We are so grateful for our volunteer instructors who give graciously of their time to provide courses for LLI. If you're interested in joining our volunteer faculty, click the button below to let us know!
Annette Alabaster was taught to knit by her mother around the age of 12. Much later she learned about the now modern world of knitting by working in a local yarn shop. After many years of not knitting, she took it up again when her first granddaughter was born in 1997. She then returned to making sweaters, headbands, hats and slippers. She believes that this ancient craft, going back to medieval times, is both addicting and relaxing.
Kenneth Alford is an LLI member, frequent historical consultant for television productions, and a contributor to news articles involving looted Nazi Treasures. He is the author of The Spoils of World War II, Great Treasure Stories of World War II, Allied Looting in World War II, Hermann Goering and the Nazi Art Collection, Sacking Aladdin's Cave, American Crimes and the Liberation of Paris, Monetary Men, and co-authored Nazi Millionaires.
Daniel Arkin is one of Central Virginia's first technology in education advocates. He also was founder and Executive Director of the Virginia Society for Technology in Education. He is passionate about all aspects of technology in our lives and spent his working career injecting humor while lecturing on the pros and cons of evolving technologies. Danny has been an LLI member since 2018.
Cindy Arnold is a librarian at the Chesterfield County Public Library Midlothian branch. She has a Masters in Library Science from Louisiana State University and has worked as a librarian since 2001 both in public and school libraries. Cindy enjoys assisting people as they pursue their learning goals. She has lived in Midlothian since 2003 and likes exploring all that Virginia has to offer.
Charles Barron is a retired US Army Officer, holds a BS in Business Administration from Jacksonville State University and an MS in Logistics Management from Florida Institution of Technology. He also holds a certificate for teaching English as a second language. Charles has 10 years of experience working with and training members of the Saudi Arabian military in logistics and cultural awareness. As a United States military contractor, working in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, he taught American workers and third country nationals (TCNs) Cultural Awareness, simple Arabic script (Arabic letters, Arabic phonetics recognizing/reading English words written in Arabic Script) and most useful basic spoken Arabic words and phrases.
GeGe Beall has a bachelor’s degree in Theatre and a master's in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Radford University. She has been a professional improv comedian at ComedySportz Richmond for nine years where she performs several times a month. In addition, GeGe performs with an improv group called "Upstaged" who improvise a 20-min. sitcom set in the 1960’s based on audience suggestions. She is also the Richmond producer for Murder Mystery at Maggiano's which has embedded actors improvise characters at the dinner table with guests. GeGe is a professional healthcare consultant and speaker and often teaches improv games in the corporate world to help tap into creativity and get teams laughing and bonding. Additional certifications include Yoga, Laughter Yoga, Ageless Grace, and Nia. GeGe's goal is to make improv accessible to everyone by focusing on the brain health and play part of improv and not on performance.
Millie Bishop has been the Revenue Recovery Manager with Chesterfield Fire and EMS for nine years. She was a prior medic and has an accounting degree. Millie has a passion to help people.
Edward Blackwell has taught a variety of subjects for over thirty years. Much of his time was with Chesterfield County Public Schools, but he has also worked with Richmond City Public Schools, VCU and a local private school. Mr. Blackwell has a B.A. and M.A. in English, as well as a large concentration of courses in history and education. He has taught on middle, secondary, and collegiate levels, and his courses have included English, writing, history, civics and economics, as well as alternative education. He is keenly interested in the English Renaissance and writes sonnets, but he also enjoys helping others with prose writing techniques. Mr. Blackwell loves studying and lecturing about the American Civil War. When teaching social sciences, he believes it is essential to combine the development of U.S. government with its resulting historical effects.
Debbie Bowie has been described as an “organizing angel” by her clients. Through her speaking, hands-on clutter clearing, and coaching she has helped thousands of individuals clear clutter to make room for new opportunities and dreams to manifest in their lives. Debbie is a professional organizer who has been clearing clutter and organizing spaces for 21 years, a feng shui practitioner, a professional speaker, and the author of two books, “From Cluttered to Clear in Just One Year: Your Room-by-Room Home Makeover” and “Rock Scissors Paper: Understanding How Environment Affects Your Performance on a Daily Basis.” Because a majority of her clients struggle with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), she has developed expertise in working with people who have ADD. Debbie’s passion is to help people claim their personal power by getting unstuck mentally, emotionally, and physically so they can move forward to accomplish their goals. She does that by working side-by-side with clients to clear clutter and create organizing systems that work for them, doing feng shui consultations, and giving educational seminars.
Mary Bradstock is a native Virginian—born in Richmond and raised in Chesterfield County. She is a member of The Country Style Dancers of Richmond and has been dancing at LLI since 2009 and teaching since 2012.
Gilpin Brown is a former high school mathematics teacher who has had a renewed interest in photography in his retirement. Having reentered the field and joined a photography club, his club has had several exhibits at Crossroads Art Center as well as Sun Trust Bank and the Richmond Public Library. Entering quite a few local and state contests, Gilpin's photos have been chosen for honors several times. He loves getting out in Richmond and the Skyline Drive to have fun with his camera.
Sherella Brown is a certified Jazzercise fitness instructor who specializes in working with active adults who combine dance with exercise.
Deb Burley is the Vice President of the Neuroscience program at Johnston Willis Hospital. She has over 10 years in the healthcare industry. She received her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Carson Newman and holds a Master's in Nursing.
Sheila Burris is a certified yoga instructor who has studied yoga since 1999. She began teaching with us in the spring of 2008.
Bill Busch still finds new dance moves to share with LLI members even after 30 collective years of social dancing. He has been teaching dance since 2007 in the community and since 2008 at LLI! Bill welcomes new and returning students into the dance room to learn the current offering or to refresh their dance experience.
John Byrd is an award-winning ventriloquist and has been performing as a ventriloquist in the Richmond area for the past 25 years. He graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and received a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. He retired from the Commonwealth of Virginia with 38 years of service. He also retired from the Army Reserve as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Susan Campbell has worked with seniors and their families during difficult transitions for 20 years. She is a pioneer in the senior move management industry and now uses her compassion and training to work with families and professionals during end-of-life celebrations and transitions.
