University of Connecticut University of UC Title Fallback Connecticut

Presenter Bios

Muhammad Abubakar holds an M.S. in Neuroscience and a B.S. in Biological Sciences. He is a high school science teacher at a private high school in Windsor, CT which means he is very comfortable in a classroom setting. He began his college education here at the Waterbury UConn campus where he conducted research and tutored biology.

Stacey Altomari is a trained practitioner of Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). She has been teaching EFT and other forms of self-development for over three years. She presents and demonstrates EFT to senior centers, schools and organizations throughout Connecticut as well as through various private sessions and group sessions.

Peter Anderheggen is a nationally certified teacher of the Alexander Technique and has studied it since 2006. He taught writing, literature, and public speaking at the college level for 30 years and has also taught Hatha Yoga.

Thelma Appel became a citizen of the United States in 1975. Once arriving, she became a passionate painter of landscape. After 9/11, she painted catastrophes, before creating fabric collages of fictional dream cities. Thelma soared with the fluid ‘Cosmic Dance’ series of large canvases – now a new Urban Geography series.

Lisa Smith Arnold holds a BFA from the School of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. She has also attended the Art Students League as well as the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Following employment at Conde Nast Publications, she decided to pursue her love of art, and as an educator, sharing her knowledge. She has given art history lectures throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Alphonse AviTabile has worked with bees for 50 years, and has conducted and continues to do bee research. He has been published in the American Bee Journal six times; three times in 2015 and three times in 2016.

Raghdaa Barmo recently graduated the University of Connecticut with a degree in Computer Science. She was born in Damascus, Syria. She aspires to spread awareness about the cultures of the Middle East about Islam, but is especially excited for the opportunity to do so in an academic setting. Raghdaa is trilingual and a practicing Muslim.

Louis Belloisy has been a historian and photographer for the Palace Theater since 2004. In his first job, Lou held positions as an usher, doorman, concession, projectionist, and assistant manager at Loew’s Poli Palace. Prior to his return to the Palace Theater in 2004, Lou stepped away from the theater for a while to pursue a career in aviation.

Alan Bisbort is the author of Beatniks: A Guide to an American Subculture and co-author of Rhino’s Psychedelic Trip. He has written extensively about postwar American history, culture, and counterculture for the New York Times  and the Advocate newspapers, among many other venues.

Bill Blair has been a worshiper of George Orwell since he was 18.  Bill’s reverence for the author has resulted in his lecturing about Orwell both domestically and abroad, as well as in his Orwell scholarship appearing both in the United States and England.

Rev. Jim Bradley earned a BA in English/Political Science from West Virginia University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, a Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Ministry from Hartford Seminary, and is an ordained Episcopal Priest. He was Rector of St. John’s in Waterbury for 21 years.

Gabriella Brand is an educator, author, and consultant. A former administrator in several Connecticut private schools, Gabriella has over 25 years of teaching experience, primarily in foreign language classrooms. She holds an MA degree from Middlebury College and a diploma from the University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Dr. Walter Brooks received a BA from Boston College, an MA and PhD from Fordham University along with a Post Doctoral from Harvard University.

Stuart Brown is the producer/host for over 25 years of the podcast “On Broadway” and is also a member if the CT Critics’ Circle covering Broadway plays and musicals. With his affable and witty presentation style and wealth of knowledge and resources for the topic, his passion for genre is readily apparent. He is also the Dean of Student Affairs for UCONN Waterbury.

Bob Burns has led the Mattatuck Museum as director since 2012 and brings a wealth of art, history, and nonprofit experience to his role overseeing all of the museum’s operations.

Virginia Bush received her PhD from Columbia University and is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome. She has decades of experience teaching and writing about art history and has amassed a collection of about 30,000 art images to share with OLLI students.

Steve Bustamante has been playing guitar and writing songs, in earnest, since 2008. He loves sharing what he has learned from various songwriting camps, workshops, and of course, writing and performing.

Catherine Capuano received a B.A. in English and went on to earn degrees in Law, Library Science, and Liberal Studies. She was an employee of the Connecticut Judicial Branch and more recently served as a book discussion facilitator for Connecticut Humanities and a presenter at OLLI.

Vincent Casanova graduated from Yale Divinity School in 1971 with a Master of Arts in Religion. He earned a B.A., Teaching Certificate, and M.S. Counseling at Southern Connecticut State University.  He also earned 15 doctoral credits in Education from Columbia Teachers College.  Vincent was a full time teacher for 9 years, a guidance counselor, and the guidance department head for 23 years.

