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.

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

 Click Here to access the form that was used for the 2023 Spring Semester.  If you have questions please send an email to curriculum@ILRNH.org.

We are preparing our 2023 Fall catalog and it will be available soon on our website.  In the meantime, take a look below at our  list of 2023 Fall Study Group Leaders.  Hopefully one of your favorites is there. 

2023 Fall Semester Study Group Leaders

Abbey, Nancy

Nancy Abbey recently retired after 16 years as the Assistant Director of Milford Public Library. She facilitated a popular Classic Book Group for 14 of those 16 years, and continues in this role.

Altson, John

John Altson has been involved in hi-tech since 1961. During the years 1965-1967 John managed the team that wrote the software that flew the SR-71 spy plane missions.

Averbach, Julie

Julie Averbach recently graduated from Yale University with a double major in History of Art and Psychology. Her interests encompass areas as diverse as Indian graphic novels, activist poster art, and decorative arts of the Belle Époque. Julie leads smARTee, a virtual arts enrichment platform that promotes museum access and emotional well-being. To date, she has led virtual art museum tours for 4,000+ people from over 21 countries. 

Barkin, Don

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 ]

Beard, Phillip L.

Phillip Beard has taught modernist literature in universities for over twenty years, (including a Fulbright year in Germany), has published articles on twentieth century literature and philosophy, and is currently an editor for the Bulletin of the George Santayana Society.

Bergmann, PhD, Harriet

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 ]

Birnbaum, Susan

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. Susan has had a lifelong interest in history (Hunter College - bachelor's in history ) and is a member of The Bronx, Brooklyn , and New York Historical Societies .In 2010, Susan was the recipient of The Bronx Tourism Award from The Bronx Tourism Council for her unparalleled commitment to sharing the rich history of The Bronx.

Blosveren, Dr. Marc J.

Dr. Marc J. Blosveren holds Chemistry and Psychology degrees, and a Doctorate in Science Administration. He has done extensive work in Curriculum Review and Development, was the Science Supervisor (retired) for the New Haven Board of Education and was an OSHA Health & Safety Consultant. He was an Adjunct Professor at Quinnipiac University and Western Connecticut State University.

Boyce, Timothy

Timothy Boyce practiced law for many years, most recently serving as the Managing Partner of the Charlotte, NC office of Dechert LLP, an international law firm. He holds an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of Finance, and a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He received a B.S. from Georgetown University. His articles have appeared in World War II Magazine, The Quarterly Journal of Military History, The Scandinavian Review and Viking Magazine. Tim, who currently lives in Tryon, NC, retired in 2014 to devote full time to writing and speaking.

Brand, Gabriella

Gabriella Brand is a bilingual educator, writer, and public speaker. She has over thirty years' experience as a teacher of French language and literature. In addition, she has served as an intern at the United Nations during her university years. She was a program director at an Alliance Francaise. She holds a diploma from the Universite de Neuchatel, Switzerland and an MA in French pedagogy from Middlebury College, Vermont.'

Brieger, Rita

Rita Brieger has been teaching 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 and is also an accredited American Contract Bridge League teacher.

Cristofar, Leo

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

Dawidoff, Nicholas

Nicholas Dawidoff is the author of 6 books, all winners of prestigious recognition and awards, including The Fly Swatter: Portrait of an Exceptional Character, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His most recent book, The Other Side of Prospect, was praised by Washington Post's Sunday Book World, was a New Yorker and Commonweal book of the year, won The American Bar Association's book award, and The American Society of Journalists and Authors nonfiction book award. He has also been, among others, a Guggenheim, Berlin prize, and Art for Justice Fellow.

