Class Notes July 2019

Class Notes


Karen Feld, CAS/BA ’69, won three awards in the National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest, including first place for her online feature story, “Washington Relationships: Capitol Life Puts Pressure on Capital Love.” She also won in the sports and travel categories. 


Susan Pesner, SPA/BA ’73, WCL/JD ’76, a real estate and estate planning lawyer at Pesner Altmiller Melnick & DeMers PLC, was named to Virginia Lawyers Media’s inaugural class of “influential women of law” for 2019. Pesner is a fellow at the Virginia Law Foundation and the American Bar Foundation. She has also served on the executive committee of the Virginia State Bar Council.

Purnell Johnson, SPA/BA ’77, wrote How Mother Bailey Got Over, the true story of missionary suffering and courage during the Liberian Civil War. Johnson served as a mediator for the US Postal Service, worked with several law firms in the areas of employment and immigration, and sat on the board of Call For Action, an international nonprofit headquartered in Maryland. He is now focused on his family, which includes many grandchildren. 

Daniel Quinn, CAS/MA ’77, wrote Newark, Italy + Me (

Andrea Rugh, CAS/PhD ’78, wrote Egyptian Advice Columnists: Envisioning the Good Life in an Era of Extremism (DIO Press Inc.). 

Donn Walters, Kogod/MBA ’78, retired from the federal government after 28 years of service working with communities and public stakeholders on environmental issues and natural disasters in the southwestern United States.


David Bialik, CAS/BA ’85, won the Audio Engineering Society’s distinguished service medal at its fall convention.

Fredric Abramson, WCL/JD ’88, was named to the board of directors of AliquantumRx Inc., an early-stage biotechnology company that is developing medications for liver-stage malaria.

Guillermo Christensen, SIS/BA ’88, is a partner with Ice Miller LLP’s data privacy and security and white collar defense groups. He worked for 15 years as an intelligence officer at the CIA, where he helped establish national fusion centers focused on new and emerging threats. In 2010, Christensen served as the US government’s science and technology advisor to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. 


Randall Blair, SOC/MA ’92, has been a professor of film and media arts at American University since 1994 and recently published the third novel in his trilogy, The Education of Clark Westfield. The final book, Clark’s Choice, completes the story that began in Lovely Rita and continued in Curse of the Nice Guy.

Shruti Engstrom, SIS/BA ’93, was promoted to partner at Reed Smith LLP in the firm’s Philadelphia office. Engstrom is a member of the insurance recovery group and represents policyholders in coverage disputes involving product liability, property and business interruption claims, and additional insured disputes.

Debra Levin Gelman, SOC/BA ’93, associate vice president of design and user experience at AT&T, was named a thought leader in the field of digital design by Dallas Innovates. She lives in Dallas with her husband, Joshua Gelman, and their daughter, Samantha. Her book, Design for Kids: Digital Products for Playing and Learning, (Rosenfeld Media) was published in 2014.

Rosemary Erickson, CAS/PhD ’94, wrote Serial Killers and the Aftermath. It was reviewed in Security Management and published by ASIS, formerly the American Society for Industrial Security, which has more than 35,000 members and is the largest international security organization. 

Natalie Klyashtorny, Kogod/BSBA ’94, is cochair of the 2019 Philadelphia Bar Association Bench-Bar conference, October 11-12 at the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 12,000-member association’s signature event features continuing education programs and networking events.

Harald Koht, SPA/PhD ’94, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Latvia in Riga in September 2018 in recognition of his efforts to advance political science in Latvia. Koht is a professor emeritus at Oslo Metropolitan University in Norway.

Rebecca Sherer, SIS/BA ’94, Erika Argersinger, SPA/BA ’95, Heather Bruce Satrom, SOC/BA ’95, Maureen Murray Lesak, Kogod/BSBA ’95, and Laurie Tucker, SIS/BA ’95, MS/CAS ’01, met 27 years ago at AU and remain best friends. At AU, they referred to themselves as “the dudes,” and the moniker stuck. In 2015, they gathered in Sedona, Arizona, to open a time capsule they had sealed 20 years earlier. 

Saima Huq, SOC/BA ’95, wrote her first book, Hell’s Like Teen Spirit: Writings from A Gen-X Midlife Crisis (Eliezer Tristan Publishing).

Rebecca Klempner, CAS/MA ’98, wrote her fifth children’s book, Adina at Her Best (Menucha Publishers). Klempner—who lives in California with her husband, Daniel, and four kids—is working on her first novel for adults. 

Tom Palermo, SPA/BA ’98, is a federal prosecutor in Tampa, Florida, in the transnational organized crime section at the US Attorney’s Office. Palermo also serves as the district’s opioid coordinator and wrote “The Opioid Crisis,” for the winter 2019 issue of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice magazine. He is married to Brittany Palermo, CAS/BA ’00, with whom he shares a nine-year-old son, Peter.

Roy Brownell, WCL/JD ’99, coauthored The US Senate and the Commonwealth: Kentucky Lawmakers and the Evolution of Legislative Leadership (University Press of Kentucky) with Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 


Megan Beste, SOC/BA ’01, is district director for US Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-PA).

Christine Hernandez, Kogod/BSBA ’01, partner at Hernandez & Associates, P.C., was named a 2018 “top Latino lawyer” and one of the “most powerful Latinas in law business” in 2018 by Latino Leaders magazine. Hernandez began her presidency of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association in January 2019.

Lawrence Lanahan, CAS/MA ’02, wrote his first work of narrative nonfiction, The Lines Between Us: Two Families and a Quest to Cross Baltimore’s Racial Divide (The New Press).

Noelle Dauria Napolitano, SPA/BA ’02, was appointed assistant registrar at the Culinary Institute of America. She lives in Hyde Park, New York, with her husband and three daughters.

Correy Robertson Dandoy, SOC/BA ’08, and husband, Justin Dandoy, welcomed their daughter, Cecilia Lynnette, on May 16, 2018.


Lauryn Gibbs, SOC/MA ’10, and Justin Gibbs, SOC/MA ’10, are delighted to announce the birth of their daughter, Lilly Peyton, born on January 16, 2019, in Nashville. The couple also have a son, Marshall. 

Elizabeth Estephan, SIS/BA ’11, WCL/JD ’17, was hired by Lerch, Early & Brewer, Chtd. as an attorney in the divorce/family law practice. 

Gary Norman, WCL/LLM ’11, was reappointed chair of the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights by Governor Larry Hogan.

Sarah Blahovec, SIS/BA ’14, received the American Association of People with Disabilities’ 2019 Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes people with disabilities who exemplify leadership, advocacy, and dedication to the broader cross-disability community. She was honored for her work to establish the first campaign training curriculum for people with disabilities who want to run for elected office. 

Carly Cloud, SOC/MA ’15, is the communications and alumni outreach coordinator for the International and Comparative Legal Studies program at AU’s Washington College of Law. 

Taylor Kinzler, SOC/BA ’15, is host of the weekly show, CTLive!, on NBC Connecticut.

Joe Wagner, SIS/BA ’18, married Ameri Muncy. They live in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

In Memoriam


Steven Schot, CAS/BS ’51, December 13, 2018

Wendell Thompson, WCL/JD ’61, July 29, 2018, Dallas, Texas

James Mears, SPA/BA ’68, 2018

Clifford Enz, SIS/BA ’75, November 2018, Silver Spring, Maryland

Salina Rivera, March 12, 2019, Hyattsville, Maryland


August (Auggie) Schomburg Jr., March 20, 2019, Naples, Florida

Kyoung-ah Nam, March 23, 2019, San Jose, California