Class Notes

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.


Dominic D’Amato ’52 (ENG), of Cheshire, Connecticut, writes to say that he is still consulting and recently published a new book, “Trisecting Angles and Other Solutions.”

Stoddard B. Williams ’57 (CLAS), who served in the Air Force and then as a pastor in his community, has written a firsthand account of how times have changed in his memoir, “Showers of Sparks: Memories of Encounters with Love of God.”

Paul J. Magnarella’s book, “Black Panther in Exile: The Pete O’Neal Story,” won the silver medal in the 2020 Florida Book Awards General Nonfiction category and therefore will be put on permanent public display in the Florida Governor’s Mansion Library and in Florida State University’s Strozier Library. Magnarella ’59 (BUS) got his Ph.D. at Harvard and is an emeritus professor at the University of Florida. The book tells the story of O’Neal, who founded the Kansas City branch of the Black Panther Party. After Illinois Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton was killed by the FBI and Chicago police in 1969, O’Neal and his wife fled the U.S. in 1970 in fear for his life. He has since been in exile in Algeria and Tanzania. A veteran of the United Nations criminal tribunals, Magnarella was O’Neal’s attorney during his federal court appeals (1997–2001).

Black Panther in Exhile, the Pete O'Neal Story

Congratulations to John C. Severino ’59 (CLAS) and Sally Ann Ingalls Severino ’59 (CLAS), who met on a blind date at UConn and just celebrated 60 years of marriage! John, who was a football student-athlete, retired in 2001 as president of CBS Television Stations.Sally Ann taught high school in Newton, Massachusetts, and, more recently, was a volunteer caregiver at UCLA Children’s Hospital. They live in Encino, California.

Nancy Mattoon Kline ’59 (CLAS), ’61 (NEAG) ’61 MS, ’94 Ph.D. just published her first book of poetry, “On the Edge.” She and her husband, James Trail ’54 (BUS), live at the Seabury Retirement Community in Bloomfield, Connecticut.


Rhoda Kriesel ’61 MA writes in with an update. She says she was lucky enough to have dual roles as a mom to two great girls and a marketing and international sales manager for instrumentation in chemical and semiconductor manufacturing facilities for Zellweger Environmental Division, now Honeywell. She is retired in West Orange, New Jersey.

Congrats to Francis “Frank” Dillon ’62 (BUS), who published his third novel, “Hidden Innocence: Human Trafficking,” about the scourge of smuggling young people into the country, plying them with drugs, and forcing them into prostitution.

Leigh Montville ’65 (CLAS), longtime Sports Illustrated writer and Boston Globe columnist, releases his latest book with Doubleday in July: “Tall Men, Short Shorts: The 1969 NBA Finals: Wilt, Russ, Lakers, Celtics, and a Very Young Sports Reporter.”

Gary Goshgarian ’66 MA, who writes under the pen name Gary Braver, teamed up with internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen to write the murder mystery “Choose Me,” about a police detective determined to find out what happened in a reckless affair between a popular college professor and his student.

Mike Pierson ’66 (CLAS), a retired Coast Guard captain, reports that he and his wife, Elaine, recently moved to Virginia Beach to be closer to their daughter and grandkids.

After graduating from UConn, Carol Milardo Floriani ’68 (NURS) earned her MSN from Loma Linda University in California and taught nursing for 20 years. She went on to manage home health and hospice agencies until she retired at age 71. She credits her UConn education, particularly dean Carolyn Widmer and professor Jo Dolan, with preparing her to expand and succeed in her varied career. She lives in Easley, South Carolina, with her husband of 48 years.

After first meeting at UConn when he was a junior and she was a freshman, Alan H. Jaffe ’68 (BUS), ’73 JD and Sari Blonder Jaffe ’70 (CLAS) just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. They are both retired from a career of practicing law together and live in Stamford, Connecticut.

Congrats to Arnold Nieminen ’69 (CAHNR), of Lebanon, Connecticut. The UConn 4-H volunteer for 50 years has been nominated to the National 4-H Hall of Fame. Only 12 outstanding 4-H volunteers from across the country are selected each year to compete for national honors.


