Meet The Naturist Society Foundation’s Board

Mike Abramson, TNSF Board Treasurer

Mike Abramson – TNSF Board Chair

How and why did I become a member of The Naturist Society? The better question is how did I even learn about The Naturist Society? In the late 1980s, one of my clients asked me to travel to Tampa, Florida to check out a few investment properties in a resort area for him. The resort was called Paradise Lakes, and to my surprise, it was a clothing-optional community. I had been familiar with naturism and nude living in the past, but this was the first time that I would be totally immersed in it. So, my initial thought was, “Why not!” Let’s give this a try.

When I arrived, as you might expect, I was greeted with many naked bodies. It took me about ten minutes to take my clothes off and join in with everyone. You know, “When in Rome.” After reviewing my client’s potential investment properties, I decided to stay a few extra days and check out the resort. One afternoon, I was walking through the gift shop and picked up an interesting magazine. On the cover, there was a naked man standing in front of the Grand Canyon. I had to buy it! The magazine was called Clothed with the Sun, published by an organization called The Naturist Society. After I arrived home, I researched The Naturist Society and was impressed to read about their advocacy concerning body acceptance, nude recreation, and free beaches. In 1989, I became a member.

A few years later, I was planning on attending a client meeting in northern Wisconsin. I was going to drive from my home in Omaha, Nebraska, and I thought it would be interesting to visit the offices of The Naturist Society in Oshkosh on my way back from my meeting. So, I contacted the Executive Director of The Naturist Society at the time. His name was Ron Burich. He graciously invited me to tour the office, and invited me to stay with him and his wife Adrienne. They were wonderful hosts, and to this day are great friends to me and my family.
Ron took me around the office and introduced me to the staff. This is where

I first met Nicky Hoffman. She was working as an assistant at the time and attending college. I also met Lee Baxandall, the founder of The Naturist Society. My first impression of him was that he appeared multidimensional and quite bright. He would go from one subject to the next without missing a beat. When we met, he was working on the latest cover of the Nude & Natural magazine and asked me my opinion of the cover he wanted to use. The one he liked was going to commemorate Independence Day with a naked Uncle Sam running toward the reader. Since I had just met the man and did not want to offend him, I agreed that it was a wonderful cover and that he should use it. A few years later, I found out that the staff thought that this particular cover was universally the worst cover ever used for N magazine. I personally take full blame for this, although I still do not think it looked that bad.

One of the benefits of being a member of The Naturist Society is attending Naturist Gatherings. The first Gathering I attended was at Turtle Lake Resort in Michigan in the early 1990s. It was called the Midwestern Gathering. There were approximately 800 attendees, which is the largest Gathering to date sponsored by The Naturist Society. As with all Gatherings, there were many workshops. In fact, I led a few on personal financial and tax planning. It was at this Gathering that I got to be good friends with Judi Ditzler, Ruth Percey, and of course, Nicky Hoffman. This is where Nicky and I developed a friendly rivalry concerning my beloved Chicago Bears and her beloved Green Bay Packers. We would and still bet with each other on the outcome. There would be dinner and drinks for the winner. One year I lost our bet and had to wear a Packer T-shirt for an entire day at an Eastern Gathering a few years ago. It was embarrassing to say the least; especially having to wear clothing at a naturist event. Over the years, I have attended Gatherings at Turtle Lake in Michigan, The Swallows in California, Eastover in Massachusetts, Westmont in Pennsylvania, Hidden Valley in Georgia, Lake Como in Florida, and Sunsport in Florida. At every one of these events, I made new and lasting friends. Gatherings provide a sense of community to all that attend and of course the promotion of naturism.

As I continued to become more active in naturism, I decided to run for a position on the NAC/NEF boards. I was elected, but was unable to serve due to personal reasons. In addition, I was a founding member and first president of the B.E.A.C.H.E.S Foundation.

As a part of my journey with naturism, I became a regular speaker for an organization called The Trade Association for Nude Recreation. This organization was formed to help naturist businesses share ideas and business practices. Lee was one of many people involved in the formation of TANR. I would speak about tax planning and general operation planning. Many of my talks were at Laguna Del Sol Resort in California or Cypress Cove Resort in Florida. It is interesting that in public speaking you are advised to imagine your audience with no clothes on, so the speaker can be at ease. Interestingly, during most of my talks, I was naked, and my audience was clothed. That was going against the grain for a naturist business association. However, I always took the position that if I am at a clothing-optional resort, I needed to be an example.

