Orange Is the New Black Star DASCHA POLANCO · Orange Is the New Black Star DASCHA POLANCO Inspires Our Freshmen With Her Success Story. 2 3 In This Issue: OITNB’s Dascha Polanco - [PDF Document] (2024)

SPRING 2 0 1 6

From Hunter to Hollywood!

Orange Is the New Black Star DASCHA POLANCO

Inspires Our FreshmenWith Her Success Story

2 3

In This Issue:OITNB’s Dascha Polanco

Returns to her

Alma Mater 3

Science at Hunter:

Inside the Weill Cornell

Partnership 4

In the Footsteps of

Civil Rights Giants 8

Three From Hunter

Win Soros Awards 9

Tales of Two

Commencements 10

Happenings at Hunter 12


Love Song 14

From Kabul to Hunter 15

Making the

Homeless Count 16

Theatre’s New Home 17

A Tribute to

an Art Titan 18

Roosevelt House’s

New Director 19

Class Notes 20

In Memoriam 23

Meet Foundation

Board Member

Kelle Jacob ’08 24




: Jo





Welcome to this, our newest edition of At Hunter, in which we chronicle—and

celebrate—the achievements of our students, present and past, and our brilliant,

groundbreaking faculty.

It goes without saying (but won’t!) that I have a special place in my heart for our alumni.

Every time one of them hits a high note in his or her chosen field, I think, “Well done, Hunter

graduate! I am so proud!”

I had just such a special moment at our Convocation on September 7, as Dascha Polanco ’08,

who took her Hunter psychology degree to Hollywood and a regular role in Orange Is the

New Black (she plays Dayanara Diaz), took the stage

to inspire the incoming students with her story.

What really moved me was that Dascha, reading

from her own handwritten notes, chose not to speak

about her acting career and the glamorous life every-

one in the audience assumed she’s living. Instead, she

spoke simply and movingly of her years at Hunter.

In many ways, Dascha (who also recently co-starred

with Jennifer Lawrence in Joy) epitomizes the very

best of this generation of Hunter students —and the

graduates they become. Most students have to juggle

work, family, and school—and they still scale the heights.

Born in the Dominican Republic, the daughter of a mechanic and a cosmetologist, Dascha

grew up in the Bronx and was already a single working mother when she enrolled at Hunter.

She persevered (see opposite page), got her degree, and then made the leap to her new,

unimaginably wonderful career. Well done, Hunter graduate! I am so proud!

Another alumna with a flair for the dramatic gesture, Patty Baker ’82, along with her husband,

Jay, has made it possible—thanks to a very generous donation to her alma mater—for Hunter to

buy and renovate 151 East 67th Street (it’s just across the street, next to the 19th Precinct

stationhouse). Renamed Baker Hall, and dedicated in January, it’s the new, first-class home of

our Theatre Department. Again, I find myself saying: Well done, Hunter graduate! I am so proud!

And Hunter is making another new space its own. It’s been a little over a year since our floor

in the Belfer Research Building opened on 69th and York. It’s a rare Ivy/public partnership

with Weill Cornell Medical Center. Hunter scientists have settled in, pursuing exciting research

in state-of-the-art laboratories and collaborating with their peers at Cornell and at Memorial

Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

And finally, on Page 15, there’s a story that’s very special to me. It’s about Elham Fanoos, a

Hunter freshman and classical pianist who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, under the shadow

of the Taliban. Thanks to the efforts of American friends, he made it out of Kabul, Hunter gave

him a scholarship, and at Convocation, he too inspired his new fellow students when he came

onstage to play Rachmaninoff. Elham is one of the bright stars of our Music Department, and

I look forward to the day I can say to him: “Well done, Hunter graduate! I am so proud!” @HunterPresident

Dascha epitomizes the very best of today’s Hunter student body— and the graduates they become.

There was no red carpet (we opted for purple), but Hunter gave Dascha Polanco ’08 an ecstatic reception when she took the stage at Convoca-tion. The audience of new Hunter students was star-struck.

But Dascha didn’t talk about her role as Dyanara Diaz on Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black or what it was like working with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper on Joy. In fact, the word “Hollywood” never passed her lips. Instead, she shared the story of her four years at Hunter, which she

described as an exhausted blur of juggling school, work, and single motherhood. Her days, she said, consisted of “working from 11 at night to 7 in the morning, rushing to an 8 a.m. class, living on cof-fee and a croissant. Every day, I had to rush home, pick up my daughter, and go to work, over and over.” Those trying times (she got her acceptance letter from Hunter soon after her mother’s death), “were mo-ments in my life here that may seem negative,” she said, “but they prepared me for being who I am today. When

I walked down the aisle with my diploma, I said to myself: ‘Who is going to stop me from what I decide to do next?’” Nobody, it turns out. While majoring in psychology, Dascha also took theatre courses—and that turned out to be the path she would follow, all the way to Hollywood. After four years at Hunter, she’s part of another multicul-tural cast of characters. “I’m very proud,” she tells At Hunter, “to be part of such a diverse cast on Orange that has changed the way people stay in tune with programming.” Re-entering Hunter’s auditorium for Convocation, she says, brought back some raw memories. “I would go there and cry,” she recalls. “I remember how during that time in my life I was so depressed due to my mom’s recent passing.” And if Dascha’s story now sets her apart from her peers, her advice to the new students is something they can connect to their lives—and their hopes for their own futures. “Possibilities are endless,” she told them. “Let you be the one to make the right decision for you. Only you understand you.”

'ONLY YOU UNDERSTAND YOU!' Dascha Polanco stars in Convocation: The Next Generation


There’s still a whiff of that new building smell, but the Belfer Research Building, opened more than a year ago, is up and

running—humming with the excitement of brilliant scientific minds working together to solve enduring medical mysteries—and confirming the foresight of Hunter’s purchase of the fourth floor of the $650 million facility built by the Weill Cornell Medical Center on East 69th Street. The new building is drawing rave reviews from the Hunter scientists who occupy its labs and offices and mingle with their peers from Weill Cornell, who occupy the rest of the building. “It’s so well designed, it makes science easy,” says Brian Zeglis, a Hunter professor of chemistry, “and it makes collaboration with the other people in the building easy.” Indeed, Belfer is an unprecedented collabo-ration between a public university and an Ivy League giant. And in its labs and conference

rooms, scientists and students, from juniors to post docs, and from all genders and ethnic backgrounds, work together to create the medicine of the future. In an editorial in April 2015 hailing the acquisition of the floor in Belfer, the New York Daily News hit the nail on the head. Hunter, the paper said, “is now moving into the science revolution of tomorrow.” Spearheading Hunter’s contribution to that revolution are 11 professors/principal investiga-tors and their associated labs; a total of more than 115 faculty, postdoctoral candidates, gradu-ate and undergraduate students, and technicians occupying the 21,000-square-foot space. Many of the Belfer scientists are members of Hunter’s Center for Translational and Basic Research, part of a larger research consortium–the Clinical and Translational Science Center. Hunter’s partners in this consortium include both Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer

Center, which is across the street from Belfer. Translational science, a fast-emerging field, is best defined by the consortium’s stated mission: “Advancing research from lab to bedside to com-munity.” Essentially, Hunter scientists and their Cornell colleagues seek breakthroughs that can swiftly be “translated” into improved medical care. They are aided in this quest by the doctors, nurses (many of them graduates of Hunter’s School of Nursing), social workers, and other clinicians who work directly with patients. This public-private partnership—a unique marriage of very different institutions—holds great promise for the future. As they work together to find solutions to some of humanity’s most intractable killers, the scien-tists at Belfer, their research propelled by a series of grants from the National Institutes of Health, also pass on their knowledge to a new genera-tion—Hunter student scientists who reflect the great, diverse city that surrounds them.

At the Belfer ribbon-cutting: Andrew H. Tisch, a member of Weill

Cornell’s Board of Overseers, with Hunter College Foundation

board member and Cornell University alumna Helen Appel,

who celebrated the partnership of the two institutions.


