Alumni Spotlights

We are always proud of the amazing work of Shady Hill alumni. Our spotlight series highlights the work of alumni who are using their talents to make a difference. Follow us here and on social media (#changemakers).

To nominate a Shady Hill graduate for the series, click here.

List of 29 news stories.

  • Margaret Bullitt-Jonas '66, an Episcopal priest, author, retreat leader, and a trailblazing climate activist

    Margaret Bullitt-Jonas '66 is an Episcopal priest, author, retreat leader, and -- perhaps surprisingly, to some -- a trailblazing climate activist. Her ordination in June of 1988 coincided with climate scientists' first public report on the greenhouse effect, which sparked Margaret to reflect on whether “God could help humanity heal our relationship with Earth.” Margaret committed herself to learn about how the Christian faith connects with loving the earth, an area of study that was novel at the time.
    Over the past 25 years, Margaret has helped organize climate justice rallies and marches, led prayer vigils, and testified at public hearings about state energy policy. She was among the first to engage in civil disobedience to protest global warming -- leading to her arrest in 2001 while protesting against drilling in the Arctic National Refuge, and again in 2017 when protesting the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline. She was active in the grassroots network that supported divestment resolutions from Episcopal dioceses around the country. In 2015, the Episcopal Church’s General Convention voted to divest from fossil fuel holdings and to reinvest in clean energy development.
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  • Sociologist Tom Plaut ’52 teaches and consults on the social aspects of health care in low-income communities

    Tom Plaut ’52, has been bridging cultural barriers to rural healthcare delivery since the 1980s. At that point, he was a professor at Mars Hill University in the mountains of North Carolina, an economically disadvantaged area with poor health outcomes. Many residents were not receiving health care.  Working with the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC), Tom and his colleagues conducted 40 focus groups with residents, teachers, social and medical services providers.

    The team found that many locals did not trust the clinic doctors, who came from outside the area, with lifestyles off-putting to the locals. Simple access to care also was a barrier. Interviews with teachers revealed many children had never seen a dentist. Other focus groups indicated many seniors lacked transportation to clinics. A 1990 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation enabled bringing teams of dentists into middle schools, then health fairs for senior citizens and the creation of a county-wide community health planning organization that still exists today, some 30 years later. Similar county-based organizations were organized throughout North Carolina as the “Healthy Carolinians Program.”  Tom’s project’s research and organizational methods were published in juried journals and textbooks used in social work and public health programs. 
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  • Massachusetts State Representative Aaron Michlewitz '93 works on key legislation that supports Boston's growing diversity

    Aaron Michlewitz '93 is a Massachusetts State Representative from the 3rd Suffolk District, within the city of Boston. Aaron proudly represents the neighborhood he grew up in, the North End, in addition to other neighborhoods such as Waterfront, Downtown, Chinatown and the South End.
    Since his election in 2009, Aaron has made it his priority to pass key legislation that supports Boston’s increasing diversity. For instance, in 2014, Aaron advocated for the bilingual ballot bill which requires Boston election ballots to also be printed in Chinese and Vietnamese in districts where more than 5 percent of voters belong to those language minority groups. Aaron has also supported legislation enhancing women’s health accessibility and gender equity programs. Under his leadership, the Committee passed several women’s health acts such as the ACCESS bill for guaranteed contraception care, and the Protect Access to Confidential Healthcare (the PATCH Act) to ensure patient privacy and gender equity in disability insurance.
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  • Montanna Riggs '15 helps ignite passion in K-12 students with engaging and inspiring college mentors

    This past year Montanna Riggs ’15 took the year off from Stanford University, where she is a Materials Science and Engineering major, to launch an educational technology company with two classmates. Curious Cardinals offers online workshops, tutoring, and independent studies to students in grades K through 12, taught by passionate college students. To date, Curious Cardinals has reached over 1,500 students and employs around 200 college-age student mentors. Forbes, CNN and Bloomberg have all featured the new business, which was officially incorporated in September 2020. As the Curious Cardinals website puts it, the goal is to help students “discover and explore their passions in a setting that liberates them from the pressure of grades and other ranking systems.” Montanna shares, “We are constantly thinking, ‘How can we connect passionate college students to younger students who are also passionate about these subjects?’”
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  • David Meshoulam '92 is leading the movement for equitable urban forest in the Boston region

