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. 


Barbara Abrams

Barbara Abrams is a retired speech and language pathologist. She has worked with students from preschool to high school. Currently she is a volunteer reader for two classes of four-year-olds at the YMCA. She also reads to the seniors in the Alzheimer's group at the Milford Senior Center. After struggling with bipolar depression for many years, her focus turned to educating people to look at mental illness in the same way as physical illness. She is a certified facilitator for NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). She is also strongly in favor of other support groups such as DBSA (Depression and Bipolar Alliance).

Iman Omer Bajwa

Iman Omer Bajwa is the Director of Muslim Life in the Chaplain's Office at Yale. He earned his Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy from Hartford Seminary. He received his MA in Near Eastern Studies, with a specialization in Islamic Studies, from Cornell University's Department of Near Eastern Studies. He also earned an MS in Communication from Cornell, and a BA in English Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University. He regularly lectures at campuses, congregations, and in communities across the country.

Janet Barrett

Janet Barrett was raised in New York, graduated from Indiana University with a BS in Communications, and now lives in Connecticut with her husband and two cats. She remembers her father first [ more ]

Barbara Beitch PhD

Barbara Beitch PhD is no stranger to ILR. She has led courses on classical and molecular genetics, bizarre reproductive strategies in the animal kingdom, human sexuality in the mature years, the history of the Sleeping Giant, and most recently (teaming with her husband Richard Yanowitz) an overview and challenges of climate change.

The impetus for this course on leafcutter ants [ more ]

David Bennett

David Bennett is the JCC MakerSpace Coordinator. He has designed and built two MakerSpaces, including the one at the JCC. David taught [ more ]

Harriet Bergmann, PhD

Harriet Bergmann PhD retired in 2002 as a Professor of American Literature at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. She then moved to New Haven and taught creative writing as an adjunct at Yale for 14 years.

Rita Brieger

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.

Edith Carlson

Edith Carlson is a retired high school English teacher who finds the questions "Hungry? Ready for Lunch?" Silly, when the answers are obviously "yes."

David Chervan PhD

David Chevan PhD has an open-minded passion for music and love of playing the bass that has led him to explore a wide range of musical realms from singing in synagogue to playing bass in gospel groups. As an educator he directs and arranges for various ensembles and has developed a series of college [ more ]

Lawrence S. Cohen, MD

Lawrence S. Cohen is the Ebenezer K. Hunt Professor of Medicine (Emeritus) and former Chief of Cardiology at Yale School of Medicine for four decades His early research explored the diagnosis and therapy of patients with coronary artery disease. He later became a leader in clinical trials. He has treated thousands of patients at Yale and taught decades of Yale medical students.

Leo Cristofar

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

Charlotte D'Aniello

Charlotte D'Aniello is a graduate of the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music with degrees in music and piano. She taught piano for thirty-six years and continues with a few special students. In addition, she has taught [ more ]

Terry Dagradi

Terry Dagradi is the Coordinator/Curator of the Cushing Center at the John Hay Whitney Medical Library at the Yale School of Medicine.

Gustave L. Davis MD

Gustave L. Davis MD, a NYC native, received a BA (Humanities) from Union College, an MD from SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse and trained in Pathology at Barnes Hospital Washington University in St. Louis. He served as USAF Captain at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, and then rejoined the Washington University Medical School faculty. He chaired the Bridgeport Hospital Pathology Department (1981-2000) and has since retired as Clinical Professor of Pathology, Yale Medical School. Since a 2017 trip to Alaska, the Alaska Purchase bicentennial, he has become obsessed with William H. Seward (Union College 1820).

Ryan Leigh Dostie MFA

Ryan Leigh Dostie MFA is a novelist turned soldier turned novelist. As an Army Persian-Farsi/Dari Linguist in Military Intelligence, she was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom, where she translated very little because they mostly speak Arabic in Iraq. After being wowed by the brilliant efficiency of the Army, Ryan left the military world for academic pursuits. She holds an MFA in fiction writing and a bachelor's degree in history from Southern Connecticut State University. She lives in New Haven with her husband, one wondrously wild daughter, a very large Alaskan Malamute, and a brand-new rescue puppy.

Matilda (Jerre) Dumbrill MA

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 ]

Anne Fadiman

Anne Fadiman teaches writing at Yale and is the author of four books, including Ex Libris, which has or will be translated into sixteen languages, and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rabbi Michael Farbman

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 ]

Caroline Fargeorge LLB

Caroline Fargeorge LLB was born and raised in New Haven and graduated from Providence College with a degree in Political Science. After college, she moved back to New Haven. She graduated from UConn Law School in 1998. Immediately after graduating, she started her legal career with the Judicial Branch. In 2017, she was promoted to Deputy Chief Clerk for GA Matters at the courthouse.

Joel N. Feimer PhD

Joel N. Feimer PhD 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 ]

Alan Franzi MS, C-IAYT, PAS

Alan Franzi MS, C-IAYT, PAS has over 25 years' experience as a Yoga and Movement Therapy practitioner. His specialized individual therapeutic work centers on Posture Alignment Therapy and Movement Re-patterning to address the root causes of musculoskeletal pain, imbalances and other movement challenges.

Ann Froines EdD

Ann Froines EdD was a founding director of the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and 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.

Audrey Galer

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

Marcia Goodman, LLB

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 ]

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 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 . . . [ more ]

Mary Lou Horan

Mary Lou Horan has been a watercolor artist for many years, painting florals, animals, city scenes and abstract art. She loves to experiment with different materials.

