Class Notes

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    January 2022

  • Lisa (Simons) Brissette (BS ’85)

    Lisa received a master of arts in elementary education in 1986 from Fordham University and says that her speech communication degree was instrumental in helping her get her first teaching job in 1987. She taught grades 3-6 during her seven years in the South Brunswick school department in New Jersey. In 1994 she earned a master of science in education administration at Rider University; that same year she was hired as an elementary school principal for the Woonsocket school department in Rhode Island. She was named the Rhode Island Elementary School Principal of the Year in 2003 and also had the honor of representing the state of Rhode Island at a conference in Washington, D.C., where she had the opportunity to talk with Congressman Patrick Kennedy about improvements needed in education.

  • Book cover of "Among Lions"

    Kirsten (Weidemier) Panachyda (BM ’92)

    Kirsten’s first book, “Among Lions: Fighting for Faith and Finding your Rest while Parenting a Child with Mental Illness,” was published in May 2021.

  • Craig LaRosa

    Craig LaRosa (BID ’95)

    After a long career with such renowned design and innovation consultancies—Continuum Innovation, Frog Design, and Accenture/Altitude—Craig has joined Boar’s Head to support the premium CPG company as they continue their meteoric rise as the number one brand in grocery stores. Craig and his family (wife Valerie, son Dylan, and daughter Amelia) made the move to Sarasota, Florida, this summer and do not miss the winters of the Northeast.

  • Nick Purdy (BFA ’01)

    After a career managing performing arts centers and freelance theater and event design, Nick returned to school for a master’s in architecture and is now licensed and practicing in North Carolina.

  • Jay Aubrey Jones

    Jay Aubrey Jones (BS ’76)

    Jay recently made two appearances at Feinstein’s 54 Below in “Even If It Only Runs a Minute” and “The Boys from Syracuse.” He will be featured as Hemlut Heimlich in the world premiere of “MacGyver:The Musical” at Stages Houston. He will also be seen as an eccentric cat lover on “Bull” on CBS in February.

  • December 2021

  • Karl Weld (BFA ’92)

    Karl is entering his sixth year at SharkNinja, first as studio manager, then director of creative services, and now as director of Asset Innovation Group. His team is responsible for all image assets for a $5 billion global consumer products company (CGI and traditional image retouching, as well as video animation). He is also an exhibiting member of the 100-year-old Rockport Art Association and Museum, painting in watercolor. Visit to see his work.

  • Michael Croiter (BM ’98)

    Michael received his second Grammy Award nomination for Best Musical Theater Album for “Burt Bacharach and Steven Sater’s Some Lovers,” (Burt Bacharach, Michael Croiter, Ben Hartman & Steven Sater, producers; Burt Bacharach, composer; Steven Sater, lyricist). Michael was nominated in this category in 2013 for “Matilda: The Musical.”

  • November 2021

  • A man and a woman take a selfie

    Joe Blank (BFA ’18)

    Joe had his debut feature film “Roman Candle” screened at the Syracuse International Film Festival in October. He wrote, directed, co-produced, and self-financed the film, working alongside Joshua Curley ’18, Collin Hotchkiss ’18, Connor Burns ’18, Matt Kerr ’18, Derrick Owens ’18, Noah Schindler ’19, Sarah Hubner ’19, and Melissa Lawson ’18. “Roman candle” has also been accepted to the Tallahassee Film Festival and the New York Long Island Film Festival. Learn more about the film.

  • Arlene Roth

    Arlene F. Roth (Knecht) (BS ’69)

    Arlene recently received an award for her painting “Dancing Spanish Skirt Mandala” from the Sarasota, Florida-based Ringling College of Art & Design, Englewood Art Center. She has excelled in her new career as an acrylic artist painting impasto impressionist and abstract styles. Her creations in bright colors sculpted with both brush and palette knife literally rise off the canvas. To see her collection, visit her online art gallery.

  • Harriete Estel Berman

    Harriete Estel Berman (BFA ’70)

    Harriete is featured in the Craft in America episode “JEWELRY” on PBS. The program highlights Tom Herman’s use of precious materials, which is a phenomenal contrast to Harriete’s use of recycled materials of tin cans and post-consumer plastic. Also in the episode, Gabrielle Gould is inspired by nature, Jesse Monongya is a Navajo/Hopi jeweler, and Art Smith reflects an innovative mid-20th century aesthetic. The episode is streaming now on the PBS video app and will have its broadcast premiere on December 10. Watch a preview.

