Alumni Council Directory 2023-24
The following is a list of Executive Committee members. Expand for brief bios and additional information about these individuals.
- Ayanna Johnson '09, president
I am a public health professional focusing on strategic partnerships and workforce development for the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration. Previously, I supported the creation of our nation’s public health agenda, Healthy People 2030 at HHS and led healthy aging initiatives. I was also a health policy fellow for the 19th US Surgeon General. I received my MSPH in reproductive, perinatal and women’s health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. As part of my role as Alumni Council president, I am a member of the College’s Board of Managers. Outside of work, you can find me in the nation’s capital spending time with friends and family, exploring the city, enjoying a comedy show or traveling. I’m a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
My Swarthmore experience was invaluable and I want to foster alumni engagement with the College and help current students create organic connections with alumni, to explore the diversity in our alumni experience.
- James E. Sailer '90, vice president
For the past 17 years, I have worked at the Population Council, an international nonprofit research organization dedicated to improving reproductive health, education, and development opportunities for women, men, and especially adolescent girls. I now lead the Council's Center for Biomedical Research, which develops, tests, and secures regulatory approval for novel contraceptives like Norplant, Mirena, and Annovera. My work has taken me to Europe, Chile, Mexico, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, and India. I live in Brooklyn near Prospect Park with my wife, oversized dog, and sometimes our college student son. Many of my best friends come from my days at Swarthmore. Notable personal achievement: I won Carl Kasell's voice on my answering machine as a successful contestant on "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me." I joined the Alumni Council because I love meeting and working with other Swarthmore alumni, and with Swat students.
- Emily Mindel Gottlieb '95, secretary
I serve as Deputy Director for Law and Policy at the Center for Justice & Democracy, a nonprofit consumer organization dedicated to protecting the U.S. civil justice system. Swarthmore inspired and prepared me for this career path of public policy engagement. A native New Yorker, I returned to the city after college and currently live there with my husband and two children. For many years I've been actively involved with my high school as an Alumni Council member, class officer, task force co-chair and now member of the Board of Trustees — volunteer opportunities I truly value since they allow me to stay connected and give back to my school community. I also enjoy travel (six continents down, one to go!), yoga, baking, movies and the NYT crossword puzzle.
I joined the Alumni Council because it's a way to become more involved with the school, engage with a cross-section of alumni, contribute to alumni initiatives and support current students. I welcome questions about working as an attorney in the public interest sector.
- Sinan A. Kazaklar '14, chief of staff
Since graduating from Swarthmore in 2014, I have lived in London and San Francisco and am finally moving back to the East Coast in spring. Being an international scholarship student from Turkey, I have received a great deal of support from Swarthmore before, during, and after my time on campus and have been doing my best to give back to the community. I am excited to take it one step further with the Alumni Council and hope to help the College continue its tradition of diversity and excellence.
I joined the Alumni Council, because I wanted to connect with current students as well as alumni to help where I can in areas such as being an international student, career prospects, and life after Swarthmore.
- Twan Claiborne '07, alumni engagement liaison
I currently live in Harlem, New York, my home of eleven years. Entering my twelfth year in education, I am a Grade Level Dean at a private Quaker special education school in Brooklyn Heights. Outside of work, I am involved in various sports leagues and community organizations, including the New York Gay Football League (NYGFL), Big Apple Recreational Sports (BARS) and New York Collective of Radical Education (NYCORE). I also play dodgeball competitive in the Elite circuit of USA Dodgeball, participating in various tournaments across the country. Additionally I am involved in New York LGBTQIA+ nightlife as the drag artist Kenya Keepup.
- Maria Paula Mello '08, student engagement liaison
I am an assistant professor of special education at St. John’s University in New York City. I am also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). In this role, I train future special education teachers and conduct research to improve the quality of life for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). My research focuses on the availability and development of post-secondary opportunities for young adults with IDD, specifically in the areas of college immersion, independent living, housing, and self-advocacy.
I joined the Alumni Council so I could give back to the Swat community and stay connected to other Swatties and to the college.
- Jason Gray Zengerle '96, Swat Talks director
I’m a writer for The New York Times Magazine. Over the years, I’ve also worked at GQ, New York Magazine, and The New Republic. One of my favorite things during my time at Swarthmore was writing seminar papers. When it dawned on me during my senior year that my days of writing those papers were about to come to an end, I decided to become a journalist so that I could keep on writing.
