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Class Notes: Fall/Winter 2023-24

Class Notes: Fall/Winter 2023-24


Betty Blank MDS’51 celebrated her 90th birthday in Fort Worth, Texas. She was joined by family and friends, including her son, Jim O’Reilly ’78. Blank taught in USM’s Preschool from 1965 to 1993.

Dr. Roger Rosenberg MCDS’57 has been named professor emeritus after 50 years at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center after retiring on Jan. 1, 2023. Rosenberg served as a professor of neurology and is a renowned expert in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Susie Gebhardt MUS’58 and Bob Wagner MUS’58, along with other members of the Milwaukee University School Class of 1958, marked their 65th class reunion by generously contributing funds for the purchase of trees to be planted this spring. Their gift will support USM’s outdoor education program.

Rick Fried MCDS’59 wrote a new biography, “A Genius for Confusion: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Politics of Deceit,” which shows how the Wisconsin senator’s campaign against American Communists prized sensation above truth.

Photo collage of Class Notes from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.


Pam Percy ’67 wrote, produced, and directed “Chicken City,” the first documentary film to feature every aspect of the chicken as a cultural icon. The film is based on Percy’s book, “The Complete Chicken: An Entertaining History of Chickens.”


Dean Dietrich ’70 began his one-year term as the 68th president of the State Bar of Wisconsin on July 1, 2023. During his 46-year legal career, Dietrich has practiced municipal, employment, and professional responsibility law. He and his wife, C. Ann, live in Wausau, Wisconsin and are active in the Wausau community.

Dr. Paul La Pointe ’70 submitted the following: “Dr. Margaret (Kagin) La Pointe ’70 and I celebrated our 49th anniversary by taking a trip to Stehekin, Washington, home of the most isolated U.S. post office in the lower 48. It was a wonderful time to get away from the outside world and enjoy each other’s company. Margaret continues to work full-time for an international prison ministry, and I work part-time after a 50-year career as a geologist and engineer. Recently I backpacked 70 miles across the Olympic Mountains, and I still play soccer. We live near the foothills of the Cascades in Washington, about 25 miles east of Seattle.”

Tim Johnston ’79 submitted the following: “My new novel, “Reciprocity,” has been optioned by Universal Television Studios as a multi-season television series, with actor/director/producer Eriq La Salle tapped to direct and produce. The novel was named a finalist for the International Book Award for Fiction. Parts of the story take place in River Hills, where my family lived when my father was headmaster of USM.”


Raj Bhala ’80 completed the London Marathon, his 115th, in April 2023. Afterwards, he was joined by his daughter, Shera, and wife, Dr. Kara Tan Bhala, for afternoon tea. His new book, “Trade War: Causes, Conduct, and Consequences of Sino-American Confrontation” was recently published, along with the third edition of his textbook “Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a),” with new chapters on Iran’s constitution, the Taliban, and America’s longest war. “The strong, positive influence of my USM teachers, including John “J.S.” Stephens and Steve Bruemmer, continue to resonate in my professional and personal life,” he wrote.

Susan LaBudde ’80 won Best Beginner in a recent national painting competition and, as a result, her pastel painting “Old Finn” was featured in the October 2023 issue of “Plein Air” magazine. LuBudde, a retired lawyer, volunteers as a docent at the Milwaukee Art Museum and maintains a gallery page at

Bill Zito ’82 (pictured, right with Craig Counsell, former Milwaukee Brewers manager) threw the first pitch during a Milwaukee Brewers in August 2023. It was a return to his former stomping grounds—Zito once served as a bat boy for the Brewers. Zito completed his third season as general manager of the Florida Panthers in 2023, the same year the team made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. He was one of three finalists for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year award, and the Florida Panthers earned 7th spot in The Athletic’s annual fan-submitted confidence ranking of National Hockey League front offices.

Steffi (Major) Baker ’83 won gold in her division at the 2023 U.S. Adult National Figure Skating Championships held in Salt Lake City in April 2023. She was coached by 1984 Olympic bronze medalist Jozef Sabovcik. “I overcame two years of various physical ailments to get there and was thrilled to skate well enough to take first place,” she said.

