10 Brunonians who embody BrownTogether

From researchers to recent grads, discover the people who illustrate the heart of Brown’s most ambitious campaign.

BrownTogether has had a profound impact on College Hill and beyond. Since its launch in 2015, it’s raised more than $3 billion in support of the University and the students Brown prepares for lives of usefulness and reputation. 

It’s an impressive number, made more impressive by the people who made it possible—and the promising work it’s made possible. These are some of the Brown students, alumni, and faculty who embody the essence (and impact) of BrownTogether.

Sherab Dorji on a white background with red line art

Sherab Dorji ’22.5


While the rest of his classmates walked through the Van Wickle Gates and high-fived their way down College Street in May 2019, Sherab Dorji ’22.5 was on the other side of the world in rural Bhutan. His diploma could wait: he had important work to finish first.

Dorji grew up in central Bhutan, where dairy farming was a fundamental part of his childhood. In fact, the money his mother made as a dairy farmer helped pay his way through primary school.

“I attended a community school that was essentially built by the villagers—a real-life manifestation of ‘it takes a village,’” he says. “Thus, I always wanted to give back to my community, and the only question was, ‘how?’”

He’d find his answer on College Hill. In 2016, he was selected as a Swearer Center Social Innovation Fellow and took a course on social entrepreneurship with Alan Harlam (then director of innovation and social entrepreneurship). This experience enabled Dorji to help the community of local dairy farmers who had supported and raised him.

“I saw a lot of potential to create real impact. As such, I was very keen to implement the project and start giving back to my community,” he says.

In 2017, he took a leave of absence from his academics to return to Bhutan. He founded Khemdro Dairy Group—a farmer-centric dairy value chain to bolster dairy farmers' incomes. During those three years, he worked with farmers, secured funding from stakeholders, partnered with the government livestock department in the area, and more. The result: farmers in his program nearly doubled their revenue from dairying.

He’d made an impact but was determined to do more. He knew he could enact even greater change armed with the proper knowledge. And, he knew just where to find it. He returned to College Hill this year to finish his degree.

“I’m back at Brown knowing how best to make use of my remaining years here. When I return to Bhutan, I’ll have an even better set of skills and tools to improve on my work in my community and my country,” he says.

Dorji has had an unconventional college experience defined by academic independence and real-world impact—made possible by BrownTogether campaign donors who support financial aid and educational innovation.

“As a low-income international student, I am moved and inspired by the huge degree of support I’ve received from the University and its supporters,” he says. “I am truly grateful to Brown for the wonderful opportunity I’m receiving.”

Linda Abriola against white background with red line art

Dr. Linda Abriola


Faculty are the lifeblood of Brown’s academic mission. They drive inspired teaching, innovation, and leadership in the public sphere. They also illustrate for students the possibilities within their field.

That’s why Brown’s School of Engineering considered Dr. Linda Abriola to be an important faculty recruit.  

Dr. Abriola spent more than a decade as dean of engineering at Tufts University. She also served on committees at the National Academy of Engineering, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and on the board of directors at the Stockholm Environment Institute.  

But despite her achievements in administration and service, she yearned to return to teaching and research. Brown gave her that opportunity when it offered her the Joan Wernig and E. Paul Sorensen Endowed Professorship in Engineering—one of 110 endowed faculty positions established by donors during the BrownTogether campaign.  

“I was looking for a change, looking at opportunities and thinking about where I wanted to land,” she says. “The fact that there was a chair for me at an institution of Brown’s caliber made me feel wanted.” 

Dr. Abriola cites the brilliant faculty and students, the ability to easily collaborate across boundaries, and the University’s small size as reasons for feeling like Brown was a place where she could make a real difference. 

Her presence in the classroom and the laboratory—along with Dr. Yue Qi, another distinguished faculty recruit for the school—will have an impact on women engineering students striving to find their place in a male-dominated discipline. Their arrival is part of an ongoing University-wide effort to attract more senior women faculty in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

“Women students haven’t always seen successful role models in this area,” says Dr. Abriola. “I want to work with them to let them know there are many models of success in engineering. And the more Brown can provide a sense of community, the more successful women here will be.”

