Cornell Fencing Association

News & Events

Notice of Proposed Changes to CFA Bylaws

December 16, 2019

As the CFA continues to grow and evolve, we find that it is necessary, from time to time, to make adjustments to our Bylaws. For the past several months, the Board has considered making changes to the Bylaws to streamline our governance processes and simplify the process by which Members can join the Board. Accordingly, as required by Article X.B, we are providing CFA members with thirty days’ notice of these proposed changes. The specific changes we are proposing are the following:

1. That Paragraph VII.I.1 shall be amended to make it possible to join the Board through either election or appointment by deleting, “A simple majority vote of participating Members in good standing is required to elect Board Members and Officers.” and replacing it with: “Members in good standing may be elected to the Board through a simple majority vote of participating Members or, in the case where the number of nominees does not exceed the number of board seats available, the Board shall appoint new Members to the Board through a simple majority vote of the Board.”

2. That Paragraph VII.I.3. shall be amended to correct an omission related to electing Board Members as well as Officers. In the first sentence, “officer elections” shall be changed to “Officer and Board Member elections.” and the second sentence shall be changed to “The Notice of Elections shall include names and contact information for all candidates running for an open Board Member or Officer position.”

3. That Paragraph X.C. shall be deleted to remove the requirement that the Membership must vote to approve proposed amendments. The Board will now approve the proposed amendments after the Membership has had a chance to comment.

4. That Paragraph X.B. shall be amended to add “Amendments so approved by the Board will become effective immediately, and an official amended copy of the Bylaws will be forwarded to the Office of the Director of Athletics per Paragraph XI below.”

If no significant opposition to these changes is expressed by the membership during the comment period, we will move to formally approve these amendments so that they may take effect before February 1, 2020. For further information, or to provide comments, please contact the Nomination and Elections Committee at

  Events & Updates

Men’s Schedule | Women’s Schedule

Cornell Fencing Spring Banquet

The annual Cornell Fencing Spring Banquet and Alumni Tournament has been scheduled for April 25, 2020 in Ithaca.
April 25th, 2020
Ithaca, NY


Email Newsletter Archives

Cornell Fencing sends out regular email updates about how the program is doing. You can read through the e-mails that have been sent and subscribe to future ones.

Social Media


Active Members:

Individuals who have contributed to Cornell Fencing or the Cornell Fencing Association during the Cornell Fiscal year in which their contribution is received are active members. The Cornell fiscal year extends from July 1 to June 30. Active members are able to vote in elections for CFA Board members. You must also be an active member to be eligible for a Board position.


Who can Participate:

Any friends, family, or alumni of the fencing program are always welcome to participate in CFA events. Supporters of Cornell Fencing should sign up here.


The Cornell Fencing Association bylaws are ratified by both this group and the Cornell Athletic Department.

Board of Directors

Barbara Todd Heiner ’81
Vice President
Andrew Stifel ’91
Matthew Herndon ’04
Gabriel Ayache ’07
General Board Members
Lauren Darienzo ’97
Nina Inamdar ’94
Joe Kirk ’86
Adam Kirsch ’15
Valerie Derose Leimer ’05
Elise Pasoreck ’07
Alan Petroff ’74
Head Coach
Ariana Klinkov
Cornell University Director of Athletics
Andy Noel

Board Bios

Gabriel Ayache, BS ’07, Hotel Administration, is a Director of Strategic Initiatives at American Express, focusing on technology driven M&A and partnerships in the corporate travel management space.

Gabriel began fencing Sabre as a freshman in Great Neck, NY and continued through his tenure at Cornell. He was a member of the US Club Fencing Championship Team in 2004, served as the Sabre team Captain in 2005-2006, and served as Men’s team Captain in 2006-2007. Since graduating, Gabriel has been involved in the inception, formation, and growth of the Cornell Fencing Association as a founding member providing strategic support in planning and development, serving on the bylaws committee, and currently chair of the Nomination and Election Committee.

