Share your news with UConn Nation!
Your classmates want to know about — and see — the milestones in your life. Send us news about weddings, births, new jobs, new publications, and more — along with hi-res photos — to: Alumni News & Notes, UConn Foundation, 2384 Alumni Drive, Unit 3053, Storrs, CT 06269.
Submissions may be edited for clarity or length.
Lois Greene Stone ’55 (ED) celebrated 62 years of marriage to Dr. Gerald E. Stone and has 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A writer and poet, her poetry and personal essays are included in book anthologies, while collections of her personal items, photos, and memorabilia are in major museums, including the Smithsonian.
Jim Rodechko ’62 MA, ’67 Ph.D. has published two mysteries, “The Old Boys’ Club” in 2014 and “The Ladies in Their Lives” in 2017. He retired in 2002 from Wilkes University, where he served as professor of history, dean of arts and sciences, and, finally, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. He and his wife, Virginia, have been married for 53 years, have two daughters and five grandchildren, and live in Drums, Penn.
Arno B. Zimmer ’68 (CLAS) of Bridgeport, Conn., recently published his first paperback novel, “Death Comes to the Torpedo Factory,” a mystery involving a secret file, a former German intelligence agent and an old gumshoe.
Rhona Dash Fiore ’72 (CLAS) writes that she and 11 other women who were the first freshmen to live in “The Jungle” celebrated their 50th reunion this September by setting sail on a five-day Caribbean cruise together.
The dorms, officially known as North Campus, had housed only men until 1968, the year the women moved in as freshmen. “There were no coed dorms on campus. Women had curfews with no keys to the dorm doors. The doors were locked at curfew, and if you missed the deadline, it involved a lot of banging on the front door and begging forgiveness from a very stern House Mother,” Fiore says.
Fiore says she and the other women wore freshman beanies together, pulled their first all-nighters together, attended their first all-night parties together, and cried on one another’s shoulders. Their friendship and support enabled them to grow, learn, and progress through their time on campus and as graduates.
There have been many annual reunions since then where they eagerly share memories of younger days and family photos of milestones, vacations, retirements, and grandchildren. “UConn is the glue that binds our friendship,” Fiore says. “This place, our place, our University of Connecticut, is part of what shaped us.”
Three-time New York Times best-selling author Howard Weinstein ’75 (CLAS) has won a 2018 Western Fictioneers Peacemaker Award for Best First Western Novel for his new historical novel “Galloway’s Gamble.”
Bruce Lubin ’75 (CLAS), ’77 MBA has been named chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, which represents 1,000 organizations that employ 400,000 people and create more than $24 billion in annual revenue in the Chicago region. He works at CIBC, where he is executive managing director and president of Illinois Commercial and Specialty Banking.
Tom Morganti ’76 (CAHNR) has published his second novel, “D.O. Sykes,” about dealing with bipolar disorder. He is a veterinarian living and working in Avon, Conn.
Colleen Murphy Davis ’79 (CLAS) recently retired as an assistant United States attorney after serving the U.S. Department of Justice for nearly 24 years. Davis began her career in 1987 as a criminal prosecutor with the Travis County Attorney’s Office in Austin, Texas, and later accepted a position as an assistant district attorney with the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in Dallas, Texas. In 1995, she became assistant United States attorney in Fort Worth, Texas. In 2000, she transferred to Tampa, Fla., where she worked until she retired in June 2018. During her career, Colleen prosecuted violent crimes, child exploitation offenses, drug offenses, and white-collar crimes.
Lisa C. Taylor ’79 (CLAS), ’81 MA had her sixth book, “Impossibly Small Spaces,” a collection of short stories, published in October 2018. Lisa teaches private writing workshops in the U.S. and Ireland. She also holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is married to Russ Taylor ’80 (CLAS) and they collaborate on many creative projects. His photography has been used on four of her book covers.
Susie Bisulca Beam ’80 (CLAS), who majored in fashion design and retail management, writes that she has grown exponentially since college. She married Timothy Beam, wrote and produced a play, and became an Ameriprise financial adviser assistant. She has also worked as an office manager and a swim instructor, became a Goodwill Ambassador, wrote a book titled “He’s Not My Husband,” and now works as an event specialist. She has also stayed true to her passion for sewing and made countless costumes for her two children and the local high school’s theater troupe.
Paul A. Larson ’82 MD began a one-year term as president of the board of trustees of the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists in August 2018. In April 2018, he received the Wisconsin Radiological Society Flaherty Award for lifetime achievement.
