Homegrown–Bedford’s top 50 talents
(This article was originally published in Bedford Magazine in 2011. In response to numerous requests to make it available online, we have republished it here. Please note the bios do not reflect additional career advancements or accomplishments since that date.)
Thanks to outstanding schools, supportive communities, and maybe some magic in the well water, greater Bedford’s native sons and daughters have gone on to succeed in an impressive variety of endeavors. Bedford Magazine’s recent call for nominations of homegrown talent resulted in more than a hundred nominees.
To develop the top 50 list, we sorted the candidates into eight categories and then invited Ari Fleischer, a Fox Lane grad and media strategist who previously served as White House Press Secretary to President George W. Bush; Tereza Nemessanyi, a Fox Lane grad, strategy consultant, and founder of HonestlyNow.com; and Steve Kluge, an award-winning GeoScience educator and retired Fox Lane faculty member, to join our editors on the selection committee.
“What amazed me most was the breadth and depth of local talent making an impact at national and global levels,” recalls Nemessanyi, who has resettled in Pound Ridge with her young family. “The ‘kids’ we grew up with are changing the world, in every way imaginable.” Fleischer, who has also returned to town to raise a family, summed it up, “There aren’t a lot of people here, but there sure are a lot of success stories!” The committee’s task was “almost impossible,” according to Kluge, but they enthusiastically got the job done.
MEDIA & WRITING
Justin Cronin, 48
The Rippowam Cisqua graduate grew up in Katonah and is author of three novels: Mary and O’Neil, which won the Pen/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize; The Summer Guest; and his most recent novel, The Passage, for which film rights are said to have been purchased by director Ridley Scott.
Samantha “Mandy” Hunt, 39
Hunt graduated from both Pound Ridge Elementary and Fox Lane Middle Schools. Her first novel, The Seas, won a 2006 National Book Foundation award for writers under 35, and another novel, The Invention of Everything Else, was a finalist for the Orange Prize and winner of the 2010 Bard Fiction Prize.
Elizabeth Hand, 53
Hand grew up in Pound Ridge and is author of 12 science-fiction, fantasy, and mainstream novels plus TV and movie spin-off novels and novelizations. She is the winner of three World Fantasy Awards, two International Horror Guild Awards, two Nebula Awards, and a Shirley Jackson Award. Her latest book, Illyria, was listed in Kirkus Book Reviews as one of the top teen books of the year.
Valerie Tripp, 59
A native of Mt. Kisco, she has authored more than 40 American Girl books, including tales about Felicity, Josefina, Kit, Molly, and Hop Scotch Hill. The Fox Lane grad’s books have won awards from the International Reading Association, Parent’s Choice, and Oppenheim.
Kate Zernike, 42
This seasoned, Pulitzer Prize–winning national correspondent for the New York Times grew up in Pound Ridge, attending both Pound Ridge Elementary and Fox Lane Middle Schools. She is the author of 2010‘s Boiling Mad: Inside Tea Party America.
Jay Rothman, 48
After growing up in Mt. Kisco, this Fox Lane grad produced ABC Sports college football and basketball, MLB, and XGames broadcasts, ESPN’s NFL Draft, and ESPN’s Sunday Night Football. He is now senior coordinating producer for ESPN’s NFL coverage, producer of Monday Night Football, and the recipient of several Emmy Awards.
Alex Shoumatoff, 64
The award-winning journalist is a native of Bedford, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Travel & Leisure, and editor of DispatchesFromTheVanishingWorld.com. A former staff writer at The New Yorker, he has authored 10 books, including Westchester: Portrait of a County and co-authored a history of his alma mater, Rippowam Cisqua.
Liz Welch, 41
The Kids Are All Right, the memoir this Fox Lane graduate co-wrote with her siblings about their childhood in Bedford, received high acclaim when it was published in 2009. As an award-winning journalist, Welch has written for the New York Times, Glamour, Real Simple, O, and Ms, among others.
MUSIC & FINE ART
Chambliss Giobbi, 47
His collages have hung in the National Portrait Gallery, Katonah Museum of Art, National Academy Museum, Kohler Art Center, Islip Art Museum, MiTO Galeria de Arte Contemporaneo, ArtJail, and The Museo des Bellas Artes in Spain. This Katonah Elementary and Harvey School grad grew up in Katonah.
