Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Notes

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Myron Hepner,

March Madness Against Blindness is an annual fundraiser organized by Myron Hepner to increase awareness of current research designed to prevent and cure blindness, and to raise money to support specific research programs at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

March Madness Against Blindness 2008 will be held at Damon's Grill in Ann Arbor on March 20 & 21. Damon's also will donate 20 percent of all checks on those days to March Madness Against Blindness.

All donations over $75 will be automatically entered into a raffle for a basketball signed by men's hoops coach John Beilein.

Matthew Thorburn,

(BA-High Honors, 1996) has been awarded a 2008 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. Two Bynner Fellowships, valued at $10,000 each, are awarded each year to support and encourage the work of promising younger poets. He was chosen for the fellowship by U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Simic.

Thorburn will be honored on March 6, 2008, at the Library of Congress, where he will read from his work. He is the author of a book of poems, Subject to Change, published in 2004 by New Issues Poetry & Prose.

Mike Grosh,

Fellow Wolverines, my company, Span Corporation, providing health care management services from our offices in Ann Arbor since 1988, has launched a new service for Courts, Judges, Lawyers and their Clients. Known as "Court-centric forensic drug and alcohol abuse screening" the programs provide sound clinical services with sensitivity to the special needs of the legal community. So, you U-M Law grads who are practicing in Family Law, Criminal Defense Law (especially DUI), or Civil Law – or those who have evolved to enjoy the appellation of "The Honorable," stop by our web site to learn how we can help. Go blue!

Michael van Lent,

Dr. Michael van Lent will join SoarTech in March 2008 as the company’s Chief Scientist. Dr. van Lent will be relocating to Ann Arbor and leaving his current post as Associate Director for Games Research at the Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) at the University of Southern California.

After earning a BA in Computer Science at Williams College, Dr. van Lent received a Masters in Computer Science at the University of Tennessee and PhD at the University of Michigan in 2000. Prior to receiving his PhD, he worked at the Navy Center for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence (NCARAI) at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He joined ICT in 2001, where he became a Project Leader and a Research Associate Professor in the Computer Science department at USC.

He specialized in research and development of game technology for Army applications in immersive training, social simulation, and education. Dr. van Lent will lead SoarTech’s research and development of artificial intelligence for training and serious games, transitioning research into engineered solutions.

Claudia C Cotca, DDS, MPH,

Claudia C Cotca, Class of '93,'00,'04, Founder of The Washington Institute For Dentistry & Toxicology, Clinical Practice & Think Tank in Washington DC, has been appointed to the Board of Trustees of the American Academy of Oral Medicine.

John J. Janc,
was elected vice president of the North Central Region of Pi Delta Phi, the national honor French society.

Claudio Police Spiguel,

Our first grandson Sebastian Spiguel was born on July 15th 2007 in New York City. There are not enough words to describe the WONDERFUL feeling that this event brings. Some say that if we had our druthers, we should go straight to grandchildren without passing through the children phase...

We spend part of our retirement time in Brazil, so we follow Sebastian's growth closely using Skype, a great technology... yesterday we saw him wearing a Wolverine outfit that we gave him, so I got thinking about the Wolverine legacy...

His father, Artur Spiguel, is a Wolverine as well (CSE, class of 99). Hopefully one day Sebastian will also be in lovely Ann Arbor, one more reason to go back to our old stomping grounds.

Suzanne Zabowski,

I am writing in response to your article titled Teen drivers would benefit from greater restrictions (Feb 2008). I couldn't agree more, and that is why my husband and I founded SAFETY 101, Inc. We are the makers of the Magnetic Permit Driver Signs and we believe they can truly help to save young lives.

Today in Michigan teenagers are starting drivers training at the young age of only 14 years, 8 months old. They have approximately 6 hours (and this is debatable) of actual on the road drive time with an instructor. Driving Instructors have the following safety features in their cars when training young drivers: an additional brake, extra rear view mirror and signage! But what does the parent that must log in an additional 50 hours of drive time with their child have? Nothing, until now. These Magnetic Permit Driver Signs come in a set of three and are placed on both sides and rear of whatever vehicle your teenager is driving. For more information, please visit our website at:

Mary McClellan,

After years in corporate finance, private banking, and finance for environmental conservation, I'm engaged in nationwide executive search for The Rankin Group. I consult with and place senior finance executives for high net worth clients and wealth management firms.

After graduating from the U of M I worked at The Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank of America, Banker's Trust and The Nature Conservancy. I'm helping with the Washington DC 2008 U of M fundraiser, and can be contacted at mary.mcclellan [at]

Perri Knize,
My first book, "Grand Obsession: A Piano Odyssey" (Scribner, 2008) has just been published. It's a memoir, piano mystery/thriller, and immersion into an international subculture of piano aficionados. The book has received rave reviews from the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, The Los Angeles Times, Kirkus Reviews, Publisher's Weekly, and was made a New York Times Editor's Choice. To learn more about the book and read excerpts, visit

Robert Smith,

Robert Smith, AIA, of Lansing-based Hobbs + Black Architects, was presented with the President’s Award at the 2007 American Institute of Architects Mid-Michigan chapter (AIA Mid-Michigan) Design and Recognition Awards Celebration.

