| James Maas, ’56|
It may have been more than 60 years since James Maas first entered a Cranbrook classroom, but the social psychologist best known for his breakthrough sleep research can talk about each of his teachers as if he were there yesterday.
“Wallace Cripps tutored me for three hours every Saturday for the entire year of sixth grade,” says Maas. “And I’ll never forget the day in seventh grade when I got my report card and went running down the hill to the lower school to show Mr. Cripps that I got an A in math. He gave me confidence.”
He also credits Bruce Coulter with getting him interested in reading for the first time, Ed Snyder for helping him develop into a college-level soccer player and Hubert Davis for helping him memorize his geometry formulas by chanting them through the hallways. “To this day I still have ‘sine, cosine, cosine, sine, cosine, cosine, sine, minus’ in my brain!”
“That one-on-one coaching, that patience, that zest for learning stuck with me,” he says. “The emphasis of not competing with one another but developing yourself,” is something Maas took with him to Cornell where he served as a professor for 48 years.
“I took the one-on-one teacher/student relationship to a major research university and it kind of exploded on me,” he says. His introductory psychology class started off with 250 students and within a few years, the class had an enrollment of nearly 2,000. “It had to be held in a concert hall,” he says. “I wound up teaching 65,000 students over my career which is the world’s record for live lecturing.”
He received both the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Teaching Award and Cornell’s Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching over the course of his career. Yet it is his research into the study of sleep that has made him a household name.
“I went out to Stanford more than 40 years ago to make a film about the man who discovered that rapid eye movement was the key to capturing dreams,” he said. “And in one night of filming his work I decided that was what I was going to do for the rest of my life.”
Since then, he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the importance of sleep, authoring the best-selling book “Power Sleep” and several others. He’s made appearances on the TODAY Show, Oprah, CNN, The NBC Nightly News and many more programs urging Americans to get more sleep. Vogue magazine once called him “America’s Sleep Evangelist,” a term he first took offense to, but then realized, “that’s exactly what I am!”
He has also produced nine national television specials for PBS, produced films for the BBC and National Geographic Society as well as companies such as General Motors, Exxon and the United States Department of Transportation. Maas says his films have won awards in 44 major film festivals.
Today, he’s retired from Cornell, but still travels the world giving lectures and training companies and professional athletic teams about how to improve performance with more sleep. According to recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40.6 million Americans, or 30 percent of the civilian workforce, don’t get enough rest. “We’re full of full of education classes about nutrition and exercise, but they don’t mean anything unless you get adequate sleep,” says Mass. Our “workaholic society” and changing economy cut into our sleep, as do recent inventions such as Facebook, which he calls a “real sleep thief.”
How does he do it all? He says, “That’s why I invented the term ‘power nap.’”
| Shelley Padnos, ’71|
The third generation of the Padnos family has been known to say that their business has moved from “junk” dealing to scrap processing and now recycling and sensible sustainability. So it goes in the world of recycling, with each generation putting their unique stamp on a family-owned business that is now moving into its fourth generation of leadership.
Kingswood graduate Shelley Padnos currently serves as Executive Vice President of PADNOS, a company known for converting what was once considered waste into a valuable commodity. It’s fulfilling a need in the market that her grandfather saw nearly 100 years ago, when he opened a scrap yard in Holland, Mich., in 1920. Despite the shifting markets and economy, her generation has remained committed to the state. “In our time with the business, we’ve grown from two-and-a-half locations to 16 locations. And all are in the state of Michigan,” she says.
It’s their commitment to Michigan and its people that has made them such a popular company to work for. They offer tuition reimbursement for employees, low interest home loans and employee-focused programs that teach life skills and financial planning. As Padnos’ cousin, company President Jeff Padnos has said, “Our attitude is, ‘if we would not throw a piece of metal away, why would we want to throw away a human being?’”
Shelley Padnos has been invested in finding ways to continually improve their corporate culture. Several years ago, she attended a business ethics seminar and met Michael DeWilde, a philosophy professor from Grand Valley State University, and brought him in to shape their management team’s way of thinking. “Everybody likes to see the world in black and white, because it’s so clear what to do and what not to do,” she says. “But the truth of the matter is, most of the world is grey.”
Challenging assumptions is part of Padnos’ lifelong philosophy. She served as past president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, and while serving as chair elect for the group, was appointed by the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Advisory Council on Environmental Policy and Technologies and charged with working with the Clinton administration on the reauthorization of Superfund.
