Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech
  Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech

Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech

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photo Bettye Ackerman is an attorney representing clients primarily in estate planning and family law.

photo Derley Aguilar is currently a Multimedia Producer with Montgomery County. Prior to producing, she taught communication and journalism courses at Virginia Tech, including Visual Media and Photojournalism.

photo Kathleen Alexander, Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech

photo Janelle Anderson is a Certified Professional Coach and COR.E Wellbeing Dynamics Specialist. She is the owner and founder of Emerging Life Coaching. She especially enjoys helping women explore their potential.

photo Mary Atwell taught at Hollins University for fifteen years. She came to Radford University in 1988, where she served as Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. She joined the Criminal Justice department in 1993. She retired in 2013.

photo Suzi Austin has studied Ikebana since the 1980s and received the certificate at the first level in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana.

photo Jacob Barney, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Physiology, Pathology and Weed Science, Virginia Tech

photo Lawrence Bechtel has been a sculptor of both abstract and figurative works for thirty years, is a member of the National Sculpture Society, and has several public commissions to his credit, including "Addison Caldwell," (VT's first student, upper quad) and "Ready to Serve" (Police Dog Sculpture, Vet school). He was an English Instructor, and then Recycling Coordinator at VT, before retiring in 2009. He is presently working on a historical novel, Angels Shall Not Keep Me, about a slave of Thomas Jefferson.

photo Lisa Belden, Professor, Biological Sciences, Virginia Tech

photo Robert Benoit is professor emeritus of biological sciences at Virginia Tech with a research interest in environmental microbiology. He currently teaches the honors biomedical ethics colloquium and the biological sciences research ethics seminar.

photo Isabel Berney is an active member and the volunteer administrator of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a non- profit volunteer organization that provides information to consumers. The Funeral Consumers Alliance has been cited by AARP and Consumer Reports as the go-to organization for accurate information about the death care industry.

photo Rosemary Blieszner is Alumni Distinguished Professor of Human Development at Virginia Tech with a teaching and research focus on family and friend relationships in middle and late adulthood.

photo Robin Scully Boucher is a teaching artist with over three decades of experience teaching art in public schools, continuing education, and university settings. As the Art Program Director for Virginia Tech's Perspective Gallery, she organizes exhibitions, community outreach, and pop-up art projects. Robin paints and draws the Appalachian landscape.

photo Charlie Brouwer has been making art since 1968. He creates wood sculptures and large installations, and he collaborates with communities in creating temporary public art projects. His studio is in Floyd County.

photo Susan Bricken is a certified Bridge instructor and a member of the American Bridge Teachers’ Association. She is a member of the Blacksburg Duplicate Bridge Club.

photo Dr. Tod Burke is a retired professor of criminal justice and a former police officer

photo Jack Call, Professor of Criminal Justice, has taught at Radford University since 1985. He has a J.D. from the College of William and Mary and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Georgia.

photo Libby Calvera grew up in El Salvador. After high school and undergraduate and graduate work in the U.S., she worked in Caracas, Venezuela, for 16 years. She taught Spanish at Virginia Tech for 33 years.

photo Anne Judkins Campbell spent the last 25 years of her nursing career as a women's health nurse practitioner with Montgomery Obstetrics and Gynecology in Blacksburg. For the past 10 years, she has been deeply engaged in establishing a Hospice Care Center in the New River Valley.

photo Hugh Campbell is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Virginia Tech. In retirement, he has become an avid student of history, researching and documenting the history of Blacksburg and the region.

photo Angela Cardenas holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development from Radford University. She is a resident counselor at Life and Balance Counseling and Wellness Center in Christiansburg and adjunct faculty at Radford University, where she teaches a course on mindfulness.

photo Leandro Castello, Assistant Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech

photo Ian Caton, Co-owner, Wood Thrush Native Plant Nursery, has worked as an ecological landscape designer for Larry Weaner Landscape Design.

photo David Clubb, Associate Dean of Students and the Director of the Cranwell International Center at Virginia Tech

photo Ashley Coake is a Junior Advisor at JSW Financial.

photo Joyce Covey co-authored the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum book, How the Sheep Helped Win the War.

photo April Danner is Director of Smithfield Plantation and a professional historian. She is currently serving as the Montgomery and Pulaski County representative for the Eastern Legacy Lewis and Clark Project.

