Nancy M. Zirkin ’64 is the Executive Vice President and Director of Policy at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of over 210 national groups, and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, directing the coalition’s congressional lobbying efforts in the defense and promotion of civil and constitutional rights and liberties.
Since 1971, Nancy has worked to advocate public policy that improves the lives of all people by promoting civil and constitutional rights and equity in education and in the workplace. Her efforts to advance civil rights have included grassroots organizing, lobbying members of Congress and state legislators, and personally supporting candidates who believe in equal opportunity and fair treatment for all Americans.
Prior to The Leadership Conference, Nancy served as Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a 150,000-member national organization. In addition to being AAUW’s chief lobbyist, in 1995 she created and directed the AAUW Voter Education Campaign, which reached more than one million women voters during the 2000 election.
Nancy’s efforts for the advancement of women began when she worked in the women’s rights division for the Muskie for President Campaign. Since that time, she has worked on various issues, elections, and voter education campaigns advocating improving the lives of women and girls. She held a number of positions at AAUW throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and, as a volunteer, served for over seven years on the executive board of the Women’s Campaign Fund, a bi-partisan organization dedicated to electing pro-choice women to office. Nancy was also on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Leadership Forum and the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, and is active in several community-based projects.
While in the private sector, Nancy was Executive Vice President of Harry D. Myerberg Associated Companies, Inc., in Baltimore, directing all aspects relating to the operation and administration of companies responsible for the property management of approximately 2,000 HUD-insured apartments in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Annapolis.
Nancy was appointed to the Woodrow Wilson Center Board of Directors by President William J. Clinton in 1998, and to the United States Institute of Peace Board of Directors by President George W. Bush in 2008. She is also a National Trustee for Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the Leadership Council Chair for No Kid Hungry, and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Washington National Opera.
After graduating from Park, Nancy earned her B.A. in History and Political Science from Old Dominion University.
Rachel Vogelstein ’96 is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, D.C., and a professor of Gender and U.S. Foreign Policy at Georgetown Law School. At CFR, Rachel’s research focuses on the relationship between women's advancement and prosperity, stability, and security. She is the author of Ending Child Marriage (2013) and How Women’s Participation in Conflict Prevention and Resolution Advances U.S. Interests (2016).
As senior advisor on women’s issues for the Hillary for America campaign, Rachel developed domestic and global policy and led a coalition of over 200 women’s leaders and organizations. She also served as an advisor to the Clinton-Kaine transition team. From 2009 to 2012, Rachel was Director of Policy and Senior Advisor in the Office of Global Women's Issues within the Office of the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State, advising Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first-ever U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women's issues, on a range of foreign policy issues related to the advancement of women. She also represented the U.S. Department of State as a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
Following her tenure in government, Rachel served as the director of Women’s and Girls’ Programs in the Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Clinton Foundation, where she oversaw the development of the No Ceilings initiative and provided guidance on domestic and global women’s issues.
An attorney by training with expertise on gender equality, Rachel was senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C., prior to joining the State Department. In 2004, she was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to work on women's health policy. She also served as assistant counsel to then-Senator Clinton's first presidential campaign and on the staff of her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign. She has lectured widely on the rights of women and girls, including at the U.S. Congressional Women's Caucus, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Foreign Service Institute, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Harvard Law School, and Yale University.
Rachel is a recipient of the Secretary of State's Superior Honor Award and a National Association of Women Lawyers Award, and she serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Child Research Center.
After Park, Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, and cum laude from Georgetown Law School, where she was executive editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. Following law school, Rachel clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Tom Rothman ’72 is Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, overseeing all of the studio’s motion picture production for Columbia Pictures, TriStar, Screen Gems, and Sony Classics. Tom was recently honored with the Producers Guild of America’s 2017 Milestone Award, the Guild’s most prestigious honor. In their statement, the chairs of the Producers Guild Awards said, "Our industry has benefited immensely from Tom's instincts, tenacity and vision. From his championing of independent storytellers early in his career to his nurturing of studio films on an epic scale, Tom's passion for movies has been one of the unstoppable creative engines of our business."
Before joining Sony Pictures in late 2013 as Chairman of TriStar Productions, Tom served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment, overseeing all of the studio’s filmmaking operations. Prior to becoming Chairman, he held the positions of President of Twentieth Century Fox Film Group, President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox, and President of Fox Searchlight Pictures, which he founded in 1994. Throughout 18 years at Fox, his track record includes the two highest grossing films in cinematic history, more than 150 Academy Award® nominations, and four Best Picture Oscar awards.
