Potash Hill

Alumni News

Immigration Hero

In February, Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts ’08 gained national attention when he quit his job rather than handing labor data over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. Now he’s turned immigration rights advocacy into a fulltime vocation.

Jordon speaks last June at a rally in Orlando, Florida, protesting the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy. Photo by Katherine O’Hara AllenWhen Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts resigned from his job as a legal secretary at the Montana Department of Labor, rather than processing subpoenas to share labor data with ICE, he had plenty at stake: a 4-year-old child and a wife, Daisy Dyrdahl ’08, who is working her way through graduate school. But he also couldn’t face himself, or his family, if doing his job meant breaking up immigrant families.

“Unfortunately it didn’t lead to the sort of direct action response I was hoping for,” says Jordon, who since then has been busy as a fulltime immigration rights advocate—organizing, writing, educating, and public speaking. “When I left, I wanted other employees to come with me, or for the department to change the way they handled information requests from ICE, or for the governor to take action.”

Jordon’s tweet announcing his resignation went viral, and a GoFundMe campaign initiated by Juli Briskman—the woman who was fired for flipping off Trump’s motorcade—has raised more than his annual salary. And yet he has been disappointed that it hasn’t led to more activism by other workers. “I’ve had people say they supported my decision,” he says. “But if every person who said that had gone out and done something, I feel like we wouldn’t be continuing our slide into authoritarianism.”

At Marlboro, Jordon did a Plan in writing and literature, and he still has his copy of Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism that he read for his class with sociology professor Jerry Levy. But he had hoped this would be helpful esoteric background knowledge for one or more fictional universes he planned to write about, not essential knowledge he would need to recognize authoritarianism in his own country.

“Even as I’m surrounded by the warm glow of love and support from strangers, I still have a cold feeling in the pit of my stomach,” said Jordon in a February Washington Post editorial. “I wonder how many other people, working in other government offices, have unwittingly or unwillingly been drafted into ICE’s service.”

Jordon says if he could do it all over again, knowing his story would go viral, he’d have waited long enough to warn the people ICE was after. He might have also had a more precise statement prepared to prompt others to act, but other than that he has no regrets regarding his decision. Well, he might have also updated his Twitter profile first, so that he wasn’t wearing a joke t-shirt emblazoned with “sexy dawning realization that nothing will ever be okay.”

“Even if I wouldn’t end up going viral, and no one would know what I had done, I’d still have quit. Everything else aside, I still have to live with myself and look my child in the eye. Every single day, things get a little worse, and at least I know I’m doing what I can to stop it.”

Jordon’s Plan at Marlboro focused on the idea of the hero in American culture, and he asserts that to look for one hero to defeat evil is to sacrifice our own agency. We can’t pin our hopes on someone else to do the work for us—we have to be the ones to take action, he says. “Marlboro College gave me the ability to still speak out even when it’s uncomfortable.”

Follow Jordon at twitter.com/dyrbert.

Class Notes

Class notes are listed by year and include both graduates and nongraduates; the latter are listed under the class with which they are associated.

“Going to finish my work as a ‘lec 3’ at University of Maine at Rockland this fall,” says JONATHON POTTER. “I’ll miss being with the students.”

JAVED CHAUDHRI shared an audio interview with Munson Hicks, who once taught theater at Marlboro. His father, Halsey Hicks, was professor of forestry and his aunt taught English literature, French, and Spanish. “A slice of Marlboro history,” writes Javed. Hear the interview.

“People need a place to live and find it affordable and convenient to get to work,” said BOB JOHNSON in a Brattleboro Reformer article about his housing development, known as Delta Campus, for his employees at Omega Optical. The project, which is planned to include energy-efficient units powered by solar energy and heated by heat pump systems, was being reviewed by the Development Review Board. Read more.