photo William C. "Jack" Davis is the former director of Virginia Tech’s Center for Civil War Studies and is the author of more than 50 books, most recently Crucible of Command and Inventing Loreta Velasquez. He is the only four-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Award of the Museum of the Confederacy for works on the Civil War and Confederacy.

photo Ashley Dayer, Assistant Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech

photo Michele Deramo is Assistant Provost for Diversity Education and Programs at Virginia Tech.

photo Heidi Dickens has more than 20 years experience in K-12 and higher education, first as a math and science teacher, then as an educational technologist and instructional designer. She trained, consulted, and collaborated with faculty and staff to provide engaging, motivating learning experiences that increase technology knowledge and skills.

photo Kira Dietz is the Acquisition and Processing Archivist at Virginia Tech Special Collections, where she works to collect new books and manuscripts and make them accessible to people around the globe. In addition, she helps with reference, instruction, and outreach, especially with culinary history.

photo Don Drapeau is professor and department head emeritus of theatre arts at Virginia Tech. He serves as chair of the Lyric Theatre board of directors.

photo Monique Dufour, Assistant Collegiate Professor in the Department of History at Virginia Tech, is working on a book about the relationship between literacy and health in the 20th Century United States.

photo Ann Dunnington, Professor of Animal and Poultry Sciences at Virginia Tech, teaches courses about companion animals as well as genetics, equine studies, animal behavior, and poultry. She enjoys breeding, raising, and socializing puppies as companion animals.

photo Zach Easton, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

photo Andrew Ellis, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Virginia Tech

photo John Eustis is a long-time resident of the NRV with an academic background in environmental planning. He has worked with the New River Land Trust since 2007 and currently serves as executive director.

photo Rick Fell, Professor Emeritus, Entomology, Virginia Tech

photo Bev Fitzpatrick recently retired as Executive Director of the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

photo Chris French, CFA, worked in banking investments in New York before joining Plott & French Financial Advisors in 2014.

photo Paul French, CFS, is a co-founder of Plott & French Financial Advisors. He has broad international experience in senior company management.

photo Ginney Fowler has been in the English Department at VT for many years. She has written books on Henry James, Gloria Naylor, and Nikki Giovanni, and regularly teaches classes in African-American literature.

photo Emmanuel Frimpong, Associate Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation, Virginia Tech

photo Tom Gardner, Professor of English, has taught at Virginia Tech since 1982. He writes about American poets and novelists. His most recent book, Poverty Creek Journal, is a collection of lyric essays on running, grief, and memory.

photo Diana George, Professor Emerita of English, taught university-level rhetoric, writing, literature, and visual culture for 40 years.

photo Roya Gharavi, owner of the Gourmet Pantry in Blacksburg and cookbook author, was introduced to cooking at a young age by her mother and has been cooking and writing recipes ever since. Much of her inspiration comes from her Persian background. Roya’s mission in her cooking classes is to teach people at all comfort levels how to cook and eat simply and healthily. Roya published her own book of recipes, Roya’s Recipes: Healthy International Cuisine.

photo Rebecca Ghezzi has taught relief printmaking, book arts, papermaking, etching, and drawing in the United States and Italy.

photo Bob Gibson, journalist and immediate past director of the Sorensen Institute for Political Action at UVA.

photo Richard Gilbert is the author of Shepherd: A Memoir, a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award, which concerns the decade he and his family lived on a farm in Appalachian Ohio. His recent essay "Animals Saved Me" won Hunger Mountain’s 2017 Creative Nonfiction Prize; "That Day at Joe's" was first runner-up for the Proximity Narrative Journalism Award. He lives in Riner.

photo Perhaps because she grew up in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, Britton Gildersleeve is a life-long advocate for other voices. Before her retirement, she directed the Oklahoma State University Writing Project—a federal grant for literacy. Her award-winning creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, and she has three chapbooks. Gildersleeve blogs at

photo Anne Giles has loved and been loved well, first by her mother and father, for nearly six decades. She is a counselor, writer, business owner, and former teacher.

photo Julia Gohlke, Associate Professor, Population Health Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech

photo Kathryn Graham has taught in the English Department at VT since 1983. Her interests include children’s literature, folklore, contemporary literature for children and young adults, and Harry Potter. She is a long- time member of the Children’s Literature Association and has served as an officer and board member.

photo Marilyn Griffin, Co-owner, Griffin Farms

photo David Haak, Assistant Professor, Plant Physiology, Pathology and Weed Science, Virginia Tech

photo Gwynn Hamilton, Co-owner, Stonecrop Farm

photo Jean Haskell is a retired Professor of Appalachian Studies. She is co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and past Whisman Appalachian Scholar with the Appalachian Regional Commission in Washington, D.C.