“One of the big issues in the scrap processing industry at the time had to do with treating scrap as waste as opposed to a valuable commodity,” says Padnos. “And we were able to get language into the reauthorization that recognizes the difference between scrap and waste.”
Over the years, the company has also encouraged others to see the difference between scrap and art, even if the lines blur. Shelley Padnos’ Uncle Stuart designed sculptures made of scrap metal that are on display throughout the state. PADNOS also donated the copper used in the making of Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, one of only two casts made from da Vinci’s design – the other residing in Milan, Italy.
“We have a passion for the arts,” says Padnos. “And I would credit Kingswood and Cranbrook for bringing that out in me. Everyone had to take an art class, and you found out there are all different ways to further the arts, including being a patron.”
Padnos says in addition to the arts, they also have “a passion for the underdog,” and the company’s foundation currently holds about $7 million that they distribute in every community where they do business.
Padnos’ other passion is Grand Valley State University. She was appointed to the Board of Control of the university by Governor Granholm and is currently serving the fifth year of an eight year term. “It’s a phenomenal university, and I recently became the chair of the Board of Control, which is something I’m very proud of,” she says.
She’ll likely bring the skill of her 100-year-old business to the table when confronting challenges of the academic world.
“If PADNOS has a specialty, it’s making the more difficult things easy,” she says. “We’re never intimidated by a project – we’re challenged by the opportunities.”
| David Rochkind, ’98|
Photographer David Rochkind has spent years viewing the world from behind his camera. Yet instead of passively cataloging the images he has seen, he has used the power of his images to affect social change.
After graduating from the University of Michigan with a degree in Sociology in 2002, Rochkind traveled to Venezuela, hoping to find work as a freelance photographer covering the national oil strike. Rochkind had studied abroad in Latin America in college, so he felt an affinity for the area, and made his home in Venezuela for five years.
When he felt, “I had told the stories I wanted to tell in Venezuela,” he moved to Mexico City and began the first of many ambitious projects highlighting human struggles in extreme conditions. After being named one of Photo District News’ “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch” in 2008, Rochkind began using the power of his lens to shine a light on Mexico’s growing drug war.
"When I got to Mexico, I realized the scope and consequences of the drug war,” he says. “And I thought it was a project that needed much more space than a typical newspaper or magazine article could provide."
So he began work on his book, “Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit” (Dewi Lewis Publishing, October 2012), a project that took him inside the emerging “narco-culture” and accompanying violence and fear that is changing a nation. It took three years to produce, and shows how Rochkind is drawn to extreme crisis that become almost routine to the communities they touch. He received his first Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grant while in Mexico for his work covering human smuggling.
Rochkind then turned his attention to global health and through an “International Reporting Project” fellowship from Johns Hopkins University, began work covering the tuberculosis epidemic in South African gold mines. The problem was so widespread; he received additional support from the World Health Organization to travel to Mumbai, India, to cover the problem in urban settings and another grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to cover drug-resistant strains of TB in Moldova.
"Much like the Mexico project, I thought the issue of TB was so broad and complex that it deserved more space, and people needed more time and more tools to understand what was happening,” says Rochkind.
Working with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and the Lilly MDR-TB Partnership, he created a free online education program at www.tbepidemic.org
, documenting the challenges to communities and possible solutions. It offers downloadable lesson plans for teachers and shows how students can become active in the fight against this disease.
Rochkind is currently based in Haiti where he’s working on a project about faith and spirituality and another about the culture of the Haitian countryside and the role agriculture plays in Haiti’s development. He recently received his third grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting that has him traveling to Honduras to document the way the Garifuna population is using their unique customs and traditions to combat the dramatic increase in HIV in their community.
Rochkind hopes all of his work can be used by nongovernmental health organizations.
"As outsiders, we look at these issues and they seem extraordinarily dramatic – outliers,” he says. “But when you are in the communities where these things are happening, like the conflict in Mexico or TB in India, they are just things people have incorporated into their daily lives. I think that really shines a light on how serious this issue is that it becomes so ingrained as to become customary to those who are living it.”
Rochkind credits Cranbrook’s creative atmosphere with helping to give him his start. “The only photography class I’ve ever taken was at Cranbrook,” he says.
