The Mason Spirit: The Magazine for Alumni and Friends of George Mason University


Arts and Sciences


Gwen H. Estep, B.A. English ’68, retired from the National Archives and Records Administration in 2002 after 33 years of service.


Ramon E. Planas Jr., B.A. Spanish ’70 and M.A. Foreign Languages ’78, retired from the Fairfax County Public Schools after 31 years and now works as an adjunct faculty member at George Mason.

Keith M. Dovenspike, M.A. Psychology ’78, married Kathy Ann Simpson on April 26, 2003. The couple resides in Warren, Pennsylvania.

Rodney Garcia, B.A. Philosophy ’78, has written a book, The Right Place and Other Stories, which is being released by PublishAmerica.

Daria Borsa Matacia, B.M. ’78, has a teaching studio with 40 piano and voice students and a band, Angel & Aces, which recently performed at Blues Alley. The band also performs at officer’s clubs, restaurants, and private functions. Daria’s web site is

Emilio C. Bianchi, B.A. Sociology ’79, was promoted to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. He is a senior program management analyst for Dynetics in Huntsville, Alabama.


Michael Frey, B.A. Government and Politics ’83, received the Community Leadership National Association Distinguished Leader Award from Leadership Fairfax Inc. at the seventh annual Northern Virginia Leadership Awards Gala on November 8, 2003.

Marjorie Knight, B.A. Psychology ’84 and M.A. Psychology ’87, a psychotherapist, is now a licensed professional counselor with a private practice in Sterling, Virginia.

John Potock, B.A. English ’86, and Susan (Snyder) Potock, B.S. Elementary Education ’90, announce the birth of their son, Tyler Michael, on June 25, 2003. Tyler joins big sister Molly Elizabeth. John is a pilot with American Airlines, and Susan, formerly a second grade teacher with the Fairfax County Public Schools, is a stay-at-home mom.

Robert Sowell Sr., B.A. Communication ’86, was appointed by the Stafford County Public School Board to its Career and Technical Education Advisory Committee on September 9, 2003.

Loretta W. Prencipe, B.A Russian Studies ’87 and J.D. ’95, won several awards in 2003 from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, including a bronze, Western Region, for editing “Widening the Safety Net” and editing and writing InfoWorld’s 2002 Compensation Survey, and a silver for editing “CTO of the Year; Dawn Meyerreicks.”

Steven Shea, B.A History ’87, commanded the 80th Transportation Detachment through 10 months of combat duty in the Horn of Africa and then in Kuwait, where the unit received all forces arriving in the theater in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is now the executive officer of the 49th Transportation Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas.

Judy Tomczak, B.I.S. Public Relations for Nonprofit Organizations ’89, was appointed by the Henry County (Virginia) Board of Supervisors to a four-year term on the Patrick Henry Community College Board in July 2003.


Tracey Laine Cunningham, B.A. English/Creative Writing ’90, won the James Jones First Novel Fellowship for her manuscript, The Message Stick. The award is administered by Wilkes University’s Humanities Division and was established in 1992 to honor the spirit of writing exemplified by James Jones, the author of From Here to Eternity. Cunningham, whose work was chosen from a pool of 647 submissions, was presented with the $6,000 prize last October.

David Robert Kilpatrick, B.A. Theater ’91, and his wife, Barbara, are delighted to announce the birth of their daughter, Abigail Rose, on March 6, 2003.

Elisabeth Murawski, M.F.A. ’91, won third prize in the international Davoren Hanna Poetry Competition for her poem published last September in Dubliner magazine.

Warren Basil Shaffer, B.S. Biology ’91, is a family physician with his own practice, Belle Haven Family Medicine, in Alexandria, Virginia. Warren earned his medical degree with honors from Meharry Medical College in 1995. He has a 15-year-old son, Joshua.

Musa L. Eubanks, B.A. Government and Politics ’93, who received a J.D. from George Washington University in 1996, has opened his own law practice, Eubanks & Jones, in Washington, D.C.

Bonnie M. Morgan, B.A. English ’93 and J.D. ’98, is working on a master’s degree in information science at the University of Tennessee.

Holly Larsen Palmeri, B.A. Communication ’93, was promoted to senior vice president, client services, at Online Resources Corporation.

