Get Involved

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.

Take the Alumni Council Questionnaire!

Alumni Council

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: Awards, Development, Engagement and Events. The council is governed by the Alumni Association By-Laws. If you would like to join, please contact Alumni Council President Amanda Englander '04  or complete the Alumni Council Questionnaire

Meet the Alumni Council 2018-2019

Members, Advisors & Administration

Amanda Englander ’04, President

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, and has worked with many 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 has been on the Executive Committee since 2014. 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.

Brittany Berckes '06, Executive Vice President

Career : Entertainment Lawyer at Franklin, Weinrib, Rudell & Vassallo

Other Volunteer Councils/Boards: New York City Bar Association Entertainment Law

Committee: Amherst 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.

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!

Caitlin DiRuggiero ‘06, Treasurer


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.

Lhenee Riddick McKoy '05, Secretary

Lhenee Riddick McKoy graduated Saint Peter's College, where she received a BA in Business Management, with a minor in Economics.

After spending time working for a Non-Profit that supported inner city youth, she found her passion for teaching. She then obtained her K-5 teaching certificate while running an after-school program. She is currently a Director with Bright Horizons at TriBeCa.

Having been a member of the MKA community since 4th grade, she met a lot of inspiring teachers along the way, all while building long lasting relationships with her peers that still hold strong today. She is looking forward to being a member of the Alumni Council, and get the opportunity to give back to a community that has done so much for her. Lhenee and her husband Shawn have two amazing little boys, Shawn Jr who is 4, and Niko who is 5 months.

Racquel Booth '96

Racquel Booth is a graduate of Columbia University, where she majored in English. She then obtained her PhD in Global Affairs at Rutgers University, concentrating on comparative political systems. 

She is the owner of Bergen Educational Consultants, a firm in Franklin Lakes, N.J., which specializes in preparing students for admissions to top tier colleges and graduate programs.  Her firm’s students consistently score in the top 3% nationally on the college admissions exams; and the average student receives over $350,000 in scholarships. Her firm also provides tutoring and enrichment for students in grades 2-12. 

Racquel enjoys country music, British comedy, entomology, and cooking. (The last two hobbies are not in anyway connected.) She is an active member of St. Michael’s Church in Woodland Park, where she sings in the choir and serves as a coordinator for the church’s largest annual fundraiser. 

She believes MKA was a defining catalyst for her academic career; and this is why she chose to serve on Alumni Council. She is thrilled to start her first year on council.

Rich Cosgrove '84
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.

Joanne 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.

Professionally, I started my career as a labor and employment attorney, but eventually went back to school to pursue a career in education. Early in my teaching career, I worked as a History teacher at Livingston High School. For the past nine years, I have been working as a History teacher and Grade Level Dean at Morristown-Beard School. I draw on my experiences as a student at MKA almost daily in both of these roles -- in the classroom trying to channel Bob Hemmeter, my inspiration for becoming a History teacher, and in my office, trying to emulate Phil Allen's tough but fair and compassionate leadership style. I guess that this makes sense in light of an article that I read recently indicating that people have stronger and more vivid memories of their high school years than any others in their lives. MKA served me well in this regard and I hope that I am doing the same for my students. Now that I am both an MKA alumna and a parent, I would love to give back to the school as a member of the Alumni Council.

Stuart Harwood '07

Stuart Harwood, who prefers to go by “Stu” contrary to his parents’ wishes, is a new addition to the council this year.

A Montclair native, Stu begun his MKA career in the 7th grade after a successful tenure in the Montclair Public School System. Upon graduating, Stu went on to attend Quinnipiac University and later Lehigh University, where he not only managed to graduate with a B.S. in Business & Economics but also gained 40 LBS while doing so.

Currently, Stu works in the commercial real estate industry as an advisor at Newmark Knight Frank, specializing in the industrial sector (warehousing, distribution & manufacturing). In addition to his role at NKF, Stu is also active in managing his family’s business, which consists of commercial, residential and parking assets.

Outside of his professional pursuits, Stu is an avid tailgater (Go Giants), Fast & Furious movie aficionado (only though #6 though), is single and enjoys filling his time volunteering locally as well as back at Lehigh where his sits on their its on the University’s Young Alumni Council.

Jennifer 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.

Employment:
Dewey Ballantine, LLP (1991-2001)
The Honorable John W. Bissell, Newark, NJ (Law Clerk)
Senator Sam Nunn, Washington, D.C. (Staff Intern)

Julie Kim '92

 

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.

Chadd Mukete '11 

After graduating from MKA in 2011, Chadd Mukete attended the University of Rhode Island, where he majored in Political Science. He currently lives in the New York area and is roommates with fellow MKA graduate Daniel Stern’ 11. He serves as a Flight Director at Apollo Jets, a private jet charter company.

Having been a lifer at MKA, Chadd has many fond memories of the MKA community. While at MKA, he served on the Student Government, was a member of the MKA strings, student chorus and band, and played Tennis and Basketball. Chadd is very excited to join the alumni council as a new member this year. He is looking forward to bringing new and fresh ideas to engage the younger alumnae, while also paying back to a community that has done so much for him.

In his spare time, Chadd enjoys traveling, hanging out with friends and family and trying new restaurants.

Nilie Pajoohi ‘89
After graduating from MKA in 1989 I went to George Washington University in Washington, DC, where I majored in sociology and minored in criminal justice. I always knew I would go to law school, so I interned on Capitol Hill for NJ Congressman Roe and NJ Senator Lautenberg. I also worked part-time in a law firm where I was first introduced to immigration law.
 

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.

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.

Diane participated in many extra-curricular activities including cheerleading, serving as the Cougar Mascot for two years (find photo in yearbook), volleyball, the Organization of Black Students, school musicals, both on stage and behind the scenes, and dramas with Mr. Michael Bergman. Her favorite activity, however, was as a member of Mr. Nixon Bicknell’s Mastersingers, and she credits Jewell Crenshaw ’83, a soloist for the group, with encouraging her to audition.

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.

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.
I am a certified NRA instructor with the Boy Scouts of America. I feel that the BSA is a fantastic organization that instills strong values with this nations youth. With my certification I am able to help support this organization.

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.

ADVISORY

Jaclyn Spedaliere '00 

ADMINISTRATION

Tom Nammack, Headmaster

Laela Perkins, Director of Development

Eric Gutierrez, Director of Alumni Relations

Allison Shearin, Associate Director of Alumni Relations

Debra Allen, Special Events Manager

Career Day Speaker

During Career Day, juniors and seniors hear from accomplished alumni about fields of interest, what careers in those industries involve and what recent graduates can expect on their journey. Previous speakers have worked in such areas as education, entrepreneurship, finance, law, medicine, public relations, public service, publishing and technology.

Networking Events

Each year the Alumni Office hosts a networking event for alumni, parents of alumni who have graduated in the last five years and current parents. These evenings are for anyone looking for a first job, preparing for a mid-career change, seeking guidance on how to advance in a current career, hoping to expand his or her professional network or simply interested in meeting other members of the MKA community. These two-hour events are held in the fall, usually in New York City, and a nominal fee is charged. The evening consists of one hour of formal networking followed by a one-hour reception, with appetizers and beverages, which provides more intimate and one-on-one networking and socializing. Panelists are alumni who have achieved a level of success in a selected field. If you would like to host the next networking event or participate as a featured speaker, please contact Alumni Director Lois Montorio, lmontorio@mka.org.

Fundraising Volunteering

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, alumni@mka.org or 973-509-7939.