A Good Neighbor: Hatton Smith ’73 “If you are blessed with influence or gifts, you need to have a positive impact on the environment around you.”
Hatton Smith, the CEO emeritus of Royal Cup, likes to be a good neighbor in his community of Mountain Brook, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama.
The 1973 graduate and former trustee of Washington and Lee University, said in a profile about him on the Village Living website, “I think in business and in life, if you practice the second commandment as best you can, it makes for a better world.”
In December, Hatton received the 2016 Chamber of Commerce Jemison Visionary Award for his significant contributions to his community. For Hatton, that list is impressively long, including a $35 million fundraiser to restore the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s football team and build a new facility. He also worked on the initial campaign for the Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation and in fundraising to build the Rotary Trail, which runs through downtown Birmingham. Hatton also sits on the Birmingham-Southern College board, advises nonprofits throughout the city and helps individuals search for jobs that fit their skill sets and requirements.
He noted, “If you are blessed with influence or gifts, you need to have a positive impact on the environment around you.”
Wise words to live by for 2017.
Hometown Hero: Neil November ’48 Over the past seven decades, the 92-year-old has established a legacy that encompasses politics, religion, airports, education, museums, theaters and gardens.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch has a lovely profile of Neil November, a 1948 graduate of Washington and Lee University, in its Dec. 12 issue, covering his lifetime of community involvement and philanthropy in Richmond.
Neil, who grew up on the famous Monument Avenue, has led a busy life after serving in the Navy during World War II. Over the past seven decades, the 92-year-old has established a legacy that encompasses politics, religion, airports, education, museums, theaters and gardens.
The article is jam-packed with his astonishing array of accomplishments and touches on his love of aviation — as a child he built and flew model airplanes “as long as the gasoline would last” — to his courtship of his wife of 66 years, Sara Belle, who noted it could have been 70 if he had proposed earlier.
Former Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, who worked with Neil on the Virginia-Israel Commission in the 1980, said, “There’s no one else like him. Somehow, he has managed to elevate public vision to focus on investments for the future, and he has done it with verve as well as vision, always with energy and a ‘mixed cocktail’ of humor and command. He really has been a master choreographer of so many things that have occurred in Richmond for the good.”
Georgia On My Mind Richard Bidlack, the Martin and Brooke Stein Professor of History, writes about reconnecting with a former student in her hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, 27 years after she was an exchange student at W&L.
During the 1988–89 academic year, Washington and Lee University hosted three students from the Soviet Union. They were among the very first Soviet undergraduates to study anywhere in the U.S. without official chaperones. One of the three was Nona Mchedlishvili, from Tbilisi, located just south of the Caucasus Mountains in what was then the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic. Nona, who had received notice that she had been selected for the exchange program just three days before she departed for the U.S., immersed herself at W&L in mastering English and studying journalism.
During Spring Term of 1989, I led 30 students on the university’s first and only study tour of the Soviet Union and communist Poland. I included Tbilisi in the itinerary and planned to visit Nona’s family, while she completed her year at W&L. But on April 9, not long before we departed Lexington, Georgian nationalists staged a massive anti-Soviet demonstration in central Tbilisi. Soviet army troops brutally crushed the rally. Twenty demonstrators were killed, and hundreds were injured. Tbilisi was immediately closed to foreigners, and the W&L group was diverted instead to Sochi (the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics) along the Black Sea. Nona and I were shocked by these events and very disappointed that the group could not meet with her family.
Nona returned home in June 1989. Before the dawn of the internet, and when the antiquated Soviet phone system made placing a phone call from Lexington to Tbilisi extremely difficult, she and I lost contact. By late 1991, the Soviet Union was falling apart, and Georgia descended into chaos and civil war for two years, which included street fighting in downtown Tbilisi. Nona endured these hardships and pursued her career in journalism, eventually becoming a correspondent for Radio Free Liberty.
