Home » CLS


Calendar Customer Code: 

So You Think You Can Write

Grinnell alumni return to campus for a two-day symposium on written communication Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, 2016.

The free, public symposium features informational panels, writing challenges, an internship and information fair, and plenty of opportunities to talk directly with successful alumni in the field.


Friday, Feb. 19

4 p.m. Freelance Writing Panel
Tequia Burt ’98, Courtney Sherwood ’00, and Molly McArdle ’09
Alumni Recitation Hall, Room 302
5:30 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Saturday, Feb. 20

10 a.m. Writing Challenge Events
Students can take part in writing challenges judged by
Christa Desir ’96 and Katie In ’13.
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
12:30 p.m. Lunch With Alumni
Rosenfield Center Marketplace,
Rooms 224 A and B
2 p.m. Writing Careers: Years in the Making Panel
Dan Weeks ’80, Jeanne Pinder ’75, Jim Bickal ’82, and Molly Backes ’02
Rosenfield Center, Room 101
3:30 p.m. Internship and Information Fair
Speak one-on-one with our guest alumni.
Bucksbaum Center for the Arts rotunda
5 p.m. Networking Hour with Alumni
Refreshments will be served.
Rosenfield Center, second floor lobby
6 p.m. Dinner (Open only to those who preregistered by Feb. 12)
Rosenfield Center, Room 101

Guest Alumni Panelists

M. Molly Backes ’02

M. Molly Backes ’02 is the author of the young adult novel The Princesses of Iowa (Candlewick Press, 2012), which was named Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Fiction for Teens (2013) and Forever Young Adult’s Best YA Books of 2012 and was a finalist on NPR.org’s Best-Ever Teen Novels list in 2012. She has performed her personal essays at reading series including Essay Fiesta, Funny Ha-Ha, Is This a Thing?, and Sunday Salon and is a frequent guest at writing conferences and festivals across the country. Since graduating from Grinnell, Backes has had a number of careers, including middle school English teacher, wildlife conservation educator, arts administrator, marketing department copy writer/editor, and writing coach. She is currently an M.F.A. candidate at Iowa State University, where she teaches composition and creative writing.

Jim Bickal ’82

Jim Bickal ’82 began his career in 1984 as an unpaid intern for Minnesota Public Radio News. He has worked as a reporter and producer for MPR and Twin Cities Public Television. Some of the stories he has covered include the Minnesota Twins’ improbable 1987 World Series championship, the election of Jesse Ventura as governor of Minnesota in 1998, the 2002 Minnesota Senate campaign after the death of Paul Wellstone, and the I-35W bridge collapse in 2007. He has produced two hour-long radio documentaries. One traces a song (“The Rock Island Line” by Little Richard) to its origins, and the other looks at how growing up in Minnesota shaped Bob Dylan’s music. He is currently developing a podcast centered around the events of May 10, 2013. That’s when an unarmed man fleeing arrest broke into Bickal’s home in Minneapolis and was killed by police officers in his basement.

Tequia Burt ’98

Tequia Burt ’98 is a veteran editor and writer with more than 10 years of experience covering marketing, business, media and government. Before becoming a freelancer last year, she was editor in chief of FierceCMO. Burt earned her M.S.J. from Medill in 2005.

Christa Soule Desir ’96

Christa Soule Desir ’96 writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her novels include Fault Line, Bleed Like Me, and Other Broken Things. She lives with her husband, three children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside Chicago. She is a founding member of the Voices and Faces Project, a nonprofit organization for rape survivors that conducts an international survivor-based testimonial writing workshop, including working with incarcerated teens. She also works as a romance editor at Samhain Publishing and once a week can be found working the stacks at Anderson’s Bookshop.

Katie In ’13

Katie In ’13 is an interdisciplinary media artist and musician based in Grinnell. She graduated from Grinnell College in 2013 with a B.A. in sociology and was a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow and recipient of the Ladies Education Society Award. A socially-minded observer of the world and creator of things, In uses video, music, and performance to tell stories and communicate ideas. She is part of the collaborative group Tiny Circus as well as the Midwest-based collective and band called The Plain Mosaic.

