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 or have questons, please contact The Curriculum Committee

2024 Spring 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.

Archer, Stephen

Steve had his first very successful career working in various financial roles at GE Capital for 25 years ultimately becoming an Executive Finance Manager. After leaving his career at GE in 2005, he started a second career as a Personal Financial Advisor at Opus Advice First, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial in Oxford, Ct. He worked there for 10 years during which time he became a Certified Financial Planner. He then fully retired in 2015 to devote more time to giving back to the community. He is still a Certified Financial Planner and periodically gives educational seminars at various community senior centers. Although retired, Steve also volunteers as the District Coordinator for upper Fairfield County for the AARP Tax-Aide Program providing free income tax assistance to Seniors across 10 towns. Steve is a graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in Finance.

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 L. Beard has taught modernist literature in universities for over twenty years, (including a Fulbright year in Germany, and in an abroad program in Vienna) 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.

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.

Caplan, MA, Colin

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 ]

Cristofar, Leo

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

Dickenson, Duo

Duo Dickinson, FAIA graduated from Cornell in 1977 and opened his practice in 1987.

He has received over 30 awards and 30 percent of his ongoing work is dedicated to pro bono or at-cost work for not-for-profits. He is active in The New Haven Preservation Trust and Habitat for Humanity.

He has been published in more than 70 publications, is the architecture writer for Connecticut Hearst Media , a staff feature writer for The Common Edge Collaborative and Mockingbird Ministries and contributes to Arch Daily and many other publications. He has written eight books and hosts the radio series "Home Page" on WPKN Radio.

Dickinson has taught at Yale College and is now teaching at the University of Hartford. He is now on the faculty of the Building Beauty program at the Sant'Anna Institute, Sorrento, Italy as well as co-chair of their American Advisor Board and the Board of Directors.

Douskey, Franz

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.

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 ]

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, Dr. Emily

Emily Fenichel is an Associate Professor of Art History at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Fenichel's research focuses on the interaction of art and religion in the Renaissance, particularly in the art of Michelangelo. Her book, Michelanelo's Art of Devotion in the Age of Reform was published in 2023 with Cambridge University Press. Dr. Fenichel is also the Co-Director of a Digital Humanities initiative entitled the The Arquin Slide Collection Digitization Project. This project, which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, will create an interactive, searchable database of FAU's collection of Florence Arquin's 25,000 slides of Central and South America.

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.

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.

Heyman, Harvey

Harvey Heyman received a BA from Brown University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He retired in 2022 as IT Director and Business Planner for a hospital-owned physical therapy company. Harvey is a passionate consumer of current events and feels we are at a pivotal point in the health of American democracy.

Hill PhD MA BA, Lisa Beth

Lisa Beth Hill PhD MA BA is the Chair of the Department of History and AP Coordinator for US History and US Government at Hamden Hall Country Day Preparatory School. She received her degrees from Emory University and [ more ]

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.

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.

Loy-Ashe, Tarah

Tarah Loy-Ashe, PhD, CTRS, is an Associate Professor of Healthcare Studies at Southern Connecticut State University. She/her is a nationally certified therapeutic recreation specialist. (CTRS) and has over fifteen years of clinical experience in long-term care, received a BA in Psychology from Wells College, an MEd in Therapeutic Recreation Management from Springfield College, and PhD in Recreation Therapy from Clemson University. She/her research interests include ageism and gender stigma in long-term care, perceptions of disability, intersectionality, and aging care for the LGBTQ+ community.

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 ]

McKeever, Debbie

Debbie McKeever 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 Julia Child noted, "people who love to eat are always the best people."

Miller, Harold

Harold Miller, Bridge Life Master, is a retired CPA and native of New Haven and teaches the basics of bridge for beginners.

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.

Nelson, John-Eric

35-yr H.S. teacher in the Milford, CT. Jon-Eric has been a colonial re-enactor for over 40 years, has been studying CT. Provincial Soldiers in the French and Indian War (1754-1764) for 40 years, and has given talks to the U.S. Army and Historical Sites all over the Northeast.

Pilotte, Nils

Nils Pilotte, Assistant Professor of Biology at Quinnipiac University and is a molecular biologist who studies the genetics and DNA structure of disease-causing parasites. He is interested in understanding how tools such as CRISPR-Cas can be used to both improve human health and to facilitate the study of pathogenic organisms.

Porder, Stephen

Stephen Porder is the Acacia Professor of Ecology, Evolutiionary and Organismal Biology and Environment and Society at Brown University, where he serves as Associate Provost for Sustainability. His research focuses on nutrient and carbon cycling in tropical rainforests, industrial agriculture in the tropics, and tropical

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.

Reid, Gerald

Gerald Reid is an anthropologist whose research focuses on political and cultural revitalization in Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) communities in Canada during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has worked extensively in Kahnawake, a First Nations community of 9,000 people located on Mohawk territory in Southern Quebec. After 36 years, Dr. Reid recently retired from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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 M. Saltman, Ed.D.has been given the title Guru Of Laughter by one of America's foremost Insurance Companies. She is a Professor Emeritus of Special Education at Southern Connecticut State University where she taught graduate courses on Special Education since 1975, and The Enhancement of Learning through Humor, as well as directed a summer Institute on Healing, Education, Laughter and Play (H.E.L.P.) for 29 summers. She lectures all over the country plus in Japan, Norway, Australia, England, Italy and Belgium, on Laughter, Rx for Survival, Dealing with Difficult People, Sex and Aging, and Learning Styles. She has shared her insights into laughter with hospitals, corporations, school systems, and other organizations throughout the world. She has spoken extensively on such topics as Learning Styles for At-Risk Students and Counseling Skills for Special Educators throughout the country, most notably for the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. In addition, two of her books - Sing A Celebration and I'm Changing the Locks and Cementing the Windows –What To Do When Your Kid Leaves Home have been published.

So, Perry

Music Director Designate of New Haven Symphony, Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Orquesta Sinfonica de Navarra (Navarre Symphony Orchestra), Spain.

Sofer, David

David Sofer, PT, DPT has been a practicing therapist in arthritis since 2000. He founded his physical therapy practice in Brooklyn, NY in 2005 and grew it until 2016 when it was acquired. He is an adjunct professor at SUNY Downstate and Touro College physical therapy programs and continues to treat patients in his Brooklyn office. He is a leader in the NY Physical Therapy association. You can find out more about him here:

Vanderberg, James

James Vanderberg is the Educator for High School, University and Community Engagement at the Yale Center for British Art. He graduated with a master's in fine arts from CUNY Hunter College in 2008. Vanderberg has taught university and high school studio art and art history for over a decade at Fordham University, Nassau Community College, the Art Students League of New York, and Saint John's Preparatory School. His work is collected nationally, and recent paintings and drawings are available at Gallerie Gris in Hudson New York. In 2019 Vanderberg moved to rural Connecticut and left classroom teaching after the pandemic. This new landscape and connection to a historical collection of 17th and 18th century art, as well as the resources of a university museum have influenced his work in surprising ways. When he is not painting and drawing, he creates an ongoing autobiographical comic called Lunch.

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 ]

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