Our 2022 Spring Study Group Leaders

ILR classes have always been led by enthusiastic and knowledgeable Study Group Leaders. Many have advanced degrees. Others may be without academic credentials but project the enthusiasm of seasoned teachers and performers, skilled crafters, forceful debaters and voracious readers. 

Distinguished emeriti from Yale, SCSU, Quinnipiac and other universities have conducted courses for us in many different fields, from literature to mathematics, from astronomy to music and cultural history, from political science and sociology to chemistry and genetics.

Members interested in delving into a new topic sometimes lead a class and share what they have learned with those of like minds. Since our beginning in 1990, members have led courses on aspects of a variety of ethnic cultures, on overlooked films and artists, on novelists and poets, on folk music and art.

If you are interested in teaching a class,  please complete The SGL Course Proposal Form which is attached or contact The Curriculum Committee

We are accepting course proposals bor the 2022 Fall semester.  Please use the attached form below and submit by July 29, 2022 to curriculum@ilralbertus.org


Julie Averbach

Julie Averbach is a History of Art and Psychology double major at Yale University, with a particular passion for visual culture as a tool for social change. Her interests encompass areas as diverse as Russian & Soviet protest art, Indian graphic novels, and decorative arts of the Belle Époque. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Julie launched smARTee, a virtual enrichment platform expanding arts access. To date, smARTee tours have welcomed participants from 18 countries.

Don Barkin

Don Barkin MA received an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.A. in English literature from Cambridge University. He's taught undergraduate seminars in poetry and prose writing at Yale for several years and [ more ]

Harriet Bergmann, PhD

Harriet Bergmann, after retiring as Professor of English at the US Naval Academy in 2002, moved to New Haven. Since then she has taught creative writing at Yale and works a [ more ]

Susan Birnbaum

Susan Birnbaum, owner and operator of SusanSez NYC Walkabouts, is a native New Yorker obsessed with its history and food. Since 2002, Susan has been a licensed NYC Sightseeing Guide, member of NYC & Company (NYCGo.com) -- the official marketing, tourism, and partnerships organization, and sits on the Education committee and co-chairs the Ethics and Oversight committee of the Guides Association of New York City ( GANYC ), the oldest and most active tour guides association in America. Susan has had a lifelong interest in history (Hunter College - Bachelors in History ) and is a member ofThe Bronx, Brooklyn , and New York Historical Societies . She also regularly volunteers as a docent at the Museum of the City of New York . In 2010, Susan was the recipient of The Bronx [ more ]

Prof. Corrine Blackmer

Corinne E. Blackmer is professor of English and Judaic Studies at Southern Connecticut State University, as well as director of Judaic Studies. She has published widely on everything from opera and Jewish modernism to the Hebrew Bible and Jewish women's graphic novels. Her most recent publication, with Andrew Pessin, is Poisoning the Wells: Antisemitism in Contemporary America. She has a related book forthcoming called, Queering Anti-Zionism: Academic Freedom, LGBTQ Intellectuals and the Israel/Palestine Campus Debate.

Dr. Marc J. Blosveren

Dr. Marc Blosveren holds degrees in Chemistry and Psychology degrees and a Doctorate in Science Administration. He has done extensive work in Curriculum Review and Development. Science Supervisor New Haven Board of Education and OSHA Health & Safety Consultant.

Leo Cristofar

Leo has led hikes in and around Connecticut for more than 25 years.

Wes Davis

Wes Davis PhD, a senior lecturer in English & film at the University of New Haven for 26 years before giving up his full-time status, has been teaching film studies since Hitchcock was still making films. Do the math! Between Fairfield University and UNH, he has created and [ more ]

Franz Douskey

Born in New Haven in 1941, Franz Douskey  taught at Gateway Community College for 44 years and at  Yale from 1999-2003.  He has published seven books. WEST OF MIDNIGHT was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 2014. A SINATRA AND ME second edition will be released in April 2022.Other writing has appeared in the nation, Las Vegas Life, The New Yorker, USA/Today, the New York Times, Rolling Stone,Yankee, etc.

