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Alumni Updates: Class Years 1980-89


Below are archived updates for alumni graduating between 1980 and 1989. Visit the main Alumni Updates page for more updates received this year.

Lisa LaBanca Rogers '82- BA in English- My children's picture book, 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND THE RED WHEELBARROW, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, will be published in September, 2019 by Schwartz and Wade Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. A draft of this manuscript won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. The book is about the inspiration for Williams' favorite, and most famous poem. (01/2019)

Godfrey Simmons '88- BA in English- I'm appearing in an Off-Broadway show in NYC called The Winning Side with Epic Theatre Ensemble. I'm also Senior Lecturer in Cornell's Department of Performance and Media Arts, and Artistic Director of Civic Ensemble, a regional theatre in Ithaca NY. (10/2018)

Marna Ashburn '85- BA in English- I'm excited to announce the publication of my book, "Marriage During Deployment: A Memoir of a Military Marriage," published by Rowman and Littlefield, 2017. (10/2018)

Susan Young '88- BA in English- Happy to report that I continue to write, edit, and take photos in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Somehow I have managed to log 29 years of employment at Harvard, where I now work part time. I am grateful to William & Mary for helping me get to the Radcliffe Publishing Course some 30 years ago, the first step in my Harvard life. (04/2018)

Anne Marie Pace Belair '87- BA in English- Since my last update five years ago, I continue to work as a picture book author, writing teacher, and school speaker. I now have ten books published or soon-to-be published, including two Scholastic Reading Club original paperbacks, PIGLOO (Henry Holt, 2016), GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017), BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2018), and the four published and upcoming books of the VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (illustrated by LeUyen Pham, published by Disney-Hyperion), which has been developed into the Emmy-nominated Disney Junior animated series, VAMPIRINA. And finally in spring of 2019, my first "truck book" SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY, will be out from Abrams Appleseeds. (If you have young children, you know there can never be enough truck books!) With my youngest child heading to W&M this fall, I anticipate many happy hours becoming reacquainted with the Sunken Garden, the Cheese Shop, and old friends. (04/2018)

Elizabeth Bobst '85- BA in English- A book I've co-authored has been published and is available through Harvard Education Press. Leading Personalized and Digital Learning: A Framework for Implementing School Change provides school leaders with eight leadership essentials that must be addressed during a school's effective transition to more student-centered learning. (04/2018)

Martha Spong '82- BA in English and History- I am the co-author of a book published this spring, “Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith). (04/2018)

Marna Ashburn '85- BA in English- Hello! I wanted to share the good news that my book was recently released by Rowman & Littlefield Publishing. The title is MARRIAGE DURING DEPLOYMENT: A Memoir of a Military Marriage. It's available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Also, you can see my other books and check out my blog (Chronicles of Marna) at my website, (04/2018)

Marliss Melton '88- BA and MA in English Literature- A renowned author of romantic suspense, Marliss Melton has recently released her 17th full-length novel, HOT TARGET, book 4 of her Echo Platoon series. Marliss writes of the adventures of U.S. Navy SEALs and of their romantic commitment to women strong enough to love them. She'll be signing copies of her books at Barnes & Noble, Duke of Gloucester Street on Sunday, Oct 22nd from 12 to 4 PM. Please drop by! (10/2017)

John Barrett Warner '84- B.A. in English- My collection of poems, "Why Is It So Hard to Kill You?" was published last year by Somondoco Press, which is led by Hope Maxwell (B. A. English, 1983), and the book was printed by John Snyder (1982). It was great to reconnect with these Tucker Hall pals from so many years ago and to feel a sense of togetherness in such a lonely passion as writing.(10/2017)

Elaine Seeley Corriero '87- B.A. English- My path has been circuitous since my days at W&M. After getting my MFA in Creative Writing at Emerson College, I married and moved to Cincinnati. Here I have raised two beautiful daughters (one is a writer as well, living in LA now, and the other is a student at Savannah College of Art and Design) and become involved with our local High School Theatre. My time as Editor of the W&M Review has come in handy as I edit their Playbill for each show. I also write promotional reviews for the local newspapers, among many other tasks. They have produced two plays of mine, "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" (adapted from the book) and "A Reunion to Die For." I am currently working on a Sherlock Holmes play, tentatively entitled "The Adventure of the Veiled Lady," where Sherlock is actually a woman.
You can see some of my work through their website: (3/2017)

