Class notes are selected from stories of alumni featured in the media as identified by the University’s Office of Alumni Relations and Development and updates sent to Dialogue by mail or by email at dialogue @northwestern.edu.
2020 Tony Award nominees
Northwestern was well represented among 2020’s crop of Tony nominees. They include John Logan (C83), nominated for best book of a musical for Moulin Rouge! The Musical; Erica Lynn Schwartz (C03), producer of Moulin Rouge!, nominated for best musical; Jamie Joeyen- Waldorf (C18) and Debbie Bisno (C92), producers of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, nominated for best revival of a play; and Andrew Restieri (C18), producer of Sea Wall/A Life, nominated for best play. Other alumni affiliated with nominated shows include Katie Spelman (C09), associate choreographer for Moulin Rouge!; Annelise Baker (C14), ensemble member of Jagged Little Pill, nominated for best musical; and Maulik Pancholy (C95), who was in the cast of Grand Horizons, nominated for best play. At press time, the Tony Awards ceremony had not been scheduled.
David Schuelke (C61) has retired from both the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul). He is a member of Sigma Delta Chi, the National Communication Association, and the American Psychological Association. At Northwestern, he was a Medill Scholar before switching his major to speech education.
Susan Whitaker (C72), founding principal of Whitaker Travel and Tourism Strategies, has joined the board of the Columbia State Community College Foundation.
Stuart N. Brotman (C74) is the author of Privacy’s Perfect Storm: Digital Policy for Post- Pandemic Times. The book’s foreword was written by former FCC chair Newton N. Minow (C49, JD50).
Judy Belk (C75), president and CEO of the California Wellness Foundation, was one of four recipients of the 2020 Northwestern Alumni Medal. Cal Wellness awards nearly $43 million in annual grants and program-related investments that promote health equity, justice, and advocacy for Californians whose well- being is often determined by their race, income, immigration status, or where they live. During Belk’s tenure, Cal Wellness has continued to lead in promoting violence prevention as a public health issue and funding gun-violence prevention efforts. Belk is a regular contributor to major news outlets on matters of organizational ethics and race and was inducted into Virginia’s Alexandria African American Hall of Fame. The three other medalists were Andrew C. Chan, Christopher B. Combe, and Gordon Segal.
Leslie Dukker Doty (C76) was named CEO of Women in the Boardroom, where she has served as chief strategy officer since 2019.
Gerard Harrington (C78) earned his master of science in health communications at Westbrook University in August. He is the marketing coordinator of HealthAlliance of the Hudson Valley in Kingston, New York, a hospital and nursing home system.
Susan M. Rubin (C78, GC80, GME93, GME94), medical director of the NorthShore Neurological Institute, was named Ruth Cain Ruggles Chair of Neurology at NorthShore University HealthSystem.
Storytellers move enterprise online
Anne Purky (C79), Stephanie Rogers (C89), and fellow producer Marya Morris operate Story Jam, a vibrant collective that pairs storytelling with original music written and performed by a 10-piece band led by Rogers. The events are humorous, poignant, and entertaining, often spotlighting themes of social justice, diversity, and inclusion. Before the pandemic, live shows were held at City Winery and Artifact Events in Chicago and at SPACE in Evanston. When the pandemic hit, Story Jam pivoted to offering online events and classes and developing a podcast. The reimagining included their annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, which was held virtually in January. The collective partnered with two national storytelling companies to create a memorable event and highlight racism and social justice in tribute to King. One of their featured tellers was Lynne Jordan (C85).
Catherine McBreen (C83), managing director and co-owner of Spectrem Group, announced her candidacy for Broward County supervisor of elections.
The North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, California, last fall streamed Same Time, Next Year, starring Bruce Turk (C85) and his wife, Katie MacNichol.
Allyson Rice (C86) created Fine, I’ll Write My Own Damn Song, a comedic rap-music video message to her son, which won the best-of-festival award at the WRPN Women’s International Film Festival, among many other awards. It was chosen as an official selection at the Pittsburgh Shorts Festival, the video’s 19th official selection last year. It can be found on YouTube.
Wendy Beer (C88) was appointed principal of Cayman Islands–based alternative-fund governance specialists Danesmead Partners to head its New York office.
Lori Moore (GC89), former managing director at Deloitte, joined Bayer as vice president and head of pharmaceutical communications in the United States.
