Class Notes

Photo by Mark Seliger/NBC

We are pleased that so many individuals, employers and community members share the personal and professional accomplishments of our alums. Send news of career advancements, awards, family additions, educational milestones and other achievements to COMtalk via

Radio host Howard Stern (CGS’74, COM’76) will return as a judge for a second season of the summer NBC television program America’s Got Talent. The program features performers with a variety of skills, from dancing and singing to magic and ventriloquism, who compete to win a $1 million prize. In 2012, for the seventh year, America’s Got Talent ranked as the number-one summer series on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in total viewers.

While a student at BU, Stern was a disc jockey at WTBU. His support over the years includes annual scholarships to students of CGS who are enrolling in COM during their junior year, and who express an interest in radio and broadcasting.

Lorrie Fink (’70, SED’73) showed her paintings and drawings in the solo exhibition WILD THINGS: The Unintended Landscape last fall at El Cerrito City Hall in California. Her series depicted native and exotic plants she has encountered in wilderness areas, in vacant lots and on the edges of cultivated gardens. See more of her work at, or email Lorrie at

The New York Times reported in February that NBC Universal has consolidated all its cable entertainment properties under Bonnie Hammer (CGS’69, COM’71, SED’75). Her responsibilities as chairman of the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group comprise executive oversight of 12 leading cable brands including USA, E! Entertainment and Universal HD, as well as production entities Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios. “The move,” the Times stated, “elevates Ms. Hammer to a position among the most prominent and powerful female executives in the television business.”

Patrick Kahn (’78) is producer and director of Snap! Orlando, a project to “increase the visibility and appreciation of photography as art and to enhance Orlando’s national presence as a vibrant cultural tourism destination.” Learn more at

Susan Rabin (’78) coauthored Jewish Community of Syracuse (Arcadia Publishing, 2011), a photographic history. Susan is a writer and an editor and has served on the boards of the Syracuse Hebrew Day School, the Rabbi Jacob H. Epstein High School of Jewish Studies and Vera House. She has lived in Syracuse since 1987 and has two children with her husband.

Erren Gottlieb (CGS’77, COM’79) is an executive producer and director of Biz Kid$ the Emmy-winning public television series that teaches kids about business and money. She was an executive producer of the popular 1990s series Bill Nye the Science Guy, which won 26 Emmys. Erren says she has her dream job.

Former BU roommates Rob Stegman (’81) and Todd Kwait (CAS’81), pictured at right and left with folk-revival great Geoff Muldaur, co-produced and directed For the Love of the Music: The Club 47 Folk Revival. The documentary brings to life the world of Cambridge’s Club 47, a hotbed of folk music revival that influenced Bob Dylan and launched the careers of Joan Baez (a onetime BU College of Fine Arts student) and Tom Rush. The film won the Indie Spec Best Documentary award at the Boston International Film Festival in 2012. Stegman and Kwait are now collaborating on a film about Tom Rush. Read an article about Club 47 and the making of the film here. Photo by Kevin Parker, courtesy of Ezzie Films

Peter Morton Coan (’81) published Toward a Better Life: America’s New Immigrants in Their Own Words—From Ellis Island to the Present (Prometheus Books, 2011). His work has appeared in publications such as TIME magazine, The New York Times and Newsday. He is the creator and principal owner of

Richard Abrahams (’83) published Long Beach Lullaby (Fast Pencil, 2011), an offbeat mystery about two former college friends who travel back in time to save the life of a woman whose body washed ashore on a Long Island beach in 1931.

Beautiful homicide detective meets man with scary, superhuman secret. Gary Fleder (’85) directed the pilot for The CW’s Beauty and the Beast, which aired in October and, according to Deadline Hollywood, is his ninth pilot to go to series.

The site reported in September that Fleder’s company, Mojo Films, signed a two-year deal with CBS TV Studios, in which Fleder will continue as an executive producer of the series. He will also develop and executive produce series projects for CBS with Mary Beth Basile, his producing partner at Mojo. Fleder is slated to direct the pilot for CBS’s Oxygen, a series about a teen who falls in love with an alien boy at her high school.

Don Van Natta, Jr. (’86) published Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Little, Brown and Company, 2011), a biography of the first woman to play in the PGA golf tournament.

Christopher Koch (CGS’84, COM’87) is one of the directors of the Emmy Award-winning ABC comedy Modern Family, which recently won the 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series—Comedy or Musical. Chris has been with the show for three seasons. His other directing credits include the television shows Scrubs and My Name Is Earl and the films Snow Day and A Guy Thing. While at BU, Chris won the Redstone award for Best Student Film.

