Maria’s Speech

I had the pleasure of sharing a wonderful event with our classmates Jane Zimmy, Ellie McGrath and Maria Mossaides (class of ’73 but honorary member of ’74), as well as Class of 1972 members and former MHC President, Lynn Pasquerella at the Frances Perkins homestead in Damariscotta, Maine. Maria Mossaides was honored by the Frances Perkins Society on Sunday, August 18th at their 11th Annual Garden Party Award Ceremony. Maria received the Steadfast Award for her work over the past 40 years in both the public and independent sectors as both an attorney and senior executive. and gave a very moving talk about how Frances Perkins inspired her to achieve so much for social justice and economic security.  
Melissa Thornton
Posted in News | Leave a comment

Class Meeting Minutes, May 25, 2019

Mount Holyoke College Class of 1974

Class Meeting

May 25, 2019


Class president Diane Claffey called the meeting to order.

Melissa Russell from the class & reunion committee of the Alumnae Association reported:

• 38,000 alumnae living in 139 countries
• of them 2,200 are active volunteers for clubs, classes, and the Association
• the focus for the year 2019-2020 is “alumnae engagement”

Nancy Arcieri presented the treasurer’s report:

• On Sept. 1, 2014 the class treasury was $13,589.
• Today it stands at $15,663
• Announced that the 2014-2019 officers agreed upon $50 dues for 2019-2024, in ​​​​recognition of our next (50th) reunion, and encouraged us to pay this weekend

LaVida Dowdell (reporting for co-class agents, Jane Zimmy and Debby Hall):

• achieved 45% participation with 212 donors to the Alumnae Fund totaling $155,000
• almost at 100% participation among reunion attendees
• so far 23 have volunteered as class agents in the run up to our 50th reunion; would like 40
Update from Jane Zimmy:
Our class raised $200K by Reunion morning ( our goal) with 57% participation.

The email sent by Denise McCloud Thomas to the class officers was read aloud:

Hi Diane and Class of ’74 Warriors,

I hope our 45th Reunion turns out to be all that our classmates expected and more.  Please share with our classmates how sorely I hate not being there with them.  Kudoes to Gail and her team for putting together this wonderful Reunion.  Congratulations to our entire class board for their 5 years of service to our amazing class. Congratulations to our newly elected class board; know that it is a privilege to serve the class of 1974, the best class that MHC has produced.

 It grieves me not to be there, however in order to get out of that traumatic space that Hurricane Florence created for my husband Steven and me–losing our home and enduring 7 weeks of homelessness–we chose to join The Flying Doctors of America in service on their first medical mission to Ethiopia. Our mission was difficult but successful. Our team of 14 treated over 1500 patients in 3 days.  We lost count after treating over 600 patients on the third day so the true numbers may never be known.  My primary job this time was an attempt at an orderly method by which each patient could get the medical care they needed. I failed so miserably in the massive throng of desperate, hope-filled people with sunken, beseeching eyes that I had to fight back tears.  It was just impossible to treat everybody and their desperation created such chaos not only from the people who made their way from the rural areas for treatment, but from the hospital staff as well.  There was clearly another 1500 who sought treatment that we could not provide. 

Despair is just so hard to watch. Ethiopia, however, is a deeply Christian-based country.  My guess is that is how these beautiful people wake up each morning and put one foot in front of the other in their life’s journey.  I’m convinced nothing we did here was in vain.

Steven and I lost “things” in the storm, but the storm reinforced the importance of the people in our lives.  I’m so grateful to be a member of this class; you have helped make me who I am.  As our class looks forward to our 50th Reunion, I make this challenge:  TAKE THE TIME TO REWARD YOURSELF WITH A NEW FRIEND FROM OUR CLASS.  Within the next 30 days and no later than June 24th, choose 1 or 2 classmates (more if you wish) and invite them into your life as a friend.  Cross all the lines you think our American culture creates and REWARD YOURSELF WITH A NEW FRIEND.  We all win because we all have the opportunity to choose someone with whom we can share the core of who we are.  So, no later than June 24th, contact your soon to be new friend and tell her, “I choose you.”  Then, let’s just march on to our 50th Reunion and see how gloriously interesting it will be.

