The Brandeis GPS blog

Insights on online learning, tips for finding balance, and news and updates from Brandeis GPS

Category: Faces of GPS (page 2 of 12)

Meet Sue Bergamo, chair of the Information Security Leadership program

Sue Bergamo HeadshotBrandeis GPS is excited to introduce Sue Bergamo, the chair of our online MS in Information Security Leadership program.

In her role as chair, Sue oversees course quality and serves as a subject matter expert; providing the industry insight that keeps the program curricula and goals and outcomes current and relevant for students. She also recruits and mentors faculty and advises students on program and course requirements.

Sue is the Chief Information and Chief Security Officer (CIO & CISO) of Episerver, a global digital Commerce company. As an executive, she brings her leadership and broad technology experience to help companies concentrate on growth by promoting innovation and productivity enhancements through application development, infrastructure operations, data analytics, business process optimization and talent management.

As a certified cloud architect, Sue has an AS in Computer Science from Tunxis College, a BS in Business Administration from Post University, an Executive Leadership MBA from Boston University and a Master’s in Security from UMASS.

Sue’s career includes strategic positions at Microsoft, Net Atlantic, BTE Consulting, and two of Aramark’s apparel companies, Galls and Wearguard-Crest. She has also held high level positions at the Staples Corporation and at CVS Pharmacy.

Learn more about the part-time, online Master’s of Science in Information Security Leadership here.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

How to Turn Managing Projects into a Career in Project Management

By Leanne Bateman

By the time we reach adulthood, we have already managed many projects in our lives, whether or not we called it project management. We have completed school projects, participated in musical or theatrical productions, played a season or more of a certain sport, and/or completed any number of endeavors that were temporary in nature and resulted in a unique product or service. That’s all a project actually is, though the purpose, complexity and level of effort vary from project to project.

Following this simple theme, we enter the professional working world that will define our effort between (roughly) 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. over several decades until we retire. For many of us, much of our professional work will consist of some level of project management, whether we are directly managing projects or overseeing those who do. The longer we work, the more projects we will encounter since projects are the building blocks of a company’s capability and achievement. For those of us who are naturally inclined toward the organizational aspect of project management, we will enjoy the many benefits of dedicating our time and effort to work on a team focused on delivering a new product or service for the greater good of our company. This is the reward in itself.

Project Management Graphic

Image source: OnlyEngineerJobs.be

For myself, I started my career in information technology. After a few years as an HR Information Systems (HRIS) Manager, I found that the work I most enjoyed was managing HRIS system implementations and other related technology projects, so I decided to focus solely on project management in the next phase of my career. That was several years ago, and I have not looked back.

If you find this is also true for you—that the work you most enjoy is managing or overseeing projects—then there are no rules that say you can’t become a full-time project manager. The best way to do this is to keep managing projects whenever you can, since experience is by far the most important asset in our skill set. You can volunteer for projects at work while approaching your home projects in the same way, since all projects (professional or personal), require a phased approach of initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing. Both the hard skills and soft skills required in project management get sharper with each project, as long as we continue to focus on continuous improvement of these skills and learn from past lessons. Also, the variety of projects we manage only serves to sharpen our project management skills more while also keeping us interested and learning. At least, this has been true for me.

In addition to gaining experience, I would also recommend the following steps to transition from managing projects to a career (or next phase of your career) in project management:

  1. Read the job postings for a Jr. Project Manager, Project Manager, Sr. Project Manager, PMO Lead, PMO Director and VP of Project Management. These job postings will give you insight into the daily responsibilities and qualifications of project management professionals. This is also a common professional path, though many professionals work as a Project Manager for their entire careers.
  2. Take a class! If you don’t yet have formal training in project management, it is definitely a good idea so you can fully understand and apply project management principles wherever appropriate. Check out Brandeis’s graduate program in Project & Program Management—you don’t need previous project management experience to take a course at Brandeis, just a bachelor’s degree.
  3. If you have a good amount of experience in managing projects, consider professional certification. The Project Management Institute (PMI) is the global governing authority in professional project management. They offer several levels of project management certification, including the industry standard Project Management Professional (PMP).
  4. Continue to hone your soft skills. The skill of communication in particular—verbal and written—is the most important and most commonly used skill in project management. Other soft skills such as leadership, team building, influence, negotiation, and emotional intelligence are critical, and there are endless opportunities to strengthen these skills daily in our personal and professional lives.
  5. Learn, learn, learn! As project managers we never stop learning.

I recommend the steps above because those are exactly what I did. And because my 9-to-5 time is valuable to me, I want to be sure to spend it doing what I most enjoy and what best utilizes and continues to develop my interests, skills and expertise. Transitioning to a career in project management is not for everyone, but it certainly was the best career move I ever made.

