EventsBack to calendar
Humanities and Fine Arts: From Theory To Practice
Find Out How Humanities and Fine Arts Work in the World!
UMass Amherst HFA alumni want to help you broaden your horizons and find meaningful work in the world. Students preparing to navigate the professional world can tap the expertise of alumni who are established in their careers, learn from their experience and advice, and build networks. Their stories are road maps.
Friday, October 28, from 1:00 - 2:30pm in South College Commons
A brief introduction from Dean Krauthamer will be followed by ample time to mingle, get to know alumni, and talk about your interests.
Alumni bios may be found below and will be updated periodically.
Refreshments will be served!
Laura Bailey ‘03, Theater and English
In 2003, Laura Bailey received a BA in Theater and English with minors in Psychology and Political Science. After receiving a Master’s degree in film, she went on to work in production in a variety of roles. She is currently a Script Supervisor with credits in film and television.
Mai Cortes ‘93, French
A Cambridge, MA native and resident of New York for over 25 years, Mai Cortes is excited to work as a new member of the Alumni Board of Directors. Being a woman of color with a career in IT at a University gives her a perspective for students who may not see others that look like them in this role. She is a firm believer and advocate for strengthening career development for the student body. Mai believes students of all ages can always use guidance and support for career paths new and old. Mai is proud to have had such formative years at UMass, over 25 years ago, and is looking forward to mentoring students in the future, with any knowledge she can bring to the table.
Esther Cuesta Santana ‘02, ’09MA, ’15PhD, Comparative Literature
Esther Cuesta Santana has been a member of Ecuador’s National Assembly since 2017, representing the constituency of Europe, Asia, and Oceania. Reelected in 2021, she is currently a member of the Committee on Children and Adolescents’ Rights. She is also president of the parliamentary group for the rights of people in human mobility, encompassing immigrants, emigrants, refugees, persons in need of international protection, returned Ecuadorian migrants, people in transit, and victims of human trafficking and human smuggling. She has been president and vice president of the Committee on Sovereignty, Integration, International Relations, and Integral Security of Ecuador’s National Assembly. Previously, she held the position of vice minister of human mobility of Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she was challenged to manage the country’s migrant populations through policy decisions, and served as consul general of Ecuador in Genoa, Italy, implementing innovative and multidisciplinary government programs in close collaboration with Italian institutions to help Ecuadorian migrant families in Italy regain custody of their children. She also managed the recovery of thousands of pieces of Ecuador’s cultural heritage contained in Italian collections.
Christina Gantcher ‘94, Comparative Literature
Christina Gantcher is the founder of Good Night Sleep Coaching, LLC, and is a certified and licensed Gentle Sleep Coach. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from University College London. Before her time as a sleep consultant, Christina worked at Lehman Brothers as well as CIBC World Markets in equities sales and trading as well as the director of communications for the North American Council of the History of the Museum of Polish Jews, which is located in Warsaw. After the arrival of her first son, Christina struggled with the common sleep difficulties many families face and quickly realized the need for support in the parenting community. She then became passionate about providing education for parents of children with sleep challenges and became a Gentle Sleep Coach, starting her own private practice and working as a consultant for corporations and telehealth platforms. Christina is the mother of two teenage sons, is married to Mike Gantcher, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Peter Howard ‘80, Comparative Literature
Peter Howard received a BA in Comparative Literature from UMass Amherst in 1980 and his MS in Management from MIT Sloan in 1984. He is currently Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Realtime Robotics, a Boston-based 5 year old 80 person startup in the robotics field. Peter’s career is into it’s fifth decade, and encompasses prior startups in Singapore (‘80’s), France (90’s), and the US (00’s), with two exits via IPO and one via strategic sale. Peter’s studies at UMass spanned religion and literature from third century BC China, 11th century Japan, and 19th Century Britain, which he feels prepared him well for a career in which he has lived in and led technology companies in the US, Japan, Singapore, China, France, the Netherlands, and Wales.
