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notable graduates

Notable Graduates

Beginning with our first graduating class more than 160 years ago, Mills alumnae have been making major contributions throughout the world in every decade. These are just a sample of graduates who have made a difference in fields ranging from computer science to music to politics:

Elana Metz '03 and Lacy Asbill '02 – Co-founders of Girls Moving Forward, which mentors and tutors girls from at-risk communities

Noah Georgeson, MFA '03 – Successful guitarist, producer, and engineer who has worked with Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart, and The Pleased

Andrea Plesnarski, MA '01 – Award-winning musician; principal oboe, Oakland East Bay Symphony

Yvonne Harrison Solow, MFA '97 – Award-winning writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; author of the University of California Press' bestseller, Gene Roddenberry: The Last Conversation

Ariel Duryea Gore '94 – Founder and publisher of Hip Mama parenting zine; author of The Hip Mama Survival Guide and Mother Trip

Meredith May '91 – Award-winning journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle

May Lee '89 – Host of STAR TV's The May Lee Show; former host of Pure Oxygen on cable television; former CNN correspondent and anchor for Asia's Wall Street Journal

Dorianne Laux '89 – Poet; professor of creative writing at University of Oregon; recipient of the Pushcart Prize for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and an NEA grant; former judge for National Book Award in poetry

Gitte Larsen '87 – Pediatric critical care specialist who travels to third world countries to repair cleft lips and cleft-palated children

Aerial Gilbert '84 – Torchbearer for 2002 Winter Olympics; outreach manager at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, CA

Dina Kawar '83 - Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the United States of America

Sakae Roberson Manning '83 – Vice president of international marketing at Paramount Pictures (Home Entertainment Division)

Jennifer Basye Sander '81 – Bestselling author; owner of Big City Books; USA Today Online columnist focusing on self-employment

Renel Brooks-Moon '81 – First African American woman announcer in sports history; voice of the San Francisco Giants

Tina Walls '77 – Former senior vice president for external affairs for Altria Client Services, parent company of Philip Morris USA

Tweet Coleman '76 – Pilot and captain of a Learjet; FAA aviation safety inspector; surgical nurse; international news correspondent

Molissa Fenley '75 – Internationally renowned dancer/choreographer; recipient of numerous NEA choreography fellowships; 2008 Guggenheim Fellow

Liz Holzman '75 – Emmy Award-winning producer/director of Pinky and the Brain and Animaniacs and Women's Image Network Award winner for The Zeta Project 

Deborah Lynn Jacobs '74 – Deputy director of global libraries for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bonnie Guiton Hill '74 – First African American woman to direct US Office of Consumer Affairs; former vice president and CEO of Times Mirror Foundation

Barbara Lee '73 – Member of the US House of Representatives, serving Oakland’s Congressional District in Washington DC, with focus on issues such as AIDS funding, welfare reform, and child care

Cora Tellez '71 – Co-founder and CEO of Sterling Health Services, Inc.

Cristine Russell '71 – Award-winning special health correspondent at the Washington Post; medical/science reporter at the Washington Star; former president of the National Association of Science Writers

Jill Fabricant '71 – Former senior research assistant for American and Soviet scientists working through NASA; founder and CEO of Vasix Corporation

Susan Kai '71 – One of the first Asian American newscasters on television, nominated for two Emmy Awards for documentaries on Chinese American issues

MiMi Dye '70 – Internationally known viola soloist and successful recording artist who has played with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and toured with Barbra Streisand

Janus (Jill) Adams, MA '70 – Award-winning journalist, author, and creator of children’s books

Susan Perrine '70, MD – Developer of the treatment for sickle cell disease

Stephanie Mills '69 – Ecological activist and respected author of Whatever Happened to Ecology? and In Service of the Wild: Restoring and Reinhabiting Damaged Land

Elizabeth Smith Crow '68 – Editorial director of Rodale’s Women’s Health Division; executive vice president and editorial director of PRIMEDIA’s 150-plus network of major magazines, including New York and Seventeen

Caroline Herrick '68 – Magazine editor of Persimmon: Asian Literature, Arts, and Culture

Thoraya Ahmed Obaid '66 – First Saudi Arabian woman to head a United Nations agency

Marilyn Schuster '65Provost and dean of the faculty and Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities at Smith College

Alexandra Moses '64 – Founder of Color Age Software and Hardware Company, creator of color printers

Elizabeth Murray, MFA '64 – MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and widely acclaimed artist who incorporated everyday objects into abstract art

Patti Alter Fisher '63 – Director of Fisher Forensic Document Laboratory, Inc. and a certified forensic document examiner and fraud specialist who has provided testimony in more than 160 court proceedings

Steven Reich, MA '63 – Well-known composer and recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in music and of a Grammy Award.

