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.
➼ Storytelling expert Peninnah Manchester Schram ’56 (CLAS) reports that she’s featured in a new biography, “Peninnah’s World: A Jewish Life in Stories,” by Caren Schnur Neile. A Yeshiva University professor emerita, Schram continues to present storytelling workshops and programs, primarily on Zoom, and has written 13 books herself. She’s a proud UConn alum. “I owe so much of my professional and personal life to UConn, which opened my eyes to literature and dramatic literature. I was proud that I was cast in a college play presented every semester. I loved being at the Storrs campus and in the Phi Sigma Sigma sorority dorm. In short, I had great experiences, both academic and social, while I was at UConn.”
➼ Jim Bennitt ’57 (ENG) writes in with an update from Melbourne, Florida. After serving as a U.S. Air Force pilot and spending 30 years at Pratt & Whitney, he has a thriving income tax business and remains a Husky fan. “I love the women’s basketball, but watching every game is a challenge from Florida.”
➼ Sixty-two years after they met on a blind date at UConn, Marilyn (Johnson) Kirschbaum ’60 MA and Joel Kirschbaum ’60 MS are still going strong. Marilyn worked as a teacher for people with disabilities while Joel was a research chemist. They live in Williamsburg, Virginia, and have two children and “three wonderful grandchildren.”
➼ After more than 50 years in residential and commercial real estate, Bruce H. Cagenello ’60 (CLAS) retired from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties. He has served on a wide range of boards and commissions, including the Connecticut Real Estate Commission, the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection, and the Governor’s Task Force on Housing. He also was president of the Greater Hartford Association of Realtors and a member of the UConn Real Estate Advisory Council and the Simsbury Zoning Board of Appeals. A justice of the peace, he married many young couples across the span of two decades. He and his wife, Dody, live in Wallingford, Connecticut, and have three children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
➼ Brian Flesher ’63 (BUS) says he’s enjoying his “semi” retirement in Phoenix, Arizona, where he produces comedy shows, adjudicates plays, and does the occasional hair and makeup design.
➼ Capping a long career in public service, Andrew E. Dinniman ’66 (CLAS) recently retired after four terms in the Pennsylvania State Senate, including serving as Democratic chair of the education committee. A professor emeritus at West Chester University, he taught there for more than 45 years. As a student at UConn, Dinniman was president of his freshman, sophomore, and junior classes and president of student government his senior year: “My studies and leadership experiences at UConn greatly assisted in my career.”
➼ David Prindiville ’68 (CLAS) has been going the distance for years at the Manchester Road Race. The former president and elite runner coordinator of the event, he was named honorary chairperson of last year’s 86th annual race held Thanksgiving morning in Manchester, Connecticut. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon, he volunteered for the race for 37 years before retiring to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 2015. A former high school discus thrower and football player, he became a recreational runner after reading “Aerobics” by Dr. Kenneth Cooper and entered the race for the first time in 1976.
➼ Former Cranston High School West football coach Bruce R. Mastracchio ’71 MA has racked up several awards over the last decade. His hometown of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, recognized him for his dedication and contribution to local youth in 2012. Since then, he was named to the Providence Gridiron Hall of Fame, landed on the Wall of Honor at his high school, and won the Gridiron Club’s Lawrence P. Gallogly Humanitarian Award. Congratulations!
➼ Retired Superior Court Judge Michael E. Riley ’72 (CLAS) was named 2023 Lawyer of the Year by “The Best Lawyers in America” for arbitration in the Hartford area. A mediator and arbitrator in state and federal court civil matters, he spent 28 years as a trial attorney and 13 years on the bench, retiring in 2017.
➼ Half a century of marriage — that’s something to celebrate! John M. “Jack” Silva ’73 (ED), ’74 MA and his wife, Christine, just had their 50th wedding anniversary. Both have retired from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after more than 25 years and “look forward to spending more time in their native New England in the years ahead.” Jack, who is the founding president of the Association for the Advancement for Applied Sport Psychology, continues to consult with professional athletes.
➼ Steve Kemper ’75 (CLAS), ’80 Ph.D. published a new book, “Our Man in Tokyo: An American Ambassador and the Countdown to Pearl Harbor.”
➼ Brian Gragnolati ’79 (BUS) joined Concord Health Partners, a health care–focused investment firm, as an executive partner.
➼ A.C. Macris ’79 MS has written “Moral Revenge: The End of a Legacy,” a book about family, honor, devotion, and revenge.
➼ Anand Chaudhuri ’80 MBA writes that he published “A Long and Winding Journey in America — Living My Best Life.” Find it on Amazon.