A few years ago, Nona and I reconnected through Facebook. This past summer my wife, Nancy, and I traveled to Tbilisi to gather insights and information for a course I’m preparing on the history of the Caucasus region and Central Asia. We enjoyed a wonderful reunion with Nona and became acquainted with her husband, Konstantin (Koka), and their teenage daughter, Mia.
While walking through Tbilisi’s picturesque old town, with its mountain vistas and churches dating back to the sixth century, and over glasses of local wine and a scrumptious meal of khachapuri (a cheese-filled bread) and other delicacies that Nona and Koka prepared, we filled each other in on the contours of our lives over the past 27 years. Nona reminisced about the teal dress with matching shoes that Nancy lent her for the 1989 Fancy Dress ball. Nona also described the five terrifying days in August 2008 when Russia invaded Georgia and reached within 25 miles of Tbilisi. During that brief war, Nona and Koka sent Mia to relatives in the countryside as Russian planes bombed targets in and around Tbilisi.
Georgia has recovered remarkably well since the war. The country’s reputation for warm and generous hospitality has attracted many visitors from Europe and North America. My wife and I look forward to further developing our relationship with an exchange student from decades ago.
The Secret is in the Sauce Pete Hendricks ’66, 69L and his son Nat are marketing a handcrafted cocktail mix.
For years, Pete Hendricks, a real estate attorney in Atlanta, has served family and friends his special Bloody Mary cocktail, crafted from a mix he created over 50 years ago.
“People kept saying, ‘You’re nuts not to do anything with this,’ ” the 1966 graduate of Washington and Lee University and a 1969 graduate of the W&L Law School told the Reporter Newspapers.
About a year ago, his son, Nat, listened to that advice and decided to market and sell the mix full time. Known as Sister’s Sauce, the handcrafted blend is named in honor of a beloved bird dog, and her image graces the label on the bottle.
According to Pete, an early version of the mix was tested in the early 1970s when Pete’s wife, Kathy, ran a cooking and catering business called Cook’s Corner.
When Nat, who used to work for a logistics firm, decided to take the product mainstream, he got a commercial cooking certification, modified Pete’s recipe and began hand-bottling the mix. Pete said Nat “got all the junk out of it. It has no MSG or high-fructose corn syrup, and it is gluten-free.”
Sister’s Sauce launched a year ago at a pop-up shop in Midtown’s Ponce City Market and is now available at specialty stores around Atlanta, including Lucy’s Market in Buckhead.
For more information, see facebook.com/SistersSauce.
David Chester’s Excellent Adventures David Chester ’78 sets intense physical challenges that take him on epic hikes and rides.
According to David Chester, who lives in Sherborn, Massachusetts, retired Generals don’t simply fade away. They roll off the couch, put down the chips, turn off the TV and bicycle across France on a dare.
The 1978 graduate of Washington and Lee University covered 877 miles over 14 days, climbing 65,000 feet — “that’s biking up Mt. Everest twice with some miles left over,” he said.
We caught up with David for a few more details.
Q: What did you do after graduating from W&L?
I served for four years at the rank of lieutenant in the Navy as a surface warfare officer, mine countermeasures officer and naval instructor. I decided to seek my fame and fortune in high tech.
From 1983 to 2006, I was a sales rep, with various fancy titles and enviable expense accounts, in software sales to the Fortune 1000. I managed complex sales campaigns for companies like Control Data Corp., Must Software International, Dun & Bradstreet Software and Baan and Ariba Inc., spanning the computer evolution from mainframe to client/server and, finally, emerging internet technologies.
Q: How long have you been retired?
My retirement date is a bit of a family scandal, because Chesters do not historically take early retirement. In fact, they typically continue working way beyond the age at which any meaningful work can be expected. Often they need to be carried out on a gurney. I broke with tradition and retired at 50 (2006).
