Writer, artist, and “recovering academic,” Béalleka left a decade-long, tenure-track teaching career as a professor of literature and cultural studies in 2015. A graduate of UT-Austin’s postcolonial literature and theory program, Kenyan-native Béalleka–then known as Lynn Makau–specialized in contemporary, fictional representations of American slavery; queer theory; and transnational feminisms. She coined the term “peculiar intimacies” to describe the complex + troubling history of Black and white America, and received teaching and research awards from the MacArthur Foundation, the American Association of University Women, the Lilly Foundation, and others. Her ongoing recovery has taken several turns, including a transcendent encounter that resulted in claiming (not changing) her name.
As a scholar/consultant, Béalleka offers a critically informed, affective approach to cultural literacy that invites clients to study deeply-held beliefs about themselves to better understand their role in perpetuating divisiveness. Her clients include numerous arts and education organizations, entertainment producers, and government agencies. Her commitment to accessible spiritual journeying brought her to the Global Solar Eclipse Festival where, in 2017, she presented on consent, privilege, and entitlement within otherwise conscious communities.
A visibly raced and gendered veteran storyteller in Portland, Oregon–the whitest urban center in the U.S.–Béalleka also facilitates “Self-Care as Resistance,” or SCARS, a seminar she co-created for Black women’s survival in predominately white spaces. She is deeply inspired by the life and literature of Octavia E. Butler, and offers public education courses on Butler, Toni Morrison, Jesmyn Ward, Claudia Rankine, and James Baldwin, whose writing and reception inspired her seminar, “I Am Not Your Negro Woman: Intersectionality and the Black Female Subject.” She currently resides in northern New Mexico where she’s writing a memoir and developing curricula funded by Oregon’s Regional Arts & Culture Council.
Lucinda Ellert ’76
In the last thirty years, Lucinda Ellert has established herself as a music director known her for flexibility, reliability, clarity, and artistic sensibility. A graduate of Grinnell College (1976, Bachelor of Theatre Arts) and New England Conservatory (M.Mus.Ed. 1996, M.Mus. Jazz Arranging in 1988), her musical roots are in the Traditional Jazz scenes of Denver and Boston, first as a ragtime pianist, then as a music director of small and large group early jazz ensembles. She made her name throughout the Boston area for her jazz dance band, Happy Feet Dance Orchestra, as leader and arranger for 20 years. A long-time member on the New England Touring Roster, Happy Feet has produced three albums: Lucinda Ellert and Her Happy Feet, Hop Off, and The River and Me. Her conducting studies started in 2004 with Frank Battisti and Charles Pelz of New England Conservatory with a focus on symphonic wind ensemble conducting. She is the conductor emeritus of the Reading Civic Concert Band which she led from 2004-2016; she guest conducted with Salem State College band and with the Salem Philharmonic Orchestra and was also Assistant Conductor of the Reading Symphony Orchestra for a time. Other conducting credits include study with Marin Alsop at the Cabrillo Conducting Institute in Santa Cruz, California; James Orent, Music Director of Newton Symphony and Assistant Conductor of the Boston Pops; and with Mark Scatterday at Eastman School of Music.
Ellert’s approach to the development and nurture of Orchestral Repertoire is grounded in the belief that America has produced a body of music that has no equal in terms of variety, integrity and honesty; but musicians and audiences suffer from a splintered understanding of the link between high and popular art music. Her goal for years has been to puzzle this schism out, try to understand our divided attitudes toward different aspects of our entertainment and artistic cultures and try to find solutions. When not grappling with thorny issues, she is the music director of the Chelmsford Community Band, a post she has held since 2014; the music director at the Tewksbury Congregational Church in Tewksbury, MA; and teaches in the Lunenburg School System as an after-school music teacher of piano and winds. She is writing a piano instruction method called “Grand Staff Adventure,” a wholistic approach to reading piano music using logic and empathy for all learning styles.
In her spare time, Ellert with her husband, trombonist Daniel Walker, is restoring a historic homestead in Winchendon, Mass. – the site of the first 1747 sawmill in the area. They have a micro-farm, growing all their produce as well as apples, blackberries and hops. They raise chickens and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of central Massachusetts.
Jody Haymond ’67
Jo Ann Burdett Haymond (Jody) ’67 was born in Ogden, Utah as the only member of her family who had hearing. Her parents were graduates of and, subsequently, educators at the Utah School for the Deaf (USD). Her brother also graduated from USD and eventually became an internationally acclaimed educator for the Deaf. Jody received her BA in American Studies, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, and completed a two-year master’s program in Speech and Hearing at Washington University, St. Louis, with emphasis on education for the deaf. She taught Social Studies for two years at Central Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis before beginning their family. While they were with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, she accepted a position in the Mayo Audiology/ENT Department with their team, involved in FDA Trials with the first available cochlear implants,1981. She served as the” education specialist” on the team and did all the rehabilitation for those adult patients who received cochlear implants at Mayo Clinic until winter of 1990, the year cochlear implantation was approved for children. After their move to Jacksonville, Florida, she helped facilitate the beginning of a cochlear implant program for children, a joint program through Mayo Jacksonville in combination with Nemours Children’s Clinic, and served as Team Coordinator until their move to Houston in late 1996. In Houston, she was asked to create a comprehensive Cochlear Implant Program for children at Texas Children’s Hospital and served as Education Specialist and Coordinator of the Team for 10 years until fall of 2011.
