Peddie alumni team up in the workplace as co-workers, mentors, consultants and more – and dedication is first on the agenda
Dani Dudick ’00 and Suzanne Daly ’99
Dani Dudick ’00 (left) is Managing Director, Head of Client Services at Two Sigma in New York City.
Suzanne Daly ’99 (right) is Senior Vice President, Head of Strategic Partnerships at Two Sigma in New York City.
Suzanne: I knew Dani at Peddie, and we hadn’t spoken in many years. Right before I joined, I sent her a note to say, “I don’t know if you remember me, but I’m joining Two Sigma next month, and I’d love to grab a coffee and get together. We’ve become very close friends. I work on the insurance side of the business, and Dani works on the traditional investment management side. We have an opportunity to connect professionally when questions come up, and it’s very easy for us to get on the phone and answer them. But I think more importantly than that, we’re resources for one another.
We’re both team players, and that definitely comes from Peddie. I tell folks that Two Sigma is a lot like Peddie because you have that very collegiate environment where people are very smart but very kind, and want to work hard and solve hard problems together. I think we both operate in a very collegiate way; we’re both structured thinkers, we both have positive attitudes and outlooks and I think a lot of that comes from our time at Peddie.
We're both team players, and that definitely comes from Peddie.”
Dani: About six years ago, I was walking through the lobby at Two Sigma reception. Suzanne was there with her former employer and colleagues at the time. While we had not seen each other in years, we quickly recognized one another and picked up the conversation right where we left off (on Peddie’s campus back in 1999). Suzanne’s colleagues and others passing by were instantly drawn to our conversation and curious about what these two women were talking and laughing about.(“What’s Ala Viva?”)
The next year, Suzanne joined Two Sigma, and we instantly became part of the same internal women’s network. It’s so important to have a strong support system at work – across genders, experience levels and skills. It makes for good business, too – projects are more fun, contributions more collaborative, outcomes more productive. Working with partners, who in some instances become friends, motivates me to be my best self. Building a relationship of mutual respect and trust, like I have with Suzanne, makes all the difference.
While I lost contact with Peddie for a few years, for no other reason than life just gets in the way, Suzanne has encouraged me to reconnect with the school. There’s something really special about Peddie and the community, and I’m glad to be a part of it. Suzanne’s loyalty and commitment to Peddie is unbelievable, and she is in touch with everyone. We graduated over 20 years ago, but she hasn’t missed a beat!
Dar Vanderbeck ’04 and Fernando Perez ’01
Dar Vanderbeck ’04 is a partner at Canopy Collective, a California-based philanthropic fund.
Former professional baseball outfielder Fernando Perez ’01 is a partner at Canopy Collective and an analyst for the San Francisco Giants.
Dar: Fern was working with [former Peddie faculty member] Pat Clements on a chapel talk on the anniversary of when Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke. Pat asked me to offer some perspectives. It might be the first time Fern and I collaborated on something. We’d always been friends, but now it was like, “How do we think about these critical issues?” It was just a joy. He’s better at engaging young people with public speaking, so I looked up to him. It’s fun to be near his energy and how he captivates a crowd. The issues that were most compelling to us, like racial justice, are still so relevant.
We started Canopy Collective at the end of last year, and now we’re actively fundraising. It’s really exciting and necessary, and a very cool mix of my background in global social justice work and his expertise in telling stories and harnessing culture and being able to educate in a way that’s simple.
I feel like I learn things from Fern every time we talk. His ability to synthesize is really special. He’s such a good teammate. He’s so self-aware, and he understands his role. He knows when to step in, and he knows when to call someone else up. Those are skills that are hard to teach.
From Peddie comes our willingness to lean into complexity and ambiguity. We just want to get close to it and bring to bear all the wisdom and reading and not being confined by one discipline. That’s very Peddie.
Dar is an extremely courageous person. I think that Peddie definitely nutured that.”
Fernando: Our professional relationship is a lot like our regular life, which is amazing. What’s exciting is that we don’t ever feel that, “OK, that’s enough work; let’s talk about life.” This is life, actually.
Dar is an extremely courageous person. I think that Peddie definitely nurtured that. When I came out of baseball, she was on a very short list of people that I looked to and said, “Tell me about life. Tell me about what I’ve missed.” I was really interested in her path.
Dar is a really great leader. This is really all her bringing us to this moment. She’s very much a hero of mine. I thank her for including me because everybody else on the staff, like Dar, has been working in this field for a long time. With my professional life, I’ve had to leverage soft skills and work ethic essentially to furnish opportunities.
I worked in media for many years. That’s a Principio thing: We like doing lots of different things. And if we can do all of them at the same time, great. There’s nothing wrong with specializing and playing it safer. But it truly takes a lot of courage to play it the other way. Because it doesn’t always work out. I think our civilization kind of encourages you to specialize and be safe a lot. Dar’s a modern risk-taker, and I always looked up to her for that.
