Save the Dates – Fall 2017

The Fall Course Preview will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 9 a.m. at NRECA.


Registration will open at 10 a.m. sharp on Monday, September 11, 2017.


Our Fall semester will begin Monday, October 2, 2017.


Ethnic Lunch Club: Food and Friendships

If you like to dine out and try exotic cuisines among friends, our Ethnic Lunch Club is for you.

Here are some photos taken in April 2018 while dining at Royal Nepal restaurant in Del Ray, courtesy of Lee Cooper.

Helen Sioris, Arlene Kigin, Nadia Tangour

Keith Fairweather and Dru Dowdy

Lynn Morsen, Ron Wise, Althea Johnston. Flag of Nepal in background.

Margaret Neuse and Jae Shin Yang

Vera Libeau and Steve Shapiro

Delicious food at Royal Nepal.

The Ethnic Lunch Club, a group of “foreign foodies,” usually meet at a specified restaurant on the last Thursday of the month to explore and enjoy the area’s great ethnic food.

Details for each restaurant are sent by email each month. Some meals are fixed-price complete lunches; some are à la carte.

To join or get more information, contact us via the Encore Learning office at 703-228-2144 or

Community Advisory Council Profile: Diane Kresh

Our Community Advisory Council, established in 2006, serves as a sounding board and network of support for Encore Learning’s Board of Directors. The Council, comprised of community leaders and representatives from our affiliates, advises the organization on topics which range from acquisition of classroom and office space, to membership levels and diversity, to recruitment of instructors and additional affiliations. The broad, deep and diverse experience they bring to the discussion is invaluable.

We continue our series on current Council members with this interview of Diane Kresh, Director, Arlington Public Library. Diane has served on Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council since 2010 and is a familiar face to many Arlingtonians given the outreach the library has made since her tenure began 12 years ago this month.

Diane, our public libraries are the new gathering spaces in our community. How long have you worked in libraries?

I began working for the Library of Congress as a college student — a summer job that became a 30+ year career.  When I felt the call to try something else, I took an early out from the Library only to find myself happily employed a couple of months later as the Director of Arlington Public Library.  While I wouldn’t say that I started out in life to be a librarian (although I did alphabetize my baseball cards), the profession has served me well.  It allows me to “advocate” for values I embrace like social equity, intellectual freedom and inclusion.  And it’s a career that has never been boring.  Although the tools of the trade have evolved, and the names and faces of colleagues have changed, the core missions to make information freely available and the mandate to collect and share the stories that define our cultural heritage, have never gotten old.  They are as vital and as important today as they ever were.

So you have been in the metropolitan area for a long time!

I lived in DC, raised two boys (Matt and Nate) and worked there for more than 30 years. Actually, I have lived in this area since 1958 when my family relocated here after my father left the Marine Corps and began to work for the Federal government. I attended Arlington public schools (Tuckahoe, Williamsburg and Yorktown) and went to college at Catholic University of America, where I earned my BA in Speech and Drama and my Masters in Library Science.

Diane and author of The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Google says there were more degrees and honors involved. Don’t be shy.

I received CUA’s Distinguished Alumnus Award for contribution to the field of library and information science, 2002. In 2010, I was awarded the Top Student Award by George Mason University when I earned my Master’s in Public Administration (Northern Virginia Fellows Cohort). I picked up my Executive Certificate in Leadership Coaching at Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership in 2013. And, like other local leaders, I am a graduate of the Signature Program of Leadership Arlington, now known as Leadership Center for Excellence.

 {Marjorie Varner: I remember Diane coaching a segment of my Signature Program in 2015!}

Author of The Sympathizer Viet Thanh Nguyen and Diane discuss his book.

Thanks for your contributions to that nonprofit organization as well. Tell us what you think about our organization.

Marjorie Varner reached out to me shortly after I became Library Director and invited me to serve on the Community Advisory Council. Indeed, the mission of Encore Learning is closely aligned with the role of the public library. We both promote lifelong learning and encourage the young and the not so young to be curious and open to new paths. Over the years, Arlington Library has benefited from a close relationship with Encore Learning. We host programs and classes each month; sometimes we co-sponsor and sometimes we don’t. Encore Learning’s use of the library reinforces our commitment to helping citizens become the best they can be.  And the wide range of class offerings taught by experts in their fields reminds us all of how fortunate we are to live or work in this smart and caring community.

