January 2022 Alumni Notes

Catch up on news from the SYA alumni and faculty community

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Documentary producer and director Celia Aniskovich FR'09's latest podcast series Mafia Tapes drops next week. The story centers on Dominick Montiglio and his involvement in the notorious DeMeo Crew, part of the Gambino crime family. While this story is indeed about the Mafia, it's also about the choices we make, the narratives we tell, and the legacy we leave behind. Read more.

Maddy Butcher FR’82 ES’08P FR’10P ES’13P’s recent opinion piece on JOMO (the joy of missing out) was featured in the Voices Across America section of the Washington Post.

Cheo Hodari Coker ES’89 has been tapped to write a yet-to-be-titled documentary feature about the legendary musician and genius keyboardist Billy Preston, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Read more.

Mirren Fischer FR’91 spoke about the intersection of sustainability and digital experience design on this MEX: User Experience podcast. After originally training as an architect, Mirren shares how a career change saw her refocusing on digital, and how these paths led to Brilliant Product/ Design, her new agency. Listen.

Robin Hauser FR’82 was named a Top 8 TEDTalks for women looking to pursue greatness in their careers by March8, noting that Robin urges listeners to: “Forget about likability, ladies, women, if you can. Instead, focus on being awesome. Be a smart, compassionate and an effective leader who will refine the stereotype of what a female leader is.” Here’s the TEDTalk The Likability Dilemma for Women Leaders.  Robin’s most recent documentary $avvy streamed through the Whistler Film Fest and according to a Variety article, is “an eye-opening entreaty for women to develop their own financial independence.”

Noelle Herring CN’12 working in civil engineering to aiding humanitarian responses, is partnering with two 501(c)(3) NGOs with experience, access to planes, and funding for both planes and long-term living expenses for at-risk Afghans in safer countries. The last few months they’ve struggled with securing landing rights or humanitarian visas for their Afghan partners.

Wanda Mann ES’89, East Coast Editor of The SOMM Journal and founder of Wine with Wanda, will moderate the keynote conversation for the 10th anniversary of Women in Wine Leadership Symposium (WWLS) on Monday, January 24. Interested attendees can register here. You may recall that Wanda moderated our “Fermenting Change: Alumnae in the Wine Industry” webinar we hosted last January! You can also learn what she and other experts are looking forward to sipping this year.

Michael McCarty FR’70’s restaurant Michael’s New York was again the venue for Joanna Coles CN’16P annual Women’s Power 100 Lunch. (Michael was one of the few men allowed in the room.) Read more.

Roger McNamee FR’74 asks, “Why do we allow businesses that have demonstrated themselves to be unsafe to operate freely?” in this MSNBC podcast about social media without regulation. Watch.

Merritt Moore IT’05 featured in this Q&A shattering stereotypes with her dual career as a professional ballet dancer and a quantum physicist. She offers readers this advice: “Perfect is replaceable. Do things your own way. Being unique and different is irreplaceable.”

Forbes “30 Under 30” mentions include Willa Tellekson-Flash FR’13 in the Marketing and Advertising category for her role as director of community at Public, an investing platform, where she has overseen the rapid growth of the company's user base, which grew 13-fold in 2020. Jason Blum FR’86 was an invited judge in the Hollywood and Entertainment category. Read more about Willa.

On the SYA Bookshelf:
Caroline Frost FR’98’s Shadows of Pecan Hollow, which debuts next month, is a story of a runaway girl who finds a home and a desperate love on the road with an opportunistic criminal and the long comet’s tail of their story. Learn more.

Amb. David McKean FR’74 FR’11P, trustee and former ambassador to Luxembourg and director of policy planning for the U.S. Department of State, authored the recently released Watching Darkness Fall: FDR, His Ambassadors, and the Rise of Adolf Hitler. He tells of their competition for FDR’s approval and the advice, good and bad, given to the administration. Any history lover will enjoy this book, which is about people whose influence flew under the radar. Learn more.

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A key priority of The Campaign for SYA was curricular innovation. One component of SYA’s curriculum that has been developed and implemented in recent years — fieldwork — helps SYA take advantage of our unique locations to create a quality intercultural, place-based, and experiential educational environment abroad. 

School trips

These are the moments that make the SYA experience so magical. When the lessons students have learned in the classroom are brought to life before their eyes. When the student becomes the teacher, introducing people, places and concepts using the knowledge they have gained. When students debate a relevant issue, learning how to engage in perspective taking and critical thinking.

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Giving to the SYA Fund supports SYA’s operational budget each and every year and helps to provide immediate use funds to deliver the SYA experience we know and love. Through The Campaign for SYA, over $7 million dollars were raised for the SYA Fund. We are grateful to these donors for creating a strong foundation of support for our students and educators.