Molly McArdle ’09

Molly McArdle ’09 is Brooklyn Magazine’s books editor and a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure. She’s also founding editor of The Rumpus’ Tumblr (The Rumblr) and the creator of The Daily GIF. Her essays, criticism, and reporting have appeared in The Believer, the Los Angeles Review of Books, BuzzFeed, The Rumpus, Atlas Obscura, Bitch Magazine, Pacific Standard, Audubon Magazine, The Oyster Review, Fusion, and Library Journal, where she was an editor on the book review. She was a member of Grinnell’s first D.C. Posse and is working on a novel.

Jeanne Pinder ’75

Jeanne Pinder ’75 is founder and CEO of ClearHealthCosts.com, a New York City journalism startup bringing transparency to the health care marketplace by telling people what stuff costs. She founded ClearHealthCosts after volunteering for a buyout in 2009 from The New York Times, where she worked for almost 25 years as an editor, reporter and human resources executive. Pinder is a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. She was born and raised in Grinnell. She started working as a journalist in middle school at The Grinnell Herald-Register, her family’s twice-weekly independent paper. Before The Times, she also worked at The Des Moines Register and The Associated Press. She is a graduate of Grinnell College with a bachelor’s in Russian and studied Slavic linguistics in graduate school at Indiana University. She used to teach Russian, and she lived for a time in what was then the Soviet Union.

Courtney Sherwood ’00

Courtney Sherwood ’00 worked in newspapers for 12 years, first as a reporter then as an editor, before frustrations with the shrinking print industry prompted her to quit her day job to freelance in 2012. She continues to cover hard news from Portland, Ore., with pieces appearing in a wide range of outlets, including Science magazine online, Vice, The Irish Times, the Canadian Broadcast Corp., and many others. Most of her time is divided between NPR-affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting, where she is a radio editor and web producer; Thompson Reuters, a news service for which she is one of two Oregon correspondents; and The Lund Report, which publishes her wonky analyses of how money moves the health care industry.

Dan Weeks ’80

Dan Weeks ’80 majored in American Studies at Grinnell and earned an M.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa Graduate Writing Program. He has spent the past  30-plus years as a magazine and book writer, photographer, editor, ghostwriter, editorial manager, publishing consultant, and freelancer. His magazine profiles, features, essays, and photographs on subjects ranging from adventure travel to zinnias have appeared in dozens of national, international, and regional magazines. His book Deadliest Catch: Desperate Hours, a companion to the Emmy-nominated reality show about Bering Sea crab fishermen, was a Discovery Channel best seller. He edited The Grinnell Magazine from 2010–2013 and currently edits The Iowan magazine.


“I never had just one thing that I was pursuing. I wanted to keep exploring and keep doing what I was naturally interested in doing. Every opportunity I’ve had just combined all those passions.”

These words of wisdom reveal the key to Adam Kempenaar ’97’s success. In a world where many limit themselves to the pursuit of just one interest, Kempenaar has proved that it is truly possible to have it all.

As one of the founders and hosts of the popular movie review podcast Filmspotting, Kempenaar understands what it’s like to revive a dream dusty from lack of use. Although he was busy with a family and a full-time career, Kempenaar and his friend, Sam Hallgren, decided to resuscitate their old love of discussing movies by starting a podcast in which they would review and critique films in 30-minute segments.

Within just months of launching the show in 2005, Filmspotting’s audience had climbed from 1,000 listeners to over 10,000. Now, 10 years and 550 episodes later, Filmspotting has continued to thrill and excite both its viewers and its hosts.

Spawning a Radio Show

The success of Filmspotting led to a monthly radio show on WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, echoing Kempenaar’s fascination with radio during his time at Grinnell, where he ran two radio shows on KDIC campus radio.

Filmspotting attracted the attention of the head of the film program at a continuing education school. Before Kempenaar knew it, yet another dream was coming to fruition — a chance to teach film classes at the University of Chicago’s Graham School.

“At Grinnell, I was an English major and I always wanted to teach. I realized that I wasn’t cut out to be an English professor, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t teach in some capacity. This was something I really wanted to do and it seemed like a dream opportunity.”

The Regular Job

Added to the lengthy list of Kempenaar’s occupations is his full-time career as senior director of new media and creative services for the Chicago Blackhawks. “I had a friend at Grinnell who would always come to our dorm room and play hockey video games. All the time it was hockey, hockey, hockey,” says Kempenaar. “And now he sees pictures of me on Facebook holding the Stanley Cup! It’s crazy that, 20 years later, here I am doing that for a living.”

