Quest attracts a diverse group of people with interests ranging from the fine arts to business and economics. Given the rich and varied backgrounds of our members, we are able to offer a curriculum including music, film, theater, history, politics, literature and science.
We also offer workshops in life drawing and in writing prose and poetry. Members enjoy the opportunity to share knowledge, develop new interests and build lasting relationships as part of a vibrant and caring community. We invite members to develop classes in any area of interest to them.
Wayne Cotter earned a BA in Economics from Gettysburg College and his MBA from St. John’s University. Wayne worked for many years as Director of Research for the New York State Insurance Department, which regulates New York State’s insurance industry.
Wayne also served as editor of The Regulator for many years, while authoring numerous insurance-related articles. After retiring in 2006, Wayne worked another six years as a financial editor at the Wall Street offices of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
Wayne remains active in the insurance community by conducting writing seminars throughout the country on behalf of the NAIC. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation and runs a web site for retirees of the New York Insurance Department.
Diane Crothers is a lifelong advocate for equal treatment of women and people of color. She has worked on voter registration in the Deep South and on textile mill organizing. At Quest, she spends most of her time in classes about American history and politics with some women’s studies and film. She has traced her ancestry by spending many happy hours in archives and dusty courthouse basements, digging up records that date back to Scotland through Northern Ireland and the migration of her ancestors to the Colonies in the 1600s.
One of the high points for Diane of living in New York City is its diversity. For more than 40 years she has been a member of a multiracial and multicultural family.
Martha Drezin is a native New Yorker who spent 14 years in Poughkeepsie raising her children. There, she worked as an editor, high school teacher, dance reviewer, arts editor, antique appraiser and recreation therapist.Returning to New York, she earned her MSW from Adelphi University, practiced as a case manager and therapist and then joyfully abandoned the listening life to become a medical editor. Ensconced in front of a computer with a medical dictionary, she was content for 16 years.
After retirement, Martha created website content in the health/beauty industry and volunteered for a therapeutic riding organization. Quest is her opportunity to catch up with the reading, writing and thinking that matters to her.
Leslie Goldman’s career included 25 years at the New York Academy of Medicine as Director of School Health Programs where she provided overall leadership for the Academy’s health education programs in the New York City Schools and nationally. This was followed by her role as Senior Advisor to the President of the Academy. Leslie was also a teacher trainer and Director of Arts in Education for the New York City Public Schools. She received a Fellowship for graduate work, earning a Master’s Degree in Policy Analysis / Educational Administration at Columbia University, Teacher’s College. She also has a Master’s Degree in Anthropology.
In addition to her activities at Quest, Leslie is a strategic planning and development consultant, a Board Member of the Non-Profit Coordinating Committee and a volunteer at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Bob Gottfried joined Quest in the Fall of 2014 and has become a very active member. He was elected Quest President in the Spring of 2017 for a two year term and was reelected in 2019. Bob was born in Brooklyn, but has spent most of his life living on Long Island and commuting to the City. He was a partner in several law firms during his 40 year career as an immigration lawyer. His last firm before retiring at the end of 2015 was Gottfried & Gottfried, where his son David is still practicing.
Bob has two other adult sons, Douglas and Bradley, and his wife Ellen is also a Quest member who makes frequent presentations.
Robert Hartmann was born and spent the first 21 years of his life on the south shore of Long Island with many forays into Manhattan for educational/recreational purposes. He graduated in 1954 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Adelphi College (now Adelphi University). He spent the next year earning his Master of Arts degree from New Mexico University, after which he passed two years helping out Uncle Sam in his Quartermaster Corp. in Petersburg, Virginia.
Bob’s business career, spanning 35 years, was involved in international sales and marketing of textiles. He retired in 1992 as Vice President, International of Fieldcrest-Cannon Inc., the largest international manufacturer of home textiles. He has been a member of Quest since its founding in 1995.
Jennifer Jolly grew up in the northeast Midlands of England. She obtained a B.Sc. in Psychology from London University and then worked in the Survey Research Unit at the London School of Economics and Political Science consulting to market research firms before spending a year in Uganda. In 1967 she came with her family to the United States.