My wife, Kimberly, had a similar work history, so we often would say, when pressed, that between us we’d been working for over 50 years, hence we decided it was time to smell the roses. At least that was the polite way of saying it.
So post-retirement, I’ve been a volunteer firefighter and first responder for my town’s fire department, manning Engine # 2, the water tanker. May not sound sexy, but since our town has no fire hydrants, we were very important, because, after all, we had the water. I also serve on various town boards.
Q: When did the urge to cycle long distances start?
When I turned 50, I decided I needed a physical challenge to commemorate my half-century mark. I chose to climb Mount Rainier (14,410 feet). Not knowing anything about mountain climbing, I begged an older cousin with Himalayan experience to join me.
We both made it to the summit. Thirteen out of 25 in our group didn’t. I was hooked; every couple of years I would do a mini-adventure that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
By 2013, enough time had passed since Mount Rainier for that story to run out of juice. My family started a new mantra, “What’s next?” I began surfing the web for inspiration and decided on the LEJOG, a famous bike ride across Great Britain, from Lands End Cornwall to John O’Groats, Scotland. That took 14 days, 1,000 miles via back roads. I lost 20 pounds on that ride. Our oldest cyclist was a 77-year-old English lord.
I then climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,341 feet), with a mandatory guide service. It’s a trek, but not a technically difficult climb. It does require a sincere desire to summit. The altitude effects people differently, and be forewarned — seven days without a shower makes for a ripe tentmate.
Q: How did you prepare for your personal Tour de France?
I am not a cyclist. I began serious biking with the LEJOG in 2013. So to get ready for France, I rode regularly three to four months prior, ultimately logging in 1,000-plus miles for an anticipated 870-mile cycle and focusing on hill work at every opportunity.
Victory lies in the preparation. Training notwithstanding, I made a name for myself by:
1. Showing up without a bike (I rented one from the tour company — steel frame — which proved to be five times heavier than any of the other bikes. I won’t comment on the bike’s vintage or the gear configuration.)
2. Showing up at a svelte 230 pounds. The leader of the Scottish contingent was delighted to calculate that I was 60 pounds heavier than the average weight of all the other male cyclists on the expedition.
They called me overweight. I called them lightweights.
My compatriots were all Lycra-wearing, bike-club fanatics who could spend an entire evening’s conversation on various proposals to drop an extra half a pound from their cycle kit for maximum speed and efficiency.
I also confess that I added to their disbelief by exaggerating the extent of my training. I told them I never got around to it.
Q: Who dared you to make the trip?
It was a wife-son-daughter tag team. My 30-year-old daughter arrived from Los Angeles and convinced everyone in the house that if I didn’t lose weight and get back in shape, I would be dead in a year. She is an actor, and through repetition had the whole house planning my funeral, never mind the fact that a recent physical had given me a clean bill of health.
Finally, my 16-year-old-son dared me with the shameful taunt, “Middle-age white guys can’t jump or pump” (as in pumping/pedaling a bike cross country).
Q: Will you do more of these cycling trips?
Funny you ask, because riding long-distance is a grind, no matter how beautiful the scenery, especially if you’re doing it for 14 days, seven to nine hours in the saddle, with no down days. So the evening of day eight, it was the general consensus of the group that no one was going to do another 14-day ride. Never! Of course, after we finished and were celebrating on the beach in Nice, toasting each other with fine French Champagne, everyone was talking about the next big ride.
It’s always easy when you’re finished.
Q: What’s your next adventure?
I want to Telemark hut-ski from Vail to Aspen. I know my limits — I will need a guide, an avalanche beacon and a SAT phone. But if the idea can capture your imagination, the logistics and training will take care of themselves.
Maybe I’ll dare that 16-year-old son, who is now 17 (and hoping to attend W&L), to join me. But are the millennials as mentally tough as the baby boomers? Frankly, I don’t think so, but I guess my millennial deserves the chance to prove me wrong.
