left) and Carly Borken submitted one of three content proposals for Taft’s first AP Capstone program. Their “seven billion person question” was selected for implementation.
of AP study, but the next iteration of education pedagogy,” notes Traina. “It may be what all teaching and learning looks like in the future.” In fact, in a February 2015 article in The Boston Globe Magazine titled “7 Things Every Kid Should Master,” Susan Engel, founder and director of the Williams College Program in Teaching, identified the basic tenets of Capstone teaching and learning—inquiry, use of evidence, and collaboration— as fundamental academic skills. “Five of the seven skills are the backbone of the Capstone course,” says Borken, “and one could argue that even all seven are taught in this class in some form. This is good ‘evidence’ of the value of teaching this way.” And the AP Capstone students see that value, as well. “I’ve carried the new tools I acquired in this class over to my other courses, specifically the ones that incorporate writing,” adds Jackson McAtee ’17. “I enjoy being in the AP Capstone Class, and think that it has had a positive impact on me both as a student and a writer.” j To learn more about the ap Capstone program, visit https://lp.collegeboard.org/ap-capstone
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Around the pond
Around the pond
taft Honors the legacy of Dr. Martin luther King, Jr. “iT is TiME For parENTs To TEaCH youNg pEopLE EarLy oN THaT iN diVErsiTy THErE is BEauTy aNd THErE is sTrENgTH.” —Maya aNgELou
edward e. Ford Foundation: taft exceeds Grant Challenge THE EdWard E. Ford FouNdaTioN
challenged Taft and its donors to raise $250,000 during a two-year period ending May 31, 2015. Thanks to the generosity of a number of donors, Taft has exceeded that goal with time to spare. The Foundation will now match Taft’s efforts with a $250,000 grant. The grant was awarded to create and develop Taft’s Center for Global Leadership and Service programs, which includes mentorship programs, Taft’s Global Leadership Institute, and
a service learning course that provides an opportunity for Taft and Waterbury students to serve and learn together. “What was compelling about the Edward E. Ford Foundation opportunity was their desire to support schools with initiatives that were transformational and replicable,” says Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. “And the work we are doing in Waterbury—in partnering with municipal and educational leaders, in bringing bright and curious Taft and Waterbury students together, in seeking
to develop global leaders—speaks to both of those goals. We are launching something that will transform lives and schools and we hope will be replicated by others. It’s a really exciting initiative.” Taft will continue raising funds in an effort to fully endow the Center for Global Leadership and Service program. j
b MEMBErs oF THE
TaFT girLs’ VarsiTy BasKETBaLL TEaM
m inspirational speaker and NBa legend Nathaniel “Tiny” archibald.
Members of Taft’s gospel Choir were among the performers during the Martin Luther King, Jr. day celebration; from left, Ciara Connolly ’17, srinidhi Bharadwaj ’15, and Naima Caydid ’15.
b Fjordi Mulla ’15 (left) and Mariko uchida ’16 celebrated their cultural heritage during Taft’s annual WorldFest.
MEMBErs oF THE TaFT CoMMuNiTy
celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with two days of programs, activities, speakers, and workshops built around a common theme: celebrating diversity and embracing inclusivity. Children from neighboring cities and towns joined the celebration through the school’s MLK Young Heroes Program, which included sports clinics and academic workshops facilitated by Taft faculty and students. “We hope that our students embrace Dr. King’s ideals and grow to understand that service can be a common ground for 14
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
conducted a clinic for participants in Waterbury’s police activity League (paL) program. Taft’s relationship with paL is one of our strongest, most enduring community partnerships.
all of humanity,” noted Jamella Lee, Dean of Global and Diversity Education at Taft. “King’s vision for service—‘Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve…’—aligns with our school motto and commitment to service, and was reflected in each component of our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.” The two-day event kicked off on Sunday with Taft’s WorldFest, featuring food and cultural exhibits, ethnic dance performances, and sports and games from around the world, and continued on Monday with NBA legend
Nathaniel “Tiny” Archibald’s inspiring speech at Taft’s traditional Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Prayer Breakfast. Special Olympian and inspirational athlete Loretta Claiborne delivered the opening ceremony keynote address. Workshops exploring differences in race, gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, socioeconomic status, age, sexual orientation, and physical and mental (dis)ability carried the community toward a powerful close, the annual multicultural arts celebration. The afternoon program featured students and faculty delivering a wide range of multiethnic performances, including a Lithuanian song; traditional African, Hawaiian, and Latin dances; poetry readings; jazz music; Taft’s Gospel Choir; and, of course, our faculty band. j
c For THE sECoNd
CoNsECuTiVE WiNTEr members of Taft’s wrestling team showed us what it means not to be served but to serve. With the campus covered by a blanket of snow after several storms, the team took to the school’s pathways and parking lots to help with snow removal.
Around the pond
Around the pond
Morning Meetings: arts, Science, and Passion Taft’s students enjoyed an extraordinary lineup of Morning Meeting speakers this past winter. From stories of survival in developing countries to an in-depth look at what it takes to be a leader, our speakers instructed, informed, and inspired.
m Dr. todd albert ’79 dr. aLBErT is one of the nation’s leading spine surgeons. “Todd embodies so much of what we are proud of in our graduates: passion and expertise in his profession, service to others,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. Dr. Albert was an honor roll student and varsity football player during his time at Taft. Today he is the Surgeon-In-Chief and Medical Director, and Korein-Wilson Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City. He specializes in the treatment of cervical spine disorders with expertise in cervical deformity, cervical spinal stenosis, and cervical herniated discs. Albert is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Medical Association, Scoliosis Research Society, North American Spine Society, American Spinal Injury Association, and the International Society for Study of the Lumbar Spine, and served as president of the Cervical Spine Research Society. He has written four books, contributed more than 40 book chapters, edited seven books, and published 300 peer-reviewed 16
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
and non-peer-reviewed articles. He has received an outstanding paper award from the North American Spine Society and from the Cervical Spine Research Society. Albert talked to Taft students about leadership, invoking the lives and philosophies of recognized leaders, including President Harry S. Truman and renowned football coach Vince Lombardi. “I think this is critical,” Albert told the crowd. “You must care more about others’ success than about your own. That, to me, is the singular mark of a great leader.” Albert also shared his thoughts on the six traits that make a great leader: great leaders promote a clear vision; admit and learn from mistakes; treat people with respect; empower others; criticize others only in private; and stay close to the action.
