Candidates for Alumni-Elected Trustees 2016

21 or more years past graduation

John H. Hall ’65, P’92

[John H. Hall]

“The larger and considerably more diverse Wesleyan of today may seem far away from the small, all-white, all-male institution I graduated from in 1965. But in its key aspects it is the same small college that prepared me for a productive life. It did then and does now provide the best in liberal education through a faculty fully committed to undergraduate teaching. Increased size and diversity have only made it better.

I have devoted my life to public service in the context of the private practice of law. Early in my career, I took a leave to work full-time in a community-based office representing indigent criminal defendants, mostly young people. I continued that work after my leave and promoted development by my firm of a pro bono program focused on direct service to the poor. Later, as head of the firm’s litigation practice, I successfully encouraged broad participation in such. I now devote most of my professional time to post-conviction representation in capital cases, working principally with Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative.

I have long served on the board of Prep for Prep, a program that gives New York City’s most promising students of color access to a superior education and the life-changing opportunities that accompany it. To my great pleasure, Wesleyan is tied with Harvard as the top pick throughout the years of Prep graduates, 35 of whom are currently enrolled.

There are challenges ahead for Wesleyan. Private college education costs too much. The financial pressures on both students and the University are large. I am, above all, an advocate for doing whatever is necessary to sustain Wesleyan’s commitment to having the best possible liberal arts teaching faculty and to providing broad access through general financial aid.

To do this, we will need to enhance our fund-raising capabilities by more effectively reaching out to alums, using the talents of Wesleyan grads working with the University to develop and maintain a strong culture of support. My work on ’65’s recent 50th Reunion makes me optimistic of success in this undertaking. The shared values, camaraderie, and connection evidenced at Reunion were all I needed to persuade me to continue to actively engage in this work.”

  • New York, New York
  • JD, Columbia University School of Law
  • Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
  • Participating counsel in Alabama death row cases, Equal Justice Initiative
  • Board of Trustees, Prep for Prep
  • Board of Trustees and Chair of Diversity Committee, Nightingale-Bamford School
  • Former board memberships: National Center for Law and Economic Justice, Legal Aid Society of New York City, Community Law Offices, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Lawyers’ Alliance of New York
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Elizabeth Schmidt ’89

[Elizabeth Schmidt '89]

“After graduating in 1989 I set out with friends to teach in various under-invested communities around the world—central Brooklyn, Harlem, Hungary, and sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly all of us have remained educators, though we have ranged, Wes-style, teaching different ages and disciplines, and settling in many locales.

We became teachers in the headiest of education reform heydays. Though we have drifted in and out of touch over the years, I look to these friends for clear-eyed honesty and creative, compassionate problem-solving help. We see the same long game: a liberal education built year by year that will animate our students’ lives and their communities long after college—just as it has ours.

I’ve dedicated myself professionally to the belief that a liberal education is a critical component of a just society, an opportunity to be afforded to all and not just to those who can afford it. I also believe learning should be joyous, cutting-edge, and lots of fun. I’ve taught students and coached teachers at nearly every grade level, kindergarten through college. In my current position, I lead teams of curriculum developers in developing a world-class, Wesleyan inspired K-12 curriculum for 3,450 children living in low income neighborhoods in central Brooklyn. Wesleyan helped me resist the pressure to specialize in teaching one discipline or age level; as a result I’ve been able to shape a learning trajectory that prepares students to thrive at college and beyond.

I feel deeply fortunate for the opportunity to serve as a Wesleyan trustee, to ask questions and to seek solutions for ways to create a more inclusive, empowering, and innovative learning community for students and faculty from diverse backgrounds. I have loved becoming reacquainted with the university today through my work as chair of the Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching Committee and through my company’s robust summer internship program.

As a chief officer of a mission-driven charter school network of nine schools, I work with complex school budgets and make tough decisions every week about funding priorities and program design. My work puts me on the frontlines of testing the value of a liberal education in some of the communities that need it most—where fewer than 10% of those who could attend college do so. If selected, I will work tirelessly and collaboratively, with joy and integrity, to ensure that Wesleyan remains true to its values and grows stronger all the time.”

