As Glenn Kamber, our new president, begins his term in office, E-News posed questions to him about his vision for OLLI-Mason. Here are his responses. We look forward to publishing future communications from him in future issues.
What do you see as OLLI -Mason's greatest challenges?
OLLI is in a period of transition. Over the past three years, we have experienced an almost 50% increase in the number of OLLI members, from approximately 800 to 1200. At the present rate of growth, we expect membership to reach 1500 in the next three years due both to the attractiveness of our programs and to the explosion of baby boomers now entering retirement.
Our greatest challenges in the near and longer terms are directly associated with a growing membership:
To preserve the quality and diversity of our programs;
To assure that our facilities accommodate member needs; and
To assure that adequate resources are available to support OLLI goals and outcomes in this period of rapid growth.
What do you hope to accomplish during your term as president? What are your priorities?
I hope to help guide OLLI through its continuing period of growth and transition—a task set in motion by my predecessors and that will need further leadership and stewardship beyond my tenure.
Among the special OLLI balances we all seek to preserve as our membership grows and evolves are:
Place with Service
Over the next year, it is likely that OLLI will be confronted with issues regarding the future of Tallwood, especially TA-1, due to the age of the facility, and our need for additional classroom space due to membership growth. Our first concern as we consider Tallwood building conditions and future use will be that OLLI members are safe and that the facilities housing our classrooms are structurally sound. Our second concern is that we respond to, and respect, the role Tallwood has played in the lives of OLLI members. Tallwood is more than just a place. It is a second home for many of our original members. Tallwood will hopefully be in OLLI's future whatever the outcome of our facility review and planning activities.
Enrichment with Engagement
Growing program demands, both in number and diversity of classes and the venues to house them, will continue to be balanced with the unique sense of “community" on which our OLLI was founded and sustained. Coffee and cookies and a place to enjoy them with others will be a consideration in any facility planning.
Management with Member Involvement
While OLLI converted from a Board-administered to a staff-operated program several years ago, and we have a wonderful executive director and staff, we continue to exist and thrive based on the continued willingness of our members to volunteer their time, talents, and teamwork. Hundreds of OLLI members serve on committees that plan and conduct our program of courses, clubs, and activities, keep our Tallwood campus beautiful, oversee and operate electronic services and equipment, reach out to the community, recruit and serve members, plan for our future. As we seek and gain new members, we will continue to foster this spirit of involvement. It is our lifeblood.
What do you need from the Board and the membership to accomplish your goals?
OLLI functions well because members and staff have a strong sense of pride and "ownership" in its daily and longer-term functioning. So, it is not a question of what I need from the Board and membership to accomplish my goals, but what I can hopefully offer them in working toward accomplishing our goals.
I suggest that the three balances I described above are the goals for which OLLI continues to strive.
What experience and personal qualities do you bring to the office of OLLI-Mason president? What motivated you to seek this office?
I am honored to serve as OLLI-Mason president over the coming year.
OLLI is a true lifeline for many of our members and a focal point for engagement, connectedness, and enrichment. OLLI helps sustain our health and overall well-being.
I have been fortunate to experience a lifetime of personal and professional opportunities to positively impact the lives of others. Among those opportunities:
Managing federal health, education, social security, child and family welfare policy development and implementation as the senior career executive on personal staffs of seven U.S. Secretaries of Health and Human Services;
Chairing the Fairfax County Consolidated Community Funding Pool Advisory Committee which set policy and priorities for $11 million in grants to local service organizations;
Serving as executive director of a national clearinghouse to improve services and outcomes among government and private-sector sponsored agencies in over 1100 communities;
Managing $1.2 billion in federal grants to state and local governments for mental illness and substance abuse prevention and treatment; and
Serving on the Fairfax/Falls Church Community Services Board, including as vice chair and chair of the CSB Strategic Planning Committee and Fiscal Oversight Committee.
I sought the OLLI presidency because it affords me an opportunity at this stage of my life to stay engaged and to help preserve and promote individual and community well-being.
At the Board meeting on Fri, July 18, 2014, the major topic of discussion was the strategic planning process for Tallwood. Maintenance needs at Tallwood have been identified and are either completed or being arranged. A structural review will be made and then associated costs developed. Preliminary work is being done on the space options which exist near Tallwood. As information is gathered, decisions will be made about the medium- and long-term use of Tallwood.
The Board also decided to give $1000 to Mason’s Office of Military Services.
Meet Al Smuzynski, the Newest Member of the OLLI Board of Directors
By Martha Powers
Ever since they retired in 2007, Al and his wife Pam have been an "OLLI couple." OLLI is a very important part of their lives, and they appreciate the opportunities to interact with, and learn from, the many interesting people in our area. As a Northern Virginia native (raised in Arlington), Al knows what a unique and well educated region this is.
