Leaders for the Greatest Good

“...the training of the younger generation in the art of living for their own greatest good and the greatest good of their fellow citizens.” - Sherman Day Thacher

Thacher grads leave here having lived within a community that both supports them and holds them to the highest of standards. They know about taking on their share of the work and then some; about respecting and maintaining trust when its given; about cultivating the kind of confidence that allows them to share unique ideas, talents, or art with the world. Here, read about the many ways Thacher alumni forge their own paths as thoughtful leaders and community members. 

Ali Arastu CdeP 2004

Dr. Ali Arastu is a pediatric critical care fellow at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford, an avid outdoorsman, and an advocate for underserved communities. On a chance detour while thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, Arastu had a conversation with a homeless man that would inspire him to live on the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles, an area with the highest concentration of homeless persons in the country. For his first two years of medical school, Arastu forged relationships with the homeless individuals that he lived alongside, which planted the seed of his deep desire to care for the most vulnerable of patients. Since then, Arastu has founded House of Stoked (houseofstoked.org), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that uses the wilderness as a platform for physicians to empower vulnerable youth to care for their own health, as well as the health of the environment. He is passionate about the wilderness and delivering health care to the children who need it most.

Belsasar Lepe CdeP 2005

“Thacher laid the groundwork for my success. I attended Stanford University and took fascinating classes alongside some of the best and brightest. I worked at Google for two years, and now I am living the American dream, as a founding member of a technology company in California’s Silicon Valley,” says Belsasar Lepe, who co-founded global technology company Ooyala. The company specializes in hosting videos for large corporate and media clients like AOL, Warner Brothers, TV Guide, and National Geographic. Ooyala harnesses the power of big data to help broadcasters, operators, and media companies build more engaged audiences. 

Brandale D. Randolph CdeP 1994

Brandale is the founder and owner of the 1854 Cycling Company, a bicycle and apparel brand that donates a portion of every sale to programs helping end cycles of poverty and recidivism among the formerly incarcerated. He is also the co-founder and executive director of Project: Poverty, a nonprofit that aims to design, create, and implement innovative strategies to reduce poverty. Hes taught job readiness seminars at the South Plains Workforce Solutions Center and taught financial literacy at the Lubbock County Detention Center, the Youth Transition Center, and among other underserved populations. In 2013, he delivered a TEDtalk at the inaugural TEDxTexasTechUniversity titled Stop Throwing Breakfast Sandwiches at the Poor. His 2010 book Me & My Broke Neighbor: The 7 Things I Learned About Success Just By Living Next To Him... has been added to financial literacy curricula across the country and his 2016 release Like Cavemen & Quail: Poverty Beyond Income and Mindset has received rave reviews.

Christine Carter, PhD CdeP 1990

A sociologist and senior fellow at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD, is the author of The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work and Raising Happiness. After receiving her BA from Dartmouth College, Christine received her PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley. Quoted and featured widely in the media, her books and classes have helped thousands of parents raise joyful children and live lives that maximize their greatest strengths with the greatest ease. 

Erin Blankenship CdeP 2000

Erin is the co-founder of Equal Playing Field, (EPF)an organization dedicated to the advancement of women’s equality in sports at grassroots and elite levels. So far, the group has run camps for 1600 girls globally, and set two soccer world records: in June 2017, women from more than 20 countries played at 19,000 feet atop Mount Kilimanjaro; then in 2018 they trekked 100km through the desert to play at the Dead Sea in Jordan. Outside of EPF, Erin has spent 12 years working in international security and development for a range of NGOs, think-tanks, and the private sector, as a conflict and security specialist. She has also been a three-sport elite athlete (swimming, Olympic Modern pentathlon, and soccer)–playing soccer in the UK women’s premiership as well as competitively in Saudi Arabia, Scandinavia, the U.S., China, Afghanistan, and Jordan.  >>Read More

Howard Hughes CdeP 1923

Aviator, entrepreneur, filmmaker, investor, and famously reclusive tycoon Howard Hughes attended Thacher. Among his other activities at Thacher, Hughes was featured on the alto sax in a jazz combo called Hank’s Hilarious Hextet. Though his family withdrew him from Thacher after his mother died, Hughes was a loyal alumnus and donated the funds to build our first science laboratories.

James Newton Howard CdeP 1969

After beginning his career as a session musician and touring with the likes of Elton John and Crosby, Stills, and Nash, James found his forte as a composer of movie scores. His soundtracksmore than 100 to datehave earned him a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, and eight Academy Award nominations. Among his best-known film scores are Pretty Woman (1990), The Sixth Sense (1999), King Kong (2005), I Am Legend (2007), The Dark Knight (2008), and The Hunger Games films (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018).

Laurel Braitman CdeP 1996

Having been raised on a citrus ranch alongside donkeys and goats, Laurel’s decision to attend Thacher for high school makes complete sense. And the pattern continues; after earning her PhD in history and anthropology of science from MIT, Dr. Braitman has made a career out of understanding humans, animals, science, and medicine. She is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Animal Madness (Simon & Schuster 2014), now translated into more than six languages. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Wired, The California Sunday Magazine, and Fast Company. She is currently a Writer-in-Residence at the Medicine & the Muse Program at the Stanford University School of Medicine where she's busy helping physicians tell better storiesfor themselves and their patients.

