A jk through 12 independent school in Charlotte, NC
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Country Day’s primary objective is to prepare our students to lead and thrive in a rapidly changing world. How do we measure success? Our proven track record is our alumni—alumni who are ready to lead, ready to serve, ready to innovate, ready for the world. Take a look at some of our alumni who exemplify what it means to be Country Day Ready.
Ross S. McElwee III '66
Ross McElwee, a Harvard professor in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies, is also an award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker. He has made seven feature-length documentaries, including Sherman’s March, Time Infinite, Six O’Clock News, and Bright Leaves. He is a producer, director, writer, and cinematographer, known for films that are intelligent, self-reflective, and laugh-out-loud funny.
Ross’s most well-known documentary is Sherman’s March, which won the 1986 Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, was recognized by the National Board of Film Critics Five Best Films of 1986, and was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress National Film Registry for its historical significance. Time Indefinite won best film award in several festivals and was distributed theatrically throughout the U.S. Six O'Clock News won Best Documentary at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
After Country Day, Ross received his undergraduate degree from Brown University and his master's in science in filmmaking from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez '90
Kristen Anderson-Lopez and her husband, Robert Lopez, took home the 2013 Oscar for Best Original Song for their song "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen. Working on Frozen was truly a family affair, both in inspiration and creation. In addition to the couple composing eight original songs for the film, their two daughters also had voice parts.
Kristen’s interest in music and theater started early. From performing with the Children’s Theater of Charlotte to playing Mary Magdalene in the Upper School production of Jesus Christ Superstar her senior year, she was drawn to the creative process.
After graduating from Williams College and working with a small musical theater group in Florida, Kristen found her way to New York City where she spent most of her twenties temping and playing minor roles in small productions. Even though she was pursuing a career as an actress, Kristen was constantly rewriting lyrics to songs and coming up with spoofs to musicals. When Mark Hollmann, a Broadway composer and lyricist, said “You’re a lyricist,” it clicked for her.
Kristen enrolled in a program offered through the BMI Foundation—an opportunity that she now looks back on as a “one-stop shop” for her personal and professional life. During the three year program, Kristen was introduced to talented industry professionals who she still collaborates with today, including her husband Robert.
Kristen and Robert first collaborated professionally in 2002, were married the following year, and in 2006 they began working as writer and composer on the Walt Disney World production of Finding Nemo–The Musical. The success of their work-life partnership was unmistakable, and major players in the industry took notice. Since Finding Nemo, Kristen and Robert were brought on by Disney to co-write songs for Winnie the Pooh, released in 2011, and Frozen, the animated hit of the 2013 holiday season.
Kristin shares, “I get to play all day with my best friend, and he also happens to be my favorite Broadway composer. We’re both very, very grateful.”
Frank Whitney '78
Frank Whitney '78
In June 2012, the Honorable Frank DeArmon Whitney retired from the U.S. Army Reserve after 30 years of service. While he remained in and out of active duty during his military career, it wasn’t until his last year of service that he faced the longest and most challenging deployment.
Over the last three decades, Frank has worked on intelligence collection and analysis operations both stateside and overseas, served short periods of active duty at numerous JAG offices around the world, and served as Assistant Staff Judge Advocate of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. In 2008, he was chosen to be a Military Judge based on his extensive trial experience.
After spending two years as a Military Judge, Frank received an unexpected request. He was asked to deploy to southwest Asia in 2011 to serve as a Military Judge in Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan, some of the most dangerous parts of the Middle East. With his acceptance, he became the first federal judge to serve as a military judge and preside over courts-martial in a combat theater.
Frank presided over a total of 25 courts-martial throughout the theater, including the very last court-martial in Iraq, which was a historic occasion. For his deployment, he was awarded a Bronze Star, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Since his deployment, Frank has received a Meritorious Service Medal for work he did assisting the Trial Judiciary of the Office of Military Commissions. He was also awarded a Legion of Merit upon his retirement.
Brian Huskey '87
Brian Huskey '87
Brian Huskey is that familiar face you’ve seen on TV shows such as How I Met Your Mother, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Parks and Recreation, just to name a few. He is best known for his role as a correspondent on The Onion News Network and has appeared as Chet on the Adult Swim series Childrens Hospital and as Larry on the ABC sitcom Selfie.
Brian has also been featured in Verizon, Sonic Drive-In, and Toyota commercials and appeared in such films as Step Brothers, Super Bad, and the 2013 film Neighbors. Most recently he joined the cast of the Comedy Central series Another Period.
Brian got into comedic acting after taking improvisational training at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. He says that after pursuing such “secure lines of work” as music and photography, “I finally committed to my lifelong dream of ‘doing comedy.’ I guess I really enjoy being panicked about money all the time.”
Wilmer Barker '78
Molly Wilmer Barker '78
Nearly two decades ago, Molly Barker was looking for a way to combine her love of running, her degree in social work, and her desire to boost self-esteem in young girls so they would enter their teen years with the confidence needed to make good decisions. She proposed an idea to her former Country Day advisor, and he encouraged her to go for it. In 1986, when 13 third- and fourth-grade girls showed up on the Country Day track, Girls on the Run was born.
Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a transformational physical activity–based positive youth development program for girls in third through eighth grades, designed to develop and enhance girls’ competencies to successfully navigate life experiences.
The program exploded in March 1998 when Runners World published a story about Molly and GOTR. The program now serves over 150,000 girls in 200+ cities across North America each year. Girls on the Run has been featured in many media outlets including People, Redbook, Women’s Day, O Magazine, Fitness Magazine, Self Magazine, Glamour, Shape, Marie Claire, Parenting, Running Times, CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, NBC News, NPR, and ESPN.
In 2013, Molly was recognized at The White House as a "Daily Point of Light," a national award established by the Points of Light Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service to honor those who take action to create change in their communities.
Brandon Chalk '96
Brandon Chalk '96
When Brandon Chalk and his wife, Kristine, summited Antarctica’s Mt. Vinson on Christmas Eve 2013, they joined an elite group of only about 350 people from around the globe who have successfully climbed the Seven Summits, the seven tallest mountains on the world’s seven continents. Brandon and Kristine also hold the record for the youngest American couple to summit Mount Everest.
While Brandon and Kristine have summited all but Kilimanjaro unguided (Kilimanjaro requires a guide), they are by no means professional climbers. Brandon is a mechanical engineer at a small architectural engineering firm in Avon, Colorado, and Kristine is a fourth grade teacher at the public elementary school in Vail. So, in addition to preparing for the challenges of the climbs themselves, they also have to maintain their careers and meet the financial demands of these expeditions. No small feat.
Meghann Gunderman '01
When Meghann Gunderman founded The Foundation For Tomorrow (TFFT) at age 23, her vision was to create opportunities for orphans and vulnerable children in Tanzania to receive quality education and emotional support so that they may reach their full potential and thrive in their communities. She never dreamed that her work in East Africa would lead her to the 2013 World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
Since founding TFFT in 2006, Meghann has grown her organization from a small non-profit with two volunteers and funding to educate two dozen children, to a team of eight full-time staff members, multiple interns, and hundreds of volunteers supporting 94 students on full, 12-year scholarships.
In 2011, Meghann was selected as one of Charlotte’s inaugural Global Shapers. Founded by the WEF, the Global Shapers Community provides a diverse group of extraordinary young leaders and entrepreneurs with a global platform to shape the future and work toward a common goal of building a more peaceful and inclusive world.
Meghann was one of only six Global Shapers in the United States invited to attend and present at the 2013 WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Later that year, she was invited to join the North Carolina Advisory Committee for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, whose mission is to inspire support from the American public and policymakers on the importance of America’s civilian-led tools of diplomacy and development.
Ed Cash '90
Ed Cash '90
Based in Nashville, Ed Cash is a Christian music singer, songwriter, musician, and producer. He is the hit maker behind such stars as Amy Grant, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Chris Tomlin, Sarah Reeves, Dave Barnes, and Bebo Norman. Known for his ability to define a signature sound, Ed is often hired by major labels to help develop emerging artists.
“People experience music from 30,000 feet, but when you’re producing a record, you’re looking at it like it’s one inch from your eye,” he says. “You want it to be a good production, but never at the expense of the emotion of the song, which is what really connects people and gives the music longevity.”
That recognition of the spirit and substance of the song has led to Ed’s success in producing and writing music. He has earned a Grammy Award, as well as multiple nominations. In 2007 and 2013, he was named BMI Christian Songwriter of the Year, and he has earned the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Award for Producer of the Year five times (2005, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2013).
Loren Shealy '11
Loren Shealy '11
UNC-Chapel Hill senior Loren Shealy is an ace field hockey forward, top business administration student, Robertson Scholar, and was honored as the Sports Illustrated 2013 Female College Athlete of the Year.
In addition to having a 4.0 GPA, Loren was the first UNC-Chapel Hill varsity athlete to earn a Robertson Scholarship, the full-ride award given annually to 18 Duke University and 18 UNC students. As part of her scholarship, she spent the 2013 spring semester living on the campus of Duke, her school's biggest rival.
On the field, Loren continues to dominate. She was the Tar Heels’ Rookie of the Year in 2011. Loren has also won the NCAA Elite 89 award, given to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade point average participating at each of the NCAA championship sites, for three years in a row.
John W. Baynard '72
If you’re a fan of news programs like “CBS Sunday Morning” or “Frontline,” there’s a good chance you’ve seen stories produced or shot by John Baynard. His work has appeared regularly on news programs for all the major networks, PBS, and cable channels like Discovery, Lifetime, National Geographic, and HBO.
As a short and long-form documentarian, John has spent more than 30 years shedding light on social issues such as homelessness, poverty, and teen pregnancy, along with covering political upheavals, natural disasters, and environmental mismanagement.
John has won numerous Emmy and National Press Photographers Association awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, and Gold medals in the New York and Chicago Film Festivals.