Alex Karis ’97, Art
Alex Karis graduated from the University of Massachusetts (UMass), Amherst, in 1996 with a Fine Arts degree. While attending computer art classes, he developed an interest in technology. After graduation, he pursued a sales career with a national telecommunication provider and worked in the World Trade Center in NYC. In the fall of 2001, Mr. Karis founded his own B2B telecommunications marketing firm. In 2020, he shifted his company's focus to B2B telecommunication solutions, and his firm was renamed Innovare Telecom. He also started a Blockchain software company and is interested in NFTs and Real Estate. Mr. Karis resides in the South Shore area with his wife and two sons.
Bob LaRussa ’76, History
Bob LaRussa is a member of the Shearman & Sterling's International Trade and Investment Practice. He has more than 30 years of experience in the regulatory issues surrounding international trade and investment, including as Commerce Department Under Secretary for International Trade during the Clinton Administration. His practice areas include CFIUS national security reviews, international trade law, export controls and national security matters before the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Departments of State, Commerce, Energy, and Defense. Mr. LaRussa uses his unique background as a former journalist, Administration official and congressional trade counsel to position clients, represent them in negotiations and regulatory and court proceedings, and advocate their positions before the highest levels of government.
Sarah Oh ‘15, History of Art & Architecture
Sarah Oh earned her bachelor's degree in Art History and certificate in Arts Management in 2015. Initially an undeclared major, she quickly found her home in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, even working part-time in the HFA Dean's office. Currently, she is the Public Art and Collections Manager at MIT List Visual Arts Center. Prior to this role, she worked in operational and exhibition planning at Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and fundraising and event management at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
Michael Partridge ‘92, English
Michael Partridge has served in a number of roles leading product communications, corporate branding and communications, and investor relations at Vertex Pharmaceuticals over the last 20 years. He is currently Vertex's Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and is responsible for Vertex's global investor relations program and is a member of the Company's management committee. He has been honored twice by Institutional Investor as Best Investor Relations Professional in the biotechnology sector. Prior to Vertex, Mr. Partridge spent four years at Decision Resources, a privately owned consulting and advisory firm for the healthcare, pharmaceutical and financial industries. His work on a report projecting the rapid evolution in HIV therapeutic development and treatment led him to his initial role at Vertex.
Jill Roberts ‘83, History of Art & Architecture
Jill Roberts serves as a Program Manager in the Office of Digital Strategy and Engagement at the Smithsonian, National Museum of African American History and Culture. Jill leads the Searchable Museum program, a digital platform that makes the full body of knowledge collected and curated by the Museum, accessible to a global, online audience. After graduating from UMass Amherst, Jill moved to Washington D.C. to pursue a career in museums. She first served as a curatorial assistant at the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. After relocating to New Orleans, Jill worked as a Cataloger at the Historic New Orleans Collection. Following marriage, 3 children and a lengthy residency abroad (France, South Africa, Germany, and France again), Jill returned to the USA in search of her second act! She has worked for several Software Companies in Washington D.C. as a Project Manager before landing her dream job at the Smithsonian in 2017.
Diana Santiago ‘00, Legal Studies
Diana Santiago is a Senior Attorney and Program Director for ¡Adelante! Advancing the Education Rights of Immigrant and Multilingual Children at Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC). She collaborates with parents, students, advocates, educators and communities to advocate at the individual student and systemic levels for equitable opportunities in education, provide parent and student training, and lead a coalition of special education attorneys and advocates focused on language access and challenging barriers in the special education process. Prior to joining MAC, Diana worked at the Boston Public Health Commission managing the Boston Child Health Study and projects focused on inclusion of children with disabilities in after school programs. Prior to that, she was a staff attorney at South Coastal Counties Legal Services. Attorney Santiago was a Legal Studies major at UMASS Amherst, attended Northeastern University School of Law, and has a master’s degree in public health from Tufts University School of Medicine.