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February 2024 Newsletter

The Inside Scoop

Welcome to The Inside Scoop, our electronic newsletter. Please enjoy this issue and share your feedback by email. We always look forward to hearing from you. This is the February 2024 edition of The Inside Scoop.

Spring 2024 Semester Fast Approaching

Spring Semester Starts

Next Week!

We are so excited to start our 43rd semester of Encore Learning classes! Registration is ongoing with classes running through mid May. Check out our Courses page for the calendar view, grid view, a PDF and more.

Reminders For Spring Courses

We’re looking forward to seeing you in class, either in-person or virtually, soon! You will receive a reminder email with more information two days before your class begins, but in the meantime, here are a few tips and reminders to help you prepare:

In-Person Course Locations: All class locations, including room numbers, can be found in the course description. All courses at GMU will be held in Van Metre Hall at the Mason Square Campus in Arlington. Paid parking is available in an attached garage accessed off of Kirkwood Road. Parking for two hours is $9.00. There are nearby parking meters as well.

Zoom Login Information for Virtual Courses: All Zoom login information has been uploaded to your member account and can be found in your class media. You will use the same login information for all class sessions, so we recommend saving the login information to your desktop. For tips on using Zoom, see these resources.

Class Media: You will be notified by staff when supplemental class materials are available to view in your member account. To access class media, log into your account on Member Account Manager, open the My Activities tab, navigate to the course, and select the View Media link.

Some Virtual Classes to be Streamed at GMU Mason Square:

We realize there are students registered for courses that may be adjoining in two places, i.e. one is virtual and the other being in-person. Encore Learning will open three selected Zoom classes in a classroom, the instructor and other students will all be on Zoom. The location of the virtual class viewing will be shared with students who are registered for the virtual class. Please visit the Spring Semester Updates page for information on this.

We are also recording some select courses. Three classes are being recorded so if you miss a class you may view it later. The recordings will be available until 30 days after the last class session. You must be registered for the course to have access to the recording.

To see the current information about these virtual class options and recorded classes, see the Spring Semester Updates.

Inclement Weather and Other Policies: Please see this link for more information.

Some Spring Course Highlights

Take Courses to Deepen Knowledge of Global Affairs

The Spring Semester has a rich offering of global affairs courses. A new course will feature the Peace Corps, see below for more on that. We will offer our most popular course, Global Hot Spots, which features five experts taking an in-depth look each week at global challenges.

It begins with Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, who will guide us through what is arguably the world’s most dangerous current global hot spot, the Middle East, focusing on Israel’s military crisis, which comes on top of a severe political crisis in that country. She is the director of the Israel, the Palestinian Territories and the Region program at the U.S. Institute of Peace and frequently presents and publishes on political, diplomatic and civil society efforts related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Arab-Israeli relations.

Next, retired Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne will discuss the extremely important national elections this June for virtually every office in Mexico, including that of a new President. Important changes could flow from this election, particularly those that might affect the fight against corruption and the drug cartels, as well as possible greater cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on immigration and economic matters. Ambassador Wayne is currently a senior faculty member at American University following an illustrious diplomatic career in which he served as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Argentina, as well as the Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.

Our third speaker, former Ambassador Tibor Nagy will focus on terrorism in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced more acts of terrorism than any other part of the world and Ambassador Nagy will discuss this problem and what is being done to contain it. Ambassador Nagy has served as U.S. Ambassador to both Guinea and Ethiopia, as well as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

The next week, former Ambassador Frederick Barton will discuss ways to improve the way the U.S. and other countries and institutions intervene in crisis countries with stabilization efforts. Barton is currently on the faculty of Princeton University and prior to that had extensive diplomatic experience in senior positions at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the United Nations, and the Department of State, including as one of the U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations.

Our final speaker retired Ambassador John Herbst will bring us up to date in what has become a perennial hot spot: Ukraine. Ambassador Herbst is currently the Senior Director at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, and has served as the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and Uzbekistan. -Kris McLaughlin

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen

(Amb) Earl Anthony Wayne

(Amb) Tibor Nagy

 (Amb) Frederick Barton

 (Amb) John Herbst

Learn more about course updates, which upcoming classes have space and what else is new this semester by going to: https://encorelearning.net/spring-semester-updates/

Peace Corps Experiences:

Six Decades of Friendship and Support

Former Peace Corps volunteers who served over six decades will share stories about their experiences in a new course that will run in April and May.

The course will open with a screening of A Towering Task: The Story of the Peace Corps. This documentary examines the 63-year-old agency, launched by President John F. Kennedy.

Evelyn Ganzglass will moderate four of the five sessions. She coordinates oral histories for Returning Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C. Speakers will share stories about experiences in Panama, Ghana, Nepal, Ethiopia, Somalia, Thailand, the Ivory Coast, Fiji, Ukraine, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Peru, Honduras, Myanmar, Georgia, Bolivia, Romania and Indonesia.

