Instructor Bios

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Tamlin Albritten received her B.A. degree in Art Education from Michigan State University in 1970 and has been an art teacher since then. She first taught in public and private schools, junior high school through college, and for the last 15 years has taught in rehab settings. Currently, she works with groups, families, couples, and individuals in Fairhope. It is her mission to help her students, whether young or old, to use their creativity when words are not enough. The common thread through all her work has been that her students are empowered by the wisdom that their art reveals. Allbritten has written pilot studies for veterans, people of diversity, and young adults with addictions to prove that art is a powerful tool in discovering more about oneself. For more information, go to

Martha Allegri is a registered nurse with specialized training in dementia education. She has worked in healthcare for over 35 years, beginning as an x-ray technician at the Mobile Infirmary. After earning her RN degree Martha found she loved working with the elderly. She began a career at Mercy Medical where she managed admissions for all programs. After becoming an Assisted Living Administrator she spent four years helping to open and manage the John McClure Snook Center for memory loss. Most recently Martha has worked as a specialist for home health care.  She is an associate with the Sisters of Mercy and assists with the mission of Catherine McCauley’s service to the sick and needy . In addition to her community teaching on memory loss, she volunteers with the American Cancer Society and is currently a board member in Baldwin County.  She is also on the board for Ozenam free pharmacy and volunteers at the Catholic Service Center  in Mobile.

Donna Aplin was born and raised in Mobile County and raised her three children in Baldwin County. She is a retired educator who taught in Baldwin Country schools for over 25 years and is a member of the Baldwin County Master Gardeners. Donna enjoys creating habitats for wildlife.

Amanda Blackwood is a multi-media specialist who has worked in both print and web. She is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned a B.A. degree in journalism in 2006. Formerly an award-winning news reporter and editor, she now freelances as a writer, graphic designer, and editor. Blackwood is especially interested in the evolution of news and online infotainment, advertising, and machine learning. She currently publishes, a website promoting artists of the Eastern Shore/Baldwin County community.

Anne Brooks earned a Bachelors of Interior Design degree from Auburn University and an M.A. degree in Art from Spring Hill College. She is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists and the Watercolor and Graphics Society of Mobile. Her work has been exhibited in various venues in Demopolis, Mobile, Dauphin Island and the Eastern Shore. Anne has taught art at the Sybil Smith Family Village in Mobile and the Fairhope Artists Co-operative Gallery.

Billy Brown is a published author and motivational speaker as a result of being in Toastmasters, which helped to transform him from being uncertain and shy to a truly bold and confident individual with a positive message to share.

John Brown holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Finance from Florida State University and is a Certified Financial Planner. In 1986, he founded Brown Financial Advisory, a fee-only financial planning/investment firm located in Fairhope. During his career, he served on a number of local and national professional boards, wrote financial columns for a local newspaper, presented financial and retirement planning seminars for employees of various companies, and taught financial classes for the University of South Alabama. Since selling his business in 2010 and retiring, he has served as a Certified Financial Mentor. After his retirement, Brown met author Mitch Anthony and read his book, The New Retirementality, about achieving a fulfilling, purposeful retirement. He found the work both inspirational and practical and is basing his course on its methodology for guiding anyone who is already retired or planning to retire soon.

Mike Bunn currently serves as Director of Operations at Historic Blakeley State Park. He is author or co-author of a number of books, including Civil War Eufaula; Battle for the Southern Frontier: The Creek War and the War of 1812; and Images of America: The Lower Chattahoochee River. His book Alabama: From Territory to State is scheduled to be published by the University of Alabama Press in 2018. He is also co-author of Mississippi: 1798-1840, which is forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi.

Christina Caprez is a Yoga Alliance certified instructor. Since 2000 she has shared her unique approach to yoga with the people on the Eastern Shore, including at the Grand Hotel, the University of South Alabama in Fairhope and the Eastern Shore Art Center, as well as at ESILL.

Loran Chavez-With a father in the Air Force, Chavez traveled extensively as a child. The zest for life she acquired with those experiences followed her into adulthood and has been a major influence on her artwork. She is a self-educated artist who works with a limited palette of non-fugitive colors, providing her work a crisp quality. Her style tends toward photorealism and is inspired by the world around her. She is now in her second series of "100 Paintings--100 Days" and maintains a blog about the paintings ( Chavez teaches for the Mobile Museum of Art's Art Blast summer program for children, the Daphne Art Center, Eastern Shore Art Center, Space 301, and the University of South Alabama Continuing Education program. She has run workshops in watercolor and oils/acrylics for groups from Dauphin Island to Ocean Springs, MS. Her work has been in several galleries on the coast, including Cathedral Square Gallery and Fairhope Connections.

