Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Newsmaker: Catharine Davis Ellingsen ’86

Workdays are busy and varied at Phoenix-based Republic Services, Inc., a leading provider of solid waste collection, transfer, recycling and disposal services. No one knows that better than Catharine Davis Ellingsen ’86, the company’s vice president, deputy general counsel. That’s what she loves most, as a July 15, 2010, profile of her in the Arizona Republic pointed out. Ellingsen double majored in European history and political science, and has a law degree from the American University Washington College of Law. At Republic Services, she oversees a variety of the company’s legal affairs. She began representing Allied Waste Industries, Inc., as outside counsel in 2000 and was offered a position in the legal department in 2001. (Allied Waste and Republic Services, Inc., merged in 2008.) “I address many different issues in a typical day. It is not unusual to go from a meeting advising human resources on an employee relations issue, to discussing strategy on a piece of litigation, to reviewing and approving training or company policies, to participating in plans on a landfill expansion. I love the daily variety, the fast pace, and feeling like I am making a difference.” She also values her Wheaton experience: “Wheaton helped me to know for sure that I wanted to pursue a legal career. I also had several wonderful professors who helped me to become a confident communicator, self-assured and independent. These attributes have served me well throughout my career.”

Newsmaker: Sandra Lee Foster ’90

“Shabby chic” expert Sandra Lee Foster ’90 has a knack for making herself at home—whether it’s in a dorm room at Wheaton or in a tiny Victorian cottage hideaway that she renovated herself, deep in the Catskills. The New York Times took note of that renegade Martha Stewart side of her in a wide-ranging article that showed off Foster’s decorating skills, her tenacity and innovation, as well as touched on the brief homelessness she faced as a teenager.

“I tried to make my senior single in Emerson look like a Laura Ashley catalog spread,” said Foster, recalling her early decorating days. “I’d make pilgrimages to the Newbury Street store in Boston, but the only thing I could ever afford in there was a headband…. I’d buy things at the Norton Flea Market, or at a secondhand store in town, and polish them up. I bought a reproduction Louis XV table and walked all the way back to campus with it!

“People were so lavish in their praise of my humble little dorm room, though I didn’t know a thing about design…. This is chiefly why ‘shabby chic’ appeals to me—it’s about making a home with what you have, be it ever so ‘shabby!’”

A fiscal administrator at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y., Foster majored in English literature at Wheaton, and she has a minor in art history. She learned an important lesson about design right here: “Wheaton taught me to rise above gender stereotypes, so carpentry and renovation never fazed me.”

Newsmaker: Beth Littlejohn ’03

Beth Littlejohn ’03 embraced cooking early in life—making pizzas and pasta from scratch with her babysitter and preparing meals with her parents. Practice makes perfect.

She now is a sous chef at Coquette Brasserie in Raleigh, N.C. The Culinary Institute of America graduate loves to combine classical technique with southern, Latin or Asian flavors. In August, Littlejohn was one of six finalists competing to spend a year as a chef aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship, and the Daily Tar Heel (North Carolina) ran a story about her on July 21, 2010. “I am a chef because I love to cook; I love to feed people; and I love to see them enjoy my creation. It is wonderful that something as simple as food can give such joy,” said Littlejohn, who majored in sociology. One of her most memorable experiences at Wheaton, she said, was cooking a traditional southern meal for students—fried chicken, fried okra and hush puppies—in the dorm kitchen. For the cruise ship judges, the chef made braised pork belly, served with roasted tomato grits, roasted poblano vinaigrette and red cabbage slaw. She didn’t win the competition, but Royal Caribbean awarded all of the contestants a seven-day cruise of their choice. View the video of the competition at: www.allureoftheseas.com

Recipe: Roasted Poblano Vinaigrette

Yield: 2 cups dressing

  • 3 Poblano peppers roasted, peeled and seeded
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup cilantro, rinsed and chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt
  • 1 cup blended oil

1. To roast the peppers, place them over a medium high flame and scorch the outside until it is nicely blistered and slightly burnt. Place in a medium-sized bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10 minutes. The heat from the peppers should create enough steam to help peel off the skin.

2. Remove the peppers from the bowl and carefully (they will be hot) peel off the burnt skin to reveal the nicely roasted flesh of the peppers. Remove the stem and the seeds. Rough chop the peppers and combine in blender with garlic, honey, salt, cilantro, vinegar and lime juice

3. Blend until very smooth.

4. Once blended smoothly, slowly drizzle in oil until well emulsified.

5. Check for seasoning.

*Note: If you do not have a gas stove,  you can also roast the peppers in a hot oven. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers in olive oil and place on a foil-wrapped sheet pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until the outside is nicely blistered and darkened. You may have to turn them a few times while roasting to get even cooking.