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Instructor Bios

David Abeel, M.S., has been building wood furniture since the mid-1980s and began teaching in 2000. His goal is to make furniture making accessible to crafters, woodworkers, and chair lovers of all ages and skill levels. 

Elizabeth Abeel, B.A., a batik artist since 1975, is a member of the Michigan Guild of Artists and Craftsmen, has won numerous awards for her work, and has taught for EES since 1995. 

Joanna Aldridge, M.A.-Music Education, is the Elementary Vocal and General Music Specialist for Leland Public School.

Lindy Barnes, B.A., M.Ed., is a retired elementary teacher. She has been knitting since she was 10 years old and has taught knitting to young and old alike. She is currently working on Level 1 Master Knitting course offered through The Knitting Guild of America.

Carol Bell, M.S. R.D., is a registered dietitian at Table Health, an integrative medical practice in Traverse City. She has taught cooking classes for over 12 years and seeks to bring enjoyment, laughter and good tasting food to health care.

Lin Benfield, MBA, Career and Educational Advisor, is an independent career strategist assisting individuals with advanced career searches, resume writing, educational consulting, tutoring and providing courses on the topic of job search success at any age. 

Margaret Bennett, CYT, RYT, M.A.-psychology, is a certified yoga instructor and therapist. She has taught yoga at NMC since 1997, is a Reiki Master, and has formal training in meditation traditions. She is director of Crooked Tree Yoga and Therapy in Acme.

Paddy Brown, CZT, is a certified Zentangle® instructor who has been practicing mindfulness for many years. She is a lifelong artist/creator. 

Pat Brumbaugh, A.B.D. in horn performance, M.M., was the Director of Bands at West Senior High for the past 13 years. Prior to her work in Traverse City, she taught at the University of Memphis and Arkansas University.

Bo Burke, ISA Certified Arborist, ISA Certified Tree Worker and Climber Specialist, has more than 15 successful years in the preservation, restoration and care of trees. He has taught tree climbing for many years. 

Julie Chai began a formal, daily meditation practice in 1971, after the death of a close friend. She was introduced to Mindfulness Meditation in 1991, while in a 9-month Internship in the Art of Spiritual Direction. The practice of Mindfulness is central to all the inner and outer work she does, from work with premarital couples, Inner Listening Therapy, workshops or spending the day painting or potting.

Dr. Diane Clark is an Associate Professor Emerita at Rhodes College in Memphis, where she taught music and public speaking for 32 years. She is currently an adjunct instructor of voice at NMC. 

Jeffrey Cobb, M.M.-choral conducting, is the Director of Music Programs at NMC. He has more than 20 years of experience in music education as a teacher, choral director, composer, and church Director of Music. Choirs under his direction have received state and national awards and invitations; several of his compositions have received awards. 

Christina Collins is a local artist and Lego builder. Christina is a member of Michigan Lego Users Group, has been featured on Interlochen Public Radio, and builds at History Center of Traverse City during the annual Lego Carnival. She has taught both art and Lego to children ages 4-17.

Gary Cook, M.S.-architecture, AIA, is an award winning architect and builder specializing in energy efficient timber frame homes in Northern Michigan. He has extensive training in energy efficiency and passive solar design. 

JoAnne Cook, J.D., is the former Chief Judge of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. She served as Vice-President of the Michigan Indian Judicial Association. 

Fred Curow, B.A., M.A., M.Ed.-social studies curriculum specialist, has 35 years secondary social studies teaching experience in Michigan and Hawaii. He was 12 years a moderator for adult discussion classes on population, globalization, and Foreign Policy Association Great Decisions in Washington State, and four years at NMC.

James Dake is the Education Director for Grass River Natural Area, studied science education at Central Michigan University and Western Michigan University. He is a certified teacher in the state of Michigan and is working towards a Master of Arts in Science Education. He is a Certified Interpretive Guide through the National Association for Interpretation. 

Michael Davis, B.S.-music, has performed as a professional jazz musician on saxophone and flute for over 40 years and is founder and leader of the Mike Davis Trio. Mike started the NMC Jazz Ensemble and is the saxophone instructor at NMC.

Jennifer Dykstra has taught academic and noncredit classes in fitness for many years.

Les Eckert CEPC, CCE, AAC, Director of Great Lakes Culinary Institute, has an MBA with an emphasis in Hospitality Studies, is a Certified Executive Pastry Chef, Certified Culinary Educator and a member of the American Academy of Chefs. Eckert has over 25 years of foodservice experience, 13 years in higher education, and over five years in higher education management. New to NMC in June 2019, Eckert now calls Traverse City home. 