Anne Marie Pace Belair '87- B.A. English- I continue my career writing for children. I'm the author of eight published and upcoming picture books, including the VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series, which is being developed as a Disney Junior animated television series. It premieres this fall (2017).  Other books coming in the next year include GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion) and BUSY-EYED DAY (Simon & Schuster/Beach Lane).  All of my books benefit from my studies with Dr. Wenska, who taught me that sentence structure can carry meaning just as much as words particularly important when you are trying to write a complete, well-developed story in 500 words. (3/2017)

Lydia Dambekalns '81- B.A. English and Studio Art- I continue in my role as Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming. I've been here 20 years now, and have had sabbaticals to Benin, West Africa and Riga, Latvia. My firm belief that as many students as possible should have overseas experience has led me to take small study abroad groups in recent years to both of these places. I live on a 770 acre ranch west of Laramie, Wyoming. I am not married and do not have any human children. We raise horses and hay, riding many miles on mountain trails each summer. My William and Mary education (double majors) has allowed me to find continual lifetime delight in the written and spoken word, and the visual image. I intend to come to my 35th Homecoming reunion this October (I was in Africa during our 30th reunion). (10/2016)

Marliss Melton Arruda '88- B.A. English- Marliss Melton and Sydney Baily (both class of '88) are best friends and colleagues! They have co-written THE BLACK KNIGHT'S REWARD, a sweeping medieval romance set in the rein of King Henry II. (Available in e-book and paperback at your favorite online bookstore.) Marliss Melton is the bestsellling author of over twenty stories, primarily military romantic suspense featuring Navy SEALs. Sydney Baily has penned a Victorian American series called The Defiant Hearts. Together, these two alums make a dynamic duo! (10/2016)

Jane Vance '80 - BA English and Art   Jane Lillian Vance is the subject of a new documentary, A Gift for the Village, narrated by Public Radio International Host and Anchor, Lisa Mullins. The film had its world premiere this past June in Kathmandu, Nepal, and has its American premiere on September 16 at The Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia. Vance teaches The Creative Process at Virginia Tech and continues to paint. Please see to read more about the film. (2010)

Jennifer (Costello) Meeks '82 - BA English/Philosophy   Jennifer tells us: "I recently joined the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, as the General Counsel to the Office of Human Resources Management, practicing in the area of employment law with an emphasis on West Virginia law, policy and procedures." (2010)

Beth Barnes '80 – I am the director of the School of Journalism and Telecommunications and Associate Dean for Undergraduate and International Studies in the College of Communications and Information Studies at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. I put my English major background to use every day (and encourage my students to do a minor or second major in English). Our biggest on-going project is a partnership with media organizations in Zambia and Botswana. I go over to Africa several times a year to conduct workshops on advertising and other media topics. (2010)

Steve Kistulentz '89 - writes: "I am currently an assistant professor of English at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi. I am also the author of the forthcoming poetry collection THE LUCKLESS AGE, which recently won the Benjamin Saltman Award and will be published in early 2011 by Red Hen Press. (2010)

Romana Huk – '81 Ph.D. English & Government "I'm currently an Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame. After graduation from W&M in 1981, I did my doctoral work at, and received my Ph.D. from, UND -- so it's weird and wonderful to be back here teaching. I spent the years in between teaching at the University of New Hampshire, which also I loved, and which appointed me to direct their Cambridge University Summer Program -- where I met my English husband. I moved to the UK and taught at Oxford Brookes University, where I served as Fellow in their Centre for Modern and Contemporary Poetry. I moved back to the States and UND in 2002." (2010)

Lana Whited – '81 "On Oct. 10, 2010, I married my partner of 25 years, Katherine Grimes, in Washington, D.C. Katherine and I have four sons, Hailu, Brandon, Berhan, and Tyler. We are both members of the English faculty at Ferrum College, where I also advise the campus newspaper and direct the Boone Honors Program. I am the editor of the first published collection of critical essays on the Harry Potter series, The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter (Missouri 2002)." (2010)

Tracy (Edler) Leduc '86 - writes: "For about the past ten years or so, I have worked for Florida's Second District Court of Appeal as a staff attorney. In doing so, I spend a huge portion of my time drafting legal opinions. Clearly this is not particularly "creative" writing, although some might disagree. But I have to thank Professor Walt Wenska for teaching me in my Advanced Writing seminar how to analyze style and use style to complement the substance of the writing. On a much more creative note, I have been the commissioned author of numerous trial problems, which are fictitious case files prepared for law students to use during their trial advocacy classes and during national trial competitions between law schools. This lets me slip in and out of different characters while creating interesting facts for the students to use in learning to try cases.  I haven't been back to the 'burg in a while and won't make it for Homecoming this year either. But I wear my Tribe colors with pride here in sunny Florida. (2010)

Deidre Mullane '80 is now a literary agent with the Spieler Agency. 

