St. Anne's-Belfield School's more than 3,500 alumni live across the world, and every day they engage with and impact their local communities. The talents and skills they honed at the School are put to use to create, educate, facilitate, and lead. The alumni featured below are just a small sample of our global presence, but regardless of where they live or what they have done one thing all of our Saints have in common is the pride and support of our School community.
- Sally Willinger Fox '63: Community Activist
- Mary Welby von Thelen '76: eLearning Entrepreneur
- Sandy Reisky '84: Founder of Apex Clean Energy
- Schuyler Fisk '00: Actress and Musician
- Kiki Slaughter '01: Artist
- Andrew McCullough '08: Oversaw NBC Rio Olympics Logistics
- Alex Kramer '09: Actor
Sally Willinger Fox '63 will long be remembered in the Seattle, Wash. area. Her namesake, the MV Sally Fox, is one of two passenger ferries serving Vashon Island, thanks to her efforts prior to her death in 2007. The passenger ferry is the first for King County, Wash.
For the last ten years of her life, she lived on Vashon Island and commuted by ferry to her job as Benefits Manager for the City of Seattle. In 2000, the State of Washington, which had operated a passenger ferry between Vashon Island and downtown Seattle, was hit with severe funding cuts, and determined that its responsibilities did not include public transit.
Sally led a group of commuters from Vashon on an imaginative and often fun-filled community organizing effort, and after five years of lobbying and negotiating, King County took over the passenger ferry service.
In 2008, the Vashon Community Council passed a resolution urging King County to name the first County-owned ferry after her, in recognition of her leadership and passionate advocacy.Largely paid for with federal grants, the ferry was dedicated with an "environmentally-conscious" mesh-covered bottle of champagne on March 28, 2015. More than 500 people gathered for the ceremony. The 100-foot long, state-of-the-art catamaran has indoor and outdoor seating for 250 passengers, including handicapped-accessible accommodations, and space for 26 bicycles. The water taxi cruises at 28 knots, and went into service on April 7, 2015.
"It ain't the Queen Mary, but who else do you know who has a ferry boat named after them?" quipped Sally's widower, Michael Fox.
A plaque permanently mounted on the vessel reads: "Sally Willinger Fox was a passionate advocate for the preservation of passenger ferry service between Vashon Island and downtown Seattle. She understood that passenger-only service enhances Islanders' family lives, protects the environment, reduces congestion, and contributes to the health, vibrancy, and fun of Vashon and Maury Islands. As a public servant for the City of Seattle, she relished her relaxed ferry commutes with old and new friends. She led Islanders in bringing together state and local government leaders, the maritime unions, and the business community to talk, listen, and cooperate with one another to save the 'foot ferry.'"
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 - 2016 issue of Perspectives magazine
“Our people can’t learn that way.”
“They need the social interaction.”
“They don’t have the opportunity to ask questions.”
“It’s too expensive.”
In her career as an eLearning content creator, CEO of OnCall Learning Systems Mary Welby von Thelen ’76 has heard myriad excuses about why eLearning could never work for a particular community. And she doesn’t believe any of them.
A computer programmer turned registered nurse turned eLearning entrepreneur, von Thelen has been at the forefront of electronic learning since 1995 when, as a nurse working the night shifts at Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, she was asked to join a team of clinicians to implement the hospital’s newly purchased MEDITECH healthcare information system. She was later offered a position as a clinical information systems analyst, acting as a link between the hospital’s nursing staff and the IT department. The position was a forerunner to the field of Nursing Informatics, today a specialized career path for nurses.
“I would never characterize myself as an ‘entrepreneur’ per se,” said von Thelen. “Entrepreneurship seems so bold and risky. I simply saw a need that had to be filled.”
The need was an ability to provide consistent training to doctors and nurses in how to use the MEDITECH clinical information system. Von Thelen had observed a snowball effect of poor training from the initial in-house experts that resulted in variable, and even disastrous, levels of end user effectiveness.
Frustrated by the lack of consistency, von Thelen began to consider how eLearning could improve the process.
“I somehow got the idea of creating eLearning to teach the software - interactive training that would make the users feel like they were working on the live system,” said von Thelen. “That solved a number of problems at once. The computer delivered the same content every time, no matter what. It never took a holiday or had a bad day. Finally, it delivered the same amount of material in half the time.”
