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Notable Governor’s School Alumni

October 10, 2017 / Catherine Nicholas / Blog

This is a list of notable GSGIS & MLWGS alumni collected by the Foundation & Alumni Office.  It is by no means exhaustive.  If you would like to submit someone as a possible addition to this list or update information for anyone on this list, please email

Arts & Entertainment

Sara Schaefer ’96 is a critically acclaimed standup comedian, writer, and producer based in Los Angeles. She was recently the co-host of MTV’s late night show Nikki & Sara Live. Sara has appeared on @Midnight, John Oliver’s New York Stand Up Show, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Best Week Ever, and Inside Amy Schumer. She won two Emmy awards for her work at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and has written for and Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  At Comedy Central, she writes for Problematic with Moshe Kasher and won a Writers Guild of America award for her work on The Fake News with Ted Nelms.

Mohammad “Mo” Alavi ‘98 a video game developer who currently works at Respawn Entertainment. He is best known for his critically acclaimed work on the Call of Duty series at Infinity Ward.

Jenny Han ’98 is the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series; Shug; the Burn for Burn trilogy, cowritten with Siobhan Vivian; and the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. She is also the author of the chapter book Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, the final installment in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy, came out in the summer of 2017 and hit the New York Times bestseller list. Netflix released the film adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before in August 2018.  See more on her website.

Jane Samborski ’02 served as Lead Animator for the 2016 film MY ENTIRE HIGH SCHOOL SINKING INTO THE SEA, which attracted voice talent from Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Reggie Watts, and Maya Rudolph. The film was praised in Vice, the Wall Street Journal, and New York Magazine. The film showed to acclaim at several film festivals, including the New York Film Festival. It was picked up for North American distribution by GKids.

Mala Kumar ’03 is an Indian American international development practitioner and author. She has held jobs with the United Nations and released her debut novel, The Paths of Marriage, in October 2014.

Cass Morris ’03 is the author of From Unseen Fire, a novel published by Penguin Random House in April of 2018.

Molly Campbell ’05 is the maker behind MVM.  Molly’s handmade leather work has appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Kazakhstan and has been worn by celebrities like Alicia Keys.

Marguerite Bennett ’06 is an American comic book writer. She has worked on on Bombshells, Angela, Josie and the Pussycats, Batwoman, and more. Her work has been recognized for her depiction of real female relationships, and her representation of LGBTQ stories and characters earned nominations for a GLAAD Media Award in 2016 and 2017.

Kate Partridge ’06 is the author of ENDS OF THE EARTH, a collection of poetry published by University of Alaska Press.

Lucy Dacus ’13 is a critically acclaimed indie musician whose debut album No Burden was re-released by classic indie label Matador Records in 2016.  She has been lauded in outlets like The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Spin.   In 2017, she made Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 listThe New York Times profiled her in 2018.  Her second album, Historian, was released to critical acclaim in March 2018 by Matador Records.  She is also a member of the boygenius, along with Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker.  See more on her website.


Colin Van Ostern ’96 is a New Hampshire business leader and education innovator. He served as a publicly-elected New Hampshire Executive Councilor until 2016. He was the Democratic Party candidate for Governor of New Hampshire in 2016.

Kate Lipper-Garabedian ’99 was elected in November 2017 to serve as one of Melrose, MA’s Aldermen-At-Large.  Read our profile of Kate here.

Jillian Johnson ’99 is a City Council Member for the City of Durham, NC. She was profiled in Elle in 2017.  In December 2017, she was appointed mayor pro tempore of the City of Durham.


Dr. Andra Gillespie ’95 is a professor of political science at Emory University. She is considered a go-to expert in her field for national and international media outlets.

Eric Dunham ’96 is a associate professor in the department of geophysics at Stanford University as well as an affiliated faculty member at the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering.

Nathan Miller ’96 is an associate professor of strategy and economics at the Georgetown University McDonough School of Business. He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.

Chirag Saraiya ’96 is a lecturer in the Department of Finance at the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management.

Vinay Jain ’97 is an adjunct professor at NYU Law.

