Domers in the news

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

One enterprising alumna suggests it’s time to squeeze into that prom or bridesmaid’s dress that’s been hanging in the closet and have a good time for a good cause. In 2005, while looking at her old prom dresses, Betsy Paulsen Crapps ’92 came up with an idea. A year later she put together a ladies-only event called Mom Prom (, and money spent on tickets for the party that featured outmoded apparel, dancing, drinking and dining was donated to a charity. Since then, she told the website NewsWhistle, her trademarked Mom Proms have been held in more than 32 states and have helped fund a variety of programs, from food banks to breast cancer research to homeless shelters. The South Lyon, Michigan, resident says the parties are meant to be a fun “ladies’ night out.” And yes, passé dresses are the way to go. . . . If dancing for a cause is not your thing, how about eating pizza? The Chicago-area Zoom Pizza Factory, founded by J.R. Werner ’14MBA, uses as much fresh, organic, locally sourced ingredients as possible, composts 98 percent of its waste and shares some proceeds with, an international nonprofit that seeks to improve access to safe water and sanitation, and with Chive Charities, whose goal is to increase social awareness for orphaned causes. A mobile app tracks a customer’s proximity to the restaurant so the pizza is ready when the hungry guest walks through the door. . . . His slogan is to the point: “Made in the American West with my own bare hands.” Geoffrey Keating ’00M.A. had to make a change from “Midwest” when he moved from Indiana to Colorado a few years ago, but the essence remains the same. The woodworker designs and builds high-quality furniture, and his “contemporary antique” style has grabbed the attention of a host of magazines, from Architectural Digest to American Craft and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles. This magazine featured him in its spring 2011 issue ( . . . “I have a lot of anger at people who take advantage of other people and anger about injustice and victimizing vulnerable people,” Father Chuck Dahm, O.P., ’59 told the Chicago Sun-Times. The associate pastor at St. Pius V Church in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood has turned that anger into a mission as Chicago’s archdiocesan director of Domestic Violence Outreach. Dahm visits Chicago parishes to talk about domestic abuse, often giving a homily on the issue on a Sunday and meeting with parishioners on Monday to discuss building a parish-level program that would offer referrals and resources to victims of abuse. The priest, who is in his late 70s, estimates that he’s visited 80 parishes to discuss the subject. “There are about 356 parishes. My goal is to visit them all. If I live long enough,” he says. . . . “I believe business can and should be a force for good, and that entrepreneurship is the most efficient tool to lift people out of poverty,” says Carlos E. Peña ’11, who in April was named a Chicago Hero of the Day by Goodcity Chicago. A loan officer at Accion Chicago, Peña also is a volunteer mentor to small-business owners and helps organize Startup Weekend Chicago, a three-day workshop for entrepreneurs. . . . They shared a dorm but had vastly different interests. Stephanie Bickel ’97 majored in marketing and focused on artistic performances during her college years; Jeannine Augustin Scheffler ’97 was a science major and point guard for the women’s basketball team. The friends now collaborate on curriculum for Speak by Design, a leadership communication consulting firm founded by Bickel in 2000 that offers executive coaching, presentation skills, and voice and speech training. Bickel lives in Detroit and manages the company’s Detroit and New York City offices; Scheffler, who joined the firm in 2011, oversees its two Chicago offices. . . . Since 1959, Harry Durkin ’53 has either sponsored or organized several concerts by the Notre Dame Glee Club. At its centennial reunion last October, in appreciation of Durkin’s support, the Glee Club awarded the Pompano Beach, Florida, resident an honorary membership. . . . No, she doesn’t play one on TV. Instead, Lindsey Horvath ’04 really is the mayor of West Hollywood, California, a town of about 35,000 residents. Among the areas the 34-year-old activist has focused on are services for older adults, measures to increase town walkability and an upgraded response to domestic violence incidents. The Ohio native is also a founder of the entertainment marketing company LPH. . . . At age 6 he was scooping ice cream for a family business, and as a young adult he worked as a financial analyst. Now Eduardo Bocock ’95 is back in the food business in more ways than one. In 2008, the Costa Rica native launched East Coast Custom Coaches, a Virginia company that sells customized food trucks. Focusing on moveable feasts was not his true passion, he told The Washington Post, but profits from his custom coaches business meant he could pursue the dream of opening a restaurant. In 2013 his White Apron Specialty Sandwiches in northwest Washington, D.C., began serving up soup, salad, sandwiches and sweets to the beltway crowd. . . . “They don’t give this out very often,” said Paul M. DeLuca ’71Ph.D., expressing his pleasure at earning the William D. Coolidge Award from the American Association of Physicists in Medicine. The professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who will receive what is considered the highest honor in the medical physics field in August, also is celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary this summer. . . . Good luck getting tickets to the smash Broadway hit Hamilton. Unless, that is, you’re Patrick Vassel ’07, who definitely has an inside track. The Akron, Ohio, native served as associate director of the hip-hop musical, which is breaking Broadway sales records. And he shares his theater expertise as a teaching artist with Opening Act New York, a nonprofit organization offering after-school theater programs to high school students in the New York public school system. . . . Lift a glass (of milk, please) to Erin Fitzgerald Sexson ’99, the senior vice president, global sustainability, at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. Last year the Chicago resident was recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change for Sustainable and Climate-Smart Agriculture. The former team co-captain of the ND women’s water polo club is active in the Chicago area Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. . . . Former Notre Dame soccer coach Randy Waldrum welcomed Melissa Henderson ’12 back to her second season with his Houston Dash team four months after the forward had announced her retirement from professional soccer. According to published reports, the Garland, Texas, native, who led the Fighting Irish to the 2010 NCAA national championship, told Waldrum she had felt like she was under pressure to meet others’ expectations, but she wanted to return with a new focus. Henderson also is hosting the YouTube series Dash & Tell with Mel, which is posted before every Dash home game. . . . What would you do with a few extra million dollars? In April, Napster co-founder and former Facebook president Sean Parker, whose friend Laura Ziskin, a Hollywood producer, died of breast cancer in 2011, launched the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy with a $250 million grant. The project will involve the work of more than 300 cancer researchers working in six institutions. Robert Vonderheide ’85, a professor and oncologist at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, will be one of the directors of Penn’s portion of the research collaboration. “The Parker Institute will play a role in getting [discoveries] to the marketplace,” he told, praising what he hopes will be “a more efficient way” of turning breakthroughs into treatment.

Carol Schaal is managing editor of this magazine.