Friday, January 2, 2009

Class Notes - January 2009

Jessica Gonzalez Ortiz - Jessica obtained her Masters in Public Health and is currently working for the City of Newark's Department of Child and Family Well-Being. She is delighted to report that in August 2008 she tied the knot and is happily married to Hector A. Ortiz '97.

Nigel Cordeiro - Nigel spent his early post-Brown years in operational management in New York and LA -- running departments in finance, sales and distribution. Now at a Bay area marketing agency, he's abusing his sleep-patterns managing client relationships by day and a Bangalore team by night. Though he's enjoying the fun and sun and snowboarding in San Francisco, he forever maintains his staunch Jersey pride.

Taka Harada - Since graduating from Brown, Taka has worked for different I-banks as a system engineer. In 2008, he decided to take a break from the grind and do what he wanted to do for many years: to backpack around the world. He visited South America, Africa and the middle-east so far, and plans to visit India, south-east Asia and many other yet-to-be-decided destinations.

Tamara Chestna - Since graduating Brown, Tamara has been working in the film business at various production companies in Los Angeles. Currently, she is a Creative Executive at Laurence Mark Productions, based on the Sony Pictures lot.

To submit a note for the next newsletter, please contact Jenny Lester Moffitt.

Scrapbook - January 2009

Click here or the images above to view the complete scrapbook!

Businesses and Non-Profits - Sandeep Parikh '02

New Hampshire native, Sandeep Parikh, was awarded the Capstone Honors in Creative Writing at Brown and graduated with a degree in Computer Science. Sandeep lives in Los Angeles and is the founder of at which he works alongside several Brown graduates and the director/creator of Comedy Central's most successful web series "The Legend of Neil." Sandeep loves to make his friends laugh and his parents wince, which seem to go hand in hand.

As an improviser and a writer myself, it's always been a struggle to get my material out there and prove that I’m qualified to play the Hollywood game. I wanted to create a mechanism for myself and other talented people to get their voices heard, and provide them opportunities to get them in the game. Streaming video content seemed like the way to go and I figured if we focused on quality rather than quantity we'd be able to differentiate ourselves with the many user generated video sites out there. So I started is a stand up comedy content site that produces and features video clips of top comedians as well as the hottest up and comers. We also produce hit original webseries with our talented group of comedians with various production partners including Comedy Central and Our first series, "The Legend of Neil," was a viral sensation with views numbering in the millions, a TV debut on Comedy Central, and a mention in the Hollywood Reporter as a top 10 web series to watch. Basically we find stand up talent, show them off online, and produce series with the best of the best.

My inner circle out in LA is 90 percent Brown Alums and they provide tremendous support. Leah Mann '03.5, Mat Greenleaf '02, Elaine Loh '02 are all Brown grads that I've worked with in various capacities on this project. Also without Brown I'd likely not be in the entertainment biz at all. After graduating from high school, I was pretty much dead set on doing something in the hard sciences or computer science but then I created a short film with Sarovar Banka '02, Mat Greenleaf and Ben Finkel '03, the summer of my junior year. I absolutely fell in love with the filmmaking process and never looked back. Thanks to the Brown I am able to apply my sciency/logical brain in a creative endeavors. I'm like a Terminator who can paint landscapes or sculpt (see, that's a web series right there).

Businesses and Non-Profits - Marlon Ramirez '02

Colombian native, Marlon Ramirez had several leadership roles in Brown's Latin American Student's Organization (LASO) and. Today, Marlon travels back and forth between São Paulo, Brazil and New York. He sits on the Board of BrightSteps – Languages for Little Ones and is also a Founder of Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras, David Neeleman's new startup airline in Brazil.

BrightSteps was launched in September 2005 as a Saturday Spanish program for 3-6 year old children in New York's Upper West Side. Since then the language program has expanded to Spanish, Mandarin, French and Italian and now enrolls children as young as 6 months old. In early 2005 Marlon met with his parents Carmenza and Gildardo and his brother Cesar to discuss education business ideas. Given Carmenza and Gildardo's early childhood education background and Marlon and Cesar's business backgrounds, it didn't take very long for the family to realize the need for foreign language education at the early childhood level. The question was, “How do we address this need?”

Through a fun hands-on approach to learning, individualized attention, and a focus on culture, BrightSteps has performed well and has reached as many as 70 enrollments in its current location.