Having inherited the volunteer gene from his parents, Al is a role model for "giving back" at OLLI. He has taught courses in banking and retirement planning, served on the Strategic Planning Committee, and has been moderator of extremely popular The Tom Crooker Investment Forum since 2011. And now, Al has been appointed to serve a one-year term on the Board, occupying the position left vacant when we lost Debbie Halverson. He is already heavily involved in developing plans that will help OLLI deal with critical facility issues at Tallwood.
Al's career was spent in bank regulation and affordable housing development, and included 29 years with the federal government in the FDIC and Federal Home Loan Bank System, among others. During the S&L crisis of the 1980s, when more than 800 savings institutions failed, Al served in senior executive positions, supervising troubled savings institutions.
After his federal career, he spent a decade as CEO of a non-profit that manages apartment communities for low-income families in Northern Virginia, and he is now on the board of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance and the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness, as well as two local community capital organizations.
On the rare occasions when Al can't be found at OLLI, it's because he's travelling, most likely to visit his sons, stepsons, or grandchildren. Or if it's snowing in the Rockies, you just might find Al schussing on the slopes. After all, they don't call him Al SmuzynSKI for nothing!
While it’s difficult in mid-summer to imagine cool days and autumn leaves, fall is not far away, and that means registration time for OLLI courses is almost here (July 30 – Aug 22). We’ll all have to spend a considerable amount of time browsing through the new catalog, as it’s packed with over 100 courses and 47 special events. Once again, the fabulous OLLI program planners have worked their “magic” to create a spectacular line-up of courses for our enjoyment and edification.
One of the first things you’ll notice in the catalog is an impressive list of Mason professors who will be coming to OLLI in the fall. We have no fewer than 16 courses and special events taught by Mason instructors. Mason President Angel Cabrera leads off with “Being Global: How to Think, Act and Lead in a Transformed World” (951), which will be video conferenced to Loudoun. Notice the date for this event—Sept 18—just before the fall term begins. In addition, we have Prof. Larry Butler returning with “Arts of the Islamic World from the Freer Gallery” (F108); also look for “Economics Potpourri” (F204), presented by members of Mason’s Economics Department. Here are a few more of the many courses taught by Mason instructors:
“Two Landmarks of Holocaust Literature” (F410) – Prof. Deborah Kaplan
“Perceptions of Nature in Early America” (L322) – Prof. Kathy McGill
“Public Speaking Tips and Techniques” (F404) – Prof. Andy Finn and Amy Brener
“Drones: Our New Toys, Tools and Robot Companions” (954) – Christopher Vo, roboticist at Mason
“End of Life Decisions in Islam” (F603) – Prof. Abdulaziz Sachedina
I know, too, that we’re all so appreciative of the many instructors who regularly return to us with exciting offerings. This term look for one of our favorites, Chris With, who is teaching two courses: “Anger, Magic and Idealism” (R114) and “Hitler and the Arts” (F107). And don’t miss Beverly Cosham’s “Poetry in Music” (R112) and Delegate Ken Plum’s “What Is It about Virginia?” (R313). Now look for a variety of new courses with irresistible titles such as these:
“Ukraine Since the End of the Cold War” (F305)
“Spies and Espionage” (R312)
“History of America in 101 Objects” (L320)
“Halloween: History and Traditions” (977)
“Fred Astaire, Entertainer Extraordinaire” (L116)
Just when you think you’ve covered all the possibilities, you’ll realize it’s almost time for “Fall for the Book,” with four fascinating events this year at Mason and Tallwood. Also don’t forget to fill your calendar with lots of special events, trips and ongoing activities. After you’ve made the tough choices between so many terrific offerings, you’ll be set for fall—a time full of promise for renewing friendships, meeting new people, and enjoying extraordinary classes.
Humanities and Social Sciences Planning Group to Meet
By Richard Melanson, Planning Group Co-chair
The Humanities and Social Sciences Planning Group will hold a meeting on Tue, Aug 26 from 10:00 to 12:00 in the Annex at Tallwood. We will be completing our planning for the winter term and begin focusing on spring term courses.
This is a wonderful opportunity for OLLI members to learn about and participate in program planning. Please come to this meeting and enjoy a lively exchange of ideas and the building of camaraderie.
OLLI's Loudoun Campus Looks Forward to the Fall Term
By Maria Buczek, Loudoun Site Assistant
OLLI in Loudoun “survived” our summer term at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and we are ready to begin the fall term in our beautiful new home in the Signal Hill Building with George Mason University.
Our wonderful OLLI members did not let the heat, long walk from the parking lot, confusion over finding their classrooms, and echoing mics dampen their enthusiasm for their OLLI summer courses. We enjoyed some great classes at our temporary home at NOVA. Many thanks to the members who stood in the heat to direct OLLI members to their classes, and to the OLLI staff who went out of their way to assist members who needed additional assistance getting to their classrooms.
