Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Notes

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Janet Anderson Platt,

Hello to anyone who remembers our fun times at the school of Music 78-79. Also thank you to those of you who followed me to Iowa to play and sing at my first wedding. Yes, a few more did follow. Hope to hear from you.


Davi Napoleon,
Davi Napoleon, LSA '66, Rackham '68, writes Theater Talk, a column for the new online paper, The Faster Times. Theater Talk explores issues and trends in the commercial and not-for-profit theater and profiles theater artists and managers.


Courtney Conover,

Like most dog lovers, Courtney Conover will never forget her first dog, Prince – though she never thought he would inspire a story that would be included in an internationally published book. But that’s precisely what happened for Conover, the former deputy mayor of Westland, who is cooking up a new career: author. Her story, Prince of Pleasure, will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog which is scheduled to arrive in bookstores September 22, 2009. In the book dog lovers delight readers with humorous, heartwarming, and inspiring stories about lessons their canine friends and family members have taught them.

Conover’s story focuses on how her German shepherd-beagle mix, maintained a zest for life despite a number of health challenges. Conover says that writing the story was the first step in allowing her own passion to charter her life’s course, which eventually led to the decision to pursue writing seriously.

“Prince lived life with the uncanny combination of gusto and compassion in a way that only a dog can and we as people should. Quite simply, he lived in the moment,” writes Conover. “If we fail to experience pleasure, if we fail to experience excitement…don’t we fail to experience life?”

After graduating from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Conover went on to become a television reporter and producer for WLTX News 19 in Columbia, South Carolina. She has also worked as an auto show product specialist and narrator for Honda and Jaguar. In 2007 she was appointed deputy mayor of Westland; she resigned in May 2009 to focus on writing. Her work has appeared in the Ann Arbor Observer, Woman’s Life Magazine, and The Artisan’s Well. She and her husband, Scott, a former Detroit Lions Offensive lineman-turned-personal chef, reside in Wayne, Michigan.


Joe Fairchild,
Joe Fairchid is currently running across the United States in order to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. He left Boston in August and is planning on finishing in L.A. You can read an article about his run here, or go to his website, runsomemore.com for more information.

Kendrick Brown,

Prof. Kendrick Brown, who received his MA in 1996 and his PhD in 1998 from the University of Michigan, is the new Associate Dean of the Faculty at Macalester College.


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 (www.beyondtheshaker.com). 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 Amazon.com


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 cdbaby.com/cd/sonjadunson


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: https://www.abanet.org/abastore/index.cfm?fm=Product.AddToCart&pid=5150436

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 (www.triple8.com) 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 www.openforum.com.

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 (http://jeweljewel.com) 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 www.susankearney.com. 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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDIYgG0gSiY


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: www.BuyViewGuard.com.

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.


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