  • Brooklyn, New York
  • Ph.D., American Literature, New York University
  • Chief Curriculum and Innovation Officer, Ascend Learning, Inc.
  • Chair, Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching Committee, Wesleyan University
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Camille McGadney ’93

[Camille McGadney '93]

“At Wesleyan students develop the skills, knowledge, and acumen to be successful in their chosen field. Students from across the globe and from all walks of life come with a desire to learn not just from faculty and staff who care deeply for the success of each individual, but also from their peers. As a first-generation college student, attending Wesleyan was life changing. I had the opportunity to explore my interests, including English, Experiential Education, and Animal Psychology. Ultimately I discovered a career working with young adults and helping them define their own futures and achieve their goals. Since graduating I have worked as a wilderness school instructor and as a career coach for INROADS, an international career development organization. Additionally, my experiences include counseling and admission work at the college, university and community college level.

The first time I entered the Wesleyan campus it was a cold and rainy pre-frosh weekend, and I immediately felt at home. And like a favored child, I keep going back. I first went to work for Wesleyan in the Career Center in 1999 as a Career Counselor and then again in 2013 as the Pre-Professional Career Advisor working with students and alumni applying to law school, in addition to supporting the Health Professions Advisor. I have served as co-chair of my reunion committee, as an alumni interviewer, and as a member of the Alumni- Elected Trustee Nomination Committee. Every time I return to campus-- including most recently for Sons and Daughters 2015-- I am energized by the students’ passion for the work they are doing.

In recent years the value of liberal arts education has come under fire. It is not enough to say that Wesleyan produces critical and creative thinkers with enviable writing skills. Graduates hoping to be successful in today’s job market now more than ever must have a competitive advantage. Whether it’s campus research, experience with a renowned dance troop, or creation of their own NGO, each Wesleyan graduate needs to have increased access to a myriad of opportunities. Service to Wesleyan has always been a part of our family. As an Alumni-Elected Trustee I would welcome the opportunity to continue working with President Roth, trustees, alumni, faculty, staff, and students to insure that the innovative goals outlined in Wesleyan 2020 are achieved.”

  • Waterville, Maine
  • Admissions Reader, Colby College
  • Twenty years of experience in career advising, including at the Wesleyan Career Center
  • Past co-chair, Reunion Committee; Alumni interviewer; Past member, Alumni-Elected Trustee Nominating Committee
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20 or fewer years past graduation

Hong Qu ’99

[Hong Qu '99]

“By being at the right place at the right time, I have zigzagged to my current job as the Chief Technology Officer at Fusion, an emerging news network collaboration from ABC and Univision that serves a young, diverse, and inclusive America.

My formative years at Wesleyan prepared me for the real world. I joke with my wife that Wesleyan students learn to complain; when they get together all they do is point out injustice and broken social systems, i.e., everything that's wrong with the world. And more often than not, they actively strive to make things better. This Wesleyan ethos compels me to stick to my idealism and work--or refuse projects--with a sense of purpose.

I almost didn’t make it to Wesleyan, because tuition was more than my parents’ income, and I had settled on a state school. Fortunately, at WesFest I sat next to an alumnus, Alberto Ibargüen, '66, who intervened. I changed my mind, and going to Wesleyan changed my life.

After Berkeley, I joined the startup team that created YouTube. I designed and coded key features such as video sharing, channels, and playlists. A few years after Google bought YouTube, I left to build, together with Tim Jones ’02, the technology powering Upworthy. These innovative media platforms give people a creative outlet to express and amplify issues often neglected by mainstream media.

My immigrant background and startup mentality brings unique perspectives to the Wesleyan Board. I will advocate for enabling access by embracing technology and social media in fundraising, recruiting and admissions, communications, pedagogical tools, campus life, alumni relations, and beyond.

But most of all, I want to serve because it’s my turn to pay it forward.”

