Potash Hill

Alumni News

The Philosophy of Fashion 

When Raghavendra Rathore ’91 left Marlboro—where he was studying philosophy—to finish his education at Parsons School of Design in New York, he could hardly have predicted he would one day build a fashion empire in his home country of India. 

Raghavendra interacts with students at Gurukul School of Design. Photos courtesy of Raghavendra Rathore“I believe that my experience at Marlboro had a lot to do with the predicament I am in today,” says Raghavendra Rathore, who launched his distinctive eponymous fashion brand in 1994. Inspired by classic Rajasthani regalia but with clean and modern sensibilities, Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur is now India’s foremost name in luxury menswear, and its founder is recognized internationally for his contribution to global fashion. 

“I personally believe fashion is about people,” says Raghavendra, who grew up in Jodhpur and comes from a royal lineage stretching back 1,200 years. “It is a philosophy of life, a story about our choices about things around us. My deeper understanding of the human mind, through a liberal arts education and not a limited ‘design education,’ has helped me conjure up a plethora of lifestyle products, designed with emotion and a sense of responsibility.” 

Sustainability, heritage, and craftsmanship are key pillars of the Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur brand philosophy, as is community. A linked foundation dedicated to Raghavendra’s father, Maharaj Swaroop Singh, and his lifelong ambition to help the underprivileged, aims to use design as a tool to help disadvantaged communities in the region. 

“Fashion, being a seasonal business, gives the entrepreneur an opportunity to evolve every season by understanding customers’ needs,” says Raghavendra. “We are creating immaculate products through an inclusive process, designed to uplift the underprivileged by involving them as artisans. Our products are created at the grassroots level of society for the uber-luxury segment of the fashion industry.” 

Raghavendra works behind the scenes at a photo shoot.Along with Raghavendra’s global reputation, he is now poised to have worldwide influence through the 2018 launch of his Gurukul School of Design, a Jaipur-based institute providing aspiring design professionals with a world class education in combination with traditional values of self-awareness. His inspiration again harkens back to his Marlboro years. 

“The help and support that I received in my early educational years had a profound impact on me,” he says. “I would like to help future generations receive the gift of quality learning, and Gurukul School of Design is intended to be a game changer with respect to design education in Asia. The school is based on a 360-degree approach toward all aspects of design, and this unique methodology emphasizes a holistic learning experience and aims to make designers of the future more well-rounded.” 

There are even discussions of exchanges with Marlboro— similar to our relationships with institutions in China, Nigeria, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Mexico—which Raghavendra credits with developing his own well-roundedness and skills of open debate. He still applies these among design teams, preferring to “let conversations organically control the narrative,” and looking at subjects from the distance of objective reason, never letting crisis rule the mind. He also fondly remembers working early shifts in the dish pit and scraping paint off Rudolf Serkin’s house, experiences that may not have direct applications in fashion but were certainly “character building.” But he is especially thankful to the faculty and advisers who encouraged him to pursue design. 

“I believe Gurukul School of Design has the potential to be the first of its kind in Asia, giving students a cutting-edge experience fit for the ever-changing landscape of our society,” says Raghavendra. “The school will be an oasis for people wanting to understand the culture of India and celebrate the direction in which sustainable design is heading.” 

Learn more about Raghavendra Rathore Jodhpur at rathore.com and about Gurukul School of Design at gurukulschoolofdesign.com

Class notes are listed by year and include both graduates and nongraduates; the latter are listed under the class with which they are associated.  

Dwight Holmes ’94 waxes up for interesting conditions at the annual Wendell-Judd Cup in February, where he made the 10k course in 47 minutes and 8 seconds for third place. His and Bonny White’s (’85) son Nolan came in three seconds earlier for second, and Spencer Knickerbocker ’19 took first, of course. In the women’s division, Morgan Ingalls ’10 placed third. “The magazine that preceded Potash Hill, when Marlboro was tiny, was one that I started, called ETHOS,” writes JAMES PAVLAKIS. “I was the editor, Tinky Turner was the artist, and Sidney Clifford ’59 was our business manager, who got Brattleboro businesses to buy quarter-page ad space so we could pay for printing.” James has a new book of poetry titled Lines of Sight, published by Dorrance Publishing and available on Amazon. 

