Class of ’76: Presenters’ Bios

Class of ’76 Program, June 4

Linda Chatman Thomsen, “Public Service in the Public Eye”

After graduating from Smith, Linda Chatman Thomsen attended Harvard Law School.  Since then, she has spent more than forty years in the private and public practice of law. From 1995 through 2009 she was a member of the enforcement staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission where she ultimately served as the Director of the Division of Enforcement (the first woman to hold that position). In that role she oversaw the work of approximately 1,000 people in 12 different offices as they investigated thousands of potential violations of federal securities law. After leaving the SEC in 2009, she returned to private practice.  She and her husband Steuart have been married for 39 years and have two grown children.

Patricia Parham, “Embracing the Power Within”

Patricia A. Parham, Ph.D., left Smith College and went directly to the University of Texas at Austin where she earned an interdisciplinary doctorate in the field now called Organization Development. After a seven-year stint of evaluating and providing technical assistance to major federally sponsored programs, from education to the military at the American Institutes for Research, Dr. Parham launched Parham Enterprises, an independent consultancy. She balances this with executive coaching and collegiate and graduate teaching and mentoring. Passionate about facilitating personal, team, and organizational transformations, Dr. Parham pursues excellence in non-profit, for-profit, and governmental organizations. As her career winds down, her joy multiplies as she uplifts others.

Margie Halpern, “Retire? And Then What?”

After graduating from Smith (having lived in Wilder House all four years), Margie Halpern received her Master’s in international affairs from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in 1978.  In 1979, she went to work at the Central Intelligence Agency as a Soviet analyst. During her 33-year career there, she held positions in every part of the CIA except support, retiring as an executive manager in 2013.  After retiring, she took classroom training and did an apprenticeship to become a VA Court-certified mediator. In addition to court and federal workplace mediation, she is an active volunteer (hospital, hospice, animal shelter, Travelers Aid). She and her husband, who also worked at the CIA, have enjoyed traveling in retirement.

Esther Rothblum, “Women in the Antarctic—The Tip of the Iceberg”

Esther Rothblum, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies at San Diego State University and LGBTQ+ Studies advisor. She is also Visiting Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute of LGBT Law at UCLA, former President of Division 44 (Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity) of the American Psychological Association (APA), and Fellow of seven divisions of the APA. She is editor of the Journal of Lesbian Studies as well as Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society. Her research and writing have focused on LGBT relationships and mental health as well as on the stigma of weight. Esther has edited 28 books as well as more than 150 articles and book chapters. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she spent four wonderful years at Smith in Gillett House.

Maryanne Bombaugh, “Living and Learning through COVID-19”

Maryanne Bombaugh is the Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Medical Society and the New England Journal of Medicine. She is the former Board Chair of the organization and is a current Director on its Board of Trustees. She is also a physician at the Community Health Center of Cape Cod and serves on the executive committee of the MA Coalition for Safety at the Betsy Lehman Center. Active in education and advocacy at the national level, Dr. Bombaugh currently serves on the AMA Council on Legislation and on the American Board of Medical Specialties Task Force for Improving Health and Health Care. In addition to her clinical and administrative work, Dr. Bombaugh also serves as a director on the board of Coverys, a healthcare professional liability insurance corporation. Dr. Bombaugh received her undergraduate degree from Smith College, her Master of Science degree in Epidemiology, Public Health and Health Policy from the University of Massachusetts School of Public Health, and her MBA from the Isenberg School of Management. She earned her medical degree from the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio and completed her internship at Brooke Army Medical Center and her residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. A veteran of the U. S. military, she served 12 years in the United States Army Medical Corps and completed her military service as the Division Chief of Gynecology at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. 

Pat Peterson Bentley, “Choral singing live during COVID: Yes, we did!”

Pat Peterson Bentley, Ph.D., has been on the faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management for the past 17 years, offering courses and workshops as well as one-on-one executive coaching for students to improve their leadership acumen, develop additional communication styles, and increase their abilities to navigate cross-cultural business situations.  Prior to that she was Vice President of Sapient Corporation, a global technology consulting company (now part of Publicis Groupe), where she spent 10 years as part of the leadership team that grew the firm from a startup to more than 3,000 people with $500 million in annual revenues. Immediately post-Smith she explored and discarded a variety of career choices ranging from studio pianist for the Washington Ballet Society to product manager for educational medical videotapes to computer programmer. She earned her MBA from Pace University (NYC) and her Ph.D. from MIT.  She and her husband Kevin live in Concord, Massachusetts, and have two grown daughters. Moving towards “mostly retired,” she enjoys time with family and friends as well as building costumes for theater, singing and playing piano, and tracking family genealogy.

Memoir Writing, June 5

Susanne Dunlap is the author of 12—soon 13—award-nominated historical novels for adults and teens. After graduating with our class in ’76, Susanne led a peripatetic life as an advertising copywriter and a nonprofit executive, somewhere in there getting an MA in musicology from Smith and a PhD from Yale in music history. Her novels are often based on the research she did as a graduate student. She became a book coach about a year ago after taking two rigorous courses and earning certification from Author Accelerator in coaching fiction and nonfiction. She works with novelists, memoirists, and nonfiction authors, and now has a thriving business helping both experienced and novice writers write the best books they can. You can find her at

Service of Remembrance, June 6

Donna McKenzie lived in Chapin House for four years and majored in cell biology with a minor in religious studies. She has a Master of Divinity degree from Weston Jesuit School of Theology and a doctorate in ethics from the Graduate Theological Union. She has taught at Cornell and Fordham, as well as served as a college chaplain. She currently serves as the Catholic Chaplain at Babson College in Wellesley, MA.

Yoga Class, June 6

Karen Wenc’s yoga study and practice spans forty years, with her teaching career beginning thirty-three years ago.  She practices a style called Iyengar that emphasizes anatomical alignment and precision of instruction. The scientific approach of this style appeals to her background in biological sciences, her major at Smith.  She also worked for twenty years in biological research.

Karen teaches at various venues, now mostly virtual ones because of the pandemic.
For the month of December 2000 she was an invited guest instructor at Yogashala Studio in Santiago, Chile where she conducted classes in Spanish.

Karen moved to Watertown, MA in November of last year and lives with her two cats Bisli and Shlook. She previously lived in Brookline, MA for many years, served as an elected Town Meeting Member, and was appointed to the Public Health Council and the town’s Finance Committee. She has resumed voice lessons and has joyfully regained her soprano range. While she enjoys teaching, she is now in semi-retirement and contemplates her “third act.”