Randy Rouse ’39: Breezing to the Top The Virginian horseman is honored for his commitment to American steeplechasing.
He may be closing in on his 100th birthday, but Randy D. Rouse, a 1939 graduate of Washington and Lee University, has racked up another honor in the equestrian world.
The Virginian horseman received the F. Ambrose Clark Award, American jump racing’s leading honor, from the National Steeplechase Association (NSA), which earned Randy a shout-out on the BloodHorse website.
The award recognizes individuals who have done the most to promote, improve and encourage the growth and welfare of American steeplechasing. Randy, the story noted, “is all but synonymous with jump racing and hunting in northern Virginia.”
NSA president Guy J. Torsilieri said, “Randy Rouse is a most deserving recipient of the F. Ambrose Clark Award. He has been a leader of the sport in his native Virginia and nationally, and he is an inspiration to those who have followed him.”
After a stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Randy founded the construction and investment firm Randolph D. Rouse Enterprises in 1947. He became interested in hunting and racing and later served as master of foxhounds for the Fairfax Hunt.
He was elected the NSA’s president in 1971, and set about to change the focus from off-track betting to race meets. He also helped develop a manmade fence that would be moved from meet to meet to reduce the costs of maintaining natural fences for hurdle races.
In the 1980s, Randy won 10 races with his top horse, Cinzano, in point-to-points. He still trains racehorses, and his Hishi Soar put him in the record books when the hurdler won the Daniel Van Clief Memorial at the Foxfield Spring Steeplechase in April.
“I will never retire,” Rouse said in a 1998 Washington Post interview. “I may wear out, but I won’t rust out.”
Journalism in a New Age Alecia Swasy’s new book tackles the impact of social media on journalism.
Coverage of the Economy
Media Management and Entrepreneurship
“How Journalists Use Twitter: The Changing Landscape of U.S Newsrooms” (2016)
“Changing Focus: Kodak and the Battle to Save a Great American Company” (1996)
“Soap Opera: The Inside Story of Procter & Gamble” (1993)
Listen to an in-depth interview with Alecia Swasy on her book, “How Journalists Use Twitter,” on the New Books Network.
Q: Your new book, “How Journalists Use Twitter,” is particularly pertinent this election. What is the main takeaway?
A: Social media is an amazing phenomenon that has changed how we do business in an era where anyone with an internet connection can become a publisher. It democratizes the news vs. the days when only the rich could build a printing press. But it’s also quite frightening. Look what it did to this presidential campaign. Trump hijacked the news cycle at 3 a.m. with his tweets, which journalists used to set the news agenda, rather than the normal, thoughtful discussion about what’s most important in all the other domestic and foreign issues of the day. It made the coverage of both Democrats and Republicans lopsided and lacking in depth about what’s really going on in most hometowns, which are a long way from D.C. or Manhattan. And now the pundits and pollsters are stunned by the outcome. There is anger among voters, who feel ignored in the national debate. In the aftermath, I hope there will be calm, peaceful reflection and conversations about where the line is. One of the things that angered me from day one, especially with TV news, was a basic question: What is news? Just because the circus comes to town doesn’t mean we need to cover the clowns every night. Yet that’s what it became. It’s exhausting.
“Twitter” evolved from a project I worked on while I was a Ph.D. student. During the 2012 presidential election, a group of us worked with four metro papers and asked readers to tweet to certain handles about the debates. We captured those tweets in real time for the papers to post on their websites and the next day’s papers. It was fascinating to me. I was never active on social media — I never had the time and much prefer to talk to people on the phone — but I realized that it was a force to be reckoned with. During one of the debates, NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the dean of broadcasting, came on after a commercial and apologized to viewers for using the term “schizophrenic” to refer to voters. He had been called out on Twitter. So what used to be a passive audience is now talking back to you. It would usually take days or the Sunday morning talk-show circuit to critique what Brokaw said. But here, instantaneously, he’d been called out and had to respond immediately. Twitter has changed not only what journalists cover, but how they disseminate that information.
