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Prep Magazine: Take Note! Spring/Summer 2024

Prep Magazine: Take Note! Spring/Summer 2024

L to r: Marilyn Kramer ’77, Jesse Marks ’07 and Conor Cahill ’05 (PHOTO: DANIELA CAMPBELL, OFFICE OF COLORADO GOVERNOR JARED POLIS), and Brandan Kahari '15.

Government, healthcare economics, artificial intelligence–there is no limit to the fields Prep alumni not only explore, but thrive in. Meet four Eagles with notable stories and learn about the interesting work they've done and are currently doing.


Marilyn Kramer ’77

Base Camp: Beverly, MA
Hometown: Beverly, MA
Education: AB in Economics from Harvard University | MBA from University of Chicago

During her senior year, Marilyn Kramer ’77 was one of nine young women in a school of nearly 900 boys.

“I was often the only girl in the classroom,” remembers Kramer. “I had to speak up. In terms of a great place to learn to become a female executive, there was really no better place than the Prep.”

Following the closure of Cardinal Cushing Academy in West Newbury and St. Chretienne Academy in Salem, St. John’s Prep opened their doors to young women in the community who were looking to continue their Catholic education and extended the offer to the sisters of current or past Prep students. With an older brother who graduated in 1973 and an itch for some change, Kramer and her parents figured, why not St. John’s?

Kramer’s time at the Prep set her on an impressive trajectory, leaving her with a tight-knit group of friends—both men and women—plus the confidence and skills to pursue a career as a healthcare economist.

“I decided to study healthcare economics after a summer internship in Washington, D.C. working with what’s now the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services. I liked it because healthcare violated every rule of economics, meaning that when you raise the price, demand doesn’t go down. It was very interesting to take on.”

Kramer has seen all different sides of the industry. She rebranded DxCG (now Cotiviti) from an academic consulting firm to a leading healthcare predictive modeling company, worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to assist in the transition from Romneycare to Obamacare, and she now consults with large companies on their medical plans in her current role at Brown & Brown.

“It’s been a very varied and challenging career,” says Kramer. “There’s always a new opportunity around the corner for me.”

Kramer is certainly not one to shy away from opportunity. She transferred her corporate leadership skills to community leadership, having served in roles like president and treasurer at her temple, Temple Ahavat Achim, in Gloucester.

When the synagogue experienced an eight-alarm fire in 2007 that left it a total loss, Kramer was there to help salvage the ruins.

“After the fire, we created a strategic plan to outline what we wanted to build and where we wanted to build it. That was an amazing process. We had a chance to reimagine who we wanted to be.”

The community jumped into action, and with the help of generous donors from across the world, Temple Ahavat Achim was restored and is once again a vibrant part of the Gloucester religious scene. “It’s a modern building, very flexible, fully handicapped accessible, which the converted church we used before never was. The new building really revitalized our community.”

Community is something Kramer seems to find wherever she goes. Be it in the halls of St. John’s, in the gatherings of the synagogue, or in her work, Kramer is a staple in the communities she graces.


Jesse Marks '07

Base Camp: Golden, CO
Hometown: Peabody, MA
Education: BA in Economics from Yale University | JD from Yale Law School

Conor Cahill '05

Base Camp: Denver, CO
Hometown: Danvers, MA
Education: BA in Politics from St. Anselm College

Though they graduated only two years apart, Conor Cahill ’05 and Jesse Marks ’07 never crossed paths at the Prep. It wasn’t until 2023 when the duo officially met—in the offices of the Governor of Colorado of all places.

“We do these internal announcements when people are hired,” says Cahill. “So when Jesse got hired, I clicked his LinkedIn profile in the announcement and was looking through it and it said ‘Prep ’07.’ I was like, ‘Oh! Interesting’.”

Within the office of Colorado Governor Jared Polis, these two Prep alumni are crucial members of the executive team: Marks serves as the director of operations and cabinet affairs and Cahill as the communications director.

“The executive team meets as a group to work on day-to-day issues and long-term items for the governor and the administration,” explains Cahill. “We usually meet several times a week, so we see each other a lot.” That’s no exaggeration: Cahill’s and Marks’ offices are literally next door to one another.

So how do two Eagles from the North Shore end up in Colorado at the same time working for the same administration? For Cahill, the move with his wife in 2017 stemmed from some burnout from his time in Washington, D.C. After working in the Colorado state legislature in communications, he was then invited onto the governor’s team by a previous boss. For Marks, the Centennial State had both his friends and the beautiful Rocky Mountains. From there, the job seemed to fall into place.

