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Alumni Accomplishments

Laura Puccia Valtorta ’80 has joined the National Arbitration Forum’s national panel of independent and neutral arbitrators and mediators. The NAF is one of the world's largest providers of alternative dispute resolution services. An attorney who has been practicing law in South Carolina since 1993, she is qualified as a mediator in civil cases, state and federal courts, and as an arbitrator. She also works in a solo law practice, specializing in employment law, family law, and Social Security disability cases. Recently she began practicing in the utilities area, with an emphasis on water rights for local neighborhoods. She was an English major at St. Lawrence and has a master's in English from Duke and a J.D. from the University of South Carolina. She has published Family Meal, a 1993 novel, and Start Your Own Law Practice in 2005; she is working on a book about Social Security.

University Trustee Ken Okoth was interviewed at length on both the National Public Radio program “The Bryant Park Project” and the CBS affiliate in Washington, D.C., in early January, about his efforts both to get his family out of Kenya and to help children throughout Kenya in the face of violence surrounding the elections there.  Ken teaches at the Potomac School, in McLean, Va., and also runs a school in the Kibera district of Nairobi, where some of the worst violence occurred. 

Joanne Conlon ’73, Ed.D., was named a 2008 American College Education Personnel Association Educational Leadership Foundation Diamond Honoree. Director of student academic support at Rosemont College in King of Prussia, Pa., where she has been since 2003, she received her master’s in higher education at Syracuse University and Ed.D. and M.Ed. in higher and adult education administration from Columbia University. At Rosemont, Joanne has created and managed the Title III-funded Student Academic Support Services Center for the Undergraduate Women’s College. She created or enhanced First-Year Experience Programs at Syracuse University, SUNY Stony Brook and West Chester University. As a resident life administrator at Stony Brook, she helped develop the Student-Community Development specialization in the School of Social Welfare’s MSW program, and served as a charter faculty member and course developer. She also developed and served as instructor for an innovative academic honesty seminar while there, which was required as a developmental sanction for students found responsible for academic honesty violations.

Kimberly McClure Pacala ’78 has joined the Five Talents International board of directors. She’s the director of development for Silver Bay YMCA of the Adirondacks in Lake George, N.Y. A press release from Five Talents International states, “Pacala's interest in serving the poor in developing countries stems from a St. Lawrence University semester abroad experience in Kenya, during the spring of 1977.” Five Talents International has provided funding for business training and thousands of loans, ranging from $50 to $300, in 14 countries across Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Each loan finances a microbusiness that in turn employs at least six other people. A majority of the loan recipients are women.

Jeff Lazovik ’70 was recently named the director of SUNY Potsdam’s Counseling Center.  He will plan for, develop and maintain a comprehensive campus counseling service; develop and monitor budgets; lead planning and staff development initiatives; and assess the quality and range of services. He had served as assistant director since 1990. Previously, was a counselor for the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, a consultant for St. Regis Mohawk Health Services, a member of the St. Lawrence University counseling staff and a mediation trainer for New York State.  He has maintained a small, part-time, private psychotherapy practice throughout his professional career.

Thomas Sy ’82 was honored at the annual awards dinner of Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State, in Albany on October 22.  As executive director for Aspire of Western New York, he was given the Daniel Wieder Executive Leadership Award, one of only six people to receive a statewide award in 2007. “Mr. Sy has helped bring about an expanded series of individualized and innovative programs to ensure that Aspire can help turn disabilities into capabilities each day,” his citation read. Prior to joining Aspire in 2000, he served in leadership roles at Niagara Memorial Medical Center, Lockport Memorial Hospital and Media Memorial Hospital. Active in civic affairs and a member of the St. Lawrence Alumni Executive Council, the biology major lives in Lockport with his wife, Diane, and two daughters, Ashley and Rachael.

Jonathan Biele ’92 has been recognized as one of the top 40 under 40 in investment banking by IDD, “the insider’s guide to investment banking and capital markets.” The online magazine says, “Although Jonathan Biele only joined Cowen & Co. [last] July, his deal roster is long. He has raised more than $100 billion in more than 250 transactions during his career. Before Cowen, Biele was head of equity capital markets at Lazard and a managing director in the firm's life science banking group, and was part of the equity syndicate and equity capital markets groups at Lehman Brothers. He was also a vice president and syndicate manager at ABN Amro Rothschild.”

The Board of Directors of the Bank of Bennington (Vt.) has named James D. Brown ’91 president and CEO of the bank. Formerly the bank’s senior credit officer and a member of the senior management team, Brown joined the bank in 2001. He has held positions in retail bank management and senior credit administration at the former Cohoes Savings Bank, Fleet Bank and Evergreen Bank in Albany and Glens Falls, N.Y.  He possesses an MBA from the University at Albany after double-majoring in government and economics and studying in both Denmark and Kenya while at St. Lawrence.

Douglas Dempster ’77, acting interim dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Texas at Austin since fall 2006 and senior associate dean of the college since 2001, has been appointed dean of the college. Dempster, who holds the Marie and Joseph D. Jamail Senior Regents Professorship and the Effie Marie Cain Regents Chair in Fine Arts as a professor in the college’s department of theatre and dance, was named after a national search.

Previously, Dempster was on the faculty for 18 years at the Eastman School of Music/University of Rochester. He held appointments in the departments of humanities, philosophy, music theory and musicology, and was humanities department chair and associate director and dean of academic affairs. Well known nationally for curricular reform in professional arts schools, he was founding director of the Eastman School’s Arts Leadership Program.

With research specialties in aesthetics, the philosophy of music theory, cultural policy studies and the philosophy of language, Dempster teaches and is widely published in diverse fields.  He earned his doctoral and master’s degrees in philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after majoring in philosophy and government at St. Lawrence. He is married to Kathryn Anderson ’77.

RUSSIA! Magazine is proud to present actor Viggo Mortensen ’80, the star of David Cronenberg's hit Eastern Promises, with its inaugural Rolling R, an annual award for the best "Russian" performance by a Hollywood actor. The official citation commends Mortensen for his "sensitive, multifaceted and authentic" portrayal of Nikolai, a morally conflicted thug.

"Unlike the Muslim, Jewish and other communities, the Russians have been historically docile about being portrayed as drunk, murderous plotters," explains Michael Idov, the editor of RUSSIA!, "But that's not the offensive part. The offensive part is being portrayed as a drunk, murderous plotter with a Czech name and a Transylvanian accent. The bar for verisimilitude is so low right now that, even in an excellent film like The Bourne Identity, Bourne's 'Russian' passport is filled with random gibberish. We'd like to reward the ones doing it right. We're proud to acknowledge Mr. Mortensen, whose star turn in Eastern Promises is amazingly sensitive, multifaceted, and above all authentic. His character even speaks a specific old-school thief slang, and switches to Ukrainian when comforting a Ukrainian woman."
Named after a hard-to-master feature of Slavic pronunciation, the Rolling R is playfully described by its founders as an award for "General Excellence in Acting Russian." The actual award consists of a certificate and a round mini-sculpture.

Christopher Olsen ’79 has been named associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine.  A biology major and Phi Beta Kappa inductee at St. Lawrence, he earned his DVM from Cornell University in 1982 and his Ph. D. from Cornell in 1992.  He then joined the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he has taught public health and virology to veterinary medical students while maintaining a federally-funded research program on public health aspects of influenza virus infections.  Dr. Olsen has also been instrumental in establishing the school’s Pet Pals and DVM/Master of Public Health dual degree programs and in making the school a partner in the campus-wide Center for Global Health.
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