He currently lives in New York City with his wife, Francesca, and their newborn daughter, Eva. Gabriel is currently a board member. His first term ends in 2020.

Lauren Darienzo Bio in progress. Her term ends 2022.

Barbara Todd Heiner BA ’81, A&S, fenced under Coach Jean-Jacques Gillet and served as captain her senior year. She studied Psychology at Cornell and earned a master’s degree in Social Psychology from Rutgers University in 1987. After briefly working in market research at HBO in New York, she became a full-time mom and moved to Seattle in 1994.

Barbara returned to fencing in 1995, first as a competitor and then as a club owner. She was a finalist in several national events and won the Vet-40 National Champion in 1997. In 2000, Barbara co-founded Rain City Fencing Center and spent the next decade coaching, teaching and growing the business into a nationally competitive program for fencers of all ages. Notably, her son, Nick, (BA ’12, IS) was one of the first students at Rain City and enjoyed a successful competitive career on the Cornell Men’s Club Team.

Barbara still lives in Seattle with her husband, Dave Heiner ’82, but her new sport is golf. They enjoy traveling and sharing a good meal with their sons Nick and Scott whenever they can. Barbara is in her second term as President of the board. Her term ends in 2020.

Matt Herndon BS ’04, Engineering, is a father, volunteer, and energy efficiency enthusiast. He studied Computer Science at Cornell and worked as a database engineer and manager at web startups for his first decade out of college before becoming a full-time dad.

Matt started fencing epee at Cornell in 2000 and was elected team captain for the 03-04 season. His top personal finishes are 2nd place epee in MACFA and US Club Fencing Championships (USACFC) in 2004 and earning his A at the Cherry Blossom Open in 2012. Matt’s proudest fencing moment was leading the Cornell Men’s Club Team to 1st place men’s epee squad and men’s three weapon team at the 2004 USACFC. He has coached fencing at the UVA Fencing Club, the Cornell Recreational Fencing Club, the Vermont Fencing Alliance, and the Arizona State University Fencing Club.

Matt currently resides in State College, Pennsylvania with wife Lauren McPhillips ’07 and their children Rolin (3) and Fern (1). Lauren is an assistant professor of civil engineering at Penn State. Matt was the inaugural CFA Treasurer and is now CFA Secretary. His first term ends in 2019.

Nina Inamdar BS ’94, CALS, is a physician for Northwell Health practicing in Stamford, Connecticut. She received her BS in Neuroscience from Cornell University and her MD from New York University where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society in 1998. She did her residency at NYU and was selected as Chief Resident in 2001. She has been practicing Internal Medicine in her private practice in Stamford, CT for the past 16 years.

Nina started fencing foil at Cornell, instructed by head coach Graeme Jennings and assistant coach John Helmich. When the teams were cut in 1993, she started the Cornell Fencing Club which is now the Cornell Men’s Club Team and was part of the Cornell Eight who helped bring back the women’s team under Title IX. She was Co-captain when the team was reinstated in 1994. She started fencing foil again in 2008 and took up epee in 2011. Her best results to date are a Bronze Medal in Vet40 Women’s Epee at a North American Cup and 19th out of 121 mostly teenagers in a Division 3 at Summer Nationals.

She currently resides in Rye, New York with her husband Jeff Miller, EE ’92 and her daughters Serena (15) and Gavin (13). When not working or fencing, she can be found enjoying time with her family and binge-watching Netflix shows. Nina is currently a board member whose first term ends in 2019.

Joseph Kirk BS ’86, CALS, majored in microbiology at Cornell. After graduation he worked for two years at the Rockefeller University in New York in a neurobiology lab and in the fall of 1988 he entered the Boston University School of Law seeking to leverage his science background into a legal career. He began in private practice in New York and in 2000 he joined the patent litigation team at the French pharma company, Sanofi. While based in Paris with Sanofi, he was responsible for patent litigation matters throughout Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Russia. Now based in the U.S. with mostly North American responsibilities, Joseph manages matters in Asia and elsewhere from time to time.

