Recent interviews with Alumni
Alumni from Shining Mountain Waldorf School recognize and know firsthand that Waldorf is much more than just a school and an education; it is a community and way of life that truly embodies the core of who our alumni are today. Since our first high school graduating class in 1996, Shining Mountain has sent over 300 graduates into the world. Our alumni work in a variety of professions and lead successful, happy, and fulfilled lives. Following, are profiles of alumni to read about. Be sure to visit this site as we spotlight more alumni in the future!
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Jordan Chase-Jacobsen graduated from Connecticut College with a B.A. magna cum laude in International Relations in 2005. Jordan is a law fellow at Georgetown Law. As a law student, he has served as a summer associate at the Washington, D.C. office of Gibson Dunn and interned for the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the Executive Office of the President. Jordan previously served as an analyst in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence for five years and as a paralegal at the Federal Trade Commission for a year. A native of Boulder, CO, Jordan is pursuing a career in litigation and will serve as an associate at Gibson Dunn after graduation.
Emily Lark was born and raised in Boulder, Colorado, where she was given the tremendous gift of a Waldorf education. She carried forth the confidence Waldorf instilled in her to the east coast, where she attended Mount Holyoke College, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Anthropology. She first discovered her love of teaching while living and studying in India where she taught English to children in need. It became clear to her that there was nothing as fulfilling as teaching. When she returned to the states, she became the main class teacher at a Waldorf school in Miami, Florida, where she had the joy of leading a class from fifth through eighth grades. She is very excited to have relocated to Colorado and honored to have the opportunity to bring the richness of the Waldorf curriculum to her class at the Mountain Sage Community School in Fort Collins, CO.
Class of 1996
Amanda Sage is a Visionary painter based between Vienna, Austria and Los Angeles, California. She trained and worked with Ernst and Michael Fuchs and has become one of their more accomplished students. She is one of only a few painters around the world using and teaching the Mischtechnik. After graduating from Shining Mountain Waldorf School, she then traveled to Vienna, Austria to study the techniques of the Old Masters as taught by Michael Fuchs. In 1999 she was introduced to his father, widely respected painting master Ernst Fuchs, and was invited to work with him as his painting apprentice. While studying with Fuchs, she worked extensively in the Apocalypse Chapel in Klagenfurt, Austria with Laurence Caruana and A. Andrew Gonzales.
Amanda obtained studio space in the historic WUK cultural center, and became integrally involved and an active member of the Board of Directors. In 2007 she joined the stable of artists represented by Galerie 10, placing her in the company of Ernst Fuchs, Arik Brauer, Rudolf Hausner, Anton Lehmden, Wolfgang Hutter, Helmut Kand, Manfred Deix. She is considered one of the leaders of the Visionary Art movement influenced by the Vienna School of Fantastic Realism.
On her search for a broader audience and resonance for her art, she discovered a thriving scene on the West Coast of The United States at the historic 725 Spring St. building in Los Angeles, California. She is now based primarily between Vienna, Austria and Los Angeles, California, and spends a substantial amount of her time traveling the world attending, exhibiting, teaching and speaking at gatherings and conferences such as Burning Man, Art Basel Miami and The Nexus Global Youth Summit. She has exhibited in galleries and salons worldwide in places such as London, Japan, Australia, Vienna, Munich, Bali, Colorado, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Moscow. She has shown with world-renowned artists like Alex Grey, Robert Venosa and Romio Shrestha and has contributed to a variety of large-scale projects such as the Think Tank at Fractal Nation Burning Man and the Moksha Family Art Gallery at Art Basel Miami.
Class of 2003
Bryan Carruthers is the founder of Consilium Partners as well as a managing principal. He grew up in Colorado and graduated from Colorado School of Mines with a BS in Engineering and a minor in Public Affairs from McBride Honors program. Bryan was recognized as the outstanding graduating senior by the McBride Honors program and Civil Engineering department. As a career project manager, his experience has ranged from hospitality renovations and new builds to Affordable housing projects. He remains actively involved with continued education and the Colorado community through the Urban Land Institute, ASPE, ASCE, and through volunteering at Colorado School of Mines and as a member of the Board of Trustees at Shining Mountain Waldorf School. Bryan holds his EIT certification in the state of Colorado.