In the group that Mandë Holford calls the killer snails, there’s no nastier piece of work than the

Cone Sea Snail. Every year, dozens of people, exploring a coral reef or wandering barefoot in shallow water, come to grief in accidental encounters with Conus Geographus. Its venomous harpoon-like tooth can penetrate human flesh, and there’s no known antidote for its toxins. The fish that are its natural prey stand no chance; instantly immobilized, they are ingested whole. Holford, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, lights up when she talks about the Cone Snail and its relative the Auger Snail (also known as the Terebridae). Her area of expertise, venomics (the study of animal venoms using an integrated strategy), leads Holford to the company of creatures others

might try to avoid, and to the places where they thrive; she recently returned from a sea snail safari to the Persian Gulf waters off Abu Dhabi and Dubai. This is all in the service of developing powerful lifesaving drugs. “Drugs developed from sea snail venom,” says Professor Holford, “can be very specific and very potent, targeting pain, cancer, and epilepsy.” There’s already one such drug on the market—Prialt, which is used to alleviate pain in HIV and cancer patients—and several more in the pipeline. The drawback is that, for now, the so-called venom peptides can only be taken via spinal tap. Holford’s research is aimed at coming up with a way to deliver them in a noninvasive way. “We are working,” she says, “on a Trojan horse strategy.”

Hunter is now moving into the science revolution of tomorrow.

— Editorial, New York Daily News

The study of venomics leads Professor Holford (right), with

Belfer students, into exotic areas of medical research.

Hand in hand with Weill Cornell

6 7

JILL BARGONETTI: Unlocking Secrets of Proteins to Combat Breast Cancer

In her more than two decades at Hunter College, Professor Jill Bargonetti has become one

of the nation’s preeminent breast

cancer researchers. A professor of biological sciences, she’s part of Belfer’s team of translational scientists, focusing on the molecu-

lar genetics of the deadly disease, specifically the roles played by two proteins—p53 and MDM2. The laboratory work performed by Bargonetti and her team is pains-taking, precise, and complicated. “Molecularly,” Bargonetti says, “we study the genes and the gene products in a cancer. We genetically engineer the cancer to get rid of the genes and proteins we study, so we can see what happens when we get rid of them.” Understanding p53 and MDM2 is crucial to understanding breast cancer. In their normal state, the two proteins work together to

prevent the spread of damaged cells; when cancer strikes, however, the proteins actually promote tumor growth. Mutated p53 is associated with triple negative breast cancers; MDM2 is a driver of estrogen-receptive breast cancers. For Bargonetti, the Holy Grail of cancer treatment is precision medicine, treatment that targets the cancer and doesn’t damage any other aspects of a patient’s DNA. Ideally, she says, “After patients have treatment, they’re the same person they were before they had the cancer.”

BRIAN ZEGLIS: Creating a Puzzle To Make Radiation Safer

Toward the end of this year, clinicians at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

will begin testing a technique that Hunter’s Brian Zeglis, assistant professor of chemistry, has been perfecting for five years. They will first inject a cancer patient with an antibody whose task is to seek out the tumor; harnessed to the antibody will be one half of a molecular puzzle piece. A few days later—after the antibody and its tiny passenger attach to the tumor—they’ll inject the second part of the puzzle piece. “It races around the body really quickly to find the other puzzle piece,” says Zeglis, who has been at Belfer since January 2015. “They snap together like a jigsaw—and they make the tumor radioactive.”

The goal of this microscopic mo-lecular mating is to make Positron Emission Tomography (PET) safer for patients. Attaching radioisotopes to antibodies is one of the best ways to deliver radioactivity to cancer cells to act as a tracer for PET scans. But it can take several days for the injected isotope to degrade. During that time its radioactivity can harm healthy tissue. Zeglis’s technique would cut that exposure significantly. Zeglis came to Belfer from Sloan Kettering, where he holds a concur-rent affiliate appointment in the Department of Radiology. He began his research there, as a postdoctoral fellow, then moved into the brand-new Belfer, funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health that, he says, “allows me to keep

up the pace of the research.” At Belfer, he says, “We’re very much into translational science. We admire scientists who study fundamental science or fundamen-tal biology, but I learned very early

in my career that to galvanize my research I require the relation to human health and the potential for immediate impact, or at least impact on human health in a couple of years.”

HIROSHI MATSUI: Bionanotechnology Enables Big Advances to Go Small

Professor Hiroshi Matsui takes the battle against cancer to a level so minuscule it’s almost

invisible. His specialty, at the inter-section of biology and nanotechnology, is the relatively new—and very ex-citing—field of bionanotechnology, research conducted in units that are 10 to 100 times smaller than the human cell. One goal of Professor Matsui’s research at Belfer: to develop a carrier that will transport cancer-slaying drugs directly to the area in need of treatment. “There are many effective drugs,” he says, “but they do not work well because they

cannot target a specific area.” The unintended result of current blunt-instrument treatment: Healthy tissue is attacked along with the targeted tumor. To help pinpoint drug treatment, Matsui and his research group are working to develop a tiny case conjugated like an antibody, so it will seek out the cancerous tissue. The carrier will hold the appropriate drug. The case will also have to be MRI-sensitive, so that doctors can track its progress and watch the drug being released. The move to the Belfer building, says Matsui, enables his group to

concentrate better on this and other research. “I like the new building very much,” he says. “I like the close relationships between the medical

clinicians and researchers. We can exchange opinions and results with each other on a daily basis.”

DAVID FOSTER: Exploring Olive Oil’s Potential to Fight Cancer

On one of the shelves in David Foster’s lab in the new Belfer building, nestled

amid the chemicals and compounds, there’s a selection of extra-virgin olive oil from various countries. It’s the key ingredient in his research. Foster hopes that an antioxidant in olive oil—it’s called oleocanthal—will turn out to be a cancer-killer. “It has great potential,” he says. “In the lab, we found it kills cancer cells and isn’t toxic to noncancerous cells.” There’s already some tantalizing evidence that olive oil may have a role in preventing breast cancer. A recent study in Spain, released in JAMA Internal Medicine, found a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil to be associated with a relatively lower risk of breast cancer. And Foster’s

research is aimed at other forms of the dreaded disease—gastric, colon, lung, pancreatic, and renal cancers. Oleocanthal works because lymosomes, the parts of a cell where waste is stored—Foster calls them “the recycling centers”—are larger and more fragile in cancer cells than in healthy cells. They’re vulnerable to anything that can penetrate, which oleocanthal does, crossing the barrier and causing necrosis—cell death. The adjacent healthy cells are unaffected—and that’s a mystery that needs to be solved. “We need to understand why cancerous cells are more sensitive to oleocanthal than noncancerous cells,” says Foster, who with Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences in the School of Environ-mental and Biological Sciences at

Rutgers, and Onica LeGendre, also of Hunter, published their research in the journal Molecular and Cellular Oncology. “The published work involved studies with cultured cancer cells in the lab,” says Foster. “However, we

have now begun to investigate the effect of oleocanthal on a geneti-cally engineered mouse model for pancreatic cancers in collaboration with Dr. Nancy Du of Weill Cornell Medicine–and the initial study yielded promising results.”


Professor Bargonetti : The goal is precise, targeted medicines.

Professor Foster (with students): taking aim at numerous cancers

Professor Zeglis (standing, left): working on a PET project.

Professor Matsui (center): thinking small, aiming high.


AMERICA’S FINEST — Hunter’s Three New Soros Fellows

The group meets with Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN.

At the Pettus Bridge, scene of 1965’s Bloody Sunday.

Chayanne Marcano didn’t expect to cry. But every day, she says, “I just went back to my hotel room totally overcome with emotion;

it was truly life-changing for me.” Chayanne joined eleven of her Hunter classmates on an eight-day spring-break van tour that took them to Atlanta, Birmingham, Little Rock, and Memphis, tracing the footsteps of the Civil Rights Movement, hearing firsthand accounts of the long-ago struggles, and sitting face-to-face with people whose names they had only encountered in history books. The trip, long planned by Professor David Julian Hodges, was an exercise in “urgent anthropology,” the study of endangered cultures. As they move into old age, the veterans of the Civil Rights movement—the men and women who risked their lives for racial equality—are fast becoming such an endangered group. Performing a kind of intimate fieldwork, the anthropologists from Hunter documented their stories, their words, and their faces—and formed bonds and memories to last a lifetime. Made possible by the president’s Initiatives for Student Engagement, a program that provides support for students to engage in experiential learning, the trip offered the students an opportunity to take the skills they had been studying in the classroom into the outside world. In Atlanta, the group was escorted through the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace by the Rev. Dr. Albert Paul Brinson, a protégé of Dr. King. They attended church with Dr. Christine King Farris, Dr. King’s 87-year-old sister. And they ate fried okra with Andrew Young, who stood on the balcony in Memphis with Dr. King the day he was assassinated—on that very day 47 years earlier. The timing had been acci-

dental, but, as Ambassador Young told the group, “a coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” They also met with Dr. Joan Burroughs, a veteran of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which championed African-American rights in the ’60s. “She talked about sitting on the ground and the police surrounding them on horses, and looking up at the horses’ bellies and hoofs overhead,” says Chayanne. “When she was my age, she was putting her life on the line.” The group’s experiences were documented in a short film by Crystal Waterton, a graduate student in Integrated Media Arts. It can be viewed at Professor Hodges says he’s thrilled with the success of the trip, a complement to his popular Anthropology of the Civil Rights Movement class. “In anthropology,” he says, “our stock in trade is participatory explora-tion. I wanted them to have spectacular experiences.”