  • Flushing, New York
  • MS, Information Science/Studies, University of California Berkeley
  • Chief Technology Officer, Fusion
  • Member of startup team that created YouTube; Product and UX Lead, Upworthy
  • Board of Directors, Asian American Arts Alliance
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Suzanne Appel ’02

[Suzanne Appel '02]

“Today Wesleyan faces tough questions in the face of a rapidly changing economy. Many people think an engineering degree is the only one that matters. Others will say that our campus lacks diversity of opinion, and does not foster the kind of exchange that breaks stalemates to generate solutions. Our Board of Trustees will have to tackle these challenges and I believe I’m well suited to serving my fellow alumni in that process.

I have pursued a career in non-profit arts leadership because I was inspired at Wesleyan by the passionate artists with whom I produced plays at the '92 Theater. My dual majors in American Studies and Theater gave me strong analytical skills, and the confidence to propose creative solutions. Over the last four years I doubled the size of Cutting Ball Theater in San Francisco as its first managing director. I am a strong fundraiser, but real growth came from a strategy of working across sectors. As a Board Member for the Tenderloin Community Benefit District I learned that to tackle a community’s challenges you have to be willing to honor every perspective. In my new role, I lead a team of marketing and fundraising professionals at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago with a $7 million annual revenue goal.

The culture at our alma mater fosters passionate game changers, and I know we can work together to keep Wesleyan forward thinking. Wesleyan graduates should be sought after because they see problems from multiple perspectives. I am inspired by the new Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship and would like to see Wesleyan build on the Quantitative Analysis Center to ensure that every student can use statistics to evaluate problems and discuss impact. Additional funding for summer internships would also provide a more level playing field for graduates of all backgrounds. I would be honored to serve Wesleyan as an Alumni-Elected Trustee, and look forward to shaping the narrative of our university together.”

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • MBA, Yale School of Management; MFA, Yale School of Drama
  • Director of External Affairs, Hubbard Street Dance, Chicago
  • Former Board Member, Tenderloin Community Benefit District, San Francisco
  • 2012 Wesleyan University Service Award, Class Agent 2002-present, Wesleyan Student Assembly and Student Trustee
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Miriam Gottfried ’05

[Miriam Gottfried ’05]

“I loved attending Wesleyan, and I take almost as much pleasure in being an alumna. Meeting Wesleyan people, I feel the immediate kinship that comes from our shared experiences. I know of no other school where alumni are as passionate, creative and eager—not only to imagine a better world, but also to help create it.

As a financial columnist, I spend a lot of time weighing and analyzing complex information and synthesizing it into actionable advice. I would bring a spirited, yet grounded, voice to the Wesleyan board and would work to help the University improve its communication with students, alumni and the outside world.

In a school year that brought major student-led upheaval over social justice issues at colleges across the country, including Wesleyan, it is crucial that the board be prepared to work with students and faculty in a thoughtful, reasoned, non-kneejerk way. Wesleyan should also be at the vanguard when it comes to proactively instituting policies that reflect its values and better serve its students and faculty.

My time at Wesleyan helped shape me into a critical thinker, a skeptic and a passionate seeker of justice, all characteristics that are critical to my professional success. As a reporter writing investment commentary for an international audience, I see it as my role to hold corporations accountable for their actions. In doing so, I often grapple with powerful people who don’t like what I have to say. I wouldn’t be anywhere near as prepared to do that if I hadn’t gone to Wesleyan.

Unfortunately, less flattering aspects of Wesleyan have often marred its public image. Whether the issue is need-blind admissions, sexual assault, co-ed fraternities, campus drug use or concerns related to institutional racism or free speech, the University needs to do a better job of communicating the reasons behind its policies and decisions. Alumni often feel left out, and we get frustrated when those outside the Wesleyan community get the wrong impression of our alma mater. As a board member, I would use my background and training to help Wesleyan improve its communication with all of its key constituents.”

  • Brooklyn, New York
  • MA, Business and Economics Journalism, Columbia University School of Journalism
  • Reporter, “Heard on the Street,” The Wall Street Journal
  • Program coordinator, Cardinal Mentors; member, Argus advisory board; former co-editor in chief, The Argus; admission interviewer

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