Ben Thorner, B.A. Government and Politics ’93, and Chris Paine Thorner, B.A. English ’93, moved to Thousand Oaks, California, from Boulder, Colorado, for Ben’s new job as corporate counsel for AMGEN. They also welcomed their first child, Max, on April 19, 2003.

Christopher Boes, M.S. Biology ’94, a lieutenant in the Coast Guard, was selected to serve as the executive officer for the Maritime Safety and Security Team, one of the Coast Guard’s newest weapons against terrorism.

John C. Clough, B.A. History ’94, received his law degree from the University of Miami and has joined the national firm of Quarles & Brady as an associate. John will focus on commercial litigation and business law in the firm’s Naples, Florida, office.

Linda Neher LaMarca, M.A. Clinical Psychology ’94 and Ph.D. Clinical Psychology ’96, a self-employed neuropsychologist, announces the birth of her son, Charles Anthony, on February 19, 2003.

Lisa M. Pflaumer, M.P.A. ’95, was the top vote-getter in the race for township supervisor for Middletown Township, Bucks County (Pennsylvania), in the November 2003 election. Lisa was sworn in as supervisor for a six-year term in January.

Jennifer Sabatino, B.A. Biology ’95, and Steve Sabatino, B.A. Psychology ’97, announce the birth of their daughter, Madison Ashlee, on July 10, 2003. They also have a 2 1⁄2-year-old son, Nicholas Matthew.

J. David Harvey, M.P.A. ’96, joined Hale and Dorr as its mid-Atlantic business development manager. He will lead the marketing and practice development efforts of approximately 80 attorneys in the firm’s Washington, D.C., and Reston, Virginia, offices.

J. Matthew Jones, B.A. Communication ’96, has earned his first-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and completed his progress exam toward his second-degree black belt.

Peter Ramos, M.F.A. ’96, has published a chapbook of poems, Short Waves, winner of the White Eagle Coffee Store Press Fall 2002 Poetry Chapbook Contest. Peter, who is completing his Ph.D. at the State University of New York at Buffalo, married Diane Smith this past summer.

Charlotte Rooney, B.A. Government and Politics ’96, and Josh Scandlen, B.A. Economics ’97, welcomed their second daughter, Chloe Grace, on October 16, 2003. Their older daughter, Madelyn Abigail, turned three in August. The family resides in Dayton, Virginia, where Charlotte is a stay-at-home mom. Josh is branch manager of First Citizens Bank in Harrisonburg.

Gilbert C. Corella, M.A. Music ’97, plays tuba in the U.S. Air Force Band and conducts the Loudoun Symphonic Winds in Ashburn, Virginia. He is also on the Hispanic-American Heritage Committee at Bolling Air Force Base.

Heather Dawson, B.S. Administration of Justice ’97, announces the birth of her daughter, Lauren Elizabeth, born on August 9, 2003.

C.E. (Chris) Putnam, M.F.A. ’97, wrote Things Keep Happening, a book-length poem, which was published by P.I.S.O.R. Publications. His chapbook, Recent in Origin: A Visual Anthem for the Wet Frontier, originally composed as a companion to a multimedia show, is now in its second printing.

Ashonda Lynn Davenport, B.A. English ’98, went on a Mason study- abroad trip to Kenya in summer 1997.The trip sparked an interest in world travel, and in 1999 she set off on a four-year backpacking journey around the world, visiting Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, southeast Asia, and India.

David J. Freedman, B.A. Philosophy and Spanish ’98, earned his J.D. from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond and has joined the Richmond office of McGuire Woods as an associate in the Products Liability and Litigation Management Department.


Catherine Murensky’s dissertation, “The Relationships between Emotional Intelligence, Personality, Critical Thinking Ability and Organizational Leadership Performance at Upper Levels of Management,” last year made the Top 10 list nationally of dissertations requested through ProQuest, a company that offers access to thousands of consumer and scholarly periodicals and dissertations online. Murensky graduated with a Ph.D. in Psychology in 2000.

Jen Adams, B.S. Social Work ’99, a case manager for the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, married James F. Davis, J.D. ’97, an associate with the firm of Greenspun & Mann in Fairfax.

David Venafro, B.A. Communication ’99, a professional actor in Los Angeles, is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.


