Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Notes

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Sonny Ginsberg,

Formed Ginsberg Jacobs LLC, a boutique transactional firm in Chicago with 11 attorneys, including several partners from his former firm. GJ specializes in commercial real estate, corporate, hospitality and tax credit transactions.

Christopher McVety,

Undeterred by negative economic news, Christopher A. McVety, a dual degree holder from the University of Michigan (BA ’98, JD ’00), recently launched an innovative gourmet food company, Beyond the Shaker LLC ( McVety, along with dozens of other Midwest business partners in graphic design, print media, packaging and photography, worked for over two years developing the Beyond the Shaker concept. The company’s unique aim is to introduce home cooks to an extensive array of natural sea salts from around the world. In addition to educating consumers with blog articles and recipe ideas centered on the use of salt, Beyond the Shaker’s website offers an original line of chef-crafted gourmet blends that pair unrefined sea salts with premium organic, sustainable and locally-produced ingredients.

The Beyond the Shaker retail website makes available for purchase over twenty different varieties of salt, including eleven original salt blends that were created in collaboration with a chef from Traverse City, Michigan.

John H. Wilson,

John H. Wilson recently completed the one-month Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Harry Ransom Center, the University of Texas at Austin. Wilson's research topic was "Evelyn Waugh in the Military and the Church."

Jeanene Heidenreich Cooper,

The suspense novel "If I Should Never Wake" by Jeanene Heidenreich Cooper has been selected by the Independent Publisher (IPPY) Book Awards as the bronze medalist for 2009’s Best Regional Fiction. The novel details the unexplained disappearances of working women from a secluded island in the Straits of Mackinac. First published in October of 2008 through Booksurge, a subsidiary of Amazon, the second edition is due for release in August of this year and will be available at

Joshua M. Congdon-Hohman,

Joshua M. Congdon-Hohman has been hired by the College of the Holy Cross as a new faculty member in economics for the 2009-10 academic year.

Congdon-Hohman earned his B.A. from Wesleyan University, his M.A. from the University of Michigan, and is expected to complete his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in August 2009. His research interests include labor economics, public economics and health economics. He previously taught macro- and microeconomics at the University of Michigan. His accomplishments at the University of Michigan include a grant from the Michigan Retirement Research Center; a Departmental Letter of Commendation for Excellence in Teaching, Top Ten GSI; and a Rackham Regents Fellowship.

Julie DiMambro,

Julie DiMambro has been promoted to Director of Finance for McGraw Wentworth, a Michigan-based group benefit consulting and brokerage firm. In her new position, DiMambro is responsible for financial reporting and forecasting, revenue analysis, facilities management and vendor relations. Joining the firm in 2006, DiMambro previously served as Controller for McGraw Wentworth.

DiMambro, a resident of Sterling Heights, is a graduate of The University of Michigan with a BSA in finance and economics. She received her MBA from Wayne State University with a concentration in accounting. A licensed health and life agent and a Certified Payroll Professional (CPP), DiMambro is pursuing CMA and CFA certification in accounting.

Sonja Dunson,

Renowned longtime film and TV star Sonja Dunson ('The Female Spike Lee') releases "You Can't Buy Love," the companion seven-track music soundtrack to Dunson's similarly-named, to-be-released movie. Set in Detroit, "You Can't Buy Love" is, in Dunson's words, "an interracial love story triangle" in which the principals are a Black woman from a well-to-do family and a White male. "The parents disinherit her because he's poor, not because he's White," explains Dunson, whose impetus for creating "You Can't Buy Love" was "to portray the upper-class Blacks."

One of Hollywood's earliest successful Black film and television stars, Dunson has a distinguished history in Tinsel town. The former "Miss Michigan Universe" winner was a regular on three long-running television series – "Lohman & Barkley," "D.A." and "Emergency," and appeared in over twenty commercials while being represented by the prestigious William Morris Agency.

Copies of the CD soundtrack of "You Can't Buy Love" are avaiable at

Brad Dashoff,
The American Bar Association has published a book by Brad Dashoff, a senior Real Estate associate with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman in Northern Virginia. Dashoff co-authored "The Commercial Real Estate Lawyer's Job: A Survival Guide" with Pillsbury colleague John Antonacci. Copies of the book are avaialable at:

Dr. Jerome and Isabella Karle,
have retired from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) following 127 years of combined Federal Service. Joining NRL from the Manhattan Project, Dr. Jerome Karle was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1985, and Dr. Isabella Karle was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Clinton in 1995. Dr. Jerome Karle received his Ph.D. received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Michigan in Physical Chemistry in 1942 and 1944, respectively. He then worked on to the Manhattan Project before joining NRL in 1944. Dr. Isabella Karle was awarded a scholarship to the University of Michigan where she earned the B.S. Chem, M.S. and Ph.D. degrees with a specialty in physical chemistry. During World War II she devised a procedure for producing pure plutonium chloride from a mixture containing plutonium oxide for the Manhattan project. Later, she was an Instructor in Chemistry at the University of Michigan. After World War II, she joined NRL in 1946. In 2004, the University of Michigan honored both Drs. Jerome and Isabella Karle with the “Jerome and Isabella Karle Collegiate Professorship of Chemistry.”