c professor Sylvester James Gates, Jr. uNiVErsiTy oF MaryLaNd
Distinguished Professor Sylvester James Gates, Jr. spoke with the full school community in January before visiting classes and meeting with students and faculty as part of Taft’s Paduano Lecture Series in Philosophy and Ethics. Known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory, Gates is a Distinguished University Professor, University System of Maryland Regents; John S. Toll Professor of Physics; and Director, Center for String & Particle Theory at University of Maryland. He serves on President Obama’s Council
of Advisors on Science and Technology, has been awarded the National Medal of Science and the Mendel Medal for his work, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the American Philosophy Society, and the National Academy of Sciences. Gates is well known for his ability to easily explain complex physics theories to a non-physics audience, and his visit to Taft was no exception. He did so by connecting the physics and mathematics that define his work to the real-world items our students cannot live without: their smartphones. “All those quantum corrections, all those funny pictures we physicists draw,” Gates said, referring to the series of electron particle interaction slides he shared with the audience, “we need them to design these devices. You don’t get these things without knowing how the electrons move inside of them, and with very great precision. And that’s the impact of these diagrams on the real world. Because all these wonderful apps that you love so very much come out of these mathematics.”
m Bob herbert ForMEr New York Times op-ed
columnist and author Bob Herbert visited Taft in January as a Paley Lecturer. Paley Lecturers address the school community on current issues of major significance, such as government, journalism, foreign affairs, environment, and civil liberties. A distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos Public Policy Organization, Herbert spent 18 years at The New York Times, writing about politics, urban affairs, and social trends in a twice-weekly column. From January 1991 to May 1993, Herbert was a national correspondent for NBC and reported regularly on the Today Show and NBC Nightly News. A founding panelist of Sunday Edition, a weekly discussion program on WCBS-TV, Herbert was also the host of Hotline, a weekly hour-long issues program on WNYC-TV, both beginning in 1990. His career began in 1970 as a reporter, then night city editor in 1973, of the Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey. He joined the Daily News in 1976, where he worked as a general assignment reporter, national correspondent, consumer affairs editor, city hall bureau chief, and city editor. In 1985, he became a columnist and a member of the editorial board. His column continued to appear in the Daily News until February 1993. Herbert has won numerous awards, including the Meyer Berger Award for coverage of New York City, the American Society of Newspaper Editors award for distinguished newspaper
writing, the David Nyhan Prize from the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University for excellence in political reporting, and the Ridenhour Courage Prize for the “fearless articulation of unpopular truths.” He is the author of Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream and Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America. Herbert shared stories of cultural bias, social inequity, and economic disparity, and asked Taft students to consider the world in which they live, and the world in which they hope to live: “These kinds of breathtaking extremes of income and wealth are an accurate portrait of our times. This is the atmosphere that America’s children and teenagers are growing up in. My fear is that you will come to see these disparities as normal— as acceptable….In the face of all this we should ask ourselves the question: Is this the kind of country that we want?... What kind of country do you want America to be?”
Wright’s work as a visual anthropologist garnered accolades and widespread recognition. It also brought her face-to-face with danger: Wright was nearly killed in a bus crash in Laos, was held in a military camp in Beirut, and suffered from diseases common in developing countries, like malaria and Dengue fever, often more than once. Wright’s photography is represented by the National Geographic Society and has been published in numerous magazines including National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Islands, Smithsonian Magazine, American Photo, Natural History, Time, Forbes, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The New York Times. She is a recipient of the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography and a two-time winner of the Lowell Thomas
c alison wright aLisoN WrigHT spent
more than 20 years travelling the world capturing the universal truths of the human spirit through the lens of a camera. Her goal: “to find compassion in a world of chaos…to create awareness—to help in some way—through photos and art.” To that end, Wright documented the lives of children in Nepal, Tibet, and other regions of Asia and the world. Through her art, people across the globe came to understand extreme poverty and issues like child labor; they also became aware of endangered cultures that exist in remote corners of the world. Composed using a triangular point of view, Wright’s haunting and mesmerizing photographs purposefully connect subject, photographer, and audience.
Travel Journalism Award. Wright is the photographer/author of nine of books including her memoir, Learning to Breathe; Faces of Hope: Children of a Changing World; and The Dalai Lama: A Simple Monk. “We may all look different, but there are simple, global truths,” Wright said. “We all want to love and be loved; we want a little money in our pockets from jobs that are meaningful; we want safety and health for our friends and family; and an education for our children. We make it so much more complicated than it needs to be.” j Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Around the pond
FaMiLiEs VisiTiNg CaMpus for Taft’s annual Winter parents’ Weekend were treated to a production of The Diviners, a play written by Jim Leonard, Jr., and performed in Taft’s Black Box Theater. The Diviners is set in the fictional town of Zion, indiana, during the great depression, and is anchored by the relationship between Buddy Layman, a young man touched by brain damage who possesses special gifts, and a stranger who comes to Zion. “Communities thrive when each member truly cares about each individual,” notes Taft director Mark Efinger. “Zion, Indiana, and Taft are each such communities…. These people care deeply about each other. There is a collective consciousness in the town…. This school community is larger, but the sense of community is held close and cherished.”
m aLuMNi HoCKEy players returned to campus in record numbers in January for this year’s alumni Hockey game. played each year for the scott W. richardson ’82 Memorial Cup, the 2015 edition honored the memory of Corey C. Griffin ’06. c aLuMNi VoLLEyBaLL players also suited up for a little off-season, friendly competition. A luncheon in McCullough Field House followed the games.
b aL rEiFF, Jr. ’80 capped his 30-year career as a Taft wrestling coach this winter with a variety of honors, including celebrating his 150th win and being named Western New England Coach of the year and the New England Coach of the year. Reiff’s retirement from coaching and his dedication to his team, his sport, and The Taft school were celebrated during his final home match in February. Reiff’s wife, Julie, joined him for the occasion. anne KowalsKi
b JiM LEHNEr aNd THE pENaLTy CrEW oF LoVE took to the stage in Bingham once again for a Valentine’s day concert with mid class dean, English, and psychology teacher Jennifer reilly on vocals. yee-Fun yin
TaFT’s Cardio rooM got a much-needed— and much-appreciated—makeover this past winter.
sTudENT arT carried the Mark W. potter ’48 gallery from winter to spring, bringing energy and life to campus.
m TaFT’s WiNTEr daNCE performance enchanted audiences on parents’ Weekend in Bingham auditorium.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
For more on the winter season, please visit www.taftsports.com
Winter Sports wraP-uP By steve palMer photography by robert falcetti
Boys’ Squash 13-3
founDers league ChaMpions u.s. national Quarterfinalist With a 13–3 regular season record, Taft competed successfully with the elite teams in the country in many matches. The Rhinos opened up the season with a stunning 4–3 upset of defending national champion Avon Old Farms. Riding this momentum, the team made it to the quarterfinals of the U.S. High School National Championships for the sixth consecutive year. A berth in the semifinals awaited the winner of Taft vs. Chestnut Hill on the Trinity courts but the boys literally came up just a few points short.