Ken Carlson is a former electrical engineer with an enthusiasm for music, the dramatic arts, and group participation. He joined LLI in 2019 and enjoys playing tuba and string bass with the Wind Ensemble and Lifelong Musicians groups.
J. Diane Carter has been playing bridge for many years, but her husband, Jim, is relatively new to the game. They have played bridge at LLI together since 2017.
Jim Carter is a Geographer with interests in cartography, weather and climate. He found an interesting growth of ice on plant stems in 2003, and trying to explain what he found has consumed much of his life since then. He has the license tag ICE FLWR and has been introduced to many interesting and attractive forms of ice thanks to the reach of the Internet. Jim has also learned to appreciate the power of Dora the Explorer to educate young viewers.
Linda Caruthers CSA, LTCP, is the founder and CEO of Long-Term Care Consultants, Inc., Richmond’s only dedicated long-term care insurance agency providing long-term care planning and caregiver support resources to individuals and employer groups. She has specialized in long-term care insurance since 2000 and earned the Long-Term Care Professional (LTCP) designation from America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) in 2005 and the Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) designation from the Society of Certified Senior Advisors in 2006.
Peggy Chicklo is the sister of a member, Diana Donahue. She has been dancing for years and loves tap.
David Clark is a 34-year veteran of the computer industry. Ten of those years were spent teaching a variety of technical and non-technical courses. He most enjoys explaining complex topics in simple, understandable terms and in ways that appeal to visual and non-visual learners. His students have appreciated David’s approach. As one student remarked, “I learned more from Dave in two weeks than I did in three months taking an online course.”
Anne Clendenin is a member of LLI who enjoys dancing and has been playing Spades for years. She wants to continue sharing her love for Spades with other members at LLI!
Allen Cohen holds advanced degrees in Physics, Optometry and Law. In 1979 he moved to Richmond to open the Patterson Eye Clinic with his wife, Hannah.
Liz Couch has worked in Provider Relations with AT Home Care Hospice Richmond since 2014.
Roy Dahlquist recently retired from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership in 2015. He was an economic advisor to Governors Kaine, McDonnell and McAuliffe on issues related to Asian business opportunities and challenges, serving as Managing Director, International Business Development - Asia. He met with high level government and business leaders throughout Asia. Roy first retired from Alcoa/Reynolds Metals Company in 2006 with 30 years of global and domestic service. He was Managing Director of Food Packaging Operations in China and Director of International Business Development for the Food Packaging Division, overseeing operations worldwide. He traveled to over 60 different countries developing global business relationships and opportunities. He met with international, federal, state and local government officials including governors and federal agency heads. Roy currently serves as Vice President of the Madison Village Homeowners Association located in Charter Colony and serves on the Board of Directors for the Salisbury Country Club Senior Men’s Association. He has a BS degree from Saint Joseph University in Philadelphia and has been an LLI member since 2016.
Mary Jo Dailey was born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has a B.A. in psychology with a minor in earth sciences and a Master of Divinity degree. She has retired from teaching earth science at Manchester High School and is now an ordained Baptist minister. Mary Jo loves to teach and is looking forward to meeting new students and sharing her passions.
James Davidson is a Vice President of Investments for Davenport & Company and Certified Financial Planner™ practitioner with more than 18 years of industry experience. He currently serves as an Ex-Officio member on the LLI Board of Directors and manages the LLI Endowment Fund.
Diana Donahue a member of LLI, is the sister of Peggy Chicklo and has been dancing for years. She loves tap dancing.
Meika Downey received her B.A. in history and political science from Hollins University and an M.A. in history and public history from Virginia Commonwealth University before joining Preservation Virginia's John Marshall House as the organization's first Education Manager. As the Education Manager, Meika is responsible for creating and then implementing a wide variety of K-12 and adult educational programs, tours, and materials.
Diane Drummond has been an LLI member since 2009. She began making headbands, hair bows and jewelry for her beautiful granddaughter and has continued adding to her repertoire of craft skills, which she happily shares with her fellow LLI members in a variety of classes. Diane is especially interested in early settlers and Indian crafts used in everyday living.
Sasa Espino MD, FACS, is a breast surgeon with Richmond Breast Center in Richmond and Fredericksburg, Virginia. Dr. Espino earned her Medical Doctorate at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and remained at VCU to complete her General Surgery Residency. She went on to complete a Breast and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship at Northwestern University in Chicago. Prior to her medical studies, Dr. Espino graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from New York University. Dr. Espino is board-certified in General Surgery by the American Board of Surgery. She is an active member of the American College of Surgeons, American Society of Breast Surgeons, and the Richmond Academy of Medicine, among others. In addition, Dr. Espino has performed extensive breast cancer research and has published and presented her work in several medical journals and symposiums.
Megan Ferenczy attended the University at Buffalo and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History and is now the Director of Education at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. She has taken coursework in Museum Studies and is also certified to teach middle and high school History in New York and Virginia. Megan has diverse experiences in education, museums, outreach and public programming. In 2008, Megan interned as a National Planning Assistant at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, which solidified her interest in Holocaust history education. In 2011 Megan accepted a teaching job with Richmond Public Schools and for two years she taught 6th grade United States History at a specialty school. When teaching the history of the Holocaust in the classroom, she made it a priority to remember and honor the victims and continues that practice with the development of educational curriculum and programming at the Virginia Holocaust Museum.
Bob Ferguson has been an active member of LLI since 2008 and a member of the LLI Board of Directors since 2015. He has a Ph.D. in Chemistry and was involved in technical research, management, and consulting for 38 years at Phillip Morris/Altria. Bob has varied interests including history, economics, and literature. He recently became interested in Reader’s Theater and has performed in Bifocals and Huguenot Community Players productions.
Eve Flippen is the Aging Life Care Coordinator for VCU Health. She is a gerontologist and serves as the geriatric falls coordinator for VCU Health’s Injury and Violence Prevention Program.