Jen Jacobsen ’95
Jen Jacobsen is from Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and most of her extended family still lives in that area. Jen earned her BA from Grinnell College for History, with concentration in Russian and Eastern European Studies. She earned her MA in Sports, Health, Leisure, and Physical Studies with a concentration on Sport Psychology Cultural Studies from the University of Iowa. Jen has just earned her Masters of Public Health from the University of Minnesota. Jen says she is still a recreational athlete in her spare time. She also enjoys traveling, gardening, reading, and walking her dogs.
The part of Grinnell College that Jen likes best are the students. She adds that they “are passionate, committed, and challenging.” She only wishes she had time to get to know them all!
Jen’s main areas of responsibility include promoting overall student well-being by teaching 1-credit wellness courses through physical education, and working with the Student Athlete Mentor (SAM) program. Her work also includes primary prevention work to address both high-risk substance use and sexual misconduct, assessment of student health and wellness, as well as coordinating and co-facilitating active bystander programming for faculty, staff, and students. Jen also chairs the Harm Reduction Committee, the Athletic Integration Committee, and the Wellness Committee, and she serves on the Title IX Task Force.
Adam Lange ’11
Adam is a 2011 graduate of Grinnell and the oldest of three children, all first-generation college students and Grinnell graduates. While attending Grinnell, Adam majored in Political Science and Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies, captained the Mock Trial program, and studied off campus at Grinnell-in-Washington including an internship with the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
Following Grinnell, Adam attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. He graduated with concentrations in Litigation and Constitutional Law & Rights and was a two-year member of the Cardozo Moot Court Honor Society as a competitive oralist and Executive Board Member. During his time at Cardozo, Adam worked with the Unemployment Action Center where he represented claimants denied unemployment benefits in administrative hearings at the New York State Department of Labor, Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A as a member of the Low-Income Housing Group Representation Unit organizing and representing large groups of tenants in Brooklyn Housing Court, Cardozo Bet Tzedek Legal Services providing legal services to the elderly and disabled, and Lambda Legal where he worked on local and national LGBT litigation including same-sex marriage in New Jersey.
After graduating from Cardozo, Adam worked for three years with the Center for Family Representation, where he was court-appointed to represent low-income parents in child abuse, child neglect, custody, and termination of parental rights cases in Manhattan and Queens Family Courts. Because CFR closely coordinates their legal and social work teams in an interdisciplinary model, Adam also became familiar with navigating many of the social services and related agencies in and around New York City. Along with his teammates, he was able to successfully reunite many families who had been separated by the foster care system.
Adam presently works for Gitlin, Horn & Van de Kieft LLP where his current work is primarily focused on litigation on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing individuals across New York City. This includes cases of alleged discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the New York City Human Rights Law where deaf individuals contend they were denied American Sign Language interpreters or other aids in a number of settings including police services, hospital admissions, and various city and related agencies including homeless shelters.
Sam Offenberg ’14
Sam was born and raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago. He attended Grinnell College, receiving a bachelor of arts in political science in 2014. Sam’s first job in education was in St. Paul working as a special education aide at a charter school serving predominantly immigrant and minority families. Next up was a commitment to teach for two years in Oakland public schools and an open mind to stick around the classroom for the long haul. While earning a “clear” special education teaching credential at night, Sam taught Special Education math, science and life skills classes for a year before working as a resource specialist for two years in the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland. Both positions were at the middle school level, an age group Sam feels incredibly strong about given their fresh insight and opportunity to be positively influenced as they reach young adulthood. This year Sam accepted a new opportunity with Oakland Unified, trading his caseload of 35 students to serve as an instructional coach, responsible for 40 special education teachers at six middle schools and one 6-to-12 school which serve a combined general education student population of over 2,700 students including more than 500 students receiving special education services. In 2017, Sam completed a master of arts in urban education with a concentration in policy and administration from Loyola Marymount University. His master’s thesis was titled, ”The Role of Complex Trauma in Special Education and Overrepresentation of Students from Historically Disadvantaged Populations: A Case Study of a Large, Urban School District.” Languages and culture have always interested Sam, one of his favorite things about working in Oakland schools is the opportunity to speak Spanish, Arabic and English all in the same work day.
Kenji Yoshino ’11
Kenji Yoshino ‘11 graduated from Grinnell with a chemistry degree. His plan had been to wait a year, go to graduate school, and wind up with a PhD. In the summer after his senior year, he designed Try This at Home!, a series of informal science education presentations funded through the Sarah Boyer ‘08 Community Service Fellowship. That experience as well as his Fifth-Year Technical Internship with the Department of Theatre and Dance helped make a doctorate-free future a recognizable possibility.
While completing a post-baccalaureate fellowship tutoring at Grinnell’s Science Learning Center, Yoshino created the device that would become the seed of his current entrepreneurial venture. Billed as the $10 Smartphone Microscope, Yoshino’s invention transformed any smartphone into a digital microscope using only $10 of materials from a hardware store (Ace Hardware in Grinnell, in the case of the very first model).
In 2015, he returned to hometown of Hamilton, NY to use his smartphone microscope as the centerpiece of a small business focused on educational outreach in area schools. After joining a local entrepreneurial incubator and establishing a network of mentors, Yoshino grew his business into Infinite Scope Corporation. In 2017, Yoshino began focusing his efforts on redesigning his microscope. The result is Eureka, an open-source 3D-printable digital microscope. This downloadable design will be released Nov. 17.