The Influentials

They live on three continents and do business on five. They set education policy and organize protest marches. They conduct research on the great apes and provide housing for the working poor. They’ve been Broadway producers and U.S. ambassadors and presidential advisers, and these 17 high achievers find common ground at Drew.

By Christopher Hann

Influentials-1M. Teresa Ruiz ’98

New Jersey State Senator and Chair, Senate Education Committee, Trenton, N.J.

Two years ago Teresa Ruiz persuaded lawmakers to support a bill that would overhaul New Jersey’s century-old teacher tenure law. Her sponsorship meant Ruiz had to confront the New Jersey Education Association—the teachers union—probably the most powerful lobby in Trenton. Yet by the time both houses of the Legislature approved the bill in June 2012, NJEA was also supporting it, and Ruiz’s colleagues were offering career advice. According to The Star-Ledger: “Stunned lawmakers jokingly suggested Ruiz head to the Middle East to broker a peace accord.” For the record, Ruiz stayed put. The first Latina to serve in the state Senate, she continues to focus on education issues. Last year she sponsored the New Jersey DREAM Act, which allows children of immigrants who came to the United States illegally to qualify for in-state tuition at public colleges. “The greatest equalizing factor we have in this country is education,” Ruiz says. “I do this because I know that through education and policy, we can change a whole generation’s life.”

Influentials-2William J. Barber II  T’03

Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church, Goldsboro, N.C.
President, North Carolina NAACP Leader, Moral Mondays Protest Movement

“Having studied at Drew,” says the Rev. William Barber, “I don’t know how to be a theologically sound Christian without being engaged in social justice.” Where Barber is concerned, engaged might be an understatement. Barber made national headlines last year for leading a clergy-based protest movement that came to be known as Moral Mondays. The movement has excoriated the actions of North Carolina’s Republican governor and Republican-led state legislature, which, since gaining a supermajority in 2012, has cut spending on schools and programs for the poor, frozen teacher pay, ended same-day voter registration and restricted early voting—“the worst voter suppression since Jim Crow,” Barber says. More than 900 people were arrested during last year’s protests, Barber among them. But it appears their voices have been heard. Public opinion polls show support for the governor and legislature plummeting. The movement, Barber says, “gives people a place to reimagine a better way to the higher ground of justice and community.”

Influentials-4Robert Kopech ’73

Retired Vice President and Chief Risk Officer, The World Bank, Short Hills, N.J. 

Over the course of a 35-year career in the financial world, Robert Kopech focused on emerging markets around the globe. So he was well suited to accept a position, in June 2011, as the first chief risk officer at the World Bank, where he oversaw the multitude of risks associated with the bank’s extensive worldwide investments. Kopech describes the World Bank’s goal to eliminate acute poverty by 2023 “an ambitiously achievable target,” even with 2 billion people living on less than $1.25 a day. “I’m not naïve about the political realities of the institution, with such a far-flung ownership structure,” he says. “It doesn’t take much thought to realize the perspectives of Mali and Vietnam are not going to be completely congruent.”

Influentials-5Joyce Reilly ’74

Member, Board of Associates, Drew’s Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study
Co-director, Adesha Village, Kimberton, Pa.

“I think I’d always wanted to be a healer of some kind,” Joyce Reilly says. On her first day at Drew she met a classmate who had worked summers at Gould Farm, a working farm in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts and the nation’s first therapeutic community for psychiatric patients. Reilly’s life course as a healer was more or less set. In time she would help found a therapeutic community in Pennsylvania and help lead a New Jersey alliance devoted to stopping the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. But as Reilly will attest, the work of a healer never really ends. Eight years ago she helped start another therapeutic community in Pennsylvania, Adesha Village, where she recently started working full time as co-director.

Fatou Diallo ’13

Influentials-3

Corporate Finance Associate, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Fatou Diallo was born in Ivory Coast, the daughter of Senegalese parents, and spent her senior year of high school in Egypt. She chose Drew largely for its opportunities for international education, and as a senior she interned at the United Nations. Today she’s working with her father, an investment banker, helping to facilitate infrastructure projects throughout western Africa. “My father is always trying to pull me toward the banking world,” Diallo says. “I always tell him, ‘I still have my humanitarian side.’ Eventually, I think I want to go back to Senegal, to work in a position of power that would allow me to have a positive influence on the lives of Senegalese people.”

Influentials-7Tanya Linn Bennett T’00, G’05, T’11

Drew University Chaplain, Madison, N.J.

