On a Personal Note

What do CLA grads do with their liberal arts degrees? Lately we've heard from business executives and attorneys, teachers and diplomats novelists--and even a chocolatier. Be sure to tell your friends and offspring that liberal arts graduates have the widest possible range of career options!

1960s - 70s

Portrait: Bud PhilbrookBud Philbrook

Bud Philbrook, B.A. '69, political science; M.A. '81, public affairs; J.D., Hamline University; was named Ambassador for Peace by the International Institute for Peace Therough Tourism. He is CEO and cofounder with his wife, Michele Gran, of Minnesota-based Global Volunteers, a nonprofit which over 30 years has engaged more than 30,000 volunteers to serve in 32 countries on 6 continents. A project in St. Lucia, for example, pairs largely North American volunteers with local people on the Caribbean island to help at-risk children and their families improve their health, nutrition, and education. The organization consults with the United Nations and partners with UNICEF and the World Food Programme. Philbrook is a former deputy under-secretary at the United States Department of Agriculture, a former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, and former assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Learn more about Global Volunteers at z.umn.edu/philbrook.

Ross (Roselyn) Rezac, B.F.A. '74; studio art, M.A. '78, art education; founded MartinRoss Design, a Minneapolis marketing and branding firm.

Portrait: Wendy WildungWendy Wildung

Wendy Wildung, B.A. '76, journalism, a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, Minneapolis, was named one of 2013's Top 250 Women in Litigation by Benchmark Litigation. Wildung handles business disputes, focusing on securities litigation and publicly held companies.

Lynn Kremer, B.A. '76, German; B.F.A. '77 theater; M.F.A. theater; was appointed the Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J., Chair in the Humanities at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass. The Jakarta Post called her production of Shackled Spirits, about mental illness, the best performance at the 35th Bali Arts Festival.

Portrait: Alan AbramsonAlan Abramson

Alan Abramson, Ph.D. '77, sociology, received the CIO of the Year Career Achievement Award from The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. Abramson is CIO at HealthPartners.

Mary Leonard, B.E.S. '76; B.S. '79, hospitality and food service management; is CEO and chocolatier at Chocolat Céleste in Saint Paul. She was recently featured in Condé Nast Traveler.

Portrait: Judith A. MoenJudith A. Moen

Judith A. Moen, B.A. '77, journalism, formerly a TV journalist in Chicago and Atlanta, and on the Travel Channel, now advocates for people with disabilities. Find her blog, Everyone's Included -- stories that embrace the joy and power of people with disabilities, at z.umn.edu/everyonesincluded.

1980s

Pamela Mead, B.A. '83, art history; M.S. '90, design; is director of user experience at Telefónica Digital in Silicon Valley.

Patrick Mendis, M.A. '87, public affairs; '90 Ph.D., geography; recently published Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a New Pacific World Order. Mendis lives in Reston, Va.

Thomas Wallrich, B.A. '87, international relations; J.D. '90; joined the Cozen O'Connor's law firm as managing partner at its Minneapolis office. He has been named a "Super Lawyer" by Thomson Reuters for 15 consecutive years.

Portrait: Maria SchneiderMaria Schnider
Photo by Jimmy and Dena Katz

From Winter Morning Walks by Ted Kooser

How important it must be
to someone
that I am alive, and walking,
and that I have written
these poems.

This morning the sun stood
right at the end of the road
and waited for me.

Maria Schneider, B.M. '83; M.M. '85, Eastman School of Music; scored big at the 2014 Grammy Awards, where her album, Winter Morning Walks, took top prizes in four classical music categories.

The album's title work is a song cycle Schneider composed based on the poetry of poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner Ted Kooser and featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Also included is Schneider's "Carlos Drummond de Andrade Stories," performed by Upshaw and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

The album won for best contemporary classical composition, best classical vocal solo performance, best engineered classical album, and best classical producer of the year (David Frost).

Well known for 20 years as a jazz composer, arranger, and big-band leader, Schneider won previous Grammys -- for large jazz ensemble recording and instrumental jazz composition. In 2010, 2011, and 2012 she was named Best Jazz Composer and Best Arranger in the Annual DownBeat International Annual Critics Poll. Time magazine said, "To call Schneider the most important woman in jazz is missing the point two ways. She is a major composer -- period."

It was Upshaw, an artistic partner of the SPCO, who drew Schneider into the classical world, commissioning her to compose for vocalist and chamber orchestra.

The women, both breast cancer survivors, felt a special connection with Kooser's poems, which he wrote on pre-dawn walks in the Nebraska countryside as he himself was fighting cancer.

