Lives That Speak
Twenty-four alumni returned to campus to share how their values manifest in the real world.
Raël Nelson James ’97 spent much of her childhood at the Living Stage, the legendary DC theater company where her mother was a director. The group’s performances focused on social justice and brought the arts to underserved populations, including inmates. Those early experiences taught Raël that you could be an actor or a director and also use that position to change the world. Today, she is the Bridgespan Group’s director of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Raël spoke with Upper Schoolers this week to kick off Let Your Life Speak Morning, part of the School’s annual Founder’s Day celebration. She was one of 24 alumni who returned to campus to talk about how they translated their Sidwell Friends years into careers rooted in and inspired by Quaker values and ethical leadership.
Bill Nye ’73, the famed science guy, closed out the morning with a powerful message for students: “Let your deeds speak. We want you to go out there and share your skills, your young wisdom, and especially your compassion so that you can leave the world a better place than you found it.”
It’s up to you, Bill told the students, to use your education and intellect to solve the extraordinary climate and political problems facing the world. “You all are standing on the threshold of a great future,” he said. “You guys can ensure that your light shines on not only for everyone in your community but—I’m not kidding—for everyone in the whole world.”
In addition to Raël and Bill, many thanks to these alumni for sharing their time and talents with Upper Schoolers:
Tom Plumb ’71, Director, Hands to Honduras and Rotary International Volunteer
Lisa Tarver ’78, Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer, One World Play Project
Barton Rubenstein ’81, Sculptor and Founder, The Mother Earth Project
Greg Berman ’85, Director, Center for Court Innovation
Maya MacGuineas ’86, President, Committee for a Responsible Budget
Andrew Selee ’86, President, Migration Policy Institute
Greg Jones ’87, Rector, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, Raleigh
Vincent Cohen, Jr. ’88, Partner, Dechert LLP
Vivian Hamilton ’88, Professor of Law, William and Mary Law School
Amy Dine ’89, Director of Advocacy and Partner, Terra Alpha Investments
KK Ottesen ’89, Author and Photographer
Natalie Randolph ’98, Title IX Coordinator, DC State Athletic Association, and Founder, The Student Athlete Project
Kim R. Ford ’99, Candidate, U.S. House of Representatives, District of Columbia
Eliza McCoy Harrell ’00, Director of Education, Outreach, Training, and Prevention, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Scott Hechinger ’00, Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Policy, Brooklyn Defender Services
Benjamin Weinberg ’03, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Georgetown University
Micah Hendler ’07, Founding Director, YMCA Jerusalem Youth Chorus
Asawin Suebsaeng ’07, White House Reporter, The Daily Beast
Shaw McKean ’08, New Product Strategy, Allbirds
Molly Bernstein ’09, Graduate Student, Global Human Development, Georgetown University
Ryan Soscia ’13, Founder and CEO, JDoe
Alex Sharata ’14, Managing Partner, A-Level Capital, and Co-founder, Fractal Technology
How a traditional classroom activity got a virtual makeover—and the surprising benefits that resulted.
When Sidwell Friends science teachers had to leave their classrooms behind, they discovered more than they bargained for.
With end-of-year performances cancelled, one Sidwell Friends senior found a way for students to showcase their talents while helping others.
In a meeting with Perkins Eastman architects, students make the case for native plants.