Charles Simon Center for Adult Life & Learning > Programs > Himan Brown Senior Program > Himan Brown Senior Program Faculty Biographies

Himan Brown Senior Program Faculty Biographies

Ryan Allen (World Events) is a doctoral fellow in International and Transcultural Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has taught politics and United States history and is currently researching Politics and Education at Columbia University. His major areas of interest are foreign policy and the East Asian region.

John Angeline (Art Appreciation), who is fluent in five languages, holds a Ph.D. in Art History from CUNY. His thesis topic was “Reassessing Modernism.” John is an experienced educator, lecturer and writer. He has taught various art appreciation courses at 92Y since 2006.

Rima D. Bien (Fitness) is a certified instructor of Pilates, Yoga, Senior Fitness, Zumba and Personal Training. She is currently completing her B.A. in Theater and Dance Education. As a child actor, she appeared on "Sesame Street," "Ryan's Hope" and in TV commercials. She has also appeared in several independent films. She was awarded the Yip Harburg Award for the Arts and the Louise and Al Hirschfeld Scholarship for the Arts by their respective foundations.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn (Poetry Writing Workshop) teaches Modern Poetry and Creative Writing at Manhattanville College. She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. Her poems have been published in various poetry magazines and anthologies.

Doug Brin (Brinsights) brings his background as a newspaper feature writer and school instructor of both History and Ethics to his weekly current events discussion group. He is also a visual artist and illustrated diarist who has exhibited widely throughout New York City.

Lori Brizzi (Ballroom Dance) was a Theater major in college who followed her passion and trained as a dance teacher. She became a competitive ballroom dancer and eventually joined dance companies, touring and performing in such venues as the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and the Joyce Theater. Lori eventually opened her own business teaching and organizing social dance parties and dance cruises. For more about Lori, see her website,

Jo Frances Brown, LCSW (Program Director) joined the staff of 92Y in 1996 and has been director of the Himan Brown Senior Program since then, further developing the program into one with a national reputation. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has a MS from Columbia University and post master’s training certificates from Hunter College School of Social Work in Aging and from New York University School of Social Work in Social Work and Spirituality.

Teresa Bury (Fitness) has a B.S. in Physical Education, Health and Nutrition, and certifications in CPR and from the American College of Sports Medicine. She has taught fitness classes to people of all ages for many years and has been on the faculty of the Himan Brown Senior Program since 2013.

Alain Buzzard (Yoga) has taught German, Comparative Literature, Teacher Training Courses, ESL, speech, technical writing, research writing and Women's Studies in various universities in the USA, Germany, Mexico, Japan and Saudi Arabia. Retiring to New York City, he volunteered as a square dance teacher-caller at 92Y. He currently teaches yoga in the HBSP where he is both a popular instructor and avid bridge player.

David Cieri (The Art of Listening of Music) is an experienced pianist and composer, trained in baroque, classical, romantic, Twentieth Century, Jazz and free music. He has performed in many venues throughout New York City, including Carnegie Hall. He has collaborated with Ken Burns, scoring for several of Burns’ documentary films.

Mary Copeland (Fitness) is a former professional dancer and has been teaching dance and fitness in New York City for more than 30 years. She has a Group Fitness Certification with the American Council on Exercise and Pilates Mat Certification with Pilates Institute of America. A dance education major at New York University, she studied anatomy and kinesiology and is certified by the American Council on Exercise. She is an experienced exercise teacher and dancer/ choreographer who has been on our staff since 2003.

Lois Cremmins (Painting and Drawing) holds degrees in Fine Art and Horticulture. A painter and collagist, she is a grant recipient from the National Endowment for the Arts and exhibits regularly at a number of galleries. She encourages her students to express their unique selves in the creation of their artistic works.

Joan Delahunt (Chorus) is a classically trained singer, choral director, pianist and organist, with a specialty in composition for musical theater. She leads church choirs in Queens and teaches piano and voice in her private studio.

John David (Sit and Be Fit) had a long career in scriptwriting and television production. He subsequently became certified as a trainer with the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America and the Arthritis Foundation of America. His work with senior adults was highlighted in a National Public Radio broadcast in 2013.