From the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, I am

Denise McLeod Thomas, MHC Class of 1974


The slate of officers for 2019-2024 was presented, and voted upon in the affirmative:

• President — Melissa Thornton
• Vice President — Denise McLeod Thomas
• Secretary — Doris O’Keefe
• Treasurer — Mary Grantham Sleet
• Reunion Chair — Gail LaBroad LaRocca
• Scribe — Marylloyd Claytor
• Web — Laurie Averill
• Head Class Agents — Jane Zimmy, Debby Hall
• Nominating Committee — Carole LaMond, Beth Connor Gibson, Nancy Arcieri


Changes in the bylaws of the Alumnae Association and of the class were voted on in the affirmative.  Below is the summary of changes authored by Mary Feeney and the actual updated by-laws.

Summary of Changes by Mary Feeney

Updated By-Laws

President Diane introduced Melissa, President-Elect, who had a few remarks about enhancing connection among classmates during the next five years, as a run-up to a memorable 50th reunion. Then she passed around three tablets to capture classmate’s thoughts about: 1) Ideas to make our 50th Reunion ever better; 2) A list of those willing to host a mini-reunion; and 3) MHC stories to share with classmates.

Melissa asked for a volunteer or a volunteer committee to coordinate mini-reunions. Before the weekend ended, Melissa Thornton and Mary Feeney accepted the challenge as Co-Chairs of the Committee.

In Memoriam: the names of class members who have died since our last reunion was read, and a moment of silence observed:

• Blessing, Elizabeth C. (Elizabeth C. Duquette) 03.27.2015
• Lustwerk-Dudas, Rigel L. (Lisa J. Lustwerk) 11/22/2015
• Kutzer, M. Daphne (M. Daphne Kutzer) 12/18/2015
• Struck, Patricia D. (Patricia D. Struck) 12/20/2015
• Sathue, Therese E. (Therese E. Sathue) 11/03/2016
• Edmunds, Lindsay E. (Lindsay E. Edmunds) 7/11/2017
• McMahon, Elizabeth E. (Elizabeth E. Delory) 05/22/2018

For more information about and many photographs of our 45th reunion join our Facebook page at

Addenda to the class meeting notes: let it be recorded here that classmates Barbara Dombkowski Desoer and Mary F. Platt each received an Achievement Award at this morning’s Alumnae Association Meeting for their “outstanding achievements and service to society that exemplify the values and virtues set forth by the College.” See certificates below:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Class of 1974 Letter

Dear Classmates,

It’s hard to believe that in less than a year we will be celebrating our 45th reunion.

I hope that you will be marking your calendars for May 24 through 26, 2019, and planning to attend. We are all uncommon women and as such have something special to bring to our gathering. Despite the different paths our lives have taken, we still have so much in common. Come and share your experiences and learn about what other classmates have been doing as well.

One major change you will notice on campus is the new campus Community Center, sometimes referred to as Super Blanch, which opened this year. It provides a common dining location for everyone on campus—so no more eating meals in the dorms. It will be interesting to see how that all works.

Reunion Chair Gail LaRocca says it is never too early to think about our 45th. Would you like to help? She is looking for volunteers to assist in the planning and execution of the reunion weekend festivities. We had a great crew who signed up for Reunion 2015 planning as well as a number of people who pitched in with the setup and hospitality when they arrived. If you would like to be one of them in 2019, please send Gail an email at We already know as stated above that all meals will be in the new dining facility. Positives are that there will be a wide variety of food selections. There are also rooms that can be reserved for groups, which will allow us to have our own class dinner. The dorms can still be used for social activities.