Morgan Neville CdeP 1985

Winner of the 2014 best documentary Oscar for Twenty Feet From Stardom, which he wrote and directed, Morgan recently returned to campus to show his film and talk with students about it. The movie takes a look at the heretofore anonymous backup singers and the lives they lead just outside the spotlight. Rolling Stone proclaimed: “Just watch in wonder and try not to stand up and cheer.” Most recently, Morgan produced and directed the critically acclaimed documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a heartfelt look at the life of Fred Rogers from the television show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. in June 2018, the film received critical acclaim and became the highest grossing biographical-documentary of all time. (Photo: Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Nicholas Geale CdeP 1992

A veteran of federal labor and employment affairs, in 2017, President Trump appointed him as deputy solicitor of labor, and he became acting solicitor of labor. Nick also serves as the chief of staff for Secretary Acosta at the Department of Labor, effective August 20, 2017. In 2013, Nick was nominated by President Barack Obama to the National Mediation Board and later served as the chairman of that body. Previous appointments include a stint as director of oversight and investigations for the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and service in George W. Bush’s Department of Labor from 2006-2009. Nick is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College and Georgetown Law.

Peter Frykman CdeP 2001

While studying product design and engineering in college, Peter Frykman discovered that “90 percent of the world’s products are designed for 10 percent of the population. Faced with issues of global water and food scarcity, I prefer to design for the other 90 percent.” He went on to found Driptech, an international water technologies company that began on the Stanford campus and is currently based in Pune, India. Driptech produces affordable, high-quality irrigation systems designed for small-plot farmers. The World Economic Forum selected Driptech as a “Technology Pioneer” and BusinessWeek has featured Driptech as a “top five most promising social enterprises.” 

Raul Pacheco CdeP 1986

Raul Pacheco is the lead singer for Grammy award-winning band Ozomatli. Ozomatli is a band on a mission—a social mission that has spent the better part of the last 15 years fusing activism and music, enjoying tremendous success in each realm. When the band first began, it wanted to help ensure that property in downtown Los Angeles continued to be utilized for local inhabitants. To draw attention to its cause, the band fused together traditional Mexican folk songs, funk and reggae bass lines, alongside looped tracks from DJ Cut Chemist. This tension between musical styles is what makes Ozomatli so unique in the musical world. Later, Ozomatli’s embrace of this fusion of music and social activism took a new and somewhat unexpected turn when the band members were appointed as “cultural ambassadors” by the U.S. Department of State. With musical influences as varied as Carlos Santana and Southern hip-hop’s Arrested Development, every tune laid down by Ozomatli feels like a lyrical and tonal trip around the world at breakneck speed. 

Rhea Wong CdeP 1997

Throughout her career, Rhea has demonstrated her commitment to the work of nonprofits and social impact businesses. Today, she is the president of Rhea Wong Consulting, which provides executive leadership training, fundraising consultation, and other management guidance to those organizations. In her commitment to education equity, she also sits on the board of the Catalog for Giving and on the advisory board of EdTrust NY. Prior to her current roles Rhea spent 12 years as the New York executive director of Breakthrough Collaborative, helping to open up academic opportunities for talented underserved youth. As a result of her early relationship with Breakthrough, Rhea enrolled at Thacher. She went on to obtain a BA with honors from McGill University, and nonprofit certificates from Columbia Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. She also hosts a weekly podcast Nonprofit Lowdown focused on the business of nonprofits.

Rukmini Callimachi CdeP 1991

After graduating from Dartmouth College and later earning her master’s at Oxford, Rukmini Callimachi began working as a reporter in New Delhi, India, filing stories with Time magazine and other news organizations. Before becoming a foreign correspondent for The New York Times, she was West Africa bureau chief for The Associated Press, breaking several major stories focused on al-Qaida and Islamic extremism. This work led to being a Pulitzer Prize finalist for “her discovery and fearless exploration of internal documents that shattered myths and deepened understanding of the global terrorist network of al-Qaida.”  She is the winner of the George Polk Award for International Reporting, multiple Overseas Press Club Awards, and the Michael Kelly prize.

Sibyll Carnochan Catalan CdeP 1983

In the fall of 2017, when the first students arrived at Geffen Academy, UCLA’s innovative college preparatory school, they were welcomed by Head of School Sibyll Carnochan Catalan and a faculty that aspires to serve as a model of 21st-century education. Prior to joining UCLA, Sibyll created and led a fellowship for outstanding public school teachers and principals from across the country. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies.

Thornton Wilder CdeP 1915

Unlike his brother Amos, whom he followed to Thacher, Thornton did not thrive in Thacher’s rugged outdoor culture. Where Amos excelled at sports and “out-of-door life and study,” Thornton preferred indoor pursuits. It was at Thacher that he penned the first play in a writing career that would eventually produce Our Town, the classic American play, and earn him three Pulitzer Prizes. 

William Hockey CdeP 2008

As a junior at Emory University, William Hockey earned summer internship offers from top tech companies as well as management consulting firm Bain & Company. He chose Bain but went on to co-found computer software company Plaid shortly after graduating. Named to Forbes Magazine’s list of 30 Under 30 Changing the World, Hockey and his partner used their experience working at Bain to create a platform that makes banking data easier for developers to use. As Hockey puts it, Plaid “takes archaic systems like the financial transaction records of banks and credit card issuers and lets smart young people use that data to build new and disruptive companies.” In fact, companies have been so impressed with Plaid’s software that popular mobile apps like Foursquare and Venmo, as well as American Express, Chase, and Bank of America, have teamed up with Hockey’s company.
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