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Michael and Jean Levin, Washington DC, January 2016

Nora Jean Levin earned political science degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, where she met Michael.  They have been married 57 years and have been collaborating on this life-long learning project for over four decades.

For the Two Pianos: Playing for Life project Jean expanded her communication and networking skills, adding new A/V video editing and production-management capacities to her experience as writer, public speaker, entrepreneur and non-profit manager.  From 2004-18 Jean directed Caring From a Distance, Inc., America's only non-profit entity supporting long-distance caregivers. She authored How to Care for Your Parents: A Handbook for Adult Children (Storm King Press, 1987-1993), later How to Care for your Parents: A Practical Guide to Eldercare (Norton, 1997). She has been a high school social studies teacher, Nader's Raider, and research associate at the Brookings Institution and National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). She co-founded The Workplace, Inc., Washington DC's first shared-office suite for writers, consultants and non-profit staff (1976-1985). With Janet Dempsey Steiger (later chair of the Federal Trade Commission) she co-authored To Light One Candle: A Handbook for Organizing, Funding and Maintaining Public Service Projects (American Bar Association Press, 1978-1979).  Her public service has included stints on a U.S. Department of Education Advisory committee on Accreditation and Institutional Eligibility, participation in the 1995 White House Conference on Aging, and terms on lifelong-learning advisory committees, synagogue, mental health and women business-owner boards.

Michael H. Levin has been writing creatively all his adult life, legal deadlines notwithstanding.  He brings to Papers Please lessons learned as advocate, negotiator, and renewable energy developer.  He has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard Law School and Oxford University (U.K.).  Pursued by a Vietnam-era draft board, he declined graduate play-writing fellowships, likely saving American theater.   Before entering private practice Mike served as an appellate lawyer and executive in federal agencies and departments; in the Carter White House as Deputy Director of a Cabinet-level Task Force; and as legislative aide to former Rep. Andrew Maguire (D-NJ) and the late Sen Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA).  His third poetry collection, Falcons, was published July 2020; a new collection, Watching Bees, is scheduled to appear 2023.  He is "as told to" co-author with Nora Jean of A Border Town in Poland, the first-person memoir of Anna's husband Hirsch (2021), and the forthcoming Firebird: The Musical Life and Times of [Pianist] Rebecca Burstein-Arber (2023).  Some of his work is at

Ken Hoffman, Rockville MD, 2019

Kenneth Hoffman, Halina Neuman’s oldest grandson, brings to Papers Please a deep commitment to the healing power of art based on his psychiatric practices and family background.  Halina and Ken’s mother Jola survived exclusion, displacement, and labor / DP camps largely because of music.  Ken had a devoted relationship with Halina, who took him across the U.S. at age 11 to visit Tanya and Walter Ury in California.  However, neither Halina nor Jola told Ken much about “before America.”  His involvement with Two Pianos has brought this story to a special conclusion for him. 

Ken has a BA from Cornell University, an MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, and an MPH from Harvard. He is board-certified in psychiatry, preventive medicine and addiction psychiatry.  He established the Center in Addiction Medicine at the Uniformed Services University, served as the Army’s primary alcohol and drug consultant, and was senior medical officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and Clinical Director for Mental Health Services at the U.S. State Department.  Ken has a consulting private practice in Rockville MD. Since 2009-10 he has served on the Board of Directors of Oxford House (, a national network of over 2400 self-supported substance-abuse recovery homes, and by gubernatorial appointment on the Montgomery College Board of Trustees ( 


(Vanessa Debreceny Photography)

Stanislava Varshavski and Diana Shapiro began playing together in 1998 and have captured top prizes at numerous competitions including the most prestigious competition for piano duos, the Murray Dranoff International Piano Competition (Miami). A winner of Astral Artists’ 2012 National Auditions, they hold Bachelor and Master degrees from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, where they studied with legendary Israeli duo Alexander Tamir and Bracha Eden. They continued their education under renowned American pianist Victor Rosenbaum. In 2011 they each received doctoral degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Shapiro is an Assistant Professor of Piano at U. Minnesota-Duluth. Varshavski is Director of Education at the Holy Family Conservatory of Music. Manitowoc WI. 

Exhibit and Graphic Design

Stephanie Reyer, currently on faculty at Philadelphia's University of the Arts, helps design our exhibits, brochures and book publications, and is our resident wizard(ess) and muse in these areas.