Courtesy of Philadelphia Eagles

It wasn’t exactly the welcome Donovan McNabb had anticipated. After all, how often is the second pick in the National Football League player draft greeted with a chorus of thunderous boos? Though stung by the rude reception from Philadelphia Eagles’ fans at those draft-day festivities in New York City five springs ago, McNabb maintained his composure. The former Syracuse University quarterback and three-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year had always been unflappable and resilient. He figured, in time, he would turn the jeers into cheers and earn his share of affection from fans in the City of Brotherly Love. The Eagles would not regret selecting him over the people’s choice—running back Ricky Williams from the University of Texas. He was certain of that. “The fans’ reaction kind of blind-sided me at first,” McNabb says. “I hadn’t even taken a snap and they were on me. So, yeah, it stuns you. But you learn from playing quarterback that there are times when you are going to get knocked down. The key is to get up and turn a negative into a positive.”

McNabb has spent a lifetime doing that—on and off the field. Since becoming Philadelphia’s starting quarterback before the 2000 NFL season, he has earned four consecutive invitations to the Pro Bowl and guided the Eagles to three straight NFC championship games. He has endeared himself to the Philly faithful with his Houdini-like daring and Rocky-like grit. Eagles’ fans won’t soon forget his magical 4th-and-26 conversion to help win a playoff game last season, or the four touchdown passes he threw while playing an entire half on a fractured leg.

His work away from the gridiron has been every bit as impressive. Through his Donovan McNabb Foundation, the former Orange football and basketball standout has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in search of a cure for diabetes, which afflicts his father, Samuel McNabb. The younger McNabb also has played Santa Claus at a community center at Temple University and hosted youth football camps in Philadelphia and Chicago.

The player who has been immortalized with his own bobblehead doll and has starred in those popular Chunky soup commercials with his mom has remained true to his schools. He established the Donovan McNabb Golden Arm Scholarship Program at his high school alma mater, Mt. Carmel, in suburban Chicago. Two years ago, he donated $150,000 to refurbish the football locker rooms at SU and currently is serving as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. “Being named to the board was a tremendous honor,” says McNabb, who turned 28 in November. “Syracuse played a huge role in shaping me and making me the person I am today. This is a way of paying the school back.”

Though he holds Orange records for most touchdown passes (77) and total yards (9,950) in a career, he is equally proud to have been part of a football team that had a 100 percent graduation rate, the best in the nation. “That’s one of the messages I want to continue to get across to the members of our athletic programs,” says McNabb, who holds a bachelor’s degree in speech communication from the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “Very few of them are going to be as lucky as several of us have been and play professionally. That’s why I believe it’s so important to have a career you can fall back on.”

A recent Harris poll placed McNabb among the 10 most popular athletes in America, joining the likes of cyclist Lance Armstrong, golfer Tiger Woods, and New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. But don’t expect fame to inflate McNabb’s head. “My mom and dad keep me grounded,” he says, chuckling. “They’ll make sure I don’t need a bigger helmet.”

Several years ago, NBA great Charles Barkley created a stir when he proclaimed that professional athletes aren’t role models. McNabb takes a contrary view. “My dad told me that as I progressed in sports and started receiving increased recognition, more and more kids would look up to me and emulate everything I did, on and off the field,” McNabb says. “He said, whether I liked it or not, I would become a role model and it was up to me to decide which kind of role model I would be.”

From all indications, Donovan McNabb has become the kind of role model who can turn even the harshest critics into fans. He is someone worthy of following in football and in life.

—Scott Pitoniak

 

Courtesy of Kelebogile Motlaleng
Motlaleng


Kelebogile Motlaleng ’03

Little did Kelebogile Motlaleng know that creating a web site for a Marshall Street florist while an undergraduate in the School of Information Studies would one day lead her to save lives in her home country of Botswana. As a communications officer for the African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnership (ACHAP), she created and now maintains the organization’s web site (www.achap.org) and produces pamphlets, posters, and anything else that can carry a message about preventing the disease that has infected more than one-third of Botswana’s people. “I hope I can somehow save a life by getting information out to the people about our programs for free condoms, testing, and anti-retroviral therapy,” she says. “We interact with a whole bunch of people who tell us what they need, and we do our best to help them.”

Motlaleng enjoys her diverse responsibilities with ACHAP, a collaborative partnership involving the government of Botswana, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Merck Company Foundation. The foundations have each donated $50 million over five years to fund the organization, and Merck has provided two anti-retroviral drugs for those enrolled in the ACHAP free medicine program, which treats 21,000 people. “We’re the first country in Africa that has a program to give anti-retrovirals to people infected with HIV/AIDS,” she says. “You don’t see people dying everywhere, every day, because all Batswana are entitled to free medical care. The program is working. We also encourage people to get tested. If they’re positive, they can enroll in the program. If they’re negative, then maybe they’ll take care of themselves.”

The program has had much success in a country whose HIV/AIDS infection rate is second only to Swaziland. But the initial funding runs out in 2006, so Motlaleng must publicize the program’s achievements and its need for more funding sources. This entails escorting journalists from around the globe to orphanages filled with more than 60,000 children whose parents died from AIDS, or to the homes of people living with the disease. “Because this is a unique partnership between public and private groups, a lot of people are interested in how it is working,” she says. “At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve helped others. It’s intrinsically satisfying.”

—Margaret Costello


Courtesy of Daniel Heumann
heumann


"Heumann" Spirit

Daniel Heumann says his life has been blessed by four miracles. The first was surviving the 1985 car accident that left him paralyzed from the chest down two weeks before he was to begin his first year at SU. “My life changed forever,” he says. “Everything I had learned for 18 years was gone. I had to start over.” He did—and today he is a lawyer, husband, father, and motivational speaker who has dedicated his life to inspiring others. His motto—10 percent of life is what happens to you; 90 percent is how you handle it—has moved audiences around the country to face adversity with courage, persistence, optimism, and self-awareness. “I love connecting with people,” says Heumann, who earned a law degree from American University and lobbied for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke before founding his company, Heumannly Capable, in 2002. “It’s great to share my life story with others.”

His story is one of challenge and triumph. Heumann entered SU just a year after the accident, and says his hardest task was simply getting to class. “It felt so good just to get up those hills and into the classroom,” he says. The second miracle came when he graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and walked across the stage using arm and leg braces. “To be like my classmates on that one day was the greatest,” he says. “It was my way of saying thank you to the University that made it possible for me to thrive.”

Heumann has continued to give back to society. As head of the Daniel Heumann Fund for Spinal Cord Research, he raised more than $4 million in support of neurological research. This past June, he addressed United Nations delegates as a patient advocate during a stem cell conference held by the Genetics Policy Institute. “If it wasn’t for this accident, I wouldn’t have accomplished these things,” he says. “I knew I had to make the most out of life and make a difference.”

Fifteen years to the day after his accident, Heumann’s life changed again when he met his wife, Lynn. “Imagine this,” Heumann says. “August 13, the worst day of my life, was now also the best day of my life.” The marriage—what Heumann calls his third miracle—was followed by a fourth: the birth of their child, Kate Louise, in November 2003. “Being a husband and a father are the two greatest miracles,” Heumann says. “The fifth, yet to come, will be a cure for paralysis.”