Molly Caan McGarry ’86 recently opened a storefront location in Cedarburg, Wisconsin for her business, Miss Molly’s Catering LLC. Miss Molly’s can prepare delicious doughnuts or tasty dishes for catering events or meals at home.

Sam Crownover ’87 and her husband, Bruce, received the Wisconsin State Historical Society’s 2023 Board of Curators Restoration Award for the Brisbane House. Over the course of seven months, Sam and Bruce stabilized, restored, and rejuvenated the three-story home built in 1868 in Arena, Wisconsin. Learn more at

Adam Ciralsky’s ’89 production company, P3 Media, has earned a seven-figure investment from Ready Entertainment, a company led by Martin Luther King Jr.’s daughter, Bernice A. King, and Ashley Bell. P3 Media produced the Netflix series “The Recruit,” which was based on Ciralsky’s first job out of law school as an attorney with the CIA.

Photo collage of Class Notes from the 80s and 90s.


Barbie Brennan Nelson ’91 and her husband, Chad, were named one of Natalie’s Everyday Heroes by Natalie Shepherd, reporter for CBS58. They were featured for their company, Fairy Garden Hives, which produces honey and bee-related products from hives and colonies all over Milwaukee County.

Doug Christiansen ’96 was named commissioner of the ECAC hockey league following an expansive national search. Christiansen is a seasoned hockey professional, serving in a range of roles over the past two decades, including player, coach, general manager, administrator, advisor, and speaker.

Allison Kieckhefer Hieger ’96 visited USM for a tour this past summer, along with her husband, Nathan, and daughters, Katelyn and Brooklyn. Allison is currently the curriculum consultant for the Pacific Symphony and an assistant teacher for Arroyo Vista Elementary (TK-1st) in Pasadena, California. Allison also serves as the music director for the Arroyo Vista Children’s Theater and continues to love choral singing, a passion of hers since high school.

Angela Pittman Taylor ’96 was named a Blugold Spirit Award winner by University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which is given to a university supporter who has a love for the campus, exemplifies excellence, and shares the UW-Eau Claire story. Pittman Taylor is a member of the UW-Eau Claire Foundation board, co-founder and past chair of the UW-Eau Claire Alumni of Color network, and is the director of corporate communications at Baird.

Raj Chetty ’97 was interviewed by The New York Times about a study published by Opportunity Insights, a group of economists based at Harvard University, which he directs. The group, which studies inequality, found that children from families in the top 1 percent were 34 percent more likely to be admitted to an Ivy League school than the average applicant.

Natalie (Giugno) Maciolek ’97 was named chief legal and government affairs officer at Molson Coors. Prior to the appointment, Maciolek served as senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary at Kohler Co. since 2018 and in other legal roles at the company since 2013. She will become a member of Molson Coors’ leadership team, based in Chicago, reporting to CEO Gavin Hattersley.

Dr. Kristin Schroeder ’97 was named a finalist for the Opus Prize, an annual, faith-based humanitarian award. As finalist, she received $100,000 to support the International Cancer Care and Research Excellence Foundation (iCCARE), which she cofounded. For nearly a decade, Schroeder and iCCARE have worked to deliver and improve cancer care at Bugando Medical Centre in Mwanza, Tanzania. The survival rate for her patients has risen to 50% in the eight years she has spent in Tanzania. She also serves as associate professor of pediatrics and global health at Duke University.

Rob Klavins ’98 was part of a successful legal challenge against the U.S. Forest Service that restored protections for old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest. Klavins is an advocate for Oregon Wild, which was one of several plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The impacted area is at least 7 million acres on six national forests in eastern Oregon and southeast Washington state.

Sachin Shivaram ’99 joined the Board of Directors for the Green Bay Packers. “For a kid who grew up a lifelong fan, joining the Board of Directors of the Green Bay Packers is a dream that I didn’t even know could be a dream,” he said. “Celebrating at the shareholder meeting with my family was a joy, and serving this institution that means everything to our community will be an honor beyond compare.”


