Doug Cooney reports that Rob Gilbert ’69, ’79PhD has turned 70. Gilbert was a popular head of residence at UMass for 10 years for Washington Upper Tower in the 1970s. Readers might remember Rob for his outgoing and generous personality and as wrestling coach and founder of the Button Factory. Cooney (head of residence for Kennedy Middle 1975–1977) and Joanie Grzybowski ’82 recently joined Rob to celebrate the milestone. Rob and Doug both worked at UMass Summer Orientation and were also roommates at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Since leaving UMass, Rob has been a distinguished professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey and is a noted motivational speaker.
Hussein Ahdieh is a writer, speaker, and educator. Hussein was one of the founders and assistant headmaster of the Harlem Preparatory School and served as director of higher educational programs at Fordham University.
Kathy Torpey Garganta will retire in June from a 33-plus-year career as a pubic higher ed faculty member and administrator. She was vice president of enrollment services at Bristol Community College.
Liz Murphy writes: Wishing to connect to the great group of roommates who shared a brownstone on St. John’s Place in Brooklyn, New York, in 1975. We were all working in internships through the UMass Outreach program. My roommate worked at the Lincoln Center gallery. I worked for a small interior design firm in Midtown. Another roommate worked at the Village Voice. Our rooftop view of Manhattan, shared cool experiences, and the end-of-the-war celebration in Central Park all come to mind. Curtis, David, Kathy, Sharon, I would love to hear from you. Email: Liz@Lizmurphydesign.com.
Gail Nathena Hawkins writes professionally under the name Minerva Gail Hawkins, a nickname since age five. She is marking her 50th year as a published poet and journalist. Now living in Southern California, Gail is a member of the City of Burbank Tournament of Roses Float Association and says she felt a healthy dose of UMass pride while watching the UMass Minuteman Marching Band in the 2018 Rose Parade.
Jim Mayher is an associate pastor in relational care at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, one of the largest churches in the United States. He lives in Fort Worth with his wife of 35 years, Marlaine, and his son, daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Steven C. Blank, of the department of agricultural and applied economics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the title of professor emeritus by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
Ray Pierson (chemical engineering) and Marcel Emond ’74, ’98G (Isenberg) are the owners of New City Brewery in Easthampton, Massachusetts, known for its ginger beer and Moscow mule. Ray writes: We have remained fanatical supporters of all that is UMass. I am a physician, and I have lived in California for 20 years, but I still have season tickets for basketball and travel around the U.S. to see various UMass sports teams compete.
John P. “Jack” Riordan received the Massachusetts Bar Association’s annual Community Service Award in December. Jack founded the Mochila Project, which provides backpacks and coats to children living below the poverty line in Brockton, Massachusetts. He is a past president and incorporator of the Brockton Boys & Girls Club.
Marisa Weinstein received the 2017 George N. Parks Award for Leadership in Music Education from the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). She is director of bands at Warsaw Middle School in Pittsfield, Maine.
Sussy Komala has been named codirector of what will be the world’s first low-residency international MFA in creative writing and literary translation at Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Paul Collins is the president and owner of Collins Engineering, a software-engineering company in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Sandy Lish received Tomorrow’s Women TODAY 2017 Woman of the Year award. Sandy is the principal and cofounder with Wendy Spivak ’82 of The Castle Group, a public relations and events firm based in Charlestown, Massachusetts.
James Liston is in his third season as sports science director for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer.
John Pankauski, an attorney in south Florida, didn’t even like beer when he was an undergrad studying political science. He is now the owner of the West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault. The tap room, wine-tasting room, and restaurant opened in November.
Erin Moran Shapiro is the managing partner of the Northborough, Massachusetts, office of the law firm Atwood & Cherny PC. She is a longtime partner at the firm, concentrating on family law. She lives in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, with her husband and two daughters.
Cindy Kennedy is a resident of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. After an experience with Lyme disease, she started the podcast series Living with Lyme, which has been heard in 17 countries.
Katie A. Niejadlik, pro bono manager for the law firm Fish & Richardson, received the “Leading Light” award from Immigration Equality at the organization’s annual SHINE event, which celebrates the accomplishments of civil rights leaders and supporters in the LGBTQ immigration movement. She works out of the firm’s Austin, Texas, office.
Rachel E. Muñoz has joined national workplace law firm Jackson Lewis P.C. in its Boston office. Her practice focuses on representing employers in workplace law matters, including preventive advice and counseling.
Paula Morissette Stanton was promoted to senior account manager at Broadreach Public Relations in Portland, Maine. She lives in Portland’s West End with her husband and dachshund.
Kevin Banks became the golf course manager at Vineyard Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard, the only all-organic golf course in the country, in 2016.
Jared Phillips is co-owner and vice president of Clockhouse Realty Inc. in Somerset, Massachusetts.
Arthur Xia, who was a 2014 Fulbright Scholar in China, is now an administrative assistant at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office for the Consumer Advocacy and Response Division (CARD), which provides assistance on consumer issues.
Reed Fox is program manager for Street Soccer USA, which fights poverty and empowers underserved communities through soccer.
Stephanie Burney, of Acton, Massachusetts, is serving as a health volunteer in the Peace Corps in South Africa.