Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Class Notes - March 2009

Alex Kruglov and Alia Zaharudin had a baby daughter Zadie on January 6th. At two months now, she's an absolute delight to her lucky parents as she's starting to smile, coo, and develop a personality. Picture attached (in front of our new home).

Dan Restuccia '02 and his wife Alissa Farber had a baby girl, Eva Jane Restuccia on February 7, 2009. Eva Jane weighed 8lbs 6 oz.

David Billings - My son Theodore Dewei Billings ('20) was born on August 28, 2008, weighing 8 lbs 4 oz. I am now working at Parsons, Behle & Latimer, the largest law firm in my home town of Salt Lake City, Utah. I do commercial litigation, especially chapter 11 bankruptcies.

Jennifer Beckmann '02 is in the middle of her MBA at the University of Cambridge (England) - but perhaps more exciting is that she got engaged at the beginning of February! Jen will marry Michael Butler (Cornell '98) in September 2009 in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Providence had to be a part of the festivities, so the rehearsal dinner will be at 3 Steeple Street! (Photos from the day we got engaged are attached - they were taken at the British Museum, London)

Jess Lopez continues to work full-time at New York Cares. On top of that she recently launched and She also just began working as an Instructor of Physical Computing at the Institute for Schools of the Future.

Kathleen Corriveau Bird '02 and Jacy Bird '03 welcomed Elena Rose Bird into the world on February 8, 2009 at 5lbs 15oz. She is absolutely perfect. Kathleen Corriveau's email is now

Lauren Hale '02 continues to dance and choreograph for Lauren Hale Dance. She recently relocated her company to the Hudson Valley, NY. She is really excited about her new concert, Turn: Return at the Philipstown Depot Theatre in Garrison, New York on April 3rd. For more information on Lauren's work, visit her website at

Mark Dembitz - For the past 2.5 years I’ve been in China working in Environmental Finance. Specifically, I produce carbon credits by financing and developing projects that reduce the emissions of greenhouse gasses. It’s been great, but time for new challenges is around the corner as I’m off to Paris to get my MBA at INSEAD. I plan on leaving China slightly unconventionally: riding a motorcycle overland with a friend, from Beijing to Istanbul (Turkey). We are using this opportunity to raise funds for a new charitable organization aimed at fighting climate change and help educate and inspire people along the way that each and every one of us can make a difference by trying to minimize our impact on the environment. It will take 80 days to cover the 16,000 kilometers that separate both cities, and we will cross 8 countries as we ride along the silk road. We will be sharing our impressions and photos on a dedicated blog that people can find on and on facebook. If anyone from OH DEUCE is somewhere along the way, it would be fantastic to meet up. Any comments, encouragements, funds etc are also happily received.

Rebecca Spielfogel Polivy and Tammy Stolz Solitro met Rachel Weinstein Petterson in San Francisco to grab a bite to eat in Chinatown after her wedding in July '08. It was a great chance to catch up since Rebecca is in Seattle working at Boeing and Tammy is out in Philly saving lives as a resident. In addition, to getting married, Rachel also started a new job at Google where she can catch up with several Brown grads on a daily basis. So if you're in the Bay Area, Seattle or Philly--say hi!

Sandeep Parikh couldn't be more thrilled that his web series The Legend of Neil was nominated for 4 Streamy Awards! But he needs your help to win the Audience Choice award which requires votes to win. Please head over to and cast your vote, no registration necessary just a quick click. In case you need more incentive one, of the nominees is a Harvard grad, and we can't let that dude win right? Thanks for the support!

Shareef Jackson - I'm currently living in West Philly and working with Shire Pharmaceuticals. I manage databases as well as perform data analysis and product assessments. I've been married for about 3.5 years. I still love to do spoken word / rap, but haven't had much time to record.

