Alumni Leaders

The Suffield Academy Alumni Association created the Alumni Leadership Awards to honor Suffield graduates who have displayed notable leadership in their professional careers or in a humanitarian endeavor. The award selection committee is comprised of alumni, students, and members of the faculty.

2019 Alumni Leadership Award Recipients

Suffield Academy held its 17th Annual Alumni Leadership Awards Program Day on May 6. The Alumni Association created the program to honor Suffield graduates who have displayed notable leadership in their professional careers or in a humanitarian endeavor. The Alumni Leadership Award Selection Committee is comprised of alumni, students, and members of the faculty. This year’s award was presented to David R. Holdridge ’62, P’03 and May Chow ’03.
David R. Holdridge served in the Vietnam War as an infantry platoon leader outside of Chu Lai. He was wounded and spent 18 months at various hospitals in the United States until being freed from his trauma at Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital. He spent the next 35 years working with humanitarian organizations among populations suffering from war, exploitation, and impoverishment, including assignments in West Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. From 2010 to 2012 he directed an advocacy effort in Washington DC for significant transformation of the current systems of American assistance abroad. David lives on a tree farm in Vermont with his wife Annie. His daughter Hank was born in Beirut and his son Alex ’03 in Tunis. David was the recipient of Prize Americana in 2015 for his memoir The Avant Garde of Western Civ and is currently authoring a book describing the beginnings of the counter culture revolution in 1962.
May Chow became immensely successful and widely renowned in Hong Kong after opening her own restaurant in 2013, Little Bao. From the iconic baby head neon signage, indie music selection, and Chinese bao burger invention, May demonstrated her creativity by drawing on influences from her Chinese heritage and American upbringing. In March 2017, May opened another highly acclaimed Chinese restaurant called Happy Paradise. She was named as Asia’s Best Female Chef in December 2017 by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. She also received the inaugural Local Champion award from the 2017 edition of Hong Kong Tatler Best Restaurants. May served as a judge on America’s Top Chef and was a featured guest on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (season 11). She has used her high profile and fame to promote LGBTQ issues in Hong Kong and support women in her industry. May is the youngest to ever receive the alumni leadership award.
The recipients were honored and shared remarks in the Second Baptist Church.
Headmaster Cahn welcomed David and May back to Suffield and commented on the program’s significance: “All of these alums stand as a symbol of the great talents in the Suffield Academy community and the incredible areas of opportunity for our students in the years ahead. Like you they built a strong foundation at Suffield, and I know as they think back at their years here they reflect on the relationships built and how their lives unfolded.”
Following an introduction provided by faculty member Andy Lowe, David Holdridge told a few stories. He spoke about his life and a great fondness for literature. He talked about the books with which he fell in love and the joy he had in discussing them as a student. “Our arguments and banter were generally revolutionary and fantastic,” he recalled. Encouraging the community to step outside their collective comfort zones he urged, “Go write the difficult stories, and I don’t mean for publication but for yourself and your own narrative. It is right here where you start the foundation for your story and where you can begin to learn about the world’s greater family.”
Poised with positivity, May Chow talked about education and the inspiration behind her iconic bao burger. “I was at Suffield for two years and I can tell you it doesn’t get better,” she noted. “Life doesn’t get better in terms of someone nurturing you. There are 150 people here nurturing 400 students and caring about you on a 24-hour basis.” She claimed it was in Mr. Sullivan’s English class where she first discovered creative confidence. “If you have a voice you should be outspoken and not be penalized for having a different point of view,” she declared. It is for this reason, May claims, she was inspired to recreate the concept of Asian comfort food and introduce her bao burger to Hong Kong: “I wanted to combine my American experiences with Chinese flavors so that two individual people could appreciate it from two different angles. I am constantly trying to redefine modern day Chinese cuisine without losing the traditions of it.”

Additional Alumni Leadership Award Recipients

List of 9 frequently asked questions.