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

GPS to present at NERCOMP 2019 Conference

Several Brandeis GPS staff members will be representing the division this week at the NERCOMP 2019 Conference hosted by Educause in Providence, Rhode Island. GPS’s involvement will include a March 20 breakout session on Developing and Launching a Course Refresh Initiative, featuring Brian Salerno, Director of Online Learning and Instructional Design, Carol Damm, Director of Programs and Assessment, and Lance Eaton, Instructional Designer and Faculty Development Specialist. The team will be presenting on the GPS internally-created rubric for assessing the effective design of online courses and our process for refreshing courses. Lance is also presenting on the Accessibility, Availability, and Affordability of Open Educational Resources with a panel that includes Instructional Design and Technology Program professional advisory board member Kevin Corcoran.

About the conference

The NERCOMP Annual Conference is the place where our community of faculty, researchers, learners, and institutions come together to engage, network, and learn from each other’s experiences in advancing innovation and leadership in higher education. The NorthEast Regional Computing Program (NERCOMP) partners with EDUCAUSE to bring together leaders in the higher education IT community from across the region.

The NERCOMP Annual Conference plays a pivotal role in bringing together a community of higher education library and IT professionals to build expertise and share information on the latest issues in the field. This conference is the place to connect with peers, share successes (and struggles), and enhance our collective learning.

Instructional Design and Technology

Brandeis GPS offers fully online, top-tier master’s degrees for professionals in today’s most in-demand fields. The Master of Science in Instructional Design and Technology program aims to help students learn to adapt instructional content to dynamic online and mobile platforms. While benefiting from the flexibility of a part-time fully online program, students master how to innovate digital learning with the latest instructional design practices and technologies. Samples of our Instructional Design courses include: Principles of Online Instructional Design, Managing Instructional Design Projects, and Digital Ethics & The Legal Landscape of Instructional Design.

At Brandeis GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. Learn more about our MS in Instructional Design and Technology, and preview our courses here. You can also contact our enrollment team at gps@brandeis.edu or 781-736-8787.

Project Management in the Government

By Mike Gauthier

Mike Gauthier HeadshotDo you work for the government? Is the public sector a career you may be interested in pursuing? Are you a contractor currently servicing the government? Do you have a passion for non-profits?

If these questions resonate with you, I would highly suggest pursuing professional development opportunities in government project management.   

Every year, Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies offers special topics courses that touch upon subjects that are popular, interesting, niche, or just unique in general. Project Management in the Government is certainly niche and popular these days, with public projects either being criticized or politicized. If you are a project manager, program manager, contractor, or administrator, this class may provide some insightful lessons learned and considerations when planning, budgeting, managing, closing out, and maintaining a project.    

The fully online course covers the framework of a government project’s entire lifecycle, but you will also explore the particulars of federal, DOD, state, local, and non-profits as it relates to these endeavors. We will look at case studies, and recent articles of the challenges project managers may face. One week of the 10-week course covers best practices in government and contractor vendor management (prequalification and after action reporting), while another hits upon capital budgeting, financing, and fundraising of projects.    

Here is what you can expect from taking this course with me:

  1. There is no textbook. I plan to run the class like a seminar where what you learn can immediately be directly applied where you work.   
  2. Your semester assignment is real world based. You will be able to use it for actual projects that you manage
  3. You will be able to perform a variety of framework analysis on planned and reactive government projects.
  4. You will be able to identify government and non-profit areas of importance to successfully work within their rule sets.
  5. You will be able to apply best practices in contractor management.
  6. You will be able to identify and analyze the proper use of project financing and debt management.
  7. You will be able to recognize and adjust to future trends in government and non-profit project endeavors.

This 10-week, fully online course will run from April 10 to June 18. Start the registration process here or contact 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu for more information.

Mike Gauthier currently serves as a Team Lead in the Contracting Services Department at MIT Lincoln Laboratory. He provides oversight, direction, and leadership to a group of contracts professionals in accordance with FAR, DFARS, and MITLL policies and procedures. He is also the Vice President for Education for the National Contract Management Association – Boston Chapter.   Gauthier is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Brandeis University Rabb School of Continuing Studies (Division of Graduate Professional Studies) teaching Negotiation, Procurement & Contract Management, and Project Management in the Government.   

Previous to MIT and Brandeis, he was the Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Woburn, Guest Instructor at the Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General, Procurement Analyst for City of Somerville and worked for many years servicing the Federal and State Governments as a contractor.  