Before Twitter, journalists used to do the best they could right up until the presses rolled. Now they are rolling all the time. What I’ve noticed is that millennials now view their career differently from when I started. I was always Alecia Swasy of the Wall Street Journal. They want to be Alecia Swasy Inc. They are creating and nurturing a brand so they can be more portable, because they don’t know if the news organization they are currently working for will be around in five years.
Q: In your first book, “Soap Opera,” you exposed some unsavory details of Procter & Gamble’s business dealings. The CEO, Ed Artzt, wasn’t happy. What happened?
A: P&G got law enforcement and Cincinnati Bell to turn over millions of phone records of anyone who called me at the WSJ or home. It was a witch-hunt to find out who was talking to me. This was a chilling invasion of privacy way before the NSA made it an everyday event. Ed Artzt, the CEO, used the obscure Ohio trade secrets law, which is supposed to protect the secret formula to Tide or Crest, to get ahold of the phone numbers. He thought he could control the media. My stories, which were confirmed many times as accurate, detailed P&G’s failed food and beverage business. It ticked him off. It was “Shoot the messenger” and “You’re liars.” Because of him, I was the target of a police and phone investigation. I was followed and harassed by the company. It was an interesting time, and that experience became the last chapter of my book, “The Dark Side of the Moon.”
My brother subscribes to the Journal, so I knew I had to warn my elderly mother that I was about to be page-one news around the globe. I explained that P&G was playing hardball with me, but the Journal and Random House stood behind me. She slammed her coffee cup down on the table and said, “No more Tide in this house.” I told her she’d also have to dump her coffee, because “the best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup.” I still don’t buy any P&G products.
Q: Your next book, “Changing Focus,” was quite a different experience.
A: I switched gears for that book. At the end of every year, companies will fire thousands of people, their stock will go up by X number of dollars, and the Wall Street Journal will give them a couple of inches. I wanted to cover the story from the minute an employee got home and said, “Honey, I just lost my job.” I took a long time to troll around the Rust Belt to find my company and ended up at Kodak. At that time, the CEO was new, and he understood how to work with the media. He pretty much gave me free rein.
I spent about 2½ years in Rochester doing more than 300 interviews. It’s always nice, of course, to get a good book review in The New York Times, but for me it was hearing from the people who told me I found the right words to tell their stories. It’s difficult to be just an observer. Often, the couples I profiled would talk to each other through me. And that’s when you go, “Oh, boy, I’m not a trained counselor.” You say a little prayer and hope for wisdom and let them talk. I’m always amazed by how much people will tell you. They told me about their financial situation, their love life, their children, their heartache. You want to do them justice. What ticks me off is when critics try to portray journalists as running roughshod over everything. If they only knew how much we sweat the details. Anyone who has come to an editorial meeting at the WSJ, or any number of papers, comes away going, “Wow, I had no idea there was such debate.” We care. We care so much.
Q: Are you hopeful for the future of journalism?
A: I had someone ask me, given everything that is going on, how do you get up in the morning? My answer: with great exuberance, because I get to teach journalism at a time when now, more than ever, it is essential for our democracy. We must train the next generation how to do it right. I take great pride in that because I am an optimist and the truth will prevail. It’s invigorating to get to teach. I love it.
Changes have been seismic in journalism. There is a fantastic opportunity with the explosion of smartphones and social media and the democratization of the news, where we now can get pictures and news where we no longer have boots on the ground. At the same time, you have this deluge of bad information. That has some serious ripple effects in terms of telling the truth and getting out the message.
