Paula Kessler came to ILIR after a 28-year career as a teacher in the NJ public school system. She and her husband Lenny moved to Florida 15 years ago; when they later discovered ILIR, they immediately enjoyed the stimulating, interactive classes and personal connections they made here. Paula has also served as a Board member for the past two years, helping us develop new classes and, especially, devising ways to keep ILIR programs going throughout the pandemic. Before retirement, Paula and Lenny, also a former teacher, spent over 10 years working at summer camps, seeing countless Broadway and regional theater productions, and many, many movies. Paula has a BA in Special Education and an MA in Learning Disabilities. Her mild manner and ability to get along with people served her well in her teaching and camp leadership experiences and in her work with adolescents with learning and emotional disabilities. She is open to new ideas and progressive thinking and has brought all these qualities to her decade-long commitment to ILIR.
Since 2017, Carol Lazerick has served as the Executive Director of ILIR and has guided the Board and organization through changes in venue and format. She believes that curiosity and openness to new experiences are qualities of interesting people and keep people vibrant and young. A Cleveland native, Carol relocated to Florida in 2016. With her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan, a Master’s in Social Work and post-graduate work at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland, she describes her professional background as a crazy quilt. Her professional background includes stints as a social worker specializing in Soviet resettlement, as a counselor of the chronic and terminally ill, as an advertising salesperson, and as Regional Director of Jewish Women International. In addition to working for ILIR, Carol is a writer and editor and a yoga teacher. When she has spare time, you can find Carol in the swimming pool, on the yoga mat, or by the ocean.
David Lipson serves as the ILIR Board Vice Chair and has been instrumental in organizing Zoom Happy Hours for our members during the pandemic. He is a native of New York and a graduate of the University of Rhode Island. He and his wife Toni Dee relocated to Boca Raton in 1991 after he had several careers, ranging from carpenter to stockbroker to dog groomer. David and Toni both discovered ILIR shortly before the pandemic, have been regular participants ever since, and consider ILIR an oasis in what could have been a desert of despair. With seeming improvements in the current COVID situation, hopefully more of us will join the caravan.
Tony LaDuca served as the past ILIR Board Chair and continues as a member of the Board, spearheading the development of our new website. During Tony’s tenure as Chair, ILIR moved to the Boca Raton Community Center and expanded our membership and course offerings. In addition, Tony led our transition from in-person to virtual classes on Zoom during the pandemic, allowing our “snowbirds” and many new presenters to join us from around the country. Tony’s entire professional life was spent in education. He taught at Brooklyn Technical High School, then worked on teacher-training programs at the Center for Urban Education while completing his doctorate at NYU. He served on the faculties at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago and later at Hahnemann Medical School in Philadelphia, developing assessments of professional competence and a Master’s degree program. He then spent 25 years at the National Board of Medical Examiners; here Tony developed a model for assessing physicians’ readiness to practice. Tony and his wife Susan moved to Boca Raton in 2016, where they soon became members of ILIR and created the Film Club class. Tony also taught the very popular Aristotle’s Bistro class for several years.
Toni Dee works on membership as an ILIR Board Member. She came to Boca Raton with W. R. Grace as a paralegal 30 years ago. When Grace moved its headquarters seven years later, she remained in Boca and continued her work at various law firms in south Florida. Since retiring eight years ago, she has been a hospice volunteer working at various locations, including visits to private homes, nursing homes, Delray Hospital and, for the last few years, Hospice by the Sea. She credits ILIR with keeping her sane and busy during the pandemic where she has made many new friends on Zoom and taken many interesting classes. If you are wondering, which many people do, why she has a meat cleaver over her head in the Zoom background, it is because in her prior life she had an art photography business where she often traded art for photography. The pastel meat cleaver is one of the many unusual pieces of art that she collected during that time.
Marie Gabrielson, Board Secretary, became involved with ILIR after she and her husband John retired to Florida from Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. She has watched ILIR evolve to become the vibrant community that it is and is delighted to continue to be a part of the process. Not to sit on the sidelines, John also taught The Joy of Poetry at ILIR. Marie and John met when they were studying for their Master’s Degrees at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Wroxton College in the Cotswolds in England. Marie was a public-school English teacher/supervisor. After earning an Ed. D., she ran her own consulting business for corporations. In retirement, Marie and John started an antique business. John and Marie enjoy their four-year-old rescue Poovenese (10% Havenese, 90% poodle). His name is “Teddy Bear” because he looks just like a little teddy bear!