Marti Franks loves Watercolors! She has been painting for over 18 years, starting out with Ellie Cox and continuing with Sarah Hoyle, Chris Wynn, and Susan Stuller. She has participated in many workshops with nationally known artists, including John Salamien, Mary Whyte, Ted Andrews, Alvaro Cassinett, Tony Van Hassett, Frank Webb, and Jean Spicer. Marti is a past president of the Bon Air Artists Association and has served as a co-chair of its events, Art Affair and Artful Healing. She exhibits at Crossroads Art Center and is a co-op owner of Uptown Gallery.
Marc Friedlander is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) helping families navigate the difficult assisted living and memory care arenas. He has had personal experiences with both sides of his family and could have used an advocate during the difficult decision-making process. Marc is a member of the Health Community Resource Network, RVA Better Aging Forum, and the Richmond Senior Network. He has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from The George Washington University and an MBA from Montclair State University. Marc enjoys living in the beautiful Richmond area with his wife and two kids. In his spare time, he coaches his daughter's YMCA soccer team.
Edward Garrett is a retired United Methodist minister of the VA Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has served churches in VA for 42 years, leading Bible studies and teaching educational classes for various denominations. He holds a B.A. degree from the University of Richmond, a B.D. from Duke University, an M.A. degree in education from Union Theological Seminary and a doctorate from St. Mary’s University in Baltimore. He is the author of two books and various curriculum materials and articles.
Bill Good participated in Civil War reenactments for 10 years as an infantryman and ambulance corp. He has a wealth of knowledge about the Civil War. He has been a member of LLI since 2007 and enjoys history, genealogy and woodcarving.
Mark Grubbs has a B.S. in Aerospace and Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech, and an M.A. in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. He has worked as an engineer, a pilot, in vocational ministry, a professor abroad, and has worked with computers of many kinds through all of these occupations (for at least 20 years). Mark is originally from and grew up in Richmond, VA. Since college, he has lived in Philadelphia, PA; Murfreesboro, TN; Grand Rapids, MI; Los Angeles, CA; and then spent 15 years in Seoul, South Korea teaching in Korean universities as a professor of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). Mark returned to Richmond in September 2015 and has enjoyed teaching and tech coaching students at LLI.
Allie Harris has been involved in music most of her life. She studied piano, flute and voice. She majored in Music Education at Brigham Young University, performed and taught voice students at Eastern Arizona College and served as a musician for her church from time to time. Presently she enjoys playing flute and singing. Allie sees the wind ensemble as a great place for musicians at all levels to experience the joy of music together.
Linda Hawkins RN BSN is the Founder and CEO of Recover Hope. Recover Hope's mission can be found at www.recoverhope.org. Linda served on the Board of Directors for three years with the Richmond Justice Initiative and worked with survivors of human trafficking for several years.
Chantalle Hayes is a certified trauma nurse educator at CJW Medical Center.
Steven Herring is the Public Outreach and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Coordinator for Chesterfield Emergency Management. His job consists of training and helping citizens be prepared for emergencies and disasters. He has a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies and will be attending school this Fall for a Master’s in Public Health.
James Hodge is a research scientist (PhD in chemistry) who retired after 35 years of working in R&D with DuPont. He has an avid interest in history in general and scientific interpretations of biblical accounts such as creation, evolution, and miracles.
LaVae Hoffman teaches basic and advanced paper craft techniques in the Charlottesville area. She hosts monthly card and scrapbook workshops and special craft events using Stampin’ Up© products.
Incoronata Inserra was born and raised in Naples, Italy. She received her PhD. in English from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and is currently an assistant professor at VCU, where she teaches first and second-year academic writing and research courses. Dr. Nadia Inserra's research expertise is in folklore studies, particularly folk music and dances, material cultural, and food studies. In her teaching, she applies a folklore studies approach to academic writing by focusing on local, community-driven, and socially-engaged topics, such as racial/social justice and sustainability in Richmond and beyond. Dr. Inserra speaks four languages, has lived on three continents, and enjoys swimming (and eating!) in the Mediterranean, the Pacific, and now the Atlantic. Much of her life has been about linguistic and cultural encounters with other peoples across the world--an experience that has taught her a lot and that she is excited to share with her students at both VCU and LLI.
Frances Judd is a Jersey Girl who used her nursing education to travel to Minnesota, Texas, and Virginia. After retiring, she became involved in the Salisbury Garden Club. Fran joined LLI after hearing about the Institute during a pedicure. She has two sons. One lives in Lexington, KY which is great for the races, and one lives in Minneapolis which is great for everything else. Her four grandchildren live in Kentucky.
Mel Kauffman spent 35 years with the CIA dealing with communications, networking, and security. He holds ISCET certifications in Electronics/Radio/Computers and NRI certification in computers. Mel has been using computers since 1984.
Dorota Kawka E-RYT 200, took her first yoga class in 1996 while pregnant with her first child and instantly fell in love with it. She was certified to teach yoga in 2008 and has been teaching ever since. Dorota especially enjoys working with older adults, teaching a variety of Chair Yoga, Senior Yoga and Gentle Yoga classes at different locations in the Richmond area. She is delighted to be able to share her practice with the LLI family.
Suzanne Kelly is a retired Chesterfield County teacher. She holds degrees in Business Education and English and taught for 47 years in North Carolina and in various county junior high and senior high schools. She began her teaching career in Chesterfield in the LLI building in 1969 and returned as a member in 2015.
Kristen Kern is a Registered Nurse with a BSN from James Madison University. She has worked in both the acute setting at MCV and HCA Hospitals as well as in the home setting for the last 20 years. She chose nursing because of her desire to help others, and she enjoys being able to educate others about the wonderful services available to support recovery and wellness after and during an illness.
Malik Khan is a Pakistani American who came to the States in 1973. He worked for Philip Morris USA (now Altria) as a Process Engineer until his retirement in 2010. Since September 11, 2001, Malik has been actively involved in presenting Islam and the role of Muslims in our pluralistic society in Churches and educational institutions in the Greater Richmond Metropolitan area.
