Weddings, births and gatherings
Nichole Hitchner ’14, ’17 and Joseph Fessenden ’17 met in 2015 while working as graduate assistants in the College of Education and Human Services. Joe proposed in January on Rider's campus, right where it all began. Their wedding date is set for Oct. 2, 2021.
Casey Scharer ’16 and Shane Tubb ’15 were engaged on Aug. 28, 2020. The couple both grew up in in Logan Township, N.J., attending the same elementary school, but different high schools. Their paths crossed again at Rider, but they only spoke briefly during a shared history class. They officially started dating in May 2016.
Salina Vitale ’14 and Kevin Smith ’14 were married on Sept. 28, 2019. A couple for 10 years, they have been together since move-in day.
Cherilyn (Barbone) Reynolds ’08, ’11 and Jeff Reynolds ’07 welcomed son Jack Thomas Reynolds at 8:40 a.m. on April 1 near the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He can't wait to see the campus where his parents met
Anna Parks ’11, ’16 and David Yentema ’11 were engaged in August. The couple met in the spring of 2009 in their managerial accounting class held in Sweigart Hall and have dated since January 2017. They are planning to marry in October 2022.
Justine Collier ’19 and Ben Krulan ’19 were engaged in North Carolina, while visiting relatives. They loved North Carolina so much on their recent visit that they purchased a house in the area. The couple met in their sophomore year at Rider and began dating on Halloween in 2016. They are grateful Rider brought them together and cannot wait to continue their lives side by side.
Xavier Lundy ’17 and Adyaina Camiso ’16 are engaged.
Skye Hebert ’20 and Andy Cuello welcomed their son Cristiano James (CJ) in January. The couple also purchased their first home in July.
Noah Fishbein ’18 and Brianna Cichowski ’19 met on their first day at Rider and are now engaged. Fishbein was a marketing major and Cichowski was an elementary education and communications studies major.
Alan Helimsky ’19 and Haley Vassiljev ’18 are engaged with plans to marry in 2021. Both digital media: film, TV and radio majors, the couple met during freshmen orientation and participated in the first Semester in LA program.
Jim Resnick ’14 and Erin (McMullin) Resnick ’13, along with their son, Carter, welcomed their second son, James, in May. The couple met in a communications class their freshman year and began dating their sophomore year. Both student-athletes, Jim was a wrestler and Erin ran track. They have been married for four years.
Sarah Diefenbach ’15 and Jonathan Knipper ’16, ’17 were engaged on Aug. 21, 2020, in Cape May, N.J.
Susan Polis Schutz ’66 produced and directed a documentary, Love Wins Over Hate, which aired on PBS this fall. The documentary explores the lives of six former white supremacists and ultraconservatives. Each one of them explains how they went through a transformation from being filled with hate, anger and rage to acceptance and appreciation of diversity.
Roberta Specht (née Pentz) ’72 and Leonard Specht observed their 50th wedding anniversary on Aug. 15. She graduated from Bloomsburg University with a bachelor's and from Rider with a master’s in business education. She is retired from the Linden School District in New Jersey.
Pat Flannagan ’77, ’78 retired from King University in Bristol, Tenn., last summer. He directed the King University Choir for 38 years. He earned his bachelor's in church music and his master's in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College.
Karen Frison ’78 and Leon Frison were the recipients of the 2020 Hedgelawn Foundation Kenny Award from the Kent Cultural Alliance. The award is made in recognition of their decades of service to Kent County in Maryland as public school music teachers. Karen Frison received a bachelor's from Westminster Choir College and a master’s from McDaniel College.
Kathleen A. Meller ’79, a certified public accountant, was promoted to supervisor of Levine, Jacobs & Company, LLC. Meller received a bachelor's in accounting from Rider.
Alan Wexler ’85, ’90 was appointed to the newly created position of senior vice president, Innovation and Growth for General Motors. Wexler will be responsible for creating, executing and sustaining overall corporate strategies, including identifying future growth opportunities and driving innovation throughout the company. Wexler is a former member of the Rider University Board of Trustees, serving from 2012-18. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a major in decision sciences and a Master
of Business Administration
Theodore Byer ’87, of Smolin Lupin was recently selected as Top CPA of the Decade by the International Association of Top Professionals. Only one certified public accountant is selected for this distinction. Byer has over three decades of professional experience as a seasoned and trusted expert certified public accountant. Byer earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Muhlenberg College in 1979, a Master of Business Administration from Rider and his certificate in financial planning from Fairleigh Dickinson University in 2002.
John P. McAlpin ’87 was named managing editor of NJ Spotlight, an affiliate of NJTV News, in May. His previous experience includes work at The Record and as USA Today Network’s Trenton bureau chief. McAlpin received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Rider.
Eileen Wirth ’88, ’95 is the new president and chief executive officer of Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development, Inc. (MEND). Wirth is the first woman to serve in this position in MEND’s 50-plus year history. She is responsible for continuing the nonprofit organization’s mission of providing safe and affordable rental housing to senior citizens, persons with disabilities and families of low and moderate income. She continues to maintain MEND’s municipal partnerships in Southern New Jersey and directs a staff of 18 affordable rental housing management and maintenance professionals. Wirth earned a Bachelor of Science in Commerce with a major in finance and a Master of Business Administration from Rider. She currently serves as the second vice president for Rider University's Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Robert Colavita ’91, ’05 is serving as president-elect of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials for the year. Colavita is assistant superintendent for business and board secretary for the Hopewell Valley Regional School District. Colavita received a bachelor’s in business administration with a major in accounting and master's in educational administration from Rider.
