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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.

Karen Anderson, M.A.-English literature, retired Director of Marketing at Northwestern Michigan College, is a local author and frequent contributor to Interlochen Public Radio. Her collection of essays is now published in her book, Gradual Clearing: Weather Reports from the Heart. Her formal work experience includes teaching, advertising, journalism, and public speaking.

Scott Anderson is a charter boat captain with Far-Fetched Fishing Charters out of Leland, MI.

Tania Arens has been studying Tae Kwon Do at NMC since 2007 and obtained the rank of 1st Degree Black Belt in 2015.  She has taught under the guidance of Tae Kwon Do instructors Robert Odette and Doug Mehl and is currently the Youth Tae Kwon Do instructor for NMC Extended Education

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.

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, B.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.

Clay Bowes, is a lifelong plant lover with 14 years of experience foraging edible plants and fungi. Clay is a certified Wild Mushroom Forager.

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.

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.

Dan Carlson has had a lifelong passion with photography. He started Carlson Photography in 2008 where he specializes in family and senior portrait sessions and wedding photography. He has shared his passion and talents with others in small group classes.

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 pre-marital couples, Inner Listening Therapy, workshops or spending the day painting or potting.

Debra Coburn, M.H. Master of Humanities, B.F.A., B.S.-art education, and K-12 certified, recently retired from teaching fine arts at the high school and middle school level. Debra now teaches art workshops for adults and children around the community. Her medium of interest as an artist is fused glass.

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.

Chris Courtright is a 1995 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He was one of four graduates annually hired by the school to participate in their Fish and Seafood Fellowship program. Chris has worked in many restaurants, most notably working under Top Chef Judge, Eric Ripert, at his NYC restaurant, LeBernardin. He also owns and operates Reest, a cold smoked salmon company.

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. 

Linda Alice Dewey has been working with pastels for 50 years. She currently teaches at the Old Art Building in Leland and has taught art in public schools. She is locally represented by The Secret Garden in Empire and Synchronicity Gallery in Glen Arbor. She also displays her work with the Leelanau Women Artists shows, at the Glen Arbor Art Association and various shows at the Old Art Building. A body of work can be seen at

Steve Dixon, A.A.-accounting, is an A.C.E. certified personal trainer.

Beth Dole is a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and Certified Athletic Trainer. She has over 26 years of experience working in the health and fitness industry, including work in sports medicine and cardiac rehabilitation. She has worked with professional, college, and high school athletes as a certified athletic trainer. With the combination of exercise physiology and athletic training, Beth helps young and old return to physical activity in a safe, healthy and timely manner.

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.

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.

Kate Fairman, M.S.-environmental policy, is an adjunct instructor for Grand Valley State University. She is also a freelance writer, artist, adventurer, and kayak instructor. She has taught for NMC-EES since 1989.

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.

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.

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. She is currently the Bakery and Development Manager for Cherry Republic.

Maia Hausler is a botanical artist based in Leelanau County whose work, in detailed pen and watercolor illustrations, focuses on the native plants of Michigan. She has lead art workshops on topics ranging from watercolor illustration to field sketching. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a BA in Environmental Studies from Western Michigan University, she obtained a Certificate in Natural History Illustration from The University of Newcastle, Australia. You can find Maia’s work in shops and galleries across Michigan under her brand Wander & Gather.

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.

Rex Holden, MSPT, is a Physical Therapist and co-owner of FYZICAL Therapy and Balance Centers in TC. He has worked with physical therapy patients from 2 to 104 years old. He has also worked with college-level and professional athletes in baseball, skiing, basketball, football and many other sports. Rex has taken numerous continuing education courses in unloading or unweighting (one of the main features of FAST Physical Therapy), functional biomechanics, sports rehabilitation, spine rehabilitation, speed and jump training, balance, geriatric rehabilitation, muscle energy techniques, Norwegian manual therapy techniques, and medical exercise training.

Nan Horstman, M.S., Ed. Spec., a retired teacher and elementary school principal, has taken and taught many cooking classes.

Robb Houston, M.A., is on the faculty at NMC in the Science/Math Area. For the past 10 years, he has taught a variety of geology-related courses including earth science, physical and historical geology, Michigan basin geology, and oceanography.

LeeAnn Jacobs, B.A., grew up with horses and for the past 7 years has worked with children and horses teaching novice through advanced levels of riding.

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.

Scott Johnson, an admitted geek, has been building, tweaking, and tuning computers for more than 20 years. He has extensive experience in tutoring users for home and business and teaches computer applications for NMC-EES. He owns the Stained Glass Cabinet Company.

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.

Brandon Kietzman, A.A.S., graduated from Bikram Yoga College Teacher Training in 2002, then recertified in 2006, 2009, and 2013. He has attended many Bikram Yoga Seminars, studied with senior Bikram yoga teachers, taught nearly 10,000 yoga classes, and has been teaching for NMC since 2009. He is director of Bikram Yoga T.C.

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.

Maribel LaLonde, B.S.-education, has been a Jackie Sorenson Aerobics certified instructor since 1998.

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. Zack is an adjunct physical education instructor at NMC.

Jennifer Loup, B.A.-history, was zookeeper at Traverse City’s Clinch Park Zoo, and has over 15 years of animal care experience. She has 10 years of experience training dogs one-on-one and in group class settings.

Liana May, M.S.-conservation, ecology, and the environment, has taught labs for two graduate level courses at U of M, Forest Ecology and Remote Sensing and an undergraduate course in plant taxonomy. Her work experience includes consulting for the Leelanau Conservancy and field ecology for Nature Serve and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

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.

Doug Mehl has studied Tae Kwon Do for 25 years and holds the rank of 3rd-degree Black Belt.

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.

Jessica Merwin is an accredited and licensed Chakradance Facilitator. She has over 5 years of experience practicing many healing modalities, including qigong, yoga, meditation, and dance. Chakradance is recognized by the International Institute for Complementary Therapists as a healing modality, and Chakradance LTD is an IICT Approved Training Provider.

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.

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

Rachel North, B.J.-journalism degree from Mizzou, is Marketing and Advertising Consultant and Contractor for eFulfillment Service Inc. Since 1990, she has helped businesses succeed with marketing including advertising, public relations, media buying, and merchandising. Her experience ranges from $1M budgets for Ford, GM, and Ralston Purina to leveraging free and low cost tactics for smaller clients.

Jan Oliver, M.A.-communications, is the designer/owner of Grand Traverse Arts ( 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.

Dr. Laurence M. Phillips, Ph.D.-business management, has been performing magic, both professionally and as a hobbyist for over 55 years. He began performing at the age of 11 and has never stopped studying, practicing and performing since. He performed magic as a source of income while a student at Michigan State University, and later, during his 20-year career as an officer in the US Navy, performed all over the world at venues ranging from schools, hospitals, and retirement homes, to filled auditoriums in Central America, South America, Europe, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Japan as a good will ambassador for both his service and the nation. After retiring from the military in 1994, he continued to use magic as a training and marketing tool while serving as a Business Developer and Capture Leader for major aerospace companies in the Washington DC area for the next 21 years.  A native Michigander, he and his wife retired back home to the Traverse City area in 2015.   Dr. Phillips’ is an Adjunct Professor at University of Maryland teaching classes in the online MBA program.

Gilda Povolo, M.F.A.-creative writing, B.A.-English education, won the Hopwood Award in Short Fiction, the Hopwood Award in Novel, a Michigan Artists Grant, and was a finalist for the Pirates’ Alley Faulkner Novel contest. Her novel “Strays” is available from

Maggie Quinn, M.A.-clothing and textiles, B.A.-home economics, is a certified personal trainer and a certified Jacki Sorensen aerobics instructor. She also has extensive experience in quilt making and design.

Nikki Rallis, B.S.-criminal justice, is of Greek descent and enjoys teaching classes from her heritage. She has taught community education for more than 15 years and owned a gourmet food company for five years. Nikki is a caterer and self-employed as an artist. She uses cooking as her creative outlet.

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.

Captain Jay Ruzak is a longtime sailor, a captain of the Madeline and the Champion, and former President of the Maritime Heritage Alliance. He has over 20 years of experience sailing especially on the Great Lakes and has overseen dockside interpretive programs on the Madeline’s summer port visits at festivals from Chicago to Detroit.

Diane Samarasinghe, MSW, RYT-500, is a retired social worker who has been teaching yoga at NMC and other sites since 2005. Through her gentle and integrated approach, Diane provides opportunities for students of all ages and levels to access the healing powers of yoga.

Tony Sauerbrey is Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Program Manager with the NMC Aviation Area.

Pam Shaberly, M.S., is a retired elementary teacher who first learned the game of Mah Jongg in 1976 in New York. She has been sharing her knowledge of the game since moving to Leelanau County in 1997.

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.

Kimberly Stevens, B.A., ACE certified aerobics instructor, has taught exercise classes since 1985. Kim teaches at Grand Traverse Resort and works for Western Michigan University.

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.

Scott Taber, Cybersecurity Awareness Program Specialist, is a cybersecurity professional passionate about raising awareness of every day cyber threats and trends among the Michigan small business community. He has experience with the following: network security, data protection, encryption, mobile device security, incident response, and risk assessment. Prior to joining the Michigan SBDC, Scott served as an IT Security Analyst at Ferris State University.

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.

Terry Tarnow, B.F.A.-weaving, is manager/buyer for the Dennos Museum Store at NMC. She has taught Jacki Sorensen Aerobics since 1991.

Adam VanHouten, M.A.-curriculum and teaching, B.F.A.-art education, has been teaching visual art classes for TCAPS since 2004. As a watercolor artist, he exhibits his work widely and took 1st place in the 2014 Cherry Festival Poster Contest. His works are currently on display at Art and Soul Gallery in Traverse City and Bella Galleria on Old Mission Peninsula.

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.

Mykl Werth has been performing and teaching professionally since 1983 focusing on partner dancing and modern dance as well as country, folk, clogging, Irish, show, and theatrical dancing.

Betsy Williams, former travel executive and consultant, has more than 30 years of travel agency experience. She has traveled extensively and organized travel for many individuals, business travelers, and travel groups.

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.

Wendy Williams, B.A.-social work, has been deaf since birth. She has tutored students in American Sign Language for over 20 years. She is an advocate for the Deaf Community and hosts monthly gatherings of ASL students with the Deaf Community.

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.

Katharine Zurek, MSW, B.A.-English literature and women’s studies, is the Annual Giving Specialist at the Northwestern Michigan College Foundation. She runs the direct mail, email, and stewardship communications programs for the Foundation, and collaborates with the Dennos Museum Center and WNMC Radio to produce their direct mail fundraising appeals. 

We thank all of these wonderful instructors for sharing their time and expertise with our community! You make the wide range of class topics possible every semester!
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