After over thirty years as a member of The Naturist Society, my journey has now led me to The Naturist Society Foundation. A few years ago, The Naturist Society Foundation was formed as the next generation for naturist education and outreach. I was honored to be asked to be a part of the inaugural board of directors for the Foundation where I now serve as the Foundation’s treasurer. I am so proud of this organization, from my fellow board members to our exceptional staff led by Nicky Hoffman and Margaret Thornton. It is the hope of the TNS Foundation to continue Lee Baxandall’s work and ideals concerning naturism.

It starts with our vision: “Creating a clothing-optional world where your body does not define who you are.”
It continues with our mission: “Promoting a culture of body acceptance through clothing-optional recreation, education, and community outreach.”
It culminates with our values: “Naturism, understanding, diversity, education.”

It is important to continue these ideals. We need to keep promoting naturism and body acceptance. One of the best vehicles in this effort is Nude & Natural magazine. This publication educates the public concerning the benefits of naturism. It is arguably the premier naturist publication in the world. COVID has limited our ability to be with each other. We saw this with our Gatherings being postponed this past year. Nude & Natural helps bridge this gap, as well as the many Zoom meeting we have hosted this past year.

It is interesting that a chance purchase of Clothed with the Sun over thirty years ago would change my life and inspire me to be so active in the naturist cause. I could not be happier. You never know!

Cynthia Holbach – TNSF Board Member

I am married to Rolf Holbach, and have two sons in their thirties and one stepdaughter in her forties. Between them we have five granddaughters ranging in ages from 2½ years to 25 years. Plus, we have two huskies named Bailey and Petey. For anyone who knows us well, they know that the dogs are now our children.

I retired from working in the insurance industry for over 40 years underwriting commercial property insurance.

My first experience getting naked with others was in high school when a bunch of us went skinny-dipping in the HS pool one night. After that, until I met Rolf in 1995, I didn’t really think about nudism. One weekend he brought me to Elysium, and I enjoyed it so much that we started visiting different clubs throughout California. We even took our honeymoon in the Caribbean, staying on the nude side of Grand Lido Braco. We also went to a few western The Naturist Society gatherings. Eventually we joined the region’s largest non-landed club, the Southern California Naturist Association (SCNA) in 2005. Rolf became a member of the SCNA board of directors in 2007, and I joined the board in 2013. In 2012, we became empty nesters, which required doing some remodeling to the upstairs rooms of our Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr. home. Soon after that, we decided to open a clothing-optional B&B, Arroyo Del Sol, as part of the Clothing Optional Home Network. We’ve had guests from all over the world, and continue to meet many wonderful people through this experience.

I’ve served on two other boards, one for my children’s daycare where I oversaw recruiting new board members among other tasks. After that, I joined a work-related startup organization where I spent four years in charge of education. Since I have been on the SCNA board, I have evolved into the membership chair. Part of that is assuming the responsibility of being the SCNA certifying officer for our AANR and TNSF members, and helping to recruit more. This last year has been challenging keeping the club alive while we could not actually see each other in person. While it was nice to start seeing club members again, it feels like we’re taking a step back with the new current Omicron variant spreading. I am also involved in setting up a succession plan for our SCNA board.

Since retiring and becoming an empty nester, I am so glad I got more involved as it became very rewarding for me. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the people involved with The Naturist Society Foundation. From participating in the TNSF book club and Zoom meetings to the Gatherings, it’s like seeing family whenever and wherever we get together. I feel that getting involved is important to keeping naturism and TNSF alive and active, which is also very satisfying.

So, with that I would love to serve on the TNSF board of directors.

Kathy Blanchard

Kathy Blanchard – TNSF Board Treasurer

I started going to clothing-optional beaches in 1980, with my favorite then being More Mesa in Santa Barbara, California. When I met my future husband, Mark Storey, in 1986, he told me about memberships to nudist organizations. I laughed, thinking, “If you have no pockets, where do you keep your membership card?” I joined up, though, and have been a member of The Naturist Society since 1988.

Since I become a TNS member and have moved to Seattle, Washington, I’ve been impressed and appreciative of TNS, and the hard work its members have put in keeping our beaches and naturist lifestyle safe, and in promoting the naturist lifestyle to the general public. A few years ago, I upped my commitment and became a Lifetime Member of TNS.

I’ve been fortunate in getting to travel to dozens of naturist clubs, beaches, and hot springs in North and Central America, often writing about them with Mark for N magazine. I’ve also contributed to TNS’ journal with articles on naturist-related gardening practices and environmentally-friendly ways of living. I’m proud to say that one article caught Rush Limbaugh’s attention, and he pointedly claimed on the radio that “Kathy Blanchard is an idiot!”