What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t running Arlington’s library system? Where would we find you on the weekend or on vacation?

Downtime for me is filled with taking photos (the iPhone camera is amazing), singing with a semi-professional choral group, and creating mixed media collages and assemblages.  And when I’m not working on my own projects, I enjoy going to the theater and art galleries, eating at the latest pescaterians-friendly restaurants or spending time outdoors with my wife, Colleen Donnelly.  She grew up in upstate New York near the Canadian border and we spend a couple of weeks each summer hiking in the High Peaks of the Adirondack mountains or canoeing.   

Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin, at a book talk with Diane.

Sounds like you stay busy even when you are away from the job! What would you delve into if you were an Encore Learning member?

I love to read (an occupational hazard) and am interested in many of the subject areas Encore Learning offers, especially those focusing on the arts. I also enjoy politics and current events and relish keeping up with what’s happening across the Potomac. I hope to be able to teach a class or two someday for Encore Learning. I have always enjoyed teaching and it would be a fun and interesting way for me to give back to a community that has given me so much.

We are passing your name right along to our Academic Programs Committee. Let’s add another title to your list: Instructor, Encore Learning. Thanks so much!

Photos courtesy Diane Kresh.

Bonnie Mangan on Civil War Women: Bibliography to Share

As part of our Meet the Speaker Series, Bonnie Mangan, Vice President of the Society for Civil War Women, spoke at Arlington Central Library on Monday, March 26, on “Civil War Women: Nurses, Soldiers and Spies.” It was the fifth lecture co-sponsored by Encore Learning and Arlington Central Library in 2018.

Ms. Mangan shared entertaining tales of a select number of lesser-known women who as abolitionists, campaigners for women’s suffrage, volunteer nurses, logistical organizers, disguised soldiers, spies and even spymasters, mobilized support for troops on both sides of the war.

The lecture emphasized their courage and dedication to caring for soldiers, the wounded and dying, as well as civilians, prisoners, and the many slaves caught up in the fighting. They also helped meet the needs of the hundreds of displaced persons, freemen, and slaves. Ms. Mangan’s presentation was a lesson for all regarding the often overlooked but extremely critical role that Civil War Women played in the lives of thousands.

Ms. Mangan based her talk on her in-depth research into the many letters and memoirs written by these exceptional women, particularly Sophronia E. Buckling, Laura S. Havilland, Harriet Jacobs, and Sojourner Truth. She also prepared a Selected Bibliography for those interested in reading more about these outstanding women.

Bonnie Mangan Bibliography Women in the Civil War





Office closed until April 2, 2018

Courses, clubs and special events proceed as scheduled.

Email and voice mail messages will be answered upon our return. Happy Spring!

Weather Update/Closings for Wed March 21

Arlington Public Schools and Mason are both closed on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

Per our policy, our office will be closed and no classes will be held at Mason and Fairlington Community Center on March 21, 2018.

Here is a reminder of our weather policy:

If Arlington Public Schools (APS) cancels classes, our office is closed and our classes at Fairlington Community Center (FCC) are cancelled. If they announce a delayed opening, our classes scheduled to begin after the building reopens will take place as scheduled.

If Mason cancels its classes, our classes at their Arlington campus are cancelled. If Mason announces a delayed opening, our classes scheduled to begin after the campus reopens will take place as scheduled. Mason, like APS, usually treats all its locations as one.

If Arlington Central Library is closed, any special event scheduled there is cancelled. If the library remains open but cancels all programs, then our special event is cancelled.

Activities such as special events which meet outside of our host institutions and our clubs do not have hard and fast rules. When in doubt, contact the activity coordinator.

Most institutions make their daily closure/delay decision between 5am and 6am and post their decision in bold letters on their home page.