Dr. Abriola has put her expertise in mathematical modeling and environmental engineering to work quickly at Brown, initiating partnerships with fellow faculty members in applied mathematics and the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. Her focus involves tracking groundwater flow and the transport of various contaminants, which affect our water supply and agriculture. She is also developing a hydrology course for upper-level undergraduates based on this research.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to explore interdisciplinary collaborations,” she says. “The School of Engineering is very nimble, and the way it is structured makes it comfortable to work across the sciences. Engineering is a team-oriented discipline, and addressing the most challenging and exciting problems will require partnerships with those who have different perspectives and skills.”

Miesha Agrippa against a white background with red line art

Miesha Agrippa ’21


Brown is a place of discovery. It’s where students find new interests, lifelong friendships, or even their calling in life. For Miesha Agrippa ’21, it’s where she found freedom.

Born in Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, Agrippa grew up keenly aware of how costly making mistakes could be for a young Black girl—especially a poor one. Money was tight, and there was no safety net to catch her if she fell—or failed.

Then, she came to Brown as a Sidney Frank Scholar, receiving a full scholarship and a future of endless possibilities. At Brown, she pursued a concentration in Africana studies, studied abroad, held prestigious internships at million- and billion-dollar companies, and became president of the Black Student Union.

“Brown gave me the freedom to explore, experiment, and fail without fear. It changed the way I approached life. It allowed me to uncover who I truly am—undefined and unlimited,” she says.

It’s an experience she firmly believes she would have been unable to find anywhere else, and it was made possible by financial aid and the support Brown provided her along the way. Throughout her time on campus, she benefited from the generosity of donors to the BrownTogether campaign, who strengthened the curriculum, expanded internship and research opportunities, and increased the diversity and expertise of the faculty across multiple departments.

Agrippa graduated in 2021, but is already paying it forward by supporting the Inman Page Black Alumni Council (IPC) Brown Annual Fund (BAF) Scholarship. Created in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Black Student Walkout of 1968, the scholarship provides financial aid for exceptional African American and Black students at Brown.

“I cannot give in large sums just yet, but I give nonetheless,” she says. “Giving back to the communities and programs that forged the person I am today is just one way for me to acknowledge and thank everyone who sacrificed for and invested in me. It’s a way for me to support another young person’s pursuit of education, dreams, freedom, and happiness.”

Dr. Ashish K. Jha against a white background with red line art

Dr. Ashish K. Jha


In a world still fighting a pandemic, the challenges facing public health are historic. COVID-19 exposed weaknesses across our global health systems, powering a surging demand for more effective public health strategies.

“This is both a public health moment and the beginnings of a public health movement,” says Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of Brown’s School of Public Health. “We must acknowledge both and take action to lead, now and into the future.”

Brown is deeply immersed in the intricacies of maintaining and promoting population health. The University has established strong partnerships in Rhode Island and beyond, working with the Rhode Island Department of Health, local community leaders, key federal agencies, and foundations and organizations on the national and global level. In particular, Brown has consistently supported its faculty in their contributions to the national and international pandemic response. 

“Across the School of Public Health, people are involved in a lot of different aspects of this work, from setting testing targets, to addressing vaccine hesitancy, to doing modeling,” says Dr. Jha. “We are working hard to provide data and evidence to help guide policymakers in Rhode Island, across the nation, and even some places outside of the U.S.”

Dr. Jha is recognized globally as an expert in pandemic preparedness and response. He is highly visible on the national stage, providing data-driven analysis and insight to advance the best public health practices and advising leaders throughout each stage of the crisis.  

But long before the pandemic thrust population health into the spotlight, the University was building the infrastructure it needed to become a national leader in this moment. Donor funding through the BrownTogether campaign has enabled the school to add more renowned scholars in areas like biostatistics, health equity, and epidemiology, and to establish academic centers, such as the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute, that integrate research, training, and community participation in areas of crucial importance to society.

“Brown’s most important strength is its ability to bring people together from across disciplines,” says Dr. Jha. “That's actually one of the main reasons I decided to come to Brown; almost all the big public health challenges require a multidisciplinary approach, and Brown is well suited to do that.”

These challenges are much broader than the problems laid bare by the pandemic. They include combating misinformation across health care, the effect of climate change on health, addressing systemic racism that causes persistent negative health outcomes for people of color, and determining how technology and data science can help shape the future of public health.