Holly Edmondson, RN, is a Clinical Case Manager for Grand Traverse Pavilions where she has worked for over 10 years. She is a graduate of Ferris State University and an advocate for the elderly in the region.

John Evans works for H&R Block in the Business Services Department out of the Kingsley, Michigan office. He currently assists clients with issues related to bookkeeping, payroll, and tax. Prior to H&R Block, John worked for a winery as an accounting intern and helped a local church temporarily as their bookkeeper. John graduated magna cum laude from Ferris State University with a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy. He currently lives in Traverse City with his wife and two cats.

Jennifer Ewing, has been practicing human resources and health and safety management for thirty years in both union and non-union environments. Jennifer is a strategic contributor in developing cultures of employee engagement, wellness and people-based safety. Her expertise includes human resources and safety policy/procedure development, leadership training, and lean office processes. Jennifer is certified as both a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Senior Certified Professional through the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP). She holds her MBA from Michigan State University and her BSBA from Central Michigan University. 

Larry Flynn, B.S. Business Admin., Enrolled Agent (EA), Accredited Business Accountant (ABA), Series 7 Securities Licensed, Investment Advisory Representative (IAR). Larry served 3 times as president of the Independent Accounting Association of MI.

Jamie Gallagher (Laura) After growing up in Pittsburgh, PA and graduating from the University of Notre Dame, Jamie began what is now a 40-year career in the creative products industries. For 16 years he was a key sales and marketing executive with LEGO working in the US and Canadian markets. He then continued the trend of working with high quality, privately held toy brands by serving as President of Playmobil USA. In 2003, Jamie assumed his current role as President and CEO of Faber-Castell USA, the US subsidiary of the 260-year-old German parent company Faber-Castell. Most recently, he played a pivotal role in the “Enriching Lives Through Creativity and Self-Expression” strategic platform within the Faber-Castell Group while also serving on the global company’s Leadership and Innovation councils. Jamie served for 14 years in a volunteer role for the Toy Industry of America as a member of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and various other committees. Recently he served as a member of the Partnership for 21st Century Learning (P21) Strategic Council and American Specialty Toy Retailers Innovation Council. His volunteer work also includes a role as one of the earliest board members of “Operation Respect” an anti-bullying organization. Jamie and his wife, Mindy, split time between Cleveland and Traverse City, along with their three sons.

Mary Bevans Gillett, MBA, MA, CFRM, brings expertise in grant writing, reviewing and administration as well as professional experience with nonprofits, arts and culture, community building and marketing communications. She is co-convener of the Northwest Michigan Arts and Culture Network, and the Region 2 regrant coordinator for Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs minigrant program, as well as a freelance writer.

Vanessa Grasset was born and raised in France. She graduated from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in 2015. Three years later she opened Crêpes and Co in the State Street Market, downtown Traverse City. At the creperie, Vanessa uses regional Michigan foods to make authentic French crêpes plus other French comfort foods and baked goods from scratch.

Craig Hadley currently serves as the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Dennos Museum Center at Northwestern Michigan College. Prior to the Dennos, Mr. Hadley held administrative and curatorial roles at DePauw University and Beloit College respectively for 11 years. He is an active board member of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, serves as a grant reviewer for the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and volunteers as an AAM accreditation site reviewer. Mr. Hadley holds a master’s degree in History and Museum Studies from the University of Missouri and a bachelor’s degree from Beloit College. His writing has appeared in The Museum Review, AAM’s Museum magazine, and on the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ website.

Gloria A. Halligan, M.A.-education; B.S.-health management, is owner of Traverse City Walks, LLC. She leads walks TC trails as well as guiding mountain hikes in AZ. She provides training and conference presentations. She was the Interagency Coordinating Council facilitator for Char-Em and COP counties. Gloria became a walker at the age of 35.

Sara Hartley earned her A.A.S. in baking and patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu, Pittsburgh before working on the cake team at Patisserie Vanille in Chicago. Sara has taught baking and decorating classes for many years. 

Chuck Hawkins, Orvis Endorsed 2010 Guide Service of the Year and Certified Fly Casting Instructor, brings over 35 years of fly fishing experience to his clients. Chuck is the owner of Hawkins Outfitters of Lake Ann, MI. 

Eleonora Hayes, M.F.A., has been teaching and creating art since 2000. Her art has appeared in the Grand Rapids Art Prize competition since 2013. 