To learn the most up-to-date info on the host institutions’ decisions regarding delays and closings:

Listen to the radio or watch television news bulletins

Visit for Arlington Public Schools or call 703-228-4APS

Visit for George Mason University or call 703-993-1000

Visit for Arlington Central Library or call 703-228-5990

Globe Trotter or Armchair Traveler: Our Travel Club is for You

Our travel club is a wonderful mix of those who are still actively traveling, and those who just want to enjoy hearing from others about their trips. At our March 2018 Club meeting, member Charlie Hallahan gave a wonderful presentation on his trip to Palestine. For those of you who couldn’t be there, a few photos courtesy of Charlie below.

Meeting with a Samaritan official on Mount Gerizim outside Nablus.

Curvy roads and curvy camels in the West Bank.

St George’s Monastery – a 5th Century Greek Orthodox Monastery near Jericho.

The key symbol appears in Palestinian towns as a reminder of hopefully returning to their homes lost in the 1948 and 1967 wars.

Read signs in Hebron carefully.

Travel Club members also independently coordinate trips for those interested.  The most recent tour selected was in September 2017 – a Grand Circle Line cruise that included Malta, the Western Coast of Italy, and Rome.  Read about that trip and see photos here.

If you wish to join our Travel Club, please email the office.

Instructor Profile: Ken Avis

New instructor Ken Avis was introduced to Encore Learning by WERA, Radio Arlington.  “I was listening to Choose to be Curious. Lynn Borton was interviewing Encore Learning’s Executive Director, Marjorie Varner. I heard about the wide variety of courses and decided to see if there was anything I wanted to study,” Ken recalled. “Instead, I looked at the courses and thought, why isn’t there more on music?”

All photos courtesy Ken Avis. Photo by Bill Crandall.

Instead of taking courses, Ken will be teaching “Music City DC — Exploring the Evolution of Popular Music in DC — from Jazz to Punk and More.”  You might think that someone with such knowledge of and enthusiasm for the history of and many facets of DC music would be DC born and bred. Far from it.

He was born in Wigan, a mining town in England. When the mines closed, his family moved to Blackpool where they worked in a variety of businesses. “First, we ran a small guest house,” he remembered. “We each had jobs — I peeled potatoes to make chips. We lived in a trailer to free up more rooms.” The family moved every two years and changing their business, going from a liquor store to a dry cleaners to a fish and chips shop.

A music group from Liverpool helped awaken Ken’s interest in music. “When I heard the Beatles, I was hearing people who spoke with an accent like mine, not the BBC accent I’d been hearing,” he said. He started listening to the Beatles and Van Morrison as well as American soul, blues and jazz.  He begged his parents for a guitar and although they were not musical, owning only two record albums, they helped him buy one.

Not surprisingly, Ken’s growing love of music also led him to business ventures. He started playing the guitar professionally at 11 and toured at 16, playing in bands.  Also at age 16, he created a music agency with a 17-year old partner.  “We promoted bands,” he said. “It was probably illegal since we were both so young.”  The law didn’t end their business; the advent of punk music did. Ken continued to play, but still needed a day job.

So, Ken went to school, earning a BA in urban development from the University of Sussex. After post-graduate studies at the London School of Economics he started on a career in industrial relations negotiation, working with trade unions, which evolved into a career as a facilitator as trade unions declined in the UK.

His work took him outside of England to live in Paris and Geneva. He and his wife and children were living in Switzerland when a former boss contacted him about a job opportunity in Washington.  “I had never been to America. I went for an adventure,” Ken said. “My old boss treated me to a good meal. He told me the job would allow me time to play music and I realized guitar prices in the USA were a third of what they were in Switzerland.”

Ken took the job with the World Bank in Washington and stayed with them for 15 years until 2011, often travelling to Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. He continues to do consulting with the World Bank and other organizations.

Now Ken’s primary business has become music. He has two programs on WERA (96.7 FM), Music Alley and the Antidote, a program with his wife Lynn Veronneau. They have performed with their quartet, Veronneau, at Blues Alley, Strathmore, the Kennedy Center and the Hamilton. The group recently released its third CD, Love & Surrender. Ken also has produced a new documentary, Anacostia Delta: Home of the World’s Great Unknown Guitarists. He is a regular speaker at the Music Center at Strathmore and the D.C. Music Salon. He’s looking forward to teaching his first Encore Learning class. “I’m not selling myself as an expert,” he said. “I’m hoping to learn from my students. So much music history isn’t written, it’s other people who add context with their memories. There might be someone in class who heard Charlie Byrd live.”

