Instructor Bios

Return to Courses


Jo bond has thoroughly enjoyed teaching both private and group piano lessons for many years. In addition to teaching privately, she was the owner of The Music Academy for the Performing Arts in Mandeville, Louisiana and served as adjunct faculty at Southeastern Louisiana State University. She holds music degrees from Northwestern State University and Louisiana State University.

John Brown holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Finance from Florida State University and is a Certified Financial Board Emeritus. In 1986, he founded Brown Financial Advisory, a fee-only financial planning/investment firm located in Fairhope and managed it until he retired in 2010. During his career, he served on local and national professional boards, wrote financial columns for the Fairhope Courier, presented financial/retirement planning seminars for employees of various companies, and taught financial classes for University of South Alabama Non-Credit. Since selling his business in 2010, he has been a volunteer mentor for SCORE the Service Corps of Retired Executives. John is a member of the ESILL Board.

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.

Nick Coulson has meditated since 1998. During this time he has attended a number of meditation retreats including body scan meditation with Goenka near Savannah, Zen meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh near Memphis and insight meditation with Flowering Lotus in Bay St Louis. Nick maintains a daily practice.

Michael Darring was born and raised in Mobile. He attended Subiaco Academy in Arkansas for high school and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, receiving a BA in Philosophy. He spent 38 years working in the world’s oilfields in various capacities and retired in 2015. He and his wife, Kate, split their time between Baldwin County and Cape Cod, in Massachusetts. Mike’s main interests are in the literature of philosophy and science. He became reacquainted with Vonnegut’s work recently while spending time on Cape Cod. Vonnegut lived on Cape Cod for 20 years and wrote half of his 14 novels there. .

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.

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.

Toby Gurley holds BS and MS degrees in Chemical Engineering from Auburn University. As a registered professional engineer he has 30 plus years of involvement in professional societies and has taught many technical and management short courses. He is a Bethel Series graduate, as well as graduating from the Academy for Equipping the Saints. He has taken and taught church-based classes for over 40 years. 

Brandon and Becka Hargraves: With a passion for the honey bee, Brandon and Becka Hargraves own and operate their business B's Bees together. They got their first hive about a decade ago. After a few years of learning the ropes and navigating the trials and tribulations that go with beekeeping, the Hargraves started their own business, selling bees, honey, and wax products. In addition, they offer the service of removing and relocating colonies that have taken up residence in places where they are unwanted by home and business owners. Brandon has been removing colonies in and around Baldwin County for many years, and has much experience in dealing with wild colonies. Colonies are removed with patience and skill so that they can be rehabilitated into a well-cared for and productive colonies. Rebekah is an Alabama Master Beekeeper and spends many hot and sweaty days in the couple’s dozen or so apiaries. She enjoys teaching all things related to bees and beekeeping from beginning to advanced classes.

Blair Heald has been creating Temari since discovering it in the late 1990s through ESILL. Originally intending to use it in her gifted education classroom, Blair found Temari becoming a full time hobby. She is certified at the advanced level or Koutouka with the Japanese Temari Association and hopes to finish through the Kyoujyu or professor level in the coming years. Blair still teaches gifted education at W. J. Carroll Intermediate School where her students work on Temari every year.

Art Holder, Vice President of the ESILL Board, has a B.A. in Education and a Master’s in Psychology from third rate institutions.  He has been a laborer, paperboy, gas station attendant (back when they actually washed your windshield), Peace Corps volunteer and a member of the FBI. 


Dr. Harvey Joanning is a Professor Emeritus at Iowa State University, and Co-Principal Investigator of the Neurobiology of Relationships Study in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Alabama. He is also a licensed psychologist in Iowa, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Iowa and Alabama. He has spent 50 years studying intimate human relationships.

Mara Kozelsky is Professor of History at the University of South Alabama. She has authored numerous books and articles related to Russia's experience in the Crimean War as well as Russian colonization of Ukraine in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Elliott Lauderdale’s Taiji practice group studied under John Jefferson and Suzanne Fogger of the Liu Institute beginning in about 2005. In 1984-1985, Elliott spent a year practicing another Yang form with Professor Cai of Nanjing Agricultural College while he was there doing his research in the history Chinese rural education for his terminal degree from Nanjing’s sister university Cornell. Since Elliott lived in Taiwan and China for more than four years, he has a working knowledge of Chinese characters. For the past ten years, Elliott has been leading Great Blue Heron Taiji practitioners in Fairhope at the pier, and at the Nix and Recreation centers. 

Robert Maldonado, Ph.D., is a healer, teacher, and writer dedicated to helping others discover their innate healing abilities and guiding them through life transitions. He is certified in Energy Medicine, Healing Touch, Reiki Master, Brennan Healing Science, Shamanism, Entura Art Therapy, Cayce Meditation and Spiritual Life, and Integral Chinese Qigong and Tai Chi. He is the author of The Calling of the Heart: A Journey in Self-Healing; Children of Atlantis: Keepers of the Crystal Skull; Flying with My Higher Self –Awakening to Self Mastery; and The Impact of the Universal Energies and How to Use Them. Maldonado is an adjunct professor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine and teaches groups and workshops in art and spiritual healing practices.

Mary Normann began teaching yoga in 2002 focusing mainly on vinyasa flow in the studio environment and a slower flow in her on-site corporate yoga classes. She holds her 200-hour teacher training from Yoga Bliss/Yoga in the Woods. Before teaching yoga, Mary worked in pharmaceutical sales for twelve years. It proved to be an interesting career transition, promoting wellness and healing from within rather than from without. Encouraging her students to practice in the moment - moving through their transitions with strength, balance and ease has been a most rewarding experience.

Alan Samry is a student of Fairhope history, from the founders to the flowers. He was the go-to person for local history when he worked at the Fairhope Public Library, and he continues to enjoy exploring Fairhope’s past. Part of the gig economy now, Alan is the proprietor of Fairhope by Foot, an educational, affordable, and entertaining walking tour company. He writes for Fairhope Living magazine and is a media center librarian at Coastal Alabama Community College. Alan is the author of Stump the Librarian: A Writer’s Book of Legs and Clay City Tile: Frank Brown, the Company that Built Fairhope. In addition, Alan has been leading creative writing workshops in Baldwin County for over 10 years. He graduated from Spalding University with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing. When not reading, writing, or teaching, he’s riding his bicycle.

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 since 1990. 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 in 2009 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 since 1993, 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.

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!

Return to Classes


©2004 - 2021 Eastern Shore Institute for Lifelong Learning (ESILL)
All rights reserved