Alumni Stories

Learn about Park alumni as they pursue further academic achievement, develop professional pursuits, and continue the process of choosing for themselves from the wide range of possibilities life offers.

Park Alumni! Visit the Alumni home page (www.parkschool.net/alumni/) for event information, to update contact information, or to just say hello!

Class of 2000

Adam Gidwitz

Bestselling Children's Book Author, Newbery Honor Winner

Adam Gidwitz ’00 is the author of the bestselling children’s books A Tale Dark and Grimm (2010), In a Glass Grimmly (2012), and The Grimm Conclusion (2013). His fourth book, The Empire Strikes Back: So you Want to Be a Jedi?, is his retelling of the iconic Star Wars film. 

Adam’s fifth book, The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, published in fall 2016, and won a 2017 Newbery Honor in addition to a Gold Medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers category. His latest series, The Unicorn Rescue Society, released its first book in April 2018 and is also a New York Times bestseller. The second installment was co-written by Adam’s friend and classmate at Park, Jesse Casey ’00, and was released in July 2018. Third and fourth installments were released in 2018 and 2019, with more to come!

In October 2021, A Tale Dark & Grimm premiered as one of the top 10 most watched shows on all of Netflix, both in the United States and in countries around the world. 

After graduating from Columbia University with a degree in English literature, Adam taught second grade at Saint Ann’s School in Brooklyn, N.Y., while attending Bank Street College of Education in the evenings. He drew inspiration from students who were enthralled by his reading of the original Grimms’ fairy tale stories. Now a full-time writer, Adam also travels around the country visiting schools.

A Tale Dark and Grimm was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, A Publishers Weekly Best Children’s Book of the Year, a School Library Journal Best Children’s Book of the Year, a 2010 ALA Notable Book, and was chosen by The Atlantic’s wire blog for their 2012 Young Adult/Middle Grade Book Awards as the “Best Stories to Keep Telling (Or Reading).”

According to the starred review in School Library Journal, “Gidwitz is terrifying and funny at the same time. His storytelling is so assured that it’s hard to believe this is his debut novel. And his treatment of the Grimms’ tales is a whole new thing. It’s equally easy to imagine parents keeping their kids up late so they can read just one more chapter aloud, kids finishing it off under the covers with a flashlight, and parents sneaking into their kids’ rooms to grab it off the nightstand and finish it themselves.”  

https://www.adamgidwitz.com/

Class of 2010

Adrienne Tarver

Judicial Law Clerk, District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

As a defender on the Yale University Women’s Lacrosse team — and captain of the 2013-2014 team —  Adrienne Tarver ’10 was featured in the February 2013 issue of Lacrosse Magazine (produced by US Lacrosse). The subject of a full-page Q&A, the former Bruin was asked about her “proudest moment” of her lacrosse career. Her response:

When my high school team, Park School of Baltimore, won our conference championship my senior year against one of our rival schools. It was the perfect end to my high school career. 

Here at Park, Adrienne was a three-time All Conference player (’08, ’09, ’10), Academic All America 2010, First Team High School All America 2010, Two time IAAM B Conference champion (’09, ’10), and captain of the team in 2010. She was captain of both the basketball and soccer teams, as well, and was named All Conference for basketball.

Adrienne recently graduated from Columbia Law School where she was a member of the Columbia Law Review, the Black Law Students Association, and the High School Law Institute. She is now a Judicial Law Clerk in Illinois, and prior to that, she was an associate attorney at Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago. Before attending law school, Adrienne worked as a Commercial Credit Analyst at BMO Harris Bank in Chicago, as well as a mentor in the Chicago Scholars Foundation program, guiding under-resourced high school seniors through the college application process. While at Yale, she majored in Economics and African American Studies. 

Class of 2004

Alex Harding

Physician & Founder of Water Ecuador, Atlas Venture

In 2007, Alex Harding ’04 founded Water Ecuador, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of impoverished communities by providing long-term access to clean water. Water Ecuador, or Agua Muisne in Spanish, builds and manages water treatment centers for rural communities in Ecuador. Water Ecuador provides water to 2,000 Ecuadorians every day, which has been associated with a 52 percent lower rate of waterborne illness in that population.

During the summer of 2006, Alex traveled to Muisne, Ecuador, to volunteer in a health clinic. After seeing many children come through the emergency room with illnesses caused by lack of safe water, he investigated and found that their drinking water was being drawn from locations within a few meters of leaky sewage lines. After a year of studying, fundraising, and team-building in the U.S. and Ecuador, Alex returned to Muisne and, with a team of local Muisneños, designed and built Muisne’s first clean drinking water center.

After graduating from college, Alex moved to Ecuador for a year and set up three more treatment centers in nearby towns. In the fall of 2009, he entered the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he was able to investigate the medical effects of waterborne illnesses, and even published a study at the Bloomberg School of Public Health on a new water treatment process that he had discovered. Pursuing his interests further, Alex took a leave of absence from medical school to receive an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, where he studied healthcare and international development. He finished medical school and residency in internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and is now an internal medicine physician practicing biotechnology at Atlas Venture, a leading biotech venture capital firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is also a Senior Director of Corporate Development at Remix Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass. Alex continues his work with Water Ecuador on the Board of Directors.  

For more information about Agua Muisne, visit www.WaterEcuador.org.

