Israel and UAE Air Forces Fly Side by Side in Greek Air Drill

The conflict between Israel and the many Arab nations has been ongoing since the Jewish state officially came into existence in 1948. But there could be a thaw in relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This is most evident with the air forces of the two countries.

Both countries contributed planes to Iniohos 2017, an annual multi-national exercise put on by the Hellenic Air Force. IAF pilots said this type of exercise gives them the opportunity to conduct flight operations in conditions and geography they are not used to in their native land. They also must learn to work with air forces from other nations– not only the UAE and Greece, but the United States and Italy as well. It also aids the Israeli pilots in learning to speak with pilots and personnel from other nations in a language other than Hebrew.

While Israeli and Arab pilots flying together for a joint exercise may seem unique to many, it is not anything new to these two nations. Israel and the UAE sent aircraft and personnel to the Iniohos exercise in 2016. Both nations also flew together at the U.S. Air Force’s annual Red Flag exercise in Nevada last year, which also included a contingent from Pakistan’s air force.

Israel and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic relations, but many in the Israeli Defense Forces say there has been an improvement in their country’s relations with the Gulf States. This is evidenced by a visit from an Israeli Foreign Ministry official to Bahrain last year, who announced the establishment of the first diplomatic mission in Abu Dhabi, which is part of the United Arab Emirates.

Along with aerial combat drills, other aspects of Iniohos 2017 included parachuting troops deep behind enemy lines, aerial refueling, and avoiding surface-to-air missile defenses. Of note is that the Israeli and UAE air forces operate some of the same aircraft and equipment. Pilots in both nations fly U.S. made F-16 jet fighters and C-130 transports.

First Female Head of School at St. George’s

Alexandra “Alixe” Callen will take over as the 12th Head of School at St. George in Middletown, Rhode Island on July 1, 2016. The announcement was made on behalf of the school’s Board of Trustees on December 9, 2016. Alixe will leave her current position as the upper school director at Lakeside School in Seattle to return to her New England Roots and become the first female head of St. George.

Alixe Callen has a long and distinguished academic background and professional educational leadership in both public and private schools. She graduated from Milton Academy in Milton, MA, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown University, and has a Ph.D. from Harvard University. While at Harvard, she worked as an assistant in graduate courses on secondary school design, school reform, and school leadership. Prior to her current position at Lakeside, she was the principal of Acton-Boxborough Regional High School from 2008-2013 and assistant principal of Needham High School from 2004-2008. Both schools are in Massachusetts.

Alixe’s has family ties to St. George that go back over 100 years. Her great-grandfather graduated from St. George in 1903, her grandfather graduated in 1941, her great-uncle graduated in 1940, and her uncle graduated in 1966. There were many exceptional candidates who applied to become the 12th Head of School St. George, but Alixe’s qualifications, experience, and ties to the area stood out to St. George’s search committee, which was made up of trustees, parents, faculty, and alumni.

Members of the search committee expressed their confidence that Alixe will continue St. George’s commitment to the school’s traditions and academic innovation. The search committee also thanked the outgoing Head of School Eric Peterson and his wife Krista for their 12 years of service and leadership. Alixe is humbled and proud to be a part of a school that means so much to her and her family.


NC State University’s Tyler Confrey-Maloney Study Abroad Grant

Started in 2014, the Tyler Confrey-Maloney Study Abroad Grant is an endowment for students attending North Carolina State University. The endowment is available for Park Scholarship program scholars and was started by Dr. Jere Confrey and Dr. Alan Maloney, parents of 2013 NC State University graduate Tyler Confrey-Maloney who developed date rape prevention product, Undercover Colors, along with three other classmates.

The Park Scholarship program is named for the late Roy H. Park who is a 1931 graduate of NC State University. The program was started in 1996 and is dedicated to education, media and an understanding of the environment. It is a four-year scholarship valued at up to $107,000 for in-state students and up to $186,000 for out-of-state students. Since its inception, the program has seen 17 classes of Park students graduate from the University.

Dr. Confrey and Dr. Maloney were so happy with the impact that traveling abroad had on their son while he was a Park student at the University, they decided to contribute an endowment to ensure other students had the opportunity for travel. While studying at the university Confrey-Maloney traveled to South Africa and Belize. Upon returning from Belize, Confrey-Maloney started to advise other Park students about his experiences and persuaded them to pursue service-learning trips to the country.

