Who, What, When
Responsible citizens Skidmore sharpens its goal of turning out civic-minded graduates
Local politics 101 Gaining hands-on experience during Saratoga election
Learning unlimited An educational smorgasbord for neighbors of all ages
Alumni Saratogians Skidmore grads who've joined the local community
On the water Skidmore students and faculty research Saratoga water system
Contributions in cash and culture Skidmore's economic effect on its region
Skidmore has always supplied Saratoga with upstanding citizens. Consider Bea Sweeney ’37, longtime city historian; civic volunteers like Florence Andresen ’57 and Jacki Jung ’61; diversity activists like Jean Fei ’70 and Renee Moore, UWW ’01; Bill Fruci ’83, Saratoga County’s election commissioner; Jamie Hutson ’05, Webmaster of thesaratogalife.com; and of course honorary alumna Anne Palamountain, a major philanthropist and official “Saratoga icon.” Here are just a few of the alumni making their mark in the local community.
Photos by Charlie Samuels
Steve Sullivan ’78 is such a fixture in town, it’s hard to imagine Saratoga without him. His ubiquitous presence at the Olde Bryan Inn and Longfellows is due partly to his ownership stake and partly to his love for the restaurant business. “I still work six shifts a week,” he says, adding with a sly smile, “If you count the hours, then you’re not having fun!”
Sullivan is proud he put himself through college, working first in campus dining halls, then in restaurants downtown. He says, “I’m appreciative that Skidmore took a chance with an inner-city Boston kid from Hyde Park.”
Today he regularly works with local nonprofits—Skidmore among them—donating restaurant fare and facilities for some fifteen events annually, which have helped the organizations raise hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We’re not here just to succeed in business,” he says with quiet purpose. “We have the opportunity to help the community, the less fortunate, and the next generation.”
This mission of service begins with Sullivan’s management style, which he labels “service leadership.” “I truly love working with people,” he says, “and we've got the greatest employees—205 of them!” His positive approach has helped his company grow to encompass not just two restaurants and a catering business, but also a fifty-room hotel and conference center.
At both restaurants and the hotel, he’s instituted internships to help young people learn the hospitality business. And it does him proud when they finish their education and return to seek employment with him.
Greeting customers at his restaurants on many a Saturday night, Sullivan is pleased that “probably 25 to 30 percent of our business is Skidmore students and their parents. I just love talking about Skidmore and Saratoga with them.” —by Jon Wurtmann ’78
For Jamie Jayko ’80, it seems her affiliation with Skidmore might have been preordained. Growing up on North Broadway, she could practically see the campus from her yard, and President Joe Palamountain and wife Anne lived directly across the street.
An early love of horseback riding put her, at age seven, under the guidance of Skidmore riding instructor Ralph Symmes. “It’s where I learned how to ride,” she recalls, “and I rode all through high school and college.” As for her career choice, it was no contest. “I got right into horse training at the farm on Denton Road”—the former Saratoga Bred Farm once owned by her parents. Later she and husband John bought the 200-acre facility and changed its name to Fedwell Farms.
Jayko tends to six Thoroughbred mares. For the most part, the work has a laid-back pace—with the exception of foaling season, which begins in mid- to late winter. “A lot of times they’ll foal in the middle of the night,” Jayko says. “It’s usually
a very quick process; we’re there in case anything goes wrong. It’s always fun to see a baby being born. It never gets old, the thrill of watching them stand up for the first time.”
Perhaps it’s her profession or just the familiarity of the Spa City, but Jayko can’t imagine living anywhere else. “I’ve always been comfortable here,” she says. “Saratoga has been a great place to raise our two children—they’re fifth-generation Saratoga.”
Jayko says that looking after the mares at her farm keeps her more than busy—and closely connected to the equestrian heritage of her hometown. During Saratoga’s track season she tries to be on hand whenever her horses are racing: “It’s much more exciting to watch your own horses, especially when they win.”
—by Stacey Morris
By the time he got to Skidmore, David Casner ’84 was already jazzed up. Growing up near Boston, Casner fell for the college and the community when he attended a Saratoga jazz concert during high school. A visit to Skidmore’s radio station and ceramics studio clinched his resolve to immerse himself in life on and off campus.
Though his degree is in sociology and anthropology, the artist in him still shapes his work. A licensed massage therapist, Casner processes the world through his hands, kneading the weight of their worries off clients' shoulders. He also practices Reiki and teaches clients how to extend the benefits of their massage. Having a studio just steps from his home lets him be available for his family. “That freedom is one of the miracles of my life,” he says.
Casner's journey from music to bodywork was not a straight line. Intuition led him to buy his first massage table a decade before he enrolled in massage-therapy school. “I knew,” he says.
“I knew I had a healing touch.” But the nearest massage school was far away, until Albany’s Center for Natural Wellness opened one. Meanwhile, Casner studied and taught tae kwon do, and also cultivated his “joy, passion, and expertise” in music through hosting radio shows, membership in a band, and a CD collection that dominates three walls of his office. He also met and married Julie, the woman he calls “the rock to my roll,” and rehabilitated his Victorian house, where they live with son Noah, daughter Samantha, a cat or two, and an enormous tank of tropical fish.
Casner incorporates sensory skills in all facets of his work:
“I listen to my clients so I understand their needs and goals; I integrate aromatherapy in my approach to mind, body, and spirit; I look at people to gauge their responses; and of course I touch people. There are hormones stored in our skin that get released during massage and make us feel better.”
