New Trier High School has selected its newest class for its Alumni Hall of Honor.
Eight alumni will receive the school’s Alumni Achievement Award in March 2024 and join 70 of their peers in the Hall of Honor.
The recognition program began in 2011 with a committee of alumni, New Trier staff, and representatives of the New Trier Educational Foundation choose honorees from a field of nominations. Alumni are selected, in part, for fulfilling the school’s motto: “To commit minds to inquiry, hearts to compassion, and lives to the service of humanity.”
Previous honorees include legendary actors Bruce Dern and Ann-Margaret, musical artist Liz Phair, Navy Vice Admiral Michael Rogers, and politicians Mark Kirk and Rahm Emanuel.
This year’s selections are, as provided by New Trier High School:
• Tara Purohit Abrahams, Class of 1994. Tara Abrahams is a passionate global advocate for girls and women. She is currently head of impact at The Meteor, a media company that uses the power of storytelling to advance one of the greatest causes of our time: the freedom and dignity of all women. Tara also serves as board chair of She’s The First, a global girls’ rights organization that reaches 150,000 girls around the world every year; and of International Center for Research on Women, a global research institute working to accelerate global progress towards gender equity.
• Sam Barsh, Class of 1999. With a GRAMMY-winning and multi-Platinum discography of over 300 records to thousands of live performances across the globe, producer, songwriter and keyboardist Sam Barsh is a true musical triple-threat. Barsh has written and/or produced over 300 commercially released songs, with 17 Gold and Platinum certifications and four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. Heavily steeped in the jazz world as well as music production and songwriting, Barsh toured with the iconic bassist and composer Avishai Cohen’s trio for three years, recording three albums and a live DVD at New York’s famed Blue Note jazz club.
• Robert Bryant, Class of 1980. NASA chemist Robert Bryant was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in October 2023. He currently holds 33 U.S. patents, over a dozen foreign patents and over two dozen commercial licenses to NASA. In addition to his induction into NIHF, Bryant was inducted into the Space Foundation’s Space Technology Hall of Fame and the NASA Inventors Hall of Fame. His numerous awards include NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal, NASA Langley’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Valparaiso University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, and a Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, and three R&D 100 Awards, including an Editor’s Choice.
• Jerry Fiddler, Class of 1969. Jerry Fiddler, chairman and co-founder of Wind River Systems in Alameda, California, has made a major contribution to the field of computer science, and his work has affected society and improved our everyday lives. Wind River software can be found inside many of our commonly used consumer products, from desktop printers to cars. Countless major firms in peripherals, office automation, industrial, aerospace, and multimedia industries rely on Wind River Systems embedded system tools, real-time operating systems, development environments, and networking projects to run critical to several space missions, including Mars Pathfinder and Stardust.
• Donald Katz, Class of 1970. Don Katz is the founder of Audible, the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment. Prior to founding Audible, Don was a journalist and author for 20 years. His work won a National Magazine Award, an Overseas Press Club Award, and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, and he was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, among other prizes. Recognized as one of America’s Top 25 Disruptive Leaders by Living Cities for his work on behalf of urban transformation in Newark, Don was named New Jersey’s most influential tech leader by ROI-NJ in 2021 and was also celebrated as the Business Visionary Honoree at the 2022 PEN America Literary Gala for his vision and leadership at Audible.
• Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Class of 2002. Liesel Pritzker Simmons is co-founder and principal of Blue Haven Initiative, where she oversees, as an investment strategist, a portfolio focused on holdings that generate competitive financial returns and address social and environmental challenges. In addition to working closely with entrepreneurs, nonprofits, and coinvestors on companies and initiatives that create social, environmental and financial value, she develops strategic partnerships with organizations that support and advance more informed investing. Pritzker Simmons is also co-founder of IDP Foundation, a private Chicago-based foundation focused on achieving universal primary education. There, she helped create the IDP Rising Schools Program, which leverages microfinance networks to empower nearly 450 low-cost private schools — established and managed by local entrepreneurs — in some of the least-developed regions of the world.
