The Williston Northampton School Bulletin, Spring 2021

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After a lifetime of radical innovation, John Seely Brown ’58 continues to look ahead





5 | CAMPUS NEWS Rocket launches, new senior leadership, and scenes from this remarkable year on campus

9 | COLLEGE IN THE TIME OF COVID Five ways the pandemic has changed the college process

14 | CELEBRATING THE CLASS OF 2021 A look at our intrepid and joyous senior class as they closed out this most unusual yearALUMNI N


Masks and social distancing did not stop students from learning, playing, and creating this year



“It’s wonderful to wake up every morning and feel like your work has a purpose,” says Tolu Onafowokan ’05, speaking of her job at the Ford Foundation



Jen Bennett ’84 is helping create a safety net for families struggling to feed their furry friends





Oscar winners, sports superstars, and other cool cats

After a lifetime of innovation, John Seely Brown ’58 continues to explore the future of possibility

From investment advisor to ER nurse: the amazing career pivot of J. Steven Staggs ’78

An interview in words and pictures with Trix E. Willems ’19



Champion baker Zoë Neal Francois ’85 is experiencing sweet success

Strength coach and podcaster Anders Varner ’01 wants you to embrace what’s hard in life

18 | HUMAN RIGHTS HERO Author Mike Chinoy ’70 celebrates a little-known lawyer who made a huge impact on the world



Jen Holsten ’86 returns to her roots by starting Bear Isle Boards

24 | THE WIDE WORLD OF WINE Savor your next bottle of wine with tips from Gordon Sullivan ’69

28 | FAMILY FOUND Through her art, Larissa Bates ’99 explores connection and culture





Tolu Onafowokan ’05 works at the intersection of culture and cause

Quincy Coleman ’90 creates an anthem for climate change




The remarkable story of how Williston came to own the copyright to a classic song

42 | MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN Paul Kennard ’71 fights to mitigate the impact of climate change

Helping families with pets is a labor of love for Jen Bennett ’84

54 | FUNDING THE FUTURE New funds and initiatives helping build inclusion at Williston


Head of School ROBERT W. HILL III P’15, ’19 Chief Advancement Officer ERIC YATES P’17, ’21 Director of Alumni Engagement JILL STERN P’14, ’19 Director of Communications ANN HALLOCK P’20, ’22 Design Director ARUNA GOLDSTEIN Assistant Director of Communications DENNIS CROMMETT Communications Writer and Coordinator KATE LAWLESS Please send letters to the editor, class notes, obituaries, and changes of address to: The Williston Northampton School Advancement Office 19 Payson Avenue Easthampton, MA 01027 email: online: connect


Non-Discrimination Statement: Williston admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, gender, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability, and extends to them all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. The school does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, gender, religion, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or mental or physical disability, or any other status protected by applicable law in the administration of its admissions, scholarships, and loans, and its educational, athletic, and other policies and programs.

Head’s Letter


ommencement at Williston Northampton is always one of my favorite moments. Standing at the podium and looking out at faculty in their formal robes, seniors about to launch into new adventures, and proud families savoring the bittersweet final moments of high school—it’s heady stuff. And never more so than this year, Williston’s 180th, when dropping virus rates and vaccinations finally allowed us to celebrate the class of 2021 with an in-person ceremony. I know all of us on campus felt unequivocally moved by the sight of the big white tent—at long last—going up on the Main Quad. Constant change was the theme of the past year here, and I’m proud of the fortitude of our faculty, staff, and students as they navigated everything from nearly 24/7 mask wearing to weekly nose swabs. The theme of change is a thread that also runs through the alumni stories in this issue of the Bulletin. Take, for example, J. Steven Staggs ’78, who changed careers from investment advisor to ER nurse at age 50 (page 46), or Jen Holsten ’86 who

left a 25-year coaching career to start her own business (page 22). You’ll also read about alumni working to create change, such as Tolu Onafowokan ’05 focusing on myriad justice issues with the Ford Foundation (page 38), and Paul Kennard ’71, a glaciologist helping address climate change (page 42). Their agility and creativity are perfect examples of “the whitewater kayaking skills” that futurethinker and lifelong innovator John Seely Brown ’54 says we all need for today’s constantly changing world (page 32). As always, I am awed by what our alumni go on to do. Finally, I cannot talk about change without mentioning Williston’s new Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, which you will find on page 54. Drafted by Williston’s Anti-Racism Committee with input from many alumni, this important document outlines the school’s goals for creating lasting and meaningful change to ensure that everyone in the Williston community feels a deep sense of belonging. I encourage you to read it and stay up to date on its implementation at







REUNION GOES VIRTUAL While it would’ve been grand to be together in person, Virtual Reunion 2021 offered alumni the opportunity to connect on class calls, take a class with current faculty, and even try out Zoom Yoga!



THE MOUNTAIN & THE BELL Williston alumni and students came together in song for this original composition, created by Grum Project composer Geoff Hudson. See it on Williston’s YouTube channel.

4. COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER SUSAN DEL PERCIO ’87 Williston welcomed back this well-known Wildcat for the 180th Commencement on May 22. A political strategist and crisis communications consultant, Del Percio is also a political analyst for MSNBC and NBC News.


COVID CUP Williston’s spirit squad (aka The Wildest Cats) organized a series of eight friendly competitions this spring, to keep Wildcats thinking on their paws. Contests included kickball, cardboard sledding, and a campus-wide egg hunt.

5 Things We’re Talking About! 5. THE WILLISTONIAN TAKES FIRST PLACE Dateline: Easthampton! The country’s oldest continuously published student newspaper won first place in the American Scholastic Association’s contest, for schools with 500 or fewer students. Read all about it at



Step aside, Wildcat! Ultimate players gathered around their unofficial mascot, Buffy, who belongs to Math Department Chair Josh Seamon.

During this spring’s Why Not Speak Day, we celebrated the wide array of identities on campus—with workshops, speakers, and rainbows!

Students dedicated The Log yearbook to our health care heroes on campus, who administered more than 23,000 COVID tests this year.

A Podcast Potluck Help yourself to a listen as we present a smorgasbord of aural options from Willistonconnected voices

1. Williston’s Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Blayne Lapan talked strength training on the podcast “Barbell Shrugged” with weightlifter Anders Varner ’01 (see profile, page 48).

2. On the “Member Voices” podcast of the National Association of Independent Schools, Director of Curriculum Kim Evelti shared how the school faced the pandemic and national events.

Visual arts teacher Wendy Staples encourages both in-person and remote-learning students during AP Studio Art.

3. If you appreciate a granular focus on professional athletics, listen to “The Stat Cast.” Sam Greeman ’17 is one of two “stats and sports nerds” who crunch the numbers after the game.

4. Emma Sherr-Ziarko ’07 and guests discuss wine and popular culture on “Pairing.” A recent episode dissected the iconic Sherlock Holmes. Serve a “deep, dark tannic red” to “set the eerie mood.”



Kai Hori ’22 has wanted to build and launch his own rocket ever since he saw the movie October Sky and was “almost religiously carried away” by the story of a high school boy in a coal mining town who dreams of launching a rocket. Hori saw his dream come true with the help of the Williston Rocketry Club, which he and a friend founded as ninth graders. In April, a projectile he designed soared up into the skies above Sawyer Field as part of the American Rocketry Challenge. “I pressed the ignition button, saw smoke furiously coming out of the nozzle in slow motion, and felt this sudden relief,” he said. The rocket, which was partially made on a 3D printer, rose 855 vertical feet, then parachuted back down to the turf with its payload, an egg, unbroken. Hori is hopeful about a career in the field of space exploration. “Fingers crossed, I will be working for an aerospace engineering company in the not-so-distant future.”


Coding Gender Equity



Jenkins has worked in private practice in Chicago for more than 30 years, and holds hospital affiliations with Advocate Trinity Hospital, Advocate Condell Medical Center, and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. She serves as a Chief Delegate to the American Podiatric Medical Association.



ith the retirement of longtime Dean of Faculty Peter Valine and the creation of a new Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) position this spring, Williston was excited to welcome two new members of the senior leadership team— Nikki Chambers (left) and Corie Fogg ’99 (right). As Williston’s new Dean of DEIB, Chambers brings more than a decade of experience in higher education and enrollment management, serving most recently as the associate director of admission and coordinator of multicultural recruitment at Smith College. Before that, she worked in the Office of Admissions at Barnard College of Columbia University for six years. Chambers earned a Master of Arts in higher and postsecondary education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College, where she majored in history with a minor in African-American studies. In this new role at Williston, Chambers will manage and coordinate collaborative DEIB strategic initiatives across campus, partnering with students, faculty, administrative leaders, and trustees to shape and guide the school’s sustained efforts to build a culture of inclusion and belonging on campus. Fogg takes on the role of Dean of Faculty, after having served as the Director of Curriculum and Professional Development since 2015 at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, a school for girls in Bethesda, Maryland. She began her professional career teaching English at Hudson High School in Hudson, Massachusetts, then worked at the Fay School. She served as Site Director in Seattle, Washington, for Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth program, and taught at Woodside Priory School in Portola Valley, California. Fogg has presented at a range of regional and national conferences on education. In 2018, she co-authored “Enough as She Is: The Educator’s Guide” with New York Times best-selling author Rachel Simmons. Fogg earned B.A. and M.Ed. degrees from Boston College. In this new role, she will lead the faculty and play a critical role in hiring and professional development. “Returning to Williston, a place I hold core to my formation, allows me to humbly extend my service to a school that gave much to me,” says Fogg.



Kim Evelti, Director of Curriculum and Computer Science teacher, cites the fact that women still make up a small percentage of the computer science workforce as just one reason she is passionate about encouraging girls to get into coding—and excited about the AP Computer Science Female Diversity Award Williston received this spring. Williston was awarded this honor by College Board for expanding young women’s access to AP Computer Science Principles. “I take as many opportunities to recruit girls into CS classes, particularly through my work in the dorm,” she added, “because I wish someone had done that for me in high school.”


That’s a Williston Class?! With more than 150 classes, Williston’s course catalog goes way beyond the three Rs. Here are four recent additions that let students explore everything from the smallest fingerprints to the vastness of the stratosphere. APP PROGRAMMING


Using a cloud-based programming tool supported by MIT, students begin by programming pre-designed mobile apps, and then modify them with their own creative designs. The course culminates in students creating their own uniquely designed projects, which range from drawing apps to educational games.

This week on CSI: Easthampton: Williston students examine crime scenes, both real and fictitious. Through hands-on work that touches on physics, chemistry, and biology, students use the science labs to analyze data and draw conclusions through DNA fingerprinting, handwriting analysis, and more.



Where do stars come from? (Other than Williston, of course.) This class examines the nature of light and matter, and at its core, investigates the amazing ability of humankind to explore and discover. Students learn about the optics of telescopes, consider black holes, and ponder the origins—and possible fates—of the universe.

In this seminar, students explore one of the most important philosophical and literary movements of the 20th century through the work of Søren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre, and other superstars of thought. The class, says teacher Tom Johnson, “addresses the everyday experiences we have, whether issues around anxiety or authenticity—or even the meaning of existence.”





A practicing orthopedic surgeon, Holmes serves as Chief Medical Officer at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Keene, N.H. She is a member of the American College of Physician Executives and the American College of Healthcare Executives.

An entrepreneur and investor, McBride developed and sold the companies, Vision Sports and Entertainment Partners, Football Scouts Inc., and Sports Technologies, Inc. He has built growth initiatives with M&M Mars, Dunkin Donuts, and Bank of America, among other brands.

Perry is the Marketing Director of Climate Control Systems at Mestex, a division of the leading HVAC manufacturer Mestek, Inc. Previously, she was lead Business Analyst at Citizens Bank, Home Lending Solutions, and had a 20-year career at IBM. She lives in Ware, Mass., and is the mother of Jillian and Jenna ’21.

Bruce is Managing Director and Founder at True North Capital Partners, a Boston-area real estate investment firm. His extensive entrepreneurial experience includes fostering seven successful technology and media startups. Jeff and his wife, Aura, live in Concord, Mass., and are parents to Gaby and Lily ’22. SPRING 2021 BULLETIN 7

Worth Repeating “Technology can either help people or be an obstacle. This experience will help me be more cognizant when designing technical systems in the future.” —Frannie Cataldo ’22, who, with a friend, started Juniors Helping Seniors and designed a bot to help elders set up vaccination appointments this February

“Unmute yourself when you see injustice. Unmute yourself for a noble cause. Unmute yourself to show your love of your family or grief at a funeral... Unmute yourself in your future classrooms.” —Head of School Robert W. Hill III in his Commencement address to the Zoomfatigued class of 2021

“Many families live with “If you see a problem, dogs, cats, bunnies, and you are the one who even snakes, but few can fix it. It may take people get the chance eight years, it may to live with a zebra. In take 40. This is an an already strange year, ongoing event. This is a I have been given that marathon, not a sprint.” unusual chance.” —Former Writers’ Workshop presenter

“Because of my own personal experience, I’m convinced that being broad-minded and creating a global community is a worthwhile cause, and I hope all of us will recognize the value of connecting with people coming from a variety of backgrounds.” —Ronald Chan ’01, who spoke at Williston’s Cum Laude Induction Ceremony in January. Chan formerly served as Hong Kong’s undersecretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, playing a major role in the government’s two-year endeavor to introduce universal suffrage. Currently, he is executive manager at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, where he is responsible for the club’s business development and stakeholder engagement with mainland China.


—Anna Richardson ’21 in a story she wrote for The Willistonian on studying remotely while living at The Good Earth Farm, which rescues animals, during the pandemic

and Martin Luther King Day speaker, poet Roger Reeves on the fight for racial justice

“Even a global pandemic could not prevent us “On this campus people from singing together.” —Williston Director of Choirs Colin Mann know me just as a on the debut of “The Mountain and the football player. But Bell,” a song commissioned in celebration of Williston’s 180th year I want people to see past that, and realize “We as a country have I work hard in the classroom and in other to have the patience and the respect for one aspects of my life, just another to engage in like others.” — Eniola Falayi ’21, one of three Black male these conversations.” students who spoke during a Black History Month assembly about wanting to be seen as more than just an athlete

—Former head of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center Robert Grenier ’72, during an all-school assembly on the January violence at the Capitol



Director of College Counseling Catherine McGraw talks about how the pandemic has upended the college application process Even as much of the country begins to return to pre-pandemic normalcy, one aspect of Williston student life continues to feel the impact of COVID-19—the process of applying to and choosing a college. Universities responded to the pandemic with consequential changes in how they recruit, evaluate, and admit prospective students, and students in turn have responded with strategic shifts in how they apply to schools and make their final decision. Director of College Counseling Catherine McGraw walked us through the new normal.



With in-person testing on hold, the vast majority of schools waived the requirement that applicants submit SAT or ACT test scores, and McGraw believes that schools will not reinstate the testing requirements even after the pandemic eases, a decision she would support. “It’s never been our favorite part of the process,” she says. “Some students test really well, but many students don’t, and it’s not indicative of their ability to succeed in college. I’m very hopeful that we can continue to move in that direction.” That shift, however, has led to another trend…



With selective schools going test optional, she notes, “Many students are seizing that opportunity and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going to put this application in and see what happens.”’ As a result, selective schools are reporting dramatic increases in applications, with Harvard up more than 40 percent and MIT up 66 percent. Following from that, those same schools have been placing more students— including many strong candidates— on their waitlists.



Without scores, admissions offices are having to do deeper reads of student applications and look more closely at each student’s total submission. “Many schools will say that they do a holistic review of the application, and they can review with or without the test scores,” says McGraw. But that means “they look more deeply at all the other components.”



Williston students who were admitted to their preferred schools this year often did so by establishing “a very intentional relationship with that particular college,” observes McGraw. “They had expressed their interest, reached out to an admissions officer, taken advantage of the virtual tours, and written very thoughtful essays describing why they wanted to come to a particular college.”



With in-person campus visits off the table, the class of 2021 could assess prospective schools using only online tools such as virtual tours. That limitation led fewer to choose

the binding Early Decision pathway and more to opt for Early Action, the nonbinding alternative that lets them delay their acceptance until May 1. The number of Early Decision applications declined to 65 this year from last year’s 88 (for both Early Decision and the later Early Decision II). Meanwhile, Early Action applications jumped 40 percent, from 168 to 281 this year. “Many students were not ready to make that commitment to Early Decision,” McGraw explains. Instead, they kept their options open with Early Action, hoping that pandemic rules might be eased before the May deadline, allowing them to visit schools in person before committing. “Seeing schools in person is really important,” she says. “We’re hopeful that this year’s juniors will be able to go out and visit campuses.” Despite all the challenges and adjustments, McGraw notes that members of the Williston class of 2021 were accepted early to schools at noteworthy rates. “For both Early Decision and Early Action, we have seen a lot of success and we’re very excited about it,” she says. For a list of where the class of 2021 will be continuing their education, go to


The WilliList A by-the-numbers look at recent school highlights BY DENNIS CROMMETT


Donations to the Autism Self Advocacy Network during a fundraiser by the cast of the spring play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which features an autistic main character.


