Alumni making headlines around the world

A federal judge has barred the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) from issuing permits for cabs unless they’re wheelchair accessible, in the Noel v. TLC case argued by lead attorney Julia Pinover ’02. Currently fewer than 2 percent of New York’s taxis—or 233 of the 13,000 cabs—are wheelchair accessible, providing a ramp that permits a passenger to remain in a wheelchair while boarding. This ruling marks the first time in history that a federal court has held the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act applicable to a taxi fleet. Pinover, who directs the New York office of the nonprofit legal center Disability Rights Advocates, called the ruling a “landmark civil rights accomplishment for all people with disabilities.” She told the Associated Press, “Tonight, tens of thousands of veterans, elderly and other disabled New Yorkers are absolutely thrilled. My clients will be able to own their own days and move about this city.”

Marc Lajoie ’08, a graduate student in chemical biology and genome engineering at Harvard Medical School, was included in Forbes’ 2011 “30 Under 30” list in the rising-stars-of-science category. The 26-year-old’s research could “kick-start genome engineering,” Forbes declared in December, thanks to “powerful new methods to change many of an organism’s genes at once.”

The results of the January New Hampshire presidential primary made Tom Rath ’67 a happy man. Rath directed Mitt Romney’s campaign in the Granite State and watched his candidate cruise to victory, garnering nearly 40 percent of the vote. Rath has been working in politics since his freshman year at Dartmouth, when he campaigned for Nelson Rockefeller ’30 in Grafton County. “No serious Republican presidential hopeful comes through New Hampshire without stopping by Rath’s Concord office,” Bloomberg news service declared in early January. When asked how campaigning all over New Hampshire benefits presidential candidates, the former New Hampshire attorney general told Bloomberg, “As flawed and difficult and frustrating as this process may be, it would be much more so and less human if you didn’t have real people sitting across the table and telling candidates how they live. It makes the winner a better president.”

Cruise ship entertainer extraordinaire Matt Yee ’82 has been described as “Elton John meets Margaret Cho” by the San Francisco Chronicle. Fans of his sing-alongs follow him from ship to ship, booking specific Royal Caribbean International cruises solely because he’ll be in residence at the Schooner Bar’s piano. In December the former lawyer explained to Travel Age West magazine why he left that gig: “When you’re a lawyer, you fix other people’s problems and, if you do it well, you get another huge stack of other people’s problems.” Watch Yee in action at

On November 16 Dean Esserman ’79 returned—this time as chief of police—to New Haven, Connecticut, a city where he had served as the assistant chief from 1991 to 1993. The former prosecutor had worked as chief of the Metropolitan Transit Authority Police in New York City and police chief in Stamford, Connecticut, and Providence, Rhode Island, where he worked for eight years before resigning in June. While previously in New Haven, Esserman was “an architect of community policing,” according to the New Haven Register. “New Haven P.D. has always been a leader. In my day, it was the center of the country in community policing,” Esserman told the Register. “It’s time for it to regain that reputation.”

Cinnamon Spear ’09 has participated three times in the Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run, an annual five-day, 400-mile journey from Nebraska to Montana for Northern Cheyenne Reservation youths. This year the MALS creative writing graduate student helped organize the event and make a video blog for the run, which commemorates students’ ancestors’ attempt to return to their Montana homeland after breaking out of the Fort Robinson barracks on January 9, 1879. Spear filmed a documentary about the event and its history when she was a Dartmouth junior. “We teach the kids that that strength that they (our ancestors) had to survive and to run home to acquire our homeland, we still have in us, and we need to run toward other goals,” she told the Rapid City (South Dakota) Journal in January.

Adam Lipsius ’94 directed and produced his first feature film, the romantic tennis comedy 16-Love, which was released on January 20 and stars teens Lindsey Shaw and Emmy-nominated Chandler Massey. In December Lipsius’ Denver-based production company Uptown 6 purchased the rights to the graphic novel Nanny & Hank: Retirement is Hell. The tale of retirees whose world is turned upside down by a close encounter with an angry vampire “is the funniest take on mortality and morality to ever splash the pages of a comic book,” Lipsius told The Geek Files blog.