IN GIANTS’ FOOTSTEPS Hunter Students Go South to Meet Veterans of the Civil Rights Struggle

STREET SMARTSOut of Their Classrooms—and Learning More

S ometimes you just have to get out of the house—and out of the classroom, too.

That’s why, one morning in February, 35 Hunter students piled into a bus for a weekend at Black Rock Forest, a private preserve up the Hudson near West Point. There, says geography major Yvonne Chow ’18, “we tested water quality by collecting macro inverte-brates from the river, hiked to the top of Frog Hill to study its weather station, and stargazed at night.” The trip, led by Professor Thomas B. Walter, also allowed students to engage with professors and each other—the whole point of the out-of-Hunter experience, and the reason the trip was funded by the Hunter president’s Initiatives for Student Engagement, which also paid for the Anthropology Department’s tour of civil rights landmarks. Among other experiences paid through the Initiatives: the Art Department’s visit to the Met’s Islamic Art Galleries; tickets for theatre students to see The King and I, and an outing to DIA Beacon museum for Muse scholars. Not all Initiative activities required a road trip. For instance, in March, renowned pianist Steven Lubin came to Hunter to put on a master class for Professor Geoffrey Burleson’s Music Department students. For the students on the Geog-raphy Department trip to Black Rock Forest, all that hiking through woodlands and wading through bone-chilling streams definitely paid off. “The greatest bonus of this trip,” says Chow, “was the informal and relaxed company of professors, grad students, and undergrads.”


Ryan OlsenMaster’s in Music Education, Spring 2012 Music Teacher, PS 124, Chinatown

“I love being able to work with a diverse group of students. For many of them, it’s the first exposure to classical music as well as musical theatre. And I’m really proud of the accomplishments of our theatre club, one of the highest rated elementary schools at the Junior Theatre Festival in Atlanta every year.”

Kezena BrownMSEd (Adolescent Literacy), June 2014Assistant Principal, New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities II, Bronx

“I am most proud of the trust that I help foster among parents, teachers, students, and the community. That’s more empowering for kids than anything I do alone.”

Brian RomeroMSW, June 2015Social Worker, High School of Excellence and Innovation, Inwood

“I really enjoy the position because it allows me to blend my passion for healing and social justice. At Silberman, I could discuss these issues with my professors and my peers; those conversations prepared me for this work.”

Every year, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans award graduate school fellowships to 30 young scholars from immigrant families. The recipients, selected from a pool of 1,200 applicants, are picked because of their potential contributions to U.S. society or culture, or their academic field. In 2015, three from Hunter won the coveted fellowship.

Amal Elbakhar ’11Award to continue working toward her JD at Harvard Law School

Evgeniya Kim ’10Award to support her work toward an MBA at the Yale School of Management

Julie Zhu, MFA ’17Award to support her work toward an MFA in painting at Hunter

Lara WahlbergDNP, May 2015Nurse Practitioner, Palliative Care, Bellevue Hospital

“I feel privileged to work with these vulnerable patients and help them, and I’m honored to work with such a diverse group.”

Samantha RocheMS (Nursing), January 2016Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Weill Cornell Collaborative Care Center

“It’s incredibly fulfilling to make a connection with someone and help them achieve their wellness goals. Thanks to the Hunter School of Nursing, I’m well-prepared for this position.”



10 11

“I’m so happy…to be here today

with people I love, and people who

care about me,” Maya Leggat, with

(from left) Ted Uzzle and Officers

Daniel Kearon and Victor Pastrana,

told The New York Post.tMariano Laboy

T he numbers tell a tale: 1,296 graduate degrees and 2,576 undergraduate degrees

granted to Hunter students; thousands of friends and family members in attendance. But behind every name called out, every diploma awarded, there’s a human story–of an individual triumph, or a family’s pride, or a struggle overcome. There is, for instance, the story of Maya Leggat. Some of the loud-est applause at Hunter’s Spring 2015 Commencement erupted when President Jennifer J. Raab told Maya’s story, and the three police officers who helped save

her life bounded onto the stage at Madison Square Garden to share her great moment. Leggat, then 22, was reading her Kindle at Metro-North’s White Plains station in September 2013 when a deranged man shoved her in front of a train. According to The New York Post, the force of the train “sent her flying underneath the platform, rather than crushing her. But she lost a finger, broke both legs, and severed an artery in her thigh.” Thanks to the timely actions of MTA Officer Ted Uzzle, Maya made it to the hospital, where her condi-tion was stabilized; by the next

day the English major, still in her hospital bed, was asking for her homework. While she endured her a long recuperation, Leggat’s teachers communicated with her via Skype–and Hunter waived her tuition. At graduation, as she embraced Officer Uzzle, who’s now retired, and his partners on that day, Officers Daniel Kearon and Victor Pastrana, Maya allowed all of her emotions to burst forth. “I’m so happy,” she said, fighting back tears of joy. “It just reminds me how lucky I am to be here today with people I love, and people who care about me.”

Deena Chanowitz was one of three valedictorians; the others were

Nicola Kriefall and Elizabeth Schneider.

TRIAL AND TRIUMPHFor Maya Leggat, the road to graduation took a painful detour

A career in medicine was not in the cards for Deena Chano- witz—nor any career at all.

The oldest of 11 children, Deena, valedictorian at January Commence-ment, grew up in a Hasidic house-hold in Jerusalem. Her only future,

her parents told her, would be to create a traditional home. After her family moved to New York City, they gave her a choice: Conform to the Orthodox lifestyle—or leave. Chanowitz left. Without a network, she knew no

one; she became homeless. But she fought back, and by 17, was manag-ing a restaurant. By 20, she co-owned one. By 25, she had become a private chef and enrolled at Hunter, with the support of the Footsteps pro-gram. Founded by Hunter alumna Malka Schwartz ’04, Footsteps helps young men and women who grew up in strict Orthodox households pursue a secular education. With her background—cooking for her 10 brothers and sisters since she was a young girl—Chanowitz began pursuing a nutrition degree. But then she became interested in how the human body works—and realized she had to become a doctor. When Chanowitz was a pre-med student, her organic chemistry

professor was so impressed with her that she asked her to be her teaching assistant. She went on to do research on cancer, to shadow a gastroen-terologist, and even to volunteer in Ghana. There she was surprised to learn that diabetes is soaring, just as it is in the U.S., and for the same reason: a lot of processed foods. Deena wants to prevent that disease and so many others by giving people better access to medical treatment and nutritious diets. Chanowitz never gave up her religion; rather, she sees her mission as a doctor as part of her faith. Now the young woman once expected to keep house for the rest of her life is attending the Drexel Univer-sity College of Medicine.

INTO A DIFFERENT WORLDTo forge a new life, valedictorian Deena Chanowitz had to leave her old one

Growing up in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, the ninth of 12 children, Mariano Laboy was smart

enough to skip more than one grade— but too poor to go to college. So, in 1962, he came to New York City and went to work in a factory that manufactured garment bags; he also enrolled in English classes. And every month, he sent money home to his family. His contributions helped three of his younger siblings attend college and get well-paying jobs. Laboy, 71, continued to work, always moving up and taking on extra work to help his family. He

became a back-office manager for Merrill Lynch and then a foreign-exchange consultant for Bank of New York. When he retired, he decided it was time to achieve his long-deferred dream of a college education. On the advice of friends, he enrolled at Hunter. He majored in Africana/Puerto Rican/Latino studies, and received his degree at January Com-mencement. “It’s never too late,” he says. Indeed it isn’t—and Laboy isn’t finished with his education. This fall he’ll be attending Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work to pursue a master’s in community organizing.

FINALLY, IT’S HIS TURNAt 71, Mariano Laboy gets his cap and gown


12 13

Co-authors Melanne Verveer (2nd right) and Kim Azzarelli (2nd left)

discussed their book Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power

and Purpose with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell (left) and fashion icon

Diane Von Furstenberg at Roosevelt House.