Joseph was converted from foil to saber by Coaches Jean-Jacques Gillet and James Fazekas his freshman year. He went on to earn three letters for Fencing and was Captain of the Fencing team for the 1985-1986 season. He also played Sprint Football and represented both sports as a member of the Red Key Society. When time allows, Joseph fences in Bridgewater, NJ at the Medeo Fencing Club.

Joseph and his wife Janelle Bryant now live in Bridgewater, New Jersey with their three boys, Grafton (10), Pennell (9) and Thatcher (7) who are all avid soccer players and swimmers. The family enjoys camping, fishing, kayaking and travel. Joseph joined the Cornell Fencing Association Board in 2017 and is a member of the Reinstatement and Mentorship Committees. Joseph is currently a board member. His first term ends in 2020.

Adam Kirsch BS ’15, ILR, ’16 MBA. Professionally, Adam works as a management consultant in New York, specializing in the mergers and acquisitions of technology companies. Prior to entering consulting, he was an entrepreneur with businesses in technology and entertainment.

At Cornell, Adam was a four-year member of the epee squad, continuing a career that began at New Jersey’s Bergen Tech. Since graduation, Adam has continued to fence around the tri-state area and can be spotted in Cornell socks at the occasional NAC.

Outside of work and fencing, Adam enjoys reading, writing, and witty repartee. A volunteer with several nonprofits, he will be serving on the CFA board through 2021. 

Valerie Leimer BS ’05, CALS, is the owner and Chief Operating Officer of Major Products Company, a global food manufacturer specializing in stocks, flavors and sauces. She graduated Cornell with a degree in Food Science.

Valerie started her fencing career at the age of 14, in Wyckoff, NJ at Ramapo High School as a foilist and continued fencing throughout college. Valerie joined the Cornell fencing team junior year after transferring the second half of her sophomore year from James Madison University. While at JMU, she briefly fenced sabre, as it was the first year that women were allowed to compete in the weapon. After coming to Cornell, she came back to her roots as a foil fencer and served as captain her senior year. Valerie’s passion for fencing did not end after college. She was part of an ambitious group of alumni who spearheaded the formation of the Cornell Fencing Association and served as President the inaugural year.

She currently lives in New York City with her husband Matthias and two young daughters, Hannah (18mo) and Sienna (3mo). Valerie is currently a board member whose second term ends in 2021.

Elise Pasoreck Bio in progress. Her term ends 2022.

Alan Petroff Bio in progress. His term ends 2021.

Andrew P. Stifel BA ’91, A&S, is a Senior Program Manager at Leidos. His work in recent years has provided support to a variety of government clients primarily in the Defense and Intelligence sectors. He has also provided analysis and support in the areas of Strategic Communication, Public Diplomacy, Political Instability, Intelligence Analysis, and Information Operations for a variety of clients. He majored in Government at Cornell.

Andrew began fencing at DC Fencers Club in 1985 while at St. Albans School in Washington, DC, and went on to fence on the Varsity Foil team at Cornell with Jean-Jacques Gillet, Graeme Jennings and John Helmich, and served as Foil Captain his senior year. Andrew went on to fence for Oxford University under Coach Tomek Walicki, earned his Full Blue representing the University, competed in a variety of international tournaments to include the World Student Games, and was ranked in the Top 50 fencers in the UK. Upon returning to the U.S., Andrew competed for DCFC again, under Coach Janusz Smolenski, consistently ranked in the Top 50 foil fencers in the US, and went to US Nationals/Olympic Trials for 10 years running. His highest rank in the US was 22nd.

He currently lives in Arlington, VA with his wife Amanda, daughter Emma (11) and son William (8), the latter of which has just recently taken up sabre. Andrew coaches his daughter’s soccer team. His son’s baseball team, and he and his family enjoy a variety of outdoor pursuits, to include sailing, fishing, and hiking/climbing. Andrew is currently in his second term as Vice President of the board. His term ends in 2021.