Darren A. Lossia,
Midwest Claims Service, Inc. of Auburn Hills, Michigan, a subsidiary of HCC Insurance Holdings Inc., has named Darren A. Lossia (Michigan Law School 2002) as its Vice President. Prior to joining Midwest Claims Service, Mr. Lossia worked as an attorney specializing in insurance coverage litigation at Plunkett Cooney, PLC headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

Bobby Oppenheim,
owns an Action Sports Protective Company called Triple Eight ( that makes helmets, wrist guards, knee pads, etc. for skateboarding, rollerblading, snowboarding, etc. We are one of 6 companies featured in American Express' new TV campaign. It will be running all over network television and will include an online video profile of me and the company at

Darci E. McConnell,
U-M '90, has been named the state communications director of Repower Michigan. The organization is an affiliate of the Alliance for Climate Protection that was launched in 2008 in a speech by Al Gore, Repower America was first introduced as a bold plan to "repower" our country with 100% clean electricity and revitalize our national energy infrastructure.

Albert V. Witham,

Alumni, students, executives, staff and others may hear the 1949-51 U-M Law School barbershop quartet, The Legalairs (Bob Rizley '53 JD, baritone; Phil Robertson '51 JD, bass; Jim Kendall '52 JD, tenor; Vern Witham '51, JD, lead.) in a slide show by going to the following:

Google Search: type in: youtube legalairs I; youtube legalairs II; youtube legalairs III; and youtube legalairs IV

When the list of items appears after each search, click on the small square picture of The Legalairs. The quartet, a tribute by The Lettermen, and photos of the Law Club are shown on the slide show. The various songs are played by scrolling and selecting with the computer mouse.

Christopher L. Kwasneski,

I received my Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Boston University in May 2009 and in June of 2009, I was appointed to the position of HR Director for Genesee County, MI. I am a 1995 graduate from U of M - Flint with a BBA in accounting.

Mia Katrin (Hartsook),

Mia Katrin, award-winning jewelry designer and owner of JEWEL COUTURE LLC ( has been invited to attend the top retail jewelers' event in the Southeast by Southern Jewelry News, where her monthly Byline column is featured. Her Collections of 18-22 karat gold necklaces with precious gems, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in top galleries and stores nationally, where Mia Katrin regularly hosts Trunk Shows.

Susan Kearney,

USA Today best selling author Susan Kearney's newest trilogy will be released by Grand Central Publishing 09.01.09. The Pendragon Legacy is a trilogy which begins with LUCAN, a science fiction romance set in the near future. You can read excerpts at Book covers can also be viewed on my web site.

Steve Crower,

91•86•90. What do these numbers mean? Why do they affect you? Why should you care? Steve Crower, an energy investment banker from Denver, CO, finds a creative way to present the underlying data of the world's petroleum supplies and why we should pay attention to it.

Holly Feen-Calligan,

was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure at Wayne State University.

Lawrence Velvel,

A new book by essayist Lawrence Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, has won the 2009 gold medal in the essay/creative category of Independent Publisher, the voice of the independent publishing industry.

The "IPPY" Award was conferred for his non-fiction work "An Enemy of the People: The Unending Battle Against Conventional Wisdom," published by the law school's Doukathsan Press. Last year, Doukathsan Press brought out Velvel’s unsparing fictionalized memoir, the 818-page quartet "Thine Alabaster Cities Gleam." It chronicles post 1960 cultural declines—a moral meltdown that caused America to go from the world's hope to a country often reviled abroad.

Charlotte Robinson,

Charlotte Robinson, BA '95, recently became Managing Editor of Economic Development and Cultural Change, a multidisciplinary journal of development economics, at the University of Chicago Press.

Glenn Robertelli,
Glenn Robertelli, founder of Intelligen and makers of ViewGuard™ brand products, was selected as Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in Entrepreneur® magazine’s inaugural 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year contest presented by The UPS Store®. Glenn Robertelli, not only created a business that competes with a corporate giant, but he’s also done so completely on his own with a virtual, 99 percent paperless office. He started Intelligen in October 2006, which makes ViewGuard Anti-Glare Privacy Filters. He has since broadened his product line and estimates 2008 sales at $2.8 million. About ViewGuard™: ViewGuard™ offers a full line of unique and novel electronics accessories including privacy filters, anti-glare and cleaning products for even the rarest computer or television models:

Michelle M. Gallardo,

Michelle M. Gallardo, a senior corporate lawyer with Ford Motor Company in Detroit, was appointed by the President of the American Bar Association to the following two leadership positions in 2008:

  • The Council for the Fund for Justice and Education, the public service arm of the ABA, which funds nearly 200 law-related public service programs each year, with approximately $60,000,000 in yearly revenue; and
  • The Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity in the Profession whose mission is to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of attorneys admitted into the bar by focusing on educational issues related to law school admission, bar passage and K-12 education.

