Twelve Reedies Who Are Shaping the Future of Oregon

By Chris Lydgate | March 11, 2019

Reed has played a profound role in shaping Oregon over the last 100 years, producing leaders in every field imaginable, from electronics pioneer Howard Vollum ’36 to entrepreneur Bill Naito ’49 to novelist Katherine Dunn ’69. Today that tradition is stronger than ever. More than 4,000 Reed grads live and work in the Beaver State, contributing to the intellectual, cultural, and educational fabric of the community, often behind the scenes. Here’s a snapshot of 12 Reedies who are shaping the future of our state.

■ ■ ■

Rosie Cottingham ’10

Rosie is a math teacher who leads an innovative program at Oregon City High School to help struggling students succeed. Known as the Oregon City Success Seminar, the program has helped raise the school’s graduation rate to 94%, a rate unmatched by any public high school in the Portland area. Rosie majored in physics and wrote her thesis on the use of lightcurve analysis to study asteroids. Roughly 17% of Reed grads pursue careers in education. They are teachers, of course, but they are also coaches, social workers, textbook writers, professors, counselors, and innovators.

■ ■ ■

Peter Barr-Gillespie ’81

Peter is the chief research officer at Oregon Health and Sciences University, where he leads a $462 million research enterprise composed of dozens of research programs in basic, translational, clinical, and public health. He is also an internationally acclaimed expert on the neurobiology of hearing who has published more than 100 scholarly articles. (OHSU is well stocked with Reedies—more than 90 grads work there.)

■ ■ ■

Esteban Gutierrez ’94

Esteban is one of Oregon’s leading voices in information technology and security. He has helped build the security community through many efforts, including starting BSides Portland, a volunteer-driven annual security conference that draws some of the most interesting minds in infosec. As director of information security at software company New Relic, he has advocated for a paradigm shift when it comes to the way we talk about information security—away from a siege mentality and towards a relationship mentality. He knows all about the power of metaphor: he majored in linguistics and wrote his thesis on directionality in the Mayan language of Tzotzil.

■ ■ ■

Chris Garrett ’96

Judge Garrett was recently appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court by Gov. Kate Brown, who hailed his “brilliant mind” and collegial style. He majored in political science at Reed, did some policy gigs, and served a couple of terms as a state representative in the Oregon legislature, where he worked on a successful plan for political redistricting. He also championed the Justice Reinvestment Act (HB 3194), which funds alternatives to incarceration. Other Reedies who served on the Oregon Supreme Court include Hans Linde ’47 and Jacob Tanzer ’56.

■ ■ ■

Mara Zepeda ’02

Mara is the CEO of Switchboard, an online community-building platform. She is also the founding board president of Business for a Better Portland, a progressive business group; XXCelerate, an entrepreneurship program program and loan fund for women entrepreneurs in Oregon; and the Zebra movement, recently featured in the New York Times, which aims to create a more ethical and inclusive startup culture. An award-winning journalist, she majored in Russian literature and wrote her thesis on the influence of philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the culture of Russia. And not to brag, but Reedies are behind some of Oregon’s hottest tech companies, including Puppet Labs, Circle Media, Urban Airship, AppFog, Lucky Sort, and Rogue Ventures.

■ ■ ■

Mingus Mapps ’90

Mingus works for the City of Portland to build a more equitable, inclusive, and liveable city. After majoring in political science at Reed, he earned a PhD in government from Cornell and taught courses in politics, race, and social justice at Bowdoin and Brandeis before coming back to Portland, where he works to solve problems such as housing, income inequality, and infrastructure, and cuts a distinctive figure at neighborhood hearings and meetings. He is part of a proud tradition of Reed changemakers in Oregon, including Bill Naito ’49, Bud Clark ’57, Ron Herndon ‘70, Kathleen Saadat ’74, and many more.

■ ■ ■

Christine Lewis ’07

Christine was recently elected to the Metro Council, the regional planning agency for the greater Portland area, where she oversees transportation infrastructure, land-use planning, and the urban-growth boundary. Before that she served as legislative director for the state Bureau of Labor and Industries and several other policy jobs in local government. Christine majored in anthropology at Reed and wrote her thesis on unionization efforts and international social movements. She joins classmate Bob Stacey ’72, who also serves on the Metro Council.

■ ■ ■

Misha Isaak ’04

Misha is a civil-rights lawyer who masterminded the legal strategy that overturned Oregon’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in 2014. He’s now working for Gov. Kate Brown. He majored in political science and wrote his thesis on religion and the US constitution. Approximately 9% of Reed grads go into the fields of law and public policy.

■ ■ ■

Roland Dahwen Wu ’13 

Roland is an artist and filmmaker whose work explores migration, race, and memory. His films and installations have shown at CalArts, Portland Art Museum, Time Based Art Festival, and internationally at festivals in Cuba, Brazil, the Netherlands, and Italy. Spanning nonfiction, experimental, and narrative genres, his films range from a documentary about the whistling language of the Canary Islands (There Are No Birds In the Nests of Yesterday) to his recent film about 20th century Asian migration (Haft-Seen). He is currently in post-production on his first feature film, forthcoming in 2019. Roland was a 2018 artist-in-residence in Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Creative Exchange Lab and a recipient of the Oregon Media Arts Fellowship. He majored in Spanish at Reed.

■ ■ ■

Bob Sallinger ’91

Bob is one of the most influential environmentalists in Oregon. As director of conservation at the Audubon Society of Portland, one of the state’s most prominent environmental organizations, he led the successful charge to defend Hayden Island from industrial development. He majored in biology at Reed and wrote a thesis on symbiosis.

■ ■ ■

Melissa Lewis ’13

As a data journalist, Melissa is reframing the way the media report the news at Reveal, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting. Formerly a data editor at the Oregonian, she is an organizer for PyLadies Portland and the Portland chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association. Melissa majored in psychology at Reed and wrote her thesis on the reproducibility of psychological experiments, in particular as it relates to a phenomenon known as the “Oh, sh*t” response. She is part of a new generation of Reed journalists who are influencing the media landscape around the globe, from the New York Times to the Jakarta Post, writing stories with impact far beyond the day’s headlines. Roughly 9% of Reed grads work in the field of media and communication.

■ ■ ■

Sana Goldberg ’12

Sana is on the front lines of the battle to change the way we treat people with mental illness. As a psychiatric nurse, she is one of the animating forces behind the Unity Center for Behavioral Health, which cares for many of Portland’s poorest and sickest residents. After studying neuroscience at Reed, she pursued a career in nursing and launched an online magazine, Nightingale, dedicated to rethinking the fundamentals of the profession. Her book How To Be A Patient will be published by Harper Collins in March. Roughly 7% of Reed grads work in healthcare and allied fields.

Do you know other Reedies who are shaping the future of Oregon? Drop us a line.

Tags: Alumni, Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, Life Beyond Reed