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Alumni Excellence

Purpose Lived: 20+ Examples of Alumni Excellence

Steven Strogatz '76, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, is a passionate communicator about mathematics. A frequent guest on NPR's Radiolab and Science Friday and blogger about mathematics for The New York Times, he is the author of several books, including The Calculus of Friendship (2009), which concerns his relationship with his calculus teacher at Loomis Chaffee; and The Joy of x (2012), which has been translated into 15 languages.

Diana Farrell ’83 is the founding president and chief executive officer of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, the first research organization to strategically harness the scale and scope of one of the world’s leading firms to give policymakers, businesses, and thought leaders the tools and insights they need to understand the global economy. She served in the White House as deputy director of the National Economic Council and as deputy assistant to the president on economic policy, 2009–11. (Pictured at left: Diana Farrell addresses members of the Class of 2014 at their Commencement.)

Journalist and author Frank Bruni ’82 has worked as a White House correspondent, Rome bureau chief, chief restaurant critic, and op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He has written two best-selling books: Ambling Into History, about George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, and Born Round, a memoir. His latest book is Where You Go Is Not Who You'll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania (2015).

Nana Mensah ’01 is an actress, writer, singer, and director. As a stage actress, she appeared in The Tempest with Mandy Patinkin and in Mother Courage with Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. In the web series An African City she played the part of Sade. She is the writer, director, and star of the dark comedy Queen of Glory.

Henry R. Kravis ’63 is the co-founder, co-chairman, and co-chief executive officer of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), a leading global investment firm. He and his wife, Marie-Josée Kravis, are major philanthropists and benefactors for many academic institutions, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He created the New York City Investment Fund to help create jobs and business opportunities in New York City.(Pictured at right: Henry Kravis and his daughter, Trustee Kimberly Kravis Shulhof ’93, pose with graduating Kravis Scholars at Commencement 2015.)

Ruthie Davis ’80 is a leading, independent shoe designer for women and president of her eponymous label, The Ruthie Davis Collection. Her shoes are sold by top retailers around the world, including Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols, Bloomingdale’s, Amazon, and Luisa Via Roma. She was recognized by Goldman Sachs as one of the most intriguing entrepreneurs of 2013, the only shoe designer selected for this prestigious honor. In January 2014, she launched her own global ecommerce store on RUTHIEDAVIS.COM. In 2016, Ruthie plans to open the first Flagship Ruthie Davis Store in New York City.

The first woman in U.S. history to be elected to a state governorship in her own right, Ella Tambussi Grasso '36 served as governor of Connecticut from 1975 to 1980. She previously served as a member of the U.S. Congress, as Connecticut secretary of state, and as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives. She was a recipient of the Medal of Freedom and is included in the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

George P. Shultz ’38 served as the 60th U.S. secretary of state from 1982 to 1989, in the Reagan administration. Previously, he had served as director of the Office of Management and Budget, as secretary of the treasury, and as secretary of labor. Before his public service to the nation, he taught economics at M.I.T. and the University of Chicago and served as dean of the University of Chicago School of Business. He was also president of Bechtel and is now a distinguished fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the author of Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State. (Pictured at left: George Shultz meeting with President Ronald Reagan.)

Jason Wu ’01 is a fashion designer based in New York City. First Lady Michelle Obama is an admirer, and he designed the gowns she wore to the inaugural balls on the evenings of President Obama’s first and second inaugurations. In 2013, Jason was named art director of the fashion house Hugo Boss.

An internationally acclaimed, award-winning concert violinist, Sirena Huang ’12 gave her first TED talk at 11 years old. Selected three times as one of 10 “Exceptional Young Artists” worldwide at the Starling-DeLay Symposium for Violin Study at the Juilliard School, Sirena was appointed the first artist-in-residence of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. She performs with numerous symphony orchestras and in recitals throughout the world. (Pictured at right: Sirena Huang wows the Loomis Chaffee community at the Centennial Campaign Gala in October 2014.)

Andrea Korzenik McCarren ’81 is a veteran television and multimedia journalist whose reporting has earned three Edward R. Murrow Awards and 17 Regional Emmy Awards. She was granted the prestigious Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, where she developed and taught the first multimedia and broadcast journalism courses at that university. She covered the Clinton White House for ABC News, served as a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for NBC News, and is a regular contributor to USA Today.

Pauline Chen ’82 is a liver transplant and cancer surgeon, author, and New York Times columnist. Her book Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality (2007) — a New York Times bestseller — is an influential memoir and call to action dealing with issues of medical training and physicians’ roles regarding end-of-life care. She was named the U.C.L.A. Outstanding Physician of the Year (1999), received the Staige D. Blackford Prize for Nonfiction (2005), and received Yale University’s George Longstreth Humanness Award for most exemplifying empathy, kindness, and care in an age of advancing technology.