Longtime trustee Ted Wendell was presented with this table crafted by David Holzapfel ’72 at his retirement reception, as a token of appreciation for all he has done for the college. Titled Sheldon’s Walnut: Night in Tunisia, David named the table for Roy Sheldon, Marlboro College’s first sculpture teacher in the late 1940s and early ’50s and the proprietor of Fabulous Tables at the intersection of South Road and Route 9. The walnut table top is one of the few pieces that survived a 1972 fire, in which the original barn housing Fabulous Tables burned to the ground.“Sailing, acting, feeding a bunch of farm animals smarter than me,” writes GORDON BAIRD. “New grandchild, old dogs, same old 1946 Farmall tractor— still runs great! So do I!”

“Though hardly considered Pioneers, those of us in the class of ’72 are surprised to realize it’s been 46 years since our graduation,” writes GAIL HENRY. “I’m still in my family home in Salisbury, New Hamphire, and about to retire from my most recent 18-year career as a volunteer. I’ve served on the board of Sterling College, thanks to its former president, my Marlboro classmate WILL WOOTTON, plus numerous boards and committees in my hometown and area. My swan song is chairing the Sestercentennial (250 years) of the incorporation of Salisbury. When that ends December 31, I’m done with good-deed-doing. I plan to do more traveling while I’m still able. To those of you whom I haven’t seen in many years, consider this fair warning.”

“Marlboro is a special place, and I find myself telling many people what a wonderful atmosphere the school has, and about special classes and teachers I remember,” writes SHAYLOR LINDSAY. “I know small colleges are struggling these days, and I really hope Marlboro can keep being a haven of humanity, curiosity, and creativity for many years to come.”

CHERRIE COREY led a bird walk for the local community at the Hogback Mountain Conservation Area. Cherrie recently moved back to Marlboro, after retiring from Harvard’s Museum of Natural History.

“Hi to all Marlboro friends,” writes MARY COUGHLAN. “Please look me up when in the DC area. My business as an elder care companion/chef continues to fulfill me in many ways. Daughters Chloe, arts undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Kelsey, clinical researcher at UCSF Hospital, are thriving. Swimming laps outdoors is my current bliss!”

DANIEL PICKER writes, “My fictional short stories have appeared in The Abington Review, Kelsey Review, and 67th Street Scribe. My non-fiction travel essays and reviews have recently appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Sewanee Review, Rain Taxi Review of Books, and Harvard Review.”

In June, JOHN VON WODTKE road a 100-mile bike ride to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro in solidarity with Bruce Springsteen, who played an Asbury Park Concert to benefit the local Boys & Girls Club. “It takes a village to raise a child, so please consider giving to this great resource and help me outride the Boss,” wrote John.

“I continue to work for NOAA Fisheries in Seattle, WA, where I work on seabirdfisheries interactions and other conservation conundrums, while raising fledgling naturalists and footballers (global, not American),” writes TOM GOOD. “I enjoy the sport vicariously now through Porter (10) and Hadley (7), who know I ‘played soccer in college’ (never had before, but hey, anyone who wanted to play did, of course). I fondly remember fall days on the pitch with an eclectic crew—LEOPOLDO and JORGE BATLLE (’88), PIET VAN LOON (’88), BERNIE MCDONNELL (’87), EVAN BEND, and DAVE ROSS (’88), among others.”

Tom Good ’86: Science for Sound Policy 
At a time when the significance of science is challenged at every turn, Tom Good is doing original research and collaborating with others to turn good science into sound policy. A research fishery biologist for the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), Tom works on seabird-fishery interactions including incidental seabird mortality and seabird predation of fish stocks.

“I still love going into the field and doing biology,” says Tom, who works at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. “A big reason I became a field biologist was the time I spent in the field at Marlboro—trips with Bob Engel and John Hayes to the Everglades, the Yucatan Peninsula, the desert southwest, and central Mexico.”

Tom says that tutorials with Bob were instrumental in designing the field research for his Plan, and gave him a leg up when he went to graduate school. As one of the early participants in Branch Out, he also feels like this new online platform will be another valuable resource for new graduates (see page 22).

“I like the groups, where you can join or solicit group membership based upon Marlboro experiences or professional commonalities. I also like seeing regional happenings,” Tom says. “I’m hoping Branch Out serves as both a touchstone for alumni to past and present students and a platform for helping spread the word to the ‘outside world’ about the opportunity Marlboro still represents for scholars of all stripes.”