➼ James Hupp ’82 MD was appointed special advisor to the president for oral health at Louisiana Tech University. In his new position, he’ll help the university determine whether and how to develop a new college of dental medicine to improve the oral health of underserved citizens of northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas. Previously, he served as vice dean for academic, student, and faculty affairs for the Washington State University College of Medicine.
➼ Paul Martino ’82 (CLAS) was named to a newly formed health testing advisory board for ixlayer, a leading platform for health testing. Martino is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of VillageMD.
➼ After a long career at The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (A&P), where he served as corporate vice president and chief tax officer, Joseph J. Gorman ’84 MBA has retired to Naples, Florida. Prior to joining A&P, he held tax and financial positions at Texas Gulf Sulphur Co. and EF Hutton. He and his wife, Maureen, now enjoy the Sunshine State, where he continues to hone his financial analysis skills by managing his family portfolio.
➼ Congratulations to Harold C. Robinson ’85 (CLAS), ’89 MA, ’90 Ph.D. on winning the 2021 ONR Bisson Prize for naval technology achievement. Robinson, of Colchester, Connecticut, is an electronic engineer physicist at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport Sensors and SONAR Systems Department.
➼ Also moving on: Eric Bernardin ’85 (CAHNR), who graduated with a degree in agricultural engineering, was named Fuss & O’Neill’s first director of municipal services. He works directly with local leaders to find funding options and long-term solutions for economic growth in communities.
➼ George Barrios ’87 (CLAS), ’89 MBA, co-founder and co-CEO of Isos Capital Management, was named an officer of Progress Acquisition Corp.
➼ Lt. General John Healy ’89 (CLAS) was named to run the Air Force Reserve Command last August. As the new commander, he’s responsible for the U.S. Air Force’s reserve forces comprising more than 74,000 airmen and civilians. Healy entered the Air Force in 1989 after receiving his commission from the Air Force ROTC program at UConn. Besides commanding at the squadron, group, wing, and numbered Air Force levels, he served in a variety of high-level positions, most recently as deputy to the Chief of Air Force Reserve. He is a command pilot with more than 5,000 military hours and 402 combat hours and has flown for the civilian airline industry.
➼ Maj. Gen. Francis Evon Jr. ’89 (BUS) was reappointed by Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to serve another four-year term as adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard. He’s been in this role since July 2018.
➼ Nkechi Madonna Agwu ’89 MS, a mathematics professor at Borough of Manhattan Community College, was honored with both the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award signed by President Joe Biden and the Worldwide Chaplain Ambassador of Hope Award at a gala of the Worldwide Association of Small Churches.
➼ The Toscano Family Ice Forum at UConn Storrs was christened Jan. 13 and 14 with the women beating Merrimack and Vermont, and the men battling Northeastern (shown) for a tight 4-3 loss. The state-of-the-art arena was named in recognition of a gift that continues the transformational philanthropy of University Board of Trustees chairman Dan Toscano ’87 (BUS) and his family. Learn more at UConn Today.
To coincide with the opening of the Toscano Family Ice Forum, Dale Carpenter ’63 (CLAS) shared this remembrance of his days with UConn Hockey and tribute to his coach. This appears as he shared it with us:
➼ Anthony Susi ’90 MM wrote in with a musical note. Two of the seven compositions he published last year will be featured at the 76th Annual Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago: “A Joyous Sleigh Ride” for string orchestra and “Home Awaits” for concert band.
➼ Once a Husky … Richard L. McCar- thy ’90 (BUS) recently returned to the University to lead the UConn Health Information Technology Department. He has held IT leadership positions at both civilian and military medical institutions, most recently serving as CIO of White Plains Hospital in New York.
➼ Tom Leibowitz ’90 (CLAS), ’92 MS is moving up. He was named senior vice president and chief actuarial officer at Delta Dental of California. Leibowitz joined Delta Dental in 2011 as vice president and chief actuary and previously served as executive director of Kaiser Permanente’s western regions.
➼ Patricia Hurlbut Sellars ’90 (BGS) began her studies at UConn in 1950 and would have graduated in 1954, but left in 1952 “to pursue a different agenda.” She married and had three children — two daughters graduated from UConn and went on to continue their studies. Sellars finally received her BGS degree from the Extended and Continuing Education Department (with honors) in 1990. “It took 40 years, but I knew I could do it.” She recently published “Kickin’ Eighty,” a book she began on her 88th birthday. She says she wrote the book to look back on her life and to learn from it. She has many plans for an interesting future filled with more adventures, including starting her next book, “Nibbling at Ninety,” soon! “I loved being a returning student and hope that the BGS department is more successful than ever!”
