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Common Cause

Alumni interest groups gain momentum

It was a great night for stargazing at the Los Angeles Writers Guild. Cameras were flashing as talented actors mingled with Emmy-nominated writers, and VIP executives gave tips to young producers and directors. But this was no ordinary constellation. The stars who came together that September night had something unique in common: they were all Dartmouth alumni. The evening's program—Women in Hollywood—was organized by the Dartmouth Alumni in Entertainment and Media Association (DAEMA), one of three of the College's officially recognized shared interest groups.

Group photo
From left: Morenike Balogun '03; Julie Davis '90; Cynthia Pinkos; Audrey Kania, Tuck '90; Erica Rivinoja '99; Jenny Alden '01; Aisha Tyler '92; and Jethro Rothe-Kushel '03 (middle) at a Sept. 10 Dartmouth Alumni in Entertainment and Media event in Los Angeles.

More than 50 alumni actors, writers, directors, agents, and studio executives gathered at the event to recognize 35 years of coeducation at Dartmouth. It included a panel discussion with actor Jenny Alden '01 (Wedding Crashers); writer and director Julie Davis '90 (Amy's O); co-founder of the World Poker Tour Audrey Kania, Tuck '90; senior counsel for Sony Pictures Cynthia Pinkos; comedy writer Erica Rivinoja '99 (South Park); and actor, writer, and director Aisha Tyler '92 (Friends, 24).

"This industry can be cutthroat, but DAEMA is a strong community of friends. We support each other," says Jethro Rothe-Kushel '03, a filmmaker and co-president of DAEMA, now more than 400 members strong. To gain official recognition, shared interest groups must meet certain criteria, such as membership of more than 100, a mission statement, clear leadership, and annual events. In return, Dartmouth provides administrative support and networking benefits such as a link on the Dartmouth Web site. Uriel Barrera-Vasquez '98, associate director for alumni diversity and shared interest groups, says that alumni teachers, entrepreneurs, and members of the service and food industries have expressed interest in forming groups. "Our primary role is to strengthen their connections to one another, and in the process, to the College," he says.

Julie Davis '90
Julie Davis '90

The oldest and most established of the groups is the Dartmouth Lawyers Association (DLA). Founded in 1984, it has more than 1,500 members throughout the world. A professional outlet for its members, the DLA also supports educational programs on campus. Along with the Rockefeller Center, the group co-sponsored Dartmouth's Law Day last May. The Honorable James Morse '62, a retired Vermont Supreme Court justice, participated in a panel on crimes against humanity, and Sam Braverman '88, a criminal defense practitioner in Bronx, N.Y., was part of a panel on career choices in law. The DLA also generates financial support for the Daniel Webster Fund, which endows three annual lectures at the College.

"Whether it's an event on campus, promoting off-term internships at law firms, or interacting with students, we relish our connection to Dartmouth," says Lanny S. Kurzweil '75, a partner at McCarter and English, LLP, and president of the DLA.

While only four years old, Dartmouth Alums for Social Change (DASC) already has more than 400 members. Their careers span a broad range of activities, from education and human rights to the environment. "At Dartmouth, I met a number of other students who were interested in helping foster positive change on campus and in working to advance social justice through their careers," says Miranda Johnson '97, who founded DASC in 2003. Karsten Barde '04, the group's current coordinator, says, "I frequently talk with students considering careers in nonprofit work. There's a strong tradition of commitment to the common good at Dartmouth, and DASC is a reflection of that."

By STEVEN J. SMITH

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Last Updated: 5/30/08