Merrill Series 2014

Working in the Field of Mental Health & Wellness - Four Personal Perspectives

Thursday, May 8, 6 p.m.


Stephanie Engel '70

After going to Commonwealth School, Stephanie graduated from Harvard College in 1976 and from Harvard Medical School in 1983, with a frew brief side trips into other professions including respiratory therapy, American social history, and zoo nursing. She was an assistant professor of psychiatry at UMass Medical Center before the birth of her second child when she proudly became what is disparagingly referred to in the world of academic medicine as an LMD ("local medical doctor"). She and her husband, Arthur Goldhammer, a translator and blogger on French politics and also a "recovering academic," currently live with her father (a college classmate and friend of Charles Merrill) and mother in Cambridge. In her late fifties, Stephanie discovered a passion for working in global health and has been a volunteer with the Partners in Health mental health team in Haiti since the earthquake in 2010 and is currently working as a mental health consultant to Village Health Works in Burundi.

Deborah Offner, moderator

Deborah has been Consulting Psychologist at Commonwealth since 2003. She also maintains a clinical psychology practice in Newton, where she works with adolescents and young adults. Prior to arriving at Commonwealth, Deborah taught developmental psychology and served on the counseling center staffs at several Boston area universities. Most recently, she has published a chapter in an edited book* about children and trauma, based on her experience with the Boston Chapter of A Home Within, a social enterprise that provides long-term, pro bono psychotherapy to children in the foster care system. [*Heineman, Clausen & Ruff (2013) Treating Trauma: Relationship-based therapy with children, adolescents and young adults. Jason Aronson.]

Sophie Ricks '01

Sophie is a clinical social worker whose career has been focused on treating vulnerable, multi-stressed populations. Following her graduation from Wesleyan Unviersity with a bachelors in English, she completed a service year as an Americorps VISTA promoting early literacy skills in struggling Boston public schools. Since receiving her MSW from Smith College School for Social Work in 2009, Sophie's work has taken her from a domestic violence shelter, to a Harvard-affiliated ethadone maintenance program, to her current position supporting patients at the Barbara McInnis House, a medical respite unit at the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. She has a particular interest in treating trauma and addictions, and is finishing a post-graduate course in couples therapy through the Psychoanalytic Couples and Family Institute of New England. Sophie was thrilled to teach a class on depression and suicide for Commonwealth's 9th graders in their Health and Community course earlier this spring.

Jonathan Rotenberg '80

In 1977, at age 13, Jonathan became an unlikely pioneer in the nascent personal computer industry. In the library of his high school, he cofounded an organization to demystify personal computers called The Boston Computer Society.

The BCS would become the world’s largest personal computer user organization. It grew to more than 32,000 members in all 50 United States and 40 countries. The Society became the leading international forum where personal computer companies unveiled groundbreaking new products and technologies to the public. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made the first public presentation of the Macintosh at the BCS. Mitch Kapor introduced Lotus 1-2-3. Dozens of industry leaders—from Bill Gates to Michael Dell, Nolan Bushnell to Ray Kurzweil, Seymour Papert to Dan Bricklin—came each month to connect with BCS members. The Society spawned more than a hundred user and special-interest subgroups, many of which became the largest of their kind in the world. It also offered nearly a hundred educational programs each month and published over 20 publications.

By the time he was 21, Jonathan had been profiled in The Wall Street Journal (front page), PEOPLE, BusinessWeek, InfoWorld, The New York Times, The Boston Globe and TIME magazine, and on CBS Evening News.

The Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs named Jonathan one of the “Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs in America.” Computer Reseller News named him “One of the 25 Most Influential Executives in the Personal Computer Industry.” And SOAWorld and Slashdot named him one of the “Top 150 i-Technology Heroes of All Time.”

Today, Jonathan is a management consultant and executive coach who works with senior leaders of global companies to help them become more customer-centric. He has an A.B. in Economics from Brown University; an MBA from Harvard Business School; and a Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology.

Susannah Sherry '75

Susannah has been a psychiatrist in private practice for 23 years and treats a wide range of children, adolescents, and adults in Cambridge. She is on the teaching staff at Harvard Medical School, at Cambridge Health Alliance, teaching annual courses on ‘child development’ and ‘working with parents in therapy’ and supervising residents. She has a longstanding interest in the intersection of film and medicine; she teaches psychodynamic principles through discussion-based film series at the Boston Institute for Psychotherapy, and has made animated films in the past, both for entertainment and educational purposes. In 2012, she presented a workshop on children and the media at the American Psychoanalytic Association meeting. In addition, she has clinical experience in international health and cross cultural work, and coauthored a paper for the Psychoanalytic Inquiry on intergenerational transmission of values in immigrant populations. She was honored to be elected by the Commonwealth alumni to serve as their representative to the Board of Trustees from ’09-’12. In response to the school’s request in 2012, she created a summary of local high schools’ student support services, along with recommendations for expanding services at Commonwealth. She obtained her BA at Harvard College, MD at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans, and returned to Boston for her residency training–pediatrics at Tufts and child and adult psychiatry at Harvard programs, completed in ’94.