Our 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. 


Armen Abrahamian

Since 1995, Armen has specialized in helping individuals protect themselves and their families against the high costing risk of a long-term care illness. A nationally recognized leader, he has been chosen by corporations and State government, along with legal, financial and accounting professionals to assist with their clients' needs.

Lisa J. Anderson

Lisa is a trained mediator, consultant and community association lawyer. She draws upon her 30 plus years mediating disputes, facilitating difficult conversations, and conducting board governance workshops. Her intention is to make this journey of exploration challenging and joyful.

Barbara Beitch PhD

Barbara has a broad background ranging from cellular to molecular to organismal biology, and has taught several courses for the ILR over the years, with topics including sexuality for seniors, genetics, highlights of the Peabody Museum, and reproductive strategies among various. . . [ more ]

Harriet Bergmann PhD

Harriet retired in 2002 as a Professor of American Literature at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. She moved to New Haven that year and taught creative writing as an adjunct at Yale for 14 years. She thinks that she has taught "Moby Dick" at least ten times over the years of teaching, and she's delighted to be doing it once more.

Rita Brieger

Rita taught Bridge in the New Haven area for 35 years. She is a Bridge Life Master, which is the highest ranking you can achieve in Bridge. She is also an accredited American Contract Bridge League teacher.

Colin Caplan

Colin was born and raised in New Haven and graduated with a Masters in Architecture from Tulane University. He has had his own design and historic research firm, Magrisso Forte. Besides being the author of six books on New Haven's history, he is also . . . [ more ]

Shula Chernoff

Shula is a retired Professor who taught generations of teachers at Southern Connecticut State University. Her field was Early Childhood and Child Development. She has been writing poetry for 25 years. Her second book called "Solace" came out on her 94th birthday. She has been teaching for ILR for many years.

Leo Cristofar

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

Ann Dallavalle

Ann is a retired librarian, having spent her 30+ year career in schools, community colleges, and public libraries. She has always enjoyed teaching and holds two California teaching credentials in addition to her MLS from UCLA. She spends her free time volunteering with different organizations and coercing her spouse (Peter Parker) to join her on adventures of discovery around the United States.

Gustave L. Davis MD

Gustave is Clinical Professor of Pathology (retired) at Yale School of Medicine. He graduated with a BA in Humanities from Union College and MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse. Following training in Pathology at Barnes Hospital/Washington University in St Louis Medical School he remained on the faculty until 1981 when he, with his family, returned east to chair the pathology department at Bridgeport (CT) Hospital and teach at Yale. He has   . . [ more ]

Elizabeth A. Dreyer PhD

Elizabeth is Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT and Adjunct Professor of Historical Theology at Hartford Seminary. She is the author or editor of nine books and over one hundred articles, chapters in books, and dictionary entries. Areas of interest include medieval theology and spirituality; women's spirituality; medieval  . . . [ more ]

Richard Dumbrill

Richard was born in London and lived in South Africa for 23 years where he received his formative education at Durban High School and the University of Natal. He immigrated to the USA in 1970.

Joel N. Feimer PhD

Joel taught undergraduate and graduate level English Literature and Composition at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry New York from 1967 to 2010. He earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the City University of New York in 1983. He has published a number of essays on topics in Medieval and Modern . . . [ more ]

Ann Froines EdD

Ann, a founding director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at University of Massachusetts, Boston, taught in the field for 30 years. She was active in the peace and women's liberation movements of her era, and now lives in Hamden near her daughter's family.

Marcia Goodman

Marcia has a Master's degree in Library Sciences and a law degree. She has a wide variety of experiences ranging from President of the Board of Police Commissioners in Bridgeport in the 80's to Director of the nonpartisan bill-drafting office of the Connecticut  . . . [ 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 ]

William F. Hileman, MS

William got his first tattoo in 1995. He has a BA in Psychology and a Master's in Library and Informational Science.

Joanne Hoffman MS

Joanne of EATS4LIFE is a Personal Nutrition Consultant in Wallingford. She designs personal nutrition programs for individuals who have weight concerns, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. The programs are based on body fat percentage using normal everyday foods.

Jackie Hoyle RPSGT

Jackie is a Registered Polysomnography Technician and the Coordinator at the Griffin Hospital Sleep Wellness Center. She performs clinical testing and operations for the department as a whole.

Lewis House PhD

Lew is a graduate of New York University and a Professor Emeritus of Southern Connecticut 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 United States Military.

Patricia Illingworth BS, ASA, MALS

Patricia is a graduate of Mt. St Mary-on-the-Hudson Academy, Newburgh, NY with an ASA Degree in Liberal Arts/History from Bay Path Jr. College; a BS Degree in Business Administration with a second concentration in Communications from the University of New Haven; and  . . . [ more ]

Marcia Jamron

Since early childhood Marcia has been fascinated by travel as a very exciting option. Colleges, followed by family duties, have not dulled the anticipation of a new place to see and learn all about. She has taken this urge to look for new and different places for ILR to go on our bus travels. She is always looking around the next corner for the excitement of discovering a new place.

Yoko Kawai PhD

Yoko is a lecturer at Yale School of Architecture and the co-founder of Mirai Work Space.

