Alumni Association Board of Directors 2013-2014
Lisa Hall Blackmer '99
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Business Administration
As a North Adams City Councillor, Lisa chairs the Public Safety committee. She has been a member of the Council's Finance, Community Development, and General Government committees. As a Councilor, she represents the cities of Western Massachusetts on the Board of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA).
Lisa's volunteer activities include board membership on The Girl Scouts of Central and Western MA, the North Adams SteepleCats, and North Adams Open Studios. She also serve as a member of the Northern Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee. Lisa was a team member of the 2001 Rotary District 7890 Group Study Exchange to Belgium and Luxemburg, a cultural and vocational exchange for young professionals. In addition to her MCLA degree, she holds a certificate in non-profit management and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
Cheryl Starr Boillat '79, M.Ed. '97
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: B.S. Education, 1979; M.Ed., Education, 1997
Cheryl received her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1979, her Masters in Education in 1997, a Certification in Special Education, and served as a Reading Specialist at Conte Middle School in North Adams. In 2008, she moved to the high school level to teach English Language Arts for students with reading disabilities. She has taught in the North Adams Public Schools for over 25 years focusing on Middle School and High School Literacy. Currently, she is involved in the development of a Teacher Mentoring Program and serves as a mentor to new teachers. She moved into an Administrative role as 8th Grade leader in 2003 and in 2012 left the classroom to become a Program Coordinator of Special Education for the North Adams Public Schools.
Cheryl joined the Alumni Board because of its important roles in helping the College expand its message on the value of education, supporting student achievement and community engagement, and because she wishes to see MCLA continue to be supported by its alumni, community, and state. Cheryl is proud to contribute to the Board's mission to the Alumni of MCLA.
Lauren Mauriello Burm '03
South Boston, Massachusetts
Since graduating MCLA in 2003, Lauren has developed a professional skill set in association management, government affairs, and public relations.
She works as the director of public advocacy for the Massachusetts Association of Approved 766 Private Schools where she handles all government affairs and communications issues for the state-wide trade association that represents Chapter 766, special needs schools in Massachusetts and New England.
Lauren also has a background in legislative affairs having worked several years at the Massachusetts State House for Representative Peter Larkin, Senator Richard Tisei, and Governor Mitt Romney.
Lauren is very proud of her education from MCLA and is a strong supporter and advocate for public higher education.
William Caprari '75, M.Ed. '80
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: B.S. Education, 1975; M.Ed., Education, 1980
Currently the senior member of the Alumni Board (30 years), Bill retired from MCLA in 2009. During his tenure at the College, Bill assumed several roles in the Student Affairs Division culminating in the Athletic Department where, as an undergrad, he played baseball from 1971-75; and pioneered and served as the first Sports Information Director and Athletic Trainer. He was inducted into the MCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009.
Prior to entering college, he served in the military, started one of a total of five successful businesses, and always maintained a penchant for investing.
Multifarious ventures including investment strategies, financial consulting, traveling, alumni connections, journalism, exercise, travel, plus family and friends are what is on the horizon during his early stages of retirement.
Rachel E.D. Churchill, Esq. '06
Rachel (Dayton) graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History. She minored in Political Science, English, and Physics, and was a Tsongas Scholar. She held executive positions in the Judicial Review Board, Dance Company, Christian Fellowship, and Conservative Union. Rachel worked with the Learning Services Office to tutor her peers and provide "C-Print" note taking services to a hearing-impaired student. During her time at MCLA, she served as a director of BFAIR, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the support of individuals in Berkshire County with developmental and other disabilities.
After graduation, Rachel married her husband, John (a high school chemistry teacher), and attended Suffolk University Law School ('09). She now lives in Norwood and is an attorney at McCarter & English, LLP, a law firm with an office in Boston. She focuses her practice on public finance, and also has experience with corporate and commercial real estate matters. Rachel's academic tenure at MCLA gave her a breadth of experiences that serves her well in her personal and professional choices. She hopes to encourage current and future members of the MCLA Alumni Association to pursue careers in all professional fields and to develop unique and engaging ways to build local communities and the alumni network.