A Taste of Africa World Cuisine, a catering and food wholesale business owned by Mel Hall ’91 and his wife, Damaris, was one of many Upper Valley businesses affected by Tropical Storm Irene in August. One day before the completion of a major expansion, six feet of water rose inside the former garage bay that housed their White River Junction, Vermont, operation. Hall did not have flood insurance and lost kitchen equipment worth about $150,000. Donations poured in from the surrounding community, and the Halls were recently able to reopen in a new White River Junction building above the floodplain. “It’s easy to stand up when you’ve got people standing behind you,” Hall told the Valley News in January.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Mark Brzezinski ’87 as the new U.S. ambassador to Sweden in October. He served most recently as a partner with McGuireWoods in Washington, D.C., and was a director of the National Security Council from 1999 until 2001. The author of The Struggle for Constitutionalism in Poland, he is the son of Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor to President Jimmy Carter, and brother of MSNBC Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski. “During my tenure as ambassador to Sweden I plan to take an active part in meeting with both American and Swedish companies to learn about their experiences and views on trade between our two countries, to learn about trade and investment opportunities and also about barriers to trade,” he told Currents in December.

Last summer Isaiah Berg ’11 and his two brothers embarked on a yearlong, 20,000-mile bike trip from Alaska to Argentina to raise money for the Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity in North Dakota. Berg told the Inforum of Fargo/Moorhead, North Dakota, that the trip was inspired by his experience participating in the coast-to-coast Bike and Build ride, and that he and his brothers have contacted various Habitat for Humanity organizations along their route. “So any day that we are not biking, we’ll be working along the way,” said Berg, who was on track to reach the Panama Canal in early February. He is chronicling the trip at

Two weeks after Haiti was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in January 2010, Anna Stork ’08 and her then-classmates in Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation were asked to design a product that would help communities in the wake of disasters. Stork and her project partner Andrea Sreshta devised the LuminAID Light, a solar-powered device that inflates into a portable lantern. “Andrea and I read and heard about the dangerous conditions in the [Haitian] tent cities,” Stork told Forbes last August, “how people lacked resources for safety and survival. Light is actually a very basic need that we often take for granted.” The pair has since started spreading the light across the world, in part through disaster aid efforts, such as after the Pakistan floods of July 2010.

Actress Meryl Streep credits her exchange term at Dartmouth—two years before coeducation was implemented—with helping her prepare for the role of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Streep, who attended Dartmouth in the fall of 1970 as a Vassar College exchange student, told the Associated Press that the isolation she felt as one of the few female students on campus enabled her to connect with “The Iron Lady,” who led Great Britain from 1979 until 1990. “There were 60 of us and 6,000 men, and I had a little flashback to that moment,” the two-time Academy Award-winner said in January as the movie opened. (Editor’s Note: Actually, it was about 75 female students to about 3,200 male undergraduates.) “And so a little bit of my emotional work was done for me.”

Anantha Krishnan ’05 and his ensemble are gaining fame in his native India as one of the country’s rising performers of Carnatic music, the classical music of southern India. Krishnan plays the mridangam, a barrel drum, and is accompanied by his cousin, vocalist Abhishek Raghuram. They were taught at the knee of their grandfather, the late renowned mridangam player Sri Palghat Raghu, who was a musical contemporary of sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. Krishnan, who studied physics as an undergraduate, earned a master’s in electroacoustic music from Mills College. “Electronic music has helped me in understanding sound,” Krishnan told Public Radio International’s The World in January. Hear some of his music at

Twenty-five years ago—when Oscar Arslanian ’61 and his wife, Nyla, began publishing their free magazine, Discover Hollywood—the city was more seedy than sensational. But the area has undergone a renaissance and is now Southern California’s top tourist destination—thanks in part to the Arslanians’ tireless promotion of area attractions and retailers, wrote the Los Angeles Business Journal in November. That same month the couple was recognized for their contributions to the city by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which presented them with the Hollywood Star Award. “When most everybody had given up on the future of our world-famous community, we kept polishing the jewel, promoting its most positive attributes, its arts and entertainment,” Oscar said. “Now the jewel is starting to gleam again.”

Following December’s ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia, Erik Storck ’07 was among sailors named to the 2012 U.S Olympic team. Storck competes in the 49er (men’s two-person dinghy) class with Trevor Moore. The pair has been a team for nearly three years and is ranked No. 12 in the world.

David Beach ’86 and Annie Edgerton ’93 are both appearing in the smash hit musical Mamma Mia! now in its 10th year on Broadway. Beach, who starred in Broadway’s Urinetown, returns to the cast as Harry Bright; Edgerton, who played the roles of Donna, Tanya and Rosie in a previous tour, is a member of the ensemble. The story of a young girl’s search for her father, set to ABBA’s hit songs, became the 10th-longest-running show in Broadway history in September.