Ms. Gallardo has served in numerous leadership positions within the ABA since 1998 including appointments to the Executive Councils for both the Young Lawyers Division and the Section of Business Law. Ms. Gallardo is Assistant General Counsel and Assistant Secretary at Automotive Components Holdings, LLC, a business managed by Ford Motor Company, and has held various positions within the Ford Motor Company since 2000. Ms. Gallardo graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1992.

James A. Burns, Jr.,

For the third year in a row, James A. Burns, Jr (A.B. '77, J.D.'80) has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer, an honor given to the top 5% of the attorneys in the state, in the area of Employment and Labor. Jim is a partner at Reed Smith LLP in Chicago.

Roberta M. Gubbins,

I am now using that journalism degree I received from Michigan in 1957 as editor of the Ingham County Legal News, located in Mason, MI My background as a teacher and a lawyer are a nice mix with the writing.

Susan Liss,

Susan Liss, of Maryland, 1973 grad of LSA is being honored on Thursday, March 12, 2009, in Washington DC as the recipient of the Judge Learned Hand Award, given by the American Jewish Committee. This award is given annually to an attorney who has demonstrated a commitment to the highest principles of the legal profession and has made an outstanding contribution to the enrichment of the community.

Susan Liss is Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. She has devoted her life to public service, civil rights, women's rights, and human rights.

Ann Marie Lipinski,

Ann Marie Lipinski was the co-editor-in-chief of the Michigan Daily, 1977-78. She left Michigan a few credits short to start work for the Chicago Tribune. (She completed her degree in 1994). In this spring’s alumni newsletter for past staff members of the Daily, the Michiganensian yearbook, and the Gargoyle humor magazine, journalist Sara Fitzgerald, who was also an editor of the Daily (1972-73), noted, "Winning a Pulitzer Prize (for investigative reporting, in 1988) would probably be considered qualification enough for the Athena Award, but Ann Marie went on to become managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, and then, in 2001, senior vice president and editor of the paper. Nevertheless, she still found time to give back to the university and her profession, serving on the Board for Student Publications from 1992-1998 and on the board of the University of Michigan Knight Wallace Fellows program in journalism, as well as on the boards of the Poynter Institute and the Stanford University Journalism Fellows program." Ms. Lipinski resigned from the Tribune in July 2008 and is now the University of Chicago's Vice President for Civic Engagement. In that position she oversees the university's relationships in a number of areas, including public schools, public safety, economic development and the city's bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Susan E. Padley,

Susan E. Padley has been named to the May/June 2009 issue of "Super Lawyers—Corporate Counsel Edition" by a survey of Law & Politics Media, Inc. She was selected through a process which included peer nominations and evaluations as well as independent research. She is considered one of the top business attorneys in Michigan in the area of Land Use/Zoning Law. Only five percent of the attorneys in Michigan were named to this list. Ms. Padley received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1984.

Betty A. Rakowski,

Mark and I were married in an intimate ceremony at our home last September, followed by a reception at the Michigan League and honeymoon in San Francisco.

Douglas S. Kearney,

Jason L. Duzan, managing director of Chicago-based private equity firm Glencoe Capital, today announced the appointment of Douglas S. Kearney, Class of 1991, as principal of the firm. Kearney will help manage the firm’s latest fund, the Michigan Opportunities Fund, and will work from Glencoe Capital’s new office in Birmingham, Mich.

Before joining Glencoe Capital, Kearney was a principal at Detroit-based Superior Capital Partners, where he sourced and executed special situation portfolio investments in the lower middle market. Previously, he was a managing director for Conway MacKenzie & Dunleavy.

From 2001 through 2006, Kearney served as chief financial officer of Lason Inc., a global provider of business process outsourcing services. Kearney has also held positions with PricewaterhouseCoopers, DaimlerChrysler and IBM.

A CPA, Kearney holds an MBA from Yale University and a BBA from the University of Michigan.

Richard Albright,

Richard Albright is being featured in a series of articles in the Atlantic City Press dealing with munitions being pumped up on beaches during sand replenishment operations. Dr. Albright's book, Cleanup of Chemical and Explosive Munitions is now being published by Elsevier, a world wide publishing company specializing in technical books. Dr. Albright has also recently completed an article on underwater ordnance including a study of the massive amounts of ordnance dumped in the Great Lakes, some near fresh water intakes.

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