Points scored by basketball’s Jordyn Meunier ’21 in her career, making her only the eighth girl basketball player in school history to surpass the 1,000-point milestone in scoring.



Books by Black authors that were part of the English Department’s literary scavenger hunt during Black History Month. The student who found the most posters featuring these books won a free book from a local Black-owned bookstore. 10 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

Months since Williston teams faced rivals Suffield and Northfield Mount Hermon in any athletic contests due to the pandemic. They finally faced off on April 9 and 10!


Course number for “Human Rights and Social Justice,” a new course that all first-year students now take, as part of Williston’s humanities curriculum. The course explores the origins and challenges of social justice movements and human rights issues through history.



Meals funded as part of the Community Service Club food drive. Generous Williston students donated food items as well as cash. The class of 2022 topped the leaderboard, with a total of 968 points (a point being a food item or dollar donated).

23,925 Total COVID-19 tests administered on campus between August 2020 and May 2021, part of Williston’s extensive safety protocols for the campus community.


Number of minutes during which students must answer six math problems in the Whitaker-Bement Girls in Mathematics Competition.



Number of times Equipment Manager J.T. Tirrell ’90 drove to the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Mass., during the 2020–21 school year. Each Wednesday, J.T. delivered the school’s COVID-19 PCR tests to the institute’s lab, so that test results would be available the following day. Thanks, J.T.!


Student leaders who, along with 11 faculty members, ran this year’s Why Not Speak Day, which featured workshops and speakers devoted to examining identity. This year’s theme: Reflect, Respect, Connect.


New student-centered and teacher-supported affinity spaces for all groups of students to encourage interaction and support.



Teams competing in the school’s first Broomball Tournament this winter. What’s broomball, you ask? It’s like hockey, but with brooms. The winning team (who ironically did not sweep the tourney) was “Broom Roasted.”

Spools of yarn used for UNITY, an interactive public art project on campus during Why Not Speak Day. Students wove green yarn between posts to reflect their identities (see photo on page 13).


Number of gifts made as part of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Challenges this past Founders Day, totalling over $65,000. Thank you! SPRING 2021 BULLETIN 11

SNAPSHOTS These are the moments that defined life at Williston this winter and spring. We took pictures to make them last a little longer.

The spring play—The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time—raised awareness about autism

A deep freeze this winter made for a few weeks of spectacular pond hockey on Williston Pond


A confetti-filled time was had by all at the Eighth Grade Semiformal


On Why Not Speak Day, students created a huge web on the Main Quad, which visually demonstrated the way individual identities overlap and connect to make up our community

Science Department Head (and notoriously fun tie-wearer) Bill Berghoff teaching classes in Scott Hall this spring

As restrictions lifted in Massachusetts, AP Studio Art students were able to take a field trip to nearby MASS MoCA

Browse more images of campus life at SPRING 2021 BULLETIN 13

Celebrating Our Seniors!

The class of 2021 saw their junior year move online, then had a senior year marked by masking, social distancing, and COVID-19 testing. Through it all they rallied—and in May, we were thrilled to be able to celebrate these Wildcats in person—and in style.

COMMENCEMENT Senior class president Adam Thistlethwaite, bearing a class flag designed by classmate Hannah Cannizzo, led the procession of seniors on the big day

WILLY GRAS The class of 2021 made a big splash at a special “seniors only” Willy Gras, held on Sawyer Field

SENIOR GALA & BINGO NIGHT It was a night to dress sharp, enjoy time with friends, sign yearbooks, and cry, “BINGO!” Ms. Davey, at left, was our charismatic host.

SENIOR DINNER The iconic class photo on the steps of the chapel preceded a dinner, faculty speech, and a cupcake truck




Blackberry Diva Cake is just one of the many showstoppers in the new cake cookbook by Zoë Neal François ’85. The recipe calls for buttercream, chocolate ganache, and a kitchen blowtorch. “There is nothing like torching something sweet!” she says. Read more on page 34.



Oscar Moment An award-winning film from Mickey Meyer’s Group Nine Studios provocatively captures the issue of race and police violence BY KATE LAWLESS The 2020 movie “Two Distant Strangers,” portrays a Groundhog Day–like scenario in which a Black man is killed by a white police officer over and over again, despite trying to avoid a confrontation. On Sunday, April 25, film producer Mickey Meyer ’03 had hustled home from coaching his son’s Little League game, and turned on the TV just in time to hear the announcement that his 32-minute film had won an Oscar. In a normal year, Meyer would have been dressed to the nines at the ceremony, along with writer/codirector Trayvon Free and co-director Martin Desmond Roe.

necting the dots on talent—basically building an army behind the film.” The coronavirus didn’t stop the protesters in the street, and it didn’t stop the making of the movie. “Two Distant Strangers” was the first film that the Screen Actors Guild allowed to go into production after the pandemic began. It was filmed in five days. Keeping it short was a way to make sure it saw the light of day quickly, Meyer said, and to reach a wider audience. Meyer is president of Group Nine Studios, which produced the short that streamed on Netflix and which manages digital media brands such as The

“It’s hard to find a way to communicate when words fall on deaf ears. Art is a way to evoke a feeling in viewers, helping the conversation along.”

Producer Mickey Meyer ’03 earned a statuette for Best Live Action Short Film at the 93rd Academy Awards in April


“That’s one of the positives of a global pandemic,” he said. Meyer watched the program surrounded by family. “Being able to see my sons react, having my parents there, who instilled in me that sense that it would be possible to move this film through—it was incredible,” he said. “I’m still trying to process it. It doesn’t feel real. It feels like a movie.” Free approached Meyer with the script shortly after the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, at a time when the country was undergoing a racial reckoning. “My role was removing hurdles, finding financing, con-

Dodo, Thrillist, PopSugar, and NowThis News. He said it fit perfectly with the studio’s mission. “Black Americans have the feeling of Groundhog Day every time they hear about another police shooting of an unarmed Black person,” he said. “They’ve tried everything they can possibly think of,” just as the “Two Distant Strangers” protagonist has. “Our country is divided right now, and it’s hard to find a way to communicate when words fall on deaf ears. Art is a way to evoke a feeling in viewers, helping the conversation along.”

Sports Shorts

Six Wildcats making their mark in athletics BY DENNIS CROMMETT MAX WILLMAN ’14 Max Willman continues his climb toward the NHL, signing a two-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers starting in the 2021–2022 season. Willman recently earned AHL Player of the Week honors for his five-goal outburst in three games.

GABBY THOMAS ’15 There’s no stopping the fantastically fast Gabby Thomas, who won the 300-meter at the 2021 New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in March and the 200 at the USATF Golden Games in May, with new PRs in both races. Thomas is currently pursuing the goal of making the 2021 Olympic team, and if there’s one thing we know about her, what she pursues, she catches!



Couper Gunn’s road to signing with the National Premier Soccer League began on a podcast. Gunn was interviewed by the Atlantic City Football Club’s social media director, who then encouraged him to send his highlight tape to the club’s general manager. Gunn will now join the team for their summer season before returning to ColbySawyer College for his senior year.

MACKENZIE POSSEE ’15 File under “Dream Jobs”: In December, Mackenzie Possee took the field as an NFL Editor at CBS Sports, after two seasons on the editing staff of the NFL and Front Office Sports. A former editor and photographer for The Willistonian, Possee now edits all the online coverage of the NFL and major league events. “I love being paid to watch and read about football,” she writes. “I think I have the best job in the world!”

ERIK OSTBERG ’14 Erik Ostberg has been hitting it out of the park since being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017. After crushing it in his first week of the season with the High-A affiliate Bowling Green Hot Rods, catcher Ostberg was called up to the Double-A Montgomery Biscuits in May.

JOHN AYLWARD ’15 Following a stint with the NFL’s Houston Texans—first as intern, then offensive assistant—John Aylward is now an offensive assistant coach for the illustrious Notre Dame football team. We’ll be following this former standout Williston quarterback as he prepares the Fighting Irish for the gridiron next year.



In his new book, Mike Chinoy ’70 celebrates a little-known Irish lawyer who made an enormous impact BY KATE LAWLESS

“As long as you’re in the ring, the final battle isn’t lost. You can’t give up hope. Human rights are as basic as breathing.”



s an undergraduate at Yale in 1972, Mike Chinoy ’70 had a fateful meeting with human rights lawyer Kevin Boyle in Belfast. But five months prior to that, he had met another key figure in the struggle over Northern Ireland. Visiting his parents, on sabbatical in London, Chinoy had crossed the Irish Sea to investigate The Troubles, the three-decade-long conflict that pitted Protestant unionists against the Roman Catholic republicans. Many Belfast streets were barricaded by British soldiers and massive unrest disrupted city life. Chinoy, inspired by the anti-Vietnam War movement in the U.S. and a fledgling reporter, sought to understand this crisis. In Dublin, he knocked on the door to the headquarters of Sinn Féin, the

political arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and was ushered in to meet Joe Cahill, the most wanted man in Great Britain for his involvement in IRA uprisings. Cahill spent a few hours with him, explaining the struggle’s backstory, and Chinoy had his first scoop; he published a profile in the Yale Daily News. During his next visit, Chinoy met with Boyle, an activist who was also fighting for Irish rights, but through nonviolent means. Boyle had been active in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, which sought fair treatment for Catholics, and, coincidently, was headed to a yearlong postgraduate fellowship at Yale. He agreed to lead an independent study class for Chinoy. The teacher-student relationship evolved into a decadeslong friendship that would imprint deeply on Chinoy. Boyle died in 2010,


and in 2016, Chinoy started working on Boyle’s biography, Are You With Me? Kevin Boyle and the Rise of the Human Rights Movement (The Lilliput Press, 2021). Chinoy graduated from Yale with a degree in China studies, and then earned a master’s in journalism at Columbia. Since his Williston Academy days in 1967 and 1968, where he recalls “intense discussions about the war in Vietnam,” he has become an authority on Asia (he speaks French and Chinese). He became a foreign correspondent for CNN, covering events in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The author of three books on China and North Korea, Chinoy opened CNN’s Beijing bureau and served as bureau chief in China and Hong Kong, and as senior Asia correspondent for the network. Along the way, he’s earned an Emmy, a duPont, and a Peabody

Award. Currently a nonresident senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute (he lives in Hong Kong), he has taught at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and has been a commentator on Asian issues for media outlets including CNN, Al Jazeera, and Voice of America. Despite spending most of his career focused on Asia, Chinoy kept thinking about Boyle. What was it about this obscure human rights lawyer that captured his imagination? “He was a modest and private person who was enormously consequential,” he said. “And because he never spoke about his accomplishments, his achievements remain relatively unknown.” Chinoy set out to remedy that. Visiting Boyle’s archives at the National University of Ireland in Galway, Chinoy pored over documents that revealed just how consequential Boyle was in the global fight for human rights. For example, Boyle helped plan the protest march that led to the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, a pivotal— and violent—crackdown by British soldiers in Derry that killed 14. Much of the “intellectual underpinning” for the Good Friday accords that ended The Troubles came from Boyle, as well. Boyle’s work was not confined to Ireland. In South Africa, he was instrumental in helping erode the structures of apartheid. He led the campaign to defend English author Salman Rushdie after he was targeted by the government of Iran. His international law cases challenged the holding of political prisoners and the mistreatment of those incarcerated. He fought against the use of rape as a weapon of war. And he brought and won a case that outlawed discrimination against gay people in Northern Ireland, later cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. As

chief advisor to former Irish President Mary Robinson, who served as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, he helped craft a response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, opposing the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror” as an abstraction that had the potential for human rights abuses. “He was one of the first to warn against companies’ holding people’s data, and saw the potential for damage and the spread of disinformation by social networks,” Chinoy said. During Boyle’s tenure as a professor of human rights law, a field that he practically originated, he founded centers at two universities where he trained hundreds. If Boyle were alive today, Chinoy said, he’d be happy to see movements for the rights of marginalized people. He’d cheer those protesting for democracy in Hong Kong, Russia, and Burma “at great personal risk,” he said. “That desire burns deeply in people all over the world.” Boyle didn’t win every fight he took on. “A lot of battles, he lost,” Chinoy recalled. “But as long as you’re in the ring, the final battle isn’t lost. You can’t give up hope. Human rights are as basic as breathing.” It required four years of work, including interviews with more than 100 sources, but Boyle’s story has now been told. Chinoy is moving on to other projects, including turning a 12-part docuseries on American journalism in China, which he produced for USC’s China Institute, into a book next year. In the end, Chinoy hopes Boyle’s staggering legacy finally gets the attention it deserves. “Even his family didn’t realize what he had done,” Chinoy said. “When I interviewed Mary Robinson for the book, she said, ‘I’m glad you’re doing this. Kevin Boyle deserves to be remembered.’”

More Books by Wildcats


Author and San Franciscan Tamsin Smith released two books earlier this year via FMSBW Press: a political thriller, XISLE, and a collection of poems, Displacement Geology. The latter, “a love letter to the natural world and the wild human heart,” includes the work “A Principle of Double Reflection,” published to commemorate the 101st birthday of the late poet and City Lights owner Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

JOIN THE FUN! We’ve got lots of events and networking opportunities!

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU IN PERSON AND ONLINE BEGINNING IN THE FALL OF 2021! • Check your email and the alumni events page for more news beginning in September: LEARN FROM A WIDE VARIETY OF ALUMNI EXPERTS! • Watch the recordings of our fun and engaging virtual events at FIND YOUR WILLISTON CREW


Expecting a baby means big changes are coming. Therapist and author Dr. Stephanie Dueger published a book that helps couples prepare not only for sleepless nights, but also for the inner transformation that results when a newborn arrives. Preparing for Parenthood: 55 Essential Conversations for Couples Becoming Families (Author Academy Elite, 2020) guides parentsto-be in forming a strong attachment to their new addition.

Join our networking and career-focused groups: • Williston Connects • Williston Alumni LinkedIn Group • Williston Alumni of Color LinkedIn Group QUESTIONS? COMMENTS? • Email: • Call: (800) 469-4559


MASTER CRAFTSWOMAN Kristina Madsen ’73, a longtime, influential furniture maker who incorporates European and Fijian techniques, received the 2020 Award of Distinction by the Furniture Society. Her pieces—at once functional and beautiful—showcase her mastery of the craft. Trained in furniture making by British master craftsman David Powell at the Leeds Design Workshop in the late 1970s, Madsen went on to be artist-in-residence at the University of Tasmania in 1988. She learned Fijian carving methods during a Fulbright-sponsored apprenticeship in 1991. A colleague quoted in an article in Woodworking Network called Madsen a “national treasure.” Her work is exhibited in permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., among many others.


Justin Frometa ’16 gets the call to work on player development with his dream team Former Wildcat baseball team captain Justin Frometa ’16 recently made the jump to professional baseball as a player development intern with the Boston Red Sox. A prep all-star catcher (scouting reports noted “thunder in his bat”), Justin stayed involved with the sport after Williston by coaching elite-level youth programs while majoring in political science at Tufts. He graduated last spring and embarked on a promising career with Amazon as a logistics manager. Then came the message every baseball-playing kid in New England dreams about: “The Sox have an opening. Are you interested?” He packed his bags and headed to Florida for spring training with big league stars like pitcher Nate Eovaldi (“really down to earth”) and catcher Christian Vásquez (“the nicest guy in the world”). Drawing on his background as player and coach, familiarity with the data analytics that drive today’s game, and strong bilingual English-Spanish communication skills, Justin will spend the summer at Boston’s training complex in Fort Myers, where he’ll help prepare minor league prospects for the Show. Meanwhile, he’ll be honing skills that one day could lead to a call-up of his own. “I’ve always dreamed of a front office job,” he says. “One thing is certain. I’m going to make the most of this opportunity while I have it.”

