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Dartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth Engineer - The Magazine of Thayer School of Engineering


Andrea Marron Spotlights
Andrea Marron Th’12. Photograph courtesy of Andrea Marron.

After working for fashion brand Nicole Miller (and CEO Bud Konheim ’57) for almost three years, Andrea Marron Th’12 has launched data software startup Ragtrades Inc. “Our mission is to help fashion brands and retailers increase profitability through data-driven decision-making on how to buy, price, and digitally promote products,” says Marron, who was the vice president of digital, managing the e-commerce business and digital marketing when she left Nicole Miller. “In an aggressive markdown environment and an industry where timing is critical because products are perishable, we help our customers take advantage of data to make informed decisions,” she says. Ragtrades’ most successful product so far has been a price-tracking program for retailers and brands. Marron is now experimenting with using the price-tracking data to offer individual consumers a way to compare prices, like a for leather bags and sweaters, and is hoping to launch that engine this summer. She credits her Thayer background, especially as the inaugural Conrades Fellow, with her success: “Through that fellowship, Thayer, and Tuck’s entrepreneurial initiatives, I was able to get hands-on learning experiences in business and tech entrepreneurship that I draw on every day.”

Despite being in investment for almost 40 years, Geof Greenleaf ’66 never ran a mutual fund—until last year. At 70 he launched the Greenleaf Income Growth Fund to serve people who are at or near retirement or who receive Social Security and Medicare benefits but don’t want to stop working. “The idea came about when I touted the benefits of inflation indexing with Social Security to a client,” he says. “He was not impressed and said, ‘Yes, but it doesn’t even pay my bar bill.’ ” Greenleaf aims to boost cash flow to keep up with inflation. “Looking at my own case, I want to maintain my current standard of living,” he says. “I want to steer as clear as I can from draining principal, and I want to leave behind as much as possible for my children and grandchildren.” Greenleaf is also the CEO and cofounder of investment management firm Private Harbour, based near Cleveland, Ohio.

Amy Vickers Spotlights
Amy Vickers Th’86. Photograph courtesy of Amy Vickers.

Water conservation and efficiency expert Amy Vickers Th’86 has earned the 2014 Water Star Award from the Alliance for Water Efficiency. She was honored for more than 25 years of achievements in the water efficiency field, particularly her role in writing the national water efficiency standards for plumbing fixtures adopted under the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 1992, which has saved the nation trillions of gallons of water during the past two decades. “Amy has been an unfailing champion for water conservation, wise and efficient water use,” says Alliance for Water Efficiency president Mary Ann Dickinson. A prolific author, Vickers has written more than 75 professional papers, articles and op-eds as well as the Handbook of Water Use and Conservation: Homes, Landscapes, Businesses, Industries, Farms—“one of the best sources on water topics,” according to National Geographic. She’s working now on her second book.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed Andrew McAllister ’87 to the Sacramento-based California Energy Commission (CEC), the state’s primary policy and planning agency. “We’re working hard to decarbonize California’s energy systems by scaling up deployment of energy efficiency and a wide variety of renewable energy technologies, as well as investing in infrastructure needed to electrify the transportation sector,” he says. McAllister has built a career in the field of clean energy, providing energy services to communities in remote areas of Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia before directing the clean-energy nonprofit California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego. With a Ph.D. in energy and resources from UC Berkeley, he fills the “economist member” slot on the five-member CEC. “California is in a great place to provide leadership in expanding clean energy and confronting climate change,” says McAllister, “so it’s a very exciting moment to be shaping those efforts.”

“I always felt my education gave me a leg up, and places like Dartmouth and MIT gave me scholarships and enabled me to get a good education,” says Michel Zaleski ’68 Th’69. “I felt I should give back.” After earning his degrees at Dartmouth and an M.S. from MIT, Zaleski went on to a successful career in investment and real estate, serving on the Council on Foreign Relations, the board of the Soros Economic Development Fund and Thayer’s Board of Overseers. His interest in philanthropy and education prompted him in 1995 to start a program through Dartmouth’s Tucker Foundation to bring students to Cabarete, Dominican Republic, to teach in public schools.

Michael Zaleski Spotlights
Michel Zaleski ’68 Th’69 with his Dream Project in the Dominican Republic. Photograph courtesy of Michael Zaleski.

