Alumni President’s Message: Teamwork Behind the Medical Alumni Association Board


The year 1969, as it turns out, was an important year for many reasons. It was the year that 350,000 music fans attended Woodstock, the Apollo 11 mission was accomplished with a successful moon landing, the Beatles released what would be their last album together, “Abbey Road,” and the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency, a precursor to the Internet) was installed on a computer at UCLA. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed that year at 800, gas was 35 cents a gallon and the average cost of a new house was $15,550.

This year was an important year for me as well, for two reasons. First, I decided to go to medical school. I was really toying with the idea of getting a PhD in chemistry and then working in the agricultural industry. But with a new mentor and a new perspective, it became easier for me to say “no” when I identified the bigger “yes.”

This was also the year I began to understand the merits of team learning. Joel Kosinski, ’73 MD, Wayne Jakes, ’73 MD, ’77 GME, Bob Kloner, ’75 MD, ’74 PhD, and I were gross anatomy mates in a new four-person lab configuration in 1969. This whole atmosphere of team learning and function was reinforced 36 years later during my MBA years at the Kellogg School of Management. Likewise, it’s the Medical Alumni Association Board (MAAB) team that helps the MAAB function.

As an organization, the board objectives are aligned with those of the Feinberg School of Medicine. To map out short- and long-term goals, Bruce Scharschmidt, ’70 MD, former president, Rishindra Reddy ’00 MD, president-elect, and I met with Dean Eric Neilson and Alan Krensky, vice dean for Development and Alumni Relations, during Alumni Weekend this April. The MAA is an important bridge between Feinberg and its alumni and, as such, we work to complement the work of the medical school.

Successful partnerships can only be accomplished by understanding the mutual goals of both parties. Bruce, Rishi and I have worked for continuity with our five Basic Pillars — Engagement, Mentoring, Strategic Initiatives, Philanthropy and now Global Health. We convened a Special Committee of the Board in late February to make a recommendation about Board Status because of the growth and interest of our alumni and students in Global Health. It was recommended that Global Health become our fifth area of concentration.

As the MAAB continues to transition from an elected to a nominated and due diligence process, we continue to look for geographic, racial and ethnic diversity. To enrich each of these very important pillars with new ideas and concepts, we have added many new MAAB members since November 2015, for a total of 49 MAAB members.

5 Basic Pillars of the MAAB

> Engagement
> Mentoring
> Strategic Initiatives
> Philanthropy
> Global Health

THE MAAB Executive Committee

  • Rishindra Reddy, ’00 MD, chair of Engagement and president-elect
  • Emily Jones, ’08 MD, ’11 GME, chair of Mentoring
  • Paul Bonucci, ’96 GME, and Jeff Sherman, MD, ’84, ‘85 GME, co-chairs of Strategic Initiatives (our “incubator” of sorts)
  • Gary Rusk, ’69 MD, chair of Philanthropy
  • Ramona Bhatia, ‘07 MD, ’13 GME, and Jeff Lawrence, ’87 MD, co-chairs of Global Health
  • James Hill, ’74 MD, ’79 GME, and Doulas Carr, ’79 MD, chair of Primary Care subcommittee
  • Jordan Dubow, ‘03 MD, ’07 GME, and Ada Kumar, ‘97 MD, co-chairs of MDs in Business subcommittee

Meanwhile, our administrative team at Feinberg works diligently to help us achieve our goals. They are Babette Nyka, Dan Schwarzlose, Jillian Kurtz Brubaker, Kirsten Byers, Emily McLaughlin, Larry Kuhn, Sue Clausen and Meghan Monaghan. A few details on some of these team members:

  • Babette Nyka, director of alumni engagement: Babette comes to us after successful stints at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Prevent Child Abuse America, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. She has been a great resource and leader for our team.
  • Jillian Kurtz Brubaker, development assistant: A graduate of Western Michigan University, Jillian is the central nervous system of the alumni relations team. She has improved our communication and efficiency by leaps and bounds, and her indispensable support and skill makes every team member better. Jillian begins her master’s degree at Northwestern’s School of Communication this fall.
  • Dan Schwarzlose, assistant director of alumni engagement: I would like to highlight Dan in particular in this letter. Dan comes from a very purple family. He studied English and classical trumpet as a Northwestern undergrad. His sister and mother both have Northwestern undergraduate degrees, and his father taught as a Medill professor for 35 years. Dan’s passions have led him to diverse work in the arts, teaching, public interest law, fine dining and now alumni relations. He has a MFA in interdisciplinary arts and media from Columbia College. Dan had a life-changing experience in Cambodia recently where he worked to preserve ancient, traditional music endangered since the 1970 Khmer Rouge genocide. He not only recorded and transcribed traditional songs, he also met his future wife, Savy. Dan lends a great can-do attitude to our team and he is a wonderful communicator with our students and alumni board.

I wanted to give you a quick glimpse of the people who make your Medical Alumni Board function on a day-to-day basis. They are wonderful people to work with as we grow the MAAB and enhance our opportunities to engage our former alumni.

Lastly, a couple of announcements: Please check out the monthly medical alumni newsletter launched earlier this year. We are also still looking for candidates for our MAA Board. Let us know if you are interested in joining us.


Jim Kelly, ’73 MD