Roland Vinyard ’71 MA published “The Ballad of Pete Hauer (It Was Caves That Pete Loved Best).” Written entirely from primary sources, the book deals with the mystery surrounding Hauer, who had been a friend of Vinyard’s. A pacifist and expert in saltpeter studies, Hauer killed someone he barely knew in 1975 and then hung himself in remorse.

Gerard J. Monaghan ’72 MA spent part of last year working for the U.S. Census Bureau in Connecticut, Louisiana, and Georgia. The co-founder and former president of the Association of Bridal Consultants, retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, and self-described “recovering journalist” serves on the New Milford Planning Commission. He and his wife, Eileen, have four grown children and nine grandchildren.

John Long ’73 (CLAS) wrote “Learning Experience” for an online production at the Phoenix Stage Company in Watertown, Connecticut. The play, directed by Drew Scott ’72 (SFA), ’77 MFA, is a series of monologues featuring people talking about their experiences coping with the pandemic. Scott teaches drama at UConn Hartford, while Long taught drama at UConn Torrington and Waterbury.

Major kudos to Lynne Maquat ’74 (CLAS), who won the 2021 Wolf Prize in Medicine, an international award given to outstanding scientists for achievements that benefit mankind. Maquat, the founding director of the Center for RNA Biology at the University of Rochester, was selected for “fundamental discoveries in RNA biology that have the potential to better human lives.”

Congratulations to Michael Sills ’74 MS, ’82 Ph.D., of Bedford, New Hampshire, who published a family history in the form of a cookbook, “A Lithuanian Cookbook for My Irish Wife.” The work centers around the Lithuanian community in Hartford, Connecticut.

Charles Bernhardt ’75 (CLAS) retired after 37 years as cantor at Oseh Shalom synagogue in Laurel, Maryland, and was named cantor emeritus.

Nancy Rudner ’76 (CLAS) writes to tell us she’s an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and lives in the Orlando, Florida, area.

Virgil Lloyd ’79 (ENG), who has spent more than four decades improving wastewater systems throughout New England, was named the 2021 president of the New England Water Environment Association, a chapter of the International Water Environment Federation. Lloyd is a senior vice president at Fuss & O’Neill.


Beth (Turcy) Kilmarx ’80 (CLAS) was named associate dean/director of Cushing Memorial Library and Archives, University Libraries at Texas A&M. Kilmarx is an associate professor and former curator of rare books.

Bob Sembler ’80 (CAHNR) wrote to recognize the day-to-day workers like his fellow physical therapists and all the nurses who have tirelessly led us through and are leading us out of the pandemic — all the front-line health workers, graduates young and old from UConn, who haven’t had a moment off during this past year. One such brave individual, he notes, is Chuck Cota ’80 (CAHNR), who has worked at St. Raphael’s (now part of Yale New Haven Hospital) for 47 years. Cota has been a true hero during the pandemic, coming to the hospital every day to lead his therapy team, and was an integral part of the Covid crisis management and recovery at the hospital, writes Sembler. Cota, faithful UConn supporter and extreme patient care advocate, just retired after a storied career in PT.

Laurie P. Havanec ’82 (BUS), ’94 JD was named executive vice president and chief people officer by CVS Health. She previously served in that role at Otis Worldwide Co.

Madelaine Podurgiel Lawrence ’83 Ph.D., a registered nurse, writes in about the impact that her advisor, Arthur Roberts, and a UConn writing course had on building her confidence as a writer. She has written several articles and five books, most recently “A Pocketful of $20s,” about a nursing education director who hands out $20 bills to five people at Christmastime. “I am proud to be a graduate of the School of Education at the University of Connecticut,” she says.

Frank Figliuzzi ’87 JD, former assistant director of counterintelligence at the FBI and current MSNBC national security analyst, published “The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau’s Code of Excellence” with HarperCollins-Custom House in January.

Allen R. Jones, Jr. ’87 (CAHNR), who owns six outpatient physical therapy practices in Virginia, is now chair of the Virginia Board of Physical Therapy and chairman of the state’s Board of Health Professions.

Scott F. Nolan ’87 (ED) was honored by Bristol Community College in Fall River, Massachusetts, with the 2020 Dale P. Parnell Distinguished Faculty Award.

