Class Notes

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Jean (Strait) Damato (Early Childhood Education) taught at Grahamsville and New City, New York. She raised four sons in Sloatsburg, New York, and spent 25 years of retirement in New Bern, North Carolina. Jean now lives in Baldwinsville, New York. She celebrated her 70th class reunion in October 2019.


Richard Jankowski (Secondary Education 7-12: Social Studies) ’73g (Secondary Education 7-12: Social Studies) retired from Wappingers Central School District. He served as alderman to Ward 3 in Kingston, New York. Richard has been living for the last 15 years in Sun City, Hilton Head, South Carolina, enjoying the weather, golf and tennis with his wife of 52 years, Pat. Stann Reiziss (Elementary Education) ’68g (Educational Administration) presented his "Dr. StannD-Up" comedy routine of original material. The performance was presented at The Collective’s Bird Bath Comedy Club, Kailua- Oahu, Hawaii, in May 2019. 


Robert Thorn (Art Education) ’70g (Art Education) was presented with a lifetime membership at the New York State Art Teachers Association (NYSATA) 2018 annual conference in Buffalo, New York. He has been a member of NYSATA since 1972.


Dennis Listort (Secondary Education 7-12: English) ’70g (English) ’78 cas (Educational Administration) published his third book, "The Bethel Tales," about a group of concertgoers telling stories as they ride a Greyhound bus from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City to the Woodstock festival in 1969. He has also published "The Writing Box," an adult contemporary urban novel that he co-edited with his wife, Darilyn. The two also co-edited, "The Wolves at My Shadow: The Story of Ingelore Rothschild."



C. Otis Sweezey (Theatre Arts) recently designed and created the set for Leonard Bernstein’s operetta Candide, at Union Avenue Opera Company in St. Louis, Missouri.



Faith (Blattberg) Oland (Visual Arts Education) ’92g (Art Education) reports that after living in Putnam Valley for 39 years, with Jerry Oland ’68 (History), she decided to move to a new house in Northampton, Massachusetts. Faith reports, "We met at New Paltz in 1968, married in 1969 and celebrated our 50th anniversary in September!"


Howard Buxbaum (Economics) has happily retired as vice president for finance and administration at Bloomfield College and is now a principal at PHB Consulting, which he co-owns with his wife, Paula. Howard also teaches in the higher education master's program at Baruch College. He would love to hear from classmates at


James Campion (English) Columbia- Greene Community College president, retired as the College's chief in July after 19 years of service. Jim was C-GCC’s fifth and longest-serving president in the College's 52-year history. He spent 51 years in the SUNY system between his education and career, earning an associate degree in liberal arts from Dutchess Community College, a bachelor’s degree in English from SUNY New Paltz, a master’s degree in educational administration and a graduate certificate in autism studies from SUNY Albany.


Ellen Brief (Art History) was selected for the Katonah Museum Artist Association's juried show "Plays the Thing!" held at the Schoolhouse Theater in Croton Falls in September 2019. The collage titled "Target" was created from the artist's discarded monotype prints and is one in a series of collages.

Peter Seligman (Secondary Education 7-12: English) had two recent art exhibitions at Foundry Gallery in Washington, D.C., with works in mixed media and wood constructions.


William Hewitt (Elementary Education N-6: Sociology) just completed serving two years as the president of The Massachusetts Cemetery Association. He is the current general manager of The Boston Catholic Cemetery Association.


Richard Albero ’75g (Secondary Education 7-12: Physics) published a book, "Not Just a Walk in the Park." In this memoir, Albero offers a first-person account of his 1,200-mile solo walk from Tampa, Florida, to the Bronx, New York, in honor of his nephew, Gary, who lost his life on 9/11. Albero, who was 65 and retired at the time of his trek, narrates the stories of his threemonth odyssey from home plate at Steinbrenner Field, the New York Yankees’ spring training home in Tampa, to stepping on home plate at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. That journey reflects both uncle and


Rabbi Mark Novak (Elementary Education Pre K-6: Political Science) ’77g (Elementary Education Pre K-6), together with his wife, storyteller Rene Brachfeld, have co-founded the MultiFaith Storytelling Institute (MFSI) ( The mission of MFSI is to teach the art of storytelling for use in teaching, preaching and chaplaincy. They recently taught a week-long class at the Vancouver School of Theology, and are planning their third cohort for MFSI's winter retreat at the Fransciscan Center in Tampa, Florida, in February. Mark would love to be in touch with anyone interested in the work, as well as anyone "who remembers hiking in the Gunks to the secret spot!"


Lawrence Shumel (Theatre Arts) retired this year and moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida. He invites his fellow alum to "come say hello."


Edward Renehan (Political Science) published his latest book, "The Life of Charles Steward Mott: Industrialist, Philanthropist, Mr. Flint," with the University of Michigan Press. The book chronicles the long life (1875- 1973) and career of the General Motors mogul who was also a pioneer of modern endowment philanthropy. Renehan is the author of more than 20 books, including a biography of Hudson Valley writer and naturalist John Burroughs.