Madsen’s woodwork incorporates Fiji-inspired carving, such as the designs on this chest

SIX TIPS FOR BETTER SMARTPHONE PHOTOS During an alumni presentation,

versity, he managed to capture a

The Gipper, which ran in the BU

camera, he offered tips for those

photojournalist Sean Kardon ’79

photo of then-California Gover-

paper, The Daily Free Press. Since

wanting to get the most out of

recently shared his reflections on

nor Ronald Reagan the day after

that first lucky shot, Kardon has

their smartphone cameras. Find

a career that began when he was

he announced he was running

managed to shoot every presi-

his work on his Instagram ac-

a new graduate from Williston

for president in 1979. Holding his

dential hopeful, including the

count, @seankardon, or hear his

Northampton School. While a

camera above his head, Kardon

2020 contenders.

full presentation at

first-year student at Boston Uni-

got a great Hail Mary shot of


While Kardon still uses a


INVESTING IN A DIVERSE FUTURE In January, Forbes magazine published an interview with Lisa Vazquez ’99, a portfolio manager focused on private equity and venture capital at Mass General Brigham Investment Office. Vazquez’s office oversees investment activity for the nonprofit health care system founded by two of the nation’s leading academic medical centers—Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General hospitals—and represents one of the largest pools of institutional capital in the Boston area. In the article, Vazquez discussed, among other subjects, the importance of diversity, both gender and racial, in her field. “Unless you’ve grown up around investing, it’s hard to imagine how you’d know about an endowment’s investment office as a career path,” she noted. More than half of her investment team is female, she noted, and her firm works with the nonprofit Girls Who Invest to prepare a new, diverse generation of investors. “If we are serious about racial diversity,” she said, “then it’s important to focus on the pipeline of junior talent.”

Investor Lisa Vazquez ’99 talked to Forbes about expanding opportunity in her field

Take Better Smart Phone Photos

1 Get close to your subject. 2 Keep the light behind you. 3 Tap the screen before shooting; you’ll see a small sun icon that you can place on the subject of the photo so that it will be properly exposed.

4 Try “portrait mode” to blur an unflattering or distracting background. 5 In settings, turn on the visible grid so you are forced to think about your composition. 6 Take a lot of shots and edit out the bad ones.

songs to help pay the rent The pandemic exposed many in Massachusetts to financial instability. Job losses, reductions in hours worked, and parents’ need to be home with students learning remotely—all have taken a toll on families. Norm Brzycki ’76 saw that stress and decided to do something about it. A leadership consultant from Marblehead, Massachusetts, he rounded up two fellow Wildcats, Jon Tullis ’77 and Jeff Baker ’77, and put on a virtual benefit show in April, which included performances from singer-songwriters Tom Rush and Livingston Taylor, as well as a rendition of the tune “I Need a Dollar” (and a tribute to Richard Gregory) by Williston’s own Caterwaulers. Brzycki’s band, Nashville Norm and the Roadside Attractions, was one of the 15 acts. “I just kept asking, and the biggest surprise was that people kept saying yes!” he said. The show, called Help People Pay the Damn Rent!, raised more than $10,000. Donations went to the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, whose Our Communities Can’t Wait fund delivers 100 percent of donations quickly to people who need it. The fund is still accepting donations. “If we can impact people’s situations a little bit, I’ll be thrilled,” said Brzycki. Watch and donate at SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 21



Jen Holsten ’86 trades coaching for carpentry by starting Bear Isle Boards—BY MATTHEW LIEBOWITZ After 25 years instilling confidence, skill, and strength in scores of young athletes, Jen Holsten has shifted her focus inward, and shaped—and sourced, sanded, and smoothed—a dynamic new version of herself. Holsten, a 1986 Williston graduate and longtime Colby College soccer coach, now runs Bear Isle Board Co.,

maker of handmade cutting and serving boards. Sourced from a network of New England wood dealers committed to sustainable forest management practices, and made without joinery, Holsten’s boards highlight the beauty of the natural material, including six types of maple, cherry, walnut, and sycamore. Part of her artistry in creat-


ALUMNI NEWS ing each individual piece, Holsten said, is “getting out of the way and letting the wood speak for itself.” Her boards can be found in retail stores all over the northeast, including the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine, an accomplishment that impressed even her 13-year-old daughter. With each Bear Isle board, Holsten, 52, is, in a very tangible way, honoring her family. At the same time, she’s acknowledging and empowering herself, carving out a life in a part of the world she never planned on entering. Holsten’s journey to Bear Isle Boards was a circuitous one that began with an early fascination with woodworking that didn’t come to fruition for many decades. When she was a child, her grandfather, George Holsten, used birdseye maple in renovating a bedroom of the family’s East Bear Island cottage, on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. “I was so blown away by the beauty of it,” she recalled. That beauty stuck with her. But, as a Williston day student from seventh grade on, Holsten was not a natural artist. Instead, she found her footing as a threesport athlete, playing soccer, ice hockey, and softball. She brought that athletic prowess to Colby College, where she continued as a triple-threat athlete, graduated in 1990, and then returned in 1994 to begin what would become a 22year career as the Head Women’s Soccer coach. (She remains friends with Jen Fulcher, Director of the Middle School, who was Middlebury’s Women’s Soccer coach when Holsten was at Colby.) In the early 2000s, after a particularly bad year for the team, “I realized a lot of my emotions and daily pattern would live or die by the success of the team,” she said.

“I got to the point where I no longer wanted that to define who I was. I wanted a little more control over my own destiny on a daily basis.” To that end, Holsten decided to enroll in the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine. She took beginner and intermediate classes, and studied with top names in the industry, but she did not have any professional ambitions. Instead, she found herself bringing the skill and solace she learned in the woodshop back to coaching. “After a tough loss, on a Sunday I’d carve spoons just to get out the bad juju,” she said. “Woodworking kept me sane.” It also, in the long run, became a portal for her to practice what she had been preaching to others her entire professional life. “I was teaching all these young athletes how to be the best version of themselves,” Holsten said. “I decided it was time for me to be the best version of myself.” Holsten said she identified for so long as an athlete and coach that she gets a “secret chuckle when I think of myself as an artist.” But her work is not a joke: Bear Isle Boards have received numerous accolades—including recent profiles in the Boston Globe and Décor Maine magazine, as well as honorable mention for best new product at the 2019 New England Made Giftware show. “When I started getting accolades for the woodworking, it didn’t feel real,” she said. There was no marketing department, no PR machine. “It all came from me as a tribute to my grandfather.” Though this second career is relatively new, Holsten has her sights set on another passion: learning guitar. “I always thought to myself, ‘You’re not a musician,’” she said. “I think that’s going to be my next pursuit.”

Inspired by the naturally occurring imperfections in wood grain, Holsten often includes unique details in her boards, such as knots and worm holes. To see more examples of her work, visit SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 23

The Wide


Oenophile and class of ’69 alumnus Gordon Sullivan’s new book spotlights wine trivia, tips, and advice for savoring your next glass—BY KATE LAWLESS

ere’s how Gordon Sullivan ’69 wants you to think about your next glass of wine: It’s alive. It contains thousands of organic compounds, all in flux. So if you want your wine to be its best, says Sullivan, a wine expert and a devotee to the beverage, pour it out of the bottle and let it breathe. Swirl it around the glass. That will allow those compounds to create aromatic changes, enhancing your enjoyment in the process. Last November, Sullivan led a wine education session on Zoom for Williston alumni, demonstrating an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject. Sullivan has spent nearly half a century in the wine business. But that world may not have opened up to him had he not taken a job on the four-man crew of a 50-foot sloop and sailed from Ogunquit, Maine, to Palm Beach, Florida, the summer after he graduated college. He arrived in 1973 “with only a sailor’s duffel bag to my name,” Sullivan writes in the introduction of his forthcoming book on wine trivia, as yet unnamed and due out this fall from Board and Bench Publishing. “I walked from the marina where



the boat was docked, across the Intracoastal Waterway to The Breakers, and was hired on the spot as a banquet bartender.” From behind the busy bar at The Breakers, Sullivan observed the French sommeliers selling bottles of wine to customers at this world-class hotel restaurant, and, inspired by their glamour, requested a transfer to the wine department. He started off there as a “glass boy,” and worked his way up to sommelier, and eventually, at age 25, chef sommelier (in English, chief wine steward). It was during that period when he tasted his “epiphany wine,” a 1969 Montrachet, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. “Everything clicked— from amazing aromas and mouthfeel to the lingering aftertaste,” he said. “It was pivotal because I had never tasted anything with that amount of finesse and elegance.” Over the next half-century, Sullivan went far in the oenophile world: working as a brand manager for a wine distributor, forming a wine consulting and education firm, teaching wine classes, and publishing many articles on the topic. He even invented an in-bottle aerator to make wine, once poured, taste “as the vintner intended.” The device, to be called AER-8 and marketed to younger buyers as POP!N, is heading to market soon. And, he’s in the final editing process of his wine education and trivia book. Here, we share a sneak peek by condensing some of Sullivan’s best wisdom on enjoying what’s in your glass. Cheers!

Gordon Sullivan’s Wine Wisdom

CHOOSING A WINE “Wine is personal,” says Sullivan. “There’s a color and a flavor for every taste, and part of the fun is learning what you really like.” If you decide to get a little more serious about raising your wine IQ, Sullivan suggests keeping a wine journal, saving labels, or taking photos of labels of wines that thrill you. Those who think about wine and food pairings often say, “If it grows together, it goes together.” Alongside a coq au vin, you’ll want a French bottle; ravioli begs for Italian. When preparing for a special multicourse meal, Sullivan suggests beginning with bubbly—a prosecco or Champagne. With appetizers, a white wine pairs nicely, then a red with the entrée. Finish with a dessert wine. “Keep the meal in balance,” he says. “No wine should overwhelm the food, or vice versa.” If you’re the guest, a bottle of wine for the hosts is both a lovely gesture and a practical offering. Sullivan says sparkling wines on these occasions are a “no brainer.” Try a cava (a Spanish sparkling wine) or a California sparkling wine—even Champagne if you can afford it. Sullivan also suggests a New Zealand sauvignon blanc as a gift, or a Chilean cabernet sauvignon or red blend; also Oregon pinot noirs, or Provençal rosé. Red Bordeaux or red Burgundy brighten the table, as do California red blends. Or how about a Sonoma County chardonnay?

DOES YOUR WINE GLASS MATTER? Sullivan says yes. He’s a fan of Riedel stemware and recommends everyone should own at least one glass for white wine and one for red. Champagne flutes don’t float his boat. “Better, use a white wine glass so you can pick up the nuance and the elegance of the flavor,” he says.


ENJOY WHAT YOU POUR While it helps to educate yourself on wine, Sullivan insists people should drink what they like. “Ratings are a benchmark,” he says. “Be your own guide.” That said, there are basics on how to get the most out of the wine-drinking experience. Here are five basic steps to slow down the process and immerse yourself in the moment. 1. Pour the wine and look at the color. The different intensities of reds and whites tell a story about the wine, and the more you look, the more you can start to build your visual skills. Is it light red, a Beaujolais, perhaps? Or a darker, richly pigmented Bordeaux? Pinot grigio skews paler than a barrel-aged chardonnay. “Color intensity comes from the skin of the red grape,” Sullivan says, “and how long and under what conditions the skin remains with the liquid.” 2. After your eyes have taken the measure of what’s in your glass, rotate it. “Swirl it. It’s a living thing and likes to be circulated around the glass,” Sullivan explains. 3. Raise the wine to your nose before tasting. “Your nose should tell your brain what the wine should taste like.” Only when you’ve inhaled deeply are you ready to sample the wine. 4. Sip. Note your first impression. Wait a few minutes, and sip again: Does your impression change? 5. Finally, Sullivan suggests, look around and enjoy where you are and who you’re with.

TO DECANT OR NOT TO DECANT As a guy who invented an aerator, Sullivan is a fan of decanting—or exposing red wine to air for a while before you drink it. With an older bottle, decanting helps separate the sediment, but, he warns, if a wine is too dainty, such as a 1929 Château Margaux, decanting could ruin the bottle. However, “this is not a common problem,” Sullivan explains with a smile. “Most wine is purchased and consumed within a day and a half.” If you find you like a particular wine, he suggests buying several bottles and keeping them for a few years, seeing how the drink progresses as it ages. Wine temperature is another consideration. Sullivan’s cellar is kept at 55 degrees and his refrigerator is kept at 34. He recommends setting your wine on the counter for a few minutes before drinking so the wine warms up: if it’s too cold, you mute the aromatics; if it’s too warm, the alcohol becomes pronounced. You can always chill it back down if it gets too close to room temperature.

“You start learning about wine by learning geography,” Sullivan says. Old World wineries dot the countryside of Europe, many made up of grapevines that were planted in Roman times—think France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece. Vintners have established New World wines, on the other hand, in countries that Europeans colonized—the U.S., South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and nations in South America. In general, Old World wines are earthier and more rustic in style, and thus Sullivan’s personal favorites, in particular the wines of Burgundy. Their New World cousins, meanwhile, “are what most people are drinking in America today, because it’s bright fruit, it’s clean, it’s very aromatically driven, very balanced,” he says. “The sunshine in a lot of parts of New World countries ripens the grape, with higher alcohol content to match the bigger, bolder styles.” As wine tasters explore geography more deeply, they will find that in a region rich with winemaking tradition, such as Burgundy, the quality of the grapes will vary from one village to the next, with factors such as climate and mineral composition of the soil playing into the flavor profile. Sullivan singles out the village of Vosne-Romanée, in Burgundy’s Côte de Nuits wine region, as the “jewel in the necklace.”





he paintings of Larissa Bates ’99 draw inspiration from many parts of her life story—from the death of her mother, her half-Costa-Rican-half-Vermonter heritage, and her fascination with topics such as colonialism, family, power, and identity. But even as an artist who has exhibited internationally and a mother of two living outside New York City, Bates has connections to Williston that run deep. Observers of her work will find people depicted semirealistically in lush, botanically detailed settings. Some humans have impossibly long arms that twine around others. Bates dips her brush again and again into Tyrian purple, a color with historical resonance (the ancient Phoenicians were the first to extract it in a labor-intensive process from the mucus of predatory sea snails, she explained; its use in dyed cloth conferred status on the wearer). The images recall the bright, ornate miniatures of 16th-century India and Persia—figures sitting still, posed, realistic but intentionally flat. Bates’ most recent body of work, 2019’s “Las Doñas”—in English, “The Grand Dames”—was created with gouache on paper, often with crinkly gold leaf and lustrous mother-of-pearl worked in. Her work has hung in galleries around the world and been reviewed in The New York Times and The New Yorker, as well as publications in China, Sweden, and Spain. 28 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

The universe of images serves as a jumping-off point to get to know the artist. Bates was raised in Warren, Vermont, by her father, a “flatlander,” she said, “who went to live off the land in the 1970s. We didn’t have electricity until I was 10.” Before she was born, her dad—by turns, a painter, a stone mason, and a construction worker—traveled to Costa Rica to maintain a property his friend owned. While there, he met Bates’ mother. The two married, and within three months of Bates’ birth, her mother died. The tie that binds her to her mother’s family is strong, and she examines that relationship in her work. “I use painting to explore her identity,” she said. But that’s just the beginning. Bates digs deep into the power structures that allow for colonialism and exploitation. In her mother’s family tree, which includes descendants from the U.S. and Costa Rica, was a relative who worked for the United Fruit Company, the precursor of Chiquita Banana. The company is known as the first multinational corporation, which used its influence to exert control over many aspects of life in countries in South and Central America. The iconography in Bates’ work calls out both overt, and more subtle, dynamics of colonialism. Take the daffodils that dot many of her lush, tropical tableaux. After reading an essay on Jamaica Kincaid’s novella Lucy Bates wanted to explore Kincaid’s idea about dislocation and cultural erasure. Kincaid’s title character, raised in the West Indies, is, as a child, forced to memorize the English poet William Wordsworth’s famous poem “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud,” in which he stumbles upon a glorious view of ten thousand daffodils. The flower, native to Europe, did not grow on Lucy’s home island, and,





Bits of 22-carat gold leaf dot this painting from the 2015 series Mamá Lengua: Mother Tongue called As Tica as McIntosh Manzanas: Exotifying you Exotifying me

in the story, the exercise of reciting the poem made her realize how toxic colonialism can be. Bates plants narcissus bulbs in her paintings; incongruously the daffodil blossoms bob among the wide banana leaves and twisting vines, telling a story that also helps her make sense of her life. “I am interested in these points of contact between my mother’s Latin heritage and my predominantly Anglo upbringing,” she noted. Another subject of Bates’ exploration of her identity: The anatomically exaggerated arms of her subjects. They signify the aspects of her mother’s family that “reflect the Latinx idea of familismo, of the importance of family and a sense of 30 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

a collectivist society,” she said. Familismo, a concept brought to her by a friend from Guatemala, means “always having hands to guide you and catch you, for better or worse,” she added. “After my mother passed, her mother wanted to raise me in Costa Rica, as a Tica [or native Costa Rican]. The idea that there could have been an entirely different Larissa interests me—as does the way in which culture shapes us: our language, our religions, how we conceive of family, our prescribed gender roles, our entire understanding of reality.” As a youth back in Vermont, Bates, was urged by a neighbor, the late Ray Montgomery ’54, author of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, to visit


Familismo, a concept brought to her by a friend from Guatemala, means “always having hands to guide you and catch you, for better or worse.”