A decisive win over Philly powerhouse Episcopal capped off a great weekend and left Taft with a No. 6 national ranking. Yet another Founders League title came following convincing wins over Hotchkiss, Choate, and Loomis. Led by senior tricaptains Coley Cannon ’15, John Cannon ’15, and Brandon Salvatore ’15, Taft performed at the highest level throughout the New England Championships held at Groton, coming home with 4th place. Notably, John Cannon finished at No. 2, Billy Fleurima ’17 No. 3, Kyle Salvatore ’17 No. 3, and Brandon Salvatore No. 3 in their respective draws. Next year’s team will be led by co-captains Tristan Chaix ’16 and Brandon Salvatore ’16.
girls’ Squash 13–6
founDers league ChaMpions Following the highs of the 2013–14 season was not an easy task but it was a challenge that this group of Rhinos was up for. Captain, Founder’s League All-Star, and recipient of the 1986 Girls Squash Award, Bella Jones ’15 beautifully led the team through a rebuilding season and will move on to play at U.Va. next year. With key wins over squash powerhouses Nobles (4–3), Andover (4–3), and Groton (5–2), Taft earned an impressive 12–3 regular season record. This season was crowned by the Founders League Champion title, a title that the
Taft’s Coley Cannon ’15 in action against top-ranked Brunswick school.
Eli Cooper ’15 makes his way through the maze of gates as he competes in slalom at ski sundown in New Hartford, Connecticut.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Winter SportS a stronger team. Leidt and Dutton, both chosen as Founders League AllStars, will captain the squad next year.
Skiing The Taft Ski Team made good use of the heavy snow this winter, skiing to a boys’ 3rd-place and girls’ 4th-place finish at the Class B New England Championships. Captain Eli Cooper ’15 set the pace, wining both the slalom and giant slalom. For Cooper, this completed an unprecedented four-year sweep of both events. For the girls, Kim Amelsberg ’16 finished 9th in the slalom while Maddie Savage ’18 finished 7th in the giant slalom out of 44 skiers. The team also faired well in league racing, finishing 5th out of 10 schools in what is a very competitive Berkshire League. The team is well positioned for next year, with a good group of young racers looking to continue the tradition of Taft racing.
Kate Tewksbury ’16 dives in front of a Lawrenceville shot while making a spectacular defensive effort.
girls’ varsity squash team captured for the seventh year in a row. Strong wins over rivals Hotchkiss (6–1) and Choate (5–2) secured the league title. The team traveled to Trinity over winter long weekend to participate in the High Schools Nationals, where the 80 best programs in the U.S. compete. Captainselect and Founders League All-Stars Elle Carroll ’16 and Eliza Dunham ’16 fought hard in the No. 1 and No. 2 draws to help Taft finish No. 12 in the U.S.
wrestling 16–3 In the first match of the season, Taft was tied with only one wrestler left. However, Tennant Maxey ’16 got the pin, securing the upset of Canterbury, 42–36, and setting the tone for the rest of the season. The Rhinos were tied with Avon with only two boys left, but each pinned for a compelling win. Against 22
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Hopkins, Taft was down by 5 with just one wrestler left. Only a pin would gain the win. After a mere 17 seconds, the entire Hopkins bench looked on in disbelief as Taft pulled off the upset (39–38) thanks to a pin by co-captain Nicky Ganek ’15. Other key matches included wins over Choate, Suffield, and Hotchkiss. This year’s squad established the school record for most wins in a season for wrestling (the old record was 14). By graduating only Ganek, co-captain Stephen Mesh ’15, and John Gribbin ’15, the future looks very bright indeed.
girls’ hockey 6–15–2 With seven returners and eight new players, Taft worked hard and had some thrilling wins scattered throughout the season, including a record of 3–0–2 in sudden-death OT games. Exciting OT winning goals were scored by Sasha
Bridger ’17 against Lawrenceville (3–2), Natalie Witkowski ’18 against Greenwich Academy (3–2), and captain Madie Leidt ’16 against Berkshire (2–1). Leidt scored five goals in the final three games for Taft, including both goals in the season finale win over rival Hotchkiss, 2–1. Perhaps the best game of the season, Taft was buoyed as usual by a strong performance from goalie Becky Dutton ’16, who made several phenomenal saves to preserve the win. Leidt led the team in scoring (16 goals) and provided much of the offensive punch with linemates Witkowski and Natalie Lima ’17. Four-year letter winner and Patsy Odden Award winner Athena Wilkinson ’15, along with Kate Tewksbury ’16, anchored the defense with steady, skilled play at the blueline. Three-year letter winner Victoria Gordon ’15 combined with Mikayla Carhart ’16 to spark the enthusiasm and tough physical play that made Taft
Boys’ hockey 10–15 This year’s team was led by the strong play of captains Trevor McGee ’15, Dan Quirk ’15, and T.J. Schultz ’15. Highlights included beating Berkshire 3–1 for the Lucille D’Arco Cup in Sheffield, Massachusetts, sweeping Avon Old Farms by scores of 4–3 (OT) and 6–4, and coming from behind in the third period to defeat Westminster 4–3. This year’s Founders League selections Marcus Mollica ’15 and Schultz were also recipients of the Ainger and Coaches awards for the 2014–15 season. Mollica led all forwards in scoring with 9 goals and 18 assists in 20 games, while Schultz led all defensemen in scoring with 6 goals and 7 assists in 25 games. Senior Peter Straub ’15 was the team leader in goals scored with 13, followed closely by newcomer Matteo Mangiardi ’17 with 11 goals. Next year’s varsity hockey team will be led by tri-captains Drew Hickey ’16, Sam Nestor ’16, and Andrew Farrier ’17.
girls’ Basketball 13–8
Boys’ Basketball 14–10
The girls’ varsity basketball team enjoyed its finest season in years, finishing the regular season with a 6–1 Founders League record. Taft then reached the finals of the Northeast 8 playoffs with home wins over Deerfield (54–33) and Hotchkiss (38–35) in front of huge, boisterous crowds. In the finals, the Rhinos rallied from 13 points down at the half to pull within 3 points of No.-1 seed Exeter at their gym before that “other Big Red” secured the victory. The team was led by its three seniors, shooting guard Meghan Foos ’15 (12.2 points per game) and cocaptains Lauren Drakeley ’15 (7.8), and Madison Haskins ’15 (7.1). Sophomore Jalissa Rodriguez ’17 (8 points and over 3 assists per game) also played a key role. With 10 returners, the future of the program appears bright.
The Rhinos finished just one spot shy of making the New England Class A postseason tournament. This year’s team played an up-tempo style and looked to push the pace of play in all 24 games. The charge was led by Tyler Rowe ’15, a shifty guard who was relentless at attacking the defense in the open court. Rowe averaged 14.7 points per game and 4 assists. Many of those assists went to co-captain Sam Barrett ’15, who had a very productive season, leading the team in rebounds and 2nd on the team in both scoring and assists. The season’s signature victory came on the road against Choate Rosemary Hall (53–48). The win for Taft marked the first time they have beaten Choate since the 2006–07 season. At home the team posted a 7–3 record, including a 2-point victory over rival Hotchkiss and a lastsecond 57–56 victory over Avon. j
Jalissa rodriguez ’17 makes her way around a Deerfield defender during the first-round NE8 game.