Class of 2004
Alicia Harley is a Giorgio Ruffolo Doctoral Research Fellow in the Sustainability Science Program and a doctoral candidate in the Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is interested in institutional reform and mechanisms improving organizational reflexivity in support of sustainable innovation and technology adoption/adaptation for agriculture development. Her research focuses on institutional dynamics of innovation in international and regional agriculture research systems and questions of institutions and power in agriculture technology adoption. She is specifically interested in the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research(CGIAR) system and the process of organizational change to the new common property resource programs, the relationship of intellectual property rights and incentives for innovation in public and private sector research, the history of agriculture extension services in Egypt during the 20th century, and the system of rice intensification. Alicia is contributing to collaborative work with the Initiative on Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development led by William Clark. Alicia is a recipient of the Vicki Norberg Bohm Fellowship (2011). She received her BA, magna cum laude, in Environmental Science and Public Policy and a citation in Arabic from Harvard College(2008). She worked as a greenhouse gas reduction program coordinator for Harvard’s Office for Sustainability after graduation. Following that, she spent a year in Cairo on a Fulbright scholarship researching the political economy of agriculture and food security in Egypt before returning to graduate school. Alicia speaks Arabic, German and Spanish. Her faculty host is William Clark.
Innovation and technology transfer in agri-food systems for sustainable development and improved livelihoods
This research explores global food systems and agriculture development and focuses specifically on institutional dynamics of innovation and technology transfer in food and agriculture systems. Theoretically it looks at what drives the variation of selection and adoption of new technologies across geographies and within international agriculture and development research systems. The global food crises of 2007-2008 put food security and agriculture development back on the forefront of policy agendas for countries, international organizations and the private sector. As these various actors scale up their investments, it is a critical time to increase our understanding of the processes of innovation and technology adoption in agriculture.
Class of 2001
“I’m not only Calla’s friend, I’m her fan. Her strength, centeredness, clarity, commitment and chutzpah inspire me. She’s doing important work now, but someday she will be extraordinarily influential, which will benefit us all.” — RMI’s Michael Kinsley
If you’ve followed RMI’s work for long enough, then you know we’re prone to optimism. There’s a reason for that. We spend every day developing creative ways to achieve high levels of resource productivity. And in doing so, we see a world full of possibilities to explore. For 28 years, we have worked toward creating a vision for a world in equilibrium, where the needs of each individual are never hindered by a lack of resources.
But if vision were enough many of the problems we face on a daily basis would have been laid to rest in the early 1980s. Ideas are subject to the time in which they live and the audience exposed to them. Without voice, vision is immobile, ossified in context. That’s why torchbearers are so important. We have plenty here at RMI (our Chairman and Chief Scientist, Amory Lovins, has profoundly delivered our message for years), but we have also nurtured something of a family outside RMI consisting of former staff members spread around the globe.
Calla Ostrander is one of those alumni. A former communications fellow in our Snowmass office, she directed donor events, designed RMI’s first knowledge-management system, and developed the Energy Opportunity Finder with Michael Kinsley. “Everything I know about life-cycle management, integrated systems, biomimicry and efficiency, I learned at RMI,” Ostrander said. Since leaving RMI, Ostrander has encountered many unique challenges, but one common thread has run throughout—community. Much of Ostrander’s work then and now can be described as outreach—maintaining an essential artery to the outside world.
Putting RMI Skills to Practical Use
As climate action coordinator for the city of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, Ostrander is responsible for managing citywide emissions inventories as well as climate policies like the Carbon Fund. This program sells offsets for carbon-intensive activities and then reinvests the proceeds into local operations that reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. Inspired by traditional offset programs, the Carbon Fund takes a far more local approach. For instance, in purchasing offsets for activities such as air travel, the air traveler directly invests in programs such as Urban Orchards, which plants fruit trees in urban areas, or Dog Patch Biodiesel, a waste-grease filling station. Such programs, along with a host of established environmental regulatory policies, make San Francisco a leader in climate protection.
To be sure, San Francisco is a progressive city with a great deal of political will and legislative backing for climate policies, but that hasn’t relieved Ostrander of her fair share of challenges. “In San Francisco, there are so many offices devoted to environmental concerns—keeping our air clean, reducing emissions, cleaning up our waterways—but there’s less of a connection to the environment than you would assume,” she said.