JONATHAN POTTER writes, “Working with a partner to put together one last class at University of Maine at Augusta. It will be an Introduction to Theater, and include history as well as the technical and visual arts. I’ll miss this activity a lot! I’ll be working with adult education students in theater in the fall, also possibly in Commedia dell’Arte. Great magazine, by the way.” 

“I can’t throw around sheep all day anymore,” says ANDY RICE in a Martha’s Vineyard magazine profile. The article recounts his life as a sheep farmer and how, since the mid ’90s, he has become the annual “visiting expert in all things sheep” on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where one farmer called him a “sheep whisperer.” Learn more

“Ross and I had a wonderful time at the trustee dinner and commencement,” writes LISA INGELFINGER HARRIS. “Being on the campus and being welcomed to those activities felt like such an honor. As you personally know, Marlboro is a unique and amazing college, and being there renewed my awareness of the treasure that it continues to be. We were so impressed with the Plans of the new graduates, as well as the areas of concentration of the master’s students. Caring for people, caring for the world.” 

WHITNEY “WHIT” NICHOLS writes, “Over the years I have taught and consulted in various public and private school sectors. My professional background has been invaluable in my advocacy and recovery education mission. Thanks to my and others’ work, Vermont has restructured Medicaid policy to allow for retention of eligibility for persons with disabilities after retirement age. The change helps to encourage my well-being, and is an important step toward acknowledging the value of continued employment among seniors with disabilities. Although some people emerge from homelessness and never look back, I choose to use my experience to advocate and help others.” 

In February, sculpture professor William Ransom brought his class over to meet alumni artists Michelle Chasse Holzapfel ’73, David Holzapfel ’72, and Eric Dennis ’14 (not pictured). Eric, a blacksmith, has been collaborating with David for the past year, doing the iron work for fine wooded tables, staircases, and more.RICHARD GARRETT shared some photos from his time at Marlboro and says, “Being a dyslexic student I was allowed to forego the writing component of comps, and allowed to produce a photo essay shot during comps period. Some interesting visual material resulted...Roland, Audrey, Dick, Wesley, and many, many students. A visual time capsule of late-’60s Marlboro that hasn’t been all scanned yet—all my work was in black and white. I’ve gone on to be an NSF principal investigator/project director as well as an NEH Fellow for my photography and work preserving the Penobscot Native American language.” 

FREDERICK GRAY writes, “I had the honor of singing again in Berlin Mariencantore, but this time with the (mostly) professional 16-member small chorus. It was heaven to sing with such fine voices. My granddaughter Tallulah is 16 years old, and got into the pre-college summer semester at Brown University! Thrilled to have her on the East Coast.” 

“It’s been a busy year,” says HAROLD ZAKON. “Still teaching and doing research at the University of Texas. My wife, Lynne, and I travelled to the most northerly and southerly destinations we have been to—Iceland and New Zealand— on our way to or from conferences and research projects abroad.” 

“Marlboro’s wide-ranging appreciation of all the disciplines and how they come together, at one time, in one mind, on one problem, is essential preparation for the future,” says MELANIE GIFFORD, a research conservator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in a recent donor profile. Learn more at marlboro.edu/gifford

In January, United States Artists awarded Marlboro wood carver MICHELLE CHASSE HOLZAPFEL a $50,000 grant in the craft category of its fellowship program. As might be expected, Michelle is “excited and delighted” about the award, which is entirely unrestricted. “I think one reason United States Artists was attracted to what I do was because of my long-standing commitment to the community,” says Michelle. “And, of course, because I was a woman woodworker.” Learn more

“Our goal is to provide a warm, welcoming, comfortable space,” says ANDY HORTON in a May Commons article, referring to the town library in the recently established Marlboro Community Center. “Marlboro is one of the few Vermont towns that didn’t have a library.” Andy has been joined in her efforts by others from the college community, including DIANNA NOYES ’80, retired professors Cathy Osman and Carol Hendrickson, Felicia Tober (partner of retired professor Jim Tober), and Gemma Ollis (partner of math professor Matt Ollis). Learn more

In April, as part of National Poetry Month, DAN TOOMEY gave a talk in Brattleboro on Robert Frost and his role in Marlboro College and education in general. The roundtable talk was sponsored by the NEH-supported Brattleboro Words Project, for which Dan is also putting together some recordings on the same subjects. 