  • [2018]  David “Rocky” Rockwell ’58

    David "Rocky" Rockwell will retire this June after 54 years on the Suffield Academy faculty. He has taught nearly 20 different courses including sociology, archaeology, anthropology, and philosophy. He chaired the history department for 25 years and has been Director of the Leadership Program since 2005. Rocky has earned many honors for his inspirational impact including Suffield’s Richter Award for excellence in teaching in 2002, the Elijah B. Andrews Award for service to Suffield in 1994, and the WALKS Foundation Swan Award in 2007. Rocky started Suffield’s Alpine Ski Team in 1967 and was head coach until 1996. He later established Suffield’s SOLO Program (Suffield Outdoor Leadership Organization) in the early 1990s. He has influenced hundreds of Suffield students through outdoor experiential learning on campus and on trips to places including the coast of Maine and Zuni, New Mexico.

    Rocky was honored and gave a talk in the Second Baptist Church. Nicholas Vardakas offered an introduction and Dominic Fiallo ’12 and Academic Dean Sara Yeagar provided words about Rocky’s legendary career. A staunch advocate of lifelong learning, Rocky shared a remarkable perspective on his years spent as an educator. “Education to me has always been about life, life in the broadest sense, life experienced well and with enthusiasm,” he noted. “In order to do that you have to be involved. We require more than ever an active, informed younger generation. The divisive climate in which we presently wallow begs all of us to reach across the divide, learn as much as we can, and have genuine conversation with each other. My challenge to you is to get involved with the fight for fairness and sanity. If I have provided any kind of leadership over the years I hope it’s been in the realm of helping students gain a sense of self, encouraging them to seek truth no matter how painful, and to realize that they and only they can do great things if they put their mind to it.”
  • [2017]  David R. Holmes ’60 and Janice H. Lee ’99

    David R. Holmes ’60, an accomplished educator, and nonprofit leader, was Headmaster of Suffield Academy from 1991 to 2004. After graduating from Suffield, he attended Middlebury College where he earned a degree in political science with honors and captained the football team. David also earned degrees from Columbia University (MA) and University of Denver (PhD). He served in the United States Army from 1966 to 1968. He was a tenured professor at the University of Vermont, where he created the all-university center for teaching excellence. David helped found College for Every Student, a national project that helps disadvantaged youth on the path to college, and Escola SESC, a boarding school in Brazil that serves low income students from throughout the nation. He headed a $25 million grants program for innovation at the U.S. Department of Education from 1987 to 1991. His leadership of Suffield was marked by a dramatic strengthening of the school, positioning Suffield for great future success. After his years as Suffield headmaster, David directed a center for youth with learning differences and served as Head of the Community School in Sun Valley, Idaho from 2011 to 2015. He now serves as Co-Director of the Institute on Character and Admission and plays a leadership role nationally in elevating character attributes in education and in college admissions.

    Janice H. Lee ’99 is an intellectual property lawyer at Morgan Lewis in Washington, DC. Janice was born in Seoul, Korea, and attended Cornell University after graduating from Suffield. She earned a degree in Materials Science and Engineering, Magna Cum Laude. Janice also earned degrees from Johns Hopkins University (PhD) and Georgetown University (JD). She brings a background in science and engineering to her legal work and most frequently focuses on biotechnology, chemistry, and materials engineering matters. She guides clients through patent procurement and litigation matters. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Janice developed bio-synthetic hybrid polymer materials and stem cell coculture systems for musculoskeletal tissue engineering.
  • [2016]  David D. Celentano ’69, Ben Diep ’85, and Michelle L. Kaminsky ’84

    David D. Celentano ’69 is the Charles Armstrong Chair of the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is a noted epidemiologist and professor who has made significant contributions to the promotion of research on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. His research began in the 1980s and in 1990 David transitioned to international research when he commenced a long-term project with Chiang Mai University in Thailand. Over the span of three decades David has been recognized and awarded for his research. He continues to help students worldwide through mentorship and practices public health in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Following his time at Suffield, David earned three degrees from Johns Hopkins University: a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology in 1972, a Master of Health Science degree in mental hygiene in 1975, and a Doctor of Science degree in behavioral sciences in 1977.

    Ben Diep ’85 is the founder and owner of Color Space Imaging, New York. Ben is a master photographic printer who collaborates with fine art photographers and artists. He attended the Rhode Island School of Design on a full scholarship, but after only two semesters he returned to New York City at the behest of his father to start what would become a very successful family-owned commercial photographic lab. In 2003 Ben founded Color Space Imaging, to specialize in applying his painterly esthetic to photography. Ben worked on exhibits at museums, galleries, and shows in the US and Europe, including New York’s MoMA, the Royal Academy in London, and Photokina in Cologne. In 2015 Ben and his wife opened a gallery of their own to exhibit artwork in all mediums. The mission of Square Peg Gallery is to nurture and promote the next generation of artists.