Theresa Mayer-Benfer ’83 (BUS) reports that she and her three sons recently opened a craft brewery called Raritan Bay Brewing in Keansburg, N.J. “We’re bringing fresh new craft brews to the Bayshore. We have 13 different beers on tap now and our selection keeps growing. It’s been quite an experience. We renovated a historic building, furnished it with a seven-barrel brewing system, and created an awesome gathering space for tastings and parties,” she says
Jay Gillotti ’86 (BUS) reports that, after decades of research and collecting, he has published a book on motor sport history. “Gulf 917” is a chassis-by-chassis history of the legendary Porsche 917s raced by the John Wyer/Gulf racing team in 1970 and 1971. The book includes many rare or never-before-seen photos and documents.
Timothy Barnett ’86 (CLAS) was recently promoted to full professor of English at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. His most recent publication is “Intersectional Pedagogies of Queer Literature” in approaches to teaching LGBT literature. He also has helped form a BA program at Illinois’ Stateville Prison through his work with Northeastern Illinois University and Chicago’s Prison+Neighborhood Arts Project.
Matt Greene ’89 (BUS) was recently honored as one of 16 of the top New York City–based financial advisors in the country by Northwestern Mutual.
Anne Halloran Tortora ’90 (SFA) was named director of music and liturgy for Fairfield University’s Campus Ministry and is completing a doctorate at Creighton University.
Tony Susi ’90 MM recently released his sixth album of original music entitled “Catharctic Keys,” a collection of nine songs composed by the singer/songwriter that he says are intended to help people cope with whatever life throws at them in a positive way through music.
William Guerrero ’93 (CLAS) became vice president of finance and administration at Ithaca College this summer. Previously, he spent most of his career at the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Purchase, serving as executive director of the Purchase College Association and prior to that was vice president for finance and treasurer at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Conn. While at UConn, his last name was Polvay. After graduating from college, he decided to change his last name to Guerrero to honor his mother.
Elvin D. Turner ’93 MBA, president and CEO of Turner Consulting, LLC, in Bloomfield, Conn., made history recently by becoming the first African-American president of the Society of Financial Service Providers. He has more than 30 years of financial service industry experience working with companies such as MassMutual, Bank of America, and Hartford Life. Turner was instrumental in developing an outreach program that brings financial education to underserved communities, and has taken a leadership role in creating a national “pipeline project” to bring greater numbers of underrepresented minorities into the financial services industry.
Kerryann Tomlinson ’94 MSW became executive director for Playworks, overseeing the Arizona region, in February. Her role includes leading the region’s strategic goals, managing a team of 20 staff members, staffing the region’s advisory board, and overseeing program quality and delivery of service, which impacts more than 50,000 students across Arizona.
Mara Reisman ’99 MA ’06 Ph.D. recently published her book, “Fay Weldon, Feminism, and British Culture: Challenging Cultural and Literary Conventions.” She is an associate professor in the English department at Northern Arizona University.
Adam Raimondi ’04 (CLAS) and Lauren (Gemske) Raimondi ’08 MA welcomed a son, Benjamin Christopher, in February.
Rebecca Acorn ’04 (BUS), of Bedford, N.H., was promoted to manager at Baker Newman Noyes, an accounting and consulting firm. In her spare time, she is a volunteer for the Bedford Historical Society and the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire.
Tom Cragin ’06 (CLAS) and his wife, Stacy (Gomez) Cragin ’02 (CLAS), celebrated their first wedding anniversary recently after getting married at the Blithewold Mansion in Bristol, R.I., in September 2017. They live in Manhattan but regularly get back to their home states of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Tom recently joined NBCUniversal and works at 30 Rockefeller Center in a digital/media advertising sales role.
Former “Daily Campus” news editor Diego Cupolo ’06 (CLAS) was awarded honorable mention in The World Justice Project’s 2018 Anthony Lewis Prize for Exceptional Rule of Law Journalism for his reporting on Turkish politics since a failed coup attempt in 2016. Today, he is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Ankara, Turkey.
Justin Gomez ’07 (CLAS), the oldest brother of Stacy (Gomez) Cragin (whose anniversary is described above), and his wife, Leah (Portale) Gomez, also are celebrating their first anniversary after getting married at The Sullivan House on Block Island, R.I. in July 2017. They just bought their first home on the shoreline in Milford, Conn. Another brother, Steve Gomez ’08 (CLAS) and his wife, Heather (Mobley) Gomez, celebrated their marriage at the Woodwinds in Branford, Conn. and currently live in Hamden, Conn.
Matt Pavia ’09 (ED) and his father, Tony, have written a book about the experiences and sacrifices of the residents of Stamford, Conn., during the Vietnam War. “An American Town and the Vietnam War,” published by McFarland & Company, is set to be released in Fall 2018. Matt teaches American Studies and English at Darien High School in Darien, Conn. Tony is a retired history teacher and high school principal.
Zachary Binkowski ’09 (PHR), ’11 Pharm.D. was recently named 2018 Employee of the Year at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport, Conn., Binkowski is the critical care clinical pharmacy specialist at the medical center and an adjunct associate professor of pharmacy practice at the UConn School of Pharmacy. Through his affiliation with the medical center, he is also an assistant professor at Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, where his teaching focuses on various aspects of pharmacotherapy.
