Branson Alumni Class Notes
CLASS YEARS 1958-1995
Marian “Bing” Bingham ’58 exhibited artwork at the Art Now show December 5-8 in South Beach, FL. We were delighted that Bing’s work will also be on display at our Centennial Art Exhibit!
1959 & 1977
We welcomed back Distinguished Alumna Rev. Sally Grover Bingham ’59 and Distinguished Alumnus Rabbi Dr. Bradley Artson ’77 for a discussion with Branson Director of Admissions Nathalio Gray. They discussed their own faith-based life paths and how they are currently looking to spirituality and community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brookes Clyde Byrd ’61 shared: I won two gold balls in the National Women’s Hardcourt Championship last year — first in singles and doubles! Something I had never dreamed of!
We were honored to feature Julia Flynn Siler ’78 in our first event of the Virtual Centennial Speaker Series. If you’ve ever dreamed of returning to Branson classes, you’ll understand the joy that was felt by attendees listening to Jeff Symonds and Julia discuss writing, research, process, and the ins and outs of Julia’s latest book: The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Against Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Jill Lifschiz Ater ’81 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005, but that hasn’t stopped her! Jill, an Ambassador for the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s, and her husband, Alan, have moved homes 20 times since 1993 through three countries and six states. Since her youngest son is starting college in Philadelphia (Drexel) this year and elder son attends University of Chester, England, Jill and Alan are making their biggest move yet. They have sold everything and are starting their world travels in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The Class of 1985 held Branson’s first virtual reunion in May. It was with great joy that we saw 16 members of the class from seven different states! Renaming titles with maiden names, using high school pictures as virtual backgrounds, and having Damon Kerby as a surprise guest — all created for a memorable event. Thank you to Jill Einstein ’85 for organizing.
1987 & 1990
Good things happen when Branson alumni come together. Just ask Jason Pearl ’87, Marla Lefferts Murphy ’90, and Rachel Pearl ’90, who helped bring Dine11 to Marin to ensure emergency room health care staff and first responders, as well as families in food insecure communities, receive meals and support. Marla writes that Dine11 Marin wholeheartedly appreciates the generosity of their donors, partners and volunteers — many of whom are members of the Branson community — like Gott’s Roadside.
Cindy Clumeck Muchnick ’88 writes: After 20+ years of pestering my husband of 25+ years to move back to my Bay Area roots, he honored my wish in 2018 and we relocated with our four kids to Menlo Park. I have been busy reconnecting with old college and Branson friends including Mollie Hudner Thompson ’88, among others. My most recent book The Parent Compass received a very kind endorsement from Branson Head of School Chris Mazzola: “The Parent Compass is just what families need to help guide them through the forest of adolescence.”
Noah Lang ’89 and his company, Electric Works, released a t-shirt with Dave Eggers’ artwork on it to raise money for ScholarMatch, a nonprofit founded by Eggers and others to help send deserving scholars to college. This is a critical cause as the pandemic has illustrated great inequalities in our educational system.
Serena Gomez ’91 writes from Italy where she now lives with her young family. She shared that she opened a furniture, art & design gallery she manages, Almond & Co. All Branson alums and friends welcome!
Jennifer Siebel Newsom ’92 released her latest feature film called The Great American Lie. It premiered at the SF Film Festival this April and is scheduled for more viewings this Fall.
Dan Pardi ’93 recently gifted Branson faculty, staff, and students access to humanOS, a platform that provides users with a wealth of health knowledge in a personalized and simplified way. Dan describes it as an application that helps people develop and improve skills to maintain a natural pattern of living in the context and realities of our modern world.
Kevin Moore ’93 launched a new company, Quilt Data, to rave reviews. Quilt Data introduces a visual index to Amazon’s public cloud data, and allows anyone to search, understand, and explore this vast universe of data with a standard web browser.
Kyla Johnson-Trammell ’94 just had her contract extended through 2023 in a 7-0 vote by the Oakland School Board. This means she will be Superintendent for six years — the longest serving superintendent in 60 years!
Can you believe it? A grad has reunited with former Branson faculty members at Echo Horizon School! Head of School Peggy Proctor and Associate Head of School Roger Bridges are colleagues with Jennie Willens ’95, Director of Student Support and Director of Academic, Student, and Community Affairs. The independent PreK-6 elementary school in Culver City, CA provides a mainstreaming environment for DHH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) students, which constitute 15% of their student body. As Peggy writes, “It’s been amazing for the three of us to be reunited, and our motto ‘Joyful, Engaged Learning’ matches our personalities perfectly! We welcome any Branson visitors to come visit in sunny Southern California!”