"We think we understand our faith or our sense of beginning and ending, but it's not till a moment like that that you find out what you really feel," Schneider said in an NPR interview. "And everything in life becomes heightened -- especially things in the natural world -- beautiful things like light and the sound of those birds, or whatever. It overtakes you with a sense of appreciation and love and beauty."

Listen to album tracks at z.umn.edu/mariaschneider

1990s - 2000s

Portrait: Anna CiancioloAnna Cianciolo

Anna Cianciolo, M.A. '97, psychology; Ph.D. '01, engineering psychology,
Georgia Institute of Technology; is the new editor-in-chief for Teaching and Learning in Medicine, an international journal. She was the founder of Command Performance Research, Inc., Champaign, Ill., which developed officer and leader education for the United States Army.

Kelly Olmstead, B.A. '01, psychology; J.D. '05; was elected vice president of the Ramsey County Bar Association, and will be the organization's president in 2015-2016.

Aaron Karger, B.A. '02, speech communication, is an associate attorney at Kalis & Kleiman, Davie, Fla., working in commercial and real property litigation and criminal defense. He was previously an assistant state attorney with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office; he has a background in real estate development.

Erdem Durgunoglu, B.A. '02, history and global studies; M.A. '12, anthropology, San Francisco State University; received a Fulbright Award to study and write a book about Turkish butchery practices and the Turkish slow-food movement in Turkey.

Nadia Hasan, B.A. '02, English, J.D. '06; is a partner at the Cozen O'Connor law firm, at its new Minneapolis location.

Julie M. Limoges, B.A. '02, political science, Spanish and Portuguese; M.A., international development, American University; is a United States Foreign Service officer serving as the economic/commercial officer for Somalia at the United States embassy in Kenya. She recently hosted an event with the Minneapolis Somali community.

Eric Brotten, B.S. '03, economics; B.A. '03, German; is vice president of product- and partner-management at Orange Health Solutions, a healthcare startup in Jacksonville, Fla.

Ted Weber, B.S. '04, child psychology, represents Renosol Corporation in the Milwaukee area, at New Tech Sales, a family business that works with industrial, agricultural, construction and military companies.

Jon M. Brovold, B.A. '05, English, is a senior analyst in product safety and quality assurance for Target. He is currently working toward an M.B.A. at Concordia University.

Amanda Coplin, M.F.A. '06, creative writing, won the Whiting Writers award, which is given annually to 10 writers who show exceptional talent and promise in early career. Her debut novel, The Orchardist, received much recognition. Coplin lives in Provincetown, Mass.

George Fiddler, B.A. '08, cinema & media culture studies is an account director for social and emerging media at Olson ad agency in Minneapolis. He creates consumer campaigns and social media strategies for Fortune 500 companies and local non-profit organizations.

Portrait: Shezanne CassimShezanne Cassim

Shezanne Cassim, B.A. '06, political science, was freed on January 9 from a maximum security prison in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, having been arrested there in April 2013 for posting a humorous YouTube video about local youth rap culture.
A business consultant to PriceWaterhouse Coopers in Dubai, Cassim was charged with endangering the nation's national security by violating its federal cybercrimes law. His release was supported by the United States Department of State and public officials including Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Senator Al Franken, and Congresswoman Betty McCollum, and by American comedians including Will Ferrell. Advocating on his behalf, Barbara Frey, director of CLA's Human Rights Program, called Cassim's detention "unwarranted and lengthy" and said she was troubled by his limited
access to an attorney. Cassim's case was widely covered in the national news. He was interviewed on CNN after his release: z.umn.edu/cassim

2010s

A scene from Dear White People. A group of 9 young African American and Asian men and women are facing the camera looking at something.Ko, third from right, in a scene from Dear White People

Naomi Ko, B.A. '11, art history and English, is making her screen debut in a principal role (Sungmi) in Dear White People, an indie film that received positive reviews when it premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. A satire about being a black face in a white place, the film was shot this summer on the University's Minneapolis campus. Ko has acted in productions at Mixed Blood Theatre and Theatre in the Round, and in two plays she co-wrote, which were produced by New Age Salon and Bedlam Theater. She is currently working on a comedy show and a novel.

Regan Sieck, B.S. '12, sociology, is a program associate at BestPrep, a Minneapolis nonprofit that prepares students in grades 4 through12 with business, career, and financial literacy skills through hands-on experiences.

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This page contains a single entry by Colleen Ware published on February 11, 2014 8:36 AM.

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