  • Julia Pitcher

    Julia Pitcher (BM ’02)

    Julia recently moved from PhRMA over to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF) as the newly created head of state government relations. She will be responsible for driving the public policy agenda in states across the nation and deepening its advocacy relationships with stakeholders. She’ll represent MJFF before legislators, regulators, and other state government policymakers on policy issues related to access to care for Parkinson’s patients and caretakers. She currently resides outside Annapolis, Maryland, with her two sons, Colt (age 6) and Oliver (age 4).

  • Kinsey Robb

    Kinsey Robb (BFA ’04)

    After more than a decade working with internationally recognized artists at several commercial contemporary art galleries in New York City, Kinsey has made the move to the nonprofit arts sector to take the helm of Sarasota’s oldest visual arts nonprofit, Art Center Sarasota. As a newbie to the city of Sarasota she is looking forward to forging new partnerships, collaborations, and building a culture of philanthropy to help sustain the center’s mission and elevate the many exhibitions, art classes, and cultural programming it brings to the community. If you are in town and want to connect, please reach out to her. Read an article about Kinsey’s new position.

  • October 2021

  • Two outdoor sculptures next to a building

    Daniel Anderson (BFA ’01)

    Dan’s XO WORLD Project unveiled two monumental sculptures in New York City on September 21 to celebrate World Peace Day: the “XO World” sculpture in front of One World Trade Center and its companion sculpture, “XO Play,” at The Oculus. “XO World,” at 285 Fulton Street, is inspired by the game of jacks, while “XO Play,” installed at Church Street/WTC/Westfield Mall, is a sculpture of children playing jacks. Both aim to promote the universal messages of equality, unity, peace, and love. The XO WORLD project will install monumental sculptures in major cities around the world to call attention to the need for peace, love, and inclusion. Learn more about the project at

  • Taylor Freitas (BM ’12)

    Taylor was recently hired as a new music teacher at Victor Senior High School in Victor, New York. He directs the symphonic band and teaches brass lessons at the senior high school and intermediate school.

  • Month to Month Film Poster

    Michael Koslov (BFA ’18)

    Michael is currently in pre-production for “Month to Month,” a feature film that is scheduled to shoot later this year. He co-wrote and will co-direct the film with a close college friend (Newhouse ’18). “Month to Month” is a comedy about an aimless young man wandering around Los Angeles in search of his stolen car. He launched a crowdfunding campaign for the principal photography of the project and raised more than $10,000. Learn more about the film and the story behind it.

  • Rachel Elizabeth Zavertnik (BFA ’94)

    Rachel Elizabeth Zavertnik (REZ) created iREZonate Joy, LLC, which specializes in therapy, coaching, and mentoring with a focus on “what brings us joy.” They empower youth and adults to reach their full potential as they discover the joy of happiness. Rachel is a natural leader with nearly 20 years experience in educational and clinical settings. A passionate and skilled clinician, REZ collaborates with and empowers clients to reach their full potential. They are known for their highly, empathic heart and deeply rooted belief in self-care with a specialty in creating joy.

  • Adam J. Gaffey

    Adam J. Gaffey (MA ’08)

    Adam was recently promoted (with tenure) to associate professor of communication studies at Winona State University, Minnesota.

  • Karie Jo Barwind (BFA ’95)

    Karie Jo has been based in Europe for the past 16 years, working on the cutting-edge of ethics and compliance in both tech and healthcare. She currently works for Google as regional ethics & compliance counsel for Europe, Middle East, and Africa, focusing on anti-bribery compliance across all product areas. She was recently listed in Business Insider’s “POWER PLAYERS: 35 of Google’s top decision-makers in Europe, covering everything from cloud computing to AI and Android” (July) and “Meet 12 of Google’s politicos in Europe—influencing the debate on everything from algorithms to antitrust” (February). She lives in London with her husband and their two adorable four-leggeds.

  • The Water Mystic of Woodland Springs book cover

    Mary Pat Hyland (BFA ’77)

    Mary Pat has published her eighth novel, “The Water Mystic of Woodland Springs.” Learn more about her at 

  • September 2021

  • Noah Hudson (BFA ’21)

    Hudson is creating engaging content for social media as well as capturing and editing photo and video of school events at the Science Academies of New York, a family of public charter schools serving students from K-12 in Syracuse, Utica, and coming soon to Rochester and Buffalo.

