Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

About Rachel Bowie

Rachel Bowie ’04, a former member of the Wheatones, is a freelance writer and editor based in New York. Read more about her »

A view from the top

Kathleen McNally Sloane ’68 is at home in real estate

Thirty-eight floors up, at the United Nations Plaza in New York City, Kathleen “Kathy” McNally Sloane ’68 is giving a captivating tour of the $7.5 million four-bedroom penthouse apartment she’s working hard to sell on a snowy February morning. As she moves from the living room to the dining room to the kitchen, pointing out the sweeping views of some of New York’s most thrilling landmarks (the East River, the Empire State Building, the UN headquarters), you can see that not only is Sloane at the top of this towering building, she’s at the top of her game in life.

The philosophy major spent a brief time in publishing at Harper’s Bazaar magazine, engaged in historic preservation causes as a politician’s wife and partner, and then discovered that her true passion was saving historic buildings and making sure they were in the hands of those who cherished them. That discovery led her to get her real estate license in 1979.

Fast-forward to 2016. She’s now one of New York’s most powerful real estate brokers, with more than $1 billion in sales and a client list that includes Robert Redford, Martha Stewart, Diane Sawyer and a certain VIP political family, whom she has found houses for in both New York and Washington, D.C.

The foundation for her impressive career was set during her four years on campus taking philosophy, history and French classes from professors so memorable that their words are still at the forefront of her thoughts today as she brokers deals with people from all over the world. [Read more...]

Spatial relations

Claire Rowell ’12 is reshaping how work happens, one office at a time

Claire Rowell ’12Seated beside a pingpong table in the common area of the WeWork offices (a provider of shared workspace) in Lower Manhattan, Claire Rowell ’12 is unphased by the competitive doubles game going on beside her as she discusses her Wheaton roots.

It makes sense: Her job as a workplace anthropologist for New York-based startup PLASTARC—which happens to rent office space just a few floors away from the ping-pong table—means she spends her days helping corporate clients ranging from tech startups to international organizations assess and fine tune their office environments in order to enhance the employee experience and attract and retain talent long term.

“Think of the workplace as a ‘container’ or physical manifestation of the company’s organizational culture and business,” Rowell explains. “Its design, furnishing, lighting, technology, amenities, even restrooms, send messages to employees and visitors.” [Read more...]

Head of the Class

Geoffrey Fenelus finds his passion teaching kids

Geoffrey Fenelus ’09

Geoffrey Fenelus ’09

Geoffrey Fenelus ’09, an economics major, didn’t always plan on working in education.

When he enrolled at Wheaton as a freshman in 2005, his intention was to pursue a long-term career in finance. Little did he know he’d find his true calling as the founding dean of students at Bushwick Ascend Middle School, a public, tuition-free charter school in central Brooklyn that offers a rich, rigorous liberal arts curriculum modeled closely on the practices of New York City’s finest independent schools. Ascend’s mission is to equip every student with the knowledge, confidence and character to succeed in college and beyond.

There are nine schools in total in the Ascend network, but the Bushwick location—which Fenelus helped launch—just opened in 2015. “Our mission is simple,” he explains. “We’re trying to get kids to, through and beyond college by making sure every Bushwick Ascend student has access to the same quality education as students in high-income neighborhoods.”

For Fenelus, the opportunity to take on a leadership role came at the perfect time. After working as a personal banker in Queens after graduating from Wheaton, he began to think about a career in education when a friend invited him to volunteer in the classroom at a KIPP charter school, also in New York.

“The first week, I went in one day a week,” he recalls. “The second, it was two days a week. Three weeks later, I was in there five days a week. I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed the work.” [Read more...]

Housing director empowers New York tenants

Persephone Tan ’09

Persephone Tan ’09

A New Yorker born and raised in Chinatown, English major Persephone Tan ’09 was fresh out of Wheaton College trying to decide her next move when she met NYC Council Member Margaret Chin at an immigration rally in Washington, D.C., in 2010. After talking with her and expressing her passion for issues related to the Asian American community, Tan realized that she wanted a career in public service. Chin hired her to be a community organizer and policy analyst. Since then, Tan—who speaks three dialects of Chinese—has worked her way up to become the council member’s director of housing, assisting the 168,000 constituents Chin represents in Lower Manhattan with housing-related issues. “My focus is on the Chinese population,” Tan says. “Since I grew up in Chinatown, I speak the language and understand the community needs and the cultural norms. There are some Chinese-speaking tenants who know when they are being harassed by the landlord and there are those, English-speaking or not, who are just unaware of what their tenants’ rights are.” With her hard-earned title in hand, Tan is honing her skills even further as a newly selected member of the Coro Immigrant Civic Leadership Program in New York. This fall, she began an intensive study on how to be an effective leader and better the community in which she works. We caught up with Tan to talk to her about her job and the fellowship, and how Wheaton played a part in it all. [Read more...]