Williston. The arts program lured her in. “Marcia Reed was wonderful,” she said, “and the huge windows!” She also met her future husband, Williston Athletic Hall of Fame wrestler David Bartlett Bates ’02. He is now a cancer researcher at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Bates went on to study art at Hampshire College. During a visit to New York City, she happened to meet Monya Rowe at an alternative art space in New York City where Bates’ work was being shown. Rowe was starting a gallery in the city, and the two spawned a professional collaboration. Rowe has been showing Bates’ work since that meeting. Bates now lives in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, with her two children, Pilar, 10, and Sebastian, 4, and David. “I have deep gratitude for the forces that brought us together,” she said. Eight years ago, David, then a medical resident, noticed a lump in her breast and got her prompt cancer treatment. The early discovery led to Bates’ full recovery; however David also picked up on a subsequent missed diagnosis. This life event steered David to research cancer, a turn that has been the right choice for them. “He saved my life twice,” Bates said. “He’s my guardian angel.” Now busy in her studio, which overlooks the Hudson River and Palisades beyond, Bates dreams about visits to the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica, where “moss grows on everything and plants grow on plants.” However, living near New York City fulfills a deep need to be a part of a creative environment. “I’m happiest in nature,” she said, “but it’s very different to be in New York City. There’s so much art!”

Top: From Mamá Lengua: Mother Tongue, Two Ubumes as Twin Gestational Carriers after the Two Fridas; Bottom: I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud: After Jamaica Kincaid’s Reflections on Wordsworth SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 31


IMAGINATION After a lifetime of radical innovation, John Seely Brown ’58 continues to look to the future of what’s possible —BY KEVIN MARKEY Back before the pandemic put such things on hold, the scientist, researcher, and management theorist John Seely Brown ’58 was speaking at a big tech conference near his home in California. His topics included the rapid pace of change in our hyper-connected digital age, and he touched on some of the technologies that are radically reshaping life and work: artificial intelligence, intelligent augmentation, big data, cognitive computing, deep learning machines, the Internet of Things, the Internet of Internet of Things, blockchain, and biotech, among others. When he finished his talk, someone in the audience asked what a kid starting college today should study. Without missing a beat, Brown, who majored in physics and math at Brown University and earned his Ph.D. in computer and communication sciences from the University of Michigan in 1970, replied, “Oh, absolutely tell him to go into history.” The answer produced something rarer than a Silicon Valley unicorn: a packed house of technologists and venture capitalists stunned into silence. But anyone who knows Brown, or JSB as he is widely known in tech circles, would not have been surprised. In a pioneering career that has spanned the advent of the PC to the latest developments in cloud computing, he has succeeded by seeing connec32 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

tions—and possibilities—that others can’t imagine. A longtime chief scientist of Xerox Corporation, JSB for more than two decades directed the company’s Palo Alto Research Center, the storied lab whose inventions include the graphical user interface (i.e., point-and-click navigation with icons), laser printing, distributed workstations, the spell checker, and the Ethernet. “Our mantra was,” he says, “‘Invent what you need but always use what you invent.’” He credits his lifelong eagerness to play with ideas in part to his experience at Williston. “I remember some of my teachers from back then more clearly than any teacher I had at Brown,” he says. For a while he even felt disappointed in college because he didn’t think he was learning as much. “The teachers at Williston were willing to work with me, to listen to how I was trying to understand something and challenge me in productive ways. They were attentive to the idiosyncrasies of each kid and wouldn’t freak out at being asked some dumb question. They would say, ‘OK, let’s work on this together.’ There was a sense of learning as a form of play. To me, that’s what education is about. And don’t forget, the head of my floor for at least one year had a Ph.D. in science. I could walk down there any evening and



“Imagination closes the gap between what is novel and what is known. Imagination allows us to see beyond what our present assumptions define as possible.”

have a conversation.” Since retiring from Xerox in 2002, JSB has remained a driver of innovation as a visiting scholar at the University of California and independent co-chairman of the Center for the Edge at Deloitte, the global management consulting and business services company. The latter’s mission is to help executives operate at the intersection of technology and commerce. As JSB puts it, “We conduct original research on emerging business opportunities that are not yet on the CEO’s management agenda but should be.” A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Education, a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, and a MacArthur Foundation trustee, he has served on numerous corporate boards, including Amazon, for the past 14 years. The nine books he has written and co-authored include the seminal The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion (Basic Books, 2010). Its many fans include former Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt, who said, “If you want to meet the challenges of living and working in the future, this book should be your guide.” The future is JSB’s special subject. He spends serious time thinking about how the digital tools he helped introduce are reshaping society at a dizzying pace. In the past, he says, when a new technology was introduced, it would be integrated over the course of a few years and then tended to stick around for a several decades until the next new thing came along. That interval no longer exists. The average life span of a new phone app, he notes, hovers around 30 days. We live in an age of never-ending change, a kind of Cambrian explosion of technology. To illustrate the seismic transformation underway, JSB offers a metaphor inspired in part by his love of adventure sports. For his parents’ generation, he says, things moved along at the stately pace of a steamship. “They set course, fired up the engines, and powered ahead. The survival strategy was to practice a lot of steady persistence.”

Then came the early digital age; change was faster but still manageable. To keep up, you played the wind like the skipper of a sailboat, tacking one way and then another to get where you wanted to go. But now the environment has shifted again, the flow of information quickening and becoming more turbulent. Navigating today’s dense information stream requires the skills and agility of a whitewater kayaker, who must constantly interpret rapids to get a picture of what lies hidden beneath the surface. “I like to say we really shifted from reading content to reading context,” he says. “If you are a whitewater kayaker, you learn to read context. Otherwise, you’re dead.” All of which was on his mind at the conference, when he blindsided the futurists by extolling the study of history. “I kind of surprised myself a little bit when I said that,” he admits. “I was reflecting on the techniques needed to read context. How do you understand how to fill in the missing pieces? It was a history teacher at Williston who got me to pay more attention to the context of events. A research historian knows how to probe and fill in holes until a picture emerges, ‘Oh, this makes sense. Yeah, this could be it.’ They understand how to unravel the forces that were in action at a moment of time, most of which were more or less invisible as they occurred.” JSB calls the technique “sense-making through imagination,” and he says it requires a mix of humanities and math and science folded together in interesting ways that build webs of connections and allow us to fill in blind spots. Machine intelligence alone is insufficient to the task, he says, citing Brexit and the 2016 election as recent events that experts armed with potent algorithms failed to see coming. “A lot of us thought we understood how to read the signals, but we did not read the context right. That’s to say data analytics—which many of us worship, starting with me—can’t do everything. Imagination closes the gap between what is novel and what is known. Imagination allows us to see beyond what our present assumptions define as possible.” SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 33

zoË bakes cakes Champion baker and style icon Zoë Neal François ’85 is experiencing sweet success with a delicious new book and TV series



Zoë Neal François ’85, who grew up eating carob on a commune and then went on to sell close to a million books about bread baking, is helping her 21-year-old son, Henri, learn to pipe buttercream roses. Their heads are bent together, his dark, hers framed in her iconic silvery curls and cool tortoise-shell glasses. “It’s not the prettiest,” he says, and she says, “This is your first one! It’s awesome!” This is not a scene from “Zoë Bakes,” her new show on the Magnolia Network, filmed in her home and around her hometown of Minneapolis; those 11 episodes show her out in the community— visiting a beekeeper, an apple orchard, church basements—and then teaching viewers whatever she

was inspired to make. This, though, is a scene from “Baking With My Mother,” a series on Henri’s own YouTube channel. When I ask her about it, she says, “I didn’t realize how much I adored him until I watched the videos—looking at myself looking at him.” It’s pretty much impossible to miss, honestly: her giant smile; the way she radiates love. Then she evokes the pandemic: “It’s just this weird moment in our history that he’s even here. There’s no way he would ever have chosen to be here now in this time of his life. And it’s so fleeting.” As a young adult herself, attending the University of Vermont, François ran a vending-cart business, Zoë’s Cookies, and worked as a cake decorator at Ben and Jerry’s.

She’d been notoriously deprived of sugar growing up and had her first come-to-Jesus moment over a classmate’s lunchbox Twinkie. And it became her whole life—not Twinkies, but the making of baked things. She went on to work as a pastry chef, to attend the Culinary Institute of America, and to meet her co-author Jeff Hertzberg in a toddler music class when their kids were small. She and Hertzberg wrote Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day—which started something of a bread-baking revolution—along with a number of sequels. In addition to the best-selling bread books and the show, François also has a recipe-packed blog, a vibrant Instagram account, a way with a blowtorch, and an absolutely SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 35

stunning new book called Zoë Bakes Cakes for which she did all of the styling and most of the photography. “This is the book I’ve always wanted,” she says. (I think, honestly, it’s the book a lot of us have always wanted.) We asked her all about it.

You’ve got a lot going on! How does Williston fit in? There really is such a Williston connection to this book and this show! I had finished one of my bread books, and I was contemplating what my next thing was going to be. I wanted to do a deep-dive search for the best piece of cake I could find. So I put together a map of Manhattan, and I called Stephen Tedesco ’85, Todd France ’85, and Adam Cohn ’85,

all friends from Williston—we’d all been in a play together. Stephen came with me. I dragged him around the city, and oh, my God, we had so much cake! It was so much fun. Todd France took pictures of it all—and helped us eat cake. I posted the pictures to Instagram, and a producer got in touch with me. That’s how I met the production company! And then it became the show. It became the book. It became my whole life. Adam is my lawyer and business advisor—he brought me through the contracting.

So you were a theater kid at Williston? Oh, yeah. Ellis Baker ’51 ran the theater department, and he was


really my savior. I was going through some existential angst then, and I spent a lot of time in that theater, in his office. I was discovering my brain and being stretched in new ways at Williston—it was wonderful, but it was scary. It was a significant time for me. I’d gone to 16 schools by the time I got to Williston. But I developed lifelong friendships there, and just discovered myself in ways that I hadn’t really done before.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you took away from the commune? There are things about that time that I fought so hard. All I wanted was to be a TV family—to be normal and live in the suburbs and have straight hair. And to not be named Zoë. I even changed my name to Donna! I was Donna when I got to Williston. But once I got more comfortable in my own skin, I realized: Wait a minute. These people were the coolest! I cannot believe my dad kept bees my whole life and I wasn’t interested.

And now I just want to keep bees! I want to know how to make yogurt and tempeh. Now I wish I had been paying closer attention.

Where do your ideas and inspiration come from? I would say the number one thing is travel. Really being out in the world and seeing and tasting other people’s food. Also, Instagram—visually seeing what other people are doing. And the seasons—going to the grocery store and seeing something beautiful. Museums and art, too. I studied art at UVM. Art is such a huge part of what I love and what inspires me—but food is how I express that.

What connects your baking to your politics? The Black Lives Matter movement is very personal for me because I live in a mixed-race household. My husband is Black. My children [Henri, 21, and Charlie, 20] are brown. I have firsthand seen the discrimination that happens—purely based on their skin


“Art is such a huge part of what I love and what inspires me—but food is how I express that.”


color. But basically I play with sugar all day. How could I turn this into something meaningful? Then Bakers Against Racism started after the George Floyd murder. They brought together all the bakers and raised millions of dollars. It was awesome. I could not have been more proud of my fellow bakers, of my fellow humans. It gave me a way to direct all of that angst and sadness and anger— what the whole world was feeling at that moment.

Did you bake a lot for your kids and their friends? I would not only bake with them in mind, but I would bake with them. There are pictures of the boys and their friends making pizza, making bread. I’ve been constantly writing books since 2005, so I was constantly needing recipe testers. And then Charlie had a scone business when

he was 11 or 12. When he told me, I said, “What recipe are you going to use?” assuming it would be one of mine. He said, “I’m going to use this other lady’s.” I was like, What? But then it turned out to be Julia Child, so I was OK with it.

devil’s food cake with cream cheese icing for his birthday. For a friend of Henri’s we recently baked the white cake with sprinkles—the funfetti cake—with strawberry American buttercream. It’s the ultimate American birthday cake.

Did the boys ever crave food that wasn’t homemade, like you did with the Twinkie?

Vanilla or chocolate?

Yes. I wanted to throw them out of the house. Here I am—I’ve written eight books about bread—and of course, all they wanted was white bread out of a bag, the kind that’s only good for wadding up and throwing at people.

What’s your favorite cake in the book? Your go-to cakes for special occasions? If I had to choose just one—probably the plum cake. Charlie requested the

Chocolate. Even though I put vanilla in everything!

What’s your favorite comfort food? Spaghetti and meatballs. I turn to it whenever I’m like, Oh, this day sucks. That’s something I make—but my husband actually does more of the cooking than I do.

What’s your favorite thing to make to cheer up your household? Flan for Charlie. And always crepes,

for the kids. Even when they were being picky—if rolled into a crepe they would devour anything. For my husband it’s madeleines.

Favorite takeout? Our iconic takeout meal is Vietnamese from Quang in Minneapolis. I could live off the pho. They know me by name—they’ve been taking care of me since I was pregnant with Henri. Charlie had his graduation catered from there. My coauthor Jeff Hertzberg and I wrote our books there. In one day I would eat lunch there with Jeff, and then dinner with my husband and kids.

What’s your favorite color? Hmmm. That’s hard. Oh, wait, red! I’m sitting in a room—the walls are red. I’m wearing red pants. My logo is red. It’s so ridiculous that I hesitated.


essentials NORDIC WARE FLAT SHEET PANS “Ooh, or maybe a Nordic Ware Bundt pan is sexier! It’s all made locally here.”


A STAND MIXER “I have a 35-year-old Kitchen Aid! I started my cookie company in it. And then I have a Wolf one too, and I love that thing. It’s a tank.”

BUTTER “I went to Ireland with Kerrygold and I did nothing but eat butter. This was a fantasy come true! I could live off of butter alone. I met the farmers and the cows! I love Kerrygold—but it doesn’t have to be that. Just really good butter.”

HOMEMADE VANILLA EXTRACT Find the recipe on her blog Zoë

A PASSION FOR CHANGE Working “at the

intersection of culture and cause,” Tolu Onafowokan ’05 talks about philanthropy, social justice, and making a difference BY CATHERINE NEWMAN

Tolu Onafowokan ’05 says about Williston. “Me. My brothers, Tosin ’02 and Timi ’11. Two of my cousins.” Onafowokan spent her whole childhood in western Massachusetts—and her parents, who originally moved to the United States from Nigeria, still live in the western part of the state. Onafowokan herself now lives in Brooklyn. After graduating from Williston, she went first to Columbia University, where she studied history and American studies, and then to the London School of Economics, where she got a master’s degree in public policy and management. Since then she’s worked in communications at what she calls “the intersection of culture and cause,” at DKC, BerlinRosen, and Sunshine Sachs. Now, as a strategic communications officer at the Ford Foundation, Onafowokan amplifies campaigns for civic engagement and government initiatives; diverse arts, film, and journalism organizations; and place-based policy work. We got a chance to catch up with her.

Tell us a little about the work you’ve done. When I was at BerlinRosen, I was working on New York City- and state-level public affairs campaigns. That was really exciting to me—working with grassroots organizations. New Yorkers against Fracking, 38 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

which successfully passed a statewide ban. The Raise the Age New York Campaign to raise the age of criminal responsibility. A lot of child welfare and health organizations. I got to be involved in causes that were having a real, tangible effect on people’s lives, and I found it very fulfilling. It set me on the path. Then I worked at Sunshine Sachs, and that was where my past interests came together—a lot of projects with a focus on getting the public involved: The annual festivals in Central Park to address extreme poverty. The Red Nose Day annual fundraiser to end child poverty. It was a very whirlwind period of being at the forefront of a lot of social movements and pressing issues.

And now? A year ago I joined the Ford Foundation, which is a social justice–focused organization. I support our work in the arts and culture and journalism space, in civic engagement, voting rights and redistricting, and also our work with corporations and in impact investing—thinking more holistically about how investments are made, and prioritizing purpose alongside profit. A lot of the focus in that space is on diversity and equity, affordable housing, and the quality of jobs. It’s possible to create businesses that turn a profit and still make these considerations.

It’s wonderful to wake up every morning and feel like your work has purpose. Hopefully, at the end of my career, I’ll be able to say I left New York and the world a better place.

What’s your favorite thing about working in philanthropy? You’re doing a lot of listening and learning from folks who are just so educated on these issues, so smart, so deeply invested in doing the right thing and in the potential of others. Changing the way the world works is something I’m passionate about. If someone says, “This is how this thing works. Are you going to change the whole system?” My answer is, “Yes, we are!” [laughs] If someone can write Lord of the Rings—something that isn’t rooted in any reality—then why can’t we imagine other systems in new ways?