President Jennifer J. Raab presenting Frayda Lindemann ’60 with an

honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters at Hunter’s 2015 Commencement.

At the midsummer production of Madama Butterfly at the Kaye Playhouse:

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor (left) and opera star (and Hunter

College Foundation trustee emerita) Martina Arroyo ’56, whose foundation

sponsored the production.

After a staged reading of Sell/Buy/Date, her one-woman show about

human trafficking, underwritten by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,

Sarah Jones joined Gloria Steinem in a discussion at the Kaye Playhouse.

Former Rep. Barney Frank, Hunter’s 2015 Phyllis L. Kossoff Lecturer,

discussed his book Frank: A Life in Politics from the Great Society to

Same-Sex Marriage at Roosevelt House.

Celebrating the Writing Center’s sixth anniversary at the Sherry-Netherland

Hotel: Director Lewis Frumkes with guest of honor Elizabeth Strout (right)

and Elizabeth Strong Cuevas.

Narrator Paula Zahn with Joan Finkelstein of the Harkness Foundation for Dance,

at a screening of PS Dance!, a film about public school dance education, whose

executive producer is Hunter College Foundation Board member Jody Arnhold.

Arlene Alda ’54 took the spotlight at Roosevelt House to read her

memoir Just Kids From the Bronx. Proud husband Alan attended.

Historians Geoffrey Ward (left) and Ken Burns visited Roosevelt House

to unveil their companion book to The Roosevelts: An intimate History,

their PBS documentary series.

Author Phil Klay (MFA ’11), right, joined The Aspen Institute’s Damian

Woetzel (left) and Wounded Warrior Band singer Tim Donley to

discuss “Art in the Aftermath of War ” at Lang Recital Hall.

The subject was “The Future of The New York Times,” as Roosevelt

House’s Jack Rosenthal (center) interviewed Times executive editor

Dean Baquet (left) and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. in June.



14 15

Three days after a Taliban suicide bombing that almost killed the principal of his school in Kabul, Elham Fanoos knew what he had

to do. “I want to come to the U.S. to pursue my music studies in peace and freedom,” he wrote in a Facebook message. That was in December 2014. Nine months later, at Hunter’s Convocation, Fanoos sat down at the

piano and played Rachmaninoff’s Opus 3, No. 2 for his enraptured new classmates. How he got from there to here is a tale of courage, persistence, and a love of music that transcends boundaries. And it’s a story that resonates: Fanoos has been the subject of profiles on both NPR and ABC News. At 18, he toured the United States with the Afghan National Youth Orchestra, performing solo at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center in Washington. That’s when he met Lesley Rosenthal and her sons, Aron and David, members of the Scarsdale (N.Y.) Youth Orchestra. After the 2015 State Department-sponsored tour ended, Aron and David stayed in touch

Free to make music

Burleson: “A wonderful artist...unusually mature.”

Elham Fanoos with mentor Dr. Ahmad Sarmast and NPR’s Renee Montagne.

PERFECT HARMONYA Love of Music Took Elham Fanoos From War-Torn Kabul to Hunter

THE MELODY LINGERS ONLin-Manuel Miranda and His Classmates Put on a Show for a Beloved Teacher

Barbara Ames doesn’t remember exactly when she wrote the stirring words and music to “Martin Luther King,” her gospel-

style tribute to the late civil rights giant. She thinks it might have been when she taught public school in Bedford-Stuyvesant in the late 1970s. “Most of the children there were of color,” she says, “and I wanted to introduce them to their heritage and culture.” Ames brought “Martin Luther King” with her when she started teaching music at Hunter College Elementary School in 1985. Singing it in assembly became a January tradition for a generation of students—among them Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose rap extravaganza Hamilton has made him one of the brightest stars on Broadway. “It wasn’t until we got out in the real world,” he says, “that we realized no one else knew this amazing song.” Miranda (HCHS ’98) never forgot Ames—“our amazing elementary school teacher”—and her inspiring song. So, for Martin Luther King Day this

year, he quietly enlisted 50 of his former classmates to sing it in her honor. Miranda organized the perfor-mance—videotaped by Ames’s daughter Alysson—as a stealth operation; he even blocked Ames from his Facebook page so she wouldn’t get wind of it. Then, the day before Martin Luther King Day, he and his former classmates filmed their toe-tapping performance. When Ames was told by her daughter that something special awaited her on the Internet, she was apprehensive. “Whatever it is,” she said, “I’m not going to like it.” But then she viewed the video. Watching it, she now recalls, “I could hardly breathe. There were my dear, beloved students singing the song I taught them so long ago.” It was, she says, “the greatest gift ever.”

To see the performance:

Barbara Ames

with their new friend via social media. Back in Kabul, Fanoos, who comes from a musical family—his father is a classical Afghan musician—continued his studies. He attended the Afghan National Institute of Music, an aca-demically rigorous conservatory founded in 2010 by Dr. Ahmad Sarmast and dedicated to the revival of music, which the Taliban had

suppressed during their years in power. Dr. Sarmast’s dream almost came to an end when he was seriously injured in the 2014 bombing, which targeted the high school audito-rium where Elham was scheduled to perform. Realizing it was time to leave Kabul, Fanoos contacted Lesley Rosenthal. Her mother, Hunter alumna Nancy Merblum Fadem ’56, a retired teacher of English as a foreign language, tutored him via Skype to bring him up to speed for the CUNY assessment test. Then Hunter accepted him—and gave him a full scholarship package that includes a Mother’s Day Scholarship funded by Dr. Frayda Lindemann ’60, who shares his passion for music.

On August 3, 2015, Fanoos arrived at JFK Airport. Since then, although he misses his family in Kabul, he has adjusted well to life at his new school. “I have made friends at Hunter,” he says. And New York? “It is a very exciting city.” He’s not the only one who’s excited: “When I first saw some of Elham’s audition videos, my first impression was not only that I was watching and hearing a wonderful pianist, but also that his artistic sensibility was unusually mature for an 18-year-old,” says Professor Geoffrey Burleson, director of piano studies in Hunter’s Department of Music. “I’ve been even more impressed since I began working with Elham; his level of focus and devotion is quite formidable, and he soaks up new musical ideas like a sponge.”

To hear Fanoos play:

16 17

TO OUR HEALTHChronicling the Battle Against the City’s Killers

THARPSICORE!50 Years Later, a Dance Legend Returns


An expatriate New Yorker returning after a long absence will find some changes in her favorite restaurant (if it still exists).

Menu prices, of course are higher, but that’s to be expected. On the other hand, the indoor air is much clearer; she can dine without inhaling other people’s cigarette smoke. And the food,

without losing any flavor, is healthier. That’s because of two audacious decisions by the ad-ministration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg—banning smoking in nearly every bar, restaurant and workplace in the city, and getting restaurants to stop cooking with artery-clogging trans fats. The story of how those changes—political acts

grounded in public health concerns—came about is told with elegance and urgency in

Saving Gotham: A Billionaire Mayor, Activist Doctors, and the Fight for Eight Million Lives, by Dr. Tom Farley, the city’s former health com-missioner and the 2014 Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Fellow in Public Health at Roosevelt House. The smoking and trans fat bans, estimated to have already saved thousands of lives, weren’t the only initiatives launched by Bloomberg’s first health commissioner, Farley’s predecessor, Dr. Tom Frieden. He also sold the mayor on making chain restaurants post calorie counts on their menus. Farley succeeded Frieden in 2009, running straight into a full-blown panic over swine flu (which turned out to be much less lethal than feared). And he sustained the focus on tackling the problems that shorten and degrade New Yorkers’ lives. Among Farley’s innovations: making the city’s parks and beaches smoke-free, prohibiting the price discounting of cigarettes, and raising the legal sales age for buying tobacco. Farley, now head of Philadelphia’s Department

It was a long time ago, and it took just 10 minutes, but Twyla Tharp’s performance of Tank Dive, her very first piece, was the

start of something big—a half-century cascade of creative energy that changed the face of contemporary dance. So on the 50th anniversary of Tank Dive, Tharp returned to Hunter, the place where it all began. Addressing a room full of students, alumni, and audience members, Tharp recalled the moment her 22-year-old self stepped on stage in Room 1604 of the Art Department, twirled a yo-yo, exended her back, and, weighed down by a pair of wooden shoes, brought herself up to an extended relevé. At the time, all she had was her creative vision. “I had no money,” she said, “but I

had an idea, and I was allowed to go for it. Thank you, Hunter. It’s truly a phenomenal thing for a kid to get this opportunity.” Tharp’s return—coupled with the unveiling of her newest piece, based on Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 130—comes at a time when dance is flourishing at Hunter, with the establishment of a fully fledged Department of Dance, the first in a public college. And the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program—enhanced by a recent partnership with Lincoln Center—pre-pares students to become dance teachers in the city’s public schools, where they can help a new generation of boys and girls embark on the same journey Twyla Tharp did when she stepped into Room 1604 50 years ago.

