One School, One Book Panel Speakers
(biographies contributed by speakers)
Humor and Irony Panel
• Glenda Carpio is Professor of African and African American Studies and English at Harvard University. Her book, Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery was published in 2008. She is currently working on a book on immigration, expatriation, and exile in American literature. Professor Carpio recently co-edited African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges. Professor Carpio started her teaching career in Compton, California where she taught 8th grade English and 4th grade through the Teach for America program. She recently received Harvard University’s Abramson Award for Excellence and Sensitivity in Undergraduate Teaching. Professor Carpio received her Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and her B.A. was earned at Vassar College.
• Rachel Klein is a comedian and writer living in Brookline, MA. She has written satire for the online publications The Smew, Thought Catalog, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. She directs and performs improv comedy at ImprovBoston where she previously served as the head of their improv comedy program. Rachel also teaches English and improv at Gann Academy in Waltham, MA.
• Steven Kapica is a PhD candidate in rhetoric and composition at Northeastern University. Originally from New Jersey, he grew up and attended college in North Carolina. He holds bachelor and master of arts degrees, both in English, from Appalachian State University. Before relocating to Boston in 2009, he was the English and reading Department Chair at Davidson County Community College in Lexington, North Carolina. He has close to fifteen years of college-level teaching experience and is currently a Visiting Lecturer for the Experimental College at Tufts University where he teaches a course of his design on contemporary rhetorical theory and stand-up comedy. His article “What a Glorious Moment in Jurisprudence: Rhetoric, Law, and Battlestar Galactica” was recently accepted for publication in the Law, Culture, and Humanities Journal.
• Eliane Markoff is Founder of Art in Giving, a company that promotes the fine arts to benefit pediatric cancer research. Eliane was an Adjunct Professor for Management and Organizational Behavior at Bentley University. Eliane is a trustee of The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation, dedicated to helping families cope with childhood cancer and is a certified grief recovery specialist. Eliane is also a prominent local artist with a studio in Boston’s art district SOWA. She is fluent in French and Arabic. She earned her MBA from Boston College and her BA in Economics from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She lives in Wellesley with her husband and daughter.
• Stephen Zisk’s wife Susannah died of metastatic breast cancer in December. Susannah was an artist working in fabric and mixed media, with pieces on display in churches, hospitals, and synagogues in Massachusetts and Washington state. Before she died, Susannah created a set of wall hangings, “Oncoglyphs,” that represent her struggle to make sense of her disease and her need to express her own mortality artistically. Stephen worked with Susannah on conception and technical details of her work, and brings an observer’s and engineer’s perspective to art.
• Jens Rybo [pronounced Yens Reebo] is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and the Executive Director of Tunefoolery, a Boston non-profit organization for musician affected by mental illness. He has been working for Tunefoolery since its inception in 1994 and been its Director since 2000. Mr. Rybo played in several rock bands in his native Sweden in the 1980s. From 1984 to 1989, he was part owner and Director for Nonstop Records, a Swedish record company. Besides directing Tunefoolery, Mr. Rybo has a private psychotherapy practice in Cambridge. Mr. Rybo has a B.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.
• Dr. Brecken Chinn Swartz is an Associate Professor of Communication at Curry College in Milton and also serves as the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization HandReach (www.handreach.org), which is dedicated to integrating and spreading best practices in pediatric trauma rehabilitation in the developing world. She is the adoptive mother of a young burn survivor from China, and has a passion for bringing sound and music into the sphere of healing.
• Jothy Rosenberg of Wayland (formerly of Newton where his kids went to the “other” high school). At age 16 he was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma—the same bone cancer Gus Waters had and that targets teenagers—and had to have his right leg amputated above the knee. With no chemotherapy yet available, three years later this cancer got into his bloodstream and metastasized to his lung which, in times past, was a certain death sentence. That lung had to be removed but now a chemotherapy regimen—developed at our own Dana-Farber Cancer Institute—was just out and almost certainly saved 19-year old Jothy’s life. Today a 40-year survivor, Jothy got a PhD in computer science, wrote three technical books, became an entrepreneur that created 8 companies, and an extreme athlete in skiing, biking and open water swimming. He focuses his athletic activities on important causes. He’s done the Alcatraz Sharkfest to benefit Boston Healthcare for the Homeless for 19 years and the Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute for 10 years. These activities have raised over $125,000. Recently he wrote his story in the acclaimed book Who Says I Can’t and has launched a TV series of the same name to highlight the impressive and inspirational stories of others like him.
Culture and Religion Panel
• Rabbi Eric Gurvis is a rabbi at Temple Shalom in Newton where he is in his 14th year with the congregation. He currently serves as President of the Newton Clergy Association and is past-president of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis. He and his wife Laura have four children who have all attended the Newton Public Schools. His youngest son, Jacob is a student at Newton North.