What’s it like, doing racial justice advocacy work in this moment? The last project I worked on at my last job [the “One World: Together At Home” campaign] was focused on COVID-19. And it was really amazing to get to say, hey, I’m trying to make a difference in this small way. I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nurse, but I know how to do this one thing. Likewise, during this upswell of



protest activity around racial justice, it’s that same feeling because I’m confident that my colleagues are working toward a more equitable future—and working, too, toward a reality where we can say that justice has truly been served. It’s dismaying as a Black woman to wake up and see the news about how people are treated, but I get to convert those feelings into action, which is wonderful. It helps to give me a sense of balance and purpose in troubling times.

How does Williston fit in? We learned a lot about civic society and civic engagement, and that helped contribute to my investment in those types of issues. I wrote very passionate op-eds for the school paper. It was during the Bush presidency, the Iraq war. I got a journalism prize from Williston… [Googling] Oh! It’s the H. Thomas Wood prize, apparently! I always loved the news and I loved to argue, debate—my dad still thinks I should be a lawyer. I thought I was going to work in the music industry, as a journalist. But after working with this one publicist, I realized I like telling people about the things that I like, rather than having to do criticism about them.

You like to cook! What are your inspirations? Nigella Lawson! I’m also a big Bon Appetit fan. The Food Network—Ina Garten is obviously a legend. My next challenge, because I live in a heavily Caribbean neighborhood, is trying to make more Caribbean food on my own instead of just ordering it out.

You read advice columns. Yes! I like Dear Prudence on Slate. I’m really nosy, and it’s a really interesting slice of life. People are going through things that are really serious and heavy—it’s good to be reminded of the privileges I have. But it’s also good perspective on the challenges people are dealing with that are [laughs] self-created.

What books are on your night stand? Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I’m also reading Luster by Raven Leilani.

Your favorite thing about Brooklyn? The people! I’ve always loved living in New York because there’s an energy in the street that doesn’t exist in other places in the same way. The energy of the city just carries you. Since COVID-19, there’s a sense that my community is invested in a project, and the project is living here. Those of us that are here—we want it. SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 39



The remarkable story of how Williston came to own the copyright to a classic song By Jonathan Adolph Illustration by Beppe Conti


re you a musician, filmmaker, or media executive looking for a classic melody to bring charm to your next work? May we suggest “Dream a Little Dream,” a standard of the American songbook first published in 1931 and recorded by dozens of artists, from Kate Smith to Ella Fitzgerald to Cass Elliot, whose 1968 version with


the Mamas and the Papas became an international hit? The tune is a delightful earworm, to be sure, but there’s another reason we can’t hear it too often: Any time the song is used commercially, the Williston Northampton School makes a little money. That’s because for more than two decades, Williston has owned the musical copyright to “Dream a Little Dream”—or, more precisely, it is the

sole shareholder of Words and Music, Inc., the music publishing company that owns the song. Every year, the school receives income earned by licensing the song in movies, television, recordings, sheet music, and other uses, after paying royalties to the three songwriters, Fabian Andre, Wilbur Schwandt, and Gus Kahn. The arrangement—which will continue until 2026 when the copyright

“Cork had so much integrity. Songwriters trusted him; music publishers trusted him… He had so much character as a man without even saying a word.” Performed by everyone from Ella Fitzgerald to Cass Elliot, “Dream a Little Dream” is part of the American—and the Williston— songbook, thanks to Cork O’Keefe 1919 and the Richmond family

expires and the song enters the public domain—has provided Williston with between $2,963 and $77,800 a year, totaling some $470,283 to date. Just how an independent school got to be a music mogul is a story worthy of its own ballad, one that would begin with the deep friendship between two legends of the entertainment business, Howard “Howie” Richmond, founder of what is now the TRO Essex Music Group, and Francis “Cork” O’Keefe, Williston Academy class of 1919 and a former school trustee, who founded Words and Music as well as Plymouth Music and the Rockwell-O’Keefe Theatrical Agency (later General Artists Corporation). As agents, managers, and music publishers in New York City, the two men worked with a who’s

who of 20th-century artists—Bing Crosby, Glenn Miller, Frank Sinatra, Woody Herman, among many others—as well as athletes, politicians, and celebrities, and their companies partnered to license, publish, and promote the musical hits of the day. O’Keefe, who had no heirs, died in 1990 at age 90. In his will, he left ownership of Words and Music to Richmond, who continued managing the business, collecting licensing fees and distributing royalties to songwriters. All the while, Richmond was thinking of O’Keefe, and wondering if there was something more that O’Keefe might have wanted done with the business, recalls Richmond’s son, Larry, now president of TRO. “Howie said to me, ‘Cork knew we would figure out the

right thing to do.’” After a few years of donating the profits from Words and Music to Williston, Howie in 1998 gave the company itself to the school, with TRO Essex continuing to handle the day-to-day business administration. Larry Richmond acknowledges that his father’s gift of a music company to a secondary school was highly unusual, but it also seems particularly fitting, given O’Keefe’s life work and relationship to Williston. As it happens, Howie Richmond, who died in 2012, also had ties to Williston, having attended Loomis Chaffee School when Francis Grubbs was Dean of Students there. Howie became close friends with Grubbs, and with his son, Denny, who later served as Williston’s headmaster from 1984 to 1999. “My dad knew Cork would be thrilled that Words and Music became the property of Williston,” says Larry. “He knew how important Williston was to both Cork and Denny.” Indeed, O’Keefe, who got his nickname as a young child when he was light as a cork, spoke often of his time at Williston. He came to the school as a 17-year-old post-graduate, looking to play baseball. The World War I draft had cut short his brief stint at Lehigh University, where he had been recruited to play, and his Connecticut hometown friend Edwin Backofen ’21 steered him to Williston (a few months later, Backofen would succumb to the Spanish flu at Cooley Dickenson Hospital, a tragedy witnessed by O’Keefe in the next bed.) O’Keefe’s experience at Williston would prove to be “a big happening in my life, although I was only there a few short months,” he told Theatre Director Ellis Baker ’51 for a 1988 Bulletin article. After Williston, O’Keefe returned to Lehigh, where he played baseball and drummed for a local band. He then began producing dances around the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, area, hiring

musicians at various venues, and eventually grew his business as the manager of the popular Casa Loma Orchestra. One notable Casa Loma gig he booked was the Taft School senior prom, an event arranged by prom committee chairman and future Williston Headmaster Phil Stevens. Stevens would later ask O’Keefe to serve as a Williston Trustee, which he did from 1970 until 1975. O’Keefe continued to win trust and affection as he built his business, acquiring Words and Music, Inc., in 1946 and launching Plymouth Music Company, a publishing, management, and promotion firm. Indeed, what impresses so many of those who knew him was his integrity. As Howie Richmond told Ellis Baker, O’Keefe was “an honest truthful, straightforward man in an industry of exaggeration. He never lost a friend.” Larry Richmond, who worked briefly with O’Keefe, echoes that praise. “Cork had so much integrity. Songwriters trusted him; music publishers trusted him. He was a very upright guy, good in all senses. He had so much character as a man without even saying a word. His character just was there.” And, no doubt, Larry adds, that character and generosity of spirit resulted from his time at Williston. So today, Words and Music, a business that once opened doors of opportunity for musicians and songwriters, now helps open doors for students. Larry Richmond compares the gift to an annuity, one whose yearly payouts allow Williston to have a positive impact on future students. “The beauty of Williston is that it’s a place that’s transformative for young people,” he explains. “Some teacher might take a struggling student under their wing, and then that kid goes on to become a doctor or a professional or maybe a teacher himself or herself. And I think that’s what Cork loved, giving back.” Just one more reason we can’t forget “Dream a Little Dream.”




Paul Kennard ’71 works to mitigate the impact of climate change on Mount Rainier


o mountain in the continental United States holds more ice than Washington’s Mount Rainier. Gathered from its 29 named glaciers, the frozen coating would form a cube measuring a mile in each direction, enough ice to fill a line of dump trucks, bumper to bumper, to the moon and back 23 times. We know all this because, in 1981, Paul Kennard ’71, then a young glaciologist working for the U.S. Geological Survey, measured the ice and calculated its volume. The dramatic explosion of nearby Mount St. Helens the previous year had prompted the agency to investigate the flood risk should any of the Cascade region’s other ice-covered volcanoes erupt. Kennard, then a master’s candidate at the University of Washington, was helicoptered

onto Rainier’s slopes and used ice radar to map the glaciers in three dimensions. But as it turns out, Mount Rainier was facing a more insidious threat. Forty years ago, climate change was just a little-discussed theory, but today, notes Kennard, who served as Mount Rainier National Park’s geomorphologist from 2002 until his recent retirement, the area “is showing some of the most direct, catastrophic effects of climate change in the United States, with floods, debris flows, and loss of old growth forests.” In the past two decades, the total glacial volume has decreased 3 percent per year on average, some 10 times the fastest historical rate. “When I first did the measuring of the glaciers in the early 1980s, I knew about climate change but we hadn’t really seen it on the ground or taken it as a reality,” says Kennard, who still volunteers for the park. “Since 2002,


it became very apparent that climate change was real.” As a fluvial geomorphologist—a specialist in rivers and their impact on the environment—Kennard oversaw Mount Rainier’s flood control initiatives, leading his research team of so-called “river rats” as they devised strategies and engineered barriers to protect the park’s access roads, trees, and infrastructure from rising rivers, glacial sediment, and the increasingly severe storms associated with climate change. Of particular recent concern are the devastating flash floods known as jökulhlaups, which burst from melting glaciers like mountain tsunamis. Kennard’s efforts have left him with a deep appreciation for the park and its legacy. Years ago, he had the chance to explore the once worldfamous Paradise Ice Caves, whose gleaming blue walls and miles of tunnels drew millions of visitors in the

1970s, before they were closed and eventually melted away. He knows well the area’s majestic old growth forests and vibrant wildflower meadows, which erupt in springtime color. And he has felt the scale of the park’s history as the retreating glaciers reveal land that has been covered for 10,000 years, exposing long-buried artifacts, such as airplane parts from decades-old crashes. It’s perhaps fitting that, as a student at Williston Academy, another mountain helped stir his love of the outdoors. Raised in Briarcliff Manor, New York, Kennard arrived on campus for his sophomore year, following his older brother, Mark ’70, somewhat against his will. “I was just sort of a mopey kid,” he explains. “But when I look back, I got a very strong education, both in liberal arts and on the technical side, that really served me well when I went to Tufts University and then grad school at




Measuring the speed of the ice on Mount Rainier’s Nisqually Glacier, Paul Kennard holds a survey rod with a reflecting prism. Another surveyor, off the glacier, sends a laser to the prism to determine Kennard’s exact position, and by comparing it to previous measurements, the team can calculate the ice’s velocity. Ice that has stopped moving and becomes stagnant poses a greater risk of outburst floods.


“In the early 1980s, I knew about climate change but we hadn’t really taken it as a reality. Since 2002, it became very apparent that climate change was real.”

the University of Washington.” He played lacrosse and football, and won a history prize, but what stayed with him was skiing on Mount Tom. “I remember that very fondly,” he notes, adding that he still skis today. Indeed, after earning his degree in applied physics at Tufts in 1975, he headed west to be a ski bum in Aspen. One day, on a road through a mountain valley, he noticed trees knocked down in an unusual pattern. “I was confused, and then I realized there had been a massive snow avalanche,” he recalls. “That started this great interest I had in snow avalanches. And that was my first entree into the physical processes that form what the earth looks like”—the scientific field of geomorphology. Pursuing his fascination for avalanches, Kennard eventually sought out and studied with noted ava-

lanche expert and glaciology pioneer Edward LaChapelle at the University of Washington, earning his master’s in geophysics in 1983. That year he also married his wife, Jennifer, and they still reside in the Seattle home they bought in 1988. After publishing his Cascade volcano research, Kennard pursued a range of other jobs before being hired by the Park Service in 2002. To pay off his student debt, he worked for Texaco as an explorationist, helping identify new areas to drill. While he still likes the sound of that title, he’d prefer to forget the work (“I didn’t really have an environmental ethic developed at the time,” he explains.) Next, he served as geologist for the Tulalip Indian Tribes of Washington, helping them protect their native salmon fishery from the impacts of forestry, then as a staff scientist for the nonprofit Washington


Forest Law Center. As his ecological sensibility evolved, he helped cofound the nonprofit 10,000 Years Institute, a scientific and educational institution, and he remains on the group’s board. Today, Kennard and other scientists regard the Mount Rainier ecosystem as an early warning system for the broader threats of climate change, a 14,000-foot canary in our global coal mine. The park’s dynamic environment is allowing the normally slow processes of geological change to be visible in the span of a human lifetime. In his own 40-year relationship with the park, Kennard has been just such a witness to those changes, and yet he has not given up on humanity’s ability to find solutions. “Overall, I’m still optimistic that as a society we can come out OK,” he says. “But we better do it awfully soon.”

Mount Rainier and its glaciers, viewed from the south


GLACIER FAQ Why are glaciers important? Glaciers on Mount Rainier are a crucial source of fresh water in the dry summer months, Kennard explains. “They are great for a water supply. And great for agriculture and irrigation. And since hot water is bad for fish, they are good for fish because the water is nice and cold.”


How do you measure glaciers? Glaciers are constantly advancing and retreating based on the interplay of winter snowfall and summer melting, Kennard says. Scientists have developed a number of ways to measure the changes, using high-tech approaches such as radar and lidar, but also old-school techniques such as drilling metal poles through the snow. Researchers also document glacial movement with photography and drones. How much have the Mount Rainier glaciers melted? Ice levels are at historic lows and the rate of loss is accelerating, Kennard says. Between 1936 and 1990, the glaciers lost one quarter of their ice, and they lost another 20 percent in 2003 alone. The visual retreat is “very obvious,” he says. The southfacing Nisqually Glacier, the most studied glacier in the United States, “lost well over a mile and a half of length in the last hundred years.” Several lower glaciers on Rainier have disappeared altogether, along with the Paradise Ice Caves.

Kennard and two colleagues view a “ghost forest” of centuries-old trees killed when Mount Rainier’s Tahoma Creek, filled with glacial sediment, left its stream bed and flooded the old growth forest

How does climate change impact Mount Rainier National Park? Several climate-related factors are combining to threaten the park’s environment and infrastructure, Kennard notes. The increased glacial run-off adds sediment to stream beds, causing them to overflow their channels, wash out roads, and flood forests. The exposed deglaciated slopes feed destructive debris flows. And both are made worse by storms that have become more frequent and stronger. “Six of the largest storms ever in the Northwest have happened in the last 25 years,” he notes. Hundred-year floods are now occurring on the Nisqually River every 14 years. As a result, says Kennard, “every road system except one at Mount Rainier is either closed, maybe forever, or in very high hazard.” What about glaciers elsewhere? “I’d say 99.9 percent of the glaciers are wasting rapidly now,” Kennard says. “Along with melting ice sheets, that’s why we have concerns about global sea level rising.”