Claudia Gibson (Music) was a finalist in the prestigious 2019 Grassy Hill Kerrville New Folk Contest for Emerging Songwriters, held in Kerrville, Texas. Claudia was also a semi-finalist in the 13th Annual Songwriter Serenade competition held in May 2019 in Moravia, Texas. She lives in Wimberley, Texas, and released a new EP, "Louisiana Sky" in March 2019. The title single can be heard on her website at


Nancy (Bruce) Delong Garavelli (Communication Media) was recently elected president of the New York State Supreme and County Court Clerk's Association for a one-year term. She previously served as vice president of the association since 2015. Nancy was appointed chief clerk of the Fulton County Supreme and County Courts in March 2015 and has been employed by the New York State Unified Court System since 1998.


Robert Lippman (Political Science) former student association president (1984-85), graduated from Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in 1988. Since then he has been practicing intellectual property, commercial litigation and business transactional law with the firm of Lemery Greisler University, Radnor, Pennsylvania.


Bruce Gamsey (Communication Studies) is proud to share that, after 30 years, he has retired as a New York City teacher. Bruce taught middle school science at Marine Park Intermediate School in Brooklyn for the past 18 years. He also developed and coached their award-winning robotics program. His teams won over a dozen first-place awards, including the 2016 NYC Championship for the U.S. Navy's SeaPerch underwater robotics competition. He and his wife, Alexandra, plan to move to Los Angeles for his wife's television career.


Margaret Fitzgerald (Psychology), following a career in pediatric social work, is celebrating over 10 years of providing clinical social work services on the south shore of Long Island. She is a proud mother of three children.


Ruth Pine (Sociology; Contract: Dance) hosted a 30th class year anniversary at her home in New Paltz on July 20, 2019, with friends and fellow alumni Diana Zuckerman ’96 (Psychology) ’08 (Spanish) ’03g (Secondary Education 7-12: Spanish), Roberta Clements ’91 (Psychology) ’11cas (School Leadership), Christine Cyr ’90 (Psychology), and Margaret "Meg" Fitzgerald ’88 (Psychology). A trip to P&Gs to share memories was on the agenda and a group photo on campus. Ruth earned a Master's of Social Work at SUNY Albany and a Master's in Expressive Arts Therapy at The European Graduate School in Switzerland. She provided over 20 years of therapeutic services to numerous populations in Ulster, Dutchess and Orange counties. Ruth currently works for The Center for the Intimate Arts. She has continued her love of dance by serving on the board of a local dance community, dancing whenever she can and entertaining as a dance performance artist.  


Christine Cyr (Psychology) after living on a commune in Oregon making yogurt and cheese for a few years, provided drug treatment services in Oregon, rural Alaska and New York. She was a successful business owner of a popular Alaskan shop. Chris currently provides hospice services for people and geriatric services for animals. In her spare time, she is back to crafting goat milk soap.


Roberta Clements (Psychology) ’11cas (School Leadership) is celebrating her 20th year as a psychologist in the Beacon City School District.


Dale Wolfield ’93g (Ceramics) was honored by Arts Mid Hudson's 7th Annual Ulster County Arts Awards on June 4, 2019 for her work in Arts in Education.


Joseph Fitzgerald (Black Studies) published "The Struggle Is Eternal: Gloria Richardson and Black Liberation," last fall with the University Press of Kentucky. He is currently working on a biography of black radical activist intellectual, Barbara Smith. Joseph is an assistant professor of history and political science at Cabrini University, Radnor, Pennsylvania.


Matthew Kaplan (English) is the writer, director and co-producer of the short film, "It's Time for Tea." Released in spring 2019, the film is already playing around the country. The dark comedic fantasy explores how we process grief and how we often lose touch with our inner-child as society pushes us toward adulthood. Talented cast and crew include two fellow New Paltz alumni, Mickey Ryan ’81 (Theatre Arts) and Gary Levitt ’96 (Communication Media). Matthew's upcoming projects is "Handbasket," an ode to his time playing in bands in New Paltz in the 90s. Diana Zuckerman (Psychology) ’08 (Spanish) ’03g (Secondary Education 7-12: Spanish) has soared with her SUNY New Paltz degree in Spanish Education. She has been teaching Spanish at Rondout Valley for the past 21 years. She travels extensively to Spanish-speaking countries, and especially loves playing with her Peruvian grandson in Cusco.


Jennifer Trask ’97g (Metal) was featured in Artspace, "7 Cutting-Edge Voices in Contemporary Jewelry," on Aug. 14, 2019. Trask’s stunning, alchemical combinations find their inspiration in the curiosity cabinets of yesteryear, ensconcing displaced or discarded fauna in the context of precious metals. Educated at the Massachusetts College of Art and SUNY New Paltz, Trask has been exhibiting nationally and internationally for the past 20 years. Her pieces have been included in the collections of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Arts and Design and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Jennie (Stringer) Wassmer (Art Education) was promoted in July from Art Teacher to Assistant Principal at Albertus Magnus High School in Bardonia, New York. On June 2, 2019, she was notified by the New York State Art Teacher Association, that she was chosen to be the New York State Art Teacher of the Year for Region 7, which includes Rockland, Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Putnam, Dutchess and Westchester counties. She was nominated by the Leadership Team of Region 7 and was recognized at the state conference in Binghamton, New York, in November.


