President Barack Obama at Commencement 2012, photo by Asiya KhakiFellowship

Thank you for the article on the Writing Fellows program at Barnard [in the Spring 2012 issue] (and thank you to Erica Mann Jong ’63 for her generous and steadfast support of it!). It was an honor for me to be part of this invaluable program during my time at Barnard, where, as a fellow, I was given the opportunity to help undergraduate and graduate students from both Barnard and Columbia—economists, biologists, musicians, anthropologists, and architects, to name a few. The work was intellectually rigorous and invigorating, and the rewards have endured up to the present day, where I now depend on the skills I developed as a fellow in my career as a grant writer. In fact, two major arts organizations in Boston have benefitted from the Writing Fellows program. By helping others we learned to question, listen, and then organize and communicate ideas effectively. These skills are essential in order to write compelling and successful proposals for funding.

   I regret that Professor Nancy Kline Piore ’64 was not mentioned in the article. She was the director of the writing program during my time. Nancy was an exceptional mentor to me and so many others. I believe I speak for scores of fellows and the students with whom they collaborated when I send her our gratitude.

—Melissa Gallin ’96
Director of Institutional Grants
Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Foodies Follow-Up

As a credited ghostwriter working on a memoir for Anne Willan, author and creator of the renowned La Varenne Cooking School, I’ve met with many lights of the food world—editors and authors, chefs and vintners, educators and entrepreneurs. Naturally I was thrilled to see the culinary talent Barnard has produced, but there was a notable missing figure—Lisa Ekus ’79. I met Lisa because she is Anne Willan’s agent, but she is also one of the culinary world’s denizens. Lisa has been in the business for over 30 years and has an unrivaled talent for sniffing out and representing the very best chefs, cookbook authors, nutrition authorities, and culinary educators. Much of her story (though not enough) is on her Web site at

—Amy Friedman ’74
Los Angeles, Calif.

A Matter of Facts

I enjoyed the article about Liz Neumark and Katchkie Farm, “Keeping It Local,” Spring 2012. As Kinderhook’s bookseller, I would like to correct a couple of inaccuracies in the article. It is true that Martin Van Buren is our most famous resident. He was born, retired, and died here. You can visit his home, Lindenwald, a National Historic Site. However, neither Aaron Burr nor Washington Irving ever lived in Kinderhook. Burr was Van Buren’s mentor. Gore Vidal suggests in his novel Burr that he was Van Buren’s biological father (artistic license!). The Van Burens ran an inn and people stayed there while traveling to and from Albany.

   Washington Irving also spent time in Kinderhook visiting friends. He wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow while here, and modeled characters after local residents. Our school district is named for Ichabod Crane, possibly the only time a bad teacher has been so honored!

—Rondi Brower ’83
Blackwood & Brouwer Booksellers Ltd
Kinderhook, NY