Board of Trustees
2022-2023 Board of Trustees
Officers of the Board of Trustees
Nicholas A. Stephens, Chair
Barbara U. Deane, Vice Chair
James S. Simon, Vice Chair
Suzzane Brundage, Secretary
Brian Murphy, Treasurer
Richard Ader founded U.S. Realty Advisors, LLC in October, 1989 and has been in the corporate real estate net lease industry since 1968. He serves as Chairman of the company and is the Chief Investment Officer and portfolio manager. He is one of the pioneers in the field of corporate sale-leaseback transactions and a leading authority on the subject. Previously, he was Chairman of the Board and CEO of American Real Estate Partners, a New York Stock Exchange listed master limited partnership consisting of net lease real estate. US Realty Advisors currently has $3 billion of assets under management and is investing for its current institutional net lease fund which has $350 million of equity to invest. He is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in Banking and Finance. He was All Conference in basketball and member of the University's Athletic Hall of Fame. He serves on the Board of the University of Vermont Foundation and is Chairman of the Advisory Board to the College of Arts and Sciences. Richard also serves on the Boards of the Southern Vermont Health Care System, the USTA Foundation, and the Owners and Builders Division of the Real Estate Board of New York. Richard previously served on the Board of Women's Sports Foundation. He is also the Owner of the Bennington Tennis Center, which he developed in 2010.
Priscilla Alexander received her BA from Bennington College in 1958 and an MFA from Columbia University in 1964. She is the founder and former president of Protravel International, Inc., which she established in 1984. Today one of the nation’s largest agencies specializing in high-end trips, Protravel is a diversified travel company that ranks among the top 20 agencies in the United States and first in the luxury market. Priscilla is a leader in the industry and serves on many prestigious advisory boards for leading travel organizations and publications. She has been a trustee of the College since 2001.
Tracy Katsky Boomer graduated from Bennington in 1991 with a degree in Drama. Tracy is a veteran Hollywood development executive who launched her own production company, KatCo., in March 2014 in conjunction with Aaron Kaplan at Kapital Entertainment. Previously, Tracy was an Executive Producer with Deedle Dee Productions, a production owned by Greg Daniels which is best known for producing long-running series King of the Hill, The Office, and Parks and Recreation. Prior to that, Tracy was Senior Vice President of Development and Original Programming for Nickelodeon for four years. She has also held the positions of Senior Vice President of Development at HBO Independent Productions, Senior Vice President of Comedy at Fox Broadcasting, and Senior Vice President and Head of Comedy at Regency TV, where she was responsible for comedy projects including the series Malcolm in the Middle. Tracy and her husband, Linwood Boomer, a Canadian-American television producer, writer, and actor, have two daughters as well as two sons from his previous marriage.
Deborah Borda throughout her career has extended the artistic, commercial, and technological boundaries of American symphony orchestras. She became President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Philharmonic in September 2017. Prior posts include President and CEO, David C. Bohnett Presidential Chair, of the Los Angeles Philharmonic; Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic; General Manager of the San Francisco Symphony; President and Managing Director of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra; and Executive Director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. In 2015 she became the first arts executive to join Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership as a Hauser Leader-in-Residence. In 2018 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and named Chair of the Avery Fisher Artist Program. A former professional violist, Borda graduated from Bennington College and continued her studies at London’s Royal College of Music. She received an Honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music. She is in demand internationally as a consultant and lecturer, and her accomplishments in the field of orchestral music have been cited in numerous reviews and articles, both nationally and internationally.
Susan Paris Borden entered Bennington College in 1965. After attending Bennington, she extended her undergraduate interest in economics and energy policy by becoming a senior energy fellow at the Aspen Institute. Today, Susan is vice chairman of the Bumper Group of Companies, a private investment firm with offices in Canada, France, Bermuda, and the United States. The company explores for and produces oil and natural gas, develops real estate in Europe, and makes venture capital investments in technology, biomedicine, and education. In the mid-1980s, Borden revived a lifelong interest in the neurosciences and psychology and has, for more than a decade, been a member of the board of trustees for the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego. Susan joined the Bennington College Board of Trustees in 1978, since which time she has served the College in several capacities, including Chairman of the Board. Susan has five stepchildren and nine grandchildren; her eldest granddaughter received her BA from Bennington in 2001 and completed Bennington’s MAT program in 2002.