Shelby Kinnaird is the Founder of Put on Your Apron and hosts fun cooking experiences online (and hopefully in-person someday). She is the author of The Pocket Carbohydrate Counter Guide for Diabetes and co-author of The Diabetes Cookbook for Electric Pressure Cookers. A passionate diabetes advocate, Shelby leads two DiabetesSisters peer support groups in the Richmond area and volunteers with the American Diabetes Association. Shelby is not a medical professional, but she has been thriving with Type 2 diabetes for more than 21 years.
Christopher Kolakowski is the Director of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and former Director of the MacArthur Memorial. He has written and spoken extensively on military history.
Bette Kot MLIS, is a retired librarian. Her passion is genealogy! Bette welcomes others with the same interest to join her classes for adventures into the past.
Trupti Girish Kulkarni has been meditating for over 20 years and has been a certified instructor since 2006 with the Heartfulness Institute. She was born and brought up in India and earned an MS in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Kansas. T worked in Pharmaceuticals as a project manager and is now retired to enjoy the real life. She is blessed with a husband and two kids. She loves self-development, meditation, traveling, cooking, reading, painting, drawing, as well as teaching math, meditation and cooking. T has been an LLI member since 2015.
Steve Kunnmann has been an LLI member since 2013. He also serves as Treasurer on the LLI Board of Directors. Steve has degrees in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
John Lemza is a 1976 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. He served over 20 years in the Army with more than eight years abroad in Asia and Europe. His last assignment was at the Pentagon. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2005 with an MA in History and in December 2014 with a PhD in History from George Mason University. His research interests are post-1945 America, the Cold War, the history of immigration, modern intellectual history, consumerism, military history, and trans-national history. John also teaches history at Virginia Commonwealth University. He taught at the Elderhostel Chautauqua at Natural Bridge, VA from 2009-2011. He has been a member of the LLI teaching faculty since 2005. His recently released book, "American Military Communities in West Germany: Life in the Cold War Badlands, 1945-1990," is now available. John is a member of the LLI and is currently serving as President on the Board of Directors. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Juana Levi is a retired registered nurse who studied Art History at the University of Maryland. She is a mother of two daughters, who are both teachers, and a grandmother of four. She and her husband have been LLI members since 2013.
Lewis Levi graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a BS in Computer Science. He worked with computers for Signet, AT&T and IBM. He and his wife have been LLI members since 2013.
Suzanne Levitas has an extensive background in music performance as a vocal soloist and specializes in the study of early music performance and performance standards. She has performed opera, madrigal/motet ensembles, oratorio, recitals, and choral and orchestral conducting, taught voice privately, and has been a music instructor at both high school and university levels. Suzanne’s real passion is the transcription of early music notation to modern notation and early music performance standards. Today, Suzanne teaches classical music history seminars (history, music theory, music appreciation, Baroque music, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, music of Scandinavia and Iberia, and music of the Balkans, Eastern Europe and the Baltics) to adult learners. In 2013, Suzanne founded, and is the current Artistic Director for the early music ensemble CANTUS CANTORES Madrigal Singers (CCMS). The CCMS vision is to study and to perform early, a cappella music for audiences new to the art form. Suzanne has a Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance and a Master of Arts, Musicology. Her doctoral studies focused on Ladino Music of the Golden Age of Spain (1580-1680) with Dumbarton Oaks Scholar, Miloš Velimirović at the University of Virginia. Outside of music, she holds a Master of Science in Library Science and a Master of Information Technology.
Annebel Lewis is a Socio-Cultural Anthropologist whose primary research is in ritual, belief systems, and mythology. She is retired from California State University Fullerton and from Southern California Kaiser Permanente Medical Group. She appeared in Who's Who in American Women in 91-92 and has been published in various professional journals. Annebel has been a faculty member of LLI since 2007 and serves on the Board of Directors.
Herbert Loveless has a BA from Hopkins and an MD from the University of Maryland. He spent five years at one of the National Cancer Institute’s labs working on two anti-cancer antibiotics. Afterward, Herbert worked in the biopharmaceutical industry in the areas of clinical trials and regulatory affairs. The projects ranged from periodontitis to cancer, asthma, AIDS, memory loss, depression and schizophrenia. One project was on the non-opioid, centrally-acting antipain agent. Herbert recently became interested in functional MRIs and their use in language and cognition.
Joanna Lurie has a master’s degree in health administration, a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Biology and is a certified Medical Technologist by the American Society for Clinical Pathology at a master’s level. She is also certified in database designs. Joanna was the chemistry laboratory supervisor for 20 years in a major Long Island hospital. In addition, she worked as the Laboratory Information Systems Coordinator for six years. She taught Clinical Chemistry as an adjunct professor for the State University of NY at Farmingdale, New York. At St. Gabriel’s Parish, Joanna is a lector, serves on the Adult Faith Formation ministry, teaches in the Children’s Faith Formation ministry, is a member of Women in God’s Spirit (WINGS) group, a member of the book club, and a member of a Bible study group since 2007. She has served on the LLI faculty since 2006.
Sharon Macauley joined the LLI in 2009 when she took her first line dance class. It’s been a passion ever since then. Now she enjoys sharing this fun and social activity with newcomers.
Catherine MacDonald is a gerontologist working with No Wrong Door Virginia to improve access to long-term services and supports for all Virginians. She has developed and implemented multiple ways to improve social connection, housing stability, and quality of life for older adults in greater Richmond.
Marilyn Mare is a retired Chesterfield County teacher who taught at J. B. Watkins Elementary School. She joined LLI in 2007 and is an active member who volunteers whenever needed. She also enjoys teaching Mah Jongg to fellow LLI students!
Anne McAneny took traditional piano lessons as a child but always needed written music to play. Sure, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven offered amazement and beauty, but when the pandemic hit, the blues came a-calling. With the help of YouTube and other online sites, Anne taught herself to play basic blues and boogie-woogie, enjoying it so much that she wanted to share it with others. When not tickling the ivories, Anne has worked in sales and marketing, taught aerobics, written and published mystery books, served as a beer wench, and raised a few boys. She currently works as a book editor and self-publishing consultant.