I primarily cover politics—in 2019, I won the Toner Prize for Excellence in Political Reporting from Syracuse University—but occasionally my editors indulge me and let me write about basketball. I live in Chapel Hill, NC, with Claire Farel ’97 and our two children. If any alumni ever want to talk about journalism, politics, or the suddenly mighty Swarthmore men’s hoops team, they should get in touch.
I joined the Alumni Council to broaden and intensify my efforts to mentor Swarthmore students interested in journalism.
- Daniela Kucz '14, special projects officer
I'm based in DC, where I work for a tech company in the federal health space. I previously worked in the non-profit world, where I focused on advancing reproductive health. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, baking, finding new music, and running.
- Saba Thackurdeen '12, special projects officer
I am a biocultural conservationist working as a grant maker to uplift nature, people, and their wellbeing. I spent 7 years working as an ally and environmental anthropologist with indigenous communities in the South Pacific. I currently serve as Program Associate for the Environment at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
- Charles T. Sussman '05, special liaison on athletics and wellness
I graduated from Swarthmore in 2005, double majoring in engineering and economics. While at Swarthmore, I served on the Student Council. I was a four-year letter winner and a two-time captain of the Men’s Lacrosse team, earning Academic All-Conference as well as Honorable Mention All-Conference honors. Since graduating, I have worked in the financial services industry, starting at Lehman Brothers in New York, moving to Royal Bank of Canada in Calgary, and then landing at Bank of America back in New York, where I am currently a managing director as the head of oil derivatives trading. I am also chair of the Garnet Club Advancement Council. I reside in New York City with my wife, Brooke, and two daughters, Wyatt and Gray. I am also on the board of Redefine Her Street, a nonprofit started at Swarthmore by fellow Alumni Council member Christine Kim ’17. In my free time, I enjoy running and skiing.
- BoHee Yoon '01, nominating chair and immediate past president
I have been counsel at Fortress Investment Group since 2014, and was previously secretary of Drive Shack Inc. (NYSE:DS) and an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where I served on the diversity committee. I have been a member of Alumni Council since 2016 and currently serve as its president, and have served as an ex officio member of Swarthmore's Board of Managers since 2020. Since 2019, I have also served as a member of the inaugural Advisory Board of the Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA) at The New School. In 2016, Fordham Law School's Asian Pacific American Law Students Association presented me with The Honorable Denny Chin '78 Alumni Award for Excellence in the Legal Profession. I graduated from Swarthmore with a B.A. in political science. I earned an M.A. in international affairs from the Studley GPIA at The New School in 2006 and a J.D. from Fordham Law School in 2009. I reside in Manhattan with my husband, Jose Claros, Jr. and our rescue dog, Oliver.
The following is a list of all other current Alumni Council members. Expand for brief bios and additional information about these individuals.
- Debby Bacharach '88
I live in Seattle with my partner John Palmieri ’86 and our children David and Rose ’24. I started out as a Writing Associate at Swarthmore, which became my whole career. I ran writing centers, taught college writing, and am back to being a writing tutor again. I also just published my second book of poetry, Shake and Tremor. I love to dance.
I joined the Alumni Council because I want to serve a place I am passionate about, use my skills to help (WA here!), and meet more alums who never cease to fascinate me.
- Tom Blakelock '21
At Swarthmore, I earned my B.A. in Economics and Mathematics. As Senior Class President in 2021, I had the honor of working with the class officers and commencement planning committee to develop and execute our senior week, virtual commencement ceremony, and in-person grad celebration. Additional positions I held at the college include: RA, Econometrics TA, Science Associate, and LaunchDeck Data Science Mentor. I am now working at Swiss Re as a Solutions Origination & Market Analyst within L&H Solutions Americas. In my free time, I love getting morning coffee with friends and catching up on all my fav Netflix series in the evening. I look forward to working with Alumni Council.
- Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau '94
I graduated from Swarthmore in 1994; well-trained but lost. What on earth happens now, I wondered. I followed what felt like a meandering path at the time, but turned out just right. I worked on Wall Street and in consulting and lived in Europe for a decade. Today I am the publisher and CEO of MIT Technology Review; the parent to two interesting and often challenging teenagers; wife of an academic; daughter; sister. I am on the boards of the Harvard Public Health Magazine and the MIT Museum. I enjoy kayaking and CrossFit and I have a weakness for anything marketed to me on Instagram.>
Swarthmore formed me. I see the world through lenses it has installed. I can contribute by supporting students or alumni seeking work in media or tech and by sharing my experiences finding a rewarding career.