A CHANGE OF CAREER J. Steven Staggs ’78 discusses his extraordinary professional pivot from investment advisor to emergency department nurse


on’t try to make former investment advisor J. Steven Staggs ’78 tell you a story about how the financial crisis of 2008 was the best thing that ever happened to him. Because, although it precipitated a sequence of events that radically changed his life, he had loved finance. “I so enjoyed the investment business and I got to meet so many interesting people

and travel all over the world and do frankly significant things from an economic perspective.” “But,” he jokes, “I was looking for a less stressful job.” So he became an emergency department nurse specializing in triage. But let’s back up. Because, before any of this, there was Williston, which Staggs, who grew up in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, calls “the best four years of my life.” “There was a level of diversity of personalities and backgrounds that I had never experienced before,” he explains, “and it provided me with skills in adaptability and flexibility.” Did he study as much as he possibly could? He did not. But when he went on to North Carolina State


University in Raleigh, did he rigorously apply himself to his schoolwork then? Again, no. After a year, though, Staggs transferred to Springfield College, where his talents crystalized into a B.S. in business management. From there he went on to Babson College for a master’s degree in finance and accounting. A series of increasingly high-powered jobs in investments, including private placement lending, structured credit, asset-backed securities, and collateralized debt obligations, took Staggs from Springfield, Massachusetts, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Fort Wayne, Indiana, and then back to Springfield again. “I very much thought I would retire from the business,” he says of that time. “I thought

that would be my whole career.” It would not be. After the financial crisis and the subsequent elimination of his job at MassMutual, Staggs spent a couple of years working with another Williston alum, a trustee, to start up an investment advisory firm. But the investment world was still debilitated by caution, and Staggs started thinking about alternatives. “I wanted something that was more rewarding personally. And something where I had a more immediate impact on the lives of individuals.” Health care ticked these boxes—and Staggs, second-guessing finance, had already begun taking some science prerequisites while he was still with the investment venture. After briefly



“I wanted something that was more rewarding personally. And where I had a more immediate impact on the lives of individuals.” considering medical school (before concluding that it would be time to retire before he’d really even started his career), Staggs took a job as a certified nursing assistant in a rehab center to feel out his aptitude for the work. Convinced, he applied to the two-year nursing program at Springfield Technical Community College and, despite its relatively low acceptance rate, was admitted. He was 50 years old. While still in school, Staggs secured an elite internship in the emergency department of Baystate Medical Center, which, with 91 beds and a eight-bed psych unit, is one of the busiest EDs in all of Massachusetts. “The experience was fantastic,” he says. In an emergency

department, “every day is a learning experience. Every day presents you with challenges. There’s a bit of an adrenaline rush that you get from the pace and the uncertainty of who’s going to be wheeled through the door next.” The work was tremendously, thrillingly rewarding. He was hooked. Eventually the state of Maine beckoned. Staggs already owned a cottage on a lake there, and, after the hustle and bustle of city life, he was attracted to the good fishing and the idyllic rural landscape. He applied to the emergency department at Central Maine Medical Center, where he’s worked as an RN for the past five and a half eventful years. Over the course of a 12hour shift, Staggs triages between 30

and 50 patients. “And they range from people coming in with runny noses to overdoses that were abandoned at the front door, to traumas and life-threatening cardiac conditions. It really runs the gamut—and it challenges your decision-making ability.” He finds that health care triage has much in common with investment analysis: “You’re taking initial information and evaluating it, and then you’re making a decision about interventions. The ultimate goals may be different, but the way you make decisions is very much the same.” But isn’t nursing so much more rewarding? Staggs has mixed feelings. “The rewards are more immediate and tangible,” he says. “But so are the challenges and the regrets.

It often takes several months or years to figure out if your investment decision was a good one, whereas in some cases you know within minutes whether the interventions that you have performed in health care are going to be successful. The impact of not succeeding in health care is much more immediate and has a greater emotional impact.” For now, Staggs is happy working intense, concentrated hours that leave him time to spend with his wife, Margaret, and their two dogs, Mindy and Mia. Life is good. And there’s even talk of moving to a nearby boarding school, where Margaret works as a nurse. “Living on a prep-school campus!” Staggs laughs. “Now I’m really coming full circle.” SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 47

WEIGHTY MATTERS Strength coach and podcaster Anders Varner ’01 recalls how he was transformed by his time at Williston BY JONATHAN ADOLPH

Strength-training coach and fitness entrepreneur Anders Varner ’01 wants you to embrace what’s hard in life. Not just the hard work of lifting weights and staying fit, skills the former CrossFit athlete teaches through his online media company and widely respected “Barbell Shrugged” podcast. No, Varner’s message—which he shares with top professional athletes as well as his millions of listeners— is about facing heavier stuff, for a bigger payoff. “Life is supposed to be hard,” he says. “How do you train to do hard things every 48 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

day? If you’re not trying to do something hard and creating positive problems, and you’re not developing strategies to get better, you will never believe in yourself.” It’s an insight Varner traces back to his experience at Williston, where as an aspiring 14-year-old hockey player just arrived from Virginia, he found himself cut from the team and paralyzed by homesickness and social anxiety. “My life had always been, I’m good at sports, so people want to be friends with me. And then I got to Williston and I was really bad at sports, nobody wanted to be friends with me, and I didn’t know how to make friends,” he says. “I spent an entire semester in my room talking to my mom on the phone.” But out of that hard time, Varner found a way to emerge stronger. The change began when Varner noticed that many of his schoolmates were both athletic and smart. “Until I went to Williston, I thought you were either a dumb jock or you were a smart nerd,” he says. “And I always wanted to be a dumb jock. And these people were great athletes, but they also excelled in the classroom. And I went, ‘Oh,



my God, you can be smart and cool at the same time?’” Always a competitor, he decided to change his social strategy, recognizing that he needed to be better at connecting with others. He was soon making friends, and by sophomore year, he was back on the ice with a Wildcat hockey team that two years later set a record for consecutive wins. That transformation in the face of adversity, he says, was the beginning of a journey of self-understanding that continues today. “The greatest part about Williston, for me, was doing an internal objective assessment: Where do I need to get better? I needed to figure this out because nobody was going to do it for me. You have to look at yourself and practice strategies to get the thing that you want.” In the years after Williston, Varner continued to do just that. After earning a degree in finance from James Madison University in 2005 and working for five years for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, he discovered the just-emerging

sport of CrossFit, realized he wasn’t cut out for government work, and took the leap of opening his own gym, San Diego Athletics, with a partner in 2010. He had always been a strong lifter, and now with an MBA from South University and certification as a strength and conditioning coach, he and the business thrived. But Varner was restless for more. In 2016 he sold the gym, started a corporate wellness and physical therapy business, and then in 2018 became co-owner of the Shrugged Collective, an online media company with a mission of “making strong people stronger.” The group’s “Barbell Shrugged” podcast—an allusion to both the Ayn Rand novel and a weight-lifting technique— has since been downloaded more than 44 million times. But life is supposed to be hard, right? The arrival of COVID-19 closed gyms around the country, threatening the Shrugged Collective’s business selling workout programs to people with access to weight rooms. “It was terrifying,” Varner

recalled. “Then we realized, Oh, this is just the next thing. I’ve been through many things.” The group pivoted to meet the needs of a target customer Varner named the Diesel Dad, developing programs that can be done at home, with minimal equipment. It’s a response that, once again, grew out of Varner’s own experience, riding out the pandemic in North Carolina with his family. “I went from being this supercool fun athlete, gym owner, guy training with famous people, to dad in the middle of quarantine, in the middle of a pandemic, trying to run a business and playing babysitter and husband.” So, as a Diesel Dad should, Varner developed a new routine and new strategies to achieve his professional and personal goals. Rising at 5 a.m., he sneaks past his sleeping wife and 2-year-old for a quick weight session in his home gym before sitting down to work. He spends his day writing copy for the website (a skill made possible, he says, by the instruction of his

freshman English teacher, Kathy White) and recording podcasts. But every four hours he walks a mile (or does comparable training), stretches for two minutes, and drinks a quart of water. He recommends you do the same. “If you could do those three things, every four hours, you’ll get to all of the minimum requirements that you need to live a healthy life,” he explains. “You’ll drink a gallon of water every day. You’ll walk four miles. And you’re going to stretch and move all your joints. It’s all you really need.” Providing those kinds of clear, achievable goals— leavened with a healthy dose of humor—makes Varner’s approach resonate with a wide audience, notes Williston strength coach Blayne Lapan, a recent guest on the podcast. “Anders’ niche is the fact that he has no niche,” says Lapan, who had been a listener to “Barbell Shrugged” for years. “What makes him super successful is that he’s able to communicate and get people excited about fitness, from the average Joe, through

the professional in the field, to professional athletes. His niche is something for everyone.” Indeed, Varner’s company is now banking on that broad appeal. In 2020, “Barbell Shrugged” began offering its workout and nutrition programs at selected Walmarts, a partnership that Varner hopes will have his materials in 40 stores this year. “I want people to live life in the arena,” he says, explaining that all of us have an ethical responsibility to stay in shape. “You’re training so that you can live your life and be a part of everyone’s life around you. You have the ability to enhance the life of those you love by doing the simplest things.” There is just one catch, as Varner’s own life demonstrates: You have to embrace the hard stuff. “You have to go put the work in,” he says, “because every day you don’t put the work in you go backwards.” Fitness—like success in life—is about commitment and consistency. “You show up, you put the work in, and you get the results that you want.”

“You’re training so that you can live your life and be a part of everyone’s life around you. You have the ability to enhance the life of those you love by doing the simplest things.” SPRING 2021!BULLETIN 49


USING HER VOICE In her latest work, singer-songwriter and cancer survivor Quincy Coleman ’90 creates an anthem for climate change—BY BROOKE HAUSER Quincy Coleman ’90 made her solo debut in kindergarten with “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles, and she has been singing ever since. You might know her song “Baby Don’t You Cry (The Pie Song)” from the movie Waitress, starring Keri Russell. Or maybe you haven’t discovered her yet. Either way, the singer-songwriter who Dolly Parton once described as possessing “all the goods, a beautiful voice, such sweet emotion and tenderness” today shares a lot in common with the kid who belted out that all you need is love all those years ago. “It’s so interesting that the first word, over and over like a mantra, that I sang as a performance was ‘love,’” Coleman said on a recent Zoom from her home in California. Raised in a “very creative, artistic family” by actor-parents Dabney Coleman and Jean Hale, she was 16 when she moved to the East Coast to attend Williston. “I believe that was the first time I sang with a band…it was very exciting,” Coleman recalls. “We did ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell and a couple of other songs, and it felt really right.” She still keeps in touch with an old boyfriend, who is also a musician and introduced her to The Cure. Coleman has eclectic taste musically. “I’m a big jazzhead,” she says, citing Billie Holiday and Fats Waller among her influences, along with classical and world music. But there’s a consistency to her messaging. “What’s coming through 50 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

me to deliver is all about unity and hope,” she says, “and, also, knowing that moving through the shadow is part of embracing the light. It’s absolutely a necessity to hold the space for both.” Coleman knows about the dance between light and shadow as a cancer survivor. In 2009, she was diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a life-altering experience. “While I did not consciously step away from music, I was just stepping into my healing and stepping into, like, not dying,” she said. “The diagnosis really brought me back home to my soul.” It was several years later before she came back to music, and, at that point, “I picked up my guitar, and I wanted to write a prayer for the world to be able to resonate with and sing,” says Coleman, who delivered that prayer in her song “I Am That I Am.” “It was an amazing experience for me as a songwriter. I loved not being in the spotlight. I loved that it was about something bigger and more of a collective offering of music.” Now she’s giving fans another collective offering: Based on Greta Thunberg’s “Our House Is on Fire” speech, “We Can Do This Now” is an anthem calling attention to the threat of climate change. It’s also about the power to heal. “Greta really inspired me,” Coleman says. “I was conscious, but I was not a radical environmentalist, and I’m still learning. I need this song too.”

ANNOTATED LYRICS Based on a speech by environmental activist Greta Thunberg, Quincy Coleman’s new song debuted on Earth Day (hear it at Below, she breaks down the lyrics for us.

I’d written down Greta’s speech, and I plucked out the lines that felt like they could be poetic or lyrical. Then I weaved in a few of my own moments just to keep a rhyme and a flow, but “I want you to panic” is straight from her. I found that to be a very powerful message because obviously we never want anyone to panic about anything, but when your house is on fire, it’s a good time to start gathering your survival instincts and do something to save yourself and the planet, in this case.


Voting is a huge way to take action, locally as well as nationally. Recycling, turning your faucet off. Turn your lights off, keep the doors closed, open the windows, you know, move with the weather, get on your bike more, compost at home, create a home garden, grow your food. Go meatless one day a week.

“Noble” is me, just a poetic, lyrical way to rhyme the message. When she says, “I don’t want you to be hopeful,” what I understand that to be is, those are just words. You know, don’t tell me that you’re hopeful—take action and make a change.

[In the music video], we image the house on fire, just textbook: the pipeline. The power of that, the glacier melting, the Amazon on fire…they describe it as the lungs of the earth.

That’s me. Greta is very, very intense and sort of slapping us on the wrist, which I love…but when I was done with the song, for me, the way that I like to message things is to always bring in hope or the light…a solution or mantra of some sort. “We can do this” felt like a very important, anthemic cheer for everybody to get on board and know that we can.



A lifelong love of dogs and a desire to help others led Jen Bennett ’84 to create a safety net for families struggling to feed their beloved pets BY MATTHEW LIEBOWITZ


1984 Williston grad, Jen Bennett is the founder and Vice President of PAWSitive Pantry, a Vermont-based nonprofit whose mission is to serve as a safety net for families struggling economically to provide their pets with food.

Through a partnership with the Vermont Foodbank, PAWSitive Pantry delivers to about 80 pantries across Vermont; last year the organization provided 51,000 pounds of food, which translated to about 151,000 meals for pets. Since starting in 2009, Bennett’s group has delivered 450,000 pounds of pet food. The


group just announced this year that it is expanding into Massachusetts as well. And recently, PAWSitive Pantry partnered with BarkBox, a subscription pet supply company, which donated the profits from their “Bernie Paw Warmers” toy —designed to look like the famous mittens Bernie

Each month, PAWSitive Pantry provides roughly 4,500 dog meals and 8,100 cat meals in Vermont. To find out more or to donate, visit



Sanders wore to President Biden’s inauguration—to Bennett’s group. An important element of PAWSitive Pantry is its fundraising efforts: Though they, like everyone, were impacted by COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, they do have an upcoming event on the books, their annual dog parade at Sugarbush Resort, set for July 4. Bennett, who left a graphic design career in Boston in 2008 to take advantage of Vermont skiing, lives in the Mad River Valley with Rumble, a 14-year-old goldendoodle (that’s him in the photo at left!). Though it’s perhaps a tendency to look back, to romanticize the early hardships of a struggling company striving for success, Bennett says PAWSitive’s story doesn’t fit the mold. It was, by virtue of its mission, a smooth start, with everyone focused on the ultimate goal: feeding pets. Aside from lots of driving and a “bare bones” approach that saw Bennett and a group of volunteers traveling all over Vermont, “loading up my car with as much food as I could put in,” PAWSitive Pantry’s success reflects the beauty and simplicity of its mission. “It’s a really simple concept. It’s not rocket science,” she says. “As long as you have the hands and people willing to help you out, it’s a pretty easy project to take on.



Thanks to you, the Williston Northampton School came #TogetherAsOne on our sixth annual day of giving. In this extraordinary year, we are heartened and inspired by the collective generosity of our community. You played a key role in helping the school meet the moment and keeping our students and faculty safe and learning in person.


1,288 $447,809 SUPPORTERS

TOP ALUMNI CLASSES 1983 42 gifts 1998 38 gifts 1986 34 gifts 2008 31 gifts 2016 26 gifts





3% Faculty/Staff

2% Students



Parents of Alumni, Grandparents, Friends

THANK YOU FOR RISING TO MEET OUR CHALLENGES! Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Challenges 172 supporters $65,000+ raised Arts Challenge 86 supporters $10,000+ raised Parent Challenges 198 supporters $120,000+ raised

TOP ATHLETIC TEAM FINISHERS Football 110 gifts Baseball 75 gifts Girls Hockey 72 gifts Boys Lacrosse 71 gifts Field Hockey 71 gifts


FUNDING THE FUTURE Thanks to alumni and parents, Williston is building funds and initiatives that help advance the goals of our new Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging BY JONATHAN ADOLPH IN LATE MAY, WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL’S BOARD OF TRUSTEES

approved the school’s new five-year Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) Strategic Plan. Drafted by Williston’s Anti-Racism Committee over the last 12 months, this plan is based on the feedback and suggestions of many alumni, faculty, and students, and reflects the school’s deep desire that every student feel an equal sense of belonging. On page 57, you will find the new plan, which outlines six important goals— revamping infrastructure, increasing faculty and student diversity, enhancing student experience and education, augmenting training, seeking alumni involvement, and raising funds to support these efforts. That final goal of raising funds is critical to making all the others possible, and on the following pages, we’re excited to show you four examples of ways that generous alumni and parents are already helping Williston’s vision for the future take flight. 54 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

Take, for example, the Gordon family, which has funded the new SherrieAnn L. Gordon ’00 Equity Fund for Social and Diverse Experiences (page 55). Named in memory of their daughter and sister (pictured at right), the new fund will provide supplemental financial aid for high-need Black students. Meanwhile, Richard Adelmann ’61 continues to support increased faculty diversity through his Adelmann Fellowship Fund (page 58). Our new Equity Fund (page 59), now in its first year, will help attract, enroll, and fully support students with the highest level of financial need, and a new designation within the Williston Northampton Fund is allowing donors to earmark gifts specifically for DEIB purposes, something more than 200 of you have already done this year. These generous donations inspire us and, we hope, are just the beginning of what we can do together. To read more about Williston DEIB initiatives—or make a donation yourself— visit

KEEPING A BRIGHT LIGHT SHINING The family of Sherrie-Ann L. Gordon ’00 launches a fund in her memory to ensure equitable experiences for Black students

“Sherrie made everyone think beyond the present and strive for equality and excellence,” remembers Assistant Head of School Ann Pickrell. “She used her incredible empathy to connect with everyone.”