He is certified as a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official (MCPPO) and as a Certified Professional Contracts Manager (CPCM), and Certified Federal Contracts Manager (CFCM) by the National Contract Management Association. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Boston College, a Master’s in Public Administration at Framingham State University, and trained extensively at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Gauthier was a presenter at the 2016 NCMA World Congress and 2015 March Workshop. He is a published author in NCMA and Massachusetts Office of the Inspector General publications.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

The importance of UDL

By Lance Eaton

Lance Eaton HeadshotAccessibility has been an important issue within education for decades and increasingly, one that is causing many institutions to revisit some of their daily practices and educational tools.  As more institutions leverage digital technology in their learning environments, some are coming up short in making sure all students can equally access such learning experiences. Since making learning experiences accessible to all students is legally required, institutions are more actively pursuing the practice known as Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

UDL is a conscientious effort to create learning experiences (everything from individual readings and assignments to entire courses and programs) accessible to a larger range of people, regardless of challenges they might face with regards to their physical, social, mental, and emotional abilities.  Implicit with UDL is the idea that there are many artificial barriers we often create that make it improbable or impossible for students to successfully learn and complete a course.

Universally Designed Picnic Bench

A universally designed picnic bench

To help people think about the challenges and opportunities of leveraging UDL to make courses more accessible, we have recorded this webinar along with a website with resources to help others more effectively develop learning experiences from which all people can benefit.  

View webinar  |  Learn more about Accessibility and UDL

Lance Eaton is an instructional designer and faculty development specialist at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies. His previous work includes working at North Community College and Regis College as instructional designer. He is currently working on his PhD in Higher Education from University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Image Source: Virginia State Parks

Project Management in the Gig Economy

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotIn last month’s blog post, I mentioned that in today’s market, a professional project manager has the option to work as a full-time project manager for a company or work as a project management contractor or consultant. This month, we will focus in on the contract project manager.

Prior to 2008, it was not uncommon to see project manager positions as regular full-time roles (particularly in IT departments) in many U.S. companies. When companies could not find an available full-time project manager to meet their needs, or if they didn’t have the funding for a permanent position, they had the option of hiring a contract project manager for a limited amount of time. This worked out great for the company, who could obtain an on-site PM to either augment their staff to manage several projects or hire the project manager to manage a single project without commitment for future work. It also worked out well for project managers who appreciated the typically higher pay while enjoying the flexibility of working across different departments, companies or industries.

The Rise of the Gig Economy
The rise of contract work in the 2000s came to be known as the “gig economy,” borrowing the term used by musicians to describe their paid show in a club or bar. The gig economy really took off after the significant economic downturn of 2008-2009, as companies went through layoffs and unemployed workers started taking temporary work to sustain their incomes. While the trend formed through dire circumstances and financial instability, growth continued long after the economy stabilized. That rate of growth will continue to increase. Why?

“Gigging”—whether through a set contract or ongoing consulting—tends to offer higher pay per hour to compensate for the lack of benefits. The flexibility is attractive to those who want more control over their work schedules or who seek breaks between contracts. There is also increasing opportunity to work in different companies and different industries, or to start as a contractor and convert to a permanent, full-time position once the compatibility between employee and employer is established.

Today, the gig economy is even stronger than could have been predicted for all levels of employees. The opportunities have stayed on par with the demand, including the rapid expansion of services such as Uber and Lyft as gig jobs offering riders a lower-cost transportation option. In the same way, accommodation services like Airbnb and HomeAway offer alternatives to pricier hotels. For both types of services, individuals are using their personal assets (their cars or homes) to make money through a temporary arrangement.

The Gig Economy and Project Management
So back to project management. The gig economy has been an extremely beneficial environment for both new and experienced project managers. Not only are there numerous opportunities across just about every professional segment and experience level, there is a consistently healthy rate of demand with low to moderate competition. And this demand is expected to increase significantly, eventually overtaking traditional employment by 2027:

The Future of the Gig Economy

Image courtesy of Jessup University

So, if you are one of the traditionally employed project managers interested in taking advantage of the benefits of working as a contract project manager, please be sure to take note of the typical differences before you take the leap.

Benefits Traditional Employment Contract Employment
Paid time off
Healthcare benefits
Employer contribution to Retirement Plan Depends on contract agency
Feeling of inclusion
Higher hourly pay
Flexibility in work schedule
Flexibility to work across different areas
Less involvement in company issues/politics

While contracting as a project manager has great benefits, it isn’t for everyone. But the same could be said for traditional employment arrangements. Whichever you choose, there is a robust demand for project managers, and it’s great to have options!

