Domers in the News

Author: Notre Dame Magazine staff

In November, Pope Benedict XVI named Charles J. “Charlie” Brown ’81 as the new papal nuncio to Ireland. A long-time aide to the pope working since 1994 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the former monsignor from the Archdiocese of New York was elevated to the rank of archbishop along with his diplomatic appointment. The Vatican’s previous ambassador to Ireland was recalled last summer as diplomatic relations became strained after a government report charged Irish bishops with covering up clerical child abuse cases. . . . Thaddeus “TJ” Jones ’89, an official of the Pontifical Council for Social Commissions, was the project coordinator for, the Vatican’s news aggregator website that launched last fall. Among other duties, Jones also coordinates worldwide telecasts of papal ceremonies and events . . . . Only days after its release, Brainrush, a sci-fi political thriller by Richard Bard ’73, jumped to the Amazon Action/Adventure Bestseller list through an unusual promotion: Readers who bought Bard’s book also received the No. 1 and No. 3 bestselling Kindle thrillers as well. The former Air Force pilot and 36-year cancer survivor, who went on to run three security technology companies, received a fan letter for his novel from singer David Crosby of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame. . . . Tom Bettag ’66 has joined NBC’s new newsmagazine, Rock Center with Brian Williams, as a producer. In a career spanning more than four decades, the veteran TV newsman has served as executive producer at CBS News, ABC News and CNN. For many years Bettag was executive producer of Nightline with Ted Koppel. He also worked with Koppel on the Discovery Channel’s program Koppel on Discovery. James O’Connell, M.D., ’70, president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP), was awarded the Massachusetts General Hospital Trustees’ Medal, which honors American physicians and scientists “whose lifetime contributions have uniquely benefited humankind. BHCHP is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive health care program for the homeless, serving more than 11,000 individuals each year. . . . Thomas Shilen Jr. ’81 has been named chief financial and administrative officer of CBS News. Previously, Shilen had served as senior vice president, controller and chief accounting officer for CBS. . . . John Michael ’94, ’98J.D., ’98MBA is the new play-by-play announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA team. Previously, the former trial attorney served as the TV broadcaster for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. . . . Jon Theisen ’70 was appointed a circuit court judge in Eau Claire County by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. . . . Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently named Michael Latz ’85, ’89J.D. as a commissioner on the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. An attorney in private practice, Latz is a former assistant state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois. . . . Betsy Paulsen Crapps ’92 is the founder of Mom Prom, a “ladies’ night out” for charity that has become a national movement ( The events provide an opportunity for women to wear their old formal dresses and dance while raising money for a worthy cause of their choice. . . . Jamie Reidy ’92, whose memoir of his time as a pharmaceutical salesman became the Hollywood romantic comedy Love and Other Drugs, received the Angel Award from The Good Shepherd Shelter of Los Angeles for his volunteer efforts there. The shelter is a haven for battered women and their children. . . . Kiana Peacock ’94 and her husband, Jason Evans, have been named by Calista Corp. as publishers of three Alaskan weekly newspapers and two specialty shoppers.. . . . Joe Brockington ’07 and his working German Shepherd, Yogy Policia Slovakia, were awarded the Highest Auslander Trophy and Helper’s Favorite Dog at the Mid-Eastern Regional Schutzhund Championship. Schutzhund (German for “protection dog”) tests the traits of working dogs, such as German Shepherds. Brockington, who was a four-year letterman on Notre Dame’s football team, is co-owner of the dog with his former ND teammate Tom Zbikowski ’07. . . . Rob McLaughlin ’91 and his wife, Colleen (’91 SMC), have established the McLaughlin Family Endowment for Excellence to Fight Domestic Poverty. The endowment will fund initiatives from the Center for Social Concerns such as the Appalachian Program, which provides volunteer experiences for ND students in Appalachia. . . . Hollywood actor William Mapother ’87 offered a Notre Dame audience a sneak preview of his recent science fiction movie, Another Earth, which premiered last year at the Sundance Film Festival. The independent film deals with parallel existence, among other things. Mapother is perhaps best known for his character Ethan Rom in the TV series Lost. Mapother’s newest film, A Warrior’s Heart, in which he plays a lacrosse coach, was released in December. He also appears in the upcoming Lifetime cable channel original movie, The Drew Peterson Story, about a suburban Chicago police officer charged with the death of his third wife after his fourth wife’s mysterious disappearance. . . . Thomas Ealy ’82 was recently named president of Encompass Insurance, a division of the Allstate Insurance Company . . . . Travis Smith ’95 is the new CEO of Jo-Ann Stores, Inc., the leading fabric and specialty craft store company in the United States. . . . Attorney Ron Blubaugh ’60 received an award from the state bar of California in recognition of his legal work on behalf of homeless people. . . . Amanda Polk ’08, who was a member of the Irish women’s crew team, helped the U.S. eight-boat team forge a come-from-behind gold medal win at the 2011 World Rowing Championship in Bled, Slovenia. Previously, Polk competed with the U.S. four-boat team that won a silver medal at the 2010 World Championships in Poznan, Poland. . . . Tracy Miner ’80, a member of the litigation practice and chair of the white-collar defense group of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. . . . Long distance runner Molly Huddle ’06 competed in the track and field World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, last summer. Earlier she won a national championship in the 5000 meter run. Another outstanding women’s track and field athlete, Mary Saxer ’09 finished fifth in the pole vaulting national championships last year. Both Huddle and Saxer are expected to make the U.S. Olympic team . . . . Doctors Robert Simari ’82 of the Mayo Clinic and Jay Traverse ’82 of the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbot Northwestern Hospital presented the results of their adult stem cell research at the American Heart Association scientific meeting last fall. The two medical researchers, who are friends and ND classmates, found that treatment with stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow is beneficial only when administered shortly after a heart attack. Their study found no benefit from the treatment two to three weeks after the attack. The Vatican has approved the use of adult stem cells, condemning only those derived from embryos. . . . Former Notre Dame All American defensive lineman Pete Duranko ’66, a star of the 1966 National Championship team who later played eight seasons for the Denver Broncos, died in July. He had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease in 2001.