Kari Giordano (Graphic Design) and Giordano Graham ’00 (Visual Arts Education) ’04g (Humanistic-Multicultural Education) of Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield, Massachusetts, received Fulbright Distinguished Awards for the 2019-2020 fellowship year. Giordano and Graham are two of approximately 25 U.S. citizens who will travel abroad through the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Semester Research Program grant in 2019-2020. The program is a professional development opportunity, which provides U.S. K-12 educators the opportunity to travel to one of 12 countries for independent study and professional development. They learn and share educational practices with their peers, to better prepare students for successful and responsible participation in the global economy.


Stiles Najac (Sociology) received the 2019 Distinguished Achievement Award from Mohonk Consultations for her contribution to our region. In 2006, she became Food Security Liaison for Cornell Cooperative Extension, Orange County. Her leadership and hard work have yielded thousands of pounds of fresh produce harvested from farm fields each year that are distributed to communities in need. She has expanded gleaning, farm-to-school and food security programs throughout the Hudson Valley and has appeared on numerous regional panels, including “Teaching Food Equality in Your Community.”


Vanessa (Vasadi) Figueroa (Biology) and Billy Figueroa (Computer Science) welcomed their first child, a baby girl named Milana Valencia. She was born on Jan. 31, 2019, at 11:44 p.m., weighing 6lbs 5oz, 20 inches long and a full head of hair. Billy and Vanessa met in 2002 in Capen Hall during the resident assistant interviewing process and have been together ever since. They are very excited to raise their daughter to be bilingual, intelligent, happy, and of course, knowing that she came from a genuine love grown in New Paltz.


Rose Fazio (Fazio) Vincent (Mathematics) and Wesley "Wes" Vincent (Management) celebrated their 10-year wedding anniversary on Sept. 19, 2019.


Elaina Crary (Graphic Design) was promoted to senior art director at Pinckney Hugo Group, a full-service marketing communications firm in Syracuse, New York. Crary was previously an art director and has been with the agency for seven years. Prior to joining Pinckney Hugo Group, she was a graphic designer at the Scotsman Press.

Rebecca Kassay (Contract: Communication) is collaborating with Aureate Visuals Productions to realize her vision for a docuseries, "Be The Change with Rebecca," as the next step in her career as a community organizer. "Be The Change with Rebecca" is a documentary/reality style series which explores the empowering, enriching effects of volunteerism on communities and the volunteers themselves. Rebecca travels the U.S. with the aim of turning viewers into doers. The team filmed eight episodes in 2019. Contact Rebecca by following @bethechangewrebecca on Instagram or "Be The Change with Rebecca" on Facebook. The show will air on Amazon Prime in spring 2020.


Krista Hart (Management; Marketing) was promoted to the position of Firm Administrator at Panitch Schwarze Belisario & Nadel. Hart previously served as human resources manager. “Over the past three years, Krista has proven to be an invaluable member of the team at Panitch Schwarze,” said partner Martin G. Belisario. “We are fortunate to have a young professional of her caliber overseeing the operations of the firm; we know we are in good hands with Krista at the helm.”


Michael Krau (International Relations), alternative hip-hop artist, recently played a Rockwood Music Hall show to more than 50 people last month on the anniversary of his first project release and has played two "SoFar Sounds" shows. His manager and fellow alum, Mike Epstein ’12 (History), reports that this past summer, Krau released new music and found a distribution deal to help market it. His social media presence has grown to more than 6,000 followers on Instagram and over 300,000 streams on Spotify. We started this movement from nothing and now we’re seeing it grow before our eyes." Epstein works at Cinematic Music Group, where he has been for five years. He specializes in digital marketing.


Martina Nadeau (Political Science) reports that after two exciting years working at the Center for Reproductive Rights, she has transitioned careers to join the New York City government as a policy writer. Working primarily on preventative service policies, Martina coordinates across agencies with government officials, community-based organizations and local constituents to develop well-informed evidence-based policies and procedures to serve children and families at risk. Recently, she spearheaded a policy initiative to highlight the need for pregnant youth and girls to receive confidential and comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.


Lindsey Nun (Digital Media Production) is the Production Manager at DJamesFoss Media, a Hudson Valley film production company. She is pleased to announce the company's premiere documentary, "Her Farm." "Her Farm" tells the stories of women taking over family farms, keeping them alive for future generations and inadvertently blazing a trail for future women in farming. More information can be found at



Lester Mayers (Theatre Arts) performed his poetry, "100 Poems for 100 Voices (Live in the Moment)," locally at the Denizen Theatre and Unframed Artists Gallery on Huguenot Street in May and June 2019, followed by a performance in New York City. Lester was featured in The New Paltz Oracle as "swiftly becoming an iconic poet and strong voice for our generation." His performance is a poetry concert with musical accompaniment by fellow alumnus and SUNY New Paltz staff member, Brandon Bera ’16 (Environmental Geochemical Science), who plays the drums.