Shirley Hooton Kelly '63 – Former president of the College of San Mateo

Elizabeth Livingston Hogan '63 – Former managing editor at Sunset Books

Jennifer Losch Bartlett '63 – Internationally renowned artist displaying a distinctly postmodern sensibility combined with dazzling technical facility

April Glaspie '63 – Former US Ambassador to Iraq during the Persian Gulf War; first woman ambassador in the Middle East

Kit Carey Sloane '62 – Fiction editor for Futures magazine; mystery novelist

Jill J. Hawkins Gaylor '62 – Researcher of nutrition, cancer, and birth defects for the National Center for Toxicological Research; recipient of numerous grants from the American Cancer Society

Marjorie “Jorie” Lueloff Friedman '62 – ABC news anchor in Chicago; former employee of the CIA

Elinor Armer '61 – Well-known composer with work performed by the Women’s Philharmonic; co-collaborator with writer Ursula K. LeGuin on a two-part CD of music and words

Pia Lindstrom '60 – Daughter of Ingrid Bergman who starred with Anthony Quinn in Zorba the Greek; Emmy Award-winning news reporter

Lois Brandwynne '58 – Acclaimed pianist who has performed with the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Darius Milhaud

Loretta Shine '58 – Successful entrepreneur who turned homemade desserts into the major food catalog, Miss Grace’s Lemon Cakes

Harriet Isom '58 – Former ambassador to Cameroon (Central Africa), Benin (West Africa), Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, and Djakarta

Trisha Brown '58– Internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and founder of Trisha Brown Dance Company; first woman awarded the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in choreography

Sheila Ballantyne '58 – Author of numerous books including Imaginary Crimes, Norma Jean and the Termite Queen; recipient of the O’Henry Award (1977) and a Guggenheim Fellowship

Edith Conn '57 – English professor and activist for the disabled who developed the Adaptive Dance Program at Ventura College and received an Excellence in Education Award from the California Community Colleges Board of Governors (1990)

Susan Long '56 – Highly respected artist of oil, charcoal, pastel, and gouache works collected in galleries worldwide

Sue McClelland '56 – Former vice president of media for Gallo Wineries (its only female VP, named one of the Top Ten Women in Advertising in 1971)

Nancy Winslow Parker '52 – Author and illustrator of more than 40 children’s books

Pat Newcomb '52 – Vice president of Motion Picture Production at MGM Studios; the last person to see Marilyn Monroe alive

Jane Rule '52 – Internationally recognized novelist and essayist; activist on behalf of gay rights, the environment, and community service

Willa Klug Baum '50 – Former director, Regional Oral History Office, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley; recipient of the University of California Citation of Excellence for pioneering work in oral history

E. Alison Kay '50 – Professor of zoology, University of Hawaii; graduate with honors as a Fulbright Scholar at Cambridge University

Emma Plank '47 – Founder of the child life academic discipline, which prepares pediatric specialists to teach chronically hospitalized children

Denise McCluggage '47 – First woman to race sports cars in the United States; former contributing/automotive editor for national magazines (Auto Week, Skiing); publisher of roadrunning.com

March Fong Eu '47 – First woman to serve as California's Secretary of State; former US ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia

Dave Brubeck, Honorary MFA 1946 – World-renowned musician, composer, and jazz pianist who wrote more than 200 compositions and made over 115 recordings

Susan Harnly Peterson '46 – Recipient of the Binns Award, the highest honor from the American Ceramic Society (1998); author of Working with Clay; ceramics instructor for more than 40 years

Reverend Elspeth Alley '46 – One of the first women ordained in the Canadian Anglican Church

Martha Tway Mills '45 – Former deputy director of the League of Women Voters, from whom she received a lifetime achievement award (1989); former worker among Japanese women to help them take advantage of new Constitutional rights (1946-47)

Marcia Gambrell Hovick, BA 1945 – Artistic director of Children’s Experimental Theater since its founding more than 40 years ago; author of more than 40 plays and adaptations

Beate Sirota Gordon '43 – Wrote the section of the Japanese Constitution that guarantees full and equal rights to women (1945)

Jade Snow Wong '42 – Ceramicist and acclaimed author of Fifth Chinese Daughter  

Pete Rugolo, MA 1941 – Jazz composer, arranger, and orchestra leader; winner of three Emmy Awards and two Grammy Awards who has worked with Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee, and Nat “King” Cole

Moto Uwanto '39 – One of very few Japanese female diplomats, awarded the Order of the Precious Crown for distinguished service (1985)

Eleanor Hadley '38 – Instrumental in helping to reestablish Japan’s post-World War II economy; author of Antitrust in Japan

Ruth Church Gupta '38 – First woman elected president of the San Francisco Lawyers’ Association and first woman to head the Bar Conference of Delegates

Dixy Lee Ray '37, MA'38 – First woman governor of Washington State (1977-81); former chair of the US Atomic Energy Commission; recipient of 21 honorary degrees in fields spanning science, law, and art

Midge McLauren Bolton '35 – Community activist and volunteer; one of 12 women named to the 12th annual Women’s Hall of Fame (San Mateo)

Margaret Wentworth Owings '34 – Nationally recognized environmentalist and artist; former commissioner of California Parks

Esther Rosenblatt Landa '33 – Nationally honored volunteer and former president, National Council of Jewish Women

Rosemary DeCamp Shidler '32 - Film and television actress; children’s book author including Here, Duke!; recipient of “Mother of Distinction” award

Charlotte Baker Montgomery '29 – Environmentalist, newspaper columnist, and author of popular children’s novel, The North Trail

Mary Thomas Brooks '25 – Former director of the US Mint

Kathryn Grove Shipp '25 – Inventor of an explosive used by NASA for experiments on the moon

Elinor Remick Warren Griffin '23 – One of the first female composers to gain prominence in the first half of the 20th century

Vaughn DeLeath '19 – Popular recording artist who developed “crooning” style of singing and who successfully sued Kate Smith over the title “First Lady of Radio”

Hazel Roberts '11 – California’s first licensed woman optometrist

Ida Meacham Strobridge, 1876 – Celebrated author; one of the first professional female bookbinders

Emma Nevada, 1876 – Internationally renowned opera singer

Fanny Rouse Snell, 1873 - First woman lawyer in New York State

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Last Updated: 3/6/17