Class of 1998

Amanda Lipitz

Broadway Producer and Documentary Filmmaker

Amanda Lipitz ’98 released her second documentary, FOUND, which she directed and produced with Impact Partners and Kindred Spirit Productions, on Netflix in October 2021. Her first feature-length documentary, STEP, premiered in competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and won the Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking. Additionally, STEP was awarded the NAACP Image Award for Best Documentary, the African American Critics Choice Award for Best Documentary, the Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision at the Seattle International Film Festival and the Audience Award at the AFI Docs Festival.

Amanda co-created and directed Motherhacker, a scripted podcast with Gimlet Media and Spotify starring Carrie Coon, and is currently developing a television adaptation.

Known nationally for her films highlighting philanthropic organizations and their impact, Lipitz has made more than 30 shorts for organizations such as the Young Women’s Leadership Network, Citymeals on Wheels, College Bound Initiative, The Tory Burch Foundation, Barnard College, Turnaround for Children, The Gateway School and many more.

Broadway producing credits include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Legally Blonde the Musical, The Performers, A View From the Bridge (Tony Award, Best Revival) and The Humans (Tony Award, Best Play). Off Broadway, Amanda developed and produced Brooklynite at The Vineyard Theatre. On television, Amanda served as executive producer and creator of MTV’s groundbreaking series “Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.

Amanda graduated from Tisch School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in Theatre.

https://www.amandalipitzproductions.com/what-we-do

Class of 1972

Amy Berman Jackson

Judge, United States, District of Columbia

Judge Amy Berman Jackson ’72 was appointed as a United States District Judge in March of 2011. In March 2019, she sentenced Paul Manafort, former Trump campaign chairman, in a case prosecuted by the Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III and his office. She is also presiding over the criminal trial of political strategist Roger J. Stone.

Judge Jackson has presided over a number of high profile cases in the nine years since her appointment, including the dispute between the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives and the executive branch concerning a subpoena for records related to the law enforcement investigation Operation Fast and Furious, and the antitrust case in which the Department of Justice sought to stop a proposed $50 billion merger of two health insurance giants, Anthem and Cigna.

Prior to her appointment as a United States District Judge, Judge Jackson was engaged in private practice in Washington, D.C., as a member of Trout Cacheris, where she specialized in complex criminal and civil trials and appeals. Earlier, she was a partner at Venable, Baetjer, Howard, and Civiletti. She began her career as a law clerk for the Hon. Harrison L. Winter on the United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, and she served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, where she received Department of Justice Special Achievement Awards for her work on murder and sexual assault cases.

Judge Jackson served on the board of the Washington D.C. Rape Crisis Center and has also been a member of the Parent Steering Committee of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders. She has served as an expert legal commentator for a number of news organizations.

After graduating from Park, Judge Jackson earned her A.B. cum laude from Harvard College and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School.

Class of 2000

Annie Karni

Congressional Correspondent, The New York Times

Annie Karni ’00 is a congressional correspondent for The New York Times and a contributor on MSNBC. Most recently, Annie had been a White House correspondent for The New York Times. Prior to that, she covered Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the first two years of the Trump presidency for Politico.  

“At Politico, Annie traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Britain, and Finland, and was the author of a wide range of features and exclusives. Particularly memorable stories include her piece on President Trump’s habit of ripping up papers on his desk so that career government workers now have the job of taping them back together to preserve presidential records. She had a scoop about Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary, conducting phone checks on his own staff to root out leakers. She has also written revealing profiles of Washington characters like the former Clinton consigliere Mark Penn and George Conway, the anti-Trump husband of Kellyanne Conway, the White House counselor” – from her New York Times arrival announcement. 

At Park, Annie was editor of Postscript, our student-run newspaper. After graduation, she earned her B.A. in English from Haverford College, where she was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa society. She worked for The New York Post, The New York Daily News, and the New York Sun before joining the staff at Politico.

Class of 2006

Charlie Hankin

Writer/Performer, Cartoonist, Animator

Charlie Hankin ’06 is a writer/performer, cartoonist, and animator. As an illustrator, Charlie has been published regularly in The New Yorker and the UK’s Private Eye; you can see his equally clever rejected cartoons on his Instagram feed: @mecharliehankin. He is currently developing an animated series for Snapchat together with Stoopid Buddy.

As an actor, he recurred on Jill Soloway’s Amazon series I LOVE DICK; other credits include THE LAST OG, THE UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT, and YOUNG SHELDON. Charlie is also half of the sketch duo and filmmaking team Good Cop Great Cop. Together, they have developed pilots with both TBS and Comedy Central, in addition to writing, producing, directing and starring in the Comedy Central digital series “New Timers” and their self-titled web series “Good Cop Great Cop.’ The group was also honored as one of the inaugural New Faces: Creators at Just for Laughs.

After Park, Charlie attended New York University. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

https://charliehankin.com/

Class of 2012

Daniel Stern

NFL Offensive Assistant, Baltimore Ravens

Daniel Stern ’12 has the ear of one of the top football coaches in the NFL. As an offensive assistant for the Baltimore Ravens, Daniel talks head coach John Harbaugh through strategies and statistics during each game. It’s fourth-and-two — does the offense go for it or bring on the kicking team? That’s what Daniel, a behavioral economics major at Yale University, is tasked with figuring out through running numbers and probabilities. He’ll give his recommendation to coach Harbaugh through the headset, remind him of the strategies they had set for the week, and then it’s up to Harbaugh to make the call.  