Pamela Kenny Connolly '82
Pamela's years at the College made a major impact on her life providing an excellent education, many lifelong friendships and wonderful memories. Anyone who knows Pamela well is aware of her devotion to this wonderful college in the Berkshires. As a student she was involved in athletics, on-campus work-study, and internships within the town of North Adams.
The College offers just as many opportunities for its student body as many of the larger, private schools. She served in various elected student government positions such as Senator, SGA Cabinet Officer, and class vice president. Since graduating Pamela have remained involved with MCLA as a Class Agent promoting class correspondence, College fundraising, and reunion gatherings. Her professional and volunteer experiences require tremendous networking.
Ashton Darrett '11
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Business Administration
Ashton made his way from Brooklyn, NY to the Berkshires in search of an affordable college that reminded me of summers he spent in West Virginia. MCLA was full of student activities and he became heavily involved in Dance Company, Black Student Union, and Pathways Volunteer Organization. He was also one of the founders of the award-winning Nexxus Step Team.
Upon graduating, Ashton was offered a Staff Assistantship working for the Administration and Finance Office. A year later he took on my current role in the Center for Student Success and Engagement, where he works in the Career Services Office coordinating high impact experiences for students such as internships, on/off campus jobs, and study abroad programs.
Dave Flint '78
Major: Elementary Education
Dave's passion for MCLA and the community of North Adams has never diminished over the years since his graduation. He previously served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, including three years as its president. In addition, Dave planned and organized several successful alumni gatherings in the South Shore/Cape Cod area.
After having to take time off for medical reasons, he looks forward to continuing his quest to encourage alumni to embrace the College and to participate in its growth. Dave's daughter Sarah is also an alumnus, Class of 2007.
Laura-Jean Griffin Hickey '99
After working for three years in the MCLA Admissions Office as an admissions counselor, Laura-Jean (LJ) attended graduate school at Suffolk University, obtaining an M.Ed.
She remains passionate as ever about MCLA. LJ seeks to motivate more alumni to get involved with the College-through admissions, donations, internships, etc. While a student, she sought to be involved in all facets of college life. LJ served on The Beacon staff, WJJW, Student Government, and other committees.
She lives in Acton with my husband Bill Hickey '00 and our son Vincent. LJ also serve as a 1999 Class Agent.
Xavier Jackman '00
While at the College, Xavier served as general manager of WJJW, the College radio station; Executive Vice President of the Student Government Association; and Student Trustee. Additionally, he served as president of Beta Chi Gamma.
In 2004 he received his J.D. from the University of Florida's Levin School of Law and was admitted to the Florida bar, as well as the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. He has practiced with Friedman Law Associates and Luks, Santaniello, Petrillo, Gold & Jones in Tampa, FL and recently opened his own practice, Xavier J. Jackman, P.A.
Xavier returned to campus in September 2010 to deliver the Convocation address to the Class of 2014 and has promised to attend their Commencement in May 2014. Xavier lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife Suzanne and their two children.
Cecelia Hamrock Kennedy '78
Madison, New Jersey
After five years as an educator, Cecelia has spent the last twenty-five years as a human resources and corporate manager in diverse industries including retail, social service, insurance and engineering. Cecelia and her husband John '78 (CEO) sold their successful engineering services company in 2006. She was a recipient of the 'Young Women in American Business Award' and a finalist for the 'NJ Entrepreneur of the Year' in 2005. Cecelia believes MCLA provides for affordable quality education and solid life preparation and its graduates have an obligation to give back to the College to ensure the future for generations of students.
She has held board and / or committee roles with NJ Special Olympics-Area 3, Madison Board of Education, Madison PPEC, Madison Athletic Foundation and am an advisor to the Boy Scout Venture Crew 77.
