Allan H. Macurdy
Class of 1979
Hall of Fame 2009
Mr. Allan H. Macurdy, Esq.’s (RFH Class of 1979) personal and professional history reflects tenacity and a commitment to the legal rights of people with disabilities. Born with congenital muscular dystrophy, Mr. Maccurdy’s achievements are a testament to his refusal to allow daunting physical challenges to prevent him from attaining his life dreams.
After graduating from RFH in 1979, Mr. Macurdy attended Boston University, earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1983 and a Juris Doctorate in 1986. After completing his studies at Boston University, Mr. Macurdy worked at the N. Neil Pike Institute for Law and Disability, generating legal briefs and public policy materials on disability issues. In addition, he was Associate Visiting Professor at Boston University School of Law. He also taught at Boston College School of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, and the New England School of Law. He served as the Director of the Office of Disability Services at Boston University from 1996 monitoring and promoting Boston University’s efforts to ensure full and equal access to curricula, employment, facilities, events and services.
Mr. Macurdy was a board member of the Franciscan Children’s Hospital , a founding board member of Partners for Youth with Disabilities , a past president and board member of the Disability Law Center Boston , and a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association . Mr. Macurdy deeply affected a wide audience of his professional peers, lecturing and writing numerous law review articles on Constitutional law, civil rights enforcement, individual liberties, federal jurisdiction, and law and disability. He also influenced the public through news articles, televised commentaries and radio interviews issues related to disability rights. Mr. Macurdy died on June 23rd, 2008 after defying medical odds by living more than twenty years on a ventilator.
While he was a student at RFH, Mr. Macurdy was actively involved in the National Honor Society and the SGA, on an informal basis.
Three high school teachers stand out in Mr. Macurdy’s memory as being influential forces: Mrs. Peg Holton, Mr. Floyd DeNicola and Mr. Louis Mitchell.
In a Boston Globe interview in 1999, Mr. Macurdy made an outspoken, honest statement about what he described as “the constant grinding reality” of how some members of the public perceive him: “I have a happy life. The fact that few people can see that probably says more about what’s wrong with the way we, as a society, look at ourselves than it is any indication of what my life is really like. We have this mythical idea about physical autonomy, physical perfection – we’re the society of diet crazes and bizarre body-consciousness. In terms of building your happiness in life, the outside package matters so little. I love my work. I have a strong family. I love my wife. I love my dog.”
Current RFH students should heed these words.
Sabin Russell’s (RFH Class of 1970) career as a newspaper journalist reflects a deep commitment to raising public awareness of scientific and medical issues through the written word.
After graduating from RFH in 1970, Mr. Russell attended Yale University, earning a BA in English in 1974. He then began writing for community weekly newspapers in Vermont and New Hampshire, starting a career in journalism that would ultimately lead him to the San Francisco Chronicle and the prestigious Knight Science Journalism Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mr. Russell won the Science in Society Award from the National Association of Science Writers in 2001.
Mr. Russell spent twenty-two years as a newspaper reporter covering science and medicine for the San Francisco Chronicle. For the last ten years, he was the paper’s principal reporter covering the global tragedy of HIV/AIDS. His stories on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle were among the first in the world to draw attention to the political effort to bring cheap, generic AIDS drugs to poor countries in Africa.
Over the years, Mr. Russell has written about a wide range of health and science topics, including the emergence of the biotechnology industry in the San Francisco Bay Area; the unsuccessful efforts to reform the health care system; medical research; food and drug safety issues; the spread of the mosquito-borne West Nile Virus; the December 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka; and the 2003 destruction of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
Mr. Russell is married to Ashley Wolff, a children’s book author and illustrator, and is the father of two sons.
While he was a student at RFH, Mr. Russell wrote for Triskelion, the high school literary magazine. He also played freshman and JV football and ran track. He was active in the SGA, serving as the organization’s president during his senior year.
Two high school teachers stand out in Mr. Russell’s memory as being influential forces. One inspiring educator was Floyd De Nicola, a wounded World War II veteran who taught economics at RFH. “I think he convinced several generations of students of just how important it was to understand how economies worked, or did not work, whether you chose a career in that field or did not,” said Russell. Another inspiring teacher was George Giffin, who was already a legendary science teacher in the 1960′s, and showed how topics as complex as cell biology could be explained with metaphor in ways that were both interesting and fun. “He had a sense of humor and taught through his own example the joy of scientific discovery,” Russell said.
When asked what advice he would give to a current RFH student, Mr. Russell offered the following words:
“Here’s what I tell my own kids: ‘Pull your own weight. Plan ahead. Follow through. Leave the place better than you found it.’ Of course, they don’t listen to me, but maybe someday they will.”
Class of 1976
Hall of Fame 2009
Lisa Sherman-Dow’s (RFH Class of 1976) professional history as an actor, dancer, singer, and entrepreneur reflects a passionate commitment to performance and the promotion of the arts.
After graduating from RFH in 1976, Ms. Sherman-Dow attended Adelphi University, earning a BFA in Dance and Theater and an MA in Exercise Kinesiology.
Ms. Sherman-Dow began her professional career as a Rockette for Radio City Music Hall. After performing as a Rockette and in other Radio City Music Hall stage roles for four years, Ms. Sherman-Dow spent the next thirteen years dancing with various professional companies, including Hines-Hatchet, Bob Boyer, Broadway Dance Troup and Molly Fox. Her Broadway and off-Broadway stage credits include West Side Story, A Chorus Line, 42nd. Street, The Little Shop of Horrors, Wanted Dead or Alive, The Late Sam Grey, Little Mary Sunshine, Fosse, Dancin’, and Evita. Ms. Sherman-Dow was also a singer for Nobel Records, working on various television and movie soundtracks and Broadway stage vocal productions. She played the role of Kathy Farber on the soap opera Ryan’s Hope, and she performed as a back-up singer for George Benson. Ms. Sherman-Dow was also a professional model in print and television advertisements, a personal fitness instructor, and an international fitness presenter for Reebok and Nike. Ms. Sherman-Dow moved to New Zealand in 1988. While living in New Zealand, she created the Dow Power Hour, a one-hour fitness program sponsored by Nike that aired five days per week in Austral-Asia.
Ms. Sherman-Dow recently recorded the title song for a soon-to-be aired cable sitcom, Wits End. She is working with various recording studios on movie and television soundtracks, and she is the lead female singer for several musical groups, including The Jazz Lobsters, Kindred, and The Tides. Ms. Sherman-Dow presently delivers a one-woman cabaret show in the tri-state area.
While she was a student at RFH, Ms. Sherman-Dow was actively involved in The Tower Players, the SGA, and the Color Guard.
Ms. Sherman-Dow is the mother of a daughter Chelsea Dow (RFH Class of 2010).
Two high school teachers stand out in Ms. Sherman-Dow’s memory as being influential forces: Mr. Don Russell and Mr. George Giffin.
When asked what advice she would give to a current RFH student, Ms. Sherman-Dow offered the following words: “You must follow your dreams. Dreams are fires that burn within your spirit; you can either fuel your dreams by following your inspiration, or smolder them by never attempting. As you grow up, you may find people who will attempt to disrupt your dreams: don’t let them. Instead, follow your path no matter how many diversions come your way. People may try to smolder your fires: don’t let them. Instead, keep your spirit fueled with confidence and energy to achieve your goals: you will succeed.