Rochkind’s work has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, Time, Newsweek, Stern, Rolling Stone, Le Monde Magazine and many other publications. See all of David’s work at www.davidrochkind.com
| Trabian Shorters, ’85|
As Vice President of Communities for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Trabian Shorters oversees the advancement of transformational ideas in 26 communities across the country where the Knight brothers once operated Knight-Ridder newspapers.
Today, the foundation believes that in order to help sustain healthy communities, it must help individuals engage in change. “People need to be their own resources,” says Shorters. “We help build networks so they can maximize their potential.”
The programs they support are as diverse and impactful as the people who operate them. As Shorters says, “we don’t work on issues, we work on engagement. Whatever you care about, we’ll figure out how to get the community rallied around it.”
They distribute grants in the communities they serve, based upon programs that make a “transformational impact.” In Detroit, the “BMe” program stands for “Black Male Engagement,” and engages black men and boys in communities where they are at risk. They find men who are doing “more than their fair share” and “pull them out of the shadows.” Shorters says that by doing so, they show how black men can serve as an example for others, because, “it would be hard for any of us to succeed if we didn’t know others who had succeeded.”
Through the program, men are asked to make video testimonials highlighting the work they are doing to improve life in their communities. In Detroit alone, they’ve collected 1,200 testimonials. “Then we say, ‘if you’re already doing these things to make your community stronger, what else would you do if we were willing to fund it?’” He has found that after distributing grants to these projects, it often ends up attracting additional resources.
Shorters came to the Knight Foundation in 2007, after creating and running other networks for social innovation at Ashoka and Technology Works for Good (now NPowerDC). He considers it a blessing that every job he’s ever had has been about trying to make the world a better place. “Because of the trajectory Cranbrook put me on, I’m allowed to live a life of meaning and get paid along the way.”
Shorters was part of the Horizons Upward Bound Program, and he says the confidence he received at Cranbrook allowed him to “pursue my passion, and not necessarily the safe path.” He says that the Cranbrook tradition of “telling people that they are of value and they are destined to contribute to society and supporting them to develop is brilliant.”
In retrospect, he’s often amazed at the amount of self-confidence Cranbrook has given him. “Because I was ‘Aiming High’ I turned down a Masters’ Fellowship at Indiana University,” he laughs. Instead he moved to Washington, D.C., to try and organize the next generation of civil rights leaders. He didn’t have a job, but just a few years later he helped write the national service legislation for AmeriCorps. And at 26, he found himself on the White House lawn as they signed the bill he helped to create. “None of that happens without Cranbrook.”
His work in Washington, D.C., led to a stint with Public Allies, where he helped them raise money and start offices around the country. In Chicago, he was looking for someone to fill the position of full time director of the office, when a young attorney submitted her husband’s recommendation. “And we looked at Barack Obama’s resume and turned him down because he had never had any nonprofit experience.” Aim High, indeed.
| Cicely Guenther Winter, '66|
When Cicely Guenther Winter first came to Oaxaca, Mexico in 1971 with her archeologist husband Marcus, they thought they would stay for two years. Forty years and four children later, Winter now says, “Oaxaca is home.”
A music major in college, Winter studied the piano and harpsichord, giving her a background well suited for her current project. In 2000, Winter helped found the Institute of Oaxacan Historic Organs (known as the IOHIO, pronounced YOYO, by its acronym in Spanish), an organization that oversees the 71 historic pipe organs located throughout the state of Oaxaca.
The earliest reference to an organ in Oaxaca is from 1544, and since then there have been hundreds of organs built for Oaxacan churches. Winter notes that up until recent times, a church was not considered complete without an organ, and it was the only instrument permitted by the pope to accompany the liturgy. In 1964, the Second Vatican Council allowed the use of folk instruments in the mass, thus beginning the era of the guitar-based folk mass, and the abandonment of the organs. The present collection of 71 instruments is still a fraction of what once existed, and the oldest now date back to the late 17th century
Winter says her musical training and graduate study in European history combined with the influence of her husband´s work in archeology to create this unique project whose mission is, “to promote, protect and document the organs as part of the Mexican national heritage, and to raise consciousness about their former glory.”
The first step in their protection can often be, “letting the villagers know that the dirty old termite-ridden piece of the furniture in the choir loft is/was an organ,” says Winter. “They often have no idea what they have. We explain to them that the organs were commissioned and paid for by their own ancestors and that removing parts or just letting them go to ruin shows a lack of respect for their memory.”
