Sharing Our Stories ArtAlumnae Stories from the Pandemic

Our “Sharing Our Stories” series is designed to show how our AADC alumnae sisters are dealing with the changes in their lives resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic and today’s critical issues.  Alumnae who have shared stories are pictured. Read our latest story below and scroll down to click on links to read more stories. Please share YOUR story with your alumnae sisters. Email us your story at

ellen sue spicer-jacobson 59Ellen Sue Spicer-Jacobson ’59 has shared her creative spirit with alumnae through her books and by designing the Class of 1959’s 50th Reunion class banner. She is active with her Class, attends AADC Alumnae Reunion Weekend and also participates in the annual AADC Cabin Fever knitting and sweet treat event. In addition to previously published books, she hopes to publish her first novel, “Full Set of Nails,” based on her experiences and those of friends who divorced in midlife, what she calls “gray divorce.” Ellen Sue considers herself a “rhymnast” or a gymnast with words, rather than a poet. Here is her story and one of her “rhymes.” Here is her story, shared on October 8, 2020.

When my “advanced age” put me in the category of high risk for COVID-19, I thought cabin fever would set in. Much to my surprise, I began to declutter my house, go through files that needed culling, and finish the first draft of my novel, “Full Set of Nails.” A national publisher has been looking at my manuscript for possible publication. I have been relieved from errands (my daughter food shops for me), removed from classes in person (yoga, creative writing) and realized I was enjoying the less hectic schedule I had been keeping and that curling up with a good book or taking a walk in my neighborhood became more enjoyable than ever. I began to live the cliché: “the simple things in life,” including passing up some Zoom meetings to explore or catch up with projects at home.

Underneath this, however, is a gnawing anxiety about the state of the world. I truly believe that the pandemic is related to climate change, because Mother Earth is overwhelmed with all that is being done; sullying her rivers and oceans and polluting the atmosphere and our foods with chemicals our bodies don’t need. What we do need is a set of spiritual ecology guidelines to clean up our planet and our own bodies. (See an article in Consumer Reports, “Stop Eating Pesticides.”) I have become a “nutrition ecologist,” and my 14 year-old website is beginning to reflect this transition from women’s health to planetary health.

Balancing these positive thoughts and activities with the anxiety is a daily encounter with myself. While I am considered an extrovert by most people, I realize that social distancing has allowed me to explore my “shadow self,” that is, the part of me that enjoys my alone time, my reading for pleasure, my love of letter writing, and even my decluttering time. Many of these activities are pushed away when I am out in the world connecting with family, friends and other activities.

I miss seeing my family and friends, so thank goodness for the phone, email and Zoom. Again, there is a need to balance my external life with my internal (shadow) life. And when we are allowed to be with family and friends, I will need to reevaluate this balance between alone time and social time, so that I am not overwhelmed with responsibilities and commitments that steal from my alone time. I am learning lots of lessons during this difficult time and trust that when we are back to a kind of new normal, I will take these lessons with me and create a world that feels safer and kinder than ever before.

Coping & Hoping in the Time of COVID

Day after day during COVID, my routine rarely alters:
Keeping calm, healthy & alert; my resolve never falters.
Making the bed, doing the laundry, my thoughts ever roam.
Is this new way of living good for our global home?

Wearing a mask, shopping at dawn, not eating out.
Is this the new norm everyone is complaining about?
The flu in 1918 has a similar resemblance: quite eerie.
Will we ever again feel safe, in practice and in theory?

Day after day, I think a lot about what this new life is worth?
Is COVID telling us to clean up our shared home: Mother Earth?
Are the severe storms, floods, and greenhouse gases a global warning
to scale down our lives, take stock of our actions, every morning?

If so, then we need to do all in our power every single day
to clean up our ailing planet, everyone in his or her own way.
Reuse/Reduce/Recycle is a triple, important conviction
to save us all from dying: the human race’s extinction!

