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April 30, 2005

Ed Ronk

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After months of guilt, I have finally coerced Ed Ronk into submitting a photo and an update about what he is doing these days. He begins with an explanation for the beefcake photo ...

This is actually from a couple of weeks ago when the family was on Spring break in Florida.

So I guess this should go into the category of true “Chiat/Day” by-products of which I’m sure there are many. Meet Emily (12 years old) and Anna (4 years old) standing with their mother (then known as Mary Mirisola and their father Ed Ronk). Mary still uses the “Mirisola” name sometimes though for things where it will have more leverage—like reservations at Italian restaurants.

About seven years ago we finally moved out of the city and into the “burbs” –Westfield, NJ (and ugh—I still get on that train every morning kicking and screaming)—but it has been great for the kids and a entirely new experience for Mary who, of course spent most of her life growing up in Greenwich Village. We both worked at Chiat/Day in the early 80’s and I even go back as far as when they were located in the building of the “Devil”(666 Fifth Avenue) before making the move to 79 Fifth Avenue in January; with no heat and electricity the first couple of months (remember those great meetings we used to have at a bar called “Cody’s” every day around 4:00, because with no lights, we couldn’t see anything in the office any more!)

After Chiat/Day and a long sabbatical to Europe, I then went on to work at the now defunct Levine, Huntley, Schmidt and Beaver for about 8 years. It was a very similar environment to C/D and, in fact, quite a few ex C/D’ers passed through LHS&B in those years and even outside of C/D—we would all sometimes sit around and tell “Jay” recollections.

Mary also went on to work at LHS&B where we actually ended up “tying” the knot (but for those in the “know”—we did first meet at C/D). After LHS&B, she went into sales and worked for Simmons selling research and then America Online selling online advertising for about five years. She stopped working a few years ago to take on the full time job of raising two wonderful daughters, which as you can see from the attached photo, are very lucky they don’t look a thing like their father.

For the last 10 years I have been a partner in a small advertising agency called GRW Advertising in NYC that specializes in Arts & Entertainment and Retail. We primarily handle a lot of Dance and Theater, but have a few oddballs that fall into our lap from time to time (media accounts, hospitals, real estate firms, doctors etc.). It’s been a great experience and I certainly wear lot of hats from time to time.

FAVORITE CHIAT/DAY MEMORY

I, like many, could probably go on for pages and pages about Chiat/Day memories, but the one that will always remain at the top of the list for me goes back to the very early days up at 666 Fifth and involved the “bunny-napping” of Steve Alburty’s chocolate bunny “Harvey” from his desk top.

For those of you who weren’t there or don’t recall, somebody had swiped a big chocolate bunny given to Steve from a printer around Easter (and as I recall, the original culprit was Geoffrey Roche, but as the gag got bigger and bigger—there were many participants).

And Steve Alburty was mad—I mean really mad! I know we probably all have seen the wrath of Steve at his worst—but this time he was ready to blow like a volcano and stormed around the office in search of “Harvey” to no avail.

The next day—Steve received an inter-office envelope (we still did inter-office mail the old fashioned way in those days) which contained “the ransom note” and of course—one chocolate bunny ear. Steve, of course, refused to pay the ransom and continued in his rampage around the office in search of “Harvey”.

The next day, a front-page mock-up from the New York Post was hung in the kitchen for all to see with the blistering headlines and story of this brutal and inhumane “bunny-napping.”

And then finally (and I do believe it was Good Friday—but I could just be throwing that in to enhance the story!) the entire office got together for the funeral procession and marched off to Steve’s office with his "Harvey" in a miniature pine box—sans one ear of course.

I had only worked at Chiat/Day for a few weeks at the time and I can remember thinking-“wow, this could really be a fun place to work!”

And the reason I know the finite details of this story so well—is I sat in the cubicle right next to Mr. Alburty. In those days, all “newbies” had to take a turn sitting next to Steve as part of their “hell week” training.

Anyway—I love the website and Steve and Co., are doing a great job of bringing back all of those wonderful memories and up-to-date tabs on all former “culprits.” I along with many I’m sure would like to thank you for all of your time and effort invested in it.

And I certainly welcome anyone interested in emailing me to continue “reminiscing” at
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Ed

P.S. from Steve: poor Ed also had the misfortune of sitting across the divider from me at 79 Fifth when I was breaking up with the Great Love of My Life. (Or was it the one who had moved into my cabin and bought a dog for me without asking?)

Also, be sure to check back here later in the week, as I have the bunny and the ransom note and will post pictures.

