Alumnae Help Syrian Refugees in Cleveland

Suzanne Soppitt LeSure ’69 (second from left) and Mead Wilkins ’71 (back), a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, both retired after successful careers working with abused and neglected children in Medina, Ohio. For 20 years, Wilkins was the director of a large agency that served low-income, elderly, and foster children. LeSure is a psychologist who worked with traumatized patients in community, hospital, and private-practice settings.

She sold her private practice two years ago but was not quite ready to retire. Unbeknownst to each other, upon leaving those positions, LeSure and Wilkins both contacted Migration and Refugee Services in Cleveland to volunteer their services out of concern for the plight of Syrian refugees. They were both hired to work in the recently funded Survivors of Torture Program, which needed experienced practitioners. Wilkins is the clinical director of the program and works with a staff of caregivers to transform trauma in a healing environment.

During the past 24 months, more 300 individuals have been served from more than 26 countries. Services include free legal representation, counseling, case management, employment, ESL classes, and social services. LeSure implemented a therapeutic technique called “Testimonial Therapy” to help survivors deal with their trauma and achieve a sense of social justice. This involves four sessions in which the survivor’s story is captured in a narrative form and then celebrated with family, friends, and staff.

As challenging as this second career has been, both LeSure and Wilkins have found it highly rewarding and satisfying. Not only has it been an opportunity to share the benefits of a great OWU education, it has also been culturally stimulating, socially engaging, and a great career conclusion.

Alumna Honors Libby Reed with New Award

At their 45th class reunion dinner on campus in May, Carrie Thomas ’73 presented Jim Mendenhall ’73 with a brass OWU seal she received 10 years prior from OWU English professor Libby Reed. Thomas credits Reed with providing her not only a career-shaping writing education, but also a lesson in how to find the best in others and carry a lifelong love of OWU. Reed gave the seal to Thomas the last time they visited before Reed’s death, at Thomas’ 35th class reunion.

This year, Thomas wanted to pass on this “symbol of commitment and excellence” in acknowledgment of a classmate’s dedication to OWU, creating a tradition that can be repeated each year during reunion weekend. In giving the seal to Mendenhall, Thomas said she celebrated his unwavering commitment to OWU and sincere care for his classmates. In accepting it, Mendenhall lightheartedly dubbed the traveling award the “Love Oh-Woo Award.”

’73-’74 Classmates Remember a Friend

Classmates gathered in Hunt Valley, Md., on April 8 to celebrate the life of Mike Spencer’s wife Pam, who passed away Jan. 22. From left: Eugenie Barbour Drayton ’73, Judy Fasold Forrester ’73, Dick Eakins ’73, Deborah Primm Mills ’74, John Mills ’73, Mike Spencer ’73, Jim Mendenhall ’73, Lynn Oliver Garvin ’73, Charlie Garvin ’73, and Amy Kinney Raffel ’73.

Second Granddaughter Welcomed to Kappa Alpha Theta

(From left) Mary Steele Holm ’60 celebrated sorority initiation with her two granddaughters, Allie Holm ’21 and Ashley Brown ’13 on Feb. 25. Mary presented Allie with a pin that belonged to her mother, Henrietta Slater Steele ’29. All are members of the Gamma deuteron chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta.

Peek of Peale in Picture Pick

The late Norman Vincent Peale 1920, an influential minister and esteemed alumnus, received posthumous exposure for his popular book The Power of Positive Thinking when it made a cameo in a scene from The Shape of Water, the movie selected as best picture at the 2018 Academy Awards. (Credit to Laurie McGregor Connor ’77 for her eagle eye.)

Ferris Hosts OWU Men’s Golf Team During N.Y. Tournament

Dave Ferris ’73 and his wife Anne recently hosted the OWU men’s golf team at their home in Pittsford, N.Y. This is the second time the Ferrises have hosted the golf team as it participated in the University of Rochester’s Fred Kraevetz Invitational. Pictured from left are Dom Caminiti ’19, Will Efkeman ’20, Nick Braydich ’20, Shane Hoben ’20, Anne and Dave Ferris, Ian Miller ’99 (men’s golf coach), and Zach Shahrokhi ’18. Junior Dom Caminiti ’19 won the individual tournament and the Bishops finished second in overall team score. The Ferrises also hosted a group of alumni at their home for a dinner with the team, so local alumni could network with one another and meet some current students, including Darrell and Mary Anna Fitch Geib ’57, Pat and Caroline DeMambro Coakley ’09, Al Heath ’77, Jake Miller ’14, Sue Bender Bloch ’64 and her son Doug Hannie (a local PGA pro in Pittsford), Ian Miller ’99, and Ryan Jordan ’09.