photo Dale Hawkins

photo Richard Hirsh, Professor, History, Virginia Tech

photo William Hopkins, Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation; Director, Global Change Center, Virginia Tech

photo Randall Horst has been teaching about wine for more than 20 years. He works and shares his knowledge at Vintage Cellar in Blacksburg.

photo Stephanie Huckestein is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Hahn Horticulture Garden. She is also an instructor for the Department of Horticulture and teaches the Indoor Plants course.

photo Bruce Hull, Professor, Forest Research and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech

photo Steve Huppert was a teacher, coach, and guidance counselor in Montgomery County for 32 years. He was also a military instructor for seven years. He has a master’s degree in education from Virginia Tech.

photo Joe Ivers assisted and taught at the L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, for several years. He participated in cooking classes with Madame Yee Yo, a renowned Chinese chef. He ran a small catering business in Northern Virginia.

photo Bud Jeffries grew up in Radford watching trains and riding the Huckleberry to Blacksburg. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he made a career in the Army and returned to the area to work his cattle farm. He has written books about the history of the Norfolk and Western Railway and is now the official historian for the 611 steam project in Roanoke.

photo John Jelesko is Associate Professor of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science at Virginia Tech.

photo Sylvester Johnson, iDirector of Virginia Tech’s Center for the Humanities, holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the Union Theological Seminary. He recently co-edited The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11.

photo Carolyn Meier and Vera Kidd are both retirees of Virginia Tech. Vera was the Associate Director for Planning and Business Services in the residence and dining hall system, and Carolyn was the First Year Experience Librarian for Newman Library. They are both avid photographers and have been scrapbooking for more than 20 years.

photo Alice Kinder is the youngest of eight children born into a coal mining family in Southwest Virginia. She has spent her career teaching English at Virginia Tech and has been known to sing to her students. She hopes you will join her in some songs.

photo Dennis Kitts iis the former manager of Training and Development for BAE Systems at the Radford Army Ammunition Plant (RAAP). He worked in nearly every capacity there during his nearly 30 years on site. To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the plant, Dennis wrote its history and won BAE’s 2016 Business Leader Award.

photo Leigh-Anne Krometis, Assistant Professor, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

photo Irene Lamb and Bill Sembello, 3 Birds Berry Farm

photo Ian Leuschner, Director of International Support Services at Virginia Tech

photo Hilary Lips, a social psychologist, taught for more than 25 years at Radford University, where she also served as Chair of the Psychology Department and Director of the Center for Gender Studies. She is especially interested in the psychological issues related to gender, power, and leadership and to the gender pay gap.

photo Susan Lockwood is a professional photographer known for her European subject matter. Her work has been shown in national juried exhibitions all across the country. One juror commented, “Her photographs combine technical skill and a fine eye to create formally interesting compositions strong enough to evoke intense and lasting emotional responses from a variety of viewers.”

photo Teresa Lipps

photo Rhoda Lowinger is anc art instructor at Bluefield State College. She did her undergraduate work at the School of Visual Art and earned her Master’s degree in Studio Art at the College of New Rochelle in New York. Her work has won numerous awards at local and regional art shows in New York.

photo Ilja Luciak. For the past thirty years Ilja Luciak has conducted field research in Mexico, Central America, Cuba and Colombia focusing on gender equality and democratization.

photo Molly McClintock works part time as an industrial safety consultant with a Blacksburg firm. She serves on the board of the Montgomery County Christmas Store and is a 30-year resident of Montgomery County.

photo Phillip McManus has been a culinary school instructor for 15 years. He is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef and a Certified Chocolate Evaluator. His catering experience includes grilling 5-course dinners for bachelor parties and groom’s dinners.

photo Carolyn Meier and Vera Kidd are both retirees of Virginia Tech. Vera was the Associate Director for Planning and Business Services in the residence and dining hall system, and Carolyn was the First Year Experience Librarian for Newman Library. They are both avid photographers and have been scrapbooking for more than 20 years.

photo In 2012, Paul Metz retired from the University Libraries, where he served for 20 years as the Director of Collection Development. The breadth of Paul's interests attracted him to the task of building library collections, but also made him a natural-born sucker for John McPhee's writings.