    Michelle L. Kaminsky ’84 
    is the Chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau in the Brooklyn, New York District Attorney’s Office. Her bureau annually investigates and prosecutes over 10,000 cases of intimate partner violence. Michelle joined the Brooklyn DA’s Office after graduating from Brooklyn Law School in 1992 and moved into the Domestic Violence Bureau in 1997 as a felony trial attorney. Michelle has published books on prosecuting domestic violence, the algorithms and implications of dating in the internet age, and the ingredients of successful law careers. Her literature focuses primarily on domestic violence against women and the laws, judicial biases, and inflexible prosecution policies she feels prevent meaningful change for battered women in the criminal justice system.
  • [2015]  Gerard J. Hall ’77, Joseph G. Tompkins ’58, and Michael F. Sheridan ’58

    Gerard J. Hall ’77 is the founder and CEO of SMT, the award winning purveyor of high-tech solutions that integrate real-time sports data and 3-D visualizations into live television broadcasts. Gerard played soccer at Suffield, earning all-WNEPSSA honors. He earned an AB in Economics at Harvard and won the prestigious St. Andrews Scholarship to study at Edinburgh University, where he pursued an MS in encryption theory. Gerard wrote scoring systems for the PGA TOUR, Indy Car, and X-Games, and is responsible for creating all scoring formats for every sport in the X-Games. In 1995 Gerard changed sports television by creating technology that displayed persistent, on-air, graphic scoreboards during sports telecasts. In 2001 he patented technology for the yellow first down line. SMT wrote the official scoring systems for the NBA, NHL, PGA TOUR, NASCAR, Masters, British Open, Olympic tennis and golf, and all four tennis Grand Slams. SMT enhances 3,000 telecasts per year, including the Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, Stanley Cup, NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Olympics, and Crossfit Games. Gerard turned watching live sports on television into a great professional career.

    Joseph G. Tompkins ’58 
    is owner and president of Saga Investment Company Incorporated, a money management, venture capital investment firm that offers financial advice to small private and not-for-profit organizations. Prior to founding Saga he worked at Morgan Stanley from 1967-1993, focusing on investment banking including mergers and acquisitions. During his last five years at the firm Jay headed the Asian Equity business, which was headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. In addition to his successful career in finance, Jay was named the vice chairman of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which fulfills wishes of children with life threatening or terminal illnesses. He was later named chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Region. Following his four years at Suffield Jay attended Williams College and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics in 1962. He then served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and earned his Master’s in Finance from Columbia University Graduate School of Business in 1967.

    Following his four years at Suffield Michael F. Sheridan ’58 attended Amherst College and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Geology. In 1965 he returned to Amherst to teach Mineralogy and Petrology classes after completing a Master’s and PhD. in Geology at Stanford University. He then moved to Arizona State University for twenty-four years, where he developed a passion for volcanoes after volcano Hekla in Iceland erupted in 1970. Mike taught Volcanology and Petrology at ASU, and has performed extensive research on volcanoes in Latin America and Italy. He contributed to numerous collaborations as a visiting professor in Japan, Mexico, and New Zealand. In 1990 Mike moved to University of Buffalo as Chair of the Geology Department and assembled one of the best volcanology teams in the country over the next twenty years. Mike “retired” from UB in 2006 and took a position as Director for the Center of Geohazard Studies. In this role Mike organized an international conference in Colombia to discuss tensions surrounding the volcano Nevado de Ruiz, which killed over 30,000 people after erupting in 1985. His work has evolved into studying the most dangerous volcanoes around the world, including Italy’s Mount Vesuvius, and focusing on disaster prevention and forecast management and mitigation.
  • [2014]  Thomas C. Greene ’87 and Kristin Hostetter Pandit ’86

