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Five Alumni Join Board of Managers

Purple flowers in foreground with scott outdoor amphitheater in background

The Swarthmore College Board of Managers welcomed five distinguished alumni to its ranks, effective July 1: Sean Decatur ’90, Lia Haskin Fernald ’94, Ayanna Johnson ’09, Paul E. Kuenstner ’80, and Gaurav Seth ’98.

This year’s new Managers include:

Sean DecatureSean Decatur ’90 is president of the American Museum of Natural History. He is the first African American to serve as the museum’s leader. He was president of Kenyon College from 2013 to 2022. From 2008 to 2013, Sean served as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin, where he also taught chemistry and biochemistry. Before Oberlin, he was an assistant and associate professor of chemistry at Mount Holyoke College, also serving as department chair from 2001 to 2004. He is also an advisor to Codon Learning, a science courseware developer.

Decatur graduated with High Honors in chemistry from Swarthmore College in 1990. He went on to complete a Ph.D. in chemistry at Stanford University in 1995.

Lia Haskin FernaldLia Haskin Fernald ’94 is the Brian and Jennifer Maxwell Endowed Professor in Public Health at the School of Public Health at the University of California-Berkeley. Her research focuses on using systemic and strategic approaches to address health disparities and inequalities. She has been at UC-Berkeley since 2005, in her current role since 2014, and also served as associate dean for research from 2014 to 2016. She has worked in Kenya, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, and Peru.

Fernald graduated with distinction from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in biological anthropology, and was then a Fulbright Scholar in Jamaica. She went on to complete a Ph.D. in nutrition and public health at the University of London in 1999 and an M.B.A at UC-Berkeley in 2000 with a focus on health economics.

Ayanna JohnsonAyanna Johnson ’09 joins the Board in her capacity as president of the Alumni Council. Johnson is a senior public health analyst at the Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She supports strategic partnerships and workforce training and development for the maternal and child health workforce. Her areas of research include maternal health, social determinants of health, health equity, women’s health, adolescent health, and healthy aging. Prior to joining HHS, Ayanna was a health policy fellow for the Office of the Surgeon General and health policy manager with the National Consumers League.

Johnson graduated from Swarthmore College in 2009 with a B.A. in political science. She went on to complete an M.S.P.H. at Johns Hopkins University in reproductive, perinatal, and women’s health in 2012.

Paul E. Kuenstner Paul E. Kuenstner ’80 retired as executive director of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT), where he had worked for four years, in January 2021. Prior to joining APT in 2017, Paul had a 19-year tenure as vice president of Fidelity Investments' Fidelity Foundation. Earlier in his career, he was a senior project manager for QVC, a vice president of Citibank, and a senior project manager at Chemical Bank.

Kuenstner graduated from Swarthmore College in 1980 with a B.A. in English literature. He went on to complete a master’s in architecture at Columbia University in 1983 and an M.B.A. in finance at New York University in 1987.

Gaurav SethGaurav Seth ’98 will join Warburg Pincus this month as a managing director and Americas head of capital solutions. Seth has nearly 25 years of investing experience, including 10 as a partner at Goldman Sachs, where he led the firm’s special situations investing platform in the Americas, including private and structured equity, public securities, private corporate and structured debt, and commercial real estate debt and equity. Seth also led and built out a large team of investors and capital markets professionals. Seth, who chairs Swarthmore's Investment Committee, graduated in 1998 with a B.A. in economics and computer science.

"These five individuals bring exceptional and diverse talents to the Board, along with a passion for Swarthmore," says Board Chair Harold “Koof” Kalkstein ’78. "I am grateful that they’ve agreed to volunteer their time and energy to the College, and I look forward to working with them to support and advance Swarthmore’s mission.” 
Kalkstein also noted the exceptional contributions of departing Managers Thomas Hartnett ’94 and BoHee Yoon ’01, whose terms concluded June 30. 
“I want to thank Tom and BoHee for their extraordinary service to the College as members of the Board,” Kalkstein adds. “They strengthened the Board in immeasurable ways, and their positive influence will be felt across the community for generations to come.” 

Additionally, Rhonda Cohen ’76 and Robin Shapiro ’78 will now serve as emeritus Managers.

Rhonda CohenCohen graduated from Swarthmore with distinction with a B.A. in psychology in 1976. She went on to complete a J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she graduated cum laude in 1980. She retired as a partner from Ballard Spahr LLP in 2000, after 20 years with the firm. Cohen is now a full-time community volunteer and philanthropist, focusing on education, and serves as chair of the board of The Glenmede Trust Company.

Robin ShapiroShapiro graduated from Swarthmore with High Honors in 1978, earning a B.A. in economics. After earning a J.D. from Harvard Law in 1981, he served as a law clerk for a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Following over 12 years as a California-based partner in a large international law firm, he left private practice in 1996 to co-found and lead a succession of successful specialty finance companies.
After twelve years as a term manager, he is now an emeritus member of Swarthmore’s Board and also serves on the board of Philadelphia’s Settlement Music School. Shapiro lives in New York City with his wife, Dr. Katherine Levin.

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