“A 210-year-young stone farmhouse in southern Pennsylvania became our new home this year,” says STEVE SMITH. “My wife seems determined to farm as much of the six-acre plot as she can, and to name every deer, groundhog, and baby fox she sees. I am more focused on how to get WiFi to work through two-foot stone walls. For the last decade I have led the live content program at the media and marketing trade publisher MediaPost. I program and host over 20 ‘Insider’ retreats for marketing and media professionals to share ideas, experiences, and forecasts. Marlboro helped me discover my critical intelligence and gave me the confidence to deploy it.” 

Teta Hilsdon ’87: Bringing Ceramics to the Community 
“My desire to create something of value to my community is much stronger than when I was younger,” says Teta Hilsdon, a longtime potter who opened Wheelhouse Clay Center in Brattleboro in May. “I’ve worked as a potter, renting at several group studios, and I’ve done years of administrative work in the arts. I wanted to bring together all my skills into my own business.” 

Co-founded with fellow potter Shari Zabriskie, Wheelhouse offers many ways for people who enjoy clay to be engaged, such as work space, classes, and workshops (including by Diane Echlin ’91). Monthly guided Clay Play Date Nights offer three hours of creative fun for the curious and adventuresome, and the gallery shows the work of owners, members, and invited guests. 

“Potters who want to work in community are an exceptionally interesting and grounded bunch,” says Teta, who was a co-founder of Brattleboro Clayworks in 1983 along with Marlboro alumni Matt Tell ’81 and Elysse Link ’81. “We love being in the heart of town where people can easily find us or happen upon us, and our well-equipped, spacious studio has plenty of work space for everyone.” 

Teta fondly remembers her time at Marlboro, where she did a Plan in philosophy with a focus on Plato. “Transferring to Marlboro was a step down in resources but an enormous step up into a world of guidance from ceramics teacher Orv Wright,” she says. “His was a very Marlboro approach, and it set the tone for my own bearing in pottery forever more.” 


ATHAR KHAN has accepted a new position at Delta Airlines as director of Asia-Pacific GMNA and TMC Sales, based in Seoul, South Korea. He works closely with Delta’s local sales teams in China, Japan, Korea, Australia, and Southeast Asia, as well as airline partners in the region, to develop new programs and drive revenue growth. Athar returns to Delta from his role as a vice president for Jet Airways. 

In April, Mark Roessler ’90 came to campus for a reading and discussion of his recent book, A Panoramic Tour of the Northampton State Hospital. He recently completed a panoramic tour of Marlboro College for our new website. Learn more at marlboro.edu/roessler.A lecturer in psychology at University of Central Florida, MARTHA HUBERTZ was awarded the 2019 Schell Award for Innovative Writing in the Disciplines, part of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program. “Even in the online classes I have taught, I attempt to tie course information to current events and the other disciplines, and I find that students respond well to this interdisciplinary approach to teaching,” Martha says. Learn more

In June, ERICA KENT received her MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She also had two stories published this spring in The Brooklyn Rail

MARK GENSZLER is starting a new position as the priest at a tumbling-down old church in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. He notes that it was the parish church of Richard Upjohn, prominent architect of the Gothic Revival, “a subject I spent a lot of time thinking and writing about with Kate Ratcliff and Willene Clark back in the day. How to give an historic landmark new space? Where to find the partners and millions of bucks necessary? Arts organizers, community activists, urban ecologists— drop me a line and share your wisdom. Or just come say hello!” 

ERIN PETERS writes, “I’m still in Los Angeles, working on a TV show as an assistant editor in post production. Last winter I was on Madam Secretary, a CBS show. The summer of 2018 I was on Haunting of Hill House for Netflix. It has been an amazing year!” 