The course will also look at new ways the Peace Corps is reaching out around the world in the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic and at how volunteers today stay in touch with family and friends and share their experiences via YouTube.

Jody Olsen, a former director of the Peace Corps, and Dan Baker, president of the National Peace corps Association are among speakers for week 4 of the course.

The course will be offered at 2:00 PM on Tuesdays on Zoom, April 9 through May 14 (no class on April 23). Visit the course information for details and to register.

Thank you to all our volunteer instructors and course coordinators for helping us provide such timely and compelling classes.

President’s Message

We are about to start our Spring semester, and I’m happy to share how well it’s going! We are well over 1000 registrations, and still counting. With some very new and different course offerings, we hope to reach out to a broader community of learners. Urban Agriculture—a seeming oxymoron, is sparking interest, as is Ranked Choice Voting: The Future of Elections and 2024 Election – Divided We Stand. Classes where we can learn more about what’s happening in the world right now with space available include Global Hot Spots and Africa’s Role in the 21st Century.

As in the past few semesters, we have both in-person classes and virtual offerings, some offered hybrid, as well as opportunities to take in the great outdoors—and learn at the same time. One of our courses this semester will be held at Goodwin Living Bailey’s Crossroads. This reminds me to give a shout out to our fantastic staff and IT committee. They make our virtual and hybrid offerings possible!

The Spring Preview of all Spring courses is available on our YouTube channel and you can also find a link to each instructor’s preview clip in the online course description.

A word about a recent effort to learn about our members. We had an excellent response to our online member survey, helping us to determine Encore Learning’s demographics. As we seek to be as inclusive as possible, it helps to get a baseline of our membership, so we can check trends and changes. Membership is paramount to a successful program, and we will continue to seek opportunities to expand our numbers. We will share a summary of the survey results at the Member Annual Meeting on May 16.

I am so grateful to the wonderful volunteers who make this all possible, offering all of these fantastic courses, clubs and events is the result of more than 150 volunteers throughout the year.

We hope you will enjoy the new semester as well as Encore Learning’s other activities. Look forward to seeing everyone!

-Marilyn Marton, Board President

Member Survey

Members were emailed a link to complete a survey on February 14 and 21. If you did not receive this link then your membership is not current. If you are a member and have not taken this survey, please look for that email or let us know that you need the link. The deadline to complete the survey is March 4.

Results from the membership survey will be shared at the Annual Meeting of the members in May.

New Board Member Profile: Barry Ginsberg

We are pleased to welcome Encore Learning member and Instructor Barry Ginsberg to our Board of Directors as Vice President. Barry kindly submitted this bio to help us get to know him a little better.

Barry H. Ginsberg, MD, PhD joined the board this year as Vice President hoping to introduce more technology into Encore Learning. He joined Encore Learning about six years ago shortly after moving from New Jersey to Virginia to be closer to his children and grandchildren. He had retired from his previous job as Vice President for Worldwide Medical Affairs at Becton Dickinson about 10 years before the move. In his position, he travelled, mostly internationally about 50% of the time. He especially liked his trips to Asia and is a big fan of very spicy Asian food. He and his wife, Marge, are now travelling around the Mediterranean. Prior to working for Becton Dickinson he had been a Professor of Medicine and Biochemistry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.

Barry grew up in a beach community of New York City and went to college at Harpur College (Binghamton University), part of the State University of New York. He attended medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine graduating with both MD and PhD in molecular biology. He did his internship at Harvard (Beth Israel Hospital) and his fellowship in Endocrinology and Diabetes at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda.

Barry’s hobbies include 3D printing and his electric car. He and Marge keep busy visiting local sites and taking courses from the Smithsonian Associates, as well and Encore Learning. Barry is also a member of the board of his local synagogue.

Thank you to Barry and all our Board members for all they do for Encore Learning.

Special Events

Arlington Philharmonic

Calling all music lovers! We have two Special Events with the Arlington Philharmonic. First is the Philharmonic Preview on Thursday, March 7 at 10:00 AM where Maestro Scott Wood will highlight the music being performed at the concert on March 10th. Click here for more information on the Philharmonic Preview.

Sunday, March 10 is the Arlington Philharmonic concert and reception at Washington-Liberty High School. The reception starts at 3:00 PM and the concert begins at 4:00 PM. 

Click here for more information.

The “Beyond Bohemian” Concert Program includes works by:

  • Czech composer Bedřich Smetana – The Moldau from Má Vlast  (My Fatherland)
  • German Composer Carl Philipp Stamitz – Sinfonia Concertante in D major with Marcolivia Duo Soloists Olivia Hajioff, viola, and Marc Ramirez, violin
  • German Composer Johannes Brahms – Symphony No. 4 in E minor 

Membership is not required to attend these free Philharmonic events. However, we do ask that you register for the March 10 reception and concert so that we know how many to expect. You can register here.