While at Park, Daniel was Editor-in-Chief of Postscript, and was also “the closer” on the Upper School Mock Trial Team, which he’d been since his freshman year. His teams won state titles two years in a row. He went on to co-captain Yale’s Mock Trial Team — winning the national championships in 2016 with fellow Park alumna Sarah Cohen ’14! — and also worked as a student assistant for the Yale football team, as a sports broadcaster and producer for the school’s athletics department, and wrote for the student newspaper.

Daniel joined the Ravens coaching staff when he graduated from college in 2016, and while he’d been providing statistical analysis and research to the Ravens coaching staff for three years, the 2019 season was his first as the analyst in Harbaugh’s ear. 

Class of 2008

David Narrow

CEO, Sonavex and MonoMano Cycling

After graduating from Park, David Narrow ’08 earned his bachelor’s of science in Biomedical Engineering with highest distinction from the University of Rochester, focusing primarily on biomechanics. He then received a master’s degree in the same subject from Johns Hopkins University.

At Hopkins, David worked with four other graduate students within the Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design (CBID) – part of the Johns Hopkins Department of Biomedical Engineering — to develop the EchoSure system, an ultrasound-based technology that detects potentially catastrophic post-operative blood clots. The yearlong program at CBID required student teams to identify an urgent healthcare problem and then design and test a solution. David and his teammates won first place in the 2013 National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance’s biomedical engineering design contest, receiving $10,000 in prize money.

David is now the CEO of Sonavex, a Baltimore-based medical device company developing ultrasound solutions to visualize and quantify critical data directly at the point of care. Sonavex is part of FastForward, a business accelerator program supported by Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, and has also received numerous grants, awards, and enthusiastic support. The company has raised $1 million to advance development of the blood clot-detecting EchoSure technology that David worked on as a graduate student. 

He also co-founded MonoMano Cycling, a company dedicated to opening the world of cycling to everyone by developing innovative and comfortable adaptive technologies. David developed the MonoMano Cycling Control System with four teammates as a senior-year design project at the University of Rochester’s Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The MonoMano enables riders to steer, brake, and shift gears on a recumbent tricycle with one hand, bringing mobility and a chance to exercise to individuals with disabling injuries or conditions. David and his teammates decided to pursue the project after graduation and created the startup company, which he now runs in addition to his work at Sonavex.

Named one of Forbes magazine’s 2016 “30 Under 30” notable entrepreneurs in the healthcare industry, and one of Baltimore Business Journal’s 2017 “40 Under 40” list, David returned to Park’s Upper School as a 2013 Millhauser Fellow to share the story of his biomedical engineering education and the path that led him to create these novel healthcare engineering solutions.

Class of 1968

Edward Witten

Physicist, Princeton University

Edward Witten ’68, a mathematical physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, received the Fields Medal in 1990 for his work in string theory. In 2012, he was among the nine recipients of a new prize rewarding work at the cutting edges of physics research. The $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize was awarded for the first time in 2012. Edward and three other recipients work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., where they work on theories trying to tie together the basic particles and forces of the universe, particularly with string theory.

After graduating from Park, Edward earned his B.A. in History with a minor in Linguistics from Brandeis University. He went on to earn an M.A. in 1974 and Ph.D. in Physics in 1976, both from Princeton University. 

Class of 2005

Erica Gelb

Electrical Engineer, Northrop Grumman

A graduate of the University of Rochester’s Engineering 3-2 Program (earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years instead of six), Erica Gelb ’05 is an Electrical Engineer for Northrop Grumman focusing on hardware engineering. Before joining her current group at the company, she participated in a rotation program, which allowed her to work in different areas before choosing a focus. While her group specializes in radio-frequency (RF) engineering, her projects range from digital, RF, integration, and test. Erica loves the variety of projects, whether it’s working on small, internal demo jobs, trying to prove out technically difficult concepts for the first time, or on production jobs where the company builds, integrates, and tests the actual hardware that gets sold to customers. She’s technically challenged each day at work, and constantly learning.

Outside of work, Erica is passionate about volunteering for Circle Camps for Grieving Children, an organization that offers a one-week overnight camp for young girls who have experienced the death of a parent. The camp is completely free, run entirely on donations and volunteers. Erica has volunteered at Circle of Tapawingo in Maine for the past seven summers, but she also stays involved year-round through planning, fundraising, and other behind the scenes logistics to get ready for camp each summer. Since its founding in 2002, the organization has grown from 36 campers in one program in Maine, to 285 campers in four programs in Maine, New Hampshire, and West Virginia.

A three-sport athlete at Park, Erica’s competitive spirit carried through to college and graduate school, where she played Varsity Field Hockey and Varsity Lacrosse. Since high school, she has also been involved with Maccabi USA, a nonprofit that sends teams of American Jewish athletes to compete against Jewish athletes from other countries around the world. Erica played field hockey for Team USA in Sydney, Australia, in 2006, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the Maccabi Pan Am Games in 2007-08, in Israel at the “Maccabiah” event in 2009, and in Santiago, Chile, at the Maccabi Pan Am Games in 2016, where she was the team’s assistant coach and extra player.

