MKA Day 2017
It’s MKA DAY (#MKADAY)! Celebrate your cougar pride and help us reach our goal of 650 donors by making your gift or pledge today!
Alumni are the link to MKA’'s heritage, and the key to our future. We welcome your involvement and support and invite you to join us whenever you can. Alumni volunteer opportunities include participating in our networking events, and Career Day, Homecoming and Reunion Weekend activities, and regional receptions; joining the Alumni Council and supporting our phonathons.
Led by a dedicated group of alumni volunteers, the Alumni Council organizes activities that advance the interests of MKA and its alumni and promotes a closer relationship and better understanding between the school and its graduates. The council consists of up to 24 members, who may serve up to two consecutive three-year terms. Five meetings are held during the school year, and each member serves on one of the four working committees: Development, Networking/Social, Awards and Nominating. The council is governed by the Alumni Association By-Laws. If you would like to join, please contact Alumni Council President Jaclyn Spedaliere ’00.
|Bryan Becker '96|
Bryan Becker is the Founder and CEO of The Becker Organization, an owner and developer of real estate across the United States. He graduated from University of Delaware, majoring in Finance and Economics. In March of 2007, he was recognized by Real Estate New York as a Rising Star under 30, and in June of 2007 he was recognized by Real Estate New York as a 'Developer on the Rise.' He is the EVP of Preakness Hills Country Club and has been on the board there for 6 years. He is actively involved in Section 16H Group which is a nonprofit charity that supports a different cause each year, and The Nephcure Foundation.
Bryan spends most of his free time playing with daughters Brooke and Lily who attend MKA. His hobbies include collecting sneakers, playing golf and boxing.
He currently serves as chair of the Alumni Council networking committee and served as the chair of the 2015 MKA Headmaster's Golf Scramble. He is on the Alumni Council because MKA has always been and still is, a big part of his life. He is still close with many of the people that he graduated with, as well as other members of the MKA community. He is focused on helping to increase alumni participation in the Annual Fund because he believes this is in the best interest of the school and its alumni. The possibilities are endless as to what a thriving MKA alumni community can achieve!
|Brittany Berckes '06|
Career : Entertainment Lawyer at Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo
Other Volunteer Councils/Boards: New York City Bar Association Entertainment Law
CommitteeAmherst Association of New York and Young Patrons of Lincoln Center
Hobbies: Tennis; seeing live music, especially jazz; trying new restaurants and wines; watching HBO; teaching my dog, Oliver, tricks; spending time with friends (especially MKA friends!) and family; and traveling as much as possible.
Post MKA school(s) attended: Amherst College, University of Michigan Law School
Length of Service on the Alumni Council/Position I Currently Hold: I've been on the Council for almost one year and am a member of the Council's Nominating Committee.
Why I'm a Member of the Alumni Council: I attribute a lot of my happiest moments and achievements to the fact that I attended MKA. MKA's Upper School provided a crucial educational foundation for my endeavors at Amherst and in law school. I learned how to really think critically from my English classes with Mr. Valentine to my Spanish classes with Mr. Jeremiah and to always ask big picture questions---two essential tools for excelling at a liberal arts college and in law school. Additionally, at MKA, I made friends that have turned into family and for that I will be eternally grateful to the school. MKA has a special way of building community ties that makes their alumni want to stay connected for years after graduation. These two reasons, as well as many others, are why I wanted to join the Council — I want to give back to the place that has given me and continues to give me so much over the years.
|Casey Breslow '03|
MKA has had a profound effect on my life! I attended University of Colorado at Boulder for undergrad and it seemed like a breeze. That is because MKA taught me how to study and prepared me for college. After college I attended Touro Law School and there was no way I would have made it through without MKA. I love my career as an Assistant Prosecutor, and I owe that to MKA. So why did I join the alumni counsel? I joined the alumni council because I would not be where I am today without MKA.