—Kate Gaetano

Courtesy of Alison Wright
global images

Alison Wright ’83
At 21, Alison Wright felt spiritually drawn to India and intended to travel there following her graduation from the College of Visual and Performing Arts. But she changed her plans to please her dad, who thought it would be too dangerous. “I went to Europe instead, and sent him postcards saying I was walking the beach in Spain and having a great time,” recalls Wright, an award-winning photojournalist who today travels the world documenting the traditions and changing cultures of its endangered people. “He only recently found out how I really spent that trip—hitchhiking around North Africa and Israel!” That glimpse of the third world proved a defining experience for Wright, who became determined to chronicle the lives of children in developing countries through her photographs. “I knew I wanted to take photographs and travel, and I knew I wanted to do something that mattered,” she says.

Wright has been everywhere from the Australian outback to the Amazon rainforests. She spent four years in Nepal documenting the plight of children for UNICEF and other aid organizations, and received the Dorothea Lange Award in Documentary Photography for her photos of child labor in Asia. Her photography (www.alisonwright.com) has been featured in magazines and newspapers worldwide, at traveling exhibitions, and at the Smithsonian Institution. Perhaps best known for her award-winning photography of Tibet and its culture in exile, Wright has returned there 13 times, most recently to circumnavigate Mount Kailash, considered one of the world’s holiest mountains.

Wright is also the author and photographer of three books, including a portrait of Tibetan culture and a book about the Dalai Lama, who asked to meet her after seeing her work. Her most recent publication is Faces of Hope: Children of a Changing World (New World Library, 2003). “This book was 15 years in the making,” says Wright, whose latest project is a traveling exhibition and book focusing on poverty in America. “Looking at children around the world and understanding their situation is an important theme. We need to step up and pay attention.”

Wright became even more committed to making a difference after surviving a near-fatal bus accident in Laos in 2000. “That was the ultimate challenge,” says Wright, who underwent years of surgery and was told she would never walk again. Drawing on the spiritual strength and meditation practices she learned during her years in Tibet, Wright summoned the internal and physical resources to prove the doctors wrong. On her 40th birthday, in celebration of her astounding recovery, she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. “No one will ever know what I went through to get to the top of that mountain,” says Wright, who received the 2002 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for her Outside magazine story about the accident. “I believe I survived for a reason. I resolved to get back to work and wanted more than ever to do something deep and meaningful with my life. I’m happy to be back, and to keep producing work.”

—Amy Speach Shires

Dottie Stover/University of Cincinnati
Kaneshiro


Edna Kaneshiro ’59, G’62, G’68

When Edna Kaneshiro moved from Hilo, Hawaii, to Syracuse in the 1950s, she was not planning to become one of the world’s leading microbiology biochemists. Since then, however, she has won the Henri Warembourg Faculty of Medicine Medal from the University of Lille (France) for her work in protozoology, has been elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a half dozen other elite academic societies, and had the organism Corticocolpoda kaneshiroae named in her honor. When she arrived on the Hill, conditions were right for a personal blossoming she had not anticipated. “I originally came to Syracuse because it was where my sister lived,” says Kaneshiro, a professor of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati for some three decades. “I started college with the idea of becoming a high school science teacher. I majored in science education and taught in Baldwinsville after graduation.”

Kaneshiro’s talents in the laboratory impressed her professors, especially Donald Kennedy, and then her doctoral mentors, Philip Dunham and the late George Holz Jr., all of whom encouraged her toward graduate research. “Edna was diligent, creative, and willing to undertake difficult problems,” says Dunham, now a professor emeritus. “She was the first, for example, to solve the problems of doing experiments on ciliated protozoa from the sea. All earlier work had been done on freshwater organisms.”

Kaneshiro experienced the satisfactions of scientific analysis and discovery as she pursued a doctorate, gaining a new sense of self and embarking on a career that won her international recognition as a contributor to the body of human knowledge. Knowing the impact teachers can have on people, she remains committed to bringing the special pleasures of scientific understanding to students at every level of education. She took particular delight in Cincinnati’s High School Research Apprentice program, which allowed her to work closely with local students. “I enjoy seeing them discover science as they discover themselves,” she says.

—David Marc

 

Citizen Governor
Craig Benson G’78

New Hampshire Governor Craig Benson made his personal fortune in cutting-edge high-tech computer networking equipment, but it was a passion for long-held ideas and values that led him from the corporate suite to the State House in Concord. “When American government was established, it was with the idea that people from the private sector would come into government, give service, and leave,” says Benson, who handily won the governor’s race in 2002, but was edged out of a re-election bid in November. “Once you’re in the system too long, you tend to be eaten by it; you go along with the way it works. I think government can only get better if you work for change.”

Growing up in Chatham, New Jersey, Benson overcame severe asthma and speech problems to succeed in school. After graduating from Babson College in Massachusetts, he headed for the Hill with business—not politics—on his mind, earning an M.B.A. degree at the School of Management. A made-in-America success story followed. In 1983, operating out of a suburban Boston garage, Benson co-founded Cabletron Systems Inc. In just 12 years, the company achieved annual sales of $1.6 billion and employed 7,000. Benson credits some of his business success to the influence of management professor Lloyd Swanson (now emeritus), whom he describes as a mentor and a role model.

Politics, Benson has learned, is a “tough” business. “You are constantly criticized, scrutinized, and second-guessed,” he says. “I’m just trying to make New Hampshire a better place while I have an opportunity.”

—David Marc


Andy Freeberg Photography
Rock


Arthur Rock ’48

Arthur Rock is the only venture capitalist ever pictured on the cover of Time magazine. He raised the money that launched the company that put the silicon in Silicon Valley. And he’s been described by The Wall Street Journal as high tech’s equivalent of “a brilliant baseball scout who spots undiscovered players and points them toward the big leagues.”

Rock earned a B.S. degree from Syracuse University in 1948 and an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School in 1951. In 1957, as an investment banker with Hayden, Stone & Company in New York City, he seized the opportunity of a lifetime, fulfilling the dream of eight gifted, young scientists at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratories in Palo Alto, California. Disenchanted with their boss, William Shockley, the Nobel Laureate who had co-invented the transistor, the “traitorous eight,” as Shockley called them, needed $1.5 million to form their own company. On their behalf, Rock approached 35 prospective institutional and corporate investors, and—for want of vision or know-how—all 35 of them passed.

Undeterred in his quest, Rock convinced the wealthy inventor Sherman Fairchild to bankroll the start-up with his own funds; and Fairchild Semiconductor—the first company working solely in silicon and the cornerstone of Silicon Valley—was created with a simple handshake. Within five years, Rock had followed the action to San Francisco, determined to create an entirely new mode of finance: “Capital with the courage to venture into new territory, ally itself with developing technologies, and create new markets,” he says. As one of the first venture capitalists (and the man credited with coining the term), he became a major player in the development of “the Valley.” “The place was teeming with technological know-how and grand visions,” Rock remembers. “The only thing missing was money.”

Working first with a partner, Tommy Davis, and then on his own, Rock financed many more technology giants after Fairchild, including Teledyne, Scientific Data Systems, Diasonics, and Apple Computer. But there is no doubt that his greatest achievement was the creation of Intel, which he co-founded with Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, two of the original Fairchild Eight. Relying on a one-and-a-half-page business plan, vaguely written for purposes of secrecy, Rock raised the required $2.5 million in one afternoon. From this casual and secretive beginning arose a $30 billion treasure of American enterprise, the company that sparked a second information revolution with the microprocessor—a computer-on-a-chip.