Cecelia and John live in New Jersey with their son, Sean.
Benjamin Lamb '07
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Biology and Environmental Studies
Ben graduated from MCLA with a degree in Biology and Environmental Studies. His on-campus involvement included the IE Program, being an RA, admissions ambassador, tutor, president of the Student Activities Council, Bio Club, and Environmental Studies Club, Student Trustee, and partaking in Alternative Spring Break trips. After graduation, his memorable time at MCLA guided him into the field of student affairs.
Ben adamantly supports developing new programs, support models, and innovative engagement opportunities for students. Having experienced the world as a firefighter, ecotourism guide, salmon population researcher, and chemist, Ben returned to his passion of higher education, working in Career Services, College Access, Admissions, and now Student Leadership Development. He is currently employed at Williams College, and works with the Berkshire Youth Leadership Program. He loves MCLA, and looks forward to engaging the community to continue to develop and improve the College for generations to come.
Joanne Rickers Maynard '82
Communications Consultant, providing services to DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson
Classroom work, mentoring, and internship opportunities at the College provided the foundation for my career as a writer. Currently Joanne is working as a communications consultant, providing services to DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
She have been an active and supportive alum, participating most recently on the Capital Campaign Alumni subcommittee. Joanne believes strongly in the value proposition of public higher education and hope to play an active role in engaging other alumni as well as current students in advocating for our college.
After several years living abroad, she lives in Chelmsford, MA, with her husband and fellow alum, Phil, class of '83. Their three children also attended and graduated from Massachusetts state colleges and UMass-Amherst.
Sherry Morrison '03
Sherry's time at MCLA was an incredible experience that she is truly thankful for. Attending a small school allowed her to build close relationships not only with gifted students in the Psychology department, but also allowed valuable, hands-on research opportunities that she may not have had success to at a larger institution. Sherry was fortunate to stay on at MCLA in the Admissions Department as a Counselor recruiting prospective students in the South Shore for a year after graduation.
Following her time at MCLA, Sherry spent 8 years working in Community Mental Health advocating for the needs of children and families. In 2011, she completed an MBA at Thomas College, another small liberal arts college in Maine. Since graduation, she has been working for Hollister, Inc., a full-service recruiting firm in Boston. Sherry has been successful in placing MCLA graduates in roles that have let to permanent placements with some of out top clients in the Greater Boston area.
Sherry is grateful for the education she received at MCLA. The faculty and staff are clearly committed to excellence, and she shares this commitment in providing a quality, affordable education.
Michael A. Reopell '85
North Adams, Massachussetts
Major: Computer Science
Mike received an M.B.A. in 1994 at Western New England College. He currently serves as Director of Advancement Information Systems at Williams College and has worked in the business of managing information technology for alumni and development operations for over 20 years.
A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, Mike is a former member and past president of the MCLA Alumni Board, past representative to the MCLA Foundation Board. He also worked at MCLA during his (non-traditional) degree years as the Veterans Representative and Staff Assistant to the Registrar.
"Having many years of experience in the higher education industry - I have a strong sense of how important the alumni community can be to the institution. The foundation of every successful donor program in higher education can be directly attributed to the quality of the relationships that exist with the institution and the alumni community."
Natasha Robinson '11
While at MCLA, Natasha served as President of the Multicultural Student Society, participated in various leadership roles on campus, and studied abroad during her senior year.
In 2011, Natasha received state recognition in the Massachusetts Hall of Black Achievement at Bridgewater State University and was awarded the Multicultural Advancement Award from MCLA for service to the college.
After graduating, Natasha remained with MCLA as the College Access Coordinator for Multicultural Recruitment and later as an Admissions Counselor.
Natasha currently promotes higher education and college access by serving as the Recruitment Counselor for Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, MA.
