Lesley’s campus and programs may have changed over the past sixty years, but for many graduates, the university feels as familiar as ever.
After three years of connecting via email, Facebook, and Zoom, Lesley alumni reunited in person for the first time in three years, sharing memories, revisiting the Lesley campus, and celebrating age-old friendships.
Festivities began Friday evening with a welcome reception on Lesley’s South Campus, where friends and classmates celebrated with champagne in the late-afternoon sunshine. Alumni Council 1st Vice President Albert Myers ’18 and ’22, welcomed the group, emphasizing how important his Lesley experience has been to his personal and professional pursuits as an educator.
“Lesley is a special place and I feel connected to everyone who’s returned because they all still feel so passionate about their experiences here,” Myers said.
Saturday’s picture-perfect June weather provided an irresistible green backdrop for the mostly outdoor events, including a festive luncheon and a series of informal presentations.
Associate Dean for Career and Community Service Alice Diamond moderated a panel of alumni including Junardy Jean-Charles ’13, Liana Brodsky ’08, and Deb Glancy ’88 and ’99, who discussed their work and how their time at Lesley shaped their career paths.
Associate Professor and Chair of the Animation, Motion Media and Visual Effects (VFX) programs Catriona Baker and Assistant Professor Michael Annear gave a presentation on the work that students, alumni, and faculty are creating in the animation and visual effects industry.
Dr. Jonathan “JP” Paul, executive director of Lesley’s Center for Human Arts Innovation, spoke about new advances and ideas across the human arts of education, well-being, and the visual arts.
President Janet L. Steinmayer addressed alumni at the luncheon, describing the new campus plan to better connect Lesley’s three campuses over the next three to five years, making the Porter Square Campus an academic and arts hub, envisioning the Doble Campus as the locus of “learning by doing,” and making South Campus the center of student life and scholarship.
Steinmayer emphasized that while Lesley has expanded and evolved in many ways, its values have remained steadfast.
“The commitment to equity, justice and inclusion is still central to Lesley’s mission, and our current students are still just as passionate about becoming change agents,” the president said.
She described Lesley students and alumni as “first responders” to fundamental human needs—"the need to be inspired by wise and caring teachers, the need to be supported by skilled and empathic counselors, and the need to be moved and uplifted by creative expression.”
One of Lesley’s goals, she explained, was to expand the connections and resources available to alumni, including professional development, additional certifications, career networking and “programs to inspire and renew you throughout your professional and personal arc.”
After lunch and class photos, many alumni took the opportunity to relax, explore the campus and revisit favorite Harvard Square spots, while others enjoyed a historic trolley tour of Cambridge. For those in need of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, alumna Thelma Larkin Goldberg ’74, PhD ’20 led a lively dance session.
Members of the Class of 1972 enjoyed a special tea at President Steinmayer’s home, where they were welcomed into the 29 Everett Society in celebration of their 50th reunion. Several reflected on how their experience at Lesley has continued to shape their lives.
“We are people who watched and helped each other grow from teenagers to adults, with all our angst and individuality,” says Roberta Rosenberg, who is spearheading the Class of 1972 Giving Circle. “Lesley provided a safe, nurturing and intellectually rich environment, both during our school years and now, 50 years later, at our reunion.”
Lesley’s Alumni Council conducted its annual meeting and played an outsized role in welcoming fellow alumni back to campus. On Saturday evening, the council sponsored a dinner to recognize the five 2022 Alumni Award winners. Award recipients were introduced by Alumni Association President Zalika Winitzer ’01, President Steinmayer, and Chair of the Alumni Awards Committee Shana Goldwyn ’00 and ’01.
- The Myrtle Pierce Aulenback Alumni Achievement Award presented to Anna Pless Peel, ’09
- The Margaret A. McKenna Alumni Community Service Award presented to Luisa Florez ’10
- The Sally K. Lenhardt Alumni Professional Leadership Award presented to Theresa Melito-Conners, PhD ’20
- The Recent Alumni Award presented to Sean Rose, LCAL ‘12
- The Joseph Moore Award for Dedication to the Profession presented to Roberto Mighty MFA ‘11
After three years of virtual meetings, gathering on campus had a special resonance for alumni and staff alike. Diamond, who will be retiring in July, was reflective about her own time at Lesley.
“If I think about all the career panels I’ve moderated in my years at Lesley … staying connected to alumni and seeing people like Jennifer Lester, Sarah Viadero, Craig C. Martin, Albert Myers … it’s been the most wonderful part of my work,” Diamond said. “Lesley has given me an amazing opportunity to work with our alumni throughout many stages of their careers.”
Alumni Council member Wendy Carton ’72 credited her time at Lesley not only for what she learned in the classroom, but for the friendships and connections she continues to enjoy.
“Not only did we have a spectacular education as young women at Lesley, I had a great career in education and then to have these enduring friendships—it’s the cherry on the cake,” Carton said. “And to meet these wonderful young people here who are heading into education and other fields … that’s why we’re drawn back to Lesley year after year.”