Winter says that when her team of helpers approaches an unrestored organ in a village for the first time, they spend hours first cleaning the choir loft and the organ, which is, “usually filthy and sometimes full of dead birds, rats´ nests, and animal excrement.” Then, they carefully wash and straighten out the sturdiest of the bent pipes to stand them up in their original position. Carvings and moldings, which may have fallen off the organ, are brushed off and put back in their original position. “We want to leave the organ with a dignified presentation, which is the best guarantee that it will be respected and not vandalized,” says Winter. “If it looks good, it means something.”
Winter has recently started playing concerts of Oaxacan folk music, enlivened with percussion, after years of focusing on the classical 16th-to-18th-century repertoire. “Hearing this familiar music is most exciting for people who may be hearing the organ for the first time,” she says.
She also mixes different genres in one concert to reveal the range of music - classical, liturgical, and folklore - which the organ can transmit. Young Oaxacan organists, trained through her institute, as well as organists from Mexico City, are also invited to Oaxaca to give concerts.
Eight organs are now playable, and the IOHIO´s International Organ and Early Music Festivals attract some of the world´s top artists, who are eager to play the Oaxacan organs.
The group’s work has also unearthed musical treasures.
“When we’re doing conservation work, we sometimes find related objects in the choir loft, such as old band instruments and music manuscripts. We have also published or collaborated with musicologists in publishing archive material, such as the notebook compiled by an Oaxacan nun in the 19th century which contains some of the earliest organ music in Mexico.” Winter communicates the mission of the institute both through formal lectures and informal talks in the villages.
She says the variety of the projects - local concerts, conservation work, research and publications, teaching, festivals - keeps the project strong and the public aware. There are still 63 unrestored instruments in the state. Winter says that a few of them, relatively intact and located in villages with a strong music tradition, are viable candidates for a future restoration, including one already in process this year.
It’s a long way from the piano lessons Winter once took at Cranbrook from Mischa Kottler. Yet Winter keeps playing, knowing the importance of music as a universal means of communication.
“The organs are versatile,” she says. “So we want to give them the chance to speak to all different types of audiences.”
| Natalie Zemon Davis, ’45|
Natalie Zemon Davis has always been captivated by the possibilities of social transformation. It began during her days at Kingswood, when her studies in history, literature, current events and ethics began to shape her world view.
"I feel I developed a social conscience at Kingswood,” says Davis.
She has become one of the world’s most prominent historians by examining, “people on the margins.” She has written nine books, including the popular “The Return of Martin Guerre,” edited many others and contributed more than 80 journal articles to publications around the world. It has been said that she is one of today’s most creative historians, using her unique combination of imagination and painstaking research to tell the story of the human experience throughout history through the eyes of the ordinary person, not the elite.
"At Kingswood, I was already interested in people who were different, people who were not at the center of wealth and power,” she says. She was one of only a few Jewish students in the school at the time, and she feels the experience helped strengthen her character.
"I liked the sense of being a little different from the others,” she says. An active member of student council, Davis served as her class president at Kingswood and says the tension between being different and being committed helped her look at wealth and power with a critical eye. “That helped me have empathy for people who were poor or outsiders.” And considering her field of study has been primarily 16th-19th century France, she says lightheartedly, “that was the majority of the population.”
Her leadership role at Kingswood helped prepare her for her future role as the president of the American Historical Association in 1987, the second woman in the organization’s history to hold the position.
She is currently a history professor at the University of Toronto and was the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emerita at Princeton University. She graduated from Smith College and then received her master’s degree from Radcliffe College and her doctorate from the University of Michigan.
The importance of her work has been recognized by scholars around the world. In 2010, she was awarded the prestigious Holberg International Memorial Prize in Norway, awarded annually by the Board of the Ludvig Holberg Memorial Fund for outstanding scholarly work in the academic fields of the arts and humanities, social sciences, law and theology. She was also made a Companion of the Order of Canada in June of 2012, the highest class within the order.
She has received many honorary degrees over the course of her career, yet her degree from the Sorbonne in Paris touched her the most. “I studied scholars who went to the University of Paris in the 16th century, and to receive an honorary degree from the university which had been so important in my historian’s imagination was very, very moving,” says Davis. She received the Aby Warburg prize in 2001, an award given to an international scholar in the humanities. The prize is given in Homburg, Germany, in the house that the Warburg banking family had to flee during WWII due to the Nazi insurgence. Davis had been in Homburg in the 1990s to conduct research for her book, “Women on the Margins,” which features a Jewish character. As a Jewish woman herself, Davis says, “to be invited back to that town and receive that degree in a place from which the Jews had once been banished and expelled, was very special.”