Mahala Church,  editor, author, and writing instructor with degrees in fine arts and nursing, writes and edits for an international group of clients both for- and not-for-profit, creating web and blog posts, newsletters, book launches, book reviews, manuscript evaluation, manuals, bylaws, handbooks, and marketing materials. A ghostwriter and editor for both fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, she works with a diverse group of authors, and teaches creative writing and blogging through her Barefoot Writing Academy. A Pushcart Prize nominee in 2008, Church is a published author of articles, short stories, and personal essays. Editorial credits include numerous anthologies, novels, and workshop contest entries. A founding board member of the Emerald Coast Writers, she co-founded the Mobile Writers Guild and is a member of the Pensters Writing Group. She believes that it is vital for writers to commiserate and build viable networks to enable them to succeed. For more information on Church, see;;;

Kathryn Cockrell  is a Fairhope native who owns Happy Hound Pet Sitting and is a realtor at Better Homes and Gardens. A member of Toastmasters, public speaking is a skill she loves to hone consistently and one that she uses often for work, non-profits, and travel. Next spring, she looks forward to starting her national speaking tour representing a new startup company called Handlr.

Barb Comstock comes from a green thumb family: her father was a research geneticist with the USDA and her mother was a florist. Along with her husband Peter, she raised her three children on an apple orchard and small crop farm in Minnesota. While her degrees are animal oriented, and her career was in human resources, when they moved here six years ago, she fully embraced the “gardeners paradise” of gardening in the South. Her specialties are tropical and sub tropical plants and propagation. She is a Baldwin County Master Gardener and on their Speakers Bureau.

Carl Couret, a retired fish and wildlife biologist who worked in Hawaii, New Mexico, Alabama, and Florida, has been a resident of Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore for over 30 years.  Although he played woodwind instruments in the school band while growing up in New Orleans, it wasn’t until 2010 that he became interested in playing music again, bought his first ukulele at a flea market, and took an Introduction to Ukulele course with ESILL.  He has been playing ukulele since then with local folk music groups and clubs at various venues in Fairhope, Pensacola, Albuquerque, and Hawaii.  Carl is a longtime member and “luna” of the Eastern Shore Ukulele Club (on Facebook), which has open, informal jams most Mondays at the Unitarian Fellowship in Fairhope.

Margaret Davis  Davis is a retired professor from Spring Hill College where she taught courses in Latino/a-American literature and American literature of all genres.

Ed Dinan  has been a student, practitioner, and occasional instructor of Qigong for over ten years. He has found these exercises to be ideal for all ages, from beginners to the elderly who would like their "Golden Years" to shine a little brighter.

Ron Driesbach, a retired Naval officer, was trained in the Chinese Mandarin language by the Defense Language Institute East Coast and brings a world of experience to his teaching by virtue of his service in Europe and the Middle and Far East, including Southeast Asia. He holds a B.S degree in education from the University of Cincinnati and has teaching experience in Florida middle and high schools. A member in good standing in the National Qigong Association, he has practiced and taught T’ai Chi for over 25 years. He holds the principles of the art of T’ai Chi in the highest esteem and is dedicated to sharing his love for the ancient art with his students.

Emma Rose Fry, has been a demonstrator for Stampin Up! more than five years. During that time, she has taught many classes in how to make greeting cards by hand and enjoys the process of making a beautiful card and personalizing it with a heartfelt note. She particularly loves helping others learn the pleasures they can derive both from making their own cards and from discovering how much others delight in receiving handcrafted cards.

Richard Geiger is a native Mobilian with degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi and Auburn University. After graduation, he worked in the computer industry for over 40 years as a design engineer, support engineer, technical architect and global technical support manager before retiring in 2013. After living in several different locations, he and his wife returned to the Eastern Shore in 2002. An avid sailor, he and his wife have sailed in most oceans, seas and bays of the world. He also teaches computer classes to senior citizens, is a Kiwanian, a private pilot and a Coast Guard certified Coxswain.

