Domers in the news

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Author: John Monczunski

Bob McDonnell ’76, who previously served as Virginia’s attorney general and as member of the state’s House of Delegates, was elected governor in November. Observers say McDonnell’s convincing win in a state that went Democratic during the presidential election has established him as a rising star in the Republican party. . . . Jennifer Radelet ’06 had a guest-starring role in the season premiere episode of the television series Desperate Housewives. She also appeared this season in an episode of the CBS series Ghost Whisperer. . . . Captain Wendy Kosek ’04, ’07J.D., a judge advocate general with the U.S. Air Force, received a purple heart in October for wounds suffered in the line of duty in Iraq. She suffered extensive injuries to her leg when an improvised explosive device wrecked the vehicle she was riding in on August 21. In Iraq, Kosek’s mission was to prosecute Iraqi detainees and prepare evidence to transfer cases to local authorities. She has been recovering at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas and hopes to resume active duty. . . . Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A. was awarded the 2009 Gold Medal Award of the American Irish Historical Society at its 112th annual banquet at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel. The award recognizes a “special or unique contribution to American Irish life.” Previous recipients include President Ronald Reagan, actor Liam Neeson and Cardinal John O’Connor of New York. . . . Neve Gordon ’97M.A., ’99Ph.D., the chair of politics at Israel’s Ben Gurion University, has been at the center of an academic freedom controversy in Israel. After he published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times in which he called Israel an “apartheid state” and advocated an international boycott of Israel to pressure the country to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, Ben Gurion University told Gordon it was looking into legal ways to discipline him. Petitions supporting Gordon have circulated at Israeli universities and, in the United States, the Middle East Studies Association has issued a statement on his behalf. . . . Rio Breaks, a documentary film about surfing produced by Justin Mitchell ’95, aired on the Sundance cable channel last fall. . . . The Man Who Would Be Polka King, a documentary film by John Mikulak ’90, premiered at Chicago’s Polish Film Festival in America. The film is an irreverent look at the rise and fall of Grammy-nominated polka musician Jan Lewan, who had a successful career as a “polka superstar.” . . . Mike Lavery ’08 competed in the 2009 Ford Ironman Triatholon World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, finishing 127th overall out of a field of more than 1,750. . . . Becca Trantowski Farrell ’97 was featured as an inspiring athlete in ads and billboards promoting the 2009 Chicago Marathon. The mother of 2-year old triplets, Jack, Owen and Maeve, completed the marathon in 4 hours and 12 minutes. She was greeted at the finish line by her husband, John Farrell ’97, and her children. . . . Bud Hammes ’72, ’78Ph.D., director of medical humanities at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, was featured in several TV network news reports when his hospital became the center of the “death panel” controversy in health care reform. Hammes explains the controversy surrounding advance care directives and end of life care in a Notre Dame Magazine alumni blog. . . . Matt Szabo ’98 was appointed deputy chief of staff by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa last fall. Previously he had served as the mayor’s chief press spokesman. Among other duties, Szabo was charged with coordinating efforts to solve the city’s budget crisis. . . . Kenneth E. Kavanagh ’87MBA, former athletic director at Bradley University, has been named athletic director at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida. . . . Beth Lewinski ’03 is a stand-up comedian appearing regularly at ComedySportz in Milwaukee. . . . Christopher Fenoglio ’80 recently won a first-place award from the Catholic Press Association for his column, “Reel Life Journeys,” on the arts and culture, which appears regularly in The Tennessee Register, the diocesan paper of Nashville. The column is available online at christopherfenoglio.com. Fenoglio also recently published the children’s book, Kristin and the Santa Secret. . . . Dean Calland ’79J.D. and his wife, Mary, received the 2009 Elizabeth Ann Seton Award of the National Catholic Education Association. The Callands were honored for their work with the Crossroads Foundation, which helps at-risk students in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. . . . Brigitte Gynther ’04, coordinator of Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, was the 2009 recipient of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award. Gynther was recognized for her work in implementing Catholic social teaching. Specifically, she was cited for her efforts in mobilizing faith communities throughout the country to convince Yum! Brands, McDonald’s, Burger King, Whole Foods and Subway to increase migrant farmworker wages an extra penny per pound of tomatoes picked, which translates to nearly a doubling of their wages. . . . There was a recent “Domer takeover” of the graduating class of Catholic University’s Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family. Katrina Ten Eyck ’00, Nicholas Fonte ’02, Paige Smith ’04M.Ed., Michael Roesch ’05 and Mary Catherine Levri ’06 all received master’s of theological studies degrees, composing 20 percent of the institute’s class of ’08. . . . John J. Hurley ’81J.D. has become the first lay president of Canisius College, a Jesuit school in Buffalo, New York. . . . Tim Keller ’00, the youngest state senator in New Mexico, introduced 30 pieces of legislation in his first legislative session. . . . Ken Martinez ’84J.D. is the majority leader in New Mexico’s House of Representatives. . . . Dr. George “Spin” Richardson ’67 received the Vermont State Dental Society’s Distinguished Service Award, honoring him for his 35 years of practicing in the state. . . . Four years ago Bob Solis ’84, his wife, Sallie, and their five children went on a mission trip to South Africa, where they worked in an orphanage serving children whose parents had died from AIDS. The couple was so moved that, upon their return, they used their life savings to buy a 70-acre parcel of land in South Africa, which has become the Open Arms Home for Children, a homelike environment serving 30 children. Plans are to expand the facility by 50 children. More information is available at the orphanage’s Facebook page.


John Monczunski is an associate editor of this magazine.


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