Is there something that you would like to see added to the weekend to enhance the camaraderie? Jot it down and send it to Gail. Also, please post photos of your adventures and interests on our class website so that they can be used in reunion activities. (For help with that, contact our class website guru Laurie Averill at

Do you know someone in our class who has made significant contributions to Mount Holyoke and should be recognized for their volunteer efforts? There is still time to submit recommendations for the Alumnae Medal of Honor, the Loyalty Award and the Innovator Award. (Check out the April Laurel Chain for more information.) You can also nominate someone for the Achievement Award, which recognizes achievements in areas other than contributions to MHC, and the Elizabeth Topham Kennan Award, which recognizes contributions in the field of education. You can even recommend a classmate to receive an honorary degree from the College. The deadline for recommendations is July 1 and the awards will be presented at our reunion next year.

Head Class Agents Debby Hall and Jane Zimmy report that 191 of us have made gifts to the Mount Holyoke fund this year, contributing $127,106 as of April 30. They are excited that 158 classmates are members of the Laurel Chain Society, representing the College’s most loyal donors. Their goals this year (ending June 30) are $155,000 and 50 percent participation. An additional 47 donors are needed to reach that target. Another way you can get involved is to volunteer to work with Jane and Debby on this effort through Reunion 2019. You can thank donors, post on social media, call classmates or write to them. Email Debby or Jane if you are interested and would like to join the group of volunteers at either or

Also at Reunion, we will be electing new class officers to serve through our 50th reunion. If you would like to nominate someone to serve, please contact our Class VP Mary Feeney at or nominating committee members Denise McLeod (at or LaVida Dowdell (

Groups of our classmates continue to come together for different activities. By the time you read this letter, Michelle Hurst will be winding down her run starring in Babette’s Feast in NYC. Several groups went to see her both in Portland, Maine, and in New York. Check out our class Facebook pages for photos. Another group celebrated Mary Lyon’s birthday at the Museum of the City of New York followed by lunch, while up in Boston a group got together for dinner to celebrate. And, as always, the V8s continue to get together for fun (and yes even singing). This spring we were in New Orleans. If you have ideas for a ‘mini’ and want to get the word out, our Facebook page is a great way to do that quickly. You do need to ask to join. Search for Mount Holyoke College Class of 1974 and put in a request to join.

Lane Rosenthal has a new business called Paris Off Script and has suggested we could do a mini in Paris this fall. Another opportunity to see classmates is Vespers which will be in NYC this year at St. Barts on December 7. LaVida says that she is willing to plan something for afterwards for those who attend and are interested.

And don’t forget that Lynn Mordan is always looking for news to put in our class notes in the Alumnae Quarterly. You can reach Lynn at

Looking forward to seeing you all at Reunion. Please do not hesitate to contact me or any of our class officers with any questions, suggestions or concerns. In addition to the officers listed above, you can contact Doris O’Keefe (our class secretary) at and Nancy Arcieri (our treasurer) Make sure that the Alumnae Association has your current information in their database. It only takes a few minutes to log in, check it and make any updates. 

Diane Claffey

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Class of 1974 Newsletter

February 2017

As we head into this New Year with its challenges on many fronts, it is more important than ever that we stay connected. Hope you will take the time to reach out to fellow classmates, catch up with those you haven’t seen or talked to for a while, suggest a mini-reunion—a dinner, a weekend, whatever strikes your fancy—see below for what some classmates are planning.

2016 was a busy year. Head Class Agents Debby Hall and Jane Zimmy report that 130 of us have made gifts to the Mount Holyoke Fund, contributing $98,890 as of December 31. 110 classmates are members of the Laurel Chain Society, representing the College’s most loyal donors. Our goals this year (endJune 30, 2017) are $174,000 and 52 percent participation. An additional 96 donors are needed to reach our target.

Our FebruMary Challenge day is Monday, February 6—when we will race against other classes in the ’70s to see who can generate the most donors in a single 24-hour period. Please consider participating and making a gift to the College. All gifts are welcome.

And speaking of funds, it is never too early/late to think about paying our class dues. For those of you who did not pay at the last reunion, the cost is $30.00 for five years payable to MHC Class of 1974. You can mail your check to Nancy Arcieri at 507 Cold Brook Road, Bearsville, NY 12409.

Getting Connected – Staying Connected – Following on this Theme –

Fourteen classmates got together for Vespers in NYC on December 9, including Jane Zimmy, Debby Hall, Nancy Arcieri, LaVida Dowdell, and Judy Johnson.