Leonard Engel

Leonard Engel, Professor Emeritus of English at Quinnipiac University, served as Chair of the English Dept. for 18 years; in 1989, he was selected "Outstanding Faculty of the Year"; in 2013, he received Quinnipiac's "Excellence in [ more ]

Joel N. Feimer PhD

Joel N. Feimer PhD taught undergraduate and graduate level English Literature and Composition at Mercy College in New York from 1967 to 2010. He earned a PhD in Comparative Literature from the City University of New York in 1983. He [ more ]

Dr. Emily Fenichel

Dr. Emily Fenichel is a professor of Art History at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Dr. Fenichel's research focuses on the interaction of art and religion in the Renaissance, particularly in the art of Michelangelo. She is the author of numerous articles and is currently working on a book on Michelangelo's late career.

Karen Fenichel

Karen Fenichel has taught Mah Jongg at several venues including synagogues and high school adult education courses. She has played for more than ten years and finds that it is a good way to meet new people.

Susan Fitzgerald

Susan M. Fitzgerald, has a Masters Degree from Fairfield University and served as Associate Dean of International Programs at Fairfield University for many years. Susan is a past member of the ILR Board of Governors and is a current member of the ILR Curriculum Committee.

Alan Franzi MS, C-IAYT, PAS

Alan Franzi, MS C-IAYT, PAS has over 25 years' experience teaching Yoga and doing Yoga and Posture Therapy in the New Haven and Shoreline area. Alan is a Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) thorough the International Association of Yoga Therapists. He is a Certified Posture Alignment Specialist (PAS), trained by the Egoscue Institute and a Level 3 Somatic Movement Center® Certified Exercise Instructor.

Audrey Galer

Audrey Galer pursued the study of watercolor with several instructors after retiring from teaching. She fell in love with the beauty of the medium. She volunteered to teach a group for ILR after she found she had a talent for sharing [ more ]

Frank Griffel PhD

Frank studied philosophy, Arabic literature, and Islamic studies at universities in Göttingen (Germany), Damascus, Berlin, and London. He received his PhD in 1999 from the Free University in Berlin. In his thesis he researched about the development of the judgment of apostasy in classical Islam. After a short period as a research fellow at the Orient  . . [ more ]

Frances S. Grodzinsky PhD

Frances S. Grodzinsky PhD is Professor Emerita Computer Science and Information Technology at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield and Past Co-Director of the Hersher Institute of Ethics.

Lisa Beth Hill PhD MA BA

Lisa Beth Hill, PhD MA BA is the Director of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity, and the Chair of the Department of History and AP Coordinator for US History at Hamden Hall Country Day Preparatory School. She received [ more ]

Lewis House PhD

Lewis House PhD is a graduate of New York University and a Professor Emeritus of Southern Connecticut State University. He is the published author of several books and many articles. Currently he is a Consultant to Educational Testing Service. He is a veteran of the US Military.

Marcia Jamron

Marcia Jamron has been fascinated by travel since early childhood. College, followed by family duties, have not dulled the anticipation of a new place to see and learn all about. She applies this urge to look for new and different places to the ILR bus and zoom trips she plans and conducts.

Lucy Antek Johnson

Born and raised in New York City, Lucy Johnson studied music, fine art, and ballet before being drawn to the world of entertainment. Moving to Los Angeles to produce movies for TV, she worked her way to senior vice president of daytime and children's programs for CBS for 14 years.  She paints, writes, and every so often gets up the nerve to sit at the piano and play a favorite Bach or Chopin prelude.

Hedda Kopf

Hedda Kopf taught literature and gender studies at Quinnipiac University for more than three decades. She continues to develop and lead book discussions at ILR as well as at several public libraries and other institutions in Connecticut. Hedda volunteers as a reading mentor in a New Haven public school and is the author of Understanding Anne Frank's The Diary of a Young Girl: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources and Historical Documents.

Sharif Kronemer

Sharif Kronemer PhD graduated as a PhD in neuroscience from Yale University where he studied the neural mechanisms of visual perception. He is now a postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Health where he is using neuroimaging and machine learning to explore the complexities of human cognition and perception.