Since just after the Civil War, Hunter College and the building at 151 East 67th Street have co-existed as neighbors while the

Upper East Side changed around them. Now, however, No. 151, the newly named Patty and Jay Baker Hall, will make history of a different kind as the home of Hunter’s Department of Theatre. The transformation came as a result of a generous gift from the Bakers—they originally pledged $10 million, then added another $5 million. The building, just east of Lexington Avenue, next to the 19th Precinct stationhouse, started out in the 1870s as a residence for the nurses of Mount Sinai Hospital, then just across the street. The hospital moved to Fifth Avenue in 1904, and the residence went through a series of occupants and uses. It was most recently the Kennedy Child Study School, founded in 1958 by Joseph and Rose Kennedy in memory of their son Joseph Jr., who

was killed in World War II. Because the building was owned by the Archdiocese of New York, its sale required Vatican approval. Thanks to the Baker gift, Hunter acquired it in October 2015. The new acquisition is already in the throes of a major interior renovation; the exterior is land-marked and can’t be altered. Theatre students found 11 classrooms ready for them for the spring semester, and there are plans for eight rehearsal rooms, a faculty lounge, and a student area. Already, students are taking 17 classes in the building, including Introduction to Theatre, Play Analysis, and Playwriting, as well as graduate seminars. The new home, says Claudia Orenstein, chair of the Theatre Department, “gives our department a physical presence in the city, with room to build new educational and creative possibilities for our students. We are excited to explore all the paths this new building opens up to us.”

Laurie Tisch, left, Dr. Tom Farley,

and Ann-Marie Louison, 2015 Tisch

Community Health Prize winner.

of Public Health, is generous in his gratitude for his time at Roosevelt House. “It takes a long time to write a book,” he says. “With the Tisch Fellowship, I had that time—and a quiet space in an institution that thinks constantly about public policy. Laurie Tisch [whose Illumination Fund funded the fellow-ship], Hunter, and Roosevelt House can each stake a partial claim of authorship in Saving Gotham.” “Tom has had a tremendous impact on public health in New York City, and I’m proud that he accepted Hunter’s offer to serve as the Joan H. Tisch Distinguished Faculty Member in Public Health so that he could write Saving Gotham,” says Laurie Tisch. “Of course, Tom was a great commissioner, but it turns out that he’s also a great writer! His book is engaging, and it’s an important contribution to public health policy.”

Every year, on the last Monday in January, New York City’s Department of Homeless Services dispatches more than 3,000 volun-

teers—called enumerators—to conduct a census of the homeless. And on the same night, Hunter’s Silberman School of Social Work, partnering with DHS, sends out 200 trained decoys, who pose as homeless people and see if the city’s enumerators count them. The Shadow Count, as it’s called, is a way

Keeping tabs on

decoys: team cap-

tain Dustin Chien

Tharp (center), with Stephen Weinroth and wife

Cathy Weinroth ’74, a Hunter College Foundation

board member, unveiled her newest dance piece

(top picture).

Jay and Patty Baker lead the official banner-

raising. Patty Baker ’82 is a Hunter College

Foundation board member and a Hunter Hall

of Fame member.

tA team of city enumerators approaches a homeless person during the city’s annual census.

NOT HOMELESS, BUT ACTING THE PART of assuring that the city’s count is accurate. “If the volunteers are missing many decoys, the assumption is they may also be missing many genuinely homeless persons,” says Silberman Dean Mary Cavanaugh. Due to a snowstorm, this year’s census was postponed until February 9. Temperatures were in the 20s, and standing or sitting in the open air between midnight and 4 a.m.—the hours the city conducts its count—was not for the fainthearted. The decoys are recruited in the months before the census and trained under the supervision of Training and Continuing Education Coordinator Christine Kim. Their training covers not only the importance of what they’re doing, but how to stay safe on the streets and in the parks. They go forth in teams of two, maintaining

contact with each other at all times—and with a team captain like grad student Dustin Chien. A team’s night ends just as soon as an official enumerator approaches them. It could be 10 minutes; it could be all four freezing hours. Silberman student Julius Flowers’s assignment took him to a bus stop on East 106th Street, where he waited three hours before the enumerators spotted him. “My partner said, ‘It’s crazy that there are actually people out here in this weather,’” he says. “And I said, ‘What does it say that they’d rather be out here freezing than in a city shelter?’”

18 19

TRIBUTE TO A TITAN Honoring a Giant of Art—and Hunter Trailblazer


Showcasing the

New York School

in a New York

school— Motherwell

at Hunter’s

Leubsdorf Gallery. © A


ld N


an, 1


It’s almost impossible now, more than a half-century after their heyday, to imagine the explosive impact the Abstract Expressionists of

the New York School had on the art world. Coming of age during World War II, they smashed conven-tions, disconcerted some (but not all) critics, and made New York City the center of the art world. Nowadays, their names—de Kooning, Pollock, Barnett Newman—have become part of the pan-theon, and their works sell for stratospheric prices. One of those titans, Robert Motherwell, a prolific writer and editor who gave the New York School its name, taught art to the women of Hunter from 1951 to 1960. Hunter marked the centenary of his 1915 birth with the Robert Motherwell and the New York School at Hunter exhibition at the Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery, which also included work by his contemporaries William Baziotes, Fritz Bultman, Richard Lippold, Ray Parker, and George Sugarman. Organized by Howard Singerman, the Phyllis and Joseph Caroff Professor of Fine Arts, with Sarah Watson, acting director and curator, Hunter College Art Galleries, the exhibition was funded by the Dedalus Foundation, with ongoing support from the Leubsdorf Endowment and the Carol Goldberg Exhibition Fund. In the words of the exhibition catalogue, Motherwell “set a precedent for a historically and professionally engaged art education that endures at Hunter College to this day.”

Free, or nearly so, after centuries of European colonization, the brand-new nations of Central and South America became irresistible magnets for North Americans and Europeans who arrived in droves to trade, to mine, to exploit—and, sometimes,

to try to capture the beauty of the newly accessible, still mysterious, continent. Boundless Reality: Traveler Artists’ Landscapes of Latin America, an exhibition of the works of those painters, part of the Coleccion Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, ran at the Bertha and Karl Leubsdorf Gallery all winter. Curated by Harper Montgomery, the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros professor of Latin American Art at Hunter College, and students from her master’s course, it included works from the late 17th century, although most date from the mid-1900s. “This project not only allowed Hunter students to experience the process of devising and executing a scholarly exhibition,” says Montgomery, “it also taught them how exhibitions contribute to the production of new knowledge. For the exhibition, the 11 Hunter MA and MFA students conducted research on artists who were in many cases totally unknown. They wrote texts, which were published in the related book, proposed an exhibition plan, and even gave tours of the show once it was up.”


Contrary to our image, not every New Yorker lives in a gilded penthouse. More than a million and a half of us own or rent apartments devel-

oped under various affordable-housing programs. An exhibition at Hunter’s East Harlem Gallery (Third Avenue at 119th Street) traces the story of affordable housing in the city through photographs, architectural models (right), and comprehensive historical material. Titled Affordable Housing in New York: The People, Places, and Policies that Transformed a City, it complements the newly published book of the same name by Matthew Gordon Lasner and Nicholas Dagen Bloom.

WOMEN’S WORDS With the Vote at Stake

There’s not a hashtag in sight, but the quotes–pithy, concise, and precisely targeted at an audience of men–were

the early 20th-century feminist equivalent of Twitter. Now framed and covering the walls of Roosevelt House, the posters were the center-piece of Women Take the Lead: From Elizabeth Cady Stanton to Eleanor Roosevelt, Suffrage to Human Rights, RH’s first public exhibition since reopening as an Institute of Public Policy. The exhibit unearthed rare artifacts—some unseen for more than a century—of the suffrage movement, presenting a perspective-shifting portrait of women’s history in the United States. The initiative for the exhibit, which ran through May 27, came from Hunter Foundation trustee Elbrun Kimmelman ’72, and it was shepherded to fruition by Director Harold Holzer. For Holzer, Roosevelt House is the ideal place for an exhibition honoring women’s history. It was home to Eleanor Roosevelt, an emblem-atic figure of female accomplishment. As we celebrate the 95th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the documents on display—from Pearl S. Buck’s edits of her Nobel Prize accep-tance speech to a manuscript on family planning by Margaret Sanger—serve as a reminder that the progress made in the last century is built on foundations laid by brave, resourceful—and very witty—feminist forebears.