Kempenaar has achieved what many college graduates have come to view as a foolish ideal — the aspiration to live all your passions, and make a living while doing it. By choosing to follow all the threads that tugged at his curiosity, Kempenaar has woven a web of interconnected triumphs, fueled by his persistent desire to always keep learning. By not fixating on a single goal, he has been able to expand his ability to wear many hats.

“Whether it’s podcasting or whether it’s the Blackhawks, I have always been prepared to do what I want to do simply because I’ve followed whatever I’ve been interested in,” Kempenaar says.

“I’m really lucky that I get to mix all my passions. I love sports, I love film, I love teaching, and I do all of them!”


Unexpected Opportunities

When Rebecca Dworkin ’06 graduated from Grinnell as a religious studies major, she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do with her life. She was interested in women’s health and reproductive rights, but how did she want to approach the issue? Through law? Advocacy? Social work? With so many options, Dworkin wasn’t sure which path was right for her.

Exploring the Options

To gain some exposure to women’s health in practice, Dworkin took a position with AmeriCorps, where she worked in a busy clinic as a doula, a birth coach. Today, she believes this experience was the single most influential choice she made after graduating.

“It’s very clear looking back that that program was what really got me interested in working in health care,” Dworkin says. “But the program got canceled abruptly 8 months in. It was like getting the rug pulled out from under you!”

After being laid off, Dworkin still wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to take. She decided to hit the road and travel the country doing seasonal work and “visiting other people’s lives.” This experience allowed her to meet many different kinds of people and also gave her the time to clear her head and discover what she really wanted to do.

Choosing a Path

Before long, Dworkin was in an accelerated nursing program at Georgetown University, after which she received her master’s and became a certified nurse-midwife. She got the first job she applied to at the University of Iowa, where she currently works as a clinical assistant professor in obstetrics and gynecology. Dworkin was glad that she attended Grinnell before getting this career-driven education.

“I don’t think that I would have wanted to do that sort of education in my initial college years, because I wouldn’t want that career focus to come at the expense of the intellectual development I got at Grinnell,” she says. “It’s absolutely worthwhile to spend some time engaging in some sort of intellectual passion. It exercises your mind and can add a whole new layer of depth to whatever you decide to do.”

The Value of the Liberal Arts

For Dworkin, her interdisciplinary studies about women in subjects such as religious studies, gender studies, and sociology allow her to connect with her work on a deeper level than clinical practice alone.

“The most rewarding part of this job is that you are in a position to be with people during really critical moments of their lives,” says Dworkin. “I can really empower women through their reproductive choices and help them to take ownership of their bodies and their birth experiences.”

Reflecting on her experiences, Dworkin can see how her liberal arts education, along with her 6 months of “drifting” on the road, prepared her for the path she took.

“I really do feel like the liberal arts can prepare you to do basically whatever you want. If you can read critically, communicate well, and write well, that will serve you well no matter what field you go into,” Dworkin says. “I felt prepared to go down many paths, because the liberal arts opens doors rather than pigeonholing you into one way of thinking.”

Dworkin also stresses that students and recent graduates should be willing to have faith in themselves and not be afraid to do a little “drifting.” Her experience with AmeriCorps sparked her interest in health care, and she met many healthcare professionals during her time on the road who helped her determine the path that was right for her.

“Even if you don’t know what you want to do right away, just go somewhere you want to be! If you’re out in the world, you’re gonna meet people who may turn into an opportunity you never considered,” Dworkin says. “The opportunities will come to you, if you’re open to them. So don’t worry so much! If you graduate from Grinnell, you’re truly prepared for anything.”


Lilianna Bagnoli Helps Make the World a Smarter Place Through Better Data

Lilianna Bagnoli '15 is one of 35 young professionals from India and the United States to receive the American India Foundation William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in 2015.

Lilianna BagnoliThe fellowship matches participants with leading nongovernmental organizations and social enterprises in India for 10 months to accelerate impact and create effective projects that promote civil society, development, and social justice. To help build a lasting bridge between the United States and India, the Clinton Fellowship has expanded to incorporate young professional Indians to work side by side with fellows from the United States.

Bagnoli works in New Delhi with Social Cops, a social enterprise that collects and analyzes data to highlight critical issues in India such as healthcare, education, and infrastructure. She then collaborates with other NGOs and representatives from government to organize and execute development initiatives to address issues highlighted by the data collected.

Bagnoli's enthusiasm for the role of research to inform social initiatives in the developing world stems from the international immersion experiences she had in Ghana and India while a student at Grinnell. In the summer of 2013 she interned with Challenging Heights in Winneba, Ghana. The anti-child trafficking organization received a $100,000 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize in 2011.