After graduating from Park, Erica earned her B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Rochester in 2009, and her M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a concentration in VLSI, with class emphasis in digital IC design and FPGA programming from the school in 2010 in the Engineering 3-2 Program. She was a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Tzekek, and the Keidaeans.

Class of 1981

Greg White

President & CEO, LEARN Charter School Network

Greg White ’81 knows the importance of an exceptional education. As the President & CEO of LEARN Charter School Network in Chicago, it’s Greg’s mission to ensure that all 3,600 students enrolled in eight pre-K-8 LEARN schools have the same experiences and opportunities that he had as a student at Park. His charge is to provide all students, regardless of income, the academic foundation and ambition to earn a college degree. He strives to offer a safe and nurturing environment that meets each child’s academic, social, emotional, and psychological needs, and encourages them to take risks, try new things, and have the resolve to pursue their passions. 

Featured on Oprah as one of six schools “getting it right” in the United States’ educational system, the charter school group was one of the recipients of a $1,000,000 grant from Oprah’s Angel Network. They also received a $1,000,000 grant from the United States Department of Education.

After graduating from Park, Greg attended Brown University and received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. In addition to being President & CEO of LEARN, Greg is also an adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Read more about LEARN Charter Schools at http://www.learncharter.org/.

Class of 1995

Jal Mehta

Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Jal Mehta ’95 is a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He earned his B.A. in Social Studies, Magna Cum Laude, M.A. in Sociology, and Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy, all from Harvard University. His research at the Graduate School of Education explores the role of different forms of knowledge in tackling major social and political problems, particularly problems of human improvement. Jal has also written extensively on what it would take to improve American education, with a particular focus on the professionalization of teaching.

Jal’s published books include: The Allure of Order: High Hopes, Dashed Expectations and the Troubled Quest to Remake American Schooling (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), The Futures of School Reform (Cambridge: Harvard Education Press, 2012), Education in a New Society: Renewing the Sociology of Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), and, most recently, In Search of Deeper Learning: The Quest to Remake the American High School (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019), co-authored by Sarah Fine.

He is co-editor of the Learning Deeply blog at Education Week, and in 2014 was the top-ranked junior faculty scholar in the Rick Hess Education Week rankings. Jal is also the winner of the Morningstar Teaching Award at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and was awarded a Radcliffe Fellowship for the 2016-17 academic year.

In a recent interview for the fall 2018 edition of Ed. Magazine, Harvard Graduate School of Education’s alumni magazine, Jal talks about what influenced his career, noting his time at Park:

I went to a school, The Park School, which was an independent school whose motto was ‘learn how to think.’ I had a number of great teachers when I was there, but beyond that, what was particularly notable was the way in which they treated students as capable participants in their own education…Living in a world where we respected teachers and they respected students has deeply shaped my views of what is desirable and what is possible in education.

Read the full interview here.

Class of 1993

Jess Row

Author & Associate Professor of English

Jess Row ’93 is the author of two collections of short stories, The Train to Lo Wu and Nobody Ever Gets Lost, a novel, Your Face in Mine, and a collection of essays, White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Tin House, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, Granta, n+1, and elsewhere, has been anthologized three times in The Best American Short Stories, and has won two Pushcart Prizes and a PEN/O. Henry Award. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, an NEA fellowship in fiction, a Whiting Writers Award, and a Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant. In 2007, he was named a “Best Young American Novelist” by Granta. His nonfiction and criticism appear often in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Threepenny Review, and Boston Review, among other venues.

He directs the undergraduate creative writing program in the Department of English at New York University and is an ordained senior dharma teacher in the Kwan Um School of Zen. He received a B.A. in English from Yale University in 1997. He later taught English in Hong Kong for two years. He completed his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing at the University of Michigan in 2001. He lives in New York City and Plainfield, Vermont.

Class of 1986

Lydia K. Griggsby

Judge, United States Court of Federal Claims

Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby ’86 was sworn in as a United States District Judge on July 23, 2021. She was nominated by President Biden on March 30, 2021, and confirmed by the Senate on June 16, 2021. Prior to her confirmation, Judge Griggsby served as a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims since her appointment by President Barack Obama on December 5, 2014. Judge Griggsby served as the Chair of the Court’s Committee on Legislation and Policy. On December 12, 2019, Judge Griggsby received the Loren A. Smith Award, the highest award the Court bestows for service on its behalf.

Prior to her appointment, Judge Griggsby served as the Chief Counsel for Privacy and Information Policy for the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position to which she was appointed by Senator Patrick Leahy in 2009. During her tenure on the Committee, Judge Griggsby was the lead Senate counsel on several pieces of legislation enacted by Congress to reform the Freedom of Information Act, including the OPEN Government Act of 2007 and the OPEN FOIA Act of 2009. Judge Griggsby was also the lead Senate counsel on legislation enacted by Congress to amend the Video Privacy Protection Act.

From 2004 to 2008, Judge Griggsby served as Privacy Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee. During her tenure on the Committee, Judge Griggsby was the lead Senate counsel on several pieces of legislation enacted by Congress to reform the Freedom of Information Act, including the OPEN Government Act of 2007 and the OPEN FOIA Act of 2009.

In 2004, Judge Griggsby was appointed counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. Prior to this appointment, Judge Griggsby served six years as an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1998 to 2004.

Between 1995 and 1998, Judge Griggsby was a Trial Attorney with the Civil Division of the United States Department of Justice, where she litigated complex civil matters before the United States Court of Federal Claims and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Prior to her appointment to the Department of Justice, Judge Griggsby was an associate with the law firm of DLA Piper, LLP.