I’ve taken advantage of making non-sexualized nudity something the public can be comfortable with when the situation presented itself. My favorite example is how my Masters Swimmer female teammate and I initiated nude swimming at an annual open-water race from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. I completed that race nude five times, and the number of suit-free swimmers grew in number each year. I am ready to take advantage of situations to be nude in public as long as it makes sense and stands a good chance of serving a reasonable naturist interest.

I am a retired professional gardener, having worked in that capacity for the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and as Senior Gardener for the City of Seattle. I have been open with my naturist lifestyle with the press, my family, and those with whom I worked. When I retired, the City of Seattle even gave me a plaque acknowledging that I was a TNS member and that it was important to me. I have also served on the boards of the Puget Sound Bonsai Association and the Washington Park Japanese Garden Society.

I’d be happy to serve my naturist community on TNSF’s Board of Directors.

Norma Mitchell

Norma Mitchell – TNSF Board Secretary

When considering joining the Board of Directors of TNSF, I asked myself what assets I possess that could assist this group of people I admire so much. I wondered if I could fill the seat adequately and commit to the time necessary to be a productive member of the Board.

My naturist experience spans 30 years. I’ve visited about 40 naturist facilities in the U.S. and the Caribbean, so I understand the diversity of the commercial naturist community and its foibles.

We’ve raised five kids in a clothing-optional household where our favorite recreation was camping at a nudist park in Wisconsin. We were never “in the closet” regarding our naturist lifestyle, even when the kids were in school, so I understand the challenges of the naturist family. We are empty nesters now and enjoying our growing family.

In 1990 we bought Turtle Lake Resort in Michigan and converted it to a clothing-optional TNS and AANR affiliated resort. We were supported in our efforts by The Naturist Society and Lee Baxandall. For three years we managed and marketed TLR, introducing naturism to many, so I understand the perspective of naturist business owners.

While living in Southeast Florida, I served on the Board of Directors of South Florida Free Beaches as Vice President and Treasurer for 15 years. During that time I served as a Beach Ambassador on Haulover Beach in Miami, and represented the naturist culture to politicians, county park management, college sociology students, swinger’s convention workshops (free beach etiquette) and anybody else that would listen. I understand what it takes to keep a naturist beach safe for families. I resigned when we moved to the Tampa area.

I served as an Area Rep for the Naturist Action Committee for several years. I’m a member of TNSF, SFFB, Tampa Area Free Beaches and Blind Creek Beach. We’ve resided in a clothing-optional resort for the last five years. I’m also a bit of an activist in the Top-Free movement. I was a plaintiff in a lawsuit regarding gender equality and was arrested for participating in a top-free protest. I was charged with disorderly conduct, went to court and was found guilty. Point being, I wasn’t afraid to stand up for myself.

My husband and I have spent the last four years traveling in the States in our RV in the summer and enjoying the weather in the Caribbean for the winter. We’ve decided to stay put for a while where we are and so I’m now available for service to the naturist community again. And nothing would give me greater pleasure than to further the naturist cause by serving on the TNSF Board.

Albert Pantaleon – TNSF Board Member

My name is Albert Pantaleon, but I prefer to go by the name Panta. I was born and raised in South Florida and have been a nudist from an early age. I always hated wearing clothes. My Latina mother almost had a heart attack when she found out her baby boy liked to take his pajamas off at night to sleep nude. And now the benefits of sleeping in the nude have been proven by numerus studies!

My first nude beach experience was at age 14 when my older sister’s boyfriend drove me to see Miami’s local nude beach, the “Cove,” which at the time was located on Virginia Key across from the Seaquarium. I became a regular once I got my driver’s license and car.

My first connection to The Naturist Society was in 1976, when it was known as The Free Beaches Documentation Center. I came across an advertisement for a tabloid produced by Lee Baxandall with information about free beaches. I promptly mailed a letter, requested membership and a copy of the publication, and have been a member ever since.
In 1981, I was part of a group of beach regulars from the “Cove,” under the leadership of Tom Chittenden and Barbara Khan, who formed South Florida Free Beaches, Inc (SFFB) to help protect visitors and the site’s nude status. Unfortunately, a year later the City of Miami took over ownership of Virginia Key from Dade County, and soon after the City closed the park permanently, citing high maintenance costs.