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring is coming to deadly fruition.
We don’t need a crystal ball; just use your natural intuition.
If we take from the planet more than we give,
soon everything will die and no one will live.

I have become an environmental activist now,
Creating a green team to see what and how
we can do to save the planet & also all our lives.
I see no other choice to a path that says: “SURVIVE.”

I feel a small revolution stirring in my soul
and my green team project is now a major goal.
So join me if you wish to be part of this quiet revolution.
REUSE/REDUCE/RECYCLE and reach a safe solution.


Barbara-Crooker-author-photo undatedAuthor Barbara Poti Crooker ‘67 was preparing to launch her latest book of poetry, “Some Glad Morning” (Pitt Poetry Series, University of Pittsburgh Poetry Press), when the pandemic meant cancelling book events. “Still,” she says, “I’m writing, because that (and gardening) is all I know how to do.” She has shared updates and poetry through Class Notes and shared her work at AADC Alumnae Reunion Weekend. Here is her poem, shared on October 1, 2020.



kathryn bloom 67

An English major at Douglass, Kathryn Ruth Bloom ’67 enjoyed a long career in corporate communications in the biopharmaceutical industry. After retiring, she completed a Ph.D. in literature at Northeastern and now has a second career leading literature classes in retirement communities in the greater Boston area. Her articles, op-eds and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsday, Boston Globe, Boston Herald and Hadassah Magazine. She is a loyal supporter of the AADC and of the AADC Annual Appeal. Here is her story, shared on September 24, 2020.


Kristina De Pinto 14Kristina DePinto ’14 graduated as a Bunting. She majored in Sociology, Education & Psychology. Her experience in the former AADC Externship Program exposed her to the field of Autism and led her to a career with a focus in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Kristina continues to mentor classmates in pursuit of attending graduate school. Here is her story, shared on September 17, 2020.




Vilma Olsvary Ginzberg 48

Vilma Olsvary Ginzberg ’48 graduated from NJC with a degree in psychology and worked as a clinical psychotherapist in Wisconsin for four decades. Now 93, Vilma has published seven small collections of poetry, many of which can be obtained through Amazon, all of which can be sampled on her website, She attended her 40th and 50th Vanguard Reunions and enjoys reading AADC publications to stay informed. She is a consistent donor to the AADC Annual Appeal. Here is her story, shared on September 4, 2020.




REVISED Harriet Farber Klein '70 stories headshotThe Honorable Harriet Farber Klein ’70 was a Political Science and History major. She earned her J.D. degree from Rutgers Law School-Newark in 1973. She began her career as a law clerk to the Hon. Irwin I. Kimmelman in the Essex County Superior Court, Chancery Division. Harriet practiced as a litigator with two New Jersey law firms, becoming a partner at the Woodbridge firm of Greenbaum Rowe Smith & Davis. In 1998, she was appointed to the New Jersey Superior Court bench in Essex County. Harriet has attended numerous AADC events and has been a consistent contributor to the AADC Annual Fund and Capital Campaign. Here is her story, shared on August 27, 2020. Read her story.



Lisa Taubenblat 95 cropLisa Taubenblat ’95 is a psychotherapist in a clinic setting and private practice in New York City. She graduated from NYU Silver School of Social Work in 2003. She works with adults, couples and families and focuses on mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, trauma, chronic illness, aging concerns and multi-generational conflict. She is a certified divorce mediator. She was inspired by the former AADC Extern Program, in which she participated at a child welfare agency in Colorado. Here is her story, shared on August 20, 2020. Read her story.




 Rayna Addabbo 11Rayna Addabbo ‘11 was inspired to pursue a Ph.D. in biophysics through her experiences in Professor Jean Baum’s research group studying the protein collagen while she was an undergraduate. She earned her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2018, where she was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow. Her dissertation focused on protein folding in the context of the cellular environment. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Molecular Virology. Rayna stays connected with the AADC and sister alumnae through our virtual programs, such as AADC Virtual Tea with Tina. Here is her story, shared on August 13, 2020. Read her story.