Bryan McChesney is a minister, chaplain, and educator. He has earned AA, BA, MRE, MDiv, and ThM degrees, culminating in a Doctoral Degree, from the University of Richmond, Campbell, Wake Forest, University of South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and Ruschlion.
Corinne McLees is passionate about helping individuals maximize the function of their upper extremities, as she believes the hands are imperative to doing the things we love most. She graduated from VCU’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in 2016 and immediately began working in VCU Heath’s hand therapy clinic. Corinne launched her own mobile Occupational Therapy practice in 2020. She offers telehealth OT visits as well as mobile home visits within the greater Richmond area. She has three children, ages four, two, and six months.
Garrett McLees is a 2015 graduate of VCU’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program and has been practicing as an occupational therapist for six years with a focus on treating geriatric clients, individuals who have neurological conditions, and home modifications. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Garrett and his wife co-founded a mobile Occupational Therapy practice to provide safe and quality Occupational Therapy services via telehealth to the aging population in Virginia. In 2021, Garrett made a career shift from providing direct patient care as an Occupational Therapist to become a PACE Navigator with InnovAge PACE (Program for All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) because he strongly believes in the PACE program and promoting seniors’ ability to age-in-place and live life on their own terms. When he isn’t working, Garrett enjoys spending time with his wife and their three kids, traveling, and renovating his 100-year-old home.
Mark Mikuta is a principal with Estate Settlement Solutions, LLC. He has worked in internal audit, corporate finance and real estate management and development. Mark received his BS in accounting from the University of Richmond. He is a member of many professional organizations and is also a Certified Financial Planner.
Angie Morriss is a Certified Bereavement Counselor and former educator. She has worked for J.T. Morriss and Son Funeral Home and has volunteered with Crater Community Hospice as a grief support group counselor since 2013. Angie recently joined the team of Crater Community Hospice as an employee offering educational opportunities and support to the community as an Outreach Assistant. Angie is also a member of the Chesterfield Council on Aging and currently serves on the Chesterfield Caregiver Committee.
Dorothy Moses has been an LLI member since 2008. She’s an aspiring writer and has participated in several critique groups.
Mary Jane Murphy has a B.S. in Home Economics Education and a B.A. in Studio Art. She brings 25 years teaching experience to LLI and has been a member at Chesterfield LLI since 2010.
Fred Nelson is a retired Air Force major general who served as a fighter pilot for most of his 36 years of duty. He also served at the Pentagon, in NATO Headquarters and has lived in Europe, Asia, the Pacific region and the Middle East.
Judith Onesty has been making jewelry for over 20 years. She has taken classes from some of the most well-respected jewelry instructors in the country. She loves hammering the metal and changing the shape. She works in a variety of techniques and enjoys introducing others to the fun and sense of accomplishment that making jewelry can bring. Judith has also been a healthy diet advocate since the 1970s. She specializes in quick and easy recipes that are full of flavor with interesting and varied ingredients.
Timothy Pace received a Juris Doctorate degree from Creighton University in 1972, and was a senior adviser to the Board of Veterans Appeals from 1972 to 1990. After presidential appointment, Timothy served as Administrative Law judge for the Social Security Administration from 1990 to 2014 handling primarily Medicare cases and Disability claims. In that capacity, he presided in various courtroom proceedings along the east coast at hearing sites in eight states and in the District of Columbia. From time to time, he was called upon to lecture to fellow judges and administrative personnel on the nuances of ever-changing laws governing the administration on Social Security benefits. He has been a member of LLI since 2014.
Mike Pagel has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Chemistry and a Master’s in Education. He retired in 2013 after teaching 40 years in public and private high schools. He is active in his church where he has led adult classes in topics such as the working of God’s covenants throughout the entire Bible, creative Bible teaching techniques, and the study of individual books of the Bible. He has been an LLI member since 2017.
Paula Peaden practices in the areas of Trust and Estate Planning, Trusts and Estates Administration, Elder Law, Long Term Care & Disability Planning, Special Needs Trusts, and Guardianships. She was named the Best Elder Care Lawyer in Richmond in the 2014 edition of Best Lawyers in America®. Her knowledge and professionalism are evidenced by a number of other accolades, including her appointment to the 2014 Virginia Business Legal Elite, the 2013 Class of Leaders in the Law, Best Lawyers in America® for Trusts and Estate, Virginia Super Lawyers for Trusts and Estates and Elder Law and AV-rated Martindale Hubbell Preeminent Women Lawyers. She began her professional career as a registered nurse after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree from Mount St. Mary’s College. She received her legal education from George Mason University. She is a member of the Trust & Estate Section and a past chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Elder Law Section of the Virginia State Bar. She also is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the Special Needs Alliance and Estate Planning Council of Richmond. Her published works include: Popular Types of Trusts and Considerations for Their Use, chapter written for Aspatore Law Books Inside the Minds series, “Best Practice For Structuring Trusts and Estates” (January 2015) and Specials Needs Trusts, Virginia Lawyers Weekly (May 2014).
Beverly Perdue has been creating in oils and watercolors for the past thirty years. She has been recognized with several national and international awards in both mediums. Bev was recently awarded Best in Watercolor, for the second time, in the 2017 Virginia Watercolor Society Show. Her style of teaching is to guide and encourage students to find their own individual art voice.
Sandi Phillips has been teaching Group Exercise in the Richmond area for 20+ years. She is certified in Group Exercise, STEP, Slide, Weight Room Resistance, Pilates, 200 hour Yoga certification (on the way to 500), Barre, Personal Training, and more! She enjoys people and particularly helping people discover that they are capable of far more than they thought. Sandi is a lifelong resident of Richmond, except for four years in Charlottesville. She is looking forward to meeting many new friends at LLI.