Genevieve Siegel-Hawley, Ph.D ’98’s research focuses on examining school segregation and re-segregation in U.S. metropolitan areas, along with strategies for promoting inclusive school communities and policy options for a truly integrated society. She teaches courses at VCU examining how — and why — equal educational opportunity is distributed so unequally across urban, suburban and exurban districts. In 2016, her book When the Fences Come Down: Twenty-First Century Lessons from Metropolitan School Desegregation, on the multi-faceted benefits of city-suburban school desegregation, was published by UNC Press.

Eisha Jain ’99 is an assistant professor of law at UNC School of Law.

Dr. Rupali Mishra ’99 is an associate professor at Auburn University.  She is the author of A Business of State: Commerce, Politics, and the Birth of the East India Company, published by Harvard University Press in 2018.

Dr. Jessica Johnson Carew ’00 is an assistant professor of political science at Elon University and co-author of the new edition of the book “Can We All Get Along?”

Dr. Theresa McCulla ’00 is the Smithsonian’s first ever beer scholar.  She has been featured in Paste, NBC News, and Time.

John Cluverius, Ph.D. ’01 is an assistant professor of political science at The University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Dr. Finale Doshi-Velez ’01 – Dr. Doshi-Velez is an assistant professor of computer science at Harvard University. In 2016, she received a Young Investigator Award from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.  She was named a 2018 Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow.

Dr. Kevin Fogg ’01 is a lecturer and a member of the Faculty of History at Oxford University’s Brasenose College, an appointment he accepted in 2012. Kevin received his BA from Duke University and his MA, MPhil, and PhD from Yale University.

Dr. Daniel Singer ’04 is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. He primarily researches epistemology, specifically foundational questions about epistemic normativity and formal epistemology. His secondary research interests include general philosophy of science, using models to explore philosophical questions, and theoretical computer science. He is also part of a research group with Patrick Grim that investigates questions about social structures using agent-based computer models.

Major Amy E. Givler, Ph.D. ’05 is an assistant professor of applied mathematics at Virginia Military Institute.

Dr. Daniel Lacker ’06 – Daniel is an assistant professor in industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University.

Kelsey Rubin-Detlev, Ph.D. ’06 is an assistant professor of Slavic languages and literatures at the University of Southern California.  She is the author of a joint translation with Andrew Kahn of Catherine’s Selected Letters (Oxford University Press, 2018) and of a forthcoming monograph analysing the empress’s art of the letter.

Dr. David Giancaspro ’07 is an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Richmond.

Leah Crowder ’14 has been named a 2019 Rhodes Scholar and will be attending Oxford for her Ph.D. in International Relations.  You can read more about her in this article.


Nikea Bland (’96) was appointed by Governor Jared Polis as District Court Judge in Colorado’s Second Judicial District beginning January 1, 2020.

Stinson Mundy (’96) is the founder of Linden Legal Strategies in Richmond, VA.  She’s an advisory board member with UnBoundRVA, a nonprofit which puts individuals from low-income backgrounds on the path to business ownership, and sits on the board of Celebrate RVA, which holds memorable birthday parties at Oak Grove-Bellemeade Elementary, where 53 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch programs.  In 2017, she made Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

Faith Alejandro ’01 of Sands Anderson was selected as a member of Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s 2017 class of “Up & Coming Lawyers.” This awards program recognizes lawyers across Virginia who are making their mark within their first 10 years of practice.

Shannon Daily ’02 is an associate on the Bankruptcy, Restructuring, and Creditors’ Rights Team at Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, VA. She won the E. Randolph Williams Award for Outstanding Pro Bono Service from 2010-2017, an award that is given to Hunton & Williams attorneys who donate 100 hours or more each year to pro bono service. She serves as the Governance Committee Chair and a Board Member for the Legal Information Network for Cancer, the Secretary and a Board Member for Dancing Classrooms Greater Richmond, Inc., Membership Director of the Central Virginia Combined Training Association; and volunteers with the Pro Bono Housing Unit at Legal Aid Justice Center.  In 2017, she made Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 list.

