Alumni News & Notes: Spring 2024

Alumni attendees at the San Francisco launch of THIS IS NOT A CAMPAIGN. THIS IS WESLEYAN. enjoyed the music stylings of Low Poly Cactus (featuring Adam Rochelle ’17 and Johnnie Gilmore ’18) at The Pearl in San Francisco, January 25, 2024. Sign up to join us for the next regional launch in New York City on May 2, 2024 and view photos from our Boston (November 2023) and L.A. (January 2024) launches at

Jennifer Finney Boylan ’80, Hon. ’23 was elected president of PEN America, a nonprofit organization that raises awareness for the defense of free speech in the United States and worldwide. Boylan, an author, New York Times contributing columnist, and LGBTQIA+ rights activist, has also served as a national co-chair of the LGBTQIA+ advocacy group GLAAD. 

Paul Nissenbaum ’85, Gloria Shepherd, Maria Lefevre, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Implementation team from the Department of Transportation (Washington, DC) received a 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal in the category of Management Excellence for their work crafting and implementing the $1 trillion infrastructure law that is modernizing the nation’s highways, bridges, shipping ports, railroads, and airports. Considered the “Oscars” of government service, the Sammies are the premier award program recognizing America’s outstanding public servants in the federal government. 

Author and film historian Jeremy Arnold ’91 was interviewed by Jake Tapper for a CNN segment in December. They discussed Arnold’s new book, Christmas in the Movies (Running Press), what makes a movie a holiday classic, and whether or not Bruce Willis’s action film Die Hard could be designated a Christmas movie. You can find the full segment on YouTube.

Kevin Kumler ’99, president of Virta Health, was quoted in TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Companies of 2023 regarding his company’s diabetes treatment app. Virta Health combines telehealth support with personalized nutrition to help patients develop better dietary habits and can lead to significant weight loss. After one year, clinical-trial participants eliminated 63% of their diabetes-specific medications, and 94% reduced or eliminated insulin use. 

Paul Yoon ’02’s third short story collection, The Hive and the Honey (Simon & Schuster), was named Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Library Journal, Electric Literature, and the New York Public Library. It was also selected as Editors’ Choice by the New York Times, a Top 10 Fiction Book of 2023 by TIME, and longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize.

Jenny He ’02 and Dara Jaffe ’09, MA ’12 curated a colorful, comedic exhibition titled John Waters: Pope of Trash in honor of the American icon for the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. The exhibit features materials on loan from the John Waters Archive housed in the Ogden and Mary Louise Reid Cinema Archives at the Jeanine Basinger Center for Film Studies. It is accompanied by a 256-page catalog, edited by He and Jaffe, including an essay by Jeanine Basinger. The exhibit will run from September 17, 2023, through August 4, 2024.

Photo by Charles White, courtesy of Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Roberta Pereira ’03 is the new executive director at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, following an eight-year stint as the executive director of the Playwrights Realm. Pereira has worked to make the arts accessible to all throughout her career, and she is the first Latino person to lead the library in its history. She also joined the Immigrant Theatermakers Advocates as an advisory council member, working with industry institutions to help fight xenophobia and create programs that welcome immigrants to the arts. 

Zach Strassburger ’06 received the Champions of Diversity Award from the City of Philadelphia Law Department for their work, including creating an inclusive language guide to make legal writing more inclusive and approachable for diverse populations. Strassburger is a deputy city solicitor in the Appellate Litigation unit for the City of Philadelphia Law Department, doing election law, First Amendment law, and more. 

Kennedy Odede ’12, co-founder and CEO of Shining Hope for Communities, was honored with a TIME100 Impact Award in recognition for his organization’s support and empowerment of millions of residents in slum settlements across Kenya. The inaugural TIME100 Africa Summit and Gala convened on November 17, 2023, at the Kigali Convention Centre where honorees, including Odede, discussed essential solutions to urgent global problems from regional and global perspectives, and the ways that we can all take action to build a better future. 

After a sold out run at the SoHo Playhouse this past fall and being named Critic’s Pick by the New York Times, playwright Max Wolf Friedlich ’17’s psychological thriller, Job, moved to the Connelly Theater in East Village for an extended run from January 19 through March 3.