Alums Lost and Found

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From the portfolio of Witt | Rylander

Found: Michael Rylander and Tom Witt, who worked for Chiat/LA for 3 1/2 years on Apple (with Ken Segall). They have their very own agency, Witt | Rylander, the website of which you may visit by clicking here.

Found: Kieran Darby, who worked at Chiat/Day LA from May '87-August '92/

Lost: Ann Lundquist, whose email address no longer seems to work. Blake Olson and Laura Langdon, who do not appear to be working at DDB anymore. Brent Bouchez. Nigel Carr. Nancy Suelflow. Martin Grant. Nicola Gorini. Doug Watson. Amy Ward. Trish Ibelli. Theresa Babbington. Hank Hinton.

April 25, 2005

Bob Dion

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Bob and his son, Ben

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A few weeks ago in New York, I met Ben Dion, the 17-year-old son of one of the most legendary creative directors in Chiat/Day's history, Bob Dion. I had not seen Ben since he was about nine years old. As I told Ben about how much Bob had meant to us back in the good old days, he seemed just a little amazed to be hearing stories about what an influential person Bob had been in my life, as well the lives of those who worked for Bob. I mean, after all, sons almost always know that their fathers are gods, but Ben was too young back in the 1980s to know that we all thought Bob was a god, as well.

So Ben, this is for you and your father.

In 1997, Bob was serious injured in a car accident on the way home from work. Gratefully, he recovered. He is now retired and lives in the Napa Valley, where he paints and plays golf.

Bob, we love you and miss you. You led us magnificently through some of the best years of all of our lives. And I am so pleased to be able to publish what is the longest, and most star-studded posting in the history of this website.

Steve Alburty
Your jayday website host

From Ken Segall

Steve, I know you said to keep this brief, but since I've ignored your request to write something for the jayday website for so many years, I figured that I have a lot of unused credits.

Bob was my first creative director (Chiat/Day NY) back in the early 80s. At that time, Chiat/Day was throwing a huge anniversary party (15th?) by renting one night aboard client Holland America's newest super-luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage. Just about every Chiat/Day dignitary was invited, as was every celebrity who ever made a Chiat/Day commercial. Showing infinite trust, Bob gave me (the junior copywriter) the job of writing the invitation, and I submitted it proudly as I left on vacation. Upon my return, I found a box of finished invitations, elegantly printed on the most expensive card stock available and hand-addressed in perfect calligraphy -- all prepared on a super-rush timetable to meet an impossible deadline for mailing.

Eager to savor my handiwork, I peeked into one envelope -- and my heart fell to the floor. Quite clearly, it called for all invitees to board the ship at "Pier 22, NY, NY." Good idea, except that Pier 22 was something I made up as a placeholder before I went on vacation. Oops.

My choices were suicide or turning myself in to Bob. So I nervously made my way into Bob's office and confessed. You know the way Ralph Kramden used to do those slow eruptions, when his eyes glazed over, he turned a few colors, his face twitched and a major blow-up was obviously seconds away? That was Bob. I don't know how, but somehow he suppressed the outburst. It could have been fear of criminal charges, but I like to think that it was just Bob, understanding that I was only a scared junior copywriter who made a mistake he'd never make again. A little mistake that was going to cost us a lot of money, possibly torpedo the whole party and leave Bob exposed to the wrath of Jay. What did Bob do? He actually took the time to make me feel better. And only then did he go about the business of somehow making everything alright again.

This silly story illustrates why Bob was such a great guy to work with and work for. (And why you should think twice before trusting me with your next party invitation.) Bob is both a good example of a true Chiat/Day creative director and a true human being. He only needs to work on the driving thing a little bit more...

From Jamie Seltzer ...

I have so many fond memories of Bob Dion. The one thing that stands out is the support he always gave me when I was about to flip out. I would say to Bob, regarding Jay, Tell me, Bob. Is it me, or him? He would always put his arms around me and say, him. He might have been saying it just to make me feel better but I would like him to know....it worked.

From Sharon Teal Conklin

Bob was one of the most talented creative guys I ever worked with but perhaps more importantly, he was one of the most supportive and gracious (especially to us "suits"). He was so incredibly kind and without ego, but on the rare occasion when he did get pissed off, it was so out of character that everyone sat up and listened. I thought of him often after I left C/D especially when I'd run across some young turk creative type who couldn't have carried Bob's portfolio.
From David Thall
I'm writing this account of my experience at Chiat/Day and meeting Bob because I don't believe Bob Dion ever heard it from my point of view and I thought perhaps he might find it revealing.

I was hired by Bob Dion in 1982 at the first Chiat/Day New York office at 666 Fifth Avenue. Three months later Jay fired me. I later learned several art directors and writers had the same fate at 666. I'm not superstitious... but, hey. Bob hired 'em and Jay fired 'em. Which may help explain their relationship.