- Amanda Brown '14
I live in Brooklyn, New York and work as a lawyer at the boutique law firm Rundlet Advisory PLLC advising entrepreneurs and investors, with a special interest in supporting founders of color. After graduating from Swarthmore in 2014, I worked as a paralegal at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office for a few years (a position I landed with the help of a Swarthmore alumna!) before attending Harvard Law School. I'm also the secretary of the NYC Bar Association's Non-Profit Organizations Committee and a junior board member of the Lower Eastside Girls Club. In my free time I like running in the city and traveling the world!
Swarthmore alumni helped me tremendously while I was there, and I’m excited to give back to the community by sharing my experiences with current students, and especially supporting first-generation college students.
- Michael A. Costonis '92
I am the Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer for CNA Financial, a leading global commercial insurance company. At Swarthmore, I was a co-captain of the Golf Team, and a member of several student organizations most notably the College Judiciary Committee. After graduation, I had a 26-year career at Accenture, where I was a Senior Managing Director. I have remained part of the Swarthmore community by helping to establish the Pat Trinder Memorial Scholarship. I am married to Marissa Costonis, and have two children, Mac Costonis (Villanova School of Business, '23) and Mia Costonis (Springside Chestnut Hill, '21). My family and I live in Lower Gwynedd, PA and enjoy surfing, cooking, and playing with our dog, Mochi.
- Laura Damerville '03
I am an attorney who has dedicated my career to serving nonprofit organizations. I currently work as an Associate General Counsel at Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a science philanthropy that advances biomedical research and science education. Prior to joining HHMI, I was an Assistant General Counsel at the Smithsonian Institution and represented a diverse group of nonprofit clients at Caplin & Drysdale, Chartered and Ropes & Gray LLP. I also spent a year in Germany as a Fellow of the Robert Bosch Foundation. At Swarthmore I studied Studio Art and Economics and dedicated much of my time to Multi, a student affinity organization that I co-founded in 2000. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland with my husband, Samuel Sadow ‘03, our two children, and a very bossy cat.
I hope to join the Alumni Council to help develop mentoring and networking opportunities for students and recent alumni.
- James Ellis '91
As a first-generation college student, Swarthmore made a tremendous difference in my life’s trajectory. After graduating in 1991 I earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University and then served as a Central Intelligence Agency officer for 22 years where l led units in the US, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia covering nearly every region or issue. Since retiring in 2020, I’ve worked as the Vice President for Open-Source Intelligence Programs at Orbis Operations. I also am a guest lecturer for intelligence courses at Tufts, Georgetown, NDU, and Catholic University.
Swarthmore fostered my lifelong passion to learn about the world and to leverage that knowledge to make the world a kinder and more prosperous place. I live in McLean, VA with my wife Maddy (who I met through a Swarthmore classmate) and 3 boys—including one at Swarthmore—2 cats, and more books than I can count.
I’d like to help Swarthmore remain the inspiring college I treasure and further Swarthmore’s positive impact on the US and world by promoting public service as an attractive option for our graduates.
- Thomas A. Finholt '83
I have benefited tremendously from my experiences at Swarthmore and I am eager to pay back some of that debt through service on the Alumni Council. I am currently deeply invested in higher education, both as a parent with kids in college, and as the dean of the School of Information at the University of Michigan. This joint perspective provides a unique vantage to help advise Swarthmore on the many challenges ahead, such as making the case for liberal arts education and finding ways to eliminate educational privilege.
I joined the Alumni Council to pay back the debt I feel I owe Swarthmore -- through service to current and past students. I'm happy to speak with anyone about life after Swarthmore, and in particular those pursuing careers related to data science.
- Kathy Pearce Gledhill '80
I am the CFO of the Risk and Insurance Management Society, a non-profit association. At Swarthmore, I majored in economics. I was co-captain of the Women’s Swim Team for three years and represented the school at Division III Nationals as part of a relay team. I have an MBA in Finance from New York University and have spent most of my career working with or for entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations. I enjoy mentoring founders and currently volunteer as a Global Advisor for How Women Lead. I reside five miles from the ocean in Little Silver, NJ and enjoy biking to the beach along with gardening, reading, and cooking.
I joined the Alumni Council to help students navigate their paths ahead both while at Swarthmore as well as after graduation.
- John Goodman '60
For sixty years I've been proud and grateful to have been so lucky as to get a Swarthmore education. The critical thinking and communication skills I honed here prepared me very well for many different kinds of career steps (college professor, consultant, interactive science museum founder/designer, grant writer, inventor, and more). I want to help Swarthmore continue its tradition of admitting, supporting, and educating students who will be competent, creative, and compassionate world citizens.
