Joy and Generosity Mark 2011 Reunions

Reunion 2011

The Class of 2001 raised $139,000, the most ever for a 10th Reunion gift. Adam '01 and Samantha (Gross) Zirkin '01 served as Reunion committee co-chairs.

Reunion 2011 was a time to renew old acquaintances, reminisce, explore the campus — and also support Brandeis. Giving by the 11 Reunion classes reached nearly $4.6 million, a 53 percent increase from last year and one of the best totals in school history. More than 1,000 alumni and their families attended Reunion.

The Class of 2001 established a record for 10th Reunion giving, raising more than $139,000. The Class of 1961 secured more than $2 million, the second-best total ever for a 50th Reunion. A record 61 percent of the Class of 1956 contributed to the 55th Reunion gift.

“It’s exciting to see that, for many alumni, making a gift in honor of Reunion has become as much of a Reunion tradition as the Ralph Norman Barbecue and a tour of the Castle,” says Mark Ableman, assistant vice president of development. “We thank all of the Reunion committee members for their hard work in encouraging fellow alumni to attend Reunion and contribute to their class Reunion gift.” Reunion committee chairs included Fellow Marge Grodner Housen ’56; Trustee Steve Reiner ’61; Fellow Bruce Litwer ’61; Joe Perkins ’66; Susan Eisenberg Jay ’71; Larry Nemer ’76; Elizabeth Etra Jick ’81, P’09, P’12; Trustee Danny Elkaim ’81; Vic Ney ’81, P’11; Amy Kolko-Chartock ’86; Jan Cardin ’86; Jeremy Pressman ’91; Stu Slotnick ’91; Michael Gerstein ’96; Adam ’01 and Samantha (Gross) Zirkin ’01; and Alex Goldstein ’06.

Reunion 2012 will be held June 8 –10 for the classes of ’52, ’57, ’62, ’67, ’72, ’77, ’82, ’87, ’92, ’97, ’02 and ’07. If you are interested in serving on your class Reunion committee, email

Linda Heller Kamn '61
Linda Heller Kamn '61

Brandeis Alumna Rewards Activism

To help ensure that Brandeis continues to serve as the vibrant social-justice incubator that launched her career, trailblazing publicinterest lawyer Linda Heller Kamm ’61 made a generous 50th Reunion gift to support the university and recognize budding activists.

While most of Kamm’s gift was directed to the Annual Fund, which supports the university’s greatest needs, a portion created the Linda Heller Kamm ’61 Prize. The $1,000 award will be presented annually to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated
leadership in advocating for social justice.

“I want to see people pursue careers in public advocacy,” Kamm says of the prize. “In every era, there are important issues of social justice that need to be addressed, never more prominently than now. I hope that young people will fashion their careers so they find a meaningful home in the social-justice movement.”

Kamm credits Brandeis with providing the foundation for her distinguished law career — as notable for its impact on American society as for the volume of personal “firsts” she achieved. The first woman confirmed by the Senate as general counsel to a U.S. cabinet department (Transportation, 1977) and the first to make partner at the nation’s second-oldest law firm (Foley & Lardner), she played a key role in advancing progressive social-welfare and consumer-protection legislation for more than four decades.

“I received a terrific education at Brandeis that gave outlet to the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) that are part of my core sense of self as an American Jew,” Kamm says.

The history major fondly remembers taking classes with faculty stars such as Frank Manuel, Herbert Marcuse, Irving Howe and Philip Rahv. Outside the classroom, she served as editor of the Justice and sometimes joined professors and fellow students carrying picket signs outside Woolworth’s in Boston to protest the company’s segregationist policies in the South.

“Having grown up in Miami Beach at a time when it was segregated, I was sensitive to the issue of civil rights. It was at Brandeis that I found the tools to act on those concerns,” Kamm says. “Brandeis changed my life. I’m very grateful.”