Over chamomile tea in his kitchen, Casner opens his arms wide. “This,” he says, “is the place to live. Saratoga Springs offers cultural diversity, safety, fascinating people. And I can walk my kids to school without even crossing the street.” —by Helen S. Edelman ’74
“I wanted to be Nurse Nancy—that's why I came to Skidmore,” says Nancy Boyd Trimbur ’69. “But I got panicked by the science requirements of the nursing program and majored instead in business, which worked out for the best.” In her senior year Trimbur married an Air Force man assigned to a radar station then at Saratoga Lake, and upon graduation she landed a local job, in the accounting department of Stewart’s, the Saratoga-based convenience-store chain. She never left. Rising through the ranks to became a corporate officer, she is now senior vice president for facilities.
Although it’s expanded from a 1940s ice-cream shop to more than 300 stores in the upstate area, Stewart’s is still privately held and run by the Dake family, a longtime pillar of community leadership. Joking that she earned her “MBA” from the school of Bill Dake—the Stewart’s executive she has worked most closely with—Trimbur now oversees about fifteen department heads who handle construction, maintenance, information technology, and in-store services like ATMs, gasoline sales, and pay phones. “I like to think I’ve got the best job in the company,” she says, “because it touches so many areas. Stewart’s has its own warehouse and trucks, makes its own ice cream, does its own appliance repairs… We outsource very little.”
Her “numbers sense” and people skills aren’t the only traits that match her so well to Stewart’s; she also shares the firm’s interest in community service. Trimbur says, “The philanthropy of the Dake family is very special,” ranging from employee scholarships to major capital donations to ice-cream giveaways. Trimbur herself has been a board member of the YMCA and Saratoga’s Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services and is helping plan the second annual SaratogaArtsFest in June. “I’m impressed by the level of volunteerism in Saratoga Springs,” she observes. “The city has a nice downtown and neighborhoods, but its volunteer spirit makes it a real community.”
Trimbur has enjoyed watching the town evolve since her arrival in 1965. “I loved those charming houses we lived in on the old downtown campus, and some of them have been restored beautifully as bed and breakfasts or offices or condos.” These days, she often walks her dog on the new campus. Best of all, she says, her out-of-town grandchildren “love to visit here.”
—by Susan Rosenberg
SOUND AND SPIRIT
Brooklyn native Garland Nelson ’96 decided early on “not to stand back as one of the few blacks at Skidmore College at the time and think ‘Coulda, woulda, shoulda.’ I had to rock on.” As a freshman, he recalls, “I learned how to ask questions in a place where people considered that cool. Skidmore was like a cradle where I could mature surrounded by intellect. People appreciated my concerns and challenges. So I started to talk. And to sing.” He also plays piano, percussion, trumpet, saxophone, and guitar.
Nelson ranks his journey at Skidmore as a “ten out of ten,” which inspired him “to stretch the love around the region.” Sharing messages of unity,
he performed in Congress Park,
for the NAACP, and at gospel breakfasts at Hattie's restaurant. “I bridged the gap from the college to
the community covertly; I infiltrated as a vocalist,” Nelson says, pulling his woolen African kofi over his brow.
In fact, he began on campus as a WSPN radio DJ, subtly expanding the cultural universe of audiences who tuned in for “retail music” and were introduced instead to rap and hip hop. He
also spearheaded a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event with the college's gospel group, Quiet Storm.
That was more than a decade ago, when he was backlit by a glow. Today a spotlight shines brightly on Nelson and his band, Soul Session. The group is so in demand that he turns down as many gigs as he accepts. Known for his exceptional stage presence, he's equally energetic as a civic presence. He is a fixture at fundraisers and advocacy events for black, Latino, and interfaith communities; and he performs at events promoting Saratoga's vibrant downtown.
Recently he earned city and county funding to lead “Shout it Out” workshops exploring the black vocal tradition and African-American musical forms that “generated and turbocharged American music, from spirituals to jazz, blues, pop, hip hop, and Broadway, with special attention to its roots in West African slave music.” He hands out instruments, leads call-and-response, and urges everyone to move. “Shout it Out” is not about race or politics, he insists. “It’s about people. It’s about bringing history to life.” Certainly his own life is a tribute to the lyric “The human spirit will always find a way to express itself.” —by Helen S. Edelman ’74
SECRET AGENT DAD
He’s traded in his semiautomatic for a stroller, and he couldn’t be happier. After twenty-three years as an FBI agent, Bob Antonez ’78 is back in Saratoga, retired, and raising his five-year-old, Jake.
After graduating from Skidmore, he earned a degree from the University of Bridgeport School of Law and then, on a whim, applied at the FBI. Before he knew it, he was learning to shoot a gun. His first assignment was in Buffalo; the US-Canada border tempts all manner of smugglers, and Antonez saw lots of action on the SWAT team. He spent the bulk of his career in New York City, pursuing kidnappers, drug runners, and bank robbers.
Between cases, Antonez often returned to Saratoga during track season, staying with his friend and former advisor, government professor Robert Smith. In fact, Antonez was hoping to move permanently to Saratoga; in 2000 he and wife Eve Mulholland ’86 bought a carriage house just off Lincoln Avenue. On September 11, 2001, Mulholland was heading to work at a Manhattan bank when she saw the second terrorist plane hit the World Trade Center. She escaped unhurt, but that event was another catalyst for a move. In 2005 Antonez was able to transfer to the Albany FBI office, and the family moved into their carriage house. Today Mulholland is the finance coordinator for Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County. She says the switch was easy from New York’s Wall Street to Saratoga’s Broadway, and she feels good about working in nonprofit social service.
“We’re so happy to be back in Saratoga,” Antonez says. “It’s a walkaround town; the restaurants, library, parks—everything’s within reach. There’s also a character and charm that’s unique to this place.” Skidmore has drawn them back too: Antonez has been named assistant coach of the Thoroughbred golf team, and Jake attends preschool on campus. —by Jon Wurtmann ’78