Jennifer has a Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational psychology from NYU and for much of her career worked with major organizations in the U.S. focusing on survey research, talent management and executive coaching. For 10 years she was VP for Human Planning and Research at Merrill Lynch where she worked with members of their senior executive group on business plans and their human resource implications. She is past president of the New York chapter of Human Resource Planners. Now retired, she enjoys the opportunity to learn about new disciplines, especially acting, literature and art, in the challenging and supportive environment at Quest.
After 20 years as owner of Translingua, a Manhattan based foreign language translation service, Carolyn McGuire retired and sold the business. This was followed by several years of study of Irish Literature leading to a Ph.D. in Irish Theater.
Carolyn has many roles at Quest. She collaborated and taught courses on Irish Theater and Social Change, Irish Literature, and Irish American Literature. She has served on the Curriculum Committee, the Council and has served as Vice President in the current and previous administrations. For the last 4 years, Carolyn has chaired the Travel Committee and has led Questers on several wonderful trips including Ireland, London and Iceland. Most recently, she was Editor of Q Review and currently serves as the Editor of Q News.
Nan McNamara seems to have spent most of her life in school. She grew up in Chicago, went to college in Illinois, and then taught American history and civics to junior high students in Chicago and New Orleans. While her husband taught at the University of Delaware she did graduate work there in American history, which she continued at NYU after they moved to New York. Graduate work completed and children in school she became the Dean of Admissions at NYU’s School of Law for 20 plus years. She served as committee chair and trustee of the Law School Admission Council.
For fun she and her husband occasionally took NYU continuing ed courses. After retiring she consulted for several law schools and for Law Services. She volunteers and she has served as a board member for Court Appointed Special Advocates and for the Children’s Law Center. She is delighted to have found and joined Quest, so she can continue to take interesting courses in perpetuity.
Bob Reiss came to Quest after a career as a Transportation Systems Engineer. His academic background includes degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering and an MBA. He went on to be part of the pioneering effort to apply computer and communications technology to the field of traffic management.
A Quest member since 2009, Bob’s goals are to expand his horizons in the liberal arts. He especially enjoys attending and presenting classes in art history, foreign affairs, architecture, film, literature, history, social issues, and law.
Born and raised in New York City, Art Spar is a graduate of Bronx HS of Science and Queens College, where he met his wife Shelley. He taught HS English for New York City and earned a Master of Arts in Communications before moving to Massachusetts where he continued to work in the public schools.
After a decade in education, Art changed careers, co-founding STS Market Research with his brother in Cambridge, MA. STS specialized in the behavior of the American apparel shopper. Wal-Mart, Levi Strauss, Gap, Liz Claiborne, JC Penney, Sears, Target, Wrangler, Nautica and Macy’s were all customers of Art’s syndicated reports. After 25 years as CEO of STS, Art sold the business to The NPD Group of Port Washington, NY and served as NPD’s President of Fashion until his retirement.
Art and Shelley have two daughters, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren. Art has served as synagogue president, YMCA treasurer, and co-founder of Keruv, an initiative to welcome intermarried families into the Jewish community. Art and Shelley reside on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and in Wellfleet, MA.
Ruth Ward was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens. She returned to Brooklyn in 2013 when she retired from her career as a Spanish and French teacher and support provider in public junior high and high schools in Nevada and California. A perpetual student, she holds a Master’s Degree in Dance (University of Wisconsin, Madison), French (U. of Nevada, Reno), and Educational Administration/Higher Education (University of Nevada, Reno), as well as a Doctorate in Spanish (University of California, Davis).
As a retired pre-Quester, she wrote a novel, worked out at the gym, learned to tango, and audited history and literature courses at NYU and FIT. Always eager for discussions in French, she enjoys hosting the Mardi Français meetup on Zoom, and she attends several additional online French conversation groups. She finds the Quest environment stimulating and supportive and enjoys giving presentations on a variety of topics.
Michael Wellner is really a “native New Yorker.” He was born here in the city, but grew up in suburban Larchmont (in Westchester County, NY), graduated from Mamaroneck High School, and spent five years at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, NY, where he earned both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Business Administration, followed by two years on active duty in the US Army, in Japan, during the Vietnam War years.
Upon his return he joined his family’s business, which was rooted in parking garages and automobile sales and service, but subsequently (during his tenure) evolved into the renting of cars in Europe for Americans vacationing overseas. He has traveled extensively through Europe, and continues to do so today. He has two sons: the elder is an attorney here in the city; the younger is a computer consultant, living in Philadelphia.