BY ANY OF THE CUSTOMARY measures, Sherrie-Ann L. Gordon ’00 was exceptional. Honor student, senior class president, winner of the prestigious Sarah B. Whitaker Award (The White Blazer), “for the senior girl who made the greatest contribution to the life of the school,” she was the daughter of Jamaican immigrants who arrived at Williston from Brooklyn and soon distinguished herself as a campus leader and mentor, in particular to her fellow students of color. She continued to make her mark at Trinity College, speaking at her 2004 Class Day ceremony, and in her professional career, first as the Connecticut State Office Administrator, then as the Manager Director for Multicultural Markets and Specialty Programs coordinator for the American Association of Retired People (AARP), and later as a social entrepreneur, acting on her passion for improving the lives

of others. But Gordon’s promise was tragically cut short in 2015, when, after a 10-month battle with ovarian cancer, she died at the age of 33. For those she touched with her positivity, faith, and resilient character, her brief but remarkable life remains an inspiration. “Anyone who remembers Sherrie will tell you,” notes her friend Pierce Freelon ’02, “she was a powerful being.” Adds history teacher Peter Gunn, “Sherrie saw the world as it was and sought to make it better. In her affection for learning and living, she raised our community consciousness. There really are no words to adequately describe this incredible person and her impact on those around her.” To honor that legacy, the Gordon family—her father, Dorrick; mother, Beverly; sisters Kimberly Gordon and Jacqueline Elleston; and brother, Derrick—are launching the Sherrie-Ann L. Gordon ’00 Equity Fund for Social

FUNDING THE FUTURE and Diverse Experiences, a permanently endowed fund providing nontuition supplemental aid to Black students with high financial need. The fund will allow low-income students of color to take part in social events and other activities that they might not have otherwise been able to afford. “I know that Sherrie loved Williston, and that this would be something that she would love to know that we are a part of,” explains Dorrick. “That’s one of the reasons why we came together and decided to do something, to keep her name going.” Beverly adds, “We said, if we can do something to help even one child, to put a smile on

somebody’s face, to put joy in their steps or in their heart, that would really go a long way for us. We wanted to reach out and do whatever we can to give back to Williston, because Williston did a lot for Sherrie.” For Sherrie’s brother, Derrick, an alumnus of the New Hampton School, the fund also has a larger social mission, one that reflects his sister’s values. “I can tell you that going to a boarding school can be shell-shocking for some Black and brown kids from the inner city,” he explains. “So if you have the opportunity to blend in, it’s a help.” Being able to fully participate in the social life of the school is cen-


tral to the independent school experience, he adds, “and this Sherrie-Ann L. Gordon Fund enables you to have an opportunity to do those things. This is who she is. This is what she would have wanted for you. She wants you to enjoy your experience to the fullest.” Encouraging her peers to become engaged in the school community was one of Sherrie’s greatest talents, say her teachers and classmates. “Sherrie connected with people through her devotion to social justice and her embrace of the possible,” recalls Gunn. Assistant Head of School Ann Pickrell remembers Sherrie’s powerful presence at the podium during assemblies. “She made everyone think beyond the present and strive for equality and excellence,” she says. “She used her empathy to connect with everyone in the school community.” That was the case for Freelon, who met Sherrie when he was a new sophomore on campus and Sherrie was a senior. “She was an inspiration to me,” says Freelon, now a musician, filmmaker, and activist. “I cherished her mentorship and friendship.” Sherrie, he recalls, welcomed him into the community and encouraged him to pursue his passions. “It was a safe space to be, under her wing. I still carry her with me, even though we only overlapped for one year.” To her family, this was just how Sherrie was. “She told everybody to dance to the beat of their own drum,” recalls Kimberly. “She was my support system in every way. She would leave Los Angeles and attend parentteacher meetings in Florida to support her nephews Daniel, Matthew, and Joseph, whom she loved very much,” says Jacqueline. “The word I’ve used is ‘genuine’,” adds Derrick. “She was

100 percent herself, at all times. You really don’t find that often, and she was proud of it. When you own it, people will respect it, and people remember it. And I think that’s why she was so influential.” That strong social conscience was evident from the time Sherrie was a young girl, her mother says. “She would always try to help out in situations where people were having problems,” Beverly says. “She was a person who loved to help, loved to contribute, and was looking out for others.” Born in Jamaica, along with her three siblings, Sherrie and her family came to the United States when Sherrie was three, settling in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood. Her mother worked as a unit secretary in a hospital; her father was an airline ground attendant before starting his own maintenance business. Seeing the benefits that an independent middle school had on her older brother, the family sent Sherrie to Bethlehem Baptist Academy, where she excelled, becoming her class valedictorian and receiving a scholarship to the independent school of her choice. After touring a number of options, Sherrie chose Williston. She thrived in her new environment. She became goalie on the water polo team (she also rowed crew and played basketball). She pursued her love of music, playing the saxophone, bass guitar, and drums, and singing. And she excelled in her studies. “She was always a go-getter,” says her father, “but I believe that Williston helped her to develop more effectively.” The school brought out the best in her, says her brother. “It nurtured her, encouraged her, allowed her to be herself, allowed her to be great.” Her

sister Jacqueline adds, “My sister was fearless, she had a go-get-it attitude, and she was the sibling who would try anything. She learned to ice skate, roller blade, ride a motorcycle, and she would never take no for an answer.” After Williston, she attended Trinity College, spending time abroad in Trinidad and earning her degree in international studies, and then began what would become decade-long career with AARP. A lifelong Christian, she was active in her local church community as well, volunteering as the assistant director for Lahairoi, an urban, faith-based youth enrichment program in Hartford. She also kept her connection to Williston, returning to campus for diversity days, TRIBE Reunions, and as a member of the alumni council, which she joined in 2007. Her success with AARP led in 2010 to a new position in Los Angeles, where she became the group’s Associate State Director for Multicultural Outreach. There, she conceived the “To Serve, Not to Be Served” campaign, whose goal was to engage multicultural communities and encourage civic participation. In 2010, she designed and executed a seminar for Black women called “My Hair, My Health.” In 2013, demonstrating her own commitment to civic action, she accepted Governor Jerry Brown’s appointment to the state’s Dental Hygiene Committee. In both her career and volunteer efforts, she found satisfaction in providing others with access to the information they needed to improve their lives, say family members. “Anytime she could get people access to information, she was at her happiest,” recalls her sister Kimberly. “She believed in doing work that you love.” Indeed,

on the Williston campus, beneath a tree planted in Sherrie’s memory, reads a plaque with a favorite quotation: “Life is too short and too long to do work you don’t love.” That philosophy led Sherrie in 2015 to leave AARP and start her own audience-centered design business to help organizations, corporations, and technical experts more effectively share information. She was also pursuing grants to start a business, for young Black men, that would combine a barber shop with resources and information. She was in the process of training to be a barber when she was diagnosed with cancer in March 2015. Even as she dealt with her own health crisis, Sherrie stayed positive and worked to help others, a reflection, say those who knew her, of her deep Christian faith. Her mother recalls how after chemotherapy treatments, she would offer encouragement to the other patients, stopping in their rooms and telling them, “You’re going to be OK.” On the way home, she’d have the family buy an extra takeout meal for a homeless man she had befriended. “Her faith was incredible,” says her friend Jennifer Hopson, noting that the AARP established the SherrieAnn Gordon Multicultural Leadership Award of Excellence in her honor. “Wherever she went, she was just a really great, bright, light.” That positive spirit is what her mother chooses to remember, helped by the photos she now surrounds herself with. “To this day, I say, ‘God, you know best,’” says Beverly. “‘You took my little baby girl, but I’m not mad.’ Every day I drive in my car and there’s a picture with her on my dashboard. And all I see is that she is smiling.”


Donors to the Williston Northampton Fund have long been able to earmark their gifts to particular areas of the school—for example, to the arts, to athletics, for financial aid, or simply to “Greatest Need.” Starting this year, donors can now select “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB)” as a priority when making a gift to the Williston Northampton Fund. Gifts made with the DEIB designation help Williston in its efforts to promote crosscultural dialogue, broaden the experience of students and faculty, and, ultimately, make the school stronger by fostering a community where every student feels a deep sense of belonging. This year to date, 200 supporters have contributed more than $80,000 in support of the school’s DEIB initiatives. Find out more at

To read more remembrances about Sherrie, see photos sent by her family and friends, or donate to her fund, go to SPRING 2021 BULLETIN 57



experience solving financial problems for corporate America, Richard Adelmann ’61 brings a considerable skill set to his other passion: finding innovative solutions to social inequity. Serving on the board of a New York housing charity, he once helped implement what he calls “a very creative, complicated concept” that used federal, state, and private funding to help first-time homeowners buy duplexes, with the second unit rented to agency-supported homeless families. On other occasions, his approach was more direct: When local social service agencies could not secure housing for a homeless family he had befriended, Richard went ahead and bought a house for them to live in. “It was simply an intolerable situation,” he explained at a 2006 Williston ceremony honoring him for his community service work. “And I had the resources to fix it.” And now, Williston itself is benefitting from Adelmann’s financial ingenuity and commitment to social justice. Eight 58 WILLISTON NORTHAMPTON SCHOOL

years ago, he helped conceive and fund a program to recruit and retain new faculty of color for the school. “Williston has done a decent job of diversifying the student body,” he explains, “but students turn over every four years, and the faculty turns over every 25 to 40 years. So how do we fix that?” Adelmann’s solution was to fund a fellowship that provides the salary for a promising new teacher of color. So far, five Williston faculty have benefitted from the program (this year’s Adelmann Fellow is Alexia Ildefonso), and Adelmann’s hope is that it will become a model for other schools and colleges. Adelmann transferred to Williston from the public schools of Montclair, New Jersey, having fallen behind his peers due to an illness and “maturity issues.” Arriving in the middle of ninth grade, he blossomed, he says. “It was just the right place at the right time for me.” After Williston he earned a degree in economics at Haverford College, then an MBA in accounting at Rutgers. His academic achievements are all the more remark-

Richard Adelmann ’61 hopes his fund will inspire others to take action, particularly “we white guys who were born on third base and think we hit home runs, and have no clue as to how much of an advantage we have.”


Richard Adelmann’s fellowship fund is helping Williston recruit and retain new faculty of color

WILLISTON’S NEW EQUITY FUND Director of Financial Aid Lee Greener ’06 explains how a new fund helps create a sense of belonging able in light of what he now recognizes as his undiagnosed dyslexia. “I can’t add a column of figures,” he notes, “so I wrote accounting policies and procedures. I don’t look at it as a disability. It just made school very hard.” After Rutgers, newly married to his first wife, Penelope, Adelmann enlisted as an officer in the Air Force rather than take his chances in the Vietnam draft. He served in Utah, doing procurement, teaching accounting on the side as an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University. After returning to New York, he spent five years at a Big Eight accounting firm before being hired as director of accounting policies for PepsiCo. He later became director of accounting policies at American Smelting and Refining. Penelope, meanwhile, was focused on her own career in finance, achieving success as a Wall Street analyst for a number of prominent firms. But something was missing, Adelmann notes. The couple did not have any children, and “that was always a deficit that I felt.” And so Adelmann began volunteering, first as a Boy Scout leader (he had been an Eagle Scout himself) and later at the Children’s Village, a New York residential facility for abused and at-risk boys. After Penelope died unexpectedly in 2000, Adelmann met Lucille, a former special education teacher, who began accompanying him on his volunteering visits. Over the next eight years, the couple, who were married in 2001, would spend every Saturday at the Village, driving the 100 miles in a minivan bought specifically so they could take the boys offcampus for bowling, swimming, zoo visits, and other needed diversions. “It was just glorious,” says Adelmann.

“We were grandma and grandpa on the weekends. We were loved and we showed them they were lovable.” Today, Adelmann and Lucille live in Mantoloking, New Jersey, and continue their social activism through Interfaith-RISE in New Brunswick, a multifaith organization that advocates for and assists refugees and immigrants. The volunteer work is the couple’s way of trying “to relieve some of the pain that’s being spread around the world,” explains Adelmann. “We collect furniture and do painting. We wash windows, and we move families in and out, setting up kitchens and buying the first round of refrigerator fillings. And we teach English as a second language.” Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he and Lucille were making the hour drive to volunteer three times a week, and were considering buying a condominium in the area so they could be closer to the community. “That’s how we plan to spend our final years,” he says. “And hopefully there are 10 or 15 more.” Assessing Williston, Adelmann hopes his support for diversity through the Adelmann Fellowship Fund will inspire others to take action, particularly “we white guys who were born on third base and think we hit home runs, and have no clue as to how much of an advantage we have.” Just as he has used his own financial creativity over the years, he recognizes “other people will have their own creative ideas about how to give back, how to solve problems, and will have the resources to make some of it happen.” Ultimately, he sees his work as planting a seed, hoping others will say, “If Dick Adelmann can do that, I can do it too,” he says. “We can work through Williston to make this a better world. And that’s all we’re here on the planet for.”

What is the Equity Fund? The Equity Fund is a new way that Williston will be able to attract, enroll, and fully support students who have the highest level of financial need. Currently, the school’s largest financial aid package covers 98 percent of tuition and board. As generous as that is, the full cost of attending Williston goes beyond that. It’s not just fees for AP tests, college applications, and laundry, which can add up, but also those invisible costs for things that truly give kids a feeling of belonging—like being able to get a milkshake at the Easthampton Diner, wearing a team sweatshirt, or buying a yearbook at the end of the year. For high-need families, those costs are out of reach. That’s where the Equity Fund will help bridge the gap, allowing us to offer a complete financial aid package that gives high-need students the Williston experience every kid should have. You’ve said the fund will also help Williston enroll the strongest candidates. How so? Every year, we enroll amazing students, but we also lose some of our strongest candidates with high financial need to other schools who are already offering “full experience” financial aid. Since those incidental costs can be in the thousands of dollars, families at this level of financial need have to consider where their child will have the best experience and sense of belonging. In the admission process, students who are applying to other schools tell me, “I’d love to come to Williston, but another school is offering my family additional resources to pay for tuition and other costs, and I can’t turn it down.” How many students will the fund be able to support? Thanks to the initial donors who generously gave the $40,000 in seed money to start this initiative, we have enough money to support four new incoming first-year students, and we’re phasing that in with two ninth graders in the fall of 2021. To sustain this effort on an ongoing basis and reach a goal of having 16 fullyfunded students at Williston, we ultimately will need to endow this fund at $1.5 million. What are you hoping the impact of the fund will be? When families decide to join Williston, I want them to feel welcomed. I want them to feel like they belong and that they are going to be taken care of here. One of the things that causes stress among our highest-need students is that they know what their families are sacrificing. I’d like for them to not have to worry about that as much, and for these kids to be able to just be kids.


TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT WILLISTON FOR YOUR FAMILY. Williston is a true family school with generations of students wearing the green and blue. As an alum, you know how great Williston’s community and faculty are, but do you know about all the new programs and facilities at the school today? Come find out how we’ve changed—and which traditions still anchor us. TO SCHEDULE A VISIT OR RECEIVE A COPY OF OUR VIEWBOOK, PLEASE EMAIL ADMISSION@WILLISTON.COM

CLASS NOTES Mike Kinsler, Harry Jekanowski, Cliff Selbert, Randy Giebel, Jeff Saslow

’71 Jana Moebius Hargrove

No doubt about it, members of the class of 1971 were outstanding in their field (get it?), at both Williston Academy (above) and Northampton School for Girls (left). We were sorry not to gather in person to celebrate their 50th Reunion, but we did take classes, taste wine, play games, and raise toasts via Zoom during our June Virtual Reunion. If you couldn’t attend, check out our Reunion website, or try our tribute and pop quiz about ’71 on page 77 (and about ’16 on page 88). Alumni also got together all winter and spring in a series of webinars chock full of Wildcat wisdom. Topics included how to start or perfect a running routine, score a job interview, and embrace aging. You’ll read all about them, and all about many of you who sent in your updates to Class Notes.


There is no shortage of Wildcat wisdom in our alumni community. From aging well to finding your stride, these fun and enriching recordings are posted on our website!



With more than 15 years’ experience as an executive recruiter, Sue Colina ’88 shared her perspective on today’s hiring landscape, and provided tips on how to write a compelling cover letter, highlight skills in a resume, and make an impression in a first interview.

Best-selling author Dr. Katharine Cole Esty ’52 is dispelling myths about aging. She shared exciting new research, and explained how anyone can live a happier, more fulfilling life, despite the challenges of aging and COVID-19, and how attitude is almost as important as circumstances. Her most recent award-winning book is Eightysomethings: A Practical Guide to Letting Go, Aging Well, and Finding Unexpected Happiness.