Marie-Louise Meyers 59 authorMarie-Louise Carkhuff Meyers ’59 is in the process of writing a book about the pandemic and is the author of three books of poetry and a children’s book, “The Case of the Missing Silver Star.” She is a frequent contributor to Class Notes and celebrates at AADC Alumnae Reunion Weekend. She writes every day and shares one of her poems about what she calls “our present predicament.” Here is her poem, shared on August 6, 2020. Read her story.




Marilyn Urso 69 cropMarilyn Urso is a member of the Class of 1969. She is a strong supporter of the AADC and its mission. She has had several careers and is currently a New York State licensed real estate broker and a NYS Certified real estate instructor. Here is her story, shared on July 30, 2020. Read her story.




Beverly Greenhouse Perry 76 L and Meryl Stoller Orlando 75Meryl Stoller Orlando ’75 served as a house chair at Corwin dorms in her junior year. She currently serves as vice president of her class, has helped plan milestone reunions and has attended nearly every five-year reunion for the Class of 1975. In addition to other AADC events, she has participated in workshops hosted by the AADC along with her friend, Beverly Greenhouse Perry ’76, who is included in her story. Here is her story, shared on July 23, 2020. Read her story.




stern-delfiner-julie cropped

Julie Stern-Delfiner, MD, is a 1989 graduate of Douglass. She earned her medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School in 1993 and today is a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a position she has held since completing fellowship training in 1999. Here is her story, shared on July 15, 2020. Read her story.




Fredda Klein Sacharow 71Fredda Klein Sacharow ’71 graduated from Douglass College with a degree in journalism and most recently worked for “Rutgers Today,” until she lost her freelance assignments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She recently connected with alumnae on the AADC virtual event, “Tea with Tina.” Here is her story, shared on July 9, 2020. Read her story.




karen torian 73Karen McLane Torian, Class of 1973, is a former member of the AADC Board of Directors, a past chair of the AADC Black Alumnae Network Jewel Plummer Sisters Conference and a consistent donor to the AADC. Here is her story, shared on June 26, 2020. Read her story.




Deborah Hipkins 73

Deborah Hipkins ’73 graduated from Douglass with a degree in American Studies. After getting a degree in nursing in 2006, she spent many years working as a nurse. She has returned to celebrate milestone reunions and traveled to Egypt with the AADC Alumnae Travel program in 2019. Here is her story, shared on June 18, 2020. Read her story.




stephaniecayne89forwebStephanie Cayne, Class of 1989, serves on the AADC Board as Secretary. She is a teacher who has seen major changes in education during this crisis, but here she focuses on her work as an EMT. Here is her story, shared on June 4, 2020. Read her story.




Katie Jenkins Cooke 05.2020Kathryn Jenkins Cooke ’10 has served as Class Secretary since her graduation. She works in Medicaid policy for the AIDS Institute, New York State Department of Health in Albany, New York, where she lives with her husband and two children. She celebrated her first five-year Reunion in 2015 along with her daughter Lexi and her mother Nancy Mencel Jenkins ’77. We shared her story on May 28, 2020. Read her story.





Jennifer Ansbach ’93 is a staunch supporter of the AADC and its mission. She has taught high school in Manchester Township, NJ, for 13 years and currently is in the PhD program in American Studies at Rutgers University Graduate School – Newark, where she also serves as a teaching assistant. We shared her story on May 22, 2020. Read her story.




Tiffany T Pivot Points May 2020

Tiffany ’04 (last name and other details have been omitted to respect the privacy of her employer), serves her class as Alumnae Council Representative and is a member of the AADC Black Alumnae Network Jewel Plummer Cobb Sisters Conference Planning Committee. She is a doctor in New Jersey. We shared her story on May 15, 2020. Read her story.