Tom was appointed by President Obama to the National Council of the Arts. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sundance Institute and the American Film Institute (emeritus), and serves on the Board of Brown University (emeritus), California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the Priceline Group.
Before all of this, Tom was a Park School student happily involved in everything the school had to offer: he played three Varsity sports, acted in theater productions, and was editor of Postscript. After graduating from Park, Tom attended Brown University, earning a B.A. with Honors in English and American Literature, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and was an All New England Division I selection in lacrosse. He briefly taught English and coached soccer and lacrosse after Brown, and then earned a J.D. at Columbia University School of Law, graduating as a two-time James Kent Scholar, the school’s highest academic honor. Tom clerked for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals before working for Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz.
An associate in Venable’s Tax and Wealth Planning Group in the Baltimore office, Nikki Hasselbarth ’04 focuses her practice on assisting clients with estate planning, wealth management, and business succession. Nikki also works extensively with tax-exempt organizations, including public charities and private foundations, to ensure that such charitable entities can maintain compliance with changing tax laws, and are able to fulfill their mission through deliberate and informed counsel.
After graduating from Park, Nikki attended Columbia University in New York where she majored in Comparative Ethnic Studies, a program that allowed her to pursue her interests in the intersections of race, class, ethnicity, and gender. Following her undergraduate studies, she joined Teach for America (TFA) in Houston, where she taught third and fourth grade for two years. Nikki then headed to Duke Law School, where she was a Booth Scholar, a Senior Research Editor for the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, and a Lead Editor for the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change. While at Duke, Nikki also became involved in Duke’s Wrongful Conviction Clinic and the Innocence Project, a national effort to overturn wrongful convictions and to reform our country’s legal justice system.
An alumni of the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.), Nikki now helps to lead the organization by serving on its Board of Trustees and Strategic Planning Committee. B.E.S.T. recruits and supports academically ambitious African American children with financial need in the Baltimore area by assisting such students through the admissions process as they apply to independent schools.
Nikki was recently honored by The Daily Record as one of their “20 in Their Twenties” — a list recognizing young professionals whose creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are contributing to a new energy in Maryland.
Jacob Vogelstein ’96 is a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Camden Partners Holdings, LLC, where he focuses on Camden’s seed strategy in the biomedical technology realm.
Prior to joining Camden, Jacob was a founding partner of the seed-stage venture capital firm Gamma 3, LLC, and a Program Manager at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), where he made investments in high-risk, high-reward research to benefit the US Intelligence Community. Earlier in his career, Jacob served on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering.
Jacob has received widespread recognition for his innovative work in biomedical engineering over the past decade. In 2017, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, which is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their research careers. He was nominated for the award for his cumulative research contributions up to 2014, including his work leading IARPA’s MICrONS program, one of the most ambitious research efforts within the U.S. government and a key part of the White House BRAIN [Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies] Initiative. "Jacob is leading breakthroughs in our understanding of computation in the brain," noted the Director of IARPA.
He has been an invited speaker for diverse audiences ranging from BBC News to President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications, and has three patents pending in the fields of neuroprosthetics and brain-machine interfaces. Jacob also currently serves on the board of Sisu Global Health, PreScience Labs, and Metabolon.
After graduating from Park, Jacob earned a Sc.B. degree from Brown University in Bio-Electrical Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Yohance Allette ’05 is a student in Indiana University School of Medicine’s M.D./Ph.D. program with a focus on Anatomy and Cellular Biology. The combined degree is designed for individuals committed to a career that intimately incorporates research with clinical care — or, as Yohance says, “connecting the bench to bedside.” Recently having defended his Ph.D. thesis (“Modulatory Actions of HMGB1 on TLR4 and RAGE in the Primary Afferent Sensory Neuron”), Yohance is completing his medical school rotations to finish out the dual degree. Next for Yohance: pursuing his chosen profession, “working with people, seeing ideas, and finding the connection.”
Yohance earned a B.S. in Biological Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and was a recipient of the Meyerhoff Scholarship — a program offered to undergraduate students of all backgrounds who plan to pursue doctoral study in the sciences or engineering, and who are interested in the advancement of minorities in those fields. The program has been at the forefront of efforts to increase diversity among future leaders in science, engineering, and related fields.