    David Meshoulam '92 is Co-founder and Executive Director of Speak For the Trees (SFTT), a nonprofit in Boston that seeks to increase the size and health of Boston’s urban canopy as trees provide various environmental and health benefits. In many urban areas, tree canopy is unequally distributed leading to inequitable access to the benefits of trees. Speak For The Trees’ focus is on under-canopied neighborhoods, such as East Boston, that have less than 10% canopy coverage. David’s team is working to protect existing trees and empowering residents to plant new trees in their own communities. Since 2019, SFFT has given away over 2,000 free trees.
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  • Marianna Tu '01 supports first-generation college students through one-to-one mentoring as they navigate college

    As the CEO of New York-based America Needs You, known by its acronym ANY, Marianna Tu '01 helps provide ambitious first-generation college students from low-income households with support as they navigate college and career opportunities. Mentoring is the foundation of ANY: each college student, or "Fellow," as ANY calls them, is paired with a mentor, and both are supported by workshops, coaching and resources. “Navigating college and launching a career as a first-generation student can be so complex, so having that one go-to person can be incredibly impactful.” Mentors and Fellows meet weekly, and attend Saturday workshops as a pair (with "meet" and "attend" having taken a virtual turn this past year).
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  • David Smith '59 is nationally recognized for his award-winning curriculum “Mapping the World by Heart"

    David Smith '59, 11-year Shady Hill student and then a longtime Shady Hill teacher, and now an educational consultant and author, is nationally recognized for his award-winning curriculum “Mapping the World by Heart.” During his time as a middle school gradehead at Shady Hill from 1970-1992, David realized his students had little knowledge of where the different New England states were located and even less about global geography, so he began having his students draw the cities and counties of Massachusetts entirely from memory. From there, he expanded to having students draw countries all over the world, again entirely by memory. These memory maps attained legendary status among students and alumni, many of whom proudly display their maps to this day. David’s curriculum was featured on NBC’s Today Show and in the Boston Globe, TIME Magazine, and the Associated Press.
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  • Jill Harrison Berg TTC'91 works with schools to provide equitable outcomes for students through teacher leadership

    Dr. Jill Harrison Berg TTC'91, is a leadership coach, researcher and school improvement consultant. She began her career in the classroom, and was one of the first teachers in Massachusetts to become a National Board Certified Teacher. Now Jill puts her extensive knowledge and experiences to work for teachers and administrators in turnaround schools in Massachusetts and nationwide, helping schools to provide equitable outcomes for students through teacher leadership. Her book, Leading In Sync: Teacher Leaders and Principals Working Together for Student Learning, published in 2018, is declared "a must-read for every serious change leader," by The Journal of Educational Change.
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  • Patience White ’62 helps health care systems improve the process of transitioning young adults from pediatric to adult health care

    Dr. Patience White ’62 is a practicing pediatric and adult rheumatologist and professor emeritus of medicine and pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Patience is also co-director of “Got Transition,” a national resource center that works to improve the process of transitioning young adults from pediatric to adult health care. “There are an estimated 35 million young adults aged 18–25 in the US, approximately 28% of whom have chronic conditions. Many of them, along with their counterparts without chronic conditions, will need to move from a pediatric to an adult health care clinician. National surveys show that most parents, youth, and young adults are unprepared to manage their own health and health care, and data show that without transition support, many young adults have diminished health outcomes.”
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  • Bestselling author of War, Sebastian Junger ’77, hosts Veterans Town Halls to honor and document veterans’ service

    Best-selling author and filmmaker Sebastian Junger ’77, most famous for The Perfect Storm, and award-winning documentaries Restrepo and Korengal and also author of War, Tribe, and Freedom coming out in May, is also the founder of Veterans Town Halls, a non-profit that promotes community gatherings in which U.S. veterans recount what it felt like to go to war. These open community events honor and document veterans’ service, often proving therapeutic for the returned service people who share their stories. Junger shares, “There is an aspect of saying something in public that is enormously cathartic and can’t be overestimated.” 
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  • Naseem Makiya '99 makes grassroots-style campaigning more personal with the launch of an app

    Naseem Makiya '99 is the founder of Outvote, an app that makes campaigning and organizing more personal by enabling people to message friends and family with reminders to register, vote, sign a petition, donate to a campaign, etc. Outvote’s aim is to promote voter participation within progressive campaigns, and its larger mission is to build a community of organizers that remain active even between election cycles. Since its launch in 2017, Outvote has partnered with nonprofits like Planned Parenthood, Greenpeace, Community Change Action, and the ACLU, as well as with specific progressive candidates’ campaigns. 
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  • Tess Wheelwright '97 helps launch new initiative to distribute a curated 500-book collection across prisons in every state

