Virtual career event covers wide and timely territory

Symposium features keynote conversation from public health experts and panels in professional areas over several days

November 13, 2020
By Mark Tarnacki and Emily Carolin

symposium artThe 2020 Career Symposium at Saint Michael’s College — this year a virtual four-day event full of alumni speakers and engaging panels – featured 33 alumni from a broad range of professional fields. A timely keynote presentation at the start by two high-achieving graduates in the field of public health offered insights on both the pandemic and the power of a St. Mike’s liberal arts education.

The Symposium in recent years has been an in-person campus event, but as with many activities this year in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, was adapted to a virtual format. The Office of Alumni & Family Engagement and the Alumni Association Board of Directors organized the Symposium, which ran from Monday, Nov. 9 through Thursday, Nov. 12 via Zoom.

Due to the virtual nature of this year’s event, organizers invited all current students, recent graduates, alumni and parents/families to “attend.” The Office of Admissions also issued a special invitation to high school seniors who are interested in attending Saint Michael’s — some of whom already have submitted their applications. Organizers reported 294 attendees over the course of the event including the 33 panelists.  All the panels have been posted for viewing at

This year’s choice for a keynote speaker related directly to the topic that remains at the front of most people’s minds – the pandemic. A pre-recorded keynote, viewable by all attendees, featured Siham Elhamoumi ’07, program and alliance manager at the Sabeti Lab, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. She was interviewed during the keynote by Suzy Leous ’86, chief policy officer at the American Society of Hematology, making for an engaging and accessible conversation.

In her taped introduction of the speaker and interviewer, Angie Armour, director of alumni and family engagement, noted that the Broad Institute provides the tests that Saint Michael’s has been using for COVID cases on campus. In their conversation of more than 40 minutes, the guests spoke to the ways that Saint Michael’s prepared them for serving meaningfully during a crisis period like a pandemic, and for following their passions in a career generally.

screen grab symposium

This screen-grab from the start of a keynote interview shows, from top left to right clockwise, Suzy Leous ’86, Angela Armour ’99 and Siham Elhamoumi ’07.

Elhamoumi drew clear direct lines from her mentors and experiences during college to her professional trajectory and interests since graduating. “If COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s our interconnectedness,” she said, after describing her St. Mike’s experiences that helped her internalize that lesson: deep activism in the Student Global AIDS Campaign, MOVE volunteer activities, and a service trip to India while a student, along with life-changing interactions with Professor Patricia Siplon of the political science faculty (with whom she remains close friends), the late Edmundite Fr. Mike Cronogue with his peace and justice initiatives, and other faculty or former faculty such as Laurie Gagne (peace and justice) and Reza Ramazani (economics).

Both she and Leous made a point of celebrating the new public health-related majors at Saint Michael’s. Elhamoumi said that for her, “public health” goes well beyond just medicine and epidemiology, though those are important. “To me it’s a political question too – how to maximize and ensure equity in a population,” she said. Both women spoke of what they see as the failure and missed opportunity in the present administration’s lack of leadership in confronting the pandemic.

They explained how Saint Michael’s distinguishes itself by helping a graduate consider the all-important ethical and practical sides of their work, whatever vocation one enters. Elhamoumi  said Saint Michael’s was for her and is for others “a safe space to find a voice and a vocation.”

It’s about learning how to optimize what one can do to help others, which can be applied in any field for the public good, she said, “and that is a critical inquiry and a skill I think I developed at Saint Michael’s.” In college she learned to take on the responsibility of doing good, she said in praising today’s frontline health workers in the pandemic along with teachers for their frequently unrecognized heroic efforts to help society. Leous similarly said she participated in MOVE volunteering while in college, and learned critical thinking and writing skills in her political science, history and English classes, which “serve me well to know how to communicate.”

“Doing good” in a meaningful way, said Elhamoumi, can be as simple as reminding another to wear a mask during the pandemic, and “remembering your obligation to act as citizens.”

“For me, a public health program is about practice” in society of the lessons learned during such a program she said.

Here are some of the other panelists featured during the Symposium week, listed under the professional areas that they covered:


Liam Cahill ’20, Legislative Aide, Massachusetts House of Representatives; Major: Political Science; Industry: Government; Kathleen Wells ’86, Child Support Enforcement Officer, State of Connecticut; Major: Elementary Education; Industry: Government; Kathleen Rose Insley ’96, Lawyer, Insley & Douthat, LLP; Major: Political Science; Advanced Degree: Juris Doctor, State University of New York at Buffalo; Industry: Law


Natalie Ledue ’16, Family Nurse Practitioner, HealthReach Community Health Centers, Sheepscot Valley Health Center; Major: Biology; Advanced Degree: Masters of Science in Nursing, Boston College Connell School of Nursing; Industries: Primary Care, Family Medicine; Peter Keefe ’16, Medical Student, University of Massachusetts Medical School; Major: Biology; Industry: Medicine; David Weiss ’15, Emergency Department RN II, University of Vermont Medical Center; Major: Biochemistry; Advanced Degree: Bachelor of Science in Nursing, ECPI University Accelerated BSN Program; Industries: Healthcare, Nursing, Medical Education


Jenna Carroll ’92, Senior Vice President-Investments/CFP, Managing Partner of the Carroll Group, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management; Major: Business Administration; Advanced Degree: MBA, UMASS-Amherst; Industry: Finance; Meghan McCormack ’11, Assurance Manager, Ernst & Young; Major: Accounting; Advanced Degree: MBA, Clarkson University/Union Graduate College; Industry: Public Accounting; Tim Ross ’03, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Human Resources, The Aloha Foundation, Inc.; Majors: Business and Accounting; Advanced Degree: Master of Science in Accounting, Northeastern University; Industries: Accounting/Finance, Camping.