Over the holidays, Jen Bull Hatch ’96 and her family connected with Corinne Bernhard ’15. Corinne is currently serving as the Program Director for the Tumaini Senior Secondary School Library. After reading about the book drive in our October Alumni Newsletter, Jen and her family reached out to Corinne and donated a number of their books to the library. They were also able to share stories as Jen and her family are very familiar with the town in which the library is located. Branson connections certainly make the world a smaller place and we were delighted to receive this story — keep them coming!
Bjorn Simundson ’96 and his company Molecule were recently featured in Fast Company for their Water from Air technology for NGOs, civil engineering, industrial manufacturing and defense applications. This material is the key to literally making water from air in the desert!
Will Hutchinson ’97 and the team at Proof Lab recently opened Hook Fish Co. at Proof Lab. The restaurant will be open every day 4-10 pm and features a full menu plus cold drink options such as beer and kombucha on tap. Proof Lab is the alumni retail site in Marin where you can purchase All For You 11 T-shirts supporting the Kwentyn Wiggins Scholarship.
CLASS YEARS 1998-2014
Trevor Hubbard ’98, founder of Butchershop and member of the Alumni Council, has started a powerful and unique way to help our community. Feed the Line was created by the crew at Butchershop, a creative brand consultancy in San Francisco. “With family and friends in both the restaurant and healthcare industries, we couldn’t sit idly by while hospitals drowned and restaurants stagnated,” Trevor says. “Feed the Line is our way of helping.”
Tongo Eisen-Martin ’98 was showcased on PBS’s Brief but Spectacular take on poetry as a revolution. He was recently selected to be the Artist-in-Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts. This is part of the McLaughlin Awards Program.
Naftali Rutter ’98 and his company Waterbound Pictures lent wisdom to the student filmmaking team of Brendon ’20 and Sophia Milan-Howells ’21, who created Amor del Bueno. The film has been added to the Official Selection List at the All-American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF). It screened at the festival on Oct 13 at the AMC theater in Times Square, NY. Brendon and Sophia made the film for the One Love Foundation, as part of the organization’s nationwide educational program on toxic relationships.
Matt Karpman ’98 has recently been diagnosed with ALS and a Go Fund Me has been created by Jonathan Korty ’87 to support his family in this difficult time. A huge thank you to Mindy Garman ’98 for bringing this to us, for being a great Class Rep, and sharing this important information out to all of Branson. Our thoughts and love to Matt and his family.
1999 & 2011
Marisha Rodriguez ’99 and Sarah Lee ’11 joined the Branson Alumni office for breakfast in Nashville, TN where we feasted on #bonuts. You can expect more alumni gatherings in Nashville, and other destinations, once safe travel and gatherings are possible again.
Alexander Eccles ’00 traveled with Branson Director of Theatre Maura Vaughn to Los Angeles to conduct a reading of the musical she wrote in collaboration with him titled Devil’s Dating Service. What a joy to see alumni from so many years gathering to create again with Maura! Maura and Alex also gathered with current students, parents and alumni to take part in the Beyond the Book Bash in support of the Mill Valley Public Library. Gratitude to Tongo Eisen-Martin ’98 and Zach Ostroff ’11 for their time and contributions to this amazing event!
In June, Mike Cohen ’04 wed Lexie Matthies Cohen ’05. The ceremony was beautiful! We are so happy to welcome what we believe to be our 35th alumni couple into the Branson family. Our very best to you both!
Allegra Chapman ’05 shares that she recently formed a voice/piano duo called Chordless with soprano Sara LeMesh.
Carina del Valle Schorske ’05 wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times titled “Let ‘West Side Story’ and Its Stereotypes Die” and a profile on Bad Bunny for New York Times Magazine. She also joined Philadelphia Poet Laureate Raquel Sala Riveria at The Center for the Art of Translation for a discussion about Latinx poetics and what it means to be a Puerto Rican poet and translator after Hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico protests. And finally, Carina guest lectured at Branson in our Spanish for Native and Heritage Speakers class. Her work as a poet, translator, and essayist resonated deeply with our student body and we look forward to her book release.