William K. White ’94 was appointed senior vice president, head of market access and pricing for BrainStorm Cell Therapeutics Inc., a leading developer of adult stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. White has more than 25 years of experience in leading successful product commercialization and securing market access for innovative new medicines. He has expertise in rare/orphan diseases, gene therapy, neuromuscular disease, managed care and leadership development. He holds a bachelor's degree in business administration with a major in marketing from Rider University.
Michael Amoroso ’00 was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Abeona Therapeutics Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing gene and cell therapies for serious diseases. In this newly created role, Amoroso's responsibilities broadened to include oversight and leadership of all operations; including but not limited to, research and clinical development, regulatory, medical, commercial, corporate affairs and business development.
Dr. James Morgart ’01, ’02, ’07 was named Potomac State College’s 2020 Outstanding Professor of the Year. Morgart is an assistant professor of English. He received bachelor’s in both English and accounting as well as a master’s in accounting from Rider. His master’s and doctorate in English are from The Pennsylvania State University.
Julie Kukenberger ’02 is the new superintendent of Melrose Public Schools in Massachusetts. She was previously the interim superintendent of Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District. She was selected by the school committee on March 17. Kukenberger has a doctorate in educational leadership for social justice from Boston College, a Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Rowan University and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Rider University.
Leah Pontani ’05, ’11 joined Goodwill Industries of Middle Georgia and the CSRA as vice president of career development. Pontani joined Goodwill in March. Previously, she was the associate vice president of professional studies and business development at Georgian Court University in New Jersey. Prior to that, she was the dean for the division of lifelong learning at Mercer County Community College. She earned a Master of Business Administration and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a major in finance from Rider University.
Christopher Cano ’08 was appointed chief operating officer and vice president of business development of TFF Pharmaceuticals, Inc. He received a bachelor's in finance from Villanova University and an executive master's in business administration from Rider.
Steven Lang ’08 was appointed vice president, biologics, of Aragen, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GVK BIO, a contract research organization based in the San Francisco Bay area. Lang received a master's in business administration from Rider and a doctorate in molecular microbiology from State University of New York Stony Brook. He then undertook post-doctoral work at Stony Brook and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D.
Anthony Capobianco ’09 was hired as the vice president of national sales for Rodney Strong Vineyards.
Afton Battle ’10 was selected as the Fort Worth Opera's eighth general director after a six-month international search. The appointment marks a return to her home state of Texas, where she graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in voice performance, before attending Westminster Choir College and receiving a Master of Music in Voice Performance and Pedagogy.
Christopher Sierra ’10 joined the voice faculty at Butler University, where he is teaching courses in applied voice, vocal pedagogy, vocal literature and lyric diction. Sierra is a graduate of Westminster Choir College.
Kelli Kaelin ’12 was admitted to the Global Field Program at Miami University. In her “Earth Expeditions: Connected Conservation” course, she completed a conservation campaign project. She and fellow graduate students created a series of infographics detailing Para La Tierra's (PLT) internship programs, aiming to increase the pool of applicants to PLT's internship program in Paraguay. Kaelin, a teacher at Dedham Country Day School, lives in Newtown, Mass.
Rebecca Smith ’15, ’16 was recognized by the New Jersey Advertising Club as one of Jersey’s Best Marketing and Communications Professionals under 40 for 2020. She is a senior account executive at R&J Strategic Communications, a full-service integrated marketing and public relations agency. Smith earned a bachelor's in public relations and a master's in business communication from Rider.
Sravya Gummaluri ’16, ’19 began her doctorate in the counseling program at The George Washington University. She previously earned a bachelor's in psychology and a master's in clinical mental health counseling from Rider.
Elizabeth Urban ’16 was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation pre-doctoral fellowship for her work on random gene expression. She is currently a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University. At Rider, she earned a bachelor's in biology.
Amani Cole-Felder ’17, a graduate of Westminster Choir College, was accepted into the Metropolitan Opera's prestigious 2020-21 Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.
Steven Santos ’17’, ’20 and Angela Del Collo ’18, ’19 relocated and started jobs in the Holbrook Unified School District in Holbrook, Ariz. Santos earned a bachelor's in psychology and a master's in counseling services from Rider. Del Collo earned a dual bachelor's in business administration with a major in marketing and psychology.
Cathryn Jolley ’18 was invited as a guest panelist for the closing plenary session at the 2020 Annual National Science Foundation Noyce Summit, which was held virtually on Aug. 5. The session, “Voices in the Field,” invites only five remarkable STEM teachers from around the country who are teaching in high-need school districts to share their experiences and associated wisdom in the field.
Danielle Russell ’18 joined Commercial District Services in a newly created position, creative placemaking and communications manager. She received a bachelor's in arts administration and a master's in urban placemaking and management from Pratt Institute.
Kiarrah Johnson ’20 was accepted into the master's in athletic training program at Thomas Jefferson University. She earned her bachelor's in health studies and psychology from Rider.
Alexis Windecker ’20 was accepted into the French Ministry of Education's Teaching Assistant Program in France for the 2020-21 academic year. She earned her bachelor's in biology with a minor in French from Rider.