Jet Airways, India’s premier international full service carrier, announced in May that it has appointed ATHAR KHAN as its vice president for Americas. Athar joins Jet Airways after having spent over two successful decades with leading international carriers such as Delta Air Lines, Qatar Airways, and American Airlines.

SCOTT CALLAGHAN writes, “Living in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood, raising my 11-year-old daughter, working as an RN, and surfing Ocean Beach every chance I get.”

In May, SARA COFFEY kicked off her campaign for the Vermont House of Representatives, Windham-1 District, with a crowd of residents from Guilford and Vernon. “We’ve got something special and rare here in our small rural towns,” she said in a press release. “We have such a strong sense of community, but we are dealing with some challenging issues in our state and I believe that we need someone who can put aside party politics and bring people together to find common ground and creative solutions to some of the challenges that we are facing here in our small Vermont communities.” Learn more at saracoffeyvt.com.

Lillian Schrenk Graham ’07, Wylin Daigle ’07, Hayley Shriner ’07 and Willow O’Feral ’07 beam at Wylin’s July wedding with her partner of a decade, Michael Walston, in a small intimate ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island. It was a “super Marlborolicious event,” says Willow, with Hayley officiating, Lillian making bouquets from her garden, and Willow and Brad Heck ’04 taking photographs and throwing a tea party.Celebrating the culmination of PETER BLANCHETTE’s tenure as the musical director for Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra, the orchestra performed the world premier of his Concerto for Guitar Orchestra in May. According to the program, this three-movement piece is the first concerto ever written for guitar orchestra, and is a mosaic of musical fragments, remembered from the composer’s earliest musical awakenings. Peter uses sounds as diverse as the opening chords from the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar”, to flamenco dances, to snapshots of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier to create a mesmerizing musical pilgrimage.

“When not producing work for the paying gigs, DAVID SNYDER spends a lot of time mentoring and recording local musicians—many of them students— supporting the early careers of the region’s gifted artists.” So says a photo essay about David’s Guilford Sound, published in April on createinvermont.com. Learn more.

In March, RANDY KNAGGS joined more than 300 other advocates in Washington, D.C., on a march to meet with members of congress and share stories of the personal impact Parkinson’s disease has made on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Delegates educated lawmakers about the need for federal funding for research toward a cure for Parkinson’s, and policy support for those living with the disease. “The chance to come together with hundreds of people like me, share our journey and show our nation’s leaders what it means to live with Parkinson’s disease is powerful,” says Randy.

“It has been a huge deal in my life, a huge transformation, being able to accept and acknowledge myself as Warren Zevon’s daughter and a singer-songwriter on my own,” said ARIEL ZEVON in a January article about her new album, The Detangler. The theme of the album, according to the article, “is strength in solitude, or sometimes the search for strength in solitude.” Read more.

Community members are pleased to have Adam Katrick ’07 MS ’16 and Liza Mitrofanova ’15 on campus in their new roles as director of outdoor programs and Bridges program director, respectively. Their skills and experience promise many future adventures for students.DAVID WILLIAMSON writes, “I completed my doctorate on June 19, 2018, at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, where I studied management with a focus on organizational behavior and leadership.”

“As I kick-off my campaign for State Representative in Brattleboro, I’ve been thinking of my long-ago time on the hill,” said EMILIE KORNHEISER in April. “My campaign slogan is Committing to Community, and I learned about community for the first time at Marlboro— both the possibility and the skills to realize it—in Town Meeting, in the classroom, and on the steps of the dining hall.” Learn about her campaign at emiliekornheiser.org.

BRAD MORITH accepted admission to Texas A&M’s PhD in history program. “I am truly excited!” he writes. “I have five years of funding, including a full tuition scholarship, TA position, travel research startup account, and fifth-year graduate lectureship to teach at that university. For my research area in late Cold War history, this is an ideal place to study, with a number of first-rate scholars in 20th-century American diplomatic history and the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library on campus. To get here, Marlboro College was instrumental, and I am truly grateful for my experience on Potash Hill.” Brad’s MA thesis at LaSalle University was “George Shultz and Eduard Shevardnadze: Collaborating diplomats who helped end the Cold War.”