Jennifer Schimmel Stanley '99
Jennifer is honored to be participating on the MCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors. Her fond memories of MCLA and experiences there have given me a solid foundation to build on. Jennifer is a strong believer in giving back and providing for the next generation. She believes that being a part of this board would be one way that she can give back to a place that gave me so much. She has been blessed to have a career in nonprofit organizations that focus on building relationships, planning events, and raising money; skills that are often in demand when trying to bring communities together.
Dan Summers '07
North Adams, Massachusetts
As a student at MCLA, Dan was active in many clubs and organizations, including SGA and serving a term as Student Trustee. These experiences solidified his passion for supporting higher education.
After graduation, Dan began his work in higher education. It was not long before he found myself back at MCLA working as the Coordinator of Student Activities, helping students to get involved and engaged in their community.
Dan has remained in the North Adams community and has spent the past four years working at Southern Vermont College. His hope as a member of the Alumni Board is to help engage alumni and students to celebrate the value of their MCLA experience.
Andrew Zabak '80
Major: Business Management
Andrew's career in venture capital has provided him with the experience of sitting on privately held company boards of directors. As a result, he understands the complexities of setting strategy, policies and corporate governance as a board member. In addition, as a manager of several investment funds, he is very comfortable in the fundraising environment, having raised substantial capital from institutions and wealthy family offices for our investment partnerships.
Over the years, Andrew and his wife Doreen '79 have lived in many parts of the country and now have settled back in New England for the past 12 years. They have enjoyed living in various parts of the country and have established many long-term professional and personal relationships that we have leveraged in both our business and personal life.
Dennis Zicko '65
Dennis, a retired physics teacher and golf coach, worked for the Marshfield School System for 34 years. He received his Masters of Natural Science from the University of South Dakota in 1970. He was an original member of the National Science Foundation's Physics Teacher Resource Agent program. As such, he has conducted workshops around the country for physics teachers, middle school teachers, and elementary teachers. He was awarded "The Science Teacher of the Year for Plymouth County" in 1990. He has been an MCLA class agent for his class since 2006 and received the "Outstanding Service to the College Award" in 2010.
"I owe a lot to MCLA for the four years I spent there. Serving on the Board affords me the opportunity to 'give back' to the College to which I owe so much."
Todd Vroman '91
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies
Todd's time at MCLA was a memorable and enjoyable experience. He was heavily involved in Student government serving as a Trustee, SGA President, Chairperson and a senator. He represented MCLA at the state level serving as Chairperson of the State Student Association of Massachusetts (SSAM) for 3 years.
Following his time at MCLA he has worked in the investment, insurance and financial planning industry. He currently works as District Manager for Waddell & Reed in the New England and lives in Southborough MA with his wife Jill and two boys Benjamin and Nathan.
Jake Powers, Student Government Association Representative
Alma Benedetti '37
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Elementary Education; B.S. 1937
Alma is a retired first grade and art teacher from the North Adams School system. After graduation from State Teachers College at North Adams she continued her education with a master's of education from North Adams State College, as well as attending Columbia University and the University of Massachusetts during the summers. Her local volunteer efforts include the North Adams Public Library and the North Adams Garden Club. Alma serves as a Class Agent for the class of 1937, is a member of the Taconic Society and received an honorary degree from the College in 1999.
Paul Egan '67
Major: Science and Mathematics
Paul graduated from the College with a BA in Science & Math. He was President of his graduating class, a member of Student Government, Intramurals and was selected as a member of Who's Who in American Colleges & Universities, 1967. For many years, Paul served as President of the Alumni Board of Directors and never missed a meeting or alumni gathering during his many years of involvement on the Alumni Board. Paul is a Co-Class Agent for the class of 1967 with Jeanne Slaney Peterson. Paul received a Masters in Administration from Salem State in 1979. A former teacher, Paul is President of the Scott Group, Inc., a consulting firm responsible for quality control of larger construction projects, especially schools.