John Bruno '02
I am currently employed at The Law Offices of Bruno & Ferraro as an associate. After MKA I attended Lehigh University where I competed as a member of the wrestling team for four years. I graduated in 2006. After graduating Lehigh I attended Seton Hall law school. I was admitted to the New Jersey State Bar in 2010. This is my first year serving as a member of the MKA alumni Council. I elected to become a member of the Alumni Council so that I could reconnect with the MKA community. I also wanted to donate my time provide input to the MKA administrators and alumni council in an effort to improve outreach and alumni relationships.
|Jared Cook '01|
Career: Vice President "Net Worth Management Group" in Morristown, NJ
Hobbies: Exercising, Traveling, Coaching High school football. (MKA 2009 - 2012) MBS 2015-Present.
College: Graduated from Gettysburg College in 2006
Length of time on the Alumni Council: 7 years
Reason for being on the Council: I thought it would be a good idea to give back to a school that gave me so much.
|Rich Cosgrove '84, Executive Vice President |
Richard is an experienced information technology engineer, with twenty-five years of practical systems experience, extensive technical background, and proven team-oriented management ability. An experienced executive with exposure in major industry segments of systems analysis and high-level vision of enterprise technologies.
A New Jersey native, Rich was born in Hackensack and raised in West Paterson. While not an MKA lifer, he joined the ranks of MKA in the 6th grade and graduated in 1984. After acceptance to Carnegie-Mellon University, moved to Pittsburgh and in 1988 received his Bachelor of Science degree in Information and Decision Systems.
He returned to the New York area to work for Hoffmann-LaRoche pharmaceuticals in systems analysis and research. Following an opportunity to work in software development, moved to Boston to work for Lotus Development on the Organizer and SmartSuite products. While attending graduate school at The University of Massachusetts, accepted a position with the UMASS Research Foundation in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Eventually lured away from his studies by an internet startup company, he moved back to New York area, finding an exceptional opportunity in New York City working for the consulting firm Solomon Page Group. He has been there for 8 years as an Information Technology Architect and Department Head, where he manages the information services group. He currently resides in Denville, New Jersey.
Richard has joined the ranks of the alumni council in order to reconnect with old friends, and hopefully give something back to his alma mater.
Pamela D’Amato Davis ‘89
|Caitlin DiRuggiero ‘06|
A Montclair native, Caitlin graduated from The Montclair Kimberley Academy in 2006 and went on to The University of Scranton where she received a b.s. in Marketing. Caitlin is a co-owner of Corefire Studio in Upper Montclair and also is a sales associate at Stanton Company, both of which is where she works with fellow Alumni Council Members (Angela McCaffrey and Richard Stanton, respectively). Caitlin is a lifer of MKA and is proud to be able to give back to the MKA community through working on the Alumni Council and help other future alumni have the best experience imaginable. Caitlin is also a member of the board of Arc of Essex County and is the assistant varsity coach for Kent Place Field Hockey.
|Amanda Englander ’04, Secretary|
Amanda Englander is a book editor at Clarkson Potter in the Crown Publishing Group at Penguin Random House. She has acquired and edited numerous New York Times bestsellers, including Rachel Zoe’s LIVING IN STYLE and Trisha Yearwood’s TRISHA’S TABLE, and has worked with many other notable authors in the lifestyle space. Her interests—both professionally and personally—include food and cooking, fitness, and fashion.
After MKA, she went on to study English and Latin at Emory University in Atlanta. She graduated magna cum laude and as an inductee to Phi Beta Kappa honor society.
She has been a member of the Alumni Council since 2012, and currently holds the position of Secretary. When she received the invitation to join, her response was “I’ve been waiting for this!” Amanda is incredibly thankful for her education, and feels that MKA afforded her many opportunities: trips around the country, a stellar writing program, an overview of core works, engaging extracurricular activities, and more. What she learned at MKA informed her choices and laid the basis for her skills as an undergraduate and even into her career. As a person who likes to affect change and give back, joining the Council was a natural decision.
