Jennifer Ford Reedy, c’95, possesses not only the rare ability to think beyond her circumstances and imagine a better world, but also the wherewithal to make it happen. The former University honors student and Truman Fellow made public service her life and in the process helped to raise millions of dollars in charitable giving.
Reedy is now the president of the Bush Foundation, a Saint Paul, Minn., grant-giving organization founded by 3M executive Archibald Bush. Reedy says that building self-determined communities is key–a lesson she learned during her graduate work at the University of Chicago and working in the city’s South Side. “I realized that you couldn’t bring those neighborhoods back through social services,” she says. “You have to actually have jobs. You have to have an economy. You have to have housing that people want to live in. I realized the importance of business in society and the role that business plays in having healthy communities.”
Reedy then raised the bar for charitable giving in Minnesota with giveMN.org, an online giving platform. The site has raised more than $66 million for area non-profits since 2009. “There are lots of different ways to do public service,” she says. “But the theme of public service has been constant in my life.”
–Adapted from story in Kansas Alumni magazine, No. 1, 2013, written by Lydia Benda
Denver printmaking artist Michael Chavez, g’02, has spent most of his adult life working in art museums. Now he’s stepping out, way out, and redefining “public art” as the public art program manager for Arts and Venues Denver. Chavez is overseeing every piece of public art in the county of Denver: sculptures in city buildings, interactive digital art and even live performance pieces. “We’re a city agency and the collection technically belongs to the citizens of Denver, so I want there to be this feeling that it belongs to them,” Chavez says.
For each project, Chavez assembles a panel of community members and civic leaders to select the art. The panel issues an open call for artists, who then submit previous work for review. Chavez drives the selection process and advises the panel. Chavez also directs maintenance of existing works, many of which are out in the elements and more than 60 years old. He creates plans to repaint, repair or refurbish any art that needs attention.
Whether he’s helping select new commissions, taking care of old ones or orchestrating unusual outreach events, Chavez already has made a niche for himself in Denver’s art scene. “I hope that what I do brings an overall sense of pride in Denver–that the community knows their city values creativity and art and culture.”
–Adapted from story in Kansas Alumni magazine, No. 6, 2012, written by Lydia Benda
Commencement weekend is kind of a big deal. After four (-plus?) years, maybe it was your turn to walk down the Hill. Perhaps your child donned a sparkly “Hi, Mom!” mortarboard and tearfully bid adieu to campus. Or maybe you just get a thrill being a part of the action. But we doubt anyone had more reason to be excited this year than the Cappo family: Overland Park alumni Bruce and Mary Ann Cappo had not one, not two, but three children graduate at KU’s 141st-annual Commencement on Sunday.
The Cappo family: Bruce, Emily, David, Mary Ann and Michael
Their oldest, Michael, who earned his undergraduate degree at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on Sunday took home a KU law degree. David, who turned 24 on Sunday, spent the last two years in Europe studying and interning in Germany and France and received a master’s of architecture degree. And Emily, 22, majored in unified early childhood education and graduated with an education degree.
Mom attended KU for a summer and Dad has walked the Hill twice, for his undergraduate and graduate degrees.
It’s safe to say these Jayhawks celebrated in true blue fashion–times three.
Alan Mulally, e’68, g’69, grew up in Lawrence, following KU sports and going to games. He saw Wilt Chamberlain play his first varsity basketball game. When Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co., spoke to the Class of 2012 at Commencement, he recalled sitting near the locker room entrance when he and Chamberlain, ’59, came face to face. “I said, ‘Hi’ and he said, ‘Hi.’ After that chat, Wilt went out and scored 52 points, setting a school scoring record in his first game. “I like to think that Wilt’s wonderful performance that day was because of the pep talk I gave him,” Mulally told KU graduates with a laugh.
Mulally enrolled in engineering at KU and joined the U.S. Air Force with a dream to become an astronaut. His plans were thwarted when he learned he was slightly colorblind. He instead took a job at Boeing as an airplane design engineer, and eventually became the president and CEO. Mulally said that after 37 years at Boeing, life handed him another gem. “I got a call from Bill Ford. Bill asked me to leave Boeing and join a company that was struggling, in an industry that faced incredible difficulties,” he said. Mulally is credited with turning Ford around amid the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.
In 2012 Mulally received an honorable doctor of science. Mulally began his Commencement speech by saying that despite his achievements in the transportation industry, “The most important thing you need to know about me is that I am a Rock Chalk Jayhawk.” He reminded alumni to thank their families for their successes, especially their moms, because the 2012 ceremony fell on Mother’s Day. Led by Mulally, new grads gave moms and families a standing ovation.
–Adapted from story in Kansas Alumni magazine, No. 3, 2012, written by Lydia Benda
Annie Tedesco, c’01, plays the lead in a new television series premiering April 7 on BYUtv. “Granite Flats” is a family-friendly, eight-episode Cold War suspense drama that tells the story of single mother Beth Milligan (Tedesco) and her young son, Arthur, as they rebuild their lives in a new town after the death of Arthur’s Air Force father.
Shortly after their arrival in Granite Flats, Colo., curious events (such as the appearance of strange metal objects around town) lead them to question whether space invaders or current political tensions could be to blame.
“I get to play a nurse in the 1960s when it was exciting to be involved in science because a lot was happening,” Tedesco says. “I also get to be a mom in the ’60s, which was just kind of a ripe time of social change.”
“Granite Flats” is based on actual, little-known U.S. military intelligence events and touches on the neuroses of the Cold War era while accurately portraying some of the memorable aspects of the early ‘60s: the cars, the fashions, and “duck and cover” drills in classrooms.
“BYU does such a good job of being really specific about the set and the hair and the makeup. They really want it to be of that era,” Tedesco says. “It was surreal the first time walking onto the set of the hospital. I mean, the IV bags were actually glass,” Tedesco says. And then there’s the hair: “It’s pretty funny. I can’t imagine. Those women spent hours in the ’60s doing their hair.”
Tedesco no doubt got the acting bug from her father, John Gronbeck-Tedesco, KU theatre professor and graduate director of the department of theatre and film. She is a member of the famed LA-based improv group, the Groundlings, a voice for the CW network, and has appeared on several TV shows, including “Modern Family,” “Dexter,” “Bones” and “The Mentalist.” She also recently shot commercials for Daisy Sour Cream and Ace Hardware.
Based on our glimpse of “Granite Flats,” Tedesco has just hitched a ride–a sweet, three on the tree, ‘60s ride–to bigger and better roles. “I’m lucky I was a good driver’s ed student,” she says.