- Lauren Book '03
- Scott Weinger '93
- Marla Somerstein Neufeld '99
- Christian Wong '15
UPDATE: Lauren Book is featured on the June 23, 2015 edition of Newsweek where they feature an in-depth story about her remarkable journey. To view, click here:
Lauren Book, M.S.Ed., (2003) has worked tirelessly to turn her personal experience as the victim of childhood sexual abuse into a vehicle to prevent others from falling prey and to help other survivors heal. Book is the founder and CEO of Lauren's Kids, an official 501(c)(3) foundation based in South Florida. Since 2007, Lauren's Kids has educated adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curricula, awareness campaigns, and speaking engagements around the country and the world.
The foundation has helped advocate for the passage of nearly two dozen laws to support survivors and protect children from predators. It leads an annual, statewide Walk in My Shoes awareness walk across the state of Florida and provides more than seven million education and awareness materials statewide through direct mail every year. The group's ultimate goal is to prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support.
An accomplished author, Book chronicled her years of abuse in her memoir, It's OK to Tell, and recently published a picture book, Lauren's Kingdom, to help children understand and find their voice. Book created an age-appropriate, in-school curricula that provides children with the necessary tools to act as the first line of defense against abuse, along with their parents and teachers. The Florida Legislature approved the curricula for Florida's PK–3 public school classrooms, and will extend it through high school by 2016.
An internationally renowned spokeswoman, Book is a tireless advocate for change and regularly provides commentary on related breaking national news. She has been featured in the media, including USA Today and ABC News, and was named the 2013 L'Oreal Paris Woman of Worth. Book's international advocacy includes speaking engagements at UNICEF's Break the Silence Conference and Crime Stoppers International Conference in South Africa.
Recently, the Lauren's Kids foundation partnered with internationally acclaimed contemporary pop artist Romero Britto to create a specialty license plate featuring a stylized rendition of the Lauren's Kids logo. The plate, titled Love and Healing, can be ordered at laurenskids.org/plates, with proceeds going to support Lauren's Kids' education and awareness activities. "Nothing is more important than keeping Florida's innocent children safe, and through the sale of these license plates we will be able to greatly expand our efforts. This presents an opportunity for others not only to contribute to the cause, but to serve as rolling billboards raising awareness within their communities while doing it," Book said.
From the University of Miami, Book earned a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and Creative Writing and a master's degree in Community Psychology and Social Change. Through advocacy, education, and awareness, Book is committed to making the world a safer, better place for children, she said.
Scott Weinger entered NSU University School in the third grade. Although a natural performer, Weinger became inspired to pursue his craft professionally when an actor visited the students that same year and gave a presentation for Career Day.
Weinger was the driving force behind his parents finding him an agent, which in turn led to local theater, print ads, national commercials, as well as roles on the television shows Miami Vice, Life Goes On, and The Family Man. Then, he became the voice of Aladdin, and got a costarring role on the ABC situation comedy, Full House.
Weinger's acting career got even busier in his freshman year of high school, during that time he traveled to Los Angeles to film The Family Man for up to three weeks at a time. His NSU University School teachers compiled packages of schoolwork for him to complete on the set, and Weinger often spent up to 7 hours per day in the school trailer. "NSU University School teachers were great and incredibly supportive. USchool was a place that encouraged students to pursue their passions," Weinger said.
By the time Weinger was in 10th grade, he was cast as the voice of Aladdin, and by his senior year, he was a regular character on Full House. "I got the best of both worlds. Thanks to the encouragement and help of USchool, my education did not suffer at all," Weinger said. "When necessary, professors were pulled in from UCLA to teach the courses that needed more advanced teaching than what was offered on the set."
When Aladdin premiered locally in the city of Hollywood, NSU University School organized a huge local event, which coincided with the city declaring an official "Scott Weinger Day." NSU University School classmates, teachers, and members of the administration attended the premiere. "I feel so blessed that the NSU University School took an interest in my career, supported it, and enhanced it. I was so fortunate," Weinger said.
Because of his strong work-ethic and the support of his family, teachers and friends, Weinger was able to graduate from NSU University School alongside his classmates and was accepted to Harvard University. At Harvard, Weinger majored in English and graduated magna cum laude in June 1998. While attending Harvard, he was able to travel the world as an on-camera youth correspondent for Good Morning America.
