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Dinners were never dull at the Wicker house, when Fields
Wicker-Miurin was growing up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
There was lively conversation and interesting food: Moroccan,
Japanese, and Chinese. "I grew up in a family that was
curious about the world," Wicker-Miurin says-excellent
training for an American leading an international group on an
expedition in Sichuan Province, China, last spring when she
learned she had been named an officer of the Order of the
British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in her 2007
Birthday Honours List.
|Fields Wicker-Miurin, shown here on a "quest" in inner Mongolia, says being honored by Queen Elizabeth II was "humbling and motivating."||
Wicker-Miurin was recognized for her career in finance and global leadership. In the mid-1990s, she ran the London Stock Exchange for three years, overseeing the transition to a completely electronic system. She has held prominent positions at Wachovia, sat on education and arts committees in both the public and private sector, and still sits on several corporate boards. She also is a non-executive director of the United Kingdom's Department for Business, Enterprise, and Regulatory Reform and is a governor of King's College London.
But her full-time job, and biggest source of pride, is Leaders' Quest, an organization she co-founded in 2002 to engage leaders from all sectors. The "quests" — experiential learning trips to India, China, southern Africa, Russia, and Brazil — are meant to shift perspectives by offering different views of the world. Chief executives or board members from business, government, and civil society go on the quests to learn about issues, challenges, and opportunities in a country, as well as ways of leading and of working together across sectors and countries. "I had been spending an increasing amount of time thinking about leadership, ethics, and values," Wicker-Miurin says of her decision to start the organization. "I was surrounded by people who were in very important leadership positions but didn't fit my own definition of what really good leaders should be."
These days, she might find herself leading a quest to Soweto, speaking with the head of a local community organization about her work with families affected by AIDS. Or she might be planning a quest to India, where arts and theater will be used as a window to understand business, politics, and culture. She might even be juggling her packed schedule from home in Wiltshire. "We live in a little stone cottage with a thatched roof. It's very British. I make great meals with my Italian husband and ride my horse," says Wicker-Miurin, who has dual British and American citizenship.
About that OBE: The honor, given to about 500 people annually, came as a surprise. Wicker-Miurin was leading a quest in China when she checked her e-mail before heading to inner Mongolia. Her inbox was flooded with congratulatory messages, and a quick check of The Times of London's Web site broke the news formally. Says Wicker-Miurin, "It was humbling, and motivating at the same time."
The OBE was by no means Wicker-Miurin's first high-profile accolade. Since 1997, she has been named by EuroMoney as one of the top 50 women in finance in the world and by Time magazine as one of the 15 people most likely to influence the future of Europe. She also has been recognized as a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
Wicker-Miurin says that her time at Johns Hopkins influenced her achievements. After earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, she attended l'Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris, and then the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, spending a year at the Bologna Center in Italy and another in Washington D.C. "The professors and students were very international, and that gave me exactly what I was hungry for — a very global perspective," says Wicker-Miurin. "I had a great time, and it reinforced my belief that you have to understand people from the inside out — where they come from, their beliefs and values, their culture, their history. Only this way can we hope to take care of our world and be good ancestors." —Kristen A. Graham
Like many who pursue the scholarly life, Fran Northrup simply
didn't have time for artistic endeavors. As a nurse, an
instructor at Johns
Hopkins School of Nursing, a college administrator at
Lebanon Valley College near Hershey, Pennsylvania, and a PhD
student, she was too busy to indulge her creative side. "To
some who take an academic path, art is a frivolous thing,"
|"Once you win one of those 75-cent blue ribbons, you're hooked for life," says Fran Northrup.||
But in 1980, when her daughter was born, Northrup switched
gears, dedicating herself to motherhood and to volunteer
work. She discovered a predilection for painting watercolors
and a talent for flower arranging. She grew a gorgeous garden
at her suburban Philadelphia home and eventually began
winning awards at the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show.
"Once you win one of those 75-cent blue ribbons, you're
hooked for life," says Northrup, who eventually parlayed her
floral talents into one of the most coveted volunteer gigs in
Philadelphia: working for the Pennsylvania Horticultural
Society to make the flower show happen.