Mullane picHer book Crossing the Danger Water: Three Hundred Years of African-American Writing was published in 1993. (2006)

Robert J. Whitaker '83 obtained a PhD in English from Princeton University in 1991, focusing on early modern and Renaissance culture and religion. His dissertation examined faith, ministry, and art in the work of George Herbert. In 1991 he began work as an ordained minister and became the founding pastor at St. John's Church in Virginia Beach. (2007)

Keith Clark '85 is now Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at Clark picGeorge Mason University. He is author of Black Manhood in James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines and August Wilson (2002) and editor of Contemporary Black Men’s Fiction and Drama (2001), both published by the University of Illinois Press. He writes: "As for my experiences at W&M, my years there and specifically my instruction in English were invaluable and provided me with an excellent foundation both as a writer and as an interpreter of literature. I remember a very rigorous and demanding yet nurturing environment; the small class sizes allowed students to work closely with instructors and to get individual instruction. I especially recall several professors and their commitment to my instruction: the late Dr. Cecil McCulley, term instructors David Rosenwasser and Ross Posnock, and especially Professors Walter Wenska and Joanne Braxton; Drs. Braxton, Posnock, and Wenska played a critical role in my decision to pursue graduate study. Dr. Braxton influenced me tremendously and fervently encouraged me to study African American literature on the graduate level. As a professor at GMU, I frequently reiterate for my students the solid training I received as an undergraduate at W&M; not only did W&M hone my critical thinking and writing skills, but it shaped my intellectual development and prepared me for the professoriate." (2006)

Susan Young '88 has been working as a writer and editor at Harvard. In her spare time she takes photos. She writes, "My husband and I were in Williamsburg last December and I showed him around and we agreed that W&M must be one of the most beautiful campuses in the world. I felt most nostalgic when visiting Tucker Hall." (2007)

Ann R. Meyer '89 attended graduate school at the University of Meyer picChicago and is an Associate Professor of Literature at Claremont McKenna College. In 2003 she published Medieval Allegory and the Building of the New Jerusalem (D. S. Brewer). (2006)

Ann Marie (Belair) Pace '87 - Ann Marie writes: "I am pleased to announce the publication of my first children'sbook, NEVER EVER TALK TO STRANGERS, which was published by Scholastic Book Clubs in August, 2010, and available through the Firefly Club. (2010)

Melody (Pitts) Scofield '88 BA; '88, MA Ed. '92 -"After enjoying many years as a stay-at-home Mom, I went back into teaching. I spent four lovely years as an adjunct English instructor at Harrisburg Area Community College, and now I'm back teaching high school English at Dallastown Area High School in Dallastown, PA. My husband (Jim - B.A. '88 and M.Ed. '91) and I return to the 'burg often, and still treasure our experience at W&M! (2010)

Katherine Ragsdale – '80 AB English and Religion The Very Rev. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale was married on 1/1/11 to The Rev. Canon Margaret Ewing Lloyd at the Episcopal Cathedral in Boston, MA by the bishop of the Diocese of Massachusetts, The Right Rev. M. Thomas Shaw, SJE (10/2011)

Lydia Dambekalns – '81  BA English and Studio Art Right after I left William and Mary, I served in the Peace Corps in Kenya, came back and taught English and Art in Arlington, VA public schools, and then studied for a Ph.D at Penn State University. I am still an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Art Education here at the University of Wyoming (where I have been since 1996). I am on my second sabbatical this coming year (the first I spent in Riga, Latvia on a Fulbright Scholar Award). This time I will be spending six months in Benin, West Africa, working at an organization that integrates all the Arts and focuses on how the Arts can positively affect populations in the developing world. I will be there from October 2011 to April 2012. If you want to check it out further, google The program is supported and partially funded by the U.S. Peace Corps. (10/2011)

Anne Marie Pace Belair – ’87 BA English Over the past five years, I've published four books: two with Scholastic Book Clubs (now Scholastic Readings Clubs) and two with Disney-Hyperion. The second, A TEACHER FOR BEAR, was dedicated to my fabulous writing professor at W&M, Walter Wenska, along with a couple of my high school and grad school teachers. My most recent books are VAMPIRINA BALLERINA and VAMPIRINA BALLERINA HOSTS A SLEEPOVER, both illustrated by New York Times Best Selling illustrator LeUyen Pham. For a number of years I published The 4:00 Book Hook, a newsletter connecting authors and books with parents, teachers, and librarians. While The Book Hook is now defunct, I continue to connect with readers through book signings, school presentations and book festivals and of course, I'm writing new books. If any W&M English major teachers are out there and read this, I can do a limited number of free Skype visits with early elementary grades or high school creative writing classes. Just let me know if you're interested. (10/2013)