Thekla Ross ’01 has started a new position as a strategic advisor to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at The National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Nadya Perez-Reyes ’02 was named a 40 Under 40 by the Milwaukee Business Journal. She is pictured (center) with (from left) Drew Slocum ’02, Charlie Housiaux ’02, Johnny Bowles ’06, and Beny Perez-Reyes ’05. Nadya currently serves in the Milwaukee office of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families as assistant secretary, advancing the department’s mission to support children and families.

Charlie Uihlein ’02 posed an important question to USM Middle School ecological society students in Emily Vruwink’s ’04 classroom: “Is healthy food a right, a privilege, or a choice?” Uihlein also spoke to students about Teens Grow Greens, an organization he founded, that develops teens through transformative experiences.

Sam Hitchcock Tilton ’03 submitted the following: “I started vegetable farming after college and haven’t really stopped since. I studied mechanical weed control for a master’s degree in horticulture at Michigan State, worked in Germany for a weeding tool company, taught horticulture at Lakeshore Technical College near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and now I support Milwaukee-area vegetable farmers for UW-Madison Extension. My wife, Julia, and I are about to move to Minneapolis for her MFA program in creative writing. I enjoy planting flowers all around Sheboygan in parks and elsewhere. Please look me up if you are near Sheboygan or Minneapolis!”

Michael Anderson ’04 and the Wonderist Agency, which he co-founded with his wife, Laura, were honored for the fourth year in a row by “Inc.” Wonderist was named to Inc. 5,000, the annual ranking of the fastest growing private companies in the U.S.

Ryan Khanna ’08 started a new position as spinal deformity fellow at Scripps Health in San Diego.

David Bowles ’09 was named a 40 Under 40 by the Milwaukee Business Journal. Bowles is president of CMRignite marketing agency, one of the state’s largest Black-owned communications agencies. He was joined at the celebration event by his brother, Johnny Bowles ’06.

Kemp Collings ’09 and his wife, Lindsey, welcomed their son, Reid, on October 4, 2023. Reid was 8 pounds, 2 ounces.

Lane Florsheim ’09 was interviewed on “Today with Hoda & Jenna” for a segment about women who throw divorce parties to embrace their new futures. Florsheim is a reporter with The Wall Street Journal and published a story about divorce parties for the paper in July 2023.

Photo collage of Class Notes from the 2000s.


Greg Booth ’12 married Emily Durkin of Chicago on September 9, 2023 in Riverside, Illinois, followed by a reception in downtown Chicago. Emily graduated from Boston College in 2017 and is a vice president of corporate banking at Bank of America. Greg graduated from Northwestern in 2016 and Kellogg School of Management in June 2023 and is an investment banker at Baird in Chicago. They reside in Lincoln Park.

Patrick Lubar ’12 was awarded the Next Generation Leadership award at the BizTimes Media’s Non-Profit Excellence Awards. Lubar was recognized for his contributions as board member for Th e Opportunity Center, as well as his work with 88Nine RadioMilwaukee, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation, and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.

Djdade Denson ’14 was featured by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for his role as director of Camp “Xhongo” Peace Father, Son and Friends Retreat. Now in its 27th year, the camp provides a chance for up to 150 men and boys to experience three days and two nights camping, hiking, and canoeing on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Kate Nosbusch ’15 started a new position as a school psychologist with Oak Point and Eagle Heights elementary schools in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, working with approximately 1,400 students. Nosbusch received her education specialist degree from UW-Madison in May 2023.

Philip Shuler ’15 played the French horn in a recital at First Congregational Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin with the Bridger Brass Quintet.

Tyler Smith ’15 works as an engineer at CIONIC, a company that designs bionic clothing that can analyze and augment human movement. Smith was employee number six at CIONIC and has been involved in all aspects of product development. Currently, he leads the development of CIONIC’s proprietary open neuromodulation platform.

Matthew Le Pine ’18 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Wisconsin Lutheran College.

Riley Strauss ’18 is pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling with a child and adolescent specialization at Northwestern University. She is currently interning at Rogers Behavioral Health in Miami.

Grace Hayden ’19 was named to the Dean’s list at Miami University for the 2023 spring semester, which recognizes the academic performance of undergraduate students who are ranked in the top 20% of their division. Hayden is earning a bachelor’s in interactive media studies.