Ingram Marshall, 68
An award-winning composer, this Fox Lane graduate has received high praise from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, and American Academy of Arts & Letters. The Mt. Kisco native’s compositions have been performed across America by highly acclaimed orchestras.
Richard Westerfield, 52
As a conductor, music director, and orchestra builder, this Bedford-bred, Fox Lane alumnus has led many of North America’s finest orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Montreal Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Baltimore Symphony, and New York’s Orchestra of St. Luke’s.
Sam (S*A*M) Hollander, 40
This award-winning songwriter and music producer grew up in Bedford Hills. Now half of the song writing/producing team, S*A*M and Sluggo (named Rolling Stone Hot List Producers in 2008), the Fox Lane grad has jointly been responsible for 15 U.S. Top 40 Pop hits for the likes of Katy Perry, Train, Boys Like Girls, Gym Class Heroes, Good Charlotte, and O.A.R. (Click the link to read Ten Minutes With Sam Hollander published in 2019.)
Kimya Dawson, 38
As a singer, the Bedford Hills-bred, Fox Lane grad has performed as one half of The Moldy Peaches and as a solo and collaborative performer. As a songwriter, she has contributed songs to several soundtracks, including five on the Juno album, which hit number one on the Billboard 200 and the Billboard Digital Albums Chart.
Anne Akiko Meyers, 40
This former Fox Lane student is celebrated as one of the world’s premiere concert violinists. She debuted with the New York Philharmonic at age 12 and now performs as a soloist, chamber musician, and recording artist on her ‘Ex-Napoleon/Molitor’ Stradivarius violin (circa 1697).
Carter Brey, 56
A graduate of John Jay High, Brey is the award-winning principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic. The South Salem-bred Brey was the first musician to win the Arts Council of America’s Performing Arts Prize and has performed as a soloist with many of America’s major symphony orchestras.
BUSINESS & LEADERSHIP
David Gale, 53
As executive VP at MTV, this Fox Lane grad is responsible for development and production of original content, having previously overseen a slate of MTV films that grossed more than $1 billion and opened seven movies to number one in their opening weekends. The Pound Ridge native has been nominated for five Academy Awards.
Gligor Tashkovich, 45
A Pound Ridge native and Fox Lane grad, he served as the NSF-appointed representative to the European Academic and Research Network, which built the Internet across Western Europe. He later co-founded the AMBO Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline project to diversify Europe’s energy security and attracted nearly $1.5 billion in new projects as the Minister for Foreign Investment in the Republic of Macedonia.
Tom Olivo, 53
As president of Success Profiles and founder of Healthcare Performance Solutions, this Bedford Hills native works with Olympic athletes, coaches, and successful business leaders to measure performance. An expert in workforce optimization, the Fox Lane alumnus co-authored a best-selling book, Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People.
Amit Yoran, 40
This Fox Lane grad is founder and CEO of NetWitness Corp. and president at Yoran Associates. The former Pound Ridger was National Cyber Security Division Director with Homeland Security under President George W. Bush and previously served as CEO of InQTel at the CIA and Director of the Vulnerability Assessment and Assistance Program for the US Department of Defense.
Elad Yoran, 41
A graduate of Fox Lane, this Pound Ridge native advises businesses and the government on security innovation via leadership roles at Security Growth Partners, Vaultive, KoolSpan, the FBI’s Information Technology Advisory Council and as an advisor to a DHS Center of Excellence. He also serves as a Trustee of the West Point Jewish Chapel and is a former US Army paratrooper.
Adam Levine, 41
This John Jay graduate served as deputy press secretary for President George W. Bush before joining Hank Paulson at Goldman Sachs. He is now a managing director at TPG Capital, one of the world’s largest private-equity firms.
Lena West, 38
This award-winning founder of Real Women Do Social Media and CEO and chief strategist of xynoMedia grew up in Mt. Kisco. A Fox Lane graduate, she was named as one of the Network Journal’s “40 Under Forty,” AlleyCat News’ “25 Women of Silicon Alley,” and the Women’s Congress’s Entrepreneurial Champion for Women in Business.
