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Class Notes and more


A smiling person in a suit jacket stands on a staircase.

Photo: Mike Peters, Montclair State University

12,000 Pep Talks

Looking for a motivational poke in the ribs? Call the Success Hotline. Every day for 30 years, Robert Gilbert ’69, ’79PhD—a public speaker, author, and associate professor of sport psychology at New Jersey’s Montclair State University—has recorded a three-minute phone message to cajole and inspire listeners.

Gilbert set up the hotline in 1992 to record daily “you’ve got this!” messages to inspire his graduate students between class sessions. He hasn’t missed a day since. Gilbert borrowed the idea from his days as a wrestling coach, when he pumped up his athletes during practices and meets.

The hotline—with a wonderfully muffled, crackly sound quality reminiscent of an old-school rotary phone—reaches millions today, including celebrities and high achievers. New Jersey Senator Cory Booker recently gave it a shout-out on TikTok, sending the phone lines into overdrive.

Listeners can still call the hotline at (973) 743-4690. Or they can subscribe to the podcast, Success Hotline With Dr. Rob Gilbert, and listen to the nearly 12,000 messages he’s recorded so far.




A smiling person with long braids stands in the middle of a circle, speaking or singing.

A facilitator speaks to the circle of participants at an Anytown summer program, a signature initiative of the NCCJ.

Photo: Parker Louison

Finding the Core

With the United States in the midst of a national reckoning on racism and other forms of discrimination, Monique (De La Oz) Lorenzo ’01 is leading the way in sparking discussion and action as president and chief executive officer of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ).

The Connecticut-based organization provides in-person and virtual education, consulting, and advocacy programs that stimulate dialogue and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice regardless of race, sex, gender, class, religion, sexual orientation, ability, age, or body size. “NCCJ is all about courageous conversations, not confrontation,” Lorenzo says. “We understand that life is complex, and it’s our mission to create safe spaces to ‘help humans, human better,’ together.”

A legal studies and political science major while at UMass, Lorenzo participated in the 1997 student takeover of the Goodell building that successfully demanded more support and access to higher education for minority students. This experience helped shape Lorenzo’s keen interest in social justice.

“UMass encouraged me to become my true authentic self—a relentless civil leader, tireless change agent, and fearless disrupter,” Lorenzo says. “For me, that is social justice, standing in the face of oppression, standing with marginalized communities, leading change and social transformation one person at a time.”



Class Notes

Three siblings and their two parents, all in doctoral caps and gowns.

All in the Family

A love of science and math was part of the upbringing of siblings Vladimir Geneus ’09, Christian Geneus ’11, and Olivia Geneus ’17, leading all three of them to the College of Natural Sciences at UMass. Now, the trio has followed their physician parents into careers in STEM, with Vladimir working at the pharmaceutical firm AbbVie; Christian at Procter & Gamble; and Olivia at Eli Lilly and Company. Within and beyond their respective careers, they collaborate at workshops and conferences, on scientific papers, in founding a scientific consulting company—Mergen Research—and in nonprofit endeavors that support students of color in pursuing careers in STEM.

A person standing on a red carpet outside of Universal Studios.

Sustainable Cinema

Nicholas Mazzone ’17 oversaw the sustainability department for Jordan Peele’s award-winning film Nope. “Some of our accomplishments include eliminating the use of plastic water bottles on set and not having any waste go into the landfill. We partnered with an organization called Rock and Wrap It Up who helped us donate 2,200-plus meals to the Hollywood Food Coalition using leftover food from on set,” says Mazzone. “UMass helped me get to this point and I am very excited where this journey is going to take me.” The next stop on that journey: working as a post coordinator for the Apple TV+ series The Last Thing He Told Me.

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Roberta Bernstein ’66 has been named Chevalier (Knight) of the National Order of the Legion of Honor, the highest French distinction for civil and military accomplishments, for her work bringing the groundbreaking art of Jasper Johns to a wider audience. This award recognizes Bernstein’s contributions as an art historian, author, curator, and professor.