When Harold Holzer was in fifth grade in Queens, his teacher brought in a hatful of names and asked each child

to pick one, go to the library, find a book, and write a composition. “I got Lincoln,’ says Holzer, who then selected The Lincoln Nobody Knows, by Richard Current. “That,” he says, “was the epiphany.” Holzer’s discovery of the 16th president led to a lifelong fascination and literary specialty; over 42 years, he wrote, co-wrote, edited, or co-edited 52 books about the Great Emancipator. His latest, Lincoln and the Power of the Press, won the 2015 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the 2016 Gold-smith Book Prize, awarded by the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, among other awards. Holzer did all this while holding down a day job as director of public affairs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When he retired from the Met last year, he envisioned spending more time de-voted to his great passion—writing and lecturing about Lincoln. Then he heard that Hunter had begun the search process to find a new Jonathan F. Fanton Director of the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute. Holzer threw his hat in the ring. And he received powerful encouragement—from Hillary Clinton. At a Manhattan fundraiser he attended with his wife, Edith, the two had a


August Morisot, Sunrise, 1886, watercolor on paper, 8.3 x 19.7 cm (3 1/4" x 7 3/4"),

Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros

Matilda Cuomo, left, with President Raab

and Maria Cuomo Cole

More history unfolds: Holzer interviews

Ron Chernow, whose Alexander Hamilton

inspired the musical Hamilton.

moment with the Democratic presidential candi-date. She mentioned Holzer’s recent retirement from the Met. “The retirement may not last,” he told her. “I’ve been asked to head Roosevelt House at Hunter. What do you think?’” “Roosevelt House!” Clinton exclaimed. “That’s perfect—there’s a progressive continu-um from Lincoln to FDR. You should do it.” “She was right,” he says. “After all, both of those presidents saved the country. They helped save the world, too, and make it a better place. It was a natural pivot for me.” Reflecting from his fourth-floor office, Holzer finds himself thrilled by Roosevelt House, its history, and its possibilities. “Eleanor and Franklin lived here before they moved to the White House,” he says. “It’s the place where the New Deal was born. I can saunter into the library that FDR used and imagine the moment Frances Perkins walked in, and he asked her to be the first woman in a presidential cabinet, and she said, ‘Governor, only if you do old age pensions as we did in New York State.’ And he said, ‘Frances, we’ll do it.’” Of the present Roosevelt House, he says, “I

love the real energy when young people are here. Then, in the evening, the community comes in for our vibrant public programs. I really want to see more interaction between those two groups. I plan to set up programs where the students, many of them immigrants hungry to learn about America, can meet and learn from the older, more established resi-dents of Manhattan and the Upper East Side. I think they could gain so much from each other.”

20 21


Steve Reichstein

’59 has written a

memoir, Born in

Brooklyn, which

includes a look

back at his four

years on Hunter’s

Bronx campus. It

is available on

Hunter Hall of Fame inductee Dr.

Nanette Kass Wenger (HCHS ’47,

HC ’51), professor of medicine

(cardiology) emeritus at Emory

University School of Medicine,

was honored in May as one of the

Women Luminaries in Cardiology

S u b m i t a C l a s s N o t e a t w w w . h u n t e r . c u n y . e d u / a l u m n i S u b m i t a C l a s s N o t e a t w w w . h u n t e r . c u n y . e d u / a l u m n i

continued on next page


The brilliant,

baffling life of

Joy Davidman ’34,

who started at

Hunter when

she was 14, is

the subject of

Joy: Poet, Seeker,

and the Woman Who Captivated

C.S. Lewis, by Abigail Santamaria.


Jane Oppenheim ’47, a Hunter College

Foundation trustee, was named a

Distinguished Daughter of Pennsyl-

vania by Gov. Tom Wolf.

A mural dedicated to the late Antonia Pantoja, a member of the Hunter Hall of Fame and the first Puerto Rican to receive the President’s Medal of

Freedom, was unveiled in November at the Corsi Senior Center in East Harlem. The mosaic mural by artist Manny Vega was three years in the making. Pantoja is best known as a founder of ASPIRA, founded in 1961 and dedi-cated to developing the educational and leadership capacity of Puerto Rican and other Hispanic youth. Pantoja was also a founder of the National Puerto Rican Forum, which promotes economic self-sufficiency, and Boricua College, as well as many other organizations dedicated to community empowerment and education in New York City and beyond.

Honoring Dr. Antonia Pantoja ‘52

by the Society for Cardiovascular

Angiography and Intervention.


Rosemarie Birri D’Alessandro ’61,

an activist for child protection and

victims’ rights, recently received

the Woman of Distinction Award

from her high school alma mater,

St. Catharine Academy in the Bronx.

Beverly Bonaparte (MSN ’62)

has been appointed president of

Chamberlain College of Nursing’s

Jacksonville, FL, campus.

Herbert Landau ’63 retired as

executive director of the Lancaster

(PA) Public Library in July 2015.

Leon Cooperman ’64, chairman and

CEO of Omega Advisors, received

the 2015 Graham & Dodd, Murray,

Greenwald Prize for Value Invest-

ing. The prize is given by the

Columbia University Graduate

School of Business in conjunction

with Gabelli Funds.

Vera Junkers ’66 has been elected to

the Phi Beta Kappa Senate, repre-

senting the Middle Atlantic District.

Leslie Fishbein ’67 presented a

lecture, “From Shtetl to Ghetto: The

Culture of the Lower East Side,” at

the YM-YWHA of Union County (NJ).

Fishbein is an associate professor

of American studies and Jewish

studies at Rutgers University.

Lew Frankfort ’67, former chair-

man and CEO of Coach, Inc., has

joined Sycamore Partners, a New

York-based private equity firm, as

executive in residence.

Criminal and matrimonial attorney

David M. Chidekel ’69 was featured

in an interview published in the

Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Howard Hoffman ’69 has been induct-

ed into the Craft & Hobby Association

Hall of Fame.


During Women’s History Month at the

Italian American Museum in New York

City, Louis Barrella ’70 participated in

a presentation celebrating neglected

Italian Renaissance painter Sofonisba


Two large-scale works by sculptor

Alice Ayco*ck (MFA ’71) are on display

in the Jane and Harry Willson Sculpture

Garden at the Georgia Museum of

Art. Waltzing Matilda and Twin

Vortexes were originally part of

Park Avenue Paper Chase, Ayco*ck’s

outdoor exhibition on Park Avenue

in Manhattan. New York City’s

Marlborough Gallery will present

a major exhibition of Ayco*ck’s work

in October 2017.

John Rowan (MS ’72), president of

Vietnam Veterans of America, was

the keynote speaker for the opening

ceremony in Dover, DE, for The Wall

That Heals, a traveling memorial.

Lowell H. Lustig ’75 has been named

an executive director of the American

Committee for the Weizmann Institute

of Science. Based in Ohio, he will lead

Weizmann’s philanthropic efforts in

several states.

Jeanne McCooey ’77, senior director of

communications at the Metropolitan

Golf Association, received the Associa-

tion’s Distinguished Service Award at

its annual meeting.


Amy Chalfy (MSW ’81) has been

appointed chief program officer at

JASA, an agency serving older adults

in the New York metropolitan area.

Kim Fink ’81 was recently named

director of development at the Bay

Street Theater in Sag Harbor, NY. She

was formerly the director of indi-

vidual giving at the Public Theater

in Manhattan.

Helen Mandlin (MSW ’84) performed

her solo act, My Life So Far: A Musical

Memoir, at the Cambria, CA, Center

for the Arts.

Hugo Xavier Bastidas (MFA ’87)

presented a workshop on the gallery

and exhibition business at the Art

Students League of New York.

Olga Sanchez ’87, artistic director of

Portland’s Milagro Theatre from 2003

to 2015, is pursuing a doctorate in the-

atre arts at the University of Oregon.

