Andrew L. Lawton

Profile Updated: April 14, 2019
Residing In: San Francisco, CA USA
Spouse/Partner: Jennifer Ferlito
Occupation: Software User Experience (UX) Designer
Children: Evan, born 2015
Comments:

Wow! Can you believe it? We made it to the 21st Century. Oops, now it looks like our generation is in charge. Time to get busy. I consider myself very fortunate to have gone to MHS and I'm grateful that you were there to help shape me into the person I am today. For anyone who is still reading, here's the short version of my very long story,

1979-1983: I attended Yale College where I studied architecture. I learned later on that a Liberal Arts Education is intended to simply prepare you to think, write and speak clearly. But we learned how to do that at MHS right? So I focused on learning how to learn. The most useful thing I learned was how to keep my body healthy and my mind calm through Yoga and Tai Chi. Studying Architecture taught me how to design, but it wasn't answering what seemed to be a more pressing question. How do we stay in balance with nature? Luckily Yale has a great graduate School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. I was starting to find answers to my question when suddenly, graduation time arrived. And just when things were getting interesting.

1984 - 1987: As soon as I could, I moved to Boulder Colorado, in the footsteps of several other Moorestown ex-patriots. The beauty of the mountains, the clean air and water and open spaces was a much needed change of scenery. I got a construction job, working on the railroad (just like in the song) in the aspen and spruce forest of the high country near the Continental Divide. I landed my first real job with an Acoustical Engineering firm in Denver, but when the recession of '85 hit (remember that one?) I got laid off, so I studied music at the Naropa University (the first Buddhist University in America, founded by a Tibetan Buddhist teacher), built a tipi (my first architectural commission and my home for one summer) and opened an organic bakery in the town of Nederland. At 8500 feet, it was a miracle that the bread dough ever managed to fully rise. I learned a lot about entrepreneurship, a lot about people and a lot about myself. I sold the business in exchange for the freedom to not have to be a baker for the rest of my life. Whew, that was close. One day, I wandered up to NCAR; the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where a kindly climate scientist welcomed me into his office to answer my question about something that I had recently read - the earth's atmosphere was warming, and the tropical rainforest was disappearing. Was there a link? He shrugged and said, "I'm not sure, but it's possible." This was in 1985

1987-1988: I returned to M'town, but shuttled between the East and West coasts trying to figure out what next? I went to work for a South Jersey Civil Engineering firm: Lord, Anderson, Worrel and Barnett, where I had the responsibility for marking on a map of Moorestown the places to plant oaks on a new section East Oak Avenue. I must have been a Druid in a former life.

1989 - 1992: After a summer on a construction crew in Northern California working for a UC Berkeley Architecture professor who specialized in Sustainable Community Design, and not getting into Berkeley's Architecture School, I returned to Yale where I got a job with the Physics Department's Center for Theoretical Physics, coordinating a global scientific symposium, hosting Nobel prize winning scientists who wound up debating the science of Cold Fusion. It is still kind of hard to believe. Harder still to believe that Yale let me back in as a graduate student - I wound up back at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Graduated with a Master's degree in Environmental Management.

1992 - 1994: I landed an environmental policy job in Washington DC with the World Resources Institute, researching biodiversity conservation right after the Rio Global Environmental Summit. I also joined a reggae band, playing rhythm and lead guitar. The band eventually opened for the Wailers! (sadly, minus Bob Marley) My day job led me to a subcontract with the World Bank, which was trying to understand why their mega-development projects weren't as successful as the community-based forestry projects. When the George H.W. Bush era ended and the Bill Clinton era began, we policy wonks wound up in government. I landed at the Organization of American States (a precursor to the UN) where I ran a natural disaster mitigation project for the Caribbean Basin that was funded by the US State Department and seven island nations who were very worried about climate change, sea level rise and bigger hurricanes. This was 1993. By 1994 it was clear that something huge was about to change everything - the PC and Internet.

1994 - 2000: My environmentalist girlfriend and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area: she took a job with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, while I navigated a career change to catch the Silicon Valley tsunami that became the dot.com craze. I landed at Sun Microsystems where I joined their Java Engineering team - some of you techies reading this know what I'm talking about. I almost got married, but instead wound up moving to Santa Cruz where I learned to surf, play the drums and piano and joined another band, until I got the call to join a dot.com start-up in San Francisco with the promise that I'd make $10 million dollars after our IPO. Who wants to be a millionaire?!!? 9 months later the whole thing came to a screeching halt. Who wants to pay their rent and eat?!!?? The break in the tech craze enabled me to get my music career going again, and I joined my cousin's Bollywood Surf Rock Mexican Cumbia dance band - this time I played percussion)