Click on program image for a larger view.

Museum Tour Coordinator Needed!

Do you enjoy in-person tours of local museums, or virtual tours of museums in other cities?  If so, our Special Events Committee is looking for a Museum Tour Coordinator to arrange approximately one tour a month for our menu of Special Events. If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact the office at info@encorelearning.net. Our Special Events Committee Chair, Kris McLaughlin, will then contact you to discuss. And please remember, Encore Learning depends on its Volunteers to offer the wide range of activities available to our Members!

Club News

Please email the Encore Learning office if you are interested in joining any of our clubs or would like more information. You can also visit our Clubs page on our website.

Tech Hobbyist Club

Special Lectures

The Tech Hobbyist club will have virtual technology lectures on the first Monday of the month, available to all Encore Learning members. You do not need to join the club to attend the lectures. the topics are:

March 4, 10:00 AM, Drones by Steve Shapiro

April 1, 10:00 AM, How We Protect Ourselves with Antibodies by Barry Ginsberg

May 6,  10:00 AM The Development of Modern Drugs by Alphonse Galdes

June 3, 10:00 AM Robotics by Michael Shapiro

Use this direct link for all of these lectures:


Or if you have Zoom open:

Meeting ID: 870 4526 5665 Passcode: tech

They should be interesting events!

Potential New Club

Barry Ginsberg is interested in developing a new club that will meet monthly to discuss Electric Vehicles. If interested please send your contact information to: btg100@gmail.com

Travel Club

The Encore Learning Travel Club met on February 16, where the topic was Part 2 of a trip to Tanzania by Charlie Hallahan. This time the focus was mostly on the animals in Tanzania. The next meeting will be March 15 at 3:30 PM on Zoom.


The club is seeking presenters for 2024 meetings. Please contact Charlie Hallahan through the office if you’d like more information or to volunteer.

Nonfiction Book Club

The Encore Learning Nonfiction Book Club will meet next on March 11 in the Arlington Central library, Bluemont Room, at 1:30 PM. We’ll be discussing Untold Power: The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson (by Rebecca Boggs Roberts). The book tells the story of Edith Bolling Gatt Wilson, who in 1919, effectively acted as the first woman president of the U.S. (before women could even vote nationwide) when her husband, Woodrow Wilson, was incapacitated.

New members are welcome and encouraged to join us. Let the Encore Learning office know if you’d like to become a member of the book club and receive notifications of our planned reading and meetings. —Ed Rader

Mindfulness Club 

The Encore Learning Mindfulness Club meets most Wednesdays at Noon by Zoom for a 20 minute meditation period as well as exploration of the various approaches to mindfulness practice and tips on resources which you might find helpful. Participants come as they are able or as they need to be refreshed in the uses of mindfulness. Much of what the group does is based in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and in Insight practices. All are welcome, our meetings have no prerequisites. If you wish to be added to the Club email list, please contact the Encore Learning office.Dwight Rodgers

Global Lunch Club

Do you enjoy exploring international cuisines and going on culinary adventures? Our Global Lunch Club has been on hiatus since the pandemic – but we do get inquiries about the club from time to time. If you would be interested in joining this club and perhaps helping a coordinator to get this club going again please contact the office. Bon Appetit!

From our Partners at GMU-Mason Square

Mason Square Plaza Event Programming begins on March 11. The Plaza at Mason Square hosts dynamic weekly programming and ongoing special events, open to the Mason and greater Arlington community. All activities are free and open to the public. Please find details on their website:


On March 28 everyone is welcome to join George Mason University for an outdoor community event to celebrate the grand opening and “ribbon tying” ceremony of the refreshed Plaza at Mason Square.

The celebration will include live music, outdoor plaza games, and light refreshments. All are welcome and invited to attend! For a complete list of events and to register for the Mason Square Day Plaza Celebration go to:


Click on image for larger view

McCracken Scholarship Fund Updates

Encore Learning recently made amendments to the gift agreement, originally signed October 10, 2007, that established the John T. McCracken Memorial Scholarship Endowment (Fund). These amendments update the name, controlling unit and criteria of the scholarship fund. These changes were made to better serve our relationship with the GMU Schar School of Policy and Government, and students in our community.

The new name of the fund shall be the Encore Learning Scholarship Fund in Honor of John T. McCracken. The Fund is managed by the Schar School of Policy and Government. The purpose of the Fund shall now be to provide scholarship support to undergraduate students enrolled in the Schar School. Recipients may be full-time or part-time students. Preference will be given to graduates of a Northern Virginia public high school. Recipients will qualify on the basis of academic merit and financial need. Scholarship recipients will be selected by a committee appointed by the Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government in coordination with the Office of Student Financial Aid. This scholarship is renewable.