Denne Chennette.  Since 1986, Denna Chennette PhD has worked with individuals with disabilities and their families in a variety of settings. She has served on various boards & committees; presented at conferences; facilitated support groups; designed caregiver education and wellness programs; created a stroke education program for grandchildren; and has held several adjunct faculty and guest lecturer positions. In her free time, Dr. Chennette leads small family caregiver support groups and meets with individuals to provide support, encouragement and resources related to their caregiving issues and unique circumstances.

Rose-Ann C. Chrzanowski’s life experience has led her to a metaphysical, spiritual path which she enjoys sharing with people of like interests. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and relocated to Connecticut in 1978 where she met her husband and became an art teacher. She has been teaching at OLLI for four years.

Edward Conlan is a retired teacher and was a sports official for 34 years, including 15 years at the Division I College level.  An OLLI member, Ed is also an AARP driver safety instructor.

Mary Conseur holds a Master’s degree in French from Purdue University and completed advanced studies in French at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. She has taught French for about 20 years.

Julie Cook studied at Hartt School of Music and has taught piano for over 30 years at her studios in Newtown and Woodbury. She facilitates music workshops for health and self-expression and is a member of Music for People.

William Courtland is a teacher and lecturer who researches the principles of Chinese Medicine and its mind-body relationship. A faculty member of the CT Center for Massage Therapy, he teaches “Acupressure and the Principles of Chinese Medicine”.  He is author of the book, A Medicine From Spirit.

Nunzio De Filippis has a B.A., with honors, in Political Science from Queens College, CUNY and 43 doctoral credits in Political Science from CUNY’s Graduate Center. He was a businessman for 35 years who then began teaching at the age of 51. He has taught Italian, International Cinema, and gardening in many different institutions. His work as a volunteer in these courses was featured in the NY Times, Daily News, and recognized by a Proclamation from NY Governor George Pataki.

Fiona de Merell received her B.A. degree in Classics and Ancient Greek from the University of Wales, and her M.A in Adult Learning from the University of Connecticut. Her academic interests include narrative, and transformative, learning theory, both of which form the basis for her grief support group format, “Seen and Heard”. Fiona has featured at many spoken word events throughout Connecticut. Some of her personal essays are published in the anthology, “This One Has No Name” (2016).

Clementine Delaney took her first yoga class at 63 years old, even though she had asthma at the time.  At age 70 she became a certified yoga instructor with Yoga Spirit Studio. She is now 77 years old and going strong, no longer suffering from asthma!

David J. Dewitt is a successfully retired Nationwide Insurance Agent. Mr. Dewitt is also a Certified Graphoanalyst. As such, he has spent decades studying, analyzing, and interpreting the handwriting of countless individuals.

Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, is a Master Gardener and teacher with over 20 years experience developing workshops and classes, speaking and writing about holistic health, edible and medicinal plants, sustainable landscapes and more. She has degrees in Nursing and Nutrition Science and has taught Holistic Health Studies and Nutrition Science at both university and college level.

Cindy Eastman is a writer and a teacher. She holds a Master’s degree in Education and has taught English as an adjunct at Naugatuck Valley Community College. She has been an OLLI presenter for five years teaching internet skills and journaling. Cindy recently published her first book in April 2014, Flip-Flops After 50, a Collection of Essays.

Rosalie Falcone received her MSW from Fordham University and has worked as the Director of Outpatient Programs at MCCA, Director of Psychiatric Services at Putnam Hospital in N.Y., Director of Family Based Recovery (Working with Family and Children services and Yale Univ.) to create programs for families of addictive parents/parents to keep their children at home and work on their recovery. She is also a Certified Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor, as well as a Certified Hypnotherapist.

James F. Farnham is Professor Emeritus of Literature at Fairfield University. He holds a PhD from Case Western Reserve and held post-doctoral fellowships at Yale in Cognitive Anthropology and Judaic Studies. Among the courses he has taught are American Romanticism, Existential Literature, and Literature of the Holocaust. He has published studies of Hawthorne, Melville, Faulkner, and Flannery O’Connor.

Joseph Gambini has an avid interest in film and theater, directing many student performances throughout the years. He was an English teacher for 36 years in the Danbury area. For the last four years of his career, he was an English/Language Arts consultant for the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Rosalie Griffin holds a B.A. and M.A.L.S. in Mathematics and has taught as a high school math teacher for 40 years and as an adjunct instructor at NVCC for 19 years. She is also a Waterbury native.

