Six new members join Grinnell Alumni Council

July 17, 2023 — Six Grinnell graduates have recently joined a group that builds relationships between the alumni and Grinnell College communities.

The new Alumni Council members for 2023-24 are:

  • Ken Schofield ’71
  • Stephen MacFarlane ’82
  • Anne S. Velma ’84
  • Shelley Aggeler Harper ’87
  • Tony Pham ’03
  • Grisel Hernandez ’17

Each new member will serve an initial two-year term through Reunion 2025, and they are eligible to serve through 2029. Council members can be elected to up to three consecutive terms.

The Alumni Council strives to unite Grinnell graduates. The 26-member group promotes a spirit of camaraderie among alumni and supports the College leadership, faculty, staff, and students in the advancement of the College. Council meetings are held on campus in the fall and spring.

“During my four years as a member of the Alumni Council, I’ve been enriched by the dedication shown by each member of this important body,” says Bernard Jackson ’86, Alumni Council president. “As has been the case with every generation, Grinnell’s present-day students face a challenging world. Alumni Council members have served as stewards and mentors to these students, and I am confident that our newest members will accept this opportunity as well.”

Here’s a detailed look at the new members:

Ken Schofield ’71

Ken Schofield
   Ken Schofield ’71

Schofield lives in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where he was city attorney from 1977 until his retirement in 2016.

He has served on his Reunion Class Committees planning reunions in 2015 and 2022, In 2021, he co-organized a 50-year reunion virtual forum relating to off-campus study programs. A history major at Grinnell, Schofield was captain of the tennis team for three years. 

“In so many ways, Grinnell has defined me and has defined how I have thought about the world and my place in it,” Schofield says. “It also has shaped how I have lived my life. Grinnell has given me much more than I could ever hope to repay. Being a member of the Alumni Council is but one way to pay Grinnell back and forward.”

Schofield is serving on the Alumni Awards Committee. 

Stephen MacFarlane ’82

Steve MacFarlane
   Stephen MacFarlane ’82

MacFarlane resides in Seattle and works for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center as an electron microscopist supporting researchers striving to understand and solve cancer.

“I have loved the art and the technology of peering into the insides of cells since my first biology class at Grinnell,” he says.

MacFarlane also has maintained an art studio for over 30 years and has a semi-professional career as a studio artist, focused primarily on drawing and printmaking.

He was interested in serving on the Council to better understand and support the College’s efforts to provide each student with a phenomenal education.

“My goal is to support and to be involved in a continuously developing, engaged alumni network that is committed to what Grinnell stands for in lifelong learning and critical thinking,” he says.

MacFarlane is a member of the Student Connections Task Force.

Anne S. Velma ’84

Anne S. Velma ’84
   Anne S. Velma ’84

Velma lives in Evanston, Illinois. She is a freelance writer and co-owns with her husband, Otis, the Zendou Martial Arts school where they teach Zen-based mixed martial arts.

Velma is co-coordinator for the Grinnell-in-Chicago Regional Community and is a regular contributor to College publications, penning articles about alumni, faculty, and students. She also previously served her alma mater as a class agent and Reunion Class Committee member. 

“I have enjoyed the connections I’ve made with those working in alumni relations, as well as with fellow alumni,” Velma says. “I’m especially interested in the College’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Whether that’s welcoming first-generation students, enabling low-income students the opportunity to attend Grinnell, or encouraging and supporting a more racially and ethnically diverse student body and faculty, I am proud of Grinnell’s actions and statements, and I want to support those as best as possible.”

Velma will serve on the Alumni Awards Committee.

Shelley Aggeler Harper ’87

Shelly Harper
   Shelley Aggeler Harper ’87

Harper is a resident of Colorado Springs. Over the course of her career, she has been a social worker and psychotherapist, a research and instruction librarian, and now works from home as a knowledge management specialist for a short-term rental management company called Evolve. 

Her Grinnell volunteerism includes hosting student interns, being a Grinnell Regional Admission Support Program (GRASP) volunteer, and serving on her Reunion Class Committee. 

“I joined the Alumni Council because I want to help make connections among alums as well as between current and past students,” she says. “That’s the living, breathing heart of Grinnell. Also, I want to continue to give back to the College and the people that helped form the person I am today.”

Harper is serving on the Alumni Awards Committee. 

Tony Pham ’03

Tony Pham
  Tony Pham ’03

Pham is a Brooklyn resident and works as vice president of marketing for SuperLayer, a web3 crypto venture studio. An expert in web3, Pham has led marketing for two Top 100 cryptocurrency projects. A second-generation Vietnamese American, he also serves as a meditation instructor, occupying the intersection of queer and BIPOC identities.

In addition, Pham is class agent, a member of the New York City Regional Community Committee, and has mentored Grinnell students through the Center for Careers, Life, and Service (CLS). 

“I’m thankful to Grinnell College for contributing to my personal development, and I believe in reciprocation,” Pham says. “I wish to contribute to the health and longevity of the College for the benefit of past, present, and future generations of community members.”

Pham is a member of the Council’s Visibility Task Force.

Grisel Hernandez ’17

Grisel Hernandez
   Grisel Hernandez ’17

Hernandez lives in Chicago and has held positions in academic research, public policy, and investment management. She now works in venture capital as a senior analyst for Chingona Ventures. 

A first-generation high school and college graduate from an immigrant Mexican family, Hernandez majored in economics and political science with a Latin American studies concentration. 

“Grinnell was a transformative experience that expanded my worldview and introduced me to many of my closest friends,” Hernandez says. “Since graduating, connections with my college professors, staff, and Grinnellians across generations have guided me on my career and life paths.”

Hernandez joined the Council to help foster connections between students, alumni, and the broader Grinnell community.

“I'd also like to help ensure that students maximize their time at Grinnell, especially those who are first-generation college students or from underrepresented backgrounds,” she says.

Hernandez is a member of the DEI Curriculum Task Force. 

Other Council news

The Council also re-elected the following members to their second terms Dawn Helsing Wolters ’87, Kate Goddard ’91, and Anton Jones ’02. Jackson and past president Robert Gehorsam ’76 were elected to their third Council terms.

Scott Shepherd ’82 was elected Alumni Council president-elect for this year. He will serve as president in 2024-25.

In addition to three standing committees (Executive, Alumni Awards, Membership Development) and one returning task force (Student Connections) the Council is launching two new task forces this year. 

The Visibility Task Force will be focusing on efforts to improve Council’s digital marketing including development of content for social media platforms. The task force also will share information with class agents and will coordinate an annual event at Reunion. This group will be co-chaired by Goddard and Natz Soberanes ’13.

The DEI Curriculum Task Force will work with staff from the College’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to complete a needs assessment and devise strategy in support of a DEI training curriculum for Grinnell College volunteers. This group will be co-chaired by Wolters and Jeremy Youde ’99.

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Visit the Alumni Council web pages for a full list of members, committees, meeting minutes, and information about serving on the Council.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive and like the Alumni & Friends Facebook page.