Wendy Gosnell is a Certified Professional Secretary, with an Alabama Life, Health and Disability license and an Alabama Real Estate license; a California Insurance Property and Casualty Agent with Brokers licenses; and a Financial Paraplanner. She developed “Taming the Paper Dragon,” a system to organize paperwork and simplify lives, after working with people who had lost family members and needed guidance on how to collect benefits. Her previous experience in helping set up small companies – filing and archiving systems, customer service, shipping, and other departments – provided the foundation for preparing her guide. In her leisure time, Gosnell has enjoyed knitting since she was eight years old, finding great joy and comfort in the click of the needles, the sliding of the yarn though her fingers. She pursues different types of projects – from simple potholders to knitted lace hats, and everything in between. She designed scarves for “Knit Your Bit” at the World War II Museum in New Orleans for their Tenth Anniversary, honoring family members who served in the Army Air Corps and Merchant Marines. Her pet project now is knitting hats for the veterans at the William F. Greene facility in Bay Minette.

Rosanne Gulisano is the founder and facilitator of Lifestories: Creating a Memoir, a memoir-writing workshop. She has been writing and speaking about memoir-writing since 1999. Her mission is to encourage people from all walks of life to write their own life story for future generations. She has started several successful ongoing memoir-writing groups and has taught her workshop for lifelong learning programs, women’s clubs, libraries, park district programs and in community college classes. Rosanne is a freelance memoir ghostwriter and has written several biographies as well as a 50th anniversary corporate history and a community memory book.

Blair Heald is a specialist in gifted education with the Baldwin County School System. She will soon be awarded a Ph.D. in education, with an emphasis on gifted education, from Northcentral University. Blair began making Temari in the late 1990s in an ESILL course. Since then, she has become a Temari instructor and teaches it to her intermediate school students. She is certified through level two (Koutouka Shuuryou) with the Japanese Temari Association and plans to pursue the final two levels of certification. She has visited the Temari Museum in Tokyo on two separate visits to Japan.r still teaches gifted education at W. J. Carroll Intermediate School where her students work on Temari every year.

Michael Healy's lifelong personal and professional interest in plants began with plant tending at an early age, and, by the time his formal education was complete, he had three degrees in plant science. His first job after graduate school was in the R&D division of a large agrochemical corporation, and from there he migrated to smaller and smaller companies. In 1973, he began a part-time business that became full-time self-employment two years later. He has been self-employed for the majority of his career and has also taught plant science courses at both the community college and university levels. 

Philip Hooper, MD, FCSSI, is an endocrinologist who is both a clinician and researcher.  Currently a clinical professor at the University of Colorado Denver and an adjunct professor of medicine at the University of South Alabama, he is a senior editor of Cell Stress and Chaperones and a fellow of Cell Stress International.  Hooper is widely published in the areas of thyroid disease, diabetes, arthrosclerosis, and aging, and he actively collaborates with researchers in the U.S. and around the world.  His passion centers on understanding the pathophysiology of disease-- particularly aging related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Brenda Huchingson holds a Ph.D. degree in English literature.  She taught college English for over 30 years at Tulane University, the University of South Carolina, and Hampton University in Virginia.  Brenda is the ESILL Registrar.

Harvey Joanning, Ph. D. , Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Iowa State University, was the founder and former director of the Marriage and Family Therapy Doctoral Programs at Texas Tech and Iowa State University. He is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Iowa and the University of South Alabama, as well as a Licensed Psychologist in Iowa and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Alabama and Iowa. His areas of specialization include aging and neurophychology. Joanning has received the Outstanding Research Contribution Award from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the Helen LeBaron Hilton Teaching Award from Iowa State University.

Cindy Jones is a writer, speaker, and consultant who specializes in content provision, social media management, and marketing for real estate, tourism, and author promotion. She has also founded and facilitated creative writing groups for all ages throughout Alabama and Mississippi. Her aim is to help writers discover their goals and unique voices, while giving them the tools they need to succeed. She believes that the Oscar Wilde quotation “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken” applies to all creative artists and entrepreneurs seeking to fulfill their destinies in the world. Jones’ work has appeared in publications such as The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, The Christian Post, Birmingham Magazine, and Birmingham Business Journal.

Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan is the Interim Rabbi of the Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile,  His rabbinic ordination is from Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem.  He also holds a Ph.D. in American Jewish History from Tel Aviv University. From 2001-2011, he led Temple B'nai Israel in Albany, Georgia, and from 2011-2015 he was the Rabbi of the United Congregation of Israelites in Kingston, Jamaica.  Rabbi Kaplan is the author of The New Reform Judiasm; Contemporary American Judaism: Transformation and Renewal; The Cambridge Companion to American Judaism; American Reform Judaism: An Introduction; Platforms and Prayer Books; and Contemporary Debates in American Reform Judaism.