Rock’s investment philosophy is centered on people. “Strategy is easy, but tactics—the day-to-day decisions required to manage a business—are hard,” he wrote in The Harvard Business Review. “That’s why I generally pay more attention to the people who prepare a business plan than to the proposal itself.” Detailing the qualities of a successful entrepreneur, he observes, “They have fire in their belly. They’re intellectually honest, seeing things as they are, not the way they want them to be. They know where they’re going and how they’re going to get there.”

A Silicon Valley historian estimated that the enterprises in which Rock has played an important role account for hundreds of thousands of jobs and as much as 40 percent of the U.S. export market. Rock prefers to measure their impact by a qualitative standard, saying simply: “I like to think they made a better life for everybody.”

The very same standard is reflected in his avocations and philanthropies—in gestures that enrich and invigorate his community and the larger world. An avid fan of the San Francisco Giants, he played a vital role in keeping the team in the city and building SBC Park. His love of music and art has led him to support the San Francisco Opera and assume a leadership role in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His commitment to education is affirmed not only in his support for Syracuse, Harvard, the University of California at San Francisco, and California Institute of Technology, but most profoundly, perhaps, in the energy he has invested in the founding, funding, and direction of the Basic Fund, which has provided scholarships for thousands of Bay Area children to attend private schools.

In investing, Rock has said, “The key is faith in people.” That same unwavering conviction is the key to the man himself, and to all of his achievements.

—Tom Raynor

Joseph Lawton
pinkney


Andrea Davis Pinkney ’85

Mary Tyler Moore turned the world on with her smile and turned Andrea Davis Pinkney on to a career in journalism. “I was a big fan of The Mary Tyler Moore Show because at that time there were few women journalists as role models,” says Pinkney, who graduated from the Newhouse School with a degree in magazine journalism and went on to become an award-winning children’s book author and publisher. “I’m a product of the TV generation.”

Pinkney’s first editorial job at Mechanix Illustrated led to a position at Essence magazine, where she published everything from car guides to children’s book reviews. She became increasingly interested in children’s literature, and with encouragement from her husband Brian, a children’s book illustrator, she landed an editorial job at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. She also followed his suggestion to try writing for children by authoring a book about African American dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey. Rejected by nearly every publisher in New York, the book was finally published by Hyperion in 1991. “Back then there were so many ‘rules’ in children’s publishing. Everyone told me it wasn’t possible to create a biography in a picture book format,” Pinkney says. “Picture book biographies are very popular now.”

In 1997, Pinkney became editorial director of Hyperion Books for Children, where she launched the Jump at the Sun imprint, a line of books that celebrate African American culture. Two book series have made it to television: Cheetah Girls, which has sold one million copies, is a Disney Channel movie; and the Shanna Show now airs on the Disney Channel Saturday mornings.

Pinkney has written 20 fiction and nonfiction books for children of all ages, including Duke Ellington, winner of the Caldecott Honor and the Coretta Scott King Honor, as well as books that celebrate African heritage, such as Shake, Shake, Shake, which introduces toddlers to an African instrument called a shekere. “Today there are more books for African American kids,” Pinkney says. “But I still want to bridge the gap by offering a wider selection of books that provide a mirror for black children and a window for others to learn about African culture.”

Today, as vice president and publisher of Houghton Mifflin’s juvenile books, Pinkney continues to push the envelope of children’s literature with the publication of Remember, which tells the story of school integration by blending the narrative of Nobel Laureate author Toni Morrison with archival photographs. Pinkney is also working on her most daring project yet—a book about lynching, A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Connecticut poet laureate Marilyn Nelson, scheduled for publication in spring ’05. “It is exciting to be a part of children’s literature today because it’s all about taking risks,” Pinkney says. “You never know where your first job will take you.”

—Christine Yackel

Taking Risks for Peace
John Blaney III ’70

When John William Blaney III arrived as the new U.S. ambassador to Liberia in July 2002, he saw terror in the eyes of the starving residents and chaos on the streets of the war-torn country. Within a year, Blaney braved a siege on the capital, Monrovia, by rebel fighters. The U.S. Embassy was the only diplomatic mission left. Everyone else, including the United Nations, had evacuated, and no humanitarian aid reached the city’s port. “We lost 300 Liberians, including some of our own local embassy staff, who were just trying to hide from the fighting on our annex grounds,” says Blaney, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service and a psychology graduate of the College of Arts and Sciences. “But not only did we endure it, we negotiated a meaningful cease-fire that ended the war in August 2003.”

To meet the challenges he faces in Liberia, Blaney has called upon skills acquired as a former ROTC Army officer, an economist, weapons expert, nuclear arms reduction policy writer, and multilateral diplomat. He crossed battle lines to meet with fighters on all sides and to hammer out a peace treaty. “There aren’t any cocktail parties over here,” says Blaney, who received the 2004 Distinguished Service Award from the Secretary of State for his unwavering dedication and courageous work in Liberia. “I walk past hundreds of child soldiers—many of them stoned out of their minds, armed, and dangerous—who were usually recruited when they were 7 or 8 years old and know nothing of a ‘normal life.’ You have to try to reach these people and accept the risks for peace. If you just keep going, you can find a way.”

To thwart the cycle of war in Liberia, Blaney established a civilian conservation corps, based on the 1930s model in the United States, to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. A major goal of the program is to teach ex-combatants a peaceful and productive way of life. “The unemployment rate here is about 85 percent, and unless you give people an alternative, they will return to the industry of war,” Blaney says. With support from Congress and the White House, he is using $50 million to fund the project, which has already attracted more than 3,000 employees.

As the country prepares for a UN-supported free and fair election in fall 2005, Blaney remains optimistic that Liberia will thrive in its newly obtained peace. “There is an economic recovery going on,” he says. “Liberia is no longer the epicenter of violence in West Africa. Now when I look in the people’s eyes, there’s happiness. Little kids are playing in the streets and going to school. People are eating and not dying by the thousands. It makes me proud to know that America stood strong and that we did a lot to turn this country around.”

—Margaret Costello

John Dowling
Donnelly


James Donnelly G’88, G’91

James Donnelly joked that if he was named Principal of the Year, he would shave his beard. He didn’t get the hint when his wife bought him a new razor, so when he walked into the packed high school auditorium last September for a yearbook fund-raising meeting, it took him a moment to realize something else was going on. “I was in complete shock,” says Donnelly, who has been principal of James A. Green High School in Dolgeville, New York, for 10 years. Donnelly received the 2004 MetLife/National Association of Secondary School Principals National High School Principal of the Year award, including a $10,000 grant for his school.

When Donnelly became principal, he set out to improve a school struggling with low expectations and discipline problems. “I challenged students and faculty to believe that learning is for everyone,” he says. Donnelly encouraged community involvement, established a code of student conduct, created a framework for consistent teacher development, and initiated a recognition system to motivate students and promote academic achievement. These and other efforts improved student success—evidenced by an 85 percent increase in the number of students graduating with New York State Regents diplomas—and established an atmosphere of consistency and collaboration. “It’s great to get the kudos,” says Donnelly, the first New York State principal ever to receive the award. “But the real recognition goes to our faculty and staff. They are the ones who work with kids, have relationships with them, and offer encouragement.”

Donnelly, who holds an M.S. degree in instructional design and an advanced studies certificate in educational administration from the School of Education, is now pursuing a doctoral degree. “It was never my intention to go into education,” he says. “But then I entered a classroom as a social studies teacher, and I fell in love with kids.”