    Tess Wheelwright '97 is helping launch an ambitious social justice endeavor designed to bring books – and dignity and hope – to incarcerated individuals across the United States. The initiative, called the Million Book Project, is the brainchild of Reginald Dwayne Betts, whose celebrated memoir, "A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison" chronicles his own discovery of the transformative power of books, while serving a nine-year sentence for carjacking.
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  • Pratt Wiley '91 connects professionals of color with leadership programs and supports expansion of voting rights

    Pratt Wiley '91 is CEO of The Partnership, Inc., a Boston-based organization providing leadership development for multicultural talent, in order to enhance the economic competitiveness of the New England region and beyond, and provide professionals of color with a path towards prosperity and a sense of belonging.
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  • Equal Justice Initiative Attorney Sia Sanneh '94 works to end racism's lasting effects

    Equal Justice Initiative Attorney Sia Sanneh '94 helps Americans understand racism's lasting effects. As a Senior Attorney at the Equal Justice Initiative (made famous in last year’s film Just Mercy), Sia Sanneh '94 works to overturn wrongful convictions, freeing innocent people from death row. Her current focus includes teenaged prisoners — as young as 13 or 14 years old — who have been tried as adults and sentenced to die in prison. In a further layer of appalling injustice, many of these young clients have been abused while in the adult prison system.
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  • Rishi Sethi Khanna '16 helps highlight mental health issues in communities of color

    Rishi Sethi Khanna '16 is a freshman at Princeton University. Wanting to participate in this summers' protests for racial justice, but unable to do so in person due to the pandemic, Rishi came up with his own way to contribute to the fight. “With an increased societal focus on uplifting people of color, I decided to hold a fundraiser for a charity primarily catering to Black communities. I did some research and ended up choosing the Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM), which promotes mental health awareness.”
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  • Alumni Spotlight: Emmy McQuaid Hanson '95

    Dr. Emmy McQuaid Hanson ’95 is an anesthesiologist in Spokane, WA. This past April, during the peak of New York City’s COVID-19 caseload, Emmy answered a call for physicians willing to fly there to help out in the crisis. She was put to work at Manhattan's Bellevue Hospital, where COVID-19 patients occupied every one of the hospital's 844 beds. Over the course of that one week, Bellevue accepted 500 transfers from other hospitals.
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  • Doctor Jay Miller '01 treats Boston’s vulnerable populations during the pandemic

    Jay Miller '01 is a doctor on the front lines of COVID-19, treating some of those most vulnerable: Boston's homeless population. Through his position as a Global Medicine fellow at Mass General Hospital, Jay provides clinical care at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless. These days, Jay cares for patients with COVID at a variety of sites, including Boston Hope, the temporary field hospital erected at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.
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  • ICU doctor Katie Miller '05 cares for crucially ill COVID-19 patients

    Katie Miller '05, a second-year internal medicine resident, puts in long hours in one of Mass General Hospital's COVID-19 Intensive Care Units. 
    "Our ICU patients are mostly those who are unable to social distance, including essential workers: grocers, mail carriers, those who are working to keep society functioning,” Katie commented. She went on, "It has been incredible to see the hospital band together. The janitorial staff, respiratory therapists, those who work in the labs. We are all trying to do our best for our patients.”
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  • Jessica Aguilera-Steinert '80 leads task force on food security for Boston's low-income residents

    Jessica Aguilera-Steinert oversees family planning and reproductive health programming at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), a multi-service agency that assists over 100,000 low-income residents of Greater Boston "transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success" (to quote the nearly 60-year-old nonprofit's tagline). When the pandemic struck, ABCD asked Jessica to lead a cross-department task force on food security. In this role, she coordinated ABCD's successful bid for federal CARES Fund monies to expand food delivery services to low-income households all over greater Boston, including to residents of the many local motels that serve as long-term homeless shelters.
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  • Palliative care doctor Alice Beal '65 helps COVID-19 patients and their families find comfort

    Dr. Alice Beal is a Palliative Care Physician currently working in a COVID-19 ICU unit in the Brooklyn VA Hospital. This May, PBS featured Alice in the NOVA I PBS series' episode “Decoding COVID-19", highlighting one example of the compassionate care she provides her patients and their families. Thank you Alice for your tremendous work and sacrifice. #changemaker 
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  • Professor and dean Lisa M. Brown, PH.D. '81 steers her college's response to COVID-19, to protect most vulnerable students