Tricia Rothschild (C89), for- mer chief product officer and cohead of global markets for Morningstar, was named president of Apex Clearing.
Jai Khanna (C90) joined Husch Blackwell as a partner on its energy and natural resources industry team.
Sara Crate (C93) is chief commercial officer of DispatchHealth, a provider of in-home, high-acuity medical care.
Sophia Skiles (C94) was named head of acting in the Brown/Trinity Rep programs by Brown University’s department of theatre arts and performance studies. She will join the program in the fall.
Matthew Siegel (C95), chief commercial officer at Sonos, was appointed to the board of directors at AAMP Global, a provider of vehicle aftermarket technology.
Jean Villepique (C95), whose TV credits include The Office, 30 Rock, Sharp Objects, and Better Call Saul, performed in Six Feet, an original, innovative play commissioned by nonprofit arts organization RiverArts and presented on Zoom in October.
Natsu Onoda Power (C96, GC99, GC05), a professor of theatre and performance studies at Georgetown University, is among 11 artists commissioned by 1st Stage to generate pieces of solo work during theater closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meredith Vuchnich (GC96) was a cowriter for Beans, which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sheffield Horror Film Festival.
Heather Headley (C97) was honored with the 2020 Alumnae Award, sponsored by the Alumnae of Northwestern University. The Tony Award–winning singer and actor most recently starred in Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias and NBC’s Chicago Med. The volunteer alumnae organization fêted Headley during a virtual ceremony in October.
Sarah Butterfass (C99, KSM04) was appointed to the board of directors of Netgear. She is chief product officer at FanDuel and previously held the same position at Groupon.
Nicole Patton Terry (C99, GC02, GC05), the Olive and Manuel Bordas Professor of Education at Florida State University, was appointed director of the multidisciplinary Florida Center for Reading Research.
Tim DaRosa (C01) was appointed chief marketing officer of Zadara Storage, an enterprise storage-as-a-service company.
Marni Usheroff (C01), a senior communications specialist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, has led the institution’s COVID-19 media engagement since January 2020. She covers infectious diseases and epidemiology, among other areas, at Cedars-Sinai, which is one of 10 federally funded regional Ebola treatment centers.
Jennifer Room (GC02) joined the Michigan Retailers Association as vice president of communications and marketing.
Sanjay Sood (C02, McC07) was appointed to the newly created role of chief technology officer at CDW Corporation. He joins from HERE Technologies.
Erica Stuntman (C02, JD07), an attorney at Snell & Wilmer, was appointed to the Arizona Theatre Company board of trustees.
Roshni Nadar Malhotra (C03, KSM08), executive director and CEO of HCL Corporation, was appointed chairperson of HCL Technologies, where she was previously vice chairperson, taking over for her father, who founded the software company.
Jeffrey Q. McCune Jr. (GC07), associate professor of women, gender, and sexuality studies and of African and African American studies at Washington University in St. Louis, has been named director of the Frederick Douglass Institute in the School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Rochester. He will facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration in the study of the African diaspora and offer essential programming that explores and promotes African and African American studies at the university. He will also oversee the institute’s interdepartmental undergraduate major and minor programs as well as its graduate certificate and pre- and post-doctoral fellowships.
The Death of Robin Hood, a new play by J. S. Puller (C07, GSESP11), was published by Stage Rights.
Brian Zellis (GC07) was appointed national sales director at Fermata Energy. He joins from Nissan North America.
Aisha Harris (C09) is now a host and reporter for NPR’s pod- cast Pop Culture Happy Hour. She joined NPR from the New York Times, where she was an opinion columnist and arts and entertainment reporter.
Orthopedic surgeon and joint replacement specialist Jonathan Dattilo (C10) recently joined Florida’s Coastal Orthopedics. He practices at its Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton offices.
Abraham Benson- Goldberg (C11) and a group of fellow School of Communication grads formed the Wirelings, an experimental digital theatre company. Benson-Goldberg says their intention “is not to replicate live theatre during a pandemic but to create an entirely new type of experience.” Collaborators include ensemble members Kelby Siddons (C10) and Ray Rehberg (C12) and marketing specialist Thor Rudebeck (C09). The first season began in November with Cobbler: A Recipe, a new play by Ian August, which tells the story of brother and sister Peach and Cherry, whose relationship is repeatedly tested by both their life circum- stances and the choices they make.