The event recognized the University of Michigan alum for his outstanding contributions to the profession and service to the community through education and corporate practice.

Smith has more than 35 years experience in the industry, serving as a project manager on a variety of projects, including office, banking, educational, retail, healthcare, residential, religious, recreational and government facilities. During that time, Smith has earned a reputation for his project management skills and for safeguarding clients’ interests.

Jill Berkeley,

Jill B. Berkeley, Class of 1972, was named one of Illinois' Top 100 Super Lawyers of 2008. She is a partner at Howrey LLP's Chicago office and co-chair of the national Insurance Recovery Group.

Dr. Rupa Patel,

Dr. Rupa Patel, an alumnus of the University of Michigan’s undergraduate economics program, will extend her medical practice to provide treatment to post-cyclone Bangladesh with International Medical Corps (IMC), a leading humanitarian aid organization that provides sustainable health care, support for women and children, mental health care, and disaster response. IMC selected Dr. Patel for the position from an extensive volunteer roster to not only satisfy the need for a female doctor in Bangladesh, but also to benefit from her cultural understanding of the region from her heritage and travel in India. She will put her skills as an internal medicine doctor to use caring for some of the hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi people left homeless and without sufficient medical care, food, or supplies following the November 15 tropical cyclone Sidr.

Immediately following the cyclone, IMC deployed an emergency team in response to the projected three million people affected from the storm’s 155-mile-per-hour winds. On the ground in Bangladesh, Dr. Patel will join the IMC team and its local NGO partner, Friendship, to provide non-food supplies, medical treatment, nutrition support, and sanitation. Without sufficient help, aid officials fear that inadequate supplies and hygienic conditions will lead to outbreaks of infectious-disease. Dr. Patel will be a crucial element in IMC’s efforts to decrease that likelihood through a wide-reaching medical treatment program aboard Friendship’s mobile hospital boat, traveling south to north to aid Bangladesh’s isolated and dispersed populations.

After returning from Bangladesh, Dr. Patel will begin her fellowship with the Mount Sinai Medical Center’s division of infectious diseases in New York City to study HIV and its associated complications and treatments. Since her time at the University of Michigan, Dr. Patel received her medical doctorate from Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, and completed her residency in internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. She hopes to continue her practice with medically-underserved communities throughout the world and pursue a master’s in public health in epidemiology.

Lorin Woolfe,

My book, The Bible on Leadership, was published by the American Management Association in 2002 and has since been translated into Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and now Portuguese. Its premise is that our modern leaders would lead more effectively if they followed biblical principles like honesty, humility and purpose.

I am a management trainer and executive coach at the New York Power Authority and also maintain a private practice in psychotherapy in Westchester County, New York.

Classmates can email me at woolfedad - at -

Helen F. Bidol,

Helen F. Bidol recently accepted the position of director of human resources for Wallace, Roberts & Todd, LLC (WRT) in Philadelphia. Founded in 1963, WRT is a sustainability-focused collaborative interdisciplinary firm of planners, urban designers, landscape architects and architects, with offices in several states and a website at Prior to WRT, Helen was manager, hr services at Groundwater & Environmental Services, Inc. in Brighton, Mich., and provided HR support at Knight Ridder Shared Services, Inc. in Miami, Fla. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, and has had her Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification since 1999. She was a charter member of the Livingston Area Human Resources Association, and served on their board of directors from 2006-2007.

Thomas D.Wilkerson,

Thomas D. Wilkerson has been awarded the 2007 Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology, in recognition of his contributions to science, technology, and the State of Utah. Wilkerson began his research career as a Math & Physics undergraduate and graduate student at Ann Arbor, 1949-1962, and continues his research programs at Utah State University. He is Prof. Emeritus at University of Maryland where he was a faculty member for 34 years (1961-1995).

Cheryl Shanks,

Shank's research focuses on fluidity in population and territory, the two central components of sovereignty. She is the author of "Immigration and the Politics of American Sovereignty, 1890-1990," as well as articles on tourism, anti-immigration movements, and international organizations. Shanks teaches Law and Rights in International Politics, International Law, Genocide, Exile and Famine; and Ethics and Interests in International Politics. She received her B.A. from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1983 and her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in 1988.

