If you are interested in running for a seat or nominating a fellow alumni to be part of the MCLA Alumni Association Board of Directors, please call or email Christine Naughton '99, Director of Alumni Relations and Development, at 413.662.5074 or C.Naughton@mcla.edu.
Alumni Association Board of Directors
Top row, from left to right: Dan Summers II '07, Osakpolo Igiede '15, David Ortendahl '05, and Benjamin Lamb '07.
Middle row, from left to right: Dennis Zicko '65, Monique Symes ’11, Dave Flint '78, Cecelia Hamrock Kennedy '78, Laura-Jean Griffin Hickey '99, and Todd Vroman '90.
Bottom row, from left to right: Cheryl Starr Boillat '79, M.Ed. '97, Lisa Hall Blackmer '99, Kristin Lamontagne Nichols ’01, Erin Fielding Baffuto '05, and Sarah Flint Wood '07.
Not pictured: Amey Blackburn Bissonnette '09, Lynn Brennan '04, Rachel Dayton Churchill, Esq. '06, Joanne Ricker Maynard '82, Jade Prickett '10, Paula Randazza '88, and Dorothy Giusti Ransford ’64.
Cheryl Starr Boillat '79, M.Ed. '97, president
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: B.S. Education, 1979; M.Ed., Education, 1997
Cheryl received her Bachelor of Science in Education in 1979, her Masters in Education in 1997, a Certification in Special Education, and served as a Reading Specialist at Conte Middle School in North Adams. In 2008, she moved to the high school level to teach English Language Arts for students with reading disabilities. She has taught in the North Adams Public Schools for over 25 years focusing on Middle School and High School Literacy. Currently, she is involved in the development of a Teacher Mentoring Program and serves as a mentor to new teachers. She moved into an Administrative role as 8th Grade leader in 2003 and in 2012 left the classroom to become a program coordinator of special education for the North Adams Public Schools.
Cheryl joined the Alumni Board because of its important roles in helping the College expand its message on the value of education, supporting student achievement and community engagement, and because she wishes to see MCLA continue to be supported by its alumni, community, and state. Cheryl is proud to contribute to the Board's mission to the Alumni of MCLA.
Dan Summers II '07, vice-president
North Adams, Massachusetts
As a student at MCLA, Dan was active in many clubs and organizations, including the Student Government Association and serving a term as student trustee. These experiences solidified his passion for supporting higher education.
After graduation, Dan began his work in higher education. It was not long before he found himself back at MCLA working as the coordinator of student activities, helping students to get involved and engaged in their community.
Dan has remained in the North Adams community and has spent the past four years working in admissions at Southern Vermont College. His hope as a member of the Alumni Board is to help engage alumni and students to celebrate the value of their MCLA experience.
Erin Fielding Baffuto '05
Following her 2005 graduation from MCLA, Erin found her passion working as a college and career counselor. In 2010, Erin earned her Master's Degree in School Counseling from Assumption College. Erin is currently working as a high school counselor at Quaboag Regional School District and works with students supporting their social, emotional and academic needs. In her spare time, she works as a college admissions consultant for the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority and travels around the state hosting community seminars on the college admissions process. Working with high school students and their families gives Erin a unique perspective on relevant factors and needs of prospective students as well as a platform to recommend the institution.
Erin feels that serving as a class agent for the past seven years has been a great introduction to the Alumni Association Board of Directors, and she plans to continue to share her passion for the college with others in an effort to help strengthen the alumni community.
Amey Blackburn Bissonnette '09
An alumna of both the softball and volleyball teams, Amey spent much of her time at MCLA within the athletic framework. As former president of the Student Athlete Advisory Council, Amey attended the NCAA National Development Conference and brought back many programs which are still in place within the Athletics Department today. In addition, she also served as an orientation leader for three years; this experience allowed her to learn the ins and outs of MCLA while being a representative of the College.
Amey is currently the Development Manager at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society where she is constantly exposed to new ideas and growing trends within the world of philanthropy. Since graduating, she has remained engaged with the College and now wishes to use what she has learned in her profession as a means to increase alumni engagement at MCLA. It is her goal to ensure that the alumni community is excited to continue their relationship with the College while providing both current and future students with the same opportunities that she once had.
Lisa Hall Blackmer '99
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Business Administration
As a North Adams City Councilor, Lisa chairs the Public Safety committee. She has been a member of the Council's Finance, Community Development, and General Government committees. As a Councilor, she represents the cities of Western Massachusetts on the Board of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA).
