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2018: Eric Gottesman '91

Like any good teacher, Eric Gottesman knows how to ask the right questions, and then listen closely for answers. After graduating from Duke University, Eric traveled to Ethiopia, as yet unsure about starting a career as an artist, and started his first major photography project. Eric quickly discovered that life in Ethiopia often did not conform to the way that it is portrayed in western-centric art, and so he set out to create something more honest — art that included input from and conversations with its subjects. Almost twenty years later, Eric is still producing art with conversation as its centerpiece. He has explored the possibilities of art as a spark for generating ideas about politics, society, and social change. His dedication to and willingness to experiment with the art of listening and provoking discussion has led him to create innovative art and has led people around the globe to reclaim their own stories.


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2016: Sam Sisakhti ‘98 

For a long time, the fashion industry has been a problematic, top-down industry that often causes harm to consumers, small-scale designers, and young women everywhere. Sam Sisakhti has worked tirelessly to break into this industry and change it for the better. In 2008, Sam founded UsTrendy, an online retail company where thousands of designers are given an outlet through which to gain exposure and obtain funding. The company also democratizes the process, by allowing customers to vote on which products will be produced on a larger scale. More recently, Sam started the Believe in Yourself Project, an organization that provides free, fashionable formal clothing to underprivileged girls, with the goal that all young women have the confidence to be themselves, regardless of income or physical traits.


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2015: Laura Rogerson Moore ’74

After graduating from Groton School and then Harvard, Laura Rogerson Moore returned to Applewild to become our first teaching intern, and throughout her career she has remained close to home. Laura has taught English at Lawrence Academy for 33 years, and her students have included many an Applewild graduate. At Lawrence, Laura has unceasingly volunteered her time and energy for countless programs, always with the goal of improving her community. She has been a dorm head, started a dance program, served on Lawrence’s Intervention Team (a confidential resource for students concerned about the well-being of themselves and their friends), started the school’s literary magazine, served on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, and much more. She has also been involved in the broader town community as a member of the Historic Districts Commission, among other volunteer roles. The communities of Lawrence Academy and the town of Groton have benefited greatly from Laura’s tireless efforts.


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2014: Jeffrey Wolfe ‘75

When Jeffrey Wolfe started groSolar, a renewable energy company, in 1998, solar electric systems barely accounted for any of the United States’ energy output. That didn’t stop Jeffrey from thinking big — “I got into solar to power the entire world,” he says. 15 years later solar energy had become a widely available alternative to fossil fuels, but the reality of climate change still loomed large, as it does today. In 2012 Jeffrey left the energy industry to start a symposium called Our Children, Climate, Faith, in which the connections between spirituality and ending social injustices are brought to the forefront of discussion. Through his pioneering work in the solar energy industry and his efforts to make people think about the interrelated social injustices of our world from a new angle, Jeffrey has worked tirelessly to combat climate change and make Planet Earth a better place.


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2013: Sharon Parnes ’63

When Jeffrey Wolfe started groSolar, a renewable energy company, in 1998, solar electric systems barely accounted for any of the United States’ energy output. That didn’t stop Jeffrey from thinking big — “I got into solar to power the entire world,” he says. 15 years later solar energy had become a widely available alternative to fossil fuels, but the reality of climate change still loomed large, as it does today. In 2012 Jeffrey left the energy industry to start a symposium called Our Children, Climate, Faith, in which the connections between spirituality and ending social injustices are brought to the forefront of discussion. Through his pioneering work in the solar energy industry and his efforts to make people think about the interrelated social injustices of our world from a new angle, Jeffrey has worked tirelessly to combat climate change and make Planet Earth a better place.


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2012: Margaret Williams ‘81

The terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the Bering Sea are endangered by countless human and environmental pressures, from climate change to overfishing, and Margaret Williams has made conservation in this area her life’s mission. Despite the challenges of working with polar bears in vast stretches of wilderness in both Russia and Alaska, Margaret is not afraid to get her hands dirty doing what has to be done to protect these important ecosystems. As the managing director of the Arctic Field Program for the World Wildlife Fund, Margaret has devoted years to reducing human-animal conflict and mitigating the many pressures that imperil the ecosystems of the Bering Sea, and few have had as significant and direct an impact.


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2011: Ian Douglas ‘73

From an early age Ian Douglas has always been willing to lend a helping hand to the broader community — just as he remembers staying late at Applewild in order to help maintain our old ice rink, years later he is still working hard to improve communities around the world. An ordained Episcopal bishop, Ian has spent years on relief work in Haiti with his mentor, Desmond Tutu. Ian was awarded the Cross of St. Augustine for his mediation and facilitation of discussions between the leaders of the Anglican faith at the decennial Lambeth Conference. Whether in Haiti or in his own diocese of Connecticut, Ian’s natural generosity and civic-mindedness has brought about improvements in communities worldwide.