Suzanne Brundage is Director of Population Health for PM Pediatrics. She was formerly a director for the Children’s Health Initiative Program and health policy analyst at the United Hospital Fund, a nonprofit health services research organization and philanthropic organization whose primary mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York. In that capacity she examined and supported innovations that improve the performance of the health system, particularly in how it serves traditionally under-served and at-risk populations. Prior to working at the United Hospital Fund she was the Assistant Director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. She has published on a range of health issues including HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, the World Health Organization, and the provision of healthcare in developing countries. She has also worked with Catholic AIDS Action in Katutura, Namibia, with Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, OH, and Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts. Suzanne earned a B.A. in 2008 from Bennington College and earned a Masters of Science degree from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2014.
Matthew Clarke is Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space. He is an architect, urban planner and writer, and was the former National Director of Creative Placemaking for the Trust for Public Land. Prior to that, Clarke was a Design Associate at SHoP Architects PC where he specialized in large-scale planning and development projects in New York City. Before joining SHoP, Matthew worked in Mayor Bloomberg’s administration managing cultural capital projects around the city for the Department of Cultural Affairs, the largest funder of culture in America. A native of Lexington, KY he has served as a planning advisor to its Mayor, Jim Gray. In other capacities, Matthew has worked on architecture projects that range from campus student centers to progressive playgrounds for Stan Allen Architect, LTL Architects, and Jeffrey Inaba. Matthew has been a trustee of AIA/NY and the Center for Architecture. Matthew was the Henry Young III Fellow at Princeton University – where he received his MArch and Urban Policy certificate from the Woodrow Wilson School – the 2011 KPF Fellowship winner, and a Gaines Fellow at the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with a BA in Humanities and Architecture.
George Davison served as Head of Grace Church School from 1994 to 2022. His teaching career in New York City schools includes St. David’s School where he taught history and science and Birch Wathen where he served as head of the middle school. During Mr. Davison's tenure at Grace, the operating budget grew from $3 million a year to $40 million and the endowment grew from $1 million to $45 million. Mr. Davison has been involved in a number of professional and community not-for-profit boards. A life-long New Yorker, he lives on the west side of Manhattan with his wife, Judith Rivkin, and has two adult children, Sam and Alice.
Barbara Ushkow Deane, vice chair, is a 1951 graduate of Bennington; she earned her MBA from Adelphi University. She is a retired interior designer and president of the Ushkow Foundation in New York City. Additionally, she is a trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and the North Shore Hospital Health Network. She has served on the art committee of Hebrew Union College. She has been a trustee of Bennington College since 1975.
Bill Derrough is a managing director and co-head of the Recapitalization & Restructuring Group at Moelis & Company. He has been in the investment banking industry for 20 years. From 1998 until joining Moelis & Company in July 2008, he co-founded and co-headed the Recapitalization & Restructuring Group at Jefferies & Company. Prior to joining Jefferies, Derrough was a principal with the San Francisco-based private investment firm of Doyle & Boissiere for one year, where he was responsible for identifying and executing controlling equity investments in underperforming companies and assisting them in their operational turnarounds. Bill sits on the board of directors for The American Bankruptcy Institute, the largest multi-disciplinary, non-partisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency, as well as Lambda Legal, a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people, and those with HIV, through impact litigation, education, and public policy work. He formerly served on the boards of Strategic Partners, Inc.; Scott Cable Communications, Inc.; and Maitri, a San Francisco-based non-profit AIDS hospice, for which he also served as board treasurer. Derrough received his BA from the University of California, Berkeley.
Florence Gill is from Yorkshire (UK) and graduated from Bennington College in 2022, with a degree in theatre and politics. Florence will be the Production Management Fellow at Berkeley Repertory Theatre for the 2022-2023 season. As an avid theatre maker and community organiser, their work culminates in projects on community; social integration; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Florence has worked on theatre and film in the UK and the USA, including projects with Living Room Theatre (USA), Slung Low Theatre Company (UK); Imagine If Theatre Company (UK); Rock Challenge (UK); The Montgomery Theatre and Arts Centre (UK); and Dorset Theatre Festival (USA). As a student at Bennington College, Florence collaborated on college initiatives for sustainable stewardship, democratisation, and connecting with the local community. Florence also directed, produced, stage-managed, and performed in many productions there. These experiences, and Florence’s year as a Drama Student Educational Policies Committee (SEPC) representative, inspired them to coordinate with the drama discipline to ensure DEI initiatives truly respond to the needs of marginalised students. For the past two years Florence also facilitated collaboration on the institutional, academic, and student life scale as President of SEPC. Florence is an alumna of the Sutton Trust US Programme, which is delivered in partnership with the Fulbright Commission.