By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84 Photography by Matt york
Charlie Flynn ’70 Transforms a Community’s
a Change oF Course
f there’s one thing Charlie Flynn ’70, learned as an aide for new york’s legendary politician ed Koch in the 1970s, it was how to wrangle disparate—and often competing—political interests. But he could hardly have known back then that this ability would end up protecting some of the nation’s most precious resources. Flynn has guided the restoration of despoiled environmental areas in Wheeling, West Virginia, and most recently in yuma, arizona, where today he heads the yuma Crossing national heritage area, part of the national Park service’s program to protect important natural or cultural landscapes. Flynn came to arizona in 1999, lured not only by the promise of a new challenge, but, he admits, to escape the winter weather of West Virginia. in the 16 years since, he’s been able to help restore seven miles of the Colorado river where drug-dealing and invasive plants once combined to make the river off-limits to public use and private development.
“hopefully, our success… among widely disparate stakeholders will serve as inspiration for the major water users to determine that collaboration is the only way to save the Colorado river.”
Reclaiming mighty rivers The Colorado River begins its 1,450-mile journey through seven southwestern states in the Rocky Mountains. Centuries ago, it emptied into the Gulf of California in Mexico, but damming, explosive population growth throughout the Southwest, and agricultural use sapped its strength, and now the river peters out south of Yuma, where Flynn moved after serving as executive director of the Wheeling (West Virginia) National Heritage Area Corporation. In Wheeling, he was able to bring together publicprivate efforts to reconnect downtown with the Ohio River with a riverfront park, a transportation center, and an artisan center. Flynn says that for 20 or 30 years, the city of Yuma had been frustrated in its attempts to revive its historic riverfront area, which cuts through the heart of the city. When Flynn arrived in early 1999, the river was a mess. “It was the perfect breeding ground for drug traffic, meth labs, hobo camps, trash dumps,” Flynn explained to Orion Magazine recently. “You name it, it was down there. It was a no-man’s land. People just didn’t go to the river. They were afraid to. Even the police hated going down there. You couldn’t see two feet ahead of you.” What Flynn calls the “beauty” of national heritage areas, helped him find solutions in Yuma. “What’s highly unusual is that [the designation] is really effective…in crossing political boundaries,” Flynn says. Heritage areas can bring the National Park Service’s financial resources to a designated area, and that funding is often used as seed money to lure private-sector developers as well as matching funds for other grants. It’s a process that can take years, but it yields a renewed connection to the natural areas, such as rivers, that shaped the settlement of the region. “It’s all about leveraging multiple different funding sources,” Flynn says. “The other thing is that once you’ve had initial successes, smaller victories up front…you have a sense of shared success and then you can take on bigger projects.” Bringing different groups together—including local, state, 26
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
and federal government agencies, plus private investment from businesses or corporations, and, in Yuma’s case, the Quechan Indian Tribe, which owns much of the land in the Yuma East Wetlands on both sides of the Colorado River—is difficult under the best of circumstances. Governments often have competing interests, and the relationship between the city of Yuma and the residents of the reservation were strained. The Fort Yuma-Quechan Reservation, which borders the states of Arizona and California, Baja California, and Mexico, encompasses 45,000 acres and includes a casino. Quechan farmers who settled the area were drawn there hundreds of years ago because of the fertile land around the river, and much reservation land still yields high-quality produce from the rich soil. Then there was the agricultural community. Yuma County is the nation’s third-largest vegetable producer and is the source of 90 percent of the nation’s leafy greens in winter months. (Flynn noted that if you’re having a salad for dinner tonight, the lettuce likely originated in Yuma.) Those producers count on the relatively clean water from the Colorado River to irrigate their crops and were leery of any plans that would impact their farming practices. Initially, many in the area didn’t grasp the idea of working together on an area that had basically been given up. The Hoover Dam, hundreds of miles upstream, had choked the Colorado River, and as a result of the inevitable erosion, non-native plants called salt cedar were planted in the 1930s to control the soil. The salt cedar eventually took over, crowding out native plant species and the wildlife that depended on them. But nobody seemed to care. “The interesting thing was up until the 1970s…everyone viewed the dams as [good things],” Flynn says. “They provided hydropower and controlled flooding. Everybody loved it and they then over-allocated the river between the different [groups]. And no one was speaking for the river itself. It was viewed as a utility.” Moreover, there were all those farms in the area that depend on what water there was for irrigation. All these demands took their toll on the once-mighty Colorado River.
Casting a fishing line at dusk along a restored section of the Colorado river in yuma.
Bicyclists and pedestrians can now enjoy a renewed section along the river in the East Wetlands area.
a Change oF Course
Despite the competing interests, Flynn was able to bring all these groups together over time. With the success of a few small projects, a momentum began that has led to a wholesale reinvestment in downtown Yuma. “I guess probably the most important [concept] going into a discussion is the idea of walking a mile in another person’s shoes. It’s as simple as that and yet very difficult. You also have to size up who you’re dealing with,” he says. Getting the farmers to agree that it was important to revive the river was a huge challenge. They were concerned that the water they needed for their large farms would be diverted, or that environmentalists would try to change how they produced the millions of heads of lettuce grown in the region each year. And bringing the Quechan tribe to the table proved an important effort that united restoration efforts. “[With] the willingness, for whatever reason, of the mayors and the other people I dealt with, the tribe or the farming community (to listen to me), I built up credibility. They’d listen…and were supportive of what needed to be done,” he says. A failing bridge that connected the city of Yuma with the Quechan reservation, officially known as the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation, had become a symbol of governmental dysfunction, yet when it was restored, a new spirit of cooperation began, Flynn says. Then, the economic crash of 2008–09 led the state of Arizona to propose closing two state parks along the river in Yuma, including the historic Yuma Territorial Prison. Flynn’s Heritage Area agreed to take over operations, and more successes followed. And by drawing on the expertise of other environmentalists, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area began to reclaim the riverfront. Some $60 million in private development has come since Flynn began his work, including a Hilton hotel, a business conference center, and commercial and residential development. Now, residents use the river for recreation, from canoeing to paddleboarding to camping. The Heritage Area now features a multiuse pathway and a gateway park, and more projects are planned or underway. Even better is the spirit of cooperation he’s been able to maintain among groups that were once at odds. “As an aide to Mayor Koch in the late 1970s, I was a young punk,” he admits. “Sometimes, I learned the hard way from my 28
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“i guess probably the most important [concept] going into a discussion is the idea of walking a mile in another person’s shoes. it’s as simple as that and yet very difficult. you also have to size up who you’re dealing with.”