After decades of working at public relations agencies, including her own, Kyle (MacDonald) Potvin ’87 (CLAS) published her first poetry collection, “Loosen.” Potvin, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her early 40s, says she found reading and writing poetry cathartic while undergoing surgery, chemo, and radiation. She co-founded The Prickly Pear Poetry Project, holding workshops to help those impacted by cancer. She says she met her husband, Glen Potvin ’87 (PHAR), at UConn, but they didn’t start dating until a decade later.

Karen Ali ’88 (CLAS), a former newspaper reporter turned advice columnist and dating coach, teaches ways to save time in the dating trenches in her new book, “A Woman’s Guide to Understanding Men: Dating Secrets Most Women Don’t Know.” Ali, who writes under the pen name Karenna Alexander, is a media strategist at the Trumbull, Connecticut, communications firm Michael J. London & Associates.

Lynn Katz ’88 JD, tells us she began writing fiction after retiring as a school principal in Farmington, Connecticut. Her debut novel, “The Surrogate,” is being published by Black Rose Writing on May 6. The story explores the psychological profile of a troubled teenager obsessed with guns and the teacher who tries to help him.


Anthony Susi ’90 MM, a composer and former band director at Coventry High School, recently published two adaptable arrangements of standard band repertoire to meet the needs of directors dealing with restrictive rehearsal requirements due to the pandemic. “Russian Sailors Dance” was released by C-Alan Publications in February, and “The Messenger March” was released by C.L. Barnhouse Company in the fall.

Paul Valenti ’90 (CLAS) was recently appointed director of the Miami district office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The Miami district’s geographical jurisdiction includes all of Florida but the western panhandle, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The EEOC’s mission is to prevent and remedy unlawful employment discrimination and advance equal opportunity for all in the workplace.

Gwenn Gerken Noel ’92 (CLAS) joined High Point University in North Carolina as assistant vice president for family services. She has worked in various communications, marketing, and guest relations roles in health care and entertainment for more than 25 years.

Keith Berger ’93 (ENG), ’98 MS recently founded and is CEO of a new company, Oodles Energy, Inc. His investor partners are senior Wall Street and European finance and hedge fund leaders interested in the transition to electric vehicles and the need for increased charging infrastructure.

Jill (Chmieleski) Sharif ’93 (CLAS) was named one of the 10 Outstanding Women of 2021 in Commercial Real Estate by the Boston Real Estate Times. Sharif is vice president of national business development for First American’s national commercial services division.

The National Association of Social Workers presented Rita Abdallah ’94 MSW with the NASW Ohio Statewide 2020 Outstanding Service Award for her support and service to the chapter. Her 25-year social work career has spanned nonprofit leadership, academia, and healthcare, primarily in oncology. She is a wellness coach and founder of Turning Point Wellness & Yoga in Westlake, Ohio.

Laura (Schieffer) Buonaiuto ’94 MBA and Matt Buonaiuto ’90 (CLAS) are celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary. They met in Storrs in 1988, parted ways, then found each other again in 2005 and married a year later. They say they are “living the dream” on the coast of Maine with their daughters, Zoey and Megan.

Congratulations to Jennifer Aldworth ’95 (CLAS), who was named a 2020 Massachusetts Latinx Trailblazer by the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus. Aldworth is the first woman and the first person of color to serve as executive director at the Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. She worked with Boys & Girls Clubs across Massachusetts as they pivoted during the pandemic to provide childcare, distribute meals, and open remote learning sites.

Robert Irwin ’95 (CLAS) just released his second album, “Chasing the Tone,” which features fellow Huskies Suj Patel ’20 (CLAS) on bass and vocals by Irwin’s wife, Shelby Irwin ’95 (CLAS), and his mother, Barbara Claire ’86 (CLAS), ’89 JD.

Christopher Logan ’95 MBA was named president and CEO of Bank of New Hampshire. Logan joined Bank of New Hampshire’s executive management team in 2017.

Jamelle R. Elliott ’96 (BUS), ’98 MA, an assistant coach for the UConn Women’s Basketball team, received the Distinguished Alumna award from the UConn Neag School of Education in March.

