Skip navigation

Class Notes - Fall 2020

News from Spartans around the world

Spartan helmet on sidewalk


JOHN KIM, M.A. ’60, Ph.D. ’62 (Both in Engineering), recently published “In Pursuit of Science and Technology,” a memoir about his professional pursuit of science and technology, as well as his personal thoughts on his faith, private finance, struggles with race issues as a minority, discrimination in the workplace and society, and his health issues.

DIANE PHELPS BUDDEN, ’66 (Social Science), recently published “Dear Hubby of Mine: Home Front Wives in World War II” which presents life during the war through letters her parents shared during 1943-1945. 

ALLAN HODGES, ’67 (Social Science), has been elected president of the Beacon Hill Village, a virtual retirement community of 400 people enjoying life and aging in place in central Boston, MA.

RITCH EICH, M.A. ’68 (Education), recently published his fifth book “Leading with Grit, Grace and Gratitude: Timeless Lessons for Life.” Organized around three essential leadership values—grit, grace, and gratitude—the book discusses the importance of each value and highlights people, organizations and events that embody them. 

ERIC STEMLE, ’76, M.A. ’81 (Both in Arts and Letters), r
ecently published “I Was Not the Blossom,” a chronicle of the final year of his 40-year teaching career. By combining blog posts with reflections that encompass perspectives on his practice and the profession in general, Stemle’s book provides a guide for young teachers as they learn to adjust to life in what John Steinbeck called “the greatest of the arts.” “I Was Not the Blossom” reveals insights to help teachers develop a nurturing classroom environment in which they, as well as their students, can grow.

JENNIFER BYROM, ’78 (Social Science), cofounder of The Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum, recently published “Tastes and Tales of the Travelers Club International Restaurant & Tuba Museum” which is part cookbook of customers’ favorite recipes over 20 years, part anecdotes of a quirky, iconic local restaurant and part memoir of her life prior to the Travelers Club. 

DIANE SHARROW, ’82 (Agriculture and Natural Resources),
was recognized in January 2020 for 37.5 years of federal service with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5 Great Lakes office as a senior environmental inspector and enforcement officer.  She also spent four years earlier in her career working for the Parks Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

SCOTT EILER, ’83 (Engineering, Honors College), has recently retired from the technology industry.   While in that industry, he worked on projects including Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD).

CARLA WILSON-NEIL, ’84 (Communication Arts and Sciences), retired in January 2020 as the chief operating officer for Spectrum Health Pennock Hospital in Hastings, Michigan. Wilson-Neil joined Pennock in 1979, received her Master’s in Management from Aquinas College, achieved her Fellow status with the American College of Healthcare Executives in 2012, and is a recipient of an ATHENA Women’s Leadership award. She is also a Vietnam era Air Force veteran, and in 1978 received a USAF Reserves Airman of the Year award.

ROHIT KHATTAR, ’85 (Business), is the producer of “Bombay Rose,” the first Indian animated film ever selected to open Venice Critics’ Week. The film will be released globally by Netflix in  2020. The film also won top prizes at the Chicago and Mumbai Film Festivals. 

LISA FISHMAN, ’88 (Arts and Letters), recently published “Mad World, Mad Kings, Mad Composition” which upends time itself in lyric, prose and visual forms spanning 16 years of notebooks, teaching notes, and improvisations. 

ROB SOBIE, ’90 (Social Science),
was named president and CEO of ARC Healthcare Technologies in Orion, Michigan. In this new role Sobie will lead ARC’s global strategic efforts in the expanded use and application of connected Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to improve patient safety and supply chain efficiencies throughout health care. Previously, Sobie served as the worldwide vice president and general manager for BD and had served in executive leadership roles at other leading health care companies including Pyxis, Cardinal Health and Emerson Electric.

LAURIE SILVERMAN GENS, ’91 (Business), was appointed director of life enrichment for Tamarisk NorthShore, a luxury independent living community in Deerfield, IL. 

DEIRDRE CAREY BROWN, ’93 (Social Science), recently made partner at Forshey Prostok L.L.P. in the firm’s Houston office. Board certified in business bankruptcy by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Brown has 20 years of bankruptcy and restructuring experience. Her work includes representing both Chapter 11 debtors, official committees, creditors and equity, in a variety of industries, with particular focus in the construction and energy markets. 

