On July 1, Adam J. Rifkin ’97, a managing director in the Retail Investment Banking Group at Barclays Capital, became president of the Brandeis University Alumni Association. We sat down with him to hear his thoughts on volunteering for Brandeis and his plans for the future of the association.
How did you get involved with the Alumni Association?
As an undergraduate, I was the student representative to the board of directors for two years. It gave me a great perspective on the university. Serving on the board also improved my communication skills, as I was interacting with alumni of all ages and with university administrators.
With a busy career, how do you dedicate so much time to Brandeis?
Good question! Actually, my job is quite demanding, even more so now that I have taken on global responsibilities and travel. Each week, I plan the amount of time I need to commit to Brandeis. Some nights that means I stay up an extra two hours, but I am much happier and more well-rounded when I pursue activities outside of my professional life. I have always made time for things that are important to me — family, friends and Brandeis. Luckily, we have a wonderful team of vice presidents on the board who are very involved.
Did you ever imagine becoming president of the board?
No, but I am truly honored to represent our 46,000 alumni around the world, particularly as President Fred Lawrence shares his vision for securing Brandeis’ place as an elite global liberal arts institution. It is my responsibility to help move the university forward by exploring the ideas, thoughts and vision of alumni.
What are your goals as president?
A lot of my focus will dovetail with President Lawrence’s agenda to better integrate alumni into the Brandeis community. We need to think creatively and develop additional ways to increase the connectivity between alumni and the university — and to each other — through club events across the country, online programs and networking through B Connect, our online alumni community. I also hope to improve the association’s communication efforts, so alumni are more aware of what’s happening on campus, and to help empower alumni to be everyday ambassadors for Brandeis. Brandeis holds a special place in our hearts. The board must represent the issues that alumni care about most, as they impact our alma mater and the value of our degrees. Alumni, in turn, must step up to support and help propel the university to new heights, as those who came before us did.
What is your fondest memory of being a Brandeis student?
I enjoyed serving as the managing editor of the Archon yearbook. It was my first opportunity to run a “small business.” I have carried those life lessons on leadership, finance and overall organization throughout my professional career. I also remember a massive party during my senior year when more than 200 people crammed into our Mod. Remarkably, nothing was destroyed and we did not get into trouble!
Who was your favorite professor?
Anne Carter, who taught Introduction to Economics, was an unbelievable educator and a remarkable person. I spent a lot of time with her. She was always available for advice, guidance or just a cup of coffee to talk about life. She had a practical way of teaching and helped me through those challenging economics classes.
What did Brandeis do for you?
Brandeis gave me the opportunity to grow as a person. The student body was diverse; my friends studied all academic disciplines and came from as nearby as Newton, Mass., and as far away as South Africa. I received a world-class education, leadership experience and social opportunities. Brandeis taught me how to think, write and talk.
At its spring meeting, the Brandeis Alumni Association board of directors elected seven new members-at-large to serve two-year terms. Reflecting the diversity of the alumni they represent, the board members graduated from Brandeis in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s and hail from as far away as Toronto and Minnesota.
|Douglas Affinito ’80, vice president of technologies at Ameriprise Financial, graduated from Brandeis magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in theater arts and received an M.A. in computer information systems from Dartmouth. He co-chaired his 30th Reunion committee and is active with the Alumni Admissions Council. Affinito makes his home in Excelsior, Minn., where he enjoys singing, woodworking and photography.|
|Lewis Brooks ’80, chief information officer at advertising/communications giant DDB Worldwide, earned a B.A. in psychology. He has been an active member of all his Reunion committees, presenting slideshows he produced as a student and since graduation. Brooks has also shared his slideshows at Reunions for the classes of ’79, ’81, ’82, ’83 and ’84. He and his wife, Denise Silber Brooks ’84, live in Richboro, Pa., and have two children. Brooks’ sister-in-law, Michele Silber Kaish ’84, and her husband, Harvey Kaish ’82, also attended Brandeis.
|Adam Dinkes ’95, chief operating officer of Sadick Dermatology, received a B.A. in American studies and an M.B.A. from McGill University’s Graduate School of Management. Since 2008, Dinkes has been a member of the Brandeis Arts Council. He also served on his 15th Reunion committee. Dinkes lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.|
|Adam Katz ’98, a private wealth adviser at Merrill Lynch, earned a B.A. in psychology at Brandeis and an M.B.A. at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He was a guest speaker at the Brandeis International Business School (IBS) Career Services Day in 2009 and serves as a Hiatt Career Center mentor. Katz and his wife, Dana, live in Westfield, N.J., with their two children. His brother Stuart Katz ’89 and sister-in-law Marni Smith Katz ’90 graduated from Brandeis.|
|Jonathan Keller ’83, founder and president of the Fremont Group, a real-estate investment, development and management firm, received a B.A. in economics and computer science. He has been active at IBS, sitting on the Dean’s Global Business Council as well as serving as a guest speaker and lecturer. He was a member of his 25th Reunion committee. Keller and his wife, Dana, have two children and live in West Hartford, Conn.|
|Mark Surchin ’78 is a partner at the law firm Goodmans, where he practices corporate and banking law. He received a B.A. in politics from Brandeis and a J.D. from the University of Toronto. Surchin founded and served as president of the Brandeis Alumni Club of Toronto. He was formerly a vice president of the Brandeis Alumni Association and has been active with the Alumni Admissions Council. He and his wife, Kim, have two daughters and live in Toronto.|
|Taeko Yamamoto ’91, an attorney, previously worked for the law firm of Morrison Foerster. She graduated summa cum laude from Brandeis with a B.A. in politics and earned a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. A former Wien Alumni Network chair in New York, Yamamoto is working to revive the city’s Wien alumni group. She resides in New York.|
A prominent international businessman and two award-winning television producers and writers received Brandeis Alumni Achievement Awards during Reunion weekend.
|Allen Alter ’71||Gary David Goldberg ’66||Louis Perlmutter ’56|
Louis Perlmutter ’56, Gary David Goldberg ’66 and Allen Alter ’71 were recognized during a ceremony with Brandeis President Fred Lawrence on June 11 in the Shapiro Campus Center Theater. Presented annually since 1988, the Alumni Achievement Award recognizes alumni who have made distinguished contributions to their professions or chosen fields of endeavor. It represents the highest form of university recognition bestowed exclusively on alumni.
Perlmutter, a leading global financier and merger specialist, served as a senior partner at the investment banking firm Lazard before his retirement. He is currently a senior adviser to Corporate Partners LLC, a private equity fund. He has been a member of the Brandeis Board of Trustees for more than 20 years and is the only alumnus to serve as chair of the university’s governing board. He received an honorary degree from Brandeis in 1995.
Goldberg is a television producer and writer best known for his critically acclaimed hit series “Family Ties,” “Brooklyn Bridge” and “Spin City.” His film credits include “Dad,” “Bye Bye Love” and “Must Love Dogs.” Goldberg has received many honors during his career, including Emmy, Peabody and Writers Guild awards. He was also recognized by the Producers Guild as Producer of the Year in 1991 and is a member of Broadcasting magazine’s Hall of Fame.
Alter serves as senior producer of the long-running CBS News weekly series “48 Hours,” television’s most popular true-crime series. The program has won numerous Peabody, Emmy and Edward R. Murrow awards. He joined CBS News as writer for “Nightwatch” and later became deputy foreign editor and foreign editor. A Brandeis trustee, Alter just completed his second two-year term as president of the Alumni Association. He was a student representative to the board of trustees while he was an undergraduate.