Any time I meet a parent who has indigestion about their son or daughter going into journalism, I say, “Wow — I don’t think news is going away, do you? Politics is never going to be tame. And how about Wall Street, and let’s talk about Hollywood and the NFL.” And then they start smiling. Journalism’s business model, the traditional one, is antiquated, and we have to figure out ways to continue to do the investigative journalism, keep the lights on and also try to serve up the whole buffet of information people want. I do not ever want us to become a Kardashian kind of culture, where it’s the lowest common denominator of information. It’s OK to give people entertainment news, but for God’s sake, we’ve got to teach them what is going on in the world.
Q: You’ve got an interesting Spring Term class in 2017. Where are you and your students going?
A: My class is Media Management and Entrepreneurship. I’ve got the Charlotte Observer to partner with me and 12 students, and we are going to parachute in there for a few days and break into teams. Each team is going to come up with a product or a strategy on how to increase millennial traffic to the Observer’s website. It’s a dynamic market with two competing millennial publications in that city already, Charlotte 5 and the Charlotte Agenda. Figuring out how to increase readership is the elusive hunt that has been going on forever.
Q: What’s your next project?
A: I’m going back to an old favorite, which will take me back to a small town in West Virginia. I wrote a couple of stories about 20 years ago on single moms in the Appalachian region, and I’ve been haunted by them. It’s one of those times where I feel a responsibility as a journalist to tell the haves about the have-nots. In America, there is an increasingly big gulf between the two. Everybody should care about that. I know so many people who are one illness away from financial disaster. It is scary.
Interns At Work: Michael Sullivan Michael Sullivan spent his summer interning at the Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands in Amsterdam
Hometown: Laurel, MD
Minors: Poverty and Human Capability Studies
Organization Name: Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
What attracted you to this internship?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to study medicine and be a doctor. When you follow the Pre-Med track, however, it can feel a bit rigid in expectations. Many of your courses are selected for you, and there are certain kinds of extracurricular activities you feel obligated to pursue, such as spending summers shadowing doctors or volunteering at a hospital. When I heard about the opportunity to study art conservation in Amsterdam, I was thrilled about the prospect of doing something outside the normal “Pre-Med” experience. I have always wanted to study abroad, which is hard to do for a semester as a biochemistry major. This internship has allowed me to spend 3 months abroad in the Netherlands, giving me the chance to have that experience.
How did you learn about it?
I approached Dr. Uffelman about internship opportunities back in September, and he mentioned he might be able to get me a spot interning under Dr. Bill Wei at the Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed (Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands).
What gave you an edge in landing this internship?
Dr. Uffelman’s recommendation was the only thing that allowed me to land this internship. Without his help, I would never have been able to get in touch with my advisor here, and I am very thankful to him for his help throughout the whole process. I am also thankful for the Washington and Lee community that allowed me to form a relationship with my professor where I can get that kind of help. It has truly opened up the opportunity of a lifetime for me.
Describe your daily duties.
I typically come into work and do some combination of literature reviews, research for my projects, and writing reports for my boss. Every week, I am given a half day off and asked to go to a museum and write a report about my experience as well.
What are some tasks/projects you’ve been workmen on?
For my first project, I am using Photoshop to retouch a painting that has been discolored, and then I am trying to use a digital projector to “fix” the discoloration in the eyes of the viewer. My second task involves another painting that is experiencing crystal growth in the paint layer. I am trying to recreate this crystal growth so we can better understand what conditions lead to this problem.
Have any courses and/or professors helped you prepare for this internship? Which ones?
Dr. Uffelman’s courses have been integral in my preparation for this internship. Taking CHEM 156 during the winter and ARTH 356 for Spring Term Abroad, both with Dr. Uffelman, have given me the necessary introduction to conservation science that I need for this internship. In addition, my chemistry courses, especially Analytical and Organic Chemistry, have proven to be extremely useful for my internship.
What do you hope to learn by the end of your experience?
I hope to better understand how different colors on a painting appear to the human eye when shone with different colors of light. I also hope to learn more about what causes crystals to grow in paint, and what we can do to slow down this process.
What was your favorite part or perk of the internship?