photo Robert Miller is the owner of Miller Off Main Street Galleries, a local art destination that opened in 1974. After studying architecture at Virginia Tech, Robert started the Gallery and has over 40 years' experience in building and cultivating a variety of art collections.

photo Mike Mitchell is founder and director of Floyd Music School, established in 2005. Mike has been teaching fretted instruments for over 20 years.

photo Klaus Moeltner, Professor, Agriculture and Applied Economics, Virginia Tech

photo Joseph Mukuni is the son of the king of the Leya people in Northern Rhodesia. He was a teacher and then director of vocational and technical education for the government of Zambia. Mukuni now works on a variety of teacher training and R&D projects in Africa for Virginia Tech.

photo Jerry Niles is Professor Emeritus of Education at Virginia Tech where he spent 33 years on the faculty preparing teachers.

photo Emeritus professor of history William Ochsenwald taught 7,000 students the history of the Middle East at Virginia Tech from 1971 to 2008. He has presented three earlier courses for Lifelong Learning.

photo Linda Olin is a retired art teacher who can teach anyone to draw. She taught the LLI course "Self- Portrait Picasso Style!" in the fall of 2017.

photo Dr. Stephen Owen is a professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Radford University

photo Jessica Pace-Berkeley recently won First Place in the 35th Faber Birren National Color Award competition for her work “Trent.” Jesi is a Professional Fellow of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Artist in Residence at the Don and Catherine Bryan Cultural Series, Outer Banks.

photo Sidney "Al" Pearson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University, researched the history of political thought, Founding Principles, Progressivism, and voting behavior.

photo Irene Peterson retired from leadership of a technology center for the blind and visually impaired. She is a docent at the Montgomery Museum and is a 30-year resident of Montgomery County.

photo Linda Phillips is a member and past officer of the Alleghany Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Now retired, she was a REALTOR in the New River Valley for 25 years.

photo Simone Poirier-Bures is author of an autobiographical novel (Candyman), a collection of autobiographical stories (Nicole), and a memoir of time she spent in Greece (That Shining Place). She taught in the English Department at Virginia Tech for 24 years.

photo Amy Pruden-Bagchi, Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech

photo Paul Quigley is Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and the James I. Robertson, Jr., Associate Professor of Civil War Studies in the History Department at Virginia Tech. He is the author of Shifting Grounds: Nationalism and the American South, 1848–65.

photo Hesham Rakha is the Samuel Reynolds Pritchard Professor of Engineering in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech and the Director of the Center for Sustainable Mobility at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Rakha is on the Board of Trustees of the Islamic Society of the New River Valley and enjoys open discussions on religion, race, and human equality.

photo Tom Reisinger and Mike Skinner are professional foresters (over 60) who have hiked and backpacked for decades in the Eastern and Western U. S.

photo Richard Rio is a certified Bridge instructor and an American Contract Bridge League Life Master. He is the President of the Southwestern Virginia Bridge Unit.

photo While living in Tokyo for three years, Betsy Risen studied the elements of Japanese lifestyle as it pertains to everyday life in art, cooking, design, and flower arranging, including Ikebana.

photo Cassidy Rist, Assistant Professor, Population Health Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech

photo David Roper, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Virginia Tech, has taught courses about hybrid cars for the YMCA at Virginia Tech and for Blacksburg Sustainability Weeks. He has driven hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric cars since 2005.

photo Brian Romans, Associate Professor, Geosciences, Virginia Tech

photo Carolyn Rude, Professor Emerita of English, taught technical communication at the university level for 32 years, introducing technology into her classes to help students enhance communication.

photo Lee Sandstead, art historian, author, university professor and public lecturer, hosted an art history series for the Travel Channel and guided hundreds of tours and talks at the nation’s most important art galleries and museums.

photo Jeff Saperstein is a retired Professor of English from Radford University. He taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Works of Melville.

photo Deena Sasser is Curator and Historian at the Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke. She is responsible for ongoing oral history projects, exhibitions, and cataloging of artifacts.

photo Joe Scallorns has taught in the Department of English at Virginia Tech since 2007. He taught the LLI course on Bob Dylan in the fall of 2017.

photo Andy Schaudt is the Project Director for Automated Vehicle Research at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. He has spent his career learning about the intricacies of human behavior and how best to apply these findings to improve the design of products, services, and strategic business decisions.

photo Sandy Schlaudecker is the president of the local Funeral Consumers Alliance.