• Richard Sherman, Class of 1973. Dr. Richard Sherman is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon who specializes in treating disorders of the knee, hip and shoulder, including sports injuries, trauma and the various forms of arthritis. He offers patients the latest techniques in joint replacement, as well as arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgery, which reduces pain and speeds recovery times. His father was a pediatrician, and seeing the difference he made in children’s lives and the satisfaction he took from it inspired Sherman to become a doctor himself. He has been the team physician at New Trier High School for 28 years and at Deerfield High School for 15 years. Sherman also is a clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Loyola University Medical Center, training orthopedic surgery residents.
• Ellen Spertus, Class of 1986. Ellen Spertus is a teaching professor at Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University. Prior to that, she was a professor of computer science at Mills College and a senior research scientist at Google. She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in computer science from MIT, where she first developed an interest in gender and computer science that has infused her career. She has done research in compilers, computer architecture, artificial intelligence, online communities, and computer science education, helping create App Inventor for Android and the Code.org “Hour of Code” tutorial with the goal of increasing the number and diversity of students exposed to computer science.
The Alumni Hall of Honor Class of 2024 will be celebrated starting at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 8, during an event from the New Trier Educational Foundation held at the Renaissance Chicago North Shore Hotel in Northbrook. All proceeds from the gala will benefit the foundation, which provides philanthropic funding for exceptional educational opportunities for New Trier students. Stay tuned to the foundation’s website for ticket information.
Luncheon and fashion show raises funds for woman’s club’s continued rebuild
The Woman’s Club of Wilmette debuted a new event on Oct. 20, when members and guests gathered at the clubhouse for a High Tea Luncheon and Fashion Show, which featured many prominent Wilmette community leaders and helped raise funds for the further restoration of their clubhouse.
A fire broke out at the building the morning of Feb. 17, 2015. At the time, a space heater was the suspected cause of the blaze, according to sources on the scene that day; however, an official cause was never determined by local fire officials.
That community helped the club raise $2.5 million to fund Phase 1 of the rehab project, which rebuilt most of the building. The auditorium, which suffered severe smoke and fire damage but remained standing in 2015, was separated from Phase 1 fundraising, and the club continues its pursuit of $3 million in donations to rehab the space.
The sold-out fashion show included a three-course high tea service and showcased the latest fall fashions from local Wilmette boutiques. Led by emcee Ali Wenzke (local realtor and author), the models included Village President Senta Plunkett, village trustees, local business owners and members of other local boards.
Winnetka library archives local newspapers back to 1913
The Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District and the Winnetka Historical Society recently joined forces to develop and launch a Winnetka Talk digital archive.
The archive contains nearly every of Winnetka Talk — a longstanding local newspaper — published since 1913 and is available online at the library’s website to anyone with a Winnetka-Northfield library card.
For over a century, the Winnetka Talk has consistently reported news of Winnetka, Northfield and Kenilworth. The weekly periodical covers a variety of stories, from human interest to high school sports to local business updates and everything in between.
The Winnetka Historical Society has an extensive collection of the Winnetka Talk containing nearly every issue published since 1913. According to a release from the historical society, “the value of digitizing the collection had been apparent for some time. The museum’s closure in 2020 and again in 2021 as a result of the ongoing pandemic made even clearer the need to share historical information digitally.”
In late 2021, WHS staff began discussing ways to digitize the Winnetka Talk collection. “The scope of the project was daunting, but the need to prioritize access to and preservation of the newspaper was clear,
the release says.
As fate would have it, staff at the Winnetka-Northfield Public Library District simultaneously had the same thoughts about the collection. Beginning in March 2022 and picking up in earnest that summer and fall, both WHS and WNPLD researched digitization companies that had the ability to handle such a large, significant project.
Throughout the information-gathering stage, it came to light that some of the issues in WHS’s collection represented the only known copies. This was one of the many reasons that the library board agree to allocate funding for the digitization project, contracting Digital Archive Group out of Buffalo Grove.
Over a year in the making, the Winnetka Talk digital archive is now available online to anyone with a Winnetka-Northfield library card and at either library location to the general public.
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