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Ingrid AlbrechtIngrid E.  Albrecht

Course(s): Watercolor

Ingrid Albrecht has a Fine Arts Degree from the American Academy of Art, and a MA and BS from Southern Illinois University. She is a nationally awarded artist and has taught workshops and classes globally. Her pieces were also recently exhibited at the Illinois Watercolor Society, the International Signature American Water Media Exhibition, and the National Watercolor Society.


maria-headshot.jpgMaria Blanco

Course(s): Hip Hop & House: Learning to Social Dance

Maria Blanco is a dancer, choreographer and educator from Bloomfield Hills, MI. She enjoys combining social dance with her modern/contemporary training to push the boundaries of dance and explore how improvisation can be used as a tool for both dancers and non-movers, changing the narrative of where dance is accessible, and whom it is accessible to. Maria received her B.A. in Dance and Sociology from Loyola University Chicago in May of 2018. In collaboration with Yariana Baralt Torres, she co-founded LOUD BODIES Dance, a non-profit dance organization that combines dance and activism in collaboration with local non-profit and mutual aid organizations. Maria has also performed with the American College Dance Association, Loyola University Chicago, The Greenhouse Theatre, Links Hall, The Athenaeum Theatre, Hamlin Park Fieldhouse in collaboration with Synapse Arts, Collaboraction’s Peacebook Festival, and Momenta Dance Company. In 2021, Broadway World nominated her as “Dancer of the Decade” for her role as Graffiti Pete in, “In the Heights”.

D'ana DowningD'ana Downing

Course(s): Manifesting your Goals

Rev. D'ana Downing (she/her/hers) is an interdisciplinary scholar-practitioner and interfaith movement chaplain passionate about spiritual and identity formation of college-aged students. She is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, and previously served as the immediate past Connectional Treasurer of the Richard Allen Young Adult Council. Prior to joining RSL, as the Assistant University Chaplain, she served as a Graduate Assistant in Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) and was the Resident Chaplain and Graduate Assistant for the 2020 Summer Academic Workshop (SAW). As a Womanist and Afrofuturist, she is committed to the wholeness and well-being of all people; and believes that we have the power to co-create a more just and equitable future.

For the last 20 years, she has worked as a fundraising professional and governance consultant as the founder of Light+Essence and has also served in various roles in higher education in advancement, alumni relations, and career services.   

mark gruberMark Gruber 

Course(s): Wine Appreciation, Modern Cocktail

A graduate of Northwestern, Mark Gruber has been teaching with Mini Courses for over thirty years. Mark is a local celebrity in the wine and spirits industry, and his students have returned time and again. 






anne howardAnne Howard

Course(s): Knitting

Anne Howard is a Northwestern alumna and is currently pursuing her master’s at Boston University. She has been teaching knitting with Mini Courses since 2003. Lately, she has been knitting a lot of socks and pretends food!




Brittany JenkinsBrittany Jenkins

Course(s): Pole Dancing, Lap Dance

Brittany is a pole dancer, yoga instructor, personal trainer, and fitness mentor. She started pole dancing in 2007 and fell in love with the movement. Soon after signing up for classes, she quit her day job to become a pole dance instructor. Realizing that she couldn't teach pole full time, she started to cross-train in yoga and other fitness disciplines. Over the past 10 years, she has been certified in yoga, spin, barre, and became a certified personal trainer. She's gained knowledge from teaching a variety of people over the years from stay-at-home parents, students, and athletes, to the occasional celebrity. Seeing the enjoyment on her students' faces after a great class is why she loves teaching pole and fitness. The pole industry is fast-moving in the fitness world and has evolved so much over the years. Like yoga, pole is for everyone. There is a certain kind of freedom in the movement. Pole dance is a fun way to work out, enhance your flexibility, increase your strength, and reconnect you to your sensual self.

adam lazarAdam Lazar

Course(s): Sewing

Adam Lazar has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and is a sewing instructor, graphic designer, painter, and weaver. His work was recently featured in Handwoven Magazine’s online blog and his painting was part of an Artists Book House project in collaboration with a writer.


Sam LoweSam Lowe

Course(s): Coffee Appreciation

Sam started his coffee journey in 2008 as a barista in his hometown of Greencastle, Indiana. His work continued through his time at Indiana University Bloomington, helping the coffee program at the Runcible Spoon Restaurant and Cafe. After moving to Chicago in 2014, he partnered with Allegro Coffee, opening 12 cafes before joining Allegro’s small-batch coffee roasting program as a roaster. In his time with Allegro, he led coffee evaluation courses, guest lectured at local coffee conventions, and traveled to coffee farms in Central America. Sam now works as a roaster and green coffee buyer for Evanston’s Backlot Coffee. 

Website  |  Instagram (Blacklot Coffee)  |  Instagram (Personal)

Stephanie Lupu

Course(s): Drawing and the Color Theory, Anime and Manga Drawing

Stephanie Lupu earned her BFA in Performance art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Media from Columbia College. She is a practicing artist who creates videos and online media often featuring quirky and highly original puppets and live characters. She was also a Follett scholar at Columbia College, and a merit scholar and bare walls grant recipient at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

pattymarfise-patt.jpegPatty Marfise-Patt

Course(s): Wheel Throwing I (Beginner)

Patty Marfise-Patt, a native Chicagoan and practicing ceramic artist, received a B.A. in History from Northern Illinois University in 1986 and an M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1994. She began working with clay at age nine at the Chicago Park District’s Ridge Ceramics Studio on Chicago’s south side and has enjoyed playing in the mud ever since! Currently, Patty serves on the board of the Glenview Art League board and teaches ceramics at Lillstreet Art Center. She is currently exploring ways to incorporate technology into her work.