Dumbrill MA, Matilda (Jerre)

Matilda (Jerre) Dumbrill MA knew from the age of 10 when she learned to sew that she would work in fashion. With a UConn degree in Art, Clothing and Textiles/ English minor and as a runner-up in the national Vogue Magazine Prix de Paris writing contest, she landed [ more ]

Dumbrill BA MBS, Richard

Richard is a former resident of South Africa from 1947 before emigrating to the USA in 1970. There he received a formative education at high school and at university graduating with a degree in English and Political Science. His first two ILR lectures were: South Africa-An Historical and Contemporary Perspective on whether the country can survive the economic headwinds? (2017) and South Africa and iZimbabwe-Do they face a common destiny? (2018)

Engel, Leonard

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 Teaching Award." He has edited seven collections of essays beginning with The Big Empty: Essays on the Land as Narrative in 1994 and concluding with The Films of Clint Eastwood: Critical Perspectives in [ more ]

Farbman, Rabbi Michael

Rabbi Michael Farbman was born in Vitebsk, Belarus. He received his semicha (rabbinic ordination) at the Leo Baeck College, Reform Rabbinical Seminary in London UK. He holds a BA and MA in Hebrew and Jewish Studies, as well as Master of Sacred Theology from the Yale Divinity School. He has served [ more ]

Feimer PhD, Joel H.

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 ]

Fenichel, APR Doug

Doug Fenichel, APR is an accredited public relations professional. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for the first 10 years of his career. Throughout his career, writing obituaries was an important task that fell to him. These ranged from writing obituaries about regular people for The New Haven Register to the sensitive treatment of a CEO's son and a young fire chief.

Fenichel, Dr. Karen

Karen Fenichel, DMD,  has taught Mah Jongg at several venues including synagogues and adult education at high school. She has played more than 10 years. It is a good way to meet new people and make friends.

Fenichel, Dr. Emily

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.

Franzi MS, C-IAYT, PAS, Alan

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.

Fusaris, Annis

A retired registered nurse, taught to knit with her right hand at the age of 5. Taught under duress because she is left handed. In the 1960's learned how to crochet, when crafts were the popular hobby. Also, less likely to drop a stitch while raising a family and answering the office phone. Now enjoys passing on the knowledge to the younger generation.

Godshall, Susan

Susan retired as Senior Vice President of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce. Previously, Susan was a program officer at the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Assistant Secretary of Yale University, implementing programs to broaden local partnerships. Susan holds degrees from Yale Law School and Yale School of Architecture. She is a board member of the New Haven Preservation Trust, which she serves as Chair of the Preservation Committee.

Grodzinsky PhD, Frances S.

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.

Guerrette, Serene

Serena Guerrette for over 40 years, has been a docent, trained and served on the Docent Council at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, reaching the position of President of the Council. Currently, she serves as a docent at the Yale Center for British Art. Ms Guerrette retired from the YCBA's Research and Education Department in 2013.

Heyman, Harvey

Harvey Heyman received a BA from Brown University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He just retired as Business Planner and IT Director for a large physical therapy company. When recently reading the 2016 book "Dark Money, the Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right", and a companion book, "Democracy in Chains, the Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America", he had a revelatory experience helping him to understand that much of what is happening in America today is result of a plan 40+ years in the making by the radical right. He wishes for others to share in this revelatory experience.

House PhD, Lewis

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.

Jamron, Marcia

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.

Kleinfeld, Eng.Sc.D, Professor Emeritus UNH, Ira H.

Ira Kleinfeld earned his BS, MS and Eng. Sc.D. from Columbia University. He served as a professor of industrial engineering and associate provost for graduate studies research and faculty development at the University of New Haven where [ more ]

Kopf, Hedda

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.

Kronemer, Sharif

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.

Lawson, Elaine

Elaine Lawson comes from what was a thriving Jewish community in Newcastle upon Tyne in the Northeast of England. She studied at Durham University and on emigrating to the United States obtained a master's degree in psychology. She has previously lectured to the ILR on Art Nouveau and Art Deco, and Vienna 1900.

Maggart, Kaye

Kaye Maggart is the chair of the HomeHaven Membership Committee. HomeHaven is a non-profit group for Greater New Haven residents who want to remain in their own homes as long as possible as they age. HomeHaven's mission is to help members remain active, independent, and productive as they grow older in the comfort of their own homes and communities. Providing social and educational activities, companionship, volunteer opportunities, services and referrals to qualified professionals defines the resources.

Maiorino, Nick

Nick Maiorino, a member of ILR for 9 years, is a life-long learner with more than 60 years of teaching experience. He holds a BS degree in Education; MS degree in Statistics, Measurement and Evaluation; 6th Year Certificate in Administration and Supervision; and advanced degrees in the sciences. While his main focus is science, he has offered courses in his many other interests such as history, music, and current events. He currently serves on the ILR Board of Governors and the Curriculum Committee.