Ruth Franklin ’91 is a book critic and former editor at The New Republic. She has written for many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and Salmagundi, to which she contributes a regular film column. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism.
Ruth’s first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction, was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. Her latest book, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, was published to much critical acclaim in September 2016. According to the starred review from Patrick A. Smith in Library Journal:
“Drawing on a trove of research—including previously unpublished letters and interviews—and her own astute analysis of Jackson’s fiction, Franklin gives her subject her much-deserved due and sets the standard for future literary biographers wresting with the legacy and the unwarranted inattention of a major figure in 20th-century American literature. Highly recommended for readers of Jackson’s fiction as well as those interested in the connection between the inner lives of authors and their work.”
After graduating from Park, Ruth earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Columbia University, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University.
Charlie Hankin ’06 is a writer, animator, and performer. After graduating from New York University, Charlie tutored math and physics and started a web series called "Good Cop Great Cop." The series was an official selection at the New York Television Festival and has been screened at SXSW. It also led to a Comedy Central web series called "New Timers," in which co-stars Charlie and Matt look for love, debate questions of etiquette, and search for the essentials they’ll need to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Charlie writes, directs, and stars in the show with "Good Cop Great Cop" co-creator Matt Porter. Charlie and Matt have performed their sketches at SF Sketchfest, the New York Comedy Festival, and the Vancouver Sketch Comedy Festival.
Charlie also became a cartoonist for The New Yorker in 2013. His work appears there regularly, as well as in the UK's Private Eye magazine. He does work-for-hire illustration for big companies like AMC Networks and General Electric, too.
This year, Charlie has co-written two pilots for cable networks. Be on the lookout for his next project.
A graduate of the University of Rochester’s Engineering 3-2 Program (earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years instead of six), Erica Gelb ’05 is an Electrical Engineer for Northrop Grumman focusing on hardware engineering. Before joining her current group at the company, she participated in a rotation program, which allowed her to work in different areas before choosing a focus. While her group specializes in radio-frequency (RF) engineering, her projects range from digital, RF, integration, and test. Erica loves the variety of projects, whether it’s working on small, internal demo jobs, trying to prove out technically difficult concepts for the first time, or on production jobs where the company builds, integrates, and tests the actual hardware that gets sold to customers. She’s technically challenged each day at work, and constantly learning.
Outside of work, Erica is passionate about volunteering for Circle Camps for Grieving Children, an organization that offers a one-week overnight camp for young girls who have experienced the death of a parent. The camp is completely free, run entirely on donations and volunteers. Erica has volunteered at Circle of Tapawingo in Maine for the past seven summers, but she also stays involved year-round through planning, fundraising, and other behind the scenes logistics to get ready for camp each summer. Since its founding in 2002, the organization has grown from 36 campers in one program in Maine, to 285 campers in four programs in Maine, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.
A three-sport athlete at Park, Erica's competitive spirit carried through to college and graduate school, where she played Varsity Field Hockey and Varsity Lacrosse. Since high school, she has also been involved with Maccabi USA, a nonprofit that sends teams of American Jewish athletes to compete against Jewish athletes from other countries around the world. Erica played field hockey for Team USA in Sydney, Australia, in 2006, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the Maccabi Pan Am Games in 2007-08, in Israel at the "Maccabiah" event in 2009, and in Santiago, Chile, at the Maccabi Pan Am Games in 2016, where she was the team’s assistant coach and extra player.
After graduating from Park, Erica earned her B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2009, and her M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in VLSI, with class emphasis in digital IC design and FPGA programming from the school in 2010 in the Engineering 3-2 Program. She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Tzekek, and the Keidaeans.
Adam Gidwitz '00 is the author of the bestselling children's books A Tale Dark and Grimm (2010), In a Glass Grimmly (2012), and The Grimm Conclusion (2013). His fourth book, The Empire Strikes Back: So you Want to Be a Jedi?, is his retelling of the iconic Star Wars film.
Adam's latest book, The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, published in fall 2016, and won a 2017 Newbery Honor in addition to a Gold Medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award's Older Readers category.
After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in English literature, Adam taught second grade at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, N.Y., while attending Bank Street College of Education in the evenings. He drew inspiration from students who were enthralled by his reading of the original Grimms’ fairy tale stories. Now a full-time writer, Adam also travels around the country visiting schools.