Judge Griggsby has appeared frequently at national conferences to speak on issues related to government transparency, cybersecurity, and privacy in the digital age.

After graduating from Park, Judge Griggsby earned a B.A. in Public Policy Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center. 

Class of 1995

Matthew Porterfield

Filmmaker

Matthew Porterfield ’95, the independent filmmaker behind Hamilton (2006), Putty Hill (2011), and I Used To Be Darker (2013), and Sollers Point (2017) was named a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, a prestigious distinction that recognizes exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. Out of nearly 3,000 applicants, Matt was among one of 168 scholars, artists, and writers selected. He was recognized in the field of film and video, and intends to write and develop a new feature in Tijuana, Mexico, for the Fellowship.

Matt’s work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Harvard Film Archive and has screened at Centre Pompidou, Walker Art Center, The Whitney Biennial, and film festivals such as Sundance, the Berlinale, and SXSW. As a producer, Matt has participated in IFP’s No Borders, Cinemart, FIDLab, the Berlin Coproduction Market, and the Venice Production Bridge.

Matt’s third film, I Used To Be Darker, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. In 2015, his films were included in MoMA’s first installment of their new series Our Town, with a focus on movies made in Baltimore by Barry Levinson, John Waters, and Matt. The Baltimore series ran in December and featured prints of Matt’s first feature Hamilton (16mm) and I Used To Be Darker. 

Take What You Can Carry is Matt’s first narrative short and had its world premiere in competition at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival and its North American premiere at Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real.” 

His fourth feature film, Sollers Point, had its world premiere at the San Sebastián International Film Festival in September 2017. Shortly after, Oscilloscope Laboratories acquired U.S. distribution rights, and the New York Times named the film a Critics Pick in May 2018. 

Matt attended the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. He currently teaches film production and theory in the Film and Media Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University. 

Class of 2003

Nate Loewentheil

Social entrepreneur, writer, and public servant

A graduate of Yale University and Yale Law School, Nate Loewentheil ’03 worked in the Obama White House as a Senior Policy Advisor at the National Economic Council and led the Administration’s work in Baltimore City. In early 2005, while in his sophomore year at Yale, he helped found the Roosevelt Campus Network, a national progressive organization engaging college students in progressive politics, and later served from 2007 to 2009 as executive director. During his time there, he helped expand the organization from a college start-up to a robust national network with nearly 100 college chapters around the country. Nate is also a co-founder of the Millennial Action Project and previously sat on the Board of Directors of the New Leaders Council. Nate has written commentary in the The New York Times, Salon, Politico and The Democracy Journal, submitted testimony to Congress on Social Security, and published research on housing and climate change. He is the editor of a 2008 book, Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era.

Nate is a Founder and Managing Partner at Commonweal Ventures, a Lecturer at Yale University, and an Adjunct Professor of Public Service at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. He is also the President and Co-Founder of Baltimore Homecoming with fellow Park alumnus JM Schapiro ’87. Baltimore Homecoming is a nonprofit organization that was formed to bring native Baltimoreans back to the city and help them reconnect with the people who are making a difference — the city’s next generation of innovators artists, activists, and community leaders. Learn more at www.baltimorehomecoming.com.

Class of 2004

Nikki Hasselbarth

Attorney, Venable LLP

An associate in Venable’s Tax and Wealth Planning Group in the Los Angeles, California, office, Nikki Hasselbarth ’04 focuses her practice on assisting clients with estate planning, wealth management, and business succession. Nikki also works extensively with tax-exempt organizations, including public charities and private foundations, to ensure that such charitable entities can maintain compliance with changing tax laws, and are able to fulfill their mission through deliberate and informed counsel.

After graduating from Park, Nikki attended Columbia University in New York where she majored in Comparative Ethnic Studies, a program that allowed her to pursue her interests in the intersections of race, class, ethnicity, and gender. Following her undergraduate studies, she joined Teach for America (TFA) in Houston, where she taught third and fourth grade for two years. Nikki then headed to Duke Law School, where she was a Booth Scholar, a Senior Research Editor for the Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, and a Lead Editor for the Duke Forum for Law & Social Change. While at Duke, Nikki also became involved in Duke’s Wrongful Conviction Clinic and the Innocence Project, a national effort to overturn wrongful convictions and to reform our country’s legal justice system.

An alumni of the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust (B.E.S.T.), Nikki now helps to lead the organization by serving on its Board of Trustees and Strategic Planning Committee. B.E.S.T. recruits and supports academically ambitious African American children with financial need in the Baltimore area by assisting such students through the admissions process as they apply to independent schools.

Nikki was honored by The Daily Record as one of their “20 in Their Twenties” ­­— a list recognizing young professionals whose creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are contributing to a new energy in Maryland.

Class of 1999

R. Eric Thomas

Playwright

R. Eric Thomas ’99, a national bestselling author and playwright, won the 2016 Barrymore Award for Best New Play and the 2018 Dramatist Guild Lanford Wilson Award, was a finalist for the 2017 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award and two 2021 Lambda Literary Awards. He was on the writing staff for the Peabody Award-winning series Dickinson (AppleTV+) and Better Things (FX) and has been commissioned or produced on stage by Baltimore Center Stage, Everyman Theater, Arden Theatre Company, Theatre Exile, Simpatico Theatre, Azuka Theatre, Single Carrot Theatre, About Face Theatre, City Theatre Miami, Act II Playhouse and more.