In what would have been his junior year, Confrey-Maloney opted out of the Park scholarship to travel to South Africa. While there he furthered his interest in leadership development, photography and environmental preservation. Tyler served as program director for the inaugural TEDxTableMountain, and was able to intern at both the Biomimicry Institute in Cape Town and Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Hoedspruit. He was able to use the relationships he made with the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre to persuade six Park scholars to take summer internships there.

Confrey-Maloney graduated in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering. His parents contributed much of Tyler’s development and positive experiences to traveling abroad and learning the ways of different cultures. Dr. Confrey said that she and Maloney “felt that since we saved money as Park parents, we would like to contribute an endowment to support other Park Scholars to study abroad as Tyler did. This is our first philanthropic contribution of this kind.”.

A History of Shale Gas in the US

The Humble Rock
Shale, a word that has become a household name in recent years. Who knew that such a humble sedimentary rock would become so famous? Well, for starters the miners who lived in the east coast of the US knew as far back as the early part of the 19th century. The name of the town is Fredonia, and it is the first known site where shale gas was extracted way back in 1821. But that was from a shallow well. The technology just didn’t exist in those days and it wasn’t until the 1970’s that fairly serious shale gas mining took place. But even those wells were from natural fractures beneath the soil. Therefore, the quantities produced were nothing to write home about and shale gas remained a marginal product. Furthermore, Federal tax breaks stopped by the late 1990’s, rendering shale gas to just a few wells.

The Fracking Revolution
Then something big happened by the mid-2000’s. It was called Hydraulic Fracturing and the gas industry never looked back. This new technology allowed for very efficient artificial fractures to extract the gas from shale. The Fracking boom we saw in recent years was the direct result of this new technology. The basic idea behind hydraulic fracturing is quite simple. Send pressurized water into the shale, which cracks it. Oil and gas will flow freely in the water, which then can be pumped back to the surface. The roots of hydraulic fracturing go back to the 1940’s when an experimental project was done to show its possibilities. However, fracking still had to wait a few decades to go mainstream. Showing numbers is the best way to show the impact of Fracking. In 1996 shale gas was under 2% of all gas produced in the US. In 2010 it was 23%!

Cunningham Energy
Cunningham Energy is a producer of oil and gas based in Charleston, West Virginia. The company has been an independent producer of oil and gas since 2008. The company prides itself on being a responsible producer of oil and gas. Cunningham’s main area of interest is in the Appalachian, Williston and Illinois basins. However, Cunningham Energy is not only limited to oil and gas exploration. They also provide rentals for oil field equipment such as:

• Drilling Rigs
• Work-over Units
• Rouster Pickup Trucks
• Tractors and Trailer
• Bulldozers
• Vacuum Water Trucks
• Plugging Wells
And more oil extraction related equipment services.

St. George’s Names Callen to Lead School

Alixe Callen was named as the 12th head of school at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island. Callen’s family has a long history with the prestigious school and she will be the first female to hold the post.

Callen was chosen from a field of over 150 candidates and she currently serves as the upper school director of Lakeside School in Seattle. After St. George’s Board of Directors made their decision, they presented her to the school community at a special introduction ceremony on Dec. 9th. Alixe Callen is excited about her new position and said, “My entire career has been spent helping teenagers to be kind, to watch out for each other, and to be contributing community members. To now do that work in a school that has such deep roots for my family makes me humble and proud.”

Callen attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts and earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Brown University. She later earned another master’s and a Ph.D. from Harvard. She studied and assisted in graduate level courses about school leadership, school reform, and school design.

Callen also served as the Principal at Acton-Boxborough Regional High School in Acton, Massachusetts. Before that, she was an assistant principal of Needham High School in Needham, Massachusetts. Callens great-grandfather, grandfather, great-uncle, and uncle were all graduates of St. George’s over a time period spanning 1903 to 1966.

The search committee praised Callen as the best candidate for the job, she was chosen from a field of educational executives, including several deans of colleges. They said she best fits their vision for the school and is the perfect addition to their community. The school’s trustees released a statement, “We are confident that Callen will steer the course boldly for St. George’s, continuing to build on our longstanding strengths while at the same time moving St. George’s confidently into the future. She is fully prepared and eager to build upon our forward-thinking curriculum, to foster our safe and welcoming community, and to support our teachers in continually expanding their expertise in teaching and learning.”