Rebecca LaNasa has been a fitness instructor at the Whitney Laboratories at the University of Florida Center in Palm Coast, Florida, for seven years. She is a licensed Fitness Instructor and member of the Zumba Instructor Network; is certified as a Group Fitness Instructor; and is a member of the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America. She holds a CPR Certification through the American Red Cross and has recently completed the AFAA specialty workshops “Golden Hearts Senior Fitness Training” and “Exercise Design for Seniors.” 
Robert R. Maldonado, PhD, BBHS, CEMP/I, CHTP is a Certified Energy Medicine Practitioner/Instructor, Reiki Master Teacher, Barbara Brennan Healing Science Practitioner, Shamanic practitioner, Certified Healing Touch Practitioner, and teacher of Chinese Integral Qigong and Tai Chi. He has also completed additional studies in Bert Hellinger’s core constellations; mediumship and crystal healing. Robert is a retired military officer and teacher dedicated to helping people discover their innate abilities and their potential to heal themselves and find their true purpose in life. He is the author of The Calling of the Heart: A Journey in Self-Healing describing his spiritual journey as a healer and international travels with Energy Medicine Partnerships. Additionally, he is the author of “My Maori Experience: New Zealand2007”; “A Spiritual Journey to the Sacred Land of Mystical Peru”; and, “A Healers Journey: My Return for the Deactivation of the 20th Special Operations Squadron and the Retirement of the United States Air Force MH-53M Pave Low Helicopter.” His hobbies include traveling, Qigong, writing, reading, pastel painting, triathlons, and walking his dog Buddy.
Frank Martin is a native of Alabama who learned French as a teenager from a French war bride living in his home town. Because she was the daughter of a French university professor and had a classical education herself, she insisted that her student pronounce the language correctly. Martin took French literature courses at Vanderbilt University and, throughout his professional life, kept reading French and speaking it when he had the opportunity. After his retirement, he spent summers in Paris, Tours, and Montpellier and, as a result, has learned to speak the language in the informal way of native French speakers.

Fred Nation, who lives in Daphne, is a field botanist and environmental consultant and is certified in herbicide application. He has documented and photographed the wildflowers and native plants of South Alabama for 20 years. Nation teaches for the Baldwin and Mobile County Master Gardener intern classes; has offered courses for ESILL; conducts regular classes on habitats and ecosystems for the Friends Groups at Weeks Bay Reserve; and has conducted numerous workshops and seminars on native and invasive exotic plants for national and state groups. Currently, he is a member of the Baldwin County Forestry Planning Committee. Nation has nominated or co-nominated more than 20 Alabama State Champion Trees and is the author of.

Jeff Phillips is the instructor for the course, Will Your Money Last to the End of Your Days?
Billie Reinhart, at the age of 17, was drawn to the spiritual, non-competitive, and pain relieving aspects of yoga.  A Hatha certified instructor, Billie has been studying Anusara since 2006, the same year she began teaching yoga. She is certified with Yoga Alliance, ACE and AFAA. Her special interest in therapeutics and anatomy led her to study Thai Yoga Bodywork in 2010. Her style is also influenced by her personal Anusara, Acro-yoga, and partner yoga practice.  When she's not in class, she's sewing, camping, getting ready for her next concert or music festival, or in a lounging lawn chair with her feet in the creek. 

Tony Rhodes graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and has done graduate work at the University of Tennessee. He served as a Naval Aviator for 21 years, with tours at Top Gun, CIA, and Air Force Exchange in Europe, and flew four cruises, including a combat tour in 1972 over North Vietnam. After retiring, he served in the Federal Aviation Agency as an Automation and Safety Engineer and as an Air Traffic Controller. Since 2010, he has taught lifelong learning courses at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Dana Roberts spent most of her career as an actress and stage director in New York City, with additional gigs in New Jersey, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. With her husband, Dr. Harvey Joanning, she has been studying the workings of the brain and the ways to stay healthy as we age. Now classified officially as a “senior citizen,” Roberts brings to Aging Gracefully a woman’s point of view on the challenges of mind and body that women face as they age and on options they have for meeting those challenges.

Charles Scovil graduated with a degree in geology from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, and was Curator of Stamford Observatory in Connecticut for 50 years. He has taught astronomy at both the grade-school and adult levels. His hobbies are astronomy, archaeology, and photography.

Gene Sellier is a founder of a computer company that developed hardware and software solutions for small business systems. After selling his computer business, Gene managed the largest independent camera store in St. Louis for almost two years before retiring. He is a photography enthusiast and former ESILL board member.