Anne Fetherston ’88
Anne Fetherston ’88, Ph.D. is a professor of Interdisciplinary Health Services at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. She teaches courses on topics such as Autism Spectrum Disorders, Applied Behavior Analysis, Addictions, and Psychosocial Aspects of Chronic Illness and conducts research using a behavior-based treatment for people with Depression. She has degrees in both Speech-Language Pathology and Psychology, which she uses to provide consultation and expert witness for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Anne’s volunteer activities include board membership at Seer Farms, a social service agency who provides extended emergency care for animals of people who are in crisis due to health concerns, homelessness, natural disasters, or deployment. She also fosters orphaned pets for PALS, an agency in Pennsylvania, and volunteers with various agencies feeding the homeless in Camden and Philadelphia.
|Michael Fortunato ‘02|
Pundyk Goldberg ‘87|
Joanne Pundyk Goldberg is a 1987 graduate of Montclair Kimberley, Cornell University, B.A. 1991, Washington University in St. Louis, J.D. 1994 and New York University, M.A. 2000.
I have been married to my husband Danny for 20 years. We have two children, Allie (17) and Spencer (13). Allie is in the 11th grade at Morristown-Beard School and Spencer is in the 7th grade at MKA. Spencer was new to MKA this year and made an easy and successful transition into the community.
|Lauren Hyman Kaplan ‘93|
Lauren Hyman Kaplan, M.A, is a consultant, speaker, certified emotional intelligence coach and counselor in the field of social and emotional learning and bullying prevention. She is a former teacher and school counselor with over 18 years of experience training and providing consulting to schools around the United States and the world. She is a certified consultant to the US Department of Justice, a Grant Reviewer for the US Department of Education and a certified Star Factor Emotional Intelligence Coach. She is an adjunct instructor at Bank Street College of Education and the co-author of the New York State "Interpersonal Violence Prevention Resource Guide for Parents and Educators" (New York State Department of Education, 2002) and "The Importance of Self Awareness for School Counselors" in Emotionally Intelligent School Counseling (Erlbaum, 2005). Lauren graduated from MKA in 1993, has a B.A. From Emory University and a Masters Degree in Counseling from New York University. She is also a current MKA parent of Ryder (class of 2028) and Lola (class of 2025).
Jones Ladda ‘84|
Jennifer Jones Ladda attended MKA from 4th grade until her graduation in 1984. While at MKA, Jennifer served in student government, was a member of the student chorus, swimming, tennis and varsity field hockey teams.
She majored in Political Science with a double minor in English Literature and Philosophy at Bucknell University, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988. Honors at Bucknell include: Phi Eta Sigma, Alpha Lambda Delta and Order of Omega (National Fraternal Organization) Honor Societies, Dean's List. She was also a Student Government Representative and Member of the Delta, Delta, Delta sorority where she served as an officer and was elected as a representative to the Bucknell University Panhellenic Council and served as its Philanthropy Chairman 1987-88.
After graduating from Bucknell, Jennifer studied law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, earning her Juris Doctor in 1991. At law school, she was a member of the Student Bar Association (class representative, President, class of 1991) and Women's Law Association.
Jennifer is married to Todd Ladda, who is a Managing Director and Global Head of Credit and Real Estate Funds for Fortress Capital Formation, LLC. Their children, twins Caitlin and Dylan (15) are ninth graders at MKA. Jennifer has been active with PAMKA since her children started MKA in pre-K. She has also served as class secretary for the Class of 1984 for many years and has been involved with alumni fundraising and networking since her graduation in 1984.
|Cooper Knowlton ‘03|
Cooper Knowlton is a lawyer at Cahill Gordon & Reindel in New York City. He previously served in the Peace Corps in Cambodia and worked as a Special Education teacher in the Bronx, New York. He graduated from MKA in 2003 and attended Amherst College and the University of Michigan Law School.