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Communication for Effective Leadership

It may go without saying, but communication is a prevalent and critical component of today’s workforce. The skillset is especially essential for professionals seeking to excel in a leadership role. Regardless of industry, professional communications is imperative for leading effective meetings, mitigating crises, and navigating negotiations and conflict resolution.

“Communications is a critical part of doing business, especially in today’s environment. News travels fast. A bad customer experience can become a social media sensation before the CEO is even informed of the problem,” said Mary Caraccioli, Chief Communications Officer for The Central Park Conservancy. “On the flip side, you can use the power of social media to engage directly (and more deeply) with customers, employees and other stakeholders. You can use the power of the communications revolution to work for you by making communications part of your business strategy.”

Mary Caraccioli HeadshotCaraccioli is teaching a master’s-level course in Communication for Effective Leadership, a fully online, 10-week class that will help students build on their critical thinking skills and apply oral and written communication strategies to solve organizational problems and drive organizational change. Throughout the course, students will focus on topics such as negotiation and facilitation, crisis communications and public relations, virtual and global communications, and stakeholder management.

By the end of Communication for Effective Leadership, students should be able to:

  • Develop, execute and measure communication plans to manage stakeholders, solve organizational problems and drive organizational change.
  • Adapt communication strategies and use digital technologies to align with organizational, cultural, virtual, and global needs.
  • Build a portfolio of communication campaigns including crisis response, company positioning, and media statements.

This course is available for professional development or as part of several GPS graduate programs, including Technology Management, Information Security Leadership, Digital Marketing and Design, Strategic Analytics, and Project and Program Management.

At GPS, you can take up to two online courses without officially enrolling in one of our 12 online master’s degrees. This is a great opportunity to get to know our programs and approach to online learning. If you’re interested in exploring one of our graduate programs, or would like to learn more about effective communication for professional development, submit your information or contact the  GPS office for more information or to request a syllabus: 781-736-8787 or gps@brandeis.edu.

Faces of GPS: Meet Shannon McCarthy – Associate Director of Admissions and Student Services

Shannon McCarthy HeadshotIf you’re thinking about applying to a program at Brandeis GPS, you should have a conversation with Shannon McCarthy.

In her role as Associate Director of Admissions and Student Services, Shannon McCarthy works with applicants to our graduate programs, guiding them through the admissions process. Once they decide to enroll, Shannon helps them transition to working with a student advisor.

Born and raised in Taunton, MA, Shannon has stayed close to her New England roots. She received a degree in Sociology from Providence College before going immediately on to get her master’s in Higher Education Administration from Boston University.

As an undergrad, it was her internship in student affairs at Rhode Island School of Design that solidified her interest in higher education. After getting her master’s, Shannon worked first in admissions and then in academic counseling. She started at Brandeis GPS just over a month ago and enjoys her role because it is a combination of both.

Shannon wants students to know that she and the rest of the GPS team are available for any questions that they have. It can be challenging to come back to school after being in the workforce, all while juggling having a family and other personal and professional commitments. But the Brandeis GPS team is ready to work with you and help you succeed no matter what you have going on outside of school.

Shannon McCarthy HikingShannon is looking forward to working with students as they are applying and following up with them once they’ve started. She likes getting to see their next steps after they are accepted and continue to watch them be successful. She is also excited for her first graduation ceremony to see all the students get recognized for what they have achieved.

Outside of the office, Shannon loves spending time with her daughter, who’s almost a year old. She also enjoys taking dance and yoga classes and going hiking.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Project Management Certification or a Master’s Degree: Which Should You Get?

By Leanne Bateman

Leanne Bateman HeadshotAs the program chair of the Project & Program Management program at Brandeis GPS, one of the most frequent questions I have gotten over my 11 years at Brandeis University is this: Which is more important and valuable, Project Management Certification (Project Management Professional, or PMP) or a Master’s Degree in Project Management?

Honestly, the answer depends on what you want to accomplish in your career. The options are: work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, work as a project management consultant or just gain project management knowledge and experience in your non-project management related role.

If you’re primarily interested in working as a project management consultant—which involves either working through an agency on assignment at a company, or contracting directly with a company—then the Project Management Institute’s PMP certification is the first credential agencies and companies will expect. Coupling the PMP with Master’s Degree in Project Management will add tremendous value and distinguish you from other consultants/contractors. If your interest is to work as a full-time Project Manager for a company, then both credentials will help you get the job, but the Master’s degree is far more valuable and says much more about your commitment to your project management career. Similarly, if you’re currently a manager or employee interested in learning more about project management and integrating that discipline into your daily work, then once again, the Master’s degree is the way to go. And, your company may be able to contribute to your tuition.