She is currently at work on one of her most ambitious projects yet, a book currently titled “Braided Histories.” In it, she traces four generations of a slave family in 18th century Suriname, starting with the African generation. “In some ways, it’s the most difficult book I’ve ever done,” she says. “When I was writing about Martin Guerre, even though he wasn’t literate, there were a lot of documents I could use. Now, I’m working with only plantation inventories, but I’m trying to get into the mentality of these people.” Many of the slave women had European lovers, and Davis is interested in the braiding of the European and African cultures, and how their stories connect. She hopes to have the book finished next year.
“History has a way of speaking deeply about the past. And while the historian should always be faithful to the past, there are all sorts of ways it speaks to the present,” she says. “I always end up learning more about my own time. You get ideas about the present while reading about the past.”
|Cathy (Sybert) Olkin, '84|
In 2006, Cranbrook Kingswood graduate Cathy Olkin stood near the shoreline in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and watched a spacecraft she helped design begin its ascent to Pluto. It was an experience Olkin doesn’t believe she would have been a part of if not for her early start at Cranbrook.
“At Cranbrook, I was in an environment where I was able to reach more and learn more,” Olkin says. “Being curious was a safe thing to be. It was accepted.”
Olkin is a pioneer, not only by being part of the “New Horizons” team sending the first spacecraft to Pluto, but also by preparing to fly into space herself.
The Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colo., where Olkin works as a planetary scientist, recently signed contracts with Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace that will send Olkin and her colleagues into space upon a commercial spaceship within the next two years.
“We’ve been training and we have experiments ready to go,” says Olkin. As an astronomer, the space flight will allow her to intimately study planets and satellites of other planets along with high altitude clouds in the earth’s atmosphere. More importantly, it puts her at the forefront of how we will study space in the future. “We’re learning how to study astronomy from this new platform,” she says.
Olkin believes many of us will be able to fly into space in the coming years. To help advance the industry’s progress, she’ll wear biomedical gear on her flight to study the effects of zero gravity on her body. As she says, commercial space flights, “are going to open up space to grandmothers and young people.”
It’s a long way from Mrs. Lebow’s Algebra 2 class, but Olkin says she uses the lessons she learned there every day. She also gives back to her community by coaching a middle school robotics team and mentoring college students.
“I feel the seed for community service was planted at Cranbrook,” she says.
|Clifford Colwell, MD, '55|
In a graduating class made up of two Rhodes scholars and a Heisman Trophy winner, Clifford Colwell thinks he’s hardly a Cranbrook class of 1955 standout. Those in the field of orthopedics would likely disagree. In 2004, he made history by developing and implanting the first electronic knee prosthesis.
Known as an “e-knee,” the prosthesis contains a computer chip that measures forces inside the knee while the patient walks, climbs stairs, and exercises. Researchers then use the data to develop better knee implants and rehabilitation plans.
Colwell is currently the medical director of the Shiley Center for Orthopaedic Research and Education at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif.
Colwell credits Cranbrook with his success. “Cranbrook was absolutely instrumental in helping me get where I am today,” he says.
For him, it was the people that shaped his experience. He credits mentors such as Bill Stapp, Bob Hoffman, Ben Snyder, and Rev. Young with taking him under their wing and “making me special.” That’s what he tries to do now as a professor at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and adjunct clinical professor at The Scripps Research Institute.
“We try to take young people and inspire them,” he says. “And hopefully one day they’ll say, ‘that guy made a difference in my life.’”
|Darryl Taylor, '70|
Darryl Taylor can easily sum up his experience at Cranbrook with four words: Skill, Knowledge, Character, and Citizenship. The same words that are etched in stone in front of the school’s Academic Building. “Those four words guided my life and career,” he says.
A “kid from the projects in Detroit,” Taylor arrived at Cranbrook in 1968, a student in the Horizons-Upward Bound program. After graduation, Taylor went on to get a degree in dentistry and then serve as a naval officer for 30 years.
Today, he serves as the director of Cranbrook’s Horizons-Upward Bound program, the very same program that gave him his start all those years ago.
“This nation, along with Cranbrook and Horizons-Upward Bound, gave me an opportunity to become more than I ever dreamt possible,” says Taylor. When he decided to enter the Navy after dental school, he was, “going back to those words from Cranbrook, in particular, ‘citizenship.’ I felt that I owed so much to my country.”