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 since early childhood 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. I have applied this urge to look for new and different places to our bus travels. I am always looking around the next corner to discover a new place.

Dr. Sergei Kambalov

Dr. Sergei Kambalov retired from the United Nations in 2010. His last position was as the Executive Coordinator of the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technologies and Development. Sergei joined the UN in 1989 as a member of the author team [ more ]

Adrienne Kane

Adrienne Kane is the author of the cookbook United States of Pie, United States of Bread, and the memoir Cooking and Screaming. She is a food writer, recipe developer, food photographer, and culinary instructor whose work has appeared in Natural Health, Prevention, Women's Day, Yankee Magazine and on Chow and foodandwine.com. She teaches Artisan Bread for the Culinary Arts and Professional Baker program at Gateway Community College. She lives and cooks in Hamden, Connecticut.

Hedda Kopf

Hedda Kopf PhD 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 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 published by Greenwood Press.

Sharif Kronemer

Sharif Kronemer is a PhD candidate at Yale University studying the neural mechanisms of consciousness using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scalp/intracranial electroencephalography (EEG), and pupillometry in the lab of Hal Blumenfeld MD, PhD. Sharif's primary interests include neuroscience, neuroethics, the philosophy of mind and consciousness. Sharif is also active in science communication and outreach.

Jack Lawson MD

Jack Lawson MD is an Emeritus Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at Yale University. Born in England, he obtained his medical degree at the University of Manchester and has lived in Connecticut for over 50 years. He reads with first graders in the New Haven Public School system.

Suzanne Leonard

Suzanne Leonard is a certified Silver Sneakers instructor.

Nick Maiorino

Nick Maiorino BS, MS is a veteran ILR study group leader who has been presenting courses for the last five years. He is a former high school and university instructor whose teaching experience spans [ more ]

Mithat "Mito" Mardin PhD

Mito was born in Istanbul, Turkey and is a graduate of the German High School in Istanbul. He attended University of Göttingen with a PhD 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 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."

Harold Miller

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

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.

Susanne Murphy

Susanne Murphy has degrees in English and Education from Fordham, Yale, and Southern Connecticut State University. She has been the Director of Student Teaching and Lecturer in Children's Literature, Critical Literacy, and [ more ]

Maestro Alasdair Neale

Maestro Alasdair Neale is the 11th Music Director of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. He is also the Music Director of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony (SVSS)) and the Marin Symphony. In his twenty-four years as Music Director of the SVSS, Mr. Neale has propelled this festival to national status.

Judy Larkin Nicolari

Judy Larkin Nicolari knows the power of music in helping people with dementia first-hand. She has seen her sister, who deals with Alzheimer's, come to life when singing with others.

Trish O'Leary

Trish O'Leary has an MA in literature and completed PhD course work with an emphasis on medieval literature. She enjoys learning about memory's role as viewed in scientific study and in liberal arts.

Jeffrey Orell MD

Jeffrey Orell MD is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.

Earl Page

Earl Page received a BS in physics from the University of North Carolina and an MS in nuclear Engineering from North Carolina State College in 1957. NC State was the first college in the world to offer a nuclear Engineering [ more ]


Joe Petti BSME MSIE MBA PE retired from Cadbury Schweppes as Vice President of Manufacturing and Engineering and has been instructing in the master's program in the Business and Engineering Departments at UNH.

Jon E. Purmont, PhD

Jon Purmont PhD Emeritus Professor of History at Southern Connecticut State University received his PhD from Teachers College, Columbia University, and has led a number of ILR courses on various aspects of Connecticut history. He currently heads the West Haven Historical Society.

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 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 Rostow is retired from Bank of America where she was a corporate fiduciary for 32 years. Part of her responsibilities for 13 years was settling the estates of clients of the bank and she is a veteran deaccessioner. She has been retired from Bank of America for 10 years and is constantly getting rid of "stuff."

Dr. Elihu Rubin

Dr. Elihu Rubin is Associate Professor of Urbanism at the Yale School of Architecture, with a secondary appointment in American Studies. His work focuses on the buildings of the 19th and 20th centuries, history and city planning, urban geography, culture, transportation, architectural preservation, and the social life of urban space.

J. Philip Smith PhD

J. Philip Smith PhD retired in 2006 from Southern Connecticut State University where over the course of a long career he occupied positions as Professor of Mathematics, Mathematics Department Chairperson, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Acting President. He is currently a Visiting Professor at Columbia University's Teacher's College in the Program in Mathematics.

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 on his first trip to Paris in 1965 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.

Ken Steller, MS, MA

Ken Steller, MS, MA has 30-plus years of experience in organizational and clinical settings as a counselor, trainer, facilitator and mediator. He has designed and delivered . . . [ more ]

Wendy Swain, BA

Wendy Swain, BA has been sculpting in various mediums for the last 20 years. She is a studio member of the New Canaan Sculpture Group and has participated in several . . . [ more ]

Reverend Suzanne E. Wagner

Reverend Suzanne E. Wagner was ordained into the United Church of Christ in 2002 after earning her Master of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Center, MA. She recently ended a six-year ministry at Orange Congregational Church as Senior Redevelopment Pastor after serving three other area UCC churches. Currently she is a part-time chaplain at the Veterans Affairs Hospital and has just earned her fourth unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Yale New Haven Hospital, St. Raphael's Campus, in preparation for Board Certification. In addition, Rev. Wagner lived in Jerusalem for a year in 2007-08.

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 ]

Top ] [ Back ]



Courses Facebook