“There are things that we need to continue to build on, including our working with aging populations and addiction studies,” says Dr. Jha. “But we also have to realize that the world is shifting, and there are new things we need to tackle. Obviously, gathering more resources will be central to maintaining the school’s excellence. Targeted growth that leads to impact in these emerging priorities is going to be the defining feature of this school over the next five years.”

Dr. Stephen Salloway against a white background with red line art

Dr. Stephen Salloway


More than 6.2 million Americans 65 or older are currently living with Alzheimer’s-related dementia. Each year, that number continues to grow, and with it the need for better treatment and care. Brown recognizes this as one of the defining public health crises of our time.

For decades, Dr. Stephen Salloway has been a University and global leader in the field. As director of Neurology and the Memory and Aging Program at Butler Hospital in Providence, he has accelerated research on biomarkers and drug development for prevention and early treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. He has been involved in multiple important clinical trials, including one that contributed to FDA approval of the drug aducanumab, which reduces the plaques found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. 

Now, thanks to more than $40 million in gifts from alumni, parents, and friends through the BrownTogether campaign, Dr. Salloway is overseeing the University’s clinical Alzheimer’s research as associate director of the new Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research. Overall, Brown has raised more than $223 million to support brain science research across the University. 

“I'm really excited by what’s happening here at Brown because the University—from the president to the dean of medicine and biological sciences to the director of the brain sciences program—has made a major commitment to Alzheimer's disease,” he says. “It's going to take a big investment to fight Alzheimer's, but Brown is squarely behind it.”

The center, a collaboration between Brown’s Robert J. and Nancy D. Carney Institute for Brain Science and the Division of Biology and Medicine, brings together scientists and physicians to explore risk genes, cognition, and the biology of aging. Their ultimate goal: to develop new therapeutics and best practices in care for people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“What's really great about Brown is the collaborative environment,” says Dr. Salloway. “We have people from many departments at the University and in the hospitals working together to solve this problem. With the center, I think we're really breaking new ground. This puts Brown in a position to be a pioneer in Alzheimer's research.”

Gifts to the center will enable the creation of a fully staffed fluid biomarker facility, where Brown researchers and collaborators can collect and analyze cerebrospinal fluid and plasma samples from patients, identify Alzheimer’s biomarkers (biological molecules found in blood and other body fluids or tissues that are signs of a condition or disease), develop new hypotheses about the disease, and assess the efficacy of clinical trial treatments.

“Now that we can tell who's already on the pathway to Alzheimer's before there are any symptoms, our next step is to develop blood tests that can do the same thing, which would be more widely available and economical,” says Dr. Salloway. “I've been at Brown 30 years, but this year has just been amazing. There have been so many great developments. The energy that's building here really is fantastic.”

Zanagee Artis against a white background with red line art

Zanagee Artis ’22


Zanagee Artis ’22 and other youth climate activists are fighting to make our future a green one.

“The climate justice movement is a movement to preserve our futures,” he says. “Our health, our food, our jobs, our homes: it all hinges upon the fate of our environment.”

Artis isn’t leaving that fate to chance. At 17, he co-founded Zero Hour—one of the world’s first youth-led climate justice organizations. He’s organized a march at the National Mall, addressed U.S. senators on climate change policy, and even spoke at a forum on sustainable innovation at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Early on, Artis had been energized by the human element of environmentalism. Through Brown’s Open Curriculum, he’s pursued a course of study that blends his concentrations (political science and environmental studies) to explore the interconnectedness of public policy and environmental justice.

“I get to learn about this work in the classroom and then apply it in my own life,” he says. “And I also bring back things that I learn in my policy work with Zero Hour to my classes and to peers who are curious about what’s happening in the movement.”

It’s everything Artis could have hoped for from his college education, and one of the many reasons why Brown was at the top of his list. He credits his Brown Annual Fund Scholarship with helping him come to College Hill and giving him the freedom to pursue the complex topics he has always been passionate about. 

“If there's a cause you care about, Brown is where you can get the academic experience to make a real difference,” he says. “It’s ingrained in the culture here. There’s a spirit of service and advocacy that permeates everywhere at Brown. It’s what sets us apart from other institutions.”

Avery Willis Hoffman against a white background with red line art

Avery Willis Hoffman


The arts are more than just an outlet for creativity and self-expression. They offer a variety of lenses through which we can better understand and reimagine our world. That is what drew Avery Willis Hoffman to dedicate her life to the arts—and what brought her to Brown.