“This position opened a year ago,” says Marks. “This is the type of work that I’d always dreamed of doing, and all the work I’d done to that point was in some ways a preparation for it. So I was fortunate enough to be invited to join the team.”

After graduating from Yale University with a degree in economics (“the perfect blend of public policy and hard, quantitative analysis,” he says), Marks worked as a management consultant at McKinsey and Company in Washington, D.C., helping to solve operational issues in the federal government. After two years, he moved to Ethiopia where he worked for the country’s Agricultural Transformation Agency. But before too long, he was offered a new opportunity.

“I diverted into philanthropy when I was approached by a former colleague who was helping to set up Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s new non-profit, Schmidt Futures.” The philanthropic organization’s mission is to connect the brightest minds everywhere with opportunities to solve the world’s hardest problems, with a primary focus on science, technology, and economic opportunity. “I spent a few years there helping to build programs related to government innovation.”

Meanwhile, after his time at St. Anselm’s, Cahill spent more than half a decade in the nation’s capital working for Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.

“I worked on committee staff and then eventually grew to have a legislative portfolio,” says Cahill. “Then, I worked on a number of different issues for [Markey] before moving to the forefront of digital media. The social media channels you see members of Congress having and harnessing now—I was working on that in the early stages.”

The experience and passion for government these two alumni bring to Governor Polis’s team don’t just stem from their professional resumes, but from their time at St. John’s.

“There’s a civic orientation at the Prep,” remembers Marks. “I think that really put me on a path towards wanting to enter public service. I think a lot of people at the Prep had a similar experience.”

Turns out, even 1,800 miles away, you’re never that far from Spring Street.


Brandan Kahari '15

Base Camp: Swampscott, MA
Hometown: Lynn, MA
Education: BFA in Media and Society, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Brandan Kahari ’15 is the first to admit—he likes to talk. “I’m a loud person. I like talking.” That passion for conversation is just one of the reasons he finds himself on an impressive trajectory in the world of sales.

After beginning his career as a business development representative (BDR) with Lobster Education Tech Company, where he worked with schools to implement virtual lab simulations, he found a niche in selling generative artificial intelligence tools, first in his role at cybersecurity software company Pentera and now as a BDR with DataRobot.

“The AI space is young and thriving,” explains Kahari. “It’s something that I think a lot of people should look into. You’re most likely going to use AI at some point in your life. [From a career standpoint] I think it’s an awesome space and there’s a lot of room to grow.”

DataRobot utilizes AI to automate model-building processes, enabling organizations like Boston Children’s Hospital and Warner Bros. to create predictive models to simplify tasks, extract valuable insights, and, overall, give them an edge over their competitors. But in an industry that’s evolving as we speak, it’s crucial to keep up.

“This is very new and it’s always advancing. Knowing the product and knowing the kind of people you work with is a hundred percent what you have to do. As long as you know the basics, you should be prepared to start that conversation.”

While Kahari has certainly taken to the world of automation and artificial intelligence, his collegiate career followed a different path. A graduate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Kahari found himself drawn to the institution’s BFA in Media and Society.

“My freshman year, I was also put in an improv class, and that’s when it was just like, ‘All right, this school has a lot to offer and a lot of opportunities for me to find what I would love.’ And that’s how I found Media and Society.”

An aficionado of movies and film, Kahari worked both in front of and behind the camera during his time in college. Experiences like that ultimately drove him to sales.

“I used it as an opportunity to work on my public speaking and my overall communication with people as a team. Toward the end of my senior year, I realized that sales was my niche. I can talk through things, I can work collaboratively with people. I learned a lot of that through my time playing football, through my college experience, and through St. John’s.”

For Kahari, St. John’s stands out in his mind as an enjoyable experience in more ways than one. Whether it was the school lunches (which he describes as “easily the best lunch I’ve had”) or the friendships he maintains today, the Prep is a special place for Kahari.

“There’s something for everyone at St. John’s and, honestly, I think that was kind of what separated it from other schools and [myself from] other people. It was literally one big community in my time, but everyone got to do their own thing. There were 1,200 people, but they could all collaborate in one space. I thought that was super special.”

P.S. Did you know that the Prep is greatly represented in the field of aviation. Read more about the alumni that are reaching new heights in this article.

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