Lou Baskin currently serves as Board Treasurer, after a term as Vice Chair. Lou’s special contributions to ILIR include great organizational and tech skills; encouraging his son Jeff, chief meteorologist for KLRT TV in Little Rock, to share his expertise with us; and, before the pandemic, bringing in Trader Joe’s sandwiches and salads for those of us who stayed for lunch between morning and afternoon sessions. Lou is from Rochester NY and completed both undergraduate and professional studies at The Ohio State University. He had a 50-year career as an optometrist and served as President of the Rochester Optometric Society, as well as President of the local Rotary Club. He was also Chairman of the district Rotary Foundation, an organization that raised over $100,000 annually and awarded scholarships to students and teachers. He and his wife Marilyn were honored with the Paul Harris awards, named in honor of the founder of Rotary International. After retiring to Boca Raton, Lou and Marilyn joined ILIR at the urging of their neighbor Geri Lutzker and have continued their long-standing tradition of service to others at ILIR.
Joel Ivers, ILIR’s Board Chair, is best known to our members as the leader of the Current Events Class every Monday morning. Joel’s life-long love of politics and world affairs started with working for candidates during the 1968 presidential campaign. Joel is a retired business executive who has been CEO/COO of five different start-ups and large biomedical and IT companies after beginning his career at Johnson and Johnson. He also managed a seed-stage Venture Capital fund. Since retiring in 2014, Joel has been a volunteer mentor for start-up companies in South Florida and a member of the Investment Committee for Florida Funders. Additionally, he was formerly the Board Treasurer and is President of his condo association in Boca Raton. Joel holds a B.S. in Chemistry from The University of Redlands (CA) and an M.A. in Genetics and Molecular Biology from Indiana University.
Board member Jayne Chapman is devoted to her part-time work as a Community Outreach Director for Congressman Ted Deutch, to service as a local precinct leader, and to ILIR. She created the Government in Action Spotlight series for ILIR, inviting Palm Beach County elected officials to explain their work and that of their organizations to our members. Some speakers Jayne has brought to ILIR include State’s Attorney Dave Aronberg, School Board member Karen Brill, State Representative Teri Mitze, and Property Appraiser Dorothy Jacks. Jayne grew up on Long Island, then lived and worked in businesses in Connecticut and in Massachusetts for many years. She and her late husband Barry moved to Boca Raton in 1991, where they created two businesses of their own, including a large landscaping company. Jayne also served as comptroller for a local mortgage company. After semi-retiring, Jayne found her true calling in public service and in her commitment to lifelong learning.
The Joy of Poetry, Short Stories, Book Club—Bari Attis has enjoyed leading these ILIR classes, as well as attending classes on all things literary and many other subjects. Before retiring, Bari had a 35-year career at Saint Andrew’s School in Boca Raton. She served as an English teacher, English department chair, and for 5 years as Assistant Head and Interim Head of the Upper School. Her first career was as a science writer at the National Institutes of Health. ILIR has brought Bari new opportunities to share her love of learning and to spend time with new friends and colleagues, and she is delighted to serve as a member of the Board. Bari earned a BA from George Washington University and an MA from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.
Geri Lutzker, ILIR’s biggest booster, has served on the ILIR Board for over 10 years and was instrumental in helping us relocate to the Boca Raton Community Center. Geri shares her enthusiasm for ILIR with all she meets and has recruited a number of members and presenters to our program. Retirement brought Geri and her husband Art to Boca and, in searching for interesting activities, they discovered ILIR classes and have been attending ever since. Geri explains, “I have found a place where I can fill in the gaps in my education and grow my life experiences.” Geri has a varied professional background and has had several careers, including teacher, interior designer, real estate broker, commercial real estate manager, and arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association. Geri has used these professional experiences to guide ILIR as we have grown and developed new and innovative courses and programs.