Stacy Lee ‘02 of Harrell & Chambliss was selected as a member of Virginia Lawyers Weekly’s 2017 class of “Up & Coming Lawyers.” This awards program recognizes lawyers across Virginia who are making their mark within their first 10 years of practice.  Ms. Lee is President of the Hill-Tucker Bar Association and serves on the board of the Old Dominion Bar Association. She is an active member of the Metro Richmond Women’s Bar Association and the Richmond Criminal Bar Association. Ms. Lee also participates in many civic and community organizations, including the Richmond William & Mary Alumni Association, the Richmond Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc and ministries within her church.

Allison Muth ’02 a senior associate in Alston & Bird’s Investment Management, Trading and Markets Practice, was recognized in 2017 by Private Funds Management (PFM) as one of the world’s top private equity fund formation attorneys of her generation.

Carlton Forbes ’05 clerked for Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court in 2017.  He currently works for Jones Day.

Menaka Nayar ’07 spent half a year in Cambodia at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the tribunal charged with addressing the genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia as a JD/LLM student at Duke Law. Menaka currently serves as a member of the United Nations Committee of the New York City Bar Association. She is an attorney with the prestigious London-based firm Linklaters.

Dahlia Mignouna ’08 clerked for Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the Supreme Court in 2018.

Noah Downs (’09) is quickly becoming a go-to expert in the niche field of video game law.


Lindsey (Check) MacMhaolain ’01 is a life-long martial artist. She is a multiple-time medalist in numerous submission grappling and Brazilian Jiu­-Jitsu tournaments, including winning gold at the WKA World Championships in 2012. She has won WKA MMA and Muay Thai North American tournaments in the amateur open class division.  She now works in martial arts education, combining her vast combat sports experience with scholarly knowledge of gender violence awareness and prevention in her program SPEAK (Self Protection, Empowerment, Awareness, and Knowledge).

Esther Erb Atkins ‘04 is a professional long-distance runner.  She has qualified for the Olympic Trials three times and has been profiled in outlets like Runners World.

Will Roberts ’08 was a pitcher with the Columbus Clippers of the International League. While a student/player at the University of Virginia, he threw the first perfect game in UVA history for the then-ranked number one team in the country. The Cleveland Indians selected Roberts in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB draft.

Cheta Emba ’11 attended Stanford University and went to the 2016 Rio Olympics as a travel reserve for the US women’s rugby team. She played on the US Women’s Rugby World Cup team in 2017 and was selected as a member of the USA Women’s Team for Rugby World Cup Sevens 2018.  She was a member of the U.S. Women’s Rugby Sevens team that qualified for the 2020 Olympics.

Science and Technology

Dr. Randolph Ashton ’99 is an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His lab in the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery is working to fine-tune the technology for growing a neural tube—the predecessor of the spinal cord—from scratch. In 2017, he received a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award for advancing tissue engineering of the human spinal cord. Ashton’s CAREER Award will also fund educational activities that range from expanding outreach programs for underrepresented minority K-12 students, to creating a website and exhibit for the public, to educating Madison area high school teachers about tissue engineering.  In 2018, he was named the new associate director for UW–Madison’s Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Center.

Saumil Bandyopadhyay ’13 attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Saumil is widely recognized for his work in nanotechnology. He was named a recipient of the second annual American Ingenuity Awards by Smithsonian magazine, the flagship publication of Smithsonian Media, for a unique, sensitive infrared radiation detector that promises to be inexpensive and has scientific, civilian and military applications. This invention caught the eye of the US Army, which has met with Saumil to discuss his findings. While still at MLWGS, he placed first overall in Research at the International Space Olympics in Moscow, Russia and won second place in Physics and Astronomy at the Intel International Science & Engineering Fair.

