"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, December 9, 2013

77. Matt Fortna and Lisa Powell Fortna

Every few weeks, Cornell '95 Faces features a profile of one of our class officers. This week, meet reunion co-chair Lisa Powell Fortna. And for the first time (but not the last) this week's profile is also of a Class of 1995 couple. 

Fredonia, New York · Arts and Sciences & Agriculture and Life Sciences

Names at Cornell

Matt Fortna & Lisa Powell


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

After Matthew finished his orthodontic residency at the University of Pennsylvania and 10 years of living in Philadelphia, we moved back to Western New York near my family. Matthew started and manages his own practice. I work for an independent consulting firm focused on large-scale HR transformation initiatives and teach as an adjunct professor at our local community college. But mostly, we are focused on keeping up with our four children and the increasingly complex schedule of activities of elementary and middle school age kids (who knew?!).

What are your duties as class officer and what have you enjoyed about the job?
I was a co-reunion chair for our 15th and am looking forward to working with Michael Stroud and our reunion committee for our 20th. Believe it or not, the planning process really kicks off more than a year in advance of reunion. We have two main goals – to get as many classmates to return to campus as possible and then to make sure everyone has an awesome time by planning fun events with great food and drinks. I love this blog as one of the ways we hope to increase connections and interest. I’ve been to all of our reunions and love being a part of the process. There is nothing like being on campus with thousands of alumni and connecting with old friends and new ones all tied to the shared experience of Cornell.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?
Calculus. Just kidding! Who says that? I enjoyed my Anthropology classes and Comparative Morphology classes the most. I don't think I have put them to good use since the prelims, but the content was very interesting.


Business Communication with Professor Earle was probably one of the most useful classes – even though I might not have known it at the time. The combination of impromptu speeches and the final presentations with his planned technology glitches, lights going off... really was/is a true simulation for my corporate experience. But, then again, Matthew and I met in a freshmen bio lecture, so I guess that class was pretty important even though I never used any bio after that.

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?

Hockey games at Lynah Rink were always a treat. We were spoiled while at Cornell. That kind of entertainment is hard to come by these days in the professional sporting world.

So many memories… Matthew and I were married in Sage Chapel with the reception at Willard Straight so that is a pretty special Cornell memory. As an undergrad, seeing Maya Angelou speak, lunching at Trillium, walking up Libe slope in the snow, and the Cornell-in-Washington program definitely make the highlight list.

What extracurricular activity or hobby from your time at Cornell was the most meaningful?

Intramural sports, for sure. Never worked so hard for a bunch of T-shirts and pride. I hope the intramural sports program is still alive and kicking for the current students to enjoy. "Sorry organic chem, just can't study right now, we have a hockey game. It's the championship." My how priorities have changed since then.

What does being a Cornell alumnus mean to you?
Being a part of the tradition and legacy that is Cornell is humbling and I am grateful for my experience as an undergrad and my continuing connection as an alumnus. One of the great things about being a Cornell alum is the combination of knowing you are pretty much prepared for whatever gets thrown at you and you get to start with a baseline of credibility – not a bad foundation for wherever the road takes you.