That effort grew into the Dream Project, an educational organization that builds and runs schools in the Dominican Republic. Now more than 5,000 students receive an education through 14 programs in 15 communities—in preschools, after-school remedial classes, at-risk youth programs, summer schools and camps, libraries, computer labs, music programs, and vocational programs. The project is run by a paid local staff of more than 50 Dominicans (many as certified teachers) and more than 200 volunteers. Zaleski continues to guide the project as president and chairman, and the Zaleski Family Foundation continues to be one of the largest donors to the nonprofit.

Anson Moxness Spotlights
Anson Moxness ’11. Photograph courtesy of Anson Moxness.

Anson Moxness ’11 has a new role as Nordic coach at Alaska Pacific University (APU). Last winter he headed APU’s development program for middle-schoolers, coached the girls’ team at his alma mater, West Anchorage High School, to top honors in the state championship—and worked as a civil engineer at Spurkland Engineering in Anchorage. With that firm closing, he has more time to focus on coaching. “Nordic skiing is a lifetime sport,” says Moxness, who competed in high school and for two years at Dartmouth. “Part of my job as a coach is to help athletes excel, but part of my job is also to introduce new skiers to the sport and help foster a desire to be active and outside.” He says Thayer reinforced his belief that hard work is rewarded. “Whether you are training or racing hard in bad conditions or getting stuck on a problem or need another hand for an engineering project,” he says, “having a supportive community of friends working with and around you can make all the difference.”

LuminAID cofounders Anna Stork Th’08 and Andrea Sreshta received a $20,000 investment when they successfully pitched their emergency lights to a panel of investors on ABC’s Shark Tank in February. The pair, who met as students at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, developed the world’s first inflatable solar lights in response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

Anna Stork Th’08, right, and colleague Andrea Sreshta on ABC’s Shark Tank. Photograph courtesy of LuminAID.

“At the time there was a lot of clean water, shelter, and food being shipped to Haiti, but most people in informal settlements were without a light source,” says Stork. “We saw a need for a portable light source to improve safety of people living in tents.” The simple solar technology has since been included in charitable projects in more than 50 countries. “Each time we hear a new story about where our product has made a difference, we are reminded of how grateful we are to have the opportunity to share our product with the world,” says Stork. A milestone for the company came in 2013, when they worked with ShelterBox to distribute more than 20,000 lights to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Today, their solar-powered lights are in the L.L.Bean catalog, on shelves of Bass Pro Shops, and online. A winner at last year’s Chicago Innovation Awards and the Toyota Mothers of Invention competition, LuminAID is rolling out a new series of lights for emergency kits and camping.

Degenkolb Engineers design engineer Laura Weyl Th’08 is tackling both the design and construction aspects of a seismic upgrade for a hard-drive manufacturing facility in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Laura Weyl Spotlights
Laura Weyl Th’08. Photograph courtesy of Laura Weyl.

“I’m on site a lot and doing more of the coordination and scheduling than is typical of the structural engineer,” she says. “It’s a chance to see how the contractors work and really understand the construction side of the project rather than just the design.” The seismic upgrade will allow the building to support heavier weights and reduce the facility’s downtime after an earthquake. “Even buildings that are considered structurally safe in an earthquake can experience significant non-structural damage, sometimes so bad that a building will need to be rebuilt anyway,” says Weyl. “These clients lose a lot of money every time the facility is shut down, so they want to minimize this time after an earthquake.” Working on the non-structural phase now, Weyl says the greatest challenge is that nothing can move. “Everything has to be braced, strengthened, or anchored around what’s existing, so nothing is typical,” she says. “Each of the 4,600-plus pieces of equipment has a specific anchorage detail and the hundreds of pipes, ducts, and conduit that run throughout the facility need to be braced along their entire length. It keeps me sharp!”

Sproxil founder and CEO Ashifi Gogo Th’09 discussed “Should Business Lead the Social Agenda?” at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Switzerland in January.

Ashifi Gogo
Ashifi Gogo Th’09 at the World Economic Forum. Photograph courtesy of Ashifi Gogo.

Focusing on whether businesses can and should help find solutions to global challenges, Gogo said that corporations have a supporting role to play: “Even though businesses should not lead the agenda, because businesses specialize in creating value for their shareholders and society,” he said, “they should be very strong collaborators with the specialists like governments in civil society, who do look at social issues more on a long-term basis.” Gogo founded Sproxil in 2009 to enable consumers in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, India, and Pakistan to use cell phones to identify counterfeit products.

Categories: Alumni News, Spotlights

Tags: alumni, climate change, entrepreneurship, humanitarian service

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