Meet Our Members
Jane Thomas and Richard Damashek
For 23 years, Jane Thomas taught early childhood education at Harper College in Illinois. She was also a co-founder of the campus laboratory Child Learning Center at Harper. Jane graduated from Central Connecticut State University before continuing her education at National Louis University where she received her masters in education and Northern Illinois University where she obtained her M.S. in counseling.
Since retiring in 1999, Jane has kept herself busy with politics. She founded and coordinated her district education and senior advisory committees, was a delegate to the 2005 White House Conference on Aging and even served on the Obama for America campaign at his national headquarters.
Jane has three sons and three grandsons of her own, as well as step-children and great-grandchildren.
Richard also dedicated his life to being a professor. He taught English at the college level for 40 years and continues to teach part time since retiring. For seven years, Richard worked with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where he created and directed a federally funded program to assist Wards of the state to find jobs and educational opportunities. He has dedicated the past several years to his book “A Brand Plucked from Fire: The life of Rabbi Schaalman,” which is in the process of being published.
Padmini and Kaly Kalyanam
Padmini is an accomplished French language teacher of 27 years. She started studying the French language in Paris, France, and has taught French to many different age groups from India to Canada. Padmini received her undergraduate degree in economics, as well as her Master of Arts degree in French, from the University of Madras, in Madras, India.
After marrying her husband Kaly, she moved to Toronto where she taught French at two all-girls private schools for almost 20 years. French, however, is not the only language she is familiar with. Padmini is fluent in five languages including English, French, Spanish, Tamil and Hindi, and is literate in Sanskrit. In her spare time, Padmini enjoys playing the piano and cooking for her friends and family.
Kaly majored in chemical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai, India, the same city where he was born and raised. Upon completion of his undergraduate degree, Kaly moved to New York to pursue his masters in chemical engineering at City University of New York. He then moved once again to Canada where he worked in both Montreal and Toronto. Kaly is fluent in Tamil and can read and write in Sanskrit.
After completing his undergraduate degree at Eckerd, Tom went on to earn his MS degree from Nova Southeastern University. He then received advanced training in hypnosis and practitioner training at the Victor Frankl Institute of Logotherapy in St. Pete. Tom has had a successful career as a clinical counselor, specializing in mental health and behavioral science.
Tom has spent much of his time working for the indigent population, committing long hours to helping those less fortunate. He is also able to communicate and interact with individuals who are emotionally or mentally challenged. Tom is known for his diverse interests and considers his most outstanding accomplishment his ability to present alternative views or other ways of looking at things.
In addition to his work as a counselor, Tom has been very active in the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of St. Petersburg, which consists of the elected administrative body of nine overseeing the affairs of the Baha’i Faith in our city.
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