Sandy Phillips has a degree in Music and Music Education. She continued her studies at the University of Richmond, VCU, and Westminster Choir College. Her performance majors were piano and organ, with a minor in vocal production. She taught public and private school music in Virginia, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois and has also been a church organist and choral director. She has performed in musicals, and other theatrical productions and has been an instructor at LLI since 2013.
Barbara Powers has been teaching Sign Language for over 40 years. She studied for 3 years at the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youth and Adults in Sands Point, New York. She has taught both privately and corporately for many years. Barbara joined LLI in 2016 and invites her fellow LLI members to come and learn a type of communication that is beautiful, rewarding and practical.
Francis Gary Powers, Jr. was born on June 5, 1965, in Burbank, California, and is the son of Francis Gary and Claudia “Sue” Powers. Gary holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy, a master’s degree in Public Administration, a Certification in Nonprofit Management, and a master’s in U.S. History. Gary is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Cold War Museum, a 501(c)3 charity located in Vint Hill, Virginia, 45 minutes west of Washington, DC. He founded the museum in 1996 to honor Cold War veterans, preserve Cold War history and educate future generations about this time period. In 2002, the Junior Chamber of Commerce selected him as one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans.” In 2015 he consulted for a Steven Spielberg Cold War thriller, “Bridge of Spies” about James Donovan who brokered the 1962 spy exchange between Rudolph Abel and U-2 pilot, Francis Gary Powers, Sr. He is a board member of the SAC and Aerospace Museum and an Honorary Board Member of the International Spy Museum. Gary lectures internationally and appears regularly on CSPAN, the History, Discovery, and A&E Channels. He is married and has one son.
Carol Pritchard is a French teacher who taught beginning, intermediate, advanced and adult education classes for forty years. She taught in the school systems of Baltimore City and County, Maryland; Pittsford, New York; and Chesterfield County, Virginia. Locally, she taught at Monacan High School (until 1994) and James River High School (until 2008). She retired from CCPS in July 2008 and has been a member of LLI since 2009.
Rachel Ramirez has been the Executive Director at LLI in Chesterfield since March 2014. She previously worked for four years in IT and as a Financial Team Manager for a nonprofit in Mechanicsville. Before that she was an Assistant Branch Manager with First Market Bank in Richmond and a Store Manager at Starbucks Coffee Company. Rachel has enjoyed attending and serving with Clover Hill Church since 2003 and is grateful for the opportunities she has had to work with Give Hope 2 Kids, a children's home in the mountains of Honduras. Rachel earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Management from Regent University in 2006 and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from VCU in 2018. Rachel and her husband, Luis, love spending time with family and friends, hiking, traveling, and are looking forward to welcoming their second-born son in September 2021!
Waite Rawls retired at the end of 2019. He previously served as the President of the American Civil War Museum Foundation. He received a B.A. at Virginia Military Institute and was awarded an M.B.A. and J. D. by the University of Virginia. Some of the positions he held in the banking, investment, and money markets fields were: Managing Director, Chemical Bank, New York; Vice Chairman, Continental Bank, Chicago; Executive Vice President, The Chicago Corporation; and Chief Operating Officer of Ferrell Capital Management, Greenwich, Conn. He also led a start-up technology company and has been a visiting or adjunct professor at University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and Illinois Institute of Technology.
Patrice Reese is a graduate of East Carolina University's School of Art with a degree in Art Education. She has exhibited throughout the United States and studied with several master artists. She believes anyone can become an artist with an open mind, enough practice, and a strong concept. She has been featured in PALETTE magazine and is represented by Uptown Gallery in Richmond.
Kimberly Rideout is currently a Fire and Life Safety Educator for Chesterfield Fire and EMS in Virginia. She has more than 19 years of experience in public safety, serving in career and volunteer roles. She volunteers her time with the Tidewater Critical Incident Stress Management Team in Hampton Roads, Virginia and has most recently become an authorized volunteer for Operation Lifesaver. Kimberly is a graduate of the Southside Regional Fire Academy, has attended the National Fire Academy, and holds multiple degrees from Radford University.
Patricia Ryther is retired from a career in banking and insurance, where her jobs included writing user manuals and other nonfiction. She has a degree in English and has taught at the community college level. In retirement, Patricia is pursuing a lifelong interest in fiction writing and has been an LLI member since 2018.
George Saunders is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. A lifelong student of railroad history, he has been an active member of the Old Dominion Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society for more than 40 years. Contributing in countless capacities, including serving on the board of directors, he currently serves as the facilities rental manager for the chapter’s museum in Richmond, Virginia. In the past, George has done PowerPoint presentations on “The Development of Trains in the South and their Use in 1864” and “Railroad Communications in 1864” at the American Civil War Museum, the Richmond Railroad Museum, and LLI as part of the Sesquicentennial lecture series on the war.
Les Schaffer is a long-time LLI instructor, storyteller, retired counselor, veteran and cowboy-at-heart . His resume stretches through being a founding member of the Tell Tale Hearts Storytellers Theater Company, pioneering treatment programs for violent men and adolescent sex offenders, operating a pottery clay manufacturing company, as well as working in photography and retail advertising. These days, Les performs and teaches storytelling in a variety of settings, including theaters, libraries, schools, independent and assisted living centers, churches, workshops and conferences. He fully believes that storytelling can save the world and that a good story will get you out of just about anything.
Sandy Schimmel Gold has been a professional artist for over 15 years. Her work is in personal, corporate and museum collections around the world. Sandy's specialty is creating paper mosaic portraits and other works from recycled materials including junk mail! Prior to fine art, Sandy worked in nonprofit, visual merchandising and design. She's a lifelong learner and is always experimenting with new techniques and ideas.
Bonnie Scimone serves as the Lead Community Outreach and Marketing Specialist for The VirginiaNavigator Family of Websites. Bonnie has been with the organization since 2006. She graduated from Longwood University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics and received her Elementary Education Teaching Certificate from Virginia Commonwealth University. Bonnie has one son in Georgia, one daughter in Chesterfield and five grandchildren. Bonnie resides in Chesterfield County and serves Central Virginia and Tidewater.