Rowena Ortiz-Walters ’96 (CLAS), ’05 Ph.D. has been named dean of St. Mary’s University Greehey School of Business, becoming the first Latina to lead the business school. Ortiz-Walters was previously the dean and professor of management in the School of Business and Economics at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Erik Dobratz reporting for WTNH Channel 8

Denise Quinn ’96 (CLAS) wrote to tell us her husband Erik Dobratz ’95 (CLAS), a sportscaster for WTNH Channel 8 in New Haven, Connecticut, who has covered professional and local sports for the past 20 years, was named Connecticut Sportscaster of the Year. Congratulations!

Adam Bowles ’97 (CLAS) is the founding and lead pastor of Castle Church in Norwich, Connecticut. After a 15-year newspaper career, Bowles opened the church in 2019, converting the first floor of a former bank into a sanctuary and gathering area. He led an outreach to El Paso, Texas, after the mass shooting there and launched ministries to promote racial justice and compassion toward immigrants. He lives with his wife, Luisa, in Lisbon, Connecticut. They have two daughters in college, Victoria and Veronica.

Greg Brick ’97 MS has published seven books about caves since graduating from UConn, including his latest, “Caves and Karst of the Upper Midwest, USA.” His day job is mapping thousands of springs for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Harry Thomas ’99 MSW reports that he has published his first book. “Peace by the Sea: Inspiring Images and Quotes to Light Your Way” features 111 of his seaside photographs paired with inspiring quotes that illustrate his 12 principles of “living your best life.”


Connecticut’s Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona ’01 MA, ’04 6th Year, ’11 Ed.D., ’12 ELP was sworn in March 2 as U.S. Secretary of Education, the first UConn graduate in history to hold this position in the White House Cabinet and the second UConn alum to hold a Cabinet-level position.

Craig A. Cooke ’01 6th Year, ’07 Ph.D. was appointed superintendent of schools in Madison, Connecticut.

Orlando Wright ’01 (CLAS), ’03 MA became director of partnerships and innovation for the American Society for Addiction Medicine, where he oversees partnerships with states and other public entities, strengthens health technology, and builds collaborations. He also was recently appointed to the Howard County Local Behavioral Health Advisory Board in Maryland.

Tamika Williams-Jeter ’02 (CLAS), former Husky and WNBA forward, is the new head coach at Division III Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio. Williams-Jeter, who won three national championships at UConn, had spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio State.

Matthew Necci ’03 (CLAS) published his first novel, “The Road Will Someday Bend.” The book is a 1940s-era coming-of-age tale about an immigrant’s journey from Italy to the United States as his family tries to escape the looming war in Europe.

Jack Sheedy ’03 (BGS) published a collection of essays, “Magical Acts in Two Suitcases,” including one titled “Redemption by Shakespeare,” in which he describes returning to college and finishing his undergraduate degree at age 57 at UConn’s Torrington campus.

Bonnie (Curran) Rumilly ’04 (CLAS) sent in an update. After graduating from UConn, she went on to Columbia University and became a licensed clinical social worker. She has a private practice in Wilton, Connecticut, where she specializes in trauma therapy and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing).

Connecticut’s Association of Schools selected Joy Wright ’04 6th Year, principal of King Philip Middle School in West Hartford, as 2020 Middle School Principal of the Year.

Robinson+Cole, a Hartford law firm, hired Samuel C. Maduabueke ’05 (BUS), ’10 MS, ’17 MBA, ’20 JD as a law clerk.

Ira Steinberg ’05 (CLAS) was promoted to partner at Greenberg Glusker LLP, a Los Angeles law firm, where he practices complex commercial and business litigation in the technology, real estate, entertainment, and media fields. Outside of the office, he holds a pilot’s license for single-engine aircraft and gliders with a certification for aerobatics and has completed multiple marathons.

Michelle (Kersten) Wojtyniak ’05 (ED), ’06 MA earned her administration degree from McDaniel College in Maryland. She is a special education instructional consultant for elementary education for Carroll County Public Schools in Westminster, Maryland.