Sidney Baptista ’05 and Gabby Thomas ’15 explained how to make running work for you, whether or not you’ve got a routine already. Sidney hosts the “Fitness in Color” podcast, is the founder of global fitness apparel brand PYNRS, and leads PIONEERS Run Crew. Gabby is the first professional sprinter for New Balance and is training for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. She also is a NCAA champion and recorded the fastest collegiate 200-meter time in the world.







Leadership and Mindset Coach Aska Naito ’93 guided alumni through some of today’s challenges, shared the importance of creating a powerful awareness to avoid long-term burnout, and introduced actionable steps to build a resilient mindset.



As a winemaker in the upstate N.Y. Finger Lakes, Chuck Tauck ’72 discussed cool-climate grapes and shared how vineyards adapt practices and adjust expectations to match the challenges of the region.

Shaun Chapman ’98, director of government relations for Weedmaps, and Tori Gates ’10, director of operations at NisonCO PR, discussed the adult-use cannabis industry. They explored the challenges



5 7



of working in the highly regulated legal cannabis industry and shared opportunities for entrepreneurs in this market.



World traveler and leadership consultant Anthony Willoughby ’70 shared his adventures traveling to the most remote and inhospitable environments—from the jungles of Papua New Guinea to the steppes of Mongolia and the deserts of Africa—and shared his wisdom.




David Bates ’71 shared what it was like to spend time alongside former President George H. W. Bush before, during, and after his presidency. 9. PODCASTING: THE FUTURE OF STORYTELLING


Christina Djossa ’10, opinion audio reporter/producer for The New York Times, and Catherine Saint Louis ’92, senior editor of podcasts at Neon Hum, touched on their experiences breaking into the industry, discussed their most memorable podcast productions, and shared what they wish someone had told them about podcasting as a career.



Merideth Morgan ’03 ran a threepart series focused on fitness, nutrition, self-care, and getting organized with a closet clean-out! She helped identify outfit formulas from what we already have in our closet and shared tips on staying organized.





Bryant McBride ’84 and guests discussed the documentary Willie, which tells the amazing story of Willie O’Ree overcoming racial barriers and providing a pathway for future athletes. It chronicles his life from his upbringing in Fredericton, New Brunswick, to the NHL in the racially turbulent 1960s, and induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018. You can screen the film for free on 12. CRYPTOCURRENCIES: DIGITAL FINANCE

Niels Gjertson ’98, fintech lawyer and associate general counsel at Gemini, a digital asset exchange, led a discussion on blockchain and cryptocurrency. From history and terminology to products and policies, Niels covered the basics about this emerging asset class. 13. TURNING AN INTERVIEW INTO AN OFFER

Sarah Levine Meyer ’00 shared tips on how to increase your chances of turning your interview into an offer, whether in person or on Zoom. 14. PHOTOJOURNALISM: THEN & NOW

Sean Kardon ’79 shared his experiences and pro-tips, having photographed every president since Jimmy Carter. 15. KNOW YOUR WINES

We sipped along with sommelier Gordon Sullivan ’69 (see page 24) for an interactive evening of fun while boosting our wine IQ on grapes, wine regions, fermentation science, and food pairings—and much more. SPRING 2021 BULLETIN 63



Class of 1971 The Vietnam War raged while students took to the streets in protest. NPR got its start and space exploration continued. Meanwhile, sideburns and collars widened. Wildcats celebrating your 50th Reunion, see what you remember about that most exciting year!

TEST YOUR 70S IQ THINK YOU REMEMBER 1971? GIVE THIS QUIZ A TRY! 1. Which Three Dog Night song, number one on Billboard’s singles charts for 1971, described the adventures of an imbibing bullfrog? 2. What technological invention by Japanese calculator manufacturer Busicom in 1971 could be said to have kicked off the digital age? 3. Which Constitutional amendment was signed in 1971? 4. Which theme park was opened in 1971? 5. Which film, an adaptation from a 1964 Broadway musical, was the number-one box office draw in 1971, earning three Academy Awards? 6. Which NASA mission, launched January 31, 1971, sent a crew to the moon—a crew that included astronaut Alan Shepard, who swung a golf club and hit a few balls on the lunar surface? 7. Which New York Times–leaked reports, published in June 1971, cast doubt on the U.S. government’s honesty about its involvement in Vietnam? 8. How much did a gallon of gasoline cost in 1971? 9. What type of clothing, covering neck to ankle, gained popularity in 1971?

1. “Joy to the World”, 2. The microprocessor, 3. The 26th, giving the right to vote to those age 18 and older, 4. Walt Disney World, in Orlando, Florida, 5. Fiddler on the Roof, 6. Apollo 14, 7. The Pentagon Papers, 8. 40 cents, 9. The maxi-dress



’97 Smiling new mom Laura Sheppard-Brick ’97

’97 Matthew is all smiles for Robert Rutkowski ’97


’99 Corie Fogg ’99 and daughter, Marigold


Danielle Wieneke McCarty ’04 with Rory, left, and proud siblings Penn (4) and Amelia (2)

Alex Teece ’04 is a proud new father to baby Gus

Did you tie the knot? Do you have a new bundle of joy? Send us your highresolution wedding or baby photograph at alumni@ and we’ll send you some fun Wildcat swag!

’05 Riley Marie Ahearn, born to Morgan Stall Ahearn ’05 and husband Brian

’08 Meet Leonardo, son of Anthony Chighisola ’08



Class of 2016 It was a year of transition and tumult, as a presidential election took center stage. But it was also the year that these Williston grads spread their wings and moved into the wider world. It’s hard to believe it was only five years ago!

TEST YOUR MEMORY WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT 2016? GIVE THIS QUIZ A TRY! 1: Which film, based on the true story of journalists breaking an important news story, won a best picture Academy Award in 2016? 2: What was the name of the referendum, passed in 2016, that disrupted the European Union? 3: Which six states flipped from Democrat to Republican in 2016 to give Donald Trump a victory? 4: Which team won Super Bowl 50 in 2016? 5: What song won the Grammy for record of the year in 2016? 6: Which boxing legend and conscientious objector died in 2016? 7: What musical won both the Pulitzer Prize for drama and 11 Tony Awards, including for best musical, in 2016? 8: Which company disclosed the largest data breach in the history of the internet to date in 2016? 9: What two superstar performers died in 2016, making it a particularly heartbreaking year for popular music fans? 1: Spotlight, which told the story of the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting team uncovering cases of abuse of children by Catholic clergy, 2: Brexit, 3: Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, 4: The Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers 24-10, 5: “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars, 6: Muhammad Ali, 7: Hamilton, 8: Yahoo, 9: David Bowie and Prince


Liam Shields ’20; Chris Shields ’94; Dick ‘Digger’ Shields ’61, former Trustee; Lily Shields ’21; and Matthew Shields ’21

Sarah Williams Carlan ’92, Amelia Carlan ’21, and Paul Carlan

Stewart Reed ’66, Trustee; Jenna Perry ’21; and Angela Perry, Trustee

Tom Tebo, Gunnar Tebo ’23, Mary Booth Tebo ’87, and Tom Tebo ’21

Andie Kinstle ’24, Terri Stewart Kinstle ’90, and Molly Kinstle ’21

Michael O’Brien ’84, Emily O’Brien ’21, and Bev O’Brien



IN MEMORY This listing contains the names of alumni whose deaths were reported to the school between November 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, although their passing may have occurred outside those dates.

1937 Sally Hitchcock Pullman of Lafayette Hill, Pa., died August 5, 2020. She is survived by her daughter, Sally; her sons, John and David; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

1938 Robert W. Searles of Brooklyn, Conn., died April 26, 2021. He is survived by his son, John; his daughters, Janet and Judith; three grandchildren; and two greatgrandchildren.

1940 Irving Budd Callman of Lancaster, Pa., died December 29, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Connie.

1941 Jennifer Turner Trusted of Devon, England, died April 13, 2017. Bruce Nicholson VanLeer of Warwick, N.Y., died May 2, 2020. She is survived by her daughters, Sally, Anne, and Allison; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.




June Savage Barratt, formerly of Riverside and Danville, Pa., died January 5, 2021. She is survived by her daughter, Wendy; a son, David, predeceased her. She is also survived by two grandsons.

Horace “Frenchy” E. Laprade of Hull, Mass., formerly of Amherst, Mass., died September 6, 2016. He is survived by his sons, Richard, James, Bill, and John; his daughters, Terry and Ann; his sisters, Ruth and Dolores; three grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

Ronald P. Rubin of East Amherst, N.Y., died January 10, 2021. He is survived by his daughters, Judith and Ellen; his son, Lawrence; and nine grandchildren.

1944 Albert “Bud” C. Bosworth of Dartmouth, Mass., died September 21, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Hazel; his sons, James and Thomas; and his daughter, Martha Bosworth Thomas ’76; a daughter, Claudia, predeceased him. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

1945 Marie Lawler Aquadro of Leeds, Mass., died November 21, 2020. She is survived by her daughters, Elizabeth Aquadro Kouri ’70, Alison, Kimberly, and Jennifer; her son, Richard; her sister, Patricia; 13 grandchildren, including Courtney Aquadro ’11, Anthony Aquadro ’15, and Natalie Aquadro ’17; and seven great-grandchildren. Marie was predeceased by her husband, Richard Aquadro ’47. Ralph A. Steiger II of Naples, Fla., formerly of Wilbraham, Mass., and Groton Long Point, Conn., died February 21, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Fern; his son, Eric; and his daughter, Linda; a daughter, Kimberly, predeceased him. He is also survived by his step-sons, Donald, John, Stephen, and Thomas; and step-daughters, Nanci, Kathryn, and Susan.

Joan Thanhouser Sherman of Mount Washington Valley, N.H., died Nov. 19, 2020. She is survived by her former husband, Skip; her daughters, Sarah and Carrie; her sister, Gretchen; her brother, Ned; and one grandson. Cornelius “Neal” S. Van Rees of Mystic, Conn., died February 15, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Alix; his daughters, Pamela and Claire; his step-sons, John, Robert, and David; four grandchildren; and one step-granddaughter.

1949 Allen P. Doe of Holden, Mass., died January 29, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his sons, Paul, Robert, and Steven; his daughter, Adrienne; his brother, Kingsley; his sister, Meredith; and five grandchildren. Ronald “Ron” S. Duncan of Granby and Simsbury, Conn., died January 30, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Janet; his sons, Mark and John; his step-daughters, Pamela and Joanne; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

1952 Marjorie Hampson Judd of North East, Md., died October 19, 2020. She is survived by her son, David; her daughter, Marcy; and one granddaughter.

1953 Rex Aubrey of West Bloomfield, Mich., died April 20, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Ann; his son, Rex Jr.; his daughters, Regina and Robin; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

1954 James E. Dowd of Longmeadow, Mass., formerly of Springfield, Mass., died February 24, 2021. He is survived by his daughters, Patricia and Sheila; and his son, Michael; a son, James Jr., predeceased him. He is also survived by his sisters, Dorothy and Eileen; and seven grandchildren; a grandson, Sean, predeceased him. He is also survived by two great-granddaughters. Sydney “Syd” W. Russell of Bennington, Vt., died March 23, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his sons, Andrew, Todd, and Eric; his sister, Mary; four grandchildren; and one step-grandson.



IN MEMORY This listing contains the names of alumni whose deaths were reported to the school between November 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, although their passing may have occurred outside those dates.

1937 Sally Hitchcock Pullman of Lafayette Hill, Pa., died August 5, 2020. She is survived by her daughter, Sally; her sons, John and David; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

1938 Robert W. Searles of Brooklyn, Conn., died April 26, 2021. He is survived by his son, John; his daughters, Janet and Judith; three grandchildren; and two greatgrandchildren.

1940 Irving Budd Callman of Lancaster, Pa., died December 29, 2020. He is survived by his wife, Connie.

1941 Jennifer Turner Trusted of Devon, England, died April 13, 2017. Bruce Nicholson VanLeer of Warwick, N.Y., died May 2, 2020. She is survived by her daughters, Sally, Anne, and Allison; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.




June Savage Barratt, formerly of Riverside and Danville, Pa., died January 5, 2021. She is survived by her daughter, Wendy; a son, David, predeceased her. She is also survived by two grandsons.

Horace “Frenchy” E. Laprade of Hull, Mass., formerly of Amherst, Mass., died September 6, 2016. He is survived by his sons, Richard, James, Bill, and John; his daughters, Terry and Ann; his sisters, Ruth and Dolores; three grandchildren; and one great-grandson.

Ronald P. Rubin of East Amherst, N.Y., died January 10, 2021. He is survived by his daughters, Judith and Ellen; his son, Lawrence; and nine grandchildren.

1944 Albert “Bud” C. Bosworth of Dartmouth, Mass., died September 21, 2018. He is survived by his wife, Hazel; his sons, James and Thomas; and his daughter, Martha Bosworth Thomas ’76; a daughter, Claudia, predeceased him. He is also survived by 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

1945 Marie Lawler Aquadro of Leeds, Mass., died November 21, 2020. She is survived by her daughters, Elizabeth Aquadro Kouri ’70, Alison, Kimberly, and Jennifer; her son, Richard; her sister, Patricia; 13 grandchildren, including Courtney Aquadro ’11, Anthony Aquadro ’15, and Natalie Aquadro ’17; and seven great-grandchildren. Marie was predeceased by her husband, Richard Aquadro ’47. Ralph A. Steiger II of Naples, Fla., formerly of Wilbraham, Mass., and Groton Long Point, Conn., died February 21, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Fern; his son, Eric; and his daughter, Linda; a daughter, Kimberly, predeceased him. He is also survived by his step-sons, Donald, John, Stephen, and Thomas; and step-daughters, Nanci, Kathryn, and Susan.

Joan Thanhouser Sherman of Mount Washington Valley, N.H., died Nov. 19, 2020. She is survived by her former husband, Skip; her daughters, Sarah and Carrie; her sister, Gretchen; her brother, Ned; and one grandson. Cornelius “Neal” S. Van Rees of Mystic, Conn., died February 15, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Alix; his daughters, Pamela and Claire; his step-sons, John, Robert, and David; four grandchildren; and one step-granddaughter.

1949 Allen P. Doe of Holden, Mass., died January 29, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his sons, Paul, Robert, and Steven; his daughter, Adrienne; his brother, Kingsley; his sister, Meredith; and five grandchildren. Ronald “Ron” S. Duncan of Granby and Simsbury, Conn., died January 30, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Janet; his sons, Mark and John; his step-daughters, Pamela and Joanne; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

1952 Marjorie Hampson Judd of North East, Md., died October 19, 2020. She is survived by her son, David; her daughter, Marcy; and one granddaughter.

1953 Rex Aubrey of West Bloomfield, Mich., died April 20, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Ann; his son, Rex Jr.; his daughters, Regina and Robin; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

1954 James E. Dowd of Longmeadow, Mass., formerly of Springfield, Mass., died February 24, 2021. He is survived by his daughters, Patricia and Sheila; and his son, Michael; a son, James Jr., predeceased him. He is also survived by his sisters, Dorothy and Eileen; and seven grandchildren; a grandson, Sean, predeceased him. He is also survived by two great-granddaughters. Sydney “Syd” W. Russell of Bennington, Vt., died March 23, 2021. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his sons, Andrew, Todd, and Eric; his sister, Mary; four grandchildren; and one step-grandson.



Trix Willems ’19 Finishing up his sophomore year at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study, Trix Willems ’19 has had a pandemic year like many of us: Zooming, cooking, taking walks, learning new things…lying down. Trix, a transgender man, also speaks to young people about gender and identity, noting on his website, “I hope that through my presentations, I can make the idea of transgender people a little less foreign, and leave everyone thinking about how they can become the most authentic and fulfilled version of themselves.” We asked him to share some words and pictures about his year.

What is the view out your window?

What do you like to do for fun?

Here’s what people see in my Zoom window. I live here now.

Recently, lying down has been especially appealing.

What was your favorite place at Williston?

What is something you are passionate about?

Reed. I like how twisty it gets.

Learning languages. I’m working on Korean.

What things (or thing) have inspired you lately?

You live in New York. What do you miss from western Mass.?

I’ve been walking in the park every day since February.

I miss the shape of Mount Tom rising over Easthampton.

What is a happy moment you remember from Williston? Sitting in the front row at Convocation with my best friend senior year.

What is your favorite food? This might double as my favorite food, but I’ve learned how to make sundubu-jjigae [Korean soft tofu stew], and it’s deliciously easy!

What is your favorite animal? Nothing quite as cool as raptor bones. But dogs are a close second.

Parents: If this issue is addressed to a son or daughter who no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify the Alumni Office of the correct new mailing address by

19 Payson Avenue, Easthampton, ma 01027

contacting us at or (800) 469-4559. Thank you.

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