Despite the neurotic environment Jay promoted I have to say Bob Dion was always a gentleman, always courteous both professionally and personally, and frankly it impressed me how easy going he remained despite the mercurial behavior that went on there.

Interestingly, I remain friends to this day with some of the people I met there during my brief indoctrination, including Evert Cilliers, Geoffrey Roche and John Salvati.

Years later, I returned to freelance at Chiat/Day New York five more times under different creative directors, down at the 79 Fifth Avenue offices. I recall running into Bob again during one of my tours, under Bill Hamilton I believe. Bob was still warm and friendly, greeting me as if I was an old friend he hadn't seen in a while. Bob may not have realized it at the time but it was actually a bit awkward for me, because back in '82 I had such high expectations for a career there, and felt let down. I recall very vividly Bob calling me in the middle of a casting session for a New York Air TV commercial I was about to produce telling me I had to return to the office right away. I told him I couldn't because I was the only one from the agency there, and that the young producer... Jay's future son-in-law... hadn't shown up. Again Bob strongly asked me to return to the office anyway because Jay wanted to see me. My gut told me it wasn't good. In a conference room alone with Jay I was told if it had been the L.A. office he probably wouldn't want to let me go. He also said he'd fired one art director five times and then hired him back. I told Jay that I had come to Chiat/Day expecting to have a career, and that I was disappointed at what was happening. He suddenly changed his demeanor and offered to allow me to stay a couple of weeks more and produce the TV spot. I declined the offer and told him I couldn't stay there under those conditions. Later, Bob gave a me a copy of the TV campaign with a very reassuring attitude, as if to say, don't worry we didn't screw it up... it was produced well. He knew I cared, and he obviously gave a damn about other people's feelings toward their work. I later learned how rare this is in the business.

My feeling about Bob are that I wish I could have gotten to know him better and really become friends, rather than just professional acquaintances, because he really was one of the few generous people who worked there, or anywhere in this business for that matter.


From Jackie End

I had just started at Chiat and Bob and I were working on the Revlon pitch. I loved working with him and we did some really nice stuff that Jay liked and so we all went to present to Perlman and the other Revlon management. Dion had done these really beautiful layouts with I think 9 or 10 point type. Maybe it was even 8. The Revlon people really liked the concepts but the President of Revlon pointed out to us that they had a rule about type size nothing smaller than 12 point. Dion and I had no idea how to respond to this. But Jay did. He said; I've got a rule, too. I only come three times a night. Not two. Not six. Three. There was a stunned silence. I glanced over at Bob. His eyes were twinkling and his mouth was twitching as he tried not to laugh. Jay then said; That's how stupid rules are. Later, Dion asked if I was OK. He was afraid Jay had been a little raw and that I would be offended. Because besides all the other wonderful things about Bob, he was always sensitive to other people. (Of course, for weeks after, we riffed on what Jay had said and laughed ourselves silly.)

From Adelaide Horton

Bob Dion is the BEST. He cared about everyone; gave everyone a hug and kiss before it was considered sexual harassment; and coaxed some wonderful work from the agency. Apropos to the latest Christo exhibit in Central Park, Bob wanted Christo to wrap Holland America's new ocean liner, the New Amsterdam, for its arrival in New York Harbor. Christo refused as he does not do any commercial projects but can you imagine how cool it would have been? And that was in the mid-eighties. And besides having great creative taste, Bob threw the best parties. What more could you ask for?

From Tom Carroll

Bob Dion is still the best guy I have ever worked with in 25 years. After Bob, I've spent years of working with self involved, marginally talented assholes who couldn't carry Bob's bag. Plus Bob is the only creative guy I know who can golf, drink beer and remember anything about Chicago that doesn't involve a 2 hour explanation. Tell him to call me.

From Steve Mitgang (and Ellen Sunshine Mitgang!)

As I recall, my entre into C/D was actually through Bob. I sent him a 16x20 story board with photographs and a paragraph about how the business side of advertising needs to be just as creative as the folks actually coming up with the ads themselves. He met with me for 30 minutes, and then hooked me up with Mr. Carroll and Mr. Palladino. By the way my follow-ups on status of the job were with Mr. Palladino's assistant-Ellen Sunshine. Bob always let me have a voice in a variety of meetings, and set the tone for an extraordinarily collaborative relationship for me in acct management and his teams on the creative side.