The Cultural Heritage Institute of the Netherlands shares a building with the Rijksmuseum conservation labs, and we often work closely with Rijksmuseum conservation staff. As such, I have gotten to meet and work with international experts in the field of art conservation science.
What did you learn from living in the city where the internship was located?
Living in Amsterdam has taught me how to bike. Every day, my commute to work involves biking along the canals of Amsterdam and right through the middle of the Rijksmuseum. I have learned how to always appreciate the beauty of my surroundings. Amsterdam is a gorgeous city to live in, and sometimes I will go for a bike ride with the intention of getting lost just to see more of this amazing place.
What key takeaways/skills will you bring back to W&L?
I am learning a lot about how to reconcile science with the arts. For example, just because we can fix a discoloration with a digital projector, does that mean we necessarily should? Is the discoloration now a part of the artistic value of the object? An ability to grapple with these questions will be a key take away of my internship.
What advice would you give to students interested in a position like this?
My advice would be to use the W&L community to your advantage. Despite being a smaller school, W&L is boundless and by utilizing the connections I made through the university, I was able to land the internship of a lifetime.
Has this experience influenced your career aspirations? How so?
While I still intend to study medicine, I am interested in looking into the possibility of a gap year or two. I think it would be fascinating to live abroad in the Netherlands for an extended period of time and really get to be immersed by the culture here.
Describe your experience in a single word.
Lex McMillan ’72 Receives A Lifetime Achievement Award
Albright College President Lex McMillan, a 1972 graduate of Washington and Lee University, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals Berks Regional Chapter on Nov. 18.
The annual event honors the extraordinary philanthropic achievements of local individuals, corporations, foundations and volunteers in Berks County.
Lex told the Berks Community Television website, “I am delighted and deeply honored to be recognized by the professionals who do the noble work of fundraising for worthwhile organizations all across our community. They know very well that successful fundraising is a team sport. Whatever I have achieved in my career is due in large part to wonderful colleagues who have been my partners in giving others the opportunity to become philanthropists by sharing generously of their time, talent, and treasure.”
Lex has been the president of Albright since 2005. Through his considerable fundraising experience, he helped the college raise $43 million, exceeding its goal by $8 million. The second and current campaign, That Their Light May Shine: The Campaign for Albright College, is expected to surpass its $55 million goal.
Under his leadership, the school has built two state-of-the-art facilities, the Science Center and the Schumo Center for Fitness and Well-Being, and has also created the technologically advanced, 30,000-square-foot John K. Roessner III ’61 Hall: The Center for Business and Civic Leadership.
Lex serves on the President’s Council and Joint Legislative Steering Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and is a member of the advisory council of the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Wye Seminars. He is a former member of the boards of the Council of Independent Colleges, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, and the United Way of Berks County. He also formerly chaired the Higher Education Consortium of Berks County and the Middle Atlantic Conference.
Prior to joining Albright, Lex served as vice president for college relations at Gettysburg College and worked in the Advancement Office at W&L and at Randolph-Macon College.
A Production for Peace “A Towering Task”: Documenting the History of the Peace Corps
“As I have dug into the film, I realized the crucial nature and awesome responsibility of getting the story right. I hope the film will influence our American discourse and help us consider peace as a worthwhile discussion.”
Filmmaker Alana DeJoseph ’92 is about halfway through producing a documentary about the Peace Corps. A former Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, Africa, she is fulfilling a dream that took root in a letter she sent to Peace Corp administrators more than two decades ago.
In the letter, written after leaving Mali, she suggested that the Peace Corps produce a “big picture” film about the organization, founded during the John Kennedy administration. To date, the organization has never been fully documented, other than a few films focused on individual volunteers.
“As I have dug into the film, I realized the crucial nature and awesome responsibility of getting the story right,” she said. “I hope the film will influence our American discourse and help us consider peace as a worthwhile discussion.”