This is Northrup's first year as chair of the show's competitive classes, a monumental task and, for this artist, a joyful one. She is responsible for overseeing the infinite details of the myriad classes — from arbors and window boxes to orchids and urns — that form the backbone of the show. This year, Northrup reports, the March 2 through 9 show is inspired by the Big Easy and features three halls filled with assorted blooms, including a re-creation of New Orleans' French Quarter complete with Mardi Gras beads thrown out to the crowd and an authentic second line band. "There's a hope that people will see what they did in New Orleans to revitalize the city, and you will see what you can do in your own garden," says Northrup.
A personal highlight, she adds, will be a visit from a group of Johns Hopkins garden enthusiasts. Two buses will depart from Baltimore, and Northrup will be there to greet them with open arms. "I have such a place in my heart for Hopkins," she says. "For the Hopkins group to come to the show, it's saying, 'Yes, daughter, you have done well, we're supporting you.'" —KG
The Pentagon, a History: The Untold Story of the
Wartime Race to Build the Pentagon-and to Restore It Sixty
Years Later, by Steve Vogel, SAIS '98, Random House
Desperate Passage: The Donner Party's Perilous Journey
West, by Ethan Rarick, A&S '86, Oxford University Press
Howard Lenhoff recalls the sleepless nights watching over his
daughter, Gloria. He and his wife, Sylvia, knew early on that
something was wrong with their first child. The tiny baby,
born in 1955, had multiple physical troubles, including poor
eyesight, fused bones, a mild heart condition, and digestive
problems. With each passing month, as Gloria missed
developmental milestones, her parents searched for
|Howard and Sylvia Lenhoff gave daughter Gloria an accordian for her bat mitzvah — an instrument she later played with the band Aerosmith.||
They later discovered that Gloria had Williams syndrome (WS), a rare genetic disorder that manifests itself with pixie-like facial features and severe cognitive impairment. With an IQ of 55, Gloria cannot perform the simplest of math equations, tell her left from right, write legibly, or even cross the street safely by herself.
Lenhoff has turned himself into a nationally recognized expert on WS and has published two books on the subject. Williams-Beuren Syndrome: Research, Evaluation, and Treatment (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006) is a compendium of research reviews that he edited with pediatricians Colleen A. Morris and Paul P. Wang. The Strangest Song: One Father's Quest to Help His Daughter Find Her Voice (Prometheus Books, 2006), which the Lenhoffs co-authored with journalist Teri Sforza, recounts their crusade to communicate to others that Gloria, and many like her, had a talent to be nurtured.
As Gloria grew, Lenhoff — a scientist, activist, and eternal optimist — looked for positives in his daughter's life. For example, like most kids born with WS, Gloria had an extremely genial disposition. She had advanced social skills. And, as it turned out, she was enormously talented musically. Her father says that when she was a toddler, he would strum a few simple chords on his guitar and little Gloria would crawl, eyes wide open, into his lap. "There was always something unusual with her and music," Lenhoff says. "But she was our first child; we thought all kids had this connection to music."
When she was 11, the family went to an alumnae event for Goucher College, Sylvia's alma mater, where Sylvia met a fellow alumna and opera singer, Ann Wilson, who had taught music to jail inmates. "Sylvia asked her if she would work with Gloria, help teach our daughter," Lenhoff says. "Sylvia told her Gloria could not read music and she said, 'So what?'" For her first lesson, the teacher sang songs by Handel and Mozart, and — with little pause — Gloria accurately sang them right back to her. Howard knew immediately just how special his daughter was.
Convinced that people with WS have an unusual capacity for
learning music, Lenhoff — a former investigator of the
Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a Distinguished Fellow of
the Iowa Academy of Science — made it his mission to
crusade on behalf of his daughter and others like her. After
receiving his degree from Johns Hopkins, Lenhoff spent his
professional career as a biochemical researcher, and upon
retirement, turned his scientist's eye on WS, receiving a
National Science Foundation grant to study absolute pitch and
other aspects of musical cognition in people with the
"I always knew that people who are handicapped might excel
in areas that 'normal' people can't.... With my work with
Williams syndrome, I was trying to encourage scientists to
look at musical abilities."
In 1999, Lenhoff helped found the Berkshire Hills Music
Academy, the only private post-secondary residential school
in the world for young adults with learning, cognitive, or
developmental disabilities and a special talent for music.