Lucia Angelini, B.A. Psychology ’00, married Jason Rockwell, B.A. Communication ’00, on June 21, 2003. The couple met and began dating during their freshman year at George Mason. They now live in Missoula, Montana.

Toula Avramis Gross, B.A. Government and Politics ’00 and J.D. ’03, was married in June 2001.

Carrie Teresa Sage Maison, B.A. English ’00, married Nicolas Maison, B.A. Communication ’98, on September 20, 2003.

Sam Myers Jr., B.A. Communication ’00, married his wife, Jennifer, in 2001. He is the deputy director of advance for the John Edwards for President campaign based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Sangeeta Rao, B.A. Communication ’00, is a marketing and press assistant at the Food Network in New York City.

Owen D. Young Jr., M.A.I.S. ’00 works for iecei, a company that produces interactive video, multimedia training, and traditional film and video programs. He is also an adjunct faculty member teaching multimedia production at George Mason. In 2003, Young received two Telly Awards for his DVD for the National Gallery of Art and his DVD for the National Library of Medicine. He is profiled in the November issue of Producer magazine in its “Top Producers of 2003” feature article.

Lisa Alexander, B.A. Biology ’01, is engaged to Todd Fitzgerald, B.S. Marketing ’01. Lisa is a biologist at Merck & Company in West Point, Pennsylvania.

Christine M. Waysome, B.A. Communication ’01, married Ellihue Henderson III on August 16, 2003.

Samantha Robinson, B.S. Psychology ’03, moved back to Charleston, West Virginia, and now works as a service coordinator for Braley & Thompson, a foster care agency in St. Albans, West Virginia.



Jeff Johnson, B.S. Business Administration ’75, president of Johnson & Strachan of Burke, Virginia, announces the merger of his business with Dygve Insurance Services and the relocation of the firm to a new suite of offices on Pender Drive in Fairfax.

William P. Henry, M.B.A. ’76, marketing manager of Schaaf & Wheeler Consulting Civil Engineers, became president-elect of the American Society of Civil Engineers at its annual business meeting last November.

Donald Falkenstein, B.S. Business Administration ’79, was selected as vice president for business and finance for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Anthony L. Renzi, B.S. Finance ’79, was appointed director of internal audit for the Texas Railroad Commission by unanimous vote last August.


Christopher Osborne, B.S. Accounting ’83, is an accounting manager for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

Jerry Rebel, B.S. Accounting ’86, joined Jack in the Box as vice president and controller.

Carl Franklin Spasoff, B.S. Accounting and Finance ’86, was appointed assistant controller for Gannett Company.

Shari (Lester) Bedker, B.S. Accounting ’87 and M.S. Taxation ’97, was named executive director of the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation. Her husband, Larry Bedker, B.S. Accounting ’81 and M.S. Information Systems ’93, recently became director, Division of Financial Operations, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Shari and Larry also have their own firm, Bedker & Bedker, CPAs, in Fairfax, where they live with their two children, Matt (13) and Michelle (11).

Michael F. Olsen, B.S. Decision Science ’89, is the operations officer for C Company, the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion attached to the combined Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.


Vanetta Pledger, B.S. Management and Decision Science ’99, bought her first home in Dumfries, Virginia. She works for the City of Alexandria as a Lotus Notes support engineer.


Dumisani Ndlovu, M.B.A. ’00, received a Legacy of Leadership Award, a program created by the Government Advisory Council to promote the development of leadership skills with the U.S. Government Operating Unit and to spotlight Accenture leaders.

Julie Svoboda, M.B.A. ’01, was promoted to vice president, finance, for Concord Partners, a real estate development management services company in Washington, D.C.

Jeffery A. Knybel, M.B.A and M.P.A. ’02, earned both the Certified Financial Management designation and the Certified Management Accountant designation from the Institute of Management Accountants.

Conflict Analysis and Resolution


Min Zaw Oo, M.S. Conflict Analysis ’02, was appointed director of outreach and strategy for the Free Burma Coalition.



Vivian Uthe, M.Ed. Elementary Education ’75, was named principal at St. Agnes School in Arlington. She had been the school’s assistant principal for the past three years.


Charles F. Pilley Jr., M.Ed. ’90, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is a visiting instructor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at George Mason.