Celebrating a Life of Generosity

To merely list the faculty, scholarships and programs that Trustee Myra (Hiatt) Kraft ’64 supported at Brandeis would not suitably recognize her contributions to the university.

She was generous with both her time and treasure, serving as a valued mentor for a new generation of alumni leaders, playing a key role on committees that improved the student experience and furthered the university’s mission, and building enduring relationships with senior administrators, faculty and students.

I miss Myra’s warmth, her sense of humor, her wise counsel, her commitment to helping the less fortunate, and seeing the pride she felt in her alma mater every time she visited campus.

We worked closely together for nearly 17 years, from the time I came to Brandeis as senior vice president of institutional advancement in 1994 until her untimely passing in July at age 68. I was with Myra on her last trip to Israel, and I enjoyed her company on March 30, when she and her husband, Robert, graciously hosted a reception for Fred Lawrence and his wife, Kathy, on the night before Fred’s presidential inauguration. It was Myra’s last public appearance.

Myra and Robert gave generously to Brandeis, following the philanthropic lead of her father, visionary board chair Jacob Hiatt. They supported a number of initiatives at Brandeis, including an endowed faculty chair and numerous student scholarships.

As her fame spread and her commitments increased, she never forgot Brandeis. In fact, she used her influence to spread the word about Brandeis and help bring new donors to the university.

Perhaps most importantly, she inspired all of us who were lucky enough to come in contact with her to do better and help those in need.

Nancy Winship, P’10, P’12
Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Pedro Fontes ’00 with his wife, Lina, and their twin daughters, Isabel and Emma.
Pedro Fontes ’00 with his wife, Lina, and their twin daughters, Isabel and Emma.

It Behooved Him to Know TYP Leader

“Behoove” is not a word you generally hear in everyday conversation — unless, of course, you’re speaking with Pedro Fontes ’00.

As a tribute to longtime Transitional Year Program director Tony Williams, Fontes injects “behoove” into his conversations as frequently as possible. “I use the word all the time because he did,” Fontes explains with a laugh. “He would say, ‘It would behoove you to do this’ or ‘It would behoove you to do that.’ He loved that word.”

Fontes credits Williams with more than expanding his vocabulary. Williams, who led Brandeis’ pioneering academic enrichment program for underserved high school students from 1978 to 2004, provided a critical role model and helped Fontes chart a successful course for his future.

“I think about him all the time — whether I’m preparing for a big meeting or working on an important project — and think about the advice that he would give me,” says Fontes, a TYP student during the 1995–96 academic year who now works as complex business development manager in investment giant Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s Boston office.

In recognition of the roles that Williams, TYP and Brandeis played in helping him become the first member of his family to earn a college degree, Fontes has generously supported a scholarship established in Williams’ name that provides financial aid for TYP students. Williams died in 2007 at age 68.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience than the one I had at Brandeis,” says Fontes, who completed a double major in political science and African and African-American studies. “Coming from where I did (Brockton, Mass.), I was a little intimidated that I would be somewhat isolated from the general population because there wasn’t much commonality, but that wasn’t the case. I was welcomed with open arms.”

Fellows Provide New Assistance for Scholars

A group of Brandeis alumni and friends has established a new vehicle to help Brandeis students.

Created through a generous initial gift from Paul Zlotoff ’72, chair of Brandeis’ Board of Fellows, the Fellows Scholarship Fund this year is providing support for Zack Sax ’12, a pre-med student from Cleveland.

“The Board of Fellows recognizes the importance of supporting Brandeis students and ensuring that the university maintains its foundational commitment to educating the best students — regardless of need,” Zlotoff says. “I am encouraged that so many Fellows have already chosen to contribute to the new scholarship and hope many others will do so as well.”

For more information or to make a gift to the Fellows Scholarship Fund, contact Karen Rogol (781-736-4013), director of university and alumni relations.

Alan Hassenfeld
Alan Hassenfeld

Retired Toy Exec Extends Hassenfeld Family Legacy

The Brandeis International Business School (IBS) has enhanced the student experience through a new program that gives students an in-depth look at the business and economy of a dynamic overseas market.

