September 13, 2000

Class Notes








1991-2000 & Graduate School

Class Notes Features:

Policy pro: Lawyer focuses on foreign affairs, Latin America

They call him the Ivy League Crooner

Surfing Chick Style

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Policy pro
Lawyer focuses on foreign affairs, Latin America

At 73, William D. Rogers '48 is trying to scale back his activities as senior partner for Washington law firm Arnold & Porter, but not to work on his golf game. Instead, the former State department official is hoping to spend more time in his role as vice chair of Kissinger Associates, an international affairs firm, and on his efforts to raise awareness about the possibility of bioterrorism in the U.S.

Rogers's involvement with government affairs began during the 1950s, when, as an associate at Arnold & Porter, the recently minted Yale Law grad helped to defend several government officials forced to take loyalty tests under pressure from Senator Joseph McCarthy. In 1961, Rogers was recruited by the Kennedy administration to become the first special counsel of the Alliance for Progress, which was designed to provide stepped-up development assistance to Latin American countries. After negotiating dozens of individual aid agreements, Rogers was promoted in 1963 to the top job at the Alliance, but he left two years later because he was uncomfortable with the U.S.'s armed intervention in the Dominican Republic and because he felt President Johnson was shortchanging the Alliance in order to fund the Vietnam War.

Rogers returned to the federal government in 1974 as an assistant secretary of state under Henry Kissinger. He again focused on Latin America, working with then-deputy undersecretary Lawrence Eagleburger to try to normalize relations with Cuba. Meeting with Cuban diplomats in airport coffee shops and New York hotel rooms, they forged a way to lift the U.S. embargo against Cuba and to restore full diplomatic relations. "It was an offer we didn't think they could refuse," says Rogers, but the Cuban government never replied, and a short time later it sent troops into Angola, eradicating any lingering American interest in détente.

Rogers also worked on drafts of the treaty to turn the Panama Canal over to Panama, rewriting the language until the treaty was passed - by a single vote.

As a member of the National Bipartisan Commission on Latin America during the 1980s, Rogers worked to end the civil wars in Nicaragua and El Salvador. The group's recommendations eventually led to negotiations that ended both wars.

Rogers today is deeply concerned about the degree to which he says America's foreign policy has been compromised by a combination of congressional intrusions, special interest groups, and a lack of bipartisanship. He wishes that the president and the leaders of Congress could agree on a strategy that would become the core of a new bipartisan foreign policy, but he isn't overly optimistic. "It would be nice if this happened," he says, "but I don't expect it to happen very soon."

By Marvin Zim '57

Marvin Zim is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C.


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They call him the Ivy League Crooner

It is safe to say that Robert G. Cushnie '76 is the only Princeton-educated engineer to make his living as a musical impersonator in Las Vegas.

For a decade after graduating, Cushnie moonlighted as a pop and R&B singer while pursuing an engineering career for Fortune 500 companies. In 1987, Cushnie - stage name Cushney Roberts - moved to Las Vegas and took to the stage full-time.

Four years ago, he found his calling - impersonating the lead singer of the Four Tops, the legendary Motown vocal group. Since then, Cushnie and his bandmates have performed two sets a night, six days a week - first at casinos in Las Vegas, and then, this year, at Berlin's biggest hotel. His Berlin show -called "Stars in Concert" - features a German Billy Joel impersonator, a Cher from England, and an American Diana Ross, among others.

"Worldwide, American entertainers are revered much more than they are in their native country," Cushnie says by telephone from Germany. "If you've gotten exposure, you're like a god over here."

The typical impersonator show is an hour and a half, with Cushnie's act getting about 15 minutes. Everyone in the band sings the words - no lip-synching allowed - and they play the appropriate instruments. "If you're impersonating Prince or Michael Jackson, people know it's not the real person," he says. "When you're doing Elvis, there's always a fine thread of parody there, since he got to be such a caricature of himself. We're one of the few acts that is just bare-bones singing, dancing, and some extremely nice tuxedos."

To be on the safe side, Cushnie, who grew up in East Orange, New Jersey, has earned a real-estate license; he is also thinking about applying to law school after he returns to Las Vegas. Despite such moves, he says he has no plans to abandon performing anytime soon. "Nice work if you can get it," he says, quoting the old pop standard.

By Louis Jacobson '92

Louis Jacobson is a frequent contributor to paw.


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Surfing chick style

Seeking relief from the sizzling summer temperatures she encountered while working as a freelance graphic designer in Italy, Isabella Califano '95 decided to take a week's worth of surfing lessons. She fell in love with the sport, but resented that she had to wear ill-fitting wetsuits in men's sizes because most of the women's clothes - tailored to young girls and teens - didn't fit.

Enter Chickabiddy, the Rhode Island-based clothing company Califano began two years ago, even though her best effort with a needle and thread, she admits, is sewing on a button. But she discovered a computer program that helped her sketch out the patterns, hired professionals to make samples, and with a partner poured $80,000 into the effort.

They toured factories to learn how clothes were made and e-mailed alumni on the Princeton career-networking listserve for advice on how to write a business plan and secure capital. Using that advice Califano crafted a business plan that secured loans totaling $250,000 from the Small Business Administration and a Rhode Island bank.

After finally launching the company in January, Califano picked up her first batch of orders, which came to $50,000.

"We wanted to make clothes for women who do the sport," says Califano, who was an art history major at Princeton and sang in a female a cappella group. She says the inspiration for the "For women, by women" athletic line came from the exhilaration and camaraderie in her novice boat on the freshman women's crew team, which won the 1991 national championship.

The Chickabiddy collection includes wide-leg nylon surfboard pants, shorts, and second-skin Lycra rashguards, which surfers wear under a wetsuit or alone to help prevent skin rashes from the friction of a waxy surfboard.

By Theola S. Labbé '96

Theola S. Labbé is a reporter for the Albany Times-Union.


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