Elizabeth "Liz" Margaret Hackett ’09 brings strong commitment and joy to her work helping underrepresented students find the path toward college. Liz works for the College Advising Corps, a national nonprofit college access program that assists underrepresented populations select, apply to, and enroll in colleges.

Melissa Donovan ’81 is a cinematographer, director, producer, and editor. Her feature-length documentary Zemene won Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Documentary awards at the 2014 Boston Film Festival, the Interfaith Documentary Award at the 2014 St. Louis International Film Festival, and Best of the Festival award at the 2014 Chagrin Documentary Film Festival. (Pictured at left: Melissa Donovan talks with students in the Norton Family Center for the Common Good about her documentary Zemene.)

Suzette Lee ’97 is a nurse who has volunteered for medical missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and for three missions to West Africa under the auspices of Médecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). She supervised the nursing staff in a large pediatric hospital in Mali, treating children suffering from malaria. She then volunteered for two Ebola missions, in Liberia and in Guinea. Back in the United States, she works at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in the breast cancer screening and prevention program.

Alexander M. Cutler ’69 serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Eaton Corporation, a power management company. Eaton’s 102,000 employees serve customers in more than 175 countries. A businessman and philanthropist, he is a board member of DuPont, KeyCorp, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, United Way of Greater Cleveland, and the Musical Arts Association.

Erik Cliette ’84 is an educator, community leader, public speaker, and philanthropic administrator who advocates for the economic, cultural, and health needs of inner-city residents. A native of Harlem, N.Y., he delivers motivational presentations to high school and college students across the nation. He has served as director of the Harlem Hospital Injury Prevention Program, as board member of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, and as president of the National Jack and Jill of America Foundation Board of Trustees. Additionally, he helped develop the strategic plans for the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act on behalf of President George W. Bush and U.S. Representative J.C. Watts Jr. He received Columbia University’s Xanthos Prize for Outstanding Service in the Community. (Pictured at right: Trustee Erik Cliette greets Head of School Sheila Culbert at a NYC reception for alumni and parents.)

Gretchen Ulion Silverman ’90 won an Olympic gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics (Nagano, Japan) as a member of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team. She scored the first goal of the championship game, the first goal ever scored in an Olympic women’s ice hockey title game.

Kevin S. Moran ’90 has devoted his professional life to foreign service and government. Currently with the U.S. Department of State, he serves as a foreign service officer posted at the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan. He has served as special assistant for White House communications, as special assistant to two U.S. presidential chiefs of staff, as chief of staff for international information programs of the U.S. Information Agency, and as executive assistant to the national security advisor.

Betty Gilpin ’04 is a film, stage, and television actress. Her films include Ghost Town and The Northern Kingdom. Television credits include Law & Order: Criminal Intent, New Amsterdam, Nurse Jackie, and Strong Medicine. She has appeared off-Broadway in the dramas Good Boys and True, Boys’ Life, The Language Archive, We Live Here, Heartless, and I’m Going to Pray for You So Hard.

James Jamie Widdoes ’72 is an actor, director, and producer with stage, screen, and television credentials and honors. Among the television series he has directed or produced are Just the Ten of Us, Empty Nest, Anything But Love, Harry and the Hendersons, Boston Common, Brother’s Keeper, Reba, 8 Simple Rules, The King of Queens, ‘Til Death, The Bill Engvall Show, Two and a Half Men, and Clipped. He starred as fraternity president Hoover in the 1978 classic National Lampoon’s Animal House. (Pictured at left: David Edelstein interviews Jamie Widdoes during Reunion Weekend 2012.)

A film critic for New York magazine and for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air, David Edelstein ’77 has written film criticism for the Village Voice, The New York Post, Slate, and Rolling Stone and is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Arts & Leisure section. A member of the National Society of Film Critics, he is the author of the plays Blaming Mom and Feed the Monkey, and the co-author of Shooting to Kill (with producer Christine Vachon). (Pictured above: David Edelstein interviews Jamie Widdoes during Reunion Weekend 2012.)

Robert G. Kaiser ’60 served as managing editor of and associate editor and senior correspondent for The Washington Post. His work has appeared in numerous publications, such as the New York Review of Books, Foreign Affairs, and Esquire; and he has appeared frequently on Meet the Press, Today, and other television programs. He is the author of Russia from the Insideand Act of Congress: How America’s Essential Institution Works, and How It Doesn’t, among other books that he wrote or co-authored.

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