Vocalist Peggy Eason (MSW ’88) per-

formed at the Provincetown Cabaret

Festival last summer. Eason was

nominated for a 2015 MAC Award in

New York City for her work on two

shows: As I See It at Stage 72 and I’ll

Show Them All at Don’t Tell Mama.

Andres Torrens (MSW ’88) has been

promoted to vice president of clini-

cal services at the Center for Family

Services of Palm Beach County, FL.

Beyond Ground Zero: 9/11 and the

American Landscape, photographs

by Jonathan C. Hyman (MFA ’89), is on

view at the September 11 Memorial

& Museum at the World Trade Center,

documenting improvised memorials

that emerged after the attacks.

Diane E. Lang ’89, received the 2015

Leadership and Support Award

from the School Administrators As-

sociation of New York State. Lang

is director of instructional support

services at Orange-Ulster BOCES.

Daniel Seaman ’89 has been ap-

pointed managing director of the

Israel office of Steinreich Com-

munications, an international

public relations firm based

in New Jersey. Seaman was

previously director of the Israeli

Government Press Office.

Julianne Tamasy ’89 has been

appointed senior vice president,

Venture Capital Services, at

Square 1 Bank, Boston.


Inevitability of Truth, a

critically acclaimed show by

Ruth Pastine (MFA ’93), was pre-

sented last fall at Edward Cella

Art & Architecture in Los Angeles.

Artist Elia Alba ’94 has been

appointed to the New York

Foundation for the Arts Board

of Directors.

Jennifer Broomfield (MSW ’94)

is the Title IX director at Florida

State University. She previously

ran the Department of Veterans

Affairs’ National Domestic

Violence/Intimate Partner

Violence Assistance Program.

Yelena Bondar ’96 is director

of the New York City College

of Technology’s Accredited

Study in Associate Programs,

providing financial, social

and academic support to asso-

ciate’s degree candidates in

STEM disciplines.

Michelle Dunbar (MSEd ’96) is the

principal of South Warren Elemen-

tary School in Warrenton, NC.

Anne M. Thomas (MSW ’96) is

vice president of residential

services for Jewish Geriatric

Services in Longmeadow, MA,

and administrator of the Leavitt

Family Jewish Home.

A t Hunter’s Winter Com-

mencement on January

21, President Jennifer J. Raab

introduced a remarkable guest:

Alumna of the Year Helen Posner

Fried ’31, who is 104.

“Helen Posner Fried was born

to immigrant parents,” President

Raab said. “She went on to be-

come a New York City elemen-

Helen Posner Fried ’312016 Alumna of the Year

Class Notes

tary school teacher, working in

Harlem and Brooklyn.

“When Helen took the licensing

test,” she continued, “the city failed

95 percent of the applicants. . .

Helen passed it on her first try.”

Adrianne Flores ’97 recently

joined WDRB 41 Louisville, KY,

as news anchor and reporter.

Katherine Azbell (MSW ’98)

is director of community

relations at the Ambassador

of Scarsdale (NY), an assisted-

living community.

Rich Swingle (MA ’98) plays a

leading role in Providence, a

modern silent film of a love

story spanning four decades.

The film opened in AMC theaters

last winter.

Video and installation artist

Kristine Marx (MFA ’99) exhibited

Discontinuous Space Continuous

at Station Independent Projects in

Manhattan. It was the second solo

exhibition there for Marx, associate

professor and program co-director

of Core Studies at the University of

the Arts in Philadelphia.


Real estate broker Sandu Calinescu

’00 joined Coldwell Banker’s

Flatiron office in 2015.

On August 25, The New York Times published a story headlined “Generations of Math Fears.”

In a letter to the editor published on Aug. 31, Ruth Grabenheimer Radvany (HCHS ’46, HC ’50) weighed in: “The constant barrage from the media that girls do not like nor are good at math was not known to my classmates who were math majors in 1946 at Hunter College.”

It was a math, math world!

22 23


Hunter Remembers

In MemoriamPresent Continuous, an exhibition by

artist Omer Fast (MFA ’00), was pre-

sented at the Jeu de Paume in Paris

from October 29, 2015, to January 24,

2016. Drawing for the most part on

moving images, Fast’s work explores

narrative complexity through a

practice that blurs the boundaries

between reality and representation.

The work of sculptor Margarita

Cabrera (MFA ’01) was featured in

the 2015 group exhibition The Other

Side: Chinese and Mexican Immi-

gration to America. The exhibition

at the Asia Society Texas Center

explored issues of immigration, bor-

der relations and labor practices.

Cathryn Ferrigno Marchman (MSW ’01)

has been named executive director

of Partners for H.O.M.E. (Housing

Opportunities Made for Everyone),

which seeks to prevent homeless-

ness in Atlanta.

Amy Siniscalchi (MSW ’01) is assis-

tant executive director of Children,

Youth and Family Services at

Westchester Jewish Community

Services. Siniscalchi oversees a

network of programs serving 7,000

Westchester children from pre-

school through late adolescence.

A solo exhibition by artist Sarah

Crowner (MFA ’02) opened in April

at the Massachusetts Museum of

Contemporary Art. Crowner’s work

has been exhibited at MoMA,

the Whitney, and other major

museums in the U.S. and Europe.

Artist William Powhida (MFA ’02),

who has exhibited internationally,

will have his first solo museum show

in the fall at the Aldrich Contempo-

rary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT.

Bonnie Durham ’04 was selected as

a featured artist by ArtPrize 2015,

an international art competition in

Grand Rapids, MI.

Mark Howell (MSW ’04) is the

executive director of United Crescent

Hill Ministries in Clifton, KY.

Melva Miller (MSW ’04) is deputy

borough president of Queens. She for-

merly served as director of economic

development for the Queens Borough

President’s Office.

Dr. Anastasiya Kleva ’05 has joined

the Bronx and Tuckahoe, NY, practices

of ENT and Allergy Associates.

Meghan McCarthy (MPH ’05) is

director of Community Health &

Wellness at Baptist Health Care

in Pensacola, FL.

Ryan Murray (MPH ’06) is deputy

mayor of Long Beach, CA, and the

mayor’s advisor to the city’s pri-

vately funded Innovation Team.

Carolina Worrell ’07 is managing

editor of the trade publication

Railway Age.

A solo exhibition by Emily Noelle

Lambert (MFA ’08), titled Idée Fixe,

was held at New York’s Denny Gallery.

Stephanie McClure (MA ’08) is the

museum registrar at the Hispanic

Society of America.

Jessica Mein (MFA ’08) was an

artist in residence at the 2015

A.i.R. Dubai program.

Kevin Tolan (MUP ’08) is the first

executive director of Westwood

Works, a community organization

in Cincinnati.

Two Hunter alumni were named to

City & State NY’s “40 under 40,” rising

stars in city government, politics, and

advocacy: Sasha Neha Ahuja ’09,

deputy director, Policy & Innovation

Division at the New York City

Council, and Ryan Baxter ’12,

assistant vice president of the

Real Estate Board of New York.

Shana Smith Haines (MA ’09),

who teaches writing at Tidewater

Community College in Virginia, has

won the school’s 2016 Martin Luther

King, Jr. Distinguished Service Award.

A solo exhibition of sculptures

and drawings by Ryan Roa (MFA ’09)

was presented last fall at the

Hudson Ann Street Gallery in


Christopher Robinson (MFA ’09)

is the co-author of War of the

Encyclopaedists, a Gen Y coming-

of-age novel about love and war.


Firelei Báez (MFA ’10) received

the 2015 Catherine Doctorow

Prize for Contemporary Painting

from the Utah Museum of

Contemporary Art.

Carmiel Banasky’s (MFA ’10)

debut novel, The Suicide of

Claire Bishop, was published

last fall by Dzanc Books.

Bill Cheng (MFA ’10), author of

Southern Cross the Dog, has

received a 2015 fiction fellowship

from the New York Foundation

for the Arts.

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s (MFA ’10)

debut novel, We Love You, Charlie

Freeman, was recently published

by Algonquin Press.

Kimberly Livingston Prokoshyn

’10, head sommelier at Rebelle

NYC, was interviewed by Wine &

Spirits Magazine last fall.

David Shrobe (BFA ’10) is 2015-2016

artist in residence at the Sugar Hill

Children’s Museum of Art & Story-

telling in Harlem.

Infinite Space, a vinyl installation

by James Weingrod (MFA ’10), is

on display at the Granoff Center

at Brown University.