Uwakokunre "Kokie" Imasogie ’10 and Nicholas "Nikko" Lara ’10
Kokie Imasogie ’10 is co-founder and creative director at Iroko Treehaus, a Los Angeles-based creative strategy and investment agency.
Nikko Lara ’10 is co-founder and CEO of Iroko Treehaus in Los Angeles.
Kokie: Nikko and I were best friends at Peddie, and it’s been like that ever since. We always stayed in touch; we knew we were going to do something together, but just didn’t know what. After we graduated college, I worked in a major PR firm, then at a major label. He joined Beauty Bakerie [cosmetics company] for the last couple of years. Once I left the label, I started doing Treehaus. About a year into it, I was able to convince Nikko to get on it.
Nikko’s been a role model — dynamic, constantly growing and learning. It’s really fun to work with him. I bring a little more sauce and excitement. We live and work together, and keep it pretty much in-house. We know what we want. The challenges are just patience.
My sister calls Nikko when she’s upset with me. He goes on my family vacations without me; I’ve stayed at his family’s house many times without him. We’re totally interchangeable. We’ve been fortunate enough to know how each other works throughout our whole careers.
Peddie gave us the ability to understand how to tackle different things and the willingness to do the work. We take a lot of our lessons from Peddie. We’re close to a lot of people there. We go back to campus as often as we can, and I coached there with some lacrosse guys in the summer. It’s a place that gives us really good memories. I’m in a group chat with six Peddie alumni from my grade, and we talk every day.
We take a lot of our lessons from Peddie.”
Nikko: We’ve known each other for half our lives — almost 15 years now. As his mother would say, we’re a married couple.
I think our collaboration on Iroko Treehaus for the past year is really just a build-up of a lot of different things that we had talked about at Peddie. We realized that we had the ability to meet and build relationships with people, to maintain them and take that forward.
The best part of working together is working with my best friend. He’s seen me at my ups and downs, professionally and personally. He’s vested in helping me become a better version of myself, and vice versa.
At Peddie, during our off season, we’d attend Coach Martin’s 6 a.m. plyometric training sessions in the athletic center. It was fully optional. We’d always push each other to make sure we were not late to that and hold ourselves accountable. It translated to many things later in our lives: Structure is important, meeting deadlines, giving respect to the people who are also participating. It’s the respect we’d want them to give us. Everything we did together, we wanted to make sure we were giving it our all.
Arthur E. Brown ’63 and Lianne Cavell ’97
Retired infectious disease specialist Arthur E. Brown ’63 lives in New York City.
Lianne Cavell ’97 is a gastroenterologist in Florida.
Arthur: My father and her grandfather were friends in high school. The Kaylor family and my family were close. I think there was a point at which they were looking for a place to send George, Lianne’s father, to boarding school. Apparently, I was seen as someone who was happy at Peddie. George was Class of ’66.
When Lianne’s father got lung cancer, they called and asked if I could connect them with someone at Memorial Sloan Kettering to take care of them. And I did, and they did. They were very grateful.
Lianne’s established and a wonderful woman. She’s steady — strong and steady. When she and I saw each other at a Peddie event in Delray Beach, it was very warm and affectionate. I’m very happy for her because she seems happy as a mom and as a gastroenterologist in Florida. She’s living the life. All good memories and good things. It’s part of this Peddie circle that is remarkable and bigger than we think.
I feel like Arthur was sort of the captain of our family.”
Lianne: Arthur was at Peddie, and our families were friends. His family said, ‘You have to look at Peddie.’ My father applied and went, and he felt that Peddie opened his eyes to a world that he would have never seen if he had not gone there. He literally attributed all of his life success and who he became to Peddie.
Fast forward: I was at Princeton Day School for middle school, and said, ‘I want to be a boarder someplace.’ My dad said, ‘You’re going to Peddie!’ I said, ‘I want to go to Lawrenceville.’ And he said, ‘I can’t have a daughter who’s black and red. You need to be blue and gold!’ So I toured it, loved the school and had a great four years. Arthur was very proud to see another generation from the Kaylor family going to Peddie.
Unfortunately, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer as a result of his treatments from Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was 19. That’s when Arthur came back into our lives. He was working at Sloan Kettering, and he really helped my dad get set up with some doctors there.
After my father passed away, I went on to medical school and did my fellowship at Sloan Kettering. I reached out to Arthur when I was there. We had lunch together and saw each other in the hallways. I think my father would be over the moon to have seen this, to go full circle and have the career he wanted, and in a place like Sloan Kettering, where he sought treatment; at a place where Arthur Brown was, who was the one who started all this, of getting into Peddie.
I feel like Arthur was sort of the captain of our family. He steered us into a course that probably never would have happened. It’s a testament to Arthur, to the connections that Peddie can make and the influence that the people and the school can have.
John Coiro ’87 and Luis Martinez ’17
John Coiro ’87 is CEO at Allentown, L.L.C. in New Jersey.
Luis Martinez ’17 (third from left) was a Peddie robotics student and is studying engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.