The difference between the two credentials is this: PMP certification is a short-term study of the hard skills and knowledge needed to be a professional project manager, and this knowledge is validated through a 200-question exam that takes about four hours to complete. While there are requirements that must be fulfilled prior to taking the exam, they can be interpreted differently and unless the exam candidate is audited by PMI, the requirements may or may not be equal from candidate to candidate. Also, according to PMI, the number of PMPs has increased by 40,000-80,000 each year since 2009; this increase further dilutes the value of PMP certification.

With a Master’s Degree in Project Management, the value is greater on several levels:

  • First, because of the longer-term period of study over 10 graduate-level college courses, the breadth and depth of academic and experiential knowledge is more extensive. This knowledge covers not only the hard skills of project management but more importantly, the soft skills so critical for a successful project manager: leadership, communication, conflict resolution, influence, negotiation and team building.
  • Also, a Master’s degree in Project Management is more discerning to potential employers since few project managers have this credential.
  • Finally—and importantly—a graduate program whose faculty possess real-world experience as professional project managers is invaluable as they demonstrate the applicability of the hard and soft skills in actual projects and programs.

If one thing is certain in project management, it is that despite any earned credentials, practical experience is the most valuable credential of all. So, a Master’s Degree in Project Management taught by experienced faculty and demonstrated through practical coursework exercises is the next best thing to actually working as a professional project manager.

Leanne Bateman, MA, PMP, CSM, Six Sigma Green Belt, CIP is the program chair of the Project and Program Management program at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies, and the Principal Consultant with Beacon Strategy Group, a Boston-based management firm specializing in project management services. Leanne has 20+ years of project management experience across the areas of health care, biotech/pharmaceuticals, information technology, high-tech manufacturing, human resources, construction, housing/real estate, government, and higher education. 

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

Don’t wait to create social impact – just do it!

By Subhadra Mahanti

The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect upon how one has done in the past year. Personally, I go back a few years looking for a trajectory that evolves towards growth and meaningful impact-personal, professional or social. I feel a life well-spent is one that has created a ripple effect of positive change in the lives around.

During my undergraduate summer internships with Tata Steel and Tata Motors in India, I was introduced to Tata’s legacy of blending business with philanthropy. Though I was already involved in various community activities, that was the first time I witnessed how a business can positively impact communities by bringing together its products, processes and people. Both these internships opened my eyes to corporate citizenry. Tata’s mission of integrating social responsibility with corporate strategy resonated deeply within me.

Not long after, I joined MathWorks. Since then, I have come to truly appreciate MathWorks’ commitment to establish itself as a global corporate citizen through its Social Mission program. I first participated in this program in 2007. I was fundraising for AID (Association for India’s Development) while training for the upcoming Chicago marathon . With the help of individual contributions and company match, I was able to raise about $7000 in spite of being a new employee then. I have found myself increasingly involved ever since, be it through a-thon fundraisers, STEM initiatives, end-of-year donations or disaster relief. I continue to be impressed with the growing outreach of the company’s social impact initiatives. My most recent experience was during the Tamil Nadu flood relief efforts where in a matter of two weeks, we collected a total of $40,000 in company match and staff donations worldwide. This is an excellent testament to the organizational culture and behavior.

And when an entire organization gets involved in the betterment of its society, that in my mind is corporate social responsibility at its best. What better way to explore and expand one’s impact than by engaging through such immersive experiences! I feel privileged to have had such an opportunity. At the same time, I recognize that there is still much to learn and so many avenues to discover.

For those of you contemplating to start out on this journey, there is a plethora of resources out there. Some of my favorite reads are: Creating a world without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus (a link to Yunus’ interview on Knowledge@Wharton) and The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid by C. K. Prahlad.

Also, McKinsey Quarterly published the following articles on the topic that caught my attention: Valuing Corporate Social Responsibility and Making the most of corporate social responsibility. Another site that I follow is Social Edge: it has posts and comprehensive discussions about personal experiences with for-profit, non-profit and the hybrid models-the challenges and the advantages.

Foundations like Scwab and Skoll probably pioneered the concept of social enterprise but the world has caught up fast. Organizations like Ashoka and conferences like Net Impact bring together social entrepreneurs round the globe and promote access to social financing and social venture capital firms. Now even top business schools have dedicated programs and tracks on social impact and entrepreneurship. After all, social responsibility is not a choice anymore: It is a necessity to sustain in today’s competitive landscape.

Read the article as originally published here.

Subhadra Mahanti is  a member of the Brandeis GPS Software Engineering advisory board.

Faces of GPS is an occasional series that profiles Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies students, faculty and staff. Find more Faces of GPS stories here.

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