Samantha Donoso (Himan Brown Senior Program Coordinator) has worked in the department since 2007. She has a B.S. in Health Administration and is working toward a master’s degree in Human Services and Leadership. Before joining 92Y staff, Samantha worked in theatre administration.

Faith Dorian-Wright (Painting and Drawing) is a highly trained artist whose work has been widely exhibited and is part of many public collections.

Valerie Downing (Fitness) has been a fitness instructor for 25 years. Her certifications include ACE Personal Trainer, AFAA, IM=X Pilates and Yogafit. She has completed workshop programs in Silver Sneakers, Senior Fitness and Aqua.

Eva Fyer, LMSW (Women’s Drop-In Group) has worked in many clinical settings doing individual and group therapy. Prior to her career in social work, with a B.F.A. from New York University School of the Arts, she was an independent producer and production manager for film and television production companies.

Robert Goldman (Bridge) has played in most American bridge tournaments and has written four books on bridge. He is an official ACBL Club Director and Life Master.

Carmella Gullo (Drawing) is an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She graduated from Pratt Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She has exhibited at several galleries and her works have graced the covers of modern classical music compact discs as well as Art Calendar magazine. For more about Carmella, see her websites: and

Hermi Hanlin (Bridge) is a bridge life master and ACBL certified director. She successfully participated in many local, regional and national bridge tournaments.

Barbara C. Harris (Audiologic Rehabilitation) received her M.A. from New York University in speech pathology. After suffering hearing loss from an illness, she received a cochlear implant and developed skills to help the hearing impaired, primarily through “speech reading,” using visual skills to understand what a speaker is saying.

Barbara Haspel (The Art of Listening to Music) is a lyrico-spinto soprano who has performed throughout Italy opposite many renowned singers. A graduate of the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music, she was the recipient of a Fulbright grant and the Michael Vinceguerra Award.

Ephraim Hirshberg (Hebrew Conversation, Computer Troubleshooting) owns Atomic Bytes, a computer company. He is a valuable HBSP volunteer, helping members with their computers and leading an informal Hebrew conversation group.

Tina Janssen-Spinosa (Legal Consultation) is a staff attorney and program coordinator for Total Life Choices, the advance planning program at NYLAG. Tina focuses on assisting clients with a wide variety of planning instruments, including Medical Advance Directives, Powers of Attorney and Last Wills and Testaments. Tina has worked as a volunteer with Equality Now, focusing on civil, political and women’s rights issues in the international arena.

Miranda Jonte (Fitness) is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and is AFAA and AAA/I certified. Miranda enjoys running road races and has years of experience teaching senior adults.

Steve King (Chess), who has degrees in elementary education and history, has been teaching chess to children and adults for almost 20 years in schools, summer camps and senior programs.

Scott Klavan (Drama: Acting Workshop) is a Lifetime Member of The Actor’s Studio and a graduate of Kenyon College in Ohio where he was a two time winner of the Paul Newman trophy for Best Actor. He has appeared on TV, Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theater. Scott is also a published playwright.

Cristina LeMay has been teaching literature classes in the Himan Brown Senior Program since 2003. She completed a PhD in British and American Literature from Columbia University and studied Shakespeare, contemporary European literature and Jane Austen at Oxford University. Over the years, she has taught at Lehman College, John Jay, Manhattan College and Marymount College.

Howard Levinger (iPad) is a long-time lover of technology. He works as VP of Sales and Marketing for IntegrateNY, a computer consulting firm, and is an Apple certified expert. Howard combines his passion and expertise teaching iPad and related technologies in the HB Senior Program.

Arielle Levioff (Piano, Art of Listening to Music) pianist, has performed at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall and internationally in London, France and Italy. She is part of the piano and chamber music faculty of the 92nd Street Y School of Music, as well as teaching for the HBSP.

Esther Leysorek Goodman (Yiddish) is a native speaker of Yiddish and an alumna of the Columbia/YIVO summer program in Yiddish language and culture. Now professor emerita of English at the NYC College of Technology—CUNY, she has been active in the Workmen’s Circle and the Forward Association and volunteers in the YIVO Archive.

