wevorce

MICHELLE CROSBY: The Children Come First with WeVorce

Michelle Crosby (J.D. ’01) is building WeVorce, a new way to divorce. WeVorce focuses on families who want the best for their children. In fact, Crosby’s entire career in law rests on the needs of the children.

She tells new clients, “You are always going to be a family. We’re going to help you become parents in two households.”

Crosby lives in Boise, but she sees a nationwide market and has gained national attention. WeVorce uses mediation instead of the legal system. Some WeVorce mediators work in specialty areas – child development, say, or finance. In each case, building the right plan for raising clients’ children is paramount. Crosby tested and honed her process on 100 families. “I knew we had something,” she said, when she was able to keep all but one family out of court.

Crosby and her co-founder Jeff Reynolds treated WeVorce like a start-up. They took their idea to a powerful start-up incubator, Y-Combinator in Silicon Valley, and they came away with training, wisdom and $1.7 million in funding. Two days after a Sunday story in the New York Times, Crosby had more than 800 divorce attorneys wanting to be part of WeVorce. “It took me a couple of weeks to unshovel from that. It’s been an amazing journey helping one family after another,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal came next with an article; the American Bar Association Journal followed.

WeVorce is the result of Crosby’s personal experience; her parents divorced when she was 9 years old. On the witness stand, she was asked to answer the cruelest of questions: “Which parent do you want to live with?”

“It really is the impact of that moment that drove me into law. As a child, you’re half your mother and half your father. When you ask a child who they want to live with, you are asking them to rip themselves in half. Even after the divorce, they were always my mom and my dad, and that failure of the lawyers to understand that, was indicative of the brokenness of the existing system,” Crosby said.

sophisticated-lady

Members of Sophisticated Lady from left, Andrew James Boyle, Misha Bigos (’06), Gary Wicks, and JJ Kirkpatrick

MISHA BIGOS: Soaring reviews for Sophisticated Lady

Misha Bigos (’06) fell in love with jazz band as a junior in high school – too late, he thought, to pursue a serious music career. Bigos was wrong, though. He plays piano in a jazz quartet named “Sophisticated Lady.” The quartet drew spectacular reviews for its first album, released last fall.

At Gonzaga, Bigos studied with David Fague, Greg Presley, Robert Spittal – and other Spokane musicians. As his own worst critic Bigos is quick to emphasize how much his GU professors’ encouragement meant to him. But Bigos has done the work: As a senior, he flew to the Caribbean during winter break for his first professional contract on a cruise ship, where musicians are always in demand. For two years, he played cruise ships, paying off student loans and honing his craft.

Next came graduate school: a program in jazz performance at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. Bigos and three other students formed the quartet. They worked hard, but their album emerged through serendipity. A new performance hall had just been completed at USC; the acoustics in Cammilleri Hall were reputed to be spectacular. Los Angeles recording firm Yarlung Artists wanted someone – anyone, really – to play for them in the new venue. Sophisticated Lady became their guinea pig.

“We thought we were doing them a favor. We almost didn’t show up. Our trumpet player wasn’t there, and the drummer complained about having to schlepp his equipment all the way across campus,” Bigos said.

Halfway into the session, though, Yarlung’s producer volleyed questions at them. Did they compose? Did any of them sing? Did they have a strong play list?

“He really dug our sound. Finally we realized he’s talking to us about recording an album. Damn! We didn’t expect that,” said Bigos.

These days Bigos sees that he truly has a crack at a music career – however, once a perfectionist, always a perfectionist.

“The upside is that I’ve made progress. Now, I think only 50 percent of my music sounds terrible,” he said. “You could say my lifetime goal is to suck less.”

redsoxfoundation

JASON EVERHART: Loving the Red Sox, No Matter the Score

When Jason Everhart (’00) says he’s a Red Sox fan, he means that he admires not only the team, but the entire organization and the charitable work it does in the city of Boston.

In 2014, the Red Sox Foundation named Everhart Employee of the Year. Everhart’s day job is teaching middle school social studies. In his part-time work with the foundation, he teaches and organizes volunteers.

Everhart’s introduction to the Red Sox came about in an odd way. After a rough week, Everhart took his wife to Fenway Park as a pick-me-up. During the game, the foundation raffled off a World Series ring. That caught his attention. He liked what he learned about the foundation’s work and soon became a volunteer. In 2010, he was honored as top volunteer. Then, a game-day-only job opened up.

“Because I’m a teacher and I work hard, I got an interview and ended up with a part-time job that fits in after my teaching,” he said. “So, what started off as a bad day at work turned into the best job I’ve ever had.”

The Red Sox Foundation has a hallmark way of raising money at home games. It’s called the 50-50 Raffle. Half the money raised goes to the individual in the stands who wins the raffle, and the other half goes to the foundation’s programs. Jason is in charge of eight to 15 staffers and between five and 30 volunteers who sell the raffle tickets at any given game. Many are one-time volunteers. Everhart works to make sure they’re comfortable and effective working in the free-wheeling atmosphere of Fenway Park.

“They work really hard. You really have to connect with the fans – and have fun doing it. I’m a teacher, and all day long I’m shouting. So, for me, I’m happy to go out in the middle of everything and lift my voice.

“But some volunteers are happier working fans one-on-one. I want them comfortable, because then the fans will be happier, they’ll buy more tickets. And the volunteers will come back again, too.”

Occasionally, Jason’s evenings at Fenway cut through all the boisterous fun.

“At one game, I got talking with a fan who said, ‘The Red Sox Foundation helped me get through some of the darkest hours in my life.’ He was a returned veteran.”

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