The Waldorf Symposium – Alumni Panelists
Dr. Meg Foster ‘95
Professor, University of Michigan
Margaret Foster is a tenured professor at the University of Michigan, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Classical Studies. Her research focuses on ancient Greek poetry, cultural history, and genre theory.
She is the author of The Seer and the City: Religion, Politics, and Colonial Ideology in Ancient Greece (2018) and co-editor of Genre in Archaic and Classical Greek Poetry: Theories and Models (2020).
After graduating from The Waldorf School of Garden City in 1995, she attended Vassar College and received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Her own children attend the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor.
Jovana Florus ‘03
VP of Technology, Purchasing Platform
Jovana Florus is an engineering leader in the Chicagoland area with over a decade of software, quality assurance, and leadership experience. She is currently the VP of Engineering at Purchasing Platform. She leads consumer-facing development organizations and focuses on strategy that delivers features efficiently without sacrificing quality. Her goals are to support the growth of engineers, grow as a leader herself and encourage career starters to consider roles in technology.
Holding an International Relations BA from Brown University and starting as a test apprentice at Microsoft, Florus has a non-traditional journey into tech and looks to support others doing the same. During her off time, Jovana mentors youth and helps support their future endeavors. She enjoys opportunities to participate in career panels and has planned a few career days for local youth groups.
Jovana lives on the Southside of Chicago with her husband (Thomas), 2 precocious children (Carole – 2 & Thomas – 4), and their German Shepherd (Jake – 7). Thomas is a firefighter and Jovana is always looking for ways to convince the children that her career is as cool as his.
Mark Gonzalez ‘15
Graduate Student, Yale University
After graduating from The Waldorf School of Garden City in 2015 and taking a gap year during which he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Mark went on to receive his BS in Physics from Tufts University in 2020.
Mark is currently at Yale University where he is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Physics studying high-energy particle theory and phenomenology. His work, which draws on both theoretical and experimental ideas, seeks to find new ways to test and understand our fundamental theories of nature at particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider.
Following graduate school, Mark intends to stay in academia to continue researching and teaching.
When he’s not doing calculations, Mark enjoys creative writing and playing music, as well as working on cars and other mechanical things. He also continues to get outside in order to ski, backpack, or just spend time with his dog.
Kate Keane ‘18
Kate Keane graduated from The Waldorf School of Garden City in 2018. She subsequently attended Lafayette College in Easton, PA, where she majored in Civil Engineering and minored in German. Inspired to attain German fluency she studied abroad in Bonn for a semester. During Summer 2021, Kate interned at Elite Construction Company of NY as an Assistant Project Engineer.
Upon graduating from Lafayette in 2022, Kate began work as a Project Engineer for Clark Construction. Her current assignment is at the Cannon House Office Building renovation in Washington D.C. On a day-to-day basis, Kate is responsible for the work of 8 subcontracting companies that focus on historic finishes. Her responsibilities include submittals, requests for information (RFI), material tracking, and ensuring her subcontractors complete their scope on schedule. At every juncture, she completes inspections and creates punch lists of items for the subcontractors to correct.
In her free time, Kate enjoys swimming, camping, hiking, and spending time outdoors. She is also passionate about travel and exploring new cultures.
Thomas Murphy ‘00
3D Generalist, Game Developer
Thomas Murphy, a “skilled user of ALL the Digital art things”, proudly uses Blender 3D full-time as a Generalist and programmer. He has worked for Marvel Entertainment, Disney, start-ups, and numerous freelance jobs using exclusively open-source software, like Blender, Gimp, and Photoshop.
Thomas values Blender and the ideology that it represents in the open-source design community. Thomas loves to share and says that sometimes he tends to over-share. Thomas always wants to create wonderful art in an ecosystem where celebrating each other’s work is the priority.
Thomas is currently a full-time father and game developer. The first game he ever created in the Blender Game Engine, titled “The Shadows Lengthen” has been released in early access on the steam marketplace.
In his spare time, when he’s not designing/programming my game or taking care of his daughter, Thomas consults for companies that need technical design issues solved using scale-able open-source tools that are unmoored from restrictive and expensive licensing requirements.
Patti Rother ‘03
President, Frios Gourmet Pops
Patti Rother currently serves as the President of Frios Gourmet Pops and has been in franchising for over 15 years. She has been on both sides of the coin working for franchisees in operations as well as franchisors in various roles including franchise operations, franchise training, franchise marketing, and franchise development.
Patti has worked in various industries including the restaurant space, fitness, and the pet industry. She is heavily involved with the International Franchise Association serving on the Women’s Franchise Committee, the Pride Council, and is a co-chair of the Women’s Franchise Network task force.
Patti lives in Colorado with her wife Sarah and their daughters, Maya and Emilia. She loves the outdoors, hand working and gardening. She’s created a whole edible landscape for her kids in their yard and has kept the Waldorf spirit alive with storytelling and of course lots of gnomes and hobgoblins. Maya, her daughter, attends the Boulder Valley Waldorf School and is in the first-grade class.