Stephanie (Hedberg) Kane ’09 (NURS) and her husband, Nicholas, welcomed their first child, Colin, in August. They live in Guilford, Conn.
Eric King ’10 JD and his wife Amber (Doucette) King ’07 (CLAS), ’10 JD welcomed their son, Noah Everest King, into the world in May. They married in 2016, live in West Hartford, Conn., and are both attorneys in the greater Hartford area.
Sara Okscin ’10 (BUS) married Sean Matthews on Sept. 1, 2018. The couple moved to Marlborough, Mass., where Sara is now a senior accountant at Questex, LLC. Sean graduated in 2009 from Syracuse University. The couple met after college through competitive cheerleading, and a former UConn coach and cheerleaders attended the wedding in Holyoke, Mass.
Here’s some more Husky love to pass along. Laura Vargo ’11 (CLAS) married Jeff Petrower ’11 (BUS), ’11 MS on Oct. 20. The bridal party had a large UConn contingent as well, including matron of honor Elyssa (Shildneck) Kelly ’11 (CLAS), maid of honor Allison Gale ’11 (CLAS), bridesmaid Abbey (Williams) Farrell ’11 (NURS), and groomsmen Ben Hochron ’11 (BUS) and Dorian Bramarov ’12 (CLAS). “Both Elyssa and Abbey married UConn gents themselves, and Dorian recently married a UConn gal, so it was about time that Jeff and I tied the knot! UConn couples are the best couples,” Laura said.
Stephanie Page ’11 (CLAS) was married on August 12, 2018, to James Cormier at Misselwood in Beverly, Mass. Sarah Greenburg (Bannon) ’11 and Katherine Harlow ’11 (BUS), who were roommates of Stephanie’s at UConn, were part of the bridal party. Stephanie and James have known each other since middle school and dated through high school. After each went to off to college, they went their separate ways before reconnecting in 2015. Stephanie is a senior fund accountant at Alterna Capital Partners in Wilton, Conn. James is head coach of boys basketball and assistant director of admissions at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass.
Stefan Walczak ’11 (CLAS), a young poet, screenwriter, and author living in Middlebury, Conn., is releasing his first novel, “Crimson Sky.” At the same time, he will release an original musical soundtrack by the same name he composed to accompany the reading of the horror novel.
Cassandra Fiorenza ’12 (SFA) recently launched an online art gallery called Collective 131 that features emerging female artists, allowing new and seasoned art collectors to discover and purchase artwork directly through the website at collective131.com. Cassandra says she is also busy planning her wedding at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston for June 2019.
Suzanne Ondrus ’14 Ph.D. is on a Fulbright Scholarship in West Africa, where she is teaching creative writing, American poetry and drama, literary theory, and American civilization to graduate and undergraduate students at the University of Ouagadougou. She reports that some of her undergraduate classes have as many as 1,000 students in them. She would love to connect with UConn alumni located in West Africa at email@example.com. She says there is a great need for academic books at the university, particularly American, Irish, and British literature and books on American history, racism, and African Americans. Anyone interested in donating books can mail them to: Suzanne Ondrus, S/C Abbé André Kaboré, 01 BP 1195 Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso, West Africa.
Simon Perlsweig ’16 (CLAS) recently published his first book, “Front Porches to Front Lines, One Small Town’s Mobilization of Men, Women, Manufacturing and Money during World War One.” The book is a historical memoir that tells the story of his maternal great-grandparents, who lived in Springfield, Vt. during the Great War and subsequent influenza epidemic of 1918.
This fall, Dayton native Darren Brown ’17 MFA performed as Kurt in the world premiere production of “Edge of Life,” written by AMITA Health Adventist Medical Center physician Joel Cornfield. Performed at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago, the production focuses on the right to dignity in health, sickness, and death and the choices we are left with at the end of our lives.
Bridget Oei ’18 (CLAS) made news when she finished as first runner-up in the 91st Miss America Pageant on Sept. 10. Oei, who graduated from UConn and its Honors Program with a degree in environmental chemistry, competed as Miss Connecticut. She used her platform to inspire young girls to pursue STEM careers and showed off her skill as an Irish step dancer during the talent portion of the pageant. At UConn, she was both a Stamps Scholar and a Holster Scholar. Hear more about her and about her experience by tuning in to the UConn 360 podcast.
MahoneySabol, a regional certified public accounting firm with locations in Glastonbury, Middletown, and Essex, Conn., recently hired Genevieve Stimpson ’18 (BUS), of Simsbury, Conn., as a staff accountant. She had been an intern at the company.
Share your news with UConn Nation!
Your classmates want to know about the milestones in your life. Send news about weddings, births, new jobs, new publications, and more to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Submissions may be edited for clarity or length.