Amy Lee Locklear Young – ’84 BA English As a full-time composition instructor at Auburn University Montgomery, recently appointed to the position of Composition Administration Coordinator. Also named as AUM Distinguished Lecturer 2013-2016. (10/2013)

Elizabeth (Eli) Wallace – ’84 BA English After graduation, Eli went to Telluride, Colorado, to start a festival magazine with her brother. She has since become the lead designer and editor of Telluride Festivarian, which is in its 3rd edition. She has also recently completed her first spec script and is working on a second feature-length screenplay. (10/2013)

Mike D’Orso – ’81 MA English Mike is currently at work on his seventeenth book, a memoir titled "WITH: The Unlikely Career of a Collaborative Writer." His previous books, all in the form of narrative nonfiction, include five of his own titles and eleven which he co-authored with the subject. The topics range from politics to professional football, from racial conflict to environmental destruction, from inner-city public education to social justice to spinal cord injury. The list of his books can be found at
Honors for Mike's work include the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, the New York Times Notable Book of the Year list, Newsweek Magazine's 2009 list of "50 Books For Our Times," the American Library Association's Nonfiction Book of the Year, the Lillian Smith Book Award for writing on social justice, the Christopher Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the American Library Association's Alex Award, selection among the New York Public Library's "25 Best Books of the Year." Eight of Mike's books have been national bestsellers. Three have been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His newspaper work as a feature writer at the Virginian-Pilot was also nominated three times for a Pulitzer. He has appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show," C-Span's "Book TV," MSNBC and numerous National Public Radio programs, including Michael Feldman's "Whad'Ya Know? Besides his books, Mike's magazine and newspaper writing has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Reader's Digest, The Oxford American, People magazine, and the Washington Post, and has been included three times in “Best Sports Stories,†published annually by The Sporting News. A chapter Mike wrote on journalistic research methods was included in The Complete Book of Feature Writing (Writer's Digest Books, 1991), and his academic work on Jack Kerouac has been included in Studies in American Fiction and the QPB Literary Review.

Mike has taught narrative nonfiction writing at the College of William and Mary and at Old Dominion University, where he delivered the Commencement Address to ODU's Class of 2006. (10/2013)

Robert Fanuzzi – ’83 BA English and Philosophy Since leaving Tucker Hall in 1983, I have become Associate Professor of English at St. John's University, where I teach and research African-American literature and culture and eighteenth century trans-Atlantic studies. In addition to serving as Assistant Chair, I have recently created an American Studies major that uses interdisciplinary coursework and community partnerships to maximize the value of humanities degrees. (10/2013)

Brad Whitehurst – ’85 BA English Alan Salz and I were married in New York City on July 15, 2012, the eighteenth anniversary of our original exchange of rings in a private ceremony. An announcement in the New York Times may be found at the following link: (10/2013)

Christopher Kennelly – ’83 BA English I've been teaching second and/or third grade in Morton Grove, a Chicago suburb, since 1998, following many years working in independent bookstores in Virginia and Chicago.

Cary Holladay – ’80 AB English and Government I'm an Associate Professor of English at the University of Memphis, where I teach in the Creative Writing Program, direct the River City Writers Series, and write fiction. Please visit my website, (10/13)

Mary Bowman – ’86 AB English and Mathematics I am currently Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. I teach everything from Old English to Milton, and as of this writing (Dec. 2011) I am just wrapping up a semester teaching a newly-created First-Year Seminar course on The Lord of the Rings. (10/13)

John Kelly '88- M.A. in English Literature and Language. Currently teach at Old Dominion and in the Virginia Beach Public School system. Work summers as an Ocean Lifeguard. Published in American Lifeguard magazine. Coach basketball in the Portsmouth Invitation Tournament. (10/2013)

Hilary Holladay '87 M.A. in English. LSU Press has published the revised and expanded edition of my book Wild Blessings: The Poetry of Lucille Clifton, a critical study of the poet and memoirist who died in 2010. In other publishing news, I have founded Jefferson Park Press, a small publishing company producing "brave books for fearless readers." The first book is Believe in Me: A Teen Mom's Story by Judith Dickerman-Nelson. Info about JP Press is at