—Amy Speach Shires

 

Heart Throb of the Hill
Scott “Taye” Diggs ’93

Dubbed the black Cary Grant and a modern-day Fred Astaire, Scott “Taye” Diggs has become one of the biggest heartthrob headliners to take to the stage and screen. He first came to love entertaining and to make a name for himself as a musical theater actor, performing in such Broadway hits as the acclaimed revival of Carousel, the Tony Award-winning Rent, and most recently, Wicked, filling in for the lead opposite his wife, Idina Menzel. Diggs has also worked his craft in Hollywood, appearing in more than a dozen films, including How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Chicago, and the soon-to-be-released murder mystery, Slow Burn. During a recent visit to campus, Diggs led a lab for drama students on auditioning for film and talked about his path to stardom. “I came into who I am here,” he told The Post-Standard. “I learned to relax, not to push or force.”

Diggs, who appeared on television’s Ally McBeal, returned to the small screen this fall in the title role of UPN’s new sitcom, Kevin Hill. He says his success on the big and small screen will never steal the limelight from his first love—the stage. “I jump at any chance to go back into theater,” he said in an interview with filmcritic.com. “That’s what acting is to me. That’s where I learned my craft.”

As for the life of a star, Diggs admits that sometimes the work can get crazy. “I welcome it though,” he told filmcritic.com. “This is what we all said that we wanted to do when we were in college, and now it has come to fruition.”

—Margaret Costello

 

Miriam Loewy Friend ’47

As a businesswoman, civic leader, and philanthropist, Miriam Loewy Friend has a remarkable knack for helping others. For instance, when she joined a support group for mature singles after her husband died, she discovered she wasn’t the only one who didn’t relish dining alone. So she organized a group that meets at various restaurants each Tuesday night to enjoy a meal together. “Helping others seems to be the thing to do,” Friend says. “When I see a need, I try to do something about it.”

Steve Sartori
Friend
Miriam Loewy Friend ’47 and SU students

Friend sprang into action a few years ago when she learned that Jewish students on the Syracuse University campus still didn’t have a place to call their own. “When I was at SU, a few Jewish students would gather to worship in the basement of Hendricks Chapel, but it didn’t amount to much,” Friend says. “I called the top man at the Hillel Foundation in Washington, D.C., to find out what I could do to get the ball rolling.” At first, she underwrote the cost of hiring a Hillel director and sponsored Friday night suppers for Jewish students on campus. When the idea for a Jewish student center became a reality, Friend provided the funds needed to complete the project, naming the first floor of the building in memory of her husband, Sidney Friend; her sister, Regina Loewy Rudwick ’46; and her parents, Etta Weiss Loewy and Benjamin Jacob Loewy.

Friend was born into a family of successful businessmen. Her paternal grandfather trained as a tailor in Poland, came to America, worked in New York City’s garment district, and attended fashion design school. Eventually he acquired substantial real estate holdings in Manhattan. Her maternal grandfather owned and operated a large general store in Binghamton, New York, where she was raised. Her father was in the insurance business and served in both world wars. “I had a scholarship to attend Syracuse University, but I didn’t want to leave my mother alone when my father was called back to the Army during World War II,” Friend says. “I took courses at SU’s extended campus in Endicott, New York, until the war ended.”

After completing her remaining three years of study on the Hill, Friend graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in psychology. Returning to Binghamton, she worked at the New York State Department of Welfare’s Child Placing Division, finding foster homes for children and arranging adoptions. During the summer she received additional training at Cornell University, earning a certificate in institutional public welfare in 1950. She also met her husband, who was attending Cornell on the G.I. Bill.

In 1954 the Friends moved to Yonkers, New York, where they opened the first temporary employment service in Westchester County. Office Help Temporaries grew to include seven branch offices, and by 1983 it was the largest firm of its kind in the area, serving such clients as General Foods, IBM, and CIBA-GEIGY. “Although I was no longer working in social services, I was still helping people,” Friend says. After 29 years in business, the Friends’ company was acquired by Manpower Inc., the largest employment service of its kind in the world. Not one to savor success, Friend used her personnel experience to help find jobs for people with disabilities.

Friend continues to be an active community member, serving on the boards of numerous civic and service organizations. In 1987, she was one of the first three women inducted into the Rotary Club of Yonkers following the historic Supreme Court ruling that ended Rotary International’s male-only policy. “I knew many of the Rotary Club members from my years in business, and it didn’t make sense to keep me out just because of my gender,” Friend says. “Rotarians do much good in this world, and I’m honored to be a member of the club.”

In recognition of her outstanding achievements in business and philanthropy, Friend has been included in such prestigious publications as Who’s Who in Finance and Industry, Who’s Who in American Women, and Who’s Who in America. When asked if she has a “secret to success” that she would like to share with young people, Friend simply says: “Find something you’re cut out for and just do it.”

—Christine Yackel

 

Kent Dayton Photography
Daouk


Ghaleb Daouk ’79

Between long sessions in the biochemistry lab, Ghaleb Daouk loved to slip away to Bird Library and immerse himself in the music of J.S. Bach and other classical artists. “I became cultured at SU,” says Daouk, who fled his home in war-torn Lebanon as a teenager to study in Paris before coming to Syracuse. “My mentor, Dick Levy, and I often spoke of things ranging from molecules and history to music and Mozart. My education at SU was more than just technical training—it was a real personal, intellectual growth.”

Throughout his career—which includes a medical degree from the American University of Beirut, pediatric residency at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston, post-doctoral work at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a master’s degree in management of technology from MIT—Daouk has always nurtured his love for the arts. He learned to play the flute four years ago and gave his first recital last June. “It’s important to have a creative outlet, especially when work gets stressful,” says the College of Arts and Sciences graduate, who helped develop the MGH “Healing Arts” program, which offers music performances and education to hospitalized patients.

As clinical director of MGH’s pediatric nephrology division, Daouk treats children with serious kidney and metabolic diseases. “I take care of little kids with big problems,” Daouk says. “It’s a daily challenge, because these children have so many needs. I also work with families, because chronic illness in children can leave a lot of scarring on them as well.” Despite the tremendous importance of his work, Daouk remains humble, even joking about his title. “I always tell people that as a resident, I was destined to become a neurologist,” he says. “But I misspelled it and became a nephrologist instead.”

While Daouk enjoys the personal contact that the clinical side of medicine affords, he could have been equally successful with a research career. In his 20s, while working as a visiting scientist at MIT’s biology department, he discovered and characterized an important gene that regulates energy in the brain and nervous system. At the time, fewer than 100 genes had been discovered. His research had implications for cancer treatment, so Daouk and his wife, Rima Kaddurah—then a molecular biologist finishing her fellowship at Harvard—established a biotechnology company, Amira, which quickly thrived. “My wife is my partner in life and in crime,” he says. “We collaborate very closely, and we talk about everything. She is my greatest supporter.”

When Daouk decided to return to practicing medicine, Kaddurah continued to lead the company and has opened several other venues since. “I love what I do,” Daouk says. “Working in this wonderful hospital, there’s a lot of worldwide talent to draw on, so it’s always a learning experience. And trying to improve on my work—whether from a systems or a medical perspective—makes this career well worth it.”

