Our 2023 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 or contact The Curriculum Committee

The proposal submission window for the  2023 Spring semester has closed.  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.

Below is a list of our Spring 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.

Averbach, Julie

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.

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 ]

Barratt, Carl

Carl Barratt, Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering, UNH. His degrees include 1st Class Honors, Math and Physics, U. of Bristol UK, 1974. PhD in Theoretical High Energy Physics, Cavendish Lab., Cambridge U., 1977. He [ more ]

Beard, Phillip L.

Phillip L. 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.

Beck, Nancy

Nancy Beck is Treasurer of the Japan Society of Fairfield County (JSFC). She is a third-generation Japanese American (Sansei). Her mother and many other relatives were incarcerated during World War II because of their Japanese ethnicity. Ms. Beck is a graduate of the University of Chicago.

Beck, Vernon

Vernon Beck is a past president of the Japan Society of Fairfield County, and is currently its Vice President. Dr. Beck earned his PhD in Physics at the University of Chicago.

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 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.

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 MBA. from The Wharton School of Finance, a JD from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a BS from Georgetown University. His articles have appeared in 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.

Burns, Sister Mary Ellen

Sr. Mary Ellen Burns is a member of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Roman Catholic women's religious congregation. A graduate of Yale Law School, she has worked at Apostle Immigrant Services in New Haven since its inception in 2008. She previously worked as a legal services attorney in New York City.

Cristofar, Leo

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

Duffy, Thomas C.

Thomas C. Duffy - Professor of Music, Clinical Professor of Nursing, and Director of University Bands at Yale University. His interests and research range from non-tonal analysis to jazz, from wind band history to creativity and the brain. Duffy developed a musical intervention to train nursing students to better hear and identify body sounds with the stethoscope. His compositions have introduced a generation of school musicians to music with political, social, historical and scientific themes.

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 [ 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, 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.

Galer, Audrey

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 ]

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.

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.

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.

Maiorino, Nick

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.

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 ]

Miller, Steffon

Steffon Miller was a juvenile convicted felon, who, through hard work, manages to become a community activist and justice reform advocate.

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 at Heaven's Door, Thirteen and a Day. His most recent book is Squirrel Hill.

Pajor, Joe

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

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.

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.

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:

Stafford III, Dr. Kirby C.

Dr. Kirby C. Stafford III is the former Chief Scientist (Head) of the Department of Entomology and State Entomologist at The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. After nearly 35 years working on ticks and Lyme disease, he retired 1 June 2022, as an emeritus scientist and continues work part-time on several projects and manuscripts. Dr. Stafford has authored or co-authored articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, review chapters on tick management in two books, produced a Tick Management Handbook (CAES Bulletin 1010), and served on regional and national tick-related committees.

Tipton, Chelsea

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.

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. Recently he coordinated a project with the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office to document the heritage of the Olmsted landscape architecture firm in Connecticut. Mr. Wigren is the author of Connecticut Architecture: Stories of 100 Places and serves on the State Historic Preservation Board and the Merritt Parkway Advisory Committee.

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