The vital and rebuilt bridge that connects the city with the Quechan reservation is fanked by a riverfront park.
failures. I guess having lived through the [New York City] fiscal crisis, nothing seems that hard anymore.” These days, the Yuma heritage group is working on long-term plans to ensure the sustainability of the two state parks it oversees, as well as continuing its work to restore the river. As Flynn sees the next phase of his project in Yuma nearing, he’s thoughtful. “Do we model our experience of wetlands restoration and take it north and south along the river—from Imperial Dam to the Mexican border? Do we promote a restoration ethic for the Colorado River that extends to more water users [such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas]? Do we make Yuma the center of the discussion of the future of the river?” he asks. “Hopefully, our success based on collaboration among widely disparate stakeholders will serve as inspiration for the major water users to determine that collaboration is the only way to save the Colorado River, because if we ‘fight over the scraps’ as supply shrinks and demands grow over the next 50 years, the Southwest is surely doomed.” Still, Flynn remains hopeful that the successes in Yuma and Wheeling will spur on other cities to rediscover and protect the rivers that attracted those cities’ founders. Will he be involved in another such effort? “I had wanted to do another project,” he says. “When I got here I was 47 and now I’m 62. Long term, what I’d love to do…I’d love to do another project.” j Bonnie Blackburn penhollow ’84 is a writer living in Fort Wayne, indiana, with her family.
Native vegetation, foreground, seen with non-native plants on the opposite bank along a restored section of the Colorado river.
By Kaitlin Thomas Orfitelli Photographs by Robert Falcetti
scientists Taft science students
“Science is not a collection of facts. It’s a process.” —David Hostage
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have been tackling independent tutorials in quantum mechanics, neuroscience, the controlled release of anti-cancer drugs, and human echolocation this year. “The level of science taught here now is above and beyond what the school has seen in its history,” says Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82. Just as the sophistication of science studies has grown, so too has the engagement in science courses. An overwhelming majority of Taft students graduate with at least four years of science, with many completing the equivalent of five years. Behind all of this work is a faculty that challenges students with the goal of cultivating independent, scientific thinkers.
Ezra Levy ’15 spent time this past year in Taft’s labs working on a research project to create autoluminescent plants. This summer he plans to continue learning about plants and genetics as an intern at the New york Botanical garden.
Last summer Ezra Levy ’15 was visiting a rural orphanage in Mozambique when he had an idea. “We were talking about the dangers of living in such a remote area without a reliable light source at night,” he remembers, “and I realized maybe it was something I could help with.” The way he could help? Science. Mozambique, where Levy lived for much of his childhood, is mostly without power—as of 2010, 85 percent of the population had no access to electricity. At night people are vulnerable to inadvertently wandering too close to lakes and rivers and falling prey to crocodiles. Levy’s idea: create autoluminescent plants to serve as trail markers, essentially creating glowing paths in the darkness. Since his trip to Mozambique last summer, Levy has become fluent in a science vocabulary not typical among high school students as he has delved into an independent tutorial focused on selectively transplanting autoluminescent genes into plants. With the guidance of faculty advisor Laura Monti ’89, he spent the year researching the genetic makeup of fireflies, learning the intricacies of the luciferin luciferase reaction, and doing hands-on lab work. “We transformed bacteria with genes, and that went very well,” Levy says of his work in the lab. “We created plates of green glowing E. coli. They were dim, but it did work.” Bespectacled and soft-spoken, Levy talks about the challenges he has faced with his project and his newfound appreciation for the painstaking process of research. “When considering something like this you have to think of every possible variable,” he says. “How big is the gene, where will it fit, what plant would be a good match? What is the best
E. coli with GFP (green fuorescent protein) expression, a green glowing protein seen over a uV light. students in amanda Benedict’s ap Biology class did this lab during the spring semester.
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source of autoluminescence? Is there a need for a trigger mechanism? Would the force of the wind be enough to trigger the plant to glow? The questions just keep growing.” The focus of Levy’s project shifted over the year as he came to realize that he wouldn’t have the time or the funding to execute such an ambitious project before his graduation. Much of his final semester was spent drafting a comprehensive grant proposal, synthesizing his ideas and research challenges. One of the more important things Levy has gained at Taft, he says, has been exposure to the world of research—discussing historically significant experiments both inside and outside of science classes, and engaging teachers and fellow students in discussions about contemporary science and research trends. “Taft has amassed a group of individuals who are really intelligent,” Levy says of the Science Department faculty, “but more than that they are great educators.” Taking AP Chem as a sophomore with Mr. Hostage was tough, he says. Levy had just moved to the U.S. It was a whole new culture and curricular system. “Mr. Hostage certainly did not spoon-feed us all of the information we needed,” Levy says. “He provided us with all of the resources we needed to study and to succeed in his class and on the AP exams. And the way he motivated me to slowly but surely become a more independent learner has been beneficial beyond belief.” That idea of cultivating independent, scientific thinkers is at the core of the Science Department’s philosophy. “The end goal is to give students self motivation, creativity, persistence—we give them the framework and resources to do their work,” says Jim Lehner, head of the department. “We try not to be overwhelming as far as guidance—and we get good results.”
“When considering something like this you have to think of every possible variable. How big is the gene, where will it fit, what plant would be a good match? What is the best source of autoluminescence? Would the force of the wind be enough to trigger the plant to glow? The questions just keep growing.”
growing scientists srinidhi Bharadwaj ’15 plans to continue with intensive lab work while at Columbia university next year. it’s not lost on her that Thomas Morgan—credited for pioneering the use of fruit fies in genetics research—had a famous “fy room” at Columbia.
Part of the reason that the level of student work has grown so drastically in the past decade is the sequencing of the curriculum. With the move to a physics-first curriculum, Taft has been able to offer chemistry and biology in the 10th and 11th grades, respectively, and post–AP courses (which were not part of the curriculum just a few years ago) are now standards. Post–AP Biology, for example, has grown since its inception in 2012, with 19 students enrolled this year in a class led by Laura Monti ’89 and fellow faculty member Michael McAloon. AP and post–AP work extends across the scientific disciplines and across the student body, with lower mids now taking AP Physics. Just as there are compelling narratives like Levy’s about the sophisticated science work Tafties are doing, so too is there an impressive story as far as engagement of girls in science at Taft. In AP Biology, for example, 32 of the 51 students are girls. In Post–AP Biology, 10 out of the 19 students are girls. One of those girls involved in the highest levels of science is Srinidhi Bharadwaj ’15, a senior who Monti describes as a student with significant firepower—the kind of student who seeks out graduate-level textbooks out of innate curiosity. Bharadwaj has taken five independent tutorials at Taft (three in biology and two in chemistry), in addition to AP classes in physics, chemistry, and biology as well as in BC Calculus, Statistics, English Language and Composition, Computer Science, and U.S. History. She likes the flexibility that independent tutorials allow—and the fact that she can design and pursue the project she’s most interested in. “Before 11th grade, I was all brain, all the time,” Bharadwaj says. “I was studying neuroscience and really thought that was where my interest would stay. That was before I got into flies.” For the past two years, Bharadwaj has been researching the effects of inbreeding on the reproductive fitness of wild and captive populations of the fruit fly, Drosophila
melanogaster. Armed with homemade ambrosia of bananas and honey, Monti caught a couple of wild fruit flies by Mac Quad. She and Bharadwaj ordered additional fruit flies from a lab to serve as the project’s captive population. “I had no idea what I was doing at first,” Bharadwaj says about the project. “Ms. Monti’s philosophy with me was that she would teach me a little bit of what to do and then she wanted me to mess up as many times as I needed to and figure out how to do it myself. I messed up a lot.” One time, Bharadwaj remembers, she forgot to check the meter on the CO2 she was using as an anesthetic on the flies. The gas ran out before she had completed her work, the flies woke up, and they all flew away. “You learn to deal with failure over and over and over again,” she says. “You have to learn to work meticulously for extended periods of time. If I was in a bio class and missed a detail, I might lose a point or two. But here, if I mess up in the lab, I would see all of my effort go to waste. It makes you meticulous. But at the same time, it makes you comfortable with failure. You’re going to fail sometimes—and then you just have to start over again, to keep going.” Bharadwaj’s lab work included stressing the flies to see how the captive and wild individuals responded differently. She did “chill coma” tests (in which she would record data on how quickly the flies could recover after three hours in subzero temperatures) and used the chemistry lab’s desiccation chamber to see how vulnerable the flies were to arid conditions. Bharadwaj became good—really good—at the lab work. She modestly shrugs off her ability to differentiate between male and female fruit flies with the naked eye. “After a while I would just close my eyes and see fruit flies,” she says with a chuckle. “I had a dream about flies once. I’d see fly larvae—the structure of it—in the shapes of my food. It was really all-encompassing.”