I joined the Alumni Council to help Swarthmore and all of its students and alums get more of whatever they seek from our beloved school.
- John Hearn '93
I graduated from Swarthmore in 1993 with a degree in Political Science. Since then, I’ve been an active alumni volunteer—placing and hosting Externs, mentoring Swat Tank teams, and interviewing applicants to the College. Professionally, I’ve been a start-up founder and market analyst in the technology industry, and a strategic advisor to businesses of all sizes. Today I’m Managing Partner of Stimulus, a brand innovation consultancy that helps launch new, game-changing organizations and transform existing ones. I live with my wife and two children in Montclair, New Jersey, where I was a recent candidate for Town Council, and serve on the board of Friends of the Howe House, an organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating African American history.
I'm excited to help uplift the Community that makes the College so special.
Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Jason Heo '15
At Swarthmore I was a resident assistant, varsity athlete (track and field), student government co-president, Lang Opportunity Scholar, and sat on the presidential search committee. After graduating with a B.A. in political science and economics, I joined the inaugural cohort of Schwarzman Scholars and earned a master’s degree in global affairs from Tsinghua University. I currently serve as a policy advisor in the Office of Governor Wes Moore. Previously, I was a senior manager at Emerson Collective, where I supported efforts to strengthen democracy, promote civic engagement, improve government delivery, and expand national service.
I am eager to help students and alumni navigate uncertainty on campus and post-graduation.
Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Margaret Huang '87
I am the founder/CEO of Credence LLC, an online interactive leadership development program that builds the courage and skills senior teams need before they can successfully undertake systemic change initiatives that will advance equity and diversity and support growth in alignment with their organizational values. I have worked as a senior executive in financial services and international business in Asia for companies such as GE Capital, GE International, Jardine Matheson and in two national nonprofits - Facing History and Playworks. I currently reside in Oakland, CA.
I joined the Alumni Council to actively help organize fun ways for Swatties to gather and convene.
- M. Jawaad Hussain '05
After graduation in '05, I moved to Brooklyn for medical school. I then returned to the greater Philadelphia area, studied pediatrics, and am now a professor of pediatrics and director of complex disease management. My sleep deprivation is no longer caused by studying for biology exams but rather by trying to keep up with my three children.
I joined the Alumni Council because it is a good way of giving back to a community that matters so much to me.
- Katee Kemether (she/her) '23
Katee graduated from Swarthmore in 2023 with a double major in Political Science and Biology. She was a member of the Women’s Lacrosse team and Student Government, where she served as the Executive Chair of Student Life for her Junior and Senior Year. She also represented the Class of 2023 as Senior Class President. Katee is currently in her first year of medical school at Sidney Kimmel Medical College in Philadelphia. When she looks back on her time at Swarthmore, she has much love for the beautiful campus, the loving community, and the friends she made along the way.
- Kimberly Mealy '93
I am the Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion & Strategic Initiatives at the American Political Science Association (APSA) in Washington, DC. I’ve had the pleasure of being a founding member of the Swarthmore College Alumni of Color Group (AOC), serving from 2019-2021. During college, I earned a BA in history with a concentration in Black Studies and had the honor of being a Mellon Mays Fellow, member of SASS and the College Choir, and a tour guide. I earned my MA in political science from Stony Brook University and PhD in political science and political cognition from Indiana University, which led me to Wellesley College as a visiting assistant professor for three years. Mentoring first generation scholars, early career scholars, and students from underrepresented backgrounds is important to me. In my free time, I enjoy attending concerts at the Kennedy Center, taking photos, drawing, and visiting the Smithsonian.
I would like to support the council’s work by participating in student and faculty/staff engagement efforts, supporting First-Gen/Low Income Students, and helping to increase participation in the President's Fund for Racial Justice.
- Brandy Monk-Payton '07
I am an Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies at Fordham University. I received my PhD in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, which extended my studies as a "special" major in Film and Media Studies at Swarthmore. My research focuses on the theory and history of African American media representation and cultural production. I have published essays in various edited collections and academic journals like Communication, Culture and Critique, Film Quarterly, Feminist Media Histories, and The Black Scholar. I am currently writing my first book on Black celebrity in late 20th and early 21st century U.S. television and digital media culture.
I joined the Alumni Council because Swarthmore taught me how to think - the school allowed me to develop a curiosity for the world and to search for my place in it. I am passionate about community-building and I want to help alums network with each other, specifically through arts and culture as well as social justice. I am also interested in fostering programs for 1st generation alumni who are trying to figure out their post-grad personal and professional life paths as Swatties.