She devoted much of 2014 to pursuing academic coursework and Hindi language instruction in India. She also interned with the Akanksha Foundation, conducting a policy review of the school's educational methodology.

Bagnoli received a Wilson Grant from Grinnell College for an internship with Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Ltd. in Mumbai, where she served on the corporate social responsibility team.

After returning to Grinnell College, Bagnoli furthered her interests in corporate social responsibility and the informal economy through independent studies. She used Geographic Information Systems to visually illustrate her analysis of informal labor activity, presenting her research at the Central States Anthropology Society Conference and the spring 2015 Grinnell College Student Research Symposium.

A native of Berea, Kentucky, Bagnoli graduated in 2015 with honors in International Development Studies. She also founded Students for Equality in Education and served as senior gift class chair and philanthropy chair of the Student Alumni Council.

After completing the Clinton Fellowship, Bagnoli hopes to work in South Asia and continue to use data to inform development efforts, especially those related to the informal economy and economic development.

Rebecca Wong ’17 Earns Honorable Mention for Udall Scholarship

Rebecca Wong ’17 has earned honorable mention for the Udall Scholarship, which recognizes second- and third-year undergraduate students for their outstanding leadership, public service, and commitment to environmental issues, American Indian healthcare, or tribal policy.

Wong, who aspires to work in renewable energy engineering, is one of 49 students nationwide to receive this honor.

A leader in environmental justice groups on campus, Wong serves as vice president of the Food Recovery Network and chief leader of the IOWATER water-monitoring group. She also plays violin in the Grinnell Symphony Orchestra and is general manager for Grinnell Outdoor Recreation Program.

"This honor has shown me that I am on the right path," Wong said, "and I will continue to strive to create a world where humans can maintain and improve their standard of living without irreversible detrimental effects to the environment."

The Udall Scholarship honors the legacies of Morris Udall and Stewart Udall, whose careers had a significant impact on American Indian self-governance, health care, and the stewardship of public lands and natural resources.

Melissa Hardy ’16 Awarded Goldwater Scholarship

Melissa Hardy ’16 has received the prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarship for up to $7,500 toward tuition and other expenses for the academic year. 

A senior chemistry and French double major from Billings, Montana, Hardy is using the scholarship to fund her senior year at Grinnell. After graduating from Grinnell in May 2016, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and lead synthetic organic chemistry research in either academia or industry.

At Grinnell, Hardy has served as a mentor to students in introductory chemistry courses. She also was invited to present her research at two research symposia in October: the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium at Rice University in Houston, Texas; and the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Symposium in Arlington, Virginia, sponsored by the Council on Undergraduate Research.

Mike FitzpatrickSenior biological chemistry major Mike Fitzpatrick ’16 earned honorable mention for the Goldwater Scholarship. A resident of Village of Lakewood, Illinois, he plans to attend graduate school to earn doctoral degrees in medicine and neuroscience.   

Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship Program to encourage excellence in science and mathematics for American undergraduate students with excellent academic records and outstanding potential. Grinnell College students are frequent recipients of Goldwater honors, with six students being named Goldwater Scholars and five students receiving honorable mentions since 2010.

Silvia Elena Foster-Frau ’15 awarded Hearst Journalism Fellowship

Silvia Elena Foster-Frau ’15Silvia Elena Foster-Frau ’15 has received the Hearst Journalism Fellowship, a two-year digital media journalism fellowship awarded to four to six aspiring journalists each year.

For the first year of her fellowship, Foster-Frau will be reporting for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group. She currently is reporting for the Greenwich Time newspaper in Greenwich, Connecticut, but will transition to The Connecticut Post in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for the second part of her internship. She aspires to be a feature writer for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, or The New York Times.

Foster-Frau's work already has made an impact. Her story about a homeless family in Greenwich inspired the community to rally together, setting up a fund of more than $4,000 and finding the family a home. A story she wrote about a transgender teen from Greenwich was picked up by the Associated Press and published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle, Miami Herald, and Hartford Courant, among others.

A 2010 graduate of Galesburg High School in Galesburg, Illinois, Foster-Frau took a gap year in Mexico before enrolling in Grinnell College in 2011. She was an English major and leader in publications on campus. She served as the writing editor for The Grinnell Review and co-host of KDIC Radio Show "The Prairie's Edge." During her fourth year at Grinnell, she was a senior interviewer for the Office of Admission.

