Outcomes: Alumni Stories

Watch this space as we share news about lives of Park School alumni.

Sara Schapiro '99

Sara Schapiro '99 is the Senior Director of the League of Innovative Schools at Digital Promise, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and learning technology developers. Prior to joining Digital Promise, Sara worked as a consultant for Pearson and the New Jersey Department of Education. Before those engagements, Sara 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.

Ryan Downer '00

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.

To read more about Ryan, visit Park's blog: http://the-work-we-do.org/

Nate Loewentheil '03

A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Nate Loewentheil '03 currently works at the White House as a Senior Policy Advisor at the National Economic Council and leads 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.

Adrienne Tarver '10

Adrienne Tarver '10As 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 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. 

Greg White '81Greg White '81

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/home.

Rachel Brown '06

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.

To learn more about Sisi ni Amani: http://sisiniamani.org/.  

Adam Gidwitz '00

Adam Gidwitz '00

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 latest book, The Empire Strikes Back: So you Want to Be a Jedi? is his retelling of the iconic Star Wars film. Published in the fall of 2015, this is Adam’s fourth children’s book.

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."  


Jenny Cooper '04

Working in the field of climate change policy and planning, Jenny Cooper '04 is a fellow in the Luce Scholars Program — a nationally competitive fellowship program launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. Jenny is spending her Luce year in Singapore working at the intersection of climate change, policy, and business.

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.

Alex Harding '04

Alex Harding '04In 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

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/

Edward Witten '68

Edward Witten '68Dr. 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, NJ. where they work on theories trying to tie together the basic particles and forces of the universe, particularly with string theory.

Jess Row '93

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 ReviewPloughshares, 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.