Class Officer Profiles

President: Melinda Smith

After MHC, I earned my Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, married my husband Mark, and moved to Portland, Oregon, where I’ve been ever since.  I’ve been an ordained Presbyterian minister since 1990 and have worked in a variety of church and non-profit organizations in Portland over the years – pastoring a church, working with refugees, doing interfaith work and volunteer coordination, serving as a hospice chaplain.  As of September 2015, I am working as a chaplain in a local Portland hospital.    Mark and I have two daughters: Sophie is a recent college graduate who is newly engaged and living and working in Chicago, and Leila attends college in sunny southern California. When I’m not working, you can usually find me reading (mystery, sci-fi, and romance are my favorites), knitting (a skill I learned during winter term at Mount Holyoke), going for long walks, or volunteering at church or in our community.    I have loved returning to campus for reunions and reconnecting with friends from college days, but surprisingly one of the biggest joys of reunions for me has been meeting and talking with classmates I didn’t know in college–amazing women with so much wisdom and insight, who have such interesting lives, and who are so much fun to spend time with. I feel honored to be your class president and look forward to working on ways to deepen our class connections over the years ahead.


Vice-President: Mary Partyka 

I am so honored to be serving as class vice-president as we journey forward to our next class reunion!  . After graduation from MHC, I enrolled as a special student in a Master of Fine Arts program for dance.  While studying the Physics of Movement, I felt the lure of the legal field which began during an internship with a law firm the summer before our senior year.  I applied to Law School and graduated from Western New England University School of Law in 1989.  After practicing with a small firm and having my own law office I was appointed an Assistant District Attorney in Hampden County, Massachusetts.  Most recently I became certified as a Private Attorney for the Children and Family Law Panel through the Committee for Public Counsel Services in Massachusetts.  My work is both challenging and rewarding.  Also rewarding are all the new connections I have made with classmates I have met during reunion weekends.  While at MHC much of my time was spent in dance class or nighttime and weekend concert rehearsals at the Five Colleges.  Reunions have given me the opportunity to continue to strengthen college friendships while gaining cherished new friendships with classmates I would otherwise never have known.


Treasurer: Steva Stowell-Hardcastle 

After graduating from MHC, I attended Oklahoma State College of Veterinary Medicine and graduated in 1990. I moved to central Pennsylvania where I, along with another veterinarian,  opened Companion Animal Hospital in 1995. I am married and have three wonderful step-children who are in college and graduate school.  I live with 4 cats, one dog and a turtle. In my spare time I enjoy gardening, music, traveling, cooking and spending time with my friends and family. I am also an Alumna Admissions Representative for MHC for central Pennsylvania.  I look forward to keeping our class active, informed and having fun. Please feel free to contact me with questions about the class treasury.

Scribe/Secretary: Michele DeRosa O’Connell 

I am so excited to continue serving as your Class Secretary and Scribe. I am honored and humbled that because of my long-time dedication to the College and our class, I was awarded the Alumnae Association Loyalty Award at our 30th Reunion.  My psychology and sociology degree from Mount Holyoke led me to a career in mental health.  After working for a year with troubled adolescents in a residential setting, I went on to receive my Masters in Counseling Psychology from Tufts University in 1988.  I have worked for almost 20 years as a school psychologist and guidance counselor.  I currently work for a small city school system outside Boston where my primary responsibility is completing special education assessments.   In late August 2015, I was driving on the Mass Pike heading well west of South Hadley to Syracuse, NY where my youngest daughter would be entering her sophomore year. I found myself teary eyed as I told her about my first visit to MHC with my father, now deceased, in the Fall of my senior year of high school. When I walked on campus, I truly felt I belonged. Both my daughters chose to attend large universities where they found connections pursuing their individual interests and passions.  I first took my husband to visit Mount Holyoke on a late summer day not long after our graduation.  We enjoyed a peaceful afternoon as we strolled the campus and I pointed out my personal landmarks.  We have returned often during our 25 years of marriage with and without our daughters for Fall leaf peeping, Spring class reunions, and lazing in the Summer sun.  We have watched the campus change and grow while staying committed to its traditions.   As I walked around Lower Lake the other day, I still felt connected to the college but more importantly, to our awesome network of Uncommon Women.


Web Coordinator: Brooke Russell-Zaccone

After graduation, I visited Dallas and ended up staying for 15 years working in the fashion industry.  I attended Reunion in 2000, and eight months later took a 180° career turn to move in with my sister in the Philadelphia area to take on home health care full-time for both parents. [I’m your source for maintaining levity and humor with bodily functions, ER visits, making dignified bibs and lap covers, wheelchair races, end-of-life decisions, estate organization and house clearing].  The next life stage took me west to the gorgeous Willamette Valley in Oregon, where the wine and hospitality industries restored a wounded heart and enervated soul. [where to taste Pinot Noir?  I’ll get you connected!]   After marrying my husband John in 2010, I relocated back across the country to Staten Island and spent four years at a hugely stressful POS software firm – from which I resigned  a week before our Reunion in May 2015, with a plan to start a new job in local government a week afterwards.  So  have to say, was somewhat hesitant about attending with being swamped in more transition… in my head, I was busy, worried, distracted and coming up with a myriad of things that I could do with the weekend instead of driving to New England.   But the word that first comes to mind when I think of our Reunion?  Nourishing!  To the woman, all were supportive and celebratory on yet another disconnected career shift.  Our lives are so busy and noisy these days, and Reunion was a three-day balm full of laughter, love, memories of crazy college fun and plans for the future – with nothing but grounding, revitalizing feelings of connection and support and empowerment.   It was a truly energizing weekend, and so I encourage you to plan on attending in 2020 and get restored!  And, BTW: I’m truly delighted to help with the class website and keeping our class connections strong and vital!

Reunion Chair: Betsy Thomas Austin

An internship in Worcester between junior and senior year at MHC shaped my path through subsequent decades:  I became a student of behavior and I met my husband, Kevin.   We married in 1987, and lived in Montreal (Master’s in Psychology at Concordia University), Denver (Doctorate in Psychology at the University of Denver), passed through Cleveland (VA Medical Center internship) and circled back to Massachusetts (Fellowship at Harvard Medical School).  We settled in Worcester. Please note that all of these cities are known for snow, and we acquired expertise in shovel and snow-blower use in addition to furthering formal education and careers!   I spent 10 years as a Health Psychologist at UMass Medical Center, most recently as the Director of Clinical Health Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry.  In search of the elusive work-life balance, I left the Medical School and started a private practice in 2010.  So far, so good.  I feel fortunate to have the capacity to do work that is rich and interesting, while maintaining a mindful presence at home for our son, Sam.
 Our 30th Reunion encapsulated the essence of my Mount Holyoke experience: celebrate and nurture the genuine in each individual … put them in a room together and something truly wonderful emerges in the collective.
Get me your ideas for our 35th Reunion!


Head Class Agent: Anne-Marie McGonnigal

Coming soon!