“Before 11th grade, I was all brain, all the time. I was studying neuroscience and really thought that was where my interest would stay. That was before I got into flies.” 34
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growing scientists Independent tutorials at Taft extend to chemistry and physics as well. Faculty member Jim Mooney has, for the past three years, mentored students who finish AP Physics C early by offering independent tutorials in quantum mechanics. Taking students as far as they can go in science has led to a full schedule of extracurricular science opportunities in addition to students’ already packed formal schedules. Mooney, for example, works with students preparing for the Trinity College Robotics Competition during afternoons between other commitments and on weekends as an extracurricular activity. Four teams of students work for several months to build the robots, which they then bring to compete against teams from all over the world. Each team is given the task of programming their robots to move autonomously through an arena, find a candle, and extinguish it before exiting. Mooney also takes students to the Yale Physics Olympics each fall, where high school students face a series of challenges designed by Yale’s Physics Department. Fifty or so teams compete, spending a day measuring and constructing and sometimes grappling with theoretical questions. Taft students have done very well in the competition, having twice come in first place. Tafties have also traveled to the University of Connecticut
pen Naviroj ’15 works with physics teacher Jim Mooney in a compound machine class.
each spring for the past five years to participate in the Science Olympiad, a nationwide science tournament. The competition for that tournament extends across the science curriculum, with problems ranging from the very concrete (identification of fossils and rocks, for example) to the very theoretical (including calculations for complicated astronomy questions). “Last year, we came in third, which was great,” Mooney says. “We are competing against schools that have entire programs geared toward preparing for this event.” Down the hall from Mooney’s classroom, faculty member David Hostage ushers students through post–AP Chemistry and independent tutorials in chemistry. Hostage looks around his classroom, the long tables set up with stations for students to do a titration lab. “I like having a messy lab—I like having a lab that’s being used,” he says. “It’s OK to have labs fail. It’s what science is all about— you have an idea, you try it, it fails, you rethink it, you try again. Science is not a collection of facts. It’s a process.” Hostage’s post–AP class spends the fall studying organic chemistry not so that they can be waived out of the class in college, he explains, but so that they will feel comfortable with the material at the college level. “It’s a very difficult college course used as a weeding-out process for pre-med majors,” Hostage
Lexi Walker ’16 and Jona Vithoontien ’17 use a system of levers to determine the ratio of two unknown weights as they practice for the science olympiad.
says. “I want my kids to get to college and feel comfortable with the material. Those are the students who will get an A on the first exam in their college organic chemistry class and not drop it three weeks in.” In the spring semester, Hostage’s class studies biochemistry, thermodynamics, and materials science (the interface between modern chemistry and modern physics), before moving on to ceramics and rounding out the year having some fun with chemistry and popular fiction. The science curriculum extends beyond the big three of physics, bio, and chem, of course. Science courses on medical ethics and forensics help keep students who are not as strong in science engaged in scientific thought, giving them confidence with scientific vocabulary and reasoning. Similarly, aquaculture, oceanography, and environmental science courses are well attended, with three or four sections of AP Environmental Science being offered each academic year. “The school does a really great job of preparing students to be critical thinkers,” says science teacher Dr. Amanda Benedict. “Part of the strength of the Science Department is that there is great care paid to teaching the lower mids, mids, and the students whose primary focus is not science—it’s not just the science superstars who are taught well here. Our talented faculty offers broad electives that inspire curiosity in all kinds of students.” j
Laura Monti ’89 (right) works with Jenna Longo ’15 (center) and Megan stone ’15 (far left) in post–ap Biology class.
Room to Grow Lab work is hard—it takes a lot of planning, space, and equipment. The nearly 48,000-square-foot Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center is home to all things science and math— including an aquaculture lab, a robotics room, an observable honeybee colony, and a telescope platform with a reflecting telescope. The building (known as “Wu”) currently houses project rooms in which students get hands-on experience working with high-tech equipment such as a fluorescent microscope and a PCR machine, which is capable of replicating a single copy of DNA into a million copies within four hours. Science Department Head Jim Lehner hopes that physics students soon will have similar space to use the school’s 3D printer and digitizer. “We’d like to continue to expand our hands-on offerings,” he says, “so when students get to the next level they can really get in-depth experience with advanced technology. What an advantage that would give them.”
Watching a reaction in accelerated Chemistry class. PeteR FRew ’75
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
FRom tHe toP, you can see all tHe way to centRal PaRK. But even from this lofty vantage point—the 49th floor of 270 Park Avenue, the Midtown Manhattan headquarters of JPMorgan Chase & Co.—the humble beginnings of Jacqueline Rosa ’82 are a mere blip on the horizon. It took much more than an elevator to get here for Rosa, global head of supplier diversity for the banking giant.