A Tale Dark and Grimm was named a New York Times Editor's Choice, A Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Children's Book of the Year, a 2010 ALA Notable Book, and was chosen by The Atlantic’s wire blog for their 2012 Young Adult/Middle Grade Book Awards as the “Best Stories to Keep Telling (Or Reading)."
According to the starred review in School Library Journal, “Gidwitz is terrifying and funny at the same time. His storytelling is so assured that it’s hard to believe this is his debut novel. And his treatment of the Grimms’ tales is a whole new thing. It’s equally easy to imagine parents keeping their kids up late so they can read just one more chapter aloud, kids finishing it off under the covers with a flashlight, and parents sneaking into their kids’ rooms to grab it off the nightstand and finish it themselves."
Discovering a new passion for producing apps and technical projects, Shana is currently a Web Developer at HelloWorld, responsible for coding and deploying monthly website campaigns and emails for Xbox Live Rewards members. She had previously worked as an Email Developer for the same program, building and sending anywhere between 9 and 13 million emails each month.
After graduating from Park with the Class of 2002, Shana earned a B.A. in African Studies with a minor in Music & Culture Correlate from Vassar College, and an M.A. in Communications from Syracuse University.
A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Nate Loewentheil '03 worked in the Obama White House as a Senior Policy Advisor at the National Economic Council and led the Administration’s work in Baltimore City. In early 2005, while in his sophomore year at Yale College, he helped found the Roosevelt Campus Network, a national progressive organization engaging college students in progressive politics, and later served from 2007 to 2009 as executive director. During his time there, he helped expand the organization from a college start-up to a robust national network with nearly 100 college chapters around the country. Nate is also a co-founder of the Millennial Action Project and previously sat on the Board of Directors of the New Leaders Council. Nate has written commentary in the The New York Times, Salon, Politico and The Democracy Journal, submitted testimony to Congress on Social Security, and published research on housing and climate change. He is the editor of a 2008 book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era.
As a defender on the Yale University Women's Lacrosse team — and captain of the 2013-2014 team — Adrienne Tarver '10 was featured in the February 2013 issue of Lacrosse Magazine (produced by US Lacrosse). The subject of a full-page Q&A, the former Bruin was asked about her "proudest moment" of her lacrosse career. Her response:
When my high school team, Park School of Baltimore, won our conference championship my senior year against one of our rival schools. It was the perfect end to my high school career.
Here at Park, Adrienne was a three-time All Conference player ('08, '09, '10), Academic All America 2010, First Team High School All America 2010, Two time IAAM B Conference champion ('09, '10), and captain of the team in 2010. She was captain of both the basketball and soccer teams, as well, and was named All Conference for basketball.
Adrienne is currently pursuing a law degree at Columbia University. Most recently, Adrienne worked as a Commercial Credit Analyst at BMO Harris Bank in Chicago, as well as a mentor in the Chicago Scholars Foundation program, guiding under-resourced high school seniors through the college application process. While at Yale, she majored in Economics and African American Studies.
Dr. Edward Witten '68, a mathematical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, received the Fields Medal in 1990 for his work in string theory. In 2012, Witten was among the nine recipients of a new prize rewarding work at the cutting edges of physics research. The $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize was awarded for the first time in 2012. Witten and three other recipients work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where they work on theories trying to tie together the basic particles and forces of the universe, particularly with string theory.
Greg White '81 knows the importance of an exceptional education. As the President & CEO of LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago, it’s Greg’s mission to ensure that all 3,600 students enrolled in eight pre-K-8 LEARN schools have the same experiences and opportunities that he had as a student at Park. His charge is to provide all students, regardless of income, the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. He strives to offer a safe and nurturing environment that meets each child’s academic, social, emotional, and psychological needs, and encourages them to take risks, try new things, and have the resolve to pursue their passions.
Featured on Oprah as one of six schools "getting it right" in the United States' educational system, the charter school group was one of the recipients of a $1,000,000 grant from Oprah's Angel Network. They also received a $1,000,000 grant from the United States Department of Education.
After graduating from Park, Greg attended Brown University and received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. In addition to being President & CEO of LEARN, Greg is also an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Read more about LEARN Charter Schools at http://www.learncharter.org/.