Jessica Gonzalez Ortiz, Toni Karbe, Maria Pelaez, Ivania Perez, Divya Eapen, and Alison Lee escaped to Miami for the weekend!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scrapbook - March 2009

Businesses and Non-Profits – Katherine Chon '02 and Derek Ellerman ‘02

Sparked by a local case of human trafficking involving the enslavement of six Asian women in a Providence, RI brothel disguised as a massage parlor, Katherine Chon and Derek Ellerman founded Polaris Project to combat modern-day slavery in the spirit of a 21st century Underground Railroad.

The trade in humans is the third largest criminal industry in the world, growing faster than the trade in arms and drugs. The United Nations projects that human trafficking will only worsen with the state of the global economy. The UN’s most recent research estimates that there are 2.5 million victims at any given time. As overwhelming and as foreign as this may sound, the face of human trafficking was personal and local when we started Polaris Project. It was six women, enslaved two miles from the Brown University campus.

When we started Polaris Project during our senior year, our mission was simple: find the victims, shape policy, and build a movement. Seven years later, we have directly served more than 250 victims through our local programs in Washington, DC, New Jersey, and Tokyo and created one of a small number of shelter programs for victims of trafficking in the U.S. Our labor slavery clients have ranged from domestic servants of diplomats locked in closets for failing to work around the clock to victims of peddling rings physically beaten and starved if they did not meet their magazine sale quotas. Sex trafficking survivors have ranged from Asian, Latina, and Eastern European women forced into prostitution in residential brothels and strip clubs to American children advertised online and tortured by pimps preventing their escape.

Our direct work with survivors have helped to pass landmark legislation at the federal and state levels. Polaris Project has testified before Congress four times and worked in coalition with other organizations to successfully pass two major bills at the federal level and anti-trafficking legislation In more than 20 states. Over the last year, Polaris Project has partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to run the national 24-hour hotline and information center on human trafficking. Calls have increased by 200%, identifying 2,300 potential victims across the country.

While Polaris Project has grown from 2 to 35 staff since its founding, what continues to fuel us is the movement that is broader than just one organization – and that movement has very much been shaped by our experiences at Brown. Brown’s values for freedom, innovation, and social justice may have given us the courage to create Polaris Project, but the continued support from the Brown community has helped to sustain our efforts. Professors continue to advise with thoughts and feedback on our strategies and alum from every decade dating back to the 1960’s have supported our work over the years. Recent graduates such as Elizabeth Rhodes ’06, CJ Adams ’07, and Sarah Grenzeback ’07 have joined our staff to help keep the founding spirit alive.

We invite our friends and classmates to join us in the growing movement against modern-day slavery. To learn more and take action, please visit us at

Quick Questions - Stephen Karam '02

By Sarah Coogan

So now that you're all grown up are you doing what you thought you'd be doing?
I am. But only just recently! At Brown, I was engaged in lots of theater and writing plays, but I had no clue how I would pay off all those gorgeous Brown student loans by working in a field that doesn't really offer any steady pay. So it took me a lot of years working as a paralegal, a temp, an editorial assistant (shout out to Free Press at Simon & Schuster), a few weeks wearing a blue jump suit and handing out raffle tickets in a Fleet Bank in Chinatown (it paid so well, for real!) and writing whenever I had time. I managed to start getting some of my plays produced in D.C. and in Portland, OR, where some '02 classmates had set up shop and finally landed an honest to God professional New York production in 2006 of a play I co-wrote called "columbinus", at New York Theatre Workshop. From there my next play, Speech & Debate got picked up for the inaugural production of Roundabout Theater Company's "Underground" initiative. Both plays are now published and being performed all over the country.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on the screen adaptation of Speech & Debate for Overture Films and a new play commissioned by Roundabout. I also just returned from a little research trip to Utah and Colorado City (yes, land of the mysterious FLDS) for the libretto of a chamber opera I'm working on, currently titled "Dark Sisters".

How did Brown help you get where you are?
Lowry Marshall (Theatre, Speech & Dance Department) believed in me and brought me back to Brown in the summers of 2005 and 2006 where she directed two productions of my work for the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep. Her great production of Speech & Debate in Leeds Theater kicked things into high gear by getting the show on its feet and in front of audiences and critics. That production also allowed my agent to see and understand the play in a way he might not have on paper and thus market it in New York really effectively.

y Brown connections are really what helped me stay focused and made me believe I could be a writer, even when I was getting rejected by pretty much everyone else. Darius Pierce, Sam Kusnetz and Kerry Silva welcomed my work at their theatre company in Portland and Darius came to Brown to perform in my shows in both 2005 and 2006. Sarah Coogan came and choreographed Speech & Debate at Brown and along with Anne Reilly read early drafts and encouraged me to keep going.

Wait a minute, I forgot Brownbrokers. Oh yes, I wrote a full length musical while at Brown. I love everyone who brought that massive beast of a musical to life. A great group. That's what was so humbling and fantastic about Brown--not only was the school crazy enough to produce a mainstage production of a student written show, but all of the amazing undergrad talent (actors, designers, musicians) climbed on board to make it possible. That was special.

Also, big shoutouts to Chicken William, Chocolate Seduction Cake, and the Sundae Bar at the Ratty and V-Dub. If not for the insane amounts of calories consumed at Brown, I might not have had the energy to write anything at all.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Quick Questions - Greg Machlin '02

Q: Now that you're all grown up, are you doing what you thought you'd be doing?
A: I don't know if I'd describe myself as "fully grown up" yet, but... Yes and no. I always thought (since I first caught the acting bug at age 12) I'd be involved in theatre & film in some way, but I didn't know I'd be pursuing playwriting to the extent I have, since I didn't really get involved in the writing side of things until my junior year at Brown, and I wouldn't have guessed I'd be able to meet and work with so many cool people while getting my work produced. And I couldn't have predicted teaching chess to K-5th graders--a very enjoyable side job. When the kindergartners aren't trying to eat the pieces.

Q. What are you working on now?
A: Most recently, my play "7 Days: A Fantasia on the Life of Miles Davis" had a sold-out run at the University of Iowa in January of this year. In May of 2008, I received my MFA from Iowa, and in August moved out to LA. to continue playwriting and pursue TV writing; last year I was commissioned to adapt a cult classic film from the 1960s for the stage. My short play "Family Portrait" was a Heideman Finalist at the Actors Theatre of Louisville in 2008, and "Bloody Lies" was produced in the Midtown International Theatre Festival in 2007, where it was a finalist for "Best New Script." My work has been published by Smith & Kraus ("60 Seconds to Shine IV") and broadcast on NPR (his radio play "Who Killed Harry Park?") I have a spec TV pilot called "Greg Machlin's Absurdities" I'm currently submitting to places, about a writer who works in a bookstore; his fictional characters keep coming to life and wreaking havoc on his life, including the mad scientist supervillain he created a few years back. Also at Iowa, I would perform dementedly funny monologues by a writer named Jake Gontero; you can watch one of them, "Litterbox Greg," here. And I recently put a website up where you can download some of my plays:

Q: How did Brown help you get where you are?
A: It was at Brown where I had the chance to take writing classes with great instructors--Laura Zam, Ruth Margraff, Aishah Rahman--and hone my storytelling in great film and video classes with Tony Cokes and Lodge Kerrigan. The theatre department was a very welcome home, I learned an immense amount from Spencer, Lowry, and John; I learned the importance of hard work and discipline while still having space to express my creativity. And I made some connections with people I'm still friends with and have worked with since Brown, among them Kent Roberts '01.5: we collaborated on a TV pilot called "The Kent Show." (You can watch part of it here) I'm always looking to connect with fellow Brown alums; drop me a line at

Sunday, March 1, 2009

584 alums from 257 cities and 29 countries...

... that's how many alums read the last newsletter!

Top 10 Cities: New York, Brooklyn, San Francisco, Washington DC, Seattle, Philadelphia, Chicago, Cambridge, Hoboken, and Los Angeles

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