We would also like to thank the staff at NOVA who were extremely accommodating and helpful. The IT staff came running whenever there was a “glitch” with the computer, which usually turned out to be a simple user error on my part!
With the summer term behind us and the move complete, we can now look forward to being back in the suite with George Mason University. The facility is beautiful and has all of the same features we enjoyed on Ridgetop Circle. Members will have classrooms with tables and comfortable chairs, a break area where coffee and cookies will be served, and microphones that do not echo!
All OLLI members are invited to an Open House on Thu, Sept 18. Members will be able to see the new suite, pick up a required parking pass for the Signal Hill Plaza and then sit in on a teleconference with George Mason University’s President, Dr. Angel Cabrera on “Being Global: How to Think, Act and Lead in a Transformed World.” More details on times, registration and parking will be forthcoming.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and we’ll see you in September!
The OLLI Personal Computer User Group, or OPCUG, will meet with its partner, the Potomac Area Technology and Computer Society (PATACS), Sat, Aug 16 at Tallwood. Join us at 12:30 for soft drinks and socializing in the social room. Presentations will begin at 1:00.
TV Buying Tips, presented by Scotty Scott
This program will explain the features of digital TVs, including clarity of the pictures displayed and advantages of the newest digital sets. Attendees will learn about TV sizes and prices, and “smart TVs” with access to the Internet. The up-to-date information provided will help consumers avoid digital TVs being sold with not-so-modern or less-desirable features. The discussion will include antenna (free) and cable (subscription) options for receiving broadcast signals. There will be ample opportunities to ask questions.
RW (Scotty) Scott is a lawyer whose previous career involved running a number of national non-profit organizations. He retired in 2008, and then took on a second stint with Fairfax County as a senior communications analyst. He serves with the Communications Policy & Regulation Division, Department of Cable and Consumer Services.
Learn 30: Clip Converter—an Online Tool Presented by Bill Walsh
Clip Converter is a media download tool that allows you to download video or audio URLs while converting them to a common format. The process is free and the format conversions will allow you to upload the files to many different devices.
See full details on this meeting by clicking here. For information on the Computer Club, see the OPCUG website. OPCUG dues of $5 for 2014 will be collected at this meeting.
Have you ever been to a new member coffee or attended an OLLI social event? The genesis of these events stems back to the early days at OLLI when Beverly George was Membership and Hospitality chair. Beverly is the second to be profiled in our series on original members of OLLI.
In the early days, the 75 or so members of the Learning in Retirement Institute (LRI) met “upstairs above the bank next to the firehouse,” a remote piece of the Mason campus, Beverly remembers. It was slim pickings then, with scant office space, few resources –one typewriter, telephone and copier – and classes scattered at makeshift locations around Fairfax, including Gold’s Gym, City Hall and OLLI member homes. Despite these limitations, Beverly recalls great offerings including a “wonderful” brown bag series at City Hall led by Mason’s Robinson Scholars, such as WETA founder Elizabeth P. Campbell and former Office of Management and Budget Director Alice Rivlin.
It was not until the Institute moved to Tallwood in 1994 that it really developed its member services and recruitment, recalls Beverly. Known for her knack at hospitality, she was appointed Membership chair and, with a team of helpers, launched a series of socials and “open houses” for purposes of recruitment and retention. Beverly remembers sending mailed invitations to lists of local Elderhostel participants, with early versions of the OLLI catalogue - a sketch of Tallwood accompanied by blurbs about courses and instructors. She also organized the distribution of flyers to community locations such as libraries and recreation centers, as well as announcements in the Washington Post.
The response was overwhelming. Hundreds flocked to Tallwood to learn about OLLI’s offerings and to partake in community activities. Looking at the records, membership boomed during the early years, increasing as much as 20-30 percent year over year. Beverly also organized “get-to-know-you” brown bags held between classes at Tallwood that each attracted 45-50 people. Soon Beverly became known as the face of OLLI hospitality, and some who didn’t know her fondly called her “Food!”
Beverly’s memories of the Tallwood campus are vivid as she details the challenges of the early facilities. There was no running water, so members put a fountain in TA-1. Without a kitchen, OLLI relied heavily on members or Mason catering services to provide food for social events. And space was largely limited until Mason delivered the trailers (purchased by the LRI) that now comprise TA-2 and TA-3.
Beverly has been an active member of OLLI since its inception, and though she no longer leads the committee, she still helps with hospitality services. “Change has been good for OLLI,” she asserts, because it has yielded a wealth of interesting new courses and special events, which she really enjoys. Beverly leaps at any opportunity to travel abroad, including a couple of recent OLLI trips to Italy and Ireland. She glows in the memory of her “around the world” trip in the 1970s and is excited to travel to Russia this summer with her friends from the Retired Teachers’ Association, of which she is a member. Some of her favorite classes at OLLI study international relations, she says.