From Sharon and Brad Stanley

I remember those early days when you were working in LA...and then you agreed to go to NY and make it a success! Thank goodness you made the right decision. Glad to hear you are enjoying your life in Napa. Must be beautiful there now..sun on those rolling hills, the fresh smell of grapes growing.....with a glass of wine in your hand. Maybe Brad and I should come visit!

From Nat Whitten

When I came to Chiat NY in 1984 as an advertising wanna-be, Bob was the first person I met who had what I considered the real "California vibe" that I'd read about in the magazines. Meaning he was laid-back and talented as hell, but didn't act like the Big Kahuna that he was. He embraced me as a colleague even though he was a top dog creative and I was a human word processor. That made me feel good, and continued to make me feel good as he helped teach me the groove of what smart copywriters and art directors actually did for a living. As a freelancer for the past eight years (minus one), I've been inside a lot of agencies. I don't think any have the vibe of Chiat NY in the mid 80s, and Bob was a standout in creating that good energy. Napa Valley is lucky to have him in residence, and please let me know of any guest rooms available.
From Bruce Ascher

I remember Bob as a fun and talented man to work with. I also remember a kick-ass party July 4, 1987 at his place upstate.


From Peter Franke

We were just settled in @ 79 Fifth Ave, I'm running around working on a Holland America ad and I bully my way into Bob's Cube (which was perennially jammed) and interrupt him to ask where the layouts are. Bob calmly stops talking to, I think, Kenny Segal and just stares at me.I barely even notice his hand moving on the sketch pad he's holding while I wait for an answer. About 10 seconds pass and he rips off the piece of vellum and holds it up for everyone to see. It was a PERFECT line drawing of me with a thought bubble demanding my layouts. Everyone laughed out loud in amazement at how wonderfully he captured the moment and me. I still have the drawing on my fridge at home and think of him every-time I have to explain it. It really was a perfect moment at Chiat/Day NY. I miss you Bob, I really do need those layouts soon. All the best, Peter Franke
From Eve Luppert
Bob was one of the first people I met at Chiat/Day. He treated me like a real team member when I was "just" the office floater. I had a lot of fun working with Bob and playing with him too. I have many blurry memories of parties at the Dion's apartment in Chelsea. He is just plain classy! The lesson that I learned from Bob has served me well, and informed my own behavior as well as how I respond to others. Bob demonstrated every day that real talent and being a temperamental butthead had absolutely nothing to do with each other. He was great at his job and a wonderful, respectful person. When ever I run across some "talent" having a hissy fit, I think of Bob and feel smug, because I know the truth.

From Evert Cilliers

Bob Dion was the best art director I ever worked with. Also the best guy I ever worked with. Nice, kind, funny, warm, generous, great, smart, supportive, everything you want in a working partner. We did almost two years together, and it was advertising heaven. Except for the fact that a great deal of it was wasted on giving our best blood to GE, which Chiat/Day NY needed at the time to stay solvent. Fuck me if I remember why we broke up. Wish we hadn't. Another two years, and we might've conquered the world.

From Jane Newman

I worked with Dion for 4 years in the New York office. He was instrumental in getting that office off the ground. We worked very closely on GE Factory Automation and we did one of the best commercials I have ever worked on for them. It was called Uncle Sam and always gave you goose bumps no matter how often you saw it. It never saw the light of day (or a trinitron tube) but it was on the new business reel as the grand finale and helped get us lots of other business.

Hi there Dion!
All love
Jane

April 24, 2005

5 Films about Christo and Jean-Claude

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5 Films about Christo and Jeanne-Claude by the extraordinary documentarian, Albert Maysles.

Buy

Cheryl Birdsall Skowron

Another alum has appeared in my mailbox ...

Hi Steve, I worked in the NY office creative dept. for a few years around 1991-1994 ish with Dick Sittig and Carolyn Clare as a creative assistant and was in charge of award shows. Carolyn emailed me the link - great web site – nothin’ like a walk down memory lane – those were some fun days and nights! Please add me to the email list. I remember back in the early 90’s when you were trying to get us all “on line” and it seemed like such a foreign concept. You paved the way and apparently you’re still keeping us all connected – how awesome. Thank you and hope all is well ~ Cheryl Birdsall Skowron

Signs

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A wonderful online collection of hand-painted and hand-crafted signs.

Visit

April 20, 2005

Louzy Grammer

Marketing are bad for brand big and small. You Know What I am Saying? It is no wondering that advertisings are bad for company in America, Chicago and Germany.

Read

April 17, 2005

The Basket Building

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Jay would have loved this. My friend Bud Lavery over at Ross Culbert & Lavery Design says a friend of his shot this picture in Ohio a few weeks ago. It's the headquarters of the Longaberger Company in Newark, Ohio. And what does this company make? If you have to ask, you didn't work at Chiat/Day.

