Class Notes: Spring 2016


Sue Graham Mingus MDS’48 just celebrated the 8th-annual Charles Mingus High School Competition and Festival at Manhattan School of Music, in NYC. The Festival is a three-day event which draws students from schools around the country who perform Mingus music. It culminates with a performance of selected students “sitting in” with the Mingus Big Band at its weekly Monday night engagement at Jazz Standard.


F.R. Dengel (Deceased) MUS’53 was honored by the Village of Fox Point for his service to his community and country as Fox Point Village President (1984-1990), Village Trustee (1975-1984), and a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. A new flagpole located at Fox Point’s Longacre Pavilion was dedicated in his memory on June 12. Attending were his wife Mary, sons F.R. III ’83 (Kate) and Bob ’85; and grandchildren Abigail ’27 and F.R. IV ’28. Dengel served on USM’s Board of Trustees in the 1980’s, along with the boards of numerous organizations in the Milwaukee area.


Paul Ruppa ’69 is a member of the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra, the last mandolin orchestra in the world. Ruppa, who has an MA in music history/theory, gives banjo, guitar, and mandolin lessons.


Mike Williams ’70 was recently honored by the USM Alumni Association as the recipient of the 2016 Alumni Service Award. Williams was recognized for his service as a current member of the USM Board of Trustees and Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, and as a former class agent, reunion chair, Annual Giving Program volunteer, and President of the USM Alumni Association. Williams has had the privilege of being a student, an alumni, and a parent of USM, and notes that receiving this award is evidence that he is making progress in giving something back to the School.


Jennifer Ells Chou ’84 is working with her literary agent to edit “Vanished”, her Young Adult Thriller, to ready it for submittal to editors at publishing houses. It took two years of writing (this manuscript anyway), 89 query letters sent over 14 months, four re-writes, 19 full manuscript requests, 57 rejections, and one offer!

Elisa Tharps Basnight ’87 joined the U.S. Mint’s leadership team in January and will serve as the Chief of Staff. In her role, Basnight facilitates collaboration within the U.S Mint and external stakeholders; reviews policies that involve bureau-wide interests and scope; and leads cross-departmental initiatives addressing key strategic priorities. In her previous Presidential appointment, she served the Department of Veteran Affairs as the Director of the Center for Women Veterans, where she was the primary advisor to the Secretary of Veteran Affairs on programs and issues related to women veterans. Basnight is also the founder of Girls Action Network, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping girls maximize their potential through exposure to career and educational options.


Lindsay Stevens Gardner ’89 organized Rock the Green, a festival with live music and food trucks in celebration of Earth Day on April 22 on the downtown Milwaukee Riverwalk. Rock the Green is a Milwaukee nonprofit dedicated to raising local awareness about environmental issues. The event recognized government and business leaders in the Milwaukee area for implementing sustainability efforts in Milwaukee. Speakers included Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; Matt Howard, director of the Alliance for Water Stewardship at The Water Council; and Gardner. The event took place on a bicycle-powered stage, and Milwaukee musician Even Christian put on a show.


LaFayette Crump ’91 The Milwaukee Bucks recently announced that they will retain Prism Technical Management, led by Crump as Cheif Operating Officer, to assist in meeting their workforce development goals for the construction of the Buck’s new downtown arena.


David-Andrew Wallach ’03 released his first solo album, “Time Machines,” on Capitol’s Harvest Records label in October 2015. Wallach, who learned to play the piano for his solo debut, describes “Time Machine” as his attempt to make straight-forward songs that focus on the melody and lyrics.

Following the release of “Time Machine,” Wallach announced that he had partnered with prominent venture capitalists to create Inevitable Ventures, an investment fund that seeks to support entrepreneurs who are expanding the possibilities of human life through the creative application of technology. Now based in Los Angeles, Wallach spent four years as the official artist in residence for the digital music service Spotify—a role in which we worked alongside members of the Spotify team to collaborate, share ideas, and develop resources for artists. Beyond the music industry, Wallach has invested in and advised other start-up technology companies, and will also make his acting debut alongside Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in “La La Land,” scheduled for release in July 2016.


Kabir Gupta ’11 completed a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the University of Southern California in May 2016 and will be joining Amazon in Seattle as a Software Development Engineer.

Mahin Khan ’11 graduated with distinction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science in gender and women’s studies.

Brooke Hopkins ’14 received an Adobe Research Women-In-Technology Scholarship Honorable Mention. The Scholarship Honorable Mention award consists of a $2,000 award; a Creative Cloud subscription membership for one year; and an Adobe Research mentor. Hopkins currently attends New York University-Abu Dhabi.

Angela Arensmeier ’15 a student at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, has achieved academic ranking in the top two percent of students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Lauren Laufman-Wellitzer ’15 received a $4,000 grant from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Housing WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) learning community to work in Professor Cary Forest’s lab to further the understanding of shock formation, propagation, and dissipation in astrophysical plasmas. Laufman-Wollitzer will build a compact toroid injector to accomplish the experiments, and also made the Dean’s List in fall 2015.

Leave a Reply