Skip to main content

Instructor Bios

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. 

Bill Bailey taught math and science to high school students for 30 years. He has been a member of the Grand Traverse Sail and Power Squadron for 10 years. He is a past Commander of the Grand Traverse Bay Sail and Power Squadron and completed the Junior Navigation course which deals with finding your way at sea with a sextant.

Ed Bailey is Director of the Technical Academic Area at NMC. He has a mechanical engineering degree from MSU and has 20+ years’ experience in project management for commercial construction. 

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.

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.

Joan Berg, M.A.-business education, is an award-winning instructor with extensive business administration and computer applications teaching experience. Throughout her career, she has developed and taught a wide range of courses and seminars including all Microsoft Office Suite applications. 

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

Alice Brydges has been teaching the Feldenkrais Method since 1996. A former dancer, she first encountered the Method as part of her search to heal a chronic back injury; after just one class, she felt so radically different in her body that she went home and applied to be in a professional training that very same day. Over the years she has taught in a variety of settings with a wide variety of people, including Feldenkrais for cancer and heart disease patients at UCSF San Francisco, dance movement therapy classes for people with Parkinson's, and the Joffrey Ballet. Besides teaching Feldenkrais, her other passions are teaching tai chi, swimming in Lake Michigan and living to tell about it, and wandering the Michigan woods with her dog.

Kathleen Buday, M.Ed., ATR-BC is a Board Certified Art Therapist who has worked with diverse populations including pediatric patients, adults with HIV/AIDS, and youth at-risk. Her recent work focuses on art therapy with hospice patients, grieving children, adolescents and adults, and individuals coping with cancer. She has published on the topic of art therapy and presents nationally on the profession and its various applications. Kathleen has held the position of Assistant Professor in Art Therapy at University of Wisconsin, Superior and Millikin University. She is also a Visiting Instructor at Kalamazoo College. 

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. 

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. 

Dr. Tamara Coleman is a 28 year veteran teacher and Biology Instructor at NMC. Dr. Coleman was trained in "The Science of Happiness" through and is finishing up a 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training. She has a professional teaching certificate and a Social Sciences major as part of her undergrad. and was trained in MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction).

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.

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. 

Chris Doyal, a commercial photographer for more than 20 years, owned a studio in South Bend, IN. His specialty areas include product and underwater photography.

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.

Erwin (Duke) Elsner, Ph.D., is an Agricultural Agent for MSU Extension and has assisted GT area farmers and home horticulturists with their insect problems. Dr. Elsner has conducted university research on insect pests. He is also an instructor for the MSU Master Gardener Program and MSU/NMC Plant Science Program. 

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.

Karen Goike, PMP, is Senior Business Advisor of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center (MMTC).

Vanessa Grasset was born and raised in France. She graduated from the Great Lakes Culinary Institute in 2015. Three years later she opened Crêpes & 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.

Rachael Harrell, M.F.A., is the Owner/Director of Drama Kids of Northern Michigan which offers classes and camps to students throughout Northern Michigan. Rachael attended college at University of Michigan and received her Masters of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Rachael is part of the Drama Kids International network, which cultivates skillful, caring teachers who are fully trained in their program and are focused on providing individualized attention and positive reinforcement to each student. 

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. 

Lisa Hockin, A.A., B.F.A.-art education, is currently an elementary art educator with Elk Rapids Public Schools. As an artist, she uses a variety of art mediums including clay.

Angela Ingold became a Zumba instructor in 2011 has taught an estimated 700+ Zumba Fitness classes! Angela is an avid runner, fitness enthusiast, and has a pet rabbit named Nash. She is a member of the Traverse City Track Club and has served as a running mentor. She has a bachelor’s in accounting and received her MBA in 2020. Since 2010, Angela has worked full time as an Accounts Payable Specialist.  

Pam Janson has enjoyed a wide variety of dance styles over the years, and discovered the perfect way to combine dance and exercise in Zumba Gold. “In 2008 I had the honor of training with the co-founder of Zumba Gold in a Dayton Ohio studio. Her expertise and personality were contagious and I try to lead my classes with that same energy. This lower impact version of Zumba provides a fun safe environment for active adults to participate in dance style exercise. The music, dance styles and my students are very motivating. I appreciate the flexibility of Zumba Gold. We focus on all the muscle groups from fingers to ankles, and the movements can be personalized to fit almost every level of ability.   

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. 

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.. 

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. 

Ali Lopez is a wellness chef as well as a cooking and health coach. She has been cooking, feeding and teaching others about “real food” for over 20 years. She was Chef de Cuisine at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck NY, one of the largest vegetarian kitchens in North America. Ali is also a Certified Health Coach and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She believes that delicious and nutritious meals nourish the body, mind and spirit.  

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. 

Ginny Mello received her Pilates certification through the United States Pilates Association (USPA). For many years Ginny was a long distance competitive triathlete and Marathon runner until a back injury and subsequent surgery changed her overall approach to fitness. Pilates became a crucial part of her life and ultimately the way back to doing all the things she loved; living with a motto: “Not missing what you can’t do, but rather love what you can.”  Ginny decided to become a Pilates instructor as a way to give back to others. She loves the opportunity to encourage others to lead a more active, powerful life. Ginny enjoys living life with her amazing husband (Joe) and Enzo (Portuguese Water Dog).

Phillip Mikesell, Ph.D., Vanderbilt University, taught comparative politics at Wabash College for more than 40 years. He lived, worked, and traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. He retired from active teaching in 2009 and is currently working on the topic of democracy and economic development.

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 & 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 & ritual, & participates in celebrations of a variety of world spiritual perspectives.

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

Jim Olson, J.D. LL.M., is a noted water, environmental and natural resources law expert, and author. He is Founder and Legal Advisor at FLOW (For Love of Water), an organization dedicated to protecting the common waters of the Great Lakes Basin through public trust solutions. 

Dennis Prout, Certified Financial Planner and Master Elite Advisor with Ed Slott and Associates is the founder of Prout Financial Design. He has been investing in the local community for over 25 years and has been teaching at NMC since then. His radio show, NEW Retirement Radio has been on WTCM 580 for 15 years helping to educate the public in financial planning. 

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. 

Samantha Reis is a Business Consultant for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) of Michigan, focusing on the Northwest Region. She provides one-on-one counseling and guidance to local businesses and start-ups. Prior to joining the SBDC last fall she had 5 years of experience as a business consultant and also has a degree in Economics from the University of Richmond.

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. 

Holly Rudolph, B.A., is President of Frost Hill Financial Services, LLC. She is a QuickBooks ProAdvisor and a member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. She has worked in finance since 1992. 

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. 

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.

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. .

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.

Molly Suber Thorpe is a hand lettering artist whose focus is on branding and editorial calligraphy work. She is the author of three calligraphy books and teaches the craft in person and online. Since 2013, Molly has been a Skillshare Top Teacher, offering classes on modern calligraphy and graphic design. Additionally, she designs custom lettering for brands and individuals, digital tools for artists, and freelancing resources for creatives. Clients hire Molly for a variety of projects, including hand-lettered logos, envelope calligraphy, custom stationery, and even tattoos.

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 Educator and has worked in technology in higher education as well as in the legal and financial industries. 

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. 

Kirk Waterstripe, M.S.-ecology, is the Science Lab Manager at NMC and an adjunct instructor of Plant Biology. He has been an active organic gardener and compost maker since 1990.

Beth Stoner Wiegand has over 20 years of practical fundraising experience in a not-for-profit environment. Beth endeavors to share her insights, expertise, and practical problem-solving skills with local fund development professionals. 

Jerry Williams served 8 years in the US Navy and was a professor at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at NMC for 30+ years. He has been a member of the Grand Traverse Bay Sail and Power Squadron for 25 years and served as Treasurer and Squadron Education Officer for 6 years. 

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.

Mary Jo Zazueta, BA, MPNL, has been an editor, designer, copywriter, and book shepherd for more than twenty-five years. From her office in Traverse City, she helps writers and authors across the country succeed with their publishing goals. For more information, visit

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