The Colgate Scene ON-LINE


A Point of Light

by Rebecca Costello

Educator, entrepreneur and philanthropist Harvey Picker '36 has enjoyed outstanding success in both career and community, and this spring both Smith College and the University of New England recognized his accomplishments by awarding him honorary degrees.

Among Picker's many recent achievements is the campaign he led to triple the size of the Camden (Maine) Public Library, a historic building whose exterior and grounds couldn't be altered. “We literally picked up the landscape, built the library under it, and put the landscape back down,” he explains. “The best part was the people. They enjoyed building it — very typical of what the American public can do on a voluntary basis.”

Now mainly interested in patient-centered health care, Picker says, “The United States has the finest in technical health care, but its citizens are not getting the humane treatment they want.” He keeps his finger on the pulse of the issues as a board member of the Picker Institute, commissioner of the Maine Health Care Finance Commission and as a trustee of the Research and Education Fund of the Radiological Society of North America, among others. As commissioner of the Maine Workers' Compensation Commission, he helped to completely restructure workers' compensation in Maine.

Picker credits his late wife, Jean Sovatkin Picker, who was a Smith College alumna and trustee and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, for having a major influence on his success. One of only a few men ever to receive an honorary degree from the women's college, Picker quipped in his acceptance remarks, “I guess this shows you didn't have to be a Smith graduate to be successful. You just had to marry one.”

An Elmo Emmy

In her profession, Karin Young Shiel '83 rubs elbows with the big guys — the elephantine Mr. Snuffleupagus, the ravenous Cookie Monster, and of course, the towering but sweet Big Bird. Karin has been a producer with Children's Television Workshop — the creator of PBS's Sesame Street — for about eight years, and this year one of her projects hit it big, too.

Elmo Saves Christmas, which she produced, received the Emmy for Outstanding Children's Special (as well as one for best costume). Starring Elmo the fuzzy red naive muppet, the show was narrated by Maya Angelou and featured Charles Durning and Harvey Fierstein as well as the Sesame Street cast of muppets and children.

“We thought we had the inside story that we weren't going to win,” Karin confides. “So when it was announced, we were incredibly shocked and thrilled.” As producer, Karin coordinates all the talent — writers, directors, cast, puppeteers, set designers, costume designers and others — and then “I just let them do what they do best,” she says.

Karin has also done about eight home videos for CTW, put out by Sony/Wonder. Her favorite in the collection is Telling the Truth, where the muppet Telly gets a musical lesson on not fibbing from his “uncle” Dennis Quaid. “Dennis Quaid and Telly were great together.”

Karin and her husband James '81, and their daughters Annie (3) and Mackie (5), live in Katonah, NY. “My family is just so important to me,” she stresses.

Now Karin is pulling together a 1-hour children's special for ABC that celebrates Sesame Street music. “We're shooting nine music videos with some really great people, mostly from mainstream pop and comedy,” she explains. They will perform some of the show's time-honored favorites: “Ma Na Ma Na,” “Doing the Pigeon,” “Imagination,” “Cereal Girl,” “Zig Zag Dance,” “Caribbean Amphibian,” “Born to Add,” “On My Pond” and Kermit the Frog's “It's Not Easy Being Green.” RAC

Makin' copies

In the world of copies, Douglas Haggist '94 is an original.

As a store manager and field representative for the second-busiest of Kinko's copy centers in New York City, Haggist is perpetually on the move, hustling business, managing accounts, satisfying customers. In his first six months on a job where success is measured by volume as well as quality, he sold nearly half a million dollars' worth of duplicating.

Hoping to parlay his performing experiences with the Colgate Thirteen into an acting career, Haggist headed for the Big Apple following graduation and wound up in a role that suits many aspiring thespians: bartender. There is always the opportunity to be discovered behind the bar at the Republic on Union Square, however, and Haggist was. By two executives from Kinko's.

Conversation led to the offer of an interview, and within days Haggist was on the streets making the first of the cold calls that were to become the basis for his success. He started at 122 East 42nd St., taking the elevator to the top floor and planning to work his way down. His first call that day was on a Harvard graduate who runs an insurance business. There was no immediate order, but a relationship was established. Three months later Haggist was on the account. He's since landed another 15 customers at the same location.

With a personable but aggressive style, Haggist makes the impression of one who is eager to get the job done. His willingness to take over the details of clients' large-volume, I-need-it-now projects has been the staple of his relationship with repeat customers. “Apparently, I'm a natural,” he says with a sly grin, explaining the hustle that is necessary to survive in an environment that has no fewer than 28 competitors within a 15-block radius.

But Douglas Haggist's story is just beginning. Thoughts of the theater remain, perhaps as a producer. And the flexibility of his schedule allows for the occasional casting call, or TV shot, or a night's work at a comedy club.

“Have I got a routine? You've got to be kidding. I've got a million of 'em.” JL