No matter what your personal music history, this class will bring you into DC music history from the last 100 years. “I want to make the class entertaining. Students will hear and see music,” Ken said. “I want to create ‘who would have thought that’ moments — imagine, DC’s Howard Theater was the model for New York’s Apollo Theater — and to look at the social and physical environment that helped shape those moments.”

— Written by member Laura Paul

You can check out Ken’s music on YouTube:



Cristol, Talento join Encore Learning Community Advisory Council

Arlington, VA (January 30, 2018) — Encore Learning is pleased to announce that Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol and Arlington Public School Board member Tannia Talento have joined its Community Advisory Council.


Katie Cristol said, “I’m looking forward to working with Encore Learning and supporting their ongoing efforts. Encore Learning is a valued partner that offers dynamic learning experiences to Arlington’s extensive community offerings for older adults.”


Tannia Talento said, “I am excited to join Encore Learning for our shared value of lifelong learning and a commitment to serving our community.  Through education, Encore Learning enriches lives in Arlington and I look forward to being a part of this great organization.”


Council Chair Chris Milliken said, “We are thrilled Katie and Tannia agreed to join our Community Advisory Council. We have the best minds in Arlington helping us ensure the long term sustainability of this vital community service.” Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council meets annually to lend their local expertise and provide input to the organization’s strategic planning process.


The members of the Community Advisory Council are Kate Bates, Robert H. Brink, Joseph B. Bruns, Katie Cristol, Barbara Favola, Jay Fisette, David Foster, Patrick Hope, Diane Kresh, Kris Martini,
Christine T. Milliken. Patrick K. Murphy, Una Murphy, Edward Rhodes, Matthew Shank, Theo Stamos, Rip Sullivan, Tannia Talento, Emma Violand-Sanchez and Mary Margaret Whipple.


Encore Learning’s upcoming Course Preview on February 3 will feature brief presentations from instructors about their academic courses for the Spring 2018 semester. The event is for both current and prospective members. Membership is open to those age 50+ in the metro area.


Encore Learning is an Arlington, VA-based nonprofit dedicated to providing the community with high-quality lifelong learning and social opportunities at a reasonable cost. for more information, go to

Join us Feb 3 for our Spring 2018 Course Preview

Encore Learning’s instructors give brief presentations about their academic courses for the upcoming semester. Members often tell us that the instructors’ presentations at the Course Preview influence their registrations.

The preview begins at 9 A.M. Doors open at 8:30 A.M., for thirty minutes to socialize with friends and neighbors. It’s a great time to get the latest news on our clubs, special events and volunteer possibilities, along with a quick bite and hot drink.

New location! Wakefield High School. Turn on S. Dinwiddie to enter the parking lot. Enter the building through Doorway One.

This event is for both current and prospective members. Membership is open to those age 50+ in the metro area. Bring friends, relatives and neighbors! We’re looking forward to seeing you.

Important Dates: Spring Semester 2018

We’re busy gearing up for our Spring 2018 semester – make sure you have these dates on your calendar:

Saturday, February 3: Course Preview

NEW LOCATION: Wakefield High School

EARLIER TIME: Doors open at 8:30 A.M.

Encore Learning’s instructors give brief presentations about their academic courses for the upcoming semester. Members often tell us that the instructors’ presentations at the Course Preview influence their registrations.

The preview begins at 9 A.M. Doors open at 8:30 A.M., for thirty minutes to socialize with friends and neighbors. It’s a great time to get the latest news on our clubs, special events and volunteer possibilities, along with a quick bite and hot drink.

This event is for both current and prospective members. Membership is open to those age 50+ in the metro area. Bring friends, relatives and neighbors! We’re looking forward to seeing you.

Monday, February 5: 10 A.M. Sharp – Registration opens

Monday, March 5 – May 24: Courses run as scheduled