As a side note, the Longaberger Company, led by CEO Tami Longaberger, was recognized as the 18th largest woman-owned U.S. company by Working Woman magazine and one of the ten most generous U.S. companies by Newman’s Own, Inc.

Kathleen Phillips

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Got an email a while back from Kathleen Phillips (you may have known her as Kathleen Morency) who worked in the San Francisco office. She is now a Big Cheese with Axone, a records compliance management corporation. She just spent 16 months in Singapore and Southeast Asia and is now living in Hong Kong.

I have moved up to Hong Kong in the Regional Management role, focusing primarily on partnership development within HK, China and Taiwan, moving into Korea and Japan later this year. From a professional perspective, I am doing what I love; developing and nurturing business opportunities. From a personal perspective, HK is a much more vibrant and exciting place than Singapore.

When last heard from, Kathleen was about to embark on her first business trip to Beijing!

April 12, 2005

Worst Jobs in History

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You think your job in advertising sucks? Try being a leech collector, or a plague burier. Take a nostalgic look at The Worst Jobs in History ...

Visit

April 10, 2005

Louise Seeley

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Louise Seeley

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Louise, Ben Dion, and Amanda

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Ben Dion

All of you know that to be a Chiat/Day veteran you do not have to have had actually worked there. Spouses, partners, and significant others were always a part of the Chiat/Day family as much as an employee was.

One of my all-time favorite C/D veterans is Louise Seeley. You may have known her as Louise Dion, as she was married to Bob Dion, who was the Creative Director of the New York office in the 1980s. Louise is now remarried, and she and her son, Ben, and his girlfriend, Amanda, were recently in New York and attended Jane Newman's benefit.

It was such a thrill to see Louise again, and to see that Ben Dion, Bob and Louise's son, has grown up to become such a fine young man (or, if you come from his generation, "chill.")

Louise is now re-married to a high-school sweetheart, Michael Seeley. (There's hope for us all!) And how does Louise keep herself busy? Here is her story in her own words ...

I work for the Boys & Girls Club, which runs after school programs for kids ages 6-18. Part of my day is working on a capital campaign to build a new clubhouse -- so I work with adults (or what passes for adults) for part of my day, working on fundraising, brochures, grants, website, special event planning, etc.

In the afternoons, I run an after school program for teens. I do everything from setting up and teaching enrichment classes, coordinating field trips and open mic nights, making presentations to beg money and facilities from the City Council, School Board and civic groups, and grant writing, to beating the pants off a bunch of 14-year-old boys in pool and being a surrogate mom to some of them when they need a shoulder or a sympathetic ear. It is by far the most rewarding job I've ever had and I'm very proud of what we do to give kids a place to go that's safe, supervised and fun -- anything to get these guys away from gangs, drugs, alcohol, etc.

It was great seeing you, Louise. Come back often.

April 09, 2005

Simple design, intense content

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The visual display of data should be simple enough to fit on the side of a van. (A dense, but great article about Edward Tufte, acknowledged to be the master of the design of data representation. Read this before creating your next Powerpoint presentation.)

Read

April 03, 2005

Jane's Thorn Tree Benefit

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These just in to Jayday Central: exclusive photos from Jane Newman's benefit for the Thorn Tree Project, which was held last Thursday at the offices of Clodagh! The benefit raised $25,933.50, enough to put 100 children on mattresses in a bed in a dormitory with washing facilities!

To see all of the photos, click here.

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The impressive turnout. There's Clodagh in the middle.

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A very impressive spread

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Jane Newman herself!

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Adelaide Horton and Neilan Tyree

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That's John Fraley, Adelaide's husband, on the right, about to
assume his position running the till. And that's Paula, from Clodagh Design.

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John Fraley and Neilan Tyree

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Julia Leach, who now works with Kate and Andy Spade

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Louise (Dion) Seeley, her son, Ben, and Ben's girlfriend, Amanda. (Louise was the wife of C/D NY's creative director in the 1980s, Bob Dion.)

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Adelaide and Louise (Dion) Seeley

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Mary Maroun, Jackie End, and Neilan Tyree

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Mary Maroun, Jane Newman, and Jerry Croghan (Tom Carroll's cousin)

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Mary Maroun and me. Mary is now the President of the NY office of Young & Rubicam.

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Neilan Tyree and Jane Newman

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Robin D. Hafitz (we knew her as Robin Danielson)

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Your JayDay webmaster, Steve Alburty

April 02, 2005

Tom McElligott

C/D alum Tom McElligott has been lured out of retirement to teach at the soon-to-be-launched four-year advertising school at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).

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