After 12 years building community and career in Portland, CHOYA ADKISON-STEVENS is quitting her organizer job, getting married (in the spiritual, not state, sense of the word), and departing the U.S. with her beloved wife at the end of summer for indefinite international travels. If you have connections abroad (pretty much anywhere, we are looking at a lot of prospective destinations) that you want to share, please be in touch!

ELIZABETH ESCO CRAIN writes, “I’m in my sixth year of running Leafhopper Farm in Duvall, Washington. Check out my blog: leafhopperfarm.com. Loving an outdoor life in the Pacific Northwest.”

Ryan Stratton ’11, assistant director of admissions, was joined by developer Michael Riley ’09 and COO Becky Catarelli ’04 in an archaeological investigation of the fire pond when it was at its lowest point in July. Among the finds: a folding chair, a full-length mirror, a lighter, and a Dunkin’ Donuts cup.“I am in the process of starting a new lab for seed health testing,” writes JORDAN HENDRICKSON. “The lab I work for, Ag-Biotech, does mostly molecular markers and is focused on the agricultural market, so they wanted to start providing seed pathogen testing as well, so here I am. I mostly test commercial vegetable seed, so tomatoes, peppers, brassicas, etc. Our clients can range from giant agricultural companies like Monsanto to organic heirloom seed companies like Johnny’s. It’s actually pretty fun because it’s a nice mix of super traditional seed wash assays, pathogenicity tests, reading of bacterial colonies on agar, and molecular techniques. It also of course means that I work with a lot of plants, which as a commercial scientist I’m pretty thrilled about.”

LYDIA BOROWICZ writes, “I’ll be starting a PhD program in the fall, and I appreciate the academic foundation Marlboro College provided for me.”

RENATA CHRISTEN lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she works as a research analyst. Her career has focused on agriculture and sustainable development, with an emphasis on agrobiodiversity. In her spare time, she moonlights as a copywriter for Dutch organizations and companies. Funding contingent, she plans to start either a seed company or PhD over the next few years.

“In the fall I was on campus filming the Bridges trips with my partner Melissa,” writes PATRICK KENNEDY. “I cut a rough version for myself in October to test the rig I was using.” See the video.

“I am nearly into my fourth year working as a therapist for a community mental health agency,” writes TALIA JACKSON. “I am focusing a lot on trauma work and trying to maintain a goal of healing in a system that is overloaded.”

“I’m a natural-born collaborator,” says AMBER SCHAEFER, in an article in Shoot Magazine about her new position as comedy director for Los Angeles–based More Media. “That’s why I prefer improv over stand-up, because you’re creating these worlds together. More Media feels like the perfect place to continue doing that work.” Learn more.

Olivia Sanders ’10: Teen Identity and Wellness 
“One of the best things about being a counselor for teens is getting to witness and help with my clients’ identity development process,” says Olivia Sanders, who works at a community mental health center in Burlington, Vermont. “I love helping young folks to gain awareness of themselves, their values, and who they want to be in the world, as well as find communities where they feel loved and supported.”

Olivia’s Plan of Concentration focused on adolescent identity development and gender studies, and continues to directly and positively relate to her work. “My Plan not only influences my daily clinical practice, but set me up with an in-depth and complex foundation in psychology that exceeded other undergraduate programs,” says Olivia. After completing a graduate degree at University of Vermont’s clinical mental health counseling program, she was immediately hired for her current position.

“I primarily work with young people who are struggling with trauma, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and/or navigating identity development,” says Olivia. “I have a particular interest in bringing sexuality, social justice, and sociocultural aspects of identity development into my work, exploring issues of power and oppression, and making sense of the world my clients live in. This looks like conversations about consent and communication with partners, or having a space to talk about their thoughts and feelings about school shootings or racism in their schools.”

