For Mike Coleman ’88, giving back is part of his DNA. Following his graduation from Wilmington Friends, Mike has remained a fixture at the School as a coach, a mentor, a volunteer, and a financial supporter. Throughout his 23-year stint at the YMCA in Wilmington, running youth sports leagues and summer camps, he refined his skills in youth development, skills he’s brought to his work at Wilmington Friends. “I loved my time at the YMCA,” Mike explained. “It really helped me to understand a lot about youth development, and also helped me hone my relationship building skills.”
Mike has been coaching at Friends for decades, and feels that coaching is a real opportunity to connect with young people. “I love coaching. I think about it more as mentorship than anything,” he said. “I always looked up to the coaches I had in youth leagues and at WFS, and so I try to bring that same mentality to my coaching.” Being able to be a mentor, particularly for students of color, has been most rewarding to him. “When (students of color) can see someone like them who went to the School and can understand what they’re going through, that’s an opportunity for me to really make a difference in a kid’s life.”
With that said, Mike is well aware that Friends, like all schools, is not perfect, and he acknowledges that he had tough times as a student of color at Friends. He believes the tough times at Friends, the times of discomfort, were important to his growth, helping him to navigate uncomfortable situations throughout his career .“I would never trade my experience at WFS, the good or the bad,” he said. “And there was certainly more good than bad.”
As a member of the recently formed Black Alumni Advisory Council, Mike is hopeful that he and his fellow alumni can act as a sounding board to help students of color and their families navigate life at Friends. He hopes to help develop a system where kids and their parents or guardians can connect with alumni and engage in dialogue about their experiences. “I’m proud of the work we’ve undertaken as a School community,” he said. “It’s my hope that we get to a point where, when it comes to equity and inclusion, we’re not working on it anymore, we’re just there.”
When asked what is special about Friends, and why it remains such an important part of his life, Mike pointed to the rigors of academics and athletics. “Friends made me work harder, pushed me to give more academically and athletically than I ever thought I could give,” he said. “When I went to pursue my Masters degree, I really leaned on the skills and lessons I learned from WFS to get me through.” He also highlighted the interconnectedness of our community as something unique to Friends. Networking and relationship-building are important in every facet of our lives, he explained. “The Friends connection is always a great foundation to start a relationship.” Wilmington Friends is grateful to Mike for all that he’s done and continues to do in support of the School, in support of young student-athletes at Friends, and in support of the larger Wilmington community. He truly sets an example by letting his life speak.
Elizabeth L. Haven ’72 was a “sandwich” Friends student, between brother Ken Haven ’70 and sister Julie Haven Malloy ’80. At Friends, Liz was active in student government and was Senior Class President. She received the Bush Award and was a National Merit Scholar. After majoring in Geology at Harvard University, Liz graduated in 1976 and left for California, becoming the first female oilfield engineer for the Schlumberger Company. In 1980, Liz completed her M.S. degree in Engineering Geology from Stanford University. Also in 1980, she married fellow geologist Rick Humphreys, with whom she raised two daughters, now grown. Liz led a variety of water quality programs for California’s state government, culminating in the Deputy Director position charged with transferring the Safe Drinking Water Program in order to address the need for safe and affordable drinking water for disadvantaged communities. Now retired, Liz and her husband live in Windsor, California and enjoy hiking and camping with their dog in the beautiful countryside and beaches of Sonoma County.
“WFS cultivated my interests from a young age. I felt like teachers really knew me - both my strengths and my weaknesses. They allowed me to be who I was while also encouraging me to reach my full potential. I felt like more than just a student in the Class of 2012; I felt like an important part of the community.”
“WFS taught me about teamwork and compassion when working on assignments and projects with multiple students. This was helpful in college and continues to be in the design world as it’s all about negotiation and teamwork!”
Last April, two dozen students, staff, faculty, and WDEL gathered in the library for a glimpse into the future. Theo Nix, Jr. ‘72 presented on why the sky’s the limit in opportunities for FAA-certified drone pilots. The former corporate counsel for DuPont has founded a business to train pilots in five states including Delaware - and he wants to expand internationally, starting in Kenya.
“Make yourself known in everything that you do. It’s very easy to get ‘lost in the numbers’ at a large university, so it is important that your professors are able to put a face to the name and that you make an honest impression. These connections that you make with professors, advisors, and coaches can last a lifetime and can open up new opportunities that you never knew existed or help you achieve experiences that you have always dreamed of . . . I am able to do what I love in a way that I never thought was possible because of these professors, advisors and coaches.”
Susan Woolley Katz ‘88 was a Lifer at Friends, as were her sisters (Laura Kemper ’81, Lisa Anderson ’82) and parents (Cynthia Pyle Woolley ’56, Clark Hullihen Woolley ’57). Many other generations of her family also attended WFS.
Eric Kelley ’10 graduated from Williams College in 2015 with his degree in English. While at Williams, Kelley captained the Varsity Men’s Lacrosse team and served as a member of the Black Student Union.
“I believe that the concept of active listening and learning was cultivated at WFS, and this included being open to feedback. Being willing (and knowing it’s okay!) to change your mind, and constructively disagreeing helped prepare me for post HS life. On the topic of seeing something differently, it was here that I learned that it is perfectly fine to disagree with someone or not see eye to eye, but it’s imperative for everyone’s personal growth and development to do so in a kind, respectful, and gracious way. I think this is the most powerful lesson I took away from Friends and one that I see necessary to practice daily in our world, now more than ever.”
“One of the greatest lessons I took from Friends was how to think critically, which has served me well throughout my educational journey and into the professional world. It’s truly a skill that is valuable regardless of what you do in life."
“I greatly appreciate WFS for giving me the opportunity to become an independent learner and teaching me how to write. Without these skills, I would not have had nearly as much confidence to go into research as I do now.”
I attended Wilmington Friends School for 14 years, and by all accounts, I consider myself a “lifer.” WFS provided the bulk of my educational experience, which was the basis for my development as an artist and an activist. Throughout my attendance at Friends, certain core values such as integrity, community, equality, peace, stewardship, and simplicity were foundational.
Peter Henderer ’89 attended Friends for three years for Pre-1st through 2nd grades, and then returned for 10th through 12th grades. On campus, he played football and lacrosse, played in the Concert Band and Jazz Band, served on the Service Committee, and was Clerk of the Business Meeting. After graduation, Peter studied at Bowdoin College, majoring in Economics and Environmental Studies, and serving as Co-President of the Bowdoin Outing Club. After Bowdoin he studied law at The George Washington University Law School and went on to the private practice of law in Richmond, Virginia. Peter’s practice is in commercial real estate, with a particular focus on tax-credit financed multifamily housing. On the side, Peter has grown a portfolio of his own residential rental properties. Outside of work, Peter has served on numerous non-profit boards, and is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees at Richmond Montessori School, a Toddler through 8th grade school in Richmond. Peter is married to Armistead Edmunds Henderer and they have two teenage children.