William Seay is a professor in the Economics department at VCU and the History department at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. He was previously an affiliated professor of History and Geography at John Tyler Community College. He is also a visiting summer lecturer on call at Concordia and McGill Universities in Montreal as well as at Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada, and for the School of Continuing Education at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in Great Britain. In November 2014, William was invested as a KM (Knight Member) in The Most Venerable Order of St. John of Jerusalem (the oldest British Crusader order that dates back to 1109 AD). Presently, William serves as a supply minister for the Presbyterian Church USA. He is completing commissioned pastor training between Union Presbyterian and Princeton Seminaries with graduation from Princeton in 2020.
Tammy Simpson is the Volunteer Coordinator of Recover Hope. She is a retired Master Sargent, USMC, Director of the Airborne and Air Delivery School at Fort Lee, Educator, and Sexual Victim Advocate. Tammy has also served as an Ambassador of the Prevention Project for the Richmond Justice Initiative.
Shawn Smith is the State Director for the Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol. He has a background in Sales and Marketing, Non-Profit Management and Christian Counseling. He is passionate about advocating for underserved communities and empowering those communities to become self-advocates.
Shep Smith is a native of Richmond. He holds a Bachelor's degree from RPI, now VCU, and a Master's degree from the University of Richmond. He taught American history at Thomas Dale High School in Chesterfield County for over 30 years.
Martha Steger has worked on both sides of the media, having been senior editor of Richmond Lifestyle Magazine before being public relations director for the Virginia Tourism Corporation for over 25 years. She's presently a freelance writer covering travel, business, and profiles for publications ranging from Fine Books and Collections Magazine to AAA magazines and Boomer, Richmond and Virginia Business magazines. Martha’s pandemic time was partially spent writing two articles: a Virginia travel article in the July issue of Richmond Magazine and a health-care article in the July issue of Fifty Plus, Richmond. She has a short piece on a very rare Virginia lobster coming out in a future issue of Virginia Living Magazine.
Peggy Stevens is a retired teacher with both CCPS and VCU. Her favorite topics were Biomes and animal behaviors within those biomes. Peggy has taught a course in critical thinking using puzzles for seniors. Reading and jigsaw puzzles are two of her favorite ways to pass the time. Peggy has been an LLI member since 2008 but recently moved to North Carolina so she will be teaching an online course.
Kendalle Stock has been in the field of insurance in Chesterfield since 1985. A graduate of High Point University, Kendalle also earned her Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation in 1999. She has owned her own multi-line insurance agency, worked in the long-term care (LTC) insurance field, and in group benefits. In 2013, she decided to make Medicare her primary focus, realizing how so many people were overwhelmed and confused by this program. Her passion is to help educate her clients so they understand the options well enough to make informed decisions about this important part of retirement. More information can be found on her website: www.CommonwealthMedicareAdvisors.com
Altise Street is the Richmond/Southside Outreach Manager for 2-1-1 VIRIGNIA and a Certified Internet Research Specialist (CIRS). She is a native of Chesterfield, Virginia, studied Business at Virginia Commonwealth University and proceeded to obtain her master’s degree from the University of Phoenix. Passionate about helping her community, Altise forgot about working in the business world and started working with the United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg, which was a natural fit. In her free time, Altise loves to travel with her son, Duvan. She also volunteers at her church and loves to work with children. Grateful for an amazing group of family and friends, Altise makes sure that she stays in her community helping where she can.
Damir Strmel is the Director of Quantitative Development for a privately held Investment Advisor in Midlothian. He began Tai Chi play over 20 years ago. He studied Yang style Tai Chi Chuan (open hand) and Jian (straight sword) forms with Sensei Nate Mohler, D.O.M., Chen style Tai Chi Chuan with David Christophy, and Qi Gong with Alena Nikos in Sarasota FL. He has continued his Tai Chi play in Richmond by taking classes in Yang, Sun and Wu styles of Tai Chi Chuan, which gives him a knowledge of all four of the major styles of Tai Chi. Damir has been playing Brazilian, Cuban, and African percussion instruments for 40 years. He was on the founding board of the Empire Loisaida Samba School in New York City. This was the first Samba organization in the US which modeled itself on the samba schools of Rio de Janeiro. He learned to play a variety of drums and hand-held percussion instruments in several styles of traditional Brazilian rhythms. His teachers included: Claudio and Jorge da Silva, Cyro Baptista, Toni Nogueira, Nana Vasconcelos, and Babatunji Olatunji. Damir has also studied Afro-Cuban percussion with Ricardo Torres and Jerry Gonzales in NYC and more recently with Ramon Marquez Dominquez in Santiago, Cuba. Damir’s other interests include creating art, playing and recording music, and enjoying the outdoors through hiking and golfing.
Mark Swearengen is a veteran and retired civil servant with experience in military planning, field artillery, and public affairs. In the 1980s he was also a columnist for the European Edition of The Stars and Stripes. He has been an LLI member since 2015.
Linda Szabo pursues her passion for painting and interest in color through experimentation with watercolor and other medias as a way to express her creative ideas. She paints beautifully colorful, crisp paintings of landscapes and flora in which her love of the natural world is the essence. As a sought-after watercolor teacher, Linda has taught students of all ages and skill levels for 40+ years and continues to stay connected to her students as they explore their creativity and self-expression. Linda’s teaching style is clear and detailed as she guides her students on how to create beautiful work. Linda holds a graduate degree in textile arts and then honed her painting skills under the personal mentorship of world-renowned watercolor artist and author, Zoltan Szabo who was also Linda’s husband. She joined LLI in 2021 to take online classes from her home in Arizona.
Nicole Thomas-Jackson Ed.D., has been in the fitness industry for over 15 years. A certified fitness instructor since 2001, Nicole has taught group fitness classes in a variety of settings. Classes have included high impact aerobics, low impact aerobics, lite physical fitness and senior fitness. Nicole has also taught elementary physical fitness and currently holds an elementary teaching certificate.
