Board of Directors

Executive Committee


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Communications Officer

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Membership Officer

ygroseil's picture
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Board Members

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Board Biographies

Valerie Abrahamsen (Board member)

My recent research involved examining evidence for the survival of the individual soul after death (scientific instruments and techniques, near-death experiences, reputable psychics and mediums, out-of-body experiences) and related issues: reincarnation, pre-birth decisions, karma (the law of cause and effect), and the relationship between the afterlife and Christian tenets (love, peace, joy, heaven, eternity, reunion with loved ones). For my blog, WisdomWordsPPF, I rely on facts and evidence to support arguments on issues in the early church and women in antiquity (Past), social justice (Present), and the relationship between the afterlife and how we live our lives on earth (Future).Read more

Luis F Clemente (Board member)

PhD, University at Albany (2009). Trained in comparative politics. Working knowledge of international relations and Latin American history. Conducted independent research. High proficiency in daily news commentary and live delivery of instructor-led courses. Member of the Latin American Studies Association and the Consortium of Latin American Studies ProgramsRead more

Tula Connell (Communications Officer)

Tula Connell is an historian of the United States focusing on 20th century labor and social movements.

An independent scholar, Connell has worked in labor communications for more than 25 years and currently is Senior Communications Officer at the Solidarity Center, an international labor rights organization. Her book, Conservative Counterrevolution: Challenging Liberalism in 1950s Milwaukee, was published in April 2016 by the University of Illinois Press. Conservative Counterrevolution is a volume in the series, “The Working Class in American History” edited by Nelson Lichtenstein et al.

Connell received her Ph.D. in American History from Georgetown University in 2011, and holds an M.A. in European History from Yale University and a B.A. in Journalism from Marquette University.Read more

Joan Cunningham (Board member)

Joan Cunningham is a cancer epidemiologist, retired in 2013 from the faculty of the Medical University of South Carolina where she conducted research in the epidemiology of breast and other cancers, including racial disparities in etiologies and outcomes. She grew up mostly in Toronto, Canada, with one very interesting year spent in Sri Lanka at age 12.
Joan holds a B.Sc. (Honours, Biology) and M.Sc. (Biology: aquatic eco-embryology) from the University of Guelph (Ontario, Canada) and PhD (Public Health: epidemiology) from the University of Texas School of Public Health (Houston).  Prior to completing her PhD she worked at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, served as a laboratory technician at the Toronto Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, and then spent several years in clinical trials research as a Coordinator of Research Data at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.  
Areas of continuing research and scholarly collaboration include breast cancer racial disparities; and the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches, such as massage therapy and natural products to ameliorate side effects of anti-cancer treatment.
Non-academic interests include reading historical and literary fiction, biographies and much more; listening to and participating in choral and folk music (voice and viola); travel; yoga and Zumba!  Environment and social justice concerns include climate change and population growth. Volunteer work includes with the Sierra Club (on Executive Committee of local chapter), Planned Parenthood, and serving locally as an Elections Judge. Joan lives with her husband in San Antonio, TX.
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Isabelle Flemming (Board member)

Isabelle Flemming, BA, MA, MLS, is currently a part-time Reference Librarian at Ela Area Public Library in Lake Zurich, Illinois, after having working there for several years as a full-time Reference Librarian/Computer Specialist .  Prior to holding this position she was the Business Reference Librarian at Mount Prospect Public Library in Mount Prospect, Illinois.  She received her MLS from the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana, and MA in history, majoring in History of Science, with a minor in Early Modern Europe, from the University of Florida. She obtained her BA in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. 
She has had the articles: “Universe, Closed or Open”, and “Time, Cosmic”, published in the Encyclopedia of Time: Science, Philosophy, Theology, & Culture, (Los Angeles: Sage, 2009), and the chapters: “Ethnography and Ethnology” and “Magic and Science” published in 21st Century Anthropology: a Reference Handbook, (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, 2010), editor, H. James Birx. She co-authored the chapter “Reference Interview in Real Time and Virtual Time” with Lesley Farmer, and it appears in a reference book for librarians, Using Qualitative Methods in Action Research: How Librarians can Get to the Why of Data, edited by Drs. Douglas Cook and Lesley Farmer. (2011). Three articles were approved and are awaiting publication in the upcoming: The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspective. 
 Her short stories have been published in a local newspaper, after receiving first place awards at a writers’ workshop, and a short story excerpt from a novel in progress was published in the New England Writers’ Network periodical. She is currently writing a fiction novel of the supernatural/mythological in ancient Celtic culture.
She is a retired member of the American Library Association, serving a term on the History Committee for RUSA (Reference and User Services), and the Public Library Association. Current member of  PCA/ACA Popular Culture Association...Read more

Yvonne Groseil (Membership Officer)

Born, raised, and educated in New York City, I have lived on the Upper East Side since it was Yorkville. Neighborhood  parochial school,  Hunter College High School, Barnard College, The New School for Social Research (PhD, Anthropology) and Hunter College.  My work experience includes such Manhattan icons as Alexanders, Gimbels, and Bloomingdales, as well as various not-for profit organizations and, most recently, teaching as an adjunct at Hunter and the New School after obtaining an MATESOL degree at Hunter.  I have been active in tenant organizing and as a union member.  Now I am reinventing myself once again, as I focus full time on research and writing as an independent scholar. 
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Amanda Haste (President)

Amanda Haste is a British researcher and academic translator currently based in France, and has been President of NCIS since July 2015. She spent 20 years as a professional musician and music educator, and holds an MA in Musicology (with Distinction) and a PhD in Musicology. She is an adjunct professor at Aix-Marseille University, where she teaches courses in Translation, and English as a Musicological Language, at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Her research is multidisciplinary, and encompasses music, language, and identity; and the intersections between music and spirituality in contemporary society. Dr Haste is active as a peer reviewer and editor, and currently serves as Humanities Editor of The Independent Scholar. She has presented her work at conferences in England, Scotland, France, Belgium, Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovenia and the USA. An invited lecturer, she was a keynote speaker at the 2014 History of Women Religious conference in Glasgow, Scotland. As well as journal articles and book chapters published by Routledge, Palgrave MacMillan etc. she has several substantial dictionary entries appearing in the forthcoming two-volume Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions, ed. Susan de Gaia (ABC-CLIO). In 2015 Dr Haste co-edited (with Professor James Block of DePaul University, USA) a book on Constructing Identity in an Age of Globalization (Ex Modio, 2015) in which she was delighted to be able to include several independent scholars among the authors.

