Alumni Elected Trustees

Each year Wesleyan alumni elect three of our peers to serve on the University’s Board of Trustees for a three-year term. While many schools have some alumni-elected trustee representation, Wesleyan is unique in that nearly one third of our Board is elected by the alumni body. The alumni-elected trustee process is a remarkable and important way for alumni to demonstrate stewardship of our University.  I urge you to participate in making the very important decision of who among our alumni colleagues will serve on the board and influence the direction of the University.

I hope you will join me in voting and I hope you will encourage your friends to vote. Your vote does matter and can have a lasting impact. 

Thank you in advance for your participation,                                                                        
MICHAEL A. DONNELLA ’76                                                                                                                    
Chair, Alumni Association Nominating Committee

Read about the 2017 Alumni-Elected Trustee candidates.  If you wish to vote, please contact Gina Driscoll in University Relations. 

21 OR MORE YEARS PAST GRADUATION     
Karen E. Donfried ’84                                                   
Meredith F. “Franklin” Sirmans, Jr. ’91                                                                                                 
Michele S. Weiss ’90                                                 

20 OR FEWER YEARS PAST GRADUATION     
Michelle Rabinowitz Carney '02                                                    
Shana A. Simmons '03                                                                                                 
Stephen Yuen '04                                                 

KAREN E. DONFRIED ’84

KAREN E. DONFRIED ’84

Washington, D.C.

The liberal arts education Wesleyan delivers does more than prepare you for your first job – it lays the foundation for thinking critically and expanding your horizons throughout your life.  Wes did that for me.  The focus Wesleyan puts on encouraging students to be – in Isaiah Berlin’s words – both the hedgehog and the fox, burrowing deeply into the subjects that most capture their imagination while also ranging across other academic disciplines to ensure a broad education, has shaped my professional journey. 

That journey spans a wide range of jobs, from working for Congress and the Executive Branch (National Security Council, National Intelligence Council, and State Department) to running a non-governmental organization that focuses on transatlantic relations with offices in Washington, D.C. and seven foreign countries.  I work with a diverse group of colleagues and partners here and abroad in government, business, academia, and the think-tank world.  I’ve had exposure, either as a graduate student or fellow, to universities in Massachusetts, Maryland, California, and Germany.  I believe my range of experience and contacts, as well as the perspective and skills I have developed in leadership positions, would be helpful to Wesleyan.  At my non-profit, I have spearheaded a strategic review process and contribute to raising externally about 70% of our annual budget.  The importance of being clear about an organization’s mission and focus, while making sure one has the necessary resources and capabilities, seems highly relevant for Wesleyan too.  I would love to help ensure that Wesleyan continues both to adapt to new challenges and to offer a world-class education to future students.

  • PhD, Fletcher School from Tufts University
  • MA from University of Munich, Germany
  • President, German Marshall Fund of the U.S. (www.gmfus.org)
  • Senior Fellow, Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Former Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European Affairs, National Security Council, White House 
MEREDITH F. “FRANKLIN” SIRMANS, JR ’91

MEREDITH F. “FRANKLIN” SIRMANS, JR ’91

Miami, Florida

The Wes I first knew when I visited over twenty years ago as a prospective student is still there. We are that small school dedicated to diversity—before it became a popular term—excellence, innovation, and the belief we can make the world a better place for all. Over the last five years, I have been reinvigorated by the presence of President Roth and the good fortune to work with alumni like Andrew Brandon-Gordon ’86 and Alberto Ibargüen ’66.

As head of contemporary art at LACMA in Los Angeles and now as director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, I have increasingly found sustenance in Wesleyan as a presence of progressive thoughtfulness in our lives. I take those values as core to the mission of the museum.

I have seen good times and tough times since graduating from Wesleyan in 1991 and, I’d like to take what I’ve learned from those experiences to the Wesleyan Board.  There I will advocate for the University of the 21st century, making sure that the ties among alumni, the student body, and the trustees will be stronger than ever.

  • Meet Franklin Sirmans
  • Director, Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
  • Edited numerous catalogues on contemporary art
  • Recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize, established by the High Museum of Art
MICHELE S. WEISS ’90

MICHELE S. WEISS ’90

Los Angeles, California 

I was passionate about studying literature, philosophy, and history as a Wesleyan College of Letters major, not knowing at the time how I would translate reading Flaubert and Nietzsche into a job outside of academia. But the knowledge and critical skills I gained from a liberal arts education at Wesleyan have turned out to be invaluable to my career, first as film production executive at New Line Cinema, and then as an independent film and TV producer. I draw every day on skills developed in COL to analyze story, read critically, think creatively—and pour blood, sweat, and tears into projects I care about. 

My love for my Wesleyan experience has kept me connected to academia as well.  I went to graduate school for comparative literature, and I teach in the Graduate Film and TV Program at UCLA, where I have been able to help students navigate their own paths from the studies they are passionate about to work that reflects and draws upon those interests.