• Bilal Mirza was born and raised in Massachusetts. He attended Framingham High School and completed his Bachelor’s degree from the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Bilal has been involved with interfaith work since 2003 and serves as a Youth advisor, Sunday school teacher, and has been a board member at the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland. He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Health at Tufts University and is the Muslim Chaplain at Babson College. He furthers his studies of the discip
lines of Islam through a number of local scholars and teachers.
• Melissa Wong is a 1st generation Chinese American. She grew up working in her family’s noodle shop and restaurant. Melissa is a Buddhist, plays volleyball and loves to cook, a METCO Counselor for Brown middle school and was the first in her family to receive a college and master’s degree.
• Dahria Williams-Fernandes received as A.S. in FINE from Mortuary College, an A.S. Northeastern University and a B.S. from Hampton University. She is a licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer. Dahria is the president of Floyd A. Williams Funeral Home, Inc., Dorchester, MA. She is committed to continuing the high level of professional service her father’s firm has provided for over 35 years. Dahria is also dedicated to the improvement of quality of life for the Dorchester community. A Christian wife and mother, Dahria is a member of Jubilee Christian Church in Mattapan where her husband John serves as the Youth Pastor.
Heroes and Survivors Panel
• Michael White graduated NSHS in 2004 with much help from the Turnaround program. He went on to serve in the US Army as a Paratrooper in North Carolina and Afghanistan. Michael then became a Reservist and a Drill Sergeant. After that, he was hired as a firefighter for the city of Newton, on Ladder 2. He is currently in college and studying to become a Lieutenant.
• Ena Almuly Lorant was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. She was six and half years old when the Nazis invaded Belgrade. A year later, her mother, sister and five other family members escaped to Italy where they were interned in a small village. After the fall of Mussolini, they escaped to Amandola, a small town in eastern Italy. With the help of many brave and generous townspeople they remained there until the end of World War II. In 152 the surviving family members immigrated to the US. They settled in Brookline where Ena attended high school. She then went to Simmons College and married in Charles Lorant in 1958. They eventually moved to Newton so their children could have the best possible education. In the late 1970s Ena joined the Bilingual department of NPS. With the influx of new immigrants, the preschool became multicultural, working with children and parents to help make a smooth transition to kindergarten.
• Chelsea Hayes is 21 years old, from Scituate, RI, currently a senior at Brown University concentrating in Human Biology with a track in human health and disease. I am a two time pediatric cancer survivor and have been in remission since I was 3 and a half. I am now interested in pursuing a career in health care as a nurse practitioner, possibly specializing in pediatrics.
• Mickie Gusman graduated from Newton South in June 2012 and is currently a freshman at Skidmore College. During her time at South, she was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and subsequently participated in the Teen Advisory Committee of Children’s Hospital Boston to help kids continuing treatment. She has also worked with disabled children at the Gateways Access to Jewish Education program, and spends her summers as a counselor at Camp Yavneh. The culmination of each experience has resulted in her desire to major in Psychology at Skidmore, in an attempt to help unfortunate youth find the fortune in their situations. Today, she is here to talk about what it was like to be a student of Newton South while keeping her battle with cancer a secret.
• Suzanne Matson is a 2012 fellow in fiction writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has also received creative writing fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the American-Scandinavian Foundation. She has three published novels, The Tree-Sitter, A Trick of Nature and The Hunger Moon. Her books of poems are Durable Goods (1993) and Sea Level (1990), published by Alice James Books. Her autobiographical, literary, and op-ed essays have appeared in periodicals such as The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, Child, The Seattle Times, The American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, and Mid-American Review. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Matson received a BA in English from Portland State University, an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English from the University of Washington. She is professor and chairperson of the English department at Boston College.
• Ariel Wittenberg is an environmental reporter at the New Bedford Standard-Times in Southeastern Massachusetts. She also covers the town of Fairhaven, Mass., and spends her days learning the finer points of wind turbines, toxic waste and town government. She has previously worked at Pro Publica, an investigative journalism non-profit organization, where she researched campaign finance reform. Ariel is a graduate of Brandeis University and Newton South High School. She was editor in chief of The Brandeis Hoot and The Lion’s Roar during her respective senior years.
• Norah Dooley is an educator, author and storyteller performing in schools, libraries and conferences and has been a featured storyteller in many festivals and in the Cambridge Revels. Norah has an MEd in Creative Arts and Learning and has been a full time classroom teacher and instructor in performing arts in elementary and in middle school. Her 6 storytelling CDs and 4 published picture books include Everybody Cooks Rice. Norah is a co-founder of massmouth.org and the project director of StoriesLive, a unique high school storytelling project. Last year Norah and the project taught 1,800 students from 9 area high schools to tell their personal stories. In a final inter-mural story slam, StoriesLive granted over $5K in scholarship awards.
