Colorado Rocky Mountain School alumni leave their mark on the world in a diverse array of ways. Below are profiles of a few of the two thousand students for whom CRMS has been a springboard.
Peter Olenick ’02
Aspen local Peter Olenick was born into the life, skiing since he was an infant. Dad owned the restaurant at the bottom of the hill and young Peter literally grew up on the white stuff. Inspired by his two early ski-race coaches, Peter and his friends pushed for freestyle skiing. When they were finally taught back flips against their parents’ wishes, it was game on—those early inverts fanned the fire as well as foreshadowing Pete’s own signature-inverted rotation, The Whiskey Flip.
A gifted, creative athlete with an unusually tall stature, coupled with a penchant for inverted aerials, it’s no surprise Peter has risen to the top of his class. The Whiskey Flip, thrown conspicuously on the first hit of the world’s largest superpipe competition, is consistent with his nature—throw down or go down blazing. With a go-for-broke mentality and amazingly well- rounded skills excelling in pipe, rails, or slope, he’s a live wire at every event.
They say the proof is in the pudding, and Peter has a litany of podiums in both the slopestyle and superpipe events, including three X Games medals. Olenick has been a focal character on the silver screen for the past five years now, with “death or glory” technical rotations and all the drama and entertainment that come with it.
Simon Isaacs ’99
Simon is heralded as a leader in cause-marketing and grassroots-movement building. He works intimately with the world’s leading nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to build and run some of the largest and most impactful campaigns for social good.
Simon was a Vice President at Ignition Inc, where he led the Sustainability Marketing division, working with corporate and nonprofit brands to develop and launch global awareness, fundraising and marketing campaigns around issues such as clean water, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and education. As a result, ignition rose as a leader in corporate and consumer brand cause-related marketing and won many top industry awards. Simon’s clients included the Coca-Cola Company, Gucci, Chick-Fil-A, BP, the World Wildlife Fund, the Ubuntu Education Fund, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Foundation among others. Simon also helped lead cause and sustainability work around the 2010 FIFA World Cup and Vancouver Olympics. In 2012, he launched GATHER, a high-powered cause-marketing consultancy, to build on a decade of work and leadership around the world.
Previously, Simon lived in Rwanda where he worked for the William J. Clinton Foundation, directing safe drinking water and agriculture programs. Prior to Rwanda, he served as a partnerships officer at the United Nations Foundation, where he raised and managed more than $30 million in corporate partnerships in support of the UN's disaster and development efforts and played an integral part in launching a $500 million revolving fund for disaster response. Simon is also responsible for helping to establish the Global Water Challenge.
Simon is an active climber and runner, placing 2nd in the San Francisco Marathon. In 2007, he ran on foot around the world as part of the Blue Planet Run to raise awareness and funds for the drinking-water cause. In January, 2010, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with several celebrities and global influencers, which is also part of a clean-water focused campaign. Simon is an expert blogger for Fast Company and is currently writing a book on cause-marketing.
Paolo Bacigalupi ’90
Paolo is an award-winning novelist and short story writer whose fiction and essays have appeared in WIRED Magazine, High Country News, OnEarth Magazine, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction,
and Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
Paolo's debut novel, The Windup Girl,
a story of political intrigue about genetically modified food set in a future Bangkok, was named by Time Magazine
as one of the ten best novels of 2009. He is currently finishing two new novels: The Doubt Factory,
a thriller for young adults about public relations and media manipulation, and a new near-future novel about drought and climate change called The Water Knife.
His most recent novel, The Drowned Cities,
was a 2012 Kirkus Reviews Best of YA Book, A 2012 VOYA Perfect Ten Book, and 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.
Paolo currently lives in Western Colorado with his wife and son, where he is working on a new novel.
Margaret T. Miller ’90
Mags credits most of her drive, determination, and passion to her years spent at CRMS as a student. After graduating from Denison University ('94), Mags returned to work at CRMS in the Admissions office for two years while acting as a dorm parent, trip leader and advisor. She returned to the CRMS fold in 2002-2006 and once again in 2014 as a CRMS Board Member.
