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Alumni Profiles

Mardell B. Koop Schumacher ’54

When Mardell B. Koop Schumacher ’54 completes her current term on a K-8 school board in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, she will be 80 and have served 25 years. She frequently visits the district’s 14 schools and serves on various committees. Why does she do it? The former teacher says she loves children and “it keeps you young to have a purpose in life.” She’s also energized by seeing success, such as a recent federal Blue Ribbon Award for one of the schools that serves many impoverished students. She attends the national convention every year, driving with her husband and visiting Cornell roommates Patricia Riley Irwin ’54 and Lois Fear Brossart ’55 along the way.

Mardell B. Koop Schumacher ’54

Ronald Albers ’71

This past June Ronald Albers ’71 became what is believed to be the first openly gay judge appointed by a Republican governor when California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the San Francisco County Superior Court. Albers earned his law degree from the University of Wisconsin, after which he served as director for the Juvenile Justice Research Project and as a trial attorney with Legal Services for Children before settling in as a trial attorney, and then head attorney, for the San Francisco County Public Defender’s office. Most recently he was commissioner for the Superior Court.

Ronald Albers ’71

Michael J. Bellito ’72

The high school where Michael J. Bellito ’72 taught speech and English for 32 years has made his new novel, Ten Again, required reading for freshman honors English students. Following his own advice to “write what you know,” Bellito set his first novel in the Chicago suburbs in 1960. The nostalgic look at the adventures of a 10-year-old boy has been likened to the cult movie classic “A Christmas Story.” Info on the book (available at major online booksellers) and Bellito’s upcoming Chicago-area appearances are at www.Illinoisauthors.org. Bellito is retired from John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights, Ill., and now teaches at Harper College. He and his wife live in Wheeling, Ill.

Michael J. Bellito ’72

Clifford Lund ’73

Few traffic ticket cases elicit the kind of attention Clifford Lund ’73 found when he took on the “Nuns Case” in Chicago involving an accident in which a nun was accused of causing a fatal car crash by running a red light. The nun was defended by Lund and his partner, and the case garnered national attention when they successfully argued to allow the nuns to wear their habits while in court, and the nun was subsequently acquitted despite all other witnesses insisting she was responsible. “People always ask at the end of a trial how I learned to ask such questions,” said Lund. “I smile. Sometimes I say one of my professors’ names, but most of the time I proudly say: I went to Cornell College and the place is still making me think.”

Clifford Lund ’73

Henry Winokur ’74

When Henry Winokur ’74 made plans to return to Cornell for his 35th class reunion, he knew there was only one way to make the 1,000 mile trip. By motorcycle. Winokur, who has been a motorcycle safety instructor for almost 20 years and has been riding for about 33 years (though he says he cannot remember exactly), rode over 17 hours from his home in Bethesda, Md., to Mount Vernon by way of Iowa City in just two days. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I was afraid if I waited for my next reunion, it wouldn’t happen,” said Winokur. He was featured in the Washington Post last year for “Cruising for a Cause,” where he raises awareness for various causes by riding his motorcycle. He currently rides a 2007 BMW R1200RT that he has customized so it fits him much better than the stock machine.

Henry Winokur ’74

Ron Corbett ’83

Ron Corbett ’83 never met an election for public office he didn’t like. Or win. For the eighth time in eight tries, Corbett won an election to serve in public office in Iowa. The newly-minted mayor of Cedar Rapids formerly served in the Iowa House, where he was speaker of the house for five years. A vice president at CRST, a Cedar Rapids trucking company owned by fellow Cornellian John Smith ’71, Corbett was also previously the president/CEO of the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. He ran on a platform of revitalizing the role of the city council, and won with more than 62 percent of the vote. Corbett lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife, Bénédicte, and their five children.

Ron Corbett ’83

Ben Miller ’86

As one of the four winners of the Bright Lights Big Verse: Poems of Times Square national poetry contest, Ben Miller ’86 was given a unique platform from which to read his poem “Pipe Birds”: Times Square. Miller’s poem was selected from nearly 500 entries from across the country, all celebrating the famous New York crossroads. He, along with the other winners and other literary luminaries, read their works on Sept. 29 surrounded by the lights and action of New York City. Miller, who lives in New York City, has had writings appear in outlets such as Best American Essays, The Yale Review, and The Kenyon Review, and received a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Ben Miller ’86

Kelly Montijo Fink ’92

Kelly Montijo Fink ’92 is making waves in the world of Native American music. She was nominated for a NAMMY (Native American Music Award) in 2008 for her debut CD, “Heartbeat of the Creator,” and presented at the 2009 awards ceremony at the Seneca-Niagara Casino and Hotel in Niagara Falls, N.Y. One of her songs is on a new compilation CD called “Rise Up: Music from Native America.” In addition to teaching regularly at Cornell as a visiting faculty member in Spanish, she is completing her second CD featuring guest artist Jan Michael Looking Wolf (2009 NAMMY Artist of the Year). Montijo-Fink is Apache/Mexican/Spanish and considers herself a “song catcher” rather than a song writer. “I observe, hear, and see truth and then allow the words and melodies to flow from there,” she says.

Kelly Montijo Fink ’92

Daryn McBeth ’93

Daryn McBeth ’93 was recognized as one of the Twin Cities “40 under Forty” by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in April 2009 for his work as a leading advocate for Minnesota agribusiness. As president of the Agri-Growth Council, McBeth has lobbied for and helped bring together varied agri-industries—from local farms to Fortune 500 companies—under one umbrella to work on shared problems. During the Republican National Convention in 2008, McBeth even organized AgNite, one of the largest and most successful nonpartisan galas during the convention, raising $1.2 million along the way to pay for the event and placing Minnesota agribusiness firmly in the national consciousness. In September, he and wife Amy welcomed a baby girl, Mallory.

Daryn McBeth ’93

Gina L. Cesaretti ’99

Gina L. Cesaretti ’99 is a health care litigation attorney with the firm of Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis, which represents more than one-third of the companies listed on the Fortune 100. Gina attended the University of Iowa College of Law on scholarship, and is a board member and chair of the governance and nominating committee of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities. She lives in Golden Valley, Minn., with her husband Michael Iwan and two sons, Nicklaus, age 3, and Jakob, age 1.

Gina L. Cesaretti ’99

Laura Arnold ’04

Laura Arnold ’04 followed her love of books to Manhattan where she works as an editor for HarperCollins Children’s Books. “It’s not only thrilling to be a part of the behind-the-scenes process of bookmaking,” she says, “ it’s also fascinating to be on the frontlines as the book industry adapts in the age of the Internet.” An English major and Cornellian news editor, she completed the six-week Columbia University Publishing Course after graduation. At HarperCollins Children’s Books she edits a full range from picture books through novels for teens, with an emphasis on middle-grade novels and chapter books. She appeared on campus as a Beta Omicron Distinguished Alumni Visitor in November.

Laura Arnold ’04

Gabrielle Read-Hess ’07

Gabrielle Read-Hess ’07 knows that, even though the Cedar Rapids floodwaters have receded, their effect will be felt for years to come. That’s why she’s spending a year of her life volunteering for Americorps working to create arts outreach programming aimed at Cedar Rapids youth from low income and flood affected neighborhoods. Read-Hess says that while the work is definitely challenging at times, she’s found a niche that lets her utilize her love of community arts outreach and make a difference. She hopes she’ll be able to create a successful after-school arts program that will help students develop an interest in arts and, ultimately, become successful students and community members.

Gabrielle Read-Hess ’07
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