A number of classmates participated in the Women’s March on January 21 in various cities. Check out our class Facebook page for some photos.

As I write this letter, a small group will have gotten together for dinner in Boston at Joe’s American Grill on January 26, including Jane Zimmy, Mary Feeney, Ann Molloy, Debby Hall, Judy Johnson, Marilyn Shapleigh, Nancy Prince, Barb Beltz, Cynthia Hadley and Barb Grant.

A celebration of Mary Lyon’s birthday is planned in New York City on February 25. Ellie McGrath is the organizer. The plan is that the group will see the playBull in a China Shop at Lincoln Center. “Galloping through forty years in a New England women’s college, Bull in a China Shop follows Mary Woolley and her partner, Jeannette Marks, as they reform and revolutionize women’s education at the height of the suffrage movement. As evolving ambitions and desires strain the couple’s relationship, this fast-paced comedy explores how we change the world, how the world changes us, and how we try to grow old together.” Contact Ellie or Jane Zimmy if you are interested in attending.

Mary Wallace Jaensch is organizing a group to go see the Enlightened Princess exhibit at the Center for British Arts in New Haven, CT, on April 1. Contact Mary or Laurie Averill if you are interested in joining them.

The V-8s continue to stay connected. After our adventures in Orlando last May, we followed up with a trip to Santa Fe, NM, for a few days of rehearsing and exploring last November. This May will find us at Melissa Thornton’s Bold Colorful Life Inn in Boothbay, Maine. With two sets of rehearsals per year, hopefully this will reflect positively in our next performance at Reunion.

A great way to stay connected and know what’s happening in our class in a timelier manner is to join our Facebook group. Putting something out there is a great way to share information, celebrate your successes, ask for/provide support during difficult times, share sad news, and communicate with the rest of the class. It’s a closed group, so you need to request access. Make sure you select the Mount Holyoke College Class of 1974 group as there is another older Facebook group that is not active. Note that we will be using our Facebook group to give you more real-time reunion information as we get closer to our 45th. This is also a great place to suggest mini-reunion activities.

We also have the class website that the Alumnae Association hosts for us. And don’t forget the Alumnae Quarterly—Lynn Massman Mordan is always happy to receive news from you to include.

Have you checked out the Alumnae Directory lately? Make sure your information is up to date. It’s also a great way to find contact information for classmates you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Some of our classmates do not have current email addresses in the alumnae database. If you know of any classmates who are not receiving the class letter, etc., please encourage them to go online and update their information. We don’t want anyone to miss out on what’s happening in our class!

Please keep in touch with us—let’s continue to stay connected!

—Diane Fiero Claffey

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reunion Recap: 40th Reunion, May 16-18, 2014

Dear Classmates,

The Class of 1974 set a reunion attendance record for any MHC 40th reunion, ever. Our class also won the President’s Cup for the highest number in attendance of all classes at Reunion I – 165 of us marched in the parade decked out in white with our parade costume of a red flower and red accessories from shoes to feather boas.

Perhaps it’s our age and stage in life, or the many “74 Turns 60” birthday reunions of the past five years that kindled old and new friendships, but being on campus for reunion was important to so many classmates. Some were on campus for the first time since 1974, others have attended every reunion, but all of us wanted to be together in South Hadley this past May. Our record-setting numbers meant our class had to be flexible and good-spirited about a long breakfast line, last-minute headquarters dorm change (those who bunked with the Class of 1994 in Ham so impressed the 20th reunion group that they invited our 74s to become honorary members of their class!), and an overflow crowd at our class meeting and cocktail party. It seems that we baby boomers are used to the-more-the-merrier attitude.