Taylor says Cranbrook taught him the principles that allowed him to succeed in the military. “In the Navy, we live by honor, courage, and commitment, the same focus I had at Cranbrook.”
Yet the word that resonated with him most was “character.” “I felt that regardless of the opportunities that had been given to me, people would always judge me by my character.”
After 30 years of military service and a current position that allows him to help close to 180 at-risk kids a year, his character is as well preserved as those words in front of the Academic Building.
|Jonny Imerman, '94|
When Jonny Imerman comes back to Cranbrook’s campus, it’s not just to visit Page Hall or stop by the Oval. He comes back to show upperclassmen how to give themselves cancer screenings.
Imerman was diagnosed with testicular cancer at 26, a shock to a young man busy working during the day and completing his MBA at night. The diagnosis caused him to immediately change his course, and, in doing so, improve the lives of thousands.
“As I was going through it, I had the support of my friends and family, but I wanted to talk to a peer who had gone through the same thing,” says Imerman. Yet there was no system in place to connect him with other survivors.
So he created one, launching Imerman Angels in 2004 with the singular goal of matching everyone diagnosed with cancer to a survivor of the same age and gender.
“It’s such a powerful, simple idea,” he says. “And somehow it got overlooked for so many years.” He credits his Cranbrook background with giving him the courage to take on the task.
“Cranbrook encouraged me to think out of the box,” he says. “It also gave me the courage to be an entrepreneur.”
The Chicago-based organization matches thousands around the world, but would like to find a match for every one of the 1.5 million Americans diagnosed with cancer every year.
“As I learned at Cranbrook, we ‘Aim High,’” he says.
|Merrill (Mimi) McLoughlin, '62|
Merrill McLoughlin intended to be a doctor. To make ends meet while saving up for medical school, she took a job as a researcher for Newsweek and never looked back.
She credits the diversity of her education at Cranbrook with making it so easy for her to make the transition.
“The fact that I could be a religion researcher at Newsweek while wanting to be a doctor, I owe entirely to Cranbrook,” she says. “Not many kids come out of high school with enough grounding in science, history, English, and current events to have that kind of a choice.”
After going on to serve as a reporter and editor for Newsweek, McLoughlin and her husband became co-editors of U.S. News & World Report in 1988, a position she held for nearly 10 years. “It was the strangest Mom and Pop store on Earth, but a lot of fun,” she says.
Today, they both serve as ghost writers for several books covering topics from politics to health care.
“My education left me interested in almost everything,” she says. “Which is about as perfect a background as you can have for journalism.”
|Paige Smith, '04|
When Paige Smith was in Junior Kindergarten at Brookside Lower School, her teacher sent home a note saying, “Paige spends most of her time in the paint corner or playing dress-up.” Not much has changed. Smith now gets to do both every day through her work as a print designer for Lilly Pulitzer, located just outside of Philadelphia.
Known for their vibrant, colorful prints, Lilly Pulitzer has been an iconic name in the fashion industry ever since Jacqueline Kennedy was first seen wearing a “Lilly” in the ‘60s. While technology has changed since then, the way Lilly Pulitzer creates their designs has not.
“We paint everything by hand,” says Smith, who went on to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design. Smith is comfortable sharing and critiquing her work with Pulitzer’s six other designers because she’s been doing it since her days at Kingswood.
“The art classes were all very sophisticated,” Smith says. “I felt I had learned a lot of the foundation before even going to art school.”
Smith says she is consistently surprised by how relevant Cranbrook remains in the art world today. “I was studying in Paris, and when I told a very famous textile designer, Sheila Hicks, that I was from Bloomfield Hills, she said, ‘home of Cranbrook Kingswood, of course.’”
Smith says as a student she was not only inspired by the setting, but by the people. “Cranbrook Kingswood fosters such a creative environment,” says Smith. “Even if you are not an artist, everyone there has an appreciation for art.”
|Ward Just, '53|
Ward Just was a born storyteller. His father and grandfather were both newspaper publishers, so he was raised with a keen appreciation of the written word. However, his road to success followed a divergent path.
After graduating from Cranbrook and studying at Trinity College, he took a job at his father’s paper, the Waukegan News-Sun, in his Illinois hometown. Restless, he moved on to Newsweek and then the Washington Post, where his specialty became covering war. He covered conflicts in Cyprus and Santo Domingo, and in 1965 began a year-and-a-half stint in Vietnam at the height of the conflict.