The academy, located in South Hadley, Massachusetts,
educates, trains, and develops the talent of those like
Gloria so they can achieve personal growth and make a
positive contribution to society. "I always knew that people
who are handicapped might excel in areas that 'normal' people
can't," he says. "I focus on what people can do, to encourage
them. With my work with Williams syndrome, I was trying to
encourage scientists to look at musical abilities."
Lenhoff — a self-described "Ann Landers of the WS set" — also runs www.williamssyndrome.org, a comprehensive Web site where he fields inquiries weekly from parents who have just learned that their child has WS. Championing causes on behalf of others isn't new to Lenhoff, a "lifetime activist devoted to helping those who are unable to cope with large organizations," he says. He honed his activist skills early on, fighting for the cause of Ethiopian Jews, an experience that resulted in his most recent book, Black Jews, Jews, and Other Heroes: How Grassroots Activism Led to the Rescue of the Ethiopian Jews (Gefen Publishing House, 2007).
Certainly Gloria's success is due in large part to her parents' support and determination. Now 53, she is a gifted lyric soprano. She has perfect pitch, sings in more than 30 languages, and her ever-growing repertoire of more than 2,000 pieces ranges from Elvis to Puccini. And she is much in demand, having performed with major opera companies worldwide and recorded several classical CDs. She is a Kennedy Center Millennium Stage artist, was featured on PBS and "60 Minutes," and once provided on-stage accordion accompaniment for members of the legendary rock band Aerosmith.
"I just felt we needed to do as much as we can for her, and she had a real zeal for music," Lenhoff says. "We realized that she, like normal musicians, could also make a living from her craft." —Greg Reinzi
Like many Johns Hopkins students, Celestia Ward entered the
university thinking she would be a doctor. But these days,
she's more likely to break bones than to mend them: Since
June 2007, Ward — a.k.a. "Shebacca" — has been
skating with the Sin City Rollergirls in Las Vegas. "Knocking
people over on the rink, I have a passion for that," she
exclaims. "It's a hell of a lot of fun."
|A self-portrait by caricaturist and Rollergirl Celestia Ward||
Since its founding in 2004, the Women's Flat Track Derby
Association has grown from an online message board to a
43-team league with national tournaments and a TV deal. But
this isn't the roller derby of the 1970s, says Ward, with its
male-dominated management and staged exploitation. "The sport
has evolved," she says. The Rollergirls are powerful
athletes, brash, and, in some cases, partial to tattoos and
fishnets. "A lot of changes happen to women after playing
contact sports," Ward explains, noting how, after adopting
the sport, many of her teammates declared independence from
lousy boyfriends, started speaking their minds, and began
flouting media-driven images of feminine beauty.
Ward, a member of the women's ice hockey club's inaugural team at Hopkins in 1991, graduated from the Writing Seminars and spent seven years as an editor with the Johns Hopkins University Press. In 2002, she returned to her hometown in the Nevada desert and became a full-time caricature artist, a career change she credits to something of a chance encounter with
Tom Chalkley's cartooning class during her sophomore year. "To think, I signed up for it on a lark, just to have a non-stress hour in my class schedule. Chalkley still jokes that he feels terrible for derailing my future medical career, but he knows I'm way more suited to cartooning," says Ward, who now runs an illustration company, Two Heads Studios, with her husband. In 2005 they took first place in 3D caricature at the National Caricaturist Network convention.
When she's not in the studio, Ward is devoted to the rough and tumble, doggedly trying to join teammates Biloxi Bruise, G.I. Jade, and GoGo Distrukto in the Rollergirls' starting lineup. With a laugh, she explains that when she leaves for nighttime practice, she gets to tuck in her three stepchildren with a line few moms are likely to use: "Goodnight. It's time for me to go kick some butt." —Simon Waxman, A&S '07
Q: Why did you become a Lifetime Contributing Member of
the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association?