Michael Hecht attended Bronx High School of Science and received his BBA from the City College of New York in 1958. He is a CPA and was the former president of the certified public accounting firm Hecht and Company, PC. He is currently a Consultant and retired Partner of Citrin Cooperman & Company LLP, where he has provided high-level tax and accounting services to closely-held and privately-owned businesses focusing primarily on trust & estate planning as well as arts & culture. Prior to that, he was the president of the certified public accounting firm Hecht and Company, PC. He also serves on the board of the City University of New York’s Graduate Center Foundation and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation. Additionally, Michael is an officer and Director of the Nancy Graves Foundation, the Lucille Lortel Foundation, the Al Held Foundation and the Trisha Brown Dance Company, of which he is treasurer. Michael has been a trustee since 1991.
Alan Kornberg entered Bennington in 1970 and studied social science as a member of the class of 1974; he received his AB, magna cum laude, from Brandeis University in 1974 and his JD from New York University in 1977. A practicing attorney, he is a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, a major law firm in New York City, where he serves as chair of the Bankruptcy Department and as a member of the firm's Management Committee. Beyond his casework, Alan serves as the Second Circuit Regent of the American College of Bankruptcy and is the chair of the Committee on Bankruptcy and Corporate Reorganization of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Alan has been a trustee of Bennington College since 2004, and was chairman from 2011-2019. He lives in New York City.
Odili Donald Odita received his MFA from Bennington in 1990 and was born in Enugu, Nigeria and lives and works in Philadelphia. Odita is an abstract painter exploring color both in the figurative historical context and in the sociopolitical sense. Odita has had several national and international exhibitions in museums and art institutions including; Every Day: Selections from the Collection, Baltimore Museum of Art (2019-2020); Black Refractions: Highlights from The Studio Museum in Harlem (Travelling, 2019-2020); Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art (2018); Prospect.4, The Lotus in Spite of the Swamp (2017-2018); Represent: 200 Years of African American Art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art (2015), among others. Odita has been commissioned to paint large-scale wall installations that include; The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond (2020); the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (2019); Newark Museum (2017); Mural Arts Program, Philadelphia (2016); the Nasher Museum of Art, Durham (2015); Ezra Stiles College at Yale University, New Haven (2015); the George C. Young Federal Building and Courthouse in Orlando, FL (2013); United States Mission to the United Nations in New York (2011); the New Orleans Museum of Art (2011); Give Me Shelter, the 52nd Venice Biennale exhibition, Think with the Senses, Feel with the Mind, curated by Robert Storr.
Melissa A. Rosenberg, a multiple Emmy nominee, graduated from Bennington in 1986 and is Series Creator and Showrunner of “Marvel’s Jessica Jones,” starring Krysten Ritter. The show garnered tremendous response and critical acclaim, including winning the prestigious Peabody Award for its genre-bending approach. As one of Hollywood’s most versatile, sought-after storytellers, Rosenberg is currently in an overall deal with Warner Bros. TV to develop new projects. Her company, Tall Girls Productions, focuses on developing and producing film and TV series with an emphasis on interesting, complex roles for women in front of and behind the camera. On the film side, Rosenberg’s credits include all five screenplays for the vampire romance phenomenon, “The Twilight Saga,” which grossed more than $3 billion worldwide. She also wrote the hit dance film, “Step Up,” which launched a multi-film franchise. Additional television credits in Rosenberg’s diverse range include four seasons as both head writer and Executive Producer of the Showtime original series, “Dexter,” which earned the prestigious Peabody Award, three Emmy nominations, three Writers Guild of America Award nominations, and two Golden Globe nominations for Best Drama Series. Her additional credits include “Ally McBeal,” “The O.C.,” “Party of Five,” “Boston Public,” “The Agency,” “The Magnificent Seven,” and Creator and Showrunner of ABC’s “Red Widow,” which was also produced under her Tall Girl Productions banner.
Daniel Rowland is a retired professor of history at the University of Kentucky. He has published numerous articles on early modern Russia, and his current projects include an investigation of rituals, art, and architecture in the throne rooms of Russia. He earned his PhD from Yale. He currently splits his time between Kentucky and Maine.