With experience working in the field of climate change policy and planning, Jenny Cooper ’04 is the new Director of Environmental Education and Sustainability at The Northwest School in Seattle. As part of her work, Jenny identifies opportunities to collaborate across disciplines and grade levels to support the school’s mission with regard to environmental sustainability. Most recently, Jenny lived in Singapore as a Henry Luce Scholar, working at a software company that uses behavioral science to drive residential energy efficiency improvements.
Prior to moving to Singapore, Jenny was a graduate student at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute, a partnership between the School of Natural Resources & Environment and the Stephen M. Ross School of Business. Her graduate work focused on climate change mitigation and adaptation, and the intersecting roles of the private and public sectors. She graduated with dual degrees: an M.S. in Natural Resources and Environment and an M.B.A. For her capstone project, she worked with a five-student team to conduct Detroit’s first-ever greenhouse gas emissions inventory — an accounting of all GHG emissions resulting from activities within the City of Detroit. While in graduate school, Jenny also managed a peer coaching program for 30 students. She received numerous awards at the University of Michigan, including the Dean’s Scholarship and the Dow Sustainability Fellowship.
Before attending graduate school, Jenny worked at the Washington, D.C., office of the Environmental Defense Fund, a large U.S.-based environmental advocacy organization. While at EDF, Jenny represented the organization at the United Nations climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Cancun, Durban, Warsaw, London, and Montreal, and worked closely with NGOs in the U.S. and abroad. Jenny graduated from UC Berkeley in 2008 with a B.A. (High Distinction) in Geography and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. She was the co-founder of the Berkeley Project, the University’s largest community service event, and an active member of Cal Habitat for Humanity.
An International Relations major at Tufts University, Rachel Brown '06 had researched conflict and political corruption in India, Guatemala, and Kenya. Inspired by her previous experiences and eager to return to community-based work, she decided to move back to Nairobi. By using cell phones and a website to visually map out different peace organizations and events at the local level, she hoped that she could help peace groups connect with each other, facilitating stronger outcomes. While in Kenya, she realized she could use mobile technology to help local peace groups effectively compete with and counteract messages inciting violence.
Four years later, Rachel finally returned to Baltimore after having helped found an organization called Sisi ni Amani, which means “We are Peace Kenya” in Kiswahili. The following is an excerpt from an article Rachel wrote discussing her experiences in Kenya and how her organization pioneered using text messaging to prevent violence and increase civic engagement and education in Kenyan elections.
In 2010, I began to work with local peace activists in Kenya and together we asked ourselves: if mobile phones are an effective medium to reach people rapidly and influence behavior and perceptions, can’t we use them too? We founded Sisi ni Amani Kenya (SNA-K) – meaning ‘We are Peace Kenya’ in Kiswahili – to amplify the voices of grassroots peace leaders and compete with flows of information promoting violence. We designed a platform that community members could subscribe to for free from their mobile phones. We did door to door outreach and in partnership with over 50 local peace groups, we subscribed over 65,000 people in more than seven target areas across the country by the time of the next presidential elections in March 2013. Once they subscribed, we could send them targeted messages on a mass scale.
Back in Baltimore, Rachel is currently a fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum's Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. She also recently launched a new nonprofit, Sisi ni Amani International, here in Baltimore, helping organizations both globally and locally to develop plans to prevent violence and promote civic engagement.
To learn more about Sisi ni Amani: http://sisiniamani.org/.
Ryan Downer ’00 has been practicing civil rights law since 2009. He has advocated extensively for fair housing as an NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney working on Thompson v. HUD, a lawsuit which successfully challenged the federal government’s decades-long practice of exclusively siting public housing in the most segregated, economically depressed neighborhoods in Baltimore City.
After graduating from Park with the class of 2000, Ryan attended Harvard, earning an A.B. in Government, and New York University School of Law for a J.D. He is now an associate at Relman, Dane & Colfax in D.C., where he litigates cases in federal trial and appellate courts, focusing on race and disability discrimination in housing, fair lending, and employment. Ryan is also a frequent lecturer and presenter at legal conferences and universities, including the Airlie Civil Rights Training Conference, Harvard Law School, the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Rutgers Law School, Brooklyn College and the National Black Law Students Association Conference.
To read more about Ryan, visit Park's blog: http://the-work-we-do.org/
Sara Schapiro ’99 is VP of Education at PBS, leading the broadcaster's efforts to deepen partnerships across the education sector by engaging directly with educator communities, and launching new initiatives that empower and support students, educators, parents, and member stations. Sara pursues opportunities to expand the company’s educational impact through PBS LearningMedia, a digital platform of classroom-ready PBS resources aligned to curriculum standards, and through PBS Digital Innovators, a community of PreK-12 educators who are thought leaders and classroom change-makers, among other initiatives.