After Harvard, Weinger decided to switch careers within the entertainment industry and pursue television writing. He worked his way up the ranks and emerged as a prolific television writer and producer. He has written and produced for situation comedies as well as hour-long dramas. After four seasons as a writer-producer for the CW's 90210, Weinger switched to comedy, becoming a writer-producer for ABC's The Neighbors.
He recently was a producer and writer for an eight-episode musical, ABC's Galavant, and is currently a producer and writer for the hit situation comedy, Black-ish. "The Black-ish writers' room and set are on the Disney lot, and I often stroll past the studio where we recorded Aladdin more than 20 years ago," said Weinger, who lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Rina Mimoun, whom he married in 2008, and their five-year-old son.
"It occurs to me that I've been at this for a long time, but it never gets old," he added. "Writing full time is exhilarating. I feel so lucky that I still enjoy my work so much."
After graduating from NSU University School in 1999, Marla Somerstein Neufeld majored in business administration at American University before attending the University of Miami Law School, where she met her husband, Jason Neufeld. In 2007, she graduated law school cum laude and began working at Ruden McClosky in Fort Lauderdale as a transactional attorney, which was later acquired by Greenspoon Marder, P.A.
Neufeld and her husband experienced their own infertility journey for more than four years and ultimately were successful in having twin boys, with the help of a gestational surrogate. Her twins, Ethan and Asher, are almost a year old. During her experience with infertility and by using a gestational surrogate, Neufeld came to realize the crucial role lawyers played in the process, and decided to specialize in assisted reproductive technology (ART) law. "I was able to take my years of transactional law experience and combine it with my compassion and understanding of the surrogacy process by helping others start a family using the available third party reproductive technologies and adoption laws in Florida," she said.
During Neufeld's surrogacy process, she founded the ART law practice group at Greenspoon Marder, P.A. and has dedicated her law practice to help individuals, couples, and same sex couples with issues relating to surrogacy contracts, sperm/egg/embryo donations, and some adoption work. She is also active with the leading infertility support groups to guide those facing infertility.
Using her personal experiences and expertise, Neufeld speaks at support groups and various organizations to discuss the practical and legal issues involved with surrogacy. In 2014, she presented her continuing legal education class, The ART of Family Building, to the West Palm Beach chapter of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers. Last February, Neufeld spoke as a panelist at the Broward County Women Lawyers' Association luncheon, titled, Modern Family Formation: Legal Perspectives on Assisted Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy, hosted at Fort Lauderdale's Tower Club. The panel also included Judge Giuseppina Miranda, J.D., 17th Judicial Circuit, and Judge Stacy Ross, J.D., also from the 17th Judicial Circuit. Additionally, Neufeld presented a continuing legal education course, ART of Baby Making, for various bar association groups in the tri-county area.
At NSU University School, Neufeld was heavily involved in journalism. She was a first-runner up in journalism for the Silver Knight Awards, and had articles published in the Miami Herald. She played soccer and was a trumpet player in band. "NSU University School encouraged me to think outside the box. I learned how important it is to focus on my strengths and to help take the initiative to get myself out there and make a name for myself," she said.
Christian Wong, class of 2015, was involved in many aspects of the Upper School Fall Musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which was nominated for a record-setting 18 CAPPIE AWARDS. Wong received four individual CAPPIE nominations for Sound, Special Effects and Technology, Stage Crew, and Musical. In fact, he designed the main unit set that included 10-foot-high platforms, winding staircases, oversized windows, columns and other elements. A team of carpenters then brought his rough sketches and scaled designs to life. "Students were given a lot of responsibility for the show. I had the opportunity to design the set, something I had never done before," Wong said. He even conducted period research to find visuals that would fit the theme of the show and bring his ideas to life. He was guided by Jennifer Laudia, Theater Director, and Joseph Rawda, Theatre Technical Coordinator. "Working on The Mystery of Edwin Drood gave me a new and different perspective on how to look at things. I will carry that experience with me to Emerson College this fall where I will be studying Film and Television Production," Wong said.