ALAS Celebrates with a 25th Reunion Dinner

Christine Leahy ’95
“It’s amazing to be here,” said Andrea Ortega-Williams ’94, as she surveyed a room crowded with women exchanging hugs and enthusiastic greetings at a dinner celebrating the 25th anniversary of ALAS, the Afro Latina Alliance of Spence. “Seeing so many different faces,” she continued, “it feels like a time machine.”

“It’s a little surreal,” added Denise James-Manuel ’89, who co-founded ALAS with Milly Silva ’89 in their senior year. “I didn’t realize that in 25 years it would still exist, let alone be thriving.” Current Spence students who joined the celebration offered proof of just how dynamic ALAS has remained. Senior Kimberlee J. ’14 explained she appreciates the affinity group because “it gives me a space to talk about my experience at Spence and make friends I wouldn’t otherwise have.” She also added that attending this special event made her feel “old” (in a good way) because she realized that she would soon be part of the group of alumnae she was meeting.

Head of School Bodie Brizendine remarked that the attendees formed the “bookends of a legacy,” noting that their “words and work have been lasting.” She also read from the diversity statement in the School’s Long Range Plan, crediting the work of ALAS for inspiring “real exchange between people who make up the school.”

Head of Upper School Michèle Krauthamer spoke about how “deeply moved” she was to be marking this milestone, and recalled the early days when she served as the first advisor to ALAS, along with active involvement from English Department faculty member Mary Frosch. When Silva took the podium, she relayed how she felt “humbled, excited and energized, thinking about the possibilities for ALAS and Spence.”

“The continuity makes a huge difference,” said Sheila Robinson ’82, after the speakers’ remarks. “ALAS has touched everybody in this room, and that’s why we have the turnout that we do. It’s part of Spence culture.”