2017 Hannah Kushner ’17 was a Lifer at Friends. On campus, Hannah ran on the cross country team and was involved with the FIRST Tech Challenge, Poetry Speaks, and Amnesty International clubs. After graduation, Hannah attended Lehigh University, where she studied environmental engineering and urban policy, with a focus on climate resilient cities. At Lehigh, Hannah was involved in political activities and stormwater management research. After graduating in January 2021, Hannah stayed on at Lehigh to pursue a master’s degree in environmental policy while serving as a Resilience Fellow with the City of Boston. Hannah intends to continue working in local government to develop climate resilient and socially equitable infrastructure. Connect with Hannah or learn more about her work on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/hannahkushner
What inspired you to study Engineering? My teachers at Friends always went out of their way to get me involved in STEM. In the Lower School, Mrs. Ly pulled aside a small group of us to develop independent projects on Scratch and that started an interest in programming that carried me through to graduation in the FIRST robotics program. While I do much less coding in my specialty today, the same design thinking and problem-solving mindset that I used for STEM at Friends allows me to tackle a wide range of social and technical challenges in an effective and satisfying way. I knew that going through an engineering program would help me to continue developing these skills and equip me to go in a lot of different directions moving forward.
Tell us about your passion for the intersection of transportation infrastructure and climate change. This also started at Friends when I wrote my Extended Essay on ways to address my initial impression that the subway was one big pipe waiting to be filled with water from the next Superstorm Sandy. Transportation is critically involved with both climate mitigation and adaptation activities. The way we get around, the options available to us, and the way in which infrastructure is built and maintained all have impacts on greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, this infrastructure is essential to public health and the economy but is old, exposed, and vulnerable to damage from flooding and extreme heat. I knew I wanted to work in this space because policy and design can come together here to give people greater access to transit and climate-friendly active transportation alternatives in a way that is appealing, safe, and reliable. To actually achieve reduced emissions requires a combination of better design and well-thought-out public communications that must address the environment justice issues associated with climate change, land use, and mobility.
What are your expectations for vast improvements in America's report card on infrastructure during the Biden administration? I recently got involved with the advocacy wing of the civil engineering professional society and was tasked with (virtually) visiting Capitol Hill to present the 2021 Report Card on America’s Infrastructure to Delaware’s elected officials. The country received a C- average but was met with optimism by all these engineers who feel that the Biden administration is going to bring about major improvements to infrastructure. There are a few reasons for optimism: President Biden has been willing to spend trillions of dollars on infrastructure (which is especially impressive considering the joke “infrastructure week” has become in recent years), the administration has expressed interest in making every agency incorporate climate into their decision-making, and cabinet members like Secretary Buttigieg have made very progressive statements such as that our roads must be designed for multi-model transportation and not just cars. Talking to different engineers, we each feel that our niche is having a “moment” right now - be it water, resilience, electrification, walkability, transit, etc. – and there is tremendous energy and growth in the field. While the changes proposed by the Biden administration won’t bring about A’s or even B’s for some time, this is the scale of federal investment and change needed to set us on that trajectory.
What are your favorite WFS memories? I sometimes still get messages from the Poetry Speaks club about their upcoming meetings and events. Each time I am so happy to see that the club has lived on and is still spreading poetry in the community outside of English class. It’s incredible to think how much we all juggled on any given day at Friends, but I do miss how easy it was to get involved with so many different things before we started getting separated out into majors and careers in college. I miss having the time set aside for cross country, Meeting for Worship, and exploring my various other interests throughout the week.
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.
Laura Robelen ’78 was a 13-year veteran of Friends, following in the footsteps of her mother, Lois Moodey ’53. At Friends, Laura enjoyed participating in chorus and especially the annual Spring musicals. She served as Secretary of her senior class. The friendships made at WFS have stood the test of time, thanks to social media, and she regularly gathers with classmates living in the Wilmington area. Laura graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a major in Communication and Theatre and a minor in Psychology. Since 1988, Laura has been a licensed Realtor and is also an Associate Broker. She teaches the Pre-Licensing Sales class for her brokerage Long & Foster. Laura has been a fundraising volunteer for Delaware Hospice for the last 25 years. She has served as chair of The Festival of Trees for most of those years and also serves on the Board of Trustees and as Co-Chair of the Development Committee.