Hedda Kopf

Hedda 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 a number of 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," Greenwood Press.

Jack Lawson MD

Jack is a Professor Emeritus of Radiology at Yale University.  A native of North-East England, he has been a resident in New Haven for the last 50 years.

Todd Lyon

Todd (named after her grandmother) is co-owner of Fashionista Vintage & Variety, a refuge for arty individualists for 13 years. She is also a writer, currently covering the local restaurant scene for Seasons of New Haven Magazine.

Nick Maiorino

Nick was a high school science teacher for 36 years, a department chair as well as a university instructor. While his primary area of expertise is human anatomy and physiology, he has a passion for all things weather and history and has shared these interests as an ILR study group leader for four years.

Mito Mardin Ph.D.

Mito was born in Istanbul, Turkey and is a graduate of the German High School in Istanbul. He attended University of Göttingen (Germany) with a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry, Physics and Microbiology. He worked as a Senior High School teacher for Physics and Chemistry during his dissertation. He joined Bayer Pharmaceuticals in 1977 and worked   . . . [ more ]

Debbie McKeever

Debbie is a self-proclaimed foodie. She experiments with new recipes, especially in baking. She also loves to explore different locations to experience all types of delicious cuisine. For the past five years, she has continued her search for interesting and different menus through "Lunching Adventures", paired with enjoying a meal with friends, old and new. As so aptly expressed by Julia Child, "people who love to eat are always the best people."

Kenneth Mull

Kenneth is a retired Engineer and amateur photographer. In retirement, he and his wife Nancy travel extensively with a new perspective for what they see and hear.

Nancy Mull

Nancy is a retired teacher and historian and travels extensively with her husband Kenneth.

Nini Munro-Chmura ME

Nini 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 had led flora and fauna walks for Audubon, Sierra, and Appalachian Mt. Clubs

Professor Thomas Murray

Thomas is a concert organist, recording artist and Yale Professor. Among classical musicians, he is inseparably associated with the Newberry Memorial organ in Woolsey Hall. Now in his thirty-eighth year at Yale, he counts many brilliant young performers among his students.

Liam O'Brien PhD

Liam is Chair of the Department of Film, Television, and Media Arts and an Emmy and other award winning professor of Communications at Quinnipiac University. His research interests include theatrical feature film, television and documentary production in  . . . [ more ]

Ned Ostojic PhD PE

Ned holds a degree in analytic chemistry from the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and is a licensed professional engineer in chemical engineering. He has provided environmental consulting services to clients in many industries nationwide and internationally, which includes participation in value engineering panels and serving as an expert witness in a number of legal cases.

Peter Parker PhD

Peter earned his BA in Physics from Amherst College in 1958 and his PhD in physics from CalTech in 1963. He was on the faculty at Yale University from 1966 to 2013 in the departments of Physics and Astronomy. His research focused primarily on nuclear reactions and neutrinos from stars such as our sun. He has always enjoyed teaching, and is happy to be spending his retirement teaching occasional courses.

Jim Rhodes PhD

Jim graduated from Holy Cross College as a philosophy major and earned his PhD from Fordham University specializing in Medieval Literature and the work 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.

Sheilah R. Rostow

Sheilah is retired from Bank of America where she was a Senior Vice President and Regional Executive in the Philanthropic Management unit responsible for the State of Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. During her 32 year career Sheilah was a corporate fiduciary working with individuals and not for profits in the planning and execution of . . . [ more ]

Scott Semple

Scott was appointed DOC Commissioner of the State Department of Corrections in March of 2015.  His vision of three Reintegration Centers is designed to address the specific needs of Veterans, treatment of offenders serving DUI sentences and the female population, and are viewed nationally as a best practices model for corrections. He is actively involved in the shaping of criminal justice reform policy.

Irene Sommers

Irene is a retired Professor of Humanities from Housatonic Community College. Her specialty is Art History—particularly the Italian Renaissance. During her time at HCC she led student tours to museums throughout the United States, as well as to France, Italy, and the former Soviet Union. As a result, her presentations will include practical tips for museum visits such as where to find an inexpensive restaurant, the location of the nearest Metro stop or taxi stand, and, the most important, where the best restrooms are located.

Michael Stein PhD

On his first trip to Paris in 1965, Michael fell in love with the art, architecture (and food) of the capital of France. During more than thirty 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

John is a freelance writer, professor at the Quinnipiac University Schools of Law and Medicine in Hamden, Connecticut, and a guitarist still striving for mediocrity. He holds a BA and JD from the University of Arizona and an LLM and MPH from Yale University. John teaches international law and health law. John's 200 + publications address topics from gun violence to . . . [ more ]

Francine Vallillo

Francine 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 . . . [ more ]

Rabbi Alvin Wainhaus

As the son of Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Wainhaus 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 ]

Richard Yanowitz PhD

Richard is a university teacher in Renaissance English literature with general focus on the European Renaissance and Reformation plus history of science. He has taught an ILR course on ancient Egypt. He is a docent at the Yale Peabody Museum and has done independent research in human evolution, the history of human interaction with. . . [ more ]

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