• JoEllen Ross received her BS in Nursing from University of Rhode Island. She has worked at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for over 30 years, mostly in Oncology. JoEllen has held positions as an inpatient nurse, research nurse, and for the past 20 years as a Radiation Oncology nurse. She is a certified oncology nurse through the Oncology Nursing Society. JoEllen’s present role is Clinical Advisor in the Radiation Oncology Dept. at BIDMC.
• Jennifer Rider is an Instructor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Harvard Medical School. She received Bachelor in Science in zoology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts and a Doctor of Science in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Rider currently conducts population-based research on prostate cancer, as well as human studies of biological markers related to inflammation and infection that may be important for cancer development and progression. She also teaches Infections and Cancer, a course for graduate students at the Harvard School of Public Health.
• Charles (Chuck) Stiles is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, Co-Chair of the Department of Cancer Biology and Co-Director of the Program in Pediatric Low Grade Astrocytoma at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Stiles is well known for his work on signaling mechanisms that regulate growth and differentiation of stem cells in the developing brain. These signaling mechanisms, when perturbed, give rise to low-grade astrocytomas (LGAs) in children. However, these same signaling mechanisms lend themselves to the design of targeted therapeutics (a.k.a. “smart drugs”) that will kill tumor cells without the debilitating side effects seen with the current generation of cytotoxic drugs used to treat LGAs in children. Towards the goal of targeted therapeutics for pediatric LGAs, Stiles and his students work collaboratively with a wide range of scientists at Children’s Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard/MIT Broad Institute. They also work closely with scientists in the corporate sector who are developing targeted therapeutics for cancer therapy. Dr Stiles has published more than 100 research articles on cell signaling mechanisms in peer-reviewed journals and has also received prizes for both teaching and mentoring at Harvard Medical School.
• David Rosenthal has been the medical director of the Leonard P. Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since 2002. The center’s mission, named after the civil rights activist who succumbed to cancer, is to integrate complementary therapies with conventional cancer treatments. Dr. Rosenthal also serves as a senior physician at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts. He is the Henry K. Oliver Professor of Hygiene (Emeritus) at Harvard University and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. A graduate of Harvard College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Dr. Rosenthal received his degree from Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts in 1963. From1990 to 2012, Dr. Rosenthal was the Director and Chief Executive Officer of Harvard University Health Service. Dr. Rosenthal has been extensively involved as a volunteer with the American Cancer Society.
• Sara Weiss lives in Newton with her husband, Mark. Her son, Jared, graduated from South in 2008. Nine years ago, her other son, Jordan, died unexpectedly due to complications related to undiagnosed type 1 diabetes. He was a fourth grader at Mason-Rice School. Sara and her family started the Jordan Bennett Weiss Fund to make the community aware of the warning signs of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. To date, their efforts have saved the lives of 18 children, many who live in Newton.
• Meredith Goldstein is an advice columnist and entertainment reporter for The Boston Globe. Her column, Love Letters, is a daily dispatch of wisdom for the lovelorn that gets about 1 million page views every month on Boston.com. Meredith’s first novel, “The Singles,” was released by Penguin/Plume in 2012. Not surprisingly, it’s a story about complicated relationships. Meredith lives in Boston with a carnival-size cotton candy machine that she bought for herself on her 30th birthday.
• Katie Furcolo is an In-Home Family Therapist for Riverside Community Care, where she works primarily with adolescents and their families dealing with a multitude of issues. She has been with the agency since 2009, after she graduated with her Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Alliant International University in San Diego. During that time, she also interned at the University of San Diego’s Counseling Center. Prior to that, Katie worked at McLean Hospital’s Acute Residential Treatment program for adolescents.
• Justin Makaruse is a Zimbabwean activist, opposing dictatorship. An engineer in the Zimbabwean government’s Ministry of Transport and Energy, Makaruse fought against corruption and systematic use of state machinery by the regime to crush the rise of opposition to the government. He was finally forced to flee Zimbabwe and was granted asylum by the USA in 2003. He lived in Iowa until moving to Boston in 2006. In 2007 he enrolled at Boston University School of Theology, completing his degree in 2011. Makaruse has also been active in defense of human rights, campaigning for the oppressed, against racism, AIDS, sexism, poverty and zenophobia. Working among the more than 5 million displaced Zimbabweans scattered in the diaspora mainly in Southern Africa, Makaruse also brings healing and reconciliation among the victims through the Zimbabwe Democracy and Development Foundation where he is the current President and Executive Director. He also works as the Secretary for International Affairs for The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC US),the main opposition party to the Zimbabwe autocratic regime.