If there is such a thing as a daughter of Drew, surely her name is Tanya Linn Bennett. Her father, Theodore C. Linn T’64, G’71, was a seminary student at Drew when Bennett was born, and later he spent 10 years as the university chaplain. When Bennett decided to pursue a master in divinity degree, naturally she enrolled at Drew. And after earning her degree, she went to work at Drew. In 2006 Bennett reestablished the Office of University Chaplain. Retracing the path that returned her to the Forest, she’s drawn to a favorite quote by the writer and theologian Carl Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Influentials-6Leo Grohowski ’80

Chief Investment Officer, BNY Mellon Wealth Management, NYC

Leo Grohowski oversees an office of 425 people who manage $180 billion in client assets. But career demands have not prevented Grohowski from keeping close ties to the small liberal arts university that he credits with giving him his start in the business world. In fact, Grohowski says one of the most influential figures he encountered at Drew was a finance professor named Vivian Bull. The future Drew president steered Grohowski toward two critical internships, where he saw the lessons he learned at Drew put to a daily test in the business world. Grohowski served 12 years on Drew’s Board of Trustees, and in 2007 he and his wife, Nancy, funded a scholarship for economically disadvantaged students majoring in economics. “With the help of Drew and those internships, I found a field I thought I might like 33 years ago,” Grohowski says, “and here I am today.”

Influentials-10Robert E. Schmidle Jr. ’75

Deputy Director, U.S. Defense Department’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation Office, Washington, D.C.

His nearly 40-year career as a Marine Corps pilot and officer has taken Robert Schmidle to the upper echelon of the U.S. military and into some of the most dangerous places on earth, including the skies over Baghdad on the first night of Operation Desert Storm. Schmidle has served as the deputy commander for U.S. Cyber Command and as the Marines’ deputy commandant for aviation, overseeing a $6.8 billion budget. These days Schmidle, who is married to Pamela Jutkus Schmidle ’74, is also pursuing a doctorate from Georgetown that combines social psychology, philosophy and literature. “The people I admire in history are folks that have been very thoughtful,” Schmidle says, “folks who lived in the world, who were able to have a foot in both camps.”

Influentials-8Liz Timperman ’92

Executive Director, Olympus Theatricals, NYC

Liz Timperman came to Drew determined to make a life in theater. While at Drew she acted in, directed and stage-managed student productions and served as chair of the Drew University Dramatic Society. As a senior she received the first President’s Award in Theatre Arts, initiated by former Drew President Thomas H. Kean. Today she’s the executive director of Olympus Theatricals and the recipient of a Tony Award for co-producing La Cage aux Folles, which won Best Revival of a Musical in 2010. Two decades after graduating from Drew, Timperman’s life in theater seems as busy as ever. “I’ve never moved into any other career path,” she says. “That’s both exciting and a little terrifying.”

Influentials-13Deedee Corradini

President, Women’s Ski Jumping USA, Park City, Utah

Deedee Corradini had no idea that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had never allowed women to compete in ski jumping until she happened to run into Lindsey Van, a future world champion, at a real estate class in Salt Lake City in 2004. Corradini, who attended Drew in the early 1960s, had already served two terms as mayor of Salt Lake City and helped bring the Winter Games to Utah in 2002. She saw IOC’s snub as an injustice against women, and over the ensuing decade she set out to make it right. On the day in April 2011 when the IOC announced it would add women’s ski jumping to the Winter Olympics, the American team was gathered in Corradini’s home in Park City, Utah, huddled around the dining room table, listening to a live press conference from London. “As soon as they said, ‘women’s ski jumping,’ we all whooped in excitement,” Corradini recalls. “Almost just as fast, there was dead silence. I cried. It was really more relief. It took a long time.” In February, when the American women jumped in their first Winter Games, in Sochi, Russia, Corradini was there to cheer them on.

Influentials-15Clint Bolick ’79

Vice President for Litigation, Goldwater Institute, Phoenix, Ariz.

While still in kindergarten, Clint Bolick counted among his heroes Barry Goldwater, the U.S. senator from Arizona who was the very face of American conservatism in the early 1960s. Half a century later, Bolick is making a name for himself as a constitutional lawyer at the libertarian think tank that bears his hero’s name. Bolick’s most recent book, Immigration Wars: Forging an American Revolution (Threshold Editions, 2013), co-written with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, advocates improving opportunities for legal immigration, a position that conflicts with mainstream Republican thought. Early in his career, when Bolick worked at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, he worked under a little-known commission chair named Clarence Thomas. “I’ve been extremely lucky throughout my life in terms of having amazing mentors,” Bolick says. At Drew, a constitutional law course taught by the late professor Robert Smith steered him toward a legal career. “It just all completely came together for me,” Bolick says. “I discovered that constitutional law is a way that a person motivated by principle could make a big difference in the world.”