In July, JON GITELSON debuted his newest project-in-progress, titled FREE!, which currently consists of roughly 250 found signs, at Gravity Gallery in North Adams, Massachusetts. Jon also curated an exhibit at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center titled Angus McCullough, Coincidence Control, which was featured in Art New England and is on view until September 23. “I have been a huge fan of Angus’ work for some time, and this will be the first exhibition I have curated at BMAC,” says Jon. This winter, the Chicago Transit Authority published Elevated: Art and Architecture of the Chicago Transit Authority, which included a four-page spread of Chicago El Stories, Jon’s installation at the Armitage Brown Line Station. 

Dagmawi Iyasu ’98: Entrepreneurism on Caffeine 
“It seems like my life revolves around coffee,” says Dagmawi Iyasu, a serial entrepreneur, public health practitioner, and coffee researcher in his homeland of Ethiopia. “Coffee is addictive socially—I love the people it brings together. I also love the fact that I get to do chemistry and economics for social impact.” 

Dagmawi is the program manager for Africa at Grounds for Health, a Vermont-based NGO focusing on cervical cancer prevention in coffee-growing communities around the world. He is also an advisor for Ethiopia-based YA Coffee Roasters and Slow Brew Coffee Safaris, companies that his wife, Sara Yirga, owns and manages, where he researches the potential of domestic consumption and coffee tourism in Ethiopia and other African countries. 

“It seemed natural to do this as Ethiopia is the birthplace of Coffea arabica and coffee culture,” says Dagmawi. “I am also a co-founder of a few coffee-related businesses in Ethiopia, and soon Vermont. We are trying to bring specialty coffee to the Wilmington area through collaboration, rather than competition, for community development. This is also exciting as our business model depends on bringing smallholder coffee farmers closer to consumers to sustain livelihoods across the value chain.” 

Although Dagmawi studied biochemistry and immunology at Marlboro, with special attention to infectious diseases, every part of his Marlboro experience applies to his current endeavors. “It’s hard not to notice Marlboro in my life,” he says. “I am open and bold, and am comfortable doing both general and specialized tasks. I love the idea of failing as long as there is some learning to do.” 


CYNTHIA SHELTON was recently hired as a case manager at Northeast Kingdom Council on Aging, according to a May article in the North Star Monthly. She works in Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans counties to help older Vermonters continue to live as independently as possible within the framework of available resources and community supports. Cynthia comes to the council after serving as a nurse’s aide and physical therapy assistant in Nebraska and as the activities assistant at the Vernon Nursing Home. She has also worked for several organizations focused on arts education, world and distance learning, and alternative fuels. 

ZANA KONJHODZIC PRUTINA writes, “I moved to Washington, DC, with my family in June 2018, and this fall I started working for Chemonics. Prior to coming here, I spent quite a few years in Bosnia, teaching various management courses at a university. Besides capacity development at Chemonics, I also teach online for Norwich University’s Master of Science in Leadership program. I am enjoying the combination of academic and practical approaches. Last summer I visited KELLY BERGSTRAND and AUGUST WOERNER ’01 in Texas, and KOLI STYLLA ’01 in DC, and we realized it has been 20 years since we’ve met at Marlboro! I have very fond memories of my time there, and I hope now that I am back in the USA I will get a chance to visit.” 

In a May article in the Boston Globe, SHURA BARYSHNIKOV was cited as the movement director in an opera production of Margaret Atwood’s classic novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Learn more

In May, Claudia Watson ’04 married her sweetheart, Jim Christie, right here on Potash Hill, with a sit-down meal of pizza (see page 23). Guests included Becky Catarelli ’04 and faculty members Seth Harter and Kate Jellema, and writing professor John Sheehy was the unofficious officiant. Sara Lavigne ’98 did the photos, Della Dolcino ’20 baked the cake, and Lauren Beigel MacArthur ’02 supplied the cider champagne from Whetstone Ciderworks. Calcutta Kids, the nongovernmental organization founded by NOAH LEVINSON, was cited in a recent initiative linking Brattleboro to four underserved “sister communities” around the world, as reported in an April Brattleboro Reformer article. Called Compassionate Brattleboro, the project will forge connections between the communities and help support youth programs and other community development work. One of the sister communities is Fakir Bagan, a slum area in Kolkata, India, where Calcutta Kids has helped reduce prevalence of severe undernutrition among children from 13 percent to 3 percent in the past 15 years. Learn more