Ellen Love, LCSW (Drop-In Groups, Necessary Conversations) earned her Master’s degree in social work from Fordham University and later studied at Hunter School of Social Work: Brookdale Center on Aging and Training Institute for Mental Health earning a certificate in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. She has a private psychotherapy practice in Manhattan and facilitates several discussion groups which encourage the exchange of ideas and feelings, promoting self-awareness and growth.

Amy Marcus, RN (HB Senior Program Nurse) does medication and blood pressure monitoring as well as health counseling in the HBSP office. Prior to joining the 92Y staff, Amy worked as a nurse at Beth Israel Medical Center and as a Women’s Health Advocate with several organizations.

Eric Michelson (Painting) moved to New York City after college to continue his studies at the Art Students League. He maintains a studio where he works on large mythological compositions, portraits and the occasional still life. Eric has taught at the Art Students League. He is on the faculty of 92Y School of the Arts and The National Academy of Design.

Monty Olenick (Men’s Retirement Rap Group) joined the HBSP in 1999 and has become an important part of our program, volunteering as the facilitator of the Men’s Group. Monty has Masters’ degrees in English and library science and is a retired librarian. Monty also leads “Senior Walks,” sponsored by the NY Road Runners.

Carolyn Perkins (T’ai Chi Chih) is an accredited T’ai Chi Chih instructor, a graduate of the Swedish Institute and a certified Ingham Reflexologist. She originated a form of balance movements (Chi Balance) based on T’ai Chi and Qigong.

Jan Polish (Computers, Internet, iPhone) worked in various computer areas for major corporations for most of her career, retiring from Colgate-Palmolive as an Associate Director in 2000. Since her retirement she has been teaching senior adults and volunteering for several non-profits.

Danny Pollock (Israeli and International Folk Dance) has been teaching folk dance for more than 30 years at JCCs, synagogues, dance camps, dance weekends, festivals and special events. As a child, he learned Israeli and international folk dance, is ballet trained, and has trained in Jazz, tap, Afro-Caribbean, square, contra and Scottish dance styles. He has performed in several Israeli dance troupes and was Dance Assistant to the Director of New York’s annual Israeli Folk Dance Festival & Festival of the Arts. He has choreographed a repertoire of folk dances for children, and has trained teachers through specialized workshops.

Fran Richey’s (Poetry Writing Workshop) publications include two poetry collections; The Burning Point, which won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize in 2003, and The Warrior. She is the editor of a chapbook of poetry entitled Voices of the Guard, and is a former poetry editor for Bellevue Literary Review. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine and Salamander among others. She is also a certified Kripalu Yoga teacher.

Robert Ritta (Bridge) is an Advanced Senior Master. He has taught bridge at 92Y and Marymount College Adult program for many years.

Elly Roth (Living with Low Vision) worked as a systems analyst for many years before retiring. When she became visually impaired, she educated herself about techniques and devices for legally blind people. Elly volunteers, sharing her expertise with our members, and is committed to improving their quality of life. She also volunteers at The Lighthouse.

Simón Saad (The Art of Listening to Music) was born in Colombia and was educated in Italy and the USA. He is an Opera Stage Director, Repertory Builder and lecturer whose work in the genre spans three decades and three continents. In addition to his directorial work, Simon has also coached some of the most celebrated singers of his generation and worked as a talent scout and artistic associate for several of the important opera houses in the Americas.

Erika Safran, CFP ™ (Financial Wellness Seminars), is founder of Safran Wealth Advisors, a financial planning and investment advisory firm in Manhattan. She is a faculty member in the CFP™ program at Baruch College and lectures widely. As a financial expert, Erika has been quoted in many financial and business publications and has been interviewed for CNN, CNBC, NY-1 and "That Money Show" on PBS.

Susan Scheuer (World Events) has degrees in Modern European History, Music Education and Conservation Biology. She has worked extensively in radio (National Public Radio and Public Radio International) as a writer, producer and narrator and is an experienced narrator of audiobooks.