“For me, the newspaper business was a way to try and learn how the world worked,” he said. But after his time in Vietnam, “I decided I didn’t need to know more about the world than I already knew.”
He took a leave of absence from the Post in 1969 and began work on a novel. Writing fiction had always been an interest of Just’s, even in high school.
“At Cranbrook I won a prize for short fiction,” says Just. “And that was the first real recognition I ever had for the work I felt I was destined to do.”
He finished his first novel in just a few months and never looked back. Since then he’s written 17 novels, four short stories, two nonfiction titles and a play. His novel An Unfinished Season was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2005, Echo House was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1997, and his works have won him numerous other awards including O. Henry Awards (for both fiction and nonfiction), Chicago Tribune Heartland Awards for fiction and many others.
Just acknowledges that reporters today don’t often make the jump from journalism to literary fiction as much as they used to. Perhaps, “because the other definition of literary fiction is books that don’t sell very well,” he laughs.
He had always intended to leave journalism, but “kept at it longer than I should have,” he says, noting that the transition can often be difficult. “There’s a lot about journalism that you have to forget when you’re trying to do imaginative work, in exactly the same way that you’ve got to forget about the imaginative work when you’re writing newspaper articles. Everything has the virtues of its defects and the defects of its virtues.”
Yet the skills that made him a good journalist are the same skills that have made him such a successful novelist. Just is an observer, with a keen understanding of the private lives of public people. He places them in familiar locations like Washington, D.C., and Chicago where his nuances and insight of the cities and their affect on the characters have earned him comparisons to Fitzgerald and Hemingway. And despite the fact that his first eight novels all took place in our nation’s capital, he doesn’t consider himself a “Washington novelist.” He notes that he always looks to Washington, “as a place and not a plot.”
Today, Just lives in Martha’s Vineyard where he’s working on his eighteenth novel, and tries to get back to Paris, his “most productive” setting, as much as possible. He lived there from 1986-1992, and he says it’s the place that most inspires him.
“If you’re doing imaginative work, like painting or writing, [Paris] just aides your concentration in a way I’ve been trying to figure out for some time,” he says. “I’m not sure why, but when I do figure it out, I’ll write about it.”
Explore a brief sampling of some of the notable alumni who make up our large, international alumni community.
Science and Technology
- Bob Bemer (1936), Computer pioneer; co-inventor of ASCII; named COBOL
- Joel E. Cohen (1961), mathematical biologist; MacArthur Fellowship (Genius Award) recipient
- Charles Bigelow (1963), type designer; former professor of digital typography at Stanford University; co-designer of Lucida family of typefaces
- Bing Gordon (1968), CEO Emeritus, Electronic Arts; Investment Planner, Digital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
- Scott McNealy* (1972), co-founder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems
- Tim Westergren (1984), co-founder of Pandora Radio; included in TIME magazine’s 2010 listing of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World
- Brad Keywell (1987) co-founder of Groupon, co-founder and CEO of MediaBank LLC.
- Jay Adelson (1988), co-founder and former CEO of Digg; included in TIME magazine’s 2008 listing of the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.
- Ari Schwartz (1989), senior internet policy advisor for the National Institute for Standards and Technology, United States Department of Commerce.
- Ivan Krstic (2004), IT security engineer, named by eWeek Magazine in 2007 as one of the most influential people in computer security and one of the top 100 in all of information technology, named by MIT Technology Review in 2007 as one of the world’s to 35 innovators under 35
Politics and Law
- Daniel Ellsberg (1948), writer and activist; former military analyst; released the Pentagon Papers
- Raymond Sokolov (1959), journalist; food writer; author
- Taro Yamasaki (1964), Pulitzer Prize winner for photojournalism
- Michael Kinsley* (1968), journalist; commentator; founder of Slate; former editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times
- Jeffrey Dearth (1968), former president and publisher of The New Republic magazine, 1984-95
- Bob Woodruff (1979), television journalist, former co-anchor of ABC World News Tonight
- Alan K. Simpson (1950), U.S. Senator (R-Wyoming), 1979-1997
- The Honorable Carole L. Brookins (1961), member, U.S. Council on Foreign Relations; Managing Director, Public Capital Advisors, LLC.