  • A book cover for Restless Spirits and Popular Movements: A Vermont History

    Greg Guma (BS ’68)

    Guma has been a writer, editor, historian, and manager for half a century, leading businesses and campaigns in Vermont, New Mexico, and California. Work with Bernie Sanders led to “The People’s Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.” Other books include the novels “Spirits of Desire” and “Dons of Time” and such non-fiction as “Fake News” and the forthcoming “Restless Spirits & Popular Movements: A Vermont History” in October 2021. View his Amazon page.

  • Clouds and a sunset

    Robin Brailsford (BFA ’75)

    Brailsford has a new website, Taking a break from LithoMosaics, she and Marsha Pels (MFA ’74) are traveling through Arizona in September. Arcosanti and Taliesin are in her professional sights, as well as back-country chilling with Navajo friends and Beaver College artists. Both artists will have work at Art Basil, Miami. Brailsford is publishing a book of photographs and will have a four-month jewelry show with painter partner Wick Alexander and pal Fritz Liebhardt in the largest state park in the country, Anza Borrego, starting in September. Pels was the toast of New York City with her 2021 show at Lubov last spring; see her website for New YorkTimes and Artforum raves.

  • Stephanie (Gruskin) Scalise (BFA ’94)

    Scalise is a five-year breast cancer survivor. After her first surgery her three daughters started the 501c3 nonprofit Strides for Survivors to give the gift of rehabilitation to other survivors. She invites those in Atlanta to support their annual walk each February; the sixth annual walk will be on February 5, 2022 with in-person and virtual opportunities.

  • July 2021

  • Semaj Miller (BFA ’09)

    Miller is writing and producing “More Life, ” a short film that chronicles Makai Thomas’ journey towards healing. Makai, like many of us, suffered a number of devastating losses last year, and as the world rushes to return to “normal,” he’s not ready.  He struggles with how to re-engage society and literally finds himself in a place where he must choose “More Life.” Follow on Instagram @MoreLife_Film.

  • Aviva Gold

    Aviva Gold (BFA ’62)

    Gold’s book, “Painting from the Source: Awakening the Artist’s Soul In Everyone” was published by Harper Collins in 1998. Aviva now resides in Oracle, Arizona, where she facilitates healing painting retreats and she also teaches nationally and internationally. Visit her website.

  • June 2021

  • Reid Watson

    Reid Watson (BFA ’15)

    Watson recently earned an M.F.A. in theatre-directing at the University of Alabama.

  • Nora Carrol

    Nora Carrol (BFA ’71, MS ’91)

    After careers in direct response marketing/development and adult education, Carrol is beginning a third…retirement is neither interesting nor profitable. Interests focus around digital communications, specifically their impact on knowledge diffusion and business incubation in emerging markets. She earned a second degree at Syracuse University (M.S. adult education, 1991) and just completed a certificate in public policy analysis via the London School of Economics. She is president of Educative, LLC.

  • Book cover of Avery's Gift

    Jonathan Hoefer (BFA ’91)

    Hoefer shares a timeless story of love, loss, friendship, and finding true colors, inspired by two children and the connection they forever share, in his children’s book “Avery’s Gift.” (Mascot Books, June 2021). This book is reminiscent of fables told long ago, with rhyming prose written by Hoefer, and watercolored imagery illustrated by Milana Samarskaya. “Avery’s Gift” is inspired by Hoefer’s Syracuse fraternity brother (SAE, NY Delta) Mike Toole and the health complications of his daughter, Avery, who ultimately required a heart transplant at the age of five. While “Avery’s Gift” does not talk specifically about organ donation, it illustrates how two lives are interconnected and can spark a conversation with readers of all ages.

  • May 2021

  • Marty Wimmer (BM ’86)

    Wimmer recently retired from a 34-year career as a public school music teacher, band director, and choral director. He is also a veteran classical music radio host on WNED Classical Buffalo/Toronto and an anchorman on WNED-PBS working on both local and national broadcasts. A gifted writer, he frequently blogs at He is also a published composer of music for school bands and choruses. His recent work titled “Through Music” is included as a competition piece in the new NYSSMA Manual. Currently he serves on the board of directors of Buffalo Opera Unlimited.

  • An open magazine

    Harriete Estel Berman (BFA ’74)

    Berman recently had an eight-page article and images about her jewelry from recycled materials in Ornament Magazine. (Jewelry from tin cans as social and political commentary.) Look for the 26-foot-long necklace from black plastic as a commentary about plastic in our oceans.