John: It started from being involved with Peddie robotics. Three or four times, different classes came to see my company’s factory to see robotics in the real world. A couple of cool things came out of that. My team made a few parts for Peddie robotics; they make all the stuff in the shop there. Some of the base plates, wheels and sprockets. Peddie asked if we could cut them quicker and get a head start. We’ve done that several times. One time the students brought the robot to the factory to demonstrate to my people what it really did.
I walked in their shoes. I know if they’re at Peddie, they’re going to be good students, they know what hard work is and they’re probably pretty focused. When the Peddie kids come, my co-workers are shocked: They tell them once, they show them what they need to do and they’re off and running.
Luis was first. He worked for us for a summer in our engineering department, honing his skills as an engineer. He worked on AutoCAD and SOLIDWORKS to make drawings used in our fabrication process. Or he’d pull the drawings together, put the package together and then release that to the shop.
I walked in their shoes. I know if they're at Peddie, they're going to be good students, they know what hard work is and they're probably pretty focused.”
Luis: I always wanted to do engineering, but what sold it for me was my experience at Peddie. Allentown was one of the sponsors of our robotics team. And Mr. Coiro, being an alumnus, having a close relationship with the school, was very generous in allowing the robotics team to use the equipment.
My big focus is mechanical design and analysis. Back at Peddie, I was picking up the very basics of that. In my senior year, the robotics team visited the company and got a tour of the production facility. They had giant welding and laser-cutting machines. That was very exciting for me. And I remember at the end, Mr. Coiro said, “If anyone ever wants an internship, let us help you out.” So I kept that in the back of my mind.
Then, early spring semester of my freshman year of college, I got Mr. Coiro’s email address and wrote, “Can I get that internship now?”
In robotics, I mostly did structural design and was familiar with CAD (Computer-Aided Design). So at Allentown, I was able to look and make changes to the models they have for their products, to jump right in and ask questions and very quickly pick up what was going on.
Designing something to not break is always relevant. In robotics, we’re making one thing and making sure it doesn’t break. Allentown is like, “We’re making the part 100,000 times. How do we ensure that the way they make this part will give us a 99.9% quality assurance that it’ll last a while?” It’s a lot of fun for me.
Nobody really gives freshmen internships. Allentown is the first bullet on my resume because it’s actual work experience, and it gave me a better understanding of how things get made.
Along with Luis, Coiro has contracted robotics student Victor Cappuzzo ’19, EXP student Kyle Sikkema ’19, Michael Coiro ’17 for sales and marketing, recruiter and consultant Chuck Morgenstern ’87, MA3 Agency Chief Strategic and Creative Officer Jason Lannert ’87 and Mola Branding strategist Vince Mola ’87.
Pallavi Juneja ’11 and Karen Marquis-Derby ’89
Karen Marquis-Derby ’89 is an upper school English teacher at Charlotte Country Day School in North Carolina.
Pallavi Juneja ’11 recently graduated from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Pallavi: After graduating from Haverford College with a B.A. in English in 2015, I applied for teaching positions all over the country. I received an interview with Charlotte Country Day School, where the chair of the Upper School English Department was none other than Karen Marquis-Derby ’89, a fellow Peddie alumna! I was the youngest faculty member at the school in large part because Karen had faith in my preparedness as a Falcon. We worked together for two years, often swapping stories about our Peddie days in between classes. Karen, as department chair, supported my personal and professional growth tremendously. We both wore Peddie apparel for a school spirit day and would burst into the fight song at faculty gatherings! In my first job, I couldn’t have asked for a better guide, advocate and friend.
We both wore Peddie apparel for a school spirit day and would burst into the fight song at faculty gatherings!”
Karen: Anne Seltzer got me my job at Peddie, and here she wrote my letter of recommendation.
We needed one or two teachers, and my division head sent me a video and said, “She’s from Peddie. Do you want to take a look?” And I said, “Absolutely!” Pallavi was so clearly smart and capable and funny. And one of the things I remember specifically about Peddie is that so many of my teachers were right out of college. They were young, and they connected with their students in really productive, positive ways. So we gave her a shot, and she rocked it.
Pallavi knew she wanted to teach for a couple of years and then go to medical school. She taught 10th grade world literature. She’d call The New York Times to pull in science, art, philosophy. She even won a grant to go to Switzerland to follow Byron’s European trek. She came back and was able to share that with her classes, too. She just brought it.
From Peddie came open-mindedness and curiosity. That was what I remembered most about my teachers. It wasn’t what they thought. It was always what I thought, and what I could bring.
We were so like-minded, with the same approach to thinking about the work. Getting the kids to do it themselves. Being there in good, healthy, supportive ways. But they have to mess up and start again.
What she reminded me of, as a young teacher, was that enthusiasm of helping kids see who they are. She had a big hand in our diversity awareness forums with kids of color, even if they didn’t have her as a teacher. She made a big difference in a lot of kids’ lives.
It’s so great to see such a strong voice come out of Peddie, some 30 years later.