Marc Lapadula

Marc Lapadula is a Senior Lecturer in the Film & Media Studies Program at Yale University. He is a playwright, screenwriter and an award-winning film producer. In addition to Yale, Marc has taught at Columbia University's Graduate Film School, created the screenwriting programs at both The University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins where he won Outstanding Teaching awards and has lectured on film, playwriting and conducted highly-acclaimed [ more ]

Nick Maiorino

Nick Maiorino PhD is a seven-year ILR instructor with more than 50 years of teaching experience on both public and university levels. His main background was in the biological sciences, but his interests are very eclectic as evidenced by the ILR courses he has presented. These include topics in the sciences, politics, history, and current events. He serves on the Board of Directors, Curriculum, and Strategic Planning Committees of ILR and is also an active member of the Connecticut Audubon Society. He believes deeply in the concept of life-long learning, a belief which is imbedded in the philosophy of ILR.

Mithat "Mito" Mardin PhD

Mithat "Mito" Mardin PhD was born in Istanbul, Turkey and is a graduate of the German High School there. He received a PhD in Organic Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology from the University of Göttingen. He worked at Bayer Pharmaceuticals for 33 years in various [ more ]

Nini Munro-Chmura ME

Nini Munro-Chmura ME has a Masters in Guidance and Counseling, and a Sixth Year in Counseling. She was an original Head Start teacher in New Haven, and a high school guidance counselor. She has led flora and fauna walks for Audubon, Sierra, and Appalachian Mt. Clubs.

Ben Muskin

A biomedical engineer by training, Ben is an accomplished and versatile lifescience executive with extensive knowledge of the medical device, biopharmaceutical, and healthcare industries. Ben was co-founder of CGI Pharmaceuticals, a genomics-based drug discovery company, where he headed up business development and strategic planning. Currently Ben is a business advisor to healthcare systems and startup life science companies.

Bryon Nakamura PhD

Byron Nakamura PhD is a professor of History at Southern Connecticut State University, where he has taught courses on ancient Greece and Rome since 2004. He has written on subjects such as Roman imperialism, ancient religion, military history, and has a keen interest in Roman numismatics (coinage).

Joe Pajor

Retired after a 43-year career in hospital management, Joe Pajor served 31 -years as adjunct professor at Quinnipiac and U of New Haven graduate MBA programs. He possess an MPH from Yale University and MBA from University of Bridgeport, and served as President of Connecticut Chapter of Health Care Financial Management Association [HFMA] and Regional Advisor New England HFMA region. Joe is a current lecturer at he Fairfield University Graduate School of Nursing, and past lecturer at the Yale University Graduate School of Nursing.

Tom Parlapiano

Tom Parlapiano, currently head of the Education Department at the Yale Peabody Museum, has decades of experience teaching bird ID methods to birders of all ages and experience levels. Prior to starting at the Peabody Museum in 2009, Tom was an environmental educator for the parks & recreation departments of Hamden and New Haven and has been a World Series of Birding participant for more than 25 years.

Bernard Pelletier

Bernard Pelletier is Vice President of People's Action for Clean Energy (PACE,) a nonprofit devoted to leading Connecticut communities on the journey to 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Prior to his role at PACE, he was a Property Casualty Actuary involved in pricing and evaluating risk.


Joe Petti retired from Cadbury Schweppes as Vice President of Manufacturing and Engineering and has previously instructed in the master's Program in the Business and Engineering Departments at the University of New Haven. BS Mechanical Engineering, CCNY; Master's Degree Industrial Engineering, NYU; Master's Degree Business Administration, UNH; Professional Engineering License, State of Connecticut.

Lois Procopion BS

Lois Procopion was born in New Britain, Connecticut. She received her BS Degree from CCSU. She retired as a Project Manager at Aetna Healthcare in 2014. For the past 45 years, Lois has been an active Justice of the Peace. She has been a gourmet cook for over 50 years and has won first prize in various local baking competitions. Her specialty is bread-making.