➼ Kudos to C. Augusto Casas ’92 MBA, who received a Fulbright Specialist Program award. He will complete a project at Corporación Universitaria del Caribe (CECAR) in Colombia that aims to exchange knowledge and establish partnerships within engineering education.
➼ Desiree A. Diaz ’94 (NUR), ’07 MS, ’11 Ph.D., an associate professor and undergraduate simulation coordinator at the University of Central Florida College of Nursing, was named president-elect of the International Association of Clinical Simulation and Learning.
➼ Sujit Ghosh ’96 Ph.D. is the interim department head of statistics at North Carolina State University. He’s also an editor of the journal Sankhya and a member of the scientific advisory committee of the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute.
➼ Leslie Torres-Rodriguez ’97 (CLAS), ’00 MSW, the superintendent of Hartford Public Schools, was appointed to the board of trustees of Trinity College. She is the parent of a junior at Trinity.
➼ Jason Cardinal ’98 (ENG) was elected to the board of directors of Urban Engineers, where he is vice president and New England regional manager.
➼ Also moving on is Hendrik Deurloo ’98 MBA, the senior vice president and chief commercial officer at Pratt & Whitney. He was appointed president of P&W’s Commercial Engines.
➼ Nancy Tandon ’00 MA, who earned her master’s in communication disorders, wrote two novels last year aimed at children in grades 4 through 6. “The Way I Say It” was drawn directly from her time as a speech and language pathologist, while “The Ghost of Spruce Point” is a mystery set on the coast of Maine.
➼ Craft beer aficionado Dan DiSorbo ’01 (SFA) profiled 50 of the most sought-after hops from around the world to help readers understand the science and story behind beer’s most important ingredients in his new “Book of Hops.” DiSorbo, of Orange, Connecticut, is a principal at PB&J Design, a brand design agency, and has written and illustrated several bestselling books. He also co-founded a Connecticut craft brewery and has won craft beer industry competitions. Wondering which hops are for you? Check out Getting Hoppy.
➼ Monica Caldas Benton ’01 (BUS) was named executive vice president and chief information officer of Liberty Mutual. Prior to that, she was executive vice president and global CIO for GRM.
➼ Kudos to Shea Ralph ’02 (ED), in her second season as head coach for women's basketball at Vanderbilt University. Last year Ralph led the Commodores to their first postseason appearance since 2014. Here she and husband Tom Garrick, with their daughter, Maysen, make the V.U. sign.
➼ Jon Kukucka ’03 (CLAS) was recently cited in “The Best Lawyers in America 2023” in the practice of family law and family law arbitration for the second consecutive year. Kukucka, of Clinton, Connecticut, works for the Pullman & Comley law firm.
➼ David Rusbasan ’04 MA, ’10 Ph.D. also has some good news. He was selected as an assistant dean at Marian University’s College of Arts and Sciences in Indianapolis. A native of Merrillville, Indiana, he will lead the School of Behavioral and Applied Social Sciences as one of four new assistant deans at the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
➼ Ebony Murphy ’04 (CLAS), ’10 MA says she is happily living in Brooklyn, New York, after spending seven years in California. She has joined the English faculty at Saint Ann’s School and remains on the boards of the Independent Shakespeare Company and NARAL Pro-Choice California Privacy PAC. She was thrilled to be included in the humor anthology “Fast Fierce Women: 75 Essays of Flash Nonfiction” by UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor Gina Barreca.
➼ Vikram Nafde ’05 MBA was named executive vice president and chief information officer for Webster Financial Corp., the holding company for Webster Bank.
➼ Jeffrey Smith ’04 (CLAS) ’07 MA founded a nonprofit in 2016 called Vanguard Africa based in Washington, D.C., and routinely publishes on issues related to democracy, human rights, and U.S. foreign policy. He remains active in the UConn Storrs community, where he serves on the Human Rights Institute Advisory Board.
➼ Anthony Carbonella ’07 (CLAS), ’11 DMD, of Hamden, Connecticut, was the first of four brothers to go to UConn. His biology degree led to dental school, then the Air Force, where he completed an Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency at Travis AF Base in California: “My first assignment after residency was at McGuire AF Base in New Jersey, where I was able to practice in every dental specialty. I found myself happiest on the days I was performing orthodontics.” After 11 years of military service, Carbonella, wife Angela, son Anthony, daughter Siena, and dog Pliny, settled in Newtown. Carbonella has an orthodontics practice in Bethel. “I hope to re-engage with both the pre-dental society at UConn Storrs and the dental school at UConn Health,” he writes.