On a more personal note, Olivia and Noah Burke ’10 (pictured above) are still together and getting married in September.


ALEXIA BOGGS writes, “I just got hired as associate attorney for Radiant Solutions, an aerospace corporation that uses remote sensing satellites to provide geospatial intelligence services and products to government agencies and commercial customers.”

In May, Lady Jane (ESPERANZA FRIEL) appeared with House Sparrow in a North Adams, Massachusetts, concert titled “Shut the Folk Up.” Her bio says she is taking her music more seriously and recording songs for an upcoming album called Fish and Foot.

“I just got accepted into the medicinal chemistry/pharmacognosy doctorate program at University of Illinois at Chicago, following the Natural Products Drug Discovery track,” writes DANIEL ZAGAL. “I will be relocating from Brattleboro, where I have lived since I graduated Marlboro, to Chicago for the beginning of the spring semester 2018.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being a cute and casual baker, but my experience with it is as work, and I don’t want to have that trivialized,” says MAYA ROHR in an April interview about her life of baking on the BBC. Maya recently finished an apprenticeship with a Swedish chocolatier and is back in Homer, Alaska, where she is managing and catering at the family bakery, Two Sisters. Learn more.

JAY SAYRE is currently a PhD student at University of California, Berkeley.

“I am currently in rehearsal for the world premiere of Tabula Rasa, my fourth opera,” says FELIX JARRAR in an April interview with Broadway World. “Tabula Rasa is a jazz-opera about 1920’s model Kiki de Montparnasse and her passionate relationship with photographer Man Ray. The main arch centers Kiki’s self-discovery that she is not Man Ray’s object to be destroyed.” His new work premiered as part of the 2018 Opera Fest. Read more.


In April, Mel Motel MAT-SJ ’11, executive director of the Brattleboro Community Justice Center, led a mock restorative justice conference for members of the campus community. The subject explored by mock participants involved Facebook posts deriding women who study continental philosophy.ALLISON GRIPPE MSM ’08 was appointed as hired as director of grant strategy and development at Oakton Community College, outside Chicago, in February. She has worked with community colleges for 11 years, in the areas of resource development, grant writing and management, budget development, and strategic planning, and has served as elected president for the Illinois Community College Resource Development.

In January, HILLARY ORSINI MSM ’14 was appointed to the board of trustees for the Howard Center, a Burlington-based nonprofit offering life-saving crisis and counseling services to children and adults. Hillary is a program manager at Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, and serves on the boards of several local nonprofit organizations.

BRADFORD SMITH, who earned a certificate in nonprofit management in 2015, was appointed as the first executive director of the Vermont Learning-Support Initiative in March. This nonprofit organization offers collaborative support to teens with learning and attention challenges who aspire to a college degree. “As a parent of a child with significant learning issues, I have seen firsthand in my family, in Vermont, and elsewhere what it means to learn differently, and how much that affects those who struggle and those around them,” said Smith in an article in Vermont Business Magazine. “I am humbled that the board has granted me this opportunity to guide VLSI as it ramps up its efforts to support learners who, in spite of their challenges, dare to dream big.”

ALAN SILVERMAN MAT ’12 was promoted to quality assurance manager at SunSetter Products, a manufacturer of awnings in Malden, Massachusetts. “My ability to understand processes, document them, train people, and continually improve procedures has not gone unnoticed,” Alan writes. “We are reinventing the way Sunsetter builds products, and I am going to be a significant contributor to this process. Many in our factory are Spanish speaking, so that is my next learning curve. I want to create instructions that cross language barriers. Think IKEA. I would love to find an art class that promotes icons and imagery to instruct without words.”

WENDY LEBLANC MAT ’13 was recognized with an Excellence in Education Award at Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham, Massachusetts, in June 2017. A business and technology teacher at the high school and career internship coordinator, she is credited with helping “countless students wade into the job market,” according to an article in the Sentinel and Enterprise. Learn more.