Callen will replace Eric Peterson. Peterson headed the school for the past 13 years and announced he would not seek the position for the upcoming school year. The school began a nationwide search for his replacement.

Boarding Schools Offer Great Opportunity for Students

Many people in the United States never consider sending their child to boarding school; however, statistics are showing that this maybe a good option for keeping a child in a happy and safe environment that promotes education. According to, students at a boarding school spend more time studying, playing music, reading and doing sports than their private school or public school counterparts. In the same respect, seventy-five percent of boarding school students feel their peers are motivated versus forty-nine percent of public school students. These statistics only tell part of the story, though. Boarding schools can open doors for students and create new styles of learners. Here are some great examples, in addition to St. George’s School under the leadership of Eric F. Peterson:
Phillips Exeter Academy, the number one according to, believes in a learning style where the students and the instructor sit round table and freely discuss the subjects at hand. Their school has a nineteen percent acceptance rate and an endowment that is more than most universities.
Shattuck-St.Mary’s School in Faribault, Minnesota helps students to learn at their own pace. The juniors and seniors there meet twice a week, allowing for the students to pursue their interests outside of the classroom. Pursuing those interests is even easier, as the school has rooms with equipment to learn everything from video editing to fashion design.
Western Reserve Academy in Hudson, Ohio boasts small classroom sizes of twelve to one. Many of these students go on to Universities such as Duke, Northwestern, and University of California at Berkeley.
The Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut is an all-girls school that promotes “substance over superficialities”. They have a focus program called WISE that stands for Women in Science and Engineering that sends many of their graduates to MIT and Carnegie Mellon.
Three hundred and fifteen miles away is North Bethesda, Maryland where the oldest Jesuit school Georgetown Prep is. Host to an all-boys boarding school, they focus on opportunities for growth through sports, publications, and extra-curricular activities.
Each of these schools has many things that make their school special. Sending a child away to high school is a tough decision for many parents but giving a child the promise of a great future might make that decision a little easier.


Commercial Real Estate Industry’s Most Prominent Figures in 2016

Commercial real estate is a tough, but rewarding business. In today’s competitive market it can be difficult to make your mark and stand out from the crowd. However, each year there are a few industry leaders that are worthy of recognition. Here are a few of this year’s top figures and their year-to-date accomplishments.

Brian Baker-J.P. Morgan Securities
Brian Baker is the Managing Director of Global Mortgages at J.P. Morgan. Under his leadership, the company has seen origination volumes increase by $1.6 billion and has also been rated second in the industry for commercial mortgage-backed security loans. Baker recently facilitated a $430 million loan to The Pyramid Companies to secure funding for a large shopping and entertainment complex in Syracuse, New York.

Jackie Soffer-Turnberry Associates
Jackie Soffer is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Chairman of Turnberry Associates where she oversees the management and development of the company’s hospitality division. Some of her biggest projects include the transformation of Aventura Mall into an upscale shopping oasis and a 100,000 square foot expansion of the popular Destin Commons. Soffer is also philanthropically involved in commercial real estate serving on various non-profit Boards in the South Florida region.

Robert Merck-MetLife
Merck is a Senior Managing Director and Head of Real Estate Investments at MetLife. In this role, Merck has almost doubled the size of the company’s real estate portfolios and has also expanded to the international scene. He oversees approximately 250 investment professionals and facilitated the $5.4 billion sale of Peter Cooper Village. The sale is touted as one of the largest real estate transactions in the company’s history.

Angela Mago-KeyBank
Angela Mago is Head and Vice President of KeyBank’s Real Estate Capital Group. Under her leadership, the company has seen record growth in loan production and for three consecutive years, the team has been ranked the number one Fannie Mae lender in senior housing development. Mago’s team averages approximately $42 billion in client capital each year and the company recently grew its market share by almost eight percent.

These are a few of the major contributors in today’s competitive real estate market. Each of them has played a huge role in development both domestically and internationally and are expected to be major contenders for many years to come.

Americans to Spread Holiday Cheer by Spending More Money and Shopping on Mobile This Year

The holidays may still seem a distant way out, but Americans are already crossing items off of their shopping lists. In fact, as of end-of-September, one-third (33%) of consumers say they have already started their holiday shopping, up significantly from 25% in 2015, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

When it comes to gifts, Americans expect to spend an average of $908, an 8% increase from last year ($839 in 2015), and among affluent consumers, the expected gift spend increases to an average of $1,513.