He is also the long-running host of The Moth in Philadelphia and D.C. and for four years was a Senior Staff Writer for Elle.com where he wrote “Eric Reads the News,” a daily current events and culture column with hundreds of thousands of monthly readers.

In 2020 he released two books: HERE FOR IT, a debut memoir-in-essays that was a Read with Jenna book club pick featured on Today, and RECLAIMING HER TIME, a biography of Rep. Maxine Waters co-authored with Helena Andrews-Dyer. KINGS OF B’MORE, his YA debut, was published in 2022. He is an alumnus of The Foundry, the Lambda Literary Fellowship and the Ingram New Works Fellowship.

Eric attended Columbia University in New York and then transferred to UMBC to study playwriting. He lives in Baltimore with his husband, the Reverend David Norse, who is the pastor of Maryland Presbyterian Church.

Follow Eric on Twitter @oureric

Class of 1996

R. Jacob Vogelstein

Managing Partner, Catalio Capital Management, LP

Jacob Vogelstein ’96 is a Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Catalio Capital Management, LP. He is primarily responsible for managing the firm and for making investments in breakthrough biomedical technology companies founded by world renowned scientist-entrepreneurs. He also serves on the Nexus Investment Committee and the firm-wide Management Committee.

Jacob currently serves on the Board of Directors of Cage Pharmaceuticals, Entos AI, Haystack Oncology, and manaT bio.

Prior to founding Catalio, he was a General Partner at Camden Partners Holdings, LLC, a private equity firm, where he focused on making biomedical technology investments. Prior to joining Camden, Jacob was a founding partner of the seed-stage venture capital firm Gamma 3, LLC, and a Program Manager at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, where he made investments in high-risk, high-reward research to benefit the US Intelligence Community. Earlier in his career, Jacob served on the faculty at Johns Hopkins University, at both the Applied Physics Laboratory and the Whiting School of Engineering.

Jacob has received widespread recognition for his innovative work in biomedical engineering over the past decade. In 2017, he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering, which is the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their careers. He has been an invited speaker for diverse audiences ranging from BBC News to President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, has authored over 50 peer-reviewed publications, and has multiple patents in the fields of neuroprosthetics and brain-machine interfaces.

After graduating from Park, Jacob earned his BSc. degree in Bio-Electrical Engineering from Brown University and his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Class of 2006

Rachel Brown

Executive Director of Over Zero

An International Relations major at Tufts University, Rachel Brown ’06 had researched conflict and political corruption in India, Guatemala, and Kenya. Inspired by her previous experiences and eager to return to community-based work, she decided to move back to Nairobi. By using cell phones and a website to visually map out different peace organizations and events at the local level, she hoped that she could help peace groups connect with each other, facilitating stronger outcomes. While in Kenya, she realized she could use mobile technology to help local peace groups effectively compete with and counteract messages inciting violence.

Four years later, Rachel finally returned to Baltimore after having helped found an organization called Sisi ni Amani, which means “We are Peace Kenya” in Kiswahili. The following is an excerpt from an article Rachel wrote discussing her experiences in Kenya and how her organization pioneered using text messaging to prevent violence and increase civic engagement and education in Kenyan elections.

In 2010, I began to work with local peace activists in Kenya and together we asked ourselves: if mobile phones are an effective medium to reach people rapidly and influence behavior and perceptions, can’t we use them too? We founded Sisi ni Amani Kenya (SNA-K) – meaning ‘We are Peace Kenya’ in Kiswahili – to amplify the voices of grassroots peace leaders and compete with flows of information promoting violence. We designed a platform that community members could subscribe to for free from their mobile phones. We did door to door outreach and in partnership with over 50 local peace groups, we subscribed over 65,000 people in more than seven target areas across the country by the time of the next presidential elections in March 2013. Once they subscribed, we could send them targeted messages on a mass scale.

Rachel is currently Executive Director of Over Zero, a project of the Hopewell Fund, founded to reduce, prevent, and create long-term societal resilience to violence. Over Zero works to help societies resist division and strive towards positive peace. She also recently launched a new nonprofit, Sisi ni Amani International, here in Baltimore, helping organizations both globally and locally to develop plans to prevent violence and promote civic engagement.

To learn more about Sisi ni Amani: http://sisiniamani.org/.  

Class of 1996

Rachel Vogelstein

Senior Advisor, White House Gender Policy Council

Rachel Vogelstein ’96 is a Senior Advisor on the White House Gender Policy Council and a Senior Fellow and Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in Washington, D.C., and a professor of Gender and U.S. Foreign Policy at Georgetown Law School. At CFR, Rachel’s research focuses on the relationship between women’s advancement and prosperity, stability, and security. She is the author of Ending Child Marriage (2013) and How Women’s Participation in Conflict Prevention and Resolution Advances U.S. Interests (2016) and co-author of Awakening: #MeToo and the Global Fight for Women’s Rights (2021).

