Elephants on the march

Mark Myers Mermel ’06GSASJohn Chachas ’86CC, a Republican investment banker, has announced that he’s challenging Harry Reid for the U.S. Senate in Nevada . . . Republican businessman Mark Myers Mermel ’06GSAS has taken the unusual step of announcing that he wants to be lieutenant governor of New York. Customarily, a governor picks the lieutenant governor, but state GOP boss Ed Cox is reportedly open to a more public process, having encouraged Mermel and anyone else interested in the post to ask GOP county chairs to support their appointment should a Republican win the next gubernatorial race.

Helping hands

Ana Lopez ’02SSWAna Lopez ’02SSW was named a 2009 Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine. She was honored for her work as executive director of Community Bridges, a nonprofit that runs educational programs for minority girls in the Washington, D.C., area . . . Former Columbia soccer captain Erica Woda ’04CC was profiled in the New York Times on February 8 for creating the nonprofit, Level the Field. Her program pairs sixth graders from the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan with Columbia athletes for mentoring.

In the public interest

Four alumni of the J-school will be presented with George Polk Awards in Journalism, a coveted prize administered by New York University, in April. Steve Kroft ’75JRN won for a 60 Minutes segment about Wall Street’s growing influence on oil prices; Craig Torres ’89JRN for several Bloomberg News articles tallying the federal government’s commitments to banks; Kathy Chu ’99JRN for her USA Today series on escalating credit-card fees; and Abrahm Lustgarten ’03JRN for his ProPublica coverage of an environmentally hazardous natural-gas mining practice known as hydraulic fracturing.

Straight to the top

Ronald Mason Jr. ’74CCRonald Mason Jr. ’74CC, ’77LAW, the president of Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi, was recently appointed by President Barack Obama ’83CC to the advisory board of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Mason will advise the president on ways to strengthen black colleges and to increase college attendance among racial minorities.

Sweet talkin’ guys

Doug Morris '60CCDoug Morris ’60CC, the chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 26 for creating the world’s largest and most successful record company. Morris began his career as a songwriter; his credits include the Chiffons’ 1966 hit “Sweet Talkin’ Guy” . . . Television journalist George Stephanopoulos ’82CC became a co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America in December, replacing Diane Sawyer.

And the winners are . . .

Kathryn Bigelow ’81SOA, profiled in the last issue of Columbia, won the prizes for best picture and best director at this year’s Academy Awards for her film The Hurt Locker, which collected a total of six Oscars. Bigelow is the first female director to win either award. Earlier in the year, she took home six BAFTAs, the U.K.’s version of the Academy Awards, including the honors for best picture and best director . . . Geoffrey Fletcher, an adjunct professor in the School of the Arts’ film division, won an Oscar for his screenplay adaptation of Precious: Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire . . . Eric Mendelsohn, an associate professor of film, won the U.S. directing award for a dramatic feature at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for his film, Three Backyards.

Bankers to the world

Russell Kincaid ’75GSAS, a 30-year veteran of the International Monetary Fund, was recently named director of the IMF’s office of internal audit . . . Brian Wynter ’85SIPA has been appointed Governor of the Bank of Jamaica, which is that nation’s central bank.

Street wise

Lisa L. Carnoy '89CCRobert B. Kaplan ’89CC has been named co-chief of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s newly created Asset Management Unit, which will investigate illegal activities in the financial sector. Kaplan’s unit scrutinizes investment companies, hedge funds, private equity funds, and investment advisers . . . Lisa L. Carnoy ’89CC was chosen by Bank of America in February to co-head its global capital markets, making her the third most powerful woman on Wall Street, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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