- Shelley Ann (Scarney) Buchanan (1954), former White House Staff member; wife of Pat Buchanan
- Michael Barone (1962), pundit and political commentator
- Mitt Romney (1965), former governor of Massachusetts; headed the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee; candidate for the 2008 and 2012 Republican Presidential nominations
- Mary Fisher (1966), political activist; founder of Family AIDS Network; speaker at the 1992 Republican National Convention
- Ann Romney (1967), wife of Mitt Romney (1965)
- Sorayouth Prompoj (1969), diplomat; Thai Ambassador to Germany
- Kathryn Kolbert (1970), civil rights lawyer; former president of People For the American Way
- Laurie Rubiner (1980), former legislative director for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton; former executive director of the Malaria No More Policy Center; Chief of Staff for Senator Richard Blumenthal
- Ronald Machen (1987), United States Attorney for the District of Columbia
- Shima Roy (1992), international litigation attorney; named by The National Law Journal as one of the top minority lawyers under 40 in the U.S. in 2011
- Robert C. Vogel (1956) executive director, International Management and Communications Corporation (IMCC); former director, World Banking and Financial - The Economics Institute
- Lisa Frank (1972), founder of Lisa Frank, Inc.
- Robert S. Taubman (1972), CEO of Taubman Centers, Inc.
- Lisa Lapides Sawicki (1974), founder, Lapides Publicity Giragosian
- Emily Cinader Scott (1979), former CEO and chairman of J. Crew
- Rick Schaden (1982), founder, chairman, and former CEO of Quizno's; founder and chairman of Consumer Capital Partners
- Christopher Ilitch (1983), CEO of Ilitch Holdings
- Pete Dawkins (1955), Heisman Trophy winner; Rhodes Scholar; former Army Brigadier General; former Vice Chairman of Citigroup Private Bank
- Dan Dickerson (1976), play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Tigers
- Robbie Buhl (1982), racecar driver
- Alexi Lalas (1988), former professional soccer player; former general manager and president of the Los Angeles Galaxy; analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports; elected to the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006
- Casey Wellman (2006), NHL professional hockey player
Arts and Education
*included in a Newsweek list of the 100 people who will influence American culture and politics into the next millennium
- William Talman (1932), actor
- Florence Knoll Bassett (1934), designer; former head of Knoll
- Pamela Stump (1946), sculptor
- Barbara Lea (1947), singer
- Ward Just (1953), author; National Book Award Finalist
- Martha Henry (1955), actress
- Thomas McGuane (1958), author, essayist, conservationist
- Edmund White III (1958), author
- Barbara Bowen Oberg (1960), History Professor, Princeton University; general editor for The Papers of Thomas Jefferson
- Tod Williams* (1961), architect
- Stuart Bloomberg (1967), former chairman of ABC Entertainment; executive producer of the TV show In the Motherhood
- Sven Birkerts (1969), author
- Brad Leithauser (1971), author
- Bill Prady (1977), television writer and producer (The Muppets, Dharma & Greg, The Big Bang Theory)
- Douglas Sills (1978), stage and television actor, Tony Award nominee
- Amy Denio (1979), musician
- Rob Edwards (1981), film and television writer and producers, including Disney’s Treasure Planet and Disney’s Princess and the Frog
- Glenn Kessler (1988), screenwriter and television producer
- Renee Elise Goldsberry (1989), actress
- Selma Blair (1990), actress
- Todd A. Kessler (1990), screenwriter, television producer, and director
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|Jay Adelson, Class of ‘88|
Growing in step alongside the digital boom helped Jay Adelson, ‘88, take the reins of the internet when the rest of us were still wondering how to plug in a modem.
|Brad Keywell, Class of ‘87|
Brad Keywell is no stranger to innovation and its unique, unbreakable connection to entrepreneurship. He started his first business at the age of 7 and continued to refine his business skills throughout his six years at Cranbrook and later college and law school at the University of Michigan.
|Ivan Krstic, Class of ‘04|
Alumnus Ivan Krstic first became interested in questions of security when, in 1997, “I read this paper by Peter Gutmann that details the difficulties of safely erasing data from magnetic media, and it blew my mind."
|Ari Schwartz, Class of ‘89|
For most of us, the closest we get to worrying about online security is updating our Facebook settings every couple of months. Ari Schwartz has dedicated his professional life to questions of digital security and privacy.
|Tim Westergren, Class of '84|
Tim Westergren attacked one of those big audacious goals when he launched the Music Genome Project® more than a decade ago, a project that would later power the personalization behind Pandora® internet radio, the leading personalized radio service.