Samantha Marquez ’14 is a neuroscience major at Yale University. In 2012, she received the First Place Award in Research from the International Space Olympics competition held in Korolyov, Russia. In 2013 she won, for the third year in a row, the First Place Award (2011 and 2013 Best In Category as well) in Engineering: Materials and Bioengineering at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).  As a result of her ISEF win, Samantha has an asteroid (dwarf planet) named for her. Samantha is a 2013 Davidson Fellows Laureate, winning a $50,000 prize. Among her many accomplishments, Samantha has appeared on Vital Signs with Dr. Sanjay Gupta (CNN) and presented at TEDxRVA Women. She was profiled by Yale News in 2017.

Non-Profit and Social Entrepreneurship

Emmanuel Pratt ’95 is the Executive Director of Sweet Water Foundation. Sweet Water Foundation utilizes a blend of urban agriculture, art and education to transform vacant spaces and abandoned buildings into economically and ecologically productive and sustainable community assets that produce engaged youth, skilled workers, art, locally-grown food, and affordable housing in Chicago, IL. He is also a founding member of axilL3C. Pratt earned his BArch from Cornell University, his MSAUD (Masters in Science of Architecture and Urban Design) from Columbia University, and is presently a doctoral candidate in the PhD program of Urban Planning also from Columbia University. He is also the Director of Aquaponics for Chicago State University and teaches courses within the college of Arts and Sciences.  He was awarded a 2019 MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant.

Dan Myers ’00 is the Managing Director of Lighthouse Labs, which was awarded a $1 million grant from the GO Virginia initiative in the summer of 2018 to support and empower entrepreneurial college students across Virginia who want to launch startups and become full-time founders after graduation.

Chris Ko ’02 is director of Systems and Innovations for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles and director of Home For Good.

Ashley Hawkins ‘03 is the co-founder and Executive Director of Studio Two Three (S23) in Richmond, VA.  Studio Two Three makes [art] work through studio access, education, and exhibitions.  Ashley was featured in Style Weekly’s 2017 Women in the Arts.  She was named a 2017 “Change Maker” by Richmond Magazine.  She was named one of VCU’s “10 Under 10” for 2017.

Nisha Ligon ’04 is the founder and CEO of Ubongo, Africa’s leading edutainment company.  Ubongo creates “fun, localised and multi-platform educational media that reaches millions of families through accessible technologies. Our programs significantly improve school readiness and learning outcomes for kids, and also promote social and behavioural change for kids, caregivers and educators.”  As of 2018, they reach 6.4 million households in 31 countries.

Bailey Thomson Blake ’06 is the Director of Operations for SPARK Schools, a network of schools dedicated to the mission of providing access to affordable, high-quality education to South African children who will have the opportunity to become internationally-competitive scholars.

Yash Tekriwal ’14 is co-founder and Director of Innovation at Radify Labs, an education startup. His company is one of eight recently selected to participate in the prestigious Lighthouse Labs accelerator program in Richmond this fall.

Matthew Perry ’15 started the Richmond Community Bail Fund.

Business & Finance

George Ashton ’96 co-founded the solar financing and development venture Sol Systems. Sol Systems has delivered more than $500 million worth of solar projects for Fortune 500 companies, universities, churches and small businesses. In 2016, they partnered with a $25 billion large-scale wind and solar development company, Sempra Energy. Today, Sol Systems manages more than $600 million in energy assets for utilities and companies from Hawaii to the East End of Long Island. They were profiled in Fast Company in 2017.

Neil Amin ’96 is the CEO of Shamin Hotels, which owns and operates many hotel properties in the Richmond area. He was named a 2016 Richmond Times Dispatch Person of the Year. Shamin is the region’s largest hotel operator and the 20th largest in the nation.  In 2018, he offered free rooms in a Shamin hotel to residents of Creighton Court living without heat.  Also in 2018, he put 181 acres of land along the James River into a conservation easement held by the Capital Region Land Conservancy, a nonprofit land preservation group.

Jamey Stegmaier ’99 is the president and co-founder of Stonemaier Games, which has produced the hit board games Euphoria, Viticulture, Scythe, and Charterstone.  Scythe won Board Game of the Year from Board Game Geek in 2016.