Lisa's volunteer activities include board membership on The Girl Scouts of Central and Western MA, the North Adams SteepleCats, and North Adams Open Studios. She also serve as a member of the Northern Berkshire Regional Emergency Planning Committee. Lisa was a team member of the 2001 Rotary District 7890 Group Study Exchange to Belgium and Luxemburg, a cultural and vocational exchange for young professionals. In addition to her MCLA degree, she holds a certificate in non-profit management and is pursuing a master's degree in public administration.
Lynn Brennan '04
Major: English Communications
While at MCLA, Lynn was very active in a number of campus activities. She served as the editor of The Beacon and was also the vice president for both the Inter Greek Council (Beta Lambda) and the Class of 2004.
Immediately after graduating, she secured a position as a photographer at The Evening Tribute in Hornell, New York. Some time later, she moved to Rolla, Missouri where she was the editor of the Rolla Daily News. Recently, a change in careers sent her back to Hornell, New York where she is currently the regional digital account executive for Propel Marketing.
Now that she is back on the east coast, Lynn is determined to utilize her skills and experience in public relations and marketing to benefit the MCLA Alumni Association.
Rachel Dayton Churchill, Esq. '06
Rachel (Dayton) graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in History. She minored in political science, English, and physics, and was a Tsongas Scholar. She held executive positions in the Judicial Review Board, Dance Company, Christian Fellowship, and Conservative Union. Rachel worked with the Learning Services Office to tutor her peers and provide "C-Print" note taking services to a hearing-impaired student. During her time at MCLA, she served as a director of BFAIR, a local non-profit organization dedicated to the support of individuals in Berkshire County with developmental and other disabilities.
After graduation, Rachel married her husband, John (a high school chemistry teacher), and attended Suffolk University Law School ('09). She now lives in Norwood and is an attorney at McCarter & English, LLP, a law firm with an office in Boston. She focuses her practice on public finance, and also has experience with corporate and commercial real estate matters.
Rachel's academic tenure at MCLA gave her a breadth of experiences that serves her well in her personal and professional choices. She hopes to encourage current and future members of the MCLA Alumni Association to pursue careers in all professional fields and to develop unique and engaging ways to build local communities and the alumni network.
Dave Flint '78
Major: Elementary Education
Dave's passion for MCLA and the community of North Adams has never diminished over the years since his graduation. He previously served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, including three years as its president. In addition, Dave planned and organized several successful alumni gatherings in the South Shore/Cape Cod area.
After having to take time off for medical reasons, he looks forward to continuing his quest to encourage alumni to embrace the College and to participate in its growth. Dave's daughter Sarah is also an alumnus, Class of 2007.
Laura-Jean Griffin Hickey '99
After working for three years in the MCLA Admissions Office as an admissions counselor, Laura-Jean (LJ) attended graduate school at Suffolk University, obtaining an M.Ed.
She remains passionate as ever about MCLA. LJ seeks to motivate more alumni to get involved with the College through admissions, donations, internships, etc. While a student, she sought to be involved in all facets of college life. LJ served on The Beacon staff, WJJW, Student Government, and other committees.
She lives in Acton with my husband Bill Hickey '00 and our son Vincent. LJ also serve as a 1999 Class Agent.
Osakpolo Igiede '15
Major: Business Administration
Osa spent most of his time during freshmen year at MCLA running from one meeting to another. So it wasn't a shocker he became a Resident Advisor during his sophomore year, continuing into his senior year. When he wasn't in the residence area planning a program or supervising students, you could have caught him at a Student Government meeting, a Dance Company rehearsal, at a SAC (Student Activities Council) event, designing The Beacon, or taking pictures for both The Beacon and People of MCLA.
Osa is currently the Development Assistant at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA where he is still running from one meeting to another, but also gaining an understanding of the world of philanthropy. Since graduating, he has remained engaged with the College and now wishes to find new ways for students to connect with young alumni.
Benjamin Lamb '07
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Biology and Environmental Studies
Ben graduated from MCLA with a degree in biology and environmental studies. His on-campus involvement included the Individual Enrichment Program, being a resident advisor, admissions ambassador, tutor, president of the Student Activities Council, Bio Club, and Environmental Studies Club, student trustee, and partaking in Alternative Spring Break trips. After graduation, his memorable time at MCLA guided him into the field of student affairs.