2001 - 2008: I remained in SF amidst a mass exodus of would-be millionaires. It really felt like the depression had hit SF - much worse than what is going on now. There were no bailouts orchestrated to keep everybody working. I dug up some work as a freelance web designer and began volunteering for the Commonwealth Club of California, which is sort of like the West Coast version of the National Press Club. Authors, politicians, scientists and artists poured through on a regular basis. I had just been bitten by the California red wine bug and so I organized a symposium on "Sustainability and the Wine Industry", which managed to draw 100 post dot.bomb, post 9-11 wine lovers out of their post-traumatic shock cocoons and out into the light of public discourse. Good California wine is a very powerful lure. Soon after I was tapped to Chair the Club's Member-led Forum on Environment and Natural Resources. I organized dozens of symposia on clean energy technology, global warming, green buildings, etc. My proudest moment was hosting Joni Mitchell to speak on Earth Day 2005. Later that spring my next proudest moment arrived - my picture appeared in the Economist Magazine, along with a team of hackers who had converted a stock Toyota Prius Hybrid into a plug-in hybrid that could get over 100 miles to the gallon. Check out calcars.org for the full story. I left the Club in 2005 to take a full time position at Autodesk, the makers of AutoCAD and other software used by architects, engineers, designers and film makers. I eventually launched their Sustainable Design consulting practice, and wrote a curriculum for Sustainable Design that is currently being used by Universities across the country and around the world.

2008 - 2009: The next recession hit, and I found myself back on the street, which was just fine with me, as I was getting tired of flying around in airplanes all over the country with no time for a social life or music making. I sold my old piano I had carted up from Santa Cruz, and finally set up my home recording studio. As fate would have it, I landed a consulting job with Union Bank of California in the middle of the biggest financial crisis in decades, to write their first Corporate Social Responsibility Report and help them understand what this Sustainability and Green stuff is all about.

35th Reunion Updates
Once again I regretfully won't be able to attend our 35th reunion, so here is what I've been up to for the past several years.

2009
It turns out that being Green is a very profitable banking strategy. As the Great Recession deepened, the relatively enlightened social responsibility practices and the extremely conservative lending policies of Union Bank of California caught the attention of the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, and in 2009 they finalized their purchase of the 35% of the bank that they didn't already own for $3.5 billion.

No, I did not receive a million dollar bonus for improving the bank's image during negotiations for its purchase. My reward was a chance to join the bank as an entry level-employee copy writer and live happily ever after. With little in the way of adult responsibilities to consider, I opted out and instead headed for my first trip to Europe - one month of riding short-haul airlines, trains, ferries and buses through England (Portsmouth and London), Greece (Athens and the Island of Aegina) Italy (Sicily, Rome, Tuscany and Rimini), and Amsterdam! It was a life changing experience. Upon my arrival in my hotel in Athens on Sept. 15, 2009, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke officially declared the recession to be over. If I had known that going on vacation would have such an important impact to the US economy, I would have left sooner.

2009 - 2012
I came back to the US to serve as best man at a friend's wedding (I probably would have stayed in Greece if not for this obligation) and returned to website design contracting in SF with Wells Fargo, Visa and Charles Schwab. I started working out and got lean and trim - in the best shape of my life. Ripped! I was feeling so strong that I decided to take up soccer again. On my first day on the indoor soccer field in nearly 20 years, I played like I was 16 again, only a lot smarter - for about 40 minutes - until I ripped my achilles tendon.

Two months later, after successful repair surgery, I met my future wife through an on-line dating service (dharmamatch.com) that I thought I had cancelled 6 months earlier.

2013 - 2014
Jennifer Ferlito and I were married in Monterey, CA one year and one day after first meeting in person. The only word that seems to adequately describe my life these days is "blessed." She's my best friend and the love of my life. She's helped me to learn that Love is all that really matters.

Career/financial/material/artistic achievements are great and definitely worth pursuing, but without love these pursuits are lacking in true meaning and purpose. Living in the now, with love, forgiveness, compassion and gratitude, seems to be the only effective means of moving forward into the future.

Today I continue to work as a software user experience (UX) designer, mostly in the financial services industry, while keeping my eyes open for opportunities to use my skills to create a balance between people, profits and the planet.

To all my old friends and classmates, thank you for all the sweet memories and for participating in creating a NOW worth living in. Please forgive me for not being a better friend while we were growing up. Hopefully we'll get the chance to be better friends while our love is still "alive and kicking."

Thanks for reading - have a great 35th reunion!

2014 - 2019
Wow! Time flies! I would love to join the 40th reunion party and catch up with you in person, but work, family, and the long distance will keep me close to home this weekend. So here is the quick update.

Jennifer and I moved from San Francisco to Monterey soon after she became pregnant to be closer to her family who live in Carmel. Our son Evan was born in Feburary 2015, and life has never been the same! In the wink of an eye he's grown from a helpless infant to a 4 year old dynamo. Being a parent has changed EVERYTHING for the better. The three of us find new ways to amaze, amuse and love each other every day.

During this time, my UX Design work took me to Simpson Strong-tie, Cisco WebEx and now Google. Google is an excellent company, actually the very best that I've found so far. The work is challenging and rewarding, and the people are super smart, hard working, and keenly aware of the responsibility to do the right thing. Oh yes, and the food is pretty darned good too.

But the 6 hour round trip commute from Monterey to Mountain View became increasingly impossible, and so we moved to Santa Cruz last summer. I lived here 20 years ago so it's very familiar. Surf's up! But the best part is now I'm able to get home every night in time for dinner and to put my kid to bed.

OK, that's it for now. Please forgive me for not making it to the party. Perhaps I'll see you at our 45th or 50th? Until then, thank you for being such amazing friends and classmates, and for setting me on my path. Keep in touch and have a great 40th reunion!

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