Suchy Receives Highest Staff Honor from Texas Tech

Kathryn Suchy ’78 (center) was awarded Texas Tech University’s esteemed Chancellor’s Award of Excellence in May, the highest honor a staff member can receive. The award recognizes exemplary service and commitment to the university by increasing departmental productivity and/or efficiency, motivating co-workers to do their best, and instilling pride in Texas Tech. Suchy is the senior director of IT at the Rawls College of Business.

Reich and Rosenburg Partner for Disaster Planning Session

OWU alumni and friends Mark Reich ’81 (left), chief operating officer of Lean Enterprise Institute, and Zack Rosenburg ’95 (right), co-founder and CEO of SBP, a nonprofit organization that helps communities recover quickly from natural disasters, paused for a photo during a strategic planning session facilitated by the Lean Enterprise Institute at SBP’s headquarters in New Orleans on May 10. The training session aimed to increase SBP’s disaster recovery capabilities in preparation for hurricane season.

OWU Friends Gather at Alumni-Owned Tampa Restaurant

OWU alumni Jim Fishman ’83 (left), Ali Kahle ’81 (middle), and Tamra Foster Muir ’81 (right) gathered in Tampa, Fla., in March. They dined at Cru Cellars, a restaurant owned by Torrey Bingham ’03 (back) and Jennifer Loring Bingham ’04.

Cheng-Ghosh Family Update

Nicholas Cheng ’03 and Sumita Ghosh ’03 live in Chicago with their two children, Sophia (5) and Noah (1). Nick is a credit risk director at Bank of America, covering a portfolio of Fortune 500 food and agribusiness companies. He underwrites, structures, and manages more than $8 billion of credit exposure in a variety of products including syndicated loans, leasing, trading, and treasury management products. Sumi works at ACCO Brands and is the director of disruptive innovation, where she is responsible for looking at new categories and new channels. They both enjoy spending time with their kids, whether it is baking sugar cookies or going sledding, and hope to take them to OWU and show them where mommy and daddy met. OWU has a special place in their hearts.

Young Alumni Award Winner Visits Campus

Driss Sekkat ’06 returned from his documentary filmmaking work overseas, including in Indonesia, and visited Mowry Alumni Center on campus in March to pick up his Young Alumni Award, which was awarded during the 2016 Reunion Weekend.

Palmer’s African Bird Research Featured in National Geographic

Meredith Palmer ’11, a Ph.D. candidate in behavioral ecology at the University of Minnesota, published a research paper on African birds that sleep in the armpits of giraffes, and the topic was picked up by National Geographic in February. Palmer’s research, published in the African Journal of Ecology in February, reveals photographic evidence of yellow-billed oxpeckers sleeping nestled on the bodies of giraffes, water buffaloes, and elands. These mammals are a food source for the birds during the day, but Palmer says the nighttime closeness is likely safe and comfortable, while potentially serving to deter competitors. Palmer and her research partners discovered the oxpeckers’ nighttime habits through rare photos from a large multi-year camera trap study in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

Ottney-Grover Wedding

Sarah Ottney ’06 married Drew Grover on Aug. 13, 2016, in Toledo, Ohio. From left: Kristen Weimer Seigel ’07, Lee Seigel ’06, the bride, Lauren Blyth ’06, and Abigail Maley Berkey ’06.

Legacy Family Attends Symphonic Wind Concert

The family of Natalie Baker Campbell ’19 (front center) gathered on campus to hear her perform in the OWU Symphonic Wind Ensemble on March 25. Among them were five OWU alumni, pictured from left (back row): Judy Conrad DeVere ’62, John Baker ’55, Emily Moore ’16, (front row): Hannah Baker Rawlings ’17, Natalie, and Laura Baker Campbell ’87.

Return to the Fall 2018 OWU Magazine