Chris Gangitano ’05 is living in New York and working on a project with Oprah Winfrey. We loved receiving his update and hope to catch up more at the Class of 2005 15-year reunion.
Join Cristina Torres ’06 and her mother, Marimar, on Facebook Live every Friday at 5 pm PT for some good food and fun, and of course, wines! If you are home and looking to elevate your time in the kitchen, look no further than the amazing recipes and videos from Marimar’s Spanish Table.
Alex Butti ’08 is working with Bev company. Their new product line has launched and you can pick up the drinks online or in a local store like Ludwigs, in downtown San Anselmo. We look forward to bringing these out at more alumni events in the future!
Jessica Assaf ’08, recently launched Prima, a best-in-class consumer wellness and purpose-driven brand focused on hemp-based cannabinoids. Its core purpose is to bridge the gap between science, nature, and the human body through education, social impact, and functionally innovative botanical products. Prima is built on the essential principle that balance is a critical part of overall health, happiness, and betterment. This was a natural next step for Jessica, who was the head of Teens for Safe Cosmetics in Marin in high school, leading her to clean beauty advocacy while getting her BA at NYU and MBA at Harvard Business School.
Katrina Zosseder ’09 and Elisabeth Zosseder ’11 performed together on January 8 in the first noon concert at the Throckmorton Theater. We hope they can come to Branson soon as guest lecturers.
Kelly McFarlane ’10 is currently a joint MD/MBA candidate at Stanford Business School. She has been involved with a Stanford interdisciplinary research group that has been building online calculators to help hospitals prepare for and predict cases of the coronavirus.
Taylor Griffin ’10 is currently Communications Manager for Global Affairs at Spotify, following a tenure as the press secretary for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. On Wednesday, April 15, Taylor returned virtually to her alma mater for an unforgettable conversation with Branson’s Black Student Union. Taylor was also tapped for Washington Life Magazine’s 2020 Young & the Guest List — 40 who are driving change in the City.
Annie Krabbenschmidt ’11 has developed a mini-course titled At The Margins of Capitalism which is perfect for learning during shelter in place. To learn more, reach out to us and we will connect you to Annie.
Julia Smith ’12 is performing in Almost Famous in San Diego at the Old Globe. Her stage name is Julia Cassandra. The LA Times calls the show “a winner!”
Matt Jaffe ’13 played with Jeff Symonds and Phil Gutierrez as part of a Concert for the Cure event at Sweetwater Music Hall. The event was organized by Branson’s Kate Lardner ’20 and raised over $30,000 for cancer research and care!
Pierce Freeman ’14 was recently featured on the Globality blog on using artificial intelligence to identify complex intent.
CLASS YEARS 2015-2020
Colby Morris ’15 is playing pro baseball for the Milwaukee Milkmen in the American Association, and former teammate Ben Kullavanijaya ’14 recently caught a game in Chicago! We hope to see him for the annual Branson Alumni Baseball Game. Details to follow. Contact the Alumni Office if you want to get involved.
Corinne Bernhard ’15 writes: “I moved to Tanzania to start my job as Program Director of the Tumaini Senior Secondary School Library. The library just opened in April, and so we could still use many more books (especially about science). There is an Amazon wishlist with books the kids have desired an interest in getting. If anyone has extra books lying around, consider donating them to our library. The kids here love reading and are so grateful for the opportunity to have a new library (many schools here do not), and I would love to see the shelves fill up even more.” If you have books you would like to donate, just let us know. We are collecting to give to Corinne over the holidays when she is back in the U.S.
Avani Bahl ’16 joined History Department Chair Hilary Schmitt to talk about her Branson senior project on Juvenile Justice in Marin and Oakland, and about the documentary she produced on the subject. Hilary is including a unit on Juvenile Justice in the The Good Life: Intro to Ethics course she is teaching as part of our BlendEd offerings. Avani is going to share a bit about her work and interest in this topic during the course. We are proud to showcase this incredible example of alumni collaborating with faculty and look forward to sharing more examples with you in the near future.
Grace Roberts Burbank ’16, a member of the Harvard Volleyball team, was recently featured speaking about the Coach for College program. The program gives student-athletes the opportunity to go abroad and learn while engaging in meaningful service.