Previously, Sara helped found Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit that works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and learning technology developers, improving all Americans’ opportunity to learn. She launched and led its flagship initiative, the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of public school districts that fosters collaboration among educators, entrepreneurs, researchers, and thought partners.
Prior to Digital Promise, Sara worked as a consultant for Pearson and the New Jersey Department of Education, and led a portfolio of initiatives at The Fund for Public Schools, which manages the public-private partnerships for the New York City Department of Education. During graduate school, Sara worked at Chicago Public Schools in Alternative Programs and Student Transitions, and was an Education Pioneers Fellow at the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.
Sara earned a master's in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and graduated with honors from Duke University with a bachelor's in International and Comparative Area Studies and Spanish Literature.
In 2007, Alex Harding '04 founded Water Ecuador, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of impoverished communities by providing long-term access to clean water. Water Ecuador, or Agua Muisne in Spanish, builds and manages water treatment centers for rural communities in Ecuador. Water Ecuador provides water to 2,000 Ecuadorians every day, which has been associated with a 52 percent lower rate of waterborne illness in that population.
During the summer of 2006, Alex traveled to Muisne, Ecuador, to volunteer in a health clinic. After seeing many children come through the emergency room with illnesses caused by lack of safe water, he investigated and found that their drinking water was being drawn from locations within a few meters of leaky sewage lines. After a year of studying, fundraising, and team-building in the U.S. and Ecuador, Alex returned to Muisne and, with a team of local Muisneños, designed and built Muisne’s first clean drinking water center.
After graduating from college, Alex moved to Ecuador for a year and set up three more treatment centers in nearby towns. In the fall of 2009, he entered the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he was able to investigate the medical effects of waterborne illnesses, and even published a study at the School of Public Health on a new water treatment process that he had discovered. Pursuing his interests further, Alex took a leave of absence from medical school to receive an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he studied healthcare and international development. He finished medical school and is now in residency in Internal Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and he continues his work with Water Ecuador on the Board of Directors.
For more information about Agua Muisne, visit www.WaterEcuador.org.
Matthew Porterfield '95, the independent filmmaker behind Putty Hill and Hamilton, won the Janet and Walter Sondheim [Class of 1925] Artscape Prize in 2011. He was a participating artist in the 2012 Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial and received a Creative Capital grant for Film/Video and Visual Arts.
Matt's third film, I Used To Be Darker, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. In 2015, his films were included in MoMA's first installment of their new series Our Town, with a focus on movies made in Baltimore by Barry Levinson, John Waters, and Matt. The Baltimore series ran in December and featured prints of Matt's first feature Hamilton (16mm) and I Used To Be Darker.
Matt's latest film, Take What You Can Carry, is his first narrative short and is his most personal and formally playful work yet (and his first film made outside of Baltimore). Take What You Can Carry had its world premiere in competition at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival and its North American premiere at Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real.”
Matt attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He currently teaches screenwriting and production in the Film and Media Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University. For more information about his films, visit http://hamiltonfilmgroup.org/.
An award-winning author, Jess Row '93 was named a "Best Young American Novelist" in 2007 by Granta — publisher of the best new literary writing and art. His first book, The Train to Lo Wu, a collection of short stories set in Hong Kong, was published in 2005. In 2006 it was shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award and was a finalist for the Kiriyama Prize and the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. His second collection of stories, Nobody Ever Gets Lost, was published in 2011, and his first novel, Your Face in Mine, was published in 2014.
His stories have appeared in The Atlantic, Tin House, Conjunctions, Boston Review, Ploughshares, Granta, American Short Fiction, Threepenny Review, Ontario Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere, have been anthologized three times in The Best American Short Stories (most recently in The Best American Short Stories 2011), and have won two Pushcart Prizes and a PEN/O. Henry Award. He has also received an NEA fellowship in fiction and a Whiting Writers Award. His nonfiction and criticism appear often in The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Threepenny Review, and Boston Review, among other venues.
After college, Jess taught English for two years as a Yale-China fellow at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He completed an M.F.A at the University of Michigan. He is currently an associate professor of English at The College of New Jersey and a member of the international faculty of the M.F.A program at the City University of Hong Kong.