Over the past decade, Mags has been involved in a large number of high-profile human interest and natural history projects for National Geographic and various Discovery channels, including TLC, Animal Planet, Science Channel, and HGTV. After leaving her post as Supervising Producer for TLC's hit series, Hoarding: Buried Alive,
in 2013 she went on to produce a short video for Discovery Communication Global Education Partnership in Nigeria, as well as an eight-part series for Alhurra TV titled Making Democracy
and has recently joined D.C.-based multi-media company Long Story Short.
Previous projects include a video for the Gede Foundation, a Nigerian HIV/AIDS non-profit, a one-hour show for National Geographic’s Explorer where she embedded with the U.S. Marines for 5 weeks in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, and a film on YouthAIDS in Central America for TLC with YouthAIDS Ambassador Ashley Judd.
Mags continues to build a diverse resume in international location productions, drawing heavily on her extensive travel experience—including ten years living and schooling in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, as well as extended stays in Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Fiji, and Cape town, South Africa.
She has a desire to use her talents to create meaningful and lasting work, not only for TV but also for the global community at large. She believes that through visual storytelling, people’s eyes can be opened, boundaries can be explored, and minds can be expanded to help encourage positive change. Mags recently returned to live in Washington, D.C., but in her free time, you are more likely to find her on a warm-weather beach mastering her new hobby of stand up paddleboarding.
Conrad Anker ’81
Conrad is a climber’s climber, at home on a faraway alpine wall or the sparkling ice of his home canyon, Hyalite, located in the Gallatin Range of southwestern Montana. Over decades in the mountains, he has come to value the rarified air of Antarctica, the Himalayas, and Montana equally; inspired by the value of immersion in other ecosystems and cultures, he’s become more fully enmeshed in both the physical and communal landscape of his hometown of Bozeman. Conrad came to climbing by way of his family, learning a deep appreciation for the outdoors from his California childhood, an appreciation and respect that has deepened as climbing took him around the world.
As captain of the The North Face Athlete Team, Conrad has something of a pulpit, and he’s quick to use it; urging, for instance, climbers to be boots on the ground in observing the changes wrought by man-made climate change. He’s also civically active at home, serving on the boards of the Montana State University Leadership Institute, Protect Our Winters, Bozeman Ice Tower Foundation, Gallatin County Fair Board and the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation, a Montana based non-profit that funds the Khumbu Climbing Center in Phortse, Nepal.
“I’ve learned that these things—my family, my passion for climbing and for being a force for good in the local community and in the larger community—are the source of happiness for me,” he says. “I know that life will keep changing and keep throwing new challenges my way, but my intent is always to embrace them and explore them and find a way to turn them into an experience that’s rewarding. Even when we’re suffering, whether it’s in the mountains or because of something going on at home, trying situations are a way to understand our human condition. You have to try to rise above the adversity. I like doing that.”
Oliver Platt ’78
Oliver has appeared in a dizzying array of films that make him instantly recognizable but not instantly placeable to the average filmgoer. Since making his screen debut in 1988, Platt has lent his talents to almost every conceivable genre, including period dramas, political comedies, children's films, and campy horror movies.
Following his screen debut in Working Girl,
Platt began finding steady work in such films as Married to the Mob
(1988), Postcards from the Edge
(1992), and Benny and Joon
(1993). He also proved himself adept at cheesy period drama in The Three Musketeers
(1993), which cast him as Porthos, and at all-out comedy, as demonstrated by his turn as a struggling comic in Funny Bones
(1995). Rarely cast as a leading man, Platt has always been visible in substantial supporting roles, equally comfortable at portraying nice guys, bad guys, and just flat-out weird guys alike. As Ashley Judd's suitor in Simon Birch
(1998), he was the straight man, while in The Impostors
(1998), his second collaboration with Tucci (two years earlier he served as associate producer for the latter's Big Night), he again displayed his capacity for broad physical comedy as a struggling actor who finds himself a stowaway on an ocean liner. In Dangerous Beauty
(1998), Platt was able to exercise his nasty side as a bitter nobleman-turned-religious zealot in 16th-century Venice; that same year, his capacity for exasperated quirkiness was displayed in Bulworth,
which cast him as Warren Beatty's put-upon, coke-snorting campaign manager.
