THE ROAD SCHOLAR FACULTY: LEADERS IN THEIR FIELDS
If we’re lucky, we can all remember at least one from our school days. The teacher who made learning a sport. The teacher who opened a new door on the world. The teacher who introduced us to a passionate interest we never saw coming. That’s how we choose the members of our Road Scholar faculty—for the depth of their knowledge about a destination or subject and for their ability to captivate us while communicating that knowledge.
Bly Straube is a renowned historical archeologist and scholar who was a member of the team of archaeologists who found the remains of James Fort, the site of America's 1607 birthplace. The co-founder of the James River Institute for Archeology, Straube also works at Historic Jamestowne and has recorded programs for the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and more. She earned a Ph.D. in Archaeology and Ancient History.
Ken Wharfe is the SAS-trained officer chosen to head up the security for the Queen’s grandchildren, heir apparent Prince William and Prince Henry. He served as personal protection officer to the Princess of Wales and was appointed to oversee the internal security at Princess Diana’s funeral at Westminster Abbey. Wharfe was honored by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and made a Member of the Victorian Order. His book, “Diana: Closely Guarded Secret,” is a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller.
Author Michele Nicole Johnson is a librarian, award-winning writer and lecturer on Sapelo Island, Georgia, a place she describes as so linked to its history one can almost see the footsteps of the ancestors. Michele is not just any expert on the area — she also wrote the book. She is the author of “Sapelo Island’s Hog Hammock” and “Kindred Spirits: Family Legends & Childhood.”
“This was the most authentic cultural experience I've ever had in my 20 years of world travel.”
— Alice, Seattle WA —
Each and every one of our faculty experts has been carefully selected for the Road Scholar learning adventure they lead. A glance at their bios, and you will understand why.
James Dalessandro has written more than 20 feature films and television scripts, including the movie adaptation of his best-selling novel, “1906,” for Warner Brothers, and the Hallmark movie, “Citizen Jane,” based on his true crime book.
He is the principal Road Scholar expert in his adopted hometown of San Francisco, where he screens his award-winning documentary, “The Damnedest Finest Ruins,” and lectures on subjects ranging from the history of the Golden Gate Bridge to the area’s famous artists and writers.
As the leader of the jazz band Doreen’s Jazz New Orleans, Doreen Ketchens lives to share her passion for the traditional music and culture of New Orleans. She has been dubbed “Queen Clarinet” and “The Female Louis Armstrong,” by critics worldwide.
Doreen's Jazz New Orleans has represented New Orleans around the world, performing in Africa, Asia, Canada, Europe, South America, Russia and the U.S. Ketchens and her band, which includes her husband Lawrence, have played for Bill Clinton, George Bush Sr., Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter. It is almost impossible to sit through a performance of Doreen's Jazz New Orleans without moving in your seat, shouting, clapping, or tapping your feet!
Patrick Leary is a lifelong naturalist and birder who is committed to coastal bird conservation. He helped write Florida’s first Breeding Bird Atlas and co-authored a local bird guide.
Leary monitors populations of shorebirds year round and is a contributing member of the American Oystercatcher and Red Knot Working groups. Leary’s extensive and ongoing birding experience includes a collaboration with researchers studying Piping Plovers on this continent and in the Bahamas.
In addition to a distinguished academic career, Carol is an accomplished artist who has illustrated more than a dozen books, including nature field guides and children’s books.
Carol Johnson Unser has incorporated her love for nature throughout her career as an instructor at the University of Georgia’s Marine Science Center, interpretive coordinator for the National Marine Sanctuaries division of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and estuarine education coordinator for the state of Oregon.
Native American history and culture comes alive when you learn about it through the eyes and personal stories of a local expert. Stephen Yellowhawk was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in Eagle Butte, S.D.
He was first inspired to dance by his uncle, Jim Yellowhawk, a world-renowned artist, and he has been sharing his talents for traditional dance since he was 14 years old. Yellowhawk is board president of the Black Hills Powwow Association and shares his passion for learning on programs in South Dakota.
Nigel West is a renowned military historian specializing in intelligence and security. He was voted The Experts' Expert by a panel of spy writers.
West is the European Editor of the Washington D.C.-based International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and a lecturer at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies in Alexandria, Va. In 2003, he was awarded the U.S. Association of Former Intelligence Officers’ first Lifetime Literature Achievement Award. Find him on programs that visit England.
Shirley Spencer is an educator and seasonal Ranger at Yosemite National Park. She also instructs at Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Canyonland and Arches national parks.
She is a licensed secondary and middle school science teacher and the author of “Flowering Shrubs of Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada,” which includes 40 of her original watercolors and scientific descriptions of each plant. An avid hiker, skier, kayaker and scuba diver, Spencer also teaches rock climbing and is an accomplished painter, guitarist and organic farmer.