Enzo Simone, 44
This Mt. Kisco-bred, Fox Lane grad is the award-winning founder of The Army of Change and 10 Mountains, 10 Years, through which he raises awareness and funds for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s research and caregiver programs and inspires countless others to create their own fund and awareness raising projects.
Brian Harrington, 48
In 2007, this Pound Ridge-bred graduate of Iona Prep co-founded Each One Counts Foundation to ease the physical pain and suffering of children receiving pediatric hospice or palliative care. Working with a network of college athletic administrators and professional sports teams, EOC has already made more than $400,000 in grants. As senior vice president of the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center, Harrington oversees fundraising for its John A. Coleman School and Children’s Rehabilitation Center.
Stephen Paletta, 46
He won Oprah’s Big Give contest on ABC by making a big difference in the lives of many. This Bedford native and Fox Lane graduate is the co-founder of the International Education Exchange, an organization dedicated to the development of students in Rwanda. He founded of GiveBack.org, which empowers people to give to causes they care most about.
DIPLOMACY, POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
Nick Platt, 74
After a 34 year foreign-service career, this Mt. Kisco-bred graduate of Rippowam Cisqua served for 12 years as president of the Asia Society. He started out as a Chinese language officer, accompanied Nixon to Beijing in 1972, and later served as ambassador to Zambia, the Philippines, and Pakistan. His memoir, China Boys, was published in 2010.
Robert Reich, 64
This John Jay High School alumnus grew up in South Salem. He was Secretary of Labor under President William Clinton. Time named him one of the ten most successful cabinet members of the century. He later advised President-elect Barack Obama. He has written 13 books, including several best-sellers, and is currently professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
SCIENCE & MEDICINE
George Paletta, 48
An orthopedic surgeon, this Bedford native and Fox Lane alumnus serves as medical director for the St. Louis Cardinals and is founder of the Orthopedic Center of St. Louis and the Center for the Athlete’s Shoulder/Elbow in St. Louis. Paletta supervised the St. Louis Rams’ medical care during the 2000 Super Bowl and the Cardinals’ care during the 2006 World Series.
Joel Hurowitz, 36
A director’s fellow at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this Mt. Kisco native and Fox Lane alumnus works on the Mars Exploration Rover mission, is deputy project scientist for the MoonRise New Frontiers Mission, and is the JPL Study Lead for the Keck Institute for Space Studies Program: New Directions in Robotic Exploration of Mars.
Dr. Anthony Joseph, 45
This Pound Ridge-bred, Fox Lane alumnus is director of Intel Labs Berkeley and a chancellor’s associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California at Berkeley where his primary research focuses on Internet security, cloud computing, and mobile computing.
Michael Vogeley, 45
This Pound Ridge native and Fox Lane grad is an award-winning professor of Physics at Drexel University whose NASA and National Science Foundation-funded astrophysics research focuses on observational and theoretical cosmology and galaxy formation.
Ellozy, Sharif, 39
A vascular surgeon and award-winning professor of surgery, radiology, and medical education at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Ellozy grew up in Bedford Hills and graduated from Fox Lane in 1988.
Joan Slonczewski, 54
The John Jay graduate is an award-winning professor of biology and science fiction writing at Kenyon College where she has received over $6 million in grants, funded by the National Science Foundation, the NIH, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The Katonah native and author was the first woman to win the John Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
Susan Sabatino, 42
This Fox Lane grad is a medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whose research focuses primarily on the delivery of health-care services related to breast cancer screening and control.
STAGE & SCREEN
Susan Dey, 58
The Fox Lane grad grew up in Bedford as Susan Hallock Smith. At 17, she landed the role of Laurie on TV’s “The Partridge Family,” and went on to star in TV’s “Love & War” and “LA Law” (for which she earned three Emmy Awards), as well as several films and made-for-television movies.
Ali MacGraw, 71
She became a household name after her star turn in Love Story opposite Ryan O’Neal. But the Pound Ridge-bred actress has had a multi-faceted career including starring roles in films like Goodbye Columbus, on TV’s “Dynasty,” and as a best-selling author of her memoir, Moving Pictures. The Bedford Elementary School alumna is now an animal and social activist.