photo Stephen Schoenholtz, Director, Virginia Water Resources Research Center and Professor, Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech

photo Kelli Scott, Extension Agent, Montgomery Cooperative Extension Service

photo John Seiler is Alumni Distinguished Professor in the College of Natural Resources and Environment. His online alias is much simpler “Dr. Dendro.” As Dr. Dendro he answers hundreds of tree questions submitted by the public every year. He has been at Virginia Tech for over 35 years and teaches numerous classes and conducts research with his graduate students on how environmental stress impacts tree growth and health.

photo Edd Sewell is Professor Emeritus of Communication at Virginia Tech. His teaching areas were visual media and international communication, and his research foci were visual humor, political cartoons, and GLBT diversity.

photo James Shockley has explored his interests in local history, travel, reading, writing, and photography. He is on the board of directors for the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation and writes a monthly column for the Montgomery News Messenger.

photo Julie Shortridge, Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Biological Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

photo When Mary Skutt, lived in Lexington, she volunteered as a docent at the Marshall Museum and became enthralled with George Marshall. She has since written three books on the man.

photo Farron Smith, co-authored the Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum book, How the Sheep Helped Win the War.

photo Wanda Smith, Associate Professor Emeritus of Management, Virginia Tech

photo Tina Smusz is a physician certified in Hospice & Palliative Medicine who devoted her last 10 years of practice to working with people nearing the end of life.

photo Bill Snizek taught sociology for more than 38 years and received over 25 teaching awards while at Virginia Tech, including an appointment as Alumni Distinguished Professor. He has also received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia.

photo Dean Spader is an Emeritus Professor at the University of South Dakota. He led TED Talks and other LLI classes for five years before moving to Blacksburg. His teaching and research interests have been justice/ethics issues, law, and dispute resolution (including adversarial and collaborative processes).

photo Michael Squires Professor Emeritus of English, taught at Virginia Tech for many years. He has written extensively about the English novel.

photo Lois Stephens has a passion for painting in oils and enjoys helping others explore this rich medium. She currently maintains a studio in the Newport Rec Center, and her work can be viewed online at

photo Ellen Stewart is the Project Coordinator of the New River Valley TimeBank. She is also the Grants Coordinator for the New River Valley HOME Consortium and the Town of Blacksburg Department of Housing and Neighborhood Services.

photo Richard Straw Professor of History at Radford University, has taught courses on the American South and Appalachian history since 1981. He has published three books of historic photos and incorporates both historical and contemporary photography into his courses.

photo Paige Tan is Professor of Political Science at Radford University. She teaches courses in Comparative Politics and International Relations, with a primary focus on Asia.

photo Min Tang, Doctoral Student of Marc Edwards, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Tech

photo Rachel Thompson, Immigration Attorney at Poarch Law

photo Josiah Tlou, professor emeritus of education at Virginia Tech, was raised and educated in Southern Rhodesia, where he was principal of a boarding school. Tlou has spent decades working in Africa on teacher training and development of educational systems.

photo The Honorable Shannon Valentine, former member of the House of Delegates

photo Diane Wagner is Resident in Geropsychology at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

photo Abby Walker is a New Zealander and a professor who teaches linguistics at Virginia Tech. Her research focuses on how and when speakers change their accents, and how listeners (un)successfully process various accents.

photo Peter Wallenstein taught history in New York, Canada, and Asia before coming to Virginia Tech in 1983. He has published widely on the history of American higher education in general and on Virginia Tech in particular.

photo Joseph Wheeler is Professor of Architecture at Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design. Studentdesigned projects under his leadership have won prestigious national and international awards and recognition.

photo Joel Williams is the founder and chairman of JSW Financial. He has 34 years of experience in the finance industry and is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. At Virginia Tech, he has taught economics, small-business management, and business start-up, and Certified Financial Planner courses.

photo Richard Winett, the Heilig Meyers Professor of Psychology at Virginia Tech, focuses his research on health behaviors. A recent NIH grant allowed Winett and colleagues to evaluate and explore the impact of resistance training on the health of older adults.

photo Jessica Wirgau is the executive director of the Community Foundation of the NRV.

photo Ariana Wyatt is Assistant Professor of Voice at Virginia Tech. She is a graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center and has performed a number of roles including Micaela in The Tragedy of Carmen for Opera Omaha, and Leila in Les Pêcheurs de Perles at the Florida Grand Opera.

photo Chris Zobel, Professor, Business Information Technology, Virginia Tech

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