Tessa Timberlake has been in the yoga world for four years. She holds a 225-hour certification through Holy Yoga and is currently enrolled with the Kaivalaya Method master teacher training. Tessa has numerous certifications through yoga including yoga leadership development, sequencing and cueing, anatomy of the body and meditation. She has taught professional athletes and junior tennis players, yoga therapy private lessons, senior chair yoga, holy yoga, and substance abuse therapeutic yoga. Tessa’s passions include teaching yoga, meditation, anatomy, and photography. Tessa currently teaches Hatha, Vinyasa, Power Yoga, Yin, Chair and Restorative Yoga. Her love of yoga brings fresh passion to her teaching by observing clients gaining freedom through their tenacity and curiosity of self-discovery.
James Triesler has been the Director of Education at the Virginia War Memorial since October 2015. He has served on the Board of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge and the Genealogical Research Institute of Virginia. He has a degree in Political Science from East Carolina and a Master’s Degree in Education from VCU. Currently, he’s working on a Certificate in Public History at the University of Richmond. For 20 years, James taught Social Studies at Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield and was the recipient of a Save Our History Award from the History Channel for his class project on WWII. He won an R.E.B. Award for $10,000 that took him to Europe to conduct interviews and explore WWII sites. He was the Chesterfield County Teacher of the Year and the Virginia State Region I Teacher of the Year. James is passionate about the study of WWII.
Bryan Truzzie is the Historic Sites Supervisor for the Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Department and a member of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia.
Frank Vance works in the office of Citizens Information and Resources with Chesterfield County and is focused on mobility services.
Suzanne Vogel holds her Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) license and is employed with Chesterfield County Mental Health, where she works with adults who have serious mental illness to bring them together in community and help them utilize their strengths to gain more independence. Earlier in life, she was employed as a software engineer. She self-identifies as a cat mom, an outdoors lover, a healthy foods fanatic, a seeker and creator of beauty, and, last but not least, a spiritual being having a human experience.
Allison Waddell has been a physical therapist in the Richmond area for 13 years. She graduated from VCU in 2008, spent 10 years working at Sheltering Arms, and she has worked at VCU Health at Stony Point since 2018. She is an orthopedic clinical specialist working to help heal injuries in multiple areas of the body. Allison emphasizes pain neuroscience education as part of her patient care. She has taught an introductory Spanish course to physical therapy students and volunteers with the student run pro bono CARES clinic at VCU. She is excited to be a part of the LLI community! While not working, she spends time with her husband, two Dachshunds and cat.
Mervin Warner has been carving since the mid 1980's and started carving to learn to represent objects in three dimensions versus the two dimensions of drawing. He has been a member of the James River Wood Carvers since the mid 80's. He prefers to carve objects in the round and enjoys carving sea mammals, masks and projects that provide a challenge.
Sylvia Watford is the Senior Financial Education Specialist with Virginia Credit Union. Sylvia is pleased to lead financial education topics throughout the year for the Lifelong Learning Institute. With more than 245,000 member-owners, Virginia Credit Union is the largest state-chartered credit union in Virginia. A regional leader in financial education for members and the public, Virginia Credit Union’s classes, workshops and seminars reached more than 14,000 individuals each year. Virginia Credit Union provides a variety of affordable banking services, loans, mortgages, and free financial education resources with a focus on helping people feel more confident about their finances. Real estate services are offered by Virginia CU Realty, LLC, an affiliate of Virginia Credit Union. Virginia CU Realty, LLC, is a separate and distinct legal entity from Virginia Credit Union, Inc.
Jon Waybright is a field archaeologist and assistant professor in Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University where he has taught courses since 1997, focusing on World Religions, Biblical Studies, and Near Eastern Archaeology. He earned his Master of Theological Studies from Boston University’s School of Theology and holds degrees in History and Religious Studies from VCU. Mr. Waybright’s field experience is expansive and focuses on southern Israel. While spending a dozen seasons excavating at Ashkelon, he has conducted field research at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Tell Lachish, and Khirbet al-Rai. He has been the Experiential Coordinator for the School of World Studies since 2013 and is also a core faculty member in the VCU Open Minds Program with the Richmond City Justice Center where classes are held in tandem with both VCU students and incarcerated residents. Mr. Waybright leads a study abroad program to Israel in the summers, where students engage in archaeological research with a multi-university team of researchers.
Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald mystery series set in Virginia (Secret Lives and Private Eyes, The Tulip Shirt Murders, and Glitter, Glam, and Contraband). Her short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series, 50 Shades of Cabernet, Deadly Southern Charm, and Murder by the Glass, and her novellas appear in The Mutt Mysteries series (To Fetch a Thief, To Fetch a Scoundrel, To Fetch a Villain, and To Fetch a Killer). She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime – Chessie, Guppies, International Thriller Writers, and James River Writers. Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby-Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Donna Whitfield is a current member of LLI. She is a former English teacher with Chesterfield County. She started beading in 1998 and specializes in bead weaving. Donna enjoys playing Mah Jongg and Triple Play with her friends.
Nena Woods has a BA in French and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and has taught all levels of Spanish since 1981. Her latest experience was teaching K-8th grade at the Sabot at Stony Point private school here in Richmond. She has traveled many times to Spain especially the Canary Islands where her mother's family lives.
Michael Wriston has been an adjunct member of the faculty at the University of Richmond for over 25 years and is the founder and president of The Reinvention Factory and The Competitive Edge. An established and published expert on leadership development and the creation of high-performance teams and cultures, Dr. Wriston has most recently developed broad and practical expertise on the development of talent, nurturing personal resiliency and enabling people to discover their gifts, their story and their life's purpose to ensure that they're able to fulfill their destiny. A native Vermonter and guardian of the environment, Dr. Wriston is a long-time soccer coach and the proud father of four remarkable sons.
Howard Wynn is a retired recreational supervisor for the VA Department of Juvenile Justice. When this former paratrooper and Vietnam veteran isn't glued to an art project, he enjoys Phase 10, backgammon, corn hole, and any other sports-related activity. His mother's experience with Alzheimer's was a pivotal moment in his life that has inspired and encouraged him to share his creative talents.