Ellen Safir graduated from Bennington in 1966 and is the Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Chief Investment Officer of New Century Advisors in Chevy Chase, MD. Ellen is responsible for the overall investment and business strategies. An early adopter of Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS), she has helped advance the firm's reputation as an expert in inflation-linked securities. Ellen's personal expertise in the fixed income markets also extends to the emerging market and high-yield sectors, as well as to traditional fixed income sectors. Her prior experience includes serving for 16 years as Managing Director of Fixed Income & Currencies at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a nonprofit medical research organization and one of the nation’s largest philanthropies. There, she was a pioneer in developing “core plus,” now a commonly accepted strategy that employs a broad opportunity set within portfolios. Before joining HHMI, Ellen was Assistant Treasurer of the American National Red Cross, where she managed operating reserves and oversaw the organization's retirement system and endowment portfolios. She began her career as a Financial Analyst at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, DC. Ellen is Vice Chair of the Investment Committee of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, is Board Member & Development Chair of Horizons Greater Washington, and serves on the Finance Committee of the Foundation for Advanced Education in Science at the National Institutes of Health. She is a past President of the Washington Society of Investment Analysts and the Washington Association of Money Managers, and formerly served on the Board of Directors of Century National Bank of Washington, DC and of AARP Mutual Funds, where she was Chair of the Investment Committee. She moderated an Economic Outlook panel discussion for the CFA Institute in 2015 and recently attended the 100 Women in Finance Gala in NYC. Ellen studied Social Science at Bennington and received her MBA from George Washington University.
Mary Scanlan is the co-owner and CEO of Woody Creek Distillery and is also a longtime small business owner in Basalt, CO. At Woody Creek Distillers, Mary oversees architecture, design, retails and tasting room operations, as well as marketing and events. Mary studied photography and art history at Bennington for two years, then graduated from Drake University with a B.A. in Art History. Mary contributes her time and energy to several nonprofit organizations in the Aspen Valley, as well as serving on the board of directors of the Aspen Country Day School, Aspen Community Foundation, Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines, and Loomis Chaffee School. She formerly served as chair of the board of Anderson Ranch Arts Center.
Sekka Scher graduated from Bennington in 1990 with a degree in History. Co-founder and Principal of Ellipsis Entertainment, Sekka has launched and cultivated the careers of multiple Oscar and Emmy winners/nominees, including Michael K Williams who played the iconic “Omar” in THE WIRE. In 2019, Sekka was honored with the Hudas Schwartz Liff Outstanding Volunteer Award in connection with her work launching the Spencer Cox '90 Field Work Term Fellowship for Public Action, inspired by her dear friend and classmate Spencer’s work as citizen scientist and pivotal AIDS activist who lobbied congress to influence the FDA’s approval of life extending drugs during the height of the crisis. A fourth generation New Yorker, Sekka lives in NYC with her husband, lawyer Steven Williams, and daughter Sydney.
Charlene Solow Schwartz graduated from Bennington in 1954 with a degree in social sciences. She wrote her thesis on the College’s finances and argued that the College’s fiscal health was not stable and needed a healthy endowment in order to survive. She tells the story of President Leigh attending her thesis presentation and arguing against her. Charlene later studied at Columbia University, graduating with her Master of Science degree in 1957. Charlene is President of Solow Inc., which has owned and operated hotels and restaurants for over 30 years. Most recently her company is managing and building Marriott Hotels in Philadelphia. Charlene was the first female franchisee of the Marriott Corporation and Applebee’s Restaurants. She joined the Board of Trustees in 2013.
Jonathan Marc Sherman is a playwright and actor whose plays include Clive; Knickerbocker; Things We Want; Evolution; Wonderful Time; Sons & Fathers; Sophistry; Veins & Thumbtacks; Women & Wallace; and Serendipity & Serenity. He co-founded Malaparte, and is a member of LAByrinth. Jonathan studied drama at Bennington and graduated in 1990. He is married to film producer and director Alexandra Shiva. His hobby is writing about himself in the third person.