A: When I left medical school during the second year, it was my Hopkins training that launched me into science writing and editing. That decade-long career included trade newspapers and a failed dotcom, and culminated in a stint as editor-in-chief of a biotechnology journal. Similarly, my Hopkins degree was the foundation for further education-public health school and then law school-leading me to my present career, practicing patent law at a New York City firm. I truly believe that my college experience, both in and out of class, set the stage for my life's pursuits. Hopkins was the springboard to the rest of my life, and I wanted to show my appreciation. -Lucian Chen, A&S '88
Lifetime Contributing Members are an integral part of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association. Their one-time $1,000 contribution ensures continued support of the Alumni Association and the longevity of its programs. For more information about the benefits of lifetime membership and to see a list of Lifetime Contributing Members, visit this web page.
Stephen M. Cordi, A&S '70 (MLA), has been named deputy chief financial officer for the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue. During his three decades of service as the deputy comptroller of Maryland, he instituted the Accenture tax system, litigated tax cases, and helped in return processing and taxpayer services.
Ruth DeFries, Engr '81 (PhD), was named a 2007 MacArthur Fellow for work combining expertise in satellite-imaging systems and the environmental effects of agriculture and urbanization to project climate change. She will use her "Genius Grant" award to continue investigations into the human impact on the Earth's ecosystem.
James A. Leach, SAIS '66, former U.S. congressman (R-Iowa), has been named director of Harvard University's Institute of Politics (IOP). He has agreed to take a leave from his current post at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
Christina Sanagustin, A&S '89,has been named vice president of development for the SCI FI Channel. She recently served as senior vice president, current program at the WB Television Network, overseeing drama and comedy series including Smallville, Charmed, Reba, and Grounded for Life.
Margaret Troyer, Edu '05 (MA), and School of Education professor Elaine Stotko researched the student use of the gender-neutral pronoun "yo" as a substitute for "he" or "she." Their findings were recently published in the journal of the American Dialect Society and featured on NPR and in a Baltimore Sun editorial.
|Johns Hopkins athletics director Tom Calder and Church Yearley||
Church Yearley, A&S '34, was honored as a member of the Johns
Hopkins All-Time Lacrosse Team at last fall's Knowledge for
the World Tour stop in Atlanta. More than 200 alumni and
friends came out for the coast-to-coast tour's seventh stop,
an event designed to provide an insider's view of Johns
Hopkins people at work. In addition to honoring Yearley, a
three-year starter for the Blue Jays who played on the 1932
gold medal-winning Olympic lacrosse team, the afternoon
featured two panel discussions: "Medical Horizons" about the
intersection of medicine and technology, and "Looking East"
about the future of emerging Asia. This spring, the tour
continues with stops in South Florida on March 1 and in
Denver on May 4. Find out more about these days of discovery
Available exclusively to dues-paying members of the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association, the new version of Hopkins KnowledgeNET is now online — featuring a quick reference guide and access to academic journals, online databases, electronic books, and more. For more information, visit alumni.jhu.edu/knowledgenet/index.htm.
JHU inCircle is a new online community designed to help alumni reconnect with long-lost friends (and maybe make some new ones), get career advice, or find jobs and employees. Available exclusively to Johns Hopkins alumni, students, and faculty, JHU inCircle provides a trusted community for social and career networking opportunities. More information will arrive in alumni mailboxes soon.
The Nitze School of
Advanced International Studies hosted its first-ever
Alumni College in October, a three-day event that attracted
53 attendees spanning 46 class years. Its all-star lineup of
speakers included former Iowa Congressman Jim Leach; Edward
Morse, Lehman Brothers man-aging director and chief energy
econ-omist; and R. Nicholas Burns, under-secretary of state
for political affairs.
|Jessica Einhorn, SAIS dean (left), and Sandra Gray, executive director of alumni relations, present Chester Crocker with the Woodrow Wilson Award.||
"Alumni College was the SAIS experience distilled into two
days: leading practitioners of American foreign policy mixed
with stellar SAIS faculty, providing insight and analysis of
current events and trends within regions and the complex
factors shaping U.S. actions around the world today," said
Sarah O'Hagan, SAIS '86, a SAIS Advisory Council member who
heads the Development Committee of the International Rescue
Committee. "It was great — and it was useful."
At the Thursday evening dinner, Chester A. Crocker, SAIS '65, '69 (PhD), former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African affairs and the evening's keynote speaker, received the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association Woodrow Wilson Award for Distinguished Government Service.
To access audio of the Alumni College keynote addresses, go to www.sais-jhu.edu/alumnicollege. For more information or to offer suggestions and comments about next year's program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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