Gary Smucker, M.Ed. Teaching English as a Second Language ’92, was awarded a Fulbright Teacher Grant to travel to Morocco and work in a high school for this academic year. Gary, who teaches English as a second language at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia, is one of approximately 250 U.S. grantees selected through the Fulbright Teacher and Administrator Exchange Program.

Craig M. Ashbrook, Diploma in Community College Education ’96 and D.A. Community College Education ’02, was nominated by the Southwest Virginia Community College for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award for 2004. He was selected as Educator of the Year for 2003 for the Southwest Virginia Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa.

Pete W. Hurgronje, B.S. Health Fitness ’96, an infantry officer stationed at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, will be deployed to Iraq by February to support Operation Iraqi Freedom for a one-year tour. Pete and his wife, Daphne, have a 4-year-old daughter, Carter, and Pete has a 13-year-old stepdaughter, Rachel.


Brian van de Graaff, B.A. Communication ’97, is the meteorologist on Good Morning Washington for WJLA-TV, ABC 7 News in Washington, D.C.

Mary Grace McGraw Osborne, M.Ed. Educational Leadership ’96, was appointed principal of H.H. Poole Middle School in Stafford County, Virginia.

Amy Audlin, M.Ed. Middle Education ’99, is a purchasing agent and project manager for CMS Information Services in Vienna, Virginia. She has a son, Hunter James, who was born in March 2000.


Laurie J. Sullivan, Certificate ’00 and M.Ed. Curriculum and Instruction ’03, a science and math teacher at Kate Waller Barrett Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia, was named the Virginia 2004 Teacher of the Year. Laurie was selected from the eight Virginia 2004 Regional Teachers of the Year and will be the commonwealth’s nominee in the National Teacher of the Year program.

Information Technology and Engineering


Cita Furlani, M.S. Electronics and Computer Engineering ’86, was named CIO of the Commerce Department by National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Arden Bement Jr.

Mohamad Turani, B.S. Computer and Electronic Engineering ’86, has worked for three of the leading information technology companies, Microsoft, Compaq, and now Hewlett-Packard. He was married in 1993 and has three children.

Steven T. Schanzer, M.S. Operations Research ’88, was named to the board of advisors for Cranite Systems, a provider of comprehensive security for wireless networks. Steven also serves as vice president of business development at Veridian Information Solutions.



Stuart Mendelsohn, J.D. ’84, the Dranesville supervisor on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, received the Public Service Award from Leadership Fairfax Inc. for providing superb constituent services and helping to revitalize and sustain nonprofit organizations, parks, and institutions throughout his district and the community.


Eric Cooke, J.D. ’94, was elected commonwealth’s attorney for Southampton County, Virginia, in the November 2003 election.

College of Nursing and Health Science


Mark Vojtko, B.S.N. ’97, is a flight nurse with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Pamela Herod-Ograbisz, B.S.N. ’98, married Mark Ograbisz in 2000, earned her M.S.N. at Old Dominion University in 2002, and works in cardiothoracic surgery as a family nurse practitioner in Norfolk, Virginia.

Public Policy


Nina Shikrail Rees, M.A. International Transactions ’93, is the deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education who heads the Office of Innovation and Improvement.


Robert Pandis, M.A. International Commerce and Policy ’02, is a recent transfer from management at Northrop Grumman International Open Skies Program to a new position as director for the company’s International Board Europe/NATO.


Elizabeth Ann Fairchild Davis, B.S. Math ’72, passed away on October 11, 2003.

Dale Rizzo Dodson, B.A. English ’71, passed away on October 15, 2003.

John Timothy Henson, B.S. Business Administration ’78, passed away on July 18, 2003.

Jean Hill, M.A. History ’83, passed away on September 14, 2003.

Andrea Hutson, B.A. Psychology ’91, passed away on September 4, 2003.

Kenny R. Jones, B.I.S. ’88 passed away on October 4, 2003.

Jeffrey Male, M.F.A. Creative Writing ’02, passed away on October 3, 2003.

R. Ramsey Maupin, J.D. ’78, passed away on September 26, 2003.

Davis Miers, B.S. Public Administration ’86, passed away on August 17, 2003.

Donna Sawyer, B.I.S. Health Management and Policy ’01, passed away on October 29, 2003.

Gerald C. Thomas Jr., M.A. History ’87, passed away on October 21, 2003.

Christina Todd, B.A. Communication ’00, passed away on October 29, 2003.