Michael Skolnik, 32
This filmmaker grew up in Katonah. The John Jay grad is the political director to hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and has produced 13 films and directed six. Highlights include On the Outs which won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2005 Slamdance Film Festival and Entre Nos, which was awarded an Honorable Mention at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival.
Stanley Tucci, 50
Raised in Katonah, this actor, director, producer, and writer is widely known for his performances in Big Night (which he also wrote and directed), Julie & Julia, The Devil Wears Prada, The Lovely Bones, Prizzi’s Honor, Conspiracy, and most recently, Burlesque. The John Jay alumnus has won two Golden Globes and an Emmy Award.
Matthew Del Negro, 38
An actor, this John Jay grad grew up in Pound Ridge and went on to star as Brian Cammarata on “The Sopranos” and in recurring roles on “The West Wing,” “The United States of Tara,” “Parenthood,” “CSI: Miami,” and many more.
Rick Carey, 47
The Olympic gold medalist (1984) and World Champion (1982) swimmer won the 1983 World Swimmer of the Year award after he broke records for individual backstroke and medley relay performances. Born and raised in Mt. Kisco, the Fox Lane alumnus was honored locally when a local street was named Rick Carey Lane.
Walter Williams, 56
The Fox Lane grad played cornerback for seven seasons for the Detroit Lions, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Chicago Bears. He is owner of an award-winning home-cooking restaurant, Sweet Georgia Brown, in Dallas, provides services for the homeless, and sponsors youth football programs.
Pete Bevacqua, 39
As chief business officer of the U.S. Golf Association, he is responsible for everything from broadcasting to corporate sponsorships. The Bedford-bred alumnus of Brunswick School was named to Sports Illustrated’s 2010 list of “40 Most Influential People in Golf under 40.”
Marissa Jaret Winokur 37
Raised in Bedford, this actress originated the role of Tracy in Hairspray on Broadway, for which she won the 2003 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical. She starred on TV’s “Stacked” and “Dancing With the Stars,” hosted “Dance Your Ass Off” on the Oxygen Network and now stars on CBS’s “The Talk.”
Melissa Claire Egan, 29
This Pound Ridge-bred actress performed in Fox Lane theatrical productions before appearing on TV in “Criminal Minds,” “One Tree Hill,” and “Dawson Creek.” She has starred on “All My Children” since 2006 and was nominated for a 2009 Daytime Emmy Award.
Peter Boal, 45
A graduate of Rippowam Cisqua, this Beford native perfromed wit the New York City Ballet for 22 years and with Ballet Arizona, Ballet du Nord in France, Norwegian National Ballet, among others. He is now artistic director of Pacific Northwest Ballet and director of PNB School.
Kate Mara, 27
This Bedford native began acting on the Fox Lane stage and continued in television roles for “Entourage,” “Law & Order,” “24,” “Nip/Tuck” as well as major motion pictures such as Brokeback Mountain, We Are Marshall, and Iron Man 2.
Rooney Mara, 25
A Bedford native, this Fox Lane High School alumna is an actress who has appeared on TV and in films such as Tanner Hall and The Social Network. She will star in Sony Pictures’ The Girl With the Dragoon Tattoo in December 2011.
John Schneider, 50
An actor, Schneider grew up in Mr. Kisco and has starred in TV show such as “Dukes of Hazzard,” “Smallville,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Phinneas & Ferb,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Nip/Tuck,” “CSI,” and “King of the Hill.” As a singer, the former Fox Lane student has recorded 10 studio country music albums.
John Kolvenbach, 44
A successful playwright, this Fox Lane alumnus may be best known for Love Song which was nominated for an Olivier Award for best new comedy. The Mt. Kisco native’s plays have been performed in theaters all over the world.
Karla Mosley, 29
A Mt. Kisco native, this Fox Lane alumna recorded with Sugar Beats, a children’s rock group, as a child and has performed in many off-Broadway and traveling productions. She was a regular on TV’s “Guiding Light” and “Hi-5,” co-producer of Broadway for Obama and serves on the International Board of Covenant House.