Emboldened by the idea that electronic learning could take some of the more mundane training off the hands of educators, who would then be free to spend more time on the practices that lend themselves to hands-on learning (CPR training, venipuncture, and other techniques in the nursing field), von Thelen started what would later be called OnCall Learning Systems in 1998. It became widely regarded as the leader in MEDITECH eLearning solutions within a few years.
“I would say that the great key to my success in this business is the fact that I have all of the talents needed to run it in one person,” said von Thelen. “I am a nurse, so I understand healthcare. I am a programmer, so I know how to create the training. I took Mrs. Norfleet’s English and Miss Malone’s U.S. History at St. Anne’s so I know how to write. If I needed to hire a different individual to perform each of the functions required to make our training, I could not have afforded to get our business off the ground.”
Much like von Thelen sees a blend of her own knowledge, skills, and abilities coming together to create effective content, she sees blended learning, or the use of many mediums and processes, as the most effective method of teaching students overall.
“Not everyone or everything benefits from eLearning delivery,” she noted. “So you have to consider if the subject matter is appropriate for the modality. There will always be a percentage of the population that does not learn well in a particular way, because of learning disabilities, language barriers, or physical handicaps. There can never be just one way to learn something, and great teachers have always known that.”
For OnCall Learning Systems, dreams for the future include a Do-It-Yourself portal that would empower educators to make high quality clinical training on their own, and expansion into international markets, an area led by the company’s Chief Operating Officer and von Thelen’s husband, Tony B-72.
“He and I met in sixth grade at Belfield and he used to pull my hair,” remembers von Thelen. “So you could say that’s another way in which St. Anne’s-Belfield influenced my life!”
Mary Welby von Thelen earned a B.S. from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce specializing in Finance in 1981. She earned a B.S. in Nursing from Fairfield University in 1994. She then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Management of Information Technology (M.S.M.I.T.) from the McIntire School of Commerce in 2001. To learn more about OnCall Learning Systems, visit www.oncalllearning.com.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Perspectives magazine. Image courtesy of Tony von Thelen.
It was Earth Day 2000 and the thirtieth anniversary of the Clean Air Act. In Washington, D.C., Sandy Reisky '84 walked the National Mall, which was lined with kiosks manned by nonprofit environmental groups and solar power companies. At one display, a single, massive wind turbine blade sparked a conversation between Reisky and a consultant. As this consultant introduced Reisky to several clean-energy companies, he made an observation that Reisky – now the CEO and founder of Apex Clean Energy Inc. – considers an "aha" moment in his career. Solar power, said the consultant, was predicted to be cost-competitive by 2010, but utility- scale wind energy was already cost-competitive with fossil fuels in states with a strong wind resource.
Shortly thereafter, Reisky began traversing the country to attend energy-focused conferences. By the year's end, Reisky had launched Greenlight Energy, a wind-energy company later acquired by BP Alternative Energy. In 2005, he founded his second company, Columbia Power Technologies, which commercializes a utility-scale wave power technology that was originally developed at Oregon State University. Two years later, he founded Axio Power, which focused on utility-scale solar energy development and was acquired by SunEdison in 2011. With many of the same team members and local investors from Greenlight and Axio Power, Reisky founded Apex Clean Energy in 2009.
An independent company that aggregates and commercializes wind and solar energy resources, Apex is one of the fastest- growing companies in the industry. Headquartered in Charlottesville, Va., it has expanded to more than 90 employees in five years.
Apex has grown through the initiation of new projects or the acquisition of energy projects started by other companies, and currently owns a portfolio of more than fifty development projects spread across the United States. These projects – the latest of which includes a 100 megawatt energy project in Illinois bought by the Swiss furniture retailer IKEA – represent more than 10,000 megawatts of wind and solar capacity (enough electricity to power approximately 2 million homes).
Collectively, Reisky's companies have developed more than $1 billion of wind and solar facilities in the United States.
In recognition of his exemplary leadership and vision, the Keystone Center (www.keystone.org), an organization that "facilitates the resolution of national policy conflicts," awarded Reisky its 2013 Leadership in Energy Award. He was also invited to speak at the past two Tom Tom Founders Festivals in Charlottesville (both talks are available at www. newenergyethic.com/blog). In addition, Governor Terry McAuliffe recently appointed him to the newly created Virginia Energy Council.
A Teacher's Inspiration
Several factors kindled Reisky's passion for clean energy. Among the most important was the seed of inspiration planted by a St. Anne's-Belfield School teacher.