    Lisa M. Brown '81 is a professor of psychology and dean of social sciences at Austin College, the oldest institution of higher education in Texas, and one that prides itself on being "majority minority." COVID-19 has sent most students home but like educators everywhere, Lisa continues teaching, supporting students, and helping lead her institution -- though remotely, and with some new challenges.
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  • Professor Peter Rabinowitz '70 studies how animal diseases like Coronavirus infect humans

    Dr. Peter Rabinowitz '70 is a physician and researcher at the University of Washington in Seattle, and leads the University's MetaCenter for Pandemic Disease Preparedness. An expert in zoonotic disease (i.e. those transmitted from animals to people), Peter outlined in a Seattle Times op-ed earlier this month the key COVID-19 questions researchers in his field are focused on. 
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  • Public school teacher Zakia Jarrett '95 courageously tackles the discomfort of her suburban school district around teaching anti-racism

    Zakia Jarrett '95, a sixth grade English teacher in the Milton Public Schools district, has garnered headlines in Boston and beyond as she is calling for schools to implement an anti-racist curriculum. Zakia’s school district placed her on leave after a comment she made during a class discussion about police brutality and racism was recorded and shared widely without her permission.
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  • Think tank researcher Molly Simmons '97 crafts protections for vulnerable populations during the pandemic

    Molly Simmons '97 is a health services researcher with expertise in rapidly housing vulnerable populations. This is proving immensely valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, she is working to secure funds for projects that will house and isolate the homeless and incarcerated in ways that both protect these populations and help stop the spread of the virus.
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  • Artist Jeremiah Day '89 highlights social justice through art

    Jeremiah Day '89 is a Berlin-based artist dealing with memory, politics and sense of place. Day has an ongoing project reflecting on the Lowndes County Freedom Organization in Alabama and has worked with Earl Mills, the Chief of the Mashpee Wampanoags in New England, among others, gathering individuals' memories of political struggles and honoring them in the form of multimedia art installations and performance.  The Lowndes County Freedom Organization was founded in 1965 by Stokely Carmichael, The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Local Farmers and Teachers after the Selma TO Montgomery March to protect and organize Black voter registration in the face of Political Repression so great that in Lowndes County Alabama 80% of the population was Black but no Black citizens were registered to vote.  Several activists, white and black, were killed in this struggle, but in a short time this new political party - whose logo was a black panther, the inspiration for the later more famous panthers - had changed all this and there were black elected officials.  Jeremiah's ongoing project aims to understand and commemorate the LCFO.
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  • Steve Grossman '60, CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), connects inner-city business owners with the tools needed for success

    Steve Grossman '60 is CEO of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC), a Boston-based nonprofit that builds and sustains small business ecosystems in cities across the US by connecting inner-city business owners with the tools needed for success: capacity-building education, coaching and access to capital. Steve cares deeply about racial justice; narrowing the racial wealth gap is at the heart of his work. Steve points out that economic disparities have intensified during the pandemic: from February to April this year 41% percent of Black-owned businesses closed compared to 17% of white-owned businesses.
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  • State Senator Dr. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward '78 is leading the state of Oregon's response to COVID-19

    State Senator Dr. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward '78 is leading the state of Oregon's response to COVID-19, both in her role as Co-Chair of the legislative budget committee and by serving on the legislatures' Joint Special Committee on COVID-19 Response. Throughout her nine years of service as an Oregon State Senator, Steiner Hayward's goal has been to make Oregon the healthiest state in the nation. Elizabeth's 30 years of experience as a family physician is proving more valuable than ever. She also is working with others to convert a never-used jail into transitional housing and substance use treatment facility. We are proud to count Elizabeth as a Shady Hill graduate. #changemakers
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  • Tom Edsall ’56, Senior Research Scholar, writes about the U.S.’ highly politicized response to the pandemic

    Tom Edsall ’56 is a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University and writes a weekly op-ed opinion column in the New York Times online. The column focuses on American politics, particularly on inequality and demographic trends. Recent columns address the U.S.’ highly politicized response to the pandemic.
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  • Dr. Bill Rodriguez '78, an infectious disease physician and leader in global health

    Shady Hill graduate Dr. Bill Rodriguez '78, an infectious disease physician, is a leader in global health. Now based in Botswana, Bill has advised the World Health Organization, more than a dozen African and Asian government organizations, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Foundation, and he currently leads the DKR Foundation's Africa portfolio. His front-lines experience addressing other infectious disease outbreaks led him to start a COVID-19 blog, and unsurprisingly, it is attracting a growing following. Read Bill's posts here:
    Shady Hill is proud to count Dr. Bill Rodriguez as one of our many #changemakers
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