Making movies has given me experience balancing creative choices and vision with the realities of budgeting, financing, and marketing.  As a trustee, I will draw on this experience to help responsibly maintain Wesleyan’s commitment to liberal arts education, to a faculty focused on undergraduate teaching, and to a diverse student body of passionate, creative, and critical thinkers.

  • MA, Comparative Literature from New York University
  • Former executive, film development and production, at New Line Cinema
  • Independent film and TV producer, Cue the Dog Productions
  • Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Graduate Film and TV Program
MICHELLE RABINOWITZ CARNEY ’02

MICHELLE RABINOWITZ CARNEY ’02

 New York, New York

Wesleyan played a critical role in my development as a journalist, producer, and now, creative executive. Immersion in the diverse and varied viewpoints of my community prepared me to succeed in the dual creative and corporate tracks of my career. From academics and running WESU, to coordinating Connecticut Civil Liberties Union activities on campus and being a part of a consensus-based society, my Wesleyan experience prepared me to be a creator and a manager, an advocate and a negotiator.

Wesleyan’s reputation in both the media and film industries has also provided built-in, supportive communities in these highly competitive fields. I have learned almost as much from fellow alums who attended at different times as I did from my professors.

I constantly espouse the virtues of the Wesleyan experience: a student body and alumni characterized by a shared sense of community; an innate love of learning and a commitment to social justice; a faculty committed to the teacher-research model driving thought leadership in both academia and the real world; and a physical place with an unquantifiable commitment to providing a sense of belonging for all students.

I come from a Wesleyan family: both my sister and brother-in-law are alums. I have a vested interest in preserving the best of what we experienced, while also driving growth and change so that future generations have access to Wesleyan’s unique liberal arts education. 

  • MA, Broadcast Journalism from University of Southern California
  • Emmy Award-winning producer and production executive
  • Vice President of Branded Entertainment at Ketchum Sports & Entertainment
  • Former ABC News Carnegie Fellow
SHANA A. SIMMONS ’03

SHANA A. SIMMONS ’03

 Oakland, California

I grew up in the shadows in the Bronx area of New York City with a resilient immigrant mother and two sisters.  Education was my proverbial ticket to a better life. As a junior high student, I received a full scholarship to attend the Taft School. Surrounded by wealth and the only black female in my class, I was determined to claim the place for which I had worked so hard, but it was always uncomfortable.  Wesleyan was a different experience.  Challenging myself, I earned a seat in the selective and rigorous CSS program. Unlike at Taft, I was comfortable bringing my whole self to Wesleyan— in the classroom and socially-- and it was liberating. I was proud.

My sense of pride and the responsibility of being the first in my family to attend college filled me with an overwhelming desire to give back to my community.  For three years, I worked as a teacher, using education to bring knowledge and power to my students.  To equip myself with another powerful tool, the next step for me was law school. There I found that law is an ongoing dialogue, a learning process for both lawyer and client – teacher and student.

The confidence and experiences I gained at Wesleyan have translated into every step after graduation.  I was fortunate to benefit from the support of admissions officers and caring teachers who believed in my potential. The quality education of CSS made law school seem easy.  I hope to be in a position to ensure that the school is making good decisions on behalf of all students, but especially the students of color, who often remain in the shadows of society until they grow into their own.

I am excited now to be practicing at Google, a place that prides itself on providing information to everyone, in all parts of society.  As at Wesleyan, I bring my whole self to work. I’ve been applauded for the diversity and inclusion efforts I lead in the legal department.  Yet, I know it is time for me to invest in Wesleyan as Wesleyan invested in me, this time as an alumni-elected trustee. I love Wesleyan, and added to my personal life experiences, as a practicing corporate attorney for the past seven years, I bring to the table business acumen and experience with negotiations and the field of technology that could benefit the school.

  • JD, University of California, Berkeley School of Law
  • Google Inc., Corporate Counsel
  • Teacher, American Indian Public Charter School 
STEPHEN YUEN ’04

STEPHEN YUEN ’04

Hong Kong 

My Wesleyan education was made possible by the Freeman Asian Scholarship.  At Wesleyan, I explored my intellectual interests through the multi-disciplinary program of the College of Social Studies, which nurtured me into an independent thinker and prepared me to build a career as an investment portfolio manager.  Taking intellectual risk, challenging established views, and thinking out of the box are three things that I enjoyed as much doing at Wesleyan as in my current daily job.

I believe I can bring international perspectives to the Board.  As a trustee, I can help further broaden Wesleyan’s reach to prospective international students for admissions as well as to international alumni for fund raising.  I will also commit to establishing stronger communication channels between international alumni and current students who have interest in developing their careers outside of the US. 

  • Director, Credit Suisse, Hong Kong
  • Co-author of “Platform Competition with ‘Must-have’ Components,” adapted from my senior thesis and published in the Journal of Industrial Economics
  • Elected President of Omicron Delta Epsilon, the Economics Honor Society
  • Freeman Asian Scholar