David A. Simon (’87) has joined Massey Knakal Realty Services as the executive managing director. He will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations, recruiting and expanding Massey Knakal’s service lines throughout New Jersey.

Carter Blanchard (’88)’s sci-fi spec script, Glimmer, was picked up by DreamWorks in a bidding war, and was scheduled to head into production in June. Directed by Ringan Ledwidge, the found-footage-style film features a group of high school seniors who discover a time portal while camping in the woods. When three of the friends disappear into the past, the two who remain must find a way to protect the present—even as their pasts begin to change.

Paul Moniz (’88) is managing director of communications and marketing at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University. Previously, Paul was director of the college’s Philip and Rita Rosen Department of Communications and Public Affairs.

Linda Goodspeed (’89) published Redfield Proctor & the Division of Rutland (The History Press, 2011).

Peter DiCampo

More than one billion people worldwide live without access to electricity; with his photography, Peter DiCampo (’05) raises awareness of their struggles. In spring 2012, thanks in part to his Life Without Lights project, DiCampo was selected by Photo District News as one of “30 new and emerging photographers to watch.”

The project began, DiCampo told BU Today, when he was working as a volunteer in the Peace Corps in the Ghanaian village of Wantugu. “I was out wandering one evening and noticed the children reading the Koran by flashlight in the village’s central mosque,” he said. “I was attracted by the beauty of the situation—the hypnotic recital of the passages and the earnest way they studied by flashlight—so I made a few pictures and recorded some audio on an iPod.”

DiCampo’s latest project, Everyday Africa, invites participants to fill in the gaps of their understanding of Africa by posting images from daily life that go beyond the more extreme news images of the continent. The project has been featured in publications including The New York Times, has nearly 20,000 Instagram followers and was exhibited at Lincoln Center this spring. All photos by Peter DiCampo

See more Life Without Lights photos.

Laura Behling (’91) has been appointed dean and vice president for academic affairs at Knox College.

Artistic Director Catherine Burns (’91) and Producing Director Sarah Austin Jenness (’00) are at the helm of the Moth, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to storytelling. At each live Moth show, which has a theme (such as “silver lining” or “mothers”), participants share true stories based on their lives. The best performances are then broadcasted on Moth Radio Hour, which Catherine and Sarah cohost. Story subjects have run the gamut from a real-life Indiana Jones who works with big cats to an African American woman who took a hospice job tending to a Klansman. To read more and see a video from the show, visit

Diana Carmenates (CGS’89, COM’91) is vice president of meetings and educational services at the International Dairy Foods Association in Washington, D.C.

A+E Networks announced that Nancy Dubuc (’91) has been appointed president of entertainment and media. She oversees all content creation, brand development and marketing for the entire A+E Networks portfolio including A&E, Lifetime and HISTORY and their affiliated brands. In addition, she oversees A+E Networks’ International and Digital Divisions. Nancy was appointed to the position in September 2012. Previously, she was president and general manager of the HISTORY and Lifetime networks.

Mike Woolf (CGS’89, COM’91) runs Beef & Pie Productions, an award-winning production company that has done commercials for Southwest Airlines and webisodes for the US Air Force. Beef & Pie Productions recently collaborated with the app company Bohemian Innovation to create a game that rewards players with a free viewing of its short documentary Life Is Marvelous! Learn more at

Daniel Palmer (CAS’91, COM’95) published Helpless (Kensington Books, 2012), about a former Navy Seal who moves back to New Hampshire to raise his teenage daughter following the murder of his ex-wife. Daniel spent a decade in e-commerce before starting a career writing techno-thrillers.

Jordan K. Debes (’96) has joined The Cabot Group as vice president of multifamily asset management.