—Kate Gaetano

Ken Cedeño Photography
Stone


James Stone ’62, G’64

James Stone works well under pressure. At the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks, he was serving as commissioner of the New York State Office of Mental Health. Collaborating with New York City officials and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), he quickly deployed more than 1,000 staff members to counsel those devastated by the tragedy. “It was a very emotional, stressful time for everyone,” says Stone, whose swift response garnered national attention and praise. “We were fortunate to have an extensive plan for responding to a crisis situation.” In addition to establishing a command center to offer services to those affected, he provided office space to New York City government officials whose offices were destroyed, and later created Project Liberty, a program that helps people work through fears of terrorism. “It had never occurred to many people that mental health would play such an important role in a disaster,” Stone says.

Stone says his experiences at SU were crucial in clarifying his career goals. As an undergraduate, an education class led him to volunteer at a juvenile detention center. “I became captivated by the population there,” says Stone, a member of the College of Human Services and Health Professions Board of Visitors and the recipient of an SU Distinguished Alumnus Award. “I had thought I wanted to teach social studies, but I realized my real interest was in working with people, and I didn’t need a particular subject matter to do that.”

Today, Stone serves as deputy administrator of SAMHSA, a Rockville, Maryland-based component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides prevention and treatment services to those suffering from substance abuse or mental illness. He manages SAMHSA’s $3.4 billion budget as well as its centers for substance abuse prevention, treatment, and mental health services. He is also a member of the Freedom Commission on Mental Health created by President George W. Bush, which utilizes resources, improves treatments and services, and promotes community integration for adults with serious mental illnesses. “Working on the administration side of social work has been particularly rewarding,” Stone says. “It’s wonderful to have a positive influence on people’s lives.”

—Kate Gaetano

 

Courtesy of Diana Wege
Wege


Diana Wege ’76

In the fall, the lingonberry bushes at the base of Alaska’s Mount McKinley ignite into a flaming red, and the willow trees gleam brilliant yellow. Sitting outside a cabin at dawn, artist Diana Wege captured the area’s majestic beauty against the backdrop of a glowing pink sky and deep crimson clouds. “That’s my favorite painting,” says Wege, who spent more than two years traveling the country and painting the Nature Conservancy areas and national and state parks that comprise Land America Leaves Wild (University of Washington Press, 2000). From Rhode Island’s Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge to California’s Joshua Tree National Park, Wege showcases the United States’ diverse wilderness areas through acrylic and oil creations rich in color, form, and texture. “I believe areas of total wilderness ensure the country will always stay beautiful,” Wege says. “Traveling across the country to create the book was one of the most fulfilling, liberating experiences of my life.”

Growing up, she admired the works of renowned Japanese artist Hiroshige that her mother displayed in their dining room alongside an extensive East Asian antique collection. She built on those interests as a College of Visual and Performing Arts student, majoring in painting and Japanese studies.

Wege is now working on an 18-foot painting of a nature preserve, which is an elongated version of one in her book. The piece, commissioned by the state of Connecticut, will be installed in the administration building at Eastern Connecticut State University. “It’s the largest painting I’ve done,” she says. “It’s just a dream.”

—Kate Gaetano


Joseph Lawton
Ahrens


Lynn Siskind Ahrens ’70

Tony Award-winning lyricist Lynn Siskind Ahrens attributes her success to a combination of talent, luck, and a low tolerance for misery. “I tend to do things that make me happy,” says Ahrens, whose work as a song and script writer for theater, film, television, and the concert stage has brought her numerous honors, including Emmy, Drama Desk, and Olivier awards, and nominations for Grammy, Academy, and Golden Globe awards. A graduate of the Newhouse School and the College of Arts and Sciences, Ahrens was a copywriter for a Manhattan advertising agency when she first tried writing jingles for television commercials and Captain Kangaroo. Although she had no formal musical training, her talent was soon apparent and she became a mainstay writer for the renowned children’s educational series, Schoolhouse Rock. “The shift to theater was an easy progression in which one thing followed another,” says the Manhattan resident, who is married to Neil Costa. “Little by little, everything I was learning came into play.”

Ahrens met composer Stephen Flaherty at a musical theater workshop in 1983, and the two have worked as partners ever since. Their earliest collaboration, a children’s show for Theaterworks USA, marked the first time Ahrens saw her work performed onstage. “It was really something to see a thousand screaming kids reacting to what we had written,” she says. “I learned how to edit a show based on an audience’s response.” The partners later collaborated on Once On This Island, an off-Broadway production that went on to enjoy a yearlong run on Broadway and earned eight Tony nominations and London’s Olivier for Best Musical. Among their most widely recognized collaborations is the Tony Award-winning Ragtime, a 1998 Broadway musical based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel. The team also collaborated on Anastasia, an animated feature film whose score was nominated for two 1998 Academy Awards. “Our work has been eclectic,” Ahrens says. “No one of our shows is like any of the others. We love to explore new worlds.”

Ahrens’s current projects include NBC-TV’s recent showing of A Christmas Carol, which Ahrens reworked for television based on her musical adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic; the opening of Dessa Rose at Lincoln Center; songs for a one-woman show for Chita Rivera; and two new projects she is working on with Flaherty. “We get together every day, make a pot of coffee, and talk a lot,” says Ahrens. “It’s just like a ‘real’ job!” The partners bounce ideas off each other, coming up with concepts for lyrics or a piece of music. “Each day we discuss whatever piece of the musical puzzle we’re working on,” Ahrens says. “We’re always looking for a good story, good characters, a world that embodies music, emotion, and joy.”

—Amy Speach Shires

 

Courtesy of Paul Y. Pan
Pan


Paul Y. Pan G’76

As an undergraduate at National Tsinghua University in Taiwan, Paul Y. Pan heard Edward Teller, the father of the hydrogen bomb, lecture on nuclear energy and the groundbreaking research being conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico. That lecture and the introduction to LANL, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, sparked an interest that continues to light Pan’s career path. After earning a bachelor’s degree, Pan came to Syracuse, where he completed a master’s degree in chemical engineering from the L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science. “Syracuse has an excellent reputation in Taiwan, especially in chemical engineering,” he says. “My Syracuse education prepared me to understand the depth and breadth of chemical process and phenomenology. It also provided me a solid foundation for my Ph.D. work.”

After earning a doctorate in nuclear engineering at Kansas State University, Pan accepted a job offer from Los Alamos National Laboratory, which, because of the classified nature of the work, required him to become an American citizen. “It was a pretty easy decision to make, since the United States is the best country in the world and LANL is the best laboratory in the United States,” says Pan, who has worked at the lab for more than two decades. “I have always felt that I have been given a unique opportunity to be part of the workforce that keeps this country safe and secure.”

As leader of the Nuclear Stockpile Complex Modeling and Analysis group, Pan supervises about 50 staff members who are experts in generating and applying computer models to optimize complex nuclear operations. “We look at current stockpiles of weapons and make sure they are safe and reliable,” he says. Pan’s group develops and assesses nuclear processes to ensure that the nation meets the planning and manufacturing challenges of today and the future.

Pan has been recognized for his exceptional work in improving nuclear warhead stability and reliability with the National Nuclear Security Agency Defense Program Awards in 2001 and 2003, and received the 2002 Asian American Engineer of the Year Award from the Chinese Institute of Engineers.“As a manager, I can make a difference by giving my staff members the freedom to perform to the best of their abilities,” Pan says. “We will continue to do what we can to secure the country.”