Established through a generous gift from Alan Hassenfeld, retired chairman and CEO of international toy giant Hasbro, the Hassenfeld Fellows Overseas Immersion Program began with a spring trip that took 30 IBS students from 19 countries to Istanbul for seven days to gain invaluable on-the-ground experience in one of the region’s most promising economies.

“My dream is to give you all tools that maybe you didn’t have, to develop an understanding of another culture that you might want to work in, and one that I believe will become a central player in the world,” Hassenfeld, a member of the business school’s board of overseers, told the participating Hassenfeld Fellows before they left on the program’s inaugural trip.

“We are extremely grateful to Alan for providing our students with this unique and innovative opportunity,” says Brandeis IBS Dean Bruce Magid, the Martin ’72 and Ahuva Gross Chair in Financial Markets and Institutions.

“The program complements the learning that goes on in our classrooms every day. By enabling students to visit Turkey and delve into topics and industries that inspire them, Alan’s vision is advancing our efforts to prepare future global business leaders.”

Hassenfeld believes that cultural awareness is a critical component of effecting meaningful change across borders. “You cannot work in this world unless you have an appreciation of other lifestyles,” he says. “You have to get buy-in from inside the system, and change takes time.”

Alan Hassenfeld is a member of the third generation of his family to support Brandeis. The family’s generous philanthropy began in 1950 with a gift from his late grandfather Henry, a Brandeis Fellow. Alan’s mother, Sylvia, is a Brandeis trustee, and his sister, Ellen Hassenfeld Block, is a member of the board of overseers at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. Alan’s late father, Merrill, and late brother, Stephen, were both Brandeis Fellows.

Beneficial Giving Opportunity Faces December Deadline

Individuals looking for a charitable gift opportunity that can benefit both themselves and Brandeis are taking advantage of a special IRA rollover provision that expires Dec. 31.

The law permits individuals who are at least 70.5 years old to transfer up to $100,000 per year from their individual retirement accounts (IRA) to Brandeis or another qualified charity without being required to report it as taxable income for federal tax purposes. The law applies to both traditional and Roth IRAs.

For instance, the charitable gift can be used to meet one’s IRA minimum distribution requirement for the year, allowing a donor to avoid taxable income entirely.

“The IRA rollover provision gives donors an exciting new way to support Brandeis and receive significant tax advantages at the same time,” says Michael Swartz ’71, associate vice president in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

The provision provides an exclusion from gross income for an otherwise-taxable IRA distribution. Previously, donors had to report a withdrawal from an IRA as income and then declare an income tax deduction for the charitable gift; the deduction typically does not fully offset the taxable income.

For information about the special IRA rollover provision or other planned gifts, visit the new planned giving pages on the Office of Development and Alumni Relations website.

The Brandeis Family Meets, Greets and Honors

Alumni, trustees, faculty, friends and donors gathered at various venues to celebrate Brandeis. Pictured at left: Transitional Year Program director Erika Smith, Marvin Gilmore and former TYP Scholar Napolean Lherisson'11.
Slideshow picture 1: Trustee Fran Bermanzohn ’78 hosted President Fred Lawrence for an event at the Goldman Sachs offices in New York.  Pictures 2-3: Members of the Brandeis family gathered at Brandeis House in New York to hear from two new senior administrators, Provost Steve A.N. Goldstein ’78 and Susan Birren, dean of arts and sciences. Pictures 4-5: Boston businessman and philanthropist Marvin Gilmore, who recently made a gift to establish the Marvin and Lorna Gilmore Endowed Transitional Year Program Scholarship, was recognized for his generosity during an event on campus. Picture 6: Steve Goldstein spoke at the annual Sachar Legacy Society luncheon, which was hosted by Dena Robbins. The Legacy Society is comprised of individuals who have included Brandeis in their estate plans.