Rufus James, B.A-design, M.F.A., is a painter whose work has been shown in New York, Philadelphia, Santa Fe, Paris, Michigan, and several galleries and museums in California. 

Geoffrey Jones is an American Culinary Federation-certified Chef Instructor at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute. While working as an executive chef in Lansing, Geoff won the Michigan Pork Producers “Taste of Elegance” competition as well as several Gold and Silver medals in other food and ice carving competitions. He is the owner of northern Michigan-based Winnie's Originals LLC and producer of Winnie's brand products.

Holly Kazim, LMSW, LNHA, has worked in long term care for over 20 years and currently serves as Dementia Services Director, Social Work Manager, and Social Worker at Grand Traverse Pavilions. A NMC alumni, Holly attended Ferris State University and Grand Valley State University earning her Master’s Degree in Social Work. Holly has her Masters Clinical and Macro Social Work license, Nursing Home Administrators license, Eden Associate Certification and is registered as a Certified Dementia Practitioner. 

Kerry Kelly has been on the board of directors for the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes since 2006. He retired from Dow Chemical in 2004 and is involved in a wide variety of volunteer projects at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Jim Kopka has spent the majority of his life in the world of artistry, from his father who was in automotive design, to owning a fine art gallery and being a published writer, Jim has been fortunate to benefit from artistic endeavor. Between the art gallery, and a business developing websites, conceptual text and copywriting for small businesses, he has been able to profit through  integrating creativity with business practicum. He is returning to the classroom to again teach  because the pursuit and sharing of education is essential.  

Coreene Kreiser, B.F.A., is an adjunct instructor in NMC’s Humanities Area. A professional photographer, Coreene has many publications and years of experience in the field. 

Joni Krolczyk is a Certified Small Business Consultant having been with the Small Business Development Center since 2015, working with both start-up and existing businesses across various industries. With a background in marketing, including product and brand development, as well as industry experience in agriculture, agritourism, and value added ag-product development,  Joni brings a unique and well-rounded perspective to her client engagements and business trainings. Joni holds a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from The Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University.

Donald Kuehlhorn is a retired computer professional and certified producer with UPNorth TV public access where he creates programming for public viewing. He has also been supporting the Old Town Playhouse with videos and archival web sites since 2010. 

Stephen Lewis, Ph.D., has authored eight print novels. His most recent, Murder Undone, the sequel to Murder on Old Mission, was published in 2017. His short stories and poems have appeared in numerous journals. His sixth college textbook, Templates, was published in 2014. He retired as Professor of English Emeritus from Suffolk Community College and taught online composition courses for Ferris State University. 

Zack Light, M.S., holds an ACE Trainer certification as well as certification as a personal trainer. He winters in Florida and during the summer months is employed as a police officer in Antrim County. Zack has had success locally and internationally as a weightlifter and bodybuilder. 

Brian Lillie (CECU) Brian Lillie is the Director of Hospitality and Distribution at Chateau Chantal Winery. He has been active in the Michigan Wine Industry since 2005. He sits on the board of the Michigan Wine Collaborative. In 2013 he chaired the MiCast (Michigan Certified Alcohol Service Training) Program which received the 2015 Pure Michigan Governor’s Award for Innovative Tourism Collaboration Award in Education and Training. As a speaker, he has led a session called “Tasting Great Wine Before the First Glass”. 

Sally Littleton, PhD., is a retired psychotherapist, and has practiced Reiki for 25 years. She is certified as Shihan (Master Teacher) in both Usui Reiki Ryoho and Gendai Reiki-Ho. Dr. Littleton is a Registered Practitioner and Teacher member in Shibumi International Reiki Association and a member of the National Association of Alternative and Complimentary Medicines and the Reiki Healing Association. Helping people heal has been an ongoing major focus of her life, and teaching these principles and practices to others is an enduring passion. 

Janet Lively, MA, is a full-time instructor in Communications at Northwestern Michigan College where she teaches rhetoric and composition, technical writing, and college success. A second-career teacher, she worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance journalist for more than 14 years. She is currently an officer in the NMC Faculty Association (MEA). 

Eleanor Lynn, J.D. is a retired attorney who practiced in state courts and federal courts, including the U.S. Court of Appeals. She earned her juris doctorate at the University of Iowa Law School. She majored in history and political science in her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan. 

Nancy McRay, M.F.A., has been teaching and producing a wide variety of fiber arts since the mid-1980s. She is a former yarn shop owner and Fine Arts Coordinator for East Lansing Recreation and Arts. 