Across the board, the most popular gifts to give this year are:

  • Gift cards (52% vs. 57% in 2015)
  • Clothing and accessories (51% vs. 47% in 2015)
  • Toys and games (50% vs. 44% in 2015)

“While consumers are spending more money on gifts this year, they are becoming savvier with how they spend their time shopping,” said Kartik Mani, Executive Vice President of Global Consumer Lending at American Express. “With our constant connection to technology, more Americans than ever before are using their mobile devices to help them make holiday purchases.”

More than 3 in 4 Americans (76%) are turning to their mobile devices for their holiday shopping, whether to browse, compare prices or view deals (vs. 58% in 2015). There has also been a significant increase (62%) in Americans planning to purchase and/or redeem e-gift cards on mobile devices this year (26% vs. 16% in 2015).

Read more here.


Town Square Las Vegas is for Everyone

Town Square in Las Vegas is an oasis of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Developed by Jeffrey and Jackie Soffer of Turnberry Associates, Town Square Las Vegas offers over 1.5 million square feet regional lifestyle center located at the heart of the Vegas strip. Immerse yourself in a village style atmosphere with stunning architecture and plenty of things to do. There is literally something for everyone in the family to do. The children will love the huge outdoor playground. Town Square is also a great place to work providing the opportunity to serve and work with a diverse community. You’re right in the middle of a shopper’s paradise with beautiful walkways and scenery. Visit Town Square on your next vacation and create an impressive to do list.

Town Square for the Kids
Town Square has a children’s park that provides hours of fun for kids of all ages. It sits adjacent to the Square. It is a very popular outdoor park in Town Square that lets you beat the heat of the desert. Parents can watch the kids get drenched or find plenty of other things to do including a Hedge Maze, tree house, princess tower, children’s stage for performance or telling their favorite stories and much more.

Town Square for The Family
Vacationing at Town Square with the entire family is going to be fun and have a full family vacation itinerary. Start with a summer box office hit at the 18 screen theater or everyone can choose a movie The family can shop Saks 5th Avenue or find gadgets for the kids from one of many, many shops. Parents try the Hedge Maze with your kids and don’t be afraid to get a little wet. At the end of the day when the kids are hungry try taking them to the California Kitchen or Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse at Town Square.

Town Square for Couples
Town Square is the perfect play date for adults. Take a romantic stroll through 100 acres of an open-air center. The night lights create a romantic atmosphere for lovers. Couples can get tickets to a popular event or show and then enjoy some specialty cuisine and great tasting wine from one of many restaurants in Town Square including Kabuki Japanese Restaurant, Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant Bar and Grill, and Double Helix Wine & Whiskey Lounge. You have the option of making reservations at many nearby 5 star hotels for vacation options.

Boarding Schools: What Should You Look For?

You’re considering a boarding school for your child, but what exactly are your expectations and priorities? Is it academics, affordable tuition, athletics?

A good academic boarding school will offer a wide variety of AP courses, science, math, technology, arts, and humanities.

1. Deerfield Academy, located in Mass., seems to be among the top schools for AP courses. Here your child will be submerged in engineering, math, science, and technology.
2. Phillips Academy, located in Mass., offers a foundation in the arts, humanities, math, and science and weaves these into an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach.

Tuition can vary from the triple digits to five figures a year.

1. New Mexico Military Institute seems to be the cheapest boarding school with a yearly tuition of $11,732. They do offer grants that top out at $3000.
2. Tallulah Falls School, located in Georgia, is among the top six affordable boarding schools. Tuition here is around $26,000 a year. They also offer financial assistance that varies per student.

A strong focus on athletics can be a priority for some.
1. IMG Academy in Florida employs some of the world’s top coaches. Sports include tennis, golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, football, track, and lacrosse. Here they focus on the development of strength and speed to nutrition and more.
2. Cate School in California is a highly competitive school so if your goal is to play against some of the best high schools in the country, this is the school for you.

You should also be aware that your child will learn important life skills while at boarding school. Independence, time management, accountability and being a responsible citizen are among the life lessons learned. These will be very useful to your child when entering college and the workforce as an adult. Schools like St. Andrew’s School, St. George’s School and Deerfield Academy offer top-notch academic and extracurricular programs.

During your search for the perfect boarding school for your child, look closely into what really matters to you as a parent. That could mean academics, tuition and athletics as a whole, or just one or two of those options. With so many options available in the United States, you are sure to find exactly what you are hoping for.