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2010: Andrew Wexler ‘67

As a pediatric plastic surgeon, Andy Wexler uses his unique skills to help children around the world born with facial deformities. Facial deformities like cleft lip are often more than superficial, especially since children born with these defects are shunned and ostracized in many cultures. It is for this reason that Andy spends a part of every year volunteering for Operation Smile, an organization that provides free surgeries to children who would not normally have access to a specialist surgeon. Andy has lead surgical missions in Kenya, Morocco, Brazil, Brazil, Ecuador, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, and India, and his expertise and generosity have provided life-changing surgeries for people in all of these places.


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2009: Hannah Guggenheim ‘86

After receiving an M.F.A. from San Francisco State’s film production program, Hannah Guggenheim began making educational films and documentaries about social issues. Hannah quickly departed from the traditional model of making a movie about someone, however. Instead, Hannah tells stories collaboratively, involving the subjects of her projects in the creative process, and often in the actual filming process. Hannah’s work has empowered and inspired people — from Benji and Judah, identical twins from Oakland born with spina bifida, to Brazilian children from rural communities on the Amazon River — to tell their stories.


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2008: Scott Foster ‘65

A long time member of the Applewild Board of Trustees, and former president of the Board, Scott Foster has always displayed an extraordinary willingness to give at any organization he is involved in. Scott gladly came out of retirement to share his expertise when we welcomed him back to the Board from 2005-2007 during a period of transition. Whether helping out at Applewild or fundraising for the American Cancer Society, Scott is always able to bring a relentless positive energy to an organization, quietly and selflessly encouraging everyone around him to succeed and improve.


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2006: Jennifer Sarja ‘88

With a passion for writing and teaching, and a dedication to helping those in need, Jen Sarja couldn’t just be an ordinary writer or teacher. Thinking outside the box in order to create the biggest possible impact on the world, Jen founded Youthinkwell, a Los Angeles-based writing center that educates young writers about social issues as well as writing. Youthinkwell provides students with the opportunity to publish books they write about social issues that are important to them — and all of the proceeds go toward building wells in Ethiopia. Jen has been able to personally inspire her students in L.A. to change the world with their pens, while also empowering children and families halfway around the world in Ethiopia by providing them with much-needed access to clean water.


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2005: Laure Aubuchon ‘64

After a long career in the private sector, Laure Aubuchon began work at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she was responsible for the city’s international business development efforts. Laure, a Dame of Malta in the American Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta has also been on the Boards of Trustees at Assumption College, the YWCA of NYC, and the Malta House of Good Counsel in Norwalk, CT, a home for women and children in need. Her constant willingness to give shows her sincere commitment to the values that Mr. Laverack held dear. At the Laverack Award ceremony, Laure remarked that she was honored because, “Rarely does one have the opportunity to thank people who were part of the journey that brought you to where you are today.”


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2004: Megan Camp ‘75

Although she was a design major at the University of Vermont, Megan Camp spent much of her time at school working for local non profit organizations, and she quickly found her calling in the field of environmental education. Megan has been working with Burlington-based non profit and sustainable working farm, Shelburne Farms, ever since her senior year at UVM, when she completed a thesis on the topic of improving the effectiveness of the organization’s programs. Megan’s commitment, and her understanding that environmental education is not just about imparting information, but about developing skills and values, has helped Shelburne Farms to become a leader in empowering communities and individuals to make sustainable choices for the 21st century.


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2003: Patsy Simonds Taylor ‘65

Recognizing that “education is the most important gift that we can give our children and the children of this country,” Patsy Simonds Taylor has devoted almost thirty years of service to improve educational opportunities for the blind and visually impaired, in and out of the classroom. Although she had never met a blind person in her life when she started graduate school at Boston College, Patsy quickly gathered experience working with visually impaired children in all kinds of situations from Massachusetts to Maryland. Patsy has spent most of her career — and generously given much of her life — to working in the New York City area, helping to provide visually impaired students, often from low-income backgrounds, with the opportunities and accommodations they need to thrive in school and in their communities.


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2002: John Chittick ‘63

After receiving his P.H.D. in human development and psychology from Harvard University, John Chittick began his career by producing scholarly papers as a traditional academic. However, when a young woman he knew died of AIDS, it spurred John into devoting his life to fighting the HIV-AIDS epidemic by applying his efforts more directly. In 1992 John began walking tours in the U.S. and Dominican Republic to educate teens about the disease. When this award was presented to John in 2002, he had spent the past three years of his life traveling to more than 15 countries to eradicate misinformation and encourage prevention measures among teens world-wide. John’s commitment and generosity have saved many lives, and made a difference in countless more.