Mardin PhD, Mithat "Mito"

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 ]

Munro-Chmura ME, Nini

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.

Musco, Marie

Marie Musco is a retired nurse and has been a resident of Orange for 45 years. She enjoys teaching the game to friends and family.

Nakamura PhD, Bryon

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).

Oppenheimer, Mark

Mark Oppenheimer holds a PHD in religion from Yale and has taught at Yale, Stanford, and NYU. Mark is the author of 5 books among them Knocking on Heavens Door and Thirteen and a Day.  His most recent book is Squirrel Hill.

Orrell, Chris

Chris Orrell has spent over 37 years with McGraw-Hill Publishing and is a lifelong film enthusiast. He is the founder and director of the Oronoque Village International and Independent Film Festival in Stratford, CT which is currently planning its third season opening in January 2024.

Parlapiano, Tom

Tom Parlapiano, currently manager of the Yale Peabody Museum's Office of School & Teacher Engagement, has decades of experience teaching identification 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 Town of Hamden and City of New Haven and has participated in the World Series of Birding for more than 25 years.

Procopion BS , Lois

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.

Ranis, Rachel

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.

Rhodes PhD, Jim

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.

Saltman, Joyce

Joyce Saltman is Professor Emeritus in Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University having taught there for 40 years. She presents close to 100 sessions each year for corporations, schools, and civic organizations.

Schwartz, Ph.D., Pauline

Pauline Schwartz, Ph.D., is a Professor Emeritus of the University of New Haven, West Haven, Connecticut. She retired in 2018 after a long tenure teaching a variety of chemistry courses. Dr. Schwartz was awarded a sabbatical leave and academic release time as a research scholar to commence a research program focusing on novel computational models of prebiotic chemical systems that explored unanswered questions about the fascinating chemical evolution of life on Earth and beyond.

Silberfeld, Tony

Tony Silberfeld received a master's degree from the U Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies and a bachelor's degree in political science from Tulane U. His current research at the Bertelsmann Foundation focuses on the intersection of technology and democracy in Europe and the United States. In the course of his work, Tony has produced long-form publications, graphic books, digital animations, and feature-length documentary films, constantly exploring innovative ways to connect the Foundation's work to policymakers and the public.  Tony's recent documentaries I, Too (2023), Uncivil War (2020, and The Troubles with Brexit (2019) have earned the Foundation official selections at a range of international film festivals. He served nearly a decade with the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office as head of political and public affairs at the embassy's Northern Ireland Bureau in Washington DC.

Simon, Mark

Mark Simon is a founding partner of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, a firm of 65 in Centerbrook, CT. He has designed numerous notable buildings including academic, research, and museum structures. His latest of these is the complete renovation and additions to Yale's Peabody Museum.

Starr, Markham

Markham Starr is a documentary photographer interested in preserving the working cultures of New England.

Stein PhD, Michael

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.

Taubin, MD, Howard L.

Howard L. Taubin, M.D.. is a graduate of the University of Virginia Medical School.  Residency in Internal Medicine and Fellowship in Gastroenterology at Yale University School of Medicine.

Vallillo, Francine

Francine Vallillo has been a horticultural lecturer and landscape professional for more than 30 years. She started her career in golf course turf management and has worked with nurseries, garden centers, private residences, professional landscape companies and has managed large estates and corporate HQ landscapes. She has a BA from Sacred Heart University and holds degrees in plant science from UMass Amherst and turfgrass management from Stockbridge School of Agriculture. She has been a keynote speaker at several national conventions and has published articles and Q&A columns in various industry magazines.

Wainhaus, Rabbi Alvin

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 ]

Wigren, Christopher

Christopher Wigren is the Deputy Director of Preservation Connecticut, the statewide nonprofit for preserving and promoting the state's significant buildings, landscapes, and communities, and the author of Connecticut Architecture: Stories of 100 Places. He recently helped coordinate a project with the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office to document the heritage of the Olmsted landscape architecture firm in Connecticut.

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