Influentials-16Arturo Valenzuela ’65

Professor of Government, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Growing up in Chile, the son of missionaries (and Drew graduates), Arturo Valenzuela could not have imagined teaching at prestigious American universities or counseling two U.S. presidents on foreign policy. But then one day the ground shook. And in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake, Valenzuela’s parents sent him, at age 16, to America, and eventually to Drew, where he thrived. He came to Georgetown from Duke in 1987, never intending to enter government, yet he came to advise Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the latter as assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs—the region’s chief American diplomat. “It’s sort of ironic that even having chosen an academic career, I wound up choosing public policy,” Valenzuela says, “and Drew set me in the right direction for that.”

Influentials-14Betsey Hall T’84

President & CEO, Homeless Solutions Inc., Morristown, N.J. 

Betsey Hall has witnessed firsthand the plight of the working poor. Homeless Solutions, the nonprofit agency she has led since 1998, works to find housing for homeless people in Morris County, N.J., where the median value of owner-occupied housing is $446,800. “It’s a busy world I live in,” Hall says. In Hall’s world, 54 percent of the people who arrive at the doorstep of the agency’s 85-bed shelter already hold full-time jobs. “The solution is not to build more shelters,” she says. That’s a big reason why Homeless Solutions has gone into the business of building affordable homes. In recent years the agency has constructed or renovated 76 homes, all with an eye for energy efficiency. With a $3 million budget, Homeless Solutions employs a staff of 53 and benefits from a battery of 600 volunteers. Hall, an ordained Presbyterian minister, earned a master of divinity degree from the Theo School, where, she says, she gained a greater understanding of the social and economic inequities in modern American life. “I see so many people struggling so hard in a system that they can’t change,” she says.

Influentials-17Joshua A. Drew ’98

Lecturer in conservation biology, Columbia University, NYC

Joshua Drew has been researching fishery conservation practices in the Fiji islands for the past decade. But two years ago he had only to hop a flight to Chicago to make a discovery that startled the world of marine ecology. At the Field Museum of Natural History, Drew studied a collection of weapons fashioned from shark teeth—“Oh, my God, they’re so cool looking”— by the people of the Republic of Kiribati, an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean. His tests determined the teeth came from the dusky and spot-tail sharks—two species no longer found near Kiribati. The phenomenon is known as shadow biodiversity, in which we discover that a species once inhabited a region where it’s no longer found. “It means that what we thought was a natural reef already showed symptoms of human disturbance,” Drew says.

Influentials-19Phillip Carter III ’80

Deputy to the Command for Civil-Military Engagements, U.S. Africa Command, Stuttgart, Germany

When Phillip Carter joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1981, just a year out of Drew, his first post was at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. Then Canada. Then the Caribbean. Then Malawi, in southern Africa. “It was there,” Carter says, “that I fell in love with the African continent—what it offers, and what impact we can make there.” Africa has anchored Carter’s 33 years in the diplomatic corps—he served as the U.S. Ambassador in both Guinea and Ivory Coast. At the U.S. Africa Command, Carter, who holds the diplomatic rank of minister-counselor, helps coordinate myriad aid programs for African countries, from humanitarian assistance to disaster response. “The job of an American ambassador is unique,” Carter says. “You see where we as a country can really make a difference.”

Influentials-18Craig Stanford ’78

Co-Director, Jane Goodall Research Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Craig Stanford was living in Bangladesh in 1988 when, on a whim, he wrote to Jane Goodall in Tanzania to propose a study of chimpanzees and their prey. Four months later, when Stanford returned home to California, he received Goodall’s affirmative response. Thus began a two-decades-long collaboration with the world’s foremost primatologist and Stanford’s own prolific career as professor, researcher and author. Recently he’s been traveling to Madagascar to supervise graduate students studying the ploughshare tortoise, among the world’s rarest species. The latest of his 16 books, Planet Without Apes (Belknap Press, 2012), documents the threats endangering the four existing great apes. “I liken it to the idea that if you have a close relative who is dying, and they could be saved, and it would require some effort on your part and money to save them, would you bother to save them?” Stanford says. “Hopefully, you’d do the moral thing.”

Influentials-20Archie Cox ’91

Owner, Brookway Stables, Lake View Terrace, Calif. 

Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, Archie Cox is the grandson of the Watergate-era special prosecutor who, in October 1973, was so famously fired by President Richard Nixon. But this Archibald Cox has carved an entirely different career path as a trainer of champion equestrians. Cox founded Brookway Stables in 2000 and has since trained 25 national champions (these days his youngest student is 11; his oldest 71). In 2011 the California Professional Horseman’s Association named Cox its Horseman of the Year. “It never occurred to me I would do anything else,” he says. “We work hard. We play hard. We enjoy life. I’m very lucky that my job is my passion.”

Leave a Reply