Rosa Rising froM spanish harleM to the BoarDrooM Jacqueline rosa ’82
By Neil Vigdor ’95 Photography by Robert Falcetti
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It took ambition, worth ethic, sacrifice, and the help of others to make it to the boardroom, a climb that made Rosa’s 90-year-old grandmother marvel when Rosa was promoted to managing director at JPMorgan Chase in 2013. “Not bad for a Puerto Rican girl from Spanish Harlem,” Rosa recalled her grandmother saying of her accomplishment. Rosa, 51, is now ensuring that underrepresented small business owners and entrepreneurs get equal footing in the fierce competition for contracts at the venerable bank. But make no mistake, the charge before her is not about meeting quotas or formulating mission statements. “I was doing diversity before diversity was the buzzword in the U.S.,” says Rosa, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico. From minority and women-owned businesses to those run by veterans, the disabled, and members of the LGBT community, Rosa plays a major role in the identification and selection of contractors and vendors that reflect the bank’s commitment to diversity. Each must go through a rigorous independent
certification process to verify that they are at least 51 percent diverse-owned. While the vetting process is a best practice at many Fortune 500 companies, it can pay huge dividends at JPMorgan Chase, which awards an estimated $1 billion in contracts annually for everything from construction and legal services to information technology and catering. It’s also economically pragmatic, according to Rosa, who points out that small businesses employ more than 50 percent of the working population in the U.S. and account for 65 percent of the jobs created since 1995. “It basically touches upon everything that the bank sources,” Rosa says. “It makes sense. It mirrors the bank’s diversity mission.” The clout of Rosa, who like fellow Puerto Rican trailblazers Sonia Sotomayor and Jennifer Lopez spent part of her childhood in the Bronx, is undeniable. She is the only woman member of the bank’s global sourcing services management committee. “It’s a predominantly male-dominated function,” says Rosa, who joined JPMorgan Chase three years ago. Before that, Rosa spent 13 years in
a similar capacity at Morgan Stanley, where she created an internship program for low-income students of color. She partnered with The Opportunity Network, a New York City nonprofit that provides underprivileged high school and college students with career development and networking opportunities. “Jacqueline understood what we understand: if we’re really going to increase diversity in financial services
and beyond, we need to create earlier opportunities and more exposure for low-income students,” says Jessica Pliska, the organization’s founder and CEO. “The experience for these students was, in some ways, really game-changing for them.” In 2010, The Opportunity Network honored Rosa, who is fluent in Spanish and is highly sought after on the diversity speaking circuit, at its annual gala.
“Jacqueline understood what we understand: if we’re really going to increase diversity in financial services and beyond, we need to create earlier opportunities and more exposure for low-income students.”
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
“I think that she is personally committed to doing what she can,” Pliska says. “Nothing is more powerful than having lived through something yourself.” At JPMorgan Chase, Rosa picked up right where she left off, starting a women’s networking group in her department called Women in Sourcing Empowerment (WISE). Her contributions to the corporate culture at the bank and innovations have exposed her to
people and places few get to experience. With the iridescent Chrysler Building and the ice floes of the East River in the background, Rosa harkened back to everything she did to get here. None of it would have happened, she says, if she hadn’t been true to her identity and values. “I couldn’t be successful in a work environment where I had to pretend to be someone I’m not,” says Rosa, who is married with an 11-year-old daughter.
Rosa’s most recent honor is her admittance into the Women’s Bond Club of New York, which is committed to cultivating the next generation of women leaders in the financial services industry and provides networking and development opportunities to aspiring women on Wall Street. Rosa is paying it forward—and back. The first time she ever heard of Taft was from a childhood friend who received a scholarship from A Better Chance, which for more than half a century has placed inner-city high achievers such as former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and singersongwriter Tracy Chapman at some of the finest prep schools in the nation. Rosa’s competitive spirit kicked into overdrive, and she wanted to join her friend, applying sight unseen to Taft just two days before the application deadline for A Better Chance. “It wasn’t scientific,” says Rosa, who continues to support the scholarship program. It turned out to be one of the best decisions that Rosa has ever made. “The Taft experience completely changed who I was,” Rosa says. “The education I received was far superior to any local school I would have attended, but, more importantly, the access to information and life outside of the Bronx was the impetus for me to do better and to prove that the opportunity was not wasted on me.” From Watertown, Rosa returned to the Bronx to attend Fordham University, earning a degree in journalism and 42
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communications. At the start of her career, Rosa was a marketing manager for Creative Games International, a job that required her to live abroad to help foreign governments turn the key on lottery games. Her clients were spread far and wide in Hungary, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Austria, Germany, and Russia. “I was living diversity every day,” Rosa says. “Living abroad as extensively as I did was an education unto itself. It was a very different time, and unfortunately I didn’t encounter many women in leadership positions while I was abroad.” Now, Rosa, who lives in New Jersey with her family, spends about onethird of the year traveling on behalf of the bank. The roller-board suitcase is the must-have accessory for Rosa, as it was on a late February afternoon when she was preparing to leave for a meeting the next day in Detroit. “I read a lot on planes,” Rosa says. One of the things that Rosa says attracted her to JPMorgan Chase is the flexibility. If she needs to leave the office early to care for a sick family member, Rosa says she has the latitude. By the same token, she says it’s not unusual for her to stay up until 2 or 3 a.m., cobbling together work emails. “We’re working moms and we’re professionals,” Rosa says. Rosa’s commute takes about an hour to her office at 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza downtown. Her itinerary is often planned weeks in advance and down to the minute. By the very nature of her work, Rosa is not chained to her desk—and prefers it that way.
“Someone said to me, ‘If you’re sitting in an office all day, you’re not doing your job,’” says Rosa, who has five people reporting directly to her. Rosa describes her management style as both hands-on and delegating, depending upon the job at hand. True to her Latina roots, Rosa enjoys dancing, cooking, and spending her precious free time with her family. On Valentine’s Day, she took her mother to see another Puerto RicanAmerican in concert: Marc Anthony. “Growing up in Spanish Harlem and the Bronx was rich in pride, color, flavors, music, community, and, most importantly, the responsibility to pay it forward,” Rosa says. “When I reflect upon the sacrifices made by my grandparents and parents, I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility to assist others whenever I can and to be the best that I can be at all times.” The best piece of advice Rosa can offer to those just starting out is to be bold and be authentic. “Oftentimes, folks don’t take risks because it pushes you outside your comfort zone,” Rosa says. From the top, Park Avenue stretches for miles, symbolic of Rosa’s journey and dedication to broadening the horizons of others. Still, Rosa hasn’t lost sight of where she came from. j Neil Vigdor ’95 is the statewide political writer for Hearst Connecticut Media, which includes Greenwich Time, The (Stamford) Advocate, Connecticut Post, Danbury News-Times, and five weekly newspapers.
“growing up in spanish Harlem and the Bronx was rich in pride, color, flavors, music, community, and, most importantly, the responsibility to pay it forward.”
Tales of a taftie By Bill hoBlitzelle ’49
Henry “Hank” W. Taft II ’43 sCholar, leaDer, aDventurer, anD sailor m Hank Taft ’43 in Maine with outward Bound, of which he was president in the 1970s.