As a freelance translator (French-English) and proofreader (French-English and English-English) Dr Haste specialises in academic, musical, historical and social sciences material. She holds the Diploma in Translation IoLET (Master's level) with Merit, is a member of the European Society of Translation Studies and of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Linguists in London, England; she currently teaches several courses in translation at Aix-Marseille University, France (for details see CV). She copy edited and proof read Villa-Lobos, the Music: An Analysis...Read more

Susan Lanzoni (Secretary)

Susan Lanzoni is an historian of psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience in the modern period. She is interested in finding connections between sceince and literature and psychology and the arts. She earned a Ph.D. at the History of Science Department at Havard University, and also received a Masters of Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School.  She is presently writing a book, contracted with Yale University Press on the history of the concept of empathy from German aesthetics of the late nineteenth century, to American psychology and neuroscience.Read more

Efrat Sadras-Ron (Board member)

Efrat Sadras-Ron is an Israeli national with a Doctorate degree in Socio-Cultural Anthropology from Michigan State University. Her academic interests include socio-cultural identity, everyday sovereignty and secularity. She has published two papers based on her MA thesis. The first, an article In Identity Studies concentrating on Jewish revival in Post-Soviet Cuba. The second, is a chapter in an edited volume Constructing Identity in an Age of Globalization, concentrating on hybrid identities among Cuban Jews. As an independent scholar, Efrat serves as a real-estate agent and partner in a real-estate investment company to support her academic career (and her family). She has been residing in Chicago, Illinois, USA for the last four years. She recently discovered the power (physical and mental) of martial arts.  Now that she has finished her PhD she is ready to take on the task of learning how to do a cart-wheel so she can get her yellow belt in Kung Fu. Efrat is currently working on publishing her dissertation focusing on Jewish secularity in Israel. Her research provides a more positive understanding of secularity apart from its common conception as ‘none-religious’. She shows how secular institutions are able to balance individual creativity and expression, championed by secularity, on the one hand, and conformity and continuity necessary for the establishment of a cohesive institution on the other. Further implications of this research involve a discussion of group belonging in the fluid modern society we live in; thus leading to a more dynamic understanding of identity and the prioritization of the term identification over identity. Read more

Shelby Shapiro (Board member)

San Francisco-born, I grew up on Guam. After earning my BA in Anthropology, I worked for 19 years in a law office writing trial memoranda and appeal briefs, doing land title examinations, pursuing photography part-time, while hosting a Jazz & Blues program on various AM and FM stations for 9 years.

Self-taught in Yiddish, I went back to school when I came to the Washington metro area, earning an MA and PhD in American Studies studying the Yiddish press and acculturation of women immigrants. I am presently toiling to revise the manuscript based on the dissertation in hopes of publication. I am the Associate Editor for Connecticut Public Records, Vol. XXII; a copy editor for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.; and a Yiddish-to-English translator.

I served as editor for the newsletter and later the small magazine of Yiddish of Greater Washington for more than a decade, continue to serve on its Board, as well as that of Operation Understanding-DC.Read more

Philip Stover (Treasurer)

Phil Stover is a historian of religion and conflict, focusing on Mennonite, Mormon, and Mexican studies.
An independent scholar, Phil’s forty year career included service as a senior administrator in higher education, K-12 public and private education, and a Fortune 500 company providing services to education. He retired from serving San Diego Unified School District as Interim Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Business Services and Sweetwater Union High School District as Interim Superintendent of Schools. He also served as an Associate Professor of Psychology, teaching courses in the integration of psychology and theology. Phil has served his denomination as a licensed and ordained minister and as headmaster of a Mennonite K-12 school. Phil was appointed a member of the Sarasota County Historical Commission. Retired, Phil now lives in Mata Ortiz Chihuahua where he researches, writes, and oversees the production of peach, apple, and pecan trees. He has served his Mata Ortiz community by serving as President of the local Rural Committee for Potable Water. His Buyer’s Guide for Mata Ortiz Pottery is consistently in Amazon’s top 100 best sellers in books about ceramics.Read more

Edward Wall (Board member)

I graduated in 1963 from the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) with a B.S. in Mathematics (with minors in the physical and biological sciences). Subsequently, working as an applied mathematician and attending graduate school at the University of Maryland (College Park), I received a M.A. in Mathematics in 1968. Returning to academics I received a Sloan Foundation Grant from the University of Chicago in 1969 and spent a number of years as a graduate student in Mathematical Biology. 
For various reasons I began to question a possible future career in academics and moved in the 70s to Wisconsin where, while self employed as a system analyst, I would, in 1989, receive a B.S. in secondary mathematics education at the University of Wisconsin (Stevens Point) with certification in Learning Disabilities. I taught in both Wisconsin and Colorado and in the 90s returned to graduate school at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor). I received a Ph. D. in Secondary Mathematics Education in 2003 and in the same year became faculty in Childhood Education (which I preferred for various reasons over Secondary Education) at the City College of New York. I was tenured in 2008 and I retired from City College in 2014.Read more