As senior advisor on women’s issues for the Hillary for America campaign, Rachel developed domestic and global policy and led a coalition of over 200 women’s leaders and organizations. She also served as an advisor to the Clinton-Kaine transition team. From 2009 to 2012, Rachel was Director of Policy and Senior Advisor in the Office of Global Women’s Issues within the Office of the Secretary of State at the U.S. Department of State, advising Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the first-ever U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, on a range of foreign policy issues related to the advancement of women. She also represented the U.S. Department of State as a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls.

Following her tenure in government, Rachel served as the director of Women’s and Girls’ Programs in the Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton at the Clinton Foundation, where she oversaw the development of the No Ceilings initiative and provided guidance on domestic and global women’s issues.

An attorney by training with expertise on gender equality, Rachel was senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center in Washington, D.C., prior to joining the State Department. In 2004, she was awarded an Equal Justice Works Fellowship to work on women’s health policy. She also served as assistant counsel to then-Senator Clinton’s first presidential campaign and on the staff of her 2000 U.S. Senate campaign. She has lectured widely on the rights of women and girls, including at the U.S. Congressional Women’s Caucus, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Foreign Service Institute, the World Bank, the Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Harvard Law School, and Yale University. 

Rachel is a recipient of the Secretary of State’s Superior Honor Award and a National Association of Women Lawyers Award, and she serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Child Research Center. 

After Park, Rachel graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College, Columbia University, and cum laude from Georgetown Law School, where she was executive editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. Following law school, Rachel clerked for the Honorable Thomas L. Ambro on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Class of 1991

Ruth Franklin

Book Critic

Ruth Franklin ’91 is a book critic and former editor at The New Republic, and an Adjunct Faculty at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute in the Cultural Reporting & Criticism Graduate Program. She has written for many publications, including The New YorkerHarper’sThe New York Times Book Review, The New York Review of Books, and Salmagundi, to which she contributes a regular film column. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in biography, a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, a Leon Levy Fellowship in biography, and the Roger Shattuck Prize for Criticism. 

Ruth’s first book, A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truth in Holocaust Fiction (Oxford University Press, 2011), was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. Her latest book, Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life, (Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2016) won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2016, a Time magazine top nonfiction book of 2016, and a “best book of 2016” by The Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, and others. According to the starred review from Patrick A. Smith in Library Journal: 

Drawing on a trove of research—including previously unpublished letters and interviews—and her own astute analysis of Jackson’s fiction, Franklin gives her subject her much-deserved due and sets the standard for future literary biographers wresting with the legacy and the unwarranted inattention of a major figure in 20th-century American literature. Highly recommended for readers of Jackson’s fiction as well as those interested in the connection between the inner lives of authors and their work.

After graduating from Park, Ruth earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Columbia University, and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University.

https://www.ruthfranklin.net/

Class of 2000

Ryan Downer

Director of Litigation, Civil Rights Corps

As Director of Litigation, Ryan Downer ’00 manages and oversees the active litigation docket of Civil Rights Corps (CRC). In addition, Ryan works directly on cases challenging the criminalization of poverty, particularly in the areas of prosecutor misconduct and wealth-based pretrial detention. Ryan’s casework at CRC has included appearances in Singleton v. Cannizzaro, challenging the New Orleans’ district attorney’s use of fake subpoenas; Briggs v. Maricopa County, challenging blatant wealth discrimination in the County’s marijuana diversion program; and CRC’s efforts to protect detainees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ryan joined Civil Rights Corps after a decade of litigating civil rights cases at both Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC in Washington, D.C. and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (LDF) in New York. At Relman, Ryan served as lead counsel on numerous fair housing, employment, and public accommodations matters, including two of the first cases to facially challenge blanket criminal records bans imposed by private housing providers (Fortune Society v. Sandcastle Towers; Equal Rights Center v. Mid-America Apartment Communities, Inc.). As lead counsel on his cases, Ryan managed every aspect of federal litigation, appearing in district courts across the country and arguing multiple appeals in the Fifth, Sixth, and Tenth Circuits.

Ryan received his J.D. cum laude from New York University, where he was a Root Tilden Kern Scholar, an articles editor on the NYU Law Review, and a student-attorney in the Juvenile Defender Clinic. After graduation, he clerked for The Hon. Martha Craig Daughtrey of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ryan received his undergraduate degree cum laude from Harvard College.

Class of 1999

Sara Schapiro

Senior Fellow, Day One Project

Sara Schapiro ’99 is a Senior Fellow at the Day One Project where she leads their education, workforce, and talent policy portfolio, with a focus on education research and development. Sara has emerged as a prominent voice in the transformation of American education through innovation and technology. Most recently, Sara served as the Vice President of Education at PBS where she led their efforts to deepen partnerships across the education sector and launched new initiatives that empower and support educators, students, parents, and member stations. 

Prior to PBS, Sara helped found Digital Promise, an independent, bipartisan nonprofit whose mission is to spur innovation and improve all Americans’ opportunity to learn. She launched and led Digital Promise’s flagship initiative, the League of Innovative Schools, a national coalition of public school districts that fosters collaboration among educators, entrepreneurs, researchers and thought partners. Sara also worked for the New York City Department of Education, Chicago Public Schools, the New Jersey Department of Education, and Pearson on pioneering teaching and learning projects, educational technology initiatives, and teacher and student engagement efforts. 

Sara earned a master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and graduated with honors from Duke University with a bachelor’s in International and Comparative Area Studies and Spanish Literature.