Karen R. Merrill,

Merrill's research focuses on 20th century American politics and political economy, the American West, and environmental history. She is the author of "Public Lands and Political Meaning: Ranchers, the Government, and the Property Between Them," and "The Oil Crisis." She also is the editor of "The Modern Worlds of Business and Industry: Cultures, Technology, Labor." Her work has appeared in the Journal of Urban History, and the Western Historical Quarterly. She has taught Westward Expansion in American History, United States from Appomattox to AOL, 1865-Present, and the History of Oil, among other courses. She received her B.A. from Oberlin College in 1986, her M.A. from the University of Denver in 1988, and her Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 1994. She is presently dean at Williams College.

Tanya Kuza,

I am a local stay at home mom who has ventured into new territory. I have self published a book titled Everyday Signs for the Newborn Baby, it is one of those books that many people who read it do say, I wish I had this when I was teaching my child American Sign Language. Honestly, to my own surprise while I was creating this book, along with the other 11 in the series, I kept on thinking to myself – why isn’t there a book like this out there? Now I don’t have to think that anymore and parent now have a tremendously easy book to read to their child and learn a theme related American Signs.

I am sure many readers will be sure to enjoy this new book; because it is FRESH! This book has dual purpose to not only maximize the child’s overall development but strengthen the family bonding in what is so important during times of stress and challenge. The original conception of this book was to teach the sleep deprived parent a language that their child will use before they can speak. It has since developed into a cuddle and read with your young pre-schooler, it has also become a favorite to new readers, who love the idea of learning American Sign Language “on their own”, it has found its way towards families who need a non stressful starting point to learn a few key signs to get by during a very tough situation is their lives that has left someone impaired. Just check out what is currently out there – no one has a literacy based book, no one has a story with open the flap signs, no one has the interior flap designated for word recognition – it was really educationally driven, (can you tell a teacher wrote this) it amazes me that I came up with a book that incorporated so many learning opportunities! My craft or outlet, was inspired by own children and the lack of finding this kind of resource that can grow with educating a child.

As I stated earlier, I am a stay at home mom, who was laid off from the world of technology to enjoy the lifestyle of one income and raising of many children. Prior to that field, I taught elementary education with the degree I received from University of Michigan. My life now as a "mompreneur" has taught me that my children have changed me for the better, and just parenting does have its rewards!

Darci E. McConnell,

Darci E. McConnell, president and CEO of Detroit-based PR and marketing firm McConnell Communications, Inc. recently completed an intense, 7-day business program at the prestigious Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business in Hanover, NH.

McConnell was selected for the exclusive executive education program along with 31 other bright and upcoming businesses from across the country to focus on “How to Build a High Performing Business.” From December 2 through December 7th, McConnell attended day-long classes in accounting, business development and marketing.

Deborah L. Pierce,

At Northern Illinois University I've been promoted to Associate Provost for International Programs.

Daniel Gamota,

Motorola's Dan Gamota is among the 295 members named to the 2008 class of IEEE Fellows. He is recognized for leadership in nanotechnology based printed electronic products both within IEEE and the technology industry.

Dan is recognized internationally as a technical leader having demonstrated the ability to develop and transfer advanced microelectronics materials and assembly technologies into commercial products--and, more recently, for his leadership in establishing the emerging printed electronics field chairing initiatives to support the printed electronics ecosystem (roadmaps, standards, industry associations).

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellows are an elite group selected from a global pool following a rigorous evaluation procedure. The designation recognizes unusual distinction and extraordinary accomplishment. With the continued emergence of advanced electrical and electronic technologies, the IEEE looks to its Fellows for guidance and leadership.

Camilyah Johnson,

Greetings, I have moved from MI to San Antonio, TX. I have lived here for two years. I am the Founder and Director of Millio's Youth Outreach & Motivation Services a non-proit organization.

We are excited about keeping connections with MI and TX.

Heidi Deaver,

Heidi Deaver, AIA, is presently serving as project manager on three elementary school modernizations for Lake Stevens School District in western Washington. Her experience also includes work on West Valley High School in Spokane, Wash., and Spokane Falls Community College’s sn-w’ey’-mn Building. She earned Master of Architecture (1998) and Bachelor of Science in Architecture (1996) degrees from the University of Michigan.

John Edward Porter,

Former Congressman John Porter, has been elected Chairman of PBS. The 346-station member organization is known for providing quality television programs such as American Experience, Sesame Street, Frontline, NOVA, Antiques Road Show, Masterpiece Theater and specials such as Ken Burns “The War.” Prior to his election as chair, Porter served on the Board of Directors of PBS for six years and as vice chair for his last two.

Porter, of Wilmette, served in Congress for 21 years, from 1980-2001 serving eastern Lake County and the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago. In the House of Representatives he served on the Appropriations Committee and as Chairman of the Subcommittee funding the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. He also was vice-chair of the subcommittee on Foreign Operations.

In Congress Porter championed federal funding of medical research and is widely credited with doubling funding for the National Institutes of Health which provides support for peer reviewed medical research to universities and research institutions all across the country from $13.5B to $27B over five years.