➼ Michael Colonnese ’09 (CLAS) joined the equity research department at H.C. Wainwright & Co. as a senior equity analyst focusing on cryptocurrency and fintech.
➼ Brandon Parrinello ’09 MBA is director of state and local pandemic relief oversight at the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Inspector General.
➼ Mina Farahani ’09 (CLAS) and Mikhil Ponkshe ’07 (CLAS) married in 2015 and welcomed Cyrus Henry Ponkshe in August. “We look forward to showing Cyrus where his parents first met someday!” Farahani says.
➼ Jay White ’10 MSW published his first book, “Earth to Brockton,” about a young man leaving Brockton, Massachusetts, in the 1970s, moving to Maine, and launching into adulthood.
➼ Samantha Jones ’10 (SFA, CLAS) was awarded a Ph.D. in music from Harvard University in May and now holds a postdoctoral fellowship in the Fellowships & Writing Center at Harvard’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She first developed her research specialization in the ethnomusicology of Irish traditional dance while pursuing her master’s in music at Boston University.
➼ Yana Reiser ’10 (BUS), ’11 MS, of Manchester, Connecticut, was promoted to director of assurance and advisory services at the Glastonbury-based accounting and advisory firm Fiondella, Milone & LaSaracina.
➼ When it comes to themed weddings, Kate Stringfellow ’11 (CAHNR) and Matt Ziance hit a hole-in-one! Matt, a golf enthusiast who introduced Kate to the game, pulled off a Masters-themed wedding, complete with “caddie” ring bearers. Says Matt: “The ultimate highlight was having the voice of the Masters, Jim Nantz, send us a personalized video to play for our guests before our reception began.”
➼ Shane R. Goodrich ’10 (CLAS), ’13 JD, an attorney at the Boston law firm of Morgan, Brown & Joy, was recognized by 2023 Best Lawyers in the “Ones to Watch” category.
➼ Reilly S. White ’13 Ph.D. was promoted to associate dean at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. He was awarded the Paul Ré Emerging Promoter of Peace Prize for his work on financial literacy for immigrants and refugees.
➼ Congratulations to Sara Piazza ’13 (ED), ’14 MA and Dan Young ’11 (PHARM), ’13 DPH, who were married in April at a ceremony that included 10 UConn alumni guests.
➼ Funky Dawgz band member Tommy Weeks ’13 (SFA) wrote in September to say he had just finished filming a new Guy Fieri TV show. “I recently had the opportunity to join the house band as the saxophonist on ‘Guy’s Ultimate Game Night,’ which just premiered on Food Network and Discovery Plus for streaming. There were many celebrity guests — Bret Michaels, Jay and Silent Bob, Alyssa Milano, Cheech Marin, Bobby Moynihan ’99 (SFA).” House band Sophistafunk, from left: Weeks, Adam Gold, Jack Brown, and Emmanuel Washington.
➼ Collin Monahan ’13 (CLAS) and Kim Iacovo ’14 (CLAS) tied the knot in August in front of a crowd that included 30 other UConn grads, including two who graduated as far back as 1978.
➼ Christopher Newell ’14 (BGS), director of the Akomawt Educational Initiative and former director of the Abbe Museum, joined the board of directors of the New England Foundation for the Arts. He is a citizen of the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Indian Township, Maine.
➼ Jason Lublin ’14 (ED) became a computer science teacher at Jesuit High School in Tampa, Florida earlier this year.
➼ Eleanor Reeds ’14 MA, ’18 Ph.D. writes that she and her husband, Adam Jacobs ’09 MA, welcomed a baby son, Finn Reeds Jacobs, in November 2021. “We currently live in Nebraska, where I am an assistant professor of English at Hastings College, so we’re not sure yet if Finn will be more of a Husker or a Husky!”
➼ Goal! Brieanne Scully ’14 (ED, CLAS) has scored a new job as counsel for Major League Soccer.
➼ Three generations of Huskies totaling more than 60 alumni came to celebrate the wedding of Samantha Arnold ’15 (CLAS) and Thomas Andreoli ’13 (ENG), ’17 MBA at Arnold’s parents’ house in Simsbury, Connecticut, recently. The happy couple met as undergraduates and returned to UConn for their MBAs. They even named their dog Kemba. Arnold works for Shenkman Capital while Andreoli works for Sikorsky. Congrats!
➼ Cheers! Beer expert Max Finnance ’15 (CLAS) has earned the title of Master Cicerone. Like a sommelier, the title recognizes an exceptional understanding of brewing, beer, and pairing — combining outstanding tasting abilities with extensive knowledge of commercial beers. Finnance is the senior manager of education and training for Artisanal Brewing Ventures (ABV). He grew up in Connecticut and served in the Navy for five years before attending UConn, where he majored in biology. He worked as a brand ambassador for Captain Lawrence Brewing Co., and then as a sales representative for Sixpoint Brewery prior to the company’s acquisition by ABV. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and two dogs.