Andrea Canerossi ’01 is a Senior Project Manager for IBM in their US Public Sector Federal Practice.  In 2015, she was awarded the Association of Proposal Management Professionals (APMP) 2015 Future Leader Award.  She was also awarded the IBM Global Business Services Public Sector Distinguished Managers Award this year in July 2017.  She also mentors across IBM Public Sector and here in Huntsville, AL for women and girls in both STEM and in business fields.

Charles Merritt ’03 is the CEO of Buddy, one of ten companies selected to join the inaugural class of the 2018 MetLife Digital Accelerator powered by Techstars.

Neel Rai04 is an Investment Analyst at Caxton Associates. He made Forbes’ “30 Under 30 Finance” list in 2016.

Tommy Nicholas ’07, Charles Hearn ’09, and Scott Clark ’09 are the co-founders of Alloy, a startup that solves identity and compliance problems for financial institutions and fintech companies.  In 2019, Forbes named Alloy one of 20 Rising Stars on their 2019 Cloud 100 list.  Alloy raised $12 million in a round of venture funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners in the summer of 2019.

Kent Rollins ’14 is the founder of Candid Campus Tours, which provides personalized college tours to prospective students.

Food & Drink

Joya Carlton ’98 has worked as the Executive Chef at The Butcher’s Daughter, Gastronoma at Buvette, and created the underground pop-up supper club The Wildest.  She opened the vegan eatery Orchard Grocer in the Lower East Side this year.  Another of her projects, Pressed, is opening its third location in the Boston area and will be rolling out in other New England locations this year as part of a partnership with Whole Foods Market. She also has a consulting business that works with start-ups, individuals and established restaurants and chains on menu development and business development. Joya has been featured in Vogue, The New York Times, and Bon Appetit, among other publications.  Her newest restaurant, Joya Loves Louie, is set to open in Manhattan in the fall of 2018.

Bridie McCulla ‘03 is the Pastry Chef of Northside Social, Lyon Hall and Liberty Tavern in Washington, DC.  She was nominated for a Rammy Award in 2016 for Pastry Chef of the Year.

Nathan Conway ’06 is the co-owner of Metzger Bar & Butchery, which was named Style Weekly’s 2015 Restaurant of the Year. It has been praised in the Washington Post, among other outlets. He also co-owns Brenner Pass in Scott’s Addition, which opened in the summer of 2017.  Wine Spectator praised the wine list he assembled for Brenner Pass in their November 2017 article about Richmond’s food and drink scene.

Religious Leaders and Clergy

Lt. j.g. Yonina Creditor ’97 is a rabbi and a Navy chaplain.

David Wein ’00 is Associate Rabbi & Elder at Tikvat Israel in Richmond, VA.

Reverend Matt Kiehl ’06 is Parochial Vicar at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Roanoke, VA.


Calvin Dalton ’97 served in the United States Marine Corps for over eleven years. He was one of 20 elite handpicked Marines to graduate Marine Special Operations Selection, becoming one of the first 75 selected Special Forces Marines in history. As of 2017, he was serving as Program Manager & Afghanistan Country Lead for BAE Systems.


Betty-Shannon Poates ’95 is conducting her doctoral research at NC State on postpartum depression.  She received the APHA Mental Health Section’s 2016 Kenneth Lutterman Student Award and has been featured as an expert in her subject area on WUNC and in other venues.

Shira Lanyi ’05 started medical school in the fall of 2018 after a career as a ballerina.  Read more about her journey here, here, and here.

Policy/Government/Public Service

Elana DeLozier ’00 is the CEO and founder of the Sage Institute for Foreign Affairs. She has over a decade of experience in political analysis, analytic training, and university-level teaching. She has spent six years in the Middle East in both the Levant and the Gulf, where she has worked as a political analyst and has spearheaded training programs for new analysts. She has taught graduate courses at universities in the United States and the UAE, including courses on nuclear proliferation, Arabian Gulf politics, and counterterrorism. Prior to living in the Middle East, she spent four years as the right-hand to the Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism in New York City and worked at Brookings, a prestigious DC think-tank.