Maureen Goss, M.S. L.Ac, is a National Board Certified and New York and CT-licensed acupuncturist with a private practice in Guilford, CT. She was certified to teach qigong in China in 1992 and has taught this form of exercise to students of Chinese Medicine, those with special needs, to children and to seniors.

Christine Guiditta holds a Master’s degree in Remedial Reading and Language Arts, teaching for 35 years in Region #15, Southbury, CT, where she utilized children’s literature across the curriculum. As adjunct professor in the graduate teacher program for the University of Bridgeport she stressed the value and use of children’s literature in all curriculum. She is also an avid collector of children’s literature.

Paul Hammer has taught theater in the New Haven Public Schools, at the Educational Center for the Arts, and in a variety of of after school programs. He has been a producer, playwright, director, performer, composer, and lyricist in community theater for over 35 years.

Elizabeth Hanahan is a retired public school teacher who has been teaching dulcimer at OLLI for the past three years. She has also taught dulcimer to adults at Folkcraft Music in Winsted, CT.

James Hannon graduated from Thomaston High School in 1963 and served in the U.S. Navy on board the Destroyer Escourt USS Brumby Delogg in 1966 and 1967. He has received an Associates in Arts Degree from Tunxis Community College in 1976, has been a lifelong amateur astronomer (involved in various star research), and has self-published his memoir “Waxing and Waning a Memoir of an Amateur Astronomer”.

Michaela Hauser-Wagner is a nationally certified Alexander Technique teacher. She found the Technique when she was looking for ways to supplement her daughter’s scoliosis treatment. She has a background as a Speech, Language, and Voice Therapist from the University Tübingen/Germany.

Arnold Heiser is a Vanderbilt University Emeritus Professor of Astronomy. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, and a published author. He was a director of Vanderbilt’s Dyer Observatory and a NASA Faculty Fellow. Currently, he volunteers at Yale’s Leitner Family Observatory and Planetarium, and at the Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Alfred Hunt is a professor of History (Emeritus) at SUNY Purchase. He is the Dean of College of Letters and Science and a Fulbright Scholar in Venice, Italy, and Barbados. He was a lecturer at the University of Virginia from 2008 to 2013 where he did four Semesters-at-sea, which were round-the-world voyages for full semesters.

Dr. Avi Isseroff is a Psychiatrist and creator of the presidential board game “Who Said What in the White House.”  He was Chief Resident in Psychiatry at UMDAJ and Director of Psychiatric Inpatient and Outpatient programs in New York and New Jersey.

Judy Jaworski has taught drawing and painting for more than 40 years in various adult education settings. A student of Rhode Island School of Design, Judy has been listed in the Artists’ Bank at the CT Commission on the Arts and her paintings have been exhibited throughout the state – in banks, churches, businesses, and private collections.

Amy Johnson is a partner and Managing Editor of West Cornwall Publishing and holds a MFA in Professional and Creative Writing from Western Connecticut State University, where she focused on journalistic non-fiction. She has taught in non-traditional settings and has been an avid writer for years. She is also an artist and rock-climbing instructor who loves to bring out bravery in others and support them to believe in themselves and their talents.

Steven Kobylenski was born and educated in Naugatuck. He has been an artist since his childhood, experimenting in a wide variety of media.

Jessica Kott is a Senior Portfolio Manager and a Registered Investment Advisor at YHB Investment Advisors Inc. in West Hartford, CT. She holds a CFP (Certified Financial Planning) designation and has taught courses on Investments for OLLI in previous years.

Sheila Lafferty has a MS in Library Science and has worked for UConn libraries in Waterbury and Torrington since 1989. She often teaches a 1 credit class on genealogy in the spring for UConn students. She is a self taught genealogist and has been researching ancestry for many years.

Charles Lasky received a BA in Psychology from St. Bonaventure University and a MS in administration from George Washington University. He is a retired professor of computer technology at Naugatuck Valley Community College.

Nina Lesiga is a lifestyle influencer. Her passions include travel coaching, storytelling, and creating community based music programs.

Dr. Roger Levy taught International Business and Economic Geography at St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY, with a focus on China, Japan, and Korea. He has visited China four times. He retired in 2013, after 25 years, but kept a strong interest in East Asian affairs.

Paul Marino retired in November, 2011 after 28 years at The Hartford and now has the time to pursue one of his great passions, the study of film.  Since December 2011, he has introduced, helped facilitate, and/or presented/taught over 200 movies.

Salvatore Martone has been practicing psychotherapy for 43 years and hypnosis for 27 years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor in Connecticut, and a Reiki master. He is a certified Hypnosis Instructor.

Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. is the author of “Living la Dolce Vita” and “Lemons into Limoncello”. She is host of the radio show The Italian Art of Living Well, and weekly advice columnist for The Italian Tribune.

Cynthia Mazzaferro is a retired Physical Therapist with over 30 years of clinical practice and is the owner of Industrial Ergonomics and Educational Services where she performs worksite analysis and injury prevention education. She continues to educate in various venues with self-help presentations, Mile and OLLI programming; coaching and treating clients as a Master Reiki practitioner.

Fran e. McIntyre is an experienced professional entertainer and educator. She holds a B.S. in Biological Sciences and an M.S. in Real Estate Development & Investment. Fran combines her extensive musical educational talents and improvisational skills to enhance the enjoyable sound.

Charles Monagan has been a writer and an editor for 40 years, primarily working for newspapers and magazines (including 25 years as Editor of Connecticut Magazine). He has published eight books, written speeches for a Connecticut governor, wrote the musical, “Mad Bomber” and is now at work on a novel about Waterbury’s Carrie Welton.

Peter Mulholland graduated from UConn in 2014 with a degree in English, concentrated in Creative Writing.  His overall focus is in reading and writing poetry. He has participated in four poetry workshops, two with Ira Joe Fisher and two with Penelope Pelizzon.

Elizabeth Neuwirth’s first career was as a psychotherapist, her second as an attorney with expertise in medical issues and federal regulation of healthcare. She has the highest respect for the Supreme Court’s Constitutional role (even when she dislikes a decision).

Souleymane T. Ndiaye was born, raised, and educated in Senegal. He graduated from the Academy of Science and Technology, in Dakar. He has been a practicing visual artist since the age of seven and has experience in weaving, quilting, batik design, and much more. He is also an oral historian who loves to share his innate knowledge of his homeland.

Donna Obarowski is a UConn graduate and has served as Minister of Music at several greater Waterbury area churches.  A returning presenter, she continues to teach for Foothills Adult Education and serves at Woodbury United Methodist Church.

Penny O’Connell holds a BA in Political Science from Skidmore College. A retired high school history teacher, she taught Ancient, European and American History. She is passionate about the mysteries of our historical past and is delighted to share her discoveries with those who have inquiring minds.

Timothy Padgett started with monochrome at the age of 7. Since then, he has been at the forefront of the digital age and has been published several times during his career. As well as being a passionate instructor, Tim is a professional fashion and commercial photographer.

Alessia Palladino is a student at the University of Connecticut studying English, Psychology, Human Development and Family Studies. She is very interested in helping others learn a range of subjects, and plans to become a teacher.

John Percivalle retired after a 30-year career as a high school English teacher in Newtown. He taught literature and humanities courses, specializing in Creative Writing and Poetry. A UConn graduate, John has facilitated a monthly book club for over 15 years and has published poems in Caduceus and The CT River Review.

Elizabeth Petruccione has written and published two books titled “Losing Weight with Elizabeth: The Handbook” and “Born Fat.” She is the owner of Losing Weight with Elizabeth and a life and wellness coaching business.

Bonnie Plourde studies Anthropology and Archaeology at Central Connecticut State University. She is a wife and mother of two children, and has four years of experience in excavation, lab, and museum work.

Dr. Jon Purmont received a B.S. degree from Georgetown University, an M.S. from SCSU, and an Ed.D. Degree from Teachers College at Columbia University. He served as the Executive Assistant to Governor Grasso.

Dr. Jim Prado is the creator of the acclaimed lifestyle change course, The Holistic Lifestyle: Contemporary Science Discovers Ancient Wisdom. Jim has practiced chiropractic in Southbury, CT since 1987 where he utilizes a true holistic approach to treatment of acute and chronic pain syndromes, including back and neck pain, fibromyaligia, stress related muscle tension syndromes and sports injuries. Jim lives in Roxbury, CT with his wife Karen and son Matt. His interests include organic gardening, fly-fishing, and long-distance bicycle touring.

Dr. David Reed retired after 45 years of practicing medicine. With a passion for Russian and Eastern European History, he has visited Russia on several occasions and recently completed a book, The Czechoslovak Legion and the Russian Civil War (unpublished).

Jacqueline Savo is a senior at UConn Waterbury. Her major is in Human Development and Family Studies with minors in Psychology and Gerontology. Her passion is to work with other adults and be a social worker for nursing homes.

Barbara Schafer, RN, APRN, MSN, LUT, Reiki Master Teacher. Barbara holds a B.S. and a Master’s degree in Nursing and is a Licensed Unity teacher.  She is retired from a 50 year career as a clinician, educator, and administrator in the field of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing.  She has been a Reiki Master Teacher since 1996. Barbara volunteers at Griffin Hospital in Derby, CT doing Reiki and Therapeutic Touch. She teaches Reiki Levels I, II, III, and Mastership classes. Her private practice, Holistic Health Unlimited, is located in Naugatuck, CT.

Stanley Sendzimir completed a B.A. at the University of Miami, a MFA at Sarah Lawrence College, and further studies at the Richard Strauss Konservatorium, Munich. He has studied acting, directing, music and singing.

Patricia Senich is a certified graphoanalyst who has been a member of the International Graphoanalysis Society, Inc. since 1966. Pat has taught over 200 students, and delivered more than 110 presentations over the past fifty years. She is interested in bringing positives of personality to the surface.

Mary Donnarumma Sharnick is an award-winning novelist. Her third novel, Orla’s Canvas, took first place in the 2016 Connecticut Press Club’s Communications Contest in the novel-for-adults category. She is a writing instructor who earned a B.A. in literature from Fairfield University and an M.A. in Renaissance literature from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. She teaches writing to young adults and adults.

Sarah Sherman graduated UConn in 2014 with a B.A. in English and is currently pursuing an M.A. in English as a graduate student at Central Connecticut State University. She has worked internships in multiple businesses, including an online magazine called Miss Millennia.

Jane Sirignano has taught at OLLI since the inaugural session and has been teaching Food For Life, PCRM.org classes for 12 years. She has a diploma in nutrition, several certificates in health/wellness, and has been a food and nutrition educator. She has been as assistant chef in various settings: a restaurant/bakery, a lunch counter in the natural foods store that she managed, and at a raw food conference. Jane did nutrition workshops and food shopping tours with the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP).

Dorothy Sterpka is a teacher, writer, and volunteer Social Worker. She is especially interested in poetry (and all writing) as therapy.

Diane Stone majored in History at Queens College and after gaining a Master’s degree, as well as part of a Doctorate in European History, she embarked on a 30-year business career that included a lot of international travel for work and pleasure.  Realizing that her historical background made her travel experiences that much richer, she designed her courses to give context to anyone interested in traveling.

Dr. Raymond Sullivan, M.D., a retired general surgeon with a lifelong passion for American history, has published two books on the subject and is currently on his third book. He has presented history courses and has lectured around New England. He is a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Marblehead Regiment of the American Revolution. He has taught at OLLI since its founding.

Bilal Tajildeen graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2014 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Women’s Gender and Sexuality studies. He currently works full-time as an apprentice bookman at the John Bale Book Company in Waterbury, CT.

Nancy Wallace worked for 40 years in the computer field on Wall Street. Since retiring, she has taught in her computer club in FL, on cruise ships, and at the Education Connection. She has also taught at the Waterbury Literacy Council.

Douglas Welsh was an AP scholar in English in High School, and minored in literature at Boston College. He has masters and doctoral degrees and taught at Princeton University for 26 years.

Ted Welsh taught History and International Politics at Norwalk High School in Norwalk, CT for 32 years. Among other activities, he also instituted and directed the school’s international student exchange program with ZiBo #4 High School, Shandong Province, China and the school’s Model United Nations program for 25 years.

John Westcott is a retired Marketing Manager with a major Fortune 500 Corporation. He had worldwide responsibility, including significant assignments overseas, for sales and marketing of products in the agricultural economy. He holds BS and MS degrees in Horticulture and minored in Foreign Service at Iowa State University.

Tyler Westcott is a Senior Financial Services Representative with The Principle Finance Group and is the Connecticut Chapter President for the Society of Financial Awareness. He specializes in retirement planning, long term care, and estate planning. He presents financial seminars and workshops at local community centers, schools, churches, and businesses. He is dedicated to improving the financial success of families, individuals, and businesses.

Nancy T. Whitney, a poet and a teacher, has been an OLLI presenter for four years. Nancy has a passion for writing, reading, poetry, and teaching for the fun of it! She loves to be able to draw people out on the page and watch them shine. She got her start at NCC & UConn and she is grateful to be help older learners discover new phases and places within themselves through writing.

Deirdre Wright is a trained fiber artist whose work has been shown and purchased at art fairs, jazz festivals, and art galleries in the Washington D.C. area over the last 25 years. She has a needlework project that brings attention to the violence affecting children. She founded and coordinates The Afghan Memorial Project for Child Victims of Murder and Flowers 4 the Children.