The Hearst Fellowship is a two-year program focusing on multimedia journalism funded by the Hearst Corporation, which owns many top metro papers nationwide. Fellows work 12-month rotations at two of Hearst's top newspapers, ensuring they will gain experience in a variety of news and media environments.

Five Grinnell Graduates Honored with Fulbright Awards

Four 2015 Grinnell College graduates and a 2011 graduate have been awarded prestigious Fulbright grants to support travel, teaching and research internationally.

The Fulbright Program, the flagship international education exchange program of the U.S. Department of State, provides recent graduates the opportunity to travel abroad to study, conduct research and teach English. Since its inception in 1946, more than 44,000 students have benefited from the Fulbright experience.

Grinnell has consistently produced a high number of Fulbright recipients. Earlier this year, Grinnell was once again named to the U.S. Department of State's list of colleges and universities that produced the most Fulbright students. Grinnell has been named to this list every year since it was first issued in 2004.

"Grinnellians have always been excellent fits for the Fulbright program," says Steve Gump, director of global fellowships and awards and administrator of the Fulbright program at Grinnell. "Students come to Grinnell to learn about themselves and their potentials for making a difference in the world. They are keen to continue this learning as cultural ambassadors abroad, so the Fulbright goal of increasing mutual understanding through international exchange is a natural extension of their Grinnell experiences."

The 2015 graduates who have received Fulbright awards are:

Aaron MardisAaron Mardis, a mathematics major from Keokuk, Iowa, has received an English teaching assistantship in Montenegro, a small Balkan country once part of the former Yugoslavia that became independent in 2006.

After his Fulbright year, Mardis hopes to continue teaching mathematics in the United States, incorporating both the teaching practices and cultural inclusivity that he experiences while teaching abroad.

Jordan MeyersJordan Meyers, an English major from McMinnville, Oregon, has received a Fulbright research grant to travel to China to conduct medical science research.

After his Fulbright year, Meyers plans to work in the healthcare field before enrolling in medical school.

Lena Parkhurst, a Spanish and English double major from Batavia, Illinois, has received a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Brazil. She is excited to work in Brazil’s university setting, where she will be instructing future English teachers.

After her Fulbright year, Parkhurst plans to continue exploring her interests in education and international relations.

Sarah WeitekampSarah Weitekamp, a Russian and history double major from Raymond, Illinois, has received a Fulbright English teaching assistantship in Russia.

After her Fulbright year, Weitekamp plans to attend law school.  

A 2011 Grinnell graduate also received a Fulbright award:

Christopher WilsonChristopher Wilson, an English major from Minneapolis, Minnesota, was awarded an English teaching assistantship in Spain. Since his graduation from Grinnell in 2011, Wilson has worked extensively in law and education. Following his Fulbright year, Wilson will continue working in K–12 education, with plans to complete a graduate degree in education policy or leadership within the next five years.


Swimming the Channel

Delia Salomon in red and black jacket with Honor G logo on the upper left.

Delia Salomon ’14 wears Grinnell colors as she prepares to start her swim from Shakespeare Beach in Dover, England. Salomon swam the 500- and 1650-meter freestyle at Grinnell. She lettered all four years and earned academic all-conference honors three times.

Delia Salomon ’14 started her attempt to swim the English Channel from Dover, England, in the dark of night. In the daylight of hour 10, she was “quite shocked” to have France already in sight.

“I tried not to be looking toward France too much because that can play tricks on your mind,” Salomon says. “Once I realized how close I was, it was really exciting.

“The finish line was very stressful because the wind picked up,” she says. “I was trying to land on a rocky beach and not get completely smashed.”

A month after completing the most famous long-distance swim in the world, Salomon recalls her landing at Cap Gris Nez Sept. 7, 2015. “I felt a huge sense of relief,” she says. “And also disbelief.

“It still feels like a dream,” she says.

Salomon made the 21-mile crossing in 10 hours and 33 minutes — on the fast side of recorded times (from 6:55 to 28:55) and faster than she had anticipated, thanks to favorable currents and winds, she says.

Wanted a Rematch

It was her second try. She’d made an attempt in 2008 when she was 16 years old, but it was called off by bad weather after 11 hours.