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
In each issue of this column, a question is posed to readers: “What successful Taftie, no longer living, would you like to see profiled in this space?” I thought of a man I met when he and I were both serving on the Executive Committee of the Alumni Association: Henry “Hank” W. Taft II, Class of 1943, who was the nephew of Horace Dutton Taft. I got to know Hank during those quarterly committee meetings over several years in the 1960s. Hank was a vice president at BristolMyers, and I was vice president of McCluskey Wire Company. Hank owned a beautiful yawl, which I believe was made by Cheoy Lee, and I had been sailing since I was three. We exchanged a lot of stories after committee meetings. In 1973, after our terms on the Executive Committee were over, Hank left Bristol-Myers and became president of Outward Bound, based in Maine. In 1981, he and wife Jan moved to Camden, Maine, and spent several years preparing the best-organized and most useful guide to sailing in Maine. A Cruising Guide to the Maine Coast was published by International Marine Publishing Company in 1988. Ro and I had cruised Maine waters several times in the early 1980s in chartered boats, and in 1988 we got our own boat, another beautiful yawl of 40 feet. From 1988 to 1995 we got to Maine almost every summer. We found and thoroughly enjoyed 11 of Hank and Jan’s favorite 17 harbors, fivestar rated on the Taft scale, plus scores of other beautiful harbors and lunch-hook spots. I am so grateful to the Tafts for producing this guide that
I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. I have used several other guides, having cruised as skipper since 1953, and none can touch the Taft guide. Unfortunately, Hank died in 1991 from pancreatic cancer before we ever ran into him in Maine. I did some research on Hank Taft, which turned up a broader picture of this man. At Taft he was called a scholar and a leader, and after I knew him he served on the Board of Trustees from 1969 to 1981. Hank was awarded Taft’s highest alumni honor, the Citation of Merit (now known as the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal) in 1986. He graduated from Yale in two and a half wartime years with a Phi Beta Kappa key, served as a Navy lieutenant 1944 to 1946, earned an MBA with distinction from the Harvard Graduate School of Business in 1949, and then served in the U.S. Naval Reserves as a lieutenant during the Korean War. In addition to being a Taft trustee, he served as chairman of Rye Country Day School’s board from 1959 to 1975. He was a member of the Cruising Club of America and the Camden Yacht Club. As Hank Taft’s Citation of Merit states, “Your character and fortitude have been evident, whether the day be given to rappelling in the High Tetons, sculling alone on the Atlantic, or leading in the corporate boardroom…. Never content to accept either the status quo or mediocrity in any form, you have insisted we challenge tomorrow’s leaders ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’ We are better for your coming our way. For all that you have given to your country and your school, Taft takes pride in awarding you its highest honor.” j
soaking up some spring sun with creative backrests in 1989. leslie d. manning aRcHives
Head Class agent: Cheves McC. smythe, 219 stoney Creek, Houston, TX 77024-6247, firstname.lastname@example.org
We are sorry to report that Tony Lamb died on Feb. 6 (see In Memoriam). His daughter, Susie ’77, writes, “My father went to Taft on a full scholarship attending during the Cruikshank years. I believe it was his close connection to Dan Beard, Boy Scouts founder and friend to Horace D. Taft, that led him there. He was ever grateful for having been given the opportunity to go to Taft and felt strongly that his Taft experience and connection had much to do with the success he achieved all through his life. He was very funny in telling of his dismal academic performance starting out, saying he actually had ‘negative marks’ or grade-point average. Nevertheless, he blossomed there and went on to great things. For my father, my sister, Ashley Lamb Fischer ’72, and me, Taft has figured very prominently in our lives and all of the Lambs continue to be grateful for the
amazing educational and personal experiences we have shared.” Ashley adds, “The day Taft announced it was going co-ed, my father made an appointment with Dir. of Admissions Joe Cunningham (and one of Daddy’s favorite faculty members) for me to go to the school for an interview. That’s how I ended up in the first graduating class of girls, attending the school for my senior year.”
Head Class agent: Ted pratt, 171 Newtown Tpke., Westport, CT 06880-1019
Belated congratulations to Ted Pratt on his 90th birthday (see photo p. 46).
Class Secretary: Baaron B. pittenger Jr., 4930 Newstead pl., Colorado springs, Co 80906-5977, BpTNgr36@comcast.net Head Class agent: Jack Lyman, 33 Lyman rd., Middlefield, CT 06455-0453, email@example.com;
Ah, spring. That’s the refrain in New England after a brutal winter eloquently described by Dud Blanchard, who noted in the last issue of the Bulletin how much he and his wife, Barbara, enjoy the changing New England seasons and winter on the Cape. Dud reports, “The winter was brutal. Our home is on the south shore of a large lake, and we face north—where all the wind at this time of year comes from. The winds reached hurricane proportions on several occasions, and the snow, which has a mile and a half reach across the lake to our home, completely passes us by (sometimes) in horizontal flight. Our lawn has been practically bare, but the drifts on the other side of the house are huge. Our driveway was impassable for several days, three or four times.” Still, Dud and Barbara choose beauty over the beast. During a respite from the weather, they took a drive to see the sights and wrote, “It was beautiful. The shop lights in the village of Chatham cast their warm glow over the sidewalks; the trees and bushes were laden with snow. The small Cape homes and the large sea captain houses were all draped in a mantle of white. It was awesome….The winter Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
Archives The Way Forward—Maintaining Our Momentum for Success The Final 12 Months of Taft’s Campaign
$175 million (goal)
$157 million (90% raised) March 31, 2015
Out of Time We don’t know why these lovely photographs of Horace D. Taft and Charles Phelps Taft Halls and neighboring stately trees were taken. They seem out of a dream. Twenty-four in all, the images were made in the mid-1930s by the Aimé Dupont Studio, better known for its portraits of socialites and opera stars. Several of the photographs appear in the opening pages of the 1936 Annual. That spring, Horace Taft was retiring after 46 years as headmaster; the issue was dedicated to him. For a school that had come of age with a great man, the images are a wistful souvenir. —alison gilchrist, The Leslie d. Manning archives
Taft Bulletin / Spring 2015
$55,000,000 Faculty and Staff 55,000,000 Students 8,500,000 Programs 31,500,000 Facilities 25,000,000 Annual Fund Total: $175,000,000 by June 30, 2016
Our campaign objectives are clear: We must grow our endowment so that we can… j continue to recruit and retain the best faculty and staff. j make a Taft education
j build and sustain rigorous and
j maintain first-rate facilities that
competitive academic as well
support programs for students
as extracurricular programs
and the greater community.
accessible to an increasing
critical to university, career,
j ensure significant participation
number of diverse and
and global citizenship.
in the Annual Fund providing critical operating support.
“There are moments in every school’s history that are transformative, and today we
To read Headmaster
find ourselves at one. Never has the school been stronger, never have the challenges
been greater, and never have the opportunities been more exciting. This campaign’s
thoughts on Taft’s
singular goal: sustaining Taft’s greatness in the years ahead.”
Campaign for the Second Century,
—Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73 and J. Hord Armstrong III ’59 Campaign Co-chairs
please see On Main Hall on page 3.
bulletin The Taft School 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 860-945-7777 www.taftalumni.com
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Student Art at Taft
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