Sammy '82 and
Sammy '82 and Melinda '81 Koenigsberg
As the owners and operators of New Town Farms, Sammy and Melinda (Hardin) Koenigsberg are pioneers in Charlotte’s organic farming movement. For more than 25 years, they’ve lived and worked on a 40-acre spread of land in Union County, North Carolina, that produces 80 different certified organic vegetables, along with pasture-fed heirloom pork and poultry, free-range eggs, and small fruits.
The farm has legions of followers: patrons who rise early on Saturday morning to stand in line at the Matthews Farmers Market to purchase the Koenigsberg’s vegetables; chefs at some of Charlotte’s trendiest gourmet restaurants who plan their menus based on New Town Farms’ current harvest; and consumers who are members of the Koenigsberg’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group.
When it comes to natural and organic food, Sammy is one of Charlotte’s leading lights. He helped found the Matthews Community Farmers Market in 1991 as a place where farmers and consumers could interact. Both he and Melinda are active in Slow Foods International and the Carolina Farms Stewardship Association. New Towns Farms is featured regularly in local news stories about organic food and the environmental benefits to local farming.
Dave Tompkins '88
Dave Tompkins’ first book, How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II To Hip-Hop, traces a speech encoding technology engineered by Bell Labs in 1928 and deployed during World War II and throughout the Cold War.
Creating machine’s impression of human speech, the vocoder was used by Churchill, FDR, Eisenhower, JFK, and Kissinger and was later repurposed for hip-hop, rock, and electronic music (most recently Daft Punk). The book was named Amazon’s Entertainment Book of the Year in 2010, and the Los Angeles Times called it “one of the best music books ever written.”
Dave has lectured at the National Security Agency’s National Cryptology Symposium, as well as MIT, and in the UK, Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Norway. He has contributed to Paris Review, Slate, Grantland, Pitchfork, Atlantic Monthly, Oxford American, Village Voice, and The Wire. He recently returned from Moscow where he moderated talks for a Russian Synth Lab festival.
Elizabeth Barrett '01
The assignment was risky, unbelievably fast-paced, and full of immense pressure to get it right, but for Elizabeth (Liz) Barrett, it was largely about hometown pride. As the senior marketing manager for the “Charlotte in 2012” Convention Host Committee, Liz was challenged with communicating the uniqueness and charm of her native city and setting the stage for Charlotte’s moment in the international spotlight.
With the convention less than nine months away, Liz and her team set out to define “What is Charlotte?” and then determine how to share Charlotte’s story with the world. One of the biggest accomplishments was working in partnership with the Democratic National Convention Committee and AT&T to develop the official “DNC 2012” mobile app for smartphones and tablets, which allowed users to keep up to date on all aspects of the convention and give visitors to Charlotte a tool to experience the history and culture of the Queen City.
While the primary focus for the host committee was the convention, it was always important to Liz and her team to ensure that their work made a long-term impact on Charlotte and to generate positive change in the community beyond the four-day event. To help achieve this, they collaborated with then Mayor Anthony Foxx to create convention legacy programs focused on four areas: reducing childhood obesity, youth employment and civic education, community sustainability, and promoting inclusive business practices.
“This opportunity was very near and dear to me,” explains Liz. “I was able to apply my profession of marketing with my passion for civic engagement and help show off my hometown of Charlotte to the world. The community really came together, and Charlotte was the best I’ve ever seen it. We should all be proud of that.”
James Scott '93
James Scott '93
An award-winning author and former reporter and investigative journalist with the Post and Courier, James Scott has made a name for himself writing historical military literature. His first novel, The Attack on the Liberty, won the prestigious 2010 Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison Award for Excellence in Naval Literature.
James is a recipient of the McClatchy Company President’s Award and was named the 2003 Journalist of the Year by the South Carolina Press Association. From 2006–2007, he was a Nieman Fellow for Journalism at Harvard University. In 2013, James published The War Below, and his most recent novel, Target Tokyo, is scheduled to hit shelves in early 2015. He is currently at work on a fourth book about the February 1945 Battle for Manila.
Van Der Tuin '03
Nicole Stubbs Van Der Tuin '03
As co-founder and CEO of First Access, Nicole is pioneering the first instant risk scores and data marketplace for emerging economies using an award winning, patent pending innovation that enables billions of people to build financial identities using their mobile data.
First Access' cloud-based software combines demographic, geographic, financial, and social data from mobile phones and other sources in real time to allow loan officers the ability to request and retrieve instant scores from any phone, anytime, anywhere in the world. The goal is to help consumers in cash-based economies, who lack formal financial documentaion, gain access to capital.
Since 2011, First Access has scored over 500,000 loan applications, their retail credit risk models have the highest reported accuracy of any in the developing world, and they are now working to commercialize the service across a variety of institutions in East Africa.
First Access has been featured in numerous media, including Forbes, American Banker, CNBC, and Financial Times. In 2013, Nicole was honored by PopTech as one of their Social Innovation Fellows, and she won the William James Foundation’s international Sustainable Business Competition.