Ben adamantly supports developing new programs, support models, and innovative engagement opportunities for students. Having experienced the world as a firefighter, ecotourism guide, salmon population researcher, and chemist, Ben returned to his passion of higher education, working in Career Services, College Access, Admissions, and now Student Leadership Development. He is currently employed at Williams College and works with the Berkshire Youth Leadership Program.
He loves MCLA and looks forward to engaging the community to continue to develop and improve the College for generations to come.
Joanne Ricker Maynard '82
Classroom work, mentoring, and internship opportunities at the College provided the foundation for her career as a writer. Currently, Joanne is working as a communications consultant, providing services to DePuy Synthes Companies of Johnson & Johnson.
She has been an active and supportive alum, participating most recently on the Capital Campaign Alumni subcommittee. Joanne believes strongly in the value proposition of public higher education and hopes to play an active role in engaging other alumni as well as current students in advocating for the College.
After several years living abroad, she lives in Chelmsford, MA, with her husband and fellow alum, Phil, class of '83. Their three children also attended and graduated from Massachusetts state colleges including UMass-Amherst.
Kristin Lamontagne Nichols ’01
Kristen is an alumna who has dedicated herself to a career in higher education, she fully understands the important link between an institution and its alumni. She believes that a strong alumni base enriches all campus efforts, from academics to student life; from admissions and financial aid to administration. Kristen wants to serve on the alumni board to help strengthen the alumni community at MCLA.
She and her husband Chris are so grateful for MCLA. Their alma mater introduced them to one another, they developed lifelong friendships with many people who attended college with them. Kristen and Chris are both doing well in their professions. MCLA provided them with a strong academic foundation that they feel has helped them to get ahead in their professional lives. They both work with a number of people who attended "brand name" institutions. The only difference they see between those "brand name" colleagues and themselves is that they obtained the same education at a much better value. This has allowed them to not be bogged down with astronomical student loan debt. They're grateful for that and for the professors who taught them, and for the institution as a whole.
David Ortendahl '05
Major: Business Administration and Fine and Performing Arts
Although David graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2005 from the Honors program with a degree in both business administration and fine and performing arts, academic excellence is only part of his story. As a student, he was heavily involved in campus life by serving two consecutive terms as student trustee, performing with MCLA Dance Company, and being a founder and president of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship club. He is now married to his college sweetheart Melissa (Gumlaw) Ortendahl ’05 and has three young boys at home.
Since graduating, David has earned his MBA from Suffolk University and has maintained his relationship with the College by attending multiple alumni socials, on-campus events, and serving as the former coordinator of the MCLA Public Policy Planning Group, which is now known as the Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture Series.
With over a decade of work experience in Higher Education, he is now the director of corporate relations at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) where he connects students to a range of employers including top Fortune companies and high-tech startups for internships and jobs. He looks forward to bringing his energy and connections to the MCLA community and to working to increase student/alumni connections and opportunities.
Jade Prickett '10
Major: Sociology and Political Science
Jade graduated from MCLA in 2010 after playing four years of soccer and basketball. Her experience as a student-athlete, coupled with working for the Athletic Department and the Student Government Association, determined her pathway to pursue a career in college athletics. She completed her Masters of Education and Athletic Administration from Springfield College in 2013 while working for its athletic department as a graduate associate.
Upon completing her master's degree, she got a job at Boston College as an athletics administration intern. Shortly after, she was brought on to BC in a full-time capacity as the Assistant Director of Athletic Stewardship and Donor Relations. In her current role, she is responsible for planning and executing all major giving events, creating donor scholarship fund reports, as well as managing the daily logistics of BC’s multi-sport luxury suites.
Jade is very passionate and proud of her experience at MCLA and looks forward to engaging other student-athlete alumni!
Paula Randazza '88
As a student, Paula was involved in all facets of campus life including student activities, orientation, residence life, and Student Government. Her MCLA experience and its mentors and role models led her to pursue a career in Higher Education Administration. Thanks to her background, Paula has fulfilled roles in various student affairs departments at Springfield College, Assumption College, and Rivier University. Along the way, she also earned her Master’s Degree and Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study from Springfield College.
As a yearly contributor to the Alumni Fund and a former Class Agent, she remains grateful and dedicated to MCLA for all that is has given her. As a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, she hopes to give back to the institution by helping to bring greater alumni awareness and connection to MCLA.