Emmanuel Ajanma MAT ’16: Increasing Inclusion with Technology 
When he completed his Capstone in the Teaching with Technology program, creating training materials on Google collaborative tools for a Nigerian secondary school, Emmanuel Ajanma had no idea it would take him so far, right here in Vermont. Initially the technology integration specialist at Central Vermont Career Center, he recently became the director of technology for all of Barre Supervisory Union.

“I have expanded on my Capstone, and still use it for training in my district today,” says Emmanuel, who manages technology resources and staff to support the needs of faculty and students in the Barre area. “I love that I get to apply the extensive technology skills that I acquired during my time at Marlboro College. The MAT program was critical in preparing me for this position.”

Emmanuel collaborates with administrators, teachers, parents, students, and school board members, something that he finds very fulfilling and that Marlboro’s tight-knit community helped prepare him for.

“I feel honored using technology to increase equity, inclusion, and digital citizenship practices in our school community,” he says. “I get to make decisions that are student centered, even if those decisions are difficult. I help provide access to devices and information students need to learn, grow, and compete in the world.”


“Because my colleges were for periods of time under tremendous, even crushing, stress, my career required what was for me an unnatural level of discipline and focus; a grim, sometimes frenetic determination; and a sense of humor equal to the thickness of my skin. Also critical to my longevity was an overwhelming awareness of the irony which enveloped these colleges and their presidents like a gaggle of minor Greek gods—mocking, sympathizing, punishing, rewarding, ignoring.” —Will Wootton, Good Fortune Next Time 

Good Fortune Next Time: Life, Death, Irony, and the Administration of Very Small Colleges (Mandel Vilar Press, 2017), by Will Wootton ’72, is a literary memoir tracking Will’s 29-year odyssey through the halls of academia. His journey takes readers from Marlboro College to Montserrat College of Art, and finally to his six years as president of Sterling College, where he coaxed the small but beloved college back to life.





All That Once Was You (Finishing Line Press, 2018) is the first collection of poems from Thomas Griffin ’86, whose work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and recognized with an Academy of American Poets Prize. “In poems filled with delicately nuanced music (‘intoxicated moths,’ ‘the puckered lake relaxes,’ ‘every tree’s leaves knuckled down’), Thomas Griffin holds out an almost Keatsian hand to us,” writes poet Kate Gleason.





The Secrets to Creating Amazing Photos (Mango Press, 2018), by Marc Silber ’73, offers easy-to-follow composition recipes based on Marc’s years of study and interviews with master photographers. “This is the book we’ve all been waiting for—a concise and compact guide covering a full spectrum of composition tools, just the size you can bring with you for inspiration in the field,” writes Brian Taylor, Center for Photographic Arts.





No Man’s Land: Views from a Surveillance State (Daylight Press, 2018), by Marcus DeSieno ’10, is a beguiling collection of landscapes pulled from hours of security camera feeds, reminding us that we are never truly alone. “By effectively rescuing the unvalued landscapes caught up in the digital surveillance of humans acting badly, DeSieno asks us to think about what these places are without us,” writes historian Martha Sandweiss in an accompanying essay.



The Fallen Kingdom (Chronicle Books, 2017), by Elizabeth May (Holzhauser) ’08, is the final book in her Falconer trilogy for young adults. Resurrected by ancient magic, the heroine Aileana returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers. To save the world and the people she loves, she must learn to harness these powers even as they are slowly destroying her.





Nothing Happened (Disney-Hyperion, 2018), is the second young adult novel from Molly Booth ’14. A modern-day retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Molly’s Nothing takes place at an idyllic summer camp where counselors find the improv stage isn’t the only place for drama. “With its vibrant, diverse cast and respectful depiction of mental health issues, this playful adaption of Much Ado About Nothing isn’t just for Shakespeare lovers,” said Booklist.





“Do You Have a Band?”: Poetry and Punk Rock in New York City (Columbia University Press, 2017), by Daniel Kane ’90, captures a compelling exchange between poets and musicians and its challenge to the lines between lyric and poem. “Do You Have a Band? is a formidably researched and galvanizing cultural history of the poetry–punk rock connection, with its lofty aspirations, history, gossip, and genius,” writes author Anne Waldman.