Founder of Columbia Alumni Arts League (CAAL) Starts A New Adventure

Malwina Lys-Dobradin

Dear CUarts,

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw The New York Timesrave review of Lawrence Wright’s film “My Trip to Al-Qaeda.” Three years ago, 12 of you attended the Columbia Alumni Arts League’s first CAAL Night for an early stage version of the piece and joined Larry over drinks afterward. 108 CAAL Nights later, I’m writing to say that this will be my final CAAL e-newsletter. On May 3rd, I’ll begin a new chapter in my Columbia life at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where I’ll be working with Dean Mark Wigley on a new international project.

I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to promote Columbians’ life-long engagement in the arts. Here’s what I learned from you and my colleagues at the Arts Initiative: anything is possible with a lot of hard work, some stubbornness, and a little luck.

It goes without saying that Columbia’s fastest growing alumni program didn’t just happen. Countless people contributed ideas, and worked together to make those ideas come to life. The Columbia Alumni Association, Student Affairs and Alumni Relations Directors from across the University, the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, Director of Gift Systems Yvonne Boothe and the Web Gift team, Manager of Web Projects David Park, Associate General Counsels Beryl Abrams and Laurie McFadden, Associate Registrar Jennifer Caplan, Director of Principal Gifts Programs for the Arts at Columbia Moss Cooper, the CUarts Faculty Advisory Committee, and the many cultural organizations that have opened their doors to Columbia students, faculty, staff, and alumni all deserve our thanks.

I’m particularly grateful to Arts Initiative staff, current and former, all of whom have made their mark on CAAL: CUarts student staffers keep us running. Jason Ano worked many late nights to build the first iteration of now maintained by our colleagues at Cyber-NY. David Harrington ’09SOA promoted over 1,000 alumni artists. Kate and Kevin of Dresser Johnson design brilliant graphics. Office Manager Abigail Santner and Ticket and Information Center Manager Rudy Scala administrate CAAL behind the scenes. Chad Miller ’07GS seamlessly engages graduating students and recent alumni. Eleanor Milburn ’06CC, ’13SIPA exquisitely manages outreach to NYC cultural institutions and grew CAAL partnerships to include over 75 arts organizations and 30 restaurants. Lindsay Dorrance ’09GSAS produces unique sell out CAAL Nights like the exclusive tour of Philip Johnson’s Glass House. Nobi Nakanishi and Caralyn Spector ’94BC welcomed me with open arms to the CUarts family when I first joined the team as an intern. Gregory Mosher, Arts Initiative Director, gave me the confidence to believe in the power of ideas and never shied away from the question, “What if?”

None of our ideas would have become a reality without donor support. In addition to thanking you and more than 3,000 individuals who have donated to the Arts Initiative, I’d like to especially thank The Gatsby Charitable Foundation, the Mary W. Harriman Foundation, and Columbia University Trustee Richard Witten ’75CC for making it possible to redefine the role of arts and culture in higher education.

I will miss you all. Please stay in touch.

With gratitude,

CC (CC ’05, SCE ’08)

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