Marcello Gasdia (MS ’11) is director

of consumer research for Phocus-

wright, a company that provides

information and analysis to the

travel industry.

Lauren Holmes (MFA ’11) is the

author of Barbara the slu*t and

Other People (Riverhead, Au-

gust 2015), a critically acclaimed

debut collection of stories about

the human flaws that challenge


Robert Hoffman (MA ’12) is the

acting and vocal instructor for

the Broadway Bound Children’s

Theatre and Broadway Bound Junior

Children’s Theatre at the Gold Coast

Arts Center in Great Neck, NY.

Christopher Rivera (MFA ’12)

has opened an art gallery,

Embajada, in his native city

of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Sasha Wortzel (MFA ’12) co-wrote,

co-directed and co-produced

Happy Birthday, Marsha!, a film

about transgender artist/activist

Marsha “Pay it No Mind” Johnson.

Dalila Ordonez ’13 was awarded

a National Science Foundation

Graduate Research Fellowship

at Harvard.

Kevin Quill ’13 performed

the one-man play An Iliad, a

modern retelling of Homer’s

classic, at Buzzards Play

Productions in Wareham, MA.

Jonathan Harper Schlieman ’13, a

director, was invited to participate in

the 2015-16 Actors Theatre of Louis-

ville Intern/Apprentice Program.

Artist Sara Shaoul’s (MFA ’14)

Strange Labor, a work exploring the

From December 2014 on

connection between the female

body and socioeconomic forces,

was exhibited by the Brooklyn

Artists Alliance.




(BFA ’14) had

a solo show

at Dutchess


College’s Mildred I. Washington

Art Gallery last fall.

Amy E. Witting (MFA ’14) received the

Atlantic Theater Company’s inaugu-

ral 2015 LAUNCH Commission for her

play The House on Top of the Hill.

David Hilder (MFA ’15) was awarded

the Serenbe Playhouse’s First Annual

New Territories Playwriting Residen-

cy (in Georgia) for new creative work

in outdoor, site-specific theater.

Stephanie Park ’15 has been

named a Community Fellow of

the Immigrant Justice Corps,

which helps low-income immigrant

New Yorkers obtain legal aid to

apply for asylum, Green Cards,

and other types of legal residency

status. She is spending the first

year of her two-year fellowship

at the MinKwon Center for

Community Action in Flushing,


When she died on January 25 at 97, Helen Stambler

Latner left behind a generation of better informed readers. Writing the “Ask Helen Latner” column in Jewish Week, she offered sage advice on Jewish customs. Born in Bensonhurst, the former Helen Hudesman worked as an English teacher and school principal before turning to writing full-time about Jewish traditions. “It dawned on me that there were large areas of deportment . . . that would not be handed down,” she

said in a 1981 New York Times interview. The result was her books—The Book of Modern Jewish Etiquette: A Guide for All Occasions; Your Jewish Wedding, and The Everything Jewish Wedding Book— and her column. She called her books “a road-map” for Jews of all backgrounds. “Even those who don’t observe anything,” she said, “will attend weddings and funerals.”

Yvette Fay Francis-McBarnette ’45, who died on March 28 at 89,

was an academic prodigy who went on to become a pioneer in the treatment of children with sickle cell anemia. Dr. Francis was still a teenager when her family immigrated from Jamaica. Raised in Harlem, she enrolled at Hunter at 14, graduating in three-and-a-half years with a degree in physics. Too young for medical school, she earned a mas-ter’s in chemistry from Columbia before enrolling in the Yale School of Medicine, the second African-

American woman in its history. Fifteen years before the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the effectiveness of antibiotics in treating sickle cell anemia, Dr. Francis, then at Jamaica Hospital, was using them to treat children with the disease. She served on a White House panel whose recommen-dations led to the 1972 National Sickle Cell Anemia Control Act.

Helen Stambler Latner ’39

Yvette Francis-McBarnette (HCHS ’42, HC ’45)

Pearl Handshuh Hack ’46Inducted into Hunter’s Hall of Fame in 1996, Pearl Hack, who died Nov. 14, graduated Phi Beta Kappa and became a teacher, a civic leader, and an active, engaged alumna. A lecturer in urbanism and public admin-istration at Hunter, Wellesley, and Brooklyn College, she was a board member of the Regional Plan Association from 1978 to 1992; a member of the Execu-tive Committee of the American Jewish Congress, and a member of the Council of Overseers of UJA-Federation of New York. Perhaps her greatest contribu-tion to her alma mater was her work in support of the Hunter College library. And she had a fulfilling side-line—as an extremely successful matchmaker.

Alice J. Rust ’31

Pauli Murray ’33

Lillie Bellin Pope ’37

Josephine Propp Laitman, ’38

Jean Reidy ’39

Gertrude Schimmel ’39

Katherine Masset Sims ’39

Ernestine Friedl ’41

Elizabeth Kelly-Fry ’41

Eugenie Clark ’42

Dorothy Lazarus ’42

Joyce Phillips Austin ’43

Jennie Rosenburg ’44

Ruth Rosenthal ’44

Irene Tonkonogy Adler ’45

Ida Preti Cook ’45

Anna Margaret Murphy ’45

Shirley Irene Robbins ’46

Charlotte Neuman Spiegel ’47

Wanda Wolski Berkley ’48

Susan Heller ’48

Edith Horowitz ’48

Evelyn Papalexis Bales ’49

Lillian Hill ’49 (BA) and ’52 (MA)

Elaine Cooke ’50

Dorothy Smith Nevins ’50

Patricia Charache ’52

Marcia A. Weiner Weinstein ’52

Adelaide Spitsbergen ’53

Dorothy Packwood ’54

Stanley Egener ’55

Harriett Tishkoff ’56

Bella Kerner Tresser ’56

Karen Brooke Dubno ’62

April Ahlers Brooks ’66

Bobbye Goldstein ’66

Frances Yeransian ’67

Rabbi Allan Schranz ’68

Theresa Smart ’68

Mary Cumming ’71

Suzy Bales ’77

Edward Maneski ’80

Lucia Negri ’81

Sarah Globus ’88

Maureen Kandrach (MSN, MPH ’88)

Diana Lee Friedline ’96

Kate Helen Light (MFA ’05)






Hunter College of The City University of New York

695 Park Avenue • New York, NY 10065


Support the recent alums now, in the hopes of establishing lifelong bonds.

Millennials, like the Gen-Xers, and the Baby Boomers, and the World War II “Greatest Generation,” have their own

cultural touchstones, their own way of existing in society, and, says Kelle Jacob, their own style of philanthropy. When they give, she says, “they care about being part of something.” That’s why Jacob, appointed to the Hunter Foundation Board just last year, has her sights set on forging Hunter’s bonds with those alums who, like her, came of age after 2000. Her own pathway to Hunter was a circuitous one. At first, she decided not to go to college. In-stead, to market an online art gallery she founded, she competed on America’s Next Top Model, in the season that began in September 2004. “I did

amazing things for my gallery, visiting colleges and speaking,” she says. “I was invited to speak at Hunter about how I had set up my business.” Then came her epiphany: “I was going there to inspire the students—and I wound up being inspired.” She enrolled at Hunter, where she majored in media studies and minored in English. Her goal was to become a journalist. “My biggest thrill,” she says, “was when I collaborated on a Vil-lage Voice story about gentrification in Brooklyn.” Jacob also became involved in the life of Hunter, serving on the Senate—and galvanizing the campaign to renovate the library. “Her leader-ship in that campaign was extraordinary,” says President Raab. “She would show up at my door and say, ‘Here’s what I think we should do.’—and then she would do it. She deserves so much credit for the modernization of our library.” In the midst of this came the invitation that changed her career plans. Recommended by Hunter, Jacob embarked on an internship at Estée Lauder. “I thought they wanted me to work at a counter,” she laughs. “Instead I was involved in strategy, product development. I was using the same skills I would have used as a reporter—using insights, really understanding and investigating what

people need, and developing a product based on that.” Today, she’s at Estée Lauder, as manager for North American strategy, working on global product development. And she’s bringing the ana-lytical skills she learned there to her work at the Hunter Foundation Board, where, as the youngest woman member, she’s in the advance guard of a trend to involve more recent grads. “It’s all about understanding the millennial dynamic,” she says.

Her idea, presented to the Foundation Board on December 15: Support the recent alums now, as they start their careers, in the hopes of establish-ing lifelong bonds. “The board,’ says Jacob, “is very supportive to our new ideas and understands that we have to continually evolve.”

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