Class of 1972

Tom Rothman

Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment's Motion Picture Group

Tom Rothman ’72 is Chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, overseeing all of the studio’s motion picture production for Columbia Pictures, TriStar, Screen Gems, and Sony Classics. Tom was recently honored with the Producers Guild of America’s 2017 Milestone Award, the Guild’s most prestigious honor. In their statement, the chairs of the Producers Guild Awards said, “Our industry has benefited immensely from Tom’s instincts, tenacity and vision. From his championing of independent storytellers early in his career to his nurturing of studio films on an epic scale, Tom’s passion for movies has been one of the unstoppable creative engines of our business.”

Before joining Sony Pictures in late 2013 as Chairman of TriStar Productions, Tom served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment, overseeing all of the studio’s filmmaking operations. Prior to becoming Chairman, he held the positions of President of Twentieth Century Fox Film Group, President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox, and President of Fox Searchlight Pictures, which he founded in 1994. Throughout 18 years at Fox, his track record includes the two highest grossing films in cinematic history, more than 150 Academy Award® nominations, and four Best Picture Oscar awards.

Tom was appointed by President Obama to the National Council of the Arts. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Sundance Institute and the American Film Institute (emeritus), and serves on the Board of Brown University (emeritus), California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and the Priceline Group.

In February 2022, Tom was confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a key position within the Biden administration.  

Before all of this, Tom was a Park School student happily involved in everything the school had to offer: he played three Varsity sports, acted in theater productions, and was editor of Postscript. After graduating from Park, Tom attended Brown University, earning a B.A. with Honors in English and American Literature, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and was an All New England Division I selection in lacrosse. He briefly taught English and coached soccer and lacrosse after Brown, and then earned a J.D. at Columbia University School of Law, graduating as a two-time James Kent Scholar, the school’s highest academic honor. Tom clerked for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals before working for Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz.

Class of 2005

Yohance Allette

Neurologist, Veterans Administration Hospital, Maryland

Yohance Allette ’05 earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in Biological Sciences from the University of Maryland Baltimore County as a Meyerhoff Scholar. He was accepted into the Medical Scientist Training Program at Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM), where he completed his M.D./Ph.D. dual degree. His graduate research in the laboratory of Dr. Fletcher White was focused on the study of neuropathic pain, and the modulation of its signaling cascades.

Afterwards, he went on to complete his adult neurology residency at IUSM. During his fellowship at the Baltimore Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence, he is committed to academia and his development as a physician scientist, as well as providing quality care to the Veterans and patients within his community.

Hear Yohance reflect on his time at Park and listen to the story of how Yohance’s mother, Dawne, found The Park School.

Class of 1990

Zaneb Beams

Pediatrician

A Board Certified Pediatrician dedicated to caring for children and their families, Zaneb Beams ’90 directs Dr. Beams Medical Home, a primary care medical practice in Howard County, Maryland. In her practice, Zaneb helps her patients start life healthy from birth, continuing to care for and support young people through age 21.

In the fall 2017 issue of Cross Currents, Zaneb writes: “The Park School was the first educational environment where my family’s teaching of responsibility to the human community was systematically reflected. My home culture had always focused on service to others — directly, through patient care, as medical doctors — to less fortunate members of our religious community, and to those entrenched in deep poverty in my parents’ home country, Pakistan.

“Educators at The Park School encouraged us to read texts and learn history with an ethical filter. They asked questions like, ‘Do the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation?’ (a query on Henry David Thoreau’s assertion in Walden). This focus on the human community, and our place in it as teens, dovetailed with my own sense of responsibility to communities outside of home and school. Additionally, the Park School community consisted of peers who were similarly focused on community, service, and inquiry.”

After graduating from Park, Zaneb earned her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College and went on to attend Rush Medical College. She proceeded into her medical career with a focus on serving communities — narrowly through direct patient care, and more broadly through legislative advocacy focused on increasing access to health care for all Americans.

In 2009 when President Obama and his team began working to expand access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans, Zaneb connected with a group called Doctors For America — a group of over 15,000 doctors focused on the goal of affordable health care. Through advocacy from her home in Howard County, to the Senate and White House, the group helped pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA), increasing and improving access to health insurance for millions of Americans. Zaneb wrote editorials in The Baltimore Sun, called into The Kojo Nnamdi Show on NPR, appeared on MSNBC and PBS to show physician support for health care reform, and advised President Obama’s team. 

Zaneb also ran for office in Howard County to help protect county level universal health care, and worked with ex-Health Commissioner Peter Beilenson in a health co-op made possible by the ACA. As the ACA became law, she shifted her focus locally, continuing to work closely with the Howard County school system and the Horizon Foundation to improve access to healthy food in our schools, caring for patients at her local homeless shelter, and working to improve our schools’ health and nutrition policies for children.

She notes in Cross Currents that her Park School education is not incidental in all of this work: “At Park, I read Salinger and Vonnegut and Sartre, who all reflected on the insanity of war. I read Perry Miller and Hannah Arendt and understood how our nation’s identity was forged. With The Courage of their Convictions I learned how legal precedent protects or erodes healthy societies. Through participation in the Amnesty International club, the literary magazine, and other activities, I began to understand leadership. After hallway conversations with John Roemer [history] and my peers during free periods, I clarified my instinct that all living things deserve empathy and care. These exposures, unique to Park’s learning environment, forged the servant, leader, physician, and neighbor I am still becoming.”