John T. McCracken was a long time Arlington community leader who founded Encore Learning in 2003 (then called the Arlington Learning in Retirement Institute). If you would like to make a charitable contribution to this scholarship fund, you may go directly to this link.

Community Engagement Forum on Aging

Hybrid event on March 18, 10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon. Join key Arlington County staff, Commission on Aging members, and community partners for an interactive discussion on what matters most to older Arlingtonians during the annual Community Engagement Forum on Aging. This program will focus on livable communities and will include small group discussions on the next Age-Friendly Arlington 5-year plan. Join us in-person at Lubber Run Community Center – Oak/Hickory Room or virtually via Microsoft Teams. Light refreshments will be available for in-person attendees.

Register for this event here.

National Slam the Scam Day: March 7

Encore Learning Presents on February 26 on Cybersecurity was very popular; so many of you know that scamming happens. (Click here to view the presentation.)

On National Slam the Scam Day on March 7 and throughout the year, Social Security Administration employees offer tools to recognize Social Security-related scams and stop scammers from stealing your money and personal information.

Help protect your loved ones and people in your community this Slam the Scam Day by:

  • Educating them about government imposter scams. Let them know they shouldn’t be embarrassed to report if they shared personal information or suffered a financial loss. It is important to report the scam as quickly as possible. 
  • Sharing our Scam Alert fact sheet and helping educate others about how to protect themselves. 

Report Social Security-related scams to the Social Security Office

of the Inspector General (OIG). www.ssa.gov/scam. -Kris McLaughlin

Volunteers Kathy Lewis and Nancy Manahan shared information about Encore Learning at a recent Goodwin Living at Home Resource Fair.

Staff Corner

February has been so busy as we held our Course Preview, students registered, we promoted courses and trained Class Aides. This Spring Semester is a fantastic lineup of courses, many of which are described above.

We also visited with Goodwin Living members with information tables at all three locations and a resource fair. We have 90 members from Goodwin Living and look forward to seeing them at classes.

We have some staffing updates as well. Jourdain Henderson moved on to explore new endeavors. We are pleased to welcome Donna Banks back for this semester to support some of our virtual classes.

We are so pleased that we have some new volunteer Class Aides and working with some wonderful new instructors. We have had new volunteers also engage in outreach and some organizing projects too. Your word of mouth sharing about Encore Learning brings us new faces and we need you to keep doing that to bring us fresh perspectives and diverse interests.

The subject of mental agility in the context of aging appears to be a recurring theme in the media. I’ve come across numerous stories emphasizing the significance of curiosity, physical activity, social interaction, and overall brain health in maintaining cognitive vitality as we grow older. The consistent message underscores the importance of lifelong learning. Encore Learning, along with our members, stands as a testament to the tangible benefits derived from active engagement.

Thank you for your ongoing support and service to bring Encore Learning to this vibrant place in our community.

~ Lora 

Lora Pollari-Welbes

Executive Director

Welcome To Our New Members

During January 2024, we welcomed the following new members:

  • Robert Albro
  • Augie Arnstein
  • Mary Arreaga
  • Michael Barrett
  • Charlene Bickford
  • Joshua Borths
  • Deborah Christie
  • Christy Cole
  • Dave Divecha
  • Bridget Galdes
  • Roger Ginn
  • Janet Horowitz
  • Debbie Kaplan
  • Linda Keyser
  • Ira Kirsch
  • Yvonne McIntire
  • Jill Miller
  • Kitty Montie
  • Katie OBrien
  • Amy Reif
  • David Sachs
  • Barbara Smith
  • Christa Snow
  • Anthony Tambasco
  • Madeline Ullom
  • Catharine Vernon
  • Marilyn Weinstein
  • Suzanne Weiss
  • Liz White
  • George Yurek

Thank you to Jane Nagy, Jim Witkin, Peter Vaselopulos, Martha Sneed, Robert Bickford, Priscilla Becker, the Firsts, Alphonse Galdes, and Goodwin Living for referring friends who became members of Encore Learning! Spread the word and please refer friends and family to Encore Learning. If you’d like to bring Encore Learning into your community (residential building or neighborhood) to share information about membership, let us know.

Encore Learning is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any donation is a charitable contribution deductible from income tax to the full extent permitted by law. Members, friends and organizations wishing to support Encore Learning may direct contributions to our General Fund to support our sustainability or to the Arthur W. Gosling Youth Scholarship Fund. If you wish to designate a charitable gift in someone’s honor or memory, please email us indicating how the gift should be recognized. If you would like to discuss tax benefits of charitable giving and charitable remainder trusts, please view our Donate page or contact the office.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Inside Scoop. If you would like to submit an article or share some photos of members participating in Encore Learning activities, please email us at info@encorelearning.net.

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Lifelong Learning For Those Over 50