Class Correspondent

Reunion is now a memory, but there have been some exciting developments from our class since then! Please continue to contact me with any updates.

Pooja Patel founded and directs Teachers 4 Student Success, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting literacy for all children. She lives in Fort Lee, N.J., with her husband. Contact Pooja for more information about the organization. Matthew Walker married Naomi Rudov on Aug. 8, 2010, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass. Matthew is pursuing a Ph.D. at Boston University and is the head coach of the MIT graduate rowing program. Naomi is the head novice rowing coach and sports information director at Simmons College in Boston. Mary McGrath McNeice writes, “My husband, Paul, and son Kaden and I welcomed our new little bundle of joy, Haley Katherine McNeice, on Aug. 24, 2011. All are happy and healthy.” Congratulations to Helen McWilliams, who married Matt Kristek on Oct. 1, 2011. She is the senior writer at video-game development studio Harmonix Music Systems (makers of Rock Band and Dance Central). Matt is a play test assistant at Harmonix. Helen’s band, Tijuana Sweetheart, was nominated for the second time in the Best Punk Act category of the Boston Music Awards. Jaclyn Tetenbaum Novatt and her husband, Shawn, welcomed twins Stephanie Michelle and Tyler Ian to the world on Sept. 7, 2011. In addition to being a happy but sleepless mommy, Jackie is a postdoctoral researcher at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) on Long Island. Besides doing research, she is getting her teaching fix by running a seminar series, Demystifying Science at CSHL, with the goal of explaining the research being done at the lab to the nonscientific staff and the general public. Rachel Segaloff checks in to report that she was inspired by our Reunion in June and is now back at Brandeis as a staff member. She writes, “I’m an associate director for annual giving, and, as I’ve said to my colleagues, it feels as though I came home!” Danielle Braff Karpinos welcomed her second daughter, Aria Thea Karpinos, on Sept. 28, 2011. Danielle lives with her husband, Vadim, and their daughters, Anya and Aria, in Chicago. She works as a freelance writer. Julia Toub completed a neurology residency (2005–09) and epilepsy fellowship (2009–10) at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and is now a board-certified neurologist and epileptologist (seizure doctor). In July 2010, she moved out to Portland, Ore., where she practices at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Zeynep Akcakoca Tatlisu has a son, Sarp, who was born on March 22, 2011. Elana Divine is still in Rockville, Md., teaching fourth grade at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. She is engaged to Anna Penning. She writes, “We have no date set, but we are planning here and there.” Stan Altshuller is a dad. Baby Bruce Altshuller was born on Sept. 28, 2011. Jesse Weiss reports that he is thrilled to be working for award-winning chef Jamie Bissonnette at Coppa in Boston. Stan also runs a travel deals blog at, which you can follow for updates through Facebook or Twitter. He writes, “Most recently, I started a store on, where I’m selling all kinds of casual clothing with restaurant/hospitality-related slogans/ideas directed at the millions of people like me who work in what we call the industry! You can find my online store at* (with the star on the end).” Jen and Rob Kallinicos ’02 welcomed daughter Norah Lily on May 18, 2011. Their son, James Peter, loves being a big brother. Marjorie Bunch and her husband, Guy Pastena, had a daughter, Charlotte June Pastena, on Nov. 8, 2011. Kirsten Valerie Kucharik Robbins reports that she and her husband, Jordan, welcomed their second daughter, Hannah Elise Robbins, on Sept. 30, 2011. Jordan also published an article in the Journal of Applied Psychology that was then picked up by one of The Wall Street Journal blogs. Lucas Alexander Steinberg was born to Jen Kittay Steinberg and Matt Steinberg on Nov. 23, 2011. Caryn Regen Banchek gave birth to a baby boy, Reid Gabriel Banchek, on June 29, 2011. Adam and Samantha Gross Zirkin have two kids now. Aerin Meera is 4 and Jacob Oren is nearly 2. The family decided to take a year to volunteer and travel the world. You can follow their travels on Samantha’s blog. Highlights include helping kids with special needs in India, working to improve the lives of workers in Peru, climbing on the ruins at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, partying all night (with kids!) at Carnaval in Brazil, and living in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and touching the Western Wall with their children. Rabbi Dan Medwin, publishing technology manager for the Central Conference of American Rabbis, created a Mishkan T’filah (Reform prayer book) app for the iPad. He told Rabbi Marci Bellows ’99, who blogs for Jewish Week, that the app is “a way for folks who might not have purchased their own copy of Mishkan T’filah, or been willing to ‘borrow’ it from their shul, to have access to the prayers and readings at any time.” Oran Etkin contributed a track, “Unique Monique,” to the Grammy-nominated CD “Healthy Food for Thought.” The recording, nominated in the Best Spoken Word Album for Children category, also features music by Russell Simmons, Moby, Julian Lennon and Sweet Honey in the Rock. Oran’s work features him playing the clarinet, as well as reciting a playful poem. “Healthy Food for Thought” is a benefit album meant to promote nutrition awareness. All proceeds benefit the New York Coalition for Healthy School Food. Joel Christensen, M.A.’01, and Shahnaaz Nistar are proud to announce the birth of a baby boy, Iskander Latheef, on Dec. 12, 2011, at Fort Hood in Texas. Shahnaaz, a captain in the U.S. Army, and Joel also have a 17-month-old daughter, Aalia Daneen. Sara Enan worked as a counselor and facilitator at Seeds of Peace last summer. She moved to Washington, D.C., in September to work as a research analyst at Investigation Group International, a private-investigation firm.
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