Website  |  Instagram

inna-melnikov.jpgInna Melnikov

Course(s): Tai Chi

Inna Melnikov has a Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and is National Board certified by the NCCAOM. She has been teaching with Mini Courses for the past 12 years!

Twitter  |  Website


artica halloweenRenee Mudgett

Course(s): Darkroom Photography

Renee is a multi-media artist with a vast knowledge of analog photography techniques and methods. Beginning in the black & white darkroom when they were 15, Renee then studied fine art photography at Columbia College Chicago and was introduced to experimental darkroom processes and the color darkroom facilities. Since graduating they have been teaching darkroom courses to middle and high school students in addition to elementary art to Kindergarten to third-grade students. Their current artwork uses photographic literacy as a stepping stone to incorporate other mediums and imagery. 

Tomoyasu NakanoTJ Nakano

Course(s): Wheel Throwing I (Beginner)

Tomoyasu Nakano completed his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2021. His works focus on expanding his craftsmanship skills with ceramics, screenprint, and mixed media. Nakano enjoys expanding his artistic skills to incorporate other mediums into his art practice and considers the process of art-making as a path connecting with larger communities in the vast world of art. 

Tomoyasu Nakano was awarded the Bank of America Scholarship and the SAIC Presidential Scholarship to complete his BFA

Lora ShultzLora Schultz

Course(s): Smart Snacking

Lora (Hahs) Schultz is a Program Assistant in the office of Religious and Spiritual Life at Northwestern University. She also serves as the Nutrition Coach and Educator for a collegiate rowing team in Massachusetts. She graduated from Gordon College in 2016 with a BS in Biology and went on to complete an MS in Nutrition and Wellness at Benedictine University. She is passionate about encouraging people to grow in their understanding of whole-body wellness.



Larry Schwartz

Course(s): Pocket Billiards for Beginners

Larry Schwartz is a 27-year Billiards Digest monthly columnist and an author of 8-Ball Handbook for Winners. He has also been selected as top 150 players for the International Pool Tour, is 7-year live-action pool commentator, had a cameo appearance in the movie The Color of Money, and was the 1st place North American 8-Ball Championship for 3 consecutive years along with many other Championship titles.

Sylvia Tan
Sylvia Tan

Course(s): Wheel Throwing (Workshops)

A native Singaporean, Sylvia was a ceramic apprentice at Jono Pandolfio studio in New Jersey, and a ceramic instructor in Singapore. Her artwork includes sculptural and functional wheel-thrown pieces, all largely inspired by nature and animals. She is also the graduate assistant for arts and programming at Norris University Center. She holds a BS and MS in mechanical engineering with a minor in Art and is currently a PhD student at Northwestern's mechanical engineering department.

rachel wardRachel "Ranch" Ward 

Course(s): Wheel Throwing II (Intermediate), Introduction to Sculpture

 Rachel “Ranch” Ward is a Chicago-based Ceramic artist and a recent graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Their large-bodied work encompasses important memories as a way to physically work through trauma in a healthy and respectful way. Ward hopes to inspire others to use physical forms of art, such as ceramics, to work through difficult and uncovered issues. The process of making their work allows for navigation in the world of gender and identity while inspiring others to appreciate queer bodies as beautiful. Teaching at Gnarware Workshop and Lillstreet Art Studios, Ward prides themselves on their open and conceptual teaching style. With a successful small business selling their personal work and recently receiving the position of Studio Technician at Northwestern University, Rachel “Ranch” Ward is a practicing artist ready to share their experience and learn with you. 

peter wujcik.jpgPeter Wujcik

Course(s): American Sign Language

Peter Wujcik is a Licensed Deaf Interpreter, American Sign Language Instructor, and Theatrical ASL Director, born to Deaf parents. His ASL teaching credits include: Currently ASL Instructor, Teacher Assistance and Tutor at Columbia College Chicago since 2014, (8) years at Bell Elementary School, (5) years at the Art Institute of Chicago, and (14) years at City Colleges of Chicago (Wright College, Harold Washington and Olive-Harvey). He acted as Emcee for the 100 years celebration of the Chicago Chapter of the Illinois Association for the Deaf in 2008. His past theater experience includes ASL Consultant (for both actors and interpreters) for Bell School`s production of GUYS AND DOLLS JR and for Steppenwolf Theater`s THE WHEEL, TRIBES, THE WAY WEST, THE QUALMS, NIGHT ALIVE, THE HERD, GRAND CONCOURSE, and  CONSTELLATIONS. Also Sign Language interpreting for DePaul Reskin Theater`s PROSPERO`S STORM, THE KID WHO RAN FOR PRESIDENT, CINDERELLA: THE REMIX and  JUNIE B JONES IS NOT A CROOK, and Eclipse Theater Company`s THE LITTLE FLOWER OF EAST ORANGE.