Instructor Biographies


Instructor Biographies

Julia Amaral is a long time Nevada County resident who has traveled to more than 120 countries and explored all corners of the world.  

David Anderson was a professional disc jockey, music director, and program director in rock radio for more than 20 years. Along the way he interviewed many well-known artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Todd Rundgren, Chris Isaak, Boz Scaggs, Robert Cray, and Bruce Hornsby. David has written a number of articles about rock music, television, and the movies.  He has been teaching in the OLLI program since 2016. 

Catharine Bramkamp holds an MA in Creative Writing from Sonoma State University (SSU) and a BA in English from UC Santa Barbara and a professional certificate from SSU specifically for Social Media.  She teaches intensive writing workshops online and when she can, on-site in the most beautiful places in California. 

Steve Browning (Ambassador Ret.) served 34 years as a diplomat in the US Foreign Service. He was an instructor at the University of Southern California and has guest lectured on foreign policy and diplomacy at colleges and universities.

Cathy Cassady is a retired health educator with a B.S. in Biodynamics and an M.S. in Worksite Wellness Management from CSUS.  She is currently editing and publishing her mother’s, Carolyn Cassady, posthumously discovered manuscripts. Cathy tours the country promoting her mother’s life and work. Cathy is also the daughter of Neal Cassady a prominent figure in the Beat Movement of the 1950s. Neal was very good friends and the focus of many of the writings and films of Ken Kesey, Jack Kerouac, Tom Wolfe and Allen Ginsberg. 

Pam Connolly has several years’ experience in the climate movement that is happening around us. She is a Climate Reality Leader, trained in Al Gore’s program. She has presented in OLLI at a Florida program on Zoom.  She is retired from teaching and has run a design business.  She attended California State University, Chico. 

Jason File has a BA in European History and Religious Studies and an MA in Religious Studies, Ancient Mediterranean Religion from University of North Carolina. He is a full-time instructor in Humanities and Religious Studies at Sierra College. 

Tara Franks is a full-time instructor in the Communication Studies department at Sierra College in Rocklin, Calif., where she regularly teaches Public Speaking, Mass Communication, and more. Tara and her partner have three energetic children, own a local barbershop, and love to karaoke in the kitchen! 

Donald Fraser has a BA from UCLA in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration. His lifelong interest in American History and Politics has led him to write books and teach classes on the founding of the United States. 

Joan Griffin earned a BA in Psychobiology from UCLA and an MA in Contemplative Education from Naropa University. Joan worked at IBM and was a small business owner, then for 25 years taught English and history to middle school students. In retirement, Joan has taught for OLLI for 4 years and serves on the OLLI Advisory Council. In addition, she calls herself a writer.

Joseph Guida studied with world-renowned T’ai Chi Master Da Liu in New York City in the 1980s. Joseph moved to Northern California and began teaching T’ai Chi for good health, relaxation, and peace of mind. 

Louise Johnson has a Bachelor of Science from Pennsylvania State University where she focused her studies on ecology and population genetics. She has been a high school teacher of biology, chemistry, physics, and geology. She served as school principal, Assistant Superintendent and a 15-year veteran California school district superintendent. 

Valerie Jordan is a retired Emeritus professor of psychology from the University of La Verne where she taught graduate courses in clinical psychology. She was also a licensed psychologist with an independent practice specializing in adults and families. She has both taught about, and has clinical experience with clients and their secrets, as well as discovering some family secrets in her family of origin.

Gopal Kapur, author of three college-level text books, teaches history, nutrition, and special interest classes at UC Davis and Sierra College OLLI Centers. He has contributed to food columns in regional and national media, and is founder of Family Green Survival, a local not-for-profit with the mission to end local hunger. He is the developer of BagOfLife® meals designed to provide high quality protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and natural dietary fiber to those facing hunger in our community. 

Trina Long has been a fitness instructor and personal trainer for more than 20 years. She specializes in senior fitness.

Richard Lui is a licensed counselor, life coach and adult educator for over 40 years in the greater Sacramento area. He practices many passions or callings in his life as an author, actor, musician, lover of nature, animals and sports, but most importantly as husband, father, friend, and citizen. He feels humbled to guide others with proven scientific and intuitive tools to find and follow their passions at any age for more aliveness, self-care and joy as we balance and care for others in these difficult and challenging times.

Terence McAteer has a doctorate In Educational Administration from the University of San Francisco and a Master’s Degree in History from San Francisco State. He has taught at the high school level and has been a history research fellow. 

Brandon Montalvo is a registered financial advisor who holds an MBA in Finance and a BA in Finance. He comes from a family with 30 years of experience in the finance industry.  

Robert Murley is a software engineer, whose first job out of college was with Douglas Aircraft, working on the third stage of the Saturn rocket. Since that time, he has continued to be interested in the project and its many little-known facts. He would like to share this fascinating information with those who wish to learn more about Apollo. 

Kent Penwarden is a retired electronic engineer and manager from Silicon Valley, who has brought up to date his life-long interest in astronomy and atomic physics.

Roger S. Peterson is an incurable history buff. He has a BA in political science and history. His interest includes presidents, the JFK assassination, and a lifelong interest in Wyatt Earp.

Janet Rankin is a cultural historian who received both her Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities and her Master’s Degree in History from Sacramento State. Janet has been teaching Women’s History and U.S. History at Sierra College and American River College for more than seven years. I love teaching for OLLI because the students are so inquisitive.

Susan Rogers is past newsletter editor of the Nevada County Genealogical Society and is a popular speaker at that group’s annual seminar and at meetings of other foothills genealogy societies. She has an M.A. in Speech Communication from UC Santa Barbara and holds a California Community College teaching credential.

Anney Siegel-Wamsat has a BA in English from UC Berkeley. She fell in love with Tai Chi and has been training to teach with Sifu Renee Neal. She is excited to begin teaching Advanced Tai Chi for the OLLI program. 

Teri Umhauer has degrees in Product and Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. Art and Fashion History have always been passions and particularly when they come together. She teaches Fashion at Sierra and American River Colleges.  

Kathrin Wilson has a BA from UCLA in Dance and an MS in Physical Education from Sacramento State. She has danced professionally for 30 years and has taught since 1977. 

Alex Yarmolyuk was born and lived in Soviet Ukraine for 25 years. He finished his BA in General Business at Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine, and served his mandatory two years in the Soviet military. In 1996, he emigrated to the United States. He works for Sierra College in Admissions and Records and has been teaching OLLI classes for over 10 years.