Domers in the news

Author: Carol Schaal '91M.A.

Actors never know what kinds of jobs might pop up. Jama Williamson ’96, who’s been in the acting business since 1998, boasts credits ranging from providing voices for the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to appearances off-Broadway and in other New York area theaters, including the title role as a dog in the play Sylvia. These days she’s found a welcoming home in television. After guesting on Law & Order, Numb3rs and Chappelle’s Show, she was cast in 2009 in the recurring role of Wendy Haverford on Parks and Recreation. For the second season of Nickelodeon’s School of Rock, she was upgraded to a series regular as Principal Mullins. . . . When London Vale ’08, who graced the cover of this magazine’s spring 2012 issue, is not acting in independent films and TV projects, she creates fashion illustrations and oil portraits. Her “Daybreak” painting was the winner of the 2015 Torrit Grey Gamblin Artist’s Oil Colors national contest. . . . Coming in second often means you don’t get the recognition you may deserve. Such is the case with Larry Doby, who integrated baseball’s American League just weeks after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in the National League. Douglas M. Branson ’65, author of Greatness in the Shadow, spoke about the centerfielder’s career in July during “Larry Doby Day” in Paterson, New Jersey, where Doby had participated in baseball, basketball, football and track as a student at Eastside High School. . . . Westminster, Maryland, is humming along with its gigabyte-per-second fiber network. The municipality’s speedy Internet connection is the result of a public-private initiative spearheaded by Dr. Robert Wack ’83, president of the Westminster Common Council. “In a world that is increasingly dependent on data every day, if you don’t have good broadband you’re going to be left behind,” Wack told Baltimore. . . . When the small plates restaurant and wine bar Tapastrie opened last year in South Bend, its interior featured a pillar decorated with more than 2,000 terra cotta tiles. The Mediterranean-inspired mosaic is the work of Nathan Winship Smith ’15MFA, who fired and hand-painted all the tiles. He told the South Bend Tribune, “I’m OCD enough to like this type of work. But the sheer volume of tiles was daunting. Next time I probably wouldn’t make some of the pieces so small.” . . . “Small” is not the operative word for the creations of Isaac Duncan III ’96, whose stainless steel sculptures can tower 20 feet or more. Earlier this year, the Chattanooga, Tennessee, resident joined in the grand opening celebration of that city’s Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. He serves as secretary and education and programming chair of the outdoor art museum’s board of directors. . . . The Alliance for Women in Media Foundation honored Mary Sue Twohy ’91 with a 2016 Gracie Award for Interview Program or Feature. The Washington, D.C.-based program director for SiriusXM’s The Village Folk Show was recognized for her interviews with Judy Collins, Janis Ian, Rhiannon Giddens and Buffy Sainte-Marie. . . . Paralympic cycling champion Matt King ’89, who was born with retinitis pigmentosa, lost all of his sight by age 22. After decades of work at IBM, the computer engineer was hired by Facebook last year to join its accessibility team. One of his projects, he says in an April talk with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, involves “using object recognition or machine vision . . . in order to look at photos for people who are blind.” The result is a screen reader that goes beyond telling the listener that a photo is on the page by offering a basic description of what the photo shows, such as “pizza” or “three people smiling” and an experience that breaks through what King called a “disheartening” barrier for the visually impaired. . . . Armchair travelers get more than stunning vistas when they take a trip with Diana von Glahn ’96J.D., who was profiled in iCatholic magazine’s July issue. The host of The Faithful Traveler, whose motto is “See the world through the lens of faith,” shares information about the art, architecture, history and theology of the visited sites; a recent tour was A Papal Pilgrimage in the Holy Land. See for videos, DVDs and information on radio and TV broadcast dates. . . . Notre Dame alumni are making a lot of noise these days. Chicago singer-songwriter Pat McKillen ’10 released his new album, Blood & Bones, at various digital outlets in June. The popular folk/rock artist and former America’s Got Talent contestant offers a free acoustic bonus disc download at The Chicago trio Mutts, headed by vocalist Michael Maimone ’04, heated up summer with its new single, “Let’s Go.” Download the blues/rock band’s anthem at Songwriter, producer and remixer Bobby Green, the stage name of Trey Mohr ’09, also recently presented his new single. The upbeat pop-dance track “Lights,” featuring Whitney Phillips, is at and other digital music services. And creating “art with a mission” is the aim of the music video “Amor Migrante” by the bilingual folk-rock band Elena & Los Fulanos. Elena Lacayo ’06 gives voice to the Hispanic community with a musical version of the true story of a family separated by current U.S. immigration laws. Find it at . . . Sisters Nell Lindquist ’05 and Maggie Allen (SMC ’97), co-founders of the children’s clothing company Hi Little One ( recently launched a collaboration with children’s book illustrator Jonathan Sundy ’05 to create the line Cute Enough to Eat. Customized onesies, hats, bibs, T-shirts and gifts play off the food nicknames given to tykes, from Peanuts to Muffin to Sweet Pea. . . . Designing a line of clothing for guys 5-foot-8 and under are Ash & Anvil ( co-founders Eric Huang ’13 and Steven Mazur. The two self-professed “shorter guys” met during their fellowship at Venture for America, a two-year program for entrepreneurs, and launched their Detroit-based company last year. The online company’s first offering is a casual button-down shirt. . . . Beth Ann Fennelly ’93, a professor of English at the University of Mississippi and author of three collections of poetry, a novel and a book of nonfiction, was recently named Poet Laureate of Mississippi. During her four-year term as an ambassador for literary arts in the state, she will participate in school and community events that promote appreciation of poetry as an art form. In 2014, Notre Dame awarded Fennelly its Rev. Robert F. Griffin, C.S.C., award for outstanding achievements in writing. . . . For 10 weeks this summer, Andrew Wilson ’14 was awash in southern Florida wetlands. The environmental science major was one of three selected for the 2016 Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades Summer Intern Program, which focuses on Everglades ecology and restoration. Wilson is used to working with aquatic issues; while at Notre Dame, he volunteered as a research assistant, analyzing mercury concentration in Great Lakes salmon and its effect on water pollution in streams and rivers. . . . One naval aviator is flying high these days. The autumn 2014 issue of this magazine featured a profile and photo gallery of U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander John Hiltz ’02, who was at the time a Blue Angels pilot. This March, the pilot was part of a This Week with George Stephanopoulos feature by co-anchor Martha Raddatz, as she reported from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman about a bombing mission targeting an oil pipeline, an ISIS financial resource, in Eastern Syria. And in July, when Hiltz returned to Lemoore Naval Air Station after his eight-month deployment with the Strike Fighter Squadron 25, he greeted longtime girlfriend Mary Strecker with roses and an engagement ring. “She made me the happiest guy in the world today,” Hiltz told The Fresno Bee after his proposal was met with a resounding “Yes!”

Carol Schaal is managing editor of this magazine.