Renee Septimus, M. A., (Counselor; Jewish Thought and Culture) earned a B.A. in Philosophy from Barnard College and an M.A. in Counseling from New York University. She also attended Columbia University School of Social Work and has been associated with the Himan Brown Senior Program since 2003. She lectures on various Jewish topics, parenting and aging and is a writer and editor.

Erica Shein, Esq. (Intergenerational Program Coordinator) is an active volunteer at DOROT USA where she facilitates groups and teaches in the University Without Walls teleconference program. She practiced entertainment, sports and advertising law for many years before committing to work in the non-profit arena.

Vikram Shastry (Economics 101) is a portfolio manager at an investment firm. He teaches various economic theories and policies including measuring economic activity, productivity and output; goals of macroeconomic policy; combating inflation and unemployment.

Robert Silverman (Jazz) Pianist, trumpeter and composer, Bob has been a fixture on the New York Jazz scene since 1985. He has his own ensemble and has been featured on TV and radio. He won an award from the Bronx Council on the Arts for playing and teaching Jazz to senior adults.

Bob Smith (Simply Shakespeare) describes himself as “a kind of Shakespeare autodidact,” growing up in the shadow of the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut, where he eventually got a job as a dresser. By the 1970’s, Bob was teaching classes about Shakespeare, as well as directing his plays in theaters and college campuses. He is the author of a memoir, The Dresser and has taught at 92Y for twenty years.

Wallace Sokolsky (World Events) has been teaching for the HBSP for almost two decades. Prior to his retirement, he taught history at CCNY, NYU, The New School for Social Research and Bronx Community College.

Ruth Albert Spencer (Chamber Music) is a graduate of the Mannes College of Music and is on the faculty of CCNY as well as the 92nd Street Y Music Department. Under ongoing grants from the New York Council for the Humanities, Ruth gives concerts and lectures on various composers throughout New York State.

Ana Sussman, RN, MFA (Yoga) has been teaching and practicing Yoga and Meditation for 30 years. She is a certified Kripalu Yoga Instructor, a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist and has studied Ashtanga, Anusara and other forms of yoga. Ana blends the best of all her trainings to teach her students how to develop strength and balance and cultivate self awareness and ease of being.

Yasu Suzuki (Pilates) was born in Nagoya, Japan and has been working as a dancer, actor and filmmaker in Japan and New York. He is a Yoga Certified Instructor, Certified Pilates Instructor and AFAA Certified Group Fitness Instructor.

Mark Ethan Toporek (Film Series), a member of the Actors Studio, has appeared in films including The Secret Lives of Dentists, The Confession and Lesser Prophets. He has coordinated film series for 92Y and Queens Museum of Art and worked for the National Board of Review.

Lili White (Painting) received a B.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She has exhibited her paintings and “FilmWorks” in the United States and abroad. Her work highlights nature and spirit, myth, dreams, archetypal imagery, psychology and language. Her interests in moving images and multi-media, led her to perform, write, produce and direct video installations and live multi-media pieces. For more about Lili’s work, see her website

Mark York (Musical Theatre Workshop), originally from Oklahoma, has worked in the Broadway-New York theater scene as a director and composer for the past 25 years. He is performing in Just Jim Dale, a one-man show starring Jim Dale, produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, featuring Mark York at the piano, at the Laura Pels Theatre from May to August 2014.

Julia Zeuner, LMSW, is a licensed social worker with a strong background in geriatrics. She has played a very active role with UJA Federation of New York, serving as Vice-Chair of Caring Commission as well as Chair of the Safety Net Task Force and the Task Force on Aging, where she oversaw, with professional staff, grants serving older adults. She is a member of UJA’s board and continues serving as a lay leader with the Network Commission. She earned her MS in Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work with a concentration in Geriatrics. She is now enrolled in a post-graduate program at New York University School of Social Work studying advanced clinical practice. Julia also facilitates support groups for Family Caregivers. She joins the Himan Brown Senior Program staff in mid-October, 2014.

If you have any questions about Himan Brown Senior Program, please call our office between 9 am and 6 pm, Mon to Fri at 212-415-5633 or 415-5636.