    A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Thomas C. Greene ’87earned his Bachelor of Arts in English from Hobart College and his Master of Fine Arts in Writing from the former Vermont College. In 2006, Tom was asked to lead one of the MFA programs at Vermont College. A few years later, when the college announced it was closing, Tom took it upon himself to save the three nationally acclaimed MFA programs by creating the Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). In just two years Tom was able to raise nearly $14 million, build a national board of trustees, and develop a strategic plan and infrastructure to direct and run VCFA.
    In 2008, Tom was named the founding president of VCFA, which received accreditation faster than any college in the 125-year history of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and became the first new college in Vermont in over 30 years. Tom is also the author of four novels: Mirror Lake (2003), I’ll Never Be Long Gone (2005), Envious Moon (2007), and The Headmaster’s Wife (2014). His novels have been translated into eleven languages and have a worldwide following. For more information, visit:
    An avid outdoors enthusiast, Kristin Hostetter Pandit ’86 has always been fascinated by gear that helps make outdoor adventures possible. She began reading BACKPACKER magazine and decided that one day she would work for them. In 1990, Kristin earned her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Boston College and later moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she worked part-time at Erehwon Mountain Outfitters. Then in 1994, her dream came true. According to an interview with TJ Fraser, Kristin says, “I set my sights on BACKPACKER and literally hounded them until they hired me. Persistence pays off!” As a long-time gear editor for the magazine, Kristin regularly tests and reviews outdoor gear for the 350,000 and counting subscribers. 
    During the past decade, Kristin has published several books including the Don’t Forget the Duct Tape Series (2003-2007), Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair: Step-by-Step Techniques to Maximize Performance and Save Money (2012), Ask Kristin: 150 Essential Tips & Tricks from Backpacker’s Gear Pro (2013), and The 10 Essentials of Outdoor Gear: What You Need to Stay Alive (2014). She currently serves as the gear editor at BACKPACKER and has a 2800-member Facebook page called “I want to go hiking with Kristin Hostetter” dedicated to her. Kristin is recognized as a trailblazer in the world of outdoor journalism, which has traditionally been considered to be a predominantly male field. For more information, visit:
  • [2013]  Tor Peterson ’82, Gretchen Schwabe Wilcox ’77, Dr. Paul Sullivan ’58, and Dr. Richard Wahle ’73

    Tor Peterson ’82 began his career with a six-year stint as a commodities marketer at Phibro-Salomon. In 1992, he joined Swiss commodities trading giant Glencore and in 2002, became the Director of the Coal and Coke Commodity Department. With expertise in marketing and coal assets, Tor oversees the global marketing business and industrial assets of the department, including strategy and operations. In May 2011, Tor and Glencore made history, as the world’s largest commodity trading company made its Initial Public Offering (IPO), transitioning from a privately owned to publicly traded company.Following his two years at Suffield, Tor went on to attend Duke University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and French in 1986.
    Gretchen Schwabe Wilcox ’77 is the President, CEO, and founder of G.S. Wilcox & Company, the first female-established commercial real estate mortgage banking company in the United States. The company is one of the top independently owned mortgage-banking firms in the country. In 2005, Gretchen was named one of the “Top the “Women of Influence” by Real Estate Forum. In 2011, Gretchen was the recipient of a Pillar Award from the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties.A graduate of Babson College with a double major in Finance and Quantitative Methods, Gretchen is involved with numerous professional and philanthropic associations, and serves on the Board of Directors for the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce.
    Dr. Paul Sullivan ’58 is a retired physician. He graduated from Trinity College in 1962 and Tufts University School of Medicine in 1966. He completed his residency at Hartford Hospital and Endocrine Fellowship at Tufts Medical Center. Paul practiced endocrinology at Hartford Hospital for over 30 years where he was on the Senior Staff. He was also a clinical faculty at the University of Connecticut Medical School.
    Paul and his wife, Melinda, are involved in philanthropy for the arts and education. They have assembled the largest known private collection of 18th century Viennese (Du Paquier) porcelain. The Melinda & Paul Sullivan Foundation for the Decorative Arts produced a three-volume monograph, Fired by Passion, which débuted at an exhibition of their collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2009. Paul is a trustee emeritus of Suffield Academy. He was a 1958 cum laude Academy graduate and received the Faculty Award for Citizenship.
    Dr. Richard Wahle ’73is a research professor at the University of Maine School of Marine Sciences. He established “The Wahle Lab,” a program that performs extensive research on the American lobster. It focuses on developing predictive tools for population trends through an understanding of larval transport, settlement, and post-settlement processes. A tenacious diver and rigorous scientist with over 40 published articles on the subject, Richard has had astonishing findings that have resulted in a dramatic new early warning system for tracking the health of the lobster fishery.Richard graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor’s degree in zoology. He later earned a master’s degree in biology from San Francisco State University in 1982 and a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Maine in 1990. 
  • [2012]  Saudia Davis ’96, Peter Kinnear ’65, and Jeffrey White ’65