The importance of framing the discussion is a daily reminder in Ostrander’s work. For example, the city’s Green Jobs program hires sixty low-income people from around the city, educates them about climate change, recycling and toxicity issues, and then sends them back to their communities with knowledge and new skills. “Some of our workers will come in to work and they’ll say, ‘You know, my family thinks I’m full of it. They don’t believe in what I’m doing,’” Ostrander said. The problem is in the large gap between technical experts and the general populace. “You have to ask, ‘What are the most important points, who is my audience, and where are they coming from?’ Because these issues affect at least one thing that everyone cares about.”
Moving Communities Toward Sustainability
Although Ostrander is in the initial stage of her career, she has an incredible ability to translate the technical to an often-indifferent audience, a skill she uses deftly in San Francisco but one she really learned in her former home of Aspen, Colorado. After leaving RMI in 2006, Ostrander took a job with the city of Aspen. As project coordinator for Aspen’s Canary Initiative, Ostrander was responsible for many of the community’s environmental activities alive today. As co-author of the Canary Climate Action Plan, she helped outline Aspen’s current emissions reduction goals and the policy options for achieving them. A city famous for excess (energy gobbling second-homes and an airport full of private jets), Aspen has made headlines recently for its environmental policies. A fair amount of credit is due to Ostrander, who became a public spokesperson for the Canary Initiative.
“Colorado is still very much the Wild West,” Ostrander said. “You don’t have the bureaucratic means for instituting such policies—as you do in California—so you have to frame the argument. I would block out 50 percent of my time setting up my argument so that people could identify with it.” As a ski town, Aspen’s economy is largely based on the sport and is therefore dependent upon a future without substantial warming. The motivation for the Canary Initiative looms above them every season, in the form of four revenue-generating mountains: Ajax, Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass.
Ostrander has a keen understanding of that tenuous thread between educator and audience, as well as an unwavering drive to move her community forward. It’s a certain zeal for communicating profoundly important issues. Former RMI staffer Auden Schendler calls it a “contagious idealism and optimism that will keep us going when things look bleak.” Ostrander’s strength is in recognizing the diversity of her audiences and their respective opinions but finding common ground in each of them. “After all, at the end of the day, you can’t get everybody,” Ostrander said. “You can fight tooth and nail, but you’re likely to just empower them.” Ben Holland is RMI’s Outreach Coordinator. –Published February 2010
Class of 2004
Rory Smith, graduate of the Class of 2004, was just written up in the Metro State College of Denver’s Newsletter for his artwork: “Rory Smith, a Senior, fine arts major, won first place in the “Awesome” Art Guild show at Emmanuel Gallery, 10th Street Mall, for a print and cut paper piece titled ‘There was a Fear.'”In December, Rory’s printmaking installation was selected for a juried show at Edge Gallery in Denver and he has just been notified that one of his prints has been chosen for a Printmaking Exhibition in April, at Texas A& M University, Corpus Christi, Texas.Rory has a favorite quote from one of his amazing Printmaking Professors at Metro State College: “Time and perseverance always trump skill”. If interested, you can view Rory’s art work at www.roryegsmith.tumblr.com. (Artwork by Rory Smith).Submitted by proud parents Bridget Gallagher & Stephen Smith (alumni parents)
Class of 2004
After graduating from Bryn Mawr, I held a fellowship with the John Jay Institute and went on to work for the Witherspoon Institute, a non-profit research organization in Princeton, NJ. This past year, I have worked as an administrator for the James Madison Program in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. I was married in October of 2010 and my husband and I are expecting our first baby in a matter of days! I cherish my education at Shining Mountain and am daily grateful for the skills I developed there, and, especially, for the love of learning that was instilled in me. As I begin to think now about how I will educate my own children, I know my happy experience at Waldorf will influence what I seek out for them.
Class of 2001
I co-founded a non-profit called Laughing Coyote Project. I am a head instructor of this organization that teaches nature awareness and ancestral/primitive skills to homeschool and afterschool youth ages 8-16. I also help run a demonstration farm and garden for the Laughing Coyote Community. I attended Shining Mountain for 14 years, thus it holds a very special place in my heart. I often draw on my education at SMWS for the teaching that I do at Laughing Coyote Project. The community and friends that were created during my time at SMWS are invaluable, and the many teachers I had changed my life.