Born in 1934 outside of Boston, Beverly earned a teaching degree at Bridgewater College and taught third and fourth grades throughout her career. She never married, she says, because she “never found the right person at the right time.” (I am sure there is an interesting story behind that statement but she didn’t share it with me!) She retired in 1989 and it has been all-about-OLLI ever since (with time for water aerobics, bowling and investment club pursuits). “It is the best thing that happened to me,” she says with a smile, and given her contributions over the years, OLLI can say the same of Beverly!
My name is Sam Monfort and I'm a psychology PhD student at George Mason. Two of my colleagues and I have entered a design competition to re-think the voting experience. We are hoping to get some input from older individuals regarding their voting behavior and preferences (including special accommodations you find useful in voting booths, for example). We have put together a short survey and would like you to fill it out for us! It shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes. Thank you in advance for your time! (SURVEY LINK: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1WGfCEe_by5EH_jzrfEEqEMyaEd-F_jtjAs2HlNuNC_M/viewform?usp=send_form)
Poet's Corner Courtesy of the Poetry Workshop
the cosmos so huge expanding even as clouds unconcerned, float by
the clever atom vibrating trillions of years in stubborn smallness
while we as middlings curious as otters, try to come up with whys
For tickets for either CFA or Hylton, call 1-888-945-2468, buy tickets online through the event calendar (see links below), or visit the venue's box office. For more information see the CFA ticket page or the Hylton ticket purchase page.
Prince William Little Theatre: The Musical of Musicals
Fri, July 25–Sat, July 26, 8:00
Sun, July 27, 2:00
Admission: Adults, $25; seniors, $20; children, $15
Gregory Family Theater
A Different Perspective: Multi-Level Photoart
Continues through Sun, Aug 31
The Buchanan Partners Art Gallery is open to the public Tue-Sat, 10 am–6 p.m; Thurs, 10 am–8 pm; and two hours before performances.
For more information about the current exhibit, visit HyltonCenter.org/gallery.
The following list covering the next two weeks is extracted for your convenience from the master online calendar maintained by the office, with direct web links added when available. The list is accurate as of mid-week but to check anytime for the latest information, please view the latest forecast of upcoming events on our website (News/OLLI Calendar). Note: All OLLI members are welcome at, and encouraged to attend, meetings of the Board of Directors, committees and resource groups, Kickoff Coffees, etc. (bolded below).
Sat Jul 26
Tai Chi Club–TA-3
Mon Jul 28
Science, Technology and Health Program Planning Group–Cottage
What’s in the Daily News, cont’d–TA-1 Member Services Committee–Annex
Russia Discussion Group–TA-1
Tue Jul 29
Knitting and Needlework Club–Panera, Herndon
Wed Jul 30
Tom Crooker Investment Forum–TA-1
Fri Aug 1
iPad Users Group–UCP
Sat Aug 2
Tai Chi Club–TA-3
Tue Aug 5
Knitting and Needlework Club–Panera, Herndon
Sat Aug 9
Tai Chi Club–TA-3
Tue Aug 12
Knitting and Needlework Club–Panera, Herndon
Sat Aug 16
Tai Chi Club–TA-3
Computer Users Group–TA-1
Mon Aug 18
Mah Jongg Club–TA-2
What’s in the Daily News, cont’d–TA-1
Tue Aug 19
Science, Technology and Health Program Planning Group–TA-2
Knitting and needlework Club–Panera, Herndon
Wed Aug 20
Tom Crooker Investment Forum–TA-1
A/V Committee Training/Meeting–TA-1
Fri Aug 22
Craft and Conversation Group–Cottage
Classic Fiction Book Club–Cascades Library
OLLI E-News was created by Rod Zumbro, who served as its editor from 2005 to 2013.
Chief Editor/Technical Editor: Irene Osterman
Weekly Editorial Team: Paul Van Hemel, Sheri Siesseger, Leslie Vandivere, Proofreaders: John West, Gordon Canyock, Susan Van Hemel
Backup Chief Editor: Sheri Siesseger
Submissions. Members are encouraged to submit letters to the editor, letters to Ms. Ollie Ettakit (on etiquette matters), OLLI-related news items, articles and photos. Submit material to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Deadline – 6:00 pm Tuesday for that week's issue (6:00 pm Monday for letters to the editor); early submissions are greatly appreciated. Please limit articles to about 250 words. Note: You can view past issues of OLLI E-News on the DocStore. To search the content of issues, use Search Our Site or put your search term in Google followed by "site:olli.gmu.edu/" without the quotes.