Holly Hayden ’19 was named to the Miami University spring 2023 President’s list, which recognizes academic excellence and consists of students who are ranked in the top 3% of undergraduate students within each division. Hayden is earning a bachelor’s in interactive media studies.

Grace Petzold ’19 was named to the USA Water Ski Show Team’s 2025 team roster. Petzold and her teammates will compete in the 2025 International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation competition.

Photo collage of Class Notes from the 2010s.


Leen Mortada ’20 earned second place in Marquette University’s 2023 Brewed Ideas Challenge, a “Shark Tank”-style student pitch competition. Mortada and her partner, Jack Killian, earned $2,500 to develop a portable ablution station, which will enable Muslim students to practice Wudu, an important foot cleansing ritual that precedes prayer. Mortada is a criminology and international affairs major, and president of the Muslim Student Association at Marquette.

Alvin Pokel ’20 was named one of seven “21st Century Superstars” by the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. Pokel is majoring in supply chain management and management, and will graduate in May 2024.

Lara Spanic ’20 won the 9th distinguished air rifle badge, the highest government-recognized honor for air rifle in the country, at the 2023 Civilian Marksmanship Program National Championship. Spanic is a senior at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee majoring in English with honors, and exploring the option of joining the Army Marksmanship Unit after graduation.

CJ Boyd ’21 is a starting defensive back on the Air Force Academy football team. He is a junior at the academy, majoring in management.

Caroline Harkless ’21 returned to campus in June 2023 for a tour of outdoor spaces led by Kip Jacobs ’74. They stopped to check on the status of the 150 saplings that she helped to plant as a freshman back in May 2018 as part of an Arbor Day project.

Christina Wood ’21 is starting a new position as an incoming fixed-income sales and trading intern for 2024 at Wells Fargo in New York.

Greta Hinke ’22 was selected to participate in the USA Field Hockey National Team U21 selection camp in January 2024. Camp attendees were selected through their performances at the 2023 U-21 Junior and Senior Nexus Championship. Hinke is a sophomore at Northwestern University, where she also plays on the field hockey team.

Lexi Lee ’22 and members of her team from the Milwaukee Turners organization met Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers at an event celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May 2023.

Isabella Mortara ’22 has started an internship at the U.S. Department of State.

James Reese ’22 spent the summer of 2023 in Milwaukee, where he played for the Lakeshore Chinooks wood bat summer baseball club. Reese currently attends Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he is majoring in economics and playing on the college’s baseball team.

Shaan Sharma ’22 was photographed visiting Keebeck Wealth Management in Chicago, which was founded by Bruce K. Lee ’81. “We hope that Shaan got a deeper understanding of the collaborative nature of our industry,” said a company representative. Sharma is currently an undergraduate at Princeton University.

Lucy Art ’23 was named the USA TODAY High School Sports Awards national courage award winner in July. As a USM senior, Art won the 50-yard freestyle at the WIAA Division 2 state swimming and diving meet less than two years after sustaining injuries in a shark attack in Florida. Art also received the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel HSSA Courage Award in spring 2023. She currently attends Colgate University, where she swims competitively.

Helen Bechthold ’23 received the Fred F. Loock scholarship from Milwaukee School of Engineering, thanks to her demonstrated passion for STEM education, her volunteer work with Milwaukee Public Schools, and her high school internship with The Walbec Group. The award is nearly $100,000 applied towards tuition. Bechthold is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, as well as playing hockey and lacrosse for MSOE.

Lucy Flack ’23 was invited to meet President Joe Biden when he visited Milwaukee in August. Flack was the founder of the Youth Action Team student group at USM, which is a youth division of Action for the Climate Emergency (ACE), a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that educates, inspires, and supports young people to lead the fight for their future.

Ingrid Lofgren ’23 was selected to compete in the CanAmMex Regatta in July, where she won a gold medal in both the 4+ and 8+ races. CanAmMex is an annual collaboration camp between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. that includes a week of training followed by a regatta. Lofgren currently attends the University of Alabama, where she competes on the rowing team.

Photo collage of Class Notes from the 2020s.
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