Domers in the News

Author: Carol Schaal

Most of us know the drill. Your latest cable bill is $10 or $20 more than it was the previous month, but a call to question the amount plunges you into customer service hell. Now BillFixers, a company started in July 2014 by brothers Julian Kurland ’15J.D. and Ben Kurland of Nashville, Tennessee, will negotiate for you with cable, Internet and phone companies. “People will do anything not to have to talk to them,” Julian told The Tennessean. “That’s where we come in.” With, a team of negotiators “will contact your service providers on your behalf and negotiate better deals at lower prices.” The company charges a percentage of the total yearly savings they obtain for you. BillFixers was one of 10 finalists for USA Today’s Small Business Innovator of 2015 award, whose results were to be announced in December, after this magazine went to press. . . . Ave Maria Press, a ministry of the U.S. Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, recently named Lisa Hendey ’85 as editor-at-large. The Fresno, California, resident is the founder of the website CatholicMom, author of several books, including The Grace of Yes, and frequent host of KNXT Catholic Television. In her new role, she will acquire books in all areas of Catholic life and spirituality, and guide authors through the publishing process. . . . In August, Jim Rigg ’01M.E. was named superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools. The nation’s largest Catholic school system serves close to 83,000 students in 230 schools. The Denver, Colorado, native formerly was director of education services and superintendent of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati Catholic Schools. . . . Columbus, Ohio, resident Peter Coccia ’72 traveled to his town’s sister city, Dresden, Germany, last year as a representative of the nonprofit organization Dresden Sister City. The program has promoted cultural, educational and sports exchanges between the two communities since 1992. . . . Dana Babbin ’92 had to visit the boys’ department to buy her twin daughters T-shirts featuring designs of some of their favorite toys, trucks and trains. She dealt with the problem by launching Pink Truck Designs in December 2014. The online shop ( features T-shirts, hats and hoodies decorated with such items as pink trucks, planes and tugboats. “I want to celebrate gender and its differences, but more importantly, its commonality,” she told the South Bend Tribune. The legal consultant and former prosecutor lives in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, where the clothing is assembled. . . . Former engineering honors student and rowing team member Genevieve Malone ’11 is back on campus as a project engineer on the Campus Crossroads project. As part of the Barton Malow Company team, the Dayton, Ohio, native deals with stadium earth retention, stadium lights, seating and windows, and air-handling units. She worked on a previous campus project when the football stadium grass was replaced with field turf. “Notre Dame gave me so much while I was here that it’s rewarding to give back in this way,” Malone says. . . . AudioCompass, a mobile app that turns smartphones into virtual tour guides of places of interest in India, Bhutan, Singapore and Oman, was chosen to represent India in last September’s Start Tel Aviv workshop and conference. AudioCompass founder and CEO Gautam Shewakramani ’05 joined 20 entrepreneurs at the international gathering sponsored by Digital-Life-Design. . . . The hedge fund Pier 88 is named after a pier in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where the family of company co-founder Frank Timons ’91, ’94J.D. had a summer home. The business, which was started in October 2013 and is actually based in San Francisco, was profiled in an August New York Times technology article for its focus on investing in publicly traded start-up companies. In September, Timons appeared on a CNBC “Squawk on the Streets” segment. . . . A summer 2014 Notre Dame Magazine short story highlighted Chicagoan Katie Zillmer ’12 and her online Notre Name business, which offers matted and framed depictions of names, phrases or dates using alphabet photography taken on and around the ND campus. She has since collaborated with 200-plus student photographers to launch, which sells alphabet photo art pieces using images from more than 100 colleges. . . . His military service as a chaplain began in 1948, and Paschal Baute ’57 now is a chaplain to the Lexington, Kentucky, Blinded Veterans Chapter. In September, he was on the Honor Flight Bluegrass, which flew 70 WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans from central and eastern Kentucky to the Washington, D.C., area to visit war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery. Along with fellow traveler Charlie Eyer, Baute discusses the “deeply moving and heart wrenching” trip. . . . In his first novel, Master of Ceremonies, Donald Cozzens ’73M.A., goes behind the scenes of the Catholic Church for a look at clergy sexual abuse. Written as a thriller, the priest’s imaginative tale won first place for Catholic Fiction in the 2015 Catholic Press Association awards. . . . Yara Sallam ’10LL.M. was released from a Cairo jail in late September. In an unpleasant illustration of irony, she was arrested and imprisoned in June of 2014 following a protest march that was decrying Egypt’s passage of a 2013 law restricting political protests. The human rights lawyer and researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights was among the 100 activists, journalists and other prisoners who were pardoned by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on the day before he departed for New York to meet with the U.N. General Assembly. . . . Postpartum depression hit Emily Dagostino ’02 hard after the birth of her second child. In “The sunshine and shadows of motherhood,” an essay in the October issue of U.S. Catholic, the Oak Park, Illinois, resident discusses her mental anguish and how it led her “to cling more closely to the mystery of my faith.” . . . In July, former Notre Dame swim team captain Brian W. Casey ’85 will change lanes, moving from his seven-year term as president of DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, to the presidency of Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. . . . Mary Hums ’79, who played field hockey and softball, and ran track, as well as serving as an announcer for the women’s basketball team while at Notre Dame, had a memorable July. The professor of sports administration at the University of Louisville and longtime advocate for people with disabilities in sports was a guest at the White House event celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. . . . The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum, headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and co-founded by Phil Sklar ’07MSA, recently released a Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger ’76 bobblehead. The walk-on’s 27 seconds of play in the 1975 ND-Georgia Tech football game was highlighted in the 1993 film Rudy. . . . Federal prosecutor Michelle Nasser ’95 was among those honored in June with an Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Award. The assistant U.S. attorney in the northern district of Illinois was involved in the prosecution of the kingpins of a counterfeit identification business, what Nasser called “a decades-long, multimillion dollar international criminal organization.” . . . Beer-loving Pennsylvania residents should lift a glass to Theodore J. Zeller III ’89, general counsel to the Brewers of Pennsylvania. An attorney with Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., Zeller specializes in liquor law, and he helped the brewers’ group lobby for a change in state regulations to allow for tasting rooms. The new regulation passed in late May and generally benefits craft breweries. . . . The Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem appointed Timothy B. Sailors ’00M.A. as a fellow for 2015-16. His research, he says, will focus on early Christian literature preserved in the classical languages of the Christian Orient.