Richard Smith, Tu’11, spent 39 days trekking 530 miles to the South Pole with a team from Polar Vision, a nonprofit he helped create to raise money for Sightsavers and Guide Dogs for the Blind. The three-member team—which included Smith’s friend and fellow Brit Alan Lock, who lost some of his vision to macular degeneration, and Andrew Jensen, a recent Berkeley M.B.A. grad—went through polar training for more than a year before setting off with a guide on November 22. They braved whiteout blizzards and temperatures of 40 below before arriving safely on January 3, reported London’s Daily Mirror. With the successful completion of their expedition, Lock set a Guinness World Record as the first visually impaired person to trek to the South Pole. “We made it! Right, off for that hot cuppa…,” Smith posted on his blog,, upon arrival.

About a decade ago former Dartmouth downhill skier Amy Fulwyler ’90 took up ski mountaineering. The Idaho native quickly excelled at the sport, qualifying for the national team three times and participating in the world championships in 2010. Fulwyler, who is the dean of faculty at Jackson Hole (Wyoming) Community School, placed fifth in the U.S. championships in early January. “I find ski mountaineering the hardest racing, for sure,” she told the Jackson Hole News & Guide prior to the race. “Getting stronger and stronger and faster over years has been super-gratifying. I stumbled into it and realized I liked the challenge.”

Former Big Green soccer player Derek Stenquist ’10 returned to Thetford (Vermont) Elementary School in January, according the Valley News. Stenquist, who is now working as an intern for Vermont-based Grassroot Soccer in Zimbabwe, volunteered as an undergraduate with the Dartmouth-Thetford Elementary School Buddy Program. He returned to the school to show fourth-graders photos of an orphanage in Zimbabwe that had received clothing collected by the students.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber ’69 has suspended the death penalty in his state—despite protests by a convicted killer who was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection in December. “It is time for Oregon to consider a different approach,” Kitzhaber, a physician elected in 2009 to his third term, told The New York Times. Oregon has executed just two people since voters approved the death penalty in 1984, the last time in 1997. The governor, who served two terms from 1995 to 2003, had allowed both of those executions to go forward.

Dr. Andrew Davidoff ’83, chairman of the surgery department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, was the co-principal investigator of a recent trial that studied the use of gene therapy to treat the bleeding disorder hemophilia B. In a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine in December, Davidoff and a team of researchers reported that after undergoing a single gene-therapy treatment, patients started “making enough of their own clotting factor that they no longer needed the regular protein injections that are currently used to prevent bleeding episodes,” according to The Wall Street Journal. This success could signal a breakthrough in using gene therapy for plasma deficiency disorders.

IndieWire blog reported in January that Dan Gilroy ’81 has been hired to write the screenplay for The Annihilator for Magic Storm Entertainment, a new company co-founded by Marvel Comics’ creative mastermind Stan Lee to create superheroes for Asian markets. “Dan is part of the impossibly creative Gilroy clan that includes older brother Tony Gilroy (writer/director director of the upcoming Bourne Legacy) and twin John Gilroy ’81 (one of Hollywood’s hottest editors with Warrior and Salt),” wrote IndieWire. The Bourne Legacy, due later this year, also utilized Dan’s writing talents and John’s editing skills, as well as actors Sharon Washington ’81 and Sam Gilroy ’09, Tony’s son. Sam’s grandfather is playwright Frank Gilroy ’50.

Adrian Doran ’11 is earning a lot of frequent flyer miles in his post-graduation job as a field technician with the Institute of Earth Sciences and Engineering in Auckland, New Zealand. In December he finished a job in Palembang, Indonesia, and after a holiday visit to his family in Hingham, Massachusetts, he headed to Santiago, Chile, in January to install seismic monitoring devices to help determine if the geography is safe for construction. “We have a strong focus on geothermal systems, covering areas of geothermal geophysics and geology, reservoir modeling, geothermal geochemistry and mineralogy, and the energy business,” he told the Hingham Journal in December. “My project in Sumatra was to install seismic monitoring devices in an area that is prone to significant seismic events.”


Norman Maclean ’24, the Undergraduate Years
An excerpt from “Norman Maclean: A Life of Letters and Rivers”
One of a Kind
Author Lynn Lobban ’69 confronts painful past.
Trail Blazer

Lis Smith ’05 busts through campaign norms and glass ceilings as she goes all in to get her candidate in the White House. 

John Merrow ’63
An education journalist on the state of our schools

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