Reisky grew up in Charlottesville and attended the School for kindergarten through twelfth grade. Recalling the impact of his eleventh-grade AP Biology teacher, Julie Russell, Reisky said: "I was at the point of evaluating what I would do after I graduated. Her indignation with the state of air quality made a big impression. Although I didn't connect it with clean energy at the time, her influence pointed me in that direction and stuck with me over the years."
After graduating from St. Anne's-Belfield School, Reisky went on to earn his bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia, where he majored in finance and marketing at the McIntire School of Commerce and spent a summer interning in Munich, Germany. He worked five of the next fifteen years in Europe – three years in Munich, two in the Czech Republic. His other positions, both in the United States, included serving as CFO of a software company and as a financial analyst for Klöckner Capital Corporation, a German company based in Gordonsville, Va.
"I saw a lot of pollution during my stints in Eastern Europe, and I began connecting the dots," Reisky said. "I was very concerned, and that concern originated with Ms. Russell."
A Message with Energy
Reisky's passion for clean energy is obvious. Statistics on the cost and convenience advantages of installing rooftop solar panels and driving electric vehicles roll easily off his tongue. His message, he believes, "is one that is not being told in this country" and often obfuscated by "a lot of misinformation."
"When renewable energy resources are introduced at scale, utility rates are coming down," Reisky said, adding that wind or solar
energy are already cheaper means of powering a home than fossil fuels in some places. He believes the industry will soon experience a "cascading effect."
"Consumer choice will drive the markets and revolutionize the energy industry in a similar way to how Apple and iTunes revolutionized the music industry," Reisky postulated. "Just look at the facts: Electricity is four times cheaper than gasoline – that's why so many plug-in and electric cars are coming to market. Likewise, rooftop solar is cheaper than utility-sourced power in most states. Apex will be – and, indeed, already is – a participant in that national shift from conventional to clean energy."1
1 Statistics cited by Mr. Reisky come from multiple sources, including the American Wind Energy Association (www.awea.org), the NationalRenewable Energy Laboratory (www.nrel.gov) and the U.S. Department of Energy (www.fueleconomy.gov).
Photo credit: Jackson Smith 2014
Text by Jenny M. Abel
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Perspectives magazine
At St. Anne's-Belfield School, Schuyler Fisk '00 was well-known for being the daughter of actress Sissy Spacek and production designer Jack Fisk. Today, she needs no such introduction, having made a name of her own through a still-young career in singing, songwriting, and acting (www.schuylerfisk.com). Described as an "honest and adept indie-pop singer"with a clear, vibrant, "softly smooth"voice, Fisk is preparing to record her third full-length solo album, following her chart-topping debut, The Good Stuff (2009), and sophomore album, Blue Ribbon Winner (2011), as well as two solo extended play (EP) recordings. Fisk is also part of the band FM Radio (www.ilovefmradio.com) and has appeared in multiple TV shows and films, including The Baby-sitters Club (1995) – her first major movie role – and Orange County (2002). Her songs have also been featured in film soundtracks.
Fisk attended the School from preschool through twelfth grade. Upon completing her high school credits a year early in 1999, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue full- time acting. Shifting toward singing/songwriting, she signed with Universal Records in 2004 before eventually becoming an independent artist. She received her bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia's College of Arts & Sciences in 2006.
What activities were you involved in at St. Anne's-Belfield School?
Athletics were important to me. I did theater until middle school, including playing the title role in the musical Annie in sixth grade, but I chose to focus on sports in high school – specifically, field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse. At the same time, I started taking my interest in music to another level. Nobody at school knew I played music until I performed a song I wrote at the talent show one year. I remember people being shocked because they saw me as an athlete, not a singer/songwriter.
Any favorite teachers?
I loved Mrs. Van Liew's chemistry class. Mr. Amos encouraged my deep interest in expression on the page. At one point, I got so into poetry that I wrote everything in iambic pentameter for weeks! Dr. Erb's English class really changed my life; it lit a fire in me to embrace my uniqueness and find my voice.
What inspires you to be creative?
Feelings, other artists, nature, and the news.
What are you up to now?
I just finished recording FM Radio's second full-length record, which is due out later this year. I also just finished filming The Best of Me (a Nicholas Sparks book adaptation) in New Orleans. In Austin, Texas, I am currently filming an independent indie film called Hot Air, which is directed by Derek Sieg, the husband of my best friend, Heather Halsey Sieg '00.