—Margaret Costello

 

Courtesy of David M. Crane
Crane


David M. Crane G’80

David M. Crane believes a good lawyer listens to his clients. So when the United Nations appointed him chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2002, he took to the streets of the West African country, which had been ravaged by a decade-long civil war. “We walked the countryside to meet tens of thousands of my clients—the people of Sierra Leone,” says Crane, a College of Law graduate and the UN’s first American chief prosecutor in 57 years. Crane’s mandate was to prosecute those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone during the 1990s. He initiated the Town Hall Program, a four-month process of traveling the country to meet people, gain their trust, and hear their stories.

The investigation resulted in indictments against the leadership of both the Civil Defense Force and the infamous Revolutionary United Front (RUF), as well as against former Liberian president Charles Taylor. “Family is very important in West Africa,” says Crane, the College of Law’s 2003 Commencement speaker and a panelist in a human rights symposium honoring the inauguration of Chancellor Nancy Cantor (see story). “Instead of standing in front of people as an official and as a white man, I spoke about my family. I told them how much I missed being home and asked them to accept me as part of their families.”

The people of Sierra Leone entrusted Crane with horrific accounts of rape, murder, and amputation. In Makeni, the former site of RUF headquarters, a child soldier confessed to Crane, “I killed people. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” The chief prosecutor responded with a hug and the words, “Of course you didn’t.” Crane listened to the heartbreaking plea of a young mother whose face was mutilated. “The rebels did this to me,” she told him. “Seek justice.” Crane spent two to three hours in each place, just listening. “They’d cry, laugh, and yell at me,” he says.

Those sessions fueled Crane with a fierce commitment to attaining justice for the country’s citizens and re-establishing a respect for law in West Africa. “I became determined to get the monsters responsible for these atrocities,” he says. “We tell our Town Hall clients three things: no one is above the law; the law is fair; and the rule of the law is more powerful than the rule of the gun. We teach them to turn to the law—not an AK-47—to resolve conflict.”

—Amy Speach Shires


Design Doctor
Thom Filicia ’92

Getting trapped in an elevator might be one of the best things that ever happened to Thom Filicia. “I was stuck in there with a talent manager who asked me what I did for a living,” he says. “When I said I was an interior designer, she asked me if I wanted to be on television.” Several interviews later, Filicia was cast as “design doctor” on the hit series, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. As one of the show’s “Fab Five,” Filicia helps floundering straight men bring more style and order to their lives—one man, and one apartment, at a time.

Filicia credits much of his career success to his studies at the College of Visual and Performing Arts. “The interior design program totally prepared me for my work,” he says. “My skills were very marketable, highly competitive, and attractive to potential employers.” After leaving SU, Filicia worked at several prestigious New York City design firms, including Parish-Hadley Associates and Bilhuber Inc., before opening his own business, Thom Filicia Inc. “We do furniture design and interior design, and we design and build houses and apartments,” he says. His clients can be found in hotspots from the Hamptons to California, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, House & Garden, and other publications.

At Syracuse, Filicia was a member of Phi Gamma Delta and the legendary Red House on Comstock Avenue. “My favorite things about SU were my friends and my department,” he says. “I was constantly busy and had a lot of fun, socially. If I wasn’t in my studio, you could probably spot me somewhere on Marshall Street.”

Filicia’s outgoing personality has made him a hit with TV audiences. “The show is popular because it’s fun,” he says. “The interiors I do for these guys are very personal to who they are. I’m not giving them an interior I want to live in, or one I think they should live in. It’s an interior that I believe fits who they are, and people respond to that.”

—Sarah Khan

 

Ken Cedeño Photography
Abdullah


Omer bin Abdullah G’75

Omer bin Abdullah didn’t have to look far to pique his interest in writing. Growing up, he was surrounded by poets, journalists, and novelists. Abdullah counts his cousin, a columnist in Pakistan; his uncle, the editor of a famous Urdu-language magazine; and his aunt, a well-known novelist, among the writers in his family. Even as a child, Abdullah was prepared for a writing career. “I was born at a time in Pakistan when there was no TV,” he says. “From childhood on, reading was a part of my life, as natural as eating, sleeping, or breathing.”

It’s no surprise then that Abdullah gravitated toward communications as an undergraduate at Punjab University in Pakistan and studied advertising as a graduate student at the Newhouse School. “Syracuse was my first exposure to a multicultural community,” he says. “My experience at Syracuse is always with me.”

Today, he draws on that enriching experience as the editor of Islamic Horizons, a bimonthly magazine that focuses on issues facing the Muslim community in the United States, such as education, politics, and civil rights. The publication is affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America, an Indiana-based nonprofit organization dedicated to uniting, educating, and providing resources to Muslim communities across the United States and Canada. “Islamic Horizons has grown with the Muslim community’s growth, becoming a trusted source of information about Islam and Muslims for all Americans,” Abdullah says.

Passion alone pulled Abdullah through years of hard work on the magazine, which he now produces from his Virginia office with the help of two part-time staffers. “I describe myself as being everything from editor to janitor,” Abdullah jokes, referring to his wide range of responsibilities, which include recruiting writers, selling ads, editing, writing, taking photos, and performing administrative tasks. “Whatever needs to be done, I do it.”

His dedication has paid off. Within a few years of managing Islamic Horizons, Abdullah has improved the magazine’s quality, format, and content, raising its circulation from about 5,000 to 60,000. Now, it is the largest circulation English-language Muslim magazine in North America. Not bad for a publication that began as an eight-page, bimonthly newsletter of the national Muslim Students’ Association in 1966. Excited by the magazine’s success, Abdullah wants to tackle his next big project: encouraging younger generations of Muslims to pursue careers in writing. “I want to work with younger people,” he says, “inviting them to express themselves and share their stories.”

—Husna Haq

 

Ken Cedeño Photography
Drumheller


Anne Doctor
Drumheller ’89

When Anne Doctor Drumheller was in the fourth grade, her class visited the Museum of the American Indian-Heye Foundation in New York City. “I thought the museum was cool and told myself that someday I would work there,” says Drumheller, an Onondaga Wolf Clan member who grew up on the Onondaga Nation, south of Syracuse. “Now, as head registrar for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), I track, move, ship, insure, and install more than 800,000 objects and 125,000 photographic images of the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere.”

When Drumheller began her studies at SU, she had already completed most of her first-year requirements. Equally talented in art and athletics, she earned a B.F.A. degree in painting from the College of Visual and Performing Arts and was a four-year varsity letter winner on the SU volleyball team. She also petitioned to enroll in museum studies courses, which are generally restricted to graduate students. “After graduation I needed a job right away,” she says. “I’d heard the Smithsonian was planning a new national American Indian museum. I sent in my resume and was hired.”

Launching her career as a technician at the NMAI’s Research Branch Facility in New York City, Drumheller was promoted to head registrar in 1995. She oversaw the collection’s move from New York City to its new home at the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland, from 1999 to 2004. “I work behind the scenes to manage the flow of archival information and to ensure proper documentation of the museum’s valuable artifacts,” says Drumheller, who supervises a 13-member staff and played a key role in the grand opening of the NMAI’s site on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Drumheller gives back to others by coaching a Haudenosaunee volleyball team, acting as art director for the Iroquois Village at the New York State Fair, and mentoring young Native Americans. “I love what I do,” she says. “I’m fortunate the stars were in perfect alignment for me.”