Robert Meisner, J.D., B.A., is a nationally known condominium specialist. He has been a practicing attorney since 1968, is general legal counsel for United Condominium Owners of Michigan, and is co-draftsperson of the Michigan Condominium Act. Mr. Meisner has been teaching condominium law courses since 1981, is an adjunct professor of law, and authors a syndicated column. 

Dr. Cathy Meyer-Looze is an Associate Professor and Unit Head for the Educational Leadership and Counseling Department at Grand Valley State University.  Dr. Meyer has been an administrator of all levels in K-12 public education and has a passion for understanding students today and how they learn in order to help them best prepare for the world they will live in tomorrow.  Dr. Meyer received her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University and expanded her professional learning at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education in the area of Instructional Rounds and Women in Leadership. Wanting to grow her wings in community services and leadership, she is not only a proud graduate of both Leadership Grand Traverse and Leadership Little Traverse in Petoskey, but also a co-facilitator for Leadership Grand Traverse. 

Will Michael, PhD, CHt, Advanced SOMA Breath Instructor has 51 years of experience with conscious breathing; and over the last 16 months he has taken a deep dive into all the prominent techniques and approaches being offered.  His current passion is sharing the message that “managing your breath is managing your life on all levels, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”  In addition to the above, he is a  holistic health educator, integral life practices trainer, a wellness consultant, certified transpersonal life coach, and a lifelong student and practitioner of natural healing and energy medicine. 

April Missias has served as the Director of Leelanau County Senior Services for the last 8  years. Before that, she worked as the Community Life Director for a large retirement community downstate. She is a passionate advocate for the aging adults in our community.

Sarah Montgomery-Richards has an abundant experience in cultural and religious studies. She studied Comparative Religion, and has an M.A. in Interfaith Action. Her experience includes: teaching at Western Michigan University in the Department of Comparative Religion during graduate school, and a current adjunct faculty role in the Philosophy Department at NMC where she teaches Western and Eastern Traditions, as well as a seminar on Global Citizenship and Religion. She is currently serving as the Director of Lifespan Experience for the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Grand Traverse, has made multiple trips abroad, and participated in the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, UT. Sarah has a background in world religions, history of religion, psychology of religion, philosophy of religion, interfaith action, mindfulness, religion in the public sphere, and myth and ritual just to name a few. She enjoys teaching in an academic setting, as well as leading group meditation and ritual, and participates in celebrations of a variety of world spiritual perspectives.

Jamie Moreland B.A.-music education, is a K-12 certified music educator. She taught elementary music for TCAPS from 2012-2019. She has been the director of the TCAPS All-City Girls Choir since 2015, and maintains a small private piano and voice studio. 

Jim Moses has over 30 years of mushroom cultivation and hunting experience. Jim has recently earned the new MDARD certification to sell wild mushrooms. 

Sharon A. Neumann, is Munson Hospice Bereavement Coordinator and Grief Recover Specialist.

Annie Olds, B.A.S., M.B.A.-strategic management, is the Northwest Regional Director and a certified small business consultant with the Michigan Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a program of Networks Northwest. She specializes in assisting small business owners from start up to fully operational, as well as agribusiness ventures. 

Jan Oliver, M.A.-communications, is the designer/owner of Grand Traverse Arts (grandtraversearts.com). She is a watercolor painter, illustrator, graphic designer and educator. She is currently illustrating a children’s book and has sold many paintings, illustrations and logo designs. Jan has taught as an adjunct instructor at NMC.

Bill Queen, B.S., is a retired Program Coordinator for NMC Extended Education. Bill currently works as a Solar Energy Consultant in Northern Michigan. 

Maggie Quinn, Certified Personal Trainer, Pilates, Jacki Sorensen instructor and Zibrio Balance Specialist. Maggie's passion for living an active lifestyle developed from her dance experience as a child and young adult. That love of dance introduced her to the Jacki Sorensen Aerobic Dance, Step and Workout programs when she and her family moved to Traverse City in 1979. She introduced those programs to NMC in 1990 and has expanded the offerings to students over the past 30 years. She created the Forever Fit, and now the Forever Virtually Fit, programs which provide the proper mix of exercise modalities and classes that reflect the latest exercise research and the role that daily exercise plays in achieving and maintaining a healthy active aging life.

Salah Qutaishat, PhD, has been practicing infectious disease epidemiology for the past 25 years. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology from the SUNY at Buffalo. He has first-hand experience with the many epidemics and outbreaks including AIDS, SARS-1, and monkeypox. 

Kate Redman, with Commonplace Law, is an attorney specializing in 501(c)(3) nonprofit legal issues.

Libby Robold, M.A., E-RYT, PRYT, AHC, has been teaching yoga for NMC since 1984 and yoga therapy for many years. She and her husband co-direct Yoga for Health Education in TC.

Michael Robold, M.A., CYT, has been teaching yoga since 2002, after assisting in classes for 15 years. He teaches for NMC and co-directs Yoga for Health Education, Center for Conscious Living, in TC. 

Peggy Rod, B.S., is a retired TCAPS elementary teacher. She has enjoyed the game of Mah Jongg since 2001.

Stephanie Schall-Brazee, M.M.E., B.M.E., teaches elementary music for TCAPS. She has worked with elementary, high school, and college choirs. 

Christina Schoenow is a graphic designer with over twenty years experience. She has worked both as a freelance designer and for design firms including Corbin Design, IdeaStream, and Brand Tonic. She has crafted brands and logos for many local businesses including Salamander Technologies and NMC’s Business Development Certificate. She lives in Interlochen with her husband and two daughters.

Laurie Sears, is Director of Jazz Bands and an Adjunct Instructor of Woodwinds. Laurie is also on the faculty of the Interlochen College of Creative Arts Adult Band Camp. Band directing experience includes TC West Junior High and TC Christian School. While in the Chicago area, Laurie directed the Jazz Ensemble and was an Adjunct Instructor of Woodwinds and Jazz at Columbia College, Concordia University Chicago and Triton College.

Jack Segal, M.A.-international relations, was a senior US diplomat who served in Israel/Palestine during the Gulf War and the first Intifada. He is presently Co-chair of the International Affairs Forum of Traverse City. Previously he worked in the White House as a director on the National Security Council, where he dealt with Russian and Ukraine, and with Iranian and North Korean weapons of mass destruction and nuclear non-proliferation. He was a negotiator on the START agreement, and with his wife, Karen Puschel Segal, opened the first western Consulate General in central Russia. 

Brett Sinclair is an Interculturalist, Marketer, and Project Manager who just wants to help people not face barriers as they seek to affirm their own passions. Identity is the intersection of how individuals identify and how they are identified by others. It is the story of who we are and the better these stories can be told directly reflects how smooth connections between different individuals or groups can be. Brett Sinclair does this through his Marketing Agency, Raven & Lotus, by using a storytelling approach that puts core values first when telling narratives to customers and communities while putting the focus on the needs of that audience. As a neuro-diverse, indigenous, black, and white individual Sinclair has seen how systems affect people's ability to fully participate in society. Challenges of inclusion are a key factor in the health of a community and individuals and he seeks to use his background in Project Management and Teaching to foster everyone's ability to be human with other humans. Serving Northern Michigan E3 as Council Coordinator has been a gift opportunity to further this work "Up North.'' One day he hopes to own a teashop and brewery in a lighthouse with a bookstore to be a centre for these ideas.

Bill Smethells, M.S.-physics, Ph.D.-astronomy, has taught a variety of courses in physics, including electricity and magnetism. He and his wife own a 1985 Catalina 30 sailboat that they are renovating. 

Alexandra Smith B.A.-communications, B.F.A.-graphic design, has worked for several marketing and promotions firms including Visual Services, Inc. and Evigna, where she worked on accounts for several Fortune 500 companies such as Ford, Jaguar and Bosch. She now dedicates herself full-time to teaching, and is currently an instructor for the Digital Graphic Design and Digital Imaging classes at NMC.

Michelle Smith-Ronk is a graduate of NMC’s Great Lakes Culinary Institute. She owns a home-based business, Custom Cookies by Michelle, where she enjoys decorating cookies for all of life’s occasions.

Elizabeth Sonnabend is a program coordinator for NMC Extended Educational Services and has over twenty years marketing experience working for various local companies in Northern Michigan and 10 years teaching Marketing for NMC. 

Steve Stanton, B.S., worked for IBM in sales then later developing training material to support the worldwide deployment of a major software tool for internal and IBM Business Partner users. Since retiring from IBM, along with teaching at NMC Extended Ed, he has been conducting technology-related training programs for various organizations in the Detroit and Grand Traverse area. He also has a computer service, repair and training business in Suttons Bay.

Maggi Steele, B.A., M.M., is a retired teacher who taught for Midland Public Schools for 30 years. She teaches College for Kids cooking classes and is also a volunteer assistant and instructor for NMC-EES adult cooking classes.

Gretchen Swanson, SPHR and SHRM-SCP / MI SBDC Business Consultant is a senior certified human resources professional with both the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). She brings both executive and management level experience in hospitality, retail and healthcare. Like many, she grew up working in her family’s businesses and held leadership roles with other regionally recognized successful family businesses in her career.  

Linda Szarkowski, a chef, teacher and coach of plant-based eating, is passionate about showing people that healthy food can also be the best tasting. She has been on a self-taught quest for healthy living for decades and has backed it up with certifications in the Benefits of Raw Food Nutrition, Chef and Instructor from the Living Light Culinary Institute in Ft. Bragg, CA, and Living Foods Educator from the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, GA. Linda has inspired many people to adopt healthier eating with her classes and motivating talks that encourage change, but not perfection. 

Marcia Talicska is a certified Piloxing instructor and has her Personal Trainer Certificate through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). An athlete throughout her life, Marcia has taught classes at Yen Yoga and for She Skis/She Bikes. She has completed 15 half marathons in the last five years and participated in triathlons and other sporting events.

Alex Tank, B.A., is Communications and Events Program Officer for NMC’s International Affairs Forum. He is the producer and host of NMC EES Coffee Chats, an avid printmaker, and a passionate collector of 78 rpm records from the 1920s - 1950s.

Zach Tate, M.F.A.-ceramics, is the ceramics instructor in the NMC Humanities Area. His work has been exhibited internationally since 2007. Before moving to Traverse City, he was a Research Associate at the University of Notre Dame from 2014-2018, and Executive Director of Goshen Community Arts in Indiana from 2014-2018. In 2018, Zach was elected as a Director At Large for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts until 2021. 

Alison Thornton is the Coordinator for Technology Support Services at NMC. She is a Google Certified Trainer and has worked in technology in higher education as well as in the legal and financial industries. 

Emily Umbarger  (CELA) is the Director of Sustainability and Instructor of Agricultural Science at Interlochen Center for the Arts where she has been since 2009. She has been instrumental in bringing about tremendous change in sustainability practices at ICA and helped lead the school to their 2019 US Department of Education Green School Ribbon Award. She is passionate about education, her children, beekeeping and gardening, and helping promote stewardship for mother Earth. 

Adam VanHouten, M.A.-curriculum and teaching, B.F.A.-art education, has been teaching visual art classes for TCAPS since 2004 and painting classes for NMC EES since 2010. Adam paints in a variety of media. As a watercolor artist, he exhibits his work widely and took 1st place in the 2014 Cherry Festival Poster Contest. 

John Velis, B.S.-mathematics, secondary certifications in mathematics and science, with over 25 years in education, information technology, web site design and is currently an instructor at NMC in Computer Information Technology. He is an active coach and mentor for various unmanned vehicle and robotics teams. 

Todd Vipond is Director of the Dolce Ensemble of the Northwestern Michigan College Children’s Choir. 

Gabby Waterman has been growing plants since she was 14. Her specialty is growing indoors, but she also has experience growing vegetables outdoors. She writes a blog where she posts all of her growing tips, recipes and latest interests. She also has a consulting business, helping people grow bountiful gardens indoors and out! 

Arlene Westhoven holds both an art degree from the University of Michigan and a Biology degree from Central Michigan University, but always wanted to be a teacher and a Forest Ranger. She spent her career owning and cooking at a restaurant and teaching environmental biology at Ferris State University. Arlene is now a naturalist at Grass River Natural Area. She loves watching, drawing, and learning about all aspects of the natural world from the miniscule to the monumental, and especially likes the observational aspects such as painting, photography, and writing.  Arlene enjoys sharing these with all ages and helping their appreciation and involvement grow. 

Jon Anne Willow (CELA) Jon Willow and Janna Urbasic are co-coordinators of the Benzie Bee Guild. Both trained under Sharon Jones, co-owner of Sleeping Bear Farms Apiary and St. Ambrose Cellars, and have been keeping their own hives for five years. They are active in community beekeeping education, leading workshops and speaking to local groups of all kinds.

Glenn Wolff, B.F.A., began his career as an illustrator for such clients as the New York Times. He is currently a full-time art instructor at NMC teaching drawing, watercolor, printmaking and 2D design. He has illustrated numerous books. His mixed media fine art and collaborative environmental work has been shown in numerous galleries, museums and public spaces.

We thank all of our wonderful instructors for sharing their time and expertise with our community!