“I think of Brown as a place where experimentation of all kinds is welcome and supported,” says Hoffman, the new artistic director of the Brown Arts Institute (BAI). “Many people are innately multidimensional and multi-talented, but too many times circumstances force them to choose one direction or the other. Brown and its Open Curriculum encourage our entire community to embrace a whole self—especially the creative self.”

The BAI was created in 2016 to integrate arts theory, practice, and scholarship across the University, making Brown the Ivy League school of choice for developing artists of all types. Throughout its evolution, BrownTogether donors have supported the BAI through funding for research, courses, and performances.

Hoffman works closely with the BAI’s faculty director, Professor Thalia Field, to align the academic infrastructure with artistic planning, to support campus art-making and bring world-class artists to Brown, and to establish more intentional ways of preparing students and young people for the arts job market.

“Not everyone is going to be a painter or a performer on the stage,” Hoffman says. “There are many different roles that support the artistic ecosystem. You could be a lawyer for the arts. You could handle financial aspects of productions. You could be a curator of visual arts. We want to be more direct about introducing young people to that entire ecosystem.” 

She and Field plan to expand the impact of the BAI through collaborations with other units and student organizations; developing new courses; and establishing the Brown Artistic Innovators program, which will bring artists to campus to engage with faculty and students as long-term partners.

The BAI is also working to create what Hoffman calls “a clear and transparent path for students, faculty, and Providence-based artists to present work in the Performing Arts Center.”  

Championed by President Christina H. Paxson and made possible by donors, the new Performing Arts Center (PAC)—scheduled for dedication in fall 2023—will be an incubator for new and boundary-pushing artistic collaborations. 

All of these activities will attract more students to the creative arts at Brown, regardless of their concentrations—an outcome that Hoffman says benefits us all. 

“If you take a holistic approach to educating students that includes their creative side and their practical or scientific side, you will produce students who have compassion, empathy, and think beyond themselves. If young people can be in a place that acknowledges their humanity in this way, they’ll emerge as better citizens.”


Joan Wernig Sorensen ’72 LHD’19 hon., P’06 P’06


Ralph Rosenberg ’86, P’17


Theresia Gouw ’90


When BrownTogether first began to take shape, one thing was clear: it was going to be the biggest and most ambitious campaign in Brown’s history. Taking on the role of campaign co-chair would be no small endeavor. 

That did little to deter Theresia Gouw, Ralph Rosenberg, and Joan Wernig Sorensen. The trio has served as co-chairs for BrownTogether for the last four years, witnessing firsthand the outpouring of support from generations of Brunonians.

“My fellow co-chairs and I have been overwhelmed by the collaborative spirit of our community,” Sorensen said. “The alumni, parents, and friends who have participated in this ambitious effort are the catalysts for Brown’s rapidly increasing leadership in the public sphere. Their generosity has enabled us to preserve the most distinctive aspects of a Brown education.”

Sorensen and her fellow co-chairs represent three different decades at Brown, with both Rosenberg and Sorensen bringing additional perspective as Brown parents. All three are long-time volunteers for the University, whose personal philanthropy has touched on a variety of priorities—from enhancing financial aid and strengthening the faculty to building expertise and resources in engineering, public health, economics, and public affairs.

“I feel like I would not have been able to pursue entrepreneurship and accomplish the things I have in my career if I didn’t go to Brown,” says Gouw, who is a strong supporter of and ambassador for financial aid. “I feel like someone paid it forward so I could be here, and now it is with great gratitude that I am in the position to do the same for future generations of Brown students.”

Throughout the campaign the co-chairs have put their experience, knowledge, and love of Brown to work with the goal of broadening the University’s capacity to address complex global issues and shape tomorrow’s leaders. With over $3 billion raised and donors numbering more than 67,000, it is clear that they and their fellow volunteers are setting a philanthropic example that will reverberate for years to come.

“I have co-chaired my class’s reunion gift committees, partnered with Joan to co-chair the Brown Annual Fund, and served in several other volunteer roles over the years,” says Rosenberg. “I never underestimate the devotion of those who understand the power of a Brown education and believe in the University’s potential to effect change. The BrownTogether campaign proves that our people are our greatest strength.”