Rachel Ranis

Rachel Ranis has sociology degrees from Brandeis and Yale universities. Her research on social welfare issues, aging and vocational education has taken her to Pakistan, Mexico, Columbia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. She taught at the University of Bridgeport, the University of Maryland, Howard University and is retired from Quinnipiac University.

Jim Rhodes PhD

Jim Rhodes PhD graduated from Holy Cross College as a philosophy major and earned his PhD from Fordham University specializing in Medieval Literature and the works of James Joyce. He taught for many years in the English Department at Southern Connecticut State University and is the author of the book Poetry Does Theology: Chaucer, Grosseteste, and the Pearl Poet.

Deborah Roe

Deborah Roe is the program manager of People's Action for Clean Energy (PACE). She is also an author, a librarian, and the host of Planet E and Me, a podcast which looks at how individuals can help the planet

Mark Scully

Mark Scully is the President of PACE and is also a retired Property Casualty Actuary. He is a Certified Passive House Consultant and recently directed an energy-efficient retro fit of an historic building.

Irene Sommers PhD

Irene Sommers PhD is a retired Associate Professor of Humanities from Housatonic Community College in Literature, Film and Art History.  Her specialty is Art History—particularly the Italian Renaissance.   During her time at HCC she led  . . . [ more ]

Michael Stein PhD

Michael Stein PhD fell in love with the art, architecture (and food) of the capital of France on his first trip to Paris in 1965. During more than 30 subsequent visits he photographed the monuments, churches, museums (and pastries) of Paris to supplement his lectures. For more than five decades, Professor Stein taught both studio art and art history at Kent State University, the Cleveland Institute of Art, Wilkes University, and Housatonic Community College.

John Thomas, BA, JD, LLM,MPH

John Thomas LLB is a freelance writer, professor at the Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut, and performing guitarist. John teaches international law and health law. John's 200 + publications address topics from gun violence to health policy, politics, autism, juvenile justice, and music and musical instruments and have appeared in law reviews, medical journals, major newspapers, a wide range of music magazines, and the Oxford Dictionary of Music.

Chelsea Tipton

Chelsea has appeared with numerous major orchestras in the U.S., including Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Houston, Atlanta, Indianapolis, New Jersey, Nashville, Hilton Head, and San Antonio, as well as the Brooklyn, Louisiana, and Rochester Philharmonics, and the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana (Palermo) among others. Chelsea recently conducted an all-Gershwin season finale with the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The NY Times applauded Tipton for "leading sweeping and vibrant performances" of Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris.

Francine Vallillo

Francine Vallillo BA has been a horticultural lecturer and landscape professional for over 30 years. She started her career at golf courses, nurseries, and garden centers. She holds degrees in Plant Science from UMass Amherst and in Turfgrass Management from Stockbridge School of Architecture. In addition she holds a BA in liberal arts from Sacred Heart University Fairfield. Her background includes being a grounds manager for GE world headquarters in Fairfield, President of the CT professional Grounds Management Society, Turf consultant for Scott's lawn products. She is the "how to" author for various trade magazines including Fine Gardening Magazine, Buildings & Management, and the New England Real Estate Journals.

Sr. Sophia Veiras

Dr. Sophia Veiras is a compassionate and experienced physical therapist with special interests in orthopedics, sports medicine, and womens health. She utilizes her high level of knowledge and competitive background in powerlifting and strength training to empower, educate, and enable individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy, pain-free lifestyle.

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus, son of Holocaust survivors, was raised in an Orthodox environment in Brooklyn, New York. A graduate of Brooklyn College with a degree in philosophy, he earned a Master of Education degree from NYU and was ordained in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1972. Rabbi Wainhaus served congregations in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and . . . [ more ]

Walter Woodward

Walter Woodward is the State Historian of Connecticut and an Associate Professor of History at the University of Connecticut. He is the narrator and producer of Today in Connecticut History and Grating the Nutmeg: The Podcast of Connecticut History (with Connecticut Explored magazine). He also writes the "From the State Historian" column in Connecticut Explored. A widely sought-after public speaker and historian, he lives in Columbia, CT.

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