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Alumni Profiles

Donna Russell Fox '48

Donna Russell Fox '48 is retired, but not really. Fox, who taught at the University of Houston for 30 years, is retired from teaching, but still works with cleft palate patients at a clinic in Houston, where she lives. One day a month she sees patients and one day a month she helps a radiologist examine X-rays to determine the best course of treatment. And once a year, she's part of a team that goes to Central and South America to treat patients with cleft palate.

About 20 people go, she said, and she's involved both pre and post-surgery, helping to determine treatment and providing support for the patients as they recover. Fox has spent nearly her entire career working with the speech and psychological implications of cleft palate, and she said it's been most satisfying because doctors can solve the problem.

"It's something you can fix," she said. "How many things in life can you actually fix?" When she's not seeing patients, she's travelling or breeding and training poodles—two of her dogs have been nationally recognized. In 2004 she endowed the Donna Fox Women in Science Lecture at Cornell, because when she entered the fields of psychology and speech pathology after graduating from the University of Washington, there weren't many women in science.

Jerry Hildebrand '64

Jerry Hildebrand '64 is working to solve social problems with entrepreneurship as the founder and director of the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the University of the Pacific. Social Entrepreneurship applies business and management skills to tackle chronic societal problems with sustainable solutions.

The goal for the center is to train people to develop creative, practical solutions to poverty, disease, illiteracy, and environmental damage. The center isn't Hildebrand's first foray into socially-minded business ventures.

For 17 years, he was CEO of the Katalysis Partnership, which provided training, technical assistance and credit to non-governmental microfinance institutions in Central America. And he started his career in grassroots economic development in West Virginia, setting up and directing the first economic development corporation to help address poverty by funding community-based businesses. His introduction to service came in the Peace Corps. Hildebrand was one of the first Cornellians to join the service organization, and he spent two years in Peru.

"It changed my life," he said.

Scott Dickson '77

When Scott Dickson '77 arrived on campus to study piano, organ, and French, he already had a latent desire to fly planes.

"I would look up in the sky and see contrails, feel inspired, and wonder if there might be a way through all the studies to do that," he says. "And today I am."

The pursuit took years of perseverance, beginning with a raffle on the Orange Carpet, where he paid $50 for two flying lessons. Meanwhile, he discovered an interest in computers through the IBM 1400 series in Cole Library and encouragement from Professor Richard Jacob.

That led to 25 years working in computer programming and network engineering, all while continuing to fly and studying for a variety of licenses. He landed a cargo jet pilot job in 1999 and now flies a B767 out of Miami to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Latin and South America. Dickson still plays piano whenever he has a chance, and substituted as a church organist for more than 20 years. He commutes on weekends to Bloomfield Hills, Mich., and sings with the Kirk in the Hills Presbyterian Church choir.

To see photos and essays about his experiences, including relief flights to Haiti, go to

Scott Dickson

Julie Burhans Hoffman '82

In the midst of training for her fifth marathon, Julie Burhans Hoffman '82 and her 16-year-old daughter were hit head-on by a drunk driver in broad daylight. It was St. Patrick's Day 2009.

"It was quite terrifying," she recalls. "It took 45 minutes to get my daughter out of the car and then airlift her to Children's Hospital, while I was taken to another hospital. We credit seatbelts, airbags, and the Audi car we were driving with the amazing outcome."

Over the next two months Hoffman's knee and ankle required surgery. "I had been training to qualify for the Boston Marathon, and suddenly was very worried I would never run again," she says. "So much of our social life revolves around running."

Through therapy and determination, she returned to running at the end of July and ran three marathons in five months. She qualified in February 2010, and realized her dream of running the Boston Marathon in April 2011 with her husband, Jack, with whom she coaches the Oconomowoc, Wis., YMCA running team.

"Those who knew me well will remember that we maintained a long-distance relationship through my four years at Cornell. He attended UW-Madison," she said. They have three children: Adam, 24; Alex, 21; and Lauren, 18 and fully recovered from the accident.

Julie Burhans Hoffman

Tahllee Baynard '97 & Kanesha Lee Baynard '94

As a dual-career family with a second child on the way, Tahllee Baynard '97 and Kanesha Lee Baynard '94 made a decision in 2007 to incorporate Tahllee's mother into their household. "We just jumped in feet first and everybody's still alive and it's 2011," Kanesha reports.

The Layfayette, Colo., family is now the subject of Kanesha's blog,, and her related Working Mother magazine blog. Her blogging has attracted national attention and she has been a guest on WVON 1690-AM Chicago and the syndicated Mom Talk Radio with Maria Bailey.

Both Kanesha and Tahllee hold advanced degrees and enjoy their work, so work-life balance is important. Kanesha is a former teacher who now directs field experiences, school, and university partnerships in the School of Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Tahllee is an award-winning research scientist at Lockheed Martin where he works on the design and evaluation of optical sensors for defense application. Their children are Bella, 12, and Kingston, 4.

The couple remained committed to Cornell—Kanesha is a member of the Alumni Board and she and Tahllee have recruited five students to the Hilltop.


Jeff Winter '07

Since graduating, Jeff Winter '07 has been workingas a fixed income research analyst at Allstate Investments LLC in Northbrook, Ill., a subsidiary of the Fortune 100 company Allstate Insurance.  He said that while he needed to learn additional skills specific to his job, his Cornell education gave him a solid foundation for success in the industry.

Winter was one of the first two Cornell students to participate in an internship through the Berry Center for Economics, Business, and Public Policy in the summer of 2006. He also returned to campus earlier this year to speak with students about early careers in the business world.

This year Winter was asked to be the sponsor for the Senior Class Challenge and he jumped at the opportunity to be the youngest alum ever to sponsor the senior challenge. He's matching the senior gift up to $10,000. 

"I believe the success I have had early on in my career is directly attributable to the education I received while at Cornell," he says, "and I viewed the Senior Class Challenge as a means to express my gratitude.  It is my hope that my participation will encourage other young alumni, and future young alumni, to consider the importance of giving back to the institution that has created so many extraordinary opportunities."

Jeff Winter