➼ Garrett Connolly ’15 (CLAS), ’17 MA married Kaila Toce ’15 (CLAS), ’16 (NUR) in Hampton, Connecticut, in July, surrounded by family and friends, including UConn alumni. Connolly is a middle school teacher, while Toce is a pediatric nurse.
➼ Ritchie Shane ’16 (BUS), ’22 MBA and his wife, Emily (Spriegel) Shane ’14 (CLAS), got married in December 2021 in Simsbury surrounded by many of their closest UConn friends. They met through the co-ed fraternity Phi Sigma Pi in Storrs. They still live in Connecticut and continue to root for the Huskies.
➼ Charles Fayal ’15 (ENG) and James Edward Fayal ’77 (ENG) started NOWi a few years ago to help people conserve water. The father-son team developed a water monitor that detects leaks and other sources of water waste and alerts property owners and real estate managers to the problem and potential savings. Based in Stonington, Connecticut, their pilot program is centered on New London, Connecticut, but they have since expanded into the Bay Area of California.
➼ In career news, Denise Whitford ’17 MBA, who has more than two decades of experience in bank operations, lending, sales, and service management, was named State Star for 2022 by the Connecticut Small Business Development Center.
➼ Cameron Flower ’17 (ENG) sent an update: “Since graduating from UConn, I have been pursuing my Ph.D. in computational and systems biology at MIT. Now entering my 6th, and hopefully final, year of doctoral studies, I’m beginning to wrap up my research in the systems biology of cancer at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. I’m also currently enjoying a computational biology internship at BioNTech, the pharmaceutical company that teamed up with Pfizer to produce the widely distributed COVID-19 vaccine. My passion for science and learning is just as high as it was when I was a biomedical engineering undergraduate at UConn, and I often think back on the many fond memories I made at work and play on that hilly Storrs campus.”
➼ Congratulations to Matthew Rasey ’18 (SFA), who won a Sports Emmy for his graphic design work for the Super Bowl LVI Pregame — Tech Team Studio while working at NBC Sports in Stamford, Connecticut.
➼ Kudos to Anthony Mangiafico ’18 Ph.D. on being named the National Administrator of the Year by the Coalition on Adult Basic Education in April at its national conference in Seattle. The award is given for an outstanding contribution toward fostering the concept of education as a continuous life process. He served as director of adult and continuing education in East Hartford, Connecticut, for eight years before recently taking the same position with Wallingford Public Schools in Connecticut.
➼ Kylie Sarantides ’18 (BUS) writes that she and her husband, Dave Valentukonis ’18 (BUS), have always loved UConn. “We both have dozens of alums in our families and were able to attend together. Now we often watch UConn sporting events and take our dogs for walks on Horsebarn Hill.”
➼ Meaghan Perdue ’18 MS, ’21 Ph.D. is combining her interests in language, reading, and brain development for research she is doing at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Canada. Perdue, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Radiology at the Cumming School of Medicine, uses imaging techniques to examine the brain structures of children learning to read. She hopes to uncover the relationship between neuroscience and reading and eventually be able to identify reading disabilities earlier in childhood — when intervention is most successful.
➼ Daphne Wampold ’21 (CAHNR) reports that, after struggling with her weight and her relationship with food her entire life, she has lost more than 100 pounds and is now a comptitive bodybuilder. She says her fitness journey started more than two years ago at the Recreation Center on campus. Last summer, she competed in her first two National Physique Committee bikini bodybuilding shows. She also has launched a career as an online coach to help other young women get into strength training.
➼ The amazing online alumni community that is the Boneyarders rallied around a Husky fan in need. A GoFundMe callout for $600 to help with transportation costs for Keith Gaither, who has cerebral palsy, to get to a football and/or basketball game this year exploded. In just a week, $2,000 had been raised. UConn Athletics got into the act and instead of getting to one or two games, Gaither had been, by mid-December, to three football, three men’s basketball, and two women’s basketball games, with some serious backstage encounters to boot. “I thought he was gonna pass out when he met Coach Auriemma,” says friend Paul Farina. “Paige [Bueckers] as well. I actually enjoy watching his reactions more than I enjoy meeting these people myself.” Above from left: former Husky coach E. J. Barthel, Farina, Gaither, running back Victor Rosa ’26 (BUS) and his parents Deanna and Glenn.