Dennis N. Cohen ’69 retired in 2020 after 46 years in practice as a dentist. After transitioning from private practice in 2009, Dr. Cohen worked at Community Health Connections, a nonprofit community health center in Gardner, Massachusetts. “It is satisfying to treat patients and to be able to help improve the quality of their lives,” he says. “UMass allowed me to achieve this, and for that I am thankful.”


Duncan Putney ’83, Gary Galone (Gary Galonek ’86), and Howie Breslau ’86 recently worked on the critically acclaimed HBO Max series Julia, about the life of cooking legend and cultural icon Julia Child. Season two of the series is expected to air this year.

Josh Meyer ’87 has joined the USA Today Network in the newly created role of domestic security correspondent. Meyer is an author and currently does freelance writing on security matters for various publications, including Time, Vice, Al Jazeera, and The Washington Post.


Lisa (Cavanaugh) Linde ’92 was recently inducted into the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductors Association (MICCA) Hall of Fame. Linde has been the instrumental music director at Newton South High School since 1998. Her selection to the MICCA Hall of Fame was based in part on her advocacy for gender equality in jazz and her work as the founder of the nonprofit organization called jazzhers, which is committed to helping young female and nonbinary musicians connect to and feel empowered within the jazz community.

Martin Fisher ’94 was cast in the first Broadway national tour of My Fair Lady, which ran from January to August 2022. He is the first Black actor to portray Alfred P. Doolittle. He also has several upcoming TV projects: Extrapolations on Apple TV+ and Lioness on Paramount+.

Former head coach Derek Kellogg ’95 returned to the coaching staff of UMass Minutemen basketball. Director of Athletics Ryan Bamford says, “Adding a coach that knows and loves UMass is a huge victory for our men’s basketball program.”

Jeremy Bucci ’98 was confirmed as a Massachusetts Superior Court justice and sworn in last November. Bucci has more than two decades of experience as a prosecutor, beginning his career in 2001 as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County and serving most recently as chief trial counsel for the Northwestern District Attorney’s office.


Timothy Fields ’00 is the co-author of The Black Family’s Guide to College Admissions: A Conversation about Education, Parenting, and Race, published last September by Johns Hopkins University Press. The book was highlighted as one of “15 Titles to Help Students and Families with College Prep” by School Library Journal.

Ana Reyes ’03 is the author of the New York Times bestseller The House in the Pines, published by Dutton/Penguin Random House in January. Her debut novel is described by the publisher as “a captivating psychological suspense debut” and was selected by Reese Witherspoon for Reese’s Book Club.

Alison George Dover ’06MEd, ’10EdD recently published her second academic book, Radically Inclusive Teaching with Newcomer and Emergent Plurilingual Students: Braving Up (Teachers College Press, 2022), which focuses on her work with hundreds of teachers and thousands of plurilingual students in Southern California. Dover’s programs have received awards from their county and state departments of education and are in the second year of a $400,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation that engages middle and high school newcomers and emergent plurilingual students as co-researchers exploring issues and assets that impact their communities.

Sam Skura ’06 was named president of Baystate Medical Center and senior vice president of hospital operations for Baystate Health. With extensive experience in hospital leadership, Skura previously served as chief operating officer reporting to the president at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Boston.

Jennifer Ferrari ’08, the visual arts teacher at Lt. Job Lane Elementary School in Bedford, Massachusetts, was selected as the state’s art educator of the year by the Massachusetts Art Education Association. Ferrari uses a choice-based model of art education that centers on developing students’ personal voice through their learner-directed curriculum.


Sarah Nagamine ’19 is a second-year student at the UCLA School of Dentistry, where she earned a prestigious full-ride scholarship through the National Health Service Corps. Nagamine is committed to caring for underserved communities after graduation.


Jakob Kreuze ’21 won the President’s Cup Cybersecurity Competition and was honored in a ceremony at the White House in July 2021. In this multiround virtual challenge aimed at training and recognizing cybersecurity professionals in the federal workforce, participants must outmaneuver over 300 competitors in a series of tests simulating real-world situations.