Photo credit: The Riker Brothers
Text by Jenny M. Abel
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Perspectives magazine
A Charlottesville native, Kiki Slaughter graduated from St. Anne's-Belfield School, which her mother also attended, in 2001. Kiki went on to receive her B.A. in studio art and art history from the University of Virginia and an M.A. in contemporary art from Sotheby's Institute of Art, London.
Now a full-time professional artist, Kiki lived in New York City and Charlottesville before recently relocating to Atlanta for her husband's job. Her paintings have been in numerous shows and are permanently displayed in many locations, from homes to businesses. The August/September 2013 issue of Garden & Gun Magazine featured her as one of 15 of "the South's New Tastemakers."
With a heart for service, Kiki has donated her art to many charitable causes – including the School's bi-annual Auctions.
When and how did your art interest develop?
Art has always been part of my life. When I was young, I threw paint around and drew with chalk on sidewalks. My private tutor, the late Karen Shea Silverman, hugely influenced me. When I sold out my first show – as a fourth-year U.Va. student – I began to really believe, "I can actually do this as a living!"
What influence did St. Anne's-Belfield School have on you?
In addition to helping me get into U.Va., STAB taught me how to work hard. That work ethic is very important as a full-time artist. I learned how to handle freedom responsibly and manage my time. All my STAB teachers were wonderful, but I especially enjoyed Janet Moore-Coll, my photography teacher and yearbook advisor.
Describe the style and inspiration of your art.
I paint with oil on canvas, sometimes mixing acrylic and oil. I love the messiness and freedom of paint. I'm inspired by my surroundings, especially mountains, landscapes, and the ocean, but also little things like a torn movie poster on a New York subway. I soak in everything – textures, the interplay of colors. My art is entirely abstract but draws from my surroundings, similar to Abstract Expressionism.
What is your creative process?
It's a process of experimentation – I paint in the moment. When I work, I take over my entire studio, jumping from painting to painting, withup to 20 going at a time.
What's in your future?
Being in a big city, I can see my paintings turning more industrial and less landscape-inspired. I'm also excited to be launching a scarf line, called Kikson, with my longtime friend Greyson Kirby in the near future. The scarves will feature my paintings printed on linen and cashmere.
Photo credit: Andrea Shirey
Text by Jenny M. Abel
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Perspectives magazine
When Andrew McCullough '08 graduated from St. Anne's-Belfield School, he knew he wanted to study business but didn't feel he'd really found his niche until he took his first Supply Chain Management course at University of Maryland, College Park.
"Supply Chain was something I never thought about, but it affects every part of our life, especially in the business world," said McCullough, who graduated from the Smith School of Business in 2012.
"Everything that is purchased in stores or used in the home or work place is manufactured in a plant in the US or abroad, and those products must find a way from the assembly line to the store shelves."
After gaining experience in logistics within the auto industry, McCullough took a job as manager of technical logistics with NBC Sports in 2016.
"I was yearning to move back to the East Coast and find a position that would allow me to travel and work abroad and be around sports. I saw a posting for NBC Olympics and thought 'Yes, NBC would have logistical needs to get their equipment to the Olympic cities to broadcast.' Little did I know exactly how much equipment and gear was needed to produce the two weeks of Olympic programming!"
McCullough arrived in Rio on July 23, and stayed until October 29, staying in an apartment located between Olympic Park and the warehouse where equipment is inventoried and dispersed to the International Broadcast Center and venues around the city.
"I was in charge of the transportation of all of the company's equipment for the Olympics from the United States, and a select vendors in the UK, into Brazil, as well as exporting out of Brazil once the games are complete," said McCullough.
"I coordinated the transport of 102 forty-foot ocean containers, 120,000 pounds of air freight, and nine Television Broadcast Vehicles the size of full tractor trailers into Brazil, and then back out at the conclusion of the Games. We had about six months to get all of our equipment to the host city, and we had about two months to get the material loaded and ready to export after the Closing Ceremonies. "
Cameras and televisions are just the beginning of what McCullough's team transported. In practical terms, they built an entire new office and multiple TV sets at different venues, including the Today Show set on Copacabana Beach. They also supported the work of about 2,500 NBC personnel who arrived from around the world including electricians, carpenters, cameramen, drivers, make up artists, hair stylists, and more.