Porter, a moderate Republican, resisted his party’s attempt in 1995, to eliminate funding for public broadcasting, and eventually presided over substantial increases for it. He was also known in Congress as a champion for human rights, founding and co chairing for 18 years the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, 250 members of Congress working to end human rights violations worldwide.

In addition to PBS, Porter chairs Research!America, and is Vice-Chair of the Foundation for National Institutes of Health. He serves on the boards of The Brookings Institution, and of the Chicago Botanic Gardens, the J.S. Kemper Foundation and the Population Resource Center. He is a former director of the American Heart Association and trustee emeritus of the RAND Corporation and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bretton Woods Committee. The John Edward Porter National Neuroscience Research Center, on the campus of the National Institutes of Health is partially constructed and occupied, but awaiting additional funds for completion.

Porter’s wife of four months, Amy McGuire Porter, is Executive Director of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, whose offices are located on John Porter Way on the campus of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology next to the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Porter is a partner in the Washington law firm of Hogan and Hartson and specializing in heath and education strategies.

David E. Hart,

David E. Hart, a shareholder and member of the Executive Management Committee at Southfield-based Maddin, Hauser, Wartell, Roth & Heller P.C., has been named in "Law & Politics" Michigan Super Lawyers 2007 issue. Super Lawyers was created as a resource to aid attorneys and consumers in the search for legal counsel.

Hart earned his Bachelor Degree in Philosophy and Political Science from the University Michigan in 1988 and his Juris Doctor Degree, cum laude, from the Detroit College of Law in 1991. A resident of Huntington Woods, he was listed as a top practitioner in Real Estate, Construction Litigation and General Litigation.

The attorneys featured in Michigan Super Lawyers are first selected though a multi-step process. Candidates are nominated through a survey of more than 30,000 attorneys, direct contact with law firms and by reviewing trade journals, periodicals, databases and online sources. A blue ribbon panel of the top attorneys in each respective practice area evaluates the candidates. The final selection is then made by dividing the candidates by their firm size and selecting the top 5%.

Fairy C. Hayes-Scott,

Hayes-Scott's marketing and publishing company, (MANA) will have the honor of publishing the third children's book by WE READ (Working to Educate Readers by Encouraging Active Development), a non-profit U-M student group. The new book's title is "Adventures of Gross Jerome and the Gooey Green Goblins." The students of WE READ facilitate workshops throughout the year that encourage youngsters' appreciation of drawing, writing, and reading. Toward the end of the year, the book authored and illustrated by WE READ students is given to the students involved in the workshops. These books are given at no charge to children of urban schools and area hospitals. MANA, owned by alumna Fairy C. Hayes-Scott, provides its premium marketing services to WE READ for free. And so WE READ books have been exhibited at several major tradeshows, e.g. the Bologna (Italy) Children's Book Fair, the London Book Fair, and BookExpo. This is a keen opportunity for this U-M alumna to give back to the University. WE READ's books can be purchased on the MANA site. 70% goes back to WE READ to help these U of M students continue their valuable work. Fairy C. Hayes-Scott is proud and honored to serve students of her alma mater who in turn are helping younger students appreciate the arts.

Rob Crawford,
I thought you would find it interesting to know that I came in second in the voting for President of Red Sox Nation this past summer, and the winner (Jerry Remy, the Sox TV announcer) selected me to be VP of Red Sox Nation. You can read more about this at, and if you google this story, there are many articles about it. Just a fun news item for your alumni communications.

David L. Malhalab,
retired Detroit Police Sergeant, and UM-D CASL 1976 GRAD is featured in the new documentary about historic Detroit Tiger Stadium, "Stranded at the Corner," a look at the history of Tiger Stadium with archival footage of the Detroit Lions and Tigers, interviews with prominent Detroiters, and humor as it examines the "demolition by neglect" of this historic and memorable structure, where over 100 million people visited in its 100 years of being. More info: David L. Malhalab, Detroit, 313-580-2393

Richard Vinci,
was recently hired as senior managing director for First National Investment Banking, headquartered in Omaha, NE. Most recently, Mr. Vinci was managing director of Newbury Piret & Co., an award-winning Boston investment banking firm. He has also served as senior vice president and private equity group head at Daiwa Sumitomo Mitsui America, Inc. on Wall Street; vice president of Investment Banking for Alex Brown & Sons, Inc. and vice president of a Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. subsidiary. Mr. Vinci is the recipient of a bachelor of science degree from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and a master’s of business administration from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Mr. Vinci has been recognized as a finalist by M&A Advisor for its 2005 Financial Services Transaction of the Year and for its 2006 Consumer Services Transaction of the Year. He has also been recognized as a top investment banker by the Boston Business Journal for the past three consecutive years.

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