DeJoseph expects the film, “A Towering Task,” to be shown on public television stations, at film festivals, and in communities with accompanying panel discussions. It might also be streamed through online sites, and she will offer lesson plans for college and university professors.
DeJoseph began working in film long before she suggested the idea to the Peace Corps or opened her own production company in Denver. As a 10-year-old in her hometown of Munich, Germany, she auditioned for and won one of three voice-over spots for movie studios based in the city. For about nine years, she worked as a voice-over, stage and film actor.
She eventually realized that she enjoyed the management and planning side of movie-making more than acting. When her American father suggested that she consider attending college in the U.S., DeJoseph researched a variety of universities, settling on Washington and Lee University. “It had the quality of an Ivy League university with a personal touch,” she said.
At W&L, she was able to combine her love for both theater and business with a double major. Professor Michael Gorman even created a theater management course for her — she was the only student. During the semester, she wrote a business plan for a fictitious theater in Seattle, Washington.
At W&L, she continued her on-stage work in student productions, also branching out as a director and stage manager. She credits Professor Joseph Martinez, who taught directing, as an inspiration. Her theater life “was all encompassing,” but she learned the art of coordinating many details while keeping the grand vision. “It was a huge lesson that comes back on a daily basis,” she said.
On the business side, economics professors Michael Anderson and Lyn Wheeler were influential. “All of my professors encouraged me to push myself and learn skills that helped me be tenacious and see projects to the end.”
Anderson’s class, “Food, Population and Poverty,” sparked her interest in joining the Peace Corps. A guest speaker from the Ford Foundation so inspired her that she contacted him later in New York City asking about a job with the foundation. He encouraged her to first volunteer with the Peace Corps.
After a year of waiting, she was assigned to Mali. “I packed my limited luggage and embarked to a continent I’d never been to before to help entrepreneurs develop small businesses,” she said. “It was challenging to adapt to a society where much of the time accounting was done in the head and not in books.”
In a village of 1,000 people who lived in mud huts with straw roofs, DeJoseph thrived. Most people walked, but some were fortunate and used bikes or motorcycles to get around. One day, a young man who operated a motorcycle-repair business approached her. He needed help with his business skills, and she began to teach him accounting.
Two young girls wanted to learn about the rest of the world. With a National Geographic map nailed to the mud wall of her hut, DeJoseph began by pointing to the South. “If you keep walking in this direction, you will get to the Ivory Coast, and then to the Atlantic Ocean.” Another young man wanted to learn English so he could converse with a friend who lived in Ghana. And so the projects kept coming.
Following her Peace Corps assignment, DeJoseph and her husband, whom she had met while they were both in Peace Corps training, took an around-the-world backpacking trip. When they returned, she was hooked on finding important stories to tell.
She became associate producer for several U.S. Forest Service productions, including “The Greatest Good,” celebrating the centennial of the service, and “Green Fire,” the story of Aldo Leopold, known as the “father of conservation.” Both documentaries were featured at numerous film festivals, and both won awards, including an Emmy for “Green Fire.” While screening “Green Fire” in California, she met several Peace Corps alumni, who encouraged her to develop her idea of a Peace Corps documentary.
“It was important to find people passionate about the story. We are losing many of the original voices,” she said. The story is “urgent on so many levels. It is a story poorly understood by the public.”
The mother of two children — a son, 11, and daughter, 8 — DeJoseph tries to balance her professional and private lives in order to be successful in each. Her children have already voiced their desire to join the Peace Corps someday, underscoring her desire to keep the conversation about peace going for the benefit of younger generations.
DeJoseph says more Peace Corps documentaries could be in her future. Because the institutional memory within the organization is not strong, she sees documentaries forming the history of one of the great peace undertakings of our time.
“The Peace Corps is in 141 countries. What’s next could be spin-offs of amazing stories in each country.”
To learn more about Alana’s Peace Corps documentary, visit www.peacecorpsdocumentary.com.