Adam Singer ’16 earned the SCIAC Men’s Soccer Athlete of the Year in a vote of the league’s coaches. After missing his sophomore season with an injury, Adam has anchored the CMS defense for the last two years from his center back position, leading the Stags to a 27-5-3 record and two regular season league titles.
Daniel Pascal ’17 was awarded The Gemma Cifarelli Memorial Scholarship which honors good academic standing combined with participation in activities of importance to Tufts University. Congratulations!
The Branson Business Network connected David Swart ’17 and Branson parent Leigh Admirand. David interned with Reach3Insights, located in San Francisco, over the summer. Their collaboration led to an article in which David’s research was featured. The article analyzed how big of a threat Disney and Apple are to Netflix and is getting great national attention! Reach3Insights had a great experience and would like to work with more Branson alumni so connect with us if this sounds of interest!
Meléa Emunah ’17 writes from Oxford where she is completing her exchange program and staying at Lady Margaret Hall, the first Oxford college to admit women. She has joined the Oxford Union and was blown away by the eloquence of some of the student debaters. Here she is pictured wearing sub fusc for matriculation (and not being able to resist doing aerial arts on a hand rail!
Marco Castillo ’18 was recently selected to be a CARE Center Fellow at Claremont McKenna College. The program is designed to foster intercultural communication, leadership, identity development through skills based training, programming and daily discourse, and engagement with visitors of the space.
Grace Dailey ’18, Camille Pon ’18, Gibson Morris ’18, and Sophie Devincenti ’18 were recently recognized by the SummerHawks program, an educational nonprofit at Hamilton K-8 School in Novato. These recent Branson alumni taught math, reading, writing and STEM challenges this past summer. From the Director: “I thoroughly enjoyed working with all of them and was so impressed by their kindness, compassion, creativity, and work ethic. Maybe this is the beginning of a great partnership with Branson alumni!”
Matt Hansen ’18 wrote “You’re Always With Me,” a song that’s a continuation of his Senior Capstone Project, with Arc North to honor special people loved and lost. It was released on November 1, a spiritual day to many, to connect with them.
Nik Koehne ’18, Everett Magnuson ’18, and Allie Shimmon ’18 helped launch Fuel Our Heroes SF branch and have set up a partnership with the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation for healthcare workers fighting the current pandemic. Funds help hospitals provide their workers with resources such as protective equipment, groceries, and gas cards. They deeply appreciate any and all Branson community support.
Isabella Lenzo ’18 writes from Boston to invite Branson young alums to join her at the BOLD (Business Oriented Leadership Development) conference. BOLD is an educational conference presented by Harvard Undergraduate Women in Business (HUWIB), Harvard’s largest undergraduate organization with over 600 members. “My involvement in the investment and entrepreneurship clubs at Branson definitely cemented my desire to apply and have an active role in HUWIB my first and now second year at Harvard,” Isabella says. “Our mission is to empower young women and future leaders by uniting them through business education and experience.”
Gabriel Giacoppo ’19 is pursing singing/songwriting at NYU. He released his first original song on January 11, 2020. Search “Gabriel Giacoppo Cry Wolf” on Spotify and Apple Music, You Tube, Pandora, etc. He’s being played on the radio in Germany and Africa and is receiving blog coverage in the US and other countries as well. You can also follow him on Spotify.
Did you know that we have 130+ Class Representatives? We welcome our latest 2020 Class Reps:Avery Acuri ’20, Ruby Clarke ’20, Louisa Conte ’20, Abby Dillon ’20, Katherine Gutierrez ’20, Leo Jacoby ’20, Kate Lardner ’20, Alexandra Lenzo ’20, Peyton Mullarky ’20, Emily Wangenheim ’20, and Benji Wu ’20.
Former Faculty Updates
Mike Fulton, 2x State Champion Branson basketball coach, was inducted into the Marin County Hall of Fame. The current San Domenico Director of Basketball Operations led the Branson Bulls to back-to-back state titles in 2007 and 2008! It was an incredible evening with legendary Branson coaches. Congrats again!
Kathy Soave, former chair of the Branson Science Department, created a beautiful lesson on Nature Journaling as a gift to our Branson community and all of you in honor of Earth Day. Thank you!
Marty Tallant, former Science Department Chair, shares his love of the natural world with a lesson about composting — perfect for our alumni who are schooling at home. Reach out if you would like a copy of the lesson.