Columbia on the Road



Jerome Charyn '59
Who's Who at the Alumni Office
By Timothy P. Cross

Whether it's learning about reunion, submitting a class note to Columbia College Today or making a gift to the Columbia College Fund, the Office of Alumni Affairs and Development is the first stop for alumni who want to stay connected with alma mater.

Derek Wittner '65
Derek Wittner '65

Every organization needs a place where the buck stops, and in the Alumni Office it's at the desk of Derek Wittner '65 (, the executive director of alumni affairs and development. Wittner joined the College administration in 1992 after practicing law in New York for more than 20 years, and was appointed to his current role in 1996. As executive director, he's a member of the College's senior staff (reporting directly to Dean Austin Quigley) and oversees a staff of 30, who administer all aspects of the College's alumni affairs, development and communications efforts. Wittner is supported by administrative assistant Leslee Fetner (

Alumni Affairs

Derek Wittner '65
Ken Catandella

Alumni who make it back to campus often do so for specific events — Reunions, Homecoming, the Hamilton and John Jay Dinners and Dean's Day. These and many other programs and alumni activities (both on and off campus) are the responsibility of Ken Catandella (, director of alumni affairs. Catandella, who previously worked at Sarah Lawrence, had 13 years' experience in alumni relations before joining the Alumni Office in 2000.

Catandella's staff develops a range of alumni activities and programs. Assistant Director Heather Applewhite (, among other duties, coordinates on-campus activities and the John Jay Colloquia and helps support Columbia College Women, while Adlar García '95 ( is in his second year as the assistant director in charge of programming for Columbia College Young Alumni.

Two highlights of the College calendar are the Alexander Hamilton Dinner in the fall and the John Jay Dinner in the spring. Coordinating the planning and execution of these black-tie galas is Shelley Grunfeld (, manager of special events.

In addition, the College has added three positions to facilitate alumni contact with the College. Sharen Ovalles ( is an assistant director working year-round on reunion planning. Ovalles, who has a B.A. from Fordham, joined the Alumni Office in 2000 and assumed her current role last spring.

Developing programs that bring alumni and students together is the job of Juliet Carhart (, who works closely with the Office of Student Affairs. A graduate of the College of St. Rose (Albany, N.Y.) , Carhart has worked in the Alumni Office since January 2001 and assumed her current role in October.

With a growing number of alumni outside the New York metropolitan area, Elaine Mathews ( has been hired as assistant director for national outreach. Mathews previously worked in the New York Public Library's Office of Development of Government Affairs.

Supporting Catandella and the alumni affairs staff are Melissa Kinckle ( and Sarah Dolan (

Alumni may access a calendar of events at

Columbia College Fund

Susan Levin Birnbuam
Susan Levin Birnbaum

In November, Susan Levin Birnbaum ( became the director of the Columbia College Fund. Birnbaum, who has extensive experience in all areas of fund raising and management, previously worked at UJA-Federation of New York, where she was a director in the Special and Capital Gifts unit. Birnbaum is supported by Kathleen LaPenta (

Birnbaum leads nine fund officers, who have primary responsibility for raising annual gifts for the College, including Associate Director Rory Finnin (, Assistant Directors Christopher Long (, Erica Wylens ( and Giorgio Zeolla (, and Susan Rautenberg (, director of the Parents Fund.

Four assistant directors have joined the Columbia College Fund staff since last spring: Preeti Davidson (, Brandon Doyle (, Amy Kotulski ( and Susan Appel ( Davidson, who works with young alumni, is a Barnard graduate (Class of 2000) who previously worked with Four Corners Communications in New York. Doyle was a development officer at his alma mater, Middlebury College, before coming to Columbia. Like their boss, Kotulski and Appel (alumnae of Brandeis and Syracuse, respectively) come to Columbia from UJA-Federation, where they were development executives, Kotulski in the Entertainment, Media and Communications Division and Appel in the Wall Street Division.

Supporting the Fund staff are Jennifer White (, Jaclyn Kelly ( and Maria Angeles (

Alumni can learn more about the College Fund on the Web at Class assignments for fund officers are listed on the Class Pages at the Alumni Office Web site:

Alumni interested in online giving should go to the link at


Derek Wittner '65
Alex Sachare '71

As you probably have noticed, CCT now is published bimonthly. This is the most visible improvement to alumni communications implemented by Director of Communications Alex Sachare '71 (, who has been editor and publisher of Columbia College Today for four years.

To make this increased publication schedule possible, the alumni communications staff has added Lisa Palladino (, associate director and managing editor of CCT, and Laura Butchy (, staff writer and CCT Class Notes editor. To expand non-print communications, Timothy Cross (, associate director, has been given the additional role of director of electronic programs. He will coordinate initiatives to enhance Web offerings for alumni while continuing to write for CCT, which may be accessed at

Working behind-the-scenes are Tracey Dai (, who as assistant director of reporting keeps track of gifts to the College, and her stewardship and reporting assistant, Keir Littlebird ( Nona Russell ( is the Alumni Office's manager and budget director, aided by financial assistant Leslie Carson ( The Alumni Office receptionist is Frances Stoughton ( The Alumni Office may be reached by calling (212) 870-2288 or toll-free at (866) CCALUMNI.


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