I was born in St. Louis, Missouri, where in 1968 I graduated as a National Merit Scholar from Grover Cleveland High School before moving to Arkansas. After graduating cum laude (with the equivalent of three language majors and an emphasis in comparative literature) from Hendrix College in 1972, I spent nearly four decades in public education before retiring in 2010. Though never a professional performer, for many years (1970s-1990s) I taught stage-crew courses, managed a 1400-seat classic performing arts theatre, and served as a technical director for various types of professional performances and community events in central Arkansas. I am Secretary for the Arkansas Jazz Heritage Foundation (the all-volunteer, non-profit corporation which sponsors and maintains the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame) and a Jazz Near You administrator for Arkansas/Little Rock.
Sidebar: My professional resume also includes considerable experience in the business world and as a freelance editor. I have traveled extensively (the Americas, Europe, North Africa) and still occasionally serve as a travel consultant. Though retired, I remain actively involved with numerous nonprofits supporting education, the arts, human rights, and environmentalism.
Source: Alita Mantels