Tag Archives: Andy Friedland

2 For 40 Under 40

There are 169 towns and cities in Connecticut. But 2 Westporters — one current, one former — have made Connecticut Magazine’ s “40 Under 40” list. The feature celebrates 40 Nutmeggers doing interesting and/or important work, all before their 40th birthday.

Andy Friedland now lives in New Haven, but he grew up here. Here’s the magazine’s shout-out to the 2008 Staples High School graduate:

With a sharp rise in hate crimes statewide nationally and internationally in the past 3 years, Friedland’s job as associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Connecticut office keeps him busy.

A former team leader with AmeriCorps, he is a primary responder to combat anti-Semitism, other bias incidents and all forms of bigotry. He works with schools, law enforcement and “whoever comes into the picture” to educate people about anti-Semitism and its local origins.

Friedland has led educational programs on topics such as the Holocaust and genocide and the separation of church and state. He has lobbied for and testified for the ADL’s initiative Backspace Hate for legislation to address online harassment, including cyberstalking.

Connecticut has good laws, Friedland says, but adds that it’s important to “keep laws up to date and take on the issues that are really important and dangerous.”

Andy Friedland (Photo by Harold Shapiro for Connecticut Magazine)

Dan Orlovsky grew up in Shelton, but lives here now. His writeup says:

Orlovsky has been famous in Connecticut since he was a teenager. In 2000, the senior quarterback led Shelton High School to an undefeated season and the Class LL state championship before being named state player of the year.

Despite receiving interest from traditional college football powerhouses, Orlovsky stayed in state and attended UConn. He rewrote the school’s record book — still holding every major passing mark in Huskies history to this day — and also led UConn to the program’s first bowl game, a 39-10 win over Toledo in the Motor City Bowl in 2004. Orlovsky was named MVP of the game.

The Detroit Lions selected Orlovsky in the fifth round of the 2005 NFL Draft. Serving mostly as a backup QB in his 12 years in the league, Orlovsky was uniquely preparing himself for his second career as an ESPN football analyst.

Orlovsky was already considered a rising media star when he joined the network in 2018. Now he provides color commentary in the broadcast booth (he recently called the Camping World Bowl on TV and the Rose Bowl for radio) and intelligent and insightful analysis on studio shows including Get Up!, NFL Live and SportsCenter.

Dan Orlovsky (Photo by Melissa Rawlins/ESPN for Connecticut Magazine)

Congratulations, Andy and Dan. And to all you other Westporters under 40: Get to work!

(For the full “40 Under 40” story, click here. Hat tip: Amy Schafrann)

Staples Grads Serve America, Find Themselves

Nellie Stagg has led teams that created trails in the Rocky Mountains, surveyed endangered cacti in the Sonoran desert, transformed a burning landfill into a nature preserve in Texas, tutored struggling 6th graders in Denver, and built homes for low-income families in Oklahoma.

And those are just the highlights of 2 years of service.

“I gained a lifetime’s worth of interesting stories, and more leadership experience than some managers earn in their careers,” Nellie — a 2009 Staples High School graduate — says.

More important, though, she “learned I had the power to get things done. My team and I worked every day towards the world we want to live in.”

Nellie Stagg (center, in green) with her team. They built Habitat For Humanity homes in Oklahoma.

Nellie Stagg (center, in green) with her team. They built Habitat For Humanity homes in Oklahoma City.

Nellie was a team leader for Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Community Corps), a program called “the domestic Peace Corps.” Teams of 10 volunteers — between 18 and 24 years old — travel around a region in a van for 10 months. They work on diverse projects for 6-13 weeks at a time.

Every NCCC experience is different. “The mystery is part of the fun,” Nellie says. “You learn to adapt quickly to constant change.”

Both Nellie and classmate Andy Friedland served as team leaders. Both, she says, “had the transformative experience of being trusted to lead teams in the field, empowering our members to grow in sometimes unexpected and beautiful ways.”

Andy worked with HERO and Habitat for Humanity in Alabama and Florida, assembled and distributed care packages to victims of flooding after Hurricane Joaquin in South Carolina, and fixed trails at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield in Georgia.

Andy Friedland, hard at work for AmeriCorps NCCC.

Andy Friedland, hard at work for AmeriCorps NCCC.

Thrown together with a diverse group, Nellie says the “immersion experience of living and working with communities in need taught me more about poverty in America than I ever learned in a sociology textbook or documentary.”

She learned hard skills too. “If you need a trail built, a long division lesson taught, a huge hole dug, a wall built or demolished, a house weatherized, or some 2x4s cut at 45 degrees, I’m your gal.” She learned not only how to use and love power tools and pickaxes, but how to harness her strength and skills in physical labor.

NCCC covers travel costs, housing and food. They even pay a living stipend.

While serving with AmeriCorps, federal student loans go into forbearance — and the government pays the interest that accrues. Graduates of the program get an award of $6,000 to pay back student loans or put toward future schooling.

Nellie calls it “a community service road trip bonanza — hands-down the best thing I’ve ever done.” The experience catapulted her into a job managing AmeriCorps programs for the governor of Colorado. Andy works as an assistant regional director at the Connecticut office of the Anti-Defamation League.

AmeriCorps NCCC is not all about backbreaking work. Nellie got eaten by this hippo, while helping renovate a Head Start playground in Idabel, Oklahoma.

AmeriCorps NCCC is not all about backbreaking work. Nellie got eaten by this hippo while helping renovate a Head Start playground in Idabel, Oklahoma.

As Nellie watches her younger brother, JimmyRay, navigate the college process at Staples, she reflects on the expectation in Westport that everyone go immediately to a 4-year university. She wants Staples students to know that there are other options — and AmeriCorps NCCC is one of them.

She joined NCCC after graduating from the University of Connecticut. She did not know what she wanted to do next (other than not live in her parents’ basement). A former boss at the Longshore pool had joined NCCC.

Regardless of why people start, she says, everyone leaves the NCCC journey with “new friends, countless stories, a new perspective on the US, and a service ethic that stays with you.”

Nellie asked “06880” to spread the word about her life-changing experience. And, she adds, “if the whole living in a tent/church basement/empty office building with 10 other people isn’t your style, there are thousands of different AmeriCorps positions across the country to choose from.” For more information, click on www.nationalservice.gov.

Nellie Stagg's team builds a trail in Ridgway, Colorado.

Nellie Stagg’s team builds a trail in Ridgway, Colorado.