Fenton River Veterinary Hospital in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, owned and operated by Scott Morey ’06 (CAHNR) and Heidi Morey ’05 (CAHNR), was named Veterinary Hospital of the Year in hospital design in the category of under 8,000 square feet by dmv360, a national veterinary publication.

Grace Duarte de Baker ’07 MSW is the assistant director of the Student Counseling Center at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, where she coordinates wellness initiatives and outreach to students and faculty and provides mental health treatment and development and training to a multi-disciplinary intern staff. She also was appointed as adjunct professor at the University of Memphis School of Social Work and has a small private practice in Memphis and California.

Congratulations to Amanda (Molden) Wells ’07 (CLAS), who was named Delaware School Psychologist of the Year for 2020–21.

Katie (Kopcha) Claywell ’08 (SFA) recently published a children’s book, “The Birdy Got My Chips,” which was inspired by her 3-year-old daughter.

Paul Freeman ’09 Ed.D., superintendent of schools in Guilford, Connecticut, was named Connecticut’s 2020–21 Superintendent of the Year by the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

Caroline Oks ’09 (CLAS) was promoted to director at Gibbons P.C., a business and commercial law firm. She handles complex business and commercial litigation in state and federal courts throughout New Jersey and New York.


Congratulations to Assistant Professor Austin H. Johnson ’10 MA, ’13 6th Year, ’14 Ph.D., who was awarded tenure at the University of California in the Graduate School of Education’s school psychology program.

Alex Maki ’10 (BUS) was named vice president of Financial Planning & Analysis and Investor Relations for CIRCOR International. He joined CIRCOR after more than 10 years with General Electric and is part of the UConn School of Business’s Mentor Program.

Kudos to Tsa Shelton ’10 (CAHNR), ’15 MPH, who graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and is a public health veterinarian for the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.

Photo of James Barlow, who graduated from UConn in the late 1940s, in the marching band with Jonathan II
back of photo with writing, Oct. 10, 1946, Dad's Day - UConn, Jim Barlow

Laura Bocon ’10 (CLAS) shared this photo of her grandfather, James Barlow, who graduated from UConn in the late 1940s, in the marching band with Jonathan II. Her maternal grandparents met at UConn.

Dave Hudson ’11 Ph.D. studies invasive crustaceans, which can wreak havoc on an ecosystem. He and his team were the first to report the presence of Chinese mitten crab and Dungeness crabs off the shores of Connecticut and Massachusetts recently. Hudson was a student Fulbright Fellow to Colombia after graduation and returned to Connecticut four years ago to begin building a Research and Conservation Department at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk. Last year he was admitted to the prestigious Explorers Club, a group committed to the advancement of science and exploration. Among the other projects Hudson’s been managing lately are horseshoe crab stress research (find a deeper dive on that in “The Fortunate Ones?” in UConn Magazine, Summer 2019), water quality in Long Island Sound, shark acoustic tracking, and invasions research. He’s the vice-chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Sea Turtle SAFE (Saving Animals From Extinction) program. And last but not least, he’s co-founder of UpWell Coffee in Norwalk, which raises funds for conservation and research of ecosystems related to oceans, lakes, and rivers, one cup at a time.”

Ariel Borgendale ’12 (CLAS) graduated from Boston College Law School in May 2020 and is an attorney with Skaddan Arps Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in Boston. She is married to fellow Husky Dylan Landfear ’12 (CLAS), and they live in South Boston.

Justis Lopez ’14 (ED), ’15 MA and his colleague, Ryan Parker, have launched Project Happyvism to encourage educators and young people to practice self-love and keep joy as the centerpiece of their lives.

Jack Zaino ’15 (SFA), ’16 (ED), ’17 MA, a teacher at Swift Middle School in Oakville, Connecticut, was named 2020 Young Choral Director of the Year by the Connecticut chapter of the American Choral Directors Association.

Gabriel Bachinelo ’16 (BUS) was promoted to manager, corporate reporting and analysis, at The Nielsen Company.

Sushruta Kunnenkeri ’18 MA started a new job as a science teacher at Lexington High School in Massachusetts.


Collin Molano ’20 (CLAS) started working in January in customer relationship management at Fidelity Investments in Jacksonville, Florida, where he entered the training program.


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