“I’d read the book Swimming to Antarctica by Lynne Cox when I was 15 and decided I wanted to do it,” Salomon says. “I guess I am just really stubborn, so once I was thwarted by the weather I wanted a rematch. I knew I had to finish it.”

Open-water swimming appeals to Salomon because there are many ways of defining success. “Sure, there are some who have the records for the fastest or the most or the first of some crossing,” she says, “but it can also be more than that. I just wanted to get across. I didn’t care how long it would take.”

Rules and Precautions

Salomon enlisted her own boat pilot to guide her crossing. Typically boat pilots are fishermen who are familiar with the channel and are in complete charge. The pilot chooses the day of the crossing and has final say on all safety matters: he has the authority to end the attempt.

“The days leading up to the swim are nerve-racking because you are on call and don't know exactly when you will be swimming,” Salomon says. “You have to be ready to go whenever your pilot says.”

An observer from the Channel Swimming Association made sure that official rules were followed. Salomon was not allowed contact with anyone in the boat during her timeouts. At 30-minute intervals she stopped to drink a “carb-protein-electrolyte mixture” of her own concoction. She managed to avoid two big challenges to channel swimmers — jellyfish and tanker ships. 

Physically and Mentally Challenging

Delia Salomon in celebratory tshirt

Salomon’s yearlong training for the crossing included help with open-water technique from Tim Hammond, Grinnell assistant swimming and diving coach. “Tim has always been super supportive of my open-water swimming,” she says.

Needing to be mentally and emotionally fit for the challenge, Salomon stayed motivated with the strong support of family, friends, and coaches. “I have been working for many years to learn how to deal with negative thoughts,” Salomon says. “I really struggled with it in college because I was so hard on myself after not finishing my first channel swim.”

Salomon credits Erin Hurley, head swimming and diving coach, for giving her perspective when she was a student. “She told me that I needed to start talking to myself the way I would talk to a friend,” Salomon says.

“During the swim there were actually very few times when I was feeling down or negative,” she says. “I really felt like I was focused and in the moment. It's great to actually see what I had been visualizing for so long finally come to fruition.”

Sense of Accomplishment

The second day after her crossing, Salomon swam. “It was hard, but I think it helped my muscles,” she says.  After three days, she felt “pretty normal” except for being “very scratched up” from the rocks.

“Before this I never thought that highly of my capabilities to accomplish things that are difficult,” Salomon says. “I learned that I do have some grit and that I can fight through tough situations whether those may be in my head or part of the outside world.

“I don't know that I would say that I did this to prove to myself that I could,” Salomon says, “but in the end I was like, yeah OK, you can do stuff like this if you want to.”          

Photo credits: The Salomon family

Startup (in)Sanity: 7 Tips from a Serial Entrepreneur

Eric Groves ’85Eric Groves ’85, CEO and co-founder of Alignable, will present a Wilson Program public lecture,  "Startup (in)Sanity: 7 Tips from a Serial Entrepreneur," at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 11, in Kallaus Lecture Hall, ARH Room 102. The free public event is sponsored by the Wilson Program in Enterprise and Leadership.

Groves asks, “with a failure rate north of 90%, what can you do to tip the odds in your favor when starting a company?”  He will share some of his keys for how to succeed in starting your own business, including where a Grinnell liberal arts education fits in the picture.  

After majoring in economics at Grinnell, Groves went on to earn an master's degree in business administration from the University of Iowa.  He has held various leadership positions in sales, business development, and mergers and acquisitions at AltaVista, iAtlas, InfoUSA, MFS Communications, SBC (AT&T), and Citigroup.  Eric has also served as a board member for LogoWorks (sold to HP) uTest, BigCommerce, and More Than Words.

Prior to co-founding Alignable, Groves was senior vice president of sales & business development at Constant Contact for 10 and a half years. He led the company’s go-to-market efforts, growing the business from start-up stage to 400,000 customers and $200 million in revenue.  

Groves authored The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing and is recognized as an expert on engagement marketing, email marketing, and local business.  He has appeared on MSNBC’s Your Business and contributes to Small Business Trends, Fast Company, and Yahoo Small Business.  

Alignable works to provide small business owners with a free place online to gather, make connections, collaborate, and work together to find answers to challenges and paths to new customers.  It has rapidly gained attention.  In late September 2015, Deborah Gage of the Wall Street Journal  said  “Since launching in January 2014, with virtually no marketing, Alignable has spread to about 7,000 communities in the U.S. and Canada and generated 500,000 connections among small businesses.”