He earned back-to-back Emmy nominations in 2006 and 2007 for his performance opposite former Tufts University classmate Hank Azaria in the weekly dramedy Huff
, and was also nominated for a Screen Actor's Guild Award for his turn as New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in the TV mini-series The Bronx is Burning
(2007). With 2008 came yet another Emmy nomination—this time for his guest role on the hit FX series Nip/Tuck
—and in 2009 he appeared as Nathan Detroit in the Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls.
Other notable television appearances from this phase of Platt's career included a recurring character on the seriocomic HBO series Bored to Death
and a prominent role as the husband of a suburban housewife diagnosed with cancer in the Showtime comedy drama series The Big C.
The son of a U.S. Ambassador, Platt was born in Windsor, Ontario, on January 12, 1960; Platt and his family soon moved to Washington, D.C. Thanks to his father's job, he had an exceptionally itinerant childhood. By the time he was 18, he had attended 12 different schools in places as diverse as Tokyo, the Middle East, and Colorado. Long interested in acting, Platt received a BA in drama from Boston's Tufts University; following graduation, he remained in Boston for three years to pursue his stage career. In 1986 he moved to New York, where he performed in a number of off-Broadway productions.
Susan Meiselas ’66
Susan is an internationally acclaimed photojournalist who has been published in Time, The New York Times, Life,
and Paris Match.
She was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1948 and received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MA in visual education from Harvard University. Her first major photographic essay focused on the lives of women doing striptease at New England country fairs, whom she photographed during three consecutive summers while teaching photography in New York public schools. Carnival Strippers
was originally published in 1976 and a selection was installed at the Whitney Museum of Art in June 2000.
Meiselas has had one-woman exhibitions in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, and her work is included in collections around the world. She has received the Robert Capa Gold Medal for her work in Nicaragua (1979); the Leica Award for Excellence (1982); the Engelhard Award from the Institute of Contemporary Art (1985); the Hasselblad Foundation Photography prize (1994); the Cornell Capa Infinity Award (2005); and most recently was awarded the Harvard Arts Medal (2011). In 1992, she was named a MacArthur Fellow.
M. Tamim Ansary ’66
Tamim is an author, speaker, and editor. He was born in Kabul, Afghanistan in 1948—son of the first Afghan ever to marry an American woman and one of the first American women to live in Afghanistan as an Afghan. Tamim moved to America in 1964 to attend CRMS and later graduated from Reed College. After a stint as an editor with the San Francisco-based Asia Foundation, he traveled in the Islamic world during the “hostage crisis” of 1980. After he came home, Tamim worked as an editor for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich for nine years, then freelanced for major textbook publishers. He wrote the Islam chapters in World History: Patterns of Interaction
(McDougal Littell’s high school world history textbook). His children’s nonfiction books include Afghanistan, Cool Collections, Holiday Histories,
and Native Americans.
Tamim conceived and wrote a series of educational comic books called Adventures Plus
. In his memoir West of Kabul, East of New York, he depicted how it was to grow up straddling these two vastly disparate cultures—Afghanistan and America. He recently published Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes,
and The Widow’s Husband,
a historical novel set in Afghanistan in 1841. He directs the San Francisco Writers Workshop, a 65-year-old writers’ group, teaches writing workshops and other courses through the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning at San Francisco State University and the University of California at Berkeley.
Topher Delaney ’66
Topher is an environmental artist and builder based in San Francisco and has become nationally known for her designs of healing gardens. She designed a roof garden for the Bank of America building in San Francisco, where overworked employees have been known to go and sleep during their breaks. After a bout with breast cancer, she realized that hospitals lacked a place where patients could feel connected to nature and the outside world. Topher now dedicates her work to creating places that help people feel that comforting, rejuvenating connection.
Her work has encompassed a wide breadth of projects that focus on the exploration of seminal interpretations of landscape architecture, site installation, and public art. Her practice, SEAM Studio, has evolved from a landscape contracting corporation into an atelier that serves as a venue for the investigation of cultural, social, and environmental projects “seamed” together to form dynamic physical installations.
Topher received her Bachelor of arts degree in landscape architecture from the University of California at Berkeley after studying philosophy and cultural anthropology at Barnard College. She has been widely published and recently authored Ten Landscapes: Topher Delaney
(Rockport Press, 2001). Delaney has received numerous awards and honors for her achievements in the realms of both landscape design and public art, and the work of SEAM Studio has been exhibited internationally, most recently at the Deutsches Architektur Museum in Germany.