Alumni News & Notes

Letter from the Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving

Dear Alumni,

I am happy and delighted to serve as your executive director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving at Columbia College Chicago. Since arriving in August, I have been awed by the talent, originality and boldness of Columbia alumni.

Each of you has an incredible story about how your creative passion brought you to Columbia. I’m excited to learn how the college stretched and challenged you to grow academically and creatively in new and extraordinary ways.

I also love learning how the Columbia experience continues to inform and shape the personal and professional journeys of our alumni. So many of you continue to draw from the foundational knowledge and skills fostered by Columbia faculty and fellow classmates, and you are accomplishing incredible things today!

What is your unique Columbia story? I would love to hear it! Please take a moment to send me an email at to introduce yourself, share a favorite Columbia memory and update us on the latest milestone on your creative journey.

I look forward to connecting with you and growing our Columbia alumni community!


Miriam Smith,
Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving

CAAN National Board Welcomes Elected Members

Some exceptional alumni ran for this year’s National Alumni Board. Board elections are held each summer, so if you’re interested in running, please check out Alumni News on the alumni website for details and the application. Both are posted in late spring.


Joan Hammel (BA ’86)

Pat Blum (BA ’84)
Vice president at World Capital Brokerage

Brian Fisher (BA ’95)
Benefits consultant

Howard Shapiro (BA ’53)
Retired PR professional

Michael Wojcik (BA ’96)
Senior director of development at American Red Cross

Joanna DeJesus (BA ’10)
Programming coordinator at NBC Universo, Miami


Marty Kane (BA ’06)
Senior admissions officer at Columbia College Chicago

Thomas Rovak, Jr. (’85)
Executive producer/post supervisor at Rovak Colorist Services

Emory Brown (BA ’00)
Creative director at The Scientist Marketing

Jennifer Oliver O’Connell (BA ’87)
Writer/reinvention coach/yoga instructor

Howard Seth Cohen (BA ’98)
Actor/artist/activist at 72 Virgins

Jeff Kinney (BA ’87)
Director of field production/chief photojournalist at CNN

CAAN Connect
Darlene Berry(BA '13)and Ryan Nanni(BA '12)
The 7th annual CAAN Connect was held in Los Angeles on June 17. This signature speed-networking event lets alumni meet one-on-one with Hollywood movers and shakers. Industry professionals included directors Steve Pink (’86) and Jordan Vogt-Roberts (BA ’06), producers Ayanna Floyd (MFA ’98) and Kyle Heller (BA ’08), and talent and literary representatives Michael Pio (BA ’05), Jonathan Weber (BA ’03) and Saraphina Monaco (BA ’09).

Alumni Social

On March 6, we hosted the Alumni Social at Columbia’s newest space, the Art + Design Fabrication Facility. More than 100 alumni were in attendance to eat, drink and socialize. President Kim spoke to the group about the importance of an engaged alumni community. The evening also included student demonstrations and a ShopColumbia showcase of alumni work.

Alumni at Manifest

On May 15, more than 250 alumni danced the night away at the sold-out 2015 Manifest Alumni Party in conjunction with the college’s acclaimed urban arts festival. The evening featured alumni DJs, alumni Manifest t-shirts, a ColumAlum photo booth and more.