—Christine Yackel

 

Debbie Accame/NPR.org
Ludden


Jennifer Ludden ’88

Jennifer Ludden, host of National Public Radio’s Weekend All Things Considered, didn’t get to the network anchor chair by taking “fluff” assignments. As a foreign correspondent for the network in the 1990s, she covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, filed stories from Iran and Syria, and reported from war zones in the Balkans and sub-Saharan Africa. In 1998, Ludden won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for coverage of the overthrow of Mobute Sese Seko in the Congo (formerly Zaire). A year later, she was a member of the NPR team whose broadcasts from Kosovo won the Overseas Press Club’s Lowell Thomas Award and the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award for Excellence in Journalism.

But Ludden was not born with an urge to take on life-threatening radio news assignments. “I didn’t really have any idea of going into radio when I arrived in Syracuse,” says the Columbia, Tennessee, native, now based in Washington, D.C. “I was more interested in television documentaries back then.”

During her first year, Ludden was urged by her dorm mother to attend an informational event at WJPZ, SU’s student-run radio station. “It turned out to be a recruitment meeting for newscasters and I just didn’t know how to say no,” she says. “I worked at JPZ for the next three years. We did everything. It was a great learning experience.” After completing a dual major in television-radio-film and English, Ludden benefited from several Syracuse career connections: One alumnus helped her secure a paid internship producing educational videos for Consolidated Edison, the New York City utility company; another opened the door to a Westchester County radio station, which gave Ludden her first professional job in radio, as a drive-time newscaster.

Looking back on her days at SU, Ludden credits a filmmaking course taught by Newhouse School professor and documentary filmmaker Richard Breyer for helping her develop as a radio journalist. “He taught me the importance of lively, vivid storytelling in getting a message across to an audience,” she says. “This is as true in radio as it is in film.”

—David Marc

Courtesy of Angel Collado-Schwarz
Schwarz


Angel Collado-Schwarz G’74

Angel Collado-Schwarz credits his deeply rooted, lifelong passion for the humanities with igniting his successful career in communications. As the tireless, jet-hopping chairman for all of Latin America at NAZCA Saatchi & Saatchi—one of the world’s largest advertising and communications conglomerates—he enjoys bringing a creative global vision, sharpened by education and culture, to his work. “Communications and the media have provided me a unique combination of the creative and the business worlds,” says the Whitman School of Management M.B.A. graduate who lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “Through NAZCA, we have integrated Latin America with the U.S. Hispanic market.”

Collado-Schwarz’s vision is also evident in his work as a philanthropist and as an advocate for social advancement and the arts. He attributes this inclination to his grandparents, who instilled in him a love for poetry, history, classical music, and nature. He is involved with myriad local and international cultural institutions. He is a patron and advisor to the Berlin Staatsoper, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. He serves on the boards of the Museo del Barrio in New York City, Ateneo Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rico’s oldest cultural institution), and the Barenboim-Said Foundation. He also is chairman of the University of Puerto Rico Press, founder and chairman of Foundación Conservación Marina de Culebra (an environmental non-governmental organization that does joint projects with Jean-Michel Cousteau), and Foundación Voz del Centro (Voice from the Center), sponsor of an educational radio program about the history and culture of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean (www.vozdelcentro.org).

Collado-Schwarz’s commitment to enhancing culture also reflects his devotion to education. “I’m on a perennial quest for knowledge,” he says. He is a candidate for a Ph.D. degree in the history of Latin America at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, Spain, and serves on the Maxwell School Advisory Board, occasionally visiting campus to give talks to faculty and students. “It will be to Syracuse University’s advantage to establish and strengthen its ties to Latin America,” he says. “That is one of my possible contributions to SU.”
Today, Collado-Schwarz sees himself in the midst of a transition. “I’m currently at a stage,” he says, “where I harmonize my involvement in the business world, continuing education activities, and giving back to society to try to leave this world in a little better shape than it was when we found it.”

—Tere Paniagua

 

John Dowling
Blanchard


Lloyd A. Blanchard G’94, G’99

It isn’t that Lloyd A. Blanchard has trouble holding onto a job. He’s just very much in demand. Since completing a doctoral degree in public administration at the Maxwell School in 1999, he has been a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and occupied executive positions at three federal agencies: the Office of Management and Budget (OMB); the Small Business Administration (SBA); and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This fall, he returned to the Hill to join the Maxwell faculty. “I got married and had a baby and decided I needed a life that was more conducive to raising her,” Blanchard says. “When the opportunity arose, I headed back to Syracuse.”

Blanchard is likely to be missed in the nation’s capital. While at OMB, he implemented changes designed to achieve management goals set by President George W. Bush. Just six months later, he was tapped to bring the same reform agenda to SBA. “I loved SBA,” Blanchard says. “We helped many small businesses, including many minority- and women-owned enterprises that often have difficulty getting access to capital.” But then, in 2003, he received a call from NASA chief administrator Sean O’Keefe G’79, asking him to join the space agency. “Leaving SBA was tough, but Sean is more than just a friend,” he says. “I was his teaching assistant at Maxwell—that’s how far back we go.” Blanchard became point man for management reform at NASA, relieving O’Keefe of that pressure during the difficult period following the space shuttle Columbia disaster. Once again, Blanchard achieved results: NASA became the first federal agency to receive top rankings in two of the Bush administration’s five management initiatives.

At Maxwell, Blanchard teaches public administration and urban policy courses, and conducts research on small business problems with a grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He is excited about his summer 2005 offering, Executive Leadership and Policy Politics, a capstone course in Maxwell’s M.P.A. degree program. “I’ll focus on how to navigate a proposal or policy through the treacherous waters of politics and come out sane and successful,” he says.

—David Marc

 

John Dowling
Snyder


Liana Snyder G’01

She doesn’t have the mythical powers of a superhero, but Liana Snyder uses her personal gifts of altruism and compassion to help steer troubled people in the right direction and ensure the community’s safety. “I’m able to give back to the community,” says the Syracuse-based U.S. probation and parole officer. “So, I love what I do.”

On a personal level, Snyder has had to deal with her own villains. After leaving her native Colombia at age 19, she overcame cultural differences and language difficulties in the United States. “I’ve been discriminated against, but that’s never gotten the best of me,” she says. An interest in helping people led Snyder to the field of social work. She gained experience as a social worker specializing in substance abuse treatment and earned a master’s degree in social work from SU with honors while working full time as a criminal justice case manager. Snyder then discovered her calling as a “motivator for change” in the U.S. Probation Office, where she’s worked for four years. “I liked counseling, but there was a part missing,” she says. “What attracted me was that I could work with an individual for an extended period of time and also utilize the community’s resources.”

Probation officers don’t receive much public recognition, though they make society safer, Snyder says. “My job is to protect the community,” she says. “How? By helping these people rehabilitate.” Snyder uses her skills as a social worker to reintegrate persons sentenced to probation or supervised release (parole) back into society. She connects them to community resources for substance abuse treatment and vocational assistance, and provides supervision and regular check-up meetings. Snyder must also balance counseling and law enforcement based on her clients’ needs. “My favorite part is coordinating these resources and offering them to people who want to make a difference in their lives,” she says. “For some people, incarceration is easy. The real challenge is succeeding outside.”

One of Snyder’s successes involved helping an unemployed, unskilled individual with substance abuse problems. “To see this person come in with absolutely nothing, and then leave with a good, well-paying job with benefits, and remain sober and productive, is truly gratifying,” she says. “We’re involved in their lives for three to five years, so we see a lot of transitions. In the end, the person was the one who did the work. I only did my job.”