Jason Curry ’95, Founder/President of Big Apple Basketball; Major: Journalism; Industries: Sports, Non-Profit; Brian Giantonio ’77, Chair, President & CEO, The Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Schools; Major: Political Science; Advanced Degree: M.S. in Public Accounting in 1979 from the University of Hartford, J.D. in 1982 from Hamline University School of Law and in 1987 an L.L.M. in Taxation from Boston University School of Law; Industries: Finance, Law, Development; Katie O’Donoghue ’19, AmeriCorps Member, City Year Boston; Majors: Sociology, Religious Studies; Advanced Degree: Currently earning a Master’s in Clinical Social Work with specializations in Children, Youth, and Families and Trauma & Violence from Boston University. Industries: Non-Profit and Social Services


Adam Johnson ’03, Executive Director, Democracy Prep Public Schools; Majors: Accounting & Economics; Advanced Degree: Masters, Business Administration, George Washington University; Industries: Education & Organizational Leadership; Kimberly Pushee Hill ’97, School Counselor, Rice Memorial High School; Majors: Education/Psychology; Advanced Degree: MS Counseling, University of Vermont; Industries: Education/Counseling; Heather Joy Rubenstein Vonada ’03, Math Educator, Woodstock Union High School; Major: Secondary Education; Advanced Degree: Masters of Science in Educational Administration, University of Scranton; Industry: Education


Bobby Bailey ’99, Vice President of Marketing, Burris Logistics; Major: Biology; Industry: Burris Logistics is a 3PL (Third Party Logistics) offering warehousing, distribution, freight, and direct to consumer services in the food industry and more; Kenny Buchanan ’02, Senior Executive Sales Representative, Ambu; Major: Business Administration; Industry: Healthcare; Andrew Callahan ’02, Founder / Owner, Venture Retail Partners; Major: Business; Industry: Commercial Real Estate Brokerage and Development Focused on the Retail Sector


George Hayes ’06, Director of Product Marketing, LogRocket; Majors: Business & Accounting; Advanced Degree: MBA, University of Notre Dame; Industry: Software; Allison Lazarz ’05, Software Test Engineer,; Majors: Journalism & Mass Communication; Advanced Degree: Master of Science in Broadcast Journalism; Industries: Software, Testing; Jared Peick ’13, Crew Health Integration Specialist, KBR, Inc.; Major: Biology; Advanced Degree: M.S. Space Studies, University of North Dakota; Industries: Human Spaceflight/Space Industry


Sarah Drew McKenzie ’02, Therapist, Sarah McKenzie LMHC LLC; Major: Psychology, Advanced Degree: MEd Mental Health Counseling at Cambridge College; Industry: Mental Health Therapist; Rilda (Letourneau) Kissel ’03, Program Administrator, Harvard University Graduate School of Education; Major: English; Advanced Degree: Masters in Education (Higher Ed Administration), Boston University; Industry: Higher Education Administration; Laura Michelle Seifert ’10, Project Manager, Havas Health & You, Village X; Major: Fine Arts – Theater; Advanced Degree: Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University; Industry: Marketing/Advertising


Kate Bowen ’04, Chief Executive Officer/Founder, GCB Medical Supply & Petit Peony; Major: Business Administration; Industries: Medical Supply/Apparel Manufacturing; Chris Lagan ’92, Managing Director / COO, Congress Asset Management; Major: Business Administration; Advanced Degree: MBA, Boston University; Industries: Finance, Investing; Paul Plunkett ’86, Senior Vice President/COO, Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group; Major: Business Administration; Advanced Degree: Certified Insurance Counselor; Industries: Property/Casualty Insurance


Julie Cunningham ’03, Senior News and Public Affairs Officer (Media Relations), Massachusetts General Hospital; Major: Journalism and Mass Communication; Industry: Media Relations; Tony Flanagan ’89, Owner/Video Producer, Rhapsody Productions; Major: Journalism; Industry: Video Production; Ryan Peterson ’98, News Anchor, WTEN-TV News10 ABC; Major: Journalism; Industry: Broadcast Journalism


Erin Buckley ’17, Operations Project Coordinator, ReVision Energy; Major: Environmental Science; Industry: renewable energy/sustainability; Abbie Corse ’05, Organic Dairy Farmer/ Land Steward, The Corse Farm Dairy; Major: Journalism & Mass Communication; Industries: Organic farming, sustainable/regenerative agriculture; Christopher Lavallee ’12, Energy and Sustainability Specialist, ICF; Majors: Sociology and Environmental Studies (inaugural class); Advanced Degree: MS, Climate Science and Policy, Bard College; Industry: Energy Policy Consulting

Watch video of keynote conversation at this link.





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