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Resident Experts

Photo (left-to-right) David Curtis, Shelly Appleton and Bill Lannin


A GPS failure and dead phone battery were ultimately a ‘win’ for residents at Monarch Landing senior living community in Naperville. Last week, a professional lecturer got lost en route to Monarch Landing to deliver a talk on the history of the Treaty of Versailles. About 50 residents had already gathered for the presentation, and rather than dispersing when the lecturer didn’t show, attendees rallied and gathered up their own team of experts to lead the discussion.

Resident David Curtis who had been slated to introduce the speaker recalled, saying, “We certainly have people who can speak on the topic gathered here. Let’s put our own panel together.”

With a lot of highly educated residents with advanced academic degrees, finding experts from within the gathered attendees was not as challenging as one would think. Recruited from the audience were residents Bill Lannin who has an MBA from Northwestern and a JD from IIT and Shelly Appleton who has a BA and MA in history and a Ph.D. in political science. Curtis has a Ph.D. in public policy. “I had every confidence that the three of us knew a few things. I knew Shelly and Bill were engaging and that I could tell a joke or two along the way and we could keep things going,” said Curtis.

The three gentlemen were prepared to start, when a woman in the audience said, “I’m not a resident, I’m a guest, but I know a bit about the topic. Could I be an interloper?” Jo Ann Bondi, an adjunct professor of history and a retired social science high school teacher with an MA in Russian history and education, was a welcome ‘interloper.’

Curtis was pleased but not at all surprised that the discussion was successful and graciously received. “The panel provided great information and detail and kept the discussion going. Everyone in the audience seemed very engaged, and the event went very well. It was interesting, and the audience felt great pride in their friends and neighbors for being able to speak about this topic so knowledgably,” he said. “A number of people said that this was one of the best events they’ve attended.”

Curtis said that he is always impressed with the “breadth and depth of knowledge” of his fellow residents at Monarch Landing. “I’ve known since we moved here, from eating dinner with people, meeting neighbors in the hallways and attending many programs and events, that we have a lot of people here who know a lot of information about a lot of things.” What he particularly likes, he added, is the fact that the residents are allowed, and even encouraged and empowered to share their interests and knowledge with each other. “We have so many resident-run programs here for all interests, including Great Decisions which looks at world affairs, cosmology presentations by a resident who is an accomplished amateur astronomer, all levels of Bridge taught by a card enthusiast, and much more. That’s just a taste of what’s available here. If there’s an interest, we’re encouraged to pursue sharing it with our fellow residents.”

Curtis, who is looking forward to additional resident-run panels concluded, “We are always learning and sharing.”