Hillary Bachelder (C12) directed the feature-length documentary Represent, which received its national broadcast premiere on PBS in October. The film was first released virtually through Music Box Films in August and received critical acclaim. Coproduced by Kartemquin Films and ITVS, the film is now available on Independent Lens, iTunes, and Amazon. Bachelder also shot and edited the film, which was produced by Anne Sobel (GC10) and Rachel Pikelny (Medill05).
Rachel Kenney (C12) and Walls Trimble (C12) launched the weekly podcast I Have a Question with Rachel and Walls. In each of their more than 30 episodes, they check in on the state of the world, ask each other a question, and leave listeners with a recommendation for something to eat, drink, read, watch, or do.
Kelly I. Chung (GC13, GC18) joined Williams College as visiting assistant professor of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow in Asian American studies at Dartmouth.
Ziwe Fumudoh (C14), staff writer on Desus & Mero and Our Cartoon President, will produce and star in her own variety series on Showtime. She was featured in the year-end comedy special Yearly Departed on Amazon.
Nayna Agrawal (GC15) worked last year on six animation shows with Netflix, Mattel, DreamWorks, and Apple. Her plays were workshopped and received readings with several Los Angeles and New York theatre collectives, and her radio play Plucker was featured in the Los Angeles Times and selected for production by LA’s Antaeus Theater Company. She was chosen to participate in the inaugural XYZ Salon for South Asian artists in Hollywood.
Christina Laur (GC15) joined West Liberty University as an assistant professor of speech- language pathology.
Marion Hill (C16) is the director, screenwriter, and producer of Ma Belle, My Beauty, which will premiere at Sundance Film Festival this year. Her feature-film debut includes cinematography by Lauren Guiteras (C14). This year’s festival will be a hybrid of virtual screenings and socially distant in-person events.
Kantara Souffrant (GC17) was named the Milwaukee Art Museum’s curator of community dialogue, a newly created position to ensure that community engagement is at the center of adult programming.
The thesis short documentary The Women and the Sea by Cami Guarda (GC19) won Best International Latino Short Film at New York’s Latin Film Market and the Latino Short Documentary Award at Texas’s Festival de Cine Latinoamericano. Guarda was invited to participate in the best international short competition at Chile’s Festival Internacional de Cine Antofagasta.
Exal Iraheta (GC19) was selected for the prestigious Playwrights Unit at the Goodman Theatre. His play They Could Give No Name was chosen as a finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2020 National Playwrights Conference, a finalist for the Judith Royer Excellence in Playwriting Award, and an honorable mention for the American Playwriting 2019 Foundation’s Relentless Award.
The thesis documentary Redacted by Naeema Torres (GC19) was screened virtually at the New Orleans Film Festival in November and won best documentary at Dayton Independent Film Festival and Black X Film Festival. Torres also coproduced the short documentary Larry from Gary with award-winning filmmaker Dan Rybicky, which premiered last summer at Indy Fest and was screened at the St. Louis International Film Festival.
Noni Bell (C20) was selected for the Television Academy Foundation’s prestigious 2020 Summer Fellows program. “Earning this fellowship gave me a lot of confidence in myself and my own talent, something that I’ve struggled with,” Bell said in a Television Academy statement. “I used to think that I was going to mainly focus on film, but taking courses on television writing at North- western, such as Working in the Writer’s Room and Formulaic Television, made me look at the medium of television differently. These courses helped me gain a better appreciation for television as a storytelling medium. I’m excited to grow as an artist within television!”
Mercy, a play by Felicia Oduh (C20) about a man’s wrongful conviction, was selected as part of Northlight Theatre’s Interplay showcase for new works by emerging artists. The development was made all the more exciting by the involvement of veteran actor, director, and producer Harry Lennix (C86), who directed the staged reading on December 13. “I think Felicia Oduh has written a play that’s extremely important, extremely present, and extremely prescient,” Lennix said in a post- reading Q&A. Lennix late last year announced plans to create the Lillian Marcie Center in an old warehouse on Chicago’s South Side. He told the Chicago Tribune that he wants the center to comprise two theaters to house, among others, the Congo Square Theatre Company and a new, nationally focused archive called the African American Museum of Performing Arts.