CARA DOWNEY writes, “Erin Calabria and I created a small press last year called Empty House Press. Our first issue went live with great support and success. We figured it would be fun to let the Marlboro community know about our first issue, and, who knows, maybe get some students interested in submitting some of their work!” Learn more at emptyhousepress.com

“We have 6,000 miles of streets in New York, and 80 percent of those streets are dedicated to a vehicle that very few New Yorkers are relying on on a daily basis,” says THOMAS DEVITO in a June profile on bklyner. In the article, Thomas, director of advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, discusses his mission to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile. “We should see major avenues having dedicated protected spaces for bikes, dedicated protected spaces for buses, pedestrian islands, and make sure they don’t get intruded upon by double parkers.” Learn more at bklyner.com/thomas-devito

“I have recently relocated to Los Angeles after three years working in the Chicago film community,” says ALICE PACKARD. “I took advantage of the trip out west and did a 15-day road trip where I saw a handful of Marlboro alums along the way including GREGORY MEYERS ’08, SAM LOWENTHAL ’09, SETH SEMPERE ’09, ALEXIA BOGGS ’13, SEAN PYLES ’13, and JOELLA SIMONS ADKINS ’12. It was really a great transition to my somewhat daunting adventure to see so many friendly faces on my way.” 

ALEX TOLSTOI completed his master’s degree in historic preservation at University of Vermont, and was on the Marlboro campus in March in his capacity as an expert on the subject (part of the permitting process to replace the “historic” Howland dorm). Learn more about what he’s been up to at marlboro.edu/tolstoi

“I think that it’s important that there’s more diversity in terms of who’s deciding—when we’re talking about artificial intelligence— what is intelligence?” said MARA EAGLE, a conceptual artist based in Montreal and artist fellow with Berggruen Institute. Mara was speaking at an event titled “Speed Dating for the Mind: Quick Fire Talks of the Arts & Sciences,” hosted by Berggruen Institute and the National Academy of Science in New York City last December. Learn more at marlboro.edu/eagle

“I’m just in the middle of finishing a master’s program at UCSB in Latin American and Iberian studies,” says ALLEN MAGAÑA. “My thesis project focuses on the development of LGBTI social movements in Portugal in the last decade, specifically how issues of race and economic austerity intersect and affect the dynamics and development of queer social movements. I examine how immigration from Brazil has influenced conceptions of sexuality in Portugal—how sexuality has been made legible through the “other”—and how recent political crises have challenged traditional conceptions of nation, gender, and sexuality.” A violinist in the group Mariachi Arcoris de Los Angeles, Allen is also the singer for the track “Cielo Rojo” on their recent album and a featured singer on most of the popurrís. Learn more at mariachiarcoiris.com

“I am so inspired by the first-generation winemakers in this growing region,” says THEA CABREROS, sommelier at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, Washington, as quoted in Wine Enthusiast magazine’s review of the best 100 restaurants. “They come from all different backgrounds, they are talented artists, scientists, chefs, butchers, and some of the bravest people I know. They have one foot in the future and one in the past. They support one another because they know that the gains of one are the gains of all.” Learn more

DESMOND PEEPLES is publishing a new literary magazine dedicated to supporting rural LGBTQ and POC writers and artists, titled Mount Island, with collaborator Shanta Lee Gander. “We are publishing work online on an ongoing basis and in annual print anthologies,” says Desmond. “Our first new pieces will be released by this fall, and our launch party, which will be a literary game show, is on October 19, 7–9 pm at 118 Elliot during the Brattleboro Literary Festival.” Learn more at mountisland.com

ROSIE KAHAN says, “This spring, after six years supporting teen participants and adult staff, I won the Todd A. Markley NFTY-Northeast Lifetime Membership Award. Beginning during my time at Marlboro, I volunteered during breaks to staff weeklong retreats. I’ve had the pleasure to work with hundreds of teens and dozens of adults, forming lifelong friendships and relationships that have shaped the path of my career. I work full time at a synagogue outside of Boston that serves about 950 families, and love my work. Recently, my written communication was highlighted during a year-end review, and all I could think was, ‘Thank goodness for Clear Writing!’” 