—Husna Haq


John Dowling
Kaplan

Philip Kaplan ’97

Philip Kaplan remembers how hyped the Internet craze was when he graduated from the School of Information Studies in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in information management and technology. “The job market was crazy and a lot of fun,” he says. “Companies were sending out big offers. It was wild.” But Kaplan, unlike many, had a feeling that the dot-com fest would sour. When dot-com employees started to get laid off, Kaplan launched a web site to track companies filing for bankruptcy. Collecting e-mails from dot-com workers and inside sources, he followed gossip about which company would fall next.

Kaplan started the web site, F**kedCompany.com, as a personal project in 2000. At the time, he was running PK Interactive, a software development company with five employees. But the web site soon became a full-time job, and he sold PK Interactive to his employees. “The web site was just so enjoyable,” he says. “I loved getting all the e-mails and programming the site.”

The web site’s name parodies Fast Company magazine, which reports on the growth of booming businesses. The site’s most popular feature is “deadpool,” a game in which subscribers win points by correctly picking the next dot-com company to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Kaplan’s web site has since attracted millions of subscribers and garnered national attention. He has appeared on national television, has been profiled by hundreds of publications, and was named Internet Bachelor of the Year in 2001 by Women.com. “All of the attention is so weird,” says Kaplan, who published his first book, F’d Companies: Spectacular Dot-Com Flameouts (Simon & Schuster) in 2002. Kaplan is currently working on MarketBanker.com, an advertising marketplace that he hopes will grow to be as big as eBay.com.

One of the best perks of Kaplan’s career is being his own boss. “I hate waking up early,” the San Francisco resident says. “So my initial success was being able to throw away my alarm clock and do my own thing.” Kaplan is also pleased, and pleasantly surprised, that he has created so many lucrative sites. “All of the sites that I work on just started out as fun,” he says. “Programming has always interested me, and to turn a hobby into a full-time profession has been way exciting.”

—Rachel Boll

Trisha Yeh
Yeh

Anthony Yeh G’49

In the sixth century B.C., Confucius infused Chinese culture with belief in humility and an unassuming manner. It was a stark contrast to the capitalist culture of post-World War II America that Shanghai native Anthony Yeh experienced as a mechanical engineering student at SU. Today, the successful entrepreneur says the most important lessons he learned on the Hill occurred away from the books. “Before I came to Syracuse, I had no idea what the outside world looked like, and what I saw changed my outlook on life completely,” says Yeh, a University trustee emeritus.

As a student, Yeh learned the benefits of marketing—a skill not traditionally valued in Chinese culture, but necessary to thrive in the global market, he says. “Chinese are very good at manufacturing, but the culture forbids marketing,” Yeh says. “When I returned home, I knew how to market and sell a product.” He was quickly hired to help save the struggling Tai Ping Carpets International Ltd. in Hong Kong. Although he knew nothing about carpets, Yeh seized the opportunity to build and market a distinctive Chinese product, and revolutionized how the labor-intensive, hand-tied carpets were produced. Using his engineering training, he created and patented a handheld electric tool that made production of customized carpets 100 times faster. Today, the carpets decorate a wide range of floors from high-traffic hotel lobbies and airport concourses to the bedrooms of kings and queens and Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

During his career, Yeh has launched more than 200 companies that produce everything from carpets and garments to toys and cultured pearls. Although he “retired” eight years ago, he continues to run 20 companies and serves as the honorary life president and director as well as retired CEO of Tai Ping Carpets. What pleases him most about his five-decade career is the number of jobs created by his companies. “We employ 4,000 people and help them put food on the table for their families,” Yeh says.

His success has also allowed him to support international education and exchanges for Chinese and SU students. He created the Hong Kong Student Fund in 1978, endowed the Anthony Y.C. Yeh Undergraduate Scholarship Fund in 1992, helped establish the Maxwell School’s China National School of Administration in 1993, and is now working to develop an SU Division of International Programs Abroad (DIPA) center in Northern China. “Traveling abroad really opens your eyes and changes you,” says Yeh, a DIPA Advisory Board member. “The world is getting smaller and we can learn so much from each other.”

—Margaret Costello

 

J.D. Schwalm Photography
Potter


David L. Potter G’72, G’73

The rise of David L. Potter to the top echelons of higher education came in steps, taking direction from a personal love of learning he traces to childhood. A graduate of Amherst College, Potter began his career teaching sixth grade. “I loved it, but felt a need for greater intellectual challenges,” he says. “I began envisioning a college teaching career and so off I went to Maxwell.” As a graduate student, Potter was deeply inspired by several faculty mentors. “Donn Hart took me under his wing, challenging me with assignments that taught me what it meant to be a disciplined scholar. He lured me into anthropology and convinced me to do fieldwork in the Philippines. Don Meiklejohn was another. He made philosophy both comprehensible and crucial for me.”

Potter’s first college teaching job was at Denison University in Ohio, where he founded an urban studies program. An American Council on Education Fellowship inspired Potter to make another career decision. “I served a yearlong internship, working with several top university administrators,” he says. “I saw the possibilities and became restless.” Potter made the transition to full-time administration in 1986 at George Mason University in Virginia, where he occupied a succession of key positions, including dean of arts and sciences and provost.

In 1999, Potter became the president of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, where he initiated programs that added new campus buildings, increased the school’s public visibility, and modernized its technology. In 2003, Potter was appointed Mississippi’s commissioner of higher education, the state’s highest administrative position in post-secondary education. In January, he plans to leave the post and return to university administration.

Despite a busy calendar, Potter manages to keep up with developments on the Hill—and likes what he sees, especially the Academic Plan and SU’s commitment to service learning. “Community service enriches the educational experience and is an invaluable reminder to students of their obligations to others,” he says. “It is a fulfilling affirmation of the importance of citizenship.”

—David Marc

 

John Dowling
Sheng


Rosa Sheng ’94

When she was 11, Rosa Sheng visited her grandparents in Beijing—and found her calling. She marveled at the Great Wall of China and remembers listening, spellbound, as her grandfather explained how the Forbidden City was designed. “I decided right then that I wanted to be an architect,” says Sheng, a School of Architecture graduate. “Most people laughed at me and thought I was too young to know what I wanted to do.”

But Sheng’s early instincts proved valid. As project architect at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, she helped create the Apple Computer store in New York City’s SoHo area, which garnered international praise and won numerous awards, including the Good Design, Good Business Award from Business Week/Architectural Record. Whether traveling to Firenzuola, Italy, to review the quality stone for the Apple store’s floor, or collaborating with a team of engineers, fabricators, and glass manufacturers to design the store’s patented, all-glass staircase—considered a technological breakthrough in the architectural world—Sheng says she’s always up for a challenge. “It’s so rewarding to find a solution in the middle of what seems to be impossible tasks,” the San Francisco resident says. “Anything is possible if you have the will to keep going until you get there. That’s a lesson I learned in school.”

Sheng vividly remembers then-dean Werner Seligmann’s welcome speech to freshmen. “He said some of us wouldn’t make it,” she says. “But I took advantage of all the great classes and opportunities, and grew and developed skills that are essential now. Looking back, I’m glad to have faced such strong criticism. It released me from taking things personally, and that made me a better architect.”

—Kate Gaetano

 
 
 
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