2019 Outstanding Volunteer and Distinguished Alumni
Sonia Doering, Outstanding Volunteer
Sonia Synnestvedt Doering entered the Bryn Athyn College in the fall of 1952 after graduating from the Academy Girls’ School. She grew up in a New Church community in Glenview, Illinois, where pitching in was the way of life and her parents instilled in her the ideals of religion, family and the love of use.
Sonia developed a talent and love for sewing which eventually led her to transfer to the Ray-Vogue School of Design in Chicago. After receiving her diploma, Sonia and Dale were married, they moved to Bryn Athyn and she started work in Philadelphia at l’Aiglon Apparel Company. Sonia and Dale’s family expanded, and they had four lovely children, three boys and a girl. Eventually, Sonia accepted a position teaching sewing at ANC, and spent a full 25 years in this role.
Sewing for others has been a paasion throughout Sonia’s life. She has committed many years and thousands of hours to make over 30 Minister’s robes, the costume rooms at BACS, ANC and BACT all house her beautiful creations and handiwork. Sonia has been an impressive force for the Swedenborg Library. Sonia has volunteered at the Swedenborg Library since 2005, logging more than 1,400 hours. Carol Traverny, Library Director says “As part of the book mending group, and subsequently as its Chair, she has repaired hundreds of books – literally extending their shelf lives. In recent years, she has also applied her talents to constructing archival boxes for fragile books from our special collections. Although she admits that this is not one of her favorite tasks, she tackles it willingly and with her characteristic persistence, calmness, and good humor. Sonia is a delight to work with, and we in the library are very grateful for the tremendous support she has given us throughout the years.”
Sonia is grateful that the Bryn Athyn College is consistent and continues to foster the ideals that were so important to her parents and continue to be important to her life of “pitching in”.
Bracken Brown, Distinguished Alumnus
Bracken Brown grew up in Kempton, Pennsylvania, where a love of birds and a deep-seated curiosity about the natural world crafted his professional development. By age six Bracken found himself volunteering in support of Hawk Mountain Sanctuary’s long-term American kestrel box program. This early introduction into field research primed him to pursue additional opportunities to answer questions about the natural history of the birds he saw migrating overhead.
While the outdoors continued to be his primary classroom Bracken attended the Kempton New Church School prior to pursuing a Bachelor of Science with Bryn Athyn College. Originally intending to spend only two years before transferring to a larger school, Bracken ended up completing his bachelor’s degree here due to the small student to faculty ratio coupled with a phenomenal biology department. After completing his degree, Bracken entered the field to garner experience, while planning to enter a graduate school in five years’ time. This led Bracken to work for state agencies, non-profits, consultants, and a variety of volunteer positions, which moved him around the globe seasonally studying bird migration, toxicology, and stopover ecology. After a four-year stint as a high school science teacher for Kempton New Church School, Bracken accepted a job offer from Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, upgrading his 24-year Volunteer title to Biologist-Naturalist, filling out their science team. With an eye to the sky Bracken will continue to explore and comprehend natural patterns in avian ecology.
Charlotte Gyllenhaal, Distinguished Alumna
Charlotte Gyllenhaal is a long-term member of the Glenview Society, and attended the Academy of the New Church Girls’ School and Bryn Athyn College (AA ’69). A graduate of Ohio State University, she received her PhD in biology from the University of Alabama. She spent nearly 30 years on the faculty of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she taught pharmacy and medical students, worked on research to discover new medications from plants, and helped to obtain and manage research grants concentrating on collecting wild plants and plants used in traditional medicine, which were evaluated as potential medication sources. Although retired from the University, she still teaches herbal medicine and complementary medicine at the College of Pharmacy as well as at the University of Illinois College of Medicine. She is now the Research Manager at the Block Center for Integrative Cancer Treatment in Skokie, Illinois, where she runs clinical trials, supports the information needs of the medical team and manages the medical journal Integrative Cancer Therapies. Although she now lives in northwest Indiana, she continues her involvement with the Glenview Society, where she is currently on the Pastors’ Council and is part of the music team for Sunday services, playing piano and organ. She has served for 9 years and continues her service on the General Church Board. Dr Gyllenhaal is married to Dr Michael Huft, and they have four daughters and six grandchildren. She enjoys hiking with Michael, looking for wildflowers and birds.