- Margaret Nordstrom '70
I graduated from Swarthmore with a BA in political science/international relations in 1970. I then went on to get an MA, also in political science, from Rutgers in 1973. After that, I taught ballet for about 20 years. Then in 1989 I ran for office and was elected to the Washington Township Committee in Long Valley NJ, where I served for 12 years, 6 of them as Mayor. I am most proud of two projects I undertook during my tenure, creating a Veteran's Memorial and also the preservation of an 800 acre farm which was critical to the continuation of agriculture in Long Valley. I then ran for Freeholder (now County Commissioner) in Morris County NJ where I served for 12 years. I was most involved in Human Services and protecting the environment. After I left the Freeholder Board in 2012, I was appointed as Executive Director of the NJ Highlands Council, a State agency devoted to regional planning and the protection of water resources, where I spent 6 years. I am currently in my 5th year as Administrator of Chester Borough NJ. Over the years I also served on the boards of many not-for-profit organizations such as Head Start and Homeless Solutions.
Swarthmore has been a tremendous influence in my development and I would like to share that with current students.
- Chinyere Odim '17
I am a doctoral student of Sociology at Brown University. My research is focused on intersections of class, race, and power within elite independent schools. From Brooklyn, NY and now living in Providence, RI, I can usually be found strolling city streets, critiquing Duolingo’s Chinese translations, and playing pickup soccer.
I joined the Alumni Council to build community across generations and ensure voices of Black alumni remain a part of institutional conversations.
- Chris Rodger '97
Swarthmore was and continues to be foundational in my life, and I am very appreciative of the intellectual challenges, opportunities for learning, and particularly the friendships the college helped me create. After graduating with both an engineering and an economics degree, I took a job that I didn't find fulfilling and soon left to earn a Masters in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University. My education has afforded me the opportunity to spend the last two decades working in the field of policy analysis, using data and evidence to help understand and remove barriers to physical, emotional, and financial well-being. Outside of work, I am an avid runner and fitness buff, and my Quaker Matchbox wife and I take an annual week-long backcountry canoe trip. We are fortunate to share a small, old house outside of Boston with our many cats.
- Sonali Shahi '06
I am an Assistant Federal Defender in the Capital Habeas Unit of the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. I have represented death-sentenced clients in all stages of their post-conviction litigation for over a decade, beginning as a 2L in Cornell Law’s Death Penalty Clinic. I also serve as co-supervisor of the Internship and Externship Committee, and am responsible for recruiting, supervising and mentoring law school students. Prior to joining the Capital Habeas Unit in 2014, I was a staff attorney at the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic in Kansas City, Missouri. At Swarthmore, I majored in psychology and played on the tennis team. I graduated in 2006, and received my J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2011. I reside in Philadelphia, where you'll see me running up to Swatties in the street and asking, hey, what class year were you?
To foster connections between Swatties old and new, particularly in the Philadelphia area, and help develop the career network and mentoring for students and alumni.
- Brandon Lee Wolff '08
I live in Phoenixville, PA and practice law in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Florida and the District of Columbia. I was the Treasurer of the American Bar Association (ABA) Young Lawyers Division (YLD) and am a Commissioner of the ABA Commission for Disability Rights. In addition, I am the Chair-Elect of the New Jersey State Bar Association YLD. I also serve on the Executive Council of the Pennsylvania Bar Association YLD and on the Board of Governors of the Florida Bar YLD. Additionally, I am the Immediate Past Chair of the New York State Bar Association Young Lawyers Section and the Immediate Past President of the Florida Bar’s Out of State Division. Outside of bar activities, I serve on the Seton Hall Law Alumni Council and the Generation Now Committee of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice. On a personal note, I enjoy traveling, photography, theatre and spending time with family.<
I would like to join the Alumni Council in order to help the college by connecting with alumni at connection events, staying connected with campus by attending Alumni Weekends, sharing my positive experiences during Admissions alumni interviews, promoting the college by proudly wearing my Swarthmore College clothing, donating regularly and by mentoring students.
- Ian Yarett '09
After graduating from Swarthmore in 2009, I first worked as a writer and editor for Newsweek magazine before going back to school to pursue a career in medicine. I’m now completing my residency in Internal Medicine at NYU. I look back on my Swarthmore years with great appreciation and am re-inspired by the campus community every time I visit. I hope to have the opportunity to give back to this community as a member of the Alumni Council.
I look back on my Swarthmore years with great appreciation and as a member of Alumni Council I hope to inspire, and surely be inspired by, the current generation of students.