    Following Suffield, Saudia N. Davis ’96 graduated from Bowdoin College with a Bachelor’s in English and African Studies. Saudia spent the next decade working in the film industry as a movie publicist. In 2006, Saudia started GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning, an organic residential and commercial cleaning service whose goal is to help its clientele achieve a healthier lifestyle. Her company has provided green cleaning services to more than 1,000 homes and businesses throughout New York City. Saudia is the 2011 Awardee of the American Express OPEN Make Mine A Million $ Business Program. She is a graduate of the Kauffman Foundation’s Fast Trac program, has her LEED certification, and is a recent graduate of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, a national initiative to assist qualified business owners in meeting their full growth potential. Saudia is also an active volunteer of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, a program focused on providing entrepreneurship education inside public school classrooms.

    Peter D. Kinnear ’65 began his career at FMC Technologies in 1971 and has served in a variety of marketing and operating roles including President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board. FMC Technologies is a leading global provider of technology solutions for the energy industry. It was named by Fortune as the World’s Most Admired Oil and Gas Equipment Service Company in 2010 and 2012. FMC Technologies has approximately 13,500 employees and operates 27 production facilities in 16 countries. Peter received a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. He serves on the Boards of Directors of Stone Energy Corporation, Superior Energy Services, Inc., The Business Council, The United Way of Greater Houston, and The American Heart Association.

    Since 1972, Jeffrey White ’65 has served the Boston Red Sox as the Financial Advisor to the Chief Executive Officer, Treasurer of the Red Sox Foundation, and a Vice President of the parent company’s real estate operations. He has also consulted for financial firms, investors, Madison Square Garden, Liberty Media, and the Tampa Bay Rays.  From 1991 to 2002, he served as the Chief Financial Officer of Major League Baseball. Prior to this, Jeff was the Vice President of Finance for CBS News, the Chief Financial Officer for BMI Broadcast Music, and President of the Child Growth and Development Company. Jeff graduated from the University of Southern California in 1969 with a degree in History, Northwestern University with a Master’s in Business Administration in 1972, and the University of San Francisco School of Law in 1978. He has served on Suffield Academy’s Board of Trustees since 1995.
  • [2011]  Dr. Sarah Birmingham Drummond ’89, Michael Daly ’59, Thomas G. West ’61, and Joseph Alsop ’63

    Dr. Sarah Birmingham Drummond ’89 is a noted leader in theological education. 

    Michael Daly ’59 is a noted leader in the field of medical and economic development. He is the former President and CEO for Baystate Health Systems.

    Thomas G. West ’61
    is the author of In the Mind’s Eye—Creative Visual Thinkers, Gifted Dyslexics and the Rise of Visual Technologies, recognized as one of the “best of the best” by the American Library Association. 

    Joseph Alsop ’63 is a technology investor and venture partner with Alsop Louie Partners. He was the cofounder and CEO of Progress Software, a supplier of software technology used to build applications for business, industry, and government.
  • [2010]  Bill Macartney ’60, Barry Scherr ’63, Dr. Tener Goodwin Veenema ’76, P’99, and Rear Admiral Dennis Moynihan ’82

    Bill Macartney ’60 is chairman and owner of The Indium Corporation of America, headquartered in Clinton, New York.

    Barry Scherr ’63
    has been a member of the Dartmouth College faculty since 1974, serving as Provost from 2001 to 2010, following four years as Associate Dean for the Humanities

    Dr. Tener Goodwin Veenema ’76, P’99 is a leader in the fields of emergency nursing and disaster preparedness. A textbook she wrote was selected as the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year in 2003. 

    Rear Admiral Dennis Moynihan ’82
    serves as the Chief of Information for the United States Navy. Prior to this role, he was chief public affairs, officer for NATO's Allied Command Transformation and director of public affairs, U.S. Joint Forces Command.

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