Josh Weinstein (CGS’03, COM’05)’s short film I Beat Mike Tyson, which rediscovers boxer Kevin McBride six years after his 2005 win against Mike Tyson, is screening at festivals across the country. In March it was shown at BU’s Cinematheque alongside Weinstein’s latest work, Drivers Wanted. Boston Globe correspondent and Boston College professor Carlo Rotella called Weinstein’s film about McBride a “quietly affecting mini-documentary” that topped 2010’s acclaimed The Fighter. Learn more about Weinstein’s films here. Photo courtesy of Josh Weinstein

Tama Ryder (’96) published Where’s the Watch?! and Other Tales: A Memoir from Seinfeld’s Uncle Leo (Staff Picks Press, 2011), which she wrote with the late actor Len Lesser. Fellow BU alum and Seinfeld actor Jason Alexander (CFA’81, Hon.’95) contributed to the book. Visit

Alex Poulos (’97) is writing a monthly business column for The MetroWest Daily News, a chain of suburban newspapers around Boston. His recent topics include stress in small business, special occasion shopping and staging a sales meeting. Alex is president of LaunchPad Media, an interactive media firm. He’s written op-eds for The Boston Globe, The Boston Egotist (a blog for the advertising community) and for his company blog. Alex can be reached at

Kelly McGonigal (’99, CAS’99), a psychology instructor at Stanford University and a science journalist, published The Willpower Instinct: How Self-Control Works, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do to Get More of It (Avery, 2012). The book explains how we can break old habits and create healthy ones, conquer procrastination, focus better and manage stress.

Steve Kornacki (’01) has been named the new host of Up on MSNBC.

Deirdre Fulton (’04) published the young adult novel Fury (Simon Pulse, 2011) under the pen name Elizabeth Miles. Visit or

Courtesy of Jennifer Corbett

In seven years, Walter William Clark, Jr. went from beat cop to New York City’s youngest-ever commissioner. And his heady rise owed much to Jennifer Corbett (’10); she penned his script.

Corbett was a writer for Golden Boy, a CBS police drama that aired in early 2013. In the words of the promo, it followed “one cop’s journey to the top.” The twist? We saw Clark, played by Theo James, in the present and the future.

To help his ambitions soar—and manage the audience’s time traveling—Corbett chose Clark’s words carefully: “Whenever I finish a scene, I constantly ask myself, ‘What did that accomplish and how did it propel the story?’ If I hesitate with a response, I know it’s not working and it’s time to start over.”

Corbett cracked the industry after a BU internship got her a foot in the door on A&E’s Breakout Kings. She says Golden Boy, which premiered in February 2013, wasn’t “just a case-of-the-week” cop procedural.

“It was also a very character-driven drama,” she says. “You really got a sense of who each character was, where they came from and what drove them to do this job. They were all good cops, but they were also all flawed. I think that made them more real, more relatable and more interesting to watch.”

Not that Corbett found it easy to watch. For her, the air date was one hour of picking the show apart, spotting “what is working and what I should have tweaked,” until the credits rolled and she could “take a breath and smile.”—Andrew Thurston

Vanessa A. Czarnecki (’06) has been promoted to news editor and director of digital content for the Vineyard Gazette in Massachusetts.

Reneé Spurlin (’06) was recently promoted from director to vice president of client services at communications 21, a marketing public relations firm.

Kasia (Katarzyna) Zabawa (’08, CAS’08) was recently promoted to deputy director of communications at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Former classmates can email Kasia at

Kristen Ruby (CGS’07, COM’09)’s company, Ruby Media Group, won 34 awards from the Advertising Club of Westchester, in New York, at the annual Big W Gala. The Big W Awards honor the most creative, innovative and memorable public relations, marketing and advertising campaigns in the region.

Laura K. Oggeri (’10) has organized an event, a “Night for Newtown,” to benefit the EverWonder Children’s Museum in her hometown of Newtown, Connecticut.

Jamie Newton (’12, GSM’12) is vice president of business development at the Los Angeles-based company Tongal ( Tongal matches global creative talent with brands and companies to create original online video content. Anyone can pitch an idea, and the winners are paid for their work. Tongal, which launched in 2008, has raised $15 million with Insight Venture Partners.

Mark Denega (’09, ’12), cocreator and former director/producer of the BU web series COMlife, is directing and producing his first feature film. H.O.P.E. Was Here, inspired by the book Peace of Me by associate producer Travis Kumph, explores the merits and pitfalls of short-term volunteering abroad. The documentary, a collaboration among alumni of Boston-area colleges, observes Stonehill College students volunteering on spring break in Lima, Peru. Andrew Duncan Will (CFA’12) is the sound designer; Matt Tranzillo (’14) is in charge of development and web design. Visit

Above: Denega (left) and Kumph (right) on location in Canto Grande, one of the poorest areas in Lima, Peru. Photo by Anna DeSousa

One Comment on Class Notes

  • I would love to re connect with com school graduates from my class of ’58. It’s been a while but I know it would be great to catch up !!!!


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