Jim Simon, vice chair, graduated from Bennington with his BA in American Studies in 1997 and from the University of Akron School of Law in 2000 with his JD, magna cum laude. In law school, he was managing editor of the Akron Law Review. After graduation, Jim joined the northeast Ohio law firm, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC. From 2003-2006, he served the Summit County Engineer as Director of Administration, responsible for financial administration, labor relations, and IT. He rejoined the Firm in 2007 and became a partner in the real estate, public law and business practice groups in 2009. In 2021, he became Partner at Amer Cunningham Co., LPA. A lifelong resident of Akron, he serves on several boards and commissions, including ideastream (a not-for-profit multiple-media public service organization serving the communities of Northeast Ohio) and the Standing Commission on Constitution & Canons of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. Jim was a recent graduate trustee from 1997–1999 and rejoined the Bennington Board as a trustee in 2000.
Nick Stephens, chair, graduated from Bennington in 1977 with a degree in Literature. While there he studied with Bill Dixon, Alan Cheuse, Nick Delbanco, Alvin Feinman, and Claude Fredericks. After several years working in New York City, he attended Columbia Business School where he received his MBA in Finance in 1981. Following a brief stint in consulting with Coopers & Lybrand, Nick joined Edgewood Management Company (now Edgewood Management LLC) in 1984 and continues to work there today, having become a Portfolio Manager in 1987 and a Partner in 1993. He is a member of Edgewood’s Investment Committee. Nick has been on the board of Bennington since 2015, serving as Chairman of the Investment Committee, Vice-Chairman and now Board Chairman. He is Chairman of the Board of the Greater NY Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, having served on that board since 2006. Nick has also served as President of The Community Fund of Bronxville, Eastchester and Tuckahoe, and as Treasurer of the Bronxville School Foundation. Other previous community involvements include board and investment committee member of Lawrence Hospital Center in Bronxville, co-head of the Investment Committee of the Reformed Church of Bronxville, board and investment committee member of the Bronxville Historical Conservancy, and investment committee member of Sarah Lawrence College. Nick was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1954 and raised in Summit, New Jersey. He met his wife, Lisa Kunstadter, at Columbia Business School. They have two adult sons and have resided in Bronxville, NY since 1986.
Catharine Stimpson, one of the pioneers in the study of women and gender, a founder of feminist criticism, is also known for her role as a public intellectual and her public service, which includes her wide-ranging writing on the humanities, liberal arts, and the university. She is University Professor and Dean Emerita of the Graduate School of Arts and Science at New York University and is an affiliated member of the NYU Law School Faculty. From January, 1994, to October, 1997, she served as Director of the Fellows Program at the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago. Simultaneously, she was on leave from her position as University Professor at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick, where, from 1986-1992, she was also Dean of the Graduate School and Vice Provost for Graduate Education. Before going to Rutgers, she taught at Barnard College, where she was also the first director of its Women’s Center. The author of a novel, Class Notes (1979, 1980), and the editor of seven books, she has also published over 150 monographs, essays, stories, and reviews in such places as Transatlantic Review, Nation, New York Times Book Review, Critical Inquiry, and boundary 2. Born in Bellingham, Washington, she was educated at Bryn Mawr College, Cambridge University, and Columbia University. She holds honorary degrees from numerous Colleges and Universities, and has also won Fulbright and Rockefeller Humanities Fellowships.
Gabriela Yadegari graduated from Bennington College in 2021 with concentrations in Visual Art, Sound, and Public Action. As an artist and educator, Gabriela’s work is informed by their upbringing in the borderlands of Tucson, Arizona where they were raised in a multicultural household. During their time at Bennington, Gabriela pursued several leadership roles including First Year Forum Co-Leader and Student Educational Policies Committee Representative for CAPA. Gabriela served a two year term as Station Manager for Bennington College Radio, during which they introduced new community partnerships including an after-school radio DJing program for students at Molly Stark Elementary School. Additionally, Gabriela assisted in co-founding the Restorative Justice Club to implement restorative practices on campus and in Bennington public schools. They recently completed a participant-informed historical research project with the former children of St. Joseph’s Orphanage as they inquired into cases of abuse, commissioned by the Burlington Community Justice Center, a division of the Community and Economic Development Office (CEDO) of the City of Burlington. Gabriela seasonally works as a Volunteer Programmer for KXCI Community Radio and remotely serves on the Arts Programming Committee for Groundworks Tucson, a youth-driven community arts space and nonprofit. Gabriela now works as a Field Administrative Fellow, Artists At Work at THE OFFICE performing arts + film, and prior to that role worked in the Education Department at MASS MoCA where they assisted in the design and implementation of educational programming for museum visitors, local public schools, and families involved in the Massachusetts foster care system.