"In order for all of these people to be able to do their jobs, we need to either ship in or source locally everything and anything these individuals would need to work.," said McCullough. "I like to think that the Olympics are the largest logistical project outside of military operations that occur every two years."
McCullough describes his Olympic experience as unforgettable, with too many memorable moments to count.
"It's hard to pinpoint one single event or moment that has bene most memorable for me. I was present to see Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky win multiple gold medals in the pool. I was at Olympic Stadium when Usain Bolt defended his title as the fastest man on the planet and when Wayde van Niekerk broke the 400 meter track record that many thought was unbreakable. But I think the most memorable moment had to be sitting in the stands at midnight in the pouring rain at Copacabana Beach watching the gold medal match for Men's Beach Volleyball at between Italy and Brazil. Beach volleyball is the second most popular sport in Brazil and to see the host country win the gold was extraordinary. I have never been in such a raucous venue!"
For McCullough, a great deal of his professional success began at St. Anne's-Belfield School. He describes the School as the perfect size, just large enough to generate healthy competition among students but small enough to stand out and be supported in stepping outside of one's comfort zone. He remembers vividly the success and sometimes failure that accompanied public speaking during class elections, academic presentations, and participating on sports teams.
"Success in my career path is really not that different than success in other paths. I believe that my success is due to working hard, respecting my superiors and co-workers, asking questions, not blending into the crowd, making myself visible and memorable to upper management and executives, putting myself in a position to be tapped for special projects and new opportunities, and having a little bit of luck," he said.
"If St. Anne's-Belfield School students keep that in mind and pair that with the academic lessons they learn, there is no doubt in my mind they will be successful in any field they choose."
In a moment on the stage in Randolph Hall, Alex Kramer '09 found exactly what he was meant to do. Not just a performing artist, he participated in wide variety of activities during his time at St. Anne's-Belfield School, serving as class president, a violinist in the orchestra, and an athlete on the baseball, tennis, and soccer teams. However, it was on that stage that everything became clear.
"Mrs. Fisher's leap of faith in casting me as Buddy Layman in The Diviners in ninth grade was a major point for me," Kramer said. "Never before or since have I felt more like I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. Without a doubt, that production changed the course of my life." Noting that the character consumed him entirely, he said the experience revealed his future path.
"I knew that this was what I had to do with the rest of my life. I have never been able to shake that feeling and I haven't stopped my pursuit of an acting career in the ten years since."
It's a goal that was not obvious at the outset. Kramer says that his parents won't admit they "almost forced him to act." After being encouraged to try out for the Upper School production of The Miracle Worker as a sixth grade student, Kramer almost skipped the audition, planning to tell his parents he hadn't made the cut. Overcoming his fears, he auditioned and was cast, and the rest was history.
He performed in nearly every play he could thereafter, including As You Like It and Fiddler on the Roof while still in middle school. From a lengthy list of Upper School productions, Kramer cited turns as Danny Zuko in Grease, Feste in Twelfth Night, and Ali Hakim in Oklahomaas highlights.
Kramer went on to study and perform as a theatre studies major at Yale, graduating in 2013. After spending the summer working at a fine arts camp in Sitka, Ala., he moved to New York and began the process to break into show business. While the particulars of his pursuit have taken a few different forms, Kramer has set his sights on film and TV, and feels he is gaining momentum.
His recent work includes a new Hulu show called The Path, in which he plays Aaron Paul's brother (Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad) in multiple episodes. He will also appear in an episode of the new ABC show The Family, acting opposite Andrew McCarthy. Kramer was also recently cast in the independent film Aardvark, in which he has a fight scene with Zachary Quinto (Spock in the new Star Trek movies).
"It's been an awesome stretch of success," Kramer shared. "It certainly feels great to see the last several years of hard work pay off in this way." As his career takes wing, Kramer said he is "loving life" in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he lives with three roommates from Yale.
Looking back on his 10 years at St. Anne's-Belfield School, Kramer said he obviously honed his skills as an actor, and "became a better thinker, writer, and problem solver." In addition, he truly values another ability he gained along the way: the confidence to express his beliefs to different types of people. By being encouraged to meet with a teacher or administrator, or to stand up in a morning meeting and say something that mattered personally, Kramer said he came to understand what he values in himself and others.
"What more valuable skill could you ask for in life?"
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 - 2016 issue of Perspectives magazine