JEFF LAMBERT, ’93 (Communication Arts and Sciences), CEO of Lambert & Co., is now the founder and CEO of TiiCKER, a newly developed intelligent startup platform connecting individual investors with the publicly traded brands they love. TiiCKER transforms how individual investors are rewarded for brand loyalty. The Detroit-based company provides stock perks and free trading to individual investors, while collaborating with publicly traded companies to unlock a key marketing demographic found in their retail shareholder base. 

Erik Qualman, ’94 (Business), a bestselling author and keynote speaker has written a new book, “The Focus Project: The not so simple art of doing less, better.” Combining street science and institutional research alongside his own personal focus project, Qualman delivers practical advice on doing the important things instead of a bunch of things. The book became a #1 New Release on Amazon.

NEIL D. BRINKER, ’01 (Engineering), has been promoted to president of Advanced Energy Industries effective May 20. Brinker will also continue in his current role as COO.

MICHAEL HANAK, ’03, M.D. ’07 (Lyman Briggs College, Honors College and Human Medicine), was named president of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, representing the front lines of health care across the state. Hanak was formerly associate chief medical officer for Population Health and associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. 

DR. KATHERINE M. ROBIADEK, ’03 (James Madison College, Honors College), will join the faculty of Hood College in metro D.C. (Frederick, MD) as assistant professor of political science, leading the Martha E. Church Center for Civic Engagement.

BENJAMIN WILENSKY, ’05 (James Madison College, Social Science), was named a shareholder at Sommers Schwartz, P.C. Ben represents railroad workers who seek compensation under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act for on-the-job injuries, as well as those harmed by other forms of negligence and wrongdoing. He is one of only two lawyers in Michigan who belong to the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys, the preeminent association of lawyers fighting for injured railroad employees.

PAUL DAVIS, ’06 (Communication Arts and Sciences), former Michigan Mr. Basketball and Michigan State University Basketball All-American, has been named an equity partner of The Podium Group – Risk Management, a Southfield-based financial management group.

BRENDA FRIEDMAN, ’08 (Social Science), recently joined the firm Kogut & Wilson as an associate. Brenda represents individuals in all aspects of family law proceedings, including pre- and post-nuptial agreements, complex asset and property division, child support, maintenance and more. Prior to joining Kogut & Wilson, she worked as an attorney at two prominent family law firms in Chicago. 

JESSICA BENTON, ’10 (Business),
was recently named senior marketing manager for Europe, Middle East and Africa at DataStax based in London, UK. Over the last 10 years, she’s been focused and instrumental in growing international marketing programs and teams at companies such as Microsoft, Red Hat, Tableau and startup Trifacta.

LAUREN BEALORE, ’11 (James Madison College), was recently appointed to the Climate Power 2020 Advisory Board as a state co-chair alongside national and state leaders. The advisory board is comprised of national and state leaders working to address the country’s climate crisis, and includes Stacey Abrams, Abdul El-Sayed, former Secretary of State John Kerry and Dr. John Holdren. 

DEBORAH VRIEND VAN DUINEN, Ph.D. ’11 (Education), is currently the director of the Big Read in Holland, MI, and recently partnered with colleagues nationwide to facilitate an online book club for 4th and 5th graders; weekly they’ve had over 200 students join these conversations with well-known, award-winning authors. She also hosts two local book clubs, one for mothers and daughters, and another for mothers and sons.

DR. ISAAC GARCIA-GUERRERO, ’12 (Arts and Letters), will join the faculty of the Virginia Military Institute (Lexington, VA) as assistant professor of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures in fall 2020.

JESSICA DOYLE, ’13 (Arts and Letters), recently joined Light Can Help You as a Design Leader after completing a Master of Professional Studies in Architectural Lighting Design at the New York School of Interior Design in NYC.

JACK RODZIK, ’13 (Communication Arts and Sciences), recently joined MCCI Integrated Marketing as an account executive. Rodzik formerly served as Sigma Chi Fraternity’s associate director of digital media. 

AMBER MORSON, ’15 (Social Science), started a book publishing service, AdvisedByAmber, after publishing her book “No Prayer, No Power and Journal of Faith,” a self-reflection journal. She is a content writer for the U-Version Bible App where her plans have reached over 100,000 readers in the first year. 

KAYLA COLLINS, M.A. ’19 (Communication Arts and Sciences), recently joined MCCI Integrated Marketing as an account executive. Collins will assist various accounts including Invest Puerto Rico, Honigman and Forgotten Harvest.