Members of SFFB still got together for pool parties, private events, and skinny-dipping in remote areas, often only accessible by boat. In 1991, under new leaders Mallika Sarrow, and Richard and Shirley Mason, a small group, including myself, commandeered a section of beach on the north end of Haulover Park. After a couple arrests on the beach for mere nudity that were challenged in court victoriously, clothing-optional Haulover Nude Beach was born.

James Nunn, Board Member

James Nunn – TNSF Board Member

I have been a naturist for over 25 years, first being introduced to it when I would visit the clothing-optional beaches in Melbourne, Australia where I lived back in the mid-1990’s. I have been a member of TNS/TNSF since 2008 after attending my first naturist 5K at Bluebonnet Resort in Texas, and also am a member of AANR and GNI.

Over the past 30+ years, I have been involved with nonprofit organizations. In many cases, I have played a support role and in others I have been a leader. Each time I believe the need was there for me to do what needed to be done to bring a different perspective, help focus the energies of an organization or just “pound the pavement” to educate and inform. 

My first nonprofit service occurred  in 1989/1990 when I was asked to assume the role of Treasurer of the Victorian AIDS Council and Gay Men’s Health Center, a position I served on for three years during the transformative years of our organizations. My contributions mainly revolved around the financial management of the organizations along with the integration of our financial goals within our strategic plan.

I previously served on the boards of the Naturist Education Foundation and Naturist Action Committee from 2021-2022, and have worked to establish board policy and procedures for each organization, along with a clearer focus on the fundraising and financial management for the organizations. For the past year of my term on the boards, I served in the role of Treasurer. During my time on the boards, I was responsible for the update and transition of the websites and email systems, bringing more detailed financial reporting to the board, and developing a more long-term strategic planning focus for both organizations.

I am excited to join the TNSF Board and continue to share my energy and passion with advancing a collaborative positive impact to the lives of naturists in North America.

Susan Shopiro – TNSF Board Member

My name is Susan Shopiro and I am running to continue my position on the NAC/NEF board because I want to help with the transition to the new TNS Foundation structure and the new NAC/NEF management. I have supported TNS and NAC and NEF through the years but now it is time for me to step up and commit myself as a board member.

I am particularly interested in preserving our existing nude beaches and breaking down the legal barriers to acquiring new ones but also, as a board member, I will work for the interests o all naturists, club members or not, to protect non-sexual nudity and  to provide opportunities for clothing-optional recreation on public lands and to promote landed and non-landed naturist clubs.

As a recently appointed NAC board member I have been visiting Florida’s Blind Creek Beach as their NAC representative and meeting with officers of the Treasure Coast Naturists to help coordinate the efforts of TCN, NAC, and other naturist groups to meet the current challenge to the the beach’s clothing-optional status.

My 20-year career background in education, computer system development, management, and project leadership, as well as my second careers in Physical Therapy and Yoga teaching allow me to bring new skills and perspectives to the NAC/NEF board. I have additional training in project management and team building. 

For many years I have volunteered at naturist festivals and gatherings to make them more comfortable for women. I have taught yoga and given workshops on bone health, other health topics and naturist travel.

I live full-time in naturist parks in Florida and New Jersey with my husband of over 25 years, who is a former NAC/NEF board member. At Cypress Cove, our winter home, we are leaders and participants in music entertainment for our friends, neighbors and guests. I also teach yoga there as a gift to our community.”

I served as a board member for almost two years before being pushed out for doing work. I hope that won’t be a problem with TNSF. I’ve been reviewing my monthly status reports. I won’t bore you with everything I did but will give bullet points. 

I’d like to point out that this year my focus has been on supporting the research and writing to publish the Sky Farm 90th Anniversary issue of Nude and Natural. In addition to writing/editing two articles for the magazine, I have been the liaison between the Sky Farm Historian and Archivist and the Editor from N, Mark Storey. It looks like we’ve got a really good magazine in the works. I will continue to support that work as needed. 

My other focus for the year was coordinating  2nd annual Cypress Cove International Women’s Day event. I provided an article for N that covered both years that we’ve done the event. Planning for year 3 is already underway.

Work supporting Naturist Issues while with NAC/NEF:

  • Social Media Coordinator working with our contractor Stephanie Rutherford
  • Supported efforts to change ‘bathing suit rule’ working with Shirley Mason & Ramon Maury
  • Attended Florida Conference on Tourism
  • Worked with Gunnison Beach Rangers to address issues at the beach including providing a Beach Etiquette document
  • Sky Farm Historical Document Preservation Project
  • Video Interviews of Free Beach and Naturist Movement Founders
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