Reinstatement Committee
Andrew Stifel (Chair)
Jeff Estabrook
Barbara Heiner
Joe Kirk
Valerie Derose Leimer
Alan Petroff
Ariana Klinkov
Jake Silverman
Purpose: Explores the feasibility of reinstating the Men’s Fencing Team to Varsity status by gauging potential for a successful capital campaign and interest among Athletic Department and University.
Public Relations Committee
Nina Inamdar (Chair)
Nick Heiner
Matt Herndon
Purpose: Updates social media with news and event promotion, keeps CFA website current, maintains and updates alumni database and current membership roll.
Alumni Events & Recognition Committee
Elise Pasoreck (Co-chair)
Valerie Derose Leimer (Co-chair)
Harrison Fox
Purpose: Develops, organizes and produces events to bring alumni together and recognize alumni fencing achievements.
Outreach Committee
Adam Kirsch (Chair)
Gabe Ayache
Lauren Darienzo
Conan Gillis
Alan Petroff
Purpose: Reach out to alumni and other former contributers to Cornell Fencing to let them know about what is happening with the team today and get them involved again. Recruit nominees for open seats on the board of directors.
  Our Team

History of Cornell Fencing

Since 1894, Cornell students who love the sport of fencing have met on campus. What started as a small club, grew into a powerhouse in the first half of the 20th Century that’s evolved into one of the finest programs in the country.

Fencing officially became a varsity sport at Cornell in 1898, and the University fielded a men’s team every year through 1992-93, except for a six-year hiatus from 1917-23. A women’s fencing club was established in 1926 and Cornell was almost immediately competitive in intercollegiate meets. In 1929, the first Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association championship tournament was held at Cornell, and by 1930, the Big Red had claimed the national crown.

Cornell Fencing Association History

The Cornell Fencing Association was founded on April 2, 2015 by a group of Cornell fencers and alumni, in partnership with the Athletic Department, Coaching Staff, and the Athletic Alumni Affairs Department. The CFA was established to encourage, promote, and support the fencing program at Cornell University. We look to assist Cornell University in creating an environment to enhance student athletes’ lives, in accordance with the mission and goals of Cornell, the Athletic Department, and the NCAA through networking, financial support, mentorship, and other means.

Men’s Team Roster

Men’s Team History

The men’s team became a national power in the 1930s when Georges Cointe became head coach. Cointe turned out successful teams during his entire reign as Cornell coach, and his 1955 team was IFA epee and three-weapon champion. Richard Pew ’55 was the national runner-up in 1955 and he placed fourth in the 1956 Olympics.

Raoul Sudre ’60 continued the rich tradition of Big Red fencing when he served as coach from 1961-1976. Sudre was named Coach of the Year three times by both the NCAA and NIWFA and in 1975 led the men to a second-place finish at the national championships.

In the mid-1970s, Cornell experienced success within the Ivy League that it had not achieved before and has not matched since. Cornell tied for first in the Ivy League in 1974, 1975 and 1977, compiling the second best record at the Ivy League Championships between ’74 and ’77 (one victory behind UPenn’s 14-6 record).

In 1993, the Men lost their varsity status and continued competing as a club in the Middle Atlantic Collegiate Fencing Association (MACFA) and in the United States Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs (USACFC). Since 1993, Cornell has won the USACFC Foil title 3 times, the MACFA foil title 4 times, and the USACFC National Title Once.

Women’s Team Roster

Women’s Team History

The women enjoyed national titles from 1967-69 under the direction of Michel Sebastiani and in 1972 and 1973 under Sudre. Karen Denton ’68 took the IWFA individual title as a senior, while Peggy Walbridge ’74 was a three-time All-American who won the national title in her final season.

Jean-Jacques Gillet, assistant coach since 1970, became head coach in 1977. The women’s squad went 13-0 and placed second in the NIWFA tournament in 1977, finished fourth at the AIAW championships in 1982 and placed seventh at the NCAA championships in 1983.

Cornell once more returned to the top of the fencing world when it won back-to-back NIWFA championships in 1991 and 1992.

Please contact CFA at if you have any questions or would like more information.