Department of Anthropology, UMass Amherst
Alumni Advisory Board 10/07
Suzanne Flynn , ‘72 (BA University of Massachusetts, MS University of Puerto Rico, MA Cornell University and PhD Cornell University) is a Professor of Linguistics and Language Acquisition at MIT. Her research focuses on the acquisition of various aspects of syntax by both children and adults in bilingual, second and third language acquisition contexts. This research is linked current cognitive and linguistic theories. More recently, her work has also focused on the neural representation of the multilingual brain as well as on the phonological and acoustic underpinnings of accent. She also focuses on understanding and developing research methodologies that most precisely evaluate developing linguistic competence. She has published extensively. She has authored or co-edited several books. Suzanne is also the co-founding editor of a journal entitled Syntax: A Journal of Theoretical, Experimental and interdisciplinary Research.
Johanna (Jodie) Hale , '72. After 31 years in the corporate world, Jodie recently retired to attend the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Her business career began as a customer service supervisor at United Parcel Service after her graduation from the University of Massachusetts. During six years at UPS, she was among the first women in the company to be promoted into a management position. She switched industries when she joined Fidelity Investments in 1980—a time when new tax laws gave rise to a burgeoning retirement industry with the inception of 401(k) and universal IRAs. Over the course of her financial services career she worked in many facets of the retirement business from participant recordkeeping to retirement plans marketing. Her experience includes working with large institutional 401(k) and 403(b) plans, retail IRAs and small business retirement plans. Her other employers include State Street Bank and Trust, New England Mutual Life/Met Life, Nvest Funds and Pioneer Investment Management. She is now fulfilling her long held dream to become an artist by studying drawing and painting at SMFA. She writes: “Taking a classical approach, I have immersed myself in life drawing, which is rather daunting before you learn the joys of using the right side of your brain. I also love drawing portraits. (Could this focus on human subjects be the anthropologist in me?) Making art has become an integral part of my sense of self. I live with my husband, Richard, in Newton. Our daughter, Sarah, just graduated from Smith College. In the summer I migrate to Falmouth where I enjoy painting the hidden coves of the Upper Cape.”
Nathaniel M. Smith , '78, RHU, has over 25 years experience in employee benefits, with undergraduate degrees in international education and cultural anthropology. A Navy veteran, he taught school in Ecuador, Nicaragua, Massachusetts and Texas before entering the business world. As a Regional Manager for Rogers Benefit Group, Inc. he manages five sales and service offices in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, helping independent agents assist their customers with medical and non-medical insurance.
Steve Perlman , G'77, spent 6 years working in an academic environment before taking his career to the corporate world. For the next 20 years, Steve worked in the financial services and real estate industries from operations, to sales and in Human Resources. Most of his work in Human Resources focused on organizational change and merger related issues, recruiting, and employee training and development. Tired of hearing that a teacher can only teach and not do, Steve finished his corporate career in charge of 14,000 apartment units. The performance of the division went from the bottom to the top of the organization in less than a year. For the last 6 years, Steve has owned an operated a 20 room inn on Martha's Vineyard.
Phillip S. Katz (B.A '69 and PhD '75 in Anthropology at UMass Amherst; M.A. '71 in Anthropology at Brown University; M.P.H '79 in Yale University School of Medicine Epidemiology and Health Services Administration). His early, “traditional” career focused on a number of topics within socio-cultural anthropology, with special interests in law and conflict resolution, economic anthropology, and medical issues, particularly in multiethnic environments. He has done fieldwork on the island of St. Vincent, WI and in the high alpine region of the German-speaking Italian South Tyrol. From 1974 to 1977 he was an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Department at SUNY Brockport, NY. While there, he worked with the Navajo, as an employee of a Navajo health agency, collecting data on morbidity and mortality patterns.
His more recent career began as an analyst at the Mass. Department of Public Health, with occasional semester teaching jobs at Brandeis and B.U. School of Graduate Dentistry. For the past 20 years he has worked as a planner for a very large medical group practice, where he collaborates on financial studies, marketing, developing new clinical programs, assisting in negotiating medical equipment purchases, and considering programs that may be beneficial for area residents. Katz feels that “throughout these various “careers” the lessons and outlooks of anthropology have provided an essential foundation. In so many situations I have asked myself: what is motivating people in a clinical setting or in a business negotiation? What are their values and cultural (personal or corporate) beliefs? How can the qualitative and quantitative tools from anthropology and epidemiology training be utilized?”