Dorothy Giusti Ransford ’64
North Adams, Massachusetts
Dorothy has been active with the Alumni Association since graduation in 1964 as both a class agent and a past Alumni Association Board member, serving as vice-president of the Board. She created and installed the Alumni Art Show which was held over Reunion weekend for 12 years. In 2003, Dorothy received the Class Agent of the Year award and in 2008 was the recipient of the Outstanding Service to the College Award given through the Alumni Association Board of Directors. A long time Foundation Corporator of MCLA, Dorothy and her husband Rusty have funded the Lee Hamilton Ransford Scholarship for Creativity in memory of their son.
In addition to a B.S. from the then North Adams State College, Dorothy received a Fine Arts Degree from Westfield State University and did graduate studies work in Fine and Decorative Arts at New York University. She is an artist and personal property appraiser and an auctioneer in North Adams. She serves as president of The North Adams Lions Club and Leading Knight of the North Adams Lodge of Elks. In addition, Dorothy serves as vice president of the North Adams Ambulance Service, vice president of The North Adams Historical Society and past president of Northern Berkshire Business and Professional Women. She feels it is important to be involved in one’s community. Having previously served with the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Dorothy has always had a strong and energetic interest in the growth of MCLA and she feels she can serve our College as an active and productive member of the Alumni Board.
Monique Symes ’11
Major: English Communication
Monique received her Bachelor of Arts in English Communication with a concentration in Broadcast Media and a minor in Political Science. As a student, Monique took charge on campus; not only did she do well in her studies and managed to graduate a semester early, she also co-founded NeXXus (the MCLA step team) and served as a Residential Advisor.
As an alumna and professional in the workforce, Monique has taken that very same energy and put it towards teaching inner-city youth at the Dever-McCormack K-8 School in Dorchester. During the day, she teaches her middle school students lessons in humanities and following school hours she teaches them step. As the former Captain and President of NeXXus, she demanded excellence; as an educator, she does the same. She is a dynamic leader and influences students positively and serves as a role model for many.
Todd Vroman '90
Major: Interdisciplinary Studies
Todd's time at MCLA was a memorable and enjoyable experience. He was heavily involved in the Student Government Association serving as a trustee, president, chairperson, and a senator. He represented MCLA at the state level serving as chairperson of the State Student Association of Massachusetts (SSAM) for three years. Todd is the alumni representative to the MCLA Foundation Inc. Board of Directors.
Following his time at MCLA, he has worked in the investment, insurance, and financial planning industry. He currently works as District Manager for Waddell & Reed and lives in Southborough, MA with his wife Jill and two boys Benjamin and Nathan.
Sarah Flint Wood '07
Sarah was a legacy student at MCLA. Her father, Dave Flint ’78, who has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for a number of years, introduced her to the College on a family trip. She instantly fell in love. While attending MCLA, she was an active student leader and held positions as a student ambassador, resident advisor, class officer, and tutor. In addition, she was a sister of the Sigma Gamma Phi sorority.
As a student, Sarah understood the importance of being involved; as an alumna, she understands that the need to be involved is no different. Now that she is a member of the Board, she seeks to increase both student and alumni involvement.
Dennis Zicko '65
Dennis, a retired physics teacher and golf coach, worked for the Marshfield School System for 34 years. He received his Masters of natural science from the University of South Dakota in 1970. He was an original member of the National Science Foundation's Physics Teacher Resource Agent program. As such, he has conducted workshops around the country for physics teachers, middle school teachers, and elementary teachers. He was awarded "The Science Teacher of the Year for Plymouth County" in 1990.
He has been an MCLA class agent for his class since 2006 and received the "Outstanding Service to the College Award" in 2010.
"I owe a lot to MCLA for the four years I spent there. Serving on the Board affords me the opportunity to 'give back' to the College to which I owe so much."
Alma Benedetti '37
North Adams, Massachusetts
Major: Elementary Education; B.S. 1937
Alma is a retired first grade and art teacher from the North Adams School system. After graduation from State Teachers College at North Adams, she continued her education with a master's of education from North Adams State College, as well as attending Columbia University and the University of Massachusetts during the summers. Her local volunteer efforts include the North Adams Public Library and the North Adams Garden Club. Alma serves as a Class Agent for the class of 1937, is a member of the Taconic Society and received an honorary degree from the College in 1999.
StudenT Government Association
Timothy Williams ’17, president
Samantha Giffen ’18, coordinating vice president