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How did your experience at Brown help prepare you for life?


Thanks to my two undergraduate concentrations, Brown taught me to think (medieval history) and to see (medieval and Renaissance art history). I’d add one more word to each: to think critically, to see critically.


After graduation on June 2, 1980, I stayed in Providence for a wonderful summer with just enough work to have just enough money for fun. Then I made the first major error of my adult life and went straight to law school. Brown is a tough act to follow, but law school was miserable: very competitive, often unfriendly, sometimes anti-intellectual. I still don’t know why I didn’t quit.


My first position as an attorney was clerking for a judge in New Hampshire, and my second was as a federal bank regulator in Washington, D.C. for six of the longest years in human history. Thanks to the convergence of new legislation, a different supervisor, and a growing sense of agency – “Hey!  I can do this!” – I left D.C. for an unusual sabbatical: earning a graduate degree at Yale in public and private management.


The plan was to get enough finance and management training so I could be a liaison between Soviet immigrant entrepreneurs and financial institutions. I got a fellowship that picked up the entire tab for my final year in graduate school as long as I passed a year-long course in advanced Russian. I had one year of Russian under my belt, so how hard could advanced Russian be? Very!


The success of my plan depended on a steady flow of Soviet immigrants, which in turn depended on frosty relations between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. But August 1991 found me on the couch in my cousin’s apartment on the south bank of the Thames, watching aghast as the Soviet Union crumbled. Now what?


Savvy as always, I graduated into a recession and decided to use my freshly-minted degree to start a business, just a placeholder until what I really wanted to do came along. In the fall of 1992, I opened a law firm. I knew right off the bat which practice areas to avoid: criminal law, public sector law, environmental law, but it took me a few years to figure out which practice areas best suit me. Once I understood my low threshold for conflict and my pervasive appetite for getting things done, I knew to stay away from divorce and litigation, although I do like to win, and instead to focus on trusts and estates, and real estate law. My practice bonus niche is how to manage windfalls for lottery winners and other amazed clients. I have a small office in Belmont, six miles west of Boston, Massachusetts ( and walking distance from my home in Cambridge.


By chance or intention, my practice areas have deep roots in medieval Europe. Trusts and estates law deals with wills and trusts which are basically 14th-century English tax shelters. Real estate law, with mortgages and deeds and titles, harks back to Norman France, with a fringe of English and American innovations. George Washington was a land surveyor before he was a military or political man. And so, my Brown education in medieval history continues to shape my career.

You can reach Nancy Weissman at (617) 680-1316. Her e-mail addres is:

Wow! More than 100 people from our class registered for "Smart Medicare: Steps to Getting it Right," a special Zoom class meeting presented by Nancy Schwartz, a fellow Brown grad, on June 7, 2022. 

In case haven't didn't noticed, we are not exactly "spring chickens" anymore.

Many of us are approaching that age when Medicare benefits start to kick in. But the choices we face can be bewildering: Should I opt for a "Medicare Advantage Plan," or something else? When should I get started on this important decision? What does it all mean?

Nancy delivered an in-depth look at the key factors we face in choosing a workable, affordable Medicare plan. To see a video version of that presentation that Nancy gave at the Maplewood Library in New Jersey, click here, or or read the Medicare Enrollment Guide​ (PDF). You may call Nancy directly at (862) 216-0445 during normal business hours. For Nancy's Facebook page, click here now. Her e-mail address is:


Howard Yaruss '80 writes: “After a career in law, I started teaching economics—a subject that has fascinated me since college. This led me to write a book that brings together my best classroom hits / anecdotes / analogies: Understandable Economics (September 2022, Prometheus Books). I still live in New York, serve on my local community board (the Upper West Side), and I am active politically and would love to hear from classmates.”


Eric Sirota ’80 ScM writes: “My musical, Frankenstein, based on Mary Shelley’s novel, played Off-Broadway for three years prior to the pandemic and was filmed as a movie and released in January on I’ve written and am now developing a new musical, A Good Day, about a widowed artist who is brought into the life of his childhood girlfriend—his first love, his muse—who spurned him 50 years before, and who now has Alzheimer’s. I’ve been married to artist Cara London for 29 years and am still doing physics research at ExxonMobil and living in Flemington, New Jersey, where
I’ve been for 36 years.”


Susan Hurwit '80 continues to love her work as a child and adult psychologist in private practice in Newton, Mass. Her story The Space Between Human Beings, created as a response to people’s curiosity about what happens in play therapy, has moved audiences at Boston area story slams. Her article “Finding the Perch: Psychotherapy During Times of Mutual Uncertainty and Grief” was published in Now single with two adult children, she enjoys small music venues, attending Buddhism and psychotherapy conferences, and finding quiet in the stillness of nature.

Diana Davis Williams '80 writes: “After many years working in South Africa in arts management, art tourism, and cultural policy, I have moved to live outside Lisbon with my husband Nick. We have semi-retired here on the Portuguese Riviera. We are enjoying life within the burgeoning art scene here, exploring the trails of the Sintra hills, and playing lots of tennis and golf. Please get in touch if you are in the area at”

Jim Sweetser '80 writes: “I’m retiring from Sweetser Law Office PLLC on December 8, 2022, at age 65. One of my sons is taking over and kicking me to the curb. My wife Dee and I have five kids who are now adults. No grandchildren yet. We will be staying in a vacation home on the Big Island in Hawaii during the winter months and on Lake Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, the rest of the time. If Brown friends are in the area, look me up to get together. Retirement should be a good time to renew friendships and a new page in the journey for us all. Not done. Just transforming.” Contact Jim at; (509) 998-0671.

Jonathan Schwartz '80 launched Climate Media Exchange and just filmed the Red Rebels, a stunning street mime troupe. His series on health and safety in the motion picture industry is soon to be released by Audacious Film and Digital.

CLASS NEWS & NOTES: Connecting with Each Other

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