Jane Sellier is a teaching artist who believes in the freedom and fun art can provide.  Her philosophy is to “have fun, be experimental and share it with others.”  Painting in soft pastels, watercolors, oils and acrylics, she enjoys switching mediums because each one stays new, fresh and exciting.  She continues to take classes and workshops and says, “If I’m not teaching, I’m taking a course.  Art is a never-ending learning process and so much can be learned from other artists.” Jane has won awards that include ribbons, cash prizes and best of show.  Her paintings are in private and corporate collections both in the United States and in Canada.  Her work has been published in The Artist’s Magazine and Artist’s Sketchbook Magazine.  Jane’s paintings can be seen at Eastern Shore Art Center.

Rabbi Steven Silberman: Before he received his ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Rabbi Steven Silberman received a B.S. degree in psychology from UCLA, pursued rabbinical studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles, and studied in Jerusalem at the Neve Schechter campus. He has lived with his wife and their four children in Mobile for the past 25 years. Rabbi Silberman values family time and the opportunity of learning and spiritual growth, and he appreciates the significance of sharing special life moments and ordinary time with his synagogue members (Cong. Ahavas Chesed) and members of the local community. He is active in Jewish-Christian Dialogue and five years ago was asked to help start the Muslim/Jewish/Christian Trialogue. He also writes occasional newspaper columns and teaches in various communal settings. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, music, and traveling with his family.

Jere Trigg, a resident of Spanish Fort for 33 years, was born in Mobile and graduated in 1975 from the University of Alabama with a degree in Chemical Engineering. Until his retirement in 2009, he worked for the UOP Molecular Sieve Manufacturing Plant in a number of positions, most recently as the Health, Safety, and Environmental Manager. Trigg became interested in growing African violets when he was given a plant 40 years ago, and he quickly developed an appreciation for their beauty and ease of culture. Since his retirement, he has been experimenting with African Violet hybridization and has produced hundreds of seedlings from his cross pollinations. As a member of the African Violet Society of American and the Baldwin County Master Gardeners, he volunteers for the Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau and has given presentations on African Violets to numerous area garden clubs. His goal when speaking about violets is to create interest in this rewarding hobby and to encourage others to give it a try.

Cheray Vitrano started learning sign language at the age of seven, when her sister was born deaf. By the age of fourteen, she was interpreting at a special needs school for deaf students in upstate New York. When she entered high school, Cheray took American Sign Language as her language requirement for graduation. After moving to Alabama in 2004, she studied ASL at Bishop State Community College for four years and worked as an aide for the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind in Mobile. She has also worked as an interpreter in the Pensacola school system, with people who are both blind and deaf. Cheray sees a great need for people who can sign and learn ASL and believes this is especially important for professionals who may come in contact with the deaf.

Irene Wegner has been telling stories for over 39 years and has used education grants to share stories and teach storytelling in schools throughout the mid-western rural areas of the U.S. Now a happy resident of Fairhope, she would like to share tips and techniques so that others can continue this age-old tradition.

Susie Weiss is a recent transplant from Ohio who loves outdoor activities, travel, dancing, and teaching. Public speaking is a skill she uses as an inspirational speaker, a natural health advocate, and a mentor. She is passionate about living and sharing the principles of a natural lifestyle, using the plants and natural resources given to us by our creator, and has a business that sells natural oils.

Vincentine Williams is an accomplished pianist and the teacher of approximately 35 piano students, many of them gifted.   She belongs to six professional organizations and chairs three local music events for students.  Much in demand as a musical adjudicator of student performances, she has studied in France and holds music degrees from Tulane University and the University of Southern Mississippi.  In 2008 she was the recipient of the Alabama Music Teacher of the Year Award.  Since 1982 she has been the organist and choirmaster at Ascension Lutheran Church in Daphne, and as our longest serving ESILL instructor, since 1980, we couldn’t do without her!

Marlene Wynn  holds an M.A. degree in education and a Ph.D. in holistic life counseling. She is also a Registered Yoga Trainer with more than 15 certifications, including one in Pilates. She has taught for many years, in Ft. Collins, CO, where she finished her training, and now at Homestead Village in Fairhope.

Christine Zuercher holds a BA in speech communications and worked in the broadcasting industry until she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. Her interest in cake decorating and design started over 20 years ago as she began making novelty cakes for her young children.  She enrolled in the Wilton classes and found a passion for making edible art.  Over the years Christine increased her skills by taking many advanced decorating classes from master cake decorators and chefs.  She returned to school and specialized in pastry arts and is a certified Wilton instructor.  Her favorite thing about teaching cake decorating is seeing the excitement on students’ faces when they realize how easily they can personalize desserts for special events and occasions. Making special memories for family and friends is very rewarding. 


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