Brown was instrumental in helping Marlon gain an international perspective of the world, through the diversity of friendships he established and his experience studying abroad in Brazil he quickly realized the extent of interdependencies between economies and global institutions. And with the growing Spanish speaking population in the United States and the growth of Asia, it became clear to Marlon that Americans need to learn other languages and cultures to remain competitive in today's ever changing global landscape.

Quick Questions - Monica Herrera '02

by Leta Malloy '02

Where are you working now? What is your title? What does your job entail?
I am an Online Editor for, the leading web destination for acculturated Latinas. Along with one other colleague of mine, I'm responsible for writing about 50-60% of the content that we publish online--which runs the gamut from entertainment, fashion and beauty to politics, food and travel--and editing the rest, which is written by staffers and freelancers. We update the site with approximately 18-20 stories per day, so it moves quickly! And my primary focus is on music and entertainment - I do Q&As with celebrities, write our bigger packages (holiday movie guides, fashion week packages) etc., and update my own music blog on the site twice a week. I also write for the entertainment section of the magazine pretty often, and I did my first cover story in the summer of '08.

Tell me a perk or highlight of your job
I'm a big fan of live music, so one of the best perks for me is the chance to see concerts for free. No matter how big or small the artist is, if they're Latino and playing in NYC you'll probably see me there, because I need to constantly keep tabs on the whole scene. And yes, I do get to interview and meet celebs...though the thrill of that has mostly faded. The biggest perk, though, is definitely seeing my byline in print and on our website and getting feedback from our readers. Nothing beats that.

How did you come to Latina magazine? What has your career path looked like?
Actually, my first full-time job was as a publicist. I was hired following a post-grad internship that I landed after attending, of all things, a Learning Annex seminar about PR. I worked at a pretty well-known agency in NYC that handles the media campaigns for music artists and executives, nightclubs, restaurants, non profit organizations, etc. After spending two years pitching my story ideas to writers and producers, I realized that what I really wanted was to be on the other side of the media industry. So through a friend at MTV who had previously worked at Latina, I was able to land an interview for a job as an Editorial Assistant. I had to take a pretty big step back in order to switch careers, but it was completely worth it. Even though I work just as hard as I did in publicity, I'm much more gratified by what I do, so it hardly even feels like work most days.

What experiences at Brown helped you to get to where you are today?
Well I did take advantage of the career counseling services at Brown--they truly go above and beyond there to help you--so that came in handy when I was trying to make my resume stand out from the rest. But really, I'm defined by my experience at Brown in ways that I think I'm still realizing to this day. The most valuable thing for me was my network of classmates and friends, many of whom are now working in NY and have always provided me with a support system. And with its open curriculum, liberal arts roots and just overall independent spirit, Brown gave me the courage to take an unconventional path towards discovering what's become my dream job. Not many people would think that doing a post-grad internship--or attending a Learning Annex seminar in order to get it--would be the smartest way to get started on a career in media. But I figured, why not? That spirit and sense of fearlessness is something I definitely discovered in myself while at Brown

Quick Questions - Annie Shapiro '02

by Jenny Lester Moffitt '02

Where do you work? What do you do?
I work at Fuse, a cable music channel that’s in about 70 million households across the US. I program the music videos and help book the music guests that make appearances on the channel. I split my time doing programming work and spending time in our studio during tapings. I have been at Fuse since graduating in 2002. Presently, I live in Greenpoint Brooklyn and work in midtown Manhattan.

What is the most crazy/memorable occurrence that has happened through work?
I am fortunate in that I get to see a lot of live music as a part of my job. But I think the most memorable experience so far was seeing Green Day play in our studio for less than 100 people.

Do you see any other 02'ers?
I see Becky Bass, who also works in the music industry. I also see Becca Shapiro fairly often. She and I were roommates in NYC.

Ratty food?
The first meal I would have upon returning to Providence would be a chicken pocket at East Side Pockets. But if I was forced to return to the Ratty, they better have chicken fingers and magic bars readily available.

Looking back, what was your favorite course at Brown and what course do you wish you had taken?
My favorite course at Brown was City Politics. That was the class that made me decide to concentrate in Political Science. If I could go back for one other class, it would either be the second half of Basic Architecture (it was never offered after I took the 1st class) or photo at RISD. I always regret not taking one class at RISD during my time in Providence.