Domers in the News

Author: Jason Kelly '95

At an olive grove in the Palestinian village of Asira al-Shimaliya, rescued animals and underprivileged children offer each other love and support. Maad Abu-Ghazalah ’83, a West Bank native and technology entrepreneur in the San Francisco Bay area, founded Daily Hugz to provide an environment where children could interact with animals. From its first rescue, Houdini the donkey, Daily Hugz has continued to take in animals in need and to host children from schools and refugee camps, including therapeutic visits for those with mental or physical disorders. . . . KeiVarae Russell ’18 added that graduation year to his name in May. A defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals, Russell completed the final five courses for his management degree in the spring, juggling those credit hours with the team’s offseason workouts, driving back and forth twice a week to meet both responsibilities. Alongside celebratory graduation pictures on his Instagram page, Russell detailed how, despite his suspension from Notre Dame in 2014 for academic fraud, he remained committed to achieving the twin goals of playing in the NFL and earning a college degree. “Keep pushing,” he counseled in his post, “even through unfortunate situations that test your inner being and your inner character.” . . . The television industry is changing. Terry O’Reilly ’76, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation, has been at the forefront of those changes throughout his career as a producer, journalist and executive, earning a Daytime Emmy Award and dozens of regional Emmys. For the next two years, O’Reilly will lead the organization that presents the Emmys, after his selection in June as chairman of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. . . . Rev. Gerard J. Olinger, CSC, ’01, ’04J.D., ’09M.Div., was appointed in June as the University’s vice president for mission engagement and church affairs. Olinger, who served as vice president for university relations and student affairs at the University of Portland, succeeds Rev. William M. Lies, CSC, ’93M.Div., who was elected the U.S. provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Lies was named Notre Dame’s inaugural vice president for mission engagement and church affairs in 2012 after a decade as executive director of the Center for Social Concerns. . . . NBC’s new Female Forward initiative aims to increase the number of women directors in scripted television. The program’s inaugural group features 10 directors, including Christine Swanson ’94, whose credits include the independent film All About You, which won audience awards at the Chicago International Film Festival and the American Black Film Festival. Each Female Forward director has been assigned to a series — Swanson’s is the police procedural Chicago P.D. — to shadow on three episodes and direct at least one. . . . Cristal Brisco ’06J.D. now wears a robe to work. The former corporation counsel for the City of South Bend and general counsel at Saint Mary’s College became a St. Joseph County Circuit Court magistrate under Judge John Broden ’87 in July. “I felt I’m really walking in my purpose and I look forward to this job,” Brisco told WSBT-TV after her robing ceremony. . . . Skylar Diggins-Smith ’13 started going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County as a first-grader. Now that she’s a WNBA star, Diggins-Smith remains so involved with the organization that she received the league’s Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award for her contributions in Dallas, where she plays for the Wings. In addition to the Boys & Girls Clubs, Diggins-Smith works with children through her Shoot 4 The Sky basketball camps and an elite team of 13- and 14-year-olds, the Sky Digg Soldiers. In honor of her award, the WNBA will donate $10,000 in her name to South Bend Venues Parks & Arts. . . . Greg Andres ’89 led the prosecution in the trial of Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, who was convicted in August on eight counts of financial fraud. In the first trial stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign, Andres told the jury that “Mr. Manafort lied to keep more money when he had it, and he lied to get more money when he didn’t.” . . . Seventy-four seconds elapsed between Philando Castile’s traffic stop and his shooting death at the hands of police officer Jeronimo Yanez in a St. Paul, Minnesota, suburb in 2016. Castile’s killing inspired protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, and a Minnesota Public Radio podcast series, 74 Seconds, explored the incident, the trial and acquittal of Yanez, and the national tensions the case inflamed. Meg Martin ’05, an MPR editor, was among the producers honored with a Livingston Award for excellence in local reporting. “Through meticulous and balanced reporting,” the Livingston citation read, “the series put a human face on both the victim and the officer who pulled the trigger.” . . . “We wanted to dispel the notion that your dress shoes are limiting in any way,” says Justin Schneider ’11. So the founder of shoemaker Wolf & Shepherd ran with the bulls through the streets of Pamplona, Spain, in a pair of the company’s Gambit Double-Monks. He lived to tell the tale with no blood or gore (pardon the pun) to show for the experience — just a promotional video for Wolf & Shepherd’s limited-edition Toro Collection in Spanish Red. ¡Olé! . . . When Jordan Karcher ’15MBA rescued his Dalmatian, Molly, he embarked on a new morning routine of walking the dog while sipping coffee. That inspired Karcher to create a coffee company that supports organizations that help rescue dogs. Grounds and Hounds, featured in June in Parade magazine, donates 20 percent of its proceeds to the rescue organization located closest to any customer who buys from its online shop. . . . Joe Kernan ’68, the former South Bend mayor and Indiana governor who spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, received the Alumni Association’s prestigious Sorin Award during his 50th class reunion in June. Presented to a graduate for distinguished service to the University, the Sorin Award recognizes Kernan’s longtime affiliation with the Monogram Club (he was a catcher for the baseball team), his years as an adjunct professor of public policy and executive leadership, and his contributions to a Notre Dame-sponsored human development mission to Uganda, in addition to his public service as a Navy flight officer and politician. In 1998, while serving as Indiana’s lieutenant governor, Kernan received an honorary doctorate and delivered Notre Dame’s commencement address. . . . Soccer is a headbanging game, with one of the highest head-injury rates in sports. Former Notre Dame player Kyle Dagan ’09, the vice president of operations for Gamebreaker Inc., has developed protective headgear that could lead to a significant reduction in concussion risk. The Virginia Tech Helmet Lab rated Gamebreaker’s multi-sport cap the best in preventing head injuries from soccer, which occur most often from collisions between players leaping for a ball. . . . Less than two years ago, Andrea M. Barton ’05, ’09J.D., became the University of Portland’s general counsel and special assistant to its president, Rev. Mark Poorman ’80M.Div. In June, Poorman announced Barton’s promotion to vice president, where she will continue to oversee the university’s legal matters and advise the campus community on higher education issues, which has been a focus of her career for nearly a decade. . . . Sweet Georgia Brown, this is a cool résumé entry: Lili Thompson ’18M.S., a graduate transfer from Stanford who was a reserve last year for the national champion Notre Dame women’s basketball team before a season-ending knee injury, was “drafted” by the Harlem Globetrotters. As with all things Globetrotters, the team’s annual player selections are as much about showbiz as basketball. The draftees do not necessarily end up on the court with the team. Thompson was the only woman among the five players chosen, a list that included fellow college players Lou Dunbar II (son of the Globetrotters legend Sweet Lou Dunbar) and national slam dunk champion Joseph Kilgore. Paul Pogba, the international soccer star who played for France’s World Cup champions, and reigning World’s Strongest Man and Game of Thrones actor Thor Björnsson, who played pro basketball in Iceland, were celebrity picks.


Jason Kelly is an associate editor of this magazine.