The spirit of sisterhood and friendship our class shares was most visibly demonstrated by our Saturday night entertainment which showed how our relationships have continued to flourish during the forty years since graduation. Bonnie Panson and Michelle Hurst, their friendship forged during hours together as theater majors, have remained close friends as they established impressive careers in the theater, movies and television. More than a year ago they promised an encore performance of their sister act from our 35th reunion, but when a car accident in December 2013 left Michelle seriously injured we worried that even skilled doctors and our prayers, might not pull her through the initial days. Even after Michelle defied the odds, and traveled home to begin rehab for her injuries, we doubted that she would recover sufficiently to travel to campus in May. But Bonnie never wavered in her determination that one way or another, the two actors would be at Reunion, and they were! On Saturday night of Reunion weekend, in a packed Gamble Auditorium, Bonnie and Michelle wowed us with their original two-woman show “Always in Process: Won’t You Celebrate With Me.”

Six of our eight class members of the V-8s – Diane Fiero Claffey, Melissa Thornton, Leslie Bowen, Susan Moch, Laurie Heller Gross, Joyce Staat Wixson – another group of friends who have shared friendship and music for the past 40 years – rounded off the performance portion of the evening’s entertainment. We invited the Class of 1944, who founded the original V-8s group and who were on campus for their 70th Reunion, to join us for the show. Back at Prospect we stood on the banks of Lower Lake for the Canoe Sing followed by our 70s-themed dance party with a music mix compiled by Kat De Koff Sturgis and husband Rad.

Special thanks for our successful 40th reunion are due to Jane Homan Antin, Reunion Chair, who brings superb organization to every detail of every planning task she ever does. Reunion planning became her second job for the six months leading up to our return to campus, and she kept everything on track and upbeat.

Gail LaBroad LaRocca, Dinner Chair, also deserves special recognition for her hours of reunion work, not only in planning menus and in working with the college staff but in adding special touches such as gourmet cookies for our Friday night dinner and snacks throughout the weekend.

Reunion doesn’t happen without the hard work of many, many classmates. In addition to Jane and Gail, special thanks are due to Buff Spencer for designing our save-the-date magnet and to Deborah Saunders and Margaret Saunders for penning our parade signs. Thanks also to our set-up, clean-up and reception desk workers and a special thank you to Doris O’Keefe who coordinated our reception area and took amazing photographs throughout the weekend.

Mary Feeney organized a reception at the Odyssey on Saturday, and Karen Jennings Lewis, Robin Brooks, Pat Showalter and Marylloyd Claytor each led Back to Class Workshops on Friday.

Our class also received a number of honors during Reunion I Weekend:

Jane Zimmy received the Medal of Honor, awarded for long-term service and leadership in promoting the effectiveness of multiple areas of the Alumnae Association and/or College

Jane Homan Antin and Debby Hall became the first in our class to receive the Loyalty Award, awarded for consistent and active involvement in one area of service over an extended period of time.

Karen Jennings Lewis was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the College at commencement on Sunday.

Kathy Collins is serving as a College Trustee, another reflected honor for our class.

Our class not only showed up, but we also gave generously to The Mount Holyoke Fund.

We won the Griffin Cup for the highest number of classmates – a whopping 213 – who are members of the Laurel Chain society, a program that recognizes loyal donors. Our class’s gift was an impressive $247,979 in support of The Mount Holyoke Fund for 2013-14, which reflected a participation rate of 72 percent and gifts from 316 classmates. Head Class Agents Debby Hall and Jane Zimmy and their team of class agents worked tirelessly to deliver such an impressive gift.

And last, but not least, we also won champagne, courtesy of the Smith College Class of 1974, served at the class dinner when we triumphed in a friendly challenge to see which class would have the highest participation rate in respective class gifts for our 40th reunions.

It has been an honor to serve as Class President for the past five years. We truly are an impressive, and impressively friendly and close-knit class. Many, many thanks to our able class officers Deb Orgera, VP, Doris O’Keefe, Secretary, Christina Carr, Treasurer, Lynn Massman Mordan, Class Scribe and Laurie Averill, Web Coordinator who have served ably over the past five years. Nominating Committee included Mary Feeney, Chair and members Melissa Thornton, Beth Connor Gibson, Kate Pappas, Paula Gerden and Flo Chichester.

Welcome to Diane Fiero Claffey our new Class President!


Carole LaMond
Class President 2009-2014

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment