Helga Kessler Aurisch was born in Germany but moved to New York with her family at the age of ten. She attended Smith College and subsequently pursued graduate studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, and at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where she received her M.A. and Ph.D. in art history. She began her career at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, with the exhibition The Imperial Style: Fashions of the Hapsburg Era. In 2000 she co-organized the exhibition of German paintings from Houston’s sister city of Leipzig, entitled Romantics, Realists, Revolutionaries at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
She joined the staff of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2004 and has brought numerous exhibitions to Houston, including, The Masterpieces of French Painting from The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1800-1920, German Impressionist Landscape Painting: Liebermann – Corinth – Slevogt, and Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the National Gallery, Washington. Her most recent projects were Monet and the Seine: Impressions of a River and High Society: The Portraits of Franz X. Winterhalter, which is currently on view at the Château de Compiègne, near Paris. She has published widely and is a frequent lecturer on 19th century painting.
Lisa Balabanlilar is an Associate Professor of History at Rice University. The focus of her research is the Timurid-Mughal dynasty of Central Asia and India, sixteenth-century empire builders who were descended from Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. Her broader research interests encompass comparative imperial court culture, movement and procession, power and the landscape. She received her PhD from The Ohio State University in 2007. Her first book, Imperial Identity in the Mughal Empire: Memory and Dynastic Politics in Early Modern South and Central Asia, a study of the Central Asian legacy of the Mughal dynasty of India, was published by I.B. Tauris/Palgrave in 2012.
Dr. Balabanlilar teaches a history of South Asia, a global history of Imperial Pleasure Gardens, Conquest Empires of Central Asia and Comparative Early Modern Islamic Empires (Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal). She has won three teaching awards while at Rice, the most recent (2016) the George R. Brown Award for Excellence in Teaching, Rice’s highest teaching honor.
Dr. Balabanlilar is currently working on a biography of the seventeenth century Mughal Emperor Jahangir and is developing a textbook for the comparative study of imperial pleasure gardens.
Joe Barnes is the Bonner Means Baker Fellow at the Baker Institute. Since coming to Rice University in 1995, he has written extensively on international economics, with a focus on the geopolitics of energy. In addition to numerous institute studies, Barnes’ work has also appeared in The New York Times, the Houston Chronicle, Survival, Oil and Gas Journal, Energy Markets, the Newsletter of the Royal United Services Institute, the SAIS Policy Forum Series and the National Interest. He is a contributor to three volumes: “Energy in the Caspian Region” (Palgrave Press), “United States Tax Reform in the 21st Century” (Cambridge University Press) and “Natural Gas and Geopolitics from 1970 to 2040” (Cambridge University Press).
Barnes is also faculty advisor to the Baker Institute Student Forum. From 1979 to 1993, he was a career diplomat with the U.S. State Department, serving in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. His last assignment in the State Department was with the Policy Planning Staff. Joe Barnes is a graduate of Princeton University.
Sravana Borkataky-Varma, Ph.D., is a part-time faculty member in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Rice University and she received a master’s degrees in Buddhism and Business Administration from India. She has also taught at Rice University, University of Houston, and Dalian Neusoft University in China. She specializes in Hindu Tantra: Religion, Gender, and Kundalini Yoga. Her interest in the esoteric traditions of Hinduism led her to present at the United Nations Witchcraft and Human Rights Experts Workshop, Geneva. In addition to teaching at an academic institution, Dr. Borkataky-Varma has taught in the Houston community privately and through the Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. Originally from India, Dr. Borkataky-Varma has studied and lived in Germany, China, and the United States. Her published articles can be found in Religions and journals published by Springer.
Eric C. Botts, Adjunct Professor of International Studies at the University of St.Thomas and Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Houston Downtown, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from St. Mary’s University and Master of Security Management from the University of Houston Downtown. After service for 31 years in the U. S. Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer (Santa Domingo, Seoul, Dublin, and Nassau), Assistant Director of Houston Passport Agency and an Information Systems Security Officer, Mr. Botts retired to work in the private sector. During his federal career he served as Program Chairman of the Gulf Coast Federal Safety Council and as a member of the Federal Executive Board. He is a founding board member of the Foreign Policy Alliance and has spoken on foreign policy issues to civic groups, colleges, and the media. He works as a Security Project Manager Consultant for Swailes & Co. Inc. specializing in cyber security, risk management, business continuity, due diligence, travel security, and investigations. In the cyber security community, he is on the Secure World Advisory Council and served on the Executive Board of the IT Summit.
Military historian John Bradley brings to his programs a heart of a soldier, the eye of a tactician, and the joy of a storyteller. Born in the Philippines, imprisoned by the Japanese during World War II, educated at the U.S. Military Academy (BS) and Rice (MA History), and trained professionally at The Infantry School and the Command & General Staff College, Mr. Bradley served as an infantry officer in the U.S. and Korea and as an infantry advisor in Vietnam. During his service, the Army awarded him a Bronze Star Medal, an Air Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, an Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a Master Parachutist Badge, and a Ranger Tab. He began his history career by teaching the capstone course, “The History of the Military Art,” to seniors at West Point. For fifteen years, John taught U.S. History and military history at the University of Houston-Downtown. Beginning in 2009, he developed and taught six military history courses at the Glasscock School for Continuing Studies at Rice University. As a principal author, Bradley wrote The Second World War, Asia and the Pacific and developed its accompanying Atlas. Both were used as texts at West Point for many years. He wrote Remind Me to Tell You: A History of Major Harry J. Fleeger and His Friends, POWs of the Japanese and co-authored Wind at Our Backs: Leading During the Cold War.
David Brauer is the former head of the History of Art Department of the Glassell School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and is a native of Scotland. He was educated in England at the Sir Christopher Wren School and St. Martin’s School of Art from which he received his degree. After extensive travel in Europe, Russia, Turkey, and North Africa, Mr. Brauer returned to England where he worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, and taught at the North Oxfordshire College of Art and Technology. Since moving to Houston, he has curated numerous art exhibits: Houston Art in Norway in 1982; Artists’ Progress: Seven Houston Artists 1943-1993 in 1993; Landscape without Figures in 1994; and Images from Space, 1995; Charles Schorre 1925-1996: A Retrospective, 1997, which opened at the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi and traveled to several Texas museums; and he co-curated a Pop Art exhibition at the Menil Collection in 2001. He has taught at the University of Houston and Rice University, and has guest lectured at Columbia University, University of Notre Dame, and the University of Texas at Austin, the San Antonio Art Museum, the World Business Council’s conference in Brussels, and the Anderson Ranch in Aspen, Colorado.
Dr. David Brenner has taught German, European, and International Studies at Texas A&M University since 2016. Prior to this, he taught for a decade in the Honors College of the University of Houston, where he also served as Director of the Houston Teachers Institute, part of the Yale National Initiative to Strengthen Teaching in Public Schools. In addition, he has been a guest professor at Rice University, Cornell University, the University of Konstanz (Germany), and the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany). The fortunate recipient of grants and fellowships from the Fulbright, Mellon, and other foundations, he is the author and translator of numerous books, essays, and articles. His most recent book is German-Jewish Popular Culture before the Holocaust (Routledge, 2014). His current project, Schindler’s Shoah: Teaching the Holocaust in the Age of Globalization, explores portrayals and pedagogies of genocide in the United States, Germany, Israel, and elsewhere.
B. Jill Carroll, Ph.D., a noted expert on issues of religious tolerance and the philosophy of religion, served as Executive Director of the Boniuk Center for Religious Tolerance at Rice University for five years. She holds a doctorate in religious studies from Rice and she received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theological and historical studies from Oral Roberts University. She has taught classes and lectures on religion, philosophy, and humanities at Rice University, the University of Houston, and the Jung Center, Houston. Her recent book A Dialogue of Civilizations: Gulen’s Islamic Ideals and Human Discourse was a Publishers Weekly bestseller in religion. A frequent guest on radio and television programs, she has been interviewed by the New York Times, PBS, and “Good Morning America.”
Artist/philosopher Fernando R. Casas is a native of Bolivia. In 1968 he arrived in the USA with a LASPAU scholarship. In 1970 he received his BA in Philosophy from Colorado College graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and receiving the Hastings Prize for a paper in Philosophy. He continued his studies at Rice University receiving his MA in 1972 and his PhD in Philosophy in 1978. Casas has exhibited his works of art in numerous group and solo exhibitions in commercial galleries and museums in cities such as Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Florence, Lima (Peru), La Paz (Bolivia) and Santiago (Chile). In 2003 he was awarded the Premio alla Carriera at the Florence Biennale. Since the 1980s, Casas has taught and lectured at several universities in South and North America. His longest association is with Rice University where he has taught in Humanities and Philosophy as Distinguished Lecturer for about 20 years. Among his publications are The Limit of The Visual World (1990), Polar Perspective: A Graphical System for Creating Two-dimensional Images Representing a World of Four Dimensions (1984), and Flat-Sphere Perspective (1983).
Ruth Chow-Kneese is a private clothing stylist. She focuses on organizing her clients’ closets as well as dressing them for their every day lives. The ability to pack for a trip with one piece of carry-on luggage is her specialty. She is the former owner of a retail store in Houston that she sold in 2004. She received her degree from Tobe-Coburn School of Fashion in New York and was a member of the Executive Training Program at Joske’s of Houston (now Dillards).
Leo Costello is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Art History at Rice University, where he has taught since 2005. He earned his B.A. at Skidmore College and an M.A. at American University, before getting a Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr College. He moved to Houston in 2002 to work in the department of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Dr. Costello has published extensively on art originating from the 1760’s to the 1960’s, including essays on Joseph Wright of Derby, Wyndham Lewis and Alberto Giacometti. The bulk of his work has been on the English painter J.M.W. Turner. His book, J.M.W. Turner and the Subject of History, was published by Ashgate in 2012. He is now at work on a new book entitled Early Turner: The Artist in and Around London, 1792-1818. In 2013 he was given the Graduate Student Association Award for Mentoring and Teaching. He has been a four-time finalist for the George R. Brown teaching award.
Robert Cremins, a writer and teacher from Ireland, has lived and worked in Houston for more than 25 years. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and in the graduate creative writing program at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. The author of the novels A Sort of Homecoming and Send in the Devils, he has also published many essays, articles, and stories. His short fiction has been anthologized and broadcast on B.B.C. radio. For the past ten years, he has lectured in the Honors College at the University of Houston. Besides teaching classes on Irish literature and culture, he has led three study abroad trips to Ireland. He and his Texan wife have two children.
Roberta M. Diddel Ph.D., is the founder and Executive Director of Disability 101, a non-profit organization providing high quality, consistently available programs to help people with disabling medical conditions and their families learn to adapt and thrive. She also teaches part-time in the Psychology Department at Rice University and at the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies. As a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Houston, she helps patients meet the challenges of major life transitions, loss and bereavement, chronic illness, brain injury, chronic pain and other disabling conditions. Dr. Diddel received her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut and her PhD. in clinical psychology from Boston University.
Terrence Doody received his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1970 and joined the faculty of Rice University where he is now a professor in the Department of English and teaches courses in modernism, the novel, and contemporary literature. His publications include Confession and Community in the Novel (Louisiana State University Press, 1980) and Among Other Things: A Description of the Novel (LSU Press, 1998) as well as recent essays on Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, architectural theory, and the poets Eavan Boland and Robert Hass. He is the recipient of grants from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities and is a eight-time winner of a George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching. In 1997 he was also voted the Outstanding Associate of Lovett College and he was awarded the Allison Sarofim Distinguished Teaching Professor for 2002-2003. He has taught for many years in Rice’s program of Continuing Studies and at the Women’s Institute of Houston since 1973.
David Ferris is an associate professor of music history at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, where he teaches courses on a wide range of musical subjects, including 19th-century opera, Romantic song, the Classical style, musical biography, and jazz. He is the author of Schumann’s Eichendorff Liederkreis and the Genre of the Romantic Cycle, published by Oxford University Press, and his work has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, the Journal of Musicology, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Analysis, and Music and Letters. He has also edited two volumes for the new complete edition of the music of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, as well as the Eichendorff Liederkreis for thenew complete edition of Robert Schumann’s music. His research interests have focused on the lives and music of Clara and Robert Schumann, the songs of Schubert, and the musical legacy of C. P. E. Bach. More recently he has presented papers at international conferences on the use of music in film and on the autobiography of jazz singer Billie Holiday
Sarah Foltz is an art historian and fine art appraiser, specializing in 19th and 20th century Texas art. She is co-owner of William Reaves | Sarah Foltz Fine Art– a gallery in Houston, Texas dedicated to the promotion of Texas art. She completed her M.A. in Art History at Southern Methodist University where she focused her thesis research on Texas regional and Latin American art within the Texas post-war art scene; prior to this, she received her B.A. in Photojournalism at the University of Texas at Austin. Her background includes New York University’s Fine and Decorative Art Appraisal Studies program, as well as the Provenance Research Training Program in Zagreb, Croatia, which focused on restitution of Nazi era looted cultural property. She is passionate about educating people on the importance and history of the evolving art scene in Texas during the late 19th and 20th century, and celebrating those artists whose achievements marked and set apart the Texas art community within the field of American art.
William E. Frisco, Portfolio Management Director and Certified Financial Planner, is a Senior Vice President of one of the world’s largest global asset management firms. He has more than 20 years of experience managing growth and retirement portfolios for individuals, trusts, corporations, and foundations and is a retirement consultant for 401(k)s and other corporate retirement plans. Mr. Frisco is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Financial Planning Association. He holds a B.A. in economics from Duke University and an M.B.A. from Tulane University. He has received numerous Wealth Advisor recognition awards including in 2009 Barron’s, 2014 The Financial Times, 2012 – 2019 Texas Monthly, and 2020 Forbes Magazine.
Nancy P. Geyer, novelist and playwright, is the author of two novels, Flying South (Scribner) and Frailties (Little, Brown). Sonia and Suzy, the national winner of the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea Festival of Firsts Playwriting Competition was presented at Houston’s Country Playhouse during its 2010-2011 season. All the Pretty Little Horses, one of three plays selected for the debut of Wordsmyth Theatre Company’s annual Playwrights Reading Series, was presented to a capacity audience at Houston’s Stages Repertory Theatre in 2009. I Would Give You Violets, received not only from Live Oak Theatre, an equity theatre in Austin, the New Play Award for the Best American Play but also an option contract for a Broadway production. Versus was one of three finalists in the national 50th Anniversary Stanley Drama Competition and Dust was one of three winners in The Festival of Southern Theatre Competition.The Reflection Pool received a reading by NY Artists Unlimited. Ms. Geyer, who has taught in the English department of the University of Houston and Rice’s Schools of Continuing Studies, received two master’s degrees from the State University of New York. She has also edited a newsletter for a professional theatre, produced and anchored in-house television programs for a major energy corporation, developed and written informational material for a maritime museum, served as a consultant on award-winning scripts for a major symphony orchestra, created and taught in a government-funded program for gifted children, and conducted seminars for lawyers, civic and social groups, and hospice volunteers.
Barry Greenlaw is a private consultant, appraiser and lecturer specializing in the decorative and fine arts of England and America. He received his undergraduate degree from Bates College and his master’s degree from the University of Delaware as a Winterthur Fellow. Before coming to Houston in 1974 as Curator of the Bayou Bend Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, he served as Curator of Furniture and Assistant Director of Collections at Colonial Williamsburg. For three years he was a dealer in antique maps and prints. Mr. Greenlaw has lectured throughout the United States and has taught at several institutions including the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to the publication of numerous articles, he is the author of New England Furniture at Williamsburg.
Dr. Irene Guenther is a professor in the University of Houston’s Honors College, with specializations in modern American and European history. Her teaching interests include the two world wars and comparative home fronts, 20th-century genocides and human rights, “race” and the Great Migration, and Nazi cultural policies and the art of resistance. She has published on the Nazis’ decimation of the German-Jewish fashion industry; the contested politics of women’s clothing in the four occupied zones of Germany; Magical Realism from 1920s Germany to 1940s Latin America; art and propaganda in Vichy France; and the anti-war art of the German Expressionists. Her first book, Nazi ‘Chic’? Fashioning Women in the Third Reich, won the Costume Society of America’s Millia Davenport Award, as well as the Sierra Prize for the best history book written by a female historian. Her second book, Postcards from the Trenches: A German Soldier’s Testimony of the Great War, was published by Bloomsbury in November 2018. She has received the Ross Lence Teaching Award, the Wong Student Engagement Award, the Lerner Faculty Excellence Award, the Honors College Dean’s Master Teacher Excellence Award, and the UH Provost Teaching Excellence Award.
Gregory Han is the Director of Interfaith Relations at Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston—Houston’s oldest interfaith service organization—where he leads efforts in facilitating and guiding service, education, and dialogue initiatives across Houston’s diverse faith traditions. Since moving to Houston in 1988, Mr. Han worked for a year as a hospital chaplain before spending eight years pastoring Presbyterian congregations. For six years he was on the faculty at St. John’s School where he taught electives in the study of religion and English, as well as directing the chapel program. He is a frequent speaker and teacher with organizations such as the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and the Perkins School of Theology, and has written for the Houston Chronicle. He holds degrees from Georgetown University and Harvard Divinity School.
George Hawkins is a native Houstonian who has taught literature and writing at the collegiate and high school level for close to 30 years. He was one of the founding faculty of Episcopal High where he was the English Department Chair. Mr. Hawkins is an enthusiast of Old and Middle English, British Literature, American Literature, and a protégé of Philip Lopate’s personal essay teaching. He is a devotee of the written word and enjoys writing, editing, and spreading this joy to others. He currently advises students with their college application personal essays, a practice which he regards as therapy for both reader and editor. Mr. Hawkins earned his B.A. in General Studies from the University of Arizona and his M.A. in English Literature from the University of Houston.
Victoria Jones has a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, as well as a Master’s degree in Education—Counseling Psychology. She is the co-founder of Psynergy Psychological Associates, a group practice providing support and education to therapists. She works in private practice with individuals, couples, families, and groups. She designs and leads workshops on topics including safe intimacy, mindfulness, and Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Collaborative work with physicians has furthered her understanding of mind-body healing. She has advanced training in EMDR and Somatic Integration, as well as Dissociation and Trauma. In her first career, Victoria worked with Donald Barthelme as the founding editor of Gulf Coast literary magazine and has had short stories and reviews published in the Denver Quarterly and Houston Press. She is the founding Director of Writers In The Schools (WITS) and has fostered similar programs across the country. She has taught creative writing in classrooms, museums, hospitals, and juvenile probation facilities, and has created curriculum that builds resilience through the arts. She has also worked as an editor and a consultant for Houston not-for-profits.
Lynda Harper Kelly received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in French from Rice University. In 1974 her doctoral dissertation received Rice’s Gardner Award given to the graduate student doing the best piece of research and writing in the humanities and social sciences. Her romance with France began in 1961 when she spent a summer in Paris studying at the Alliance Française School and she later returned to Paris for a year to study at the Sorbonne. She and her husband, architect Frank Kelly, return to France almost every year to explore and photograph different regions. They have given many lectures on their travels at the Alliance Française de Houston. Dr. Kelly has taught French at Southern Methodist University, Houston Community College, and Rice University. In 1995 she organized and conducted a six-week travel/study program in Burgundy for Rice University. She also loves French cuisine and has studied at both the Cordon Bleu and the Ecole Ritz in Paris.
Dr. Maia Larios is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of St. Thomas (UST). She teaches general biology to first-year college students, as well as upper division classes in Microbiology, Nucleic Acids, and Bioinformatics. Originally from Mexico City, she moved to the United States in 1989 to pursue her education, earning a BA in Biology from Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas. She moved to Houston in 1993 to do graduate studies, earning an MS in Biology and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Houston. Dr. Larios did postdoctoral work at Rice University and UH and joined the UST faculty in 2006, where she also serves as Associate Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences. When she is not teaching, Dr. Larios enjoys traveling, cooking, reading and writing, doing science outreach in the community, and spending time with her family. She is the proud mother of four children.
Sheila Zeve Lipkin, an artist and educator, has been teaching sketching, color theory, and watercolor painting for the past fifteen years. A graduate of Washington University, St. Louis, Ms. Lipkin has taught various applied courses at MFAH, the Contemporary Art Museum, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, West University Community Center, St. Martin’s Church, and The Women’s Institute. She also works with children who are going through chemotherapy and blood infusions to create art at Texas Children’s Hospital Critical Care Center and directs her own company, Paint With Me. Among Ms. Lipkin’s greatest passions are creating her own abstract canvases and experiencing great satisfaction in observing others discover the phenomenon of the creative process through instruction.
Wil McCorquodale, Ph.D. is Senior Director of Constituent Strategies in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Baylor College of Medicine. He has taught classes at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, Houston Community College and the Art Institute of Houston. He has served as a volunteer at several Houston nonprofits, including the Rothko Chapel and Ars Lyrica. Wil received his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and his doctorate in European History from the University of Texas at Austin.
Scott McGill is professor of Classical Studies at Rice University. His work focuses on Latin poetry, Roman history and culture, and the reception of antiquity. He is the author of four books, most recently a commentary on Virgil’s Aeneid 11 (Cambridge University Press), and the co-editor of three volumes. He is currently working on a verse translation of the Aeneid. Scott received his Ph.D. from Yale University. At Rice, he has served as chair of the Department of Classical and European Studies and as interim director of the Humanities Research Center. He is currently a faculty fellow at Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence.
Born and raised in Argentina, Natalia Milanesio completed her undergraduate studies at the National University of Rosario. She received her M.A. in history from New York University (2001) and her Ph.D. in history from Indiana University, Bloomington (2009). She is currently an associate professor of history at the University of Houston where she teaches classes on 19th and 20th century Latin American history. Her book Workers Go Shopping in Argentina: The Rise of Popular Consumer Culture (University of New Mexico Press, 2013) explores the exceptional cultural, political, and social role of low-income consumers during Juan Domingo Perón’s government. Her last book, Destape: Sex, Democracy, and Freedom in Postdictatorial Argentina (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019) examines the transformation of sexual ideologies and sexual practices that took place after the fall of the military dictatorship and the return to democracy in 1983.
Ursula Muenzel, Ph.D., a native of Germany, received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Würzburg with a dissertation on the process of emancipation and integration of Jews in 19th century’s Germany. She worked at the prestigious Leo Baeck Institute in New York – the research institution, archive, and library for the German-speaking Jewry – and the Historic Department of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin. After moving to Houston in 2005, she taught in the Continuing Studies Program of Rice University, at the Center for International Studies at St. Thomas University, and at the Women’s Institute. A prolific writer, she published two books on Jewish History, and numerous essays and articles on the same topic as well as on international relations. She lectures frequently on a variety of historic and current political topics. Licensed as realtor in Germany and Texas she joined the company of Beth Wolff four years ago, specializing in residential and commercial real estate.
Carol Louise Munn lives and writes in Houston, Texas. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan where she received an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Michael R. Gutterman Award for Poetry, the Roy W. Cowden Memorial Fellowship, as well as the Colby Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The GSU Review (Georgia State University), So to Speak (George Mason University), Fugue (University of Idaho), WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Midwest Quarterly, and other journals. Her work has been anthologized in A Bird in the Hand: Risk or Flight, the Middle School literature textbook Stories from Where We Live: The Gulf Coast and also in Houston Poetry Fest Anthologies 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011. She was a finalist in the Atlanta Review Poetry Competition, the Artlines Ekphrastic Poetry Competition in conjunction with the MFAH, the Southern Writers Symposium, the Dallas Poets Community International Poetry Contest, the Marlboro Review poetry contest, the San Francisco International Dancing Poetry Contest, and the Barbara Bradley Award, sponsored by the New England Poetry Club. Her flash-prose memoir “Roosters” was a finalist in the Writer’s Advice Fourth Annual Flash Prose Contest. She has given many public poetry readings and radio interviews in Houston and throughout the country.
Richard W. Murray is a native of Louisiana with B.A. and M.A. degrees in government from Louisiana State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and has taught at the University of Houston since 1966 where he is currently Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for Public Policy. His principal academic interests are in political parties, campaigns and elections, public opinion, and interest groups. The author of numerous articles and books, Dr. Murray’s most recent book isProgrowth Politics: Change and Governance in Houston. Professor Murray consulted in over 200 political campaigns in the 1970s and 1980s (he has since given up the sport) and has conducted over 50 polls for local media. In addition he is a political analyst for Channel 13.
Glenn Olsen has been passionate about everything that crawled, crept, swam, or flew since his childhood. He has turned his passion into a career with GOBirding Ecotours, leading natural history and birding tours to the hottest birding locations in the U.S., the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Earning a BA in Philosophy from the University of West Florida, Glenn is also a certified Master Naturalist. He has taught classes at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies for twelve years and at Houston Audubon, where he teaches how to identify the many birds found in Texas. In addition, he has served on the board of Houston Audubon as Vice President of Education and as President of both the Houston Chapter and the statewide organization of the Native Plant Society of Texas. He co-founded Wildscapes Workshops, an event that for twenty years has celebrated the importance of native plants, pollinators, and birds.
Jim Parsons is the Programs Director for Preservation Houston and is a native of Baytown. Preservation Houston, founded in 1978, is Houston’s only citywide nonprofit historic preservation advocacy and education organization. Mr. Parsons puts his lifelong interest in local history and architecture to work coordinating programs and educational outreach for Preservation Houston, such as architectural walking tours, video tours, and lectures. He has co-authored and photographed several books on Art Deco architecture in Texas, including Houston Deco: Modernistic Architecture of the Texas Coast, and he has written about and photographed cities across the United States.
Sally Pehr has played in national Mah Jongg tournaments and taught men and women how to play the game for many years. She became intrigued with the game when, as a little girl, she would hear the clicking of tiles as her mother played Mah Jongg in the living room. Years later, she learned to play while her husband was in medical school. She holds a BA from the University of Texas and is a retired renal social worker. She loves sharing her knowledge of this fun, challenging, and often addictive game that has become incredibly popular in recent years and is played all over the country, both socially and competitively in tournaments across the nation.
A native of Evanston, Illinois, Kate Emery Pogue received her undergraduate degree in Theatre from Northwestern University and her master’s from the University of Minnesota. She was an original member of the Guthrie Theatre Company where she worked with Tyrone Guthrie, Douglas Campbell, Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn. She was the founder of the Drama program and writer of the theater curriculum for Houston Community College where she taught for over twenty years. During this time she was the Artistic Director of the Shakespeare by the Book Festival in Fort Bend County, Texas, and a founder, Artistic Director, and Resident Librettist for Opera To Go, the educational outreach performance company for Houston Grand Opera. As a stage director she has worked for University of Houston Downtown, Unity Theatre, Houston Shakespeare Festival, Stages, and Summer Shakespeare at Notre Dame. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to her many works for children’s theatre and opera, Mrs. Pogue has written four books on Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s Friends, Shakespeare’s Family, Shakespeare’s Figures of Speech and Shakespeare’s Education. She is married to Bill Pogue and has two children and three grandchildren.
Laura Richardson is a postdoctoral fellow with Rice University’s Program in Writing and Communication. She earned her BA from Vanderbilt in 2007 and her PhD in English from Rice in 2015. Laura has been teaching literature, writing, and film at Rice since 2013, and in 2016 she became a Resident Associate at Rice’s Lovett College. Laura’s areas of research include modernism, poetics, literary theory, contemporary literature, and science fiction. She is an avid reader and karaokist, as well as a budding soccer fan.
Rabbi Seymour Rossel is the author of The Essential Jewish Stories, The Wise Folk of Chelm, and more than thirty other books. He has edited some 300 books, having worked with many distinguished Jewish authors of our times. He is currently the President of Rossel Books. While living in Houston, he enjoyed teaching for many years at The Women’s Institute of Houston and he served as Rabbi of Congregation Jewish Community North in Spring, Texas. In his long career, he was the Dean of the School of Education at Hebrew Union College, NY; head of education for the North American Jewish Reform movement; and Executive Vice-President of Behrman House publishers. He was well-known for his Rossel talks long before there were Ted talks; and he thinks he is now old enough to remember when the Dead Sea was still living. Though he now resides in Dallas, he is looking forward to rejoining the flow at WIH and seeing so many friends, old and new.
Henry Roubicek is a Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Houston Downtown, and has been on the faculty since 1983. His research is on the power of human narrative. Dr. Roubicek has authored several articles in narrative expression and several books including his most recent, So, What’s Your Story: Discovering the Story in You, published by Kendall/Hunt. “Dr. Hank,” as he is affectionately known by his students, is an award-winning educator, consultant to numerous organizations, and a nationally-recognized workshop facilitator. He is also the creator, producer, and lead host of “So, What’s Your Story?” aired Wednesdays at 8:00PM on KPFT 90.1FM. Hank is a long-time board member and past president of the Houston Storytellers Guild, Moth Story Slam Champion, Docent at Holocaust Museum Houston, and community activist. He earned his B.A. from Ohio State, M.A. from Purdue, and his Ed.D. from The University of Maryland.
Dominique Royem is the Music Director of the Fort Bend Symphony Orchestra. An active guest conductor, she has worked with ensembles such as the Ukrainian State Orchestra (Kiev, Ukraine), Plevin Philharmonic (Plevin, Bulgaria), Galveston Symphony, Moores Opera Center, Sugarland Opera, HBU Opera Theatre, and the Houston Civic Orchestra, and was Music Director for Houston Grand Opera’s Opera to Go! during the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons. She is also the Resident Conductor of Bayou City Concert Musicals and was the Conducting Fellow for the Allentown Symphony Orchestra’s 2012-2013 season. She currently serves on the board of the Conductors Guild, a national organization dedicated to the art of conducting. She has a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Houston Moores School of Music. http://www.dominiqueroyem.com
Ron Rozelle is the author of ten books. He is the recipient of the Katherine Munson Foster Memorial Award and an Honorary Professor of Letters at Alvin College. His first book, a memoir titled Into That Good Night, was the first non-agented property published by New York’s Farrar, Straus, & Giroux in over five years and was a national short list finalist for the P.E.N. Prize and the Texas Institute of Letters Carr P. Collins Award. In addition it was selected as the second-best work of nonfiction in the nation for the year 1998 by the San Antonio Express-News. Mr. Rozelle has been a featured author at the Texas Book Festival in Austin and the Texas Folklife Festival in San Antonio. In 2007 he was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters. Mr. Rozelle graduated from Sam Houston State University with a B. A. in English and a minor in Political Science. He was selected as the Distinguished Secondary Educator of the Year in 2017. His Wordsmithing 101 classes have been popular writing workshops for many participants.
An historian of American thought and culture, Mark Ryan was Dean of Jonathan Edwards College and a teacher of American Studies and History at Yale University for more than twenty years. Subsequently, he was Titular IV Professor at the Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico, where he also served as Dean of the Colleges, Regente (Head) of José Gaos College, and Coordinator of the master’s degree program in United States Studies. He holds Ph.D. and M. Phil. degrees from Yale, an M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. Mark’s writings have focused especially on higher education and on the history of transpersonal psychology, a field that accepts a spiritual dimension in human consciousness. He is author of A Collegiate Way of Living (Yale University, 2001) and A Different Dimension: Reflections on the History of Transpersonal Thought (forthcoming from Westphalia Press, 2018), as well as articles in various journals on higher education and in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology and related publications. Mark served for fourteen years on the Board of Trustees of Naropa University, is past chair of the Board of Directors of Wisdom University, and current Chair of the Jonathan Edwards Trust at Yale.
Chris Schaefer has taught courses about the history and politics of the Middle East for the past ten years at the University of Utah’s Osher Learning Institute in Salt Lake City. Chris holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s degree in Computing Sciences from Texas A&M University. He is the author of the award-winning documentary movie Forgotten Soldiers and non-fiction book Bataan Diary. His current projects include research into a possible book about ISIS, and a new movie about World War II.
Chris started his career as a historical researcher and author after working twenty-two years as President of Chris Schaefer & Company, an Information Technology company that served clients in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. Previously, he worked at two other international consulting companies and served as a U.S. Army reconnaissance pilot in the Central Highlands and DMZ regions of Vietnam. He has worked in Public Relations for several organizations, including The Media Line, an American news agency that covers the Middle East. He travels extensively to the Middle East and elsewhere to do research for his classes and writing projects.
Charles J. Schmidt is a fifth-year Ph.D. student of New Testament and Early Christian Studies in the Department of Religion at Rice University. He currently serves on the Graduate Advisory Board for Rice’s Center for Teaching Excellence and is a copy editor for Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies. He arrived at Rice after earning an M.A. in New Testament and Christian Origins at Duke University. His research is focused on ancient Mediterranean religion in the Greco-Roman period, with particular interests in medical theory and physics, freelance ritual experts, and the Romanization of Christianity. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlesJSchmidt for news in Religious and Biblical Studies, Classics, Pedagogy, and politics.
David Segal is the Texas Lead Organizer for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, headquartered in Washington, D.C. He helps congregations in Texas deepen their justice work and guides them into interfaith social justice coalitions. He is also a writer and teacher. Rabbi Segal was born and raised in Houston, TX where he attended St. John’s School. As an undergraduate, he studied Classics (with a focus on Platonic philosophy) and Judaic Studies at Princeton University. After college, he worked in Washington, D.C. in policy advocacy and interfaith relations. He was ordained as a rabbi by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. From 2010-2017, he was the rabbi of the Aspen Jewish Congregation, serving the Roaring Fork Valley of Western Colorado alongside his wife and co-clergy, Cantor Rollin Simmons. David was an award-winning columnist for The Aspen Times and was named by the Jewish Forward as one of “America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.” He is also a freelance writer for the Houston Chronicle’s Belief section.
A native of Madrid, Paloma Serrano attended one of the best Universities in Spain to become a lawyer. While working for a few years at several law firms she decided to pursue her passion for teaching as a full-time career, initially as professor of Master degree courses in the training school of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce. At the same time, she combined this work with her own education getting two master degrees in Spanish Tax Law and Human Resources. After moving to New York City, she continued her career teaching Spanish as a second language at New York University and Queen Sofia Spanish Cultural Center. During those years she got another Master’s degree in Human Resources at Baruch Colleague in New York. Living in Houston she worked at Rice University, the University of St. Thomas, and the University of Houston teaching Spanish as a second language. During this time she got a Master’s degree in Latin American Culture and Spanish Linguistics at the University of Houston. In Vienna, Austria in addition to continuing with her work as a teacher of Spanish for adults at the Instituto Cervantes and for middle school students at a Private International School, she completed her Ph.D. thesis title “Leadership of Hispanic Women in the USA: In Business, Politics, and Academia.”
Anna Tahinci, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Art History at the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. A native of Greece, she studied History and Archaeology in Athens, and spent a total of eleven years in Paris, where she studied Art History and Comparative Literature at the Sorbonne (Ph.D. on Rodin’s collectors), and Museum Studies at the Ecole du Louvre. She has worked at the Musée Rodin, the Musée d’Orsay, the Louvre and the Harvard Art Museums. She has taught at Boston University Paris, at the University of Minnesota, at Macalester College, and at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She co-curated the sculpture exhibition that was organized in Athens for the Olympic Games in 2004 and the exhibition Rodin and America at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University in 2011.
Chase Untermeyer is chairman of the Qatar-America Institute, a nonprofit educational and cultural organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. A 1968 graduate of Harvard College, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was a Texas state representative; an assistant secretary of the Navy under President Reagan; director of Presidential Personnel and director of the Voice of America under President George H. W. Bush; and U.S. ambassador to Qatar under George W. Bush. He is currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the board of Humanities Texas, the state humanities council. Ambassador Untermeyer is the author of three volumes of diary-based memoirs of the Reagan-Bush era and the book How Important People Act.
Melanie R. Urban received her Diploma in Asian Art from the Royal Holloway College of the University of London/British Museum. A graduate of Purdue University, she received he J.D. from Louisiana State University and practiced law with the federal government for 15 years before moving to Singapore. While in Singapore, Mrs. Urban began her studies in Asian culture, history, and art; she traveled extensively throughout regions from Central Asia to China, from Tibet to Viet Nam, and points in between.
Hector Urrutibeheity has a B.A. in English Literature from the National University of La Plata, Argentina, and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Stanford University. He is a Professor Emeritus from Rice University, where he taught Spanish, Romance Linguistics, and foreign language methodology in Spanish and French. He also served as chairman of the Department of Hispanic Studies for 15 years. He is the co-author of The Lexical Structure of Spanish, Mouton, The Hague, two college Spanish textbooks, Peldanos and Tierra del Feugo,and the French series entitled “Echelons.” He recently completed a book on French phonetics entitled La prononciation du français contemporain.
Helen Valier, Ph.D. is the director of the health humanities program at the Honors College at the University of Houston, and adjunct professor in the Department of Health Systems and Population Science in the College of Medicine. Born and raised in the U.K., she holds an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of Cambridge, as well as graduate degrees in the history and philosophy of science, technology, and medicine from the University of Manchester, where she completed her Ph.D. in 2002. Winner of several teaching awards, she has taught extensively on the history of health and disease in both the U.K. and the U.S. She is also an active researcher and writer, and was the recipient of the 2018 McGovern Award for Excellence in Biomedical Communication, given by the American Medical Writers Association, Southwest Chapter, for her recent book, Cancer, Men, and Medicine: A History of Prostate Cancer (Palgrave, 2016).
Liz M. Weiman has trained thousands of individuals since the early 1990s in computer/digital software, and has additionally created instructional/technical manuals, e-learning modules, and Web content for Hewlett-Packard and other companies. Ms. Weiman is also the author of The Lawyer’s Guide to Concordance published in 2010 by the American Bar Association. In addition she served as a fiction reviewer for the Houston Chronicle and other national newspapers, and as senior editor of Southwest Art Magazine. She has worked as a journalist, editor, instructional designer, and technical writer. She is also a healing arts provider – Reiki master, Healing Touch energy worker, and Pranic healer, and additionally teaches classes on spirituality and self-development. Ms. Weiman, a Boston University graduate, provides private instruction on iPhone/iPad/Macs, Windows computers, and more.
Michael Winters, Ph.D. is a psychologist in private practice in Houston. He is a former director of the Rice University Counseling Center and is past president of the Houston Psychological Association. He is the Chair of Education and Credentialing for the Viktor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy (a meaning-centered psychotherapy) and has taught numerous courses in Houston (Glasscock School for Continuing Studies at Rice University, The Jung Center, University of Houston, University of St. Thomas, the Institute for Spirituality and Health, among others) and has presented in Canada and Europe as well. Michael received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and communication from Western Kentucky University, a Master’s degree in counseling from Purdue University and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Memphis. Students often comment on his warm, engaging and often humorous presentation style.
Susan Briggs Wright holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Stanford University and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her facility with business and personal stories reflects her strong background of award-winning TV journalism, public relations, and corporate communication. She produced radio and TV News programs at WOR in New York, and at KPRC-TV in Houston, covered consumer affairs, medicine and courts. Ms. Wright was a journalism instructor at University of Houston, a columnist for The Houston Business Journal, and managing producer/anchor of On The Record, a documentary-style weekly show on Houston Public Television. Recently, as editor, she led a memoir-writing group to produce Coping With Transition: Men, Motherhood, Money, and Magic—Memoirs From the Lives of Professional Women, published by Texas Review Press. She delights in the growing number of books fostered by this class that adorn her bookcase.
Nancy Beck Young is Professor of History at the University of Houston, where she has taught since 2007. Previously she was assistant and associate professor of history at McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois. Dr. Young received her B.A. from Baylor and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She has held two residential fellowships, one at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. and another as the Clements Fellow in Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. She has written numerous books and is currently researching two book manuscripts— one a biography of John Nance Garner and another on the idea of the first lady. Her most recent book, Two Suns of the Southwest: Lyndon Johnson, Barry Goldwater, and the 1964 Battle between Liberalism and Conservatism was published in 2019 by the University Press of Kansas. Dr. Young has won a number of honors for her scholarship and her teaching including the Guittard Book Prize for her book titled Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II, the D.B. Hardeman Prize for her biography Wright Patman: Populism, Liberalism, and the American Dream, and the Ima Hogg Historical Achievement Award for Outstanding Research on Texas History. She has been named the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Illinois Professor of the Year and won the most prestigious campus wide teaching award at McKendree College in 2001.
Dr. Sandra Zalman is the author of Consuming Surrealism in American Culture: Dissident Modernism, which received the Southeastern College Art Conference Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research and Publication. Her work has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Association for University Women, the American Philosophical Society and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She has published widely on Surrealism and popular culture, the messy modernism of the Museum of Modern Art’s early years, and outsider artists and the modernist canon. She received her Ph.D. in Art History from the University of Southern California.
Dr. Leandra Zarnow is an Assistant Professor in History and affiliate faculty of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at University of Houston. Before teaching at UH, she held postdoctoral fellowships and research affiliations at Stanford University, New York University, and University of Toronto. She is a specialist in U.S. women’s history, political history, and legal history. Her first book, Battling Bella: The Protest Politics of Bella Abzug, will be published by Harvard University Press in November 2019.
Eva M. Zsigmond, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor and director of the Transgenic and Stem Cells Core Facility at UTHealth. She received her doctorate in clinical biochemistry from the University of Toronto, followed by faculty appointments at Baylor College of Medicine and currently at UTHealth. The focus of her scientific research is genetic engineering and stem cell biology. Her dedication to research and teaching is paralleled by a keen interest in exploring the intersection between science and spirituality.