FELIX JARRAR’s fifth opera and master’s thesis composition, Mother Goose, won him the 2019 Lehman Engel Award from Brooklyn College for a particularly outstanding dramatic musical composition that was performed at the school. It is scheduled to be premiered during the 2019–2020 season. He received his master’s of music degree from Brooklyn College with the graduate dean’s award in composition and held the prestigious graduate fellowship for assisting ConTempo, the contemporary ensemble in the conservatory. 

“I’ve just finished working full time for Outward Bound California in San Francisco,” says MATT MACINTOSH. “It was a whirlwind of growth and challenge. Very bittersweet to be moving on, and perhaps I’ll return at some point. This fall, I’ll be an instructor for the study abroad program I went on in Chilean Patagonia back in 2015 (Round River Conservation Studies). I look forward to getting my Spanish up a bit and trying out teaching college students.” 

In February, Jennifer Hunt ’18 led an informative staff training called “Engaging with Gender Diverse Students.” In February, CHRIS LAMB contributed to the Brattleboro Words Project conducted by Marlboro College and other partners with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Chris, a longtime ski jumper, recorded an evocative memoir about Harris Hill Ski Jump, in Brattleboro, titled “On the Hill.” Harris Hill is a stop on the Brattleboro Words Trail, a self-guided audio walking, biking, and driving tour beginning in Brattleboro. Learn more at brattleborowords.org/project/harris-hill.

KELSA SUMMER ROIDT ’13, MBA ’17, who for many years has been an invaluable staff member at the grad school, transitioned to a new job in April. “I’m thrilled to be starting at Habitus Incorporated, a Boston-based B Corp, as a trainer and facilitator,” says Kelsa. “I’ll also be supporting Habitus’ small team in operations and using my B Corp expertise to serve the team in their work as a B Corp. The Marlboro community means so much to me, and I’ll miss my daily interactions with students and the wonderful times we have together on campus. But I’m excited because the new opportunity I’m taking is the kind of work I trained for going back as far at my bachelor’s degree at Marlboro, and throughout the Marlboro MBA program.” 

JAMES LAMBERT MSIT ’10 was hired by Castleton University as their director of marketing and communications, according to a June article in the Rutland Herald. James most recently served as the director of advancement for Mount St. Joseph Academy, and before that at College of St. Joseph for six years, serving most recently as associate vice president for marketing and external affairs. 

Former Faculty 
TIM SEGAR, visual arts faculty emeritus, has had a two-part show at Brattleboro Museum and Art Center from May through October, titled Character Development, including both works on paper and sculptural work. “My practice as an artist has hinged on the dynamic between my two-dimensional works and my three-dimensional objects,” says Tim. “The two represent parallel imaginations, linked in their references to forms and spaces but wholly separate in their dependence on gravity.” 

Former dean of students KEN SCHNECK was pleased to announce the publication of LGBTQ Columbus: Images of Modern America, which he co-authored. Ken, an associate professor and director of the Leadership in Higher Education Program at Baldwin Wallace University, has also taken on the role of contributing editor of Prizm Magazine, Ohio’s one-and-only LGBTQ print publication. “This is an amazing opportunity to do exactly what I love doing: amplify the stories of my neighbors, in this case, those of the incredible LGBTQ community here in the Buckeye State,” says Ken. 

“As a painter and printmaker living in southern Vermont I am attentive to the landscape’s inherent beauty,” says retired visual arts professor CATHY OSMAN, in a Brattleboro Reformer article on her June exhibit at the Putney Library. “The foundation of my work grows from a deeply felt connection to my natural surroundings.” Learn more

Former film/video studies professor JAY CRAVEN toured around New England this summer with his latest narrative film, Wetware, a sci-fi/film noir based on the novel by Craig Nova and a product of the Movies from Marlboro program. “Wetware marks a departure for me,” says Jay, as quoted by VTDigger. “I was captivated by Nova’s emotionally stranded main characters, and the ways they navigate the cool and transactional world he vividly describes.” Learn more