This is Cooper’s first year as a member of the Alumni Council. He is excited to have the opportunity to be a part of the MKA community again and contribute to a place that had such a large impact on his life both personally and professionally.
|Angela McCaffrey ‘06|
McCaffrey grew up in Essex Fells, NJ and graduated from MKA in 2006. She currently owns and operates Corefire, 2 pilates studios located in Upper Montclair and Ridgewood, NJ . She co-found the business with her best friend, Cait DiRuggiero, who is an MKA lifer! Ms. McCaffrey is also a Realtor with fellow MKA alum, Rich Stanton, at his realty firm, the Stanton Company. She loves helping both residential and commerical clients find the perfect space for their business or home. In her free time, Angela is a catechist and active board member of the Upper Montclair Business Association and ARC of Essex County. She loves to ski, read, sweat, cook, travel & roll around with her bulldog, Mozzarella.
|Nilie Pajoohi ‘89|
I received my bachelor’s degree from GW in 1993, and then began New York Law School that September. I focused on immigration law classes and worked for several immigration firms while studying. I received my juris doctor degree in 1996 and was admitted to the New York State Bar. I worked for a small boutique law firm specializing in employment-based immigration law from November 1996 through August 2000. In September 2000 I formed Pajoohi & Tooma, LLP, a law partnership focusing exclusively on employment-based immigration law cases. We thrived in the field for close to 10 years before I decided to take a break from law to have a second child. Since January 2010 I’ve been spending quality time with my family including my sons Payam (age 10, MKA 4th grade) and Armaan (age 4).
In January 2016 I began doing some pro bono work for the Safe Passage Project in NYC, a not-for-profit that helps represent undocumented children in immigration court. I am a member in good standing of the New York State Bar, and I am admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Stacey Polanskyj is a 1992 graduate of MKA. After MKA, she went on to study sociology and economics at Colgate University from which she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1996. Upon graduation, she took her first job as a management consultant with Accenture, where she focused on organization design and human performance. After 4 years with Accenture, she joined the M&A group of IBM where she was responsible for various aspects of organizational design and change management driven by mergers and acquisitions. She later joined the Financial Services Group of Ernst & Young to lead their internal human capital efforts.
Stacey currently is busy raising her four young children who all attend MKA. She is a past member of the board of Union Congregational Nursery School where she served for 4 years. She is currently serving on the Colgate reunion gift committee and is actively involved as a MKA Admissions Ambassador and is active in PAMKA.
She lives in Verona, NJ with her husband, Peter, and their four children: Cassie, Maddie, Damian, and Lindsay.
Why did I join the Alumni Council? Because I wanted to give back to MKA as an alumna as well as a current parent.
|Klaudia Pyz ’98, Networking Vice President|
Career: Marketing & Strategy
Hobbies: Skiing, Hiking & Cooking
Post MKA school(s) attended: New York University (BS & MBA)
Length of Service on the Alumni Council/Position I Currently Hold: 6 years, VP, Networking & Events
Why I'm a Member of the Alumni Council:
Klaudia Pyz has been a member of the Alumni Council since 2010, and currently holds the executive position of Networking & Events VP. Keeping in touch with her MKA friend’s first lead her to the council and as a person who loves to affect change, give back and plan awesome parties, joining the Council was a natural decision. Additionally, Klaudia is extremely grateful for her MKA education and feels that it equipped her to exceed in college and beyond.
Currently, Klaudia is marketing & strategy professional with a focus on the financial services industry. She started her career at Citigroup, executing marketing campaigns for credit cards. It was at Citi that she discovered her passion for strategy and the need to continually capitalize on best practices to grow the business. Klaudia’s next logically move was to pursue her MBA at the New York University and land a role as a strategy consultant. Klaudia is now with American Express and leads the charge to grow the merchant business and ensure that all business warmly accept the card.
Outside of the Council and work, you can find Klaudia skiing in the winter and frequenting the beaches of Long Island in the summer. Klaudia also loves to cook at home and is huge Barefoot Contesa fan!
|Diane Ridley-White ‘84|
Dr. Diane Ridley-White ’84 is truly a Montclair Kimberley Academy “Lifer”, as a student, active member of the Alumni Council and a loyal and generous supporter of the Alumni Annual Giving campaign. She has come to realize over the years how much it costs to attend MKA, and she hopes her annual gift helps a student benefit from an MKA education.
MKA has always been very important to her, and she would not have been able to continue without scholarship assistance. She credits former faculty member Tony Daur with informing her parents about available scholarships when she was in 7th or 8th grade. Without it she would not have graduated from MKA, so she hopes her annual donation will help a deserving student.
After graduating cum laude from MKA, Diane went to Columbia University and Columbia College of Physicians & Surgeons. She is now an anesthesiologist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, NJ. She always knew she wanted to be a doctor, and she credits her education at MKA with preparing her for college and medical school, for encouraging her passion for learning and drive to be a great student. The small class size at MKA and individualized attention she received made for an easier learning experience.
The MKA community has always held a very special place in her heart from the time it supported her and her parents in 8th grade when she was diagnosed and hospitalized with lupus. All the cards she received from classmates, the support of her teachers and the outreach of the entire community surprised her; she couldn’t believe that so many people took the time to show her they cared, she didn’t even think they liked her! She especially remembers fondly a card from Laura Dancy Wilson ’84.
She knows other friends who have gone to private school but they don’t have the same sense of connectedness that she and her classmates have with each other and MKA. Diane is happy to report that she has more friends from MKA than from college, and she still keeps in touch with a number of classmates and former faculty members including her kindergarten teacher Leigh Berrien Smith ’45. Her class maintains a Facebook page that contributed to so many of them, including Diane, returning to campus last October for their 30th Reunion.
Diane explained her life-long connection to MKA in four simple words: “MKA is like home”, and we’re so grateful she’s a member of our alumni family.
|Dennis Rodano ’87, Treasurer|
Dennis Rodano has spent his career developing, designing, reengineering and implementing processes that enable organizations to meet the needs of their customers with increased efficiencies and quality of service while reducing operating costs and time to delivery.
In the beginning of his career, Dennis spent seven years designing and implementing new technology in retail banking including the launch of the first MasterMoney ® Debit card program in the New York market. The next five years were spent as a strategic sourcing consultant focused on printed materials and building maintenance with two dot coms.
After 9/11 Dennis searched for more purpose in his career and joined DePaul Catholic High School as Director of Facilities where he managed $10 million in renovations and improvements to the facility and reduced operating costs through strategic sourcing. In 2009, Dennis transitioned to the Diocese of Paterson as Project Manager and managed the build out and renovations at St. Paul Inside the Walls the Catholic Center for Evangelization at Bayley-Ellard. Dennis became the Business Manager at St. Paul Inside the Walls when the Center officially began operations in 2010. In 2013, Dennis moved to the Diocesan Center to be the Project Manager on the renovation on the historic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist (built 1870).
In addition to his professional life, Dennis serves on the Executive Advisory Board of St. Paul Inside the Walls, the Financial Advisory Board of the Sisters of Christian Charity, the Board of Trinity Academy in Caldwell, NJ and is the Treasurer of the MKA Alumni Council. Dennis and his wife Geralyn have been married since 1997 and they live in Verona with their daughter Julia.
Dennis earned a BA from Lafayette College in 1991 with a double major in Economics/Business and History and a Masters in Educational Administration from Caldwell College in 2010 where he graduated with honors as a member of Kappa Gamma Pi, the National Catholic College Graduate Honor Society.
Why Am I on the MKA Alumni Council?
During my six years at MKA I learned many valuable lessons both in the classroom and on the athletic fields. Every day at MKA brought a new challenge; a challenge that on some days was out of my comfort zone for which I had to work hard to create a solution. The lessons learned coupled with experiencing the feeling of accomplishment that comes from hard work prepared me for college and my professional life. I hope that contributions to MKA, including my service on the Alumni Council, afford the MKA students of today with the “same” opportunities I had when I was a student. By “same” I mean that the students experience and learn what they will need for the world of tomorrow.
|Jaclyn Spedaliere ’00, President|
Jaclyn works as a Global Account Manager for TrialScope Inc., operating in the pharmaceutics and life sciences industries for clinical trial disclosure. After graduating from MKA in 2000, Jaclyn received her BA from Lehigh University in Psychology with a minor in Religious Studies. She later attended Rutgers University Graduate School of Education to obtain an Ed.M. with Certification in School Counseling. Jaclyn has been a member of the Alumni Council for seven years, serving on the Networking Committee and spearheading the Alumni Council Spring Social Event. In addition to serving as President of the MKA Alumni Council, Jaclyn is also a member of the MKA Board of Trustees, serving on the Educational Programs & Policies Committee and the Student Life Committee. “MKA was such an integral and significant part of my development and successes; I enjoy being a member of the Alumni Council and contributing to helping others have the positive and enriching experience that I did.” Jaclyn enjoys staying active and travelling. She lives in Basking Ridge NJ with her husband, Mark, and her new son, Grayson.
|John Thompson ‘03|
Title: Planner. Company Name: Kearfott Corporation
Career Achievements –
Managing several million dollars of company, and customer owned inventory, with
no significant findings on independent audits over the past several years.
Hobbies: I enjoy hunting, driving, photography, history, horology, and the
collecting of mechanical timepieces.
Post MKA school(s) attended: Hillsdale College.
Length of service on the Alumni Council: 1 year.
Position you currently hold: Member of the Development Committee.
Why are you a member of the Alumni Council? : After attending MKA as a lifer (13 years Kindergarten through 12th) I still see The Academy as a second home. Being a member of the Alumni council allows me to be involved first hand with the community I still dear.
Dan Carson ‘83
Rich Stanton '87
Tom Nammack, Headmaster
Geoffrey Branigan, Director of Development
Director of Alumni Relations, Eric Gutierrez
Associate Director of Alumni Relations, Allison Shearin
The continued growth and success of alumni participation in our Annual Giving would not be possible without the assistance of alumni volunteers. There are many ways that you can help us reach our Annual Giving goals:
You can take part in our newest appeal, MKA Day, 24 hours of giving in October. We welcome your assistance as a social media ambassador or phonathon solicitor.
Volunteering for our April phonathon is a great way to meet other alumni and enjoy a fun evening while raising funds for MKA.
We also depend on our class representatives and reunion chairs to encourage their classmates to support our Annual Giving appeals using the form of communication they are most comfortable with—social media, postal mail, email, text messages or phone calls.
If you would like to volunteer for any of these opportunities please contact our alumni office at, email@example.com or 973-509-7939.
Join this new networking platform that will enable alumni, at all stages of their lives and careers, to give and receive advice and make connections with others in their own industries and beyond. The site allows members to get in touch with former classmates and share photos and memories of their time at MKA, as well as news and requests for advice and mentoring.
For more information contact our alumni office at firstname.lastname@example.org
Like EverTrue, LinkedIn is a resource for MKA students and alumni, allowing them to connect to other alumni in their field of interest for mentoring or internship opportunities or for a job search. MKA teaches juniors and seniors about this useful tool and how to set up an account. Juniors who attend PAMKA’s Mock Interview Day learn about the importance of creating a résumé and LinkedIn page, while those at the